he grew a beard
Update 7/21: Linked to articles on MS S Dennis Thames, FL LB Brandin Hawthorne, MD RB Tavon Austin, GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore, TX S Rex Burkhead, NJ DE Anthony LaLota, various pieces on SC DE Chris Bonds. And more fun Newsome stuff, plus rumor-mongering of a bogus variety.
Re-added SC RB David Sims.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting Board lives here.
Everybody thought IN OL Zach Martin was going to visit Michigan, then decide, but instead he committed to Notre Dame. This has been an unfortunately common occurrence over the last few years. Geniunely Sarcastic has the details; suffice it to say the scoreboard since 2006 is ND 9, Michigan 1. This overstates things since it doesn't include the likes of Dann O'Neill or Ricky Barnum, who are widely regarded to be players at least equal to the ten players fought over here, but it's a concern.
GS goes for the soothing balm of Dan Mozes, the two-star West Virginia center who became a four-year starter, All-American, and Rimington winner. I'm more circumspect. All-Americans and Rimington Award winners are picked by the media, who know f-all about offensive linemen, and when you've got a four year starter on a team that runs for 300 yards a game he's going to get fawned over whether he deserves it or not. See: Matt Lentz, All Big Ten 2005. Mozes went undrafted by the NFL and was cut in training camp by the Vikings. In all probability he was massively overhyped.
What does suit as balm: Weis' remarkable ability to turn a line not far off Michigan's last year in terms of recruiting hype and returning experience into the worst unit in the country and possibly the worst unit of the decade.
Other stuff: NJ DE Anthony LaLota is listing a number of schools that are all excellent academically, including Michigan. However, he's visited five of his leaders and has a trip planned to a sixth (Penn State) this weekend. Michigan not so much:
"I haven't had a chance to visit Michigan yet and I don't know too much about the new coaches," he said. "I'm really looking forward to getting to know them better. I think they'll do great and I really expect them to have a great season."
If he visits, then we might have a shot; for now we're just hanging on.
MS S Dennis Thames, nephew of Detroit Tiger Marcus Thames, had a lot of positive things to say about Michigan after his visit...
"It was like a dream come true," Thames said of his time at Michigan. "Everything I'm looking for in a college, Michigan had it. Education-wise, everything up there is professional. They know what they're doing. If football doesn't work, they make sure you get your education."
Based on what Thames witnessed in the weight room, he believes the Wolverines know what they're doing when it comes to training, as well.
"Mike Barwis -- that's an awesome dude," he said about Michigan's new strength and conditioning coordinator. "I'd say about 25 pro football players were there. He was helping them work out. It was awesome. He took me through some drills showing me how they do it up there."
... but he's backed off the assertion he made whilst in the Tigers locker room that Michigan leads:
As for his college choice, Thames said, "I will say Michigan is in my top three with Mississippi State and Auburn."
Mississippi State, bizarrely as ever, remains the biggest threat.
FL LB Brandin Hawthorne has five finalists and plans on " committing" August 30th; Michigan is regarded the favorite. Cause of scare quotes:
ESPN 150 Watch Lister Brandin Hawthorne will choose between South Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee and Louisville during an Aug. 30th game against Olive Branch (Miss.) to be televised on ESPN, affiliate Web site InsideTheU.com reports.
Hawthorne will then take official visits to all those schools except South Florida and will travel to Iowa State instead.
Last season, the 6-foot-1, 181-pounder racked up more than 80 tackles, 28 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
And by "commit" we mean "announces early leader." And by "five finalists" we mean "six finalists."
GA LB Devekeyan (or "Dede") Lattimore says Michigan is a slight leader:
"I love the tradition at Michigan and they have some good new coaches that are really going to be changing things up," he said. "I like coach Rich Rodriguez and it really impressed me that he was one of the few head coaches (and UCF) that offered me himself. That meant a lot."
Lattimore is a three star with one other big offer, that from Clemson.
And, finally, what would a recruiting post be without more discussion of VA QB Kevin Newsome's status? It would be shorter. Anyway, Josh Helmholdt put up an innocuous story on the Free Press site headlined something like "Michigan's quarterback issues are temporary" that one of the OMG HITS editors at the Free Press changed to "If Kevin Newsome bolts, Michigan has a contingency plan." This set off a completely predictable mini-sitewar between Scout and Rivals with Scout touting Sam Webb's recent conversation(?) with the Newsomes and claiming 1) Newsome was totally solid and 2) if Newsome did end up decommiting it was Helmholdt's fault for writing that article. Helmholdt, for his part, has been writing articles that can be retitled "If Kevin Newsome bolts..." and include references to Jason Forcier and Eugene Smith. Read between the lines.
