Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Penn State|
|WHERE||University Park, PA|
January 7th, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +1.5*|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
Michigan came into the season with a lofty ranking and proceeded to drop a winnable games left and right. Part of the blame for that may have been going from the hunter to the hunted. The team got complacent. "Understanding success is more difficult than understanding why we played so poorly against Indiana," said John Beilein. Now that the Wolverines are coming off an emotional high against Ohio State, it's important to remain hungry. Beilein: "The overconfidence carried over a little bit, so we had to set that straight in practice."
Two other important factors for Michigan will be more tangible: continuing to get production from members of the team other than Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims, and expanding the amount of time for bench players. "Darius [Morris], Matt [Vogrich] gave us a lift off the bench, Zack Gibson, hopefully those guys will just keep giving us more," said Beilein.
For his part, Morris is comfortable coming off the bench. "I'm able to see before I go right into it what they're running on offense," he said, "and how certain players aren't guarding screens properly, and I make that adjustment when I go in the game."
The Nittany Lions are 8-6 on the year and have lost both of their conference game (at Minnesota and home against Wisconsin). Outside the conference, they've played one heck of a weak schedule, and losing to historic programs like UNC-Wilmington and Tulane. They've also got respectable losses to Temple and Virginia Tech, though the Tech loss came at home. The only top-100 squad that they've beaten is Virginia. Michigan must win to have even a vague chance of a tournament bid.
Any discussion of Penn State's roster starts and ends with Talor Battle, with a few words about some other guys sprinkled in the middle. "They've surrounded him with more shooters again, just like they have in the past," said Beilein. It's clear that Battle is the lifeblood of this team. Zack Novak: "He's really talented and we definitely have to contain him."
Battle is top-20 in percentage of available minutes played, uses more possessions than anyone else on the roster, and has the team's second-best assist rate. Other important Nittany Lions include big men David Jackson, Jeff Brooks and Andrew Jones, who are 1-2-3 in effective field goal percentage on the team. They're the leaders in playing time outside of Battle. 6-10 Jones is the leading rebounder on both ends of the floor.
Penn State doesn't have a single senior on their roster, so Michigan may have an experience advantage for once. "That's the thing we're searching for now, that poise," said Beilein. PSU lost Stanley Pringle and Jamelle Cornley off last year's roster. They're feeling both departures.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Penn State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Penn State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. PSU Def eFG%||194||133||P|
|Mich Def eFG% v. PSU eFG%||198||135||P|
|Mich TO% v. PSU Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. PSU TO%||51||39||P|
|Mich OReb% v. PSU DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. PSU OReb%||270||192||P|
|Mich FTR v. PSU Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. PSU FTR
|Mich AdjO v. PSU AdjD||77||114||M|
|Mich AdjD v. PSU AdjO||98||94||-|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
The statistical matchup is interesting here, with huge advantages in a couple categories for both teams. Penn State has a consistent advantage overall. Michigan should be able to hold onto the ball, Penn State should be able to rebound most of Michigan's misses, and the Nittany Lions won't likely send Michigan to the line a lot.
If Michigan wants to win this game, they'll have to continue the defensive renaissance that started with Kansas, took a game off against Indiana, and returned with a vengeance against Ohio State courtesy of surprising Diebler-stopper Stu Douglass. Michigan held the Buckeyes below 45% eFG, after allowing previous opponents to shoot above 50% (and letting Jon Diebler start the game 4/6 on 3-pointers). The Wolverines, despite forcing a lot of opponent turnovers, actually won't have the advantage coming into this game. All of the teams Penn State has lost to have been heavy on man defense, so that may not play into Michigan's advantage.
This game could play out a lot like the Indiana game. If both Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims show up to play, the Wolverine will have a chance to win. They need will require a 40-minute effort to come away with a win. When Penn State goes on a run, Michigan needs to answer. "We just need to keep our poise and become more solid," said Novak, "rather than coming down and thinking 'they're making a run, we need to make the spectacular play." Alas, this looks like another close loss for Michigan on the road.
Beilein gave an endorsement of Brandon's credentials as an athletics guy and not just a businessman as well, saying, "I think he took care of that in the interview process, if there was a concern."
Outside the Lines put together an excellent piece on John Calipari brooming five players from Kentucky's roster as soon as he arrived. (It's technically six but one guy was a potential fifth-year, not an underclassman; ESPN's stretching a bit to make their case.) They mention that other people playing this game are Nick Saban, Billy Donovan, and… John Beilein!?!
Yes, actually, they do. It comes deep into the piece and is a tiny aside but they bring up the guy freakin' heading NCAA basketball's new ethics committee for Michigan's roster turnover amongst the usual sea of sketchy guys with slick hair:
A quick glance at the six departures over two years cited:
Ekpe Udoh. Udoh just turned in a triple-double for Baylor; Beilein obviously didn't want to lose him. Udoh saw 65% of available minutes in Beilein's first year and every time he is brought up a little part of a Michigan basketball fan dies. (Sorry, Eldridge P. Murthel of Saline, but that toe is never going to feel again.)
Reed Baker. Baker was offered an explicitly one-year deal sight unseen by Tommy Amaker (who feared that Dion Harris may have ended up academically ineligible) and took it; Beilein did not renew it. Baker landed at Florida Gulf Coast, where he's playing about 30 minutes a game.
Jerrett Smith. Smith was Kelvin Grady before Kelvin Grady was Kelvin Grady, a point guard who got buried on the depth chart. I believe he didn't come close to meeting Beilein's newly-instituted physical requirements. He transferred to GVSU and played the final year of his career there.
