I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
I do a lot of Carr apologizing on this site... or at least I think there is a definite subset of Michigan fans who would think so. Never fear, hardened cynics, for there are things Lloyd Carr does that make me want to tear his spleen out. (These fits are usually brief in duration and followed by regret. (Please no sex jokes at my expense.))
So, I *DEMAND!!1!* that the following changes be implemented in the next week or so:
Stop running defensive players on and off the field after every damn play.Jim Herrmann seems to have the belief that a more complicated defense is a better defense. Part of this is a substitution scheme that sees four or five defensive substitutes enter the game after most plays, look back to the sideline, and then scurry off. I believe this system initially was created to combat Joe Tiller's 15-guys-in-the-huddle offense. It was a good idea at the time. Now it's just thoroughly annoying and confusing.
The Jim Herrmann Playbook
The useless run-on-run-off thing is also a microcosm of Jim Herrmann's fatal flaw: excessive complexity. I despise watching the Michigan defense attempt to line up before the snap, especially if someone goes in motion. Instead of simply adjusting to the situation presented to the defense, there is always hurried pointing. Then either three players or no players cover a particular wide receiver until some more pointing is done, at which point (hur hur) someone completely different takes the guy, who then scores a 58-yard touchdown. Every time. And then people say that Michigan's defense is easy to interpret! Why is it that Michigan's defense is so incredibly simple to dissect but difficult to actually play?
I have to stop this section now before I shatter my monitor and electrocute myself to death. Puppies. Puppies. Heart love candle puppies. Okay. Better.
Not a common sight.
Throw the ball with backup wide receivers in the game. Michigan used to have a nasty case of formation/down-and-distance predictability. Michigan fans could tell you that a second and long was going to be an unsuccessful draw 80% of the time. Certain formations were guaranteed runs, others guaranteed passes or unsuccessful third and long draws. Terry Malone and Scott Loeffler the Boy Wonder have largely excised this failing from the Michigan offense, but there remains... er... a remnant of the bad old days. Michigan will often substitute out its badass first string wide receivers for younger or scrubbier players in the midst of the drive. This is fine. It usually happens after a couple of completions, it gets the first-stringers a blow and the superstars of tomorrow some experience. The only problem is that the only experience the young players get is blocking, because 90 percent of the time a play run with backup wide receivers is a run up the gut.
I kid you not: if Jermaine Gonzalez was in the game in a base formation last year there was a 90% chance of run. If Gonzalez and one of Carl Tabb or Adrian Arrington was on the field, there was a 99% chance of run. There are going to be a lot of times this year when younger wideouts are on the field. Throw them the ball, yo.
Go for it more. This is a principle familiar to all NCAA 2005 players. Fourth and two on the forty? Go. Forth and inches on your own three? Eh... go. Fourth and twenty from the thirty yard line and your kicker wears a helmet on the short bus home from the game? Go! It's also a principle that has been proven to be mathematically correct according to game theory. When you have a makeable fourth down in enemy territory, you should almost always go for it.
Run a fast-paced offense. Michigan will be the clearly superior team in almost every game this year. Ohio State is a wash. Iowa is close. Everyone else fits in the category of "should win due to general superiority." For years now Michigan has adopted a methodical, ball control style that has been generally successful save for about one game a year where the plebians revolt, storm the Forum, gut Michigan's national championship hopes, and leave them streaming in the wind.
Why does this happen? Because you play with your wing wing too much. Uh... I mean, it's partially because Michigan's style of play gives the underdog the advantage. A possession in football is much like one in basketball. You get the ball, you try to score, they try to stop you. Football has some very significant added state in the form of down and distance and field position, but the two situations are analogous. What do underdogs do in basketball? They slow the game down. Witness Michigan's near upset of Illinois last year. Michigan took the shot clock under ten during every possession before even looking for a shot. This is a reasonable strategy as you are looking to increase variance since you are the underdog--reducing the number of possessions in the game increases the variance. (Do you think the Illini would have ended up 39-2 if each game consisted of one possession per team?)
Michigan's football team finds itself in the opposite situation. They are expected to win and win often because few teams can match the talent they march out on the field. They want to reduce variance. (If you buy this, you can also buy that Lloyd's conservative coaching style makes some sense... but there are situations in which the expectation he gives up far outweighs the reduction in variance that he gains by, say, punting from the 35.) An excellent way to reduce said variance is by increasing the tempo of the offense.
