fair point that
[The Athletic Department made Ryan Van Bergen and Kevin Koger available for short interviews following the BCS bowl announcement. Brady Hoke was not available because he is currently in New York for the Football Hall of Fame Inductions. Hoke will be back for a Wednesday presser, and bowl practice will commence at the end of the week.]
Ryan Van Bergen
How does it feel to be going to the Sugar Bowl and playing Virginia Tech?
“It’s huge for us to be in the Sugar Bowl. It’s a great opportunity for us to this season off strong. We felt like we earned a spot in the BCS with our performance this year. We’re really excited to get one more chance to play as a group. It’s been a special year for us and we get one last chance to make a statement.”
Were you keeping track of all the games yesterday and which teams to root for?
“No I actually stayed off twitter and everything, honestly. I was just sick of hearing the different things and the different scenarios how it all could play out. Just figure let the chips fall where they may. Like I said, we feel like we deserve this spot and we’re really excited about the opportunity to play a good team like Virginia Tech.”
What does this change or add to your legacy?
“It gives us another opportunity. It’s been since 2006 since we’ve been in a BCS game, and I just think it kind of reestablishes what this team has been able to do and how we’ve come, especially with the expectations we had coming into this season. It’s a tremendous opportunity to put a final stamp on this year.”
This is the first time Michigan’s ever played Virginia Tech. How familiar are you with them?
“I can’t lie. I’m not very familiar with them at all. Obviously I’ve only had about two minutes to watch their game film. From the clips on ESPN, they looked pretty good. We didn’t get a chance to watch them too much this season, but obviously we’ll take them very seriously. They’re a very good team, a very talented team. Unfortuantely they’re going to be motivated off their loss to clemson, but they’ve got plenty of athletes, I know that.”
Did you hear what Kirk Cousins said last night about you guys?
“I didn’t catch it. What did he say?”
In a nutshell, that Michigan got to stay home and watch the game on a couch and Michigan State shouldn’t be penalized.
“I mean, if he wants to be able to sit on the couch and watch us play in the Big Ten championship game, then he can do that. We would have loved to trade places and have that chance and have that opportunity. All complaints aside, they had an opportunity to the Rose Bowl sitting right in front of them to grab, and they didn’t seize the opportunity. I think they’ll do well in the Outback Bowl, but best of luck, best wishes -- we’re going to the Sugar Bowl, and we’re excited about it.”
What does the January 3rd spotlight do for this program?
“It’s huge! It’s huge. It kind of establishes national relevance for Michigan as a program. It puts us back on the map, so to speak, as a national powerhouse. It will be great for recruiting, it will be great for the alumni and the fans, but the biggest thing for us: team 132 wants to play again. We’ve really grown close. We have great team chemistry, and the opportunity to play one more game on a stage as big as the Sugar Bowl is huge for us.”
Have you ever been to New Orleans?
“Never been to New Orleans, but I hear Bourbon Street’s pretty cool, so I’ll have to check it out.”
Hoke’s emphasizes winning the conference and rivalry games. Do you expect the same kind of emphasis for a bowl game?
“I know he’s going to emphasize the Big Ten conference and representing the Big Ten conference. It’s more than just about Michigan. It’s about representing the Big Ten conference on the biggest stage as possible. Obviously this is one of the biggest stages you can represent the Big Ten conference in, and we want the Big Ten conference to receive national attention as one of the best conferences in the country. We want to be able to beat out of conference opponents, and then kind of get respect nationally as a conference, and that’s something that we get an opportunity to do representing the Big Ten in the Sugar Bowl.”
How might this bowl game help erase your poor showing in the Gator Bowl last year?
“I think that that’s exactly what it is. It provides an opporunity for the guys who played last year and fell so short in that bowl game -- it provides us a chance to redeem ourselves and show that we can put forth a championship effort in a championship game, because that’s what this is. That’s why I think everyone’s going to be so well motivated and so excited for it.”
What was the reaction like in that room when the bowl game was announced?
“It was huge. It was something, like I said -- we all thought we were going to get it, but we weren’t sure if it was something that was going to happen, but we felt we deserved it. To have it finally and not on some kind of rumor or headline or something like that, having it on good authority that you’re going to that bowl game was huge for everybody I think on that team.”
How did you find out originally?
“We found out upstairs, a couple of us, and then through interviews and stuff like this, we’ve been kind of just notified. It’s been very recent, though …”
Has your roommate David Molk been insufferable since winning Offensive Lineman of the Year?
“Oh you know Molk. He’s such a jabberjaw that he’s so hard to keep contained. That’s all he does is run around the house and talk about how he’s a better O-lineman than me, and I told him, ‘I don’t even play O-line.’ No, I mean, I couldn’t be more happy for Dave Molk and what he’s accomplished. He works so hard, and he’s a tremendous worker, and as far as national accolades go, the sky’s the limit for him. I know that there’s still the Rimington to be announced, and I think he’s the prime candidate for that because he is the best center in the country hands down. I wish him all the best, and I have confidence in the fact that he’s going to be reward for the work that he’s put in.”
Your reaction to Michigan going to the Sugar Bowl?
“I mean, it’s really exciting. It’s a testament to how hard the team worked this year. It’s really good for the senior class. We’ve been through a lot, so it’s good to end on a high note.”
What do you see when you look at Virginia Tech?
“I mean, I can’t say them I followed them a lot this year. They always have good athletes, and I know Marell Evans has a couple friends on their team.”
Van Bergen said he stayed away from everything yesterday to avoid overanalyzing the BCS scenarios. What did you do?
“Oh yeah, I was actually the opposite. I was with a couple of teammates. We were over at Kenny Demens’s house, a few of us. We watched probably every game we could possibly watch throughout the day, and we were going over scenarios and all that. It was a lot of fun, though.”
Who did you think was going to be your opponent?
“We really didn’t know. We kept hearing different stuff. I distinctly remember JB Fitzgerald was so negative the whole day, but I mean we were just going through every scenario possible, googling all the scenarios as each game went on. Like I said, it was a lot of fun.”
What kind of stuff did JB say?
“Just being so negative. He said, ‘Oop, we’re going to the Little Ceasar Bowl in Detroit.’ He was being really sarcastic, and he was basically cheering for every team he should have cheered for. Yesterday if you were following him on twitter you would see that.”
When, where, and how did you find out tonight?
“Actually before our meeting -- Justin Dickens told us earlier, but I wasn’t supposed to say anything, so I kind of had to act surprised. Yeah I found out probably about an hour and a half ago, 7:30.”
What are your plans the rest of the night? Is there a team meeting?
“Yeah we have a team meeting. I guess we’re going to go over all the logistics and all that for about a half hour, 45 minutes. And after that probably just bask in the ambience.”
Ever been to New Orleans?
“Never. Never, but my roommate JB, he has a lot of family down there, so he says it’s a good time.”
What kind of spotlight will the Sugar Bowl provide your team after the season you’ve had and the struggles you had before this season?
“It’ll be a great atmosphere. It’d be great for the team, but it’ll just show everybody Michigan’s back, and we’re serious.”
Did you see Kirk Cousins’s comments after the Michigan State?
“Nah. I didn’t see anything.”
He basically said that Michigan shouldn’t go to a BCS bowl because you guys sat home and watched the Big Ten championship game.