K'Len Morris. Morris also transferred to GVSU. He''s a junior this year; last year he saw 12 games before an injury ended his season. This year he has eight minutes in one game. (Injury again?)
Kendrick Price. Price quit the team when Beilein came in and now plays for the Vermont Frost Heaves of the Premier Basketball League. He is listed as a rookie from Michigan, so I believe he finished his degree at M instead of transferring somewhere else.
Kelvin Grady. Grady ended up buried at the end of the bench behind two walk-ons and decided he wasn't a fit for Beilein's offense. He's still at Michigan, playing receiver for the football team.
Only four of the departures were unexpected or something other than a total disaster for the interior defense and only two of those saw the players actually leave school—this is about academics, after all. Even leaving aside that, Michigan spent last year with ten scholarship players and the year before that with nine. No one was removed from the team to make room for a hotshot freshman. Creating standards your players have to meet to find playing time and seeing them transfer or quit because they don't, as Smith, Morris, and Price did, is totally different than cutting players so you can sign John Wall.
I don't bring this up to be defensive; it's just that the most common defense of this stuff on the part of folk who should be defensive is to bring up normal, un-sketchy attrition and attempt to draw a comparison. John Beilein (of all people!) is nothing like John Calipari.
Other than that, though, the piece is excellent. Three former UK players are quoted on-camera saying that they were cut. Cut with weaselly plausible deniability, but cut. Predictably, the comments are a horde of UK fans talking about haterz seeing them rolling. Jemele Hill's claim that UK fans would root for Charles Manson if he won is the most accurate statement that's ever been apologized for.
Broken record time: the NCAA should do something about this. Kudos to ESPN for ratcheting up the pressure.
Is there a space ray of some variety that explains this? Mark my words: sometime in the next couple years Jim Tressel will be revealed as a Bond villain whose nefarious plot was to create and deploy some sort of negative PR black hole in Ann Arbor.
Unlike all other Bond villains, his plan has been wildly successful. It took freshly minted Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon two days to land a tiny cameo on the Colbert Report in the midst of a segment on Domino's ballsy decision to admit that their core product is terrible:
Getting hired as Michigan AD opens the floodgates. By this time next week Brandon will see a real estate deal go sour, various critical members of the athletic department leave for Arkansas, and a pack of velociraptors with digital recorders tear his tasty flesh into long, delicious strips.
Mmmm. Athletic director velociraptor horror bacon.
At least Brandon is well versed in admitting that the core product is a shambolic mess and taking steps towards actual pizza, be it in food or bowl game varieties.
Yes. This is happening.
Time to call Charles Atlas. Yesterday on the Sporting Blog I pointed out that the Big Ten's bowl performance was somewhere between good and outstanding, depending on whether you want to take peripherals like yards into account, and asked anyone else who writes about college football to notice. Whether they will is yet to be seen.
In the course of it I linked to Rutgers blog Bleed Scarlet's sarcastic reaction to the Big Ten expansion hoopla in an effort to prove just how much crap the Big Ten has been fielding since Ohio State faceplanted against Florida three years ago. When a team whose main accomplishment in the 141 years since it played in the first college football game has been not ceasing to exist is talking smack, you have an image problem that goes beyond rational discussion.
And indeed, Bleed Scarlet notes the post and responds with one of its own that ends like so:
Even if Michigan ever does improve to the point that Big Ten football isn’t a national punchline, the conference as a whole can never fairly receive enough ridicule and disrespect.
What the hell? BS's main complaint appears to be that more people watch Big Ten football even if it's Illinois-Purdue (which was on ESPN) instead of USF-Pitt (which was exiled to Somalia), as if this was a choice ESPN had instead of a long-term contract the Big Ten earned by virtue of having teams people like to watch on television. I mean:
That’s why it’s so maddening that even today, Brian celebrates that the Big Ten is on equal financial footing with the SEC – how is that warranted at all on the merits?
What merits? The Big Ten earns a lot of money because they have a ton of alumni, a culture in which football is important, and a history of success that doesn't evaporate because the conference has struggled through some tough years. Nobody votes except with their dollars and eyes. This isn't a democracy. We're not having a recount. Whine about a lack of Big East respect all you want when it comes to automatic BCS bids—not that the Big Ten has ever spit out the dreck the Big East has with its automatic qualifier—but complaining that it's not fair when it comes to money makes you sound like a fake nihilist with a nine-toed woman.
The Big Ten's recent poor run in the bowls have to do with six letters: USC, which the Big Ten has had to play just about every year since the Trojans can't be bothered against one Pac-10 opponent per season, and BCS, which has dragged more Big Ten runners-up into the big time than any other conference and set up unfavorable matchups down the chain. A few years ago 9-3 Texas played a 6-6 Iowa outfit that had gone 2-6 in conference. Texas won by 3, and somehow the Big Ten's reputation took a hit.
A name to ignore. Probably. I don't think this qualifies as actual information about the mysterious assistant coach opening for reasons that will be bolded. It's an article about Marshall's open defensive coordinator spot:
Is it Chuck Heater?
The University of Florida defensive coach seems like a longshot. Yes, he is the father-in-law of new Marshall defensive line coach Rich Cronin, but this is business.
That's why Heater reportedly is interested in Michigan's vacant defensive coordinator job. ... and vice-versa. Besides that, there still are rumbles about the possibility of Heater staying with the Gators as co-defensive coordinator.
Michigan, obviously, does not have a vacant defensive coordinator job. And since Heater is the "assistant defensive coordinator" on a staff that just lost its defensive coordinator, chances are he's in line for a promotion at a school that isn't Marshall or a poor season or two away from a coaching change. Heater has no history with Rodriguez or Greg Robinson—he's bounced around a lot but never to a spot where either happened to be—and wouldn't be getting a promotion at Michigan. At best he could be the assistant defensive coordinator. The only way this happens is if Meyer brings in a new DC who sweeps out some or all of the existing folk in favor of his own guys.