Not to mention that Michigan's plethora of offensive talent--three deep at almost every skill position--should have a greater advantage late versus a defense that's tried to tackle Hart, Martin, and Grady all game. Running a speedy offense will reduce variance and highlight Michigan's depth advantage. Also there will be more touchdowns, and touchdowns make you feel goooooood.
Play extremely aggressive defense on first down. This suggested strategy also derives from the desire to increase the number of drives in a game. On first and ten I would rather see Michigan in a defense that produces a large number of second and longs and a few 15-20 yard plays against than a defense that concedes 3-5 yards before the ball is snapped. Bending and not breaking is for teams like MSU who are just hoping to get a stop maybe okay just this once please.
This isn't something you can do all the time or you'll get burned--there's that game theory again--but Michigan should regularly attempt to punch opposing offenses off the field after three plays. The best way to do that is by inserting someone's helmet into the opposing quarterback, preferably so far it takes a quarter to remove.
You can see below what I've got for the BlogPoll ancillary stats so far. There's also going to be a "swing" measure which is the total change between each blog's ballot from week to week.
What should the in-season roundtable format be? They've been coming at approximately two week intervals now. Obviously college football's preferred time unit is the week. I thought we'd bump the frequency up to weekly, cut the question count down to ~2, and continue on. Without a critical mass of participation they seem kind of dumb, though, so I'd rather have too few than too many. Is weekly too often? Will you participate in most of them?
Should we weight ballots? If so, how? I would like to start this at some point in the future to give more weight to the opinions of people who participate on a regular basis and make good cases for or against teams. Part of the poll's philosophy is to fill in gaps of knowledge. The best way to do this seems to be offering tangible reward to those who do the filling. I was pleased to put NC State at #23 in my poll because Section Six gave me reasons to do so. TAMBINPO's Big 12 rundown for the BlogPoll question swayed my opinion on various teams (it knocked OK down about 4 spots, moved up Texas A&M, and earned Texas Tech #24). They should get some extra poll-power, because if I got as well informed about every team I would feel much better about my ballot.
How to do this? Initial thought was a "rep me" button on everyone's blog that people could click when they found something useful, but that's absolutely ripe for abuse, and honestly a bit beyond my current web-wizardry (<-- TIC). It could be basd on traffic, but not everyone in the poll makes their traffic numbers public. I could give a small boost based simply on participation (ie, by voting and answering roundtables) or by weighting ballots based on correctness relative to the week's games. Whatever I decide will probably be a major project (and something not implemented until Year 2), but I'd like to get as many ideas possible here.
How should we deal with wildly biased voters? The Enlightened Spartan's initial ballot has MSU #17 and Michigan #20, which is pretty much beyond the pale when it comes to ridiculousness. This aggression will not stand, man. Remember how we scoffed at that guy who put Louisville #1? (Good times, good times.) Well, we've got our own house to attend to. I don't mind the ceremonial "whoever my team is goes #25 if they're not higher" preseason vote, nor do I particularly mind Bruins Nation giving Texas the #1 spot in the poll in an effort to piss off the USC voters--as long as they are willing to drop that motivation if USC proves itself to be a juggernaut once more. But something wildly divergent that has a real effect on the poll and loses us credibility in the eyes of discerning rabble is not cool. Bruins Nation with USC at #2 isn't going to do anything nasty to the poll. If they had them at #10, though, I'd have to get out my Internet Club With Nails In and thump some heads. There's a difference between harmless fun and poll-distorting juvenile bias.
I've got a bias rating and though it's simple, I plan on using it like a hammer, by, like, de-weighting votes of people who exceed a certain threshold, and continuing to do so if they continue to exhibit flagrant homerism. Does this meet with protest? Pitt Sports Blather pointed out an interesting article by a longtime AP voter. The AP takes things seriously:
Back in New York, the AP folks look at those ballots as they are tabulated. If they see something that doesn't pass the smell test, they make phone calls. If a Florida voter had ranked Tennessee ahead of Southern Cal, that would've been OK. But if that voter were to put Florida or Florida State as No. 1, alarms would go off.
Reasonable for them, critical for us. Whereas AP voters are Unbiased Press, we're Obviously Biased Fans. To have credibility (and I'm talking "this is an interesting social phenomenon" credibility not "let's insert this puppy into the BCS" credibility) we have to be more interesting, more open, and generally all-around better than the existing polls. Just as good isn't going to cut it. If some of us act immaturely, it reflects on the poll at large. I'd like to prevent that embarassment at all costs, but I can see an argument for anything-goes fun. What do you think?
