in town for free camps
MGoStore currently has three bouncing baby shirts for your perusal and acquisition. They are all about the basketball team's win over Northwestern.
For the US Mint enthusiasts (click images to be magically transported to a world of goods and sundries):
For the Simpsons enthusiasts:
BARWWWWWIIIIIIIS. Never in the history of a football program has a fanbase been more geeked about a S&C coach than Michigan fans about Mike Barwis. Heck, this blog put the guy on a par with Rodriguez's offensive and defensive coordinators during the battle over various Rodriguez assistants. Mike Barwis thinks Chuck Norris is a girl. Mike Barwis can't tell the difference between Woody Allen and Bill Brasky. Etc.
These are reasons why:
But Barwis always finds time to reach each player on a personal level. He is a brother to some, father to other, priest to those who need some spiritual guidance and warden, if necessary.
It is difficult to imagine what it is like to be cooped up in a weight room with Barwis, who is hard as granite and wound so tight that he literally can't take a break from his routine. If you think you get a jolt out of 5-Hour Energy Drink, get yourself a transfusion of Barwis' blood, if you can get him to lie still on a table long enough to part with it.
The rest of the article is a pretty remarkable story about Barwis' relationship with Pacman Jones, he of the making it rain and year-long NFL suspension. Jones -- maybe the NFL most infamous misbehaver -- started his career at WVU in the fashion you might expect: beating some dude with a pool cue. Enter Barwis, then a new hire:
Upon arriving, Barwis adopted Jones as his own personal project, and the two grew extremely close.
It was tough love, to be sure, but Barwis became the male figure in Jones' college life that he had always lacked in the real world.
One example of the way Barwis treated Jones could be found in his sophomore season when he was late for a weight-lifting session. Barwis gave an angry glare, shoved a 40-pound sandbag to him to work with and, when he was breathing hard, sent him off running around Mountaineer Field.
"He thought it was OK to be late, so I always made him pay tenfold," Barwis told ESPN last year. "After awhile, you get disciplined."
Whatever Barwis did worked, for Jones remained trouble free at WVU until leaving for the NFL, a first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans.
From there you know the story; a number of the hits when you type "mike.barwis eeeee i'm a little girl for mike.barwis" into Google are stories about Pacman's misbehavior in the pros. Barwis usually attempts to defend the guy as a decent person in the wrong crowd. This might be unremarkable, but the mere fact that he's the guy media folks get in touch with instead of his position coach or Rodriguez speaks to the role he has in these kids' lives.
Clap back. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski picks up the torch on Jay Bilas and his obsession with Tommy Amaker's firing, and he's got backup:
It was one thing for ESPN's Jay Bilas to keep defending Tommy Amaker's brutal run as coach at Michigan, but another to start going after his successor, John Beilein, for being honest about the pitiful program left him in Ann Arbor.
The more Bilas shills for Amaker, the more people in basketball laugh at him.
Unlike Amaker, Beilein never had the ultimate coaching godfather to pick up the phone and get him a job. [OH SNAP -ed]
"C'mon Jay, that is terrible," an NBA scout who watched Amaker's team regularly in the Big Ten emailed me this week after reading Bilas' blog rant.
"Almost laughable, really."
Jay, this is your credibility. I'm dyin' here.
Light 'em up. Varsity Blue takes issue with a dumb article that appeared in the Free Press urging Terrelle Pryor to go to Ohio State, and I was going to give it a once-over, too, but the author of that piece explained himself to VB like so:
You should know that I was asked by the Freep Web editor to write that column as a counterpoint to the why-Pryor-should-go-to-Michigan column that ran on the site a few days earlier. I reckon that if the site editors properly packaged them as a point-counterpoint, the vitriol would have been reduced a little. Instead, people think I wrote that on my own initiative, which isn't true in the least.
Anyway, I regret doing it for several reasons. First, I'm not a columnist. I'm a copy editor. In hindsight, to ask a copy editor to write a column during a 30-minute break in his "normal" shift was unfair. It prevented me from putting sufficient thought into my points and crafting them into a suitable fashion. I admit that the column, as it ran, was shallow. Oh, well. I won't make such a mistake in the future.
The Free Press web editor was going for cheap hits and Janke got to privilege of being the stool pigeon. Depressing that this stuff must work -- otherwise how could a useless sack of negativity like Drew Sharp keep his job? -- but this is just another example why newspaper sports sections are bound to suck at opinion. One: the article as posted lacked a significant disclaimer. Janke was not identified as a fervent OSU fan who went to State. Two: it was directed to be written no matter the merit behind it. Three: a half-hour window was allotted for it. As long as the bottom line is attention today, attention tomorrow will continue to bleed as more and more people get fed up with idiocy passing as opinion.
