chance of bowl: 13.6%
Bill Martin goes to golf with members of the '97 national championship team. While there he is quizzed on the future of the Notre Dame series. He says this:
If Michigan athletic director Bill Martin had his druthers, Ohio State and Notre Dame would not play at Michigan Stadium in the same season.
But it appears Notre Dame is unable to accommodate a move like that for similar reasons of its own.
"They don't want to have at home the same year Southern Cal and Michigan, because those are their two premier games," Martin said. "If they moved to accommodate us, then they're stuck with Southern Cal and Michigan at home the same year, so I'm not sure how it's going to get resolved. That's a challenge."
The Michigan-Notre Dame series goes through the 2011 season. Martin said he has been talking about a series renewal with Irish athletic department officials for the last three or four years.
"We've been talking about taking off an odd number of years so we can accomplish that (schedule maneuvering), but then that doesn't do what they want," Martin said.
It does not appear there has been any talk of dropping the series.
"It's the highest-rated television preseason game in college football," Martin said. "Those are the two winningest programs in college football history. It's the game that all of our fans want and all of the Notre Dame fans want. It's hard to drop that series. They don't want to drop it, I don't want to drop it; I want to simply fine-tune it a little bit."
In this passage Martin has
- praised the game,
- specifically denied any desire to drop the series,
- stated he's been working on an extension for years, and
- expressed a reasonable concern about the ND/OSU rotation.
BGS seizes upon this to argue that this is evidence that... Michigan would like to stop playing Notre Dame! Okay, that's a bit odd, but since Martin didn't come right out and say "you'll pry the Michigan-ND series from my cold dead hands," if you are in a certain untrustworthy frame of mind you could potentially see in this the seeds for the dissolution of the series. As Martin's desire to spread Michigan's two marquee games out so season ticket holders don't get stuck with a home slate like last year's -- Wisconsin and, uh, Iowa? -- is expressly built on the idea that Notre Dame is an anchor in the schedule, it's obviously paranoid and unlikely, but it's not entirely impossible that this is the ultimate nonsensical weasel move. Stipulated. (Also stipulated: it is the height of irony to take this conversation, spin it into something unflattering about the University of Michigan, and then title your post "You know how I know you're Michigan?" Someone get me a textbook so I can insert this sequence into it.)
But the really fun part comes in the comments, where people take up the paranoid and unlikely speculation built upon the Michigan athletic director's direct statement that he wants to continue the Notre Dame series and go to town. (To be fair: there were quite a few reasonable commenters in the BGS thread, but it really was split 50-50 between "f-em! we're Notre Dame" and sanity; just about everyone took the assertion that Michigan was looking to end the series at face value.) At first there's just sad acceptance of the inevitable end of the series:
It's a shame that it's probably going to end. To me, that game is the true start of the CFB season. Maybe there's a little fear that with the resurgence in recruiting in South Bend, that their season will be bookended(?) by losses.....
...says the team that last won a bowl game in the Hayes administration. And then there's the guy who blacked out for a convenient three-hour period last year:
If Monk Davieham was still in charge, Michigan would be pushing like hell for a long term extension. The skunks know that once we truly turn the corner on this rebuild, their ass is grass and Charlie's a big 'ol lawn mower.
And the rank hypocrisy:
The real reason the Skunks are maneuvering and trying to justify dropping the IRISH is because next year they have already scheduled Toledo, as in Holy Toledo!! Gee the Winningest football program can surely keep on winning when it reaches across the state line to start playing Holy Toledo. The Holy part is to justify dropping the IRISH, if that ever happens.
Insert "Commander-in-Chief" reference here. And then there's this:
Voice has it right. Screw them if they think getting off our schedule will make them better - perhaps it will, until the SOS rankings and opinion of B10 football goes in the tank.
Not playing Notre Dame will destroy the Big Ten. Destroy!
And then, the favorite:
Aren't they pulling a tOSU and trying to limit their away games to 3 or 4 away games per season?
It was no different when Fielding Yost was there. Michigan has always been afraid of a schedule that might challenge them.
What a bunch of sissy boys.
Waa, don't want 2 challenging games in one season Waa.
