Unverified Voracity Tears Down Camp

Unverified Voracity Tears Down Camp

Submitted by Brian on July 15th, 2014 at 2:06 PM

HEY. If you didn't already, read Seth's thing.

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Bryan Fuller

Just a shooter. Ex-just a shooter? Zak Irvin's trying to shake the reputation that he has a campsite outside the three point line he only leaves when he needs water:

Zak Irvin smirked at the old saying. He heard it before. So did Nik Stauskas, his predecessor on the wing in Michigan’s offense.

Just a shooter.

The title was stamped on Stauskas at this time last year. As a freshman in 2012-13, the 6-foot-6 guard attempted 58.3 percent of his field-goals from 3-point distance.

Now here’s Irvin. If Stauskas was just a shooter as a freshman, what does that make him? Also a 6-foot-6 guard, Irvin launched a freewheeling 74.5 percent of his shots from behind the arc as a freshman.

The thing is: Stauskas was way less of a shooter than Irvin was, to the point where UMHoops was pointing out that he was even more efficient than Trey Burke in pick and roll situations. Whenever anyone asked me who would step up as the alpha in Burke's absence I immediately said "Stauskas" in a tone of voice that was probably insulting to the person asking the question.

Just-a-shooter-related stats indicate that Irvin is starting well back from Stauskas was when it comes to initiating offense.

STAUSKAS (FR) IRVIN (FR)
3PA/FGA 61% 74%
FTRate 29.2 10.7
Assist Rate 7.6 4.7
TO Rate 14.2 9.3

Also… I mean…

Irvin made a total of 11 2-point field goals in 18 Big Ten games as a freshman. His 21 free-throw attempts were three less than Mitch McGary, who played in only eight games. His 13 assists were only one more than McGary produced.

I am now sad about Mitch again, but that's pretty stark.

Michigan doesn't need Irvin to be Stauskas, what with Walton and LeVert still around. They would like him to be a third creator—hell, if Irvin gets to Stauskas's freshman shot generation numbers that would be terrific.

One thing we do know: even if Irvin does become Not Just A Shooter (drink), we will not hear that he is Not Just A Shooter (drink), because he's not a pale guy from Canada.

FINALLY. It is policy around here to ignore preseason watch lists for major awards because the last time I looked at one I was on there. But we will make a solitary exception for the one organization that seems to have watched Devin Funchess play last year:

On Tuesday, Funchess landed on the 2014 Biletnikoff Award watch list, which goes annually to the most outstanding receiver in college football.

Praise Biletnikoff.

Yes, I know this is just because watch lists place anything vaguely hominid on their lists. I'm still taking it and running.

So there's this. They changed the trophy, likely because of intellectual property issues or something like that. Now it looks like this:

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David Jones:

The one piece of the BCS worth keeping (the crystal football) is replaced by a wagon-wheel coffee table

…leg? I think he left out "leg." But yeah.

A major blow to SMU. Megarecruit Emmanuel Mudiay was set to make a visit to Crisler for his one and only year of college basketball; instead he's taking whatever money he can get this year:

"I was excited about going to SMU and playing college basketball for coach Brown and his staff and preparing for the NBA," Mudiay said in a statement relayed by his brother, Stephane, to SI. "But I was tired of seeing my mom struggle. And after sitting down with coach [Larry] Brown and my family, we decided that the best way for me to provide for my mom was to forgo college and pursue professional basketball opportunities."

That's likely bunk, since Mudiay can just get cash on the side and the school he graduated from was co-founded by Deion Sanders and has had a number of graduate-types get shot down by the NCAA. Either way, that SMU game looks significantly less intimidating.

SMU's still going to be a challenge. They went 27-10 last year and lost to Minnesota in the NIT final; they lost only an inefficient third wheel and a low-usage OREB guy from last year's team.

That would be bizarre, but fun? Chatter about NCAA hockey expansion pops up only every once in a while these days, and when it does it's usually followed by an athletic director making grumbly noises about the general impossibility of such. So go ahead and guess which AD actually wants to make it happen. No, no, no, and no. Arizona State!

Count Arizona State Vice President of Athletics Ray Anderson among the growing number of people who like to see the Sun Devil hockey team compete at the highest level.

"I personally would love to see hockey as a varsity sport at Arizona State," he said. "We have to make a commitment to figure that out."

Penn State's departure from the club hockey ranks apparently made ASU the big dog on the block, whereupon they turned in a 38-2 season, and ASU has a relatively small department for a school of its size and revenue level.

The obvious problem: there ain't nobody to play. The nearest NCAA hockey schools are in Colorado. I guess you could slide them into the NCHC. It would still be an expensive proposition. Unlikely unless ASU gets the kind of donation PSU got.

That'll fix it. Michigan proposes fireworks after the Penn State and… uh… Miami (Not That Miami) games. I don't care, really, but it's notable that a bunch of Penn State and Ohio State people on twitter are now seemingly offended on our behalf.

On the one hand, yeah. On the other hand, YOU'RE PENN STATE (rawwereraaarr rawwrr). YOU ARE THE CHINTZ MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE.

But anyway this is where we are: opposing fan bases are getting irritated because we are not Michigan enough.

Etc.: Mark Donnal profiled. Summer league recap. Kam Chatman scouting. 20 reasons this World Cup was fine. My buddy Jerry on the 2014 World Cup and his USMNT origin story. All whites?

Unverified Voracity Goes Family Circus

Unverified Voracity Goes Family Circus

Submitted by Brian on May 30th, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Everything in Minecraft. Michigan Stadium in Minecraft.

I like healthy butts and I cannot lie. Jake Butt is jogging again:

"Went for my first little run yesterday and my knee feels great!" Butt tweeted.

The 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament on Feb. 13 during conditioning drills before spring practice began. Butt underwent surgery to repair the torn ligament on Feb. 28, exactly three months ago Wednesday.

ACLs are six-month things these days so Butt could be back even earlier than the third or fourth game, as Hoke projected a couple months ago.

Yes, this is a good idea. Auburn's having a big ol' recruiting weekend, so naturally they've painted the path of the Kick Six on their field.

Bo5Hv71CUAEs8wN[1]

If I find out they've also got a cardboard cutout of Nick Saban in tears, I will commit.

In unrelated news, Bret Bielema took a job at Arkansas. Bielema demonstrates his mastery of making himself look bad with his mouth:

Bret Bielema why he made move from Wisconsin to Arkansas "SEC will get minimum of 2 teams in 4-team playoff"

None of these are ever going to be Arkansas, is the thing. The other thing is that give or take a tough decision, the SEC would have gotten two teams in a four-team field about 25% of the time since the dawn of the BCS era. Three is off the table.

Hooray for three months of this. If there was a single moment when Dave Brandon completed his heel turn with the Michigan fanbase, it was when he picked up the steel chair of Appalachian State and beat us over the head with it by scheduling a rematch. While the blessed event is still three months away, first extensive article on the Horror has been published. I refuse to read the thing, so here's a paragraph at random:

It’s no secret around campus that the football success of 2005-07 was a boon for the school’s “PR value” and “notoriety,” in the words of ASU athletic director Charlie Cobb. It helped bring enrollment increases, academic improvement and more.

I can't wait for replays to be on my television 24/7. Reliving the moment Michigan football went from national power to… this… is not high on my list of desirable activities. Here it comes anyway.

Possibly related. The student section has dropped alarmingly:

"We're projecting that number to be somewhere between 13 or 14,000 for student ticket numbers this year," Michigan associate athletic director of media and public relations Dave Ablauf said. "(That number was at) about 19,000 last year. We don't have a finalized number (yet), that's just an approximation because all the incoming freshmen haven't put in their orders yet."

This is partially because students can just buy tickets next year without long-term punishments and this home schedule is not worth the 300 dollars they're asking for it, let alone the regular price they're charging everyone else. It is also partially because last year was no fun and partially because the students don't like Dave Brandon at all.

The alarming thing is that this is probably going to happen every other year going forward unless Brandon can find a home and home series that actually moves the needle. Arkansas and Virginia Tech do not have anywhere near the appeal that Notre Dame does, and since Michigan got totally boned by having MSU and OSU away in the same year, every other year has no schedule anchor.