The end result of the editor-enforced Pryor article was to make me wonder if this bit on third-string quarterback Robbie Schoenhoft's transfer...
With Schoenhoft gone, the Buckeyes look closer to capitalizing on Ohio State coach Jim Tressel's promise to design the offense around a dual-threat quarterback, much like he did for former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith.
...was intentionally left in to foster controversy. Schoenhoft's transfer signals only one thing: big-time schools probably shouldn't offer pocket passers who complete 37% of their passes in high school no matter how many Nazis the kid can throw a football through. Schoenhoft's departure means as much to Terrelle Pryor as the status of Michigan's David Cone.
This guy's gonna feel stupid if there's a decommit. Uh...
If you want a hand-painted Sam McGuffie action figure.... well, you're out of luck since the auction ended Sunday. But if you just want to marvel at the internet, go right ahead.
Slaton's out. This might be standard justification for departure stuff, but Steve Slaton simultaneously gave the departing WVU coaching staff high praise and a bit of a middle finger:
Yesterday afternoon, Carl Slaton, Steve's father, told the Daily News that the family is hearing from NFL people that Steve is being projected as a second-round selection. But, Carl said, "the NFL draft is a crapshoot."
Carl said it was not an easy decision, but, in the end, "it was pushed on him with [WVU coach Rich] Rodriguez leav
ing [for Michigan] and taking the whole coaching staff."
According to Steve, the departure of offensive coordinator/running backs coach Calvin Magee had the biggest impact on his decision. Magee will become Rodriguez' offensive coordinator at Michigan.
"More than anything else it's that [Magee] also left the program," Steve said. "He taught me so much of what I needed to know, and he wasn't finished, and he would have taught me the rest. It wouldn't have been the same under someone else."
Hey, remember when we used to beat Ohio State? 1988, courtesy of Wolverine Historian:
There is also this remarkable home video from an unidentified 1959 game:
I wish our current cheerleaders did more goofy stuff like that.
Etc.: Remarkable story with Bill McCartney's old Rose Bowl ring at MVictors; Michigan will be playing faster next year; eeeebarwis; Yost Built on the WMU sweep; the Daily's Scott Bell has a good Rodriguez column.
This conclusion was forgone but not official:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Mario Manningham confirmed Monday he will skip his senior season at Michigan to enter the NFL draft.
"It was a hard decision, but after discussing it with my family it was the right one for me to make right now," Manningham said in an interview with The Associated Press while driving home to Ohio. "I've heard I will be drafted in the first round because of the lack of depth at wide receiver."
Let us remember the good times:
I well what uh okay.
A recruiting addendum left out of this morning's post by oversight: a number of commits are taking visits elsewhere. TX RB Sam McGuffie was at A&M last weekend. PA FB Christian Wilson was at UNC. NJ LB Marcus Witherspoon was at Tennessee. JB Fitzgerald was supposed to visit Michigan State but apparently did not. How serious is the threat posed here? Depends on who you ask and whom you ask it about. McGuffie doesn't seem like a serious threat to leave since Michigan retained Fred Jackson, and Fitzgerald didn't even take the trip he was supposed to.
Witherspoon and Wilson are tougher to read, though. Witherspoon's coach thinks this is no big deal:
Walsh said Michigan is still Witherspoon's top choice. "He's just exploring other options," Walsh said.
"Other options" include six coaches, including ones from Penn State and USC to go along with Tennessee, slated to visit Witherspoon's school this week. Witherspoon himself is saying things that are less positive, though those quotes remain locked behind paywalls. Wilson's got another trip set up for BC and seem concerned about his role in the Rodriguez offense. Probably 50-50 with both at the moment.
So with a couple linebackers wavering, a surprise commit from Cardinal Mooney linebacker Taylor Hill would be a nice bonus. This remains unconfirmed at the moment, but mods over at Recruiting Planet are usually reliable about these things, especially when it comes to Ohio. RP is an offshoot of Buckeye Planet. Scout is now listing Hill as a Michigan commit.
Hill is a low four-star top 250 type to Rivals (Scout gives him three stars) who committed to Oklahoma over LSU in the summer, then had the misfortune to switch his commitment to WVU two days before Rodriguez took the Michigan job.