“Yeah. I mean, we did get to recover a little bit, but I’d rather play in the Big Ten championship game. I mean, the inaugural Big Ten championship -- that says a lot of about the teams that played in it. We’d be happy to trade places, but it is what it is.”
Will you make this more of a business trip as a senior and a captain? Do you want this to be very focused?
“Definitely. We went down to Jacksonville and didn’t put on our best performance. It was embarrassing to say the least. We can learn from our mistakes. I mean, we’ll definitely have a little bit of fun, but the main thing is to go down there and win the football game.”
Do you think the focus will be different this time with a different coaching staff?
“No I think the focus is always to win the football game, but I mean it was just disappointing to put all that work into a game and have the outcome we did last year.”
What do you make of the prestige of the BCS games?
“I mean, it’s definitely exciting. One thing that people don’t realize -- I think we’re going to be playing indoors, and a lot of people on the team haven’t played indoors. I have freshman year against Minnesota, but it’s a lot different playing indoors as opposed to playing in Glick. It’ll be a different experience. The lights are a little bit different, but it’s going to be a great stage with a lot of people watching.”
At least it seems that way. [UPDATE: now official.] When infamous Cam Newton "bag man" troll Danny Sheridan was pushing it earlier in the day it just seemed goofy, but via Stewart Mandel:
@DDoughtyOnAir: UVa has advised TV outlets of media coordinates for Chick-fil-A news conference.
That means they've moved up a slot relative to expectations, which means a second ACC team is in the BCS, which means VT is in the Sugar Bowl since all other spots are spoken for. If you need further confirmation, check multiple rumors on this message board that don't come from established insiders but don't really have to at this point.
The Hokies haven't lost to anyone other than Clemson (in dual blowouts) but also haven't played anyone else. They played no BCS teams in the nonconference and their ACC schedule contains no opponent with more than eight wins.
They've got the usual fierce defense (12th in yardage, 8th in scoring) and mediocre run-based offense; former M recruit David Wilson is the nation's seventh-leading rusher and QB Logan Thomas is somewhat mobile. Interestingly, FEI has them essentially equal on both sides of the ball, ranking their units 20th and 21st pending the formula absorbing their Clemosn butt-kicking. Contrary to stereotype, their special teams are eh. They're 108th in net punting; FEI has them 74th in all phases.
Michigan has never played VT.
Michigan finally has a wide receiver in the class, as West Des Moines (IA) Dowling Catholic's Amara Darboh committed to the Wolverines today. He becomes the first of what should be two receivers in the 2012 class, and is Michigan's 24th commitment overall.
Amara Darboh (Photo credit: Public Paul & Media)
4*, #33 WR,
4*, #31 WR,
4*, 93, #19 WR,
The four services essentially agree on Darboh's size, listing him at 6'2" and between 190 and 205 pounds—he's got solid size for a receiver. Scout, Rivals, and 24/7 are eerily close in their evaluation of his talents, all ranking him as a four-star and right around the #200 player in the country, though 24/7 has him well higher than Scout or Rivals in their positional rankings. ESPN is the outlier, and a significant one, rating him as a middling three-star and the #77 receiver in the nation, 44 spots below any other recruiting outlet. Boo, WWL. Boo.
We'll start with the most critical evaluation, from ESPN ($):
Darboh is a combination of strength and quickness as a big receiver with a sturdy build, long arms and nice height. He is part playmaker and part possession player and against this level of competition he can really stand out. He can be an imposing player off the line and shows some physicality when pressed at the line ... Not afraid to go over the middle and will make the tough catch in traffic. Shows good leaping ability and can catch the ball thrown over his head. Tracks the ball well, and does an excellent job of adjusting to the poorly thrown ball or ball thrown to his opposite shoulder on down field throws along the sideline. Can be a body catcher at times, but secures the ball consistently. Has some wiggle in the open field after the catch for a bigger player and displays some natural open field run skills ... We are somewhat concerned about Darboh's top end speed. He does not play as fast as his listed forty times would indicate nor does he possess sudden change-of-direction after the catch.
Sounds like a solid possession receiver without game-breaking athleticism. Also, a decent ability to make big plays despite not being a major deep threat. What say you, Tim Prister of IrishIllustrated ($)?
Excellent size and length help accentuate his deer-like athleticism with the football in the air. Shows nice balance maintaining his feet and running after catches for which he leaves the ground to make. Very fast - probably in the low-to-mid 4.4s - with an effortless running motion. Shows a consistent ability to run away from the crowd in pursuit.
So Prister says he has great speed, and meanwhile lists vision when running after the catch as an area for improvement. It doesn't even sound like ESPN and Prister are scouting the same player, let alone individual game. Can I get some sort of tiebreaker, Clint Brewster of 247Sports ($)?
Darboh shows exceptional speed as a bigger receiver and has another gear once he gets free from a defensive back. Quickness is another aspect that separates Darboh from his competition, as he consistently picks up big gains from short screens or pass patterns. Darboh shows excellent strength and athleticism by breaking tackles from smaller corners and staying up-right. Darboh has a natural feel for the game already by knowing where to sit in zone coverage and also working with his quarterback to find open space when he scrambles. One thing Darboh caught on to quickly was the importance of blocking at the position as he relentlessly blocks until the whistle.
Athleticism: Yes? Yes. Meanwhile, blocking comes up in multiple evaluations as being a strength, while Darboh's route-running and stance—he seems to stand a little high off the snap, leaving himself susceptible to getting jammed—are cited by multiple outlets as relative weaknesses.
Finally, here's his own high school coach on what Darboh brings to the team:
"He's a big, physical player," Dowling coach Tom Wilson said of his 6-2, 200-pounder. "I've seen him compared to Roddy White of the Falcons — a bigger guy that can run very well. He ran 4.42. He's a kid that's had an awful lot of big plays for us in his three years as a starter, and we don't have many three-year starters here. Amara is a special talent."
Roddy White, you say? Why yes, I'd like one of those.
Darboh had a lengthy offer list, with finalists Notre Dame, Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin joined by Iowa State, Kansas State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Vanderbilt. Rivals also shows interest but no offer from Oregon and USC. Not bad for a player who missed a large portion of his senior season with a shoulder injury.
Despite playing in only seven games this season, Darboh amassed 48 catches for 765 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a junior, he had 49 receptions for 646 yards and 6 TDs, and in his sophomore year he posted 25 for 371 and a TD.
FAKE 40 TIME
Darboh ran a hand-timed 4.42 40 at an Iowa State camp last summer. There are some questions about Darboh's top-end speed, and you usually need to mentally add on a couple tenths of a second for any hand-timed run, so I'll give this one three FAKEs out of five.
Junior year highlights:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Darboh is going to get a shot at immediate playing time thanks to Michigan's severe lack of depth at receiver. Junior Hemingway and Martavious Odoms graduate after this season, leaving a solid starting trio of Darryl Stonum—assuming his return after an indefinite suspension due to off-field issues—Roy Roundtree, and Jeremy Gallon. Beyond those three, there isn't a proven wideout on the roster: remaining receivers Jeremy Jackson, Drew Dileo, and Jerald Robinson have a combined 17 career receptions (this is assuming that Terrence Robinson doesn't get a fifth year, but even if he does, he hasn't been a factor as a WR).
