Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
mgoblog, hockey edition
What, there's something else going on?
11/23/2007 - Michigan 3, Wisconsin 2 -12-1, 8-0 CCHA
11/24/2007 - Michigan 5, Minnesota 1 - 13-1, 8-0 CCHA
I hate Minnesota.
This is an unusual thing for anyone to hate. Minnesota is a nonentity in the big two collegiate sports. They haven't been to the Rose Bowl in 40 years. The only time their basketball program is any good is when they're cheating their asses off (ya, ya, glass houses, not relevant to the discussion). Maybe Wisconsin and Iowa have a real antipathy for the Gophers, but both rivalries seem built more on sweet trophies -- an axe and a pig -- than venom. Who doesn't want to win a huge ax? Or something called Floyd of Rosedale?
No, it's impossible to truly hate a school so limply sad that when you win the Big Ten at their stadium you can not only pull the goalposts down but haul them out onto the street. Outside of certain frigid enclaves, Minnesota is nothing.
But there is nothing that makes me want to throw a brick into a crowd of revelers than the goddamned Minnesota rouser. The reasons for this are obvious and obscure. The obvious bit:
The obscure, at least in terms of national significance: the first Michigan hockey game I watched was the national semifinal my freshman year of college. Michigan torched UNH 4-0. Two days later, Josh Langfeld wandered out from behind the boards and sort of tossed a puck between Scott Clemmensen's pads and Michigan was national champions. My vague September desire to maybe get hockey tickets had been quickly forgotten in the rush of Charles Woodson and company's national championship thrust; suddenly the decision to not get tickets seemed dumb indeed.
I rectified that the next year just in time for Minnesota to embark on a scorched earth campaign against Michigan. Suffice it to say that before Saturday, Minnesota had won six straight against Michigan and nine of eleven, several of them humiliating blowouts.
In 2003, Michigan made the Frozen Four in Buffalo, there drawing Minnesota. Buffalo being a relatively short jaunt through Canada for Michiganders, we went. (Side note: Canadians are exceedingly accommodating when you tell them you're driving five hours to watch some hockey. If you ever find yourself forced into drug smuggling by some tragic turn of events, just tell the border guard you're watching your cousin play in Lethbridge.)
Minnesota was good. They're usually good, but this edition of the Gophers was a real Death Star of a team: the defending national champions, WCHA double winners, and the tournament's top seed overall. Minnesota's national title run the year before had gone through Michigan, a painful 3-2 loss that was not nearly as close as it had looked. Freshman Thomas Vanek, now a ridiculously overpaid Buffalo Sabre, had 60 points, and the rest of the team was fast and talented.
But Michigan had beaten them 3-1 in the Showcase earlier that year, and dominated the first period. Just crushed them. Jason Ryznar and Eric Nystrom were crushing guys along the boards. Minnesota could not get possession and only a parade of saves and missed opportunities kept the score relatively close. It was 1-0 after one. The second period was the exact opposite, with Minnesota dominating play, until Jed Ortmeyer, god bless him, popped in a second goal and the final five minutes were even. A late Minnesota goal gave the Gophers life, but down 2-1 against an opponent that had beaten them earlier in the year and clearly was giving them all they could handle is not a good spot.
So it was with some disbelief that I listened to a wide array of Gopher fans chatting about the game during the second intermission, every one of them blithely assured that Minnesota would come out and roll over Michigan in the third. I have been around my share of frustratingly overconfident opposing fans -- wooo Ohio State! -- but nothing compares to Minnesota fans in Buffalo that day.
The third period was tightly contested. Minnesota tied it at the other end, but Michigan controlled much of the period. Achingly, Nystrom or Ryznar or someone knocked a puck through the Gopher goalie only to see it waved off, as the whistle had gone. Ryznar had a golden opportunity at an open net that a defenseman hacked off the line. Halfway through the first overtime, Vanek wandered out from behind the net and swept the puck at Al Montoya and it went through his pads and all I could think was "that was soft." We had a hotel room in Niagara Falls for the next couple nights. We left the next day.
Michigan hasn't been to the Frozen Four since and has only intermittently looked like a threat. Every year, Michigan would play Minnesota in the Showcase and prove that it was not national title caliber, then a parade of CCHA teams would get hopes up only for them to be dashed when
the big boys came calling.
Last year, Michigan was obliterated by the Gophers. The upperclass-laden team was basically the same group of guys who limped into the 2006 tournament with zero chance and got blown out by North Dakota. When Michigan drew Minnesota and North Dakota, the season was over. Even though Minnesota managed to blow it against Holy Cross (ha!), the season was indeed over.