My contribution: a man named "Crotch Bat." A reader sends along this thread from Something Awful's "Sports Argument Stadium" in which a VT fan/insider(?) says thusly:
What I'm hearing is that Kevin Newsome is all but gone from Michigan and that scenario will play out sooner rather than later. Look for VT and PSU to be in the thick of it for him.
Again, don't shoot the messenger but like I said, none of this stuff is going away and I hear new stuff more and more.
Reasons to give this more credence than you would to your average random internet rumor? Well, there is the claim of deep insider info and the generalized respect shown this guy, who's been posting at SA since 2003. The emailer comments:
I tend to believe him because in the few years I've been reading that forum, he has always been there and is consistently a knowledgeable, intelligent poster.
A reason to disregard: even if he's got the info he claims it's coming from the VT side of things and may be biased or just incorrect. Also: "Crotch Bat." Also also: there was another Rivals even this weekend that was attended by both Bryce McNeal and Newsome; McNeal, at least, didn't detect any floppiness. As always, I throw up my hands and say "hell if I know."
Etc.: TX S Rex Burkhead doesn't mention Michigan here; longshot.
Hello! I swear this idea was in the hopper long before the Wolverine Liberation Army came along and made MGoCommunism chic, but there's a new shirt available for preorder at MGoStore. It looks like this:
Now you can headbutt all your Che-lovin' hippie friends with the power of Bo.
The deal on shirts going forward is this: we'll put them up for preorder when they're designed. Preorders will be $3 off the regular price; when there are sufficient preorders to indicate demand the shirts will get printed up in an appropriate number and shipped out. Get to it, if you would.
Programming note: there was a lot of negative feedback on the "Anti-Carr Team"; it appears most found it meanspirited, and I have to agree. It was fun in concept but not execution and has been discontinued. If you need a complete team, there is a diary entitled " The Game I'll Watch In Hell ."
Blog fixes. You should notice the MGoStore block is back. Click for sweet t-shirt action. Also: the "more" links in the diaries tab now lead you to something that's not totally useless. Before, they actually had worse functionality than the tabs, as they'd give you five posts without any option to see another page. Now they'll show you 25 and there's a full pager. Also, the Fanhouse links on the left sidebar are fixed.
Crankiness level: medium. Red Berenson has always been admirably straightforward about how damned ornery NHL teams picking off his best players makes him. Sometimes he's okay with it (Jack Johnson); other times he's near livid (Mike Cammalleri). The Pacioretty reaction falls in the middle:
Q: Was he frustrated with your decision?
Pacioretty: A little bit. He's very understanding. He knows I want to be a professional hockey player. Sometimes, not everyone has the same mindset for developing as a hockey player. I think there might have been a little bit of friction there, but not too much. I know he supports my goal to one day play in the NHL.
"We're disappointed that Max Pacioretty has chosen to forego his eligibility at the University of Michigan," Berenson said in a statement released by the school. "Max was certainly a positive force on our team last season. We would like to wish him well in his pursuit of his dream to play in the National Hockey League."
Eeeeeeeeeeee. Again. Okay, even I'm getting a little tired of reading about Superhero Mike Barwis. Mere days after ESPN published three separate items about the former ninja who may have assassinated Prince Moriyoshi in 1335 comes a Dennis Dodd piece. Naturally, it starts with wolves:
The pet wolves died last year. Mike Barwis had two of them which, to anyone who knows Michigan's strength and conditioning coach, is hardly a surprise.
The rest of it is per standard. Barwis makes grown men cry. Larry Foote can fly now. Player X came in a 200 pound fatty and now bends steel bars with his forearm hair. Barwis ate a baby once and crapped out Lawrence Taylor. Barwis got in a time machine, travelled back to the Indian subcontinent when it was still floating in the ocean and got the natives so fired up they threw it into Asia.
Barwis invented flour.
Also there's this quote from Threet:
"We have to scare people again," Threet said. "There used to be a certain intimidation factor. You'd see Michigan run out and touch the banner and you knew you were in for a long day. Some of that has started to go away."