Could Darboh come in and play right away? Absolutely, given his great natural size and athleticism, but it's also possible that there's just enough depth on the squad for him to take his time and develop during a redshirt year—it's going to be a question of whether or not Darboh is a clear upgrade from any of the backup options. After 2012, regardless of his role as a true freshman, Darboh should compete for a starting spot, and he's got a chance to be a multi-year starter with all-conference upside.
No matter what, Darboh should be a great person to have on the team. The original Des Moines Register story is now stuck behind an archive paywall, but here's a sample of what Darboh went through just to survive a turbulent childhood and make it to America, via The Survivors Club:
The civil unrest that erupted in the Republic of Sierra Leone in 1991 initiated the near eleven year war that swept through the country, threatening the lives of residents. In the capital, Freetown, Amara Darboh was just 2-years-old when his father and mother, Solimon and Kadita, were killed during a surge of violence. His father was a member in the military and after his parents’ deaths, he had few options.
Left in the care of surviving family members, their only choice was to flee. Amara spent the next several years living in Gambia and Senegal as a refugee. Life looked bleak for little Amara who had lost his parents and was unable to return home because of the ongoing civil war. Where was he to go if not back home?
The first seven years of his life were spent surviving life and death situations, education seemed impossible, and the hope for a better future was non-existent.
But when Amara was 7-years-old, an unexpected and seemingly impossible event happened. “It was a refugee program. We randomly got picked to come to Des Moines,” he told the Des Moines Register.
Darboh ended up in the care of Dan and Mary Schaefer, whose son Max introduced him to the sport of football. You're strongly encouraged to read the whole article—Darboh is clearly mature beyond his years, and he should be a great presence in the locker room regardless of on-field impact.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now down to four remaining open spots in the 2012 class, and besides a definite need for one more receiver—with Jehu Chesson being the most likely to end up in the class at this point—things are up in the air. Offensive linemen like Josh Garnett, Zach Banner, and Jordan Diamond all have Michigan very much in the mix, and it looks probable that the Wolverines will add one last lineman. Cornerback Yuri Wright has listed Michigan in his top group for a long time, but still needs to make it onto campus. The coaching staff may look to add a tight end to replace Pharaoh Brown, with Taylor McNamara and J.P. Holtz both getting in-home visits in recent days. And of course, there's running back Bri'onte Dunn, who the Wolverines are still trying to wrest from the grasp of Ohio State.
If you asked me right now to predict the final four spots, in order of confidence, I'd say Chesson, Dunn, Wright, and Diamond, but past Dunn there's not a prospect on the board where Michigan looks to have better than a 50-50 shot. That's not to say Michigan won't finish out the class strong—I'd expect they fill it with at least three four-star players when all is said and done—just that it's difficult to project who will jump on those final few open spots at this moment.
You have no idea how long it took to find a Sugar Bowl image without a corporate logo. Thanks to the Bentley Library.
After last night's events one thing is clear: nothing is clear. Oklahoma State's case for the national title game will come down to winning 40% of the hearts and minds out there and Michigan's destination hinges on that decision. That Sugar vs Houston thing is ancient history.
But we can make some educated guesses. Everyone expects Michigan to crack the top 14. Oklahoma and Houston are projected to drop behind Michigan and according to Palm, MSU's awful computer rankings (average of 20.75) mean they'd have to stay two spots in front of M in the polls to stay in front of them in the BCS. That's not happening. So don't worry. M is in.
[UPDATE: Michigan is 12th in the coaches poll, ahead of MSU. They are in. Oklahoma State got only 13 of 59 second place votes—insane—and it looks like the
Fiesta Sugar vs. Somebody.]
Nobody expects TCU to crack the top 16 and earn the non-AQ autobid available to a conference champion ranked above the BE winner. They're out; the available pool of teams once Oregon, LSU, and Clemson are removed from the equation:
- Maybe Alabama
- Boise State
- Kansas State/Baylor/OU
- Virginia Tech
There are two worlds. One in which the rematch happens and one in which it doesn't. Those worlds should be addressed separately.
Alabama in title game
This is the scenario we've been dealing with so far. The Sugar loses the SEC champ. Okie State is locked into the Fiesta. The Sugar picks Michigan first from the motley crew above. The Fiesta grabs the next-most attractive team, which everyone thinks is Stanford, and then it's the Sugar's turn again.
The Sugar Bowl spends several minutes punching itself in the face and then… uh. Mandel says they pick Kansas State. So does Jerry Palm. Other possibilities are matching up RGIII against Denard (ay yai yai!), the Rodriguez Bowl versus WVU, or Boise State getting in because they're actually the best team available.
Your opinion of this will vary with your confidence Michigan can take out a Boise or a Stanford. If you think the chances of that are low, you love taking on a KSU team that can't pass and is in the BCS picture because they beat Texas with 120 yards of total offense. If you think Michigan's got a shot at one of the aforementioned teams, KSU is just Houston except a better matchup.
Oklahoma State in title game
Should sanity prevail—don't bet on it—the conventional wisdom assumes the Sugar takes two nanoseconds to snap up Alabama. The Fiesta then has the next two picks. From this The "BCS Guru" somehow arrives at… Michigan-Kansas State. We can't quit you, Manhattan.
I think that's an error on his part and we will see a Michigan-Stanford matchup in the scenario where the BCS does not condemn college football to a divisional rematch for the "national" title game. That's what some random other website about the BCS has.
If you like ads, there is a two hour block of programming on ESPN in which there is one piece of information requiring ten seconds to relay you care about tonight, starting at 8:15.
EVERYBODY ELSE: 'YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR A BCS BOWL'
All of that is classic, but "Spartans strengthen brand despite loss" is uber.
New Hockeybear. The Alaska hockey series is previewed by Yesman. Alaska means hockeybear. There is new Hockeybear.
Yeah, it's not as good as last year's, but they were due for a comedown after making the greatest hype video in the history of the world. I do like that it makes me think of Take On Me.
UFR update. It is not going to happen this week. It's a long story but I ended up having to disassemble my laptop almost wholly—I still have a half-dozen screws left over, looking for a home—over the course of the week. This was accompanied by the usual shouting and banging that precedes total laptop disassembly. Sorry; look for both halves early next week.
We are 2% of the way to this game. The thing the man said to the people at Tulane about wanting a game against Michigan turns out to be a real thing:
Rich Rodriguez wants a piece of his former employer.
UA athletic director Greg Byrne said Thursday he and the Wildcats' new coach discussed playing Michigan, which fired Rodriguez after the 2010 season.
"He brought it up like, 'Hey, let's look at this down the road,'" Byrne said. "I said, 'Sure.'"
But not a really real thing.
Byrne said the conversation lasted 10 seconds. He has yet to contact the Wolverines.
"It's a two-way path to play a game," he said.
I'd rather not dredge that up again, but if they want it enough to do a one-off at Michigan Stadium it's better than playing East Nowhere.
Something that turns out to not be true. Yeah: the seat filler thing was a hoax that lured me in. Mea culpa. Well played, whoever you are.
Iowa on the decline? The High Porch Picnic breaks out the recruiting stars for a rough evaluation of the amount of talent available for the Hawkeyes next year, finding that the offense will drop a little (from 3.0 to 2.9) and the defense will fall off a cliff even from its current dilapidated state. This year Iowa's average is 2.7; they graduate seven starters and will be dealing with this:
Standard disclaimers about stars not being the be-all and end-all apply but holy dang, man. Remember that window when Iowa was recruiting at a top 25 level? Not so much these days. HPP sums up:
Not only do we lose 7 starters to graduation but their replacements (based upon our current depth chart) aren't highly touted. For guys like Alvis, Hyde and Miller the stars don't seem to matter much. For everyone else, especially the rest of the defensive line, it's one big GOD HELP US. That's just something to think about following the bowl game. Remember when Vint wrote this article and Ross wrote this one? Yeah, just like Penny Lane said: it's all happening.