Even for you, this is surprising. Zach Travis has a column on the student section drop that you should read. The themes in it are things we hit on frequently here. In the comments, though, TOC contributor MSUDersh relates a story about the things happening to the UM wings of his family that is sadly believable. His dad and uncles are old-timey ticket holders in section one with tickets that go back 50 years:

A few months ago my uncle who splits tickets with my dad & another uncle rec’d an email about their tickets. The university told them that it appreciates their loyalty and also wants to ensure that they continue to have those great seats going forward. And in order to do so, the school recommended that they purchase four more season tickets (plus PSLs) in a completely different area of the stadium. Despite there literally being decades of my family history with the school & athletic department, including an endowment from my great grandparents in the 60’s that continues to fund scholarships today, Dave Brandon’s team is threatening to pull their choice seats and relocate them if they don’t purchase more.

I just had a wow experience. Has anyone else received an email like this? I'd like to confirm that the AD is stooping so low.

I motion to not do this and have ice cream. Latest O'Bannon wrangling:

Lawyers for the NCAA asked the appeals court to vacate U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken's order for the trial to start June 9. The NCAA also wants the appeals court to rule that the O'Bannon antitrust trial should not be held before the Sam Keller right of publicity trial involving videogames, a related but now separated case scheduled for trial in March 2015.

The filing late Thursday night marks the fifth attempt by the NCAA in recent weeks to delay and/or redefine the case. A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals previously rejected one of the delay attempts without comment.

Our local law-talkin', football-playin' dog weighs in:

The NCAA is also asking the courts not to consolidate the wave of anti-trust lawsuits filed by former players claiming they were cheated out of compensation above and beyond the value of a scholarship, and trying to get anyone other than Claudia Wilken as their judge, because Oakland is "spectacularly inconvenient" for a trial. A flight's a flight, according to the NCAA's own rules for seeding the NCAA hockey tournament.

Incoming. Dylan Larkin NHL draft profile ahoy:

“Larkin has shown he can be an elite-level power forward in addition to showing a high level of offensive ability. His ability to take the puck hard to the net allows for unique scoring chances most players would not be able get because of a lack of size and strength.”

Etc.: You definitely shouldn't watch Mitch McGary's draft workout video unless you want to be real sad. Nussmeier's position now sponsored by rich dude. Barking Carnival's boot camp series continues with leverage.

Unverified Voracity Was Bonkers Yesterday

Unverified Voracity Was Bonkers Yesterday

Submitted by Brian on May 19th, 2014 at 12:29 PM

HELLO LADIES (not like that). If you took in yesterday's softball double-header you got 14 innings of tension, home runs, and dugout gibbering capped by what has to be the nuttiest final inning I've seen in the sport: Michigan, down one, clubs back-to-back first-pitch homers off one of the best pitchers in the country to go up one, then puts someone on base for the final batter, who hits a rocket that

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NOPE

NOPE. Michigan had just blasted a ball over the centerfield fence that none of the outfielders bothered to move on, and this particular ball seemed harder-hit than that. It must have been on more of a line or really temporarily heavy or something. CF Lindsay Doyle was given an opportunity for the walk-off rob of a potential walk-off homer, which she took.

Even Carol Hutchins, an outpost of Red-like reserve in a sport that has a lot of jumping up and down, was momentarily baffled into GIF-worthiness.

ijd29sephicki55biv5m[1]

You and me both. The catch was Sportcenter's #1 play, which is pretty remarkable on a day that had plenty of baseball and NBA action.

Michigan advances to their ninth super regional in ten years of the current format; they'll travel to Tallahassee to take on the #8 overall seed Florida State. FSU is hosting their first super ever at an impressive 53-6. The best two of three series kicks off Thursday at 7 on ESPN.

Victory. The Michigan money cannon remains undefeated:

EDSBS Bowl 2K14 closed at midnight last night, and the total for the week's fundraising is staggering and very much awesome: $33,250.85 raised for Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta, all from your contributions. …

University of Michigan $10,183.68

University of Georgia $4,024.20

Notre Dame $2,249.32

University of Alabama $1,977.55

Georgia Institute of Technology $1,969.72

Auburn University $1,716.40

Well done, gentlemen. I have excellent news: in honor of the cannon, RRISA is naming their conference room something Michigan themed. Orson has asked us for suggestions, so I throw it open to the MGoPeanutGallery. Please keep in mind that we are trying to retain people's goodwill, so something like "Leaders and Best (unlike all non grads)" would not be good.

Also,

[11:27 AM] Spencer Hall: If there's a huge Michigan painting, they'll put it up there
[11:27 AM] Spencer Hall: seriously

Anyone that wants to provide a candidate shoot me an email.

Stauskas time. Nik Stauskas didn't shoot at the NBA combine but that's not to say he didn't shoot at all in the past week. A few gents put on a workout beforehand, and Stauskas proved that he is the unstoppable workout freak($) that you may have seen on youtube:

None of them disappointed Monday. During early shooting drills, Stauskas had the lead early, hitting 47 of his first 50 attempts. At the end of the workout, it was McDermott who couldn't miss, beating everyone with 13 3-pointers in 35 seconds. … Each player takes roughly 100 3-point attempts during a workout. On most days, Stauskas and McDermott are shooting about 85 percent. That's really remarkable.

That is nuts.

Chad Ford also notes that Stauskas looked "terrific" in the various ballhandling drills at this workout and is… wait for it… also grab a beer… "making a play to be more than just a shooter." While Stauskas isn't likely to be an NBA PG unless his team wants him to gently escort opposing points to the basket, his ability to get his own shot and excellent P&R skills will see him be more than just a shooter. Ford has Stauskas #12 now and thought he was upwardly mobile even before he put up impressive combine numbers:

Michigan's Nik Stauskas and Creighton's Doug McDermott really shined, as well. Stauskas was especially impressive. He measured with a 35.5-inch max vert, a 10.79 lane agility score, a 2.92 shuttle run and a 3.27 sprint. Those were all very good numbers and should boost his draft stock.

I know you are thinking about what I am thinking: what about the Pistons? Detroit needs shooting, and they need someone who can run a pick and roll with Andre Drummond without resorting to miserable off-balance jumpers. DX's latest mock has them taking McDermott. While that makes sense, as currently constituted Detroit could use a guy who can play 1-3 with bad defense a lot more than a guy who can play 3-4 with bad defense. Also, McDermott seems constitutionally incapable of being an okay defender because he's such a tweener; a hypothetical NBA Stauskas coached by Stan Van Gundy could be all right down the road, especially if Caldwell-Pope can be the 3-and-D guy.

If Detroit stays at eight I'd say there's a pretty good chance Stauskas ends up being the player who makes the most sense. Other than McDermott, guards/wings available at eight are likely to include Tyler Ennis, James Young, Rodney Hood, Gary Harris, and Zach LaVine. Only Hood and McDermott are in Stauskas's universe as a shooter, and Gary Harris being more 6'2" than 6'4" probably eliminates him.

Also in Michigan draftee news, DX's post-combine mock has Robinson and McGary as the last two picks of the first round.

All right, all right. Eighty-seven people have emailed or tweeted me about the latest indicator that things aren't going well on the season ticket front, so I am compelled to reproduce it:

addedvalue

The existence of such a thing isn't much of a surprise… except you'd think they'd translate "Added Value Opportunities" into English before releasing it to the world. The outstanding quality of the athletic department is how remarkably ham-handed they are at being marketers. This is supposedly Brandon's expertise and he's throwing powerpoint slides at the public.

The lord's work. Deadspin continues its excellent series demolishing bad arguments the NCAA tries to muster in its favor. The latest to meet the guillotine: competitive balance.

…my own research in 2011 showed that of the 1,000 top recruited athletes over a decade, 99.3 percent went to power conference schools. … the truth is that the current rules seem to lock in imbalance, and prevent would-be upstarts from building recruiting momentum.

That makes intuitive sense. A team can't put its money where its mouth is if it really really wants a guy that another school wants. When compensation is fixed* all choices are about things other than compensation.

And since it's currently impossible to make the system more unbalanced…

*[I guess it does technically move based on the value of a degree from school X. That is not going to be a huge consideration for many football players. See: every player ever citing academics as a reason he went to school Y, no matter what that school is. "I have chosen Wyoming School Of Finger Twiddling for its excellent academics," etc.]

Pyrrhic press conferences for 1000. When the press gets the temerity to ask a question that leads to this answer…

"No buyer's remorse at all," Delany said Wednesday after the Big Ten administrators' meetings. "When I go to Jersey, I go to New York, I go to support, not to judge."

…things are not going well in the PR realm. Jim Delany just described visiting his sister in rehab.

