"Coach Mattison told me what the Ravens were about, what he thought," Beyer said. "He definitely encouraged me. I hold his opinion in high regard."
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) April 24, 2015
Find a bridge, and look under it. There you will find something you did not expect: a crude charcoal figure in the shape of the man. On certain nights when the moon lances through the overpass just right and strikes the figure at just the right angle, the markings take on a three dimensional aspect.
As you're squinting, wondering why it looks familiar and kind of pisses you off, Harbaugh, Master Of The Toll, will step forth from the rock to answer one question you have. I have been across this nation's highways and byways, searching out the dwindling numbers of his worshippers. Pushed out by EZ-Pass and foreign purchases of American roads, the United States troll is literally at a crossroads.
They ask him about inflicting pain on the country that spurned them.
He told them "form a country duo that sings about comin' to your citayyyy."
He told them "tell 'em it's about ethics in gaming journalism."
He told them to make a website on which anyone can talk to anyone with a 140 character maximum.
He told them to run athletic departments like conglomerations of mining interests.
He told them to name something "The KFC Yum! Center."
Yes, with the exclamation point smack in the middle of it. He is diabolical.
I sought him. I invoked daemons of minor annoyance. They told me that sitting outside in some nice weather and watching something approximating a football game was the sign of a diseased mind, but they also told me where to find him. The bridge was old and rickety, all but abandoned. Long ago a chunk of wood had been clattered free, so the light at this bridge was direct and fulsome. After a time, Harbaugh stepped forth from the charcoal.
I said I had a job for him.
I said he would find glory, and he was uninterested.
I said it paid very very well, and he bridled.
I said he could follow in the footsteps of the all-troll who birthed him from a cauldron of spite, and he took one half-step towards me. I knew not whether I had made progress or a terrible mistake.
I said that all the football coaches in all the land would gnash their teeth and shake their NCAA-mandated chains and wail and wail and wail, that entire fanbases of people would rise up in one agglomerated mass of incensed powerlessness, that even the greatest and mightiest of football would feel their bile rise uncontrollably at his visage.
He said "I accept."
And then he was gone. Shaken, I began the long journey home under the moon.
Ten nanoseconds after Saban and Swinney cried that high schoolers might get exposed to football programs that actually care what happens to their kids after it, Emmert moved to quickly fix the loophole that allows a football coach from Michigan to ply his trade across state lines.
Harbaugh is already one step ahead:
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) April 24, 2015
World: Wait, you can't create a national college football trade fair at your school.
Harbaugh: Just did.
Jim Harbaugh is legend.
FOR WANT OF GLENDENING
Luke Glendening blocked a shot into the neutral zone to seal his own spin-o-rama shorthanded goal as a game-winner to steal Game 1. Red_Lee was so inspired that he created this:
Last night Glendening's Red Wings were cruising to a 2-0 victory (that should have been 4-0 given the play) and a 3-1 series lead when Luke ill-advisedly decided to check a guy near enough to the boards to trip the sensitivities of hockey players towards that sort of thing. While everyone else scrummed about them some Lightning players were able to mess up Luke's hand (Aside: amputating a guy's hand when you're trying to recruit him is some seriously Urban Meyer sh--, Darth).
Without Glendening shadowing one of the top-scoring lines in the country, that line put up two quick goals and a third in overtime. Detroit didn't backcheck properly, and just looked, I don't know, unfocused. The parallels to Star Wars are there, but the parallels to Michigan since Luke graduated are eerie.
IF YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF MERCYHURST YOU'RE NOT A FAN (OR YOU'RE NORMAL)
Via Spath, Michigan's been having a hard time getting sexy programs to come to Yost unless they're small schools with Utah football-quality hockey programs. Of these, next year's schedule will host Mercyhurst, Robert Morris and Niagara. I bet you two petty Notre Dame administrators that the Domers were one of the "of note"s here:
Michigan wants to schedule top-tier programs but they couldn't get anyone to come to Ann Arbor this year. Everyone of note wanted U-M to come to their venue. And Michigan couldn't do that or it would have ended up with two non-conference home games. They agreed to Union and BU so that they could get those two teams in 2016-17 at home but then they HAD to have home games, and so some of these teams were more willing.