You might think that a couple early offers from the likes of Oklahoma and LSU would warrant a higher rating than Hill's currently sporting, but a quick glance at the Pitt combine numbers listed on his Scout page clear that up: 6-2, 190, 5.00 40 yard dash. The 40 isn't that big a deal. Camp 40s are notoriously unreliable and difficult to compare to other times and places. Plus , a 5.00 has to be the result of an injury or some freak occurrence. 190-pound guys who run a five second forty don't get recruited by D-I schools, let alone Oklahoma and LSU. But "190" is kind of a red flag, especially since the kid plays DE at Mooney and will have to switch positions in college. There's a lot of projection here -- he has to get bigger, much bigger, he didn't run that well in the limited time gurus saw him, and he's switching positions -- thus the lowish ratings for a kid with some impressive offers.
Rich Rodriguez has had little opportunity to prove himself at Michigan, as is usually the case a month after your hiring, but he obviously has a few things down. Score-O is not one of them:
Working a crowd, however, is. Rodriguez and most of the staff traded their box seats for spots in the student section to watch Michigan demolish WMU 6-1. The rewards were an incessant stream of "Rich Rod-ri-guez" cheers, one second-intermission "Beat the Buckeyes" (no pressure), and an extended "We Want Pryor." Excitement hung in the air. In January.
Then there is this from new S&C demon Mike Barwis:
For a certain sort of Michigan football fan this is the equivalent of shooting heroin into your eyeballs. Barwis appears to have missed an opportunity to be a professional wrestler: he's got an unparalleled gravelly voice, a catchphrase and finishing move ("the bottom line"), and enough muscle to cave in the side of a Pinto. (Another member of the staff also missed his calling inside the squared circle.) He's also a diplomat and a gentleman judging from his responses to questions about Michigan's existing system and Ryan Mundy.
Reading between the lines on the Mundy response yields this: Mundy was a great kid and a dedicated worker but had no idea what he was in for despite going through four years in Michigan's system. He got his ass kicked, improved, but never quite caught up to the guys Barwis got as freshmen.
Reading between the lines about Michigan's current system: lol, 1970.
Jim Carty flagged down Steve Morrison, who coached with new defensive coordinator Steve Shafer at Western Michigan:
Q: What's Michigan getting here in Scott Shafer?
Morrison: The thing that jumps to my mind is passion. He has so much energy. And it's genuine. He has the ability to inspire people. He's a passionate guy who gives 110 percent. He's fun to be around and fun to work with, that's for sure.
Michigan was old and backwards and clunky and staid in 2007; now they are not. Youth is the order of the day on and off the field. QB coach Rod Smith is 35*. WR coach Tony Dews is 34. OL coach Greg Frey is 35. Secondary coach Tony Gibson is 37. LB coach Jay Hopson is 40. DL coach Bruce Tall is 48. OC Calvin Magee is 44. DC Scott Shafer is 41. At the collegiate level coaching is the domain of old men, but only Carr holdover Fred Jackson (57) cracks 50; most of the current staff isn't anywhere near it. They haven't won anything, and they're looking to be Rodriguez someday. They have nothing but the future.
The total makeover in the program's attitude happened overnight -- on New Year's Eve, it appears -- and many are still getting used to the idea. There is fretting about our long string of NFL QBs coming to an end, the lack of internal hires on Rodriguez's staff, the immediate future of a program that counts 7-5 as an end-of-the-world type of season, the continuation of a tradition unbroken over 40 years.
These are all valid concerns. They are also the sort of talk that would cause Mike Barwis to eat your soul and crap it out as a little doll to follow you around, berating you about how you could lift that car if you weren't such an irredeemable knob.
*(Some ages approximate, as I can't find DOBs for many of these guys and am going by college graduation years; they might be off but by no more than a year or two.)
For a long time it seemed like Michigan was three-quarters of the way up a cliff, looking down. "Hang on" was the mantra of the day, be it to old methods or fourth-quarter leads or Michigan's place in the assemblage of climbers. Rich Rodriguez seems the type to look up, grab Ohio State's leg and throw them down into the mucky-muck, and get ten points for climbing The Wall -- that's worth a five-second bonus for the Eliminator, Kyle.
And it's about damn time.
Robinson didn't play his junior year because of a transfer and is the teammate of Texas commit DeSean Hales, who makes kids in Texas 5A look like befuddled D-class New York kids trying to tackle Mike Hart, so he was under the radar until recently. He's a low four-star to Rivals who was down to Wake Forest and BC before Michigan called him with an offer. Amongst a sea of Hales highlights there is a nice Robinson touchdown run at the end of this clip reel. He's #7:
Robinson seems a terrific fit for the Rodriguez spread, which Klein Oak also runs. You can see he's playing QB in the clips above, but he spends some of his time as a slot receiver and running back. Amongst all the OMG Hales stuff he digs out a wounded duck in this game recap. (There's also an interview with him.)