Historian. The 2000 Michigan State game for your edification:
Meanwhile. The Ann Arbor News' editorial leadership has taken every possible opportunity to criticize the Michigan athletic department this summer. Meanwhile, in Lansing they're publishing 4,000 word puff pieces about the new athletic director's little league baseball coaching:
Runners stand on first and second. It's 6:33 p.m. on Monday, June 9, at a baseball field behind Chippewa Middle School in Okemos. Coach Mark Hollis gives the sign to his baserunners: double steal. As the next pitch crosses the plate, both break into a sprint.
"Get there!" Hollis barks, and both do with ease.
It is, after all, little league baseball.
Michigan State's athletic department is consistently in the red, features a football team one point above the APR's minimum, and has a coach that provided more ammunition to Michigan fans in one year than John L Smith did over his entire tenure. Also his last recruiting class sucked. (This one? Pretty good so far.) But the rush to lionize is on.
Diaries of note. A number of good things in the Diaries: gsimmons85 tackles press coverage as Shafer will apply it:
You wont see a lot of straight jam technique, rather the press is an inside shade, outside foot back, inviting the fade (michigan corners will know how to play the fade better than any other corners int he country) then on the snap of the ball, they execute what is called a shadow technique. Shafer describes it as imagining that the sun is setting behind the offensive player, and the defender gives ground, with short shuffle steps, and tries to stay in the shadow as long as possible. Forcing the offensive player to make the first move, makes it harder to get a corner off balance with a missed jam.
Simmons is a high school defensive coordinator who's used Shafer's schemes for the past four years and is very complimentary of his stuff over on his home blog Three And Out.
Meanwhile, Blue Seoul interrogates the Barwis hype. In doing so he accidentally stumbles over some interesting numbers about fourth quarter swings. Over the last five years:
Michigan was outscored in the 4th quarter 19 freaking times. 6 of those were 4th quarter collapses where we lost the lead, and 4 of them were double digit 4th quarter leads. WVU was outscored in the 4th 21 times, BUT ONLY 1 RESULTED IN A LOST LEAD. One! One freaking game did they lose in the 4th quarter. ... Conversely, WVU only won 7 games in the 2nd half, 2 of those in the 4th. Michigan won 7 games in the 2nd half, but 9 in the 4th.
I cosign the proffered explanation:
I think this has more to do with coaching. Lloyd would sit on a lead, lose the third quarter and then open up a bit to win in the end. Whereas with RR he doesn't hold back. He's either going to beat you and put you away in the first half, or just trail for the entire game.
(There's probably an element of luck in there, too.) An interesting thing about the Rodriguez offense as it was constructed at West Virginia: you can't turn off the "scoring offense." Michigan could grind into the line a few times, throw on third down, avoid risky plays, etc, etc. West Virginia could try to do that, and Pat White would rip off a 50 yard run or something. The downside to this is the lack of comebacks: WVU had one kickass dimension, but if you shut that dimension off you were going to win.
I don't think this is the ideal for Rodriguez, but when you've got Pat White -- especially as a freshman and sophomore -- that's just what you've got. It would have been interesting to see if Rodriguez added more passing to the WVU offense with a senior quarterback, as Carr always did.
- QB Waggle continues his excellent series on Michigan players in the NFL. (Note the use of bold for headers and italics for subheaders to break the text up into nice readable chunks.)
- Dex of the WLA concludes the Kevin Grady adventure.
- Keegan provides his own Slocum eulogy; There is more at the WLA.
Derrell Hand, left. Marques Slocum, right.
This is the worst kept secret on the internet: Marques Slocum is not expected back this fall due to academic problems. It's not official, but both premium sites are dropping dark hints and Doug Karsch has broached the topic on the radio. It's pretty close. And I wonder what the point is.
Most outside the Michigan fan tribe will remember Slocum for his answer to the question "do you have any pets, and if so what do you have?" Slocum replied "i got a fuck lion now come fuck wit me," EDSBS posted it up, and the internet ran away with it. After that he was either awesome or just another "sterotypical person," as the last comment on that EDSBS post declares:
What a stereotypical person….now people will feel sorry for him for absolutely no reason. We are all that much more dumb after reading his slow minded retarded azz response.YO…Im da Shiznit homey…bow down or get rolled up…Holla..what an idiot.
