Dear Diary Needs a Cat Sometimes

Dear Diary Needs a Cat Sometimes

Submitted by Seth on March 1st, 2013 at 9:28 AM


Woman with Cat|Pierre Bonnard

True Genius is Getting Away With It. Before I get into my self-indulgent emo crap about the Penn State game, go read consecutive Diarist of the Week Ron Utah's conclusion to the two-parter (Part I here) on Hoke vs. Saban recruiting and whether Michigan's at least following Bama's recruiting pattern toward future success. Money chart shows contributions from Saban recruits of various rivals ratings, with 1 (blue) the washouts, 2 (orange) the spot starters/useable depth, and 3 (maize) the starters & stars:


Yes, chartnazis he should have labeled that better. As I've mentioned before a lot of those sub-four stars (5.7 and lower) were down-rated against their apparent talent by Rivals and other sites because the kids were high-risk to meet NCAA academic requirements. Saban's strategy for tapping all of that talent was to oversign like a mother and let that the risk work to his benefit. Hoke's smaller classes have very few academic risks.

Diaries Etc.: LSAClassof2000 found the Big Ten has rushed for enough yards since 2000 to make two trips to the moon. I'll let GOLBOGM update his charts before diving too far into his comparison of the best NCAA hoops coaches. Here's his latest remaining schedule update. The Blockhams have a power outage and this is a metaphor for something. Marching On (the wallpaper by jonvalk). Marching on…

Best of the Board

So this week we learned a few hard truths. Like this basketball team isn't a 1 seed. And according to this thread there's a lot of people who come to MGoBlog for something other than cleverness and cats.

The "I only come for Brian" crowd got an inadvertent taste of that yesterday. Thursday content on the front page after a game with Penn State is supposed to be Ace's gifs, Brian's game column, the video highlights thing that keeps promising me they're upgrading their servers, UV, and This Week in Twitterverse. Instead you got Brian talking to cats and then nothing, because—raise of hands—after THAT who really wants gifs and pierre-bonnard-artwork-white-cathighlights and links and tweets of Michigan defenders standing around while PSU's floppy walk-on drives for easy layups? If you weren't around for the game thread, or the postgame thread, I'll save you the trouble: it's 1200 comments alternating between calling our defense pathetic and the refs awful.

So cats. This isn't solely an internet phenomenon. The ancient Egyptians worshipped cats for their irreverence in the face of massive upsets to Hittites. The ancient Michigan fans used pictures of adorable kittens to make it through the aftermath of The Horror.

Since the late '90s the nittany variety has been that cathartic release for Michigan. Whenever it looked like our program was about to atrophy, a kitten in a scarf would appear, dressed all up nice like a real national program of consequence and culture, and lose in a fashion that let us regain at least some plausible measure of being Michigan fergodsakes. It was their apparent strength that catapulted the 1997 team to a #1 ranking we'd never relinquish. My freshman year a theretofore underwhelming squad blanked a top ten Penn State team in what's still one of the most memorable games I've ever been to. Minnesota tripped up their title-bound team in '99 but Michigan traveled to Happy Valley the following week, went nose to nose with Arrington and Brown, and sealed Tom Brady as the comeback kid. There's 2002. 2005 when is seemed all we could do was lose 4th quarters. 2007.

Basketball playing our home and home with them during the interlude of some brutal Big Ten nittanylionstretches seemed scheduled for exactly that purpose. Instead we ended up returning the favor.

I discovered MGoBlog during that whole '07 Comcast/Big Ten Network spat. The Midwest's least favorite company was having a hissy fit over putting another Fox channel on a basic tier, because the way cable works is you have to buy 150 channels you don't want before getting to the ones you do, and nothing drives the masses to move up like sticking the Michigan game just out of reach.

As a result I had to go to a local bar to watch the Northwestern game. Amidst a classic DeBordian display of zone left that made that game way too close I ran into my old fraternity brother Dave Malak, who informed me there's a website that responded to Appalachian State by turning pink and posting lots of cats. Phones didn't yet have the internet they have today so it wasn't until that evening that I got home, searched for "michigan blog cats the horror" and got the September archives starting with the newest on top. The first MGo article I ever read began thus

9/22/2007 - Michigan 14, Penn State 9 - 2-2, 1-0 Big Ten

Adrift on a sea of bodies, legs gone, head yanked back, enemies all around and pawing, Mike Hart stretches for the inch he needs and gets it. When Hart is gone and I am old and my mind flips through the rolodex of players past, this will be the image that lingers. It's his career writ microscopic. He takes his natural ability, and stretches it to its breaking point, and Michigan has a season again.

