Bubbly. AnnArbor.com catches up to a smiling Brandon Graham after his selection by the Eagles:
Rarely have I been so happy for a Michigan player. After the last two years, Graham deserves every good thing that can possibly happen to him. I hope he learns how to fly.
(Also: can I take a moment to tout how useful UFRs have been in tracking Brandon Graham's impact? I was a little worried that BG was outperforming Woodley, but there he is in the top half of the first round after the NFL saw how unblockable he is.)
Denard-o. Gerry DiNardo has lost more football games than you've ever watched, but he's still on the television so people ascend to his yurt high up in the Indiana mountains to beseech him for his wisdom. Last year his wisdom was "Denard Robinson is going to start at quarterback," which is a strong indicator as to why he's lost more football games than you've ever watched. DiNardo single criterion for choosing a starting quarterback is "is it vaguely possible this kid was named after me?" By no other measure was Robinson a plausible starter in 2009.
In 2010 things are different. Denard Robinson is still named after Dinardo, though:
"I think it has to be Denard Robinson," he said. "If you think about the way Rich Rodriguez became so successful at West Virginia it wasn't with a drop-back quarterback that threw 50 times, even though that approached worked for him some as an offensive coordinator. He wants to play the game that Denard plays, with a greater emphasis on the running attack than the passing attack. He wants to have that guy that can tuck the ball and make you miss even when the blocking isn't perfect, that can make you miss even if he misreads the read-option, and from everything I've seen, Denard Robinson is that guy.
"In college football nowadays, defenses, as much as they try to practice this, cannot tackle in space. From the earliest age, you're not coached to tackle one-on-one without help. The instruction is always about rallying to the ball and then for your defensive backs to use the sideline as their friend. But when you're stuck in a one-on-one situation, against an athlete like Denard Robinson, most of the time you're going to be left grasping for air.
"So when I see what he can do, and then I see what Forcier did last year - to me there is no comparison for where this offense wants to go."
I'm not sure he's right that Rodriguez is dedicated to running 75% of the time, but his other points are solid. The bit about defenses being unable to tackle in space could be the operational philosophy of Rodriguez's entire offensive system. Tate missed reads on the option plenty last year—most of the time, it seemed—and while he was slippery enough to evade lumbering defensive ends he wasn't fast enough to turn his frequent missed reads into anything more than a few yards. A prime example from the Illinois game:
It's possible Robinson can turn this into another couple yards, or even break something long (although probably not on this particular play). A quarterback who can get that extra couple yards is an extremely dangerous option. For all Forcier's flaws, he was an effective runner. If you cut out the copious sacks Michigan gave up last year (24 for 184 yards), he averaged 4.7 YPC. (This is slightly optimistic since Robinson probably took a couple sacks, so you may want to mentally adjust that to 4.5 or so.) A version of Denard Robinson that can run the zone read and throw well enough to keep linebackers honest will obliterate that.
Keeping the linebackers honest will take some doing, but the nice thing about being Denard Robinson is that when you go to play action, it's time to cheat like a mother for all but the best defenses. I don't think Ohio State is going to be particularly vulnerable to a raw sophomore like Robinson, but I also don't think Illinois or Purdue has much of a chance to stop him.
Merrill rising, talkin' smack. Incoming defenseman Jon Merrill saw his stock slip slightly over the course of his final year with the NTDP, but a strong U-18 tournament (where the US is obliterating all comers) has seen Merrill's stock pop up into the rarefied air of a potential top ten selection once more:
At the beginning of the tournament Gudbranson had the inside edge as the potential top defender to be selected this year, battling it out with Windsor's Cam Fowler, but the gap is closing. The play of Merrill, along with the struggles of the Gudbranson-led Canadian team, may have catapulted Merrill into that coveted position and certainly into the overall debate.
Coming into the tournament many even felt Forbort would likely be ranked and selected ahead of Merrill, and even though Forbort has looked strong, the abilities that Merrill has showcased so far during this tournament have pushed him ahead in the eyes of many scouting circles. Merrill is a tall and lanky player with a lot of room to build on his frame. He has tremendous speed and has extremely good intelligence with and around the puck. Merrill has been the kingpin of the US's powerplay and quarterbacks it tremendously well.
