fair point that
Hey, kids! MGoBlog is out in force at the Big Day Prep Showdown and Devin Gardner is about to take Inkster up against Ricardo Miller and Pioneer. Let's talk it up.
For the last few years, Michigan has been building a name for themselves in volleyball. It wasn't too long ago that Michigan was always a bottom wrung team. Under the tutelage of Coach Mark Rosen, Michigan has scraped its way to respectful. Friday, it took the next step.
In front of a packed house of 5,772 in Omaha, NE, just an hour away from the University of Nebraska campus in Lincoln, the Wolverines took on the #3 Cornhuskers in the Runza/AVCA Challenge, the top tournament in the college volleyball regular season. This game was going to be tough; Nebraska has dominated Michigan in 3 games, sweeping Michigan in 3 games each time. The Cornhuskers have only lost once ever in the Qwest Center. Nebraska was coming off yet another Final Four appearance, knocking Michigan out in the same stadium during the Sweet 16 round.
But Michigan came out looking to match the effort of the 2007 season opener against Hawaii in Hawaii. They wanted to take out the crowd early. They wanted to get into the heads of the younger Husker lineup. They did just that. Michigan came out strong early. Juliana Paz and Alex Hunt were putting tremendous pressure on the Huskers front line. Megan Bower and Courtney Fletcher, who wasn't even slated to start until the last minute, were strong on the front, affording Michigan plenty of opportunities for easy passes. Everything clicked. [Full recap after the jump]
For round 2 of The Great Ohio Creeper Van Trip, Paul and I traveled to Dayton to consume part of the Skyline Chili™ Crosstown Showdown, wherein the Talbott brothers' Huber Heights Wayne team took on the Princeton Vikings of Cincinnati.
Terrence Talbott missed the game with an injury to his left leg or foot (he was on the sidelines in an aircast and crutches), but Terry was a full-go, and the defensive tackle performed well for the Warriors. Also playing for Wayne was 2011 QB prospect Braxton Miller, who impressed as well (don't hold your breath M fans, he's highly likely to end up a Buckeye).
The Warriors shot themselves in the foot many times, including on their first drive. A big kickoff return gave them possession well into Viking territory, but QB Braxton Miller fumbled a snap on the goal line, which Princeton recovered. The Vikings drove the ball past midfield on the ensuing possession, but a long pass was intercepted by Wayne at the 1-yard line. This didn't turn out so well for the Warriors, however, as the very next play resulted in a loss of yardage and a safety. Wayne was able to strike back before half, as a big Miller run on a speed option gave the team good field position, and he finished it off with a 20(ish)-yard touchdown pass.
After the half, Wayne struck again, as the Vikings fumbled the ball on the first play from scrimmage, which the Warriors recovered inside the 10-yard line. Miller ran the ball in on an option from about a yard out, giving the team a 14-2 advantage. As the game turned to the fourth quarter, the rain picked up, and the play became a little sloppy. As Wayne was trying to run out the clock, a shotgun snap over Miller's head went out the back of the endzone cutting the lead to 14-4. As Princeton started driving the field to bring the game within a single score, a fumble led to a scoop-and-score for the Warriors, providing the final 21-4 margin.
Talbott was the Warriors' defensive MVP, e-fact. He was constantly in the opposing backfield, whether he was lined up at tackle or end. He was a quick-penetrating type, and even when the Vikings started trying to counter against that (eventually), he was harassing QBs, forcing running backs into his teammates, and generally being a disruptive force. He doesn't have the biggest frame in the world, but there is certainly potential to add some mass and be a quick-penetrating "SEC-style" (ugh, shoot me) defensive tackle when he arrives in Ann Arbor. Trust me, he may be a little underrated because he's a tweener, but I think this kid is an absolute steal.