Harumph. This was covered somewhat in the recruiting post yesterday but a follow-up from me: six players, all on offense, enrolled early but safety Marvin Robinson and quarterback Devin Gardner did not. That's unfortunate because if you asked me to pick the two guys I wanted in early most, I would have picked Robinson and Gardner. I'm still hoping that Gardner can find a way to redshirt this fall—this news definitely increases the chances of that—but if Forcier gets injured, having a slightly more experienced Gardner could be the difference between Rich Rodriguez taking root and getting swept out the door.
That's still less likely to have an impact than Robinson's absence. Robinson is either a safety or an OLB (or "spinner"; from now on I'm just calling the two non-spinners MLBs and the spinner and OLB) and would obviously have been in contention for a starting job somewhere if he enrolled.
Still, it is good to have both Stephen Hopkins and Austin White in early; with the seniors out the door and presumed starter Vincent Smith laid up with an ACL tear that may last into the fall, those two, Mike Shaw, Mike Cox, and Fitzgerald Toussaint will go to war to be 1B to Smith's probable 1A.
Boo, but in a yay way. Hockey picked up a big commit for 2012 in forward Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, who the Hockey News interviewed about a month ago. He was the top player at the USA Select 15s and, FWIW, a guy on Hockey's Future relays that one of the OHL draft scouting services ranks him in the top ten. Apparently he has no interest in that route. That can change, obviously. Please allow me to go weep about Jack Campbell over here.
Hoopster Jordan Dumars, son of Pistons president (and former Piston) Joe Dumars, has enrolled at Michigan after transferring from South Florida. He is expected to join the Michigan basketball team as a preferred walkon. Since he's a transfer, we have a little bit of info on what he'll do at the collegiate level but not much.
|2*, NR SG||2*, NR SG||80, #127 SG|
The recruiting sites agree: Dumars was essentially a "meh" prospect coming out of high school. ESPN had this to say about him:
Dumars is a very accurate shooter that has very good range. He has the ability to stretch defenses as they have to account for Dumars perimeter shooting prowess whenever he steps on the court. He does not have elite athleticism or quickness, which regulates him to more of...
We can extrapolate where that sentence was going (and assume they meant "relegates," not "regulates"), and assume it will say something about how he's going to just hang out around the perimeter and shoot, rarely driving. Without elite quickness or athleticism, he also sounds like someone who will have trouble defending.
From his highlight video (see it below), he seems to have very good range, and a Stu Douglass-like courage to prove that range any time he gets the ball. He has a pretty quick release, and wasn't afraid to shoot with defenders closing in. Of course, in college those defenders will be much quicker and bigger.
Basically, he sounds like a good developmental project, as long as you don't have to spend a scholarship on him. It never hurts to have the son of an NBA legend on your team, either, especially when he's associated with the nearest NBA franchise.
Dumars is transferring from South Florida, and it appears as though the Bulls were the only school that offered him a scholarship. What a surprise that they landed him! Oddly, he committed as a junior, and it still never appears that he got more offers. Perhaps he would have become a bigger prospect without the early commitment? His South Florida bio says he chose USF over Duquesne, Michigan, and Dayton, but Michigan didn't offer him, so I question whether the other two options did.
Dumars has not been offered a scholarship by Michigan and will join the basketball team as a preferred walkon.
In his semester at South Florida, Dumars played in 6 of the Bulls' first 8 games (all Bulls wins), but sat out the last five. At least a couple of the more recent games were after he had decided to transfer, so that may be the reason he sat those out.
In his six games played, he got 27 minutes. He attempted eight shots, all of them threes, and made two. He also picked up five fouls (a lot for so little time played, since he never got more than two in a single game). The Game of his Brief Career came against Kent State. He played 13 minutes, going 2/4 from three-point land.
His South Florida bio also has some high school stats:
Country Day finished the year 24-2 and ranked No. 16 in the nation by USA Today... Ended regular season 19-1 and ranked No. 1 in Michigan ... Captain as a senior and averaged 10.2 points, 2.3 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game ... Third leading scorer on team and shot 36 percent from 3-point range and 96 percent from the free throw line.
As a junior, he averaged 14 points per game, and as a sophomore, he was the 6th man on Country Day's State Championship squad.
High school highlights from Jordan. I didn't listen to the whole song, but it's Lil' Wayne, so assume it's NSFW:
PREDICTION AND THE UPSHOT
Since Dumars is transferring at the semester break, he will be in the same situation next year that Laval Lucas-Perry was last year. He will have to sit out the Winter '10 semester and the Fall '10 semester, but be eligible to play in January of 2011. At that time, he will be a redshirt freshman with 3.5 years to play.
At that time, he'll be a depth player, grabbing a couple minutes here and there to rest starters and maybe getting in at the end of blowouts. If he's able to progress as a player (and more importantly, as an athlete), he could become a member of the rotation down the road.
If Manny Harris leaves early for the NBA and Michigan doesn't land someone in the 2010 class, such as Trey Zeigler, to replace him, the situation changes a bit. The Wolverines would have to shuffle the rotation a bit, and fill a starting spot at the 3 guard, making more playing time a possibility for Jordan.
For the future, Country Day is a basketball powerhouse, producing some guys you may have heard of: Chris Webber and Shane Battier, among others. The Wolverines have targeted 2011 big Amir Williams out of DCDS, and having a former Yellow Jacket on the roster should help the team recruit DCDS. Also, having Joe Dumars hang around the program can't hurt.