With a couple of disappointing years in the rear-view mirror already, unless that defense vastly outperforms recruiting expectations this could be the beginning of the end for Ferentz. While Iowa is grateful and patient it will be hard to look at the trajectory there and get excited about it.
BONUS IOWA WORRY: They lost a freshman WR to a transfer in a class Vint says this about:
Grant is the third member of the Class of 2011 to leave the program -- defensive end John Raymond left in September under similar circumstances (Raymon was from the Philadelphia area and got homesick), and Rodney Coe was unable to qualify and left for Iowa Western C.C. -- which, coming off massive attrition in the classes of 2008 and 2009, is a troubling number for a class that Iowa desperately needs on the field.
Boy, we've been there. Now if Ferentz can maintain his puntasaur ways against us we're in business.
Speaking of corn. Iowa State is this weekend. UMHoops has a full preview; the Cyclones are a hodge-podge of former Big Ten players like MSU's Chris Allen, Minnesota's Royce White, and PSU's Chris Babb.
They're better than they were a year ago but haven't really played anyone—Lehigh and Northern Iowa are their only top 100 opponents in Kenpom—and lost games against Drake and UNI, both in-state mid-majors. Their offense is humming along thanks to a 56.8 EFG%; their defense is still pretty crap. They let opponents shoot a lot of uncontested shots (223rd in EFG% D, 300th in turnovers forced, 22nd in FTAs allowed) and rebound well.
Michigan should win. This is a team that was 3-13 in the Big Twelve last year and they haven't so much as played a major conference school to prove they're much different. Kenpom has them an eight point favorite with around an 80% chance of victory.
More NBA draft. The Daily hits up Ford for his opinion on Burke:
“I spend the start of my year talking to our high school scouting guys about who are the freshmen to watch, who are one-and-done candidates — he wasn’t mentioned,” Ford said. “He was a steady kid, not flashy like a lot of the players can be. I think a lot of the scouting guys … see that and they say, ‘He’s not as good.’
“Well now when you see him play that way in college, it’s all poise. He’s unselfish, he’s getting people involved, he gets his own shot, but he’s not out there just primarily looking for his own shot.” …
“One of the NBA GMs said to me, ‘Well look, think of the 30 backup point guards in the NBA and then look at him and what he does and say, ‘Could he do that?’ And I think the answer is yeah.”
There's some one-and-done chatter, which is a bit scary. Michigan does not have a Burke waiting in the wings like they did last year and would have to go with… uh… Brundidge? That's a scary prospect since he's currently behind Eso Akunne. I still think anyone not going in the lottery this year will be inclined to hit up a much weaker draft in 2012, but can a brother get a four year player around here?
Exit Burns. The only head coach in the history of Michigan soccer is gone:
"As a Michigan alum, I'm proud of everything we've been able to accomplish within the soccer program," Burns said in a statement released by the Athletic Department.
"I will forever cherish the relationships that I have developed over the past 12 years with players, assistant coaches, support staff and fellow coaches within the department. However, it's time for a new direction in my life and leadership for Michigan soccer."
Losing Meram, both Saads, and his top incoming recruit was too much to deal with and the team collapsed from a College Cup appearance to a 5-14-1 record. Speculation as to his successor naturally focuses on Caleb Porter, the piped piper of Akron and the Olympic team's coach. It was Porter's team that made Michigan look like the USNT against Brazil in that College Cup game.
Many in a thread with a lot of people close to the situation say he won't leave, but there's got to be a chance. Michigan should punch him in the face with the highest salary in the country; this is a high leverage opportunity to make one of your programs a national power for a relative drop in the bucket.
Montoya on Yost. Bang:
“I’ve played in some great rinks in the NHL and with Team USA, but when you get those 7,000 fans in Yost Ice Arena, there’s not anything like it,” he said. “I’m glad I went to a program like that.”
Etc.: Other Brian unearths self for Genuinely Sarcastic column, receiving bonus points for reminding me of Bring Your Champions, They're Our Meat by referencing historical events with no apparent connection to the game in question. If Johnny posts I think we'll have everyone save IBFC covered in the aftermath.
A few days ago, occasional MGoGuestPoster Jon Chait marked the start of the offseason by posting something at NY Magazine about whether or not players should be paid. In a week or so we'll get the annual flood of playoff proposals, all of which are better than the current system, none of which are better than mine. (There is also a long post answering Joe Posnanski's playoff objections.) It is in these ways that we brace for the long, football-free summer.
So let's argue about paying players. Chait makes a few arguments that I agree with: that the "man in the top hat and monocle" who's cackling evilly as he exploits revenue athletes is the nonrevenue section of the department, that the ever-more lavish facilities and resources devoted to revenue athletes are a form of compensation*, that Jerry Sandusky doesn't have anything to do with anything, that the massive Atlantic article that had the bad form to be released during football season is a litany of complaints without solutions.
But I don't buy the idea that it's impossible to answer this question:
This basic conceptual problem casts light on the practical problem: Which athletes deserve to get paid?
This is what markets are for. Chait acknowledges this but says…
Such reasoning is sensible if you regard the ability to produce market value as the sole arbiter of social value. But it’s a strange credo for a reform movement putatively concerned with protecting young people from exploitation. And it bears little relation to reality: Go ask a female basketball player if she’s exploiting her male counterparts, or ask a quarterback if he is being economically victimized by the volleyball team.
Since I'm not a member of this reform movement I can say this argument is a little silly. I'm guessing that quarterback might say yes; ask him about his millionaire coaches and you'll get more affirmatives. He dismisses arguments about low-income athletes by saying the NCAA "unfairly ignore[d]" non-athletes when they voted that cost of attendance increase and that the problem here is that revenue athletes are not getting college degrees.
And like the Atlantic article, Chait weakens his case when he gets down to solutions, which are pitched at the degree problem. He provides three:
…one obvious reform is to make all freshmen ineligible for athletics, as they were until three decades ago.
While this is feasible it is unlikely to make a huge difference in outcomes.
A second, related reform would be to guarantee five years of free-ride tuition to every scholarship athlete who maintains a clean record – the automatic red-shirt season plus four more years of eligibility.
Thumbs up. This is something I've been advocating forever and would be an improvement. If you want to cut a kid, fine. He remains on scholarship.
The explosion in college coaching pay reflects both market competition and a simple desire by schools to use an astronomical salary to signal their coach’s excellence. So why not phase in a cap on coaches’ pay?
Because the NCAA already tried to do this and lost a lawsuit.
Taken together, those reforms don't really do anything. Oversigning gets less odious. This does not stop tediously enormous Atlantic articles from being published because "not getting degrees" is not the issue. The issue is select administrators getting rich while other, poorer people beat their brains out. In such an environment, trips to Miami and free tattoos and loaner cars are inevitable. Fixing that is the real issue.
*[It's worth pointing out that colleges do not have the option to extort local governments for facilities.]
Fixing Everything Forever
Operative theory: the NCAA's prohibition on taking money from everyone is working as well as Prohibition. The following randomly selected picture has nothing to do with this argument.
