i refuse to even consider this a possibility
Doing a thing tomorrow. I'm speaking at the UM Club of Livingston County's scholarship fundraiser. Thing is in Brighton, costs 25 bucks if you're not a member and 20 if you are. They promise me a projector with which to dazzle* and amaze** with. It's for a good cause, come on out.
*[you keep saying that word]
**[you also keep saying that word]
More satellite stuff. As the camp season moves along and more and more people see Harbaugh in action the tone of media coverage seems to have shifted. Harbaugh shows up, has an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, works his ass off in drills, and people in attendance go "huh." Marc Tracy has a NYT article that goes over the Rutgers camp experience in some detail, and Harbaugh impressed some people in Houston.
Observations: Harbaugh is more active/hands-on at these camps than any head coach I’ve seen. Also, several unique drills/competitions.
— Sam Khan Jr. (@skhanjr) June 14, 2016
Also Ohio. The Vindicator:
His speech was part instructional of what was about to happen on the practice field and part old-fashioned church revival, with football being the religion this day for young men that came as far away as Canada.
Harbaugh then spent the next three hours working a style that displays a boyish love of his job. The drills he led were mainly a mix of running tests in which he crowned a champion at the end of each, loudly announcing the young man’s name into a microphone that fit his hand like a glove.
The more people who go to these things, the more of them find out that Harbaugh seems to mean what he says when he talks about spreading football. That's not to say there isn't another motive, but Harbaugh isn't teaching a bunch of middle-schoolers because he thinks there will be recruiting payoffs.
Harbaugh: 'It's not about recruiting. If it really helped recruiting that much, ppl would've been doing it forever.'
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) June 9, 2016
"I play in the six-technique, so I play in front of the tight end more,” he said. “I love that. I feel like a tight end can't block me. If the tight end is blocking me I'm doing something wrong. That's all I've got to say about that."
Terminology changes over and over again and regimes move in and out; around here that means he's moved from WDE to SDE. That leaves just Chase Winovich and Reuben Jones amongst veteran options at WDE and thus implies that Taco Charlton is going to move back to the weakside and start. (He played SDE in the Ford Field practice and the spring game.) That'll probably mean Chris Wormley, an unparalleled tight end obliterator, will go back to SDE. Your other option there is Rashan Gary. So… Marshall probably has another year to prep before serious playing time as an upperclassman. An approximate three deep on the line:
|Chris Wormley||Ryan Glasgow||Maurice Hurst||Taco Charlton|
|Rashan Gary||Bryan Mone||Matt Godin||Chase Winovich|
|Lawrence Marshall||Hurst||Wormley/Gary||Reuben Jones|
That could work out okay.
Marshall also discussed some of the reasons it seems like he's been in the doghouse since his arrival, claiming that his work ethic "has tremendously improved from my freshman and sophomore years." Hitting 270 is solid evidence of that.
Hudson deployment. From Penn Live:
"I think as soon as I get there, I'm going to have an impact on the team," Hudson said. "I'll be at strong safety my first year, and then my second year, they're going to be putting me on offense and giving me some plays and stuff.
When Hudson committed I'd assumed he was ticketed for the nickel spot Peppers was at last year; his "LB" spot this year is probably going to look pretty similar except with more QB decapitation. Now, it seems like there are several options there in 2017 and beyond, and few at safety. Hudson will probably be a true safety for most of his career.
A SEC schedule solution that's pretty great. Jason Kirk and Bill Connelly propose a shift away from divisions in the SEC, which the Big 12 has enabled by agitating for a championship game despite having only ten teams. The upshot is that everyone gets three permanent rivals and then plays the rest of the league every other year. They've tweaked it so the schedules are balanced for the current state of college football, and while there will be some drift things tend to remain the way they are.
A Big Ten version is possible, but the proposal above is aimed at an eight-game conference schedule; the Big Ten has gone to nine. An attempt at three permanent rivals all the same has some goofy matchups:
non-negotiable in italics
Unlike the SEC it's very hard to create these matchups with any semblance of even-ness. Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, and Northwestern are all but impossible to split up, and consistently bad. Minnesota gets it in the eye. Rutgers too.
