At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
Site note: UFRs will be Wednesday/Thursday going forward; every year I suggest they will be Tuesday/Wednesday and am forcibly disabused of this idea the firs week. Also, I miss Joel A. Morgan’s cartoons and am accepting submissions for random inclusion into UFR. It’s like the New Yorker: you submit stuff and sometimes I post it when it strikes my fancy. Except I don’t pay you.
O Do Not Forsake Me. Jerry Green is officially one thousand years old:
Michigan opened its celebrated anti-tradition era with its heavily publicized modern-style offense looking as though it were conducting a fire drill.
By that, I mean helter-skelter, willy-nilly and putt-putt!
Glabdanged frozzmatozz put that in your pipe and smoke it boy howdy I got an Indian nickel lets get a phosphate at the druggist this qualifies as a sentence in a major newspaper these days.
Later, Green uses “newfangled” without a hint of irony:
So what's different, other than this newfangled offense that made Rodriguez such a coveted football coach?
Well, it's now tradition-be-damned at Michigan!
I didn’t even know you could do that. I also didn’t know you could use exclamation points helter-skelter, willy-nilly, and putt-putt!
Green is a weird mix of Grandpa Simpson and T. Herman Zweibel; the above-linked column is a must-read if only for its antiquated strangeness. I mean:
On the sideline, Threet and David Cone and then the replaced Sheridan wigwagged the signals to the quarterback of the moment. Assistant coaches in headsets, connected by wire to play-callers up above, translated the plays into the code for the semaphore artists.
These things are newfangled: wigwagging(?), connecting things to other things by telegraph, and signaling plays into the sideline. Also newfangled: the horseless carriage, fire, and the atmosphere. Don’t get proper views of the night sky anymore with all that nitrogen in the way back in my day we had proper views and also we were prokaryotes someone bring me my cranberry juice.
Green circa 2.5 billion years ago
The invaluable Smart Football might be posting at a more regular rate, and lets hope so, because…
When Rodriguez got to Tulane with Tommy Bowden they threw the ball over the place, but (a) it was in Conference USA, (b) they were excellent at the 3-step passing game, but defenses are better at defending against those passes now than they were a decade ago, and (c) his downfield passing game left something to be desired. And in the years since, it's not that Rodriguez is at heart a running guy, it's just that was what worked and it masked some of the passing game deficiencies. When I study the route combinations, they do not appear to be designed conceptually, and instead are a kind of grab-bag of a few routes here or there. You don't see his schemes organized of horizontal, vertical, and triangle stretches.
…this is about the most interesting thing anyone’s said about him since he was hired at Michigan.
Now, Rodriguez's saving grace is I've seen him in action, and he's an excellent fundamentals coach and is a great teacher. And I think he understands all these things - I mean the guy did exploit the zone-read spread stuff before anyone else - but hasn't had the chance to reexamine his offense with such a critical eye. This season, to be successful, I believe he will have to.
Being successful this season will rest less on the pass routes and more on reducing the overall Yakety Sax vibe, IMO, but down the road this will be something to look out for. Click the link for what Smart Football means by “conceptual” pass routes.
This worked out. The “Victors Walk” was a neat addition to a football Saturday:
A ton of schools do this for good reason; glad to see we’re amongst them. I hope the former letterwinners are included in the walk when Michigan does the thing where they bring back a bunch of old dudes for the Tunnel Of History.
Perception is a weird thing. Dr. Saturday, nee SMQ, on the defense:
If there's anything good to take away for the Wolverines, it's that the defense, overall, lived up to its hype. Brian Johnson shredded it for 260 yards and a couple touchdowns in the first half -- he only topped 260 yards in an entire game once in '07 -- but if you were too distracted by the offensive horrifics on the other side to notice, the Utes' second half production amounted to two first downs and six total yards. If not for the towering leg of Kicking-and-Punting Messiah Louis Sakoda, who hammered home the eventual winning margin on a 54-yarder after the Utes went three-and-out from the Michigan 40, it would have been a shut out. It was dominating, anyway, and there's some promise in that. Just some, though, not enough to raise expectations beyond the Champs Sports Bowl.