And this might be surprising given the recruiting ratings and the clips above, but it was Robinson, not Hales, who took home the Klein Area Player of the Year Award:
When we featured Klein Oak wideout DeShaun Hales on the cover of our 2007 high school football preview section, we suggested that the University of Texas signee would be one of the brightest stars in district 16-5A.
Little did we know, Hales would end up having competition to be called the best player on his own roster. But that is how it turned out.
The Klein Sun has named Klein Oak quarterback Terrence Robinson as our 2007 Player of the Year, among the four schools that we primarily cover: Oak, Forest, Collins and Klein.
"Any award is a big award, so to win the Klein Sun Player of the Year, I have really been blessed," Robinson said. "I put in a lot of hard work, and never gave up on the season."
After transferring to Klein Oak from Spring HS and having to sit out all of 2006, Robinson led the 2007 Panthers to a 10-2 overall record, a top district seed in the Division II Class 5A playoffs, and a post-season victory over College Park. Unfortunately, his dreams of leading the Panthers towards a state championship were cut short in a second-round loss to Leander.
"We were extremely motivated and confident coming into the year," said Robinson, who rushed for a district-leading 1,672 yards and 20 touchdowns. "So any time you lose and don't reach your goals, you always leave believing that there was something you could have done better."
This Houston Chronicle article says he's leaning to Wake Forest, but it was written before Michigan got involved.
FL QB Justin Feagin is a dual-threat QB/athlete who was believed to be leaning towards WVU before Rodriguez departed; Michigan is now taking up the chase. Though he had a dynamite year, finishing third in Florida's Mr. Football voting, it was at a very small school and the recruiting sites are down on him. Rivals only gives him two stars. He might fit in with a potential Pryor commit, as his ranking isn't going to scare anyone and he could move to a number of different positions. Miami's actually recruiting him as a corner.
Sunshine Preps has video for perusal.
PA WR Vaughn Carraway has been a fixture around these parts since very early in the recruiting year; Carraway got an early offer and has listed Michigan as his leader since. The staff turnover might do something to disrupt that, but as of December his top three schools were Michigan, Pitt, and... West Virginia. He still plans a trip later this month; he just visited Pitt.
Oh, and That Pryor Guy. The above-linked articles are MOTS for anyone who's followed this kid's story: likely choosing between Michigan and Ohio State, made of light, like Michael Vick without severe emotional issues. This one says in the subhed that Pryor's "first choice seems to be Michigan" but doesn't follow that up with anything substantive other than this...
Michigan is believed to be his top choice, considering that former West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez recently was given the Wolverines' job. Pryor wants to play in a spread offense similar to the one Rodriguez employed with Pat White and the Mountaineers.
...and that's phrased in a highly speculative manner. The Wolverine's Josh Helmholdt in the Free Press:
What are Michigan's chances of landing him? I've been down there with him and, at this point, you can't really put an accurate chance on whether he will sign with Michigan because he's got to take an official visit up to Michigan yet. That is going to be key. I get a sense that he is really, really excited about the opportunity at Michigan. He's told me as much. ... I have very strong confidence after talking with him, after talking with other recruits down there that spoke with him, that he is going to make a decision between Ohio State and Michigan.
Duane Long of Bucknuts.com:
Duane Long, recruiting analyst for Bucknuts.com, also followed the race for Pryor closely, and he believes OSU will ultimately prevail.
"Until one of my contacts tells me he's not going to be coming this way, I'm of the opinion he's going to be a Buckeye," Long said.
"Fans had better buckle themselves in," he added. "There's no chance he makes a decision before signing day, but I still think that decision will be Ohio State."
Ohio State insiders remain uniformly confident, but it seems most impartial observers guess it will be Michigan, with an emphasis on "guess." This will be a tense three weeks.
"Scheme is overrated, I've always believed that," Shafer said. "What's not overrated is getting your kids to play with great effort, great attitude and great enthusiasm. Those are things we can control on a daily basis, and that will be my primary goal. ... The philosophy of our defense is attack-oriented, attack and react. We want to be a defense this is multiple, that is always putting pressure and forcing the hand of the offense. We want to be a penetrating defense.
"If you're going to (ask) what our objectives are? The one thing we want to do is stop the run, force them to throw the ball on first down, create negative plays on first down ... and get ourselves in position to force them to throw the ball. Get them one-dimensional. We don't want to be a defense that sits back. We want to be a defense that creates turnovers and scores touchdowns. Lead the conference in sacks, interceptions and defensive scores. That's how it's always been everywhere I've coached and how it will be at Michigan."