("Josh W" left a web address where he could be found: http://faebook/. Holla, idiot.) His departure will no doubt be memorialized unkindly by those with an axe to grind against Michigan's efforts to walk the tightrope between Duke football and Mississippi State academics.
To Michigan fans, Slocum was the big, affable recruit who tore up the Army All-American bowl and wanted to come to Michigan so badly he wandered in the wilderness for two years to do so. This is was a unique occurence. The occasional Michigan recruit will fail to qualify, and once in a very long while Michigan will follow the kid through a prep school year. Slocum and Arizona cornerback Quinton McCoy are the only ones I can remember. "Draft and follow" -- where a school signs a guy with almost no chance of qualifying in the hopes of building up some sort of loyalty for when the kid exits JUCO -- as practiced by much of the SEC is right out. Michigan's admissions department is legendarily strict about transfer credits. Except in very rare cases, JUCOs need not apply.
So when Slocum went to Milford Prep for a year and still didn't qualify, that should have been the end of him. Instead, Slocum enrolled without a scholarship, spent a year getting eligible, and finally managed to get on the field in 2007. This was truly dedication to an idea. He's gone now, a few tackles and the occasional UFR +1 the product of two years effort.
Effort of a sort, anyway. The penultimate comment on the "fuck lion" interview paints a tableau of a lighthearted kid caught in a place he has no use for and has no use for him. A table setter is included:
I had a class with this kid for one day - greatest experience of my life. He now has a drew gooden beard. Oh god. Awesome.
Comment by umich1 - February 19, 2008 @ 4:33 pm
Re: last comment
I, too, had a class with Marques Slocum my senior year of undergrad. It was actually one of professor Hagen's classes, one day, we split into groups to do survey work. When one of the group members called on Mr. Slocum to answer a question, he said, "Aw, shit, I don't know - I'm not used to standing up in class. I'm used to standing up to get awards and shit." And then he left the room.
Comment by Shane - April 21, 2008 @ 9:17 pm
Like much about Marques Slocum, this awesome and sad at the same time.
The NCAA has created an underclass of physically talented players toiling in junior colleges or small I-AA schools, robbed of the opportunity to ply their wares in the place most likely to turn their talents into a career. Slocum now joins them. I am trying to figure out whether or not APRs and entrance requirements and so forth and so on are forces for good. They certainly seem virtuous, but I think Slocum would have been a lot better off in a system that let him major in something like "Athletic Performance" and take his shot at the NFL. I also think that the existence of "Athletic Performance" across Division 1 would provide a drag on academic achievement by would-be athletic performers, the vast majority of whom won't even start in college, let alone make a dime in their chosen sport.
But many, if not most, of these guys already assume they're going to the show and screw off anyway. One thing I definitely think: Division 1 schools should be given the option to extend a player's scholarship after his eligibility expires without it counting against the cap. This funnels some of the pots of money currently being spent on athletes to the athletes themselves and provides them an opportunity to actually focus on the classes they're taking after they've been disabused of the notion they are destined to be the next multi-millionaire.
That wouldn't help Slocum, but it might help out a range of kids who spend their time and their bodies chasing a dream that is, for them, unattainable.
(via I Love Kiki)
As for Marques, well... he's left the room. Shit.
DUDE. California QB Tate Forcier is the younger brother of former Michigan QB Jason and has a website up with offer letters, personal photographs, stats, and a bunch more stuff. Amongst the personal photos is Jason Forcier in an old school "Worst State Ever" shirt:
Awesome. You, reader, should probably buy four. Tate, by the way, is the one in the hoodie.
We might not die. Michigan fans look to Vegas for reassurance they won't end up in Detroit against a MAC team this winter, and Vegas provides. Earlier this year they provided absurdly good odds for a Michigan national title, naming M the tenth most likely to win it all. Those are sucker bets, though, and their latest available bet proves that:
That's Vegas's over-under for the entire Big Ten, which still might be a sucker bet susceptible to public perception -- Iowa at 6th? -- but 8 wins is way more plausible than tenth overall. The best bet, IMO: the Minnesota under.
Taiwan. That's where Arizona transfer and likely starting point guard* Laval Lucas Perry most recently played. He didn't shoot well, but it was only three games. Here's the first half of one:
Feel the excitement of basketball in Taiwan!
*(once January rolls around; Perry has to sit out the fall semester because of his transfer.)