Boards of note:
Lots of changes on the defensive tackle recruiting front in the past couple days.
First things first, MI DT Johnathon Hankins picked Ohio State yesterday over the Wolverines. Allow me to editorialize for a moment here: This blog has a tag called "basketball recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich," but if half of the rumors about the Southeastern coaching staff's handling of Hankins's recruitment are true, we may need to expand that tag to football as well. Genuinely Sarcastic provides some angry detail.
FL DT Todd Chandler seems to be looking primarily at Louisville as an option outside of USF (where he is committed). Michigan might become a stronger option if his teammate, FL OL Torrian Wilson, visits Ann Arbor, but this one appears to be on the back-burner for now. Chandler's top schools have gone from the likes of Miami, Michigan, and Florida to Memphis, Louisville, and FIU, so he may have some issues—grades?—that are causing bigger schools to back off.
Wilson, by the way, is down to USF, Michigan, and Tennessee. Michigan could really use another offensive lineman in the class.
Cincinnati high school sports reporter Mike Dyer reports that Michigan visited OH DT/DE Jibreel Black both in-home and in-school on Monday. Black, who has been committed to Cincinnati, but is reconsidering after the Brian Kelly departure, will also visit Michigan sometime this month, probably the weekend of the 22nd. According to Dyer's full article, the Wolverines have replaced Louisville on his list.
Michigan has a couple defensive ends and a couple three-tech defensive tackles so all they need is a nose; if they pick up Black it's because they really like him.
More on his actual game performance in a delayed Friday Night Lights post next week, but MI QB Devin Gardner participated in the Under Armour All-American Bowl on Saturday. He impressed in practice:
"(Devin Gardner) really impressed me a lot," [Scout Florida expert Geoff] Vogt added. "He was bigger than I expected him to be. His arm was everything that people made it out to be. He was accurate... He clearly, in my opinion, is the top quarterback on that team... He'd be the No. 1 quarterback in Florida straight out this year and that's really saying something. I think he has a really bright future at Michigan."
Of course, being the clear #1 QB on the team got him by far the fewest snaps out of the 3 QBs, with Nick Montana and Phillip Sims getting more (the order was determined randomly, FWIW). That Webb article also says that Michigan is pursuing Tennessee commit LB Michael Taylor. I've added him to the board. Taylor remains a soft commit to the Vols.
FL CB Tony Grimes participated in last weekend's Offense-Defense Bowl, and MGoReader J. Lichty reports that opposing offenses mostly stayed away from him. He played both corner and safety. MGoBlog's own TomVH talked to Grimes last week, and he reiterated what we've been hearing for some time on both Grimes and his teammate, FL DE Clarence Murphy:
TOM: Are you and Clarence still planning on going to the same school?
TONY: As far as this point, yes that's the plan.
TOM: Is Michigan still on top for you?
The two still both favor Michigan, and plan to announce on Signing Day. Tony also said that he didn't know there was a dead period between college coaches and recruits, and was wondering why Michigan wasn't contacting him as much. Sounds like other schools haven't quite been following the rules. THE NCAA WILL BE ALL OVER THIS!
This upcoming weekend is a little more notable for Michigan fans: Commits WI P Will Hagerup and PA CB Cullen Christian will play in the US Army All-American Bowl, and CA S Sean Parker who is down to Michigan, Cal, and USC, will also participate.
The semester started today, so we should finally have a good idea of which 2010 Michigan commits were able to get in for the winter semester and spring practice.
MI QB Devin Gardner is still trying to enroll early, but Inkster's semester ends really late and there are some issues with getting him accelerated. Michigan should know by the end of the week whether he will or not. Stephen Hopkins, Jerald Robinson, Ricardo Miller, Christian Pace, Jeremy Jackson, and Austin White are all enrolling, though as of Wednesday morning Robinson and Miller did not have UMich directory entries. Marvin Robinson is also making an effort to enroll early:
Robinson, who took 3 classes over the summer in an attempt to graduate in December, said the holdup stems with 2 classes he took last semester.
"Most likely things are going to work out where I can go up there tomorrow," Robinson said.
Even if things don't, Robinson said he's firm in his commitment and will sign with Michigan in February.
I don't recall if the Athletic Department announced early-enrolling prospects last year until after Signing Day, but hopefully we'll have the final data by the end of this week.
Meanwhile, FL CB Adrian Witty was also supposed to be a midseason enroller after not qualifying for fall but is not in the Michigan directory. It's looking grimmer for Witty by the day; from the sounds of it he is qualified in the eyes of the NCAA; Michigan's admissions are the holdup. The most likely issue is a radically improved test score that got flagged.
Persistent rumors that TX RB/WR Tony Drake is so far from qualifying that he shouldn't even be considered part of the class any more get stronger by the day.
Maxpreps published its Junior All-American teams, with few prospect of interest for Michigan fans, outside of a couple pipe dreams. SoFlaFootball has also published its first 2011 top 75.
FL RB Demetrius Hart may not be the Michigan lock that we thought:
The 5-foot-8, 175-pounder has had the Wolverines out in front for some time and continues to do so, though he jokingly said that cold temperatures in the Orlando area recently may have him thinking a little.
So, yeah: That's not as negative as the headline "Florida Prospect Considers Local Programs" would make it seem. It would still be an upset for him to not land in Ann Arbor.
Michigan has offered a trio of prospects from Gardena Serra High School in California. WR George Farmer appears to be the headliner, holding offers from a who's-who of bigtime schools, including Florida and Oklahoma. DE Jason Gibson and S Marquise Lee have also received Michigan offers, along with scholarships from the likes of Miami (Yes That Miami), Oregon, and Washington.