Somehow Mike Hart still feels like a secret. In some extremely obvious ways he is not: one of Michigan's vaunted triplets going into this season, he is widely acclaimed as the best back in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country. Anyone claiming the "no respect" card for Hart is going to have to make a strong case indeed. Everyone knows he is good. Maybe even great. But they don't know.

You can maybe forgive me and the other front-pagers if we try to sound like that sometimes. Writing is an impressionable craft; consciously or unconsciously we all imitate what we admire. I read Cook long before Foster-Wallace whom I've since devoured; prior to that my major sportswriting influences were Mitch Albom and Craig Ross. I adopted Brian's cheekiness because levity is the key to his genius for brevity and that's something I've always lacked; in turn he has little use for my themography or acoustic sensibilities. The advent of blogging sparked a new age of Impressionism in sports journalism, and I ask your patience as those of us who came after the vanguard fill in the white space of d'Orsay with our mimicry; we're all here for the Monets.

Contractually obligated highlight video

Board etc.: Denard catches footballs. MJ14 culled Twitter for some recruiting updates. Michael Scarn put together a handicapped 2014 recruiting board. M1817 explains Tom Brady's restructured contract so you can explain to people who question how/whether Tom could take less money. Krzychawe Kryzewefski Coach K comments spark an interesting discussion on when it's appropriate to rush the court, situationally and in a "give the other team a second to get off the court" kind of way. The M's in the center of Crisler and Yost are "UNACCEPTABLE" according to M. Discover posters' super-secret double identities. Blackhawks fan tries to solicit mourning from Red Wings fans over the potential loss of that rivalry if Detroit moves East, receives a chorus full of "Yeah we'll miss you when we play Florida, maybe."

Your Moment of Zen:


From Marley Nowell.

As of this week for the first time in my adult life I have a front yard. I'm stoked for gardening and tossing various balls back and forth and stuff, but so far this is all I've done with it.

Dear Diary's Youtube Links Will Soon Be Dead

Dear Diary's Youtube Links Will Soon Be Dead

Submitted by Seth on February 22nd, 2013 at 10:37 AM


Wallpaper by jonvalk

Saban did it! Mister Ron Utah, you have stolen my thunder. I had this excellent long "when will we be Bama?" article/thesis I'd been building for HTTV 2013 (coming soon to a Kickstarter near you) and you go ahead and make it a two-part diary. The second half will presumably come later, but I'm going to skip ahead to it anyway so as to make another graph that people on this site who know graphs can yell at me about:

When We Be Bama

That's all according to Rivals because it's a quickchart and demonstrates that as well as Hoke has been doing on the recruiting trail, he has yet to (and most likely won't) approach the scale or quality of the Saban hauls. The similarity of this trajectory is obvious, and ends there. Bama was built by taking on a lot of academic/personality risks—way more than he had scholarship space for—and then picking through all that talent for the few worthwhile pieces. If you were a Shula recruit and couldn't compete with the new faces you were medicaled if you were lucky, and ground up into Soylent Green if not.

But then of course you don't really need to be Bama to dominate a division or two of the Big Ten Going on Sixteen. If Michigan can settle into a pattern of always getting classes like the last two, and developing them well, and if the no-risky-kids strategy does in fact pay off with high retention, and if much of the rest of our conference stays low, then there's a lot of Rose Bowl potential in this program. Except Saban's old Floridian nemesis now runs the cheat factory in Columbus, so the upside is less total dominance and more like being the disadvantaged good guy in a second 10-year war. Gear up.

Also stop being mean to people who are mean to me about my charts in the comments, leastways not the people who know what they're talking about.

Maybe conference expansion is actually all about academics? This is the suggestion put forth by MosherJordan, based on the realpolitik of how AAU research dollars are allocated, which he says has a lot to do with who powerful your boosters are and how many Congressmen you influence. Which is to say maybe the Big Ten's motivation for adding Rutgers and Maryland (and possibly UNC?) is to give the CIC a bigger bloc. I never did think to look at the recent round of expansion as a grab for electoral votes but if you do things that way…


Lighter parts are the recent additions

The real realpolitik of college football is that adding Syracuse gets you way fewer than 29 electoral votes, just as taking Pitt doesn't give you half of Pennsylvania's delegation and I wish Michigan produced more talent than Alabama and Mississippi combined.

