I forgot I promised Brian to do a post about this before I went ahead and launched it in Guess the Score. Anyway, meet my favorite shirt we've ever made except maybe the Space Emperor ones. Zoom? Zoom:
To relive the excuses hit the jump. To order the shirt hit the link. We're going to preorder a bunch of these for people who'd like them in time for the game.
Gave up trying to find shapes that look like states after MI. Click embiggerates.
Cartography week. Unless you're Ricky Stanzi, in which case this is every day, the 4th of July was for honoring America. Since this is a thing named for a cartographer, what better way than mapmaking. Randall Monroe (of xkcd) chose to take the Michigan=mitten thing and come up with objects for the other 49 that's worth a 'brief' look just to see what Ohio is and shall hereafter be referred to as for all time. Maize.Blue Wanger decided to pen a 7,700-word thesis about the best Michigan football players from each state. My map above used his work for most things except I used Spencer Brinton for Utah, split Michigan between his choice (Braylon) and mine (Harry Newman, but coulda been Oosterbaan), counted the little New England states as one Jamie Morris, and put a Block M over the ones I didn't care to do Google image searches for since I almost didn't return from my last quest for a representative photo of Brandon Williams. Anyhoo, for such a Herculean effort in service to his country, MBW is awarded Diarist of the Week.
The author also discovered the mess that is Bentley's enter-the-data-then-forget-about-it player database, which is more comprehensive than any other team's database in the country yet manages to do horrible things to Opong-Owusus ("F13" is not a football position!) In spite of such hazards, justingoblue followed MBW into the archives to chart up which states/regions have been dutifully paying their tributes of football talent.
Here's the context then. At the HTTV release after-party we had a long discussion about the '99 Penn State team, to the point that Brian was surprised everybody remember Penn State so damn well. For my part I learned everything I could about them when they joined the Big Ten. It all said they were a true national power, and nothing they did in the interim—like going undefeated in '94—suggested otherwise. The conference might have tried to shoehorn them in to a rivalry with MSU because they both got Morrill Act grants when the SEC seceded from the union, but it was the Michigan games they got up for, and vice versa.
The 1997-'99 series was among best of those. They'd won the last three. Judgment Day marked the point when the national championship run became real. The Sunday morning after—still fresh acceptance packet folded up in my cargo pocket—the glow of that win was still palpable in the chill air, cup-strewn lawns, and weary students stumbling home trying to decide if they'd really been partying at Bollinger's house. In '98 the student section was so loud it turned back multiple Lion goal-line and field goal attempts.
And 1999, when Florida State and its weak-ass ACC schedule was the runaway AP favorite, but No. 2 Penn State the best team in the country. The Nittany Lions had Courtney Brown and LaVarr Arrington, and strength everywhere else. Then they ran into Minnesota (at their Mason peak) and lost in one of those final play games any team can lose any time to a decent team. We laughed, but we knew our offensive line was too hobbled to give Brady time or Thomas lanes, and our cornerbacks were Future Stars of the SmurfFL, and Minnesota's upset was just luck.
Then that game, which you can re-live thanks to footage by Gordon (and photos via DeSimone) The score was close but true to the short-lived rivalry, Michigan beat the snot out of them. A-Train knocked out Arrington and bruised up Brown, and by the end we'd seen something nobody thought could happen that year: Penn State beaten and broken by a better team. The next week they limped through a loss at Michigan State that Spartans remember as the debut of T.J. Duckett, and everyone else remembers as the result of Michigan softening 'em up. Penn State ended with the most sour Alamo Bowl bid ever, Michigan took care of Joe Germaine to earn a trip to the Orange Bowl, MSU whined because they got only a Citrus invite despite winning the head-to-head, and Saban bailed for the Bayou because he realized no matter how many Plaxicos you rent this will always happen at Michigan State. That's the context by which I remember the '99 Penn State game. Also for Penn State it was the goodbye game for their longtime defensive coordinator, meaning when you re-watch there's a way different context. /Penn State memories week on MGoBlog.
Actually from this he seems to be the opposite of Tate. Tate would make bad decisions, then could get away with them thanks to his accuracy and moxie and winning smile (or not get away with them). Bellomy makes the right reads then throws a slightly bad, slightly fluttery ball that gets the job done and no more.
Speaking of 2008 I think that's when the Mathlete first introduced the famous (for an MGogiven definition of that) "Michigan Helmet" chart about proper 4th down etiquette based on down and distance. In 2010, with a top 5 offense and no kicking game, the "go" region essentially became anything after the 50-yard-line. This has now been updated for the 2011 offense, and comes with a Googledoc spreadsheet you can use to decide when to go and when to kick. I'm going to keep this handy during live blogs so I can sound smart.