The sooner somebody puts this intra-state round robin thing together the better.
WORDS HAVE MEANINGS
It's offseason alright, evidenced by the feely threads (and one diary) popping up to define words that already mean specific things. To wit:
- A fan is someone who roots for that team. To date there is only one remotely worthwhile adjective that's ever been applied to "fan" to distinguish levels of fanhood: "Loud."
- An alumnus is someone who attended that school; graduation is not required.
- A graduate is someone who graduated from that school.
Last word for today: if you are a graduate or alum who thinks this distinction makes you more of fan, you are an "asshole."
WIFI NAMES ARE 21ST CENTURY NEIGHBORLINESS
Good ideas for Michigan-themed WiFi names? thread is how I learned about the Linden Street Flamingo Heist of 2011:
Shout out to the guy with "HARBAUGH" in a Columbus complex.
Etc. The Royals are the new Sparties of Major League Baseball.
Your Moment of Zen:
none of the lights none of the lights [Bryan Fuller]
Buried in a release about Michigan playing Minnesota at night is this:
With primetime selections through the networks and Big Ten Conference office now complete, Michigan will not host a night game this season at Michigan Stadium. Kickoff times for the remainder of the 2015 season will be announced in coordination with those partners.
Michigan's choices there were OSU (in November), Michigan State, or a middling opponent like Oregon State, BYU, or Northwestern. None of those are particularly appealing, though I thought a BYU at night might have been fun.
TMD: A Mother Knows
2016 #1 overall recruit Rashan Gary is expected to be on campus in May, accompanied by his mother, who's playing a very important role in the vetting process. Gary discussed her role in his recruitment with TomVH ($):
“My family being able to see me play is really important. My mom is my everything. Whatever she says and thinks is positive; that’s what I’m going to consider. My mom sees what I see and says all the schools I’m considering are good schools. It’s probably going to come down to me and her putting together a pros-and-cons list and figuring it out.”
Gary visited Michigan and Ohio State recently without his mother, who took a trip to Rutgers instead. (That trip reportedly didn't go very well for Rutgers.) Gary reported back to his mom, of course, and given what she told Sam Webb it sounds like Michigan is in a great position to stake themselves to a lead when she gets to campus with her son ($):
“He liked Ohio State,” said Mrs. Coney. “He didn’t say too much of the school. I think they didn’t spend a lot of time at Ohio State. I think most of their weekend was at Michigan. I know he met with Coach Johnson because he called me and I talked to Coach Johnson. I’ll tell you the difference (between the Michigan and Oho State visits). When he talked to me about Ohio State it was football, football, football. But when he talked to me about Michigan he just told me about the environment, told me about the academics, told me about the dorms, told me about the campus. I spoke with Coach Mattison it was totally a different conversation. One was about athletics, and then Michigan was all about academics and the people, (and) the environment.”
‘Okay Rashan, let me go see it for myself. (laughter).’
Michigan's M-Pact presentation should go over quite well.
Meanwhile, Michigan jumped out to the lead for another Paramus Catholic prospect, three-star WR Donald Stewart, who was offered last week, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“I talk to Coach Partridge daily,” Stewart said. “He told me that the players he coached that played there have nothing but positive things to say. I talk to Jabrill (Peppers) and Juwann (Bushell-Beatty) and they really like the school so I want to go up there and see for myself.”
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Stewart plans to see Michigan the third week of May.
According to Wiltfong, Northwestern is currently Michigan's biggest competition for Stewart.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Support this cause. A bunch of alumni are getting together to help raise money:
On December 26, 2014 Evelyn Grace Spytek - daughter of former Wolverine John Spytek - passed away due to complications following a CMV (Cytomegalovirus) related surgery. In her memory and in support of the National CMV Foundation, a team of eleven former Michigan Football student athletes - John Spytek, Dave Pearson, John Navarre, Grant Bowman, Andy Mignery, Tony Pape, Phil Brackins, Brent Cummings, Jeff Rich, Steve Baker and Eric Rosel - will be running the Columbus, Ohio Capital City Half Marathon on May 2, 2015 to raise money for the cause.
As causes go this is one of the best. Hit it up here to help out.