This year, Michigan beat Minnesota raw. The shot count didn't reflect it, but the final score did. It doesn't really matter that the Gophers look decidedly un-vintage so far this year at 7-6-1. Michigan and Minnesota have played six periods this year and Michigan has owned five of them. They are streaking towards a real #1-#2 matchup against Miami later this year, and the malaise of the last couple years is gone, replaced with a bunch of freshman who reveal delightful new abilities -- look! backchecking! -- every game.
Everyone was waiting before making a declaration. Are they? Yes. They're for real.
Not that Emu. Highlights from the BTN:
More Penn State victorizing. This WolverineHistorian guy over at Youtube seems to be cataloging Michigan's win streak over Penn State one clip reel at at time. The current installment is 2000:
There is also a compilation of Michigan game-winning touchdowns over the years:
Miles, availability, etc. The occasional grumpy commenter who would like us all to prepare for the Brian Kelly era (which doesn't seem that bad an alternative) will drop in and assert that Les Miles will get a boatload of money dropped on him and will stay at LSU should he win -- or even just reach -- the national championship game. This NYT article that came out Friday implies otherwise heavily; this NYT blog post with fuller quotes from the principles of that article slathers it on even thicker. Former Oklahoma State player Sam Mayes:
He was never an Oklahoma State Cowboy, and I don't think that he's an L.S.U. Tiger right now. I think he's always going to be a Michigan man. I don't think he'll be content until he gets to that point. The way he would talk about Michigan and bring it up, 'When I was at Michigan.' Michigan this and that. It was like this golden fleece for him. I love my school, but with him it was something different. You had to see it. He'd say Michigan and get down on one knee. It was just crazy. People around here are joking that Les Miles has got Michigan colors on under his L.S.U. colors.
I'm sure some deranged Corn Nuts magnate can offer Miles his own effing Saban money, but I assume Michigan can and will make a competitive offer, and then we're into the whole "how many gold toilets do you need?" issue. Ben Wallace's answer was "all of them kthxbye"; Miles will probably say "just one, as long as it's Bo's."
Here's Miles' full quote about the Michigan job:
I don't want you to take the fast, hard line. I want you to hear me out.
I am indebted to that school and those people. Not Lloyd or the president there. But the tremendous memory of Bo Schembechler, and the quality that I was exposed to both academically and in football at the school. So I cannot in any way change that view. That's an honesty. I can't tell you my appreciation. My wife, my first born, my entire life is marked by my time at Michigan. Yet, I'm in a wonderful place here. I've got a great team. If I lose or have any distraction to that fact, that I would spend fun time, my time on something else like the view of that, would be a mistake. It would be a mistake and I really can't.
When I was a young coach, I had a school call me. It was so distracting. I did everything that I was supposed to do, but it affected me. Things like this really have no day-to-day change in the way I do things. I woke up at 4 a.m. today and I'm daydreaming, I'm not thinking about anything else but how to make this football team better. That to me is the right feel. I have great confidence in Michigan and they have a great staff there and they're going to do great things this year. I have no designs and nor has it ever been displayed to me that I'm the next guy, by anybody. I have given little or no thought to things that are not imminent. I really don't want to spend any more time talking about another program.
Lloyd Carr won a national championship and that staff is as quality as there is. I fully support what they're doing there.
Read from that what you will, but I have received multiple emails on this from people I trust: if Miles is offered the job he will take it.
Ashutosh has some thoughts on the Miles candidacy at What The Deuce:
Even with what Miles' has going for him, I still feel "eh" about him. I want to feel like Homer Simpson looking at a plate of bacon when the new hire is made/announced.
Mmmm baconcoach. That post went up Saturday... wonder if the needle has moved at all after the Florida game?
USA Today takes a look at said game and the fourth-down conversions therein. It slipped my mind in Sunday's post that one of the fourth-down attempts was a fake field goal; don't know if that changes the decision calculus any. It (obviously) worked, though.
Hot dog man. Missed this Daily article on the tube-meat-slinging cult hero of the student section:
As Michigan was beginning its comeback in Evanston, Ill. against Northwestern on Saturday, College of Engineering senior Jay Trzcinski walked to the front corner of the Michigan student section with an armful of hot dogs. At first, the crowd didn't recognize him, but soon murmurs began. Then the crowd started chanting "Hot Dog Man."
The rest of it is a depressing rehash of Michigan's attitude towards the stadium atmosphere ("anything fun is prohibited") compared to Northwestern's ("we are not crotchety"). Upshot:
He said he doesn't plan on throwing a hot dog anytime soon because he doesn't want a criminal charge and wants to be able to cheer on Michigan during the big games at the end of the season.