Michigan commits Tony Drake and Austin White come in at #8 and #10, respectively on Sports Illustrated's top running backs of 2010.
America number one. Weird experience last night: watched a sporting event and had the team I wanted to win the game actually, you know, win it. This was the Orange Bowl, where Iowa beat Georgia Tech to give the league four wins over top 15 opponents, two BCS wins, and a winning bowl record. This will reduce the number of offseason Clay Travis columns that erroneously cite the SEC's big pile of money—the Big Ten's pile is essentially equivalent—as the reason they're fielding teams full of Terminators against the rest of college football's Hello Kitty dolls. There are now 26 scheduled instead of 180.
So thanks for that, Iowa. I'm glad that when From The Rumble Seat asked me for my best Iowa-related smack talk I demurred because the only thing I hate about Iowa is the fact that they lose to Iowa State more than they should. I hate Iowa State with a passion unknown to man.
Also, Ricky Stanzi takes up the banner J Leman first gloriously thrust upon the shores of the blogosphere:
America. #1. Big Ten. Love it or leave it. Photoshop wizards: can a brother get a Leman/Stanzi 2012 poster around here?
So… you're wise. Michigan legend and extremely old guy Red Simmons turned 100 a couple days ago, which means he's seen a considerable amount of things in his day. I wonder if he feels like Windle Poons, who was a 133 year-old magician in a couple of Discworld novels*. Poons felt like he had been old for the vast majority of his life, and that seemed unfair. This random biographical tidbit, even moreso than competing against Jesse Owens or helping Joe Louis get in shape, best sums up just how long Simmons has been around:
When his grades slipped, Simmons was given a second chance after track coach Lloyd Olds and dean of men James "Bingo" Brown - who was also the state boxing commissioner - asked the university's president to give Simmons a second chance.
During the meeting, Bingo—the dean of men!—chewed on a stogie and crankily took a phone call about some Italian kid with a bruised brain. In keeping with the traditions of the time, Bingo—man dean!—suggested the kid be sold for his meat.
There's also transcripts for the video-averse. Other Red, you are on notice:
On men’s hockey Coach Red Berenson’s recent birthday: Well, he’s just 70 or so, what the hell is that? [laughs] I always say, ‘Oh, to be 80 again!’
Braylongate II. So, yeah, Braylon Edwards did this on the Sunday Night Football introductions:
Everyone on the planet immediately interpreted this as a shot at Rich Rodriguez, including yrs truly. But Braylon says it isn't so:
"Last night during my pre-taped introduction, as a way of paying tribute to Coach Carr, I indentified myself as being from 'Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan,'" Edwards said. "I had no intention of showing any disrespect to Coach Rich Rodriguez.
"I love the University of Michigan and will always be loyal to its coaching staff past, present and future."
I believe him; when I had my usual segment on WTKA on Monday Ira Weintraub came in and mentioned that Stan Edwards had called the station up wishing to clarify that. A number of other players, including Tom Brady, have made comments far less ambiguous ("ugly") about the current state of the program and have not rushed to make sure people didn't misinterpret their comments.
Not that any of this matters at all. Rodriguez will either win or he won't. That's basically what Dhani Jones said on Jim Rome…
“Up to this point it really hasn’t been that good of a job at all,” Jones said. “But then you have to look at the perspective of how long it takes for a class to change over to be his class. There’s a lot of different things, but as a Michigan man you expect things to be changed in an instant. Sometimes you have to have a little bit more patience.
“Two years, my patience is running a bit thin. So next year it’s going to be really a qualifying or disqualifying year for his ability as a coach to get the program in the right direction. And I don’t think many people will stand for it if he doesn’t do a good job next year.”
That's one version of everyone's take, isn't it? Everyone basically says real improvement, yardage parity-ish, and something like eight wins from a 13 game schedule, give or take one based on context. He'll either do that or he won't. The rest is noise.
I really, really don't care about whether Rich Rodriguez should be fired or not. Short of a bomb from the NCAA, he'll get a shot to turn things around. So all this stuff about factions and statements from former players and everyone's opinion on the program is the verbal equivalent of Badger Badger Badger. It's mildly diverting noise containing zero information that's turned annoying from overexposure.
A light at the end of the ridiculous tunnel. This has sat in a tab for almost a month now but no one else has taken up this incredibly critical issue so here goes: when Michigan switched over to Coke something horrible happened. All the fountains at Yost and Crisler were replaced by little refrigerators with 20-ounce bottles in them that sell for four dollars each*. The list of things that I would do before paying four dollars for a bottle of Diet Coke includes "cut off own toes" and "attempt to survive ten minutes in a cage with Brandon Graham."
I'll happily pay the same amount for a fountain drink, though. As a result I spend most of one intermission at Yost fighting through the crowds to the one place that will sell me one. This makes no sense but approximately 20% of the population is nodding fervently right now, which is distressing for the people who aren't reading this post and think they're having a stroke.
Anyway, the current regime might get thrust to one side in favor of a different corporation with an equally silly name:
…University of Michigan officials are selecting a concessionaire for that facility, plus Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena and venues for baseball, softball, soccer and track.
Incumbent V/Gladieux Enterprises of Toledo, Ohio, is competing for a long-term contract against Aramark, Sodexo and Boston Culinary Group, which submitted a bid before it announced its merger with Centerplate in November. …
Michigan expects to select a food provider by February, Winters said.
I emailed Bruce Madej if this meant a return of fountain drinks—this is life and death, people—and his reply was vague and noncommittal. I thought I detected a playful wink-wink nudge-nudge we'll-get-it-fixed but that could be wishful thinking on The Issue of Our Time.