Merrill will jump into Michigan's top four on day one and I'm betting he'll be on the top powerplay and top pairing by midseason at the latest. He was also interviewed by McKeen's, and because he's going to play in college he was asked to justify his existence. He did so with aplomb:
I think a lot of guys make the argument that the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) is the most similar to the NHL in style of play, and you play a lot of games, and things like that, but you’ve got to look at it from my perspective. I’m 18 years old. If I went and played in the CHL, there’s 15 and 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds, in the league. There’s top-end 18 and 19-year-old guys, too, but if you go to college, everyone’s older than you. I’m a freshman in a bigger, stronger, faster game, and you get up for every game, because you only play 35, 40 games, or whatever it is. Every game is a big game. Whereas in the CHL, you’re playing in Sudbury on a Tuesday night, and how do you get up for that, you know?
Tuesdays in Sudbury is a best-seller by Bizzaro Canadian Mitch Albom, but not a particularly attractive option compared to playing outdoors in front of one million people, give or take nine hundred thousand.
Nothing on Moffatt, unfortunately. He has just one assist for a rampant USA. The U18s are the last opportunity to put it out there for NHL scouts and he's not drawing a whole lot of notice. Hopefully he'll slide in comfortably—a mid-round NHL draft pick is usually a good player—but an instant impact is unlikely.
Side note: please don't read anything about Jack Campbell. It will make you sad.
(Interview HT: Michigan Hockey Net.)
About the one million people. Sales for Cold War II have been ridiculous so far:
General ticket sales began Wednesday, netting 14,700 purchases by 4 p.m., according to an athletic department spokesman. When added to the that seats have already been sold or committed to by season-ticket holders, former players and other groups, officials announced Wednesday that close to 80,000 tickets have already been sold.
"This has just taken off. You knew it would when you have something this special at the Big House - the first time ever, maybe the only time ever," Berenson said in a statement. " Everybody wants to be there. I think we'll be sold out before we know it. It'll be a tough ticket to buy."
With the original Cold War still the all-time hockey attendance record, the question at this point is not if this December's game will break it, but if the record shatters with enough force to match the destructive power of a bear dropping a bomb into a volcano.
Probably not. But it will be close, yo.
Cancer, again. Chris Perry's arrest was a family thing in which something went down with a cousin, possibly because Perry's mom is terminally ill with the cancer she was battling when Perry played at Michigan. Irene Perry is the main reason Chris didn't transfer a couple years into his career. Best wishes, for whatever that's worth, to the Perry family.
This Saturday the #1 ranked Michigan Lacrosse team will take on their instate rival at 7PM at East Grand Rapids High School as part of the Great Lakes Lacrosse Classic. Tickets are $6, and gates open at 5:30. Defending Division 2 state champions East Grand Rapids will take on Division 1 reigning champs Birmingham Brother Rice at 1PM as part of the festivities. For more, check out the EGR lacrosse page.
Michigan has an 19-1 record all-time against Michigan State. For the past four seasons, the Wolverines and Spartans have closed the regular season with the Great Lakes Lacrosse Classic, with the venue alternating between Grand Rapids and Birmingham each year.
In the 2006 regular season, #1 Michigan defeated #22 Michigan State 14-8 at Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids. The Spartans would get their revenge in the CCLA tournament, however, coming away with an 11-10 win in which they were dominated in every aspect except the final score.
The 2007 season would bring a sweep of Michigan State, with a 14-6 victory at Birmingham Seaholm High School in the regular season and a 10-3 domination in the championship game of the CCLA tournament at Kings High School in Mason, Ohio. In that game, now-senior faceoff specialist David Reinhard won 5-of-6 draws, and Anthony Hrusovsky notched two goals and an assist. [Ed: full preview after the jump.]
The Eagles just leapt up 11 spots to draft Brandon Graham 13th overall and the NFL Network guy said he'd be a "situational pass rusher" his first year because he doesn't know. It's okay. You couldn't really without paying minute detail to a not good football team. May he destroy the universe from Philadelphia, where we always knew the end of civilization would originate from.
I think I might have to slightly care about the Eagles, who also have Jason Avant and Marlin Jackson, now. Someone make them trade for David Harris.
Michigan took two games against a weak opponent that is still looking to wake the echoes and return to glory from their days when Paul Mainieri, current coach at LSU, was still in South Bend. In Notre Dame's first visit to Ann Arbor since 1977, Michigan won a closely contested game, and the next night, the Wolverines pounded out a huge win.
Abbreviated midweek recaps and thoughts after the jump.
Okay. Complaints about a lack of clarity in the 16-team bats scenario have been lodged and heeded. Let's walk through an example of the "backwards scenario," which I will dub "Dynamic Crossover" because it sounds cool.