So. Floor's open. Discuss.
There's a new candidate for the Big Ten's "Book of Job" Award previously earmarked for poor, poor Northwestern: Penn State. You've heard about the arrows in the wall, you've heard about the prank phone calls. Now Penn State has lost two important players, albeit via more conventional means. Sophomore WR Mark Rubin injured his ankle and is out for the year. Senior DE Lavon Chisley is academically ineligible.
Rubin, who caught 16 passes last year, was probably the #2 WR behind freshman Derrick Williams. Penn State now has a grand total of three returning receptions in the WR corps. You can expect fellow freshman uberrecruit Justin King to spend his first year in the blue and white on offense. The Penn State WR corps now consists of three freshman and sophomore doghouse resident Terrell Golden.
Chisley was the third DE behind seniors Tamba Hali and Matthew Rice. He started as a redshirt sophomore in 2003. His loss isn't devastating but he definitely would have seen substantial time behind the starters. The drop off after Rice and Hali is now precipitous.
In other opponent news, Northern Illinois has lost its best linebacker for the year.
These are not the droids you're looking for. Dude. Weis E. Coyote has some sort of strange Jedi powers over the minds of mediocre sportswriters. Check this flagrant fanboy AJC article (HT: EDSBS) from Terence Moore. A sample:
First, Weis showed the movie "Rudy" to the team. Afterward, he said he couldn't imagine what the real Rudy experienced, so he pointed to the real Rudy sauntering into the room amidst gasps.
Well, you're damn right there were gasps. If Frodo Baggins walked into the room I was in I'd gasp too. Dude went to Mount Doom. Dude saved Middle Earth. Mad props, in the parlance of our times.
Of course, I'd be disappointed if I found out that instead of a noble hobbit what confronted me was a man with no discernable talent except that of relentless self-promotion and a body that appeared to be an unfunny joke played by a cruel and aloof God. (No wonder Weis likes him so much.) But I do have to agree that introducing Rudy shows that Weis understands Notre Dame: it's incredibly hyped but when you get down to the bottom of it it's just 5-6.
More fantabulous EDSBS content: they find Illini nut site "gotzook.com", hilarious to UF fans and Big Ten cohorts alike. They discuss what you must buy for the upcoming season. And, astoundingly, they drop a trilobyte reference.
(And, yes, they voted for Duke in the BlogPoll. I would have been heartbroken if they didn't.)
New blog props must go to Sunday Morning Quarterback (now side-barred). I've read every word of his Big East and ACC previews despite the fact that I care not a whit for the fortunes of, say, Wake Forest or Rutgers this year. A pleasure to read is SMQ--saying something, that. Bookmark/subscribe today. Mmm, Yoda.
Carr Talk featuring Click and Clack from GBW. (Ha! I kill me.) Plus more on Sargeant Slaughter. Dennis Dodd spends his BT preview talking about that anonymous quote and Mike Hart's reaction to it... and then picks Michigan third. Pat Forde colors inside the lines re: defense. Football Outsiders is a Michigan haven. I am so happy.
Hoops recruit Notamadou Ba (AKA Ekpe Udoh) talked with GBW recently. Udoh, a gangly raw shotblocking post guy, appears to be the best bet for a tall reboundy fellow in this class other than Tom Herzog, who is still seriously considering Notre Dame and Michigan State. Udoh is down to Pitt and Michigan and claims Michigan leads slightly.
Strictly for the ladies and alternative-lifestyled, OMG Wolverine manbeef. (You was warned.) Boi From Troy's "Gay Viewers Guide to College Football" went off without a Big Ten rep, and Wannabeleader corrects the error. Does anyone a link to that modelling website with backup CB Darnell Hood on it? Brother had a pickaxe.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here. Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Now on to the blog-specific rankings. First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Mr. Bold goes to TrojanWire. Their wack-ass ballot features Louisville #3, Georgia #6, Purdue #7 (uh... NTTAWWT), Cal #8, Boise State #9, Tennessee down at #14, LSU at #17, Miami (Florida) at #18, Auburn #25, and completely omits Iowa, Florida, and Florida State. I'm speechless. This is, like, an infinite monkeys voting at infinite ballot boxes job, apparently picked completely at random out of a hat after #1 USC and #2 Texas.