No surrender. O'Bannon plaintiffs have asked the court to ditch the individual damages in their lawsuit and, as a side effect, ditch the jury.

The plaintiffs' lead attorney, Michael Hausfeld, told ESPN that forgoing the effort to seek damages for the individuals who are named in the lawsuit streamlines the case, making it all about stopping the NCAA from continuing to prevent athletes from sharing in the media revenues they help generate. …

The filing by the plaintiffs aims to focus all of the attention on whether the NCAA's economic model should be changed. It's an attempt to avoid the messiness of sorting out who may have been harmed for past wrongs, and to what degree.

That would be the NCAA's worst nightmare, as judge Claudia Wilken is the person issuing statements like "I don't think amateurism is going to be a useful word here." It seems like the NCAA's best shot is to bamboozle a jury with the arguments Deadspin is currently blowing up.

As with any story about the O'Bannon lawsuit, we have a new opportunity to point and laugh at the NCAA's beleaguered lawyers.

The NCAA objected to the new move by Hausfeld to drop the damages claim. The association's lawyers wrote Wednesday night that they were "surprised and troubled by the Plaintiffs' last minute and abrupt decision to attempt to avoid having a jury decide" the case, calling it a "last ditch effort to change course in this litigation."

…Hausfeld dismissed the NCAA's argument.

"There's always been a damages claim and an injunctive claim," he said. "If they haven't been paying attention to the injunctive claim, it's inexplicable."

Well, they are very busy these days.

It'll be a while. Brian Kelly said something about playing Michigan, so everyone gets asked about it again. Dave Brandon has had "zero talks" with Notre Dame about resuming the series. It would take a lot of pride-swallowing for Brandon to do such a thing. The chances of that seem… low.

The earliest Michigan and ND will talk about playing again will be after both places have new athletic directors, and even then they'll be scheduling ten years out. This year's game is the last for probably 20 years. Well done, college football.

Old mascots are always the best. If you could guarantee me that Michigan's hypothetical mascot would look like it was put together at the local insane asylum's arts and crafts night, I would be on board. Hellmascot part 4,210 is MSU, 1966:

msu-mascot

No, no money for athletes. Somehow all of this manages to get sucked up despite MSU not adding sports:

"I think it was about 2000, our budget was right around $25 million and today it's $94 million," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said. "And it's real easy to take a quick look on where the allocation of those funds have gone, and so much of it — there is the coaching salary component that kind of stands out."

Wait, save that!

"But there's a much larger chunk that has gone to escalation of scholarships and services provided."

All right. What might these things be?

"It used to be a coach and a trainer kind of handled everything. Well now there's somebody to teach you how to cook, there's somebody on some campuses that do the cooking, that show you how to shop."

They have to invent ways to burn this money. That is the situation. They are so far up their own butts that they think they should be taught to cook and shop like they're in finishing school with Betty Draper. How about you give them the money and they decide whether they should spend it on a guy teaching them how to shop* or, like, anything else.

Meanwhile, Michigan made a profit of 90 million dollars from 2007-08 to 12-13, an average profit of $15 million per year. That's going to be great when I get my dividend check.

*["So this green stuff I have… I hand it to the man behind the counter. You don't get any green stuff. But if you had some green stuff, you could give it to the man behind the counter"]

Etc.: I still can't believe Gordon F. Gee was paid like 12 times what an average university president makes. GRIII did well at the combine. No beer at Michigan, because I would do anything for money but I won't do that. Good on Mark Schissel for making Michigan's compensation structure more transparent. Maryland previewed. TJ Leaf has a top four and is visiting soon.

Mailbag: Pressure On The D, Basketball Minutes, Losing To Rivals, The Process Revisited

Mailbag: Pressure On The D, Basketball Minutes, Losing To Rivals, The Process Revisited

Submitted by Brian on May 5th, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Pressure shift.

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Despite being passive, Michigan was 23rd in INTs last year [Eric Upchurch]

Since Hoke has taken over, it seems the expectation / criticism has been largely focused on the offense. Since rich rod left the defense in shambles, hoke & mattison seem to have taken a bend don't break approach and largely been given a pass while they accumulate talent and experience. With most of the experience and talent on the defensive side of the ball this year, does the pressure to get it done and carry the team to victory shift?

-Dan

I balk at the idea that someone needs to be "given a pass" after turning what was literally the worst defense in Michigan history into the #17 total defense in a year and improving to 13th the next year before dipping to 41st. FWIW, in yards per play terms the Mattison defenses are 46th, 25th, and 41st—a narrative of drastic improvement in year one, another step forward in year two, and then a step back.

I wish that step back hadn't happened, too, but the defense ended up collapsing once it was putting Richard Ash and Nose Tackle Jibreel Black on the field against the top rushing team in the country and then facing Tyler Lockett in a dismal who-cares bowl game they had approximately zero chance of winning once Gardner was ruled out.

Against the rest of the schedule, the defense was good enough to win. They could have carried Michigan to victories against Penn State (1.9 yards a rush, 6.8 per pass), Nebraska (under 300 yards total O), and maybe even MSU (16 points through 3 Q) if the offense was extant. People jumping on the D are a lot like people saying SHANE MORRIS COULD START YOU GUYS: they're letting the unprecedentedly terrible running game color their perceptions of the rest of the team.

That said, yes, last year's D was frustratingly passive and with Michigan returning almost everybody of note (departures from the two deep are limited to Black, the underutilized Quinton Washington, and both Gordons) it is time to take a step forward from passable to very good or great. The offense is not going to get where it needs to be in one year, so if Michigan wants to have the kind of season that makes people think Hoke should be back it's up to the defense to hulk up.

The rivals. We must beat them. Or not.

Brian,

Can you talk me into a scenario where Michigan loses to both at MSU and at OSU this year and we call the season a success?

-Craig

Let's step back for a second. There was a thread on the board about the recent Angelique Chengelis article in which she predicted a 10-2 record with losses to MSU and OSU. As always, the thread was split between people going "lol more like 2-10" and people responding to folks that say "I'll be happy with 9-3" with:

Is this what we are now? A program with fans that are "pleased" with mediocrity.

YES! YES, THIS IS WHAT WE ARE NOW. I mean… Michigan had that one 11-2 year that they acquired by shooting the moon six times. Aside from that, Michigan's gone 3-9, 5-7, 7-6, 8-5, and 7-6. And that last 7-6 doesn't really encompass the true face-crippling misery that was last season.

So, yeah, there are a ton of seasons that include road losses to the two teams that met in the B10 championship game last year that seem like a success. 10-2 is obvious. 9-3… sheeeeeeit, I would take any 9-3 record any way any how right now, no questions.

Would it suck to lose yet again to OSU and MSU? Yes! Yes, it would be a kick right in the plaster of Paris. But we're not in a place where we can turn up our nose at anything resembling a fun season. Just getting to a place where I can think "hey, this offensive line might be good next season" is a success. That necessarily comes with some wins, but except in pissy fan ways I'm not sweating who they come against.

Updated minutes for basketball.

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It's go time for Derrick Walton [Bryan Fuller]

Brian,

Can I get a prediction on next year's starting five?

Thanks!

Troy

Cleveland, OH

Three and a half of the spots are pretty obvious. The three:

PG: Derrick Walton
SG: Caris LeVert
SF: Zak Irvin

The half:

C: Mark Donnal/Ricky Doyle

Michigan might be able to spare some minutes for Donnal at the 4 depending on how foul prone those gentlemen are. Freshmen bigs ten to be very foul prone, so… yeah.

Even PF is not that confusing: it'll be split between Kam Chatman and DJ Wilson. Chatman will also get minutes filling in for LeVert and Irvin; Spike will get 10-15 minutes; Bielfeldt will be in the 0-15 range depending on how the other guys perform and if he can actually hit some of those threes that Beilein says are unstoppable in practice.

My guess at the minute breakdown now:

PG: Walton (30) / Spike (10)
SG: LeVert (35) / MAAR (5)
SF: Irvin (30) / Chatman (10)
PF: Chatman (15) / Wilson (25)
C: Donnal (25) / Doyle (10) / Bielfeldt (5)

MAAR over Dawkins is just a guess. I do think it'll be one or the other by crunch time since Beilein favors short rotations. It is possible that one of the two redshirts.

That's very young and skinny up front—four freshman and Bielfeldt is your frontcourt—but I'd put Michigan's backcourt up against anyone in the conference no problem.