THE FRESHMEN HAVE NUMBERS (SORTA): Okay, fine, Heiko can follow recruits on Twitter, but only because people have EA Sports dynasties starting this week and need to know which digit to put Wormley in, etc. I'll have a post up when the media guide is released with all of them, but for now Heiko managed to track down most of them from changed @names and twitpicks of lockers/gear.
PICKING YOUR POISON: Who would you like to see added to non-conference schedules of the future? This offseason thread generated a bounty of responses (note: playing Delaware won't make them stop wearing our uniforms), but little in the way of feasibility. We're really talking about three different tiers: Home-and-homes to replace the ND Series during that hiatus, one-offs with BCS schools we can convince to come to Ann Arbor, and then those filler games with MACrifices and I-AA opponents that won't make you gag when Michigan needs a quick pansy to round out the empty weeks.
Tier 1 should be someone everyone wants to watch on TV and would be worth visiting just to see their game day atmosphere and city: Auburn, Georgia, Bama, Tennessee, Texas, Cal (or Stanford though Palo Alto is pretty boring), Virginia, and Clemson. Ole Miss I'm told has an interesting game day, but busing Ann Arborites to Oxford necessarily brings up some nasty history. Tier 2 is pretty much any BCS opponent. The bottom of the Pac12 is nice however I'd love to see Vanderbilt again to pad our historical record versus the SEC, and I believe any Big XII team not named Texas or Oklahoma will take our calls right about now. Tier 3 I'd skip entirely except this is the place I can use to begin an annual pre-season exhibition against Slippery Rock. I personally don't mind playing directional schools because everyone has family there.
THE OPENING: THE THREAD: This thing had some 17,000 views. It's mostly pics from twitter feeds because people are…HEY I TOLD YOU… Related is a thread where everyone posted about that time they met a celebrity. Beat getting kissed on the cheek by the bride from Father of the Bride.
VALLEY OF THE LOST HELLO: ____ POSTS: Bronxblue was wondering what happens when Ace or his predecessors heads into the Super Secret MGoRecruiting Chamber to produce one of those "hey a guy committed!" posts, only to emerge and discover the kid in question chose unwisely. Answer: if the whole thing gets written for naught a respectable blog for the winning fanbase is offered the thing, which is then torn apart for the links and left to rot in the internetherworld. The rest of the closet of unpublished MGoContent is mostly junk nobody ever got around to throwing out. Sorry to burst anyone's bubbles.
I like them so much better when they're the same color as the rest of the helmet. Let's work on that, kids. Also someone send one of these to Treadwell with a #1 on it.
Michigan Replay, 1999. Intro not present, unfortunately. Post PSU win. This was smack in the middle of the We Own Penn State period.
Old, old school. Great article by John Kryk as he catches up with 91-year-old Al Wistert to talk about how his brain's doing and various other things. Wistert is hale and hearty, full of stories:
Wistert said he often did take a pounding; speed can help an undersized tackle avoid only so much contact.
"It was always a problem," he said of his size. "Each guy that I played against outweighed me by 40 or 50 pounds, and that was never easy.
"Playing nine years in the NFL would be a long time in any era. I didn't have a lot of injuries, though. I usually played 60 minutes and didn't come out of the game. But I managed to survive it. I guess I was pretty tough."
Wistert said he doesn't recall there being any protocols, or even concerns, back in the '40s about the effects of hits to the head. He doesn't recall having suffered a concussion, and said he doesn't know of any teammates who were ever kept out of a game for having had, in the parlance of the day, his "bell rung."
"No, I don't remember any serious precautions that they would make about that. So I guess there wasn't any concern about it."
Wistert played both ways for nine years in the NFL at 214 pounds. Different era then. Obviously.
NEVER TALK JIM DELANY. Unless you're telling that story about how you fingerbanged Mark Shapiro. All responses to all questions should be colorful anecdotes about turning his outrage into yearning. That's quality stuff.
"I don't have a lot of regard for that team," Delany said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
Who is that team?
"I don't have a lot of regard for that team," he said. "I certainly wouldn't have as much regard for that team as I would for someone who played nine conference games in a tough conference and played a couple out-of-conference games on the road against really good opponents. If a poll doesn't honor those teams and they're conference champions, I do.
He didn't say Alabama. Did he have to? Anyone ever heard of a team not winning its division or its conference but going on to win the national championship?