Har-bonus. Additional items that didn't make the cut for the Real Sports thing:
As for the piece itself, I thought it was fine. Alex Boone's statements were self-contradictory, which made me feel like maybe the full conversation would help reconcile that into something where context makes the first bits less harsh.
Harbaugh himself came off as a guy who is aware that his personality is to the best of his ability but had no plans on changing it; the moment where Visser asks him about the "wear out his welcome" thing and he just says "that must be true" given the evidence was charmingly without artifice or defensiveness. There was some regret in there, but nothing to the point where Harbaugh would consider changing. Even if it meant he spent his childhood playing baseball with himself in the strip mall nearest to my home.
(Does he still do this? Can I buy tickets if that is the case?)
Gumbel's bit at the end was predictably smug, but whatever.
Hilarious aside. Remember when NFL reporters were swearing up and down that Harbaugh would never leave the NFL because he hates recruiting? Nobody asked his wife.
THE LAST BASTION OF zzzz. Don't care, is football coach, must have mandatory football coach opinions unless he's Lloyd Carr. The position is self-selecting gentlemen who value toughness above just about everything else and can't find that value elsewhere.
no I don't want to talk about it
the problem with politics from the perspective of a sports fan is that there is no difference between the two activities
The Houston Nutt of satellite camps. Michigan's camp schedule in June, via Sam Webb:
June 4th - Midwest stop
June 5th - Prattville, Alabama
June 6th - Tampa, Fla.
June 7th - Pennsylvania
June 8th - Houston, Tex
June 9th - Dallas, Tex
June 10th - California
June 11th -12th - Sound Mind / Sound Body (Michigan)
This is the satellite camp equivalent of Houston Nutt signing 37 guys one year at Arkansas: the thing that gets people up in arms enough to bring down the NCAA hammer. SEC coaches are complaining, the commissioner is bringing it up to the rules committee, even Urban Meyer's against it, another avenue in the arms race threatens to open up, and soon there will be a bylaw saying NOPE. Because when it comes down to it, NCAA laws are for the coaches, not the players.
False alarm? ESPN's Paul Biancardi momentarily had hearts a-flutter yesterday when he asserted, citing sources "close to his family," that national #1 player Jaylen Brown had a top two of Cal and Michigan. That's Cal the school, not Cal the coach who thinks shot clock violations are the way to go in the late stages of a Final Four game.
No offense to Cal the school, but competing against them versus the blue-bloods of college basketball seems like a highly tractable position—no doubt Cal was thinking the same thing.
Alas, Brown shot that down:
Jaylen Brown has not cut his list, he told SNY.tv by text on Wednesday.
“No,” he said when asked if he was down to Cal and Michigan.
Now, that is not quite a response to what Biancardi said. He made no assertion that Brown had dropped anyone—they in fact also mention Kansas and Kentucky in the segment—just that those two schools were the names they were hearing. Biancardi can be correct and Brown can answer that question like he did. And that would be very nice.
Cal, now the home of bizarrely-deposed former Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin, does have a commit from top-ten Ivan Rabb. Despite going 7-9 in the Pac-12 last year they will have some surrounding pieces to entice with.
Brown's recruitment is currently very mysterious, but as we were talking about this on the WTKA roundtable today Sam re-iterated that he was confident that Michigan was in Brown's top two and that the other school seems to keep changing—always a good sign for the constant. I'm still in believe-it-when-I-see-it mode when Michigan goes head to head for the big dogs, but they did get Mitch.
In other big boy news. 2016 SF Tyus Battle is coming off a visit to Louisville that his father rather gushed over($) to Louisville's Scout site…
The elder Battle said all of the pre-visit information with the day and a half spent with the staff on the official visit made for an "awesome" time in Louisville.
"We got a lot out of it," he said. "A whole lot."
The father said the campus tour and atmosphere around the program led him to believe he would be turning his son over to "someone who really cared about him," if Tyus Battle were to pick Louisville down the road.
…and is winding down his recruitment. A lot of people are talking about Duke, which is natural. Though he and Derryck Thornton are not a package since Thornton reclassified to 2015, they are friends. Unless Thornton's going to become the equivalent of a none-and-done, that could be a factor.
But Michigan does have another shot:
"He's probably just going to go through the process and just pick a school," the father said. "It's not that we don't like the recruiting process, but there are some other things that he needs to get along with.