Yes, this is all irrelevant for at least a year now, and given the accuracy of media speculation to date the Big Ten will probably end up kicking everyone except Illinois and Northwestern out, and the chances that the Big Ten will adopt anyone's loony internet proposal are dim indeed. It's April 22nd. Minds will wander. On with show.
Let's say the final standings of each eight team division are like so:
|Ohio State||7-0||Penn State||6-1|
We now break the conference into four groups:
|Ohio State||Penn State||Illinois||Minnesota|
|Michigan State||Wisconsin||Indiana||Notre Dame|
"Paterno" and "Osborne" are the good teams, "Colleto" and "Dinardo" the bad ones. Now we play games that haven't already been played in each group. Hypothetical focus on Paterno:
- Ohio State has already played Michigan State, with OSU winning. (They dominated in yardage but a series of fluky turnovers made it look closer than it was.)
- Iowa beat Pitt 6-5.
In week one:
- Ohio State plays at Pitt. Pitt wins.
- Michigan State plays at Iowa. Iowa wins.
In week two:
- Pitt plays at Michigan State. Pitt wins.
- Iowa plays at Ohio State. Ohio State wins.
The final standings:
Ohio State advances to the conference championship game by virtue of its overall record. You'll note that it is hard or even impossible for third or fourth place teams to win through—Pitt won both of its crossover games and still didn't make it—but this seems like a good compromise between keeping a lot of teams involved and making sure the totality of the regular season is weighed appropriately.
If this is too complicated or falls foul of the NCAA's bylaws that restrict conference championship games to conferences that play round robin in two separate divisions, you can get rid of the group concept but leave the crossover games dynamic. The scheduling remains the same—#1 and #4 play #2 and #3 from the other division—but the winner is just the team in each division with the best record.
- Crossover games are equitable, important, and high profile.
- Guarantees two weeks of hyped games between good teams, culminating in a championship game.
- Eliminates unbalanced scheduling complaints.
- Leaves two weeks of the season uncertain. Although you know you'll be playing you don't know where or against who.
- Increases the chance of a championship game rematch.
- Increased connectivity between top teams will add extra losses and may hurt chances at additional BCS bids.
It's been a while since this feature has made an appearance, but with a recent boom in good diaries, it's time to dust off the cobwebs and bring you the best in user-generated content. Write a good diary and you, too, can have your time in the spotlight!
A lot of diaries of late have been Lacrosse (me), Baseball (formerlyanonymous), or Recruiting (Tom/me) -related, but there's been some good user-generated content, as well. Though we haven't seen this feature since December, I'll restrict entries to the end of basketball season. I'm leaving 16-team Big Ten proposals alone for now, as Brian will probably bring them up later.
The Mathlete brought it strong over the past few weeks, including a look at which NCAA football teams have been the most and least lucky over the past two years. How did he define luck?
To try and answer these questions, I took my team PPG values for the full 2009 season and then “re-played” the regular season schedule to see how the season would play out if the teams played at that consistent level and the fluky plays were eliminated. All first half plays and any in the second half with the game within 2 touchdowns were included. Interceptions are included, fumbles are not. Standard special teams plays are included, punt blocks, on-sides kicks etc. are not.
Unsurprisingly, Michigan hasn't been so lucky either of the past two years:
Northwestern has been the luckiest team in the nation two years running, so they may be in for a rude awakening sometime soon. MCalibur's lengthy diary presumably covers something similar (win expectations), but is more notable for how pretty its charts are.
Here offensive YPG is charted against defensive YPG. The horrible dot at the bottom is '08; the horrible dot to the right is '09. You can see how far from respectable Michigan was in '08 and the sizeable improvement last year, albeit not enough of one to expect a bowl game.
The Mathlete then delved into the importance of personnel, starting with the cumbersomely-titled post exploring the value of returning starters to a football team's success. Surprisingly, as long as your team wasn't among the bottom 20% in the country of returning starts at some key positions, returning experience isn't that big of a deal:
Returning starts don't matter as much as people think. The way they are most likely to affect a team is if you have very few. A whole host of returners isn't necessarily more valuable than a solid group. Just don't be stuck at the bottom, even a low ranking in a single position group can be worth a game or two.
So Michigan is losing its best three defenders, which bodes ill for the 2010 season, right? Not So Fast My Friend, as The Mathlete continued to outdo himself, crunching the numbers to reveal who were Michigan's top defensive players last year. Ryan Van Bergen comes in at a surprising #3, with Brandon Graham, in a shocker, the runaway leader with an adjusted score of 27.4. Donovan Warren's 8.7 was second.