Miller had some struggles, be it from a wet field, first game jitters, or even just a bit of inexperience. That said, the dude can freakin' play. Though his dad says he doesn't want to play in a college offense where he'll have to run the ball much (note: Terrelle Pryor ran 139 times last year, and passed for 165 attempts), he is rather fast, and has super quickness and agility. Though he's likely to end up playing in Columbus, he's someone that Michigan should really try to sway for next year's class. Wayne was running a spread-zone offense, with a QB read much of the time, so it's not something he'd be unfamiliar with. He's a very good fit for Michigan's offense, and would allow for Cornelius Jones to switch positions if need be.
Photo Gallery (Video in next week's Friday Night Lights post)
On Thursday I posted my impressions of the luxury boxes going up in 2010 and offhandedly mentioned that Michigan is constructing a money factory, or "mint." A reader challenged those assumptions with numbers:
I am quite surprised that you describe the stadium expansion as a "money factory" or anything like it. Remember, the cost of this project (even if it comes in at budget) was set at $235M. [Editor's note: He later corrected this email: the overall cost for the renovations was $226 million.]
Looking at the Athletic Department numbers, and assuming they sell every seat and find folks to pay for everything they put a price on for naming rights, I don't see this as anything more than a break-even proposition. They list $56.3M in naming rights ($33.45M of which is apparently spoken for), which gets the amount they need to finance (I am assuming they are financing it, but even if they are not, there is at least an opportunity cost for the money they are using) down to $178.7M (235 minus 56.3). Taking your $5.7M number for the Suites revenue per year, you can add $1M for Indoor Club Seats (250 @ $4000 per), $6.2M for Outdoor Club Seats (2750 @ an assumed average of $2250), and $1.3M for Chairback Seats (650 @ $2000). The annual total is approximately $14.2M. At that annual payment, it would take 30 years to pay off $178.7M at a 6.88% interest rate. At a 5% interest rate, it would take 20 years.
In 20 years, these "luxury" places will need considerable renovation, I would guess. If they do not sell all of the naming rights or all of the seats, they will have to pay for a longer time to get this paid off. Even Mr. Martin never said this was to be a money maker. He claimed it was the only way to pay for needed upgrades to the existing stadium. However, now, the aisle widening (which I do not really understand, because the bottlenecks are the entrances to the sections, and I don't think they can do anything about those) is not happening as part of this original project (which is to be done in 2010), and the seat widening may not happen at all. I agree that they seem to be doing a first class job of what they are doing, but, other than to provide a few rich guys with fancy digs, I do not see this project as a financial winner. Please help convince me I am missing something.
I thought the assumptions above were pessimistic. Not all of the money in the renovations is going to the boxes and holding revenue constant over a period of ten or twenty years is excessively conservative. Also, the assembled media was told specifically that the seat widening was on and given a timeline for that process. But I am not a business guy and I don't have the numbers at my fingertips to dismiss his point out of hand.
So I asked a guy who goes by the handle "rekker" who's close to the project and has been providing solid information on the construction since it was announced. He responded like so:
This guy is reasonably coherent, but his analysis contains a couple of big, incorrect assumptions and logical flaws. I’ll start with the analytical problems. I’ll then present what I think of as the proper way to consider this project.
1. Your emailer assigns the entire cost of the project to the luxury boxes and club seats. That’s wrong. The project consists of three distinct elements. Because they are intertwined, it is difficult to assign a precise share of the cost to each piece, but these are approximations.
- Long-neglected maintenance – including replacing all foundational concrete, replacing all benches, replacing all mechanical systems, replacing the press box, which is structurally unsound, etc.
The approximate cost of this (absolutely necessary) work is $60-75 million. Even if it there were no stadium renovation or premium seating, this work would have to be done over the next few years.
- Improvements that make the game day experience better for everyone. This includes new (double-decker) concourses, wider aisles, wider seats, new and more bathrooms, new concession areas, etc.
The cost of these “improve everyone’s experience” is about $75-90 million. So for items (a) and (b), we are now up around $150 million.
- The cost of the towers, which contain the club seats, luxury boxes, and the new lounges. [Editor's note: also the new press box.] The incremental cost of these is around $75 million.