GODDAMMIT JIM DELANY NOW ALABAMA IS GOING TO SHOW UP IN DALLAS AND TRY TO WIN. OUR WHOLE PLAN WAS THIS: DO NOT MAKE ALABAMA FEEL LIKE THEY SHOULD WIN THIS FOOTBALL GAME. OUR WHOLE PLAN IS NOW: AAAAAAAAIIIIEEEEEE. I SHOULD SHAKE YOU, SCREAMING "GET AHOLD OF YOURSELF" AND YES I KNOW THAT'S IRONIC.
Or maybe this doesn't matter and Alabama was already thinking they should win the game. But probably not.
Potentially useful walk-on? Michigan's acquired a preferred walk-on named Chris Maye from Union City, Michigan. He's a defensive back and he seems pretty fast:
Maye had several opportunities; officially visiting U-M and Michigan State for track, as well as making official visits to U-M, MSU and Army for football. He was the No. 1 track recruit at U-M, but Maye set his sights on playing football, actually turning down track scholarships.
With Brink poised to contribute and Kovacs entering his fourth year as a starter, guys like these are worth keeping an eye on in case they turn out a lot better than expected. Or Dantonio offers them. Whichever comes first.
Slash. Slash is old now, and I wonder if he just has a wig with the hat attached that he puts on when he wants to be Slash and takes off when he just wants to be an old guy in leather pants. Maybe he has to take the leather pants off too.
Anyway: Jay Bilas is sick of watching basketball teams beat up on weak sauce that probably shouldn't even be in D-I and has a radical solution($):
The bottom half of Division I is simply not competitive enough on a consistent basis to justify the bloated size of Division I. If Division I is reduced to a more reasonable size, there would be better games, a better distribution of talent across a smaller pool, and a better and more marketable product.
If Division I shrinks to 120 or 150 teams, the cry that Butler and VCU would be left out is the first one hears. Slow down. Look at the 120 FBS teams on the football side, and then look at the top 150 in the BPI. Teams like Butler (which just bolted the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10) and VCU would be among the 120 to 150 teams that are qualified and committed to a better Division I. It would include plenty of committed and competitive teams, and nobody would miss the early-season games against sacrificial lambs.
Most of the competitive programs would make it above that bar, and Bilas further suggests that top D-II teams—where the bottom 200 teams would end up—could get bids to the NCAA tournament to keep the Cinderella factor high. End result would be much better nonconference scheduling. It's a win for fans.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where John Calipari cancels the IU-Kentucky series because he can't get Tom Crean to move it off of home courts. Fans are about #10,000 on the list of stakeholders. As long as the NCAA is a loose confederation people are going to make eyes at status they can't achieve. There's nothing to be done except make sure you avoid the real dregs so your RPI doesn't suffer.
Zack Novak: The world's smallest, toughest and most self-deprecating power forward?
Smallest: at a major college level, yes. Not for all of D-I thanks to the problem above. Toughest: um… probably not. Most self-deprecating: hell yes. Should have asked "most likely to have a rage fit" as well:
“A great all-around athlete,” Beilein later added, gesturing along the table of 10 honorees at Barton Hills Country Club. “If he had chose wrestling, he’d be sitting next to (wrestling assistant) Sean (Bormet). If he had chosen hockey, a great defenseman, he would have been. (Hockey coach) Red (Berenson), don’t you think so? Knock some people around. (Football coach) Brady (Hoke), a cornerback? One of those other things -- a safety?
“(Golf coach) Chris (Whitten), that’s the one thing I know, he would not be sitting next to you -- unless Happy Gilmore can make a comeback, because every club would be broken by the end of the first round.”
I find it odd that Beilein knows who Happy Gilmore is. This is probably unfair.
It's like Japan, except flat and slippery and less irradiated. That would be Michigan hockey practices this fall. The addition of Andrew Copp, an end-of-the-bench NTDP player who is likely to be Danny Fardig 2.0, gives Michigan 15(!) forwards, 9(!) defensemen, and 4(!) goalies this fall. Some of these guys are deep roster players who aren't getting scholarship money and don't expect to play, but the defense corps is especially jammed now that it appears everyone's back next year.
Michigan brings in two NTDPers who will be drafted, one very high, and these guys who played frequently last year:
Two of those guys are probably going to get scratched every weekend unless Connor Carrick is also in the scratch mixture.
Scoring is the main issue. The cavalry there arrives in 2013. A senior-year blowup from AJ Treais would be most welcome.