The only positive performers who are returning are Van Bergen, Jonas Mouton, Mike Martin, and Obi Ezeh. Jordan Kovacs, Craig Roh, and Mike Leach were only slightly in the negative, all right around average nationally for their positions. The conclusion:
The most glaring point for me is that Michigan’s top linebacker, Mouton, barely makes the top 150 linebackers nationally in production. If Michigan’s defense is going to turn things around there is going to have be some new playmakers step up and there has to be more production from the linebackers.
The Mathlete, for your research-laden diaries (and the charts, OH, the charts!), you are The Diarist of the... er... Spring!
Inspired by the recent changes to NFL overtime rules, ecormany proposes a few tweaks to the NCAA's overtime system. Among his ideas: reincorporate the punting game and give teams only two minutes to complete each possession in an overtime period.
In Can The Heat Be Beat?, Elno Lewis looks at the ever-growing dominance of so-called "warm weather teams" in winning football national titles. The results are striking:
Warm Weather Teams Winning Championships
1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 40.6% 47.5% 53.1% 53.8% 62.1% 68.4% 70.0%
It looks like the trend is still upward for warm-weather teams. Can northern squads like Michigan try to buck the trend? Follow-up question: can an infusion of Florida talent negate the trend? I'd be interested to see someone expand on Elno's research.
wildbackdunesman compares the respective CCHA coaching careers of Ron Mason and Red Berenson, and proposes a name-change of the CCHA Tournament trophy to the Mason-Berenson Cup. Red is comparable to Mason in every category of measuring success, and there's certainly a compelling argument to be made. It seems the only serious advantage Mason has is being the coach of more CCHA teams (Lake State, Bowling Green, and Michigan State, as compared to only Michigan for Red) and coaching longer than Berenson has so far.
With the NFL Draft coming up, Mat takes a look at whether Donovan Warren made the right choice in leaving Michigan a year early for the Big Leagues. The criteria to consider:
The potential gains for returning for one more year are:
- Another year of college life / experience
- Potential improved draft stock
...and the verdict:
Warren didn't make a mistake. Most guys who are drafted are not making a mistake when they turn pro. The decision is the correct one when all the costs and benefits are factored in for most. The decision is only a mistake is if you’re immediately cut and never earn a penny as a pro football player or are really enjoying life as a collegiate athlete and will miss it more than you’ll appreciate the money you’ll earn as a pro.
The reasoning behind this conclusion seems pretty sound, yet it inspired tons of debate in the comments. Both supporters and detractors of the premise raised a bunch of interesting points about Warren's draft stock, and how it affects their view of his decision.
mfan_in_ohio declares the Michigan fanbase's independence from Angry Michigan BLANK Hating God. The preamble proceeds thusly:
When in the course of sporting events it becomes necessary for fans to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
...but the money quotes come in the airing of grievances.
Misopogon determines whether the three new NCAA football rules have an effect on Michigan. The verdicts? Wedge blocking ban: Help. Taunting rule: Hurt. Eyeblack message ban: Neutral. Click through to find out his reasoning.
Bust out the cigarettes and Fedoras, as BlueSeoul gives us a glimpse into the noir-style meeting between Jim Delaney and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick's about the Irish joining the Big Ten. Plus he has to apologize at the end for getting to Star Wars-y.
An actual historical diary from Alaska Hokie shares the story of former Michigan quarterback James Miller.
WALLA WALLA, March 19.—James Miller, the famous quarterback of the Michigan team last year, who has been missing from his home for several months, was located in this city yesterday working as a laborer. His mind is a total blank and he is quite unable to recognize his friends. He was elected to the captaincy of the Wolverine team for next season.
Sounds like something out of the twilight zone (or at least the front page of MVictors). There's debate over whether his amnesia was a medical issue or a clever ruse to cover up for some personal issues.
Defense + - Graham 6 0 RVB 1 0 Herron 0 1 Heniger 0 1 Kovacs 2 2 Roh 1 2 Brown 1 2 Warren 3 0 Martin 1 0 Mouton 4 2 Leach 2 1 total 21 11
Denard Robinson was 1/1 with the pass being deemed "catchable," but Tate Forcier had a slightly rougher day.
On the basketball side of things, Champswest tries to figure out where Michigan's scoring will come from next year. Uh, Stu Douglass and Evan Smotrycz, apparently. I guess more balanced scoring is a good thing?