2. The cost and financing details are much friendlier than proposed.
- The project cost is $226 million, not $235 million.
- The athletic department is covering $36 million of this cost out of existing reserves. They also plan to raise $40-50 million in naming opportunities ($33mm is in hand). So the net debt needed for the project is actually about $140 million (not $178 as he suggests).
- Because of the financial crisis, the AD was able to get a great rate on the bonds it issued for the project. They came in at just over 4%. Because the interest rate was so low, the AD decided to finance a total of $190 million, but this allowed it to retain about $50 million is cash reserves as a cushion. Net borrowing (since the cash reserve can be used at any time to pay off the debt) is $140 million.
- The carrying cost of $140 million at 4% (assuming a 20 year payoff of the principle) is $10.3 million.
3.The likely donations from the boxes and club seats are likely to be higher than the minimum required.
- The 82 boxes will provide a minimum of $70,000 per box ($5.7 million), but the AD estimate is that top-up donations given to secure better locations will bring this up to between $7 and $8 million.
- His estimates for the club seats are reasonable, but again too low. He presents the absolute minimums.
Club seat (and chairback revenues) will total at least $8.5 million. In reality, competition for the better seats it driving donations up. Zone 1 club donations are averaging about $5,000, vs. the minimum requirement of $3,000. This likely won’t play out over all seats, but the AD is confident that the club and chairback seats will produce more than $10 million in incremental revenue.
- So the total incremental revenue will come in at between $14.2 million and $18 million.
How to think about the project
UM has a large need. Maintenance had been neglected for decades, the bathrooms are medieval, and the flow in and around the stadium is horrible.
The AD could undertake a $150 million stadium improvement project with no luxury seating (items 1a and 1b above), and no clear way to pay for it. This would mean about $100 million in borrowing and a roughly $7.3 million annual financing cost. Or the AD could add luxury seating for an additional $75 million cost ($225 total), and ask those 4000 rich people people to cover the cost of the whole project.
Option 1 would require something like a $10 per game surcharge on all 100,000 tickets sold for every game for the next 20 years (7 million per year, 7 games, 100,000 tickets per game).
Option 2 has no surcharge for regular ticket holders. The overall project costs about $10.3 million per year to pay off, but the luxury seating crowd generates somewhere between $14.2 and $18 million per year in incremental revenue.
The AD has been generating annual surpluses of $5 million to $9 million for the past few years. Adding $4 – 8 million to this while covering the entire cost of the stadium expansion seems like a pretty great investment. And remember, this is all being done with no cost to the 100,000 plus people who will sit in the bowl each week.
Before someone objects that not all the seats are sold, I’ll admit they are right. But 70% of both the boxes and club seats are sold. And this is with a year to go. Even if not one more seat is sold, the current reservations would generate $9.9 million, just a few hundred thousand short of the carrying cost for the entire project. I’d bet on the over on this one.
While the project is perhaps not literally a “money factory”, it is about the closest thing we’ve seen in Michigan for many years.
[/insider, back to me]
We all love the Big House but we've probably all got horror stories about missing half a quarter because of congestion or excessive lines or (especially for women) bathroom overcrowding. And then there's always that one guy—you know that guy—who will battle you for every millimeter of space in your seat. And don't get me started on Incredibly Pointy Knee Guy.
When I took the tour, the SID repeatedly pointed out the new walkways, concourses, and points of sale across the stadium. The seat and aisle widening will be complete by 2013. And the entire stadium will be brought into ADA compliance. And the net cost to the bowl is zero, with the AD netting somewhere between $4 and 8 million per year above and beyond paying off the loan. Whatever issues you have will Bill Martin—and I have a few—financial acumen cannot be one of them.
Last night, Paul and I took in a game at Canton South High School, the home of 2010 wide receiver commit Jerald Robinson. The Wildcats took on the Dover Tornadoes, one of their big rivals in Ohio's Division 3. Since this was a pretty big game, the local TV stations were in attendance, and the game was televised live in the area.
