"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
Last year, there was a book, and it was good. This year there is a book, and it's probably even a little better. You can order it here.
The book features:
Stuff by me. I preview the Michigan offense, defense, and special teams, which is even better than last year, when I totally forgot about special teams until the book was full. HTTV: now with special teams. Rad. I also take a quick trip through Michigan's recruits and reprise last year's zone running article with a version focused on the spread 'n' shred.
Stuff about opponents. Matt Hinton, who you probably know better as Sunday Morning Quarterback, provides a rundown of every Michigan opponent save Ohio State and Notre Dame. Those two get their own articles by Tom Orr, late of Michigan Monday at the OZone, and Brian Stouffer, Fanhouser and impresario of The House Rock Built.
Stuff about the new guys. Dan D'addona gives you the Rodriguez dossier from Glenville State to Pat White, Russ Levine takes stock of the program at a fulcrum point, and Christopher Paul Anderson looks at blitz-mad defensive coordinator Scott Shafer from his perspective at Stanford.
Stuff you won't find elsewhere. Michael Elkon of Braves and Birds took an in-depth look at how the top coaches in the country did in their first years out and Colin Johnston, who you may remember from the comments section of this blog or his own endeavor, expands upon the hours he spent researching/lamenting Michigan's linebacker play, breaking down in just what ways Obi Ezeh needs to improve if Michigan's going to avoid getting run over by Wisconsin and Ohio State this fall.
Just plain awesome stuff. Lloyd Carr's exit was a great boon to this year's edition of the book:
- It caused Rocky Mountain News columnist Paul Campos to pen an entertaining piece about the insane few weeks in between Carr's resignation and Rodriguez's hiring, during which any one of us would have beaten a man to death with his own limbs if it meant the coaching search would reach a satisfactory conclusion.
- It allowed local author Craig Ross to finally publish a piece about his attendance at a Scot Loeffler-run quarterbacks meeting.
- And it paved the way for Johnny of RBUAS to interview Carr himself.
All three pieces are terrific.
THERE IS ALSO A ROSTER. Sweet.
Over the next couple days I'll republish last year's zone article, which features heavily in this year's zone article, and provide a couple excerpts.
'House. Jimmy Johns delivers coke so fast you'll freak*, and 'Bama is one scholarship closer to cramming everyone in the phone booth. Just like Saban planned. (Thanks to the dozen or so emailers on this... more email than I've received on a single topic in blog history, I think.)
I think I should revise my position here: Saban's managed to sluff off most of his roster deadweight on medical scholarships of dubious merit and it looks like there will be no outright cuts. So this is not PURE EVIL, as previously theorized. It is still KIND OF EVIL, a highly unethical way to game the system that makes Alabama hope something like 20 Fulmer Cup points happens. As the JCCW says:
...I doubt Lionel Mitchell probably thinks very much of the crunch. I have zero clue how severe his back injury might be, but either a) it's hella severe, career-threatening, painful as anything, and still even 'Bama fans are writing things like "If I had to wager, I would bet there's nothing wrong with his back" and believing he was just too crappy to keep his scholarship; b) it's not that severe, but rather than wait and see if he could come back from it and contribute, his coach has told him his career's over anyway. Neither seems like a scenario that would make Lionel Mitchell happy.
Second: I certainly don't blame 'Bama fans for not wanting to put the 2 of Lewis's surprise academic disqualification--which even OTS said was "dumbfound[ing]," "never made sense," and left him with "no clue"--and the 2 of "'Bama needs scholarships" together.
Also at the FanHouse: if you have Time Warner you may be getting good news about the Big Ten Network soon.
(HT: Pete Holiday.)
Vic Sprouse might want to buy a disguise kit. The West Virginia Record describes itself as "West Virginia's legal journal" and one Vic Sprouse comes down on Rich Rodriguez's side in the ongoing spat:
Looking at the RichRod saga now through the prism of knowledge of the utter disaster that is the Garrison administration, it is apparent that they ran Rich off.
I believe Rich is telling the truth when he said the entire relationship changed when Garrison took over. His relationship with Pastilong changed. His relationship with Garrison changed. And, before you know it, Garrison was wanting to show he was the new Sheriff in town and he wasn't going to accept ANY ADDITIONAL demands of Rich Rodriguez.