Hey... this guy is going to run an aggressive, in-your-face defense, just like every defensive coordinator ever. I suppose there is a difference here in that Shafer has the numbers to back it up: always better against the run, tons of sacks, strong evidence his corners should wear asbestos pads.
Scott Shafer, late of Stanford, is the new defensive coordinator. Coaching assignments on the D-side of the ball as follows:
Rodriguez has designated defensive coaching assignments as follows: Scott Shafer (defensive coordinator), Tony Gibson (assistant head coach/secondary), Jay Hopson (linebackers) and Bruce Tall (defensive line).
Informative update coming.
Update: Shafer's name didn't ring a bell until I saw Western Michigan on his bio. Then I was like "heyyyy... I know that guy!" Check it:
[New Stanford coach Jim] Harbaugh had never spoken to Scott Shafer when he pulled up last year's NCAA statistics on the Web. But he knew what he was looking for. Harbaugh wanted to lure a coordinator from one of the top-rated defenses.
There, at No. 11, was Harbaugh's man.
Last year, Shafer's defense at Western Michigan was ranked 11th overall, sixth against the run and first in sacks and interceptions.
When Shafer arrived two years earlier, the Mid-American Conference school was much like Stanford is now - coming off a one-win season and ranked at the bottom of nearly all defensive statistics.
"Every program he has been involved with has been a rebuild," Harbaugh said. "I just felt like you don't have to know a guy to hire him. You spend 365 days with him, you're going to be best friends after a year."
Shafer's the guy Harbaugh hired on eHarmony! I wonder if Rodriguez has met him. Presumably the answer is yes.
Anyway, Shafer's got an extensive track record as a DC. Prior to his hiring at Stanford he was Western's DC in '05 and '06, Illinois' DB coach in '04 (yikes!), and Northern Illinois' defensive coordinator from '00 to '03, and spent four years as NIU's DBs coach before that.
Statistics and whatnot:
(Caveats: the "previously" column is not available for NIU, as the NCAA's online statistics only go back to 2000. Sacks were not tracked before 2006. Also please note that Schafer's 2005 was skewed by a 5 OT game against Ball State. (Not to excuse said D for sucking pretty hard.) Also keep in mind that MAC teams usually play at least a couple games against way more talented foes and rarely end up particularly high in the rankings.)
Amongst a sea of rather modest returns one thing stands out: holy crap does this guy like to blitz. A year after leading WMU to the most sacks in the country, he took Stanford from 111th to 11th. Other trends: the rush defense is usually better than the pass defense, sometimes significantly, and the defenses usually improve as he stays on. I guess. It's hard to tell. While his first years at Western and Stanford were abysmal, you can't blame him given the even more abysmal results his predecessor left him, and Western's turnaround in year two is impressive.
The NIU record may tell us more, as the Huskies were decent (5-6) the year before his ascension and remained decent after. His results there are decent to good given the talent level available and NIU's regularly murderous non-conference schedule: BCS teams most of the time with a rare gimme in the days before you could get away with a I-AA team every freakin' year. It's worth noting that Shafer's final year at NIU was their apex, the 10-2 season where they beat Maryland and Alabama to open the year. Maryland would finish 10-3 and sport the #27 scoring offense (#28 in yardage); NIU held them to 13 points. Alabama was much crappier at 4-9 but NIU held them to 16 points, fewer than any team save LSU and Oklahoma. Those two would meet in the (sorta) national championship game at year's end.
Yeah, NIU got shredded in losses to Toledo (with Bruce Gradkowski, so understandable) and Bowling Green (with Josh Harris and Urban Meyer -- this was the year the MAC was really freakin' good), but those teams would finish #19 and #3, respectively, in total offense.
So... I dunno. kind of a flier on a guy who put in an impressive reclamation job at Western and had a decent run at NIU, but not exactly Jon Tenuta. Bonuses: he's from Ohio, has a ton of experience in the Midwest, and he's almost unbelievably young (41) for a guy who's been DC at three different schools. Also, one of his kids is named "Wolfgang." Also also, as you can see above, he kind of looks like a Bond villain. Also also also, Jim Harbaugh's gotta be pissed.
From deep within the bowels of the Michigan athletic department comes this critical piece of knowledge. I hesitate to report this in case winged-helmet-clad ninjas burst into my home and riddle me with throwing stars, but I do what I must...
Rich Rodriguez is playing Score-O at the hockey game against Western tonight.
WOTS is he has or will practice sometime today. I don't know if he'll be wearing a hat or not; my spies are looking into it.