Hot Dog Man has been told his season tickets will be revoked if he throws any more tubed meats, which is preposterous. Maybe the administration's leeriness would have some merit if the hot dog tossing took place when the students were precariously perched on the seats, but at halftime everyone's sitting down. Les Miles would let the kid th
row hot dogs.
Wontario, defeated. Michigan opened up its 2007-2008 hockey season with a 5-1 exhibition win over Western Ontario that was somewhat dispiriting as these things go. Usually the final score of the exhibition is something like 8-2 and Michigan puts up like 60 shots to the opponent's 15; this game was 1-0 until a few minutes into the third when the floodgates opened. The Wolverine's Bob Miller has some impressions. Upshot:
This is going to be a very fun season for those who love developmental hockey. This Michigan team will have a solid core of players who should (no guarantees, of course) be four-year players and will be able develop naturally over time. No doubt, there will be some very frustrating games, but I can already see significant progress in most of the freshman from the first practice I attended 12 days ago. Very encouraging progress, in many cases. For those who demand lots of wins to enjoy the experience...well... you may have to decide if you can be patient through the inevitable growing pains.
Yikes. Some player-by-player breakdown follows. Personal opinions:
- Steve Kampfer still looks like the guy who got benched early last year. Lots of turnovers, occasionally turned inside out by Wontarians, still smallish. It remains a mystery how or why NHL teams thought he was worth drafting at all, let alone in the third round. Hopefully he comes around; I'm not seeing it.
- No offense to Scooter Vaughn, but God it's depressing to see #3 out there, think JMFJ(!!!) and then have it turn out to be anyone else. Similarly, the new #7, Chad Langlais, is exactly the same build as TJ except he plays defense. This is going to be a source of cognitive dissonance all year. They really shouldn't have issued thoes numbers until an appropriate mourning period had passed.
- Side note: Scooter Vaughn is a black guy from California named, obviously, "Scooter" who plays on the hockey team. Most unlikely Michigan athlete ever?
- None of the freshman jumped out like JMFJ or Hensick did when they were freshmen, but several of them showed flashes of talent. Matt Rust was compared to Andrew Ebbett by Miller, but the comparison in my head was Dwight Helminen. He has Helminen's wheels, faceoff ability, and backchecking prowess with a dash of offensive flair. Doubt he has Helminen's wicked snap shot, but his assist on Michigan's third goal -- a one-two-three tic-tac-toe job that was pure class -- was a beauty.
- Other guys I liked: Ben Winnett, a good combination of size and skill, Carl Hagelin, who probably didn't deserve a hat trick but was all over the ice, and Max Pacioretty.
- We're about to find out if Kevin Porter, top five scorer, was entirely a creation of TJ Hensick. Survey says: hell yes. He's still probably the team's best player, but is uninspiring as those go.
- One freshman defender I liked: the aforementioned Langlais. He's tiny and old (20 or 21 already, IIRC) but has some stickhandling and passing chops. Will be a fixture on the power play; reminds me of swashbuckling Eric Werner, who I loved.
- Sauer faced like one scoring chance. Goal was at the other end of the ice and I didn't get a good look, but it seemed like a goal-line scrum that ended up with him getting bumped by someone and then there was pointing and a red light. Not egregious. For that, see the Blue-White game.
Note: Banner above is the fine work of Fred Simmons. Given the ill fate of Baxter Allen's banner and the overarching awesomeness of Mike Hart, a change felt warranted. Thus ends the rotating bannerage. Blog: stabilized.
Presser News. Audio at The Wolverine. News: no Mitchell, Ciulla doubtful, MacAvoy likely to start. Savoy, temporarily off the team, has returned after his acquittal.
Corso's where it's at. If, by some chance, Hart runs for like 2000 yards and Michigan wins a bunch of games and Mike Hart wins the Heisman...
...it started with Corso and we should adopt him. (Is this going to happen? No.)
Carr embedded. Now on the tubes: Carr's Penn State postgame.
Schrodinger's awesome recruit. Do I overuse that metaphor? Maybe. But it's very apt in this case. Michigan has picked up a hockey verbal from Luke Moffat, a class of 2010 forward who is the slam-dunk #1 player in his class and very likely to be a top NHL draft pick. This guy is a Jack Johnson-level recruit. But NSFMF!
"I've just not made up my mind," says Moffatt, "the NCAA route is very exciting, but I'm going to take my time before making a decision."
And to Moffatt's credit, he admits that the school he commits to (that being Michigan), will know the situation right up front.
"Yes, they will know the drill, that it will be a commitment pending my decision to play either college or in the WHL. This will make things easier for me though. It will either be Kelowna, or (Michigan)."