Etc.: How West Virginians see America. Made by a West Virginian, so don't blame me.
The highs dispensed of, we can focus on the real Michigan specialty: lows. This is an attempt to document the absolute worst players inflicted upon Michigan fans during Lloyd Carr's tenure as head coach. This is sort of a mean thing to do, since even the worst Michigan players are amongst the top 1% of football players anywhere. It's kind of like making fun of Darko, even though Darko's richer than you and way, way better at basketball than you.
Anyway, this is also a season-by-season evaluation, with special emphasis given to extended presence in the lineup. Tyrece Butler wasn't very good but he was the fourth wide receiver at best and thus did not impact Michigan's fate as much as Pat Massey did in 2005.
In sum: we're trying to find the guys at each position that make you think "how did that guy spend that much time on the field?" This is less laser-focused on years; some career aspects are taken into account.
Pat Massey 2005. Massey is one of four unholy locks that cannot be disagreed upon. (The others: Todd Howard, Ryan Mundy, and John Navarre.) A 6'8" defensive tackle instructed to eat a lot of pizza by cutting-edge S&C coach Mike Gittleson, Massey spent 2005 moonwalking downfield against single blocking. At no point did he ever threaten to enter the opponent's backfield. He spent more time on his back than former Notre Dame AD Kevin White at a meeting with NBC (zing!). He probably thought the line of scrimmage started somewhere around the safeties.
Choice bits on Massey from the blog's past follow. 2005's OSU UFR:
Massey(-1) is crushed off the snap ... Massey also gets crushed by single blocking. ... Running right at Massey again, who crumples backwards under the force of two blockers ... Clear evidence of Massey(-1) being a part of the opponent gameplan here. He's blown off the ball a couple yards by one blocker. The center doesn't even chip anyone and immediately plows into Harris.
If only Massey played as purty as he talked. He's 6'8", and there's a reason you've never heard of a 6'8" DT before: every play someone gets under this hypothetical giant's pads and drives him five yards backwards. Massey's only contribution this year was pursuing on screens.
Moving from defensive end in the 3-4 to a 4-3 defensive tackle was a disaster for Massey, who may as well have been named "Crumpled" by the end of the year. We should have seen it coming--when was the last time you saw a 6'8", 285-pound defensive tackle? When is the next time? I'm guessing "never" and "never again."
A review of the defensive losses after the 2005 season:
This is probably the most effective summary of his career: though he started for three years he finished with exactly four TFLs that were not sacks. All four came as a sophomore, two against Houston and two against Indiana. As a senior he had 29 tackles, one for loss. That was a sack against Michigan State where Woodley crushed two blockers, forcing Stanton to scramble back into a trailing Massey. Whoever replaces him would have to try very hard indeed to do less.
You get the idea. By all accounts he was a great guy Carr loved like a son, but... yeah. Crumplestiltskin.
Shawn Lazarus, 2001. I admit I'm guessing on this one, my memory of mediocre defensive tackles being sketchy. However, Michigan's had a parade of fringe-or-better NFL players at the position and Lazarus was one of the few to miss out. I do have lingering memories of him as the least productive of the Caucasian pride parade that was Michigan's line from about 1999 to 2002. The stats back me up:
|Career Defense for Shawn Lazarus|
2000 was a year mostly spent as a backup, but in 2001 Lazarus had 12 starts and turned in 16 tackles. Stats aren't the be-all and end-all for defensive tackles, but even so... that's not good production, and he was one of the few non-Massey defensive tackles at Michigan to be completely overlooked by all-conference teams and the NFL. (Lazarus turned in a better senior year, FWIW, with 30 tackles and 6 TFLs.)
Sidenote: Lazarus is now a motivational speaker of the Scared Straight variety:
"Where Can You Find Shawn Lazarus?"
Youth can either listen to me now or in the Juvenile Court System.
Honorable(?) Mention: The other guy considered for the second spot was -- gulp -- Will Johnson, who had a pretty meh 2007 and was partially responsible for the weak run defense last year.
Dan Rumishek, 2000. This could have been any defensive end on the 2000 team, which featured Rumishek starting ten games on the strongside and four players, all of whom were basically terrible, on the weakside: Evan Coleman, a freshman Larry Stevens, Alain Kashama, and Shantee Orr. Orr was the only one who would go on to the NFL, and he only had two starts. (Injury?)