Lets add Nebraska, Texas and OU into a rotation.
Michigan and their conference suck.
...all because Bill Martin said "I very much want to continue the Notre Dame series." Verily, all this illuminates the dodgy character of Michigan fans. Yea, we are caught in its chemical-green florescent glow, each hair-ridden mole and dusky, craterous pore magnified for the world to see. Lo. We are undone.
I dunno, Bill, maybe next time just say "no comment"?
Orson's first foray into adapting lolcats to CFB was met with 1337 commenter derision...
i like how, for some reason, sports fans are always the last to pick up on internet memes.
Comment by bup bup bup â€” May 10, 2007 @ 8:35 am
...but we soldier on anyway. And, like, there were some seriously exploitable pictures from the last year once the idea was placed in the head. So, yeah. Here goes.
No like seriously, do not want.
You can build your own lolwhatever here. Painful Troy Smith captioned pictures in 3... 2... 1...
Apex. Another youtube highlight package, this one of the '98 Rose Bowl. You may remember that game, yes?
I echo the sentiments of the video's first commenter: dynoguy88, who is the source of many of the clipreels featured in this space, is the man. Often these things are frenetic things set to hideous rap rock; dynoguy lets the key plays breathe and brings us Keith Jackson. And when the option to provide Keith Jackson is there, any other choice is the wrong one.
Vermont is known for many things. Ice cream, presidential primaries, hazing... and killer Michigan basketball recruits! Vermont freshman Joe Trapani, a 6-8 wing/forward, is transferring after one year at UVM. Eric Lacy says he thinks Michigan is a likely destination (no permalink, might have to scroll down):
Based on the conversation I had with Charles [Trapani's father -ed], I think Michigan has a great shot and landing his son.
"They have a tremendous tradition in both football and basketball," Charles Trapani said.
I wouldn't be surprised if Joe Trapani commits while on his visit - or while on the way back home.
(Apparently that one-sentence newspaper style is hard to let go of even when your text is internet only.) Lacy then throws this discouraging nugget in:
That's what Reed Baker apparently did after playing pickup with the team.
All right! Reed Baker 2.0! Well, not really. Trapani averaged 15 points per game before injuring his foot and struggling through the rest of the season, putting up 21 points on Michigan State and 13 and 8 boards on Boston College, Michigan's main competition for Trapani.
(Side note: interesting contrast between the blog entry and the brief blurb that made the paper, which omits any of Lacy's speculation based on the tenor of his conversation.)
Er-nest Sha-zor. Notre Dame running back Darius Walker entered the draft early and was passed over entirely. Whoops. His dad, who is actually named Jimmie Walker, says the situation is not dyn-o-mite:
"How does a guy that's fourth on the all-time rushing list for Notre Dame not get drafted?"
Unfortunately, the twelfth game, the increasing prevelance of freshman starters, and the decision to include bowl statistics has made career records virtually meaningless. Mike Hart and Chad Henne will leave Michigan the all time leaders in rushing and passing yardage, respectively, but are they the best to have ever played at Michigan? Probably not. Official Father of Walker then trod closely to making a pointed comment about Weis:
"If you look at the backs who were drafted on the first day, he had the same stats or better as guys drafted on the first day. The only difference is the guys had the height and the pushing, the backing and the pushing and promoting from their respective areas, whether that be the media or whoever else."
Asked if he didn't think Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis backed Darius enough in the draft process, Jimmy answered simply: "I have no comment on it."
Sounds like he already made his comment.
I would also note that Darius got off a bonafide zinger in the weeks leading up to the draft:
"You can't control what team you go to," Walker said that day, "unless you're one of the Mannings."
That's genuinely funny! Try broadcasting, kid.
Etc.: Infamous recruit-turned-LSU-Tiger Joseph Barksdale got jacked by a former Tiger DB and has a broken jaw; the Stanford Daily reports on the Forcier departure (link not just because the article references MGoBlog, I swear); chicks send (hopefully) unsolicited bikini shots to Rich Eisen, wife not amused; brief recap of yet another Beilein radio appearance at Varsity Blue; ABC Saturday Night schedule.
Spring such and such for Michigan's most important 2007 opponents happened over the weekend. A recap!