The game got off to an unceremonious start for Canton South, as their first play from scrimmage was a snap over the quarterback's head, recovered by Dover near the 3 yard line. The Tornadoes easily punched it into the endzone, and Robinson returned the ensuing kickoff near the 30 yard line. Two plays later, lightning struck again, as their running back fumbled the ball, and Dover recovered yet again, easily converting another touchdown.
From that point forward, Canton South had to throw the ball to stay in the game, something that was tough to do with an overwhelmed quarterback in his first game. When I predicted whether Robinson would be able to move up in the rankings, I said the QB play would be a factor - so don't expect him to have much of an opportunity to move up.
Robinson was targeted a couple times early on slants, and ran one reverse for 7 yards, but later in the game, he was hardly getting the ball thrown his way at all, and oftentimes wasn't even running routes as the QB rolled away from his side of the field. I would guess that he got slightly injured early in the game (and he did have his ankle rolled at one point but got immediately back up), and couldn't cut as well as he'd like. Later in the game, when they started throwing his way again, it was almost exclusively on fade routes, which were mostly well-defensed or poorly-thrown. Defensively, he didn't always appear to put in the utmost effort, and though part of that may be a matter of scheme (don't let anybody get behind you, no matter what happens), he also seemed hesitant to tackle at times, and his better upside seems to be at wideout. He finished with 2 receptions for 6 yards, 1 solo and 6 assisted tackles, and one 7-yard rush.
The Wildcats mounted a valiant comeback effort on the back of two catch-and-run touchdown receptions by James Lucas, the team's #2 receiver, but the deficit was too much for them to overcome, and they ended up on the wrong side of a 27-14 result. The teams were fairly evenly matched (especially with South not being able to use their whole playbook playing from behind), and if they played again, the result could just as easily go the other way.
Video Highlights (Photo Gallery included in next week's Friday Night Lights feature).
First we talked coaches, and now onto the players themselves.
- Shaw is hoping that he will be able to stay fully healthy this year. He has his burst back, and he just needs to get his confidence going full blast again.
- "I'm kinda favoring it [the injury]. My confidence is returning, and I just can't let up in rehab."
- The indication that there was something truly wrong was the Minnesota game. He was caught from behind for the first time in his career - "and I've been playing football since I was 7 years old" - and his dad called and said there must be something more serious wrong with him.
- The team had lots to prove in the offseason, and they took their workouts to a whole new level to prove it.
- Grady will play both fullback and tailback "whatever position helps the team win." Being able to play multiple positions gives the team more personnel versatility.
- "I haven't played with my brother since I was a sophomore [in high school], so it should be pretty cool."
- As defending the spread goes, it's the more experienced defensive teams that are best at trying to shut them down.
- Mathews isn't sure whether the spread offense will best help prepare him for the NFL. "I still have my old playbook, so I can always look at that." If anything, he says playing in multiple offenses over his career might help make him a better all-around receiver.
- Different offenses (such as the spread) work well in college, which is what makes the college game more fun to watch. However, in the NFL, there are so many good athletes on defense that it's difficult for these offenses to succeed.
- He has only been in Ann Arbor a little over two weeks, though he participated in voluntary workouts over the summer. It was frustrating to wait at home and miss the first week of practice, especially because he needed to get going on the adjustment to college ball.
- Turner grew up a Michigan fan (and took grief from Ohio State fans once he committed to the Wolverines), and he has some family in the area, so if he feels homesick, they're only 20 minutes away.
- Charles Woodson was the reason that Turner liked Michigan as a child, and he was happy to get the #2 jersey to honor his idol. Though he hasn't met Woodson, his eyes lit up when told that he would probably have the opportunity. "Today?" Sorry, it will have to wait until the season.
- Koger will be used as a true TE, flexed out wide, and this year, they're adding in some packages as an H-Back.