Right now the NCAA stance in re: professional athletics is to stick its fingers in its ears and go "LA LA LA LA." Enter a draft voluntarily and your eligibility is gone. Sign something binding you to an agent—even without financial compensation—and your eligibility is gone. Get sponsored by something and your eligibility is gone even if you're an Olympic athlete like Jeremy Bloom and you're playing an entirely different sport at an amateur level.
This does not stop the money flowing into the system, it just pushes it underground where no one can control it and it unbalances the playing fields. Steps to fix this:
1. Allow players to sign with agents, and get paid by them. Several restrictions apply. Agents must be registered with both the NCAA and the professional league in question and have clients from a variety of schools. The league in question must project the player as a draftable prospect. And there should be a cap on how much any individual can get paid. The agent system should be phased in gradually and carefully examined for abuse and unintended consequences.
This does a ton of things simultaneously. It lessens the hypocrisy of the system by allowing people who want to pay the kids to do so. It gives the NCAA leverage over a class of people who are banned outright—and therefore uncontrollable—now. It removes the agents' incentive to get kids out of school so they can enter a formal contractual relationship. It removes a big chunk of NCAA regulations, allowing the organization to focus on a smaller list of problems. It levels the playing field and removes a whole host of bad PR. It does not impact the schools' bottom lines.
2. Allow players who enter a draft to retain their eligibility. Hockey players all get drafted at 18 whether they want to or not. They can then play in the NCAA. This has not imploded college hockey. But if a basketball player puts his name in the draft he has to withdraw it ever-sooner if he wants to retain his eligibility. Actually going through with the process terminates his college career no matter the outcome.
If a player enters a professional draft and the team who drafts him doesn't want him on the roster, it doesn't hurt to let the player in question go back to school and play. Every year there are players who enter drafts and are passed over entirely; if they've retained their academic eligibility they should be allowed back. Not doing so is punitive.
3. Drop the QB #16 fiction and acknowledge that players own their images. This is going to happen via lawsuit in the near future; when the NCAA gets its ass handed to it in court they can go one of two ways. They can either force EA to have random rosters or they can give the players a cut. They should do the latter.
The things that have put the NCAA under fire of late consist almost entirely of people outside the system trying to give revenue athletes money. The NCAA rejects this because they uphold the ideal of amateurism, which has as much relevance in 2011 as temperance unions.
What is the downside of acknowledging that players have market value and allowing them to realize some of that value? There doesn't seem to be any. If the NCAA ever derived positive PR from its stance that's dead and gone. Let the players have a taste of their labors.
BONUS: Braves and Birds responds to the same column.
Eric Upchurch (original)
So that's what beating Ohio State feels like, in case you forgot or something. Apparently it involves lots of hugging, and not the cool Ace-meets-Stranger DAP hug kind. I'm talking about the the kind where you grab on like you're sharing a parachute and then hop up and down a few times to simulate a freefall, because you're not entirely sure gravity really applies right now and you should really find that out.
It was the counter clock, but also that they spent the last 10 years spitting in the face of the NCAA (discussion by michelin) and this completely worked for them because in college football winning makes you saints and angels (MGauxBleu) and if you do get caught it's okay because you can just
fire accept the resignation of that coach and bring in a savior (SixZero). There was only one thing we could do in return: beat them at football.
That was pretty awesome. Also awesome: Denard Robinson:
So all Denard did was go out and play one of the single greatest games this rivalry has seen. Commanding an offense that heretofore this rivalry had maybe never seen. Beating back the undeservedly arrogant and smug naysayers, who for so long had relished his and his team's failures. This Saturday was not theirs. This Saturday was Denard's.
That's an afterglow diary from My name … is Tim. (Aftergloat from THE_KNOWLEDGE is here).
Airvipermb looked into Robinson's passing stats for this year and found steady improvement. And bwgrudt1484 put Denard's career numbers against M's career leaders. Robinson needs to average about 351 yards and 4 TDs per game the rest of his career to best Henne (unlikely) but 131 yards and 1.5 TDs be our best rusher ever. This is the first time I believe I've seen "Tacopants" referenced as a last name, kind of like how MaGuyver's first name finally came out in his 7th (and final) season. Both of those links are quick reads and worth it.
Not as worth it: the new hockeybear:
In the deep, frozen reaches of space there is a hockey puck. This puck electrifies and floats into the deleted hockey scene from A Scanner Darkly. Meanwhile a polar bear puts on a glove and transforms into a Power Ranger. Summoning his hockey stick from the ice planet of Hoth, Hockeybear stands atop the hockey puck, roars, electrifies, and cuts to a Science Channel special on volcanoes. Its most redeeming feature is the summoned hockey stick destroying the International Space Station while en route to Hockeybear, which (the destroying) is either the sole remaining nod to Hockeybear's ship-, world-, and Michigan's rivals-annihilating ways, or an important public service message about collateral damage when summoning objects through space (Voltron, Silverhawks et al. take heed!).
Michigan makes its final CCHA trip to Alaska-Fairbanks this weekend. Preview? Yesman2221 has you covered.
In etc. Eye of the Tiger examines the SEC Myth for cracks. See if you can guess which two of these three outstanding names are 2013 recruits that Ace interviewed:
And this link is 100% OT but did anyone else with a "Kovacs, Michigan" Google Alert feed accidentally end up reading the most Daily article ever this week?
Jump, weeklies, best of the board.
It’s not quite the fourth quarter against Notre Dame, but Saturday had as many ups and downs on the Win Chart as any we’ve seen this year.
We’ll go with 5 plays each this week to mark the occasion.
1. Play 112, 14.2%, Robinson to Odoms on 3rd and 11 to give Michigan the lead back for good while the OL gave Denard all day.
2. Play 163, 11.2%, Robinson to Dileo for 28 yards on Michigan’s final drive.
3. Play 22, 11.1%, Robinson runs for 41 yards to tie it up early.
4. Play 165, 9.5%, Robinson runs for 14 yards to keep the clock moving and the drive going late.
5. Play 137, 9.3%, the defense gets in the mix, stopping Miller on 3rd and Goal from the 2, leading to the FG instead of a touchdown.
1. Play 7, –12.8%, Miller goes deep for the first score of the game.
2. Play 95, –12.0%, Miller goes deep a second time to give Ohio a halftime lead.
3. Play 172, –8.8%, Steve Watson’s personal foul pushed 3rd and Goal from difficult to impossible and increases the degree of difficulty on an impending field goal.
4. Play 134, –8.6%, Miller goes for 23 yards to give Ohio 1st and Goal at the 5 late in the third quarter.
5. Play 74, –7.1%, Miller uses my favorite NCAA Football play with an athletic QB, the wrong way speed option for a TD.
Ohio Game Scores
Rushing: +12, tops in Big Ten play and behind only SD St and E Michigan on the year
Passing: +11, second only to Northwestern on the season
Rush Defense: –9, worst score of the season
Pass Defense: –7, only Notre Dame was worse
Special Teams: +3, the late field goal pushed this to the top of the list for this year
Denard: As I tweeted earlier this week, Denard had the 5th best game of any QB this year at +24. It was both his best passing (+13) and best rushing (+11) game of the season. It was only the 7th +10 rushing performance by any QB this year and the first to pair it with a passing number higher then +3!
Toussaint: +1, a solid but not spectacular day.