What a shame.
Michigan lucked out because West Virginia is the sort of backwards place where the governor can appoint an unqualified unversity president the entire faculty thinks is a dolt, and that president and his athletic director can poison their relationship with one of the best coaches in the country. Rodriguez fell into our laps just when we were going to start scraping the bottom of the barrel.
First, one thing I can't take is just how often Rich refers to himself in the third person. That is such a bad habit, someone needs to break him of it, it's tough to listen to him say "Rich Rodriguez" over and over.
I don't have as much revenue as the Big Ten, so I can only read a couple sentences from this Sports Business Journal article:
The Big Ten Conference generated more than $177 million in revenue during its 2006-07 fiscal year, according to documents filed this month with the Internal Revenue Service.
Anyone got the full monty on this? I assume it has interesting Big Ten Network details.
Worst. Comic. Ever. Andy Staples has an entertaining piece on the constant race to stay one step ahead of the NCAA's recruiting regulations. The real meat, though, is an honest-to-god recruiting tool used by Oregon to land Jonathan Stewart, who you may remember from such runs as "Aaargh," "Aaaargh not again," "I want to die," and "How many points do they have now?" It's a comic book. The worst comic book ever made. This is perhaps my favorite stupid part of many stupid parts:
The comic's "plot" consists of a kindly old grandfather telling his towheaded little brat all about the legend of "Snoop," AKA Jonathan Stewart. That grandfather is... familiar.
Follow up. Lake The Posts landed an interview with the Northwestern sign-stealing guy that's worth a read. There's this on Payne's tendencies -- the Luther Van Dam bit:
As I broke down the film of Michigan's offense in '95 I thought there was a possible tendency with the center's non-snapping hand. I went back and checked every snap and sure enough the tendency was about 95% that when his hand was on the ground it was run and when he had it on his thigh it was pass. This was not signal stealing, this was just a tendency found way before the game was even played. But it was a GREAT help for our defense. (As a GA I was in the coaching booth for games and was not stealing signals.) This is not exactly unfair tactics on our part but more of an error on their part. Either they coached the center to do the hand thing or the kid was doing it himself and their coaches never noticed. Either way it was their own fault.
That speaks to a certain complacency, I think. I wonder how many other teams noticed?
Etc.: normally I am a Michael Rosenberg fan but I have to agree with BSD and their fisking of his BTN-Comcast column. Said column made no sense. Vijay's trying to figure out if ESPN's any better at ranking players. Autumn Thunder makes a triumphant return. More pictures of stuff, this the football practice facility.
So... new guys. Jordan Barnes is a shortish linebacker from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a three-star to both Scout and Rivals. ESPN basically agrees, giving him a 77 ("meh"), and saying:
Overall, Barnes is ideal for a team struggling to slow down two-back, power-running schemes but could have difficulty playing cutback versus heavy zone teams. Tough, strong and physical with good short-area burst; should be very productive in the middle for a tradition[al] 4-3 team.
Hey... that's us! Stats:
The 6-foot, 225-pound prospect recorded 146 tackles in 2007 with 38 tackles for loss.
Your standard "save me, Jebus" stuff.
Okay, so he sounds like a Sam Sword type, a two-down run stuffer. There are a couple indications he could be something more: a pretty decent offer list (Illinois, Wisconsin, Purdue, Louisville, and Alabama according to Jim Stefani) and the opinion of the Wolverine's Josh Helmholdt, who suggests Barnes has made a leap forward in recent months and could be headed for a breakout senior year. FWIW, Stefani has a similar take:
Very athletic. Great combination of power and quickness. A bit raw as a player, but has a lot of upside.............Very impressive at May 2008 Columbus Nike Camp.............Tested second best in the SPARQ at the February 2008 Orlando Nike (4.50(hand 40, 4.24/sh, 38.1/vert, 37'0"/pb, 125.88/SPARQ)
Upside is the word of the day here. That SPARQ score is super high, especially for a linebacker. He's not that far away from a four-star ranking on Rivals (he's the #20 ILB and #17 has the fourth star) and could get that if he performs up to his combine numbers this fall.
A fun biographical fact: Barnes is the son of former Lions LB Roosevelt Barnes.