BONUS! The main section of that article is about Notre Dame's new hockey rink and how the design is modeled after Yost.
*(I think they've unplugged it now but for the first few games they did this literally feet from the regular old Yost vending machine that offered the same product for $1.50.)
Increase the pain. At The Sporting Blog I make a case that the NCAA should shoot down USC's proposed basketball sanctions in favor of a tourney ban starting two years from now, a removal of transfer penalties for current players, and long-term scholarship reductions. (Mea culpa: the post exaggerates how bad Michigan was in their tourney-ban year.) Delaying penalties like that would be less harsh on players who did nothing wrong and harsher on the adults that lost control of the program, and who doesn't like that idea?
Etc.: GS riffs on the house divided meme in the aftermath of Braylongate II. There is a book that actually offers up "Five Very Good Reasons To Punch A Dolphin In The Mouth" that I assume BOX will immediately buy many copies of. Crisler is going to get some boring-sounding but necessary renovations before a (currently hypothetical but probable) second round of stuff you can actually perceive.
Tim sat in on the call this morning and scribbled a bunch of notes that I turned into something more readable; what follows is a paraphrase faithful on intent but probably somewhat heavy on sentences that start with "I". That is an artifact of our amateur process and not a reflection of megalomania.
Brandon right; some guy from Findlay winning a "gold Frannie" left.
Why leave Dominos?
I loved my job there, and the company is doing great. It takes a special opportunity to leave 11-year job. I would only leave for a couple jobs in the world, this is one of them. I love Michigan, loved it as student-athete and have been connected ever since. I was a member of regents for 8 years, which was a labor of love. I know the place
Athletics plays an important role in Michigan's profile. It creates excitement, loyalty, connection. I got an e-mail from someone in Istanbul today. Within an hour of release, people in Turkey are talking about the athletic director at Michigan.
How does your background as a CEO work for your new job?
I'm more than a pizza man, I'm a CEO. I've been in the business world 35 years, a university regent for eight years, and been in involved in other governing bodies. I've been a been a student-athlete, donor, and fundraiser at Michigan. I know the talents of athletic department from my connections. I haven't lived a career in athletics specifically, but I bring set of qualifications, interests, and experiences that will help him succeed. I 'm Fortunate to be the one chosen.
What did you learn from Bo?
My second degree from Michigan was from the Bo School of Leadership. One advantage of not playing is that you can observe and learn. Learned how to select talent from Bo. His assistants went on to be head coaches. He was surrounded with terrific people, recruited athletes on skills and ability, but also character and integrity. Bo taught how to set high expectations/goals. He taught preparation, competing at highest level, intensity. Those lessons translated to my career as a business leader and will come with me as athletic director.
Why are you forgoing public office? Is it on the backburner?
I'm the athletic director at the university of Michigan. I committed for a minimum of 5 years, and hope to get that extended. It's flattering that people think I can serve the public good. I care about positively impacting lives.
I can do that in public office, but I know I can do it as Michigan's athletic director as well. Athletics changed my life, and athletes at Michigan are experiencing that now. I have three Big Ten champioinship rings and wear them proudly. I appreciate people think I can do other things, but this is what I want to do.
What is your feeling on Rich Rodriguez's job security?
He's the coach at UM. He has an awesome responsibility, a proven track record. I have great respect for Rich. I hope to know him better and get a chance to work with him.
Can you comment on the NCAA investigation?
I can't comment on an ongoing investigation, and wouldn't if I could. I'll get briefings when the university knows more about it. Doesn't mind being put in the middle, he'll worry about doing the right thing, like Michigan always does. If we'd made mistakes, we'll correct them. We'll deal as we need to.
How is your relationship with Rich Rodriguez?
We've spent a little time together, had dinner a couple times. We're acquainted in social way. We've chatted briefly on sidelines and at one practice a couple years ago. Though we haven't had time together, I hope to get to know Rich better. He looks forward to turning the program around and being where we all want to be.
Do you have any plans for changes in the department?
I'll listen and learn first. I don't have a a prearranged agenda. I'll meet and assess the team and organizational design. Why are we doing things this way? I'll come in with a new set of eyes and without hard-fixed ideas. I can come in, ask questions, and challenge status quo, come up with some unique things.
Listen, learn, asses, then change things when we're prepared. Is the right talent in place in the right spots? We'll make goals at that time.
How are you relationships with the Regents?
Unique, because I served with some as a colleague. I worked with some for eight years. Mary Sue Coleman contacted them last night, and some got in touch with me after. I am most appreciative that I got the opportunity. I still know the ones I didn't serve with due to my role as a regent emeritus. I knows what their job is about because I've done it.
What are your plans for Crisler?
Big plans underway to put expansion and practice facilities in place. Long overdue. Other considerations underway for doing things in arena, updating and making more competitive. Team and fans deserve that consideration.
Do you have Don Canham's vision?
I was just 18 when i met him. He was bold, innovative, willing to take measured risks. I admired his skills, I'll emulate some. I'm not him or Bo, I'll do me. I'll work hard to achieve what I can as AD.
How is your relationship with Mary Sue Coleman?
She approached and gauged interest, I said yes. I was in pool of candidates, vetted carefully. I'm the one she selected and I'm appreciative of that.
[Now starts a series of questions about factions that
What's your take on factions in the athletic department? Will you seek to remove conflict?
Yes. I'm a team sport guy. Brought up that way, and believes in it. Factions are counterproductive. Needs to be fixed immediately, won't be tolerated.
How do you cure factions, reel in anti-Rodriguez guys?