"He will visit Michigan on May 8 and after that we will see."
Michigan will have openings after the departures of LeVert and DEFINITELY JAYLEN BROWN*.
*[Unless Brown sticks to his statements he might stay two years.]
This is not your job. FSU's trustees are complaining that Florida State, which was bombed by Oregon in the CoFoPoff, was disrespected so thoroughly as to be placed third in the final rankings:
"I think the perceived bias of the ACC in general, [with] Florida State falling to No. 4 in the rankings and still being undefeated and being [No.] 3 at the end of the season … a one-loss ACC team or two-loss ACC team is going to have a hard time breaking that top four," Gruters said. "I think the top ACC team over the next four or five years, we're going to be in that [No.] 5 to 8 category. And we're going to be on the outside looking in."
You are. And it will be justified. Florida State's season was a series of high-wire escapes indicating that it was nowhere near the team that steamrolled to a national title the previous year. Voters and the committee reacted appropriately. In a sport like college football there is not enough data to just exclaim "just win baby"; FSU drop was not about bias but performance.
I did not know that #talkinboutthenoles extended to the trustee level. In retrospect I'm not surprised, though.
All right. Michigan gets a home game with Xavier in the new Gavitt Tipoff, which is basically a Big East/Big Ten challenge with less overall oomph since the Big East is short on teams. Unfortunately, the Stain Train is out of eligibility. Michigan does get to match up against Trevon Bluiett, who was quite good as a freshman.
Xavier was a six-seed this year, reaching the Sweet 16 before losing to Arizona in a tight game. They lose two starters but return a large group of experienced players; they appear to have an excellent replacement for Stainbrook in junior-to-be Jalen Reynolds, who had a virtually identical shooting percentage (62%) on a similar number of shots.
Hope you like night games. Minnesota joins Maryland and Utah as night games on the road—though Utah was always going to be at night since it is on Thursday. Add in rumors that PSU could be at night and Michigan searching for one at home and noon kicks are dead, man.
Two words: Jed York.
A little confused by the notion that Harbaugh has "worn out his welcome" everywhere he has been for the past ten years, as seems to be the popular narrative. Are there any examples of Harbaugh actually being no longer appreciated/welcome anywhere but with the 49ers? It seems to me like he climbed the ladder like any successful coach up until the end of his time with the 49ers.
Also let's continue to wait until November to blow the whistle on Urban Meyer's Tinder account.
I have the feeling that either San Diego or Stanford would have sucked it up and consented to another year. Harbaugh led both to one-loss seasons in his final campaigns with those teams, whereupon he moved on to bigger jobs.
The first we heard of Harbaugh "wearing out his welcome" was a narrative being pushed to the Play-Doh NFL media for a year by Jed York and his assorted executives. Whether that is in any way more true for Harbaugh than it is for, say, Bill Belichick is unknowable. Successful football coaches are often completely nuts. It is almost a job requirement. They are inevitably going to leave offended people in their wake. Harbaugh's done that; he's also had a public bromance with Frank Gore.
Other players have taken to social media to defend him.
We don't know exactly where Harbaugh falls on the high functioning lunatic scale, but we do know what happened in the aftermath of his departure from the 49ers: they hired a barely articulate defensive line coach with no experience as a coordinator, chased off their highly successful defensive coaching staff, and lost a ton of players. Alex Boone is publicly moaning that he was being pushed too hard—an excellent sign for when Jim Tomsula, who has all the authority of a mewling kitten.
Harbaugh, meanwhile, is still being pursued by the Raiders. He grabbed DJ Durkin from heavy competition, retained Greg Mattison as a position coach, yoinked Tim Drevno from USC, hired an in-demand John Baxter, and hired a deposed NFL coordinator as a wide receivers coach.
Hhe does not care about what people think of him. Jed York is removing mentions of Harbaugh from the 49ers museum; Harbaugh barely remembers the name of the short guy with a spoon in his mouth on the West Coast. That's why he shows up on Real Sports for a piece that few other football coaches would consent to: he does not care about what happened to him in the past even a little.
That differentiates him from a deeply insecure 49ers management, and is the main reason the idea is out there. Without it there is no possible way to justify the 49ers sabotaging one of the most successful coaches in the NFL.