Miller: Braxton Miller is going to be a force. His +15 (+6/+9) was his best game of the year by 6 points. His three games have been his three best. Had Ohio gone with him from the start Ohio is probably has at least 8 wins now.
Saturday’s +23 was the 9th best opponent adjusted offensive game of the year for any team and the best game in BCS conference play.
Fired Coach Dumb Punt of the Week
Several good candidates this week. Clemson punting from the 35 late in the third trailing by two touchdowns. Ohio punting from the 36 trailing by 6 in the third. This week’s award goes to the $8 Million Dollar Man Mike Sherman who punted from the 41 twice in the second half, going on to blow their
42nd 6th lead of the season and losing the final chapter of the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry on a last second field goal.
Big Ten Projection Recap
Team: Pred W, Pred B1G W
Illinois: 8.0, 4.5
Indiana: 2.9, 0.6
Iowa: 7.8, 4.6
Michigan: 8.0, 4.8
Michigan St: 8.0, 4.7
Minnesota: 3.9, 1.2
Nebraska: 10.1, 6.1
Northwestern: 3.9, 1.7
Ohio: 9.3, 5.8
Penn St: 8.5, 5.2
Purdue: 5.7, 2.7
Wisconsin: 10.3, 6.3
That’s an average error of 1.4 games/team in total and 1.3 in conference play. Ohio was clearly my biggest miss, missing both numbers by about 3 games. Wisconsin was dead on and Iowa, Minnesota, Penn St and Purdue were all pretty close. I had the top and bottom of the Woody division correctly ranked but the middle was a mess. For the Bo division I swapped Nebraska and Sparty both nailed the other 4.
Nationally, picking conference winners went decently. Virginia Tech is favored in the ACC title game, along with other picks of mine like Wisconsin and Oregon. West Virginia is right in the middle of the Big East mess. If Alabama could make a field goal they would be playing for the SEC title and Oklahoma is playing for the Big XII’s BCS berth at bedlam.
In the smaller conferences, Tulsa, Toledo, Boise and Nevada all had shots but fell just short of championships while Troy wasn’t even close in the Sun Belt.
Advanced Metrics All-B1G
Offensive players are listed as PAN (per game)/WPA (total). OL is excluded because I have no stats specific to players. TE are evaluated solely on receiving. Defensive players are listed as Plays/Value (count and magnitude of plays made negative to the offense). Kickers and punters are cumulative for the season.
This is not meant to be absolute, but it is a ranking based solely on the advanced metrics, no judgment calls on my part.
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin +13/+3.4
Montee Ball, Wisconsin +5/+1.2 & Marcus Coker, Iowa +1/+0.7
Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern +3/+0.8
Jeremy Ebert, Northwestern +8/+2.1 & Marvin McNutt, Iowa +7/+1.3 & AJ Jenkins, Illinois +7/+1.3
Broderick Binns, Iowa 47/32 & Whitney Mercilus, Illinois 35/36
Devon Still, Penn St 45/28 & Johnathan Hankins, Ohio 50/21
Jonathan Brown, Illinois 75/41 & Lavonte David, Nebraska 59/29 & Gerald Hodges, Penn St 52/28
Josh Johnson, Purdue 33/21 & Bradley Roby, Ohio 21/27
Brian Peters, Northwestern 32/28 & Drew Astorino, Penn St 34/18
Dan Conroy, Michigan St +12.4
Ben Buchanan, Ohio +10
Denard Robinson, Michigan +7/+3.5
Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan +1/+.4 & Rex Burkhead, Nebraska +0/+.3
Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin +2/+0.3
BJ Cunningham, Michigan St +7/+1.1 & Nick Toon, Wisconsin +6/+1.0 & Da’Jon McKnight, Minnesota +4/+0.8
John Simon, Ohio 40/25 & Michael Buchanan, Illinois 38/18
Mike Daniels, Iowa 40/22 & Akeem Spence, Illinois 40/18
David Nwabuisi, Northwestern 51/21 & Ian Thomas, Illinois 47/20 & Will Compton, Nebraska 49/18
Tavon Wilson, Illinois 28/17 & Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern 25/17
Jordan Kovacs, Michigan 17/27 & CJ Barnett, Ohio 25/18
Brett Maher, Nebraska +11.8
Cody Webster, Purdue +8
Ryan van Bergen, Mike Martin and Kenny Demens all narrowly missed spots on the second team defense.
Don’t know if articles will be coming weekly, but I have a number of articles and ideas in the hopper for the pre and post-bowl season.
A bowl game preview
The promised Game Theory Manifesto
A 4th down redux, a more detailed look at fourth down decision making with an added tool of offensive and defensive strength sliders for dynamic decision making.
A critique of success rates and the concept of “staying ahead of the chains”
A semi-related post on why I think the running back position is overrated
A more detailed looks at the EV and WPA implications tied to UFR.
EV and WPA by coaches and if I can find a good source of history, coordinators, as well.
Some recruiting themed posts around signing day on the back of a massive recruiting database I am building on the back of my play by play database. I think there is a lot of potential here, just don’t know if I can pull it off.
Any user submitted ideas that are sure to be better than what I have listed so far.
Finally! No,... FINALLY!!!!!
So that game was closer than it should have been. Raise your hand if you think the replay official had taken Ohio against the spread. A touchdown would have made it a 10 point game with Michigan covering the 9 point spread. But let's bitch about that later.
10-2 with wins against ND and OSU! It's beyond all expectations. If we hadn't laid an egg at Iowa and gotten screwed by the refs that game, we'd be sitting with just one loss, 3 close wins, and 8 curb stompings. You could say that I'm sold on this coaching staff. I had no idea the coordinators and position coaches would be this good. We still have a lot of issues with our WLB and our secondary, but we're light years ahead of where we were last season.
On to the pics!
I have to give him credit for coming out with an aggressive gameplan that put a lot of pressure on Braxton Miller's arm and Posey's ability to get separation. It almost worked. But the punt from the 36 yard line was a pure Zookian moment.
It's 4th and 4, the game is a high scoring affair, you've been moving the ball pretty well with your mobile QB and there's a strong possibility that you'd only be gaining 16 yards with a punt anyway. There's no debate. This was a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE decision. Their punter did a good job executing the coffin corner kick, but that still doesn't justify the thought process.
Add that to Fickell's continued clock mismanagement, and I doubt you'll find a single bucknut fan who is sad to see him go (or demoted, or whatever). Not forcing a punt at the end of the first half was not that bad with a one point lead, but wasting 16 seconds for a 3rd down spike on the last drive was just awful. You could even hear Spielman rolling his eyes at that.
F* That guy
Miller is going to be a problem going forward. He fits "Urban Meyer's offense" as Spielman called it during the game (so much for the two weeks of pretense) almost perfectly. He doesn't throw a very accurate ball but *cough*tebow*cough* that doesn't mean he can't be successful in that offense.
It is interesting to note that Miller had 9 TD's and only 3 picks. Yeah, he didn't have many yards or attempts and was under 50% passing, but that's still pretty remarkable for a true freshman. He's been missing his receivers in safe ways and pulling it to run if the coverage doesn't look right. That's pretty good ball security for someone you'd expect to misread coverages due to inexperience.
He started out the game doing what we expected, we just weren't ready for his speed on the first couple of plays. On this 2nd and long, Ryan is blitzing from a walked off OLB spot.