At the time, Rumishek was a sophomore, and it showed. He finished the year with 24 tackles and one lonely sack. When that's your best defensive end... well.
Larry Stevens, 2003. This may not be entirely fair, but if the point of this team is to identify guys who had inexplicably vast amounts of playing time, Stevens has got to be up there. He arrived at Michigan a high school safety and was immediately placed on the defensive line, seeing a couple starts at DE as a freshman -- more evidence the 2000 season was not a banner year for the position.
Steven's junior year was mediocre at best, but it's Stevens' senior season that comes in for scruity here: 27 tackles, 4 sacks in 13 games. Three of those sacks came against Houston and the first Notre Dame team to get housed 38-0. (Towards the end, the student section chanted "Houston's better" at the beleagured Irish.) Against the rest of the schedule Stevens notched one sack, that versus Purdue.
Surprisingly, Stevens collected 16 tackles over a couple years with the Bengals.
Honorable(?) Mention: Larry Harrison's one year as a starter was as a 3-4 defensive end. He was okay at it, but spent his offseason showing his bits to anyone who didn't want to see them, which was everyone. Can we put David Bowens' junior and senior years in this category? They were spent at Western Illinois, after all, and just after Bowens broke Michigan's single-season sack record.
The Worldwide Leader in Eeeeeeeee. ESPN dumped a massive amount of Barwis hype on the internet yesterday. Bruce Feldman:
Barwis is a 190-pound Philly area native with the kind of presence that scares grown men. Football players, many outweighing Barwis by 100 pounds, speak in awe of the guy like he's some sort of Chuck Norris figure. His reputation, which quickly turned him into an internet star among Wolverine fans, is indeed larger than life. "I think he had a freakin' pet wolf at home," says [former WVU RB Kay-Jay] Harris. "Now, c'mon, who has a pet wolf?"
Cobourne, the veteran of the workout group, says he's noticed a dramatic difference in the athletes, using Foote, an established NFL guy, as his prime example.
"I saw Foote come in at the beginning, and he'd try and lollygag a little," says Cobourne. "And Mike's like 'Look, that ain't how we do it here.' Foote wasn't used to it. But now he's going right through it. These guys see what they're getting from it, 'Man, I was never explosive like this before. Wow this is really working for me.'"
Who has stood out to you so far in the program?
MB: They're all progressing to great magnitudes. If you're looking for an example, at 287 pounds, Brandon Graham did 315 pounds on the bench press. We cut him all the way down to 250 and then brought him back up to 269. At 269 today, he did 475 for two (repetitions) on the bench. That's pretty good. Everybody's increasing across the board. They've come a tremendously long way from learning exercises in the winter as freshmen, to being incredibly strong and functional with those exercises by the time the summer ends.
1) I can't believe Brandon Graham was nearly 300 pounds last year. 2) Schwing. 3) Three is also "schwing."
Four is probably "schwing," too. There's an article in Hail To The Victors 2008 that's all about defensive coordinator Scott Shafer and his propensity to blitz from sun up to sun down. This is nothing unique: every new defensive coordinator since the dawn of time has been accompanied by a retinue of articles proclaiming the New Era of Aggressive Aggression GRRR AGGRESSION. But in Shafer's case, well...
The defense will have four goals.
1) Stop the Run.
2) Get to the Quarterback, and then hit him in the mouth.
3) Get to the back-up Quarterback.
4. Intercept the football/create turnovers and score if possible.
In Shafer's final year at Western Michigan, the Broncos led the nation in sacks; in year one at Stanford the Cardinal went from 111th to 11th. GBMW's coachBT also says Michigan will deploy a lot of press coverage. It's everybody's defensive coordinator wet dream... hopefully it works.
I'm going down in a fields of glory. This thing is on Hulu. It's a little schlocky, but it's easy to embed.
Um? I linked the Blue Ribbon preview of Notre Dame on mgolicious a couple days ago, but would like to bring it to your attention again so I can highlight this sentence:
The schedule is unusually tame, with only a home game against Michigan and road encounter at USC to end the season standing out as nearly impossible wins.
If only that was true.
Sidenote: this doesn't quite live up to last year's Blue Ribbon ND preview, which was put together by crackheads.