I am of the opinion that when your fourth-string quarterback is the most impressive passer at your spring game, you might have issues. Anthony Morelli didn't play much; when he did BSD fill-in The Nittany Line didn't sound impressed. Neither did he endorse Austin Scott, who came to Penn State with a barrel of hype four years ago and has one good game against Florida State to show for it. He's the starter by default but...
Scott averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 13 carries but didn't really show me anything. He looked like he got to the corner pretty quick but I think he still tends to "dance" a bit when he should be burring his head and getting the extra yard. That may be an unfair assessment since I'm used to seeing Tony Hunt, the human plow, take tacklers head on. Like Mike thought, we didn't really get a chance to see Scott's blocking ability and that is probably his biggest weakness up to this point.
The wide receivers didn't show much that was unexpected. They're all decent enough but uninspiring. Sophomore Chris Bell had an impressive spring and should find himself featured at some point. He has something -- size -- that PSU's current cast of mighty mites lacks. Derrick Williams has not deviated from his distinctively Breastonian career path thus far.
Defense: Irritatingly, it appears that Chris Rogers -- a Pennsylvania native who transferred from Michigan after a redshirt year claiming homesickness -- is going to start at defensive end. Rogers either has rich or annoyed parents, since Big Ten rules prohibit Penn State from giving an intra-conference transfer any scholarship money.
The second corner is probably going to be AJ Wallace. We might be catching him at a vulnerable point:
Wallace got burned a couple of times last year in coverage, and JoePa's comments about Wallace in the pre-game presser are not especially encouraging: "When he's healthy, he's a very gifted athlete. [My only criticism is] every once in a while, he's a little loosey-goosey out there. When you're playing corner, loosey-goosey could be six points." Uh, no kidding.
BSD echoes that assessment:
A.J. seemed a tad lost a couple times I watched him, but he also showed me some really good recovery speed. I think it's only a matter of experience before Wallace fulfills the potential he came to PSU with.
Wallace was a fairly shirtless recruit a couple years ago and Justin King is a potential All-American (argh), but if Wallace is "loosey-goosey" and we manage to get Manningham lined up across from him great success could be in the offing.
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: Nothing of note happened in the Penn State spring. Morelli's the starting quarterback, there are major questions on the offensive line and in the person of talented but enigmatic Austin Scott. The defense projects to be at least pretty good, though they'll need someone to step forward on the line. No information was gathered on that project.
A similar situation: the big star of the spring game was someone called "Junior Jabbie," a man who sounds like the hero of a low-rent 80s-era knockoff arcade game, and his 87 rushing yards on 13 carries. I don't know if Jabbie's performance highlighted the absurdity of trying to draw conclusions from any spring game or what, because no Irish blogger bothered to say anything substantive. Rakes: nothing. HRB: nothing. Irish Roundtable: nothing. BGS: skepticism about the coming Jabbie era but little else about actual on-field events. A 10-6 victory where the only touchdowns come from a badly overthrown interception return and a wounded duck from a hit-while-throwing Demetrius Jones tends to mute enthusiasm.
I did find some impressions from the obscurer sections of Notre Dame blogdom, though not many. "Her Loyal Sons" says Jimmah looked good:
Our reporter K-man's opinion was that Jimmy Clausen looked the most comfortable under center, and that Demetrius and Frazer looked decidedly uncomfortable. Take one man's opinion on 'comfort level' with a grain of salt, but it's pretty telling that he felt the other two big QB recruits didn't even look comfortable let alone efficient or good.
The blog arm of UNHD says not so fast:
Quarterbacks weren't overly impressive. Jones fumbled (which his team recovered) and had a pick returned for a touchdown, Frazer threw a pick, Sharpley fumbled (which he also didn't lose), and Clausen missed some receivers.
Sharpley had the best command of the offense and moved the chains the best of the four.
When Jimmah was given the opportunity to win the dang game, results weren't good:
And with two minutes left in the game, with the Blue trailing 10-6, Clausen took the field with a chance to wow the sun-drenched crowd. Instead the sequence went: Travis Thomas four-yard run, incomplete pass to John Carlson in traffic, an intentional throwaway under pressure that looked like it was intended for Parseghian, an offensive pass-interference penalty and an incomplete pass to Robby Parris on fourth-and-21.