Etc.: Nantucket Blue, seemingly apropos of nothing, rips on Michigan State in Our Colors Don't Mix. In other Michigan State-related diaries, MGoData looks at the Google habits of East Lansing residents (seriously). Kman23 brainstorms ways to get Michigan's best receivers on the field at the same time. Jeff gives props to the streaking Women's Tennis team. Laveraneus looks at combined win/loss records for football and basketball across various schools and conference. MGlobules tries to round up some UConn spring game recaps. backusduo pre-previews EA's NCAA Football 2011.
Safety not guaranteed. This is a photo from 1940 that clearly shows a TIME TRAVELER who has visited the re-opening of the South Fork Bridge in British Columbia:
The time traveler is the guy in the crazy sunglasses who looks like he walked out of Bursley and into history. That shirt he's wearing has a block M on it:
If you doubt this is actually a time traveler please note that Skinner from the X-Files is keeping a close eye on him. QED.
This guy's next mission is to find a sleepy bungalow in Mentor, Ohio and bang really loudly on the windows on the night Jim Tressel is conceived. Oh no… what if he's already done it?
Next guy hi. Michigan's looking for an assistant basketball coach and with the public "no thanks" from IPFW head coach Dane Fife—Mr. Self Aggrandizement also publicly shot down overtures from Indiana despite not being offered a job by either—speculation focuses on a trio of guys with state of Michigan ties. If you're looking for a guy with high major experience, Lickliter assistant LaVall Jordan is your man. If you want a guy who's recruited one of the better mid-major teams in the state, Oakland assistant Saadi Washington is your man. If you want a former Globetrotter who is "one of the most fashionable coaches around" and has a name that sounds like a vicious mixed drink of rum and bitters, Bacari Alexander is your man.
That's what I thought. Bacari Alexander for the win.
Meanwhile in attempting to get someone, anyone to join the basketball program: Sam Webb reported on WTKA this morning that Isaiah Sykes did pick up a Michigan offer this weekend. Surprisingly for a guy who's bounced around so much, his transcripts are in fairly good shape. So that's good news.
It's less good that Sykes didn't commit immediately and plans on trips to Central Florida and Arkansas. Orlando may be a trip to take a trip but anyone going to Fayetteville is going on business. Michigan fans grimly remember the recruiting saga of Chicagoan Patrick Beverly. Michigan had late-rising Beverly all locked up until a trip to Arkansas resulted in a Razorback commitment and rampant speculation about payoffs. The parallels are uncomfortable.
Cover three pattern read. Clemson blog Shakin' the Southland has a fantastic analysis of a cover three system that uses "pattern read" principles to prevent itself from getting sliced into little tiny cubes in the passing game, something that would be pretty nice if Michigan could swing this year. Pattern reading is pretty much what it sounds like: the defensive backs read what the receivers are doing and react accordingly. Here's an example:
Flat defender [Ed: SS] drops to the flat zone and picks up the RB when he crosses his face. The H/C defender [SLB] starts his drop up the seam but then takes the first receiver that breaks inside, and tries to wall him off. The deep corner takes the deepest threat, which in this case is the TE on a flag route.
Flat defender [WLB] starts his drop underneath the #1 receiver who is running a Dig route, and keeps inside leverage on him. Once he sees someone cross his face he jumps him in the flat (#2).
The H/C defender (MLB) runs with the #1 receiver on the Dig, remember he's supposed to cover any inside breaker into his zone. If the Z couldn't be walled off and breaks underneath, he must keep him in front of him, and try to stay under that Dig route.
The Corner closes on the most dangerous threat he sees, while the FS is reading the QB and breaks on any throw.
Depending on the formations and routes presented, the players in the zone take different actions. If everyone's on the same page (and has the requisite athleticism) your zones become hellishly adaptable man coverages that provide most of the advantages of zone and most of the advantages of man. The catch is that "if." Smart Football explains in a post on Alabama's pattern reading defense:
The two zone-dropping schools of thought are to teach “spot-drops” or “pattern-reading.” One can overemphasize the distinction, but generally spot-dropping is easier to teach and was the traditional approach. For example, if your outside linebacker is responsible for the weak-flat, he will take his read steps and, upon reading pass, will drop to a spot and then react to the QB’s eyes. A big advantage with spot-dropping is simply that it is easy to teach to, say, a run-stuffing inside linebacker who spends most of his time on run game pursuit and shedding blocks.
The difference between a spot drop and a pattern read is in the complexity of the algorithm. Spot drop:
- GOTO X
Hypothetical Pattern read for a hook/curl defender:
- If (receiver #2 goes vertical) goto seam
- If (receiver breaks outside of me) goto smash
- If (receiver breaks inside) goto dig
One of the reasons Alabama is so good is that Saban is crazily efficient at coaching his guys up with pattern reading. Robots make robots, and robots are good at algorithms.