I'm leaving a job in which I had to get 1200 franchisees on the same page, and accept the plans I initiated. If I can pull that off, I can pull together 275 [athletic department employees] using some of the same techniques. It takes vision. You need to surround yourself with people who share that and your values. You hold people accountable. Every business I've led has been #1 in its industry. I don't know any other way. I want the athletic department to be number 1 in the nation. Talent, accomplishment, all the ways success can be measured. You surround yourself with people who will bring work ethic to achieve that.
Will playing under Bo brings factions together?
I was proud to play for Bo, but my initial recruiting was under Bump, and I would have been proud to play for him. I was proud to have Mo as a position coach, would have been as a head coach. I would be proud under Carr, under Rodriguez. Anyone who wears that winged helmet, or runs through that tunnel, I support.
Are you a quintessential Michigan Man?
Not quintessential anything, but I understand what it means to be Michigan Man. I understand traditions and role in the community, and that will be an asset in the job.
How important is it coming back to M?
It's huge. It's huge.
What was the hiring timetable?
I was contacted several weeks ago by search firm hired by Coleman and asked whether he'd be interested in interviewing. I said yes and submitted a letter of interest. I made it very clear that the process had to remain confidential, as sitting CEO of a public company. I was interested in pursuing opportunity, but had to maintain interests in Dominos. The private process culminated in meeting with Coleman and the search committee for several hours. I told my story and explained why I was going to be the right choice for the job.
What will you do in terms of branding?
I understand brand management. Brands, promotion, and marketing has been my background. I understand innovation and how to build a brand, how to bring innovation and freshness to a brand. But being inconsistent with brand can undermine it.
[Editor's note: I choose to interpret this as a desire to put Special K, piped-in music droid, in a catapult calibrated to provide him a soft landing in a war-torn former Soviet republic.]
As a football observer what is your level of concern with the program?
I am as concerned as everybody. The program likes and needs to win. We sing about being champions, the leaders and best. We want that to be true. Nobody wants that more than Rodriguez.
What are the business ramifications? How does the departure impact Dominos?
I am proud of many things at Dominos, including succession planning. My role includes active involvement at the board level. My successor at Dominos has been there longer than me, has gone through every unit of the company, president for past 3 years, completes the loop and is prepared to succeed me seamlessly. Interest of shareholders will be protected. I'm an investor, will continue to serve on board of directors.
How can the athletic department affect the university?
There are so many components. It has a 90 million dollar budget. It has a huge impact on the Michigan brand. It's somewhat of a selling organization for the entire university. When we won the NC, admissions to school were up 22%. The athletic department propagates what the university is all about. The university competes at the highest level in all aspects.
As suggested by this and every other site that ventured to offer an opinion about who Michigan's next athletic director would be, the new head man is current (and soon to be former) Domino's CEO Dave Brandon. Angelique Chengelis has the scoop:
Dave Brandon, the chairman and CEO of Domino's Pizza and a former Michigan football player and university Regent, has agreed to a five-year contract to become Michigan's new athletic director and is expected to be introduced to the department staff Tuesday morning, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
Brandon, 57, has deep ties to the university and also to Michigan business and politics and has long been considered the front-runner to replace athletic director Bill Martin.
Ladies and gentlemen, the new guy:
It's late so no full analysis right now other than "nice hair." Between Brandon and Greg Robinson, we've got a regular Just For Men commercial going on over here. Daddy, you should really start dating again.
Something to address the foremost question in your mind—"what does this mean for Rich Rodriguez?"—is appropriate, however. When a couple of tipsters indicated that Brandon was a more likely candidate than I suggested in my first stab at the candidate list I related the tipster's take on Brandon's opinion of the head coach:
The tinfoil-hat wing of the internet that's suggested Brandon is a part of the shadowy anti-RR cabal hypothetically headed by Lloyd Carr could not be more wrong. Brandon was a key supporter of Rodriguez's candidacy. He and RR have dinner regularly. 3-9 engenders some frustration, but one of the items cited was Rodriguez getting "too friendly with the media".
This is not someone who has anything but the program's best interests in mind.
At the point I posted that no one else was suggesting that Brandon was a clear front-runner and most assumed, as I had, that Brandon's other desires would preclude a serious run at the job: the likelihood the above is quality information is very high. Brandon will give Rodriguez a fair shake at turning things around.
A quick take: Brandon is a default, safe choice. That probably sounds like damning with faint praise to an outsider, but Michigan fans will take the safe choice 100 times out of 100 at the moment. He was a regent. He's worked with Bill Martin and Mary Sue Coleman on the stadium renovations. He's a serious business-type person who should continue Bill Martin's legacy of financial stability, and he was a walk-on on the football team so he could better about the stadium atmosphere issues—in all revenue sports—I've expressed some discontent about.
There are some differences between running a major corporation and a major athletic department but there are just as many differences between running Oregon State or Arkansas and running Michigan; I'm perfectly content with the hire. This won't be another Goss. The only downside I can see is that Brandon's familiarity with the people in the department might make him loathe to clean out a bunch of people who have committed error after error—Marcus Witherspoon, practice log fiascoes, compliance issues, possibly Adrian Witty—in the last couple years.
So Brendan Morrison and some friends are starting up a website that's particularly relevant right now since most of you are probably carrying a bunch of resolutions ("stop fumbling," "go to bowl game," "stop making everyone very sad indeed") around this January. They'd like MGoBlog readers to be pilot members of the site and politely asked for a little time. Here it is:
I have a good friend who graduated from UM with me in 1997. He had been climbing the corporate ladder since then but at some point decided he’d had enough. He started a project to improve the areas of his life that he saw going haywire – not having the time or energy to stay fit, or to contribute anything meaningful in his work life, to the community or the environment. Essentially he wanted to find balance and increase his effort in these areas.