But his path is a little too much to the outside. I know he's thinking about contain, but he's got to aim more directly at Boren and then use his arms to stay off the block.
Instead, he gets pushed outside and the tackle is free to release onto Demens.
Morgan has to do a better job of reading that lineman crossing the LOS and react quicker to Miller. Ryan would adjust later, but this gave them an important early 1st down.
Mattison really sold out on stopping the run and stopping Miller's scrambling. On Kovacs' delayed blitz, you can see we did a much better job of filling the running lanes on the rush. Morgan is playing spy (which was kind of useless...) and the D-line is free to shoot the gaps away from the blitzer.
But Miller is very elusive and showed great leg strength in getting away not only from Kovacs, but also RVB. Fortunately Demens and Martin have followed the play allowing Kovacs a second shot at the sack. Meanwhile, Morgan is .... well I think Ohio watched a lot of film on Morgan and decided to go after him all game.
Martin and RVB were great all day (of course), and they were twisting on most passing downs. This is a pretty good idea when the O-line you're facing is known to have communication problems. On this play RVB is supposed to go around Martin, but Brewster gives Martin a pretty good pop.
That's no problem for the two seniors, RVB just decides to go first and Martin swings around.
The center and guard are so concerned with Mike, they let VanBergen go free for the easy TFL.
Miller picked up 1st downs with his legs all day. The early bombs really messed with our gameplan and gave him more room to run. On this 3rd and long, we've got Kovacs in the box in our crazy lineup with all the guys on the line and different people dropping out. Because of the earlier passing success, three people are dropping into coverage, even though Ohio LOVES to call the QB draw in this situation.
The result is that Morgan got caught with his weight going the wrong direction and Miller galloped over Kovacs for a big gainer.
But I think Mattison just decided he wasn't going to let Boom Herron beat us. I think Herron ended up with less than 40 yards because of plays like this. Here we've got Kovacs coming off the receiver to run blitz.
And again you can see the linemen shooting gaps away from him.
Kovacs gets in there so fast that both Boren and Posey are blocking air. Jordan gets the TFL and the Ohio is stuck in another 3rd and long.
Miller ran the speed option a lot the last few games and that continued against us. On this touchdown, he cuts against the grain and makes Roh miss in space. Spielman was babbling about how great a play call this was and how it was a counter speed option.
I call bullshit. They definitely do have a counter speed option, but this play wasn't it. You can tell because Roh is unblocked. On the designed counter, the tackle engages the end and tries to seal him inside or kick him outside.
This looks more like improvisation by Miller. I think they just tell Posey to block on the backside like he means it on every play. They got a TD here simply on Miller's talent, not on any blocking scheme. You can see he takes a hard jabstep upfield that fools Roh just enough so that he can get outside.
After that he makes an amazing jumpcut and his momentum carries him into the endzone.
THIS is the counter speed option, except it's a playaction pass. The tip off that it's a pass is that Miller turns away from the LOS instead of going nose towards it.
It's a well designed play that turns into a rollout to the right. They've got three layers with a deep corner, the intermediate cross, and Stonebrunner is going to release into the flat. If the Defense over pursues the rollout, there's even a throwback available to Herron.
But Stonebrunner doesn't hold his block long enough or Miller doesn't get enough depth and Roh is right up in his face.
A more experienced QB might have tried to hit #11 who is open, but like I said before, Miller has been very safe with the ball. Morgan does a good job of knowing who he's playing against and comes up expecting the run instead of uselessly trailing the TE.
He was wide open though. And Denard made a similar play that turned a sack into a short gain. Maybe Miller will be making those plays in the years ahead. Guh.
I'm just glad we'll have Mattison. Because when push came to shove and we needed a stop on the goal-line in the 4th quarter, Mattison basically declared that Miller wasn't going to run the ball in. And credit Kovacs for picking up the TE on playaction so that Miller didn't have an easy throw.
F* this guy too
With only one game of film to watch, our DB's were not prepared for Posey's talent.
But after a couple of short passes to him, they were very concerned about his presence. A little too concerned.
If Gordon hadn't screwed the pooch on this, the ball was not well thrown and he could have given Brown a harder time catching it since Miller threw it to the wrong shoulder and brown had to turn around to find it.
I'm going to give our DB's a tiny little bit of slack in saying they haven't faced anyone with Posey's skill except for Michael Floyd. And they had a lot of safety help against Floyd that they didnt' get for this game. Posey is as close to Mario Mannigham that I've seen on an oposing team. He does a great job of getting on the DB's toes and making them turn their hips. But still...
Even though this is a triple move, (headfake outside, cut inside, cut outside)...
You can't let a guy get that wide open. Lucky for us this duck was overthrown.
If you're going to put 8 men in the box and play man up against the WR, then freaking play man up. Troy has Posey one on one, but because he's lined up so far back, there's no chance for him to make a play on anything but a fly.
This deep cross was not a fly.
And it didn't help that Posey turned Troy around with an outside fake. Amazingly, Miller hit him in stride (no it wasn't a tight spiral).
Posey did it to all three of our DB's (Kovacs was essentially a LB this game). On the last drive he turns around Floyd. J.T. was thinking about getting an interception, and we almost paid dearly for it.
We were about a yard and a half from being down by a point. There would have still been 1:30+ left on the clock, but I was pretty happy to see this ball hit the ground. Our offense was pretty good, and Denard was pretty accurate, but no offense to Gibbons, I'm glad we didn't have to drive for a winning field goal.
[hit the jump for the remainder]
Hemingway slot business.
As I understand it, you use smaller, quicker WR's in the slot because they are matched up against lumbering LB's who can't keep up. You then use bigger, stronger WR's on the outside against the smaller CB's. It seems like we use Hemmingway in the slot quite often with Gallon or Odoms on the outside. Am I missing something here? I just don't understand why Hemmingway is in the slot so much. It's not like he is Floyd or Calvin Johnson, and they are trying to move him all over the field to keep defenses question because they are so freaked out about Hemmingway.
If you're not going to screen with those slots or use them as runners, there's not a whole lot of point to making those slot dudes little buggers. Putting your top WR there does get you some advantages.
One: it's hard to jam the guy since he's starting off the line of scrimmage and many defenses don't feature a guy directly over the slot. Two: you're essentially preventing the opponent's top corner from covering the guy man to man. If that's not the case you're forcing a nickel package on the field and forcing that corner away from his regular spot. This can have negative impacts on run fills from both members of the secondary. Three: hypothetically your big guy is a relatively good blocker and having him in the slot can help you attack the edge. This works better when we're talking about Floyd or BJ Cunningham.
Just because Hemingway isn't Floyd or Megatron doesn't mean he's not the closest thing Michigan has available, and since the Michigan offense involves zero quick throws to the slot, putting him there doesn't cost you anything.
A timely response on next year's OL.
Despite the awesome win at Illinois this week I still felt like Omameh had a rough day as I saw him get beat on a few occasions. Here's a question for you - based on the outlook for 2012, do you think the coaches might consider moving him to RT and keeping Schofield and Barnum as the two guards? Maybe Omameh just isn't cut out for mauling large DT or pulling, which is what the guard needs to do in this offense.
I think that's a possibility, but one that will depend on how quickly Chris Bryant progresses and how ready to play Kyle Kalis is more than Schofield.