Hyman to fly free
Panthers have been notified that prospect Zach Hyman won't be signing w/them. Possible he gets traded before hitting UFA on Aug. 16.
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) April 21, 2015
What's that about you think?
Hyman had an outstanding senior year and should get a rookie max contract once he hits the open market. Florida likely offered him that, but Florida cannot offer him his pick of interested teams. Hyman can now find the team most likely to play him in the NHL next year and establish himself in the league.
This is a longstanding flaw in the CBA that I complained about way back in the day when it was instituted. It took a good long while to hit home, but when it did it really hit. Winnipeg was pushing and pushing to sign Andrew Copp this offseason largely because they didn't want to end up in the situation the Panthers did with Hyman. Any college senior can walk away from the team that drafted him; therefore NHL teams hate to see their draftees become seniors.
[After the JUMP: basketball recruiting, Wigan apology.]
Follow the end of the 2016 line so see where previous classes stood at this point in the process. bigking it makes clickger.
This is gonna be a lot of data and not much analysis that comes from it. Anecdotally, recruiting in the period before this changed dramatically as fans involved themselves in the process. To have a guy like Henne locked up a year out was weird for 2004; Kevin Grady, who pledged to Michigan the summer before his junior season, was unheard of.
The question was has the timeline of committing changed significantly from then to now, or did the thing settle down? I also wanted to see what went on with the other recent transition classes: was 2015 dramatically different from 2011, or 2008?
To answer it I gathered the commitment dates of Michigan freshman recruits since pledging became something reported on the internet (class of 2004). The result was the above chart showing a slightly greater emphasis on getting more commitments around signing day of the last class, and that May-July period between spring and fall practices.
Also under Rodriguez and more so under Hoke, Michigan began taking more guys over a year out from Signing Day. I would expect that to remain thing but not to any great extent. I'll be able to say more once I've gotten the national data to some semblance of sense.
Are they committing earlier to Michigan? On the whole, yes, except for transition classes for obvious reasons.
Taking a mean day is misleading because there are definitely certain periods (summer, near singing day) when commitments bunch. The Greatest February Weekend in the History of February Weekends that built the 2013 class was not repeated, but the 2014 class signed so early that Hoke's last two classes were half-full by now.
You'll note the classes after coaching transitions were also set forward from those a few years out. That is a reflection of the recruiting cycle stretching well beyond a year out. Harbaugh's 2017 class has begun before 6'6 tight ends who camp have ratings—or should—but that isn't a new reality.
Was the 2015 transition class like other transition classes? Your memory is saying "there were never so many decommits" and your memory is correct:
I showed with stars where the last coach retired/was fired/mutually parted ways, and the new one hired. Football seasons began about 175 days out. From there you can see the 2015 class falling apart as the team did, while the greater uncertainty of Rich Rod's 2010 just stagnated the growth of the class. Carr's retirement went relatively smoothly.
The 2015 class was also off to a much stronger start, including 5-stars in George Campbell and Damien Harris over a year before NSD, whereas the 2010 class was built under the shadow of Rosenbergmadeupagate. The 2008 class largely came together during the 2006 season, and in its aftermath.
Within all that you can see how critical a few weeks in winter were. Rodriguez weathered a bit of attrition and finished his class with, if not all he needed (ahem, defensive backs), several players who'd become long-term starters in his system. While we waited for Dave Brandon to get maximum Dave Brandon is Handling This time during The Process, the 2011 class went on a roller-coaster, and Hoke, despite being a fantastic recruiter, was given too little time to add everything he needed.
|Event (days to NSD)||2008
|Coach search begins||Nov 20 (78)||Jan 6 (27)||Dec 2 (64)|
|New coach announced||Dec 17 (51)||Jan 11 (22)||Dec 30 (36)|
On the Data
You can have it here:
A lot of this was from the 247 database, which was from Rivals' database, which was wrong in a lot of spots (for example they give dates they don't know for the 2004 class as 7/8/2003). In the process of tracking down the real dates I asked the guy who covered Mike Hart most closely and got a bonus story for us:
So thanks John L.!