No quarterback did well. Clausen was 3 of 7 for 23 yards. Jones was 3-6 and threw a pick six. Sharpley was 5 of 7 for 31 yards but was sacked for negative 39. Zach Frazer threw four passes; the only one that was caught was intercepted. Between both teams Notre Dame chose to run the ball 54 times to just 24 passes.
But never fear! Some commenters pointed out this Wayne Drehs article from ESPN.com:
Freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen's play was, well, unremarkable. Which is just the way Charlie Weis wanted it.
Coming from Wayne Drehs in November: "Charlie Weis, the iconoclast genius, has discovered a way for Notre Dame to cease extending its bowl losing streak: fail to qualify for one. Yes, it's all going to plan for the only man to set foot on the moon... with his mind!"
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: The quarterback competition will go into the fall. Given how the offensive line got overrun in pass protection against a defensive line that has very little talent (according to recruiting gurus, at least), the run-pass ratio Weis broke out in the spring game might not be far off from the one deployed during the year.
I talked with Vijay about this a bit: it's amazing how crap Ohio State's quarterback recruiting has been over the past few years.
- 2007: no recruits.
- 2006: Antonio Henton, a three star who was Rivals #9 "dual-threat QB" and only the 25th best recruit in Georgia. Committed to OSU over Illinois, Maryland, and Louisville.
- 2005: Rob Schoenhoft. Four-star who was Rivals' #6 pro-style QB. Committed to OSU over Michigan.
- 2003: Todd Boeckman, a three-star and Rivals #19 pro-style QB. Committed to OSU over Pitt and Maryland.
That doesn't look too bad -- a little thin, but not awful -- until you consider the strange case of Schoenhoft. He's 6'5" and apparently a camp superstar. He had an impressive ranking from Rivals and some nice offers, but some seriously strange high school statistics. As a junior he completed 37% of his passes. As a senior he was better but only slightly, completing 45%. What's the deal? EDSBS picked up a report from a Buckeye that pieces the puzzle together:
Who will replace Troy Smith? ... Not Rob Schoenhoft. God, he sucks. Think "Sexy Rexy," but without the talent. Fuck it. He's throwing downfield, and by God, it will leave his hand at mach 8.
Michigan and OSU offered him on the basis of a big arm and prototype size; Schoenhoft has little else. Henton is black and short and is thus universally compared to Troy Smith. Does anyone remember how bad Troy Smith was early in his career? Yeah...
Henton did have a very Smith-esque game, going 8/16 for 40 yards, 3 picks, and 2 fumbles.
Zounds! Buckeye Commentary has some impressions of his own. Sounds similar to the Michigan spring along the lines: starters are being held out and the projected first string defensive line is dominating the backups. From the sounds of it Boeckman is solid but uninspiring, a Krenzel type.
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: Boeckman starter. If he sucks or is injured OSU is in deep trouble. No conclusions can be drawn about the defense given the QB situation and the absence of non-Maurice Wells tailbacks, but most of those guys return so it should be about the same. Expect Ohio State to revert to Tresselball this year. Chris Wells is going to get run ragged, the special teams and defense will be good to infuriating, etc, etc.
1) Sometime last year I got a cease & desist from the Collegiate Licensing Corporation claiming an exclusive trademark on "Notre Dame." As a result, the "Notre Dame: returning to glory since 1993" shirts got pulled. They are now collectors items worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Anyway, here's a new version that expresses my disdain for the state of North Dakota:
Damn North Dakotans and their clovers!
2) We're going to Wisconsin this year for what should be a huge Big Ten game. Wisconsin returns a ton of starters and is coming off a 12-1 year. But we're Michigan. Let 'em know:
Friday I posted "Backlash Backlash Backlash," which spawned what I think was the third-dumbest comment thread in the history of MGoBlog. I said a couple things that I shouldn't have: the two assertions that BGS hated black people were, indeed, not cool. By distorting what they were saying because I needed to do so for my post, I committed the same sin I was accusing them of. Consider it retracted.