Dewayne Peace, meanwhile, is the only thing approximating a camp commitment we're going to get this year, and he's rated like one: the #128 wide receiver to Scout, #76 to Rivals, and currently unscouted by ESPN. He did have offers from Kansas and Texas A&M and was impressive at all his camp stops:
Peace, the MVP at his position from South Grand Prairie, will be one to watch. His ability to make the tough catch despite going against a very aggressive group of DB's was impressive. With just two offers in hand from Kansas and SMU, things should continue to grow in the recruiting arena.
Video via VB:
There's also some fluffy stuff over at something called Prep Ticket. And that's all there is on young Mr. Peace. At 6-foot and 160 or 170 pounds Peace could be ticketed for defensive back or wide receiver.
Argh three stars? Cranky emailer:
Hi Brian, how are you?
quick question for you...in short, why in the F are we recruiting all of these three star athletes like Dewayne Peace and jordan Barnes?
I guess this Barnes guy is somewhat of a freak of nature (I mean hey, Alabama wanted him too), but Peace? He has offers from Kansas, Texas A&M, CSU, UCF, SMU, and MICHIGAN....
what decision does this kid have to make? Isn't it a no brainer he is going to Michigan? The only question is, why do we want the 76th best wide receiver? We are Michigan, shouldn't we be settling for a LOT better?
Talk to me goose....make this right in my head so I can stop fuming!
Every school takes guys rated at about Peace's level when they find them and like them enough to offer. Even Ohio State's admittedly monster 2009 class has Adam Homan, Rivals' #38 MLB, Zach Boren, the #64 "athlete," and Duron Carter, the #73 wide receiver. In general, I'm okay with camp commitments since they come after an extended look at a prospect and his abilities. When Michigan has Peace on campus for a week they probably know much more about his abilities than the recruiting gurus -- working off a day camp here and there and maybe some highlight video, of which Peace doesn't have much -- do.
Serenity now, Mr. Joseph.
...and I just barely resist the temptation to pun like it's 1999. (Scout link, FWIW.)
Peace is a low-ranked WR from Texas with offers from Texas A&M and Kansas; he camped and earned an athlete offer. IMO, he's a defensive back in college but they're telling him he could play on either side of the ball. Varsity Blue's got a little bit. More from me tomorrow.
When Michigan got two early commitments from quarterbacks Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver it looked like they had quickly addressed the most gaping hole on the roster and would discontinue efforts to land other ball-throwin' guys. This did not so much happen. Tate -- not Jason -- Forcier continues to list Michigan high and came out to the one-day senior camp a few weeks ago. Floridian Eugene Smith has Michigan in his top five and appears to be under the impression Michigan is still recruiting him.
In a TLA: WTF?
There have been rumors that Newsome is still open to other schools recruiting him, most prominently Penn State and Virginia Tech. They are no longer rumors. This is a "close family friend" of Kevin Newsome:
"I thought when he picked Michigan, he jumped the gun a little bit, and I was disappointed," [former West Branch coach Lew] Johnston said. "I told him that."
Johnston is not a big fan of Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez, who told Newsome he was "their guy" and then continued to recruit several other top quarterbacks. Michigan received a second QB commitment just days after Newsome's pledge.
"We're very close, and I've told him I'd like to see him stay closer to home," Johnston said. "I'm not going to push it, but there's something about playing in your home state."
There is obviously a possibility of a decommitment and Newsome will bear watching going into the fall.
Meanwhile, I am not a big fan of this Johnston guy. "I'm not going to push it, I'm just going to... you know... push it." Here's a quote from Kevin Newsome himself($):
"I know they want to take two and they're looking at Tate Forcier, Eugene Smith and some others," he said. "I'm not really worried about that. They told me I was their top guy and I know I have to compete. I just think the school and the football situation fit me right."
I don't know who started it, but now we have a feedback loop: Newsome remains slightly open to other schools because Michigan is recruiting other quarterbacks; Michigan is recruiting other quarterbacks because Newsome remains slightly open to other schools.
The situation, as far as I can see:
Shavodrick Beaver is solid on Michigan, and has reportedly even encouraged Forcier to commit. A scholar and a gentleman, he. Beaver grew up a big Texas fan and if there was going to be some wobble it would have been when the Longhorns offered him (at WR) a couple months ago. There was not.