But what about The Process?

I've seen a few stories about how young Team 135 will be. They all highlight the small senior class, but never get into The Process's impact on the class. In my opinion, the 2011 recruiting class was a mess largely because Dave Brandon waited until January to fire Rich Rod (and then spent a couple of days actually firing him). By the time Hoke was hired, there wasn't much time to put together a class. In your opinion, how big of a factor was The Process on this year's senior class?

-Raphy

Don't forget the song-and-dance with the planes and four or five days spent in an apparent effort to throw people off the scent of the most Michigan Man choice available.

We'll never know for sure whether or not Rodriguez was a dead man walking going into the bowl game, but I've heard from multiple people on that disastrous trip that everyone thought he was. This led to a widespread breakdown in order and the performance-type substance Michigan put out there. If there was any chance he'd be back before it, there was zero after. Brandon didn't hang the man swiftly or extinguish the idea he'd be gone, so Michigan got a month and a half of limbo during which Blake Countess inexplicably signed up and nothing else happened in recruiting. Hoke walked into the following recruiting class:

  • DEFENSE: DE Chris Rock, DE Brennen Beyer, CB Delonte Holowell, CB Blake Countess, CB Greg Brown, LB Desmond Morgan, LB Kellen Jones
  • OFFENSE: OL Tony Posada, OL Jack Miller, OL Chris Bryant (Bryant did commit after Hoke was hired but had been favoring Michigan for months beforehand.)

To this he added in the two or three weeks available to him:

  • DEFENSE: DE Frank Clark, DE Keith Heitzman, CB Tamani Carter, CB Raymon Taylor, LB Antonio Poole
  • OFFENSE: TE Chris Barnett, RB Thomas Rawls, RB Justice Hayes, QB Russell Bellomy, K Matt Wile.

Both ends of that class are equally subpar. Hoke's ten late adds produced Taylor, Clark, and Wile. There's a possibility that Hayes or Heitzman will contribute at a decent level this year; that is meh.

Given what we've seen from Hoke since, especially before Michigan's offense descended into awful unwatchability, you have to figure he would have done much better with the extra five weeks. He almost certainly would have found a tackle to replace Jake Fisher—he may have in fact held on to Jake Fisher—and found a tight end who was capable of staying on a college campus for more than three weeks. They may have found a better fit at QB than Bellomy, whose main asset was his mobility. And they would have gotten a better idea about a few guys who weren't likely to stick—I'm thinking about Posada mostly, by the time signing day rolled around some people were skeptical about his commitment level—and grabbed a guy to fill out the OL numbers.

So… it was significant. There is a reason schools don't wait until January to throw guys overboard, and Michigan is suffering through that this year.

Dear Diary Needs to Stop Raining

Dear Diary Needs to Stop Raining

Submitted by Seth on May 2nd, 2014 at 5:23 PM

001

dramatization

I've got this dresser I'm painting to go with our bedroom furniture. A few weekends ago I got one coat on it. Then it rained and ruined half the second coat. So I took it out there again but it started to rain on and off and I had to hide it under the garage overhang. Every day I check to see if there will be six good hours of sunlight somewhere to stick the last coat on it, and every time there's a dollop of drizzle here, a sprinkle there, and at least one good pour per day.

It is as hopeless and infuriating as being a Michigan fan. I know we can't complain too hard because there are places like West Lafayette where it just rains all the time, or Champaign where the weatherman predicts sun so you'll be outside when the softball-sized hail comes.

Your April shower was Urban Meyer coming to piss on your attempt to add a grad-year transfer to the OL, and now May flowers with a boatload of puritan crap.

I'm still livid. For a second there it looked like at least one of Michigan's major sports was going to be sustainably great, so of course that's when the most insane decision yet by an organization best known for blithering stupid decisions knocks basketball from a likely 1-seed to something way less than that. McGary's mad too, but the NBA's not a terrible fallback plan. Michigan got screwed the most.

The last guy I could find to get the one-year ban was a role player at UNLV who lost his 5th year to it in 2010. We've been scouring Google to turn up polls and quotes to give you some idea of how ubiquitous pot-smoking is among college athletes. The NCAA's own study came back at 1 in 5:

substanceabuse

I'm suddenly liking lacrosse more

So how is it, even if the draconian rule only applies to the playoffs, that the merciless league can only manage to tag one guy every four years? There's a synthetic version that regular pot-smoking athletes will use during the season to beat the tests. So when they do catch a guy with good ol'fashioned THC in his system, it's usually only because he's a total amateur. No pun intended.

Whence the leapers?

DSC_305213654949674_fe14be7c1a_o13656004973_29ac969567_o

I know Jones is 10, but I keep getting Dukes (83) and York (81) confused.

The 2012 receiver class had a pair of high 4-star types with similar I-saved-my-family-from-a-terrible-place-in-Africa stories. The 2014 class had the guy who rewrote the in-state record books and what already looks like a gem in Freddy Canteen. Lost in the narrative have been the three large-and-leapy 2013 guys. What do we expect from C'sonte, Jaron and Da'Mario? That's a good question.

This year I expect depth. In addition to Gallon we also graduated Dileo and Jackson and Reynolds. If Nussmeier indeed goes 3-wide a lot more as we hope, then at least one of them ought to figure on the two-deep in 2014.

Jones is more "slot-like", i.e. thin, though he's not at all short. I think his upside is Roy Roundtree, and so long as they leave him in the slot that'll be just fine. Dukes and York represent a specific type of receiver who can simply muscle past the type of legal-unless-they-call-it press coverage en vogue these days, and simply out-leap the 5'8 buggers who won't have any trouble staying with them. They're development projects: it takes years to perfect off-the-snap and route techniques to make this work. Unfortunately, Michigan only bothered to get a redshirt on Dukes last year, which, given Mathlete's finding that receiver experience is a big deal, is infuriating. Mo Ways is in this vein too, FWIW.

Etc. Hoops previews of Illinois, Maryland, and…Iowa? Hmm. Prediction for the remainder: Michigan (we should be below Iowa), Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin.  Photos from the Go Blue Bowl. The 2013-'14 cagers' contributions to the season's gifs. Lacrosse potentially could go green…I mean more green.

[After the jump: why 2014 offense isn't 2011 defense, I enter the ranks of MGoBloggers who rant about Brandon]

Unverified Voracity Must Not Have Excused You While You Touched The Sky

Unverified Voracity Must Not Have Excused You While You Touched The Sky

Submitted by Brian on May 2nd, 2014 at 1:55 PM

WELL FINE THEN. Apparently Michigan earned the animosity of Jimi Hendrix.

This was the Rose Bowl immediately following the legendary '69 OSU game that put Bo on the map, FWIW. Hendrix seems uncertain of the team that beat Michigan, he just wants Michigan to lose. Join the club. The very happy club.

I admit it. I find Wisconsin basketball tolerable these days. I still kinda hate Bo Ryan for being an alien from another planet sent here to prep us for invasion, but once they reached the Final Four I wanted Wisconsin to win the national title last year. And now Frank Kaminsky explains why he passed on the NBA draft:

"I am at the pinnacle of my basketball playing career, at least in my eyes. I know the NBA has their crazy fans and all, but if you look at all of their games, there are games when teams like the Bobcats get hardly any fans, and it looks flat out boring,” he wrote.

“At the Kohl Center, we play in front of nearly 17,000 fans every single time we step onto the court. When we travel, we play in front of sell out crowds who absolutely hate us. Not because of who is on the team, but because of where we go to school. Who could leave that?”

Frank Kaminsky Gets It™. Frank Kaminsky for athletic director. Where? Anywhere. Texas. Definitely Texas.

Oh, Texas twit, we are going to have an unrequited hate. Via Get The Picture, Texas Guy Just In Charge Of Things For No Reason on the A&M series:

I wonder what would qualify as a compelling reason other than 111(!) games dating back to 1902.

But go ahead and play a game in Shanghai. That'll get your brand synergized.

Dude you're never going to get a girl like that. Move on to the next one. This is stalker behavior:

After extending the Season Ticket Holder renewal deadline, and a total of (15) emails delivered starting on March 14 as well as a voicemail left by Jim Brandstatter, the Michigan Athletic Department wanted to provide you one final opportunity to renew your 2014 Michigan Football season tickets to ensure you are once again a part of one of the most exclusive groups in all of sports.