I don’t see how you can just dismiss the shredding handed out, as it’s clear evidence of a glaring weakness in the linebacker corps and something between inexperience and Cato June at safety. The overall performance graded out to “slightly disappointing,” as you’d hope Michigan scoring 23 points would be enough for victory. It would have been if not for that little kicker guy, but only just.
The second half was very encouraging and it’s better to have Michigan suddenly get its act together late—hopefully that straight 4-3 we saw against the spread is permanently junked—than come out storming and fall apart; I am still a bit leery of the unit. Notre Dame will be interesting.
Meanwhile, an even more mystifying reaction: “Michigan needs to get creative”:
As the fans howled, Odoms gained three yards. No cloud of dust could be spotted from the press box, but it might as well have been there.
As far as creativity went, the first play was about as good as it got for Michigan on Saturday. So were the results.
To call the Wolverines' offense vanilla would be an insult to the term. Rodriguez came to Michigan as an offensive innovator, but his playbook might as well as been a pamphlet against Utah.
?!?!?!? Martavious Odoms is a tiny freshman slot receiver who received a shovel pass counter on the first play of the game. About the only thing that could have been less Lloyd Carr would have been a double-reverse trick pass. And I submit there’s a limited amount of creativity you can install into a gameplan when you have no quarterbacks who have ever taken a college snap, one returning OL starter, and freshmen everywhere at the skill positions. Rodriguez was busy getting them to run the right way and was only 90% successful at that. And there was a fair bit of creativity: the attempts to get Utah leaping offsides, the option here and there, the shocking lack of bubble screens
Etc.: Braves & Birds weighs in; Varsity Blue breaks the numbers down a bit; the WLA is cranky at you, not the team; Carty is like the only guy who doesn’t have a “Don’t leap to conclusions BUT” paragraph; MVictors has the circle of death, plus a picture of a dejected Scott Shafer
By multiple, persistent request. Some time back the Hoover Street Rag pled for assistance, asking if anyone out in MGoBlog land had a copy of "The Victors" by a jazz singer named Pat Suzuki. Several people offered versions of this weird piece of Michigan apocrypha, the HSR's request was met, and I got a file containing the audio. At the time, however, the laptop's soundcard was on the fritz and I had no idea what was actually in my possession.
One thankfully persistent reader, however, has not let it drop. It turns out that the item in question is surreal. Its closest analogue in my experience is Marylin Monroe's infamous rendition of "Happy Birthday" directed at JFK; both are utterly transformative. And weird. And were undoubtedly undertaken in cocktail dresses.
Seriously. I was pretty annoyed by Josh Jarboe's sudden dismissal from Oklahoma for -- gasp! -- rapping, more annoyed when I read Bob Stoops' pre-dismissal quote to the effect of "sticks and stones," and just plain angry when the bitter old men at the Oklahoman smarmily applauded the about-face. So I wrote something to that effect.
I probably wouldn't have bothered, though, if I knew that SMQ was going to kick off his final week of amateur wordsmithery by dropping a bomb on the Typical White Middle-Aged Sportswriter villians referenced above:
Was it "the Internet culture" that asked him to act swiftly, with the full weight of his position? Every Day Should Be Saturday, the most widely-read college football blog on the Web, linked to the video with no call for discipline. The very mainstream-leaning Wizard of Odds, which broke the video's existence and posted the version that drew tens of thousands of hits last week, made no call for discipline. None called Jarboe a "thug" or described his freestyle efforts as "jabber." Who, then, is Stoops actually frustrated with?
The finger points squarely at the old men who don't understand the internet but feel free to blame it for all ills, real or imagined.