- In terms of catching passes, his use won't be too different from last year - though hopefully he'll see more passes thrown his way: "If I'm open, I'll get the ball."
- He's looking forward to spending a year healthy. The wrist injury plagued him all last year - even after he made his breakthrough later in the season.
- It was a relief to break out against Penn State, but not too big because he was expecting to do it eventually. That doesn't mean he was too frustrated with his performance leading up to the game, though. He's forgotten about all of the struggles last year (both individual and team) and looking forward to this year.
- He doesn't care if splitting carries reduces his time in the spotlight, saying "I'll take them as they come. Whatever helps us win."
Don't forget about Paul's media day photo gallery, either. It features Michigan QBs holding hands, and should not be missed.
Oy. This showed up on the official PSU College of Engineering facebook page and is impossible to comment on without being cruel:
So I won't. Aaaaargh yes I will. I ran an open-mic standup night* for a while, so I can say this with authority: there's but one thing sadder than arrogance from a man who only thinks he's funny.
*(into the ground.)
Scratch that. Remember "the Big Ten should nix this Indiana-in-Maryland thing"? Yeah, nevermind:
After Glass discussed the game with Lynch, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Penn State AD Tim Curley, the league's athletic directors voted on the game during a conference call last week. It was approved by a unanimous vote of 9-0 (Penn State and Indiana abstained).
Why on earth would anyone vying for the Big Ten title approve this sort of thing? If you think the answer is green and floppy, you win a prize:
"With our revenue sharing, the Big Ten is going to make more money off this game than they would have in Bloomington, Indiana," Glass said.
Yeah, but how much is that going to be per school? It can't be more than a couple hundred K, and is that worth it if you're sitting on top of a pile of money and laughing a la Michigan or Ohio State? I bet the only people who think so are non-revenue coaches. If this game is actually close and Penn State wins the Big Ten next year, a lot of ADs are going to look dumb.
Point maybe? Ok, ok, lulz Ohio State is pleading with their fans not to act like jerks to the Navy, but why does this courtesy only get extended to service academies? I don't mean from an OSU perspective, I mean from a larger sociological perspective. It's always bothered me when the PA announcer asks Michigan Stadium to welcome Eastern Michigan or whoever and the response is booing. Really? Really we have a big problem with Eastern Michigan, or any MAC school, or most of the Big Ten?
I'd like to save it for actual rivals and maybe teams who are particularly annoying in a certain year. (Say, Wisconsin after that whole unpunished knee-twisting incident.) It means more that way. Right now we're just misanthropes. Boooo Ben Konop booooo.
Em. Er? Would you believe this is an attempt to debunk the idea that Mark Dantonio's offense is straight outta Pangea?
Michigan State, a supposed "run-oriented offense", ran the ball 56% of all plays from scrimmage. By way of comparison, Michigan, a "spread & shred" offense, ran 57%. … Michigan State has a greater tendency to run when tied or leading (and an incredible 87.5% tendency to run when leading by 2 or more TDs). This is is not necessarily some devotion to neanderthal, smash-mouth football. Rather, it shows a deliberate, low-variance, ball control strategy, used to choke the life out of the game when leading and skewing the overall run/pass balance toward run.
I don't necessarily disagree with the rest of the points in that article; I do think it talks past the issue instead of really addressing it. The comments of that post point out that MSU's run-pass split on first down was 2-1, and that was with a senior quarterback (albeit not a very good one). And since Michigan State's runs were largely ineffective—MSU was 77th in rush yardage and averaged 3.3 YPC—that set up second and third and long situations that tilted the playcalling to the pass. Meanwhile, Brian Hoyer was not good but MSU averaged 7.0 YPA, and that was considerably better on first down.
Meanwhile, Michigan averaged 3.9 YPC and—ugh—5.1 YPA. Superficially, Michigan and Michigan State had near-identical run-pass breakdowns but… yeah, that's only superficial.