Return Of The Three-Star Mafia
So, about the reaction to Carter Dunaway's commitment. I realize Michigan is trying to pull its way out of a nearly decade-long stretch in which "trust the coaches" went from sage advice to, well, a reason to run away screaming in terror. I realize expectations for Jim Harbaugh are ample. I realize adding a sophomore tight end with one catch and no film may not align with some of those expectations.
All of that said, the zeal with which some commenters here questioned the choice to offer and accept the commitment of Dunaway caught me off guard.* There's obvious potential—he's got the frame to come to campus in the 6'6", 260-pound range. He's got two full years of high school left, and he won't be playing behind a pair of seniors—one a D-I recruit himself—any longer. The legacy angle shouldn't be the first reason to offer him, but it also shouldn't be discounted; as an early 2017 commit, Dunaway can now start recruiting other prospects with a perspective few other recruits have on the program. There's also the whole human decency thing, but this is the internet, which requires a detailed argument in favor of acting human before that'll be taken under consideration.
I'll go ahead and post the thoughts of one specific commenter who jumped into the discussion last night: Craig Dunaway, Carter's father and a former tight end under Bo Schembechler, who handled it all with more grace than anyone could reasonably expect.
As the least objective person on the board...
It's been quite an experience reading these comments.
I thank those who've shared kind and welcoming words (YoOoBoLloBaugh, True Blue Grit, The Mad Hatter, et al.). And I appreciate those who acknowledge he still has two more years of high school to show more tangible merits (True Blue Grit, bronxblue).
I also like the comments from HateSparty. (Or maybe I just like typing HateSparty. HateSparty.)
I understand those who doubt and question an offer to unproven talent (Danwillhor, The J Davis 1, pescadero). I realize you only have the best interests of the program in mind.
To those who attribute Carter's offer to his legacy status (HarBooYa, Big Mike), I hope you realize that's just not the case. If that's all it took, brother Jack wouldn't be dipping into his 529 plan, as WolvinLA2 also points out.
And to those concerned about the dearth of offers, please understand if Carter didn't love Michigan so much, he would've looked around and collected who knows how many others. Instead, he's avoiding the strain of the recruiting process, staying close to home and going to school with his brother.The truth is there aren't a whole lot of 6'6-1/2" 233# 16-year-old kids who can run and catch out there. And that happens to be exactly the type of kid Jim and Jay Harbaugh want playing TE.Sure, Carter's lucky he's so big. He knows that. One of the first things he said after getting the offer is that it didn't seem fair he would be offered and his brother wouldn't, even after all Jack has accomplished.He's lucky to have camped at Michigan, and had so much exposure to the program while his brother was being recruited. But he also knows that means he's got to work harder now than ever before. He's got a target on his back that opponents and even Michigan fans will see every time he takes the field. It will only make him better.If you haven't met Carter or seen him play, I hope you get that chance soon. If not in the next 2 years, then in 2017 or 18, or whenever he gets to enjoy the privilege of playing for the greatest team in college football.Go Blue Forever
I'm not here to say the coaches are infallible, or that Carter Dunaway is a sure-fire All-American, or that there isn't a proper way to express dissenting opinions around here. There is, however, a time and a place, not to mention a certain amount of tact involved, and many of yesterday's comments—some of which have been cleared out by now—were disappointing in that light.
Anyway, Dunaway is in the class, and I expect this commitment will be questioned a whole lot less once he's showcased his ability on film. (People got really angry about this commitment without ever actually seeing the kid play. Which... yeah.) Brother Rice head coach David Sofran told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown that in addition to being a "coach's dream," Dunaway has plenty of potential and will be a critical part of their offense this fall ($):
"He's the type of talent that you can center your offense around. He's very athletic. He has really soft hands and catches the ball well. He can really accelerate after he catches it. I think that will separate him from a lot of tight ends. Once he catches it he can really run. Paul Jokisch (former Michigan wide receiver and Brother Rice standout) was like that. He was a huge guy (6-8, 239 pounds) that could catch and run and I think Carter will be in that conversation." ...
"I think he's probably still growing," he said. "I think once he stops growing taller he'll really start to fill out in his upper body and I think he'll keep his athleticism and be fast at about 255-260 in college down the line. He's still got some growing to do and I think he will get bigger and be even more of a problem."
Welcome to the program, Carter, and thanks for your understanding, Craig.