Maybe they need someone to degrade them. West Virginia has leapt up the Fulmer Cup scoreboard with a series of crimes spectacular and petty:
- Three players are caught with felonious, drug-dealing amounts of weed.
- Noel Devine and four other players got in a nightclub fight.
- Charles Pugh pulls a Kevin Quick and goes on a stolen credit-card spree.
- Evan Rodriguez beats up a girl.
- Kendall Washington breaks into a home, steals some stuff, and shoots a guy. He wasn't actually on the team at the time, FWIW.
When I initially noted this apparrent explosion of bad behavior, Washington was believed to still be on the team and his nine points brought the 'Eers into a tie for the lead. It turns out he was dismissed after spring practice. The points go away but this is a kid who had some major issues in high school; Rodriguez pursued and acquired him.
So, like... WTF? As I've noted before, West Virginia was not a big mover in the first couple years of the Fulmer Cup, scoring nine points total. Michigan racked up 15 points, all of them coming last year when Lloyd Carr's retirement was impending. Driven by the realities of recruiting players to West Virginia, Rodriguez brought in his fair share of... uh... characters but he largely kept them in check. Even Pacman Jones had but one incident, that as a freshman. From there on he was off the police blotter.
"Coach Stew" -- West Virginia fans are constitutionally incapable of using their coach's full last name -- has not had similar fortune. Why?
It's tough to scare the hell out of your players when you're obviously thinking "I can't believe I'm a Division I head coach. How much are they playing me? I get a whistle!"
I foresee this ending badly.
(Sidenote: in searching for Stewart pictures I came across this engineering dork LOL page:
Fatal error: Call to undefined function: graceful_fail() in /web2/dmblogs/docs/wp-content/blogs.php on line 77
Back to the future. Wolverine Historian has assembled Rick Leach highlights for your edification.
Site note: I've added the Depth Chart by Class to the "useful stuff" navigation item and updated it to reflect the current situation.
Ladies. Hello. We would like to talk to you. No, we don't ever take these off.
Can anyone ID these gents? The guy on the left looks a little like Boren, but AFAIK the only guy on the team with dreads is Martavious Odoms, a freshman who never crossed paths with the family values maven. Don't bother with the one on the right, who's obviously John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever.
I read this thing called SEOmoz, which is a horribly named but quite good blog on search engine optimization and related things. Before Friday, if you had asked me what the chances are I'd ever mention it in this space I would have told you "zero point zero," but I'm wrong:
Fluent Simplicity compiled a list of brands who are on Twitter. The list is pretty comprehensive and is broken down into sector. It's interesting to see which major companies have a Twitter account. (I was especially amused to see that Michigan State has one. I imagine their tweets to consist of either "won the game. students rioting" or "lost the game. students rioting.")
Etiquette advice from a caveman. A couple people have emailed noting that newspapers have used quotes from the response to "my question" about tight ends from media day. It's really nice that there are people out there who act as defenders of the MGoFaith, but the question was asked in an open forum with a dozen people listening. Responses in that situation are fair game, as if it was a press confernece. It's not like I had an exclusive interview with Rodriguez or anything.
Also, Angelique Chengelis is really nice, continually got information no one else did during the Carr era, and helped Johnny land the Carr interview that features in Hail To The Victors 2008; she's the last media person anyone should be criticizing.
Yes, your math's wrong. By request of Dennis Dodd, who titles his latest blog post "please someone tell me my math is wrong": your math is wrong. This is your math:
According to my math (always a dicey proposition but hang with me, it's only a blog [SCREW YOU GOLLUM -ed]), the average college team ran 72 plays per game last season. Fine, great. The average NFL team ran 62.76 plays per game. That's with the 40/25 rule. That's also a difference of 9.14 plays per game. Multiplied by two teams thats more than 18 plays per game difference. ...
It looks to me like the NCAA rules committee is about to bastardize the game like it did two years ago when its misguided timing rules slashed something like 13 plays per game. The rules were adjusted last season and once again we had reasonable college football.