Will Michigan use this? Eh… I'm not sure. The linebackers were pretty clueless against both run and pass next year and have seen their defensive responsibilities shift. Adding complicated pattern reading on top of that is probably a bridge too far. Maybe we'll see it in some of the players, but probably not Mouton and Ezeh. It sounds like a move to a pattern read is one akin to moving from a regular gap blocked scheme to a zone running game: you've got to commit to it 100% or it doesn't help.
Chicago is full of lies. Remember early this week when everyone was panicking about the imminent expansion of the Big Ten and dissolution of the NCAA? Yeah. Here's Teddy Greenstein repudiating a previous report that sent everyone into a tizzy:
Big Ten expansion timetable isn’t on fast track
Commissioner says conference will stick with 12-18 month window
Good work! That will show whoever wrote that spurious article about Big Ten expansion acceleration. Who was that again? I couldn't find it on Bleacher Report… hmm, weird, there's a link right on this page…
Looks like Big Ten expansion timetable accelerating
Conference could decide to add schools in next few months
April 17, 2010|By Teddy Greenstein, Tribune reporter
Whoops. The Sun-Times would not let Bob Stoops-to-ND die and is still leading the race to the Bleacher Report bottom, but here's a point for the Tribune. I am not holding my breath for an orgy of clucking akin to the one after the BR-spawned and KC Star-abetted Pitt-to-Big Ten rumor.
First chance to see. If you haven't gotten enough of slightly disorganized football games with unexplained strictures on the defense, the North-South Ohio All Star game is Friday at 7 PM on "SportsTime Ohio," which you probably get if you live in Ohio. Math demands that Lexington quarterback/defensive back Courtney Avery will be on your screen at all times:
A four-year starter at quarterback for Lexington, Avery is just one of four defensive backs on the North roster and one of two true cornerbacks.
"It's going to be a little different, because I'm not playing quarterback," said Avery, a two-time All-Ohio first team defensive pick and the owner of virtually every Lexington passing record. "It will be nice to focus just on defense. It will give me a taste of what I'll be doing at Michigan."
Antonio Kinard and Jake Ryan are also on Avery's team; the Talbott brothers are on the South team. Preferred walk-on kicker Carey Spear is on the North team, too. It's a little more data on all those guys, at the very least.
The 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board lives here.
Brennen Beyer Goes Blue
And He's Leaping With Excitement About It! (Sorry).
Michigan's 2011 recruiting class now stands at four commitments after MI DE Brennen Beyer joined the fold Thursday afternoon. For much more on his commitment check out Hello: Brennen Beyer. Tom talked to Brennen Thursday after he committed, and gave a brief update in the comments of that post:
He said, "After seeing all the other schools, I knew that this was the right place. I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to go."
He has been a lifelong Michigan fan and added an emphatic "Go Blue!' at the end.
Touch The Banner breaks down his game:
In many ways, Beyer reminds me of Craig Roh. Both are long, explosive, and relentless. Both are somewhat susceptible to taking the run game head on. Roh was a little more refined coming out of high school and, despite being a little bigger, has a little more athleticism... Beyer will likely redshirt in 2011 and have a real shot at contributing in 2013 after Roh graduates.
"A lot like Craig Roh" is the prevailing opinion on Beyer, so no surprise there.
Spring Game: The Aftermath
A number of important visitors were at the Spring Game over the weekend, including several top instate guys, as well as some out-of-state prospects. Perhaps none is more important than FL RB Demetrius Hart (pictured at right). Sam Webb profiled Hart in the Detroit News last week. On top of his football skills, he has all the intangibles as well:
"Hart's physical ability, speed and quickness, are easily identified, but after watching him for two days there is much more to this impressive athlete," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Bill Greene. "His leadership ability, infectious attitude, and desire to win far outshine his impressive physical gifts. Demetrius Hart is a winner, on and off the field. He will be an outstanding addition to whichever college he chooses."
Most of the article recaps the ongoing "Michigan leads - wait no they don't - I'm not considering them - wait yes I am" saga that's we've been following for several weeks, but also says that he'll be deciding over the summer:
"I am going to Auburn at the end of May, and then on June 5 to Alabama," Hart reported. "I do not have an overall favorite until I see what (his mother) thinks. I'll make my decision sometime this summer. I am going to look at academics and playing time."