So this is a quasi-commit. Moffat will be with the USNTDP this fall and may or may not show up in 2010 with an evil gleam in his eye. Here's an article from the Phoenix Coyotes' site (Moffat is originally from Phoenix, though he's playing for Detroit Honeybaked at the moment.)
No cheeseburgers in space! Varsity Blue highlighted this from the open thread comments:
Our space emmporer should start aiming for the corners.
Mike74 | 09.22.07 - 4:30 pm | #
There are no corners in space
KBlow | 09.22.07 - 4:31 pm | #
Awesome. Personally, I think our gunners should start doing something useful; Zoltan has been great.
This is the part where I pull at my tie in agitated fashion. Like that Billy Idol video. You know the one. Apparently, the open thread also contained some "helloooooo nurse" comments regarding the new, non soccer-mom-y uniforms in general and this upstanding young woman in particular:
Autumn Thunder compares this with last year's outfits; it's as lopsided as your typical Notre Dame game. A comment on that post says these might not be permanent:
Unfortunately, I've been informed that the unis we saw the last two weeks are "just for maize outs" ... perhaps given positive feedback, the thinking will change on this? Somebody e-mail the athletic dept / whomever runs the cheerleading program...
I maintain no opinion on this. You are all treating objects like women, man.
Uh... what? I can't find this on MLive to confirm this, but MVictors reports that Jim Carty reports thusly:
Let's say Michigan beats Penn State, Penn State beats Ohio State, and Ohio State beats Michigan. All three teams end up with one conference loss. In that scenario, the Lions win a tie-breaker over Michigan and Ohio State because those teams played I-AA opponents. That's right, playing a I-AA team can eliminate you from the Rose Bowl. It's a little-discussed Big Ten rule instituted prior to the 2006 season.
I find this impossible to believe, since this would be a huge change in the tiebreaker process that would basically preclude any Big Ten team that takes itself seriously from scheduling a I-AA opponent. The tiebreaker procedures haven't been updated since 2001 according to the Big Ten's website... anyone know details on this?
Update: article here. Still find this somewhat hard to believe.
Oy vey. Braves & Birds takes on the Lloydball win we just ground out:
Thus, Michigan got away with running almost exclusively on downs other than second and third and long. (Excluding its drive that started with 90 seconds to go in the first half and its kneel-down at the end of the game, Michigan had 34 first and tens in the game and threw on exactly eight of them. How Carr and Debord think it's a good idea to "protect" a true freshman quarterback by forcing him to throw mostly on obvious passing downs is beyond me.) Michigan also got away with forgoing the chance to kill the game off on its final offensive possession, mainly because Anthony Morelli is not a good quarterback and Penn State's offense is fairly easily defended.
I co-sign and will provide a fuller opinion in UFR.
Etc: Stadium and Main on the game; Adams is co-defensive player of the week. Dan Wetzel trashes the Big Ten and says Miles would be stupid to leave... didn't he write this exact article like two weeks ago?
We hates them. Thanks to commenter Peterklima, who reminded me of the existence of this fantastic youtube clip. You'll have to wade through some drunk WOOOOO but it's schadenfreude at its most concentrated:
Henne? Lloyd says he's practicing somewhat sorta:
"Chad took some snaps (Tuesday)," Carr said. "I don't know at this point what it looks like for him. I want to watch him again today. We'll just take it day to day and see what happens."
So that's encouraging, but David Jones says this is pure smokescreen:
As for Henne, Carr confirmed Monday what I reported here last week -- the injury is a sprained right knee. It had been obliquely referred to by U-M as a "lower leg injury" until Monday.
Carr also made noises as if Henne could play Saturday. Anything is possible, but I think it's a smokescreen. I've been told the injury was diagnosed as a "grade 2" sprain, which includes partial tearing of ligament tissue and some instability of the joint, with a normal recovery period of at least four weeks.
Though I don't know why Jones -- who covers Penn State -- of all people would have super-secret detailed information on Henne's injury, given Carr's previous reticence to discuss the status of his players I'm with him. This seems like gamesmanship to me.
Hockey on the BTN. Some details in the Star Tribune on the BTN's hockey schedule:
The Big Ten Network's lack of carriage on the three major cable systems in Minnesota could have an impact on Gophers hockey fans. The team's television schedule was released Thursday and, while FSN North will carry 32 regular-season games, five more games will air exclusively on the Big Ten Network.
This includes a Feb. 22 game against Wisconsin at Mariucci Arena. Also included on that list are Nov. 23 at Michigan State; Nov. 24 at Michigan; Jan. 11 against St. Cloud State; and Feb. 8 at Denver. The first two will be carried on a delayed basis.
The Big Ten Network will have a total of 13 men's hockey games.