One of the most exclusive groups in all of sports that begs you 15 times plus leaves a voicemail by Jim Brandstatter in the desperate hope you will renew your tickets. Oh and lets you have ONE LAST CHANCE to renew. All right. One more chance.

Seriously, this is your last chance.

Despite it being 2016, it's not too late to renew your 2014 season tickets!

At least I'm not alone? When Phil Di Guiseppe and Alex Guptill signed NHL contracts, I wrote rather bitter posts about their exits that garnered a number of sarcastic "tell us how you really feel" responses. Tell us how you really feel, Red Berenson:

"We were going good in the first half and then some issues started cropping up and we thought we had dealt with them, but there was an underlying current of animosity, and a division between certain factions. You'd like to think the leadership is strong enough - and we had good captains - that you can just bring guys together, but you have to have total buy-in and no matter how much guys like Mac Bennett, Derek DeBlois and Andrew Copp tried, they just couldn't get that."

I'm expecting hockey to have a refreshing season next year.

Hello, defenseman of the future. Hockey adds a commitment from Joe Cecconi, a kid currently in the USHL after a mid-season callup last year from a U16 junior outfit. Cecconi had nearly a PPG with his junior team before moving to the big (USA junior) leagues. Already 6'2" and nearly 200 pounds, the OHL fired an eighth-round pick at him despite considerable uncertainty about whether he would report. He doesn't appear to be on NHL draft radar.

As a mid-year '97, Cecconi is likely to come in next year unless Michigan has one of those "if X happens, this year, if Y happens, next year" deals. This is about all I could Google up on him.

Hockey rule changes. It sounds like college hockey is serious about going to three-quarter shields next year, which has been framed as a safety issue in the past and now apparently has USHL data to back it up. I continue to think it's at least partially driven by a desire to look more like the NHL and therefore help the never-ending blood war with the CHL, but if they've got data they've got data.

Other potential changes:

  • Death to ties. The NCAA wants to explore way to get more W/L decisions, seemingly without resorting to shootouts. There's no solid proposition on the table; 4-on-4 and longer OTs are possibilities, as are—ugh—shootouts.
  • More reviews. There's a proposal to expand the ways reviews can be used to check if goals are legit and if penalties warrant five-and-a-game. Hockey reviews are generally less odious than basketball ones since they're infrequent and about things that have a huge impact on the game, but it seems like they've got all the critical stuff right now and expanding it is reaching the point of diminishing returns.
  • All neutral zone faceoffs at center ice. Faceoffs at the offside dots are kind of stupid for the attacking team if they win them. This is more a product of the fact that hockey offsides is clumsily implemented.
  • Penalties for delay when you can't change. In favor.
  • Fewer hand-pass whistles. Apparently there were too many inadvertent deflections called hand-passes last year.
  • No leaving your feet to block a shot. Linked article says that's unlikely to pass, FWIW, but that's an effort to create more offense "in a time where goals are already at a premium." I'm pro-offense but that seems like it takes a hustle play out of the game for debatable returns.

There are a couple other extremely minor proposals.

image

MSU game plan

As always when hockey rule changes come up, I rant against how restrictive offsides is and proclaim it's time to admit goalies have won and expand the nets. There are a hundred ways to make offsides better; my current proposal is to triple the width of the line (the line is both part of the neutral zone and the offensive zone) and create a passive offsides rule like there is in soccer. A guy can be offsides without a whistle as long as 1) he is not impacting the play and 2) he immediately moves to exit and re-enter the zone.

As far as goal size goes, with modern butterfly goalies the only way to change the paradigm is to make sitting back and waiting for a shot to come in a worse play than it is right now. Teams like MSU play a six-goalie style in the defensive zone these days, because it makes sense. Dropping save percentages three or four points would swing things back towards aggression. Expand the nets by the width of the goalposts to get 2-3 more goals per game. It sounds dramatic, but really it's the least dramatic option to get scoring up. Everything else proposed is either a weak measure that won't do anything or a radical overhaul. Expanding the nets is just hockey with slightly different equations.

Etc.: Talking with DJ Wilson. Women's tennis has lost in the BTT final for the fifth straight year. Ouch. Instead of tweeting out your outrage about people saying "furst amundmunt," just tweet this XKCD. Jordan Morgan's suddenly the belle of the ball.

Mailbag: Optimism, Negotiation Skillz, NCAA Whinin'

Mailbag: Optimism, Negotiation Skillz, NCAA Whinin'

Submitted by Brian on April 28th, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Optimism time!

optimism-from-superjudge[1]

Hey MGoBlog team,

Thought it might be fun to list what would reasonably need to happen on order for Michigan to have a B1G division championship season. I've got: dramatically improved interior OL play, inferior outside OL replacements that still perform above expectations, better QB decision making (fewer interceptions), adequate WR replacements for graduating seniors, improved DL play, and status quo the rest of the way. Follow up question is, what are the odds of these things happening and can we see any historic examples of these sorts of improvements in just one year? Or are we just screwed and should hibernate until basketball season?
Best,

Stephen Bowie

Uh. Let me blow the dust off my optimism beanie, place it upon my pate, and spin the propellor.

I feel… marginally better. All right, let's tackle this. If Michigan's going to win the division they have to at least split their dual road games against MSU and OSU and then hope misfortune befalls the one they lose to a couple times. Oh, and beat Penn State and Northwestern and not, like, blow it against Rutgers and Minnesota.

How do they do that? Probably the same way they beat Notre Dame and nearly beat Ohio State last year: Devin Gardner playing like the baby of Denard and Tom Brady. The run game is just not going to be good enough to rely upon. Things that need to happen:

Magnuson and Braden are at least okay. Or Cole or whoever ends up playing tackle.

The interior line is not a complete shamocracy, and someone can pick up a blitz. Reducing bad decisions from the quarterback is at least 50% on reducing the number of opportunities to make bad decisions under pressure.

Gardner increments. 8.6 YPA, 450 yards against OSU, 60% completions… Gardner does not have to go particularly far to be B10 championship quality even if he has a heavy burden.

The defensive line can hold up against mean ol' OLs. The DL wasn't an enormous problem until Ondre Pipkins went down and Ohio State's terrible matchup came to town. With Henry back and still on an improvement kick and the losses eminently sustainable (Washington inexplicably did not play as much as he did as a junior and Black was way, way out of position by year's end) plus Michigan's initial DL rush starting to bear fruit, improvement here is likely.

Pass rush has to exist, in a serious fashion. I'd be more comfortable about this if Ryan was still your edge threat and Clark was bookending him. As it is, increments from Beyer and Clark plus added aggression also seem to bode well here.

A competent safety has to be found opposite Wilson. Your guess as good as mine.

Probabilities: dodgy, very dodgy, likely, likely, 50/50. If you told me the OL would be like a C+ I'd actually be pretty positive about this season… but man, that's a long way to go from an F-, down Lewan and Schofield.

Wait you think this was on purpose?

eric-idle[1]

Dave Brandon isn't a terrible negotiator, he seems to get what he wants, so presumably he wanted this home schedule. Is the point so that we alternate between having all of our difficult games away one year, then having them all at home the next? That way every other year we presumably have a great run that gets us to the B1G championship? The easy early games are obvious schedule padding...

Dave [ed: not Brandon]

I am taken aback by the idea Dave Brandon is a sly fox who always gets his way. It's true the first thing he had to tackle—stretchgate—was seemingly done with aplomb, but in retrospect since the USC case the NCAA hasn't done anything to anybody of note that didn't involve 1) multiple lies from the head coach about NCAA violations or 2) horrible horrible felonies. You or I could have piloted Michigan to a slap on the wrist once the various improprieties turned out to be 15 minutes of extra stretching and grad assistants looking in on summer practices.