Even so I like the idea of having relatively balanced schedules for everyone, playing everyone at least every other year, and picking the top two teams with conference record of opponents the tiebreaker. Also, blowing up the schedule again would allow Michigan to undo the most lasting damage of the Dave Brandon era: the MSU/OSU home/road fiasco.
Sign her up. This woman has a legit shot at our linebacker two-deep.
We'll have to deprogram her first obviously.
The sixth year odyssey continues. MSU already failed to get Damon Knox the sixth year they promised was coming, and now it comes out that Ed Davis won't even get a degree until August(!?), despite the fact that he's already been on campus for five years. MSU can't apply for a sixth year until that degree is completed, two weeks before MSU's season opener. As we've mentioned before, Davis's case is hamstrung by the fact that MSU's own website notes he was scout team player of the week twice when he was redshirting and MSU's confidence about all three of these guys appeared to be very much unwarranted.
FWIW, the third dude, OL Brandon Clemons, has in fact sent the paperwork in already.
Okay, Drew. You know what's awesome? I haven't thought about Drew Sharp for more than a glancing second in years. But Detroit's miserable hatemonger gets on the radar today for the most hypocritical thing I've ever seen:
You win today. Now return to sleeping at press conferences.
Etc.: NFL.com names Jabrill Peppers the most versatile player in the country, which yeah. Someone complained about no Bedyoa mention in the Copa post. I have an article for you, sir. LSU bans opposing bands from playing at halftime. Rumors that Baylor is trying to bring Briles back appear to be mostly unfounded. Hockey rules committee proposes adopting 4-on-4 OT. No word on the guy who can't wear skates whose goals count double yet. Harbaugh is an extrovert.
It's not quite official, but the head coaches of both ends of the rivalry more or less announced today that Michigan-Notre Dame will resume in the near future. Brian Kelly was more specific than Harbaugh:
“We’re going to make that happen,” the seventh-year Notre Dame head football coach said Thursday, relaxing in his office. “We’ve got some work to do, but we’re going to make it happen.
“It’s something (ND athletic director) Jack Swarbrick and I want to do, and we’re going to get that game back together. We’ve got some challenges, but I think we can pull it off.”
“We want to do it as soon as we can,” Kelly said. “We’ve got Michigan State home-and-home the next two years (2016-17), and then we’re hoping to. We want to get in on the schedule as quickly as possible after that.”
For his part, Harbaugh said they'd been working on resuming the series for "7, 8, 9 months" and that there were Ts to cross and Is to dot. Hoping those details include a rivalry trophy portraying Dave Brandon hunched over a computer, typing furiously.
Michigan currently has home games against Arkansas and SMU lined up for 2018 and an open date September 8th. It's an MSU/OSU away year and they should get the next home game in the series. ND currently has two openings in 2018, with Ball State scheduled for September 8th. They already have a couple of highly attractive home games in Stanford and FSU; their 2019 home schedule is currently pretty weak, with USC and not much else of interest. Resuming the series with a Michigan home game in 2018 appears to make sense for everybody.
The main problem: adding a game at ND in 2019 would lock Michigan into just five home games, which I assume is unacceptable. If the Arkansas return game gets moved—or that series gets flat-out canceled—they can get up to six. That would still be the fewest home games Michigan Stadium has seen since the move to 12 games. The ever-increasing blizzard of TV money makes it more likely Michigan can weather that financially, but it's a problem. One that the two sides appear to be working through.
Photo: Danny Wild/USA Today
FBSchedules.com reported this afternoon that Michigan will face Army in the 2019 home opener:
Michigan will host Army at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Sept. 7, 2019, according to a copy of the game contract obtained from the Army Athletic Association under a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Wolverines will pay the Black Knights a $1.5 million guarantee for the game, which will be the 10th overall meeting between the two schools. Army leads the series 5-4 and has won the last four meetings, the last coming in 1962.