One assumption we can make: since the Minnesota-MSU game on the 23rd is on tape delay, Michigan's other Showcase game against Wisconsin is also on the BTN. What else would they delay it for?
Etc.: I walked by these guys after the ND game; RBUAS; the Daily reviews every game during the streak; Maize 'n' Blue Matters jumps aboard the "laugh at NDNation" bandwagon (suggestion: white background)
Visual evidence. Baxter Allen -- winner of the ill-fated banner contest -- sends along an artists rendition of yesterday's "M as dinosaur" flight of fancy:
It is I. Interviewed at The Big Picture, if you have interest in that sort of thing.
Hockey approacheth. Yost Built has the first inklings of a great season preview with profiles of defensemen Steve Kampfer and Chris Summers. One crab: I disagree on Kampfer's importance level, which he pegs a 7 out of 10. To me, Kampfer is the biggest swing guy on the team. Yost Built rightly notes Kampfer's extremely generous defending last year and his measly +3 plus-minus are at odds with his mid-rounds NHL draft selection, something noted here as far out, man, when it first became apparent Kampfer was something other than an undrafted free agent. If he can play up to his draft position we're likely to have two solid pairings (I assume at least one of the freshmen will show up ready to play, probably 2006 third-round pick Kevin Quick). If he dishes out enough turnovers to satisfy Charlie Weis, we're in trouble.
Also: Josh Blackburn, last seen yielding a goal on an unscreened slap shot from just inside the blueline, has been "hired" as a volunteer assistant coach to help out Billy Sauer's mental game. This is the exact equivalent of hiring Ron Powlus to coach Jimmah(!).
Maybe this is why the suck? NKOTB Shooting Blue takes a look at the 2004 recruiting class -- now juniors and redshirt sophomores -- and finds a total dearth of defensive contributors. These are the guys who are contributing in any way:
- starting DT Terrance Taylor
- Nickelback Brandon Harrison.
Yuck. (If you want to count Marques Slocum in this class, it's likely he contributes something eventually, but not now.) The rest of the defenders:
- OLB Chris McLaurin: moved to TE.
- DE Eugene Germany: knucklehead. Off team.
- DE James McKinney: transfer to Louisville after undisclosed medical issue.
- CB Chris Richards: booted in aftermath of St Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre.
- CB Johnny Sears: booted for
never covering anyonefailing a drug test.
Mmm, that's ugly.
Pile on. Even Buckeyes are getting into the Notre Dame hate. Ramzy at Bucknuts has a column that proves it's not just Michigan fans that love the Nation:
NDNation, the greatest form of online amusement that doesn't offer any nudity or cash prizes, was shut down to the unregistered public for the entire Michigan game. This was probably done preemptively to keep the millions of Irish haters from polluting their otherwise bat-feces crazy discourse with ironic jest like, "Your an idiot". Since the game ended, the board has been non-stop jack-knifed semi-truck on the edge of a cliff entertainment.
Bon mots and zingers abound.
MAD MONEY. Not Jim Cramer, but equally bats is this guy who attempts to link Michigan's crappy start to... Michigan's crappy economy. No. Seriously:
-Lack of Innovation
A wonderful memory of mine is the 1972 Rose Bowl, when underdog Stanford kicked a last-second field goal to beat top-ranked Michigan 13-12. What made the upset delicious was the complaint of Michigan fans that Stanford didn't play "real football"--i.e., Stanford passed the ball. The Michigan economy is locked into an old-world combination of union labor and high taxes--and pays the price.
The sucky part is that even though this man is obviously insane he has a point.
Brains imbue humor! JoePa's Michigan press conference is kind of awesome:
A lot has been made of the losing streak to Michigan, now at eight. When the players are asked a question, obviously they can't go back that far. You obviously have been there for all eight. Is there something about Michigan that just makes Penn State tighten up?
Well, the first time I coached against Fielding Yost (1901-23, '25-26), it was tough (laughter).
Every year's a little different one. We've had some good luck and bad luck. No, Michigan's a good, solid football team. Playing at Michigan is a lot of fun. It's a great crowd, and I think you ought to enjoy it. I don't look at it the way maybe some other people do.
Lloyd Carr said that Chad Henne may come back this week. How do you prepare for two quarterbacks, especially with the kid, Ryan Mallett, who has made one start and is 250 pounds?
[WTF does Mallett weight have to do with anything? lolmsm. -ed] I don't think you do that. I think you've got to realize what kind of a football team Michigan has. Mike Hart, the wideouts we just talked about, a very, very fine offensive line, are the things that you worry about. Henne at quarterback, has experience and everything else and has played well against us, and is a good quarterback.