Etc.: The Comcast-BTN deal has been reported as "long term", but how long? Ten years. Meanwhile: commenter Blake theorizes that Michigan was so successful against Penn State because it was playing an older, crankier version of itself; JokishTacopants analyzes the OL with an assist from Phil Steele. Did you know we're 118th in returning OL starts? Probably not. Were you happier before you knew that? Probably.
(BTW, a suggestion to diarists: Use bold somewhat liberally and take advantage of the bulleting options available in the text editor; it'll make your posts easier to read.)
There was some confusion about blogpoll membership, so a clarifying post. First: if you're in and you're not on the list below, there's no need to email me. Your place is secure.
The following blogs have been cut for various reasons:
THEY NO LONGER EXIST
- M Zone (Michigan)
- Dump Dorrell (UCLA)
- JournoRock (Alabama)
- Pitch Right (Navy)
- Ramblin' Racket (Georgia Tech)
NO ONE'S POSTED SINCE LIKE JANUARY
- 82 Sluggo Win (USC)
- House Rock Built (Notre Dame)
- Bemusement Park (Iowa)
- Off Tackle (A&M)
- Ron Bellamy's Underachieving All Stars (Michigan)
THEY DIDN'T VOTE
- Deep South Sports (Mississippi)
- SportsBiz (Northwestern)
- Georgia Sports Blog (Georgia)
- Fresno State Football (Fresno State)
- Section Six (NC State)
- Wisconsin Badger Sports (Wisconsin)
THEY'RE NOT SPORTS BLOGS
- Boi From Troy (USC)
- Straight Bangin' (Michigan)
If you see your name on this list and still wish to participate in the poll, please send me an email and the admission committee will give your re-application due consideration. There are a couple of other blogs that I don't know what to do with and will be emailing to see what's up.
NOTE: With the departure of three Michigan blogs I can now lower the cap on voters per team to four, and have done so.
I try to keep up on the hotness as far as college football blogs go and have standing invitations for the following sites that either 1) have an annoying contact form on their site (boo) or 2) have no contact information whatsoever (BOO):
- Barking Carnival (Texas)
- The National Championship Issue (?)
- Washington Husky Sports
- Bama Sports Report
- Scalp 'Em (FSU)
- Georgia Tech Sports
- Bears Necessity (Cal)
- Excuse Me For My Voice (Cal)
- allCanes.com (Miami)
- Mississippi State Sports Blog
If you write one of these blogs, email me for signup instructions. A number of other blogs that have contact information somewhere on their site have also been invited.
IF YOU DIDN'T GET THE EMAIL, by no means are you unworthy of consideration; I'm just one guy and am not omniscient. If you've already emailed me and didn't get the email, that doesn't mean you've been passed over. That's just going out to blogs that meet the criteria who may not be aware of the poll's existence and support under-represented teams or conferences.
It might suck, though. Michigan Sports Center has been scouring Internet message boards for information on NCAA 09 and reports back with some problems:
To incorporate "wide open gameplay," the defenses in NCAA 09 reportedly have been incredibly dumbed down. By this, I mean that it is far too hard to play defense when lining up against the computer. When you are on defense, most people have reported that the opposing computer quarterback are way too accurate. The norm is only five or so incompletions a game according to some, and that is only because of dropped passes. On top of that, the computer's offensive line supposedly is way too dominant, even against the best teams in the game. With an extremely accurate QB and barely any pass rush, the results aren't good.
There are also widespread difficulties with editing the rosters (which I couldn't care less about, especially since you can download a whole roster for free from inside the EA Locker). Bill Abner's continued to post impressions at his blog and remains pleased -- "if I had to return the game and then decide whether or not to buy it, I'd be in line just like the rest of you, forking over my $60 and change" -- despite some annoyances; I trust him over some of the inveterate whiners that populate video game message boards. (Not that they don't have a point, but sometimes it's a bit much.) Abner does futz with the sliders excessively, so the issues above may be real on All American with default sliders but obviated if you're willing to tweak.
Law and Toomer. In the Thursday post rebutting Michael Rosenberg's column on Rich Rodriguez, I made passing reference to the distance between former Michigan stars Ty Law and Amani Toomer and Lloyd Carr. A couple folks have asked for background. Law left for the NFL after his junior year when his family filed for bankruptcy, and Carr did not take it well:
"He didn't care for me leaving, and I wasn't welcomed back for a while," said Law of Carr, who was Michigan's defensive coordinator but replaced Gary Moeller as head coach for what would have been Law's senior season.