Kevin Newsome is probably going to stick, IMO. The structural factors that led Newsome to pick Michigan -- Jay "Duh" Paterno and VT QB Tyrod Taylor -- are still in place. This Johnston guy is a former West Branch coach and Newsome is transferring to Hargrave Military, which seems to say a lot about the influence this guy wields: not much. Hargrave, by the way, is a prep school that hosts a wide array of guys who didn't make it academically every year. It's kind of a football Oak Hill. Newsome will play on their "post graduate" team.
His father, Kevin Sr., confirmed the move this afternoon, saying his son wanted to "continue to improve at quarterback so he'll be in a better position to step in and help somebody as soon as possible when he gets to college."
Help somebody? Er. That article also floats Newsome's potential attendance at a VT one-day camp; he does that and he's instantly a soft commit.
The Hargrave move is good in multiple ways for Michigan: it gets him to a school well-known for coaching kids up, it provides a tough level of competition, and it should smooth Newsome's path to an early enrollment. If Newsome enrolls early, Michigan won't have to wait until signing day to find out how solid he is, and if he ends up decommitting hopefully Forcier or Smith is still out there. (And even if they're not... snake oil, baby.)
I think Tate Forcier wants to go to Michigan. This is just speculation, mind you, but Forcier continues to speak highly of Michigan long after that stopped making any sense, and dumping a grand or so to come out to the camp a couple weeks ago speaks volumes. IIRC, he hasn't made it out to Penn State, Florida, or Oregon in a while. Throw in those myspace comments when Newsome committed and the preference seems clear. IMO, a Newsome decommit will either be preceded or quicky followed by a Forcier commit.
Eugene Smith might also be a possibility if he intends to wait, which I believe he does.
Who do I want? I like 'em all.
This is a big, huge, bighuge big week for Michigan basketball. If you've been following UMHoops.com you are probably aware of all of this, but in short:
- Beilein is hosting a wide array '09, '10, and '11 prospects this week at various camps.
- California point guard Darius Morris is making a visit.
Morris, a point guard who's #64 in the Rivals 100 and upwardly mobile, has been saying all the right things for going on six months now; this is the big week. The LA Times:
Michigan has had to be considered one of the favorites to land a verbal commitment from Darius Morris of Windward for quite sometime now, especially since his father had so many good things to say about the Wolverines and what they had to offer his son in this blog, back toward the end of April.
That said, it shouldn't come as a big surprise to learn there's a plan for Morris to visit Ann Arbor on June 29-30, according to quotes. The 6-foot-3 junior point guard has offers from Oregon St., Washington St. and USC. Other programs expressing interest include Arizona, Kentucky and Texas.
Morris is a huge recruit for Michigan basketball. He's a top-50-ish PG from across the country and would be the biggest recruit John Beilein has ever landed. He's Daniel Horton, except this time he'd be committing to the guy widely believed to be the best strategic coach in the country. Landing him would go a long way towards dispelling the perception that Beilein will only recruit six-foot white guys with peanut allergies.
If Morris commits, Michigan will be looking for a high profile wing to round out the class. UMHoops provides the lowdown.
Also, anyone got 40 million lying around?
According to a Crisler Arena infrastructure report recently completed for the university by architectural firm Jicking Lyman Powell Associates, renovating Crisler Arena could cost more than $46.7 million.
The report estimates the cost of a new practice facility at $20.5 million, bringing the cost of overhauling and building to approximately $67.2 million.
The NHL drafted dudes this weekend, and all four Michigan recruits were picked:
- D Brandon Burlon went in the late second round (#52) to New Jersey.
- Robbie Czarnik went at the top of the third (#63) to the Kings
- Greg Pateryn went in the fifth (#128) to Toronto
- David Wohlberg went in the sixth to New Jersey (#172)
Draft-eligible freshmen Scooter Vaughn and Tristin Llewellyn were passed over, as was 2009 D recruit Lee Moffie. This is the first time since 2000 Michigan didn't have a player picked in the first round. The program is a machine.
Upshot? It's nice to have top-end picks, but a bunch of second to fourth rounders are almost as good since NHL teams are less likely to pick them off after a year or two but they still have excellent talent. See: Porter, Kevin and Kolarik, Chad.