Now, whether he's not playing or the other kid's going to play, I think you got to be careful about that. For all I know, they could put Hart as quarterback. Put him in an empty backfield, shotgun, like everybody else is in the country is doing these days. All of a sudden you have a whole different ballgame on your hands.
This is the first Michigan game that you've played since Bp Schembechler died. What was his legacy and how did he improve Michigan football and help the Big Ten?
I never coached against Bo. I can tell a story about Bo calling me up after we were in (invited to join) the Big Ten. He said, "You sneaky little son of a..."
I said, "What are you talking about, Bo? He said, "you sneaked in there and the athletic directors and coaches never had a vote because it was all presidents."
I said, "Bo, nobody sneaked in. " He started screaming and ranting. I started screaming and ranting at him. I liked Bo. Bo is the kind of guy you had to like. You know where he's coming from, no hypocritical statements. He never pontificated, said some things. I always had a lot of fun with him.
ver coached against him. I think you have to figure that he and Woody Hayes, at a stage of the Big Ten, probably dominated a lot of things. I've said this before, you guys get tired of hearing me say it, I think when Joe Tiller came into the league with a little different type of offense, that people say he can't do that here. I never forget the quote Joe Tiller made when they said about throwing the football. He said, "Don't you think it snows in Wyoming?"
I think then it started to change. This league's got a lot of great young coaches. The kid at Wisconsin (Bret Bielema). Ron Zook is going to make Illinois really good. Kirk Ferentz...I could go down the list.
I think Bo and Woody dominated the thing for a while. I think right now there's so many darn good young coaches. I think the league's got a little different personality than it did when maybe Bo and Woody were running the show. I'm not sure, because I wasn't in the league when they were running it.
Actual newsbits: projected starting DT Abe Koroma is still out. Jon Shaw will miss the game and true freshman Steven Wisnewski will take his spot. Wisnewski was a moderately shirtless recruit that Michigan also went after. Austin Scott has already fumbled four times and will split time with kick returner Rodney Kinlaw. And PSU plans on going full bore "eff you, try to stop this, oops you did let's punt" mode:
You mentioned Clark earlier. With the problems Michigan has had with mobile quarterbacks this season, is there any plan for potentially any place for him to try to take advantage of his mobility?
Michigan had a little problem with the mobile quarterback at Oregon, but that wasn't their big problem. Their problem was they spread them out so much, they couldn't do some things they like to do defensively because the kid could throw the ball.
No, we're going to play our game. We're going out to Ann Arbor and find out just how good are we. We're going to play them our game. I'm sure Lloyd will be in the same way with his guys. They're going to play their game and let's see what happens.
So bully for that.
Are we done? Now? How about now? Now? Now?.... no. We are not done piling on Notre Dame. Vijay has awakened from long slumber in recent weeks and has put together a Charlie Weis fact sheet analagous to the Ty Willingham Fact Sheet NDNation put together in their quest to
keep the black man down return to glory. It is glorious. Selected excerpts:
Notre Dame is currently on a 5 game losing streak, their first since late 1985, early 1986.
The whole thing is highly recommended.
Etc.: South Bend Tribune article on Scott Driesbach; Pickin' On The Big Ten; the MZone checks out the latest Russell Crowe movie; BTN review; the Cal student newspaper so knows they're losing Tedford at year's end and is lashing out at anyone they can find.
Game of the Century of the Year. We had a #1-#2 matchup last year that didn't work out so well. If voters see fit to place Michigan #2 to start the year, we'll have another: Appalachian State is #1 in I-AA. Slightly higher probability we come out on the right end of this one.
Meme of irritation. As mentioned over the weekend, the Michigan-ND series is taking a break in 2012. The exact quote that contains all knowledge about this AFAIK:
White said the Fighting Irish will take a short break from their Big 10 rivals in the future, replacing Michigan with Oklahoma for a two-year period, then facing Arizona State instead of Michigan State for two years.
It's explicitly two years and with a direct replacement. But this Irish fan in the comments says:
To back up ChrisND, supposedly UM wanted ND to play in the Big House two years in a row to shift to having ND at home and OSU away/ND away and OSU at home each year. The same thing could have been accomplished by playing two years in a row at ND, but that was not discussed. One thing as well, as this would have the same effect on ND with the UM and USC games (similar to UM's case). I enjoy playing UM, despite the recent blowouts in recent history, the series is relatively balanced over recent history. (NOTE: THIS IS NOT A CALL FOR SEVERAL FOLLOW UP POSTS RECALLING HISTORY FROM THE 1800s).
Chris Wilson also has this version of the story:
And here's MGo's rather comprehensive PSU preview, although there's little mention of the Wolverines basically forcing the Irish to drop them by asking for two straight games in the Big House.