I bet a dollar Schofield is the starting right tackle next year. He was neck and neck with Huyge for the starting job there before Barnum went down; Omameh has not played tackle in two or three years; there are no other tackles on the dang roster. If Schofield isn't the second-best pass protector on the team next year I'll be shocked. So he goes outside.
That means Omameh moving to tackle makes him a backup. Is that a realistic possibility for a would-be three year starter competing with freshmen, one of them a true freshman? Normally the answer there would be "no way" but watching him get chucked to the ground by Illinois (and everybody else) and seeing Omameh's inexperience pulling makes you wonder. He's been hurt more than anyone else on the offense by the coaching change and it's not a huge stretch to see a 340-pound mauler displace him, no matter the experience difference.
That might not be a bad thing. Omameh as the #6 lineman means there is a #6 lineman. Right now that looks far from guaranteed.
MGoBlog ruins relationships.
I've been dating an LSU alum for almost 3 months. In the week leading up to their big game I made the mistake of explaining (unsolicited) the ethical shortcomings of oversigning and the significant competitive advantage that it promotes. She follows CFB sparingly and didn't have much to say about the topic, but at her friends' game party on Saturday night she made sure to have the LSU contingent confront me. The return arguments went something like "you're jealous", "it's a numbers game", and "my friend's cousin plays for the team, he's not very good and he hasn't been cut", etc.
I'm no longer concerned with proving my point but rather with the chasm that oversigning has created in our relationship. Needless to say, she didn't agree with me and said that she just wanted me to be an LSU fan with her. Naturally, I want her to follow Michigan, too. I'm conflicted because I can't reconcile supporting Les Miles or the SEC with my own values. What's a man to do?
If your girlfriend is following LSU only sparingly she will not be able to tell the difference between your mild affection for the Hat's grass-eating insanity and a genuine desire for LSU to win. That will get you through games against the SEC West's collection of robot mercenary Bible salesmen. LSU is the lesser evil in their division if only because Miles is Loki incarnate.
Past that I can't help you. LSU had an assistant coach fired for arranging illicit benefits for a recruit. LSU's oversigning practices are just short of Alabama's for overall odiousness. LSU is mixed up in the Lyles scouting thing. If they were exposed to the same level of scrutiny OSU just went through, Baton Rouge would be a smoking, deliciously-scented crater. They're fun, I guess. I hate fun.
It kind of sounds like this girl is not a winner, anyway. Having her friends dogpile on you to offer sports talk radio opinions about oversigning is not a good sign. "Hey, I know what my boyfriend will like: being berated by a room full of people." Find a nice Texas alum so you can accuse the Longhorns of destroying college football, preferably at a Mack Brown house party.
[ED-S: Pro-tip: don't take relationship advice from Brian unless your relationship is based on an incomparable understanding of college football]
Coaching: it matters.
this year; last year
There's been a long line of assertions about college football being highly dependent on unusually gifted/determined athletes (It's not about X's and O's; it's about Jimmies and Joes comes to mind), and that coaching is more an area where the game can be lost and talent squandered (Ron Zook) or the marginal advantages in the same team strategy add up to wins over equally talented teams (Jim Tressel).
While it seems that some players excel regardless of coaching (Brandon Graham, Jordan Kovacs), the turnaround of Michigan's defense seems to be as good a test case as any for how coaching affects performance. They improved dramatically, but they did it opposite an offense that was similarly potent and returned almost everyone from a year ago, played similar caliber teams if not the same teams, and employed youth effectively in the secondary in stark contrast to previous years.
In light of this, all things being equal, how big a difference do you think having great versus "just good" coaching makes in college football (Like if Michigan had hired anyone who had the misfortune of not being born a Raven's defensive coordinator), setting aside that it only needs to be one point better in each game for the win?
The only thing Greg Mattison and Greg Robinson have in common other than first names—I'm pretty sure they're not even the same species—is their ability to mutter "scheme is overrated" when asked a question they don't really feel like answering. But if this year's Michigan defense has taught anyone anything it's that yes, scheme matters a lot. So does technique coaching.
Michigan did not go from 108th in the country to top 20 by replacing their players. They did it by playing a defense that made sense, delivering remarkably effective zone blitzes, and making certain total scrubs a lot better at football.
Scheme matters. So does everything else. Acquiring your pieces is a third of the game. Developing them into football players is a third. And deploying them effectively is a third.
GRADES AT THESE THINGS FOR VARIOUS THINGS
- Acquire: C-
- Develop: F
- Deploy: F
2011 Michigan defense
- Acquire: C+
- Develop: A
- Deploy: A-
- Acquire: B+
- Develop: B+
- Deploy: A
- Acquire: A-
- Develop: A-
- Deploy: C
Jim Tressel regime
- Acquire: A*
- Develop: A-
- Deploy: A-
Brady Hoke so far (tenuous)
- Acquire: A
- Develop: A-
- Deploy: B+ (provisional)
Fight over the niggling half-grades if you must. To answer the guy's question, the difference between great and "just good" schematic coaching in college football is not a massive difference in win percentage—it's not going to win you three games a year—but when you're at the level Michigan expects to be, edging out an extra half-win per year has a massive impact on the overall prestige of your program. The difference between 6-6 and 7-5 is nothing. The difference between 10-2 and 11-1 is immense, as Wisconsin and their omission from national title discussion have found out.
*[Illicit or no.]
Spread: we wants it forever.
A question that I would love to hear Borges asked is, given the fact that he has run a lot of spread this year, for really the first time in his career because of Denard, has it influenced his offensive philosophy? How he will approach game planning in future?
He always talks about how he's changed over the years and added things to his concepts, and I would love to hear him talk about that. I have a hope that we actually do not move completely away from the spread once Denard is gone--I would love it if we retained some of that concept and retained the ability to run the ball from the QB position. I think it really complicates defensive planning to have a dual threat guy back there (no offense Shane Morris). Is it possible to have Heiko ask a question of that sort?
No one can be certain, but since your question conjured forth an image of Heiko trudging to a press conference with "Taps" playing in the background… eh… I'm guessing not so much. When these guys came in they told everyone in no uncertain terms that Michigan football was running power down your throat, and they kept trying to do that from time to time no matter how spectacularly ineffective it had proven.
Is the Denard Robinson experience going to change that? Probably not. Borges has been an offensive coordinator for decades. Two years of Denard are just a couple additional logs on an already raging fire of this metaphor makes no sense. When he's gone Borges will have Gardner, Bellomy, Shane Morris, and a clobberating OL of Lewan, Barnum, Miller, Kalis, and Schofield with Chris Bryant and others waiting in the wings. He might (should?) have Bri'onte Dunn. Even if he's learned some cool stuff over the past couple years there's not much he'll be able to carry over with the personnel he'll have. While Gardner's pretty fast he's nowhere near the runner Denard is. (Rodriguez's disastrous OL recruiting helps smooth this transition: all the underclass Omamehs are air.)
Maybe we'll see a zone read or two, an inverted veer here and there, but even now it's obvious what Borges wants to do despite not being able to do it even a little.
I do find this a little depressing, but only a little. If Michigan puts together a pro-style offense with personnel like they had through most of the aughts and actually lets it rip that promises to be fun, especially with Ohio State transitioning to an offense that wants different things than Michigan will. I'd still like them to take runs at QBs like Braxton Miller and Devin Gardner, but I think they will—they took Bellomy, who is a mobile guy with the ability to develop into a thrower.