I watched this for years under Lloyd Carr, who once took senior Tom Brady, Marquise Walker, and David Terrell into a BCS bowl against a vicious run defense and horrible secondary and spent the first half plowing into the line for two yards a carry. Some coaches just want to grind into the line and last year is ample evidence Dantonio is one of them.
Aaaand nightmare fuel! LSUfreek is a terrible wizard.
[note: The OZone made a copyright claim on the hilarious opening still of the freekery. So it's down.]
I made the mistake of putting this in the post a half-hour before it was ready. It's now burned into my brain. God help me.
The high school football season is officially underway. Only one of Michigan's commits (Cornelius Jones) has played in an official game thus far, but there have been several scrimmages that are at least worthwhile to mention, and lots of season previewin' has been going down. If you run across a game article on any of these guys, make sure you drop it in the comments.
SC QB Cornelius Jones
This Week: Spartanburg (0-1) @ Union county on Friday.
|Cornelius Jones 2009|
|Dorman 8/21||L 7-20||7||24||42||0||0||29.17||1.75|
MI QB Devin Gardner
This week: Inkster v. Pioneer at Eastern Michigan on Saturday at 8PM. MGoBlog will be there will photo & video.
MI WR Ricardo Miller
Ann Arbor area capsules.
Inkster v. Pioneer at Eastern Michigan on Saturday at 8PM. MGoBlog will be there with photo & video.
OH WR Jerald Robinson
He'll produce this year, despite drawing heavy coverage from opponents.
This week: Dover @ Canton South on Thursday. MGoBlog tentatively plans to be there with photo and video.
OH DT Terry & CB Terrence Talbott
This week: Princeton @ Wayne on Thursday. MGoBlog tentatively plans to be there with photo and video.
TX RB Stephen Hopkins
This week: Marcus @ Grapevine on Friday.
MI RB Austin White
White hopes to lead Stevenson to a state title.
This week: Stevenson @ Livonia Franklin on Friday.
OH WR/DB DJ Williamson
Warren G. Harding preseason preview. Williamson will start at WR and play some corner as well.
This week: East Cleveland Shaw @ Harding on Friday.
LA WR Drew Dileo
Dileo #46 player in the state.
This week: Parkview @ Christian Life Academy on Friday.
MI WR/TE Jeremy Jackson
Ann Arbor area capsules.
This week: Huron v. Chelsea @ Eastern Michigan on Saturday at 5PM.
OH OL Christian Pace
Avon Lake predicted to be conference champions.
This week: Maple Heights @ Avon Lake on Friday.
FL S Marvin Robinson
This week: Lake Region @ Mulberry on Friday.
OH CB Courtney Avery
Featured on the cover of the Mansfield News-Journal's preseason magazine (seen at left).
This week: Lexington @ Smithville On Friday.
OH LB Antonio Kinard
A regional player to watch:
Antonio Kinard, Youngstown Liberty, RB/LB, Sr., 6-4, 210: Michigan recruit has size and mobility between the tackles. Collected over 80 tackles and six sacks as a junior.
This week: East @ Liberty on Friday.
TX RB Tony Drake
Skyline is pre-season #3 in their district.
The Raiders don't start their season until next week.
PA DE Ken Wilkins
The Hillers don't start their season until next week.
PA DE Jordan Paskorz
The Talbots don't start their season until next week.
Programming note. I've accepted the daunting task of getting up at 7AM to sit in for Sam Webb on WTKA's morning show tomorrow. I'll be on from 7-10. Wooo Mountain Dew!
Charity note. If anyone's got some spare roller hockey equipment lying around, L'Hockey Folie would like to put it to good use.
Luxury box followup! Artist's rendition of the 2025 Big House:
The Shredder explains his masterpiece:
With all the HD Jumbo screen talk(and with my boring 3rd shift) I figured I would draw it using my awesome skills. Now every one can see it. The future of the Big House. Around 2025 I am guessing. I did remove the one press box so you could see the field, so just pretend it's there. I also added seats above the HD screens and on top of the press box. Bringing the total seating to 125,000. In the year 2025 we will have be playing night games and using Maize jersey's. Welcome to the future! Great Scott!