The more insecure portions of the Irish blogosphere are repeating this ad nauseam as further proof that Michigan is the root of all galactic evil. I call BS. If ND was willing to accommodate Michigan's request to split the ND/OSU home-road rotation, the simplest solution is to take a single year off and then resume the series as before. Demanding two consecutive home games makes no the sense.
Where is this coming from? Does anyone have a link to someone reporting this or is it just a face-saving fantasy based on that old Bill Martin interview in which he said "we want to keep playing Notre Dame" and Notre Dame fans immediately assumed that meant we were going to back out of the series as fast as possible? The meme is spreading rapidly through the ND internet population and is poised to be an annoying urban -- er, rural Indiana legend as the series break nears.
Also, you can file this under "easily predictable": Kyle King flips out and renews his push for a Georgia-Michigan series. I would be up for that. Also, if Alabama's looking for a high profile opponent at around the same time...
Red quotes. I don't remember where I got these; apologies to whoever I stole them from. Probably WCH. Anyway, a couple weeks ago CSTV had some NHL draft-related articles that quoted Red. Red on goalies:
"You rarely find a 19- or 20-year old goalie playing in the NHL, whereas you will find the odd 18- or 19-year old forward," said Michigan head coach Red Berenson, who's seen Wolverine goaltenders Steve Shields and Marty Turco make it to the NHL since he took the reins at his alma mater in 1984. "The forwards, you can get away with their mistakes, and play them when they're younger. Defensemen, their mistakes are more important, and it takes them longer, and goalies' mistakes are critical. Look around the history of the NHL and find me a rookie goalie who's 18 or 19 years old who's on a winning team."
He maintains his longstanding opposition to early-entry:
Berenson's thoughts on that sort of development plan for a goalie don't differ much from his long-held views on skaters signing early when they aren't NHL-ready.
"Are you ready, as a college player, to give up your senior year to play in the American League?" Berenson asked. "If you are, then you're thinking differently than I am. If I were a goalie, I'd go to college, and I'd stay for four years, and I would get as ready as I can for pro hockey, but even then, I would expect I might have to play a year or two in the minors."
Elliot Olshansky also has this incendiary quote on his, um, slog(?):
"The NHL [teams] are becoming the biggest enemies of college hockey," Berenson said. "They're afraid of losing players that they draft, so they're signing them early whether they're ready or not. They're saying that they're going to take over the development - which the NHL hasn't necessarily been good at - but they're going to take over the development of these young players."
Rules and such. Also from a couple weeks ago was a whole bevy of potential rules changes coming down the pike for college hockey. Yost Built has summaries and opinion. In brief:
- A two-ref, one-linesman system starting in '08. Wha? Weird. Unless they're planning on slapping orange bands on several linesmen I don't know that college hockey has enough referees. I mean... there are referees out there but they're the sort of referees who would get fired from the never-ever league. See: Scott Hoberg.
- The elimination of ties starting in '08. Overtime would get modified to make scoring more likely in the extra session, possibly extended to ten minutes, and then a shootout would follow. I'm indifferent to this.
- They're thinking about changing the handpass rule but don't know how yet.
- The addition of an "embellishing" penalty that's supposed to be called concurrently with an opponent penalty; a dive should now only be called on its own. Won't have much effect on the game but will prevent my head from imploding when the dive-obstruction duo is called.
Yost Built, as mentioned, has more.
(Side note: Yost Built also offhandedly mentions that the NHL is implementing a new rule: all faceoffs come from one of the nine faceoff dots. This is an excellent change that gets rid of those silly faceoffs just inside the offensive zone that when "won" instantly put everyone offsides and force a dump-in. It also provides one fewer thing for the referees to track. College should follow suit.)
More Adidas. Since the shoe company is probably going to get a lot more mention amongst Michigan fans please note that it's not "adidas" even if the company refers to itself as that. It is a proper noun and should be presented as such. END angry grammar man section.
So, here's Nike with an offer they say would be the highest contract they have in college sports, and I'm still concerned, because these are long-term deals. How ever I set this up is going to impact this place for a long, long time. The long and short of it is, we were very fortunate with our timing. Adidas was hungry to have a major college bra
nd and they laser focused on us. If you look at their strategy, they take one or two schools in every conference, and that's it, whereas Nike tries to saturate the country with all schools. (Adidas) has Tennessee, Notre Dame, UCLA and Wisconsin. Everybody has said Notre Dame has the richest Adidas contract, but you can't get it, because it's a private institution. I know this contract exceeds it.
I'll name some of the unique features in this contract. There is a $6.5 million signing bonus. There is never a signing bonus. We're going to get it in two weeks. What am I going to use it for? I have to finish up this facility stuff and get Crisler going. If I had any spare bucks, it'd go into endowing scholarships. It's pretty simple.