Your math completely ignores the biggest timing difference between college football and the NFL: on a first down, the clock stops until the chains are set and the ball is ready for play. This takes somewhere between 10 and 15 seconds -- looks like 12 is a good average -- and last year the average Big Ten game had 40.6 first downs. Approximately eight minutes runs of an NFL game clock that does not run off an NCAA game clock because of this rule change, which means a college game is 15% longer than an NFL game because of this rule's effect*. 72 is 115% of 62.76: virtually the entire difference the length of pro and college games is explained here.
Also, during the bastardized clock season you wrote an article proclaiming the Return of Defense, citing an amazing 10% decrease in scoring offense in a year when games were 10% shorter. You should probably not write things about the game clock.
Games will probably be a bit shorter because out of bounds plays will now have the clock wound after the ball is marked ready for play; the effect will be considerably smaller than 2005.
*(I think. I'm not sure whether I should be dividing 60 by 52 or 68 by 60. Statistician help? The latter would be 13%, FWIW.)
Coin. More dollars for the program:
The University of Michigan became the latest elite college athletic program to sell off a package of its media rights, bringing in $86 million through a 12-year deal with IMG College.
The deal, which runs through June 2020, marks the first time Michigan has bundled all of its media rights into one package and marks the continuation of a trend where colleges are hiring companies, such as IMG College, to maximize revenue from those rights.
That's about $7.2 million per year on top of the reported $5-7 million they're making from the Big Ten Network. Since Florida just signed over a similar suite of rights (that is: all the stuff Michigan is signing over to IMG plus the TV rights to everything except most football and some basketball games) to the same company for $10 million per, that seems like a pretty good deal. And it's not going to compromise Michigan stadium's zealous purity:
Throughout the negotiations, IMG College had to convince the school that it would protect the integrity of the game-day experience inside Michigan Stadium, known as "The Big House."
"We can increase the revenue and value of corporate sponsorships by doing things outside the stadium," Stultz said. "The more we talked about that, the more excited they got about it."
Etc.: Michigan is running a video countdown to the season; they're super fluffy but where else can you see images of guys doing hang cleans to rawkin' 80s guitar solos? Don't answer that question. Soon-to-be-ex AJC sportswriter Tony Barnhart has Auburn spread junkie Tony Franklin give key bullet points on why it, like 80s guitar solos, rawks. (Sidenote: the problem with newspapers offering voluntary buyouts is that often the guys with options -- the ones who aren't reprehensible -- say "okay" and the Terence Moores of the world cling to the lifeboat.) The Hoosier Report has old video of a 50s-era Michigan-IU game. The stands, they are not so full.
Ohhhhh. Reader Alton finally reveals the key change in the rules that has caused coaches nationwide to dream about high octane no-huddle attacks:
New NCAA Rule 2-4:
"A dead ball is ready for play when:
a. With the 40-second play clock running, an official places the ball at an inbounds mark or between the inbounds marks and steps away to his position.
b. With the play clock set at 25 seconds, the referee sounds his whistle and either signals to start the game clock or signals that the ball is ready for play"
2-4b is, helpfully, the existing rule and 2-4a is the new rule in effect when the 40-second play clock is. So there is a hypothetical window in which you can snap the ball under the new rule -- ball is down and umpire is moving -- that you couldn't under the old rule. So maybe there is something to the seemingly inexplicable meme. We'll see this fall.
Side note: my main issue with the new clock rules is how confusing they are. The clock's like this unless it's late in the half, at which point it's completely different. Any time you're implementing a rule and feel the need to not implement it at a certain point in the game, you should probably reconsider.
Ehhhhh? The preseason coaches poll just came out and Michigan is #24. Weird, but #24 before the bowls will probably be 8-4 and I kinda think they'll be 8-4, so not too weird. Other teams of note:
- #3 Ohio State
- #12 Wisconsin
- #19 Illinois
- #22 Penn State
- Receiving Votes: Utah (#28), Michigan State, Notre Dame
Uhhhhh. Ohio State DT Doug Worthington picked up a DUI a few days ago. Kevin Grady's ability to drive(-ish) at a blood alcohol level that would put most people in a coma prevents the throwing of stones from this particularly glass house, but is this a little fishy?