Update! The preseason poll got four additional ballots and Heismanpundit claimed the top slot in Mr. Bold with his effort. Raise your hand if you're surprised.
Mr. Numb Existence is The Mississippi State Sports Blog, which submitted a creepily accurate ballot. The only differences betwen the MSSB's ballot and the poll at large are two transpositions--Auburn and Florida State swap spots, as do Pittsburgh and Virginia. It's also worth noting that Straight Bangin' finished fifth despite placing his own team at #13, way, way off the poll's Michigan position (more on that later).
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The inaugural winner of The CK Awards is The Enlightened Spartan, who put a team with no defense whatsoever and a quarterback more fragile than Charles Rogers at #17 because he likes the helmets. Extra bonus ridiculous bias: Michigan debuts at #20. A completely shameful effort. Congratulations, ES, you've disgraced us all.
Update! Rejiggering of the poll due to the extra ballots garnered more Michigan State support than Alabama support, pushing 'Bama blogger Journalism Is For Rockstars into the position of greatest shameful bias.
Unsurprisingly, the winner of the Straight Bangin' Award is Straight Bangin' for placing the Wolverines at #13, more than seven points fewer than the poll-wide consensus.
Coming next week: "Mr. Manic-Depressive" and "Mr. Stubborn" for the voters who change their ballots the most and least from week to week.
My computer, showing all the incredible timing of a Michigan safety trying to tackle Deandra Cobb, unceremoniously died last night at about 11 PM, wiping out the draft version of the Blogpoll. The good news is that It was mostly IFRAMEs referencing stuff already on the interweb, so not much was lost. But I do have to reconstitute it. It'll be up in a bit.
5'9" freshman CB Brandon Harrison is now 5'9" freshman S Brandon Harrison according to Lloyd Carr (and GBW). This is probably not a good sign. Though practice buzz has various players impressing at CB (Charles Stewart, Morgan Trent, Johnny Sears, and Harrison have all gotten positive pub), no safeties have gotten much mention except for Lloyd Carr saying that Brandent Engelmon has had a "lights-out" fall. Harrison's move means one of three things:
- Harrison just isn't that good.
- Mundy's shoulder injury is seriously serious.
- We're screwed.
I don't think it's the first. It could be the second. Mundy has had his shoulder troubles since last year and he absolutely must be more effective for Michigan's defense to show a semblance of competence. If he's afraid to tackle because of his shoulder, he may not see a ton of time at FS. Three? Sure, we'll go with that. Screwed. We're going to need Harrison to play safety. Even if he does well, his move implies bad things for the existing safeties.
Safety: the big flaming hole on the entire team. The nice thing is that it will be hard to give up another eight 60+ yard touchdowns like we did in 2004. So we've got that going for us.
Also: Avant and Pat Massey are captains, as expected.
You've Got To Be Kidding
Rocket Ismail (Did this guy legally change his name or something?)
The average age of the voters who aren't ex-players I wouldn't trust to add two and two together appears to be 145. mgoblog's projected top five:
- Notre Dame
- Colonial Williamsburg
- Jamestown University
- Tippecanoe and Tyler too!
Watch out for the Williamsburgians. Only half of them died from smallpox last winter.
Hell full of frozen flying pigs: Lloyd Carr opened up practice to the media on Friday, sending local media into a tizzy. The stated reason:
"I want to be popular with all of you," Carr joked Friday.
Good luck with that, Lloyd. Information coming out of the Fort indicates that Brandent Engelmon does appear to be the guy who will start the year at SS. Smart and in the right place at the right time is the rep on Engelmon, music so beautiful to my ears that I wonder if I've died and gone to heaven (quick check: Tressel around? Yep. Okay. Not heaven). Adrian Arrington is the surprising name being thrown out as the #3 wide receiver, though in retrospect he was the guy chosen to not redshirt. Fullback sounds like a bit of a mess. Hopefully Malone will look at the copious non-fullback talent on the roster and decide that lead-blocking is for sissies.
Fifth-year senior Leo Henige appears to have the upper hand at LG. If healthy.
IBFC unverified some voracity of its own in a roundup post that covers a lot of ground that I won't duplicate here. More warranted Matt Hayes bashing can be found. Also a defense of CFN, which I would like to respond to:
But I just love that they believe there is no team, no player and no position that is so irrelevant it isn't worth writing a full-page article about it. Looking for info on the Memphis offensive line? Here you go. How is the North Texas linebacking corps shaping up? Keep an eye on Maurice Holman.