The Michigan visit may have pushed that decision forward somewhat. Tom talked to his mother during the visit, and she spoke glowingly of the Michigan program:
TOM: Does this visit change anything with Demetrius, as far as his top schools?
MRS HART: I’ll say this, I would say that they received a whole lot of brownie points with this visit. And, we’ll be back soon. You have to go somewhere you feel loved and supported, and I know he would get that here.
TOM: Will he be deciding anytime soon?
MRS HART: It’s going to be soon. Within a month.
There's much more info in the post, so check it out. The fact that he's deciding shortly after a return visit to Michigan (likely for the "BBQ at the Big House" near the end of May) is a very, very good sign. Sam Webb said on WTKA the other day that he has a "strong gut feeling" on Hart, which typically indicates a silent commitment to the Wolverines.
In other Spring Game-related news, PA DE Deion Barnes was in attendance with the Top Prospects Family, and he received an offer ($, info in header) from the Michigan coaching staff on his "legendary" ($, info in header) visit. He spoke with ESPN last week prior to the visit, though the video's not that informative.
Top recruits FL WR Sammy Watkins (younger brother of Florida freshman CB Jaylen Watkins) and FL Ath/QB/S Dallas Crawford attended the spring game. Crawford "loved his Michigan visit" ($, info in header), They are expected to be big time recruits, and would be huge gets for the Wolverines.
One prospect I was interested in hearing from following the spring game was MI OL Anthony Zettel. He's been favoring Michigan ($, info in header) for quite some time now, but the visit wasn't enough to coax a commitment out of him.
IL OL Jordan Walsh was there ($, info in header).
Tom has a bunch of other news from the Spring Game visitors he's talked to, which includes the snippet that MD DT Vincent Croce now favors the Wolverines, along with UVA, as well as a tidbit on MI WR DeAnthony Arnett. Our Helmets Have Wings goes into further depth on Arnett:
Arnett still plans to take in the spring game at MSU this upcoming weekend, but he indicated he will create a top 7 this summer and then top 5 right before his senior season, and that he won’t decide until after his senior season is over.
Arnett was pleased with Michigan's passing game during the spring game, and since he grew up a fan of Michigan and Oklahoma, a strong season for the Wolverines could help net a commit from him. Highlights from his performance at the Michigan Football Showcase are now available on Youtube:
News Of The Not-So-Happy Variety
Not all news is good news this week, as Michigan went from one of the favorites for OH DT Kevin Williams, to slipping, to outside his top 3 by the time he committed to Nebraska following his visit to their spring game. He was one of Michigan's top targets, and it hurts to lose a guy that had Michigan at the top only a month ago. However, there are other defensive tackles in the sea, and the staff will shift focus to the likes of Vincent Croce, Kevin McReynolds, and others.
AZ OL Christian Westerman committed to Texas a little while ago, but I forgot to remove him from the recruiting board. He's off now.
TN Ath/QB Jabriel Washington has committed to Alabama. Despite his Michigan offer, he always favored SEC schools, so it's no surprise.
Demetrius Hart's teammate, FL S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, committed to Alabama. If Hart does indeed commit to Michigan, might he be able to sway his teammate? It sounds like Clinton-Dix is 100% Crimson, unfortunately.
FL RB Mike Blakely has been offered ($, info in header). Michigan is "still in the mix" for SC WR Hakeem Flowers ($, info in header). FL TE Jeff Heuerman will visit today. AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena "likes the cold" ($, info in header), which can only help Michigan. Michigan leads for FL OL Tony Posada, and he plans to visit ($, info in header). LA OL Trai Turner will decide over the summer ($, info in header). Stanford leads for Michigan offeree CA DE Charles Burks ($, info in header). NC LB Kris Frost would prefer to play WR ($, info in header). Michigan appears to be in third for OH CB Doran Grant ($, info in header). Eleven Warriors talks to him as well.
this is a sculpture called "Very Hungry God," so it goes here. the little boy is ND.
The old bats idea was for 14 teams and wouldn't have worked anyway. And with Big Ten expansion probably definitely happening now and probably definitely being the crazy XXL version, a 14 team Big Ten is so March. Give us 16 and give us the death of the Big East, even if it doesn't make any sense.
If this is happening, it's important that whatever form the Big Cthulhu takes makes as much sense as possible. Since the usual divisional stuff makes no sense and would see Michigan play opponents in the opposite division slightly more than once a decade, this requires thinking outside the chicken patties. So here's another crazy idea. The new bats idea: it's the World Cup, yo.