Police also say Worthington's Cadillac Escalade had license plates that were registered to another vehicle.
I don't want to be one of those guys who goes around calling Ohio State "O$U lol," but there's an obvious parallel to Maurice Clarett and the Exceptionally Generous Columbus Car Dealer here. It could be nothing, but it could be the jenga block that topples Ohio State's nefarious empire! Moooohahahaha!
Or, uh... it could just warrant some followup. Which no doubt the Dispatch will get right on.
Brahhhhh! Yes, the still got me to post this brief video of a Michigan State coed informing us that RICKS WOO RAWKS:
Oops. This video is stuck on autoplay and thus pure evil. Link here.
Remember that when Michigan State fans launch into soliloquies about the totally awesome poon available on campus, this sort of person is what they're talking about. The only thing I'd touch her bits with is a geiger counter.
And we're done with that conceit.
Context, please. There's a big article in The Sporting News about Justin Boren. In it, he makes Rodriguez-like promises that he'll "let it all out" after he's done and blah and blah and blah. I don't care much anymore; it's not like I'm going to be thinking "boy I hope we beat Ohio State" this fall because of some guy on the bench. But they done dragged me into this:
As it stands now, Boren remains a favorite target on Michigan message boards, with threads labeled: "Attn, NFL: Justin Boren Is A Quitter Who Could Not Handle The System" or "Justin Boren deserves doom and unmitigated failure."
The first "thread" on "Michigan message boards" is actually a post from this blog back in March. The very first words of that post: "Not really." They were even bolded. Michael Bradley, the author of the piece, literally did not read two words of the post. The second "thread" is also a blog post from March, this from "The Errant Yachtsman" At press time said blog is averaging four hits per day and has racked up a total of 1,676 visits; this link has a good chance of doubling that number. (Bradley's projected age: 104.)
Bradley's evidence that Boren "remains" a favorite target on Michigan "message boards": two four-month-old blog posts, one read solely by the author's mother, the other specifically disclaiming the sarcastic headline in the first two words.
And for the record, yes, Michigan fans are well within their rights to think the Borens are dicks. Reason: they've been dicks. Boren not only decided to transfer to Ohio State, but launched an unprovoked attack on the program on his way out that every coach from sea to shining sea will use as negative recruiting ammunition until Rich Rodriguez leaves. Rodriguez, for his part, had said nothing except "Justin Boren has decided to leave the program."
Bradley completely glosses over this in his article, choosing instead to focus on the destination of his departure instead of the nature of it.
(Sidenote: the only thing of interest is a confirmation of the internet rumor that Boren skipped stuff to go plow with Dad: "Boren missed only one Columbus "snow event" while he was at Michigan and that was because he was sick." No doubt Rodriguez put an end to that practice, and that's the source of at least some of the animosity.)
And, finally, the last word on 'Bama. Reserve offensive lineman Patrick Crump has left the team because his "heart wasn't in it," and I kind of have to say something again, I guess, even though it's just going to be the same thing again. Fortunately, the WLA's got it covered:
While Alabama fans want to rationalize the size, scope, and masturbatory practicality of this attrition away, the fact remains that there is and should be some skepticism around Overlord Saban. He knowingly over-signed recruits. He needed to lose a significant number of scholarships. On the cusp of fall practice, he loses exactly that number. Boom. I'm not stupid and I'm not a virgin; coincidences like this don't just happen.
Or, at least, they defy probability. It's incredibly convenient that Saban lost just enough players to fit his entire class in, and IMO the likelihood all the departures were voluntary (excepting the Johns/Elder felony departures, of course) hovers around 0%. That's all. You know what I think, you know what Bama bloggers think, and no one's changing their minds. I'll let it lie now.