Since then:

  • Michigan hired Brady Hoke, possibly because negotiations with Jim Harbaugh went poorly. That "all that glitters is not gold" line from the press conference lingers as bitterness over those negotiations breaking down.
  • Michigan gave Brady Hoke a top ten contract when he was not in demand anywhere else and said he'd walk to Michigan.
  • Michigan and Ohio State got stuck in opposite divisions with a crossover game, thus guaranteeing that Michigan would have the hardest schedule in their division over time had they lasted.
  • Michigan played Alabama for less than they would get for a home game. The head-staving by Alabama made no financial sense, as Michigan traded a huge TV event and a game with ticket prices that were 50-100% higher than home game tickets for an outlay parsimonious enough that bringing the band was a big problem.
  • Michigan wore a series of clowniforms. Fan pushback was so severe on this that they have dialed it back out of necessity. Meanwhile, Michigan can't even get uniforms that are, you know, uniform from Adidas.
  • Notre Dame cancelled the Michigan series. They punked Brandon along the way, blindsiding him and getting themselves the last home game in the series after getting the first when the teams resumed.
  • Michigan gave Al Borges a 300k raise. I mean. Gotta retain that guy.
  • Michigan replaced Notre Dame with Arkansas. Look at future MSU and OSU schedules, which feature Oregon and Alabama and Oklahoma and Texas, for comparison.
  • Michigan got stuck with MSU and OSU away in the same year. Not only that, they get to travel to MSU twice in a row.
  • Michigan couldn't get Mitch McGary's suspension reduced. OSU DE Noah Spence is going to miss three games for testing positive for X or something like it, this after an appeal that reduced the punishment from a whole year. Meanwhile, the NCAA reduced the penalty for McGary's transgression two weeks after he received it. Michigan still got rejected by the NCAA.

With rights fees negotiated by the league, Brandon's main accomplishment as AD has been to raise ticket prices. Any bro in a suit could have done this. Any time he's had to interact with another human in an effort to protect Michigan's best interest or bottom line he's either lost or not even tried. (Night games are not an accomplishment. Networks aren't like "Michigan at night… pshaw." Michigan had been actively resisting them for years.)

His biggest negotiation wins are things that are nice for the bottom line but don't actually have any impact long term. And they're probably attributable more to the capacity of Michigan Stadium than anything else: the Winter Classic and this upcoming Man U-Real Madrid friendly.

So. While it's possible Dave Brandon wanted this home schedule—after all, he is personally responsible for the Horror II—it's more likely he just got run over by the Big Ten, because that's how things go. Things make much more sense if you think of Dave Brandon as Lucille Ball than as Gordon Gekko.

Has Michigan been the victim of B.S. penalties by the NCAA more than any other program?

...at least for the last decade?  Specifically, I am thinking about the two obvious instances, which are 'Practicegate' and the recent McGary clusterf---.  Both of these seems ludicrously disproportional in the severity of punishment compared to the actual crime.  To compound matters, you don't need to look very far to see far more egregious punishment (e.g. Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, etc) go completely unchecked. 

Of course, the other nuance to this is that Michigan seems to be doing it to themselves.  If they didn't so willingly 'play ball' and try to be as open and transparent as possible, would they even be in some of these messes?  It seems to me the days of trying to play by the rules is long gone, and if the NCAA isn't even going to attempt to maintain an ounce of consistency, why would Michigan continue to get hammered while most others skate by?

/Rant.

But in all seriousness, has Michigan been the most unlucky/attacked program by the NCAA compared to the actual transgressions that have occurred?

In terms of proven allegations versus what appears to  be the standard, USC would have an excellent case just on the strength of a recent NCAA punishment docket that looks like this:

1. Penn State, pre-softening
2. USC
3. Penn State, post-softening

astronomical unit

1,000,005. Jim Tressel lying to the NCAA at least four times about illegal Terrelle Pryor benefits
1,000,006. North Carolina not even really being a college for its students.

Michigan's stretch-gate crap was essentially nothing but bad PR. Given the way that went down and how the Freep creeps knew exactly what to FOIA it is extremely likely that was an inside job. By the time the NCAA got done with that they were specifically calling out the original article as sensationalized and inaccurate. The punishment was something like a 2% reduction in practice time and the loss of a grad assistant or two. I have no problem with the results of that investigation. It was a  joke that turned up some technical malfeasance and was treated as such.

The McGary thing is just terrible luck and the NCAA being the dumbest organization on the planet. Plenty of other athletes have gotten nailed for Violating The Special Spirit Of Sport.

As to your point about not playing ball and just cheating your ass off because you'll get away with it… well, yeah. That is obviously the move. When the best team in the country is going into every year knowing they have to cut like ten guys before fall and it doesn't impact their recruiting, the way to the top is obvious: ruthlessness and lawlessness. By the book, USC probably got what they deserved. They feel aggrieved because almost literally everyone else is doing it and getting away with either nothing or minor penalties.

90% of the crap Michigan goes through they do to themselves. The NCAA is not the problem.

Unverified Voracity Drops Mic On Foot

Unverified Voracity Drops Mic On Foot

Submitted by Brian on April 22nd, 2014 at 1:30 PM

I suppose that it is in fact internally consistent that you would be dumb enough to say the things you are saying and also dumb enough to keep saying things. NCAA president Mark Emmert has escaped his holding pen and is making the most of it before he is tasered back into serene acceptance of fifty-dollar cucumber sandwich lunches. He's making the most of it by getting into rap battles with strawmen in front of microphones… and losing.

#AskEmmert would have descended into farce if there was anywhere to descend to, with one particularly stupid argument about CFL players getting the most attention.  Most recently, as part of an interview with Dan Patrick recently Emmert claimed that if he was on a football scholarship he wouldn't want anything on top of that:

He's just the kind of guy who doesn't need that much money, you see. He's barely aware that he made 1.7 million last year. Never asked for a raise in his life. Miracle of compound interest. Still drives the same 1978 Ford Pinto to and from the office. Weaves his own suits on a loom he built himself from plastic bags and floss. Has not eaten anything but multivitamins and rice since 1884.

Also from that interview:

Nonsense, obviously. As Andy Staples points out, it's lawyer nonsense—to escape anti-trust laws leagues have to demonstrate that their rules keep things balanced and thus increase the overall popularity of sport X and league X. So he has to make his nonsense arguments so the NCAA's lawyers can make their nonsense arguments that a judge will hopefully fart on.

The "people in charge of things are just in charge of them for no reason" tag is getting a workout these days. Speaking of, Texas's new AD is opening his mouth again.

Meanwhile. Michael Bird provides an excellent explanation of why the whole "you're getting a FREE EDUCATION" line of argument is flimsy: when you put people who wouldn't get into a school in it and give them a 40-50 hour a week job on top of that the free education is usually just an education in how to stay eligible to play. Like philosophy, the only thing you can do after is teach people how to do the thing you just did.

You've got a nice lack of union there. Wouldn't want anything to happen to it. While CAPA won their first round matchup with the NCAA at the regional NLRB level, they've only won the right to vote on union. First they've got to vote to form one. While that seems like it would be a slam dunk since Colter and company had to have overwhelming support to even take their case to the board, Northwestern is pushing back as hard as they can with all means at their disposal:

[Former NW player Kevin] Brown said he and others recently met with coach Pat Fitzgerald for two and a half hours to address some alumni concerns, such as the treatment of former quarterback Kain Colter and threats made to current players.

The former defensive back said former players have contacted current players, saying if they vote “yes” for the union on April 25 they will lose out on employment opportunities and other benefits of the football alumni network.

CBS has obtained a document from Northwestern itself with the usual scaremongering. If you vote for a union, you might miss out on your dying grandma's last hours, it says. Seriously.

Northwestern tells a player that the current benefit of going home for a family emergency might not be available after a majority vote because "that would be subject to negotiation with the union." "The union's agenda, which is set by the union leaders, may not take into account the specific things that are important to you as an individual," Northwestern states Fitzgerald later adds, "I don't think I have EVER denied or discouraged any player from taking the time they need for important personal matters."

Seems likely. Also likely:

Northwestern tells parents change will happen faster through NCAA reform than through unionizing, which could "take several years before the issue whether our players are employees entitled to unionize finally is resolved."

You desire changes, but let us make the changes without any input from you.

One thing's clear, anyway: Northwestern is terrified about CAPA.

Bl1aS0ZCIAAZ_lv[1]

Next year Michigan's promotional poster will read "WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON THE SCHEDULE AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH IOWA"

Michigan: Rutgers: NIGHT: explosions: invasion: New York: money. Speaking of people just in charge of things, Michigan's game at Rutgers will be at 7 PM. Mark your calendars. Mine says "Michigan versus nonstop pursuit of dollars."

Number based awards. Beilein is the best in the country after a timeout, which probably just means Michigan has a real good offense. Boston College was next, which just goes to show that anyone making a big deal about performance after timeouts probably shouldn't. Also: Michigan unsurprisingly had the best offensive tourney.