*Yes, I realize I should know better by now.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Max Bielfeldt was re-listed as a senior a couple years back and walked on senior day, so his departure was expected. It's now official, per Jeff Goodman. Bielfeldt himself:
"With (LeVert) taking that scholarship, any little option of something else happening -- me coming back -- got a little bit smaller," Bielfeldt said. "The odds aren't very high that I come back here next year."
As a grad transfer Bielfeldt can be immediately eligible next year; Bradley, near his home, has been mentioned as a possibility. Dan Dakich will still talk about his calves during Michigan games for nostalgia's sake.
Meanwhile, despite Caris's decision to stay Michigan is still under the impression they have room for another player next year.
U-M coaches have made it clear that even with LeVert's return, the roster will have room for at least one addition.
Following Tuesday's announcement by LeVert, Troy Manns, [Kenny] Williams' coach at LC Bird High School coach in Richmond, told MLive that LeVert's return does not impact Williams' interest in Michigan.
"No, not at all," he said.
Asked if Michigan told Williams it still would have space for him if LeVert remaining a Wolverine, Manns answered, simply, "Yes."
With seemingly everyone else content to fight out the playing time crunch next year that would likely be Austin Hatch either going on medical hardship or, if his family is so inclined, becoming a walk-on next year. That would cost money but would keep the door open to Hatch getting on the court some.
feeling that a ticket you have is a precious thing is good
More games should mean things
This is something that Brandon was moving towards getting right, save for the horrible contract that saw him eat an extra Notre Dame home game at the (hopefully temporary) end of that series. And that contract might not have been his doing.
This year's football schedule has one tomato can on it, UNLV, and three actual teams: BYU, Oregon State, and Utah. BYU and Oregon State are one-off home games. They're more expensive, but we've finally reached the point where spending an extra few hundred thousand dollars on an opponent like that has a clear ROI in ticket sales. (That is the reason Brandon was getting that right.) One of the smartest things he said during his tenure was about this.
Unfortunately, I have been able to google it to get the exact quote, but it was along the lines of "we have to get out of the business of scheduling games that feel like exhibitions to fans." He largely put his money where his mouth was in that department. Or tried to, anyway. It still galls that Michigan State landed a home and home with Alabama and Michigan was forced to play a "neutral" site matchup in Dallas against them.
But Brandon was right: repeated tomato can poundings make the fan look at his ticket and feel like a sap. The Product™ boils down to that: you look at the ticket that has a section and seat and opponent on it and you feel a certain way. For years many of these tickets have made you feel like it's another way to pay for the Ohio State game. That is going to remain true, but being less explicit about it is a first step on the road towards making fans feel like part of the enterprise instead of marks.
There's not much flexibility when it comes to college football. Michigan's going to play in their division and they've got three games a year (Indiana, Rutgers, Maryland) that aren't going to feel like much no matter what happens. They've been filling out the nonconference schedule with more respectable opponents; further additions have to happen a decade or more out. The wider landscape of college football will help here: double the number of teams in the playoff means double the number of late-season games that can impact the championship picture.
Michigan's other two revenue sports could use some help. This year's hockey schedule was a textbook example of what not to do: a weird one-off at Ferris State before even the exhibition games, home games piled into the fall when most fans are busy with football, an almost two-month absence from Yost in January and February punctuated by a fiasco of an outdoor game taken in by fewer fans than would have been at a home game.
Meanwhile, basketball plays a lot of nonconference games against the Coppin States of the world. It was seven last year (they just happened to lose two): Hillsdale, Bucknell, Detroit, Nicholls State, NJIT, EMU, and Coppin State. I don't see a great solution there given the way college basketball works: you're going to have a preseason tournament, you're going to have a game just before Christmas no one wants to play, there's not enough room to do anything interesting.
The conference, though… the conference could use some tweaking. Here are a couple of concrete plans to make basketball and hockey games have more wow factor on the ticket.
Basketball: making 14 an asset
Wisconsin ran away with the Big Ten title this year. Their last seven games included matchups against 9-9 Illinois, 4-14 Penn State, and two against 6-12 Minnesota. What if their stretch run was nothing but the other three games—Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State—and so was everyone else's? And what if you could never point to anyone's schedule and say that's why team X won?