Etc.: Rambling, gambling, call-blowin' Big Ten referee Steven Pamon is fired; Darius Morris is committing today, and everyone's fired up; there are no CPU sliders in Madden. Someone please fire Tiburon; VB looks at Rodriguez's first, difficult year at West Virginia.
7/25/2008 - Dienhart 1, MGoBlog 0 - Pwned
So I'm sitting in the "media workroom" here at Big Ten Media days after the two hour-period this morning when all the coaches and players sit at different tables and answer questions posted by print and radio media. Some guy in his late twenties with close-cropped hair sat at the next table, prompting the bearded old hand next to me to ask: "totally overwhelmed yet?"
"Not really," he responded.
"Just so much information" was the reply, and then the old hand lapsed into thoughtful silence.
These are the fruits of my labors, the sum total of information I have to bring to you based on my penetrating questions that I envisioned would stun the people I questioned into mute appreciation of my knowledge before offering clear, concise descriptions of exactly what I wanted to know:
"I'm not going to tell you."
"I'm not going to answer that question."
"We strive for balance."
Other people did manage to get off queries that were answered interestingly, but very few. For a prolonged period, I sat at the table Rich Rodriguez was condemned to and tried to get one of the above-mentioned Penetrating Questions in but was constantly cut off by two adversaries I began referring to in my head (and notes) as Enormous Forehead Guy and Smarmy Young Journo, who would leap in at the perfect moment with a question of incredible uselessness like "who do you think has more pressure on them, the players or the coaches?" and then nod sagely as Rodriguez spun out his answer. In this case: "it's equal" was followed by few meandering sentences that served to completely rebuke the very idea of the question in the politest way possible.
This did not occur to the adversaries. I am communing with football, Enormous Forehead appeared to think. This is great stuff. SYJ looked on very seriously indeed, as if Rodriguez's answer to this purposeless question was a papal edict on an ethical matter of exceeding complexity. The force at which my eyes rolled back into my head threatened whiplash; fortunately everyone was fixated on Rodriguez and my lack of professionalism went unremarked upon. (And what better way to get away with it than post it on your blog? Mooohahaha!)
It was at this point my tolerance snapped. I'd like to say I stood and gave a thunderous edict that completely changed journalism forever. I didn't. Instead I typed this into my notes:
"who has more pressure, the players or the coaches?" I WANT TO DIE. I AM SITTING TWO FEET FROM RICH RODRIGUEZ AND CAN'T GET A QUESTION IN AND MORONS OF MORONLAND ARE MORONING MY TIME AWAY FUUUUUUCK
I was stressed! I felt much better, though.
It was at this point that Tom Dienhart, who I've considered a dolt ever since he penned a really awful column that chastized an imaginary avatar of Michigan fandom he dubbed "Boy Blue" or "Blue Boy" or something like that, [turns out it was "Big Blue Boy" -- even worse -ed] asked a simple question about how Scott Shafer came to the attention of Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez said "hey, Tom," shook Deinhart's hand, commented negatively upon his Spartan green Rivals.com polo, and spoke. Thus spake the pope (the following is a paraphrase, not a quote):
I first looked into Scott when he was at I was at West Virginia and we were playing Maryland; Shafer was at Northern Illinois when they beat Maryland and Alabama, which is a big accomplishment when you're Northern Illinois. It wasn't necessarily just the schemes but how hard and aggressive they played. Then I saw what he did at Stanford, beating USC. He's a good fit for what we want to do.
This is pretty interesting, and it led into an entertaining anecdote about Shafer talking to his wife Missy, who asked "you aren't going to be changing jobs again, are you?" (Shafer had, at this point, been at three schools in four years.) Shafer downplayed the idea, headed off to a coaching convention, and immediately got a phone call from Rich Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, I'm just sitting around fuming. My notes before the paraphrase above: "Scott Shafer. Dienhart just asks my question." I have been owned.