These were not the top secret plans I referenced this morning. But they should be.
Obvious quarterback questioning. Tim's getting frustrated with the nonstop quarterback questioning at the press conferences, but none of you are going so here you go:
The art of saying nothing in 1:14. I don't think there's much chance all three QBs play equally well for anything length of time, and neither does Rodriguez, but he refuses to rule out anything. All things are possible.
Mealer okay? Elliot Mealer's shoulder was severely injured in that Christmas Eve car crash and there were some rumors that the effects of it still lingered and may be a permanent hindrance to his ability to play. Apparently that's not true:
"I've come a long ways," Mealer said. "You know, My arm is actually stronger, I think. My bad arm, so to speak, is stronger than my good arm and it's been a long ways. I still rehab it to this day, and then do a little prehab, as they call it, just to keep it loose and it helps. So it's come a long ways."
Mealer's not likely to play this year but should work himself into the playing mix in 2010.
BONUS Kevin Koger hype (the article is about Toledo-area players for M):
"Kevin Koger's had a great great offseason," said Calvin Magee, Koger's offensive coordinator and position mentor. "He's done well. He's gotten a lot stronger and a lot faster, and it's a natural progression from freshman to sophomore year.
"He's changed his body. You know, his weight's around the same. He's more lean now. So naturally, he's got more muscle on him. That allows him to be faster and he's one of those kids that committed himself to the offseason conditioning and it's going to help him a great deal."
The Revsine return. The Big Ten Network has returned from its tour of Big Ten practices and Dave Revsine has superlatives:
Best Drill: The "M" Drill at Michigan. It's the Oklahoma Drill, but with a twist. There are three layers of blocking going on – linemen going 1 on 1, then a FB or TE engaged with a LB, followed by a WR and a DB. The back with the ball then tries to run through all three levels. Very intense and really well done. …
Impact Freshman: Tate Forcier, Michigan. I think Forcier is perfect for Rodriguez's system. Throws well, particularly on the run, and he runs well. He has everything they need. Seems Rodriguez isn't quite as convinced, given his plans to play three QBs in the opener against Western Michigan, but I still think that, ultimately, Forcier will be the guy. …
Honorable Mention: Vincent Smith, Michigan. Another tiny Smith who packs some serious punch, Smith absolutely bowled over a defender in a tackling drill, then, the next time he had the ball, juked another guy out of his uniform with a great move.
All that's cool, but Michigan didn't show up on any of Revsine's top position groups, or honorable mentions. Not that you expected them to anywhere except tailback, where Revsine bizarrely goes with Michigan State as his third-place team.
You said what? Gary Barnett talked crap about Gary Moeller's substitutions. This did not end well for him.
Isn't it strange that Barnett left Northwestern for Colorado and since that event Northwestern has probably been the better program? What happened to the Buffs?
Required. Hey here's a quote by new offensive line grad assistant Cory Zirbel that contradicts those of the discontent departures and by law I must post it:
"I've had people come up to me and say, 'How can you be a part of that coaching staff?' Those people aren't true Michigan fans. ... People don't understand how I accept my role, but those people don't know.
"It's an honor. It's Michigan, always going to be Michigan. Coach Rodriguez is a great guy, presented me an opportunity, and I took it."
So there you go, family values and so forth and so on.
Coner! It took four years but someone finally mentioned David Cone in a practice recap:
Speaking of Forcier, I'm really started to warm to the way he throws the ball. It looks much better than any of the other quarterbacks. Also, David Cone has an odd throwing motion.
I think I buried the lead there.
Etc.: Herbstreit says the M-ND game is make or break for Weis, which yeah probably. GBMW has a transcript of Rodriguez's appearance on the Dan Patrick show. Michigan's replacing its media guides with online equivalents. Volleyball and women's soccer are test cases.