We've got an annual (Consumer Price Index) escalator. Annual.
We got a most favored program clause. There's never going to be an Adidas school that gets a nickel more than us, either in product or money.
But wait, there's more:
The other thing we received is that ... you know, markets go in cycles. Eight years from now, who knows what the situation is going to be economically. The market may be way below where it is now. I've seen that happen in my business career. Well, guess what? We have the option to extend. It's no lose. If the market's gone up, we negotiate a new deal. If the market's gone down, we say we like this deal and we'll keep it another five years.
A sweet deal all around for Michigan. Whenever you sign a contract and one of your main rivals' message boards has a week-long conniption fit over it, you have done well.
There's some stuff about Crisler in there and then a discussion of this month's looming issue:
Q: You talked about Big Ten revenue. Are you concerned about the rough waters the Big Ten Network finds itself in? (The new network is struggling to get picked up by major cable operators in the Midwest)
Martin: We anticipated this. Jim Delany counseled us on this a year ago. Fox counseled us on this. Do I think it will get resolved? Sure I do. One way or another, we'll get it resolved. I feel very good about it. Long term, it's going to be tremendous, and I'm not thinking in terms of the money, I thinking about exposure.
We want it on basic (cable). We don't want it on a premium sports tier. The Golf Channel, Versus, they're on basic. What we're going to provide is much more exciting to our state and region.
Q: Are you prepared for a flood of angry e-mails if some football games aren't on the local cable outlet this fall because a deal hasn't been reached?
Martin: Join the list (laughs). I don't fret about that stuff. We'll be fine. This is exciting, what's happening in the Big Ten with that channel.
Q: Are you concerned it's become a public fight?
Martin: I don't like seeing it. I don't.
Negotiations with Dish Network do not appear to be going well. Their parent company has petitioned the FCC to get the BTN declared a "Regional Sports Network." Apparently there is some sort of arbitration process that RSNs go through with satellite providers or something. Argument:
EchoStar claimed that after three months of negotiations, it has been unable to strike a carriage deal with Big Ten Network "due to its insistence on unreasonable terms, including rates that are far above market, and its demand for nationwide carriage on EchoStar's basic tier."
The No. 2 direct-broadcast satellite provider claimed that Big Ten Network is trying to position itself as a national network, not an RSN, so that it can "evade the RSN classification so that it will not be subject to the arbitration provisions" of the News Corp.-Hughes order, which only applies to RSNs.
"Although the Big Ten Network has held itself out as a national network, its programming, pricing structure and other aspects of its business model are consistent with an RSN, not with a national network," EchoStar said in its filing.
"In particular, the pricing and packaging structure proposed by the Big Ten Network is comparable to that of a traditional RSN and bears little relation to the greatly reduced pricing structure of existing national college-sports-based networks, e.g. CSTV and ESPNU," the filing said.
The BTN counters by saying that it only wants the widely-cited $1.10 figure for subscribers in the BTN footprint and is asking less than a tenth of that for everyone else. Do we have an expert in the peanut gallery who can provide more detail on this? I'm not sure what all the implications are here.
The Hoosier Report also points out this Q&A with a Time-Warner exec from the same cable/satellite industry publication:
MCN: At this point, as you're looking at both of those networks, do you see them as being sports-tiered networks in terms of their value? You mentioned that you're not getting complaints with the NFL Network, but the Big Ten's a little different. You have systems that represent markets where Big Ten schools are and there might be a great desire among those subscribers [to be able to watch] that network.
BW: Well, I think that, again, it's a real assessment as to what we think the value is that the content brings to our consumers. There's no question that there are fans of the NFL, hockey, the Big Ten, tennis â€” there are fans of every sport you can find.
I think striking the right balance is the question. Of course, we're in the business of providing video content, so the most compelling offering is going to be able to offer our consumers everything they could possibly want. If bandwidth were unlimited, we would do that at the right price, and let the right people pay for it that want to pay for it.
So I think that â€” particularly for sports programming where they're looking for high payoff â€” we have to be responsible about figuring out who's going to pay for that. And I don't think that that burden should be borne by the breadth of customers.
Particularly, the Big Ten is an interesting one only because they've kind of cast themselves in a hybrid of a regional sports network and a national service. But you'd probably be hard-pressed to find a regional sports network with an eight-state core market. But we're still evaluating, and we have an open door with respect to every programmer who wants to do business we us, so we're talking to them and evaluating, and trying to determine where our customer sets are.
More BTN later today.
Etc.: Maize 'n' Brew previews the hell out of Oregon.