Why am I here? Have I gotten anything useful out of this at all, or would my time have been better spent in the Batcave (read: mother's basement) pounding out a preview of Minnesota or something? I have absolutely no better handle on how Michigan will do this year. I don't even have the barest smidge of news to bring you: the two pieces of actual news I've heard have been common knowledge on the internet for a month. I couldn't get anyone to say anything even remotely interesting. I'm pretty sure Travis Beckum thinks I have Down's Syndrome. A rousing success, this is not.
The one saving grace is going back to that Dienhart piece, though, which remains as putrescent as it was when I hammered it a couple years ago. It's really bad: shallow thinking, lame jokes, no justification for any of its premises. Theory: being a good beatwriter/interviewer-guy and being a good opinion merchant are not just unrelated skills but are somewhere near mutually exclusive. I spend my time combing the internet for any piece of novel information I can find, reviewing games and compiling stats, reasoning out things I think about football and compiling evidence to justify my beliefs.
Beatwriters try to eke out interesting responses from interview adversaries. They're believers in the holy grail of access, which necessitates thinking on an entirely different level. It's not real unless it comes from your access, so only things that people say are real. (And often they're deliberately not saying anything.) Take just about any newspaper article or radio piece or anything, really, reported in the objective style favored by the media these past 50 years:
- THING is controversial.
- "THING is great, I love thing" says person X.
- But group Y says THING has PROPERTY OR EFFECT that is negative.
- "I hate THING, think of the children" says person Z from Group Y.
- But person X of group W disagrees.
- "I disagree," says person X.
- Ain't it a funny old world?
This is just about the complete opposite of critical thinking. There is a skill in it; it is not my skill, and my skill is not theirs.
I did transcribe some stuff of debatable utility; that's coming up.
It might suck, though. Michigan Sports Center has been scouring Internet message boards for information on NCAA 09 and reports back with some problems:
To incorporate "wide open gameplay," the defenses in NCAA 09 reportedly have been incredibly dumbed down. By this, I mean that it is far too hard to play defense when lining up against the computer. When you are on defense, most people have reported that the opposing computer quarterback are way too accurate. The norm is only five or so incompletions a game according to some, and that is only because of dropped passes. On top of that, the computer's offensive line supposedly is way too dominant, even against the best teams in the game. With an extremely accurate QB and barely any pass rush, the results aren't good.
There are also widespread difficulties with editing the rosters (which I couldn't care less about, especially since you can download a whole roster for free from inside the EA Locker). Bill Abner's continued to post impressions at his blog and remains pleased -- "if I had to return the game and then decide whether or not to buy it, I'd be in line just like the rest of you, forking over my $60 and change" -- despite some annoyances; I trust him over some of the inveterate whiners that populate video game message boards. (Not that they don't have a point, but sometimes it's a bit much.) Abner does futz with the sliders excessively, so the issues above may be real on All American with default sliders but obviated if you're willing to tweak.
Law and Toomer. In the Thursday post rebutting Michael Rosenberg's column on Rich Rodriguez, I made passing reference to the distance between former Michigan stars Ty Law and Amani Toomer and Lloyd Carr. A couple folks have asked for background. Law left for the NFL after his junior year when his family filed for bankruptcy, and Carr did not take it well:
"He didn't care for me leaving, and I wasn't welcomed back for a while," said Law of Carr, who was Michigan's defensive coordinator but replaced Gary Moeller as head coach for what would have been Law's senior season.
Law says Carr "actually told me -- and that's what I feed on until this day -- that I would never see the third round. And that kind of hurt me. I know I thought I was one of the better players here on the team."
The animosity lingers; see the sidebar of that Page 2 article for further detail.