It's hard to believe that only two summers ago, a segment of Michigan supporters ardently opposed this project, that the group called Save The Big House formed and worried luxury boxes desecrating a timeless landmark.
The Big House was indeed saved, not by groups stuck in the past, but by Bill Martin and his construction shovels.
From the exterior, Michigan Stadium had become dumpy and dated. The interior had become known for its crowded walkways, long lines and cramped seating.
Watching a game at The Big House may have evoked some sort of nostalgia for fans, but using the stadium in a practical sense had become somewhat of a miserable experience.
That's AnnArbor.com's Dave Birkett. Obviously, I'm with him. I'm not sure how anyone can see the gorgeous brick exterior going up and think that tin walls that were so plain that someone thought slapping a halo on them would be a good idea were better.
Tim has a bunch of pictures below and some key numbers, including the number of commitments they have for the 82 suites (58). That's 70% full; club seats are in the 60-70% claimed. That sounds well on its way to selling out, but it seems like that number hasn't budged in a while. Not that selling suites in the face of a 3-9 season and the END OF AMERICA is an easy thing.
My impressions, which are based entirely on a comparison with a Tiger Stadium suite I was in earlier this year because of corporate ticket fatigue:
- They are swank. The Tigers' digs aren't particularly old but they suffer in comparison: granite versus 50's-era laminate countertops, flatscreens versus tube TVs that seem like they're from the 50s.
- They are way less inconvenient. If you don't want to order 80 bucks worth of food at a Tigers' game you have to hoof it down to the plebes and get a taco salad or whatever and miss at least a half-inning. I assume this won't be a problem at Michigan since there should be points of sale on that level if the food doesn't come with your 70k.
- The bathroom thing is a little odd. One advantage for the Tigers: you get your own bathroom; here you get access to a bunch of concourse bathrooms only the patricians can access. That might be better, I guess, since I assume the bathrooms will be so plentiful that one will always be open and that might not be the case in a sixteen-person suite.
There was a fierce debate about whether or not the window configuration—you can open them—blocks line of sight. A lot of media members thought it did but since we were all standing up I think maybe it's not a problem when you're seated. It's probably a ton better than the Tigers, who inexplicably put unnecessary pieces of metal directly in your LOS.
They also showed us around the club seats underneath the new structures. If a magic fairy came down and told me I could sit anywhere in the premium seating I wanted and if I didn't he'd shoot me* I'd probably go with those. They sit below an overhang, which should keep rain and less pleasant things off and also make the stadium seem electrically loud—the Tiger suite had a similar noise-catching configuration and it was surprisingly lively. They've also got access to an air-conditioned Donor Whose Name I Forgot Lounge that's got bathrooms and points of sale and whatnot. But I have different requirements than men in suits with 55-85k.
Speaking of: yes, 55-85k "gift" per suite, which is approximately $5.7 million per year without considering the 3000 club seats. This thing is going to be a money factory. And now I realize there's a word for "money factory": mint. If only I had the power to delete.
Oh also noes! The day's most-discussed topic:
They're switching from Pepsi to Coke, which several eagle-eyed reporters picked out. I wouldn't have been able to tell you which company had the previous contract.
Greg also points out something I noticed and winced at as we clambered up the stairs:
Crisler looks sadder and sadder with every new touch they put on the renovation. That place has got to go.
Looking out the window of the brick, glass, and class structure being erected, Crisler looked dingy and old. A new practice facility will help, but only so much.
BONUS rumor debunk/start! Debunk: the classic art deco lettering on top of the press box is going to be saved but they don't know what they're going to do with it. It had previously been rumored to be headed for the entrance tunnel.
Start: I heard tell there are vague plans for another 27 rows in the endzones at some indeterminate future date in case Beaver Stadium ever gets uppity.
Thing that wasn't even a rumor but I asked about anyway, mostly in jest: there are no plans to but bleachers on top of the new luxury box structures.
*(The family heirlooms are season tickets that have been in continuous use since the 50s; they are good seats.)