That doesn't seem good. Another guy heads for the lifeboats at Indiana, and this one is kind of a big deal:

Assistant men's basketball coach Kenny Johnson has accepted a job offer from Louisville, leaving Indiana one coach short of a full staff. Whether Tom Crean can find another assistant capable of the same impact Johnson made in just two years in Bloomington remains to be seen.

Who is this guy you probably haven't even heard of? Well…

That is a lot of guys to bring in in two years, and now he will be attempting to get those guys to Louisville.

Dagnabit. Maryland was trying to get social momentum around a #hashtag promoting their November 15th night game against MSU…

…but someone caught on and Maryland deleted that tweet before I could replicate the image.

Why college kickers suck. According to Chris Kluwe, they don't get coached. Literally.

In my five years of college ball, and eight years in the NFL, I did not have a single special teams coach or head coach who had the faintest idea how it is that I did my job, and that is how it is EVERYWHERE. (I was lucky that early on in high school, I found a couple coaches who did know a thing or two so I could teach myself later).

Kluwe was a punter, but chances are that ignorance extends to the other kicky-footy guys around. I assume Dan Ferrigno is also in that boat and Matt Wile is going to sink or swim based on his own ability and what I assume are witheringly expensive visits to Chris Sailer and the like.

It's kind of weird that Michigan's going with that same setup at corner. Shhh, shhh, it looked good in the spring practice-like substance, I know.

Western Civilization died yesterday. I will miss it.

Do you now. Great Leader on Great Leader:

"I have a little experience with branding," Brandon said.

20090421-dominos-pasta-bowl[1]

"In the world of branding, you build what's called brand equity. If you look at the Big Ten Conference, you've got brand equity that's been built over decades and decades. The Big Ten means something."

I love the image of Dave Brandon explaining the concept of the Big Ten meaning something other than the number of team in the conference like he is talking to a room full of five-year-olds. As he does this he's standing next to Jim Delany, and they're talking about the fact that they've just added Rutgers and Maryland.

Brandon saying "I have a little experience with branding" is like Walter White saying "I have a little experience with supporting my family."

Etc.: I do not regularly watch Craig Ferguson but I appreciate his bizzaro-world take on late night when I have occasion to. Jordan Morgan's throwing out the first pitch at tomorrow's Tiger's game. Kenpom is now trying to estimate weights, which sounds like an episode of Kenpom The Sitcom. This week: Kenpom comes up with a new zany stat!

It's been three years, time for more Izzo to the NBA rumors. Minnesota joins the Pistons amongst the ranks of NBA teams who will throw Izzo's name out but not hire him.

You probably shouldn't call Derrick Green fat. Or anything other than "sir." Jane on Jameis Winston and the total lack of investigation in re: the rape charges filed against him.

File under: I'll believe it when I see it.

Spring Stuff: Offense

Spring Stuff: Offense

Submitted by Brian on April 8th, 2014 at 2:06 PM

WELP. In a word, Michigan's offense was ominous. It was ominous—worse than that—in Hoke's first year, though, and that worked out okay as long as Al Borges wasn't trying to make Denard Robinson into a pocket passer. Standard disclaimer about information value of spring.

That stated, yeesh. We knew the situation at tackle was going to be iffy, especially with Magnuson out. Having Mason Cole as the first option at the most important spot on the line was beyond those expectations. Meanwhile, Michigan is prepping the only remaining guy who started every game last year (Graham Glasgow) at right tackle, which they'll say is just precautionary but speaks of some trepidation about Ben Braden. I do not want there to be trepidation about Ben Braden.

Hoke did not mince words when asked if they thought they'd found their best five:

"I don't know if we can say that, honestly," Hoke said. "I know I can't.

"So, I guess the answer is no."

Are the Wolverines even close, really, to identifying the best five?

"No," Hoke said. "Not yet."

That was apparent on the field, where runs generally got to the line of scrimmage (hooray!) and no further (mutter). Pass protection was close to nonexistent. It was what everyone expected, which was bad. They've got five months to figure it out, whereupon they probably won't figure it out. Digging out of a hole as big as Michigan dug last year is a two-year operation.

13655101344_d90b6f4f0e_z
Nussmeier and new protégé [Bryan Fuller]

Quarterbacking. Gardner was just two of ten, but Morris was hardly better. Gardner's interception was at least at his receiver; Morris threw one directly into Lewis's chest. In the aftermath there were the usual quotes about how it's an open competition, but, yeah, when the Big Ten Network's main Morris highlight is a pass thrown behind the line of scrimmage that guy isn't displacing a quarterback who averaged 8.6 YPA last year and can run.

Neither quarterback was helped by the pass protection, which forced them to move around and let Michigan's secondary recover. Gardner's move and re-set on one throw allowed Jarrod Wilson to get over to Canteen on a corner route, for example. We have a ton of Gardner data from a year and a half as the starting quarterback. One spring outing isn't going to move the needle.

Speight didn't do much; Bellomy didn't look better than he did against Nebraska.

13651411044_85a1211257_z

Hayes should be a legit option. [Fuller]

Tailbacking. On the few runs on which tailbacks had an opportunity to do something notable it was usually Justice Hayes doing the notable thing. He had a couple of quality cuts in tight areas that got him a nice chunk. Derrick Green had one bounce outside on which he seemed quicker than last year but still not particularly quick; De'Veon Smith also turned in a leg-churning run.

They're all about even, it seems. Michigan will cycle through them looking for one to break out. That's a tough ask given the line. It's platoon time. Michigan still seems to insist that anyone who does not resemble a moose must be relegated to third downs:

"Right now, if we're not in a third down situation, it's De'Veon and Derrick. And then Justice if we get into third down."

There's no reason that Hayes shouldn't be given a look as the feature back after last year's lack of production all around and his evident ability. He was no slouch as a recruit, and being able to pick through traffic is a nice skill to have. You get the impression that Hoke would ride David Underwood for years before even considering Mike Hart. Size isn't everything. Ask the Kansas State team that just eviscerated you with a 5'8" tailback and 5'11" wide receiver.

It's also time for Fred Jackson to preach the simplicity line and throw shade on Al Borges:

"Guys are more consistent now with their reads, going from point A to point B with protections," Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson said last week on WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor. "By not having a ton of protections and a ton of different runs, it allows the guys to be more consistent in what they're doing."

/waves tiny flag

Of course, the main problem with the blitz pickups last year was not so much the tailback going to the wrong spot but what happened when he met the blitzer. That's on Jackson, not Borges. The thing about not doing every possible thing is great—I've heard that Michigan had 13 different protection schemes last year. 13!

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MOS EISLEY FTW [Eric Upchurch]

Something about a wretched hive of scum and villainy I can't quite figure out. Freddy Canteen went from freshman to Manningham in the space of 15 practices, starting the day opposite Devin Funchess, making the one deep catch of the scrimmage session, and smoking Blake Countess over the top on another pass that Gardner threw short. Countess caught up; it was still reminiscent of 86.

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Almost. [Upchurch]

Also reminiscent of 86, at least as a freshman: people screaming at Canteen about where to line up pre-snap. There was one memorable play in Manningham's freshman year where Fred Jackson was having a conniption fit on the sideline trying to get Manningham to relocate himself; Manningham did not and scored a touchdown anyway. Canteen dredged that memory up on Saturday.

Spring depth etc., but passing Jehu Chesson after a promising freshman year from him is a real thing. The tea leaves here suggest Canteen is the real deal—Michigan does not need a WR savior and has a veritable avalanche of bodies they can put on the outside. Canteen rocketed past last year's WR class and Chesson in 15 practices. It would be easy for Michigan to talk him up and throw him in the slot; instead they appear to be prepping him for a major role on the outside.

"I've been at slot and outside receiver, (I'm comfortable) at both, but I'll play probably more outside," Canteen said. "(I want to be a playmaker), to be honest. I just want to make plays."

Darboh and Chesson will also figure in; with Funchess that gives Michigan four guys with production or hype or both to their name. They're suddenly flush. With York and Dukes—who made a nice diving catch—also available, it seems like Drake Harris and Moe Ways should redshirt.

Let's think about the guy like a football player instead of a traveling circus. I can only assume the light deployment of Dennis Norfleet was for cackling-about-your-mad-plan-in-your-underground-lair reasons. It was encouraging to see them throw an actual route his way, a wheel on which Jourdan Lewis took an unnecessary pass interference flag on an overthrown ball. I support the integration of Dennis Norfleet into the base offense instead of having a completely separate Norfleet offense that always results in him getting the ball going laterally.