Toomer's issues with Carr are vaguer but just as real:
Did you hear from any of your former U-M teammates or Lloyd Carr after the win? No. The last time I heard a word from Lloyd was when I was playing in a (Michigan) game; it was my last play of my senior year. I caught a touchdown from Brian Griese, and I was walking off the field and Lloyd looks at me, looks at Griese, looks at me again, and goes, "Good throw, Brian." And that's the last thing he ever said in my direction.
Did you have a good relationship with Carr while at U-M? I thought we did, but I guess we didn't. So I don't know. I wasn't too upset to see the whole regime change.
Le Dominator is French for The Dominator. Pacioretty hype from Montreal's prospect camp continues to come fast and furious:
While Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens' director of recruitment, was reluctant to talk about individual players, he did venture the opinion that Pacioretty is "head and shoulders" above his peers.
... et chaque ...
Take this to the bank, people: Max Pacioretty will be with the big club when the 2009-'10 season begins. And he's going to be a good one.
But where will he be playing this fall? Probably Yost:
Pacioretty has played one season at the University of Michigan. It's unlikely he'll stay there for a full four years, but he is expected to return in September.
Knock on wood and all that. If he does return, plan on it being a Jack-Johnson-like victory lap, hopefully one just as freakin' awesome as JMFJ's senior year.
Cross is boss. Wolverine Historian has compiled the 2001 Illinois game, a comprehensive beating applied with some panache. I had totally forgotten what I think were back-to-back trick plays that got Michigan its first touchdown, and Todd Howard is subject to the most spectacular facemask penalty I've ever seen. In full:
Another day, another jab. The Ann Arbor News takes the opportunity presented by the "Rodriquez" settlement to launch another broadside at the athletic department. This was my favorite part:
Michigan used to be unique amid a national trend that's seen programs at other schools become less about student athletes and much more about the money that marquee sports can generate.
This isn't just orthogonally wrong, it's the exact opposite of right. The first sentence in Don Canham's Wikipedia article is "he became nationally-renowned for his ability to market and sell products bearing the name or logo of the school." Canham himself:
The only thing I did know was that were going to draw a hell of a lot more people than we ever did. Up until then, schools did not advertise. I almost got fired when I flew a helicopter advertising Michigan football over the World Series (in Detroit) in 1968. That was considered undignified. We ran ads in magazines and all the Detroit suburban newspapers. Our big gimmick was that we mailed ticket applications - that first year we mailed 400,000 ticket applications and sold coffee cups and things like that. We paid for the ads with the coffee cups. The premiums we came up with paid for it all.
The only thing unique about Michigan's place in the college football money grab was its status as first-mover. The rest of it is a complaint seemingly from another universe: Michigan's athletic department leadership has "little if any accountability or openness." The dastardly bastards in charge finished third in the Director's Cup, saw all their teams easily clear the NCAA's APR hurdles, and ran a massive surplus doing it. They must be held accountable!
By any reasonable standard the Michigan athletic department is one of the best in the country. It supports a massive number of student-athletes, does extraordinarily well in sports across the board, and does so without draining a dime from the university's general fund. Since the Ed Martin affair over a decade ago there hasn't been even the barest hint of NCAA problems. For this it gets harsher coverage from its local media than any program in the country.* I'm not asking for mindless homerism, but how about a shred of perspective?
The Ann Arbor News lists the phone numbers and email addresses for Martin, Coleman, and the Regents, exhorting you to "send a message." I suggest you send a different message to an organization that evidently has no interest in covering Michigan fairly by calling 734-994-6989. That message: "cancel my subscription."
*(I assume. No one else has been the target of a week-long investigative series that turned up virtually nothing, right? Washington might have a case given the Seattle Times' recent exhumation of the Neuheisel era at UW, but that actually seemed targeted at UCLA. If the Columbus Dispatch tried this they'd be under seige. Probably literally.)
Etc.: The NYT preview of Michigan approvingly references MGoBlog but contains some glaring errors ("Michigan did not land one quarterback recruit in the 2008 class"); Jim Brandstatter snaps back at Rosenberg; Michigan favored by seven against Utah.