Because this is exactly the kind of thing I hate about CFN. They cover all 100-whatever teams, sure, but the depth of said coverage is strictly kiddie-pool. I try to be a Marinas Trench of Michigan information, an authority in a specialized field. Given what I read at CFN I have my doubts that they know anything not directly listed in a press release. They write one blurb on every starter in the country and then recycle it a hundred different times in various incredibly retarded lists of top this and top that. In the previews I saw not one unit was ranked anything less than a 6 of 10. Literally every unit in the nation is above average. They rank and discuss everything and thus condemn themselves to never really talking about anything.
We're number #4 (again) in the AP Top 25, which has a total of five Boi From Troy-infuriating non-USC first place votes, four for Texas and one for... Louisville? Sweet mother of mercy. And get the rationale behind that first place vote:
Joe Giglio of The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., voted Louisville No. 1 after examining the schedules for all BCS conference teams. The Cardinals moved to the Big East this season.
"Â“Louisville was the only one that I came up with as going undefeated,"Â” he said.
I was going to thoroughly smite this person's logic, but Section Six beat me to it... and, quite frankly (HATE YOU HATE YOU HATE YOU), we've got a couple guys in the blogpoll voting Auburn #2 because they "deserve it," so we should attend to our own house before throwing rocks into those of others, no matter how brittle their glass walls. Though I will hurl a couple of well placed ones at ESPN for posting a poll minus two teams but in full possession of not one but two "TEXAS AM"s, as Struggling Joe pointed out.
Speaking of dumb Louisville-related stuff, the Courier-Journal of said city has, uh, let's say jumped the gun:
Bigger than Michigan now?
[Former UM lineman Doug] James wanted no part of Louisville. He signed with Michigan. You could play in Rose Bowls and play for national titles at Michigan. Today you don't have to make many calls to find experts predicting U of L will have a better season than Michigan.
Cute. Call us in, like, 120 years. (And did this guy not check the recruiting out of his own state last year? Top three guys will all don winged helmets this fall.)
What is with Penn State and really, really weird ways to get suspended? First you had the whole EZ Smith shooting hundreds of arrows into a wall thing. Now comes word that three Lions, most prominently sophomore linebacker Dan Connor, are suspended for making prank phone calls to a retired PSU assistant coach. Fanblogs has all the details. Connor's suspension is "indefinite" which is usually code for "until we play someone we can lose to." Since it's Penn State we're talking about here, look for Connor to go against South Florida. (Sorry, 50YL, cheap shot.)
Fanblogs also has a hard hitting expose on Purdue's recent practice popsicle break.
Several players said the day [new OK State Coach] Gundy replaced Les Miles as head coach he established guidelines that players attend class, be on time for team meetings, adhere to workout routines, represent the program well and play hard."
Example #3,890 of "Blogs Will Change The World" can be found over at Blog Maverick, which is Mavs owner Mark Cuban's pale mgoblog imitation (just kidding, Mark, please don't put a hit out on me). He's wrapped up in some boring business thing and was interviewed over email about it. The resulting New York Times headline:
Mark Cuban Is Mad (Again). But Why?
The article portrays Cuban as really, really mad. Cuban responds by reprinting the entire email exchange he had with this NYT guy on Blog Maverick. The verdict? Busted. Totally. Here's a representative sample of Cuban's responses:
1) Clearly the sale price of register.com was lower than you and many other investors - some who may have followed your lead into the stock - believed the company would be sold for. Why did you expect it to be sold for so much more?
Its worth much more. A simple analysis to compare it to comparable companies show the expenses clearly out of whack.
2) Are you surprised the Yahoos and Googles of the world never bid?
Not at all. Its not their business. Register.com has a legacy business to build on and cash flow to return to investors if it gets its expenses in line. Thats not the type of business they go after.
3) If you think it's such an undervalued business, why didn't you make
a bid yourself?
Im not in a position to run the company. My
goal was to work with the new board that would have been voted in during the next shareholder meeting in a couple weeks to help the company
4) Do you think the auction was somehow rigged?
Rigged ? I dont know if it was rigged, but i think the board definitely incented themselves to sell the company. There is so little board and management ownership( the only board member with substantial ownership filed a proxy leaning against the deal ) that their greatest reward came from change of control bonuses they gave themselves. Plus I think much of the board just wants out.
Thats not conducive for doing whats best for the company.