The New Bats Idea
So the problem with 16 is that it doesn't divide very well. You have two choices if you want to split teams up: eight or four. Thinking inside the chicken patties provides eight and all the stupid problems that go along with that. Four is interesting.
Divide the Big Ten into four groups of four based on last year's standings. (1-8-9-16, 2-7-10-15, etc.) Everyone plays each other.
Top two teams in a group get put in an eight team division at the top; bottom two get put at the bottom. Point differential breaks ties. Everyone plays each other except for the teams that have already played.
At the end of the year, the winner of the top division wins the conference.
(Variant: instead of lumping teams into eight team divisions on the second go-round, do another round of four team groups that split the top and bottom of the conference into approximately equal sets. Then do a third round of four team groups, two of which offer their winners a bid to the conference title game. The "contenders" groups consist of: the winner of both loser groups, the top two teams in each winners group, and the teams with the best conference records after that. This is probably too complicated.)
This makes a lot more sense to me than playing Penn State once a decade. You play a subsection of the conference based on how good you are. If you go from really bad to really good, as Penn State did in the middle of the decade, you don't get locked out of a championship game before the season starts.
There are a bunch of tricky issues, though: unbalanced home and away in the early section means getting through your group is partially dependent on home/road split. Getting stuck in the second division basically ends your conference championship hopes and that can happen with just one loss (see the PSU group above). And teams wouldn't know who they were playing, or even what their home/road split would look like, until midseason. Protected rivalries would be a thing of the past.
What about a…
Do the divisions first. Play seven games. At the end of the year create groups based on finish in the divisions.
|Contenders A||Contenders B|
|Div A #1||Div B #1|
|Div B #2||Div A #2|
|Div B #3||Div A #3|
|Div A #4||Div B #4|
(Other teams would get sorted into groups as well and play out the rest of the season; these matchups can take rivalries into account because if you're not playing for the conference title you might as well play someone you hate.)
Play the two games you haven't already; the games you have played count in the group standings. The winner of each group gets a bid to the conference title game. First tiebreaker is overall conference record. Variant: Play a tenth conference game and do a full round-robin in each subdivision. Teams seeded #1 and #2 get the extra home game. The variant provides everyone who makes the contenders groups a reasonable chance at winning them, but does guarantee one rematch per year. It also severely restricts nonconference opportunities.
This version is way more doable. Teams would be able to lock down ten of their 12 games before the season. The clawing for the fourth spot in a contenders group would keep most of the conference at least theoretically in the title hunt until deep into the season, but keeping the result from the earlier game and using overall conference record as tie breaker gives the top team in each division a big advantage. The extraneous games against the other conference would be sort of like playoff games. They wouldn't be random, unbalancing games with a distorting effect on the conference race. They would have purpose.
You want games to have purpose, don't you? You don't want them wandering around being all pointless, do you?
In Which I Pretend To Be Ives Galarcep
What do you think? Should Ricardo Clark have stayed in MLS?
I want more ideas. If a Big Cthulhu conference happens there should be so many different possibilities for the leadership to consider that they get very confused and actually pick one of them instead of defaulting to a divisional format that leaves everyone zo unsatisfied at the conclusion of a season (or the decade) when they drew the top two teams in the Bo division and the team that won your division drew Indiana and Northwestern and you haven't played Penn State since JoePa's age could be practically expressed without scientific notation.
So email me or post a diary or put it on the message board or pick this proposal apart—it's got its flaws—and we'll revisit this at a later date if this turns out to be something other than a game of chicken with the Big East and the Notre Dame administration.
Could you imagine that, by the way? The Big Ten waves its pointy stick at the Big East and manages to get them to boot Notre Dame and then ND ends up joining a 12-team Big Ten? Jim Delany would instantly be the most frighteningly Machiavellian person on the planet.
|Tuesday 6:35pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|Eric Katzman (2-1, 6.00 ERA)||vs||TBA|
|Stats||Audio (MGo)||BTN.com ($)|
|Notes: Michigan is 78-44 all time, Last year: 1-1 in DH @ND (my |
recap from last season).
|Wednesday 6:05pm ET, Frank Eck Stadium, South Bend, IN|
|Matt Miller (0-2, 7.01 ERA)||vs||TBA|
Michigan will host Notre Dame Tuesday to open a home and home series with the Irish, with the road game for Michigan coming Wednesday. The Irish aren't that good of a team this year, and that might be a bit of an understatement. At just 15-19, they are currently sitting around #201 out of 301 in pseudo-RPI. That said, they, and any college team for that matter, can still be a dangerous team during the mid-week.
Preview and thoughts after a jump: