I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
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.
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.
Swing is essentially the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Okay. Previewing the Football Team Loosely Affiliated With The Ohio State University (FTLAWTOSU) has necessitated actually going to the website of FTLAWTOSU and reading
We are slaughtering the Northwestern Wildcats
things that are on it, which makes me feel dirtier than that one time with the midget porn and an unwelcome early return of my grandmother*, especially because every word on the site sounds like it's coming straight from the mouth of the Iraqi Minister of Information. It serves as an interesting counterpoint between the two schools. Michigan: understated, subtle, classy. The classic elegance of the deep blue hues it wears on Saturdays. Ohio State: all the subtlety of a hepatitis-ridden hooker. The intelligence and volume level of Stephen A. Smith.
See for yourself. Here's the introductory section on Gabe Watson, probable NFL first-round pick:
At Michigan... three-year letterman ... returning starter at defensive tackle ... has played in 33 career games and made 11 starts ... has 52 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks during career ... 2004 All-Big Ten first team (coaches).
Here is the introductory section on Buckeye DT Quinn Pitcock, probable football player:
A terrific football player who started for the first time last year and had a sensational season ... is big, strong, tough and makes plays at crunch time ... comes-to-play every game and is a blue collar guy who thrives on competition ... [ETC ETC ETC]
If you're wondering to yourself "I wonder, self, does the tOSU SID cream himself when discussing every player on the roster," the answer to that question is "AAAAARGH YES AAAAAAAARGH." Any opportunity to insert a puffy, meaningless adjective is taken. Journeymen with little playing time and fewer NFL prospects than Rudy are made to seem like SuperJesus. (A side note: what Estonian pickle farmer did they hire to do this? "comes-to-play" hyphenated? I don't understand how that even crossed someone's mind.)
The worst part of the whole thing is the season prospectus. Now, these things are always mindless propaganda but holy crap, OSU has next-levelled this puppy. Believe me, I am probably the person most qualified to determine these things, having actually read 10 of them (why would I read Michigan's?). Just... just... Christ on a pogostick:
But the Buckeyes, who won the national championship in 2002, won't get caught looking too far ahead. Tressel will see to that. The skillful Buckeye mentor is a believer in staying focused and taking one game at a time. His first four teams at Ohio State have dined on that recipe and the result has been a sumptuous overall record of 40-11, two BCS victories, a perfect 14-0 season and a national championship. It is a proven formula for success, one that the players have readily adapted as their own mantra.
We are slaughtering the infidels. They die by the thousands. I write short ridiculous Hemingwayesque sentences and then launch into long ridiculous metaphors that imply that people are consuming little cards that say things like "2 cups sugar, 1 scraped vanilla bean." I can't decide if I am amused or deeply angered. Apparently both. I mean, when you see sentences like this:
Additionally, Roy Hall, Devon Lyons and Devin Jordan are talented receivers who will see playing time. The latter three would start for most teams.
You have to marvel at what a strange world we live in... but you also have to wonder how people in Ohio manage to not punch themselves to death accidentally, you know, in case I'msa oneothem queers or sumptin'. The whole thing finishes with this handy definition of the word "hubris":
Pollsters will rate this team high
The Buckeyes appear to be talented on both sides of the ball. The offense is explosive and versatile, capable of long drives and quick strikes. The defense is physical, deep and can run. The schedule is challenging, but the Buckeyes have gone 33-6 the past three years and know how to win. Many of the preseason pollsters will have this team rated in their top five. All will have it their top 10.
Yeah, I ranked OSU 10th to start the season... until I saw that! Say hello to #11, bitches!
PS: Carr and Tressel are generally as different as your gruff but deeply good grandfather and that sweater-vest-wearing uncle who molests you but gets away with it because you have no proof, but they have one thing in common:
The Buckeye coach calls the punt, "the most important play in football."
*(ha ha, just kidding, Mom.)
I guess Ron English can get bent. Oh well. At least it wasn't Washington--Michigan is recruiting both Jonas Mouton and Antwine Perez, safeties with identical three-team lists: USC, Michigan, and LSU. Probably helps some with them.
Now that Mays has decided I can finally reveal that I thought he was terribly, terribly overrated based on my extensive lack of knowledge about his playing abilities. Also he probably eats babies.
Okay, okay. I promise that I'm not going to make this post more than two, maybe three more times at the outside: Jack Johnson has made it very clear he's attending Michigan. JJ Defcon should head to five and remain there once you peruse Justin Spiro's interview with Johnson over at... the Detroit Sports Rag?
Holy crap. Yes, the home of Jordan Acker--the dumbest semi-literate person in the Western Hemisphere--has come through with an interview which is really good but poorly copyedited. The key sequence for the paranoid:
Spiro: It was reported in the Ann Arbor newspapers that you have opted to attend the University of Michigan for at least 1 season, though you have not publicly confirmed this yet. Is the report true, and why did you make the decision that you did?
Johnson: The report is true. I simply do not feel ready at this point in time to make the jump to the professional level. I committed to Michigan at age 14, and I've been looking forward to wearing the UM sweater ever since. Plus, I want to win a National Championship.
Spiro: So if Michigan wins the National Championship your freshman season, will that mark the end of your career in the collegiate ranks?
Johnson:Not necessarily. Why stop at 1 if I can get another? It really boils down to my progression as a player. I will go when I feel prepared.
The door to a second year... open? Quick, Yost Built, we need a JJ Defcon 2006! In any case, the whole thing is worth reading. (Thanks to reader Y2K for the heads up.)
Bonus! Johnson also conversed with McKeen's. The mound-charging incident is covered in bizarre detail.
Further football article wrap: Carty says he can't see Carr retiring until he's "content," which presumably means that either A) Michigan has a big year or B) Drew Sharp is jailed. Rivals has some photos up and a video interview with freshman cornerback Brandon Harrison, who, uh, wants to win the Heisman. (He said that on the radio, not in this interview.) Good luck with that; I guarantee that I'll be a generally happy, contented person if that were to happen. Scout has articles on Leon Hall and Tim Massaquoi.
Larry Harrison is really, officially gone now, having enrolled at North Carolina A&T, much to the surprise of the Ann Arbor police:
"I was surprised to hear he was playing football somewhere," said Ann Arbor police detective Chris Fitzpatrick, who was involved in Harrison's cases. "Nobody from that college has contacted anybody in our department that I know of."
Harrison's lawyer appears to be attempting to claim that this whole thing is just a case of mistaken identity. He takes the mgoblog prize for "worst defensive strategy EVER (non-Jim Herrmann division)." How many muscular 300-pound black guys are running around Ann Arbor? Probably about ten, and they're all on the football team.
Opponent stuff: Northern Illinois is not your typical MAC pushover. They're gunning for the title this year behind a grinding ground game, which is sort of a "yes, but" situation when confronting Michigan. Yes, you can plow the MAC, but Gabe Watson is a bird of an entirely different, much more nacho-friendly feather. Northwestern is probably going to lose DE Loren Howard for the entire season. That's a devastating loss should it come to pass. Howard is the team's best player and the Northwestern DL is proverbially paper thin. Not to mention that Wildcat running back Terrell Jordan, the probable starter, partially tore his hamstring. Things are looking very grim in Evanston.
The heat is on Tommy Amaker this year. You can tell by examining ESPN's offseason Big Ten feature and noting that the team they focus on was 13-18 last year, 4-12 in conference. Also, the headline reads "It's time for Amaker to deliver in Ann Arbor." The power of deduction!
New commit Deshawn Sims is goin' to work on 7 foot Michigan C Tom Herzog. He called him immediately after committing and "lobbied" Herzog to join him. The expectation is that this will happen sooner or later.
It's the end of an era. Terry Foster's blog is moving to MLive. I'm somewhere between heartbroken and despairing. MLive: I beg you, do not copy edit his blog. I... I don't think I could take it.
I realize that ESPN Insider is having a 30-day free trial at the moment, so I can freely link to stuff there, at least for now, if they are interesting. So you can see that ESPN's new Recruiting Insider service is definitely being pitched differently than Scout and Rivals. It focuses more on NFL Draft-style scouting reports and player evaluation and less on finding out what Myron Rolle ate for breakfast and what it means for his future college decision. Witness the moderately detailed scouting reports they've put up as a "sneak peek" into their upcoming ESPN 150. David Cone's evaluation contains this tantalizing teaser:
Cone is a big and physical quarterback, with outstanding size and more than adequate arm strength, but he is not an ideal athlete for the position.
Holy John Navarre, Batman!
They're sold on Myron Rolle:
Overall: Spectacular is the word that comes to mind when evaluating Myron Rolle. This guy has the total package: size, speed, athleticism, toughness and versatility. He could be an impact player immediately at three different positions; running back, safety or cornerback. We project him as a corner or cover safety.
Micah Johnson is the only other Michigan recruit currently profiled.
At the very least, this will provide a third point of reference when attempting to determine who is all that at the end of the year. It'll be interesting to see if ESPN's opinion differs wildly with Scout and Rivals, who definitely seem more invested in making every kid seem like the next Jim Brown.
Update 8/12: Linked to Scout article header that asserts Michigan is in the top 3 for CA S/LB Jonas Mouton, removed PA TE Nate Byham(Pitt). Pitt is really cleaning up in PA this year. Added FL OL Jim Barrie, linked to free Superprep Taylor Mays article.
Editorial Opinion: Hell if I know on Mays. This is what he says on the three schools he's considering:
Washington: "I really respect coach Willingham," said Mays. "Washington is only 10 minutes from my house. My dad, Stafford, played nose guard there and his brother played for Washington too. But I don't feel any pressure from my dad to go there. We've been to a lot of Husky games, but he knows it's my decision and he doesn't hold any bias.
Michigan: "I really like the Big House at Michigan. My position and recruiting coach, Ron English, has been the coach that I've been closest to this whole process. I connect with him on a different level. He's really made more of an effort to get me than anyone.
USC: "At USC, you notice the level of competition, the coaching and the atmosphere that surrounds them," he said. "The atmosphere there is fast and the players are all working to be the best. Their practices are amazing. My aunt Barbara lives in L.A. too. I'm close with her and that would be a plus for me, but not a deciding factor."
Emphasis mine. That's an unusual and powerful statement for a recruit to make, but there's still that ominous silence looming over the Michigan recruitnik boards. Usually silence == bad news. So... I dunno. We'll see.
Ever have one of those Yosemite Sam moments where something you read just makes you go "OOOOOOOOHHHHHHH WHY I OUGHTA"? Yeah. Well, Terry Bowden's Big Ten preview for Yahoo Sports just made me jump up into the air, steam billowing out my ears, hands grasping for my humorously oversized hat. And it all started with this sentence:
OSU is a different team with Troy Smith at quarterback. He adds a dimension to the offense that opens up things for everybody else.
Oh, man. That's severely disconnected from what passes for reality at mgoblog. It also provides an opportunity for me to digress into
A Diatribe About Human Nature
Ernest Shazor was an All-American last year and a Thorpe finalist despite playing on a defense that utterly imploded its last four games. Pat Massey is coming in for a John Navarre-level bludgeoning from Michigan fans despite having essentially no role in the same defense's collapse. Some people think Troy Smith doesn't suck.
Why is this the case? Evolutionary psychology. For serious! Each of these players has had one high profile event (killing Dorien Bryant, not sacking Vince Young, playing Michigan, respectively) that seriously distorted everyone's perception of their abilities. Check it:
- Human perception is "probable and definite," as William James put it. That means that when your mind gets enough information to identify something, man, it goes for it. A congress of leaves in the jungle arranges itself in a sort of stripe-y, orange-and-black, tail-shaped fashion and OMG IT'S A TIGER!!! Conclusions are leapt to. Good for not getting eaten, but problematic when you're wrong with your conclusion and no further information is provided; you can never swing your probable to another definite.
- We are invested in being correct. So unbelievably so. Attend any political rally, or, I dunno, head over to any of the screamier political blogs, and you'll realize two things:
- I have to take a shower.
- This really isn't about believing in principles, it's about believing that I'm right.
Humanity's survival was always based on its ability to apply gathered knowledge. We are soft and pink and not particularly beweaponed. The reason we eat shark meat instead of the other way around is because we have brains that assimilate important information in one take--tigers eat people--and use that knowledge immediately. Any attack on our accumulated knowledge is met with outright hostility.
- We are naturally inclined to absorb information from others. When one person finds out that those damn tigers avoid certain red berries at all costs, that's good for everyone to know. We built hundreds of languages with thousands of words, devoting large sections of our mind to the ability to take information from one person and transfer it to another. There are trust issues involved, but humanity is naturally inclined to believe what it's told... as long as said humanity has no strongly held opinions that conflict with the subject at hand. Thus political screamy: strong opinions held. Thus the college football hype train: almost no data available. If Fiutak says it, it must be true.
These things are so deeply held to be true that we have cliches for all these things: better safe than sorry; make your first impression the best one; preaching to the choir.
Put those three tendencies together: we leap to conclusions based on little information. We don't change our minds easily. We are inclined to believe information passed to us, especially if it reinforces our previously held beliefs. The result is that when people are exposed to something new, highly unusual, and memorable it's nearly impossible to dislodge that impression no matter how much evidence to the contrary exists. And then these people communicate that impression to everyone around them as part of their desire to be seen as knowledgeable, those people repeat it to others, the first people have their ideas reinforced by others repeating what they said to others like a giant game of telephone, and the dreaded CONVENTIONAL WISDOM calcifies around the topic at hand, obscuring whatever the real situation is.
The end result is that one high-profile event colors all resultant thoughts regarding that topic because of the associative nature of memory. Shazor is the guy who disemboweled Dorien Bryant; he's a game changer, a playmaker, a safety with the rare ability to impact the game. No matter that Michigan gave up huge plays all year because its safeties were woefully unsafe. Pat Massey let Vince Young impossibly escape from a sure sack that probably would have won Michigan the Rose Bowl; he's a douchetard. No matter that he had 37 tackles and 5 sacks from the DE spot in a 3-4, was honorable mention All Big Ten, and was part of a very stout interior run defense.
And Troy Smith... well, let's look at Troy Smith. He detonated against Michigan. This (stolen from the upcoming Buckeye preview) is what happened against everyone else:
- Indiana: (Sucks.) Smith completes 12-24 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Also rushes for 53 yards. Ohio State wins 30-7.
- Penn State: Ohio State attempts a total of eight passes. They gain 202 yards and win 21-10 by returning a punt and interception for touchdowns and getting a 35 yard touchdown drive after a long kickoff return.
- Michigan State: Against one of the worst defenses in the country, Smith goes 13-21 for 138 yards, 58 of which came on a slant where MSU's very special secondary blew the angle on Ginn. His other 20 attempts netted 80 yards. OSU scored on a 17 yard Ginn reverse after a Damon Dowdell interception, a Ginn punt return, a 19-yard drive to get a 53-yard Nugent field goal, the Ginn slant, and a long touchdown run trying to run out the clock.
- Purdue: Smith completes less than 50% of his passes and throws three second-half interceptions. OSU loses 24-17, though Smith does lead two moderately long touchdown drives.
- Oklahoma State: Watches from bench.
You can make the case that Troy Smith was a net benefit against exactly two teams: Indiana, which is such an outlier in terms of team quality that it has absolutely no bearing on reality, and Michigan. In all other games he was somewhere between wretched and zombie death. Six months later, perception and momentum result in this idiocy from Bowden:
Quarterback Troy Smith's ability to run and throw accurately led the Buckeyes to three victories in their last four regular-season games, pumping new life into a stagnant Buckeye offense.
None of these things about Shazor, Massey, or Smith are true, but because it's really easy to see the technicolor iceberg tip that juts out of the sea of noise that is our modern, information-flooded world, people take the one piece of obvious information they have and extrapolate the hell out of it. Good for not getting eaten. Not good for college football analysis. Something that is indicated by one play or one game out of hundreds or dozens becomes the tiger tail, and we materialize the rest of the tiger out of thin air. Then when Tony proves himself to be paper indeed we marvel at the unpredictability of college football when we should be marvelling at the predictability of human nature.
WHAT YOU SHOULD TAKE AWAY FROM THIS POST: Troy Smith sucks.
Say hello. Also that's a foul.
Per Go Blue Wolverine.
Update: Sims is rated #39 by Rivals and their #12 small forward, though he'll probably be a power forward in college. Scout has him #37. He seems like a perfect fit for Amaker's motion offense (hold the cynicism for a moment), as he has offensive game from everywhere from the block to the three-point line, the perfect guy to operate in the high post. Sims may actually rise a little bit when the rankings get revised as he was impressive in recent AAU tournaments.
Important recruit? Absolutely. Michigan's highest rated since, uh... wow. Lavell probably. Also an in-state guy from Detroit who, in combination with Tory Jackson, will probably help recruit fellow '06 Michigan prospect Tom Herzog, a 7-foot center being compared to Chris Kaman and one of the few post recruits on Michigan's radar at the moment.
Also: Da Chairman at Prep Spotlight says that Tory Jackson has chosen Michigan(AR) and will announce it in September. Chair also provides the scoop on three UM targets in the '07 class:
WOTS is that Alex Legion will not pick an out-of-state school. Yes, there have been public statements about it, but WOTS it's also what is being discussed privately. At this point, not many would put money on Alex leaving the state. An earlier east coast trip may have had something to do with that...
And speaking of Kalin Lucas, WOTS is that he may trip to East Lansing this week to get a run in. Lucas is fastly becoming a regular at both MSU and U-M open gym runs, as he tripped to Ann Arbor last week. WOTS is that MSU and U-M are co-leaders for his services.
WOTS is that Trotwood, Ohio's super '07 athlete Chris Wright "really" likes U-M. While there are some in Ohio that are trying to keep him in-state, WOTS is that he's really feeling the U-M staff.
And let's get all the basketball in one coherent post: PrepSpotlight also has a nice free article on cause of mgoblog apprehension (and incoming freshman) Jerrett Smith.
The JJ Defcon Level has been raised to 4 over at Yost Built (you'll have to go to the main page to see the Defcon chart) because of this article in the (No City Given) News And Observer stating that Carolina has offered Johnson the rookie max (approximately $850,000). I still don't think that will change Johnson's opinion much. It was pretty much a given that Carolina was going to offer the max. After all, Johnson was the third pick in the draft, is the most hyped American defenseman in a long time, and was drafted by, you know, Carolina.
Still, it would be very Michigan Hockey Summer for Johnson to bolt now after all the articles we've gotten. Might send my martyr complex re: Michigan hockey to unhealthy(-ier) levels.
Oh boy! Nancy Clark is interviewed by EDSBS. I was going to excerpt, but I realized that I was just pulling the stuff that made her look uninformed [JOKE ABOUT GENERAL UNINFORMEDNESS PULLED FOR RESPECTABILITY'S SAKE]. Fanblogs notes that the accusations she levels against bloggers turn up zero hits in the major blog search engines. Ok. I am going to excerpt this, on Iowa:
OS: Tell me about the Iowa Hawkeyes this year.
NC: I was just at their media day on Monday. They'Â’re feeling really good about their running back situation after having five running backs going down last year. Not only do they have five guys coming back, they've added a few new guys. Coach Ferentz said he'Â’s not concerned about the position now that they have nine guys at running back. Plus they'Â’ve got Drew Tate back, which is a good thing.
A good example of the corrupting influence of access. No doubt Ferentz did say that. Is it true? That's the sort of thing every coach says going into the year, and it's accepted without question by those who have access and would like to maintain it. Clark actually touches on that subject, too, so she's aware of the limitations that come with the privileges afforded the MSM. Like I say, symbiosis, we all get along, etc.
Ok, ok, just to prove that I really don't care about this stuff, Forde and Maisel over at ESPN both tabbed the Big Ten as the nation's best conference this year. Don't care. The competition levels to be found in the ACC, SEC, Big Twelve, Pac Ten, and Big Ten are close enough so that the relative strength levels are irrelevant. This was not the case back in the days when the ACC was Florida State and a bunch of basketball schools.
Forde also has that article about how the Big Ten isn't just Michigan and Ohio State any more that I've been reading for the past ten years. Odds on this thing appearing next year? Like, 90%, anyone?
Is it on? Oh, it's on!
Jesus Effing Christ, do not piss Vijay at IBFC off. Because then he will destroy you. Stewart Mandel came in for a drubbing yesterday in this space but good God, if I had only known the tremendous bitchslap he was in for from IBFC, I wouldn't have bothered.
Elsewhere in the Wolverine-o-sphere, Blah Me To Death puts a percentage chance of victory on every Michigan game this year and comes up with 9-2. That's no fun, but it's always what happens when you try to do such an exercise. Perhaps a reminder that Lloyd Carr isn't so bad. Perhaps not, if you think the percentages are only low because of the coaching.
A group of Georgia football fans took up a collection to pay for a Boise State player's father to fly from Baghdad to see his son play against the Bulldogs in Athens.
But the NCAA rule book got in the way.
NCAA action... it's FAAANtastic!
Finally, Bruce Feldman's blog($) has gotten quite interesting in recent weeks. Clearly the guy knows his stuff. Witness his latest list, the top ten X-factors in the BCS title race. A player from Michigan checks in at #2:
2. Brandent Englemon, Michigan SS: I'm not sure there's any defensive position that's been more scrutinized over the past nine months. The reason is, for as much talent as the Wolverines have (in layman's terms I think it's called a "crapload"), they just got destroyed by mobile quarterbacks (see: Troy Smith and Vince Young) and gave up almost 400 rushing yards to Michigan State. Five-foot-11, 199-pound Englemon doesn't have anywhere near the size of his predecessor, Ernest Shazor, or the guy he's battling for the job, Jamar Adams, but he does run better than Shazor. I suspect Michigan will do some things schemewise to put its people in better position to make plays. I do think with the zone Young was in that day, he would've embarrassed a lot of defenses.
Wow. Now that's something I didn't expect a national media member to say. There's a lot more interesting stuff in his latest entry but since it's all premium content and stuff I'm pretty sure taking a chunk any bigger than I did is a no-no. Anyway. If it keeps up like it is right now it's probably worth 50% of the ESPN Insider subscription all by its lonesome.