And here's the intro to the article:
MARK CUBAN, the entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, has a reputation for screaming like a deranged fan from the sidelines during games. He has been fined more than $1 million by the National Basketball Association for his antics since he bought the team five years ago.
Now, Mr. Cuban, who became a billionaire by selling Broadcasting.com to Yahoo in 1999, has focused his infamous bark on a corporate boardroom. The target of his anger is the board of a small Internet company called Register.com, which sells domain names (for example, yourcompany.com) to people and small businesses. He may deserve the Wall Street equivalent of a technical foul for his latest outburst.
SWEET FANCY MOSES! I was literally LOL at that. OMG. O. M. G.
The moral: keep your magic spinny device at home when you're dealing with a public figure with his own media platform.
And, finally... There's a new Soonerfark Internet hero. Check him out with the Ambiguously Gay Ohio State Linebacking Corps:
This is, for all intents and purposes, TJ Hensick's senior year. He will not be back in 2006 unless he sustains a severe injury. And while I could have said this about any Michigan scoring machine at any time in the past, oh, six or seven years and been mind-meltingly correct, the new CBA virtually guarantees that no player with a potential NHL future ever sees a senior year of college hockey. The Boston Globe explains:
The collective bargaining agreement mandates that college players, if unsigned by Aug. 15 of their graduation year, are rendered unrestricted free agents. With that kind of leverage looming out there, NHL clubs, rather than getting backed into a negotiating corner with 22- and 23-year-olds, will be far more motivated to turn kids pro a year or two ahead of that strike date.
Pro teams will do everything they can to avoid losing their draft picks to free agency. They will try to sign players immediately. Players have powerful incentives to sign, too: the NHL-mandated rookie cap expires three years after a player signs, and the free agency clock starts ticking soon after that player arrives in the NHL. Previously it was largely based on age. That's how Jeff Tambellini went from 100% staying to 100% gone over the course of two weeks--there really were powerful economic forces pushing him out the door.
I expect a lot more Andy Hilberts in the future. Remember when Boston had Hilbert "pencilled in" their opening day lineup four years ago? Well, pencils have orange rubbery things on them:
Four years into his tenure with the Bruins (most of it in Providence), Andy Hilbert has asked for a trade. ''He's asked to be moved," confirmed Boston GM Mike O'Connell, ''and I've told him we'll do our best to accommodate him." Hilbert had 79 points in 79 games with the Baby B's last season, and has played only 43 games with the varsity since leaving Michigan early for his shot at the show.
Would Hilbert's career have been any less spectacular had he stayed another season or two at Michigan? Probably not. It would be hard to do less in the NHL than Andy Hilbert. But he wanted to go and Boston wanted him to come, and there you have it. Four years in Providence, Rhode Island, getting paid a fraction of his contract (they're two-way, dontcha know) to play in the AHL. That's where I suggest getting season tickets if you want to see Michigan seniors in action: the AHL.
Bonus depression note! Junior forward Mike Brown is probably gone. Mysterious USCHO poster "woogie," who correctly forecast the unexpected departure of Dwight Helminen, has resurfaced and claimed that Vancouver has signed Brown. Given the track record of both Woogie and rumors of Michigan hockey departures in general, I figure that there's a 99% chance Brown is the new Hilbert.
Impact? Let's just say I won't be mailing Jeff Tambellini's dad more than one or two dead cats. Brown was a penalty magnet last year in the new no-obstruction (and sometimes no-check) NCAA, and the same people who always say dumb things about muckers like Brown and how the NCAA game is "not suited" to their skills are saying them again. Given that Michigan has an abundance of similar forwards coming in, his loss isn't extensively painful. The third line probably got marginally worse.
The Brown signing does presage really nasty things in the future. Brown is a mid-level prospect coming off a terrible year. The reaction? Sign that kid up! Great. Can we get those Jenks and Czarnik kids on campus, like, now?
Michigan article etc: Pitts on Max Martin. Michigan is QB U. No doubt about it. The djl Zone talks some Northern Illinois in the course of previewing the MAC. I don't expect the Huskies to seriously challenge Michigan--their power running attack is basically the exact wrong offense to run against Jim Herrmann--but they aren't going to roll over and die like Notre Dame or Eastern Michigan.