Hooray for efficiency. One of the most disconcerting things about Michigan's spring activity is how much standing around there is. For many, they're setting a countable hour on fire. This is apparently not how it works behind closed doors:

"Practices are really fast, we get a lot of reps," Gardner said. "This was probably the fastest practice I've ever been a part of."

There's been plenty of talk about the overall pace Nussmeier -- Michigan's first-year offensive coordinator -- works with in practice, and the overall level of tempo he chooses to play with during games.

Practices are quick. When a play ends, the next group -- according to players -- is expected to be out of the huddle and ready to snap the ball for the next rep. That concept is a simple one: It creates more reps, and for a young team, the more reps the better.

For any team, really. And that should serve Michigan well when they want to change the tempo, something Borges teams were mind-bendingly awful at. Here's a manna from heaven quote:

"I think the biggest thing, you always want to be able to control the tempo on offense -- whether that's to speed the game up or slow the game down," Nussmeier said during an interview with WTKA-AM 1050 in Ann Arbor on Thursday. "We practice at a fast tempo for a lot of reasons. One, it forces our guys to play fast and focus and always concentrate.

"And it also allows us to pick the tempo of the game up (if we need to)."

Hallelujah.

Random Mone quote I missed yesterday. This is an epic nonquote.

"I'm just having fun, being blessed," he said. "Just having fun playing the game is what I think my teammates have noticed. My enthusiasm is the main thing I bring to the field."

Our THREE weapons are having fun, being blessed, and having enthusiasm!

Complaining Section

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WE MUST MAN THE BARRICADES OR OUR FATE IS SEALED

The experience of being at the spring game was not a pleasant one. Brandon further pushed the limits of his promise not to put advertising in Michigan Stadium (a promise he's already broken in a dozen different ways) with large videoboard ads for Comcast and Allstate. There was also some dude kicking a field goal sponsored by PNC. Dude is just itching to turn Michigan's gameday experience into OSU or MSU where the scoreboard looks like a NASCAR driver's jumpsuit and each play is brought to you by Depends Adult Undergarments.

More maddening was the constant—and I mean constant—wedding DJ music, which only dropped out for brief periods in which the band was suffered to play. By the end of the day it appeared like the band just said "screw it, we're playing" and went about fifteen minutes straight. This was a merciful relief.

The music combined with the punting drill section of the day was typical Michigan at this point: we'll be shitty to you, fans, but here is this awesome guitar riff! Hunter Lochmann apparently believes that any deficit can be obscured by music. If things go poorly this season expect them to try two songs at once for the entirety of the Penn State game. One of them will be Phil Collins, because that's the soul of football.

The contrast between the NCAA tournament regional the week before and the spring game could not have been greater. The tournament is a great event the NCAA gets out of the way of. Michigan has a crappy event they try to dress up. Hoke's disregard for the fanbase hurts their ability to make it a non-crappy event, of course. Michigan remain focused on one thing and one thing only: strip-mining revenue from the banks of fan loyalty like it is an infinite resource.

Any things they do that are actually fan-friendly, like bringing in a slightly less rank standard of nonconference opponent, are because they have reached the limit of their ability to strip-mine. Michigan reminded fans in attendance to renew their season tickets—an announcement that never needed to be made before.

It would be one thing if the people making these decisions did anything but ape whoever their counterparts are in the ECHL. They have no concept of forming an identity to rally around. They just have spreadsheets.

Unverified Voracity Wasn't At Full Strength

Unverified Voracity Wasn't At Full Strength

Submitted by Brian on February 25th, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Surprise. You're probably not surprised.

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"MICHIGAN HAMPERED BY STARS' NBA CONTRACTS"

They did show McGary with like two minutes left, so I guess we're even?

Kind of good. Tim Hardaway's assertion about a week-long break is just true.

Seeding and location things. Seems like Michigan has a decent shot at Milwaukee. Lunardi's got them there and has for a while; Palm has them relegated to Orlando, but he's got them a #4 seed, not a 3. Lunardi has Creighton in San Antonio instead, which is a bit farther away for them but not immensely so. I'm hoping the committee realizes that Buffalo is just as close for Michigan. Syracuse is locked into one spot there; the other one is up for grabs.

Unfortunately, there's no slam dunk site this year that would be an obvious spot to put Michigan, so they may figure Milwaukee or Orlando is a who cares kind of situation.

Compare and contrast. I might have known this but I forgot it and now spring practice is starting immediately and I am reminded, so here is some possibly-old news. this week's Athletic Department Outrage Of The Century: undeterred by the miserable weather at the last 100 spring games, Michigan has actually moved it up, so that it's on April 5th. Which is also the date of the national semifinals in the NCAA tournament. Is Michigan actively trying to suppress turnout?

Not quite the worst scouting report ever. That is still Aaron Schatz on Mike Martin, but whoever's putting up the anonymous scouting reports for NFL.com is… well… he's definitely not Heiko. Jeremy Gallon's weaknesses:

WEAKNESSES

Short with a limited catching radius.

Okay.

Lacks top-end speed to separate vertically or run away from a crowd (consistently tracked down from behind).

Maybe on an NFL level?

Not a natural hands catcher and will often body the ball.

Okay now you're just making things up.

Lacks dynamic run skills for an undersized receiver.

Much of his production results from schemed bubble screens and lateral tosses.

OH COME ON

Underpowered blocker.

/dies

Hide yo kids. Both Michigan and Michigan State are being investigated by the Feds for not doing enough to deal with sexual assault on campus, with your favorite online and offline crank spearheading the charge:

[Doug] Smith filed a complaint last year with the Office of Civil Rights, saying that U-M refused to investigate the case and that the university’s grievance procedure does not fully comply with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender.

Funny how the suddenly-legitimized Smith is now getting profiled by the News and used as a primary source when everyone was perfectly happy to ignore him this summer. It's terrible that this guy actually has a point about the insular, opaque, CYA way the university does everything. When you are going up against Doug Smith and losing, you are so bad at PR Dave Brandon is interested in hiring you.

Meanwhile in East Lansing, other suits in charge of things are caught lying to make themselves look good:

Near the bottom of the letter was a single sentence stating that the university is “collaborating” with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, to “give members of the campus community an opportunity” to meet with representatives from the department.

But on Monday, Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw told The State News the planned visit to campus is directly related to an official investigation into sexual harassment and violence complaints pending against the university.

Doug Smith might be behind this as well, as Michigan State seniors Keith Appling and Adriean Payne would be on the Island Of Expelled Athletes if MSU was operating with the same standards Michigan is. Seems like a short leap of logic there.

Elsewhere in legal procedures. Suffice it to say that the preliminary hearing in the O'Bannon case did not go well for the NCAA.

One of the NCAA's other justifications is protecting amateurism. Wilken largely skipped past the topic with a dismissive line: "I don't think amateurism is going to be a useful word here."

Dagger. One thing to love about the legal system is cock-eyed judges who blow through decades of smoke and mirrors with one withering sentence.

Nobody knows about soccer. That rumored Manchester United/Real Madrid game slated for Michigan Stadium in one URL:

http://www.mlive.com/sports/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2014/02/prewrite_dont_publish_michigan.html

The organizers were set to announce their final two sites recently and did announce one: Gopher Stadium in Minneapolis. It would make sense if another Midwestern football venue was the other thing they were waiting on, but still no announcement. A spokesperson for the group organizing this preseason tourney thing confirms that they are in "serious discussions" but can't announce anything.

The hold up may be about the playing field. When Michigan Stadium was being considered for the USA's most recent World Cup bid it became clear that any soccer match at the stadium would have to be on a temporary elevated platform.

Oh good. Michigan and Michigan State will have two games about one-third of the time going forward as the Big Ten adopts the least creative way to jam a 14-team conference into 18 games they can come up with: play five teams twice and eight once. Boooooo.

What they should have done: first 13 games are a round robin. Top seven and bottom seven are then grouped, final 6 games are round-robin within groups. Big Ten title: amazingly important. Conference stretch run: amazing. Downsides: schedule uncertainty and tough on bubble teams. But, man, just think of those three weeks at the end of the year. Would be must see.

Etc.: Five key plays. Zach Helfand on the differences between Izzo and Beilein. Tweeting at players is A FELONY. 300 pound man runs 40 yard dash twice as fast as you would. Then he talks to people about it. He will likely go in the top ten.

Kill 'em with kindness. Lawrence Marshall overcomes tragedy. Not sure if serious dot jpg.