Since he's also kind of a tracking freak he started working on a way to quantify progress in all these areas and that's what the website is. He's working on the assumption that there are people in a similar position who'd be interested in benefiting from the tracking tools on the website. He also sees the “empowurment” you get from recording and measuring your effort as a way of tackling a lot of the bigger problems America faces – getting in shape, helping the planet, and just finding more of a work/life balance in general.
Net, the goal of the website is to make the world a better place, but in an entirely non-commercial (it's free), non L. Ron Hubbard kind of way. My take is that it's like crossfit for your entire life, not just the physical fitness part of it.
I’ve been following the project since the beginning and have been a test user for a while now. I believe in the concept and wanted to do something to help. We’ve gotten to a point where the site needs more e-pinions and thought it would be cool to tap the mgoblog community for input.
As far as what kind of test users he’s looking for (his words):
Those looking to increase their effort levels.
Those wanting to “get better” and/or find more balance in their lives.
Those searching for more happiness and less emo.
People who aren't about smugness.
Tracking types who enjoy tracking things.
Anyway, the site is sure to have plenty of bugs, issues and functional flaws which should be good target fodder for the more critical segment of the mgo readership – all the better. The website can be found at www.empowur.com.
- Brendan Morrison
Less emo sounds excellent. Empowur is the site.
The last couple items I covered before heading out into the holiday season hell for leather were Jay Hopson's departure and some happy vibes going down in the recruitment of CA S Sean Parker. I popped by head back up to post a UV last week. Other than that, I've been silent.
So. Things! That are wringing the life out of me!
Hockey is killing me. I was in Chicago for the opening night of the GLI and the thing wasn't on TV and that turned out to be a fantastic thing for yrs truly because Michigan outshot RPI 46-13(!!!) and lost 4-3. If I had actually seen that transpire I would have died. My spleen would have burst out of my stomach and ran for Mexico trailing intestine and whatnot behind it, and I would have looked down in horror at what was going down only to find it considerably more pleasant than the on-ice action. This apparently happened:
With Michigan trailing by only one goal, Hogan looked like he had a routine save to his glove side that most likely would have left the Wolverines down just one heading into the final period.
But when the puck slipped off of Hogan’s glove and into the net, Berenson made the only decision he could to save his team’s chance at a third-straight GLI Championship.
Michigan managed to rebound the next night and beat an atrocious Michigan Tech team to split the weekend but the RPI loss is the just about the last dagger in Michigan's at-large tourney hopes. Losing to a bleah ECAC team is bad enough—it will kill Michigan's record against common opponents, a Pairwise* factor, against good ECAC teams like Yale that play limited nonconference schedules—but as a special bonus Michigan missed the opportunity to play a good Michigan State team and instead got Tech, #49 of 58 in RPI and 3-16 on the season.
Michigan is now 29th in RPI, down a spot from before the GLI. Sioux Sports shows that if Michigan wins 14 of its remaining 17 games they'd end up somewhere around 10th to 13th in RPI. Upshot: if they managed to do that they'd likely be on the good side of the bubble when conference tournaments rolled around and would have a fighting chance at picking up an at-large bid if they make the Joe and split there.
So… no problem. Just win at an 82% clip when you're at 50% on the season, can't score no matter how many shots you take, and just saw your goalie pulled for a smurfy walk-on who gave up a soft game-losing goal in the four shots he faced.
A more realistic goal is to scrape into fourth place in the CCHA to get a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs and hope to win them. Short of a time machine that drops sophomore year Al Montoya, Mike Comrie, and Jack Johnson onto the roster, Michigan can't get to the tournament in any other way.
*(The way the hockey tournament is selected is something else called the Pairwise. It compares the top 25 teams in RPI against each other in various categories—RPI, record against common opponents, record against teams under consideration, and head to head. At this point the PWR is so heavily based on RPI that with a few exceptions teams will be within one or two spots of their RPI rank at season's end.)
Basketball: also killing me. So they actually beat Ohio State the other day in a testament to the power of home court in the Big Ten, but AnnArbor.com theorizes that "a confident Michigan basketball team inspires expectations again" and I think they're nuts.
I might have this conversation on WTKA again this afternoon, but a week in which you split against meh Big Ten teams—and Ohio State is meh without Evan Turner—is not making progress towards your goals. Unlike last year, when a strong nonconference run put M in a spot where all they had to do was hold serve, this team has to cut a fiery swath through the Big Ten if they want a bid. Losing to the second-worst team in the Big Ten according to Kenpom is not exactly doing that.
It is nice to win something against Ohio State, though. Or anyone at all, in anything.
Ekpe Udoh: yes, killing me. Udoh is the Ryan Mallett of Michigan basketball. He's 7th in the nation in blocks and Baylor's most-used player (82% of available minutes) on an 11-1 team that's beaten Xavier, Arizona State, and South Carolina. He transferred because a new coach came in and he didn't like his style, leaving Michigan utterly deficient at something important (passing, interior defense) and being touted as a potential first-round pick.
Assistant coach search: not killing me. Stealth mode. I haven't heard or read one word about who Michigan is looking at to replace the departed Hopson, whether it's in the newspaper or a premium message board or my inbox. Michigan might be busy recruiting or, you know, having a "holiday" with the weird people who live with the coaches and insist that something other than football is an "activity" that can be "undertaken." It'll be interesting to see who gets picked up, and it looks like the announcement is going to be of the variety where Some Guy gets picked up and I scramble to google him to find out who he is.