Thank God we have a 12th game so that we can squeeze that third MAC team on the schedule. CSTV has an article that slams major colleges for playing way too many games against teams without a chance that I agree wholeheartedly with. I'm completely depressed by the mad dash for cash being undertaken by athletic departments across the country. Part of that is undoubtedly due to Title IX mandating a vast array of nonrevenue women's sports that the football programs of successful schools inevitably end up supporting. But a far greater drive for revenue is created by a frankly repellent tendency to skirt the letter of the NCAA law by building lavish palaces reserved largely for athletes that further obliterate the quainter-by-the-second "student" part of "student-athlete." (Though ND, UGA, Texas, and Oregon are cited by the links above, there's no school in the country with big-time aspirations that is not guilty of the same thing, including Michigan.) At what point to you step back and say this is excessive? About ten years ago would have been good.
I'd love for the NCAA to step in with a hammer, mandate six home games maximum, outlaw megadorms and athlete-exclusive palaces, and generally take an evil socialist approach to the whole thing. But they have neither the jurisdiction nor the inclination to do any such thing, so I get to spend hundreds of dollars a year on tickets for games against various directional Michigan schools and the kids playing the game seem less like students and more like loosely affiliated mercenaries every day. Yay.
Warren St. John pointed out an article from across the Atlantic on that other sort of football that's blunt in its assessment: "Football fans are idiots." That's hard to dispute when this fall I will be looking at an $80 ticket that says "Eastern Michigan" on it.
Big Ten turmoil continues at Michigan State and Iowa. MSU redshirt freshman RB Tony Howard has been granted his release and will transfer. Impact is near nil. With Jason Teague and Jehuu Caulcrick 1-2 on the depth chart and incoming freshmen AJ Jimmerson and Javon Ringer expected to contribute, Howard was probably no better than fifth on the depth chart.
The 22-year-old was convicted of hitting a man on the side of the head, knocking him unconscious, and breaking his jaw. The victim, Maurice Payne, is a City High School graduate and current Iowa State University student.
As a result it's likely he will be suspended for part of the year. How much is up to the University and Kirk Ferentz.
Faithful Rivals posters dug up a little bit on the Children's Hockey Crusade that signed up yesterday. As expected, they're amongst the top players their age.
CNNSI's John Walters outed himself as a Domer in his latest Campus Blitz. He also makes an impressive leap from "David Givens caught five passes in a Super Bowl" to "Weis E. Coyote is 31337." Not to be missed is this textbook example of setting yourself up for massive disappointment:
Last year Notre Dame scored as many points as its opposition over the course of the season, 289. Although they were only 81st nationally in total offense and 72nd in scoring offense, anyone who watched the first 20 minutes of the Southern California game witnessed what this offense can do when it's in sync.
Uh... 20 minutes of a game you lost by 31 or an entire season? Which of these things is more indicative of reality... hmmm.
I, of course, plan on doing this exact same thing when discussing the Michigan defense.
Elsewhere in the MSM, the Sporting News preview with the incendiary quote about Michigan from an opposing coach has finally been posted on the Interwebs. FTR, the quote:
Michigan doesn't show up every week. I think they're pompous, over-recruited, arrogant-type kids. Who has better players: Michigan or Ohio State? Michigan. The Michigan kid has more talent, but the Ohio State kid plays harder. ...
Everyone assumes that this was Tiller or JLS, but I note that the article makes no mention of "head" coach. It's probably some assistant somewhere. More notable is how dumb Matt Hayes comes off, regurgitating every piece of conventional wisdom he can get his hands on:
Ron Zook, meet the physical and punishing Big Ten. Now ditch that sissy offense, and recruit some tough linebackers at Illinois. ...
Why can't Purdue win close games? It's not a mental hurdle or bad breaks that have caused the Boilers to lose 14 games by a touchdown or less over the past three years. It's the lack of a consistent running game. You close out games by jamming the ball down a defense's throat -- not with a five-wide offense. ...
And then topping himself with total incoherence:
How hard will Glen Mason kick himself when Minnesota RB Laurence Maroney runs for 2,000 yards this season? Maroney was misused for two straight seasons -- having to share time with Marion Barber -- and still reached 1,000 yards each year. ...
Uh... yes, let's rip on one of the country's best rushing attacks for not rushing well enough and then imply that Glen Mason's going to be pissed if Maroney cracks 2,000 yards this year all whilst pretending that Minnesota's struggles have anything to do with letting a very effective Marion Barber III carry the ball and keep both backs fresh. Hayes deserves every mouthbreathing email he receives and responds to condescendingly.