While Army does hold a 5-4 edge in the series, it's Michigan that has won the last four. All nine games took place between 1945 and 1962, when Army was still a football power.
This is probably Michigan's replacement for what would usually be a MAC game. M opens the 2019 season at Arkansas, the latter half of a home-and-home series, and hasn't yet filled the other open non-conference spot. Starting in 2016, the Big Ten moves to a nine-game conference schedule, which leaves room for three non-conference games.
none of the lights none of the lights [Bryan Fuller]
Buried in a release about Michigan playing Minnesota at night is this:
With primetime selections through the networks and Big Ten Conference office now complete, Michigan will not host a night game this season at Michigan Stadium. Kickoff times for the remainder of the 2015 season will be announced in coordination with those partners.
Michigan's choices there were OSU (in November), Michigan State, or a middling opponent like Oregon State, BYU, or Northwestern. None of those are particularly appealing, though I thought a BYU at night might have been fun.
feeling that a ticket you have is a precious thing is good
More games should mean things
This is something that Brandon was moving towards getting right, save for the horrible contract that saw him eat an extra Notre Dame home game at the (hopefully temporary) end of that series. And that contract might not have been his doing.
This year's football schedule has one tomato can on it, UNLV, and three actual teams: BYU, Oregon State, and Utah. BYU and Oregon State are one-off home games. They're more expensive, but we've finally reached the point where spending an extra few hundred thousand dollars on an opponent like that has a clear ROI in ticket sales. (That is the reason Brandon was getting that right.) One of the smartest things he said during his tenure was about this.
Unfortunately, I have been able to google it to get the exact quote, but it was along the lines of "we have to get out of the business of scheduling games that feel like exhibitions to fans." He largely put his money where his mouth was in that department. Or tried to, anyway. It still galls that Michigan State landed a home and home with Alabama and Michigan was forced to play a "neutral" site matchup in Dallas against them.
But Brandon was right: repeated tomato can poundings make the fan look at his ticket and feel like a sap. The Product™ boils down to that: you look at the ticket that has a section and seat and opponent on it and you feel a certain way. For years many of these tickets have made you feel like it's another way to pay for the Ohio State game. That is going to remain true, but being less explicit about it is a first step on the road towards making fans feel like part of the enterprise instead of marks.
There's not much flexibility when it comes to college football. Michigan's going to play in their division and they've got three games a year (Indiana, Rutgers, Maryland) that aren't going to feel like much no matter what happens. They've been filling out the nonconference schedule with more respectable opponents; further additions have to happen a decade or more out. The wider landscape of college football will help here: double the number of teams in the playoff means double the number of late-season games that can impact the championship picture.
Michigan's other two revenue sports could use some help. This year's hockey schedule was a textbook example of what not to do: a weird one-off at Ferris State before even the exhibition games, home games piled into the fall when most fans are busy with football, an almost two-month absence from Yost in January and February punctuated by a fiasco of an outdoor game taken in by fewer fans than would have been at a home game.
Meanwhile, basketball plays a lot of nonconference games against the Coppin States of the world. It was seven last year (they just happened to lose two): Hillsdale, Bucknell, Detroit, Nicholls State, NJIT, EMU, and Coppin State. I don't see a great solution there given the way college basketball works: you're going to have a preseason tournament, you're going to have a game just before Christmas no one wants to play, there's not enough room to do anything interesting.
The conference, though… the conference could use some tweaking. Here are a couple of concrete plans to make basketball and hockey games have more wow factor on the ticket.
Basketball: making 14 an asset
Wisconsin ran away with the Big Ten title this year. Their last seven games included matchups against 9-9 Illinois, 4-14 Penn State, and two against 6-12 Minnesota. What if their stretch run was nothing but the other three games—Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State—and so was everyone else's? And what if you could never point to anyone's schedule and say that's why team X won?
This is possible, even in a 14-team conference if you're willing to rethink a conference schedule. You can have a true, fair, thrilling championship in 19 conference games:
- FIRST 13: round-robin amongst all teams
- LAST 6: split the league into top and bottom halves, have second round-robin within.