Czarnik going to LA is a little unfortunate. The Kings have a history with Michigan hockey, and by "have a history" I mean "you hate them." Mike Cammalleri, now a (yech) Flame, was pressed and pressed by the Kings until he finally signed right before the season started, pissing Red off something fierce and causing one of his regular diatribes against early signing. Two years ago, USHL player of the year Trevor Lewis never got to Michigan after being picked by the Kings at the tail end of the first round. LA signed him and shuffled him off to the OHL. (Jack Johnson also signed with the Kings early, but he went right into the NHL; can't blame anyone for that.) Czarnik's not going to pull a Lewis, knock on wood, but if he turns into a star he might get signed prematurely.
Other than that, it's nice to see the Devils pick a couple Michigan players. New Jersey's one of the best-run organizations in the league and they get a ton out of the draft, which speaks well of Burlon and Wohlberg's talent relative to their draft positions. They also tend to leave guys in college longer (IMO). Pateryn getting drafted is a major bonus since he's not on much scholarship money.
CCHA Note: Highly-touted Ohio State recruit Zac Dalpe may never see Columbus. He went high-ish in the OHL draft to Plymouth and was just taken by the Carolina Hurricanes. Both franchises are owned by Peter Karmanos. Dalpe was reportedly considering the OHL route but wanted to see what the team who drafted him preferred; Carolina is obviously going to push for the Whalers.
Outside of Michigan, it was a meh year for the CCHA in the draft. MSU recruit Daultan Leveille went 29th; he and Dalpe were the only two players selected before the fourth round, when a couple ND recruits and another MSU player went.
The MZone is dead, so someone's gotta do it.
There's only one man in the Big Ten Network footprint who's upset at the recent BTN-Comcast accord, and you get zero guesses as to his name. You didn't even guess, but you're right: Drew Sharp.
If you have a memory longer than two days you remember the minor scare that the BTN would agree to an eight-month preview only to be shuffled off onto a sports tier afterwards. It turns out said scare was caused by 1) sloppy media members not being careful with their words and 2) the exceptional paranoia of yrs truly. You probably remember every one of the hundred articles from every paper from Minnesota to Pennsylvania being very clear that this was not a possibility, that any move would be to a "broadly distributed" digital sports tier that 80% of Comcast subscribers already get.
Sharp either didn't read a single article on the deal or couldn't figure out what "broadly distributed" meant:
The Big Ten finally agreed to an arrangement ensuring that 94% percent of Comcast's subscribers within the eight-state Big Ten footprint would get BTN over an expanded basic cable package that, from Comcast's standpoint, basically amounts to an eight-month "free preview" to the network before Comcast can switch BTN to a special digital sports tier package in those pockets, not including local Big Ten home cities such as like Ann Arbor and East Lansing, where it believes the demand is highest.
This underpins the entirety of what passes for his argument: the Big Ten completely caved and should have done this a year ago. It is completely false. Drew Sharp doesn't even read his own goddamn newspaper:
The BTN and the cable carrier announced a multiyear agreement today that puts programming on expanded basic on Aug. 15 in states with Big Ten schools. After the 2008-09 basketball season ends, Comcast has the option to shift the network to its digital service.
Comcast has about 5 million customers with basic cable and 4 million with digital in Big Ten states.
Sharp's entire column is based on a misunderstanding of the situation that reading 600-word article could have cleared up. He cannot be bothered to even understand the deal before doing his Drew Sharp thing, which is to trash anything that does not win a championship.
And so, the eternal question: why? I'm not asking this in your standard "lolmsm" fashion. I am genuinely puzzled. Every sports fan I've ever come across in this town loathes Sharp. He is inextricably linked with two things: hatred and the Detroit Free Press. Why would the Free Press intentionally antagonize readers that now have a vast multitude of other options? Sharp's a dinosaur from the days when readers had a choice of Paper A or Paper B, the prime numero-uno example of why lazy-ass columnists rage against the internet: it exposes how very much they suck and provides alternative sources of attention.
Every column he writes pisses away more subscriber goodwill and drives consumers to less annoying sources. Even if he gets attention, it's the wrong kind of attention in a hotly competitive media environment.
Update: A Free Press minion has corrected Sharp's error to this...
to the network before Comcast can switch BTN to a digital package, which is more expensive than expanded basis.
...which is a nice try but only makes the column even more transparently nonsensical.