Law says Carr "actually told me -- and that's what I feed on until this day -- that I would never see the third round. And that kind of hurt me. I know I thought I was one of the better players here on the team."
The animosity lingers; see the sidebar of that Page 2 article for further detail.
Toomer's issues with Carr are vaguer but just as real:
Did you hear from any of your former U-M teammates or Lloyd Carr after the win? No. The last time I heard a word from Lloyd was when I was playing in a (Michigan) game; it was my last play of my senior year. I caught a touchdown from Brian Griese, and I was walking off the field and Lloyd looks at me, looks at Griese, looks at me again, and goes, "Good throw, Brian." And that's the last thing he ever said in my direction.
Did you have a good relationship with Carr while at U-M? I thought we did, but I guess we didn't. So I don't know. I wasn't too upset to see the whole regime change.
Le Dominator is French for The Dominator. Pacioretty hype from Montreal's prospect camp continues to come fast and furious:
While Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens' director of recruitment, was reluctant to talk about individual players, he did venture the opinion that Pacioretty is "head and shoulders" above his peers.
... et chaque ...
Take this to the bank, people: Max Pacioretty will be with the big club when the 2009-'10 season begins. And he's going to be a good one.
But where will he be playing this fall? Probably Yost:
Pacioretty has played one season at the University of Michigan. It's unlikely he'll stay there for a full four years, but he is expected to return in September.
Knock on wood and all that. If he does return, plan on it being a Jack-Johnson-like victory lap, hopefully one just as freakin' awesome as JMFJ's senior year.
Cross is boss. Wolverine Historian has compiled the 2001 Illinois game, a comprehensive beating applied with some panache. I had totally forgotten what I think were back-to-back trick plays that got Michigan its first touchdown, and Todd Howard is subject to the most spectacular facemask penalty I've ever seen. In full:
Another day, another jab. The Ann Arbor News takes the opportunity presented by the "Rodriquez" settlement to launch another broadside at the athletic department. This was my favorite part:
Michigan used to be unique amid a national trend that's seen programs at other schools become less about student athletes and much more about the money that marquee sports can generate.
This isn't just orthogonally wrong, it's the exact opposite of right. The first sentence in Don Canham's Wikipedia article is "he became nationally-renowned for his ability to market and sell products bearing the name or logo of the school." Canham himself:
The only thing I did know was that were going to draw a hell of a lot more people than we ever did. Up until then, schools did not advertise. I almost got fired when I flew a helicopter advertising Michigan football over the World Series (in Detroit) in 1968. That was considered undignified. We ran ads in magazines and all the Detroit suburban newspapers. Our big gimmick was that we mailed ticket applications - that first year we mailed 400,000 ticket applications and sold coffee cups and things like that. We paid for the ads with the coffee cups. The premiums we came up with paid for it all.
The only thing unique about Michigan's place in the college football money grab was its status as first-mover. The rest of it is a complaint seemingly from another universe: Michigan's athletic department leadership has "little if any accountability or openness." The dastardly bastards in charge finished third in the Director's Cup, saw all their teams easily clear the NCAA's APR hurdles, and ran a massive surplus doing it. They must be held accountable!
By any reasonable standard the Michigan athletic department is one of the best in the country. It supports a massive number of student-athletes, does extraordinarily well in sports across the board, and does so without draining a dime from the university's general fund. Since the Ed Martin affair over a decade ago there hasn't been even the barest hint of NCAA problems. For this it gets harsher coverage from its local media than any program in the country.* I'm not asking for mindless homerism, but how about a shred of perspective?
The Ann Arbor News lists the phone numbers and email addresses for Martin, Coleman, and the Regents, exhorting you to "send a message." I suggest you send a different message to an organization that evidently has no interest in covering Michigan fairly by calling 734-994-6989. That message: "cancel my subscription."
*(I assume. No one else has been the target of a week-long investigative series that turned up virtually nothing, right? Washington might have a case given the Seattle Times' recent exhumation of the Neuheisel era at UW, but that actually seemed targeted at UCLA. If the Columbus Dispatch tried this they'd be under seige. Probably literally.)
Etc.: The NYT preview of Michigan approvingly references MGoBlog but contains some glaring errors ("Michigan did not land one quarterback recruit in the 2008 class"); Jim Brandstatter snaps back at Rosenberg; Michigan favored by seven against Utah.