Everyone in each half plays the same schedule. The last three weeks of the regular season are an all-out brawl for a banner that means something it might not in a world where getting the wrong teams twice could knock you down a peg.
The downsides are real but not insurmountable. You would not know the last six games of your schedule until a few days before. With home sites that's not a huge problem. There will be demand for those games. And teams right around the cutoff could find their path to a bid get harder as teams just above it draw a bunch of tough games and teams below it lose the opportunity to knock off a Wisconsin. That effect is probably marginal (on average it's turning three games into somewhat harder or easier ones).
If they tried this I bet they would never even think about going back once they saw, say, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, OSU, Indiana, and Illinois have a three-week war for a Big Ten title.
Hockey: a state championship
The FA Cup: the only time anyone has ever believed in Wigan
There's not a whole lot Hypothetical Michigan AD can do about the Big Ten or NCAA's playoff format. (It does sound like the national tournament is in line for some long-overdue changes.) But he can probably get the Michigan schools together to provide early-season matchups some additional oomph.
The formation of the Big Ten is something college hockey needed if they were ever going to expand past two western conferences, but it broke up a bunch of 40-year-old rivalries that mean something to college hockey fans. Instead of having every Michigan team save Tech in a single conference, now they're spread across three. The GLI has tried to compensate by inviting a Michigan team for the foreseeable future, but that doesn't do much for the three teams that aren't invited in any particular year.
Nor does it have that much selling power. The GLI is a nice event, but it's always been a little silly that Michigan has a banner for years they won it. It's two games. The trophy doesn't have a name. It's not, say, a 40-pound bronzed cast of Red Berenson's head.
What if the first half of the season had a different competition in it? Soccer does this to excellent effect. A state championship competition that features World Cup/Champions League style groups would be a reasonable time commitment and a way to inject stakes into otherwise fuzzy early-season matchups.
A problem: there are seven Michigan teams, not eight. We will fill in the eighth spot with a guest program. This could either rotate between reasonably local programs (ND, OSU, BGSU, Miami, even PSU) or be permanent.
|GROUP A||GROUP B|
|Notre Dame||Western Michigan|
|Northern Michigan||Ferris State|
Each team plays the others twice, whether that's home and home or not. The next year invert home/road and do it again; then switch the groups up. The only hard and fast rule is that Michigan and Michigan State are separate. The four teams in the bottom two rows are all WCHA members. They can either book an early-season conference series to count for the state championship or schedule bonus nonconference series, their choice.
After that's done, the top two in each group play for the Michigan Themed Hockey Trophy* at the Joe. (The other two also go to the Joe and play because everyone wants to know they've got X number of games booked.)
This is a commitment of eight games—six for teams currently in the WCHA. For teams in the Big Ten (20 conference games), Hockey East (22), or NCHC (24) that is doable. It does seriously restrict the flexibility of WCHA teams (28 games), but a lot of these games are the ones these schools would want to schedule anyway. For example, Ferris's nonconference schedule included two games against State, one against Michigan, and the GLI. Tech played Michigan and in the GLI. They would be signing up for another two or three games only. And the lack of flexibility is offset by the fact that they're locking in a Michigan or Michigan State series annually.
If you can pull this off then your early season, normally something without stakes other than the hope down the road your Pairwise ranking will be good, becomes three weekends in which you hope to qualify for a GLI that means you can print out shirts that say State Champs and kiss let's just say a 40-pound bronze cast of Red Berenson's head.
like this except with Red Berenson's head
Play for things. Give us stakes. A ticket that reads "Red Berenson's 40 Pound Head Tournament" is better than one that just says "Western Michigan."
*[Options: unearth the Ron Mason trophy that went kaput when the CCHA did, inaugurate a Red Berenson trophy for the former Michigan player and Detroit Red Wing, or go studiously neutral but somewhat silly by naming it after a guy who didn't play college hockey.
Gordie Howe played in the defunct minor-pro version of the USHL for a year, not the CHL, and he's Gordie Howe. So he's a good idea if you're going that route.]