This is possible, even in a 14-team conference if you're willing to rethink a conference schedule. You can have a true, fair, thrilling championship in 19 conference games:
- FIRST 13: round-robin amongst all teams
- LAST 6: split the league into top and bottom halves, have second round-robin within.
Everyone in each half plays the same schedule. The last three weeks of the regular season are an all-out brawl for a banner that means something it might not in a world where getting the wrong teams twice could knock you down a peg.
The downsides are real but not insurmountable. You would not know the last six games of your schedule until a few days before. With home sites that's not a huge problem. There will be demand for those games. And teams right around the cutoff could find their path to a bid get harder as teams just above it draw a bunch of tough games and teams below it lose the opportunity to knock off a Wisconsin. That effect is probably marginal (on average it's turning three games into somewhat harder or easier ones).
If they tried this I bet they would never even think about going back once they saw, say, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, OSU, Indiana, and Illinois have a three-week war for a Big Ten title.
Hockey: a state championship
The FA Cup: the only time anyone has ever believed in Wigan
There's not a whole lot Hypothetical Michigan AD can do about the Big Ten or NCAA's playoff format. (It does sound like the national tournament is in line for some long-overdue changes.) But he can probably get the Michigan schools together to provide early-season matchups some additional oomph.
The formation of the Big Ten is something college hockey needed if they were ever going to expand past two western conferences, but it broke up a bunch of 40-year-old rivalries that mean something to college hockey fans. Instead of having every Michigan team save Tech in a single conference, now they're spread across three. The GLI has tried to compensate by inviting a Michigan team for the foreseeable future, but that doesn't do much for the three teams that aren't invited in any particular year.
Nor does it have that much selling power. The GLI is a nice event, but it's always been a little silly that Michigan has a banner for years they won it. It's two games. The trophy doesn't have a name. It's not, say, a 40-pound bronzed cast of Red Berenson's head.
What if the first half of the season had a different competition in it? Soccer does this to excellent effect. A state championship competition that features World Cup/Champions League style groups would be a reasonable time commitment and a way to inject stakes into otherwise fuzzy early-season matchups.
A problem: there are seven Michigan teams, not eight. We will fill in the eighth spot with a guest program. This could either rotate between reasonably local programs (ND, OSU, BGSU, Miami, even PSU) or be permanent.
|GROUP A||GROUP B|
|Notre Dame||Western Michigan|
|Northern Michigan||Ferris State|
Each team plays the others twice, whether that's home and home or not. The next year invert home/road and do it again; then switch the groups up. The only hard and fast rule is that Michigan and Michigan State are separate. The four teams in the bottom two rows are all WCHA members. They can either book an early-season conference series to count for the state championship or schedule bonus nonconference series, their choice.
After that's done, the top two in each group play for the Michigan Themed Hockey Trophy* at the Joe. (The other two also go to the Joe and play because everyone wants to know they've got X number of games booked.)
This is a commitment of eight games—six for teams currently in the WCHA. For teams in the Big Ten (20 conference games), Hockey East (22), or NCHC (24) that is doable. It does seriously restrict the flexibility of WCHA teams (28 games), but a lot of these games are the ones these schools would want to schedule anyway. For example, Ferris's nonconference schedule included two games against State, one against Michigan, and the GLI. Tech played Michigan and in the GLI. They would be signing up for another two or three games only. And the lack of flexibility is offset by the fact that they're locking in a Michigan or Michigan State series annually.
If you can pull this off then your early season, normally something without stakes other than the hope down the road your Pairwise ranking will be good, becomes three weekends in which you hope to qualify for a GLI that means you can print out shirts that say State Champs and kiss let's just say a 40-pound bronze cast of Red Berenson's head.
like this except with Red Berenson's head
Play for things. Give us stakes. A ticket that reads "Red Berenson's 40 Pound Head Tournament" is better than one that just says "Western Michigan."
*[Options: unearth the Ron Mason trophy that went kaput when the CCHA did, inaugurate a Red Berenson trophy for the former Michigan player and Detroit Red Wing, or go studiously neutral but somewhat silly by naming it after a guy who didn't play college hockey.
Gordie Howe played in the defunct minor-pro version of the USHL for a year, not the CHL, and he's Gordie Howe. So he's a good idea if you're going that route.]