Maybe some of the presidents are thinking this but I think you're really just looking at a secondary effect of the B1G's stated goal of adding large TV markets, which like electoral votes are strongly correlated with population. For example you may look at Mosher-Jordan with its position on top of a hill overlooking a wide field, its wide moats, its arrow slits for windows, its possession of a bona fide dungeon, and its practice of housing princesses (i.e. the Women in Science & Engineering program) in its tallest towers, and conclude that our dorm is in fact a medieval castle. But was MoJo really designed to withstand an assault by the local Medieval Club, or was that just an accidental benefit to an edifice intended to protect its inhabitants' virginity?


Our keep hast ne'er fallen, despite the WISE girls' treachery

Etc. LSAClassof2000's weekly chartgrinder has shooting data broken up by games. GOLBOGM updates the remaining schedule. Blockams puts Denard on skates; I'm working on a theory as to what's wrong with hockey that involves new Yost and all the really bright lights shining right in your eyes from virtually every angle.

[Jump for the Board and stuff]

Dear Diary Isn't Up to Urban's Standards

Dear Diary Isn't Up to Urban's Standards

Submitted by Seth on February 15th, 2013 at 10:35 AM


Why yes there is a story behind this photo:

"I took this picture at the pre-Super Bowl NFL Tailgate Party last week of my brother and Urban Meyer. My brother's hat was backwards but he twisted it around as I set up for the pic. Thought you might enjoy."

--Jared of Sports Power Weekends

As you may have heard on National Signing Day Urban Meyer inked a lot of five-stars (and poached as many three-stars from his conference rivals), then rounded on the rest of the B1G for not faring so well. MaizeNBlueInDC took to the Scout rankings to confirm, compiling the recruits by state to demonstrate how each conference was doing versus its footprint. He starts with a chart that seems to suggest the Big Ten recruited just like every other major conference except the SEC which I graph:


The parts I faded are the top two teams from each conference according to Scout's team rankings, respectively Bama/Texas A&M, UCLA/Wash(!), Mich/OSU, Okla/Texas, Clemson/FSU, and Rutgers/Cincy. That's what Urbz is whining about; he and we finished with the 1 and 2 teams to Scout, and the fourth Big Ten team doesn't appear until two spots above Kentucky. Course I'm not sure what Meyer expects to say at the coaches meeting except "Stop being MAC coaches promoted to your Peter Principle limit." For QED purposes, a reminder of Big Ten coaching hires since 2007:

  • 2007: Saban/Tressel acolyte who turned Cincy into a BCS team, LSU's DC, Mack Brown's recruiting guy, Indiana's OC who coached Ball State before Hoke.
  • 2008: WVU's head coach who invented the spread 'n shred
  • 2009: Eastern Kentucky's head coach (hired in '08 under grooming plan)
  • 2010: Bob Stoop's longtime OC
  • 2011: SDSU's head coach, NIU's head coach
  • 2012: Two-time national championship winner at Florida, Toledo's head coach (CBs under Tressel), a Belichick assistant
  • 2013: Utah State's head coach, Kent State's head coach (WRs under Tressel)

Recently the SEC has taken to hiring rising star high school coaches who spend a year at Arkansas State, but they've also pilfered Bielema and hired a string of successful coordinators and guys who turned mid-majors into Top 10 teams, and, you know, former national championship winners who tried the NFL because their NCAA dynasties were no longer challenging.

Returning to the Diary of the Week at hand, the rest of the charts use the state data to show things like the SEC has a third of the nation's talent while Big Ten states accounted for a sixth—every other conference is less than us. In the comments turd furguson charted where the schools line up in ranking vs avg prospect rank to see if they're just hauling in more kids period. That also makes for easy graphing and general usefulness so:


In other takes on meeting Meyer's standards, here's EGD with a list of Urban-approved, non-"Don't be a Peters'd MAC coach" tips for Big Ten coaches heading out on the recruiting trail.

Basketball, the What's Leftening: Two of the three remaining tough games for basketball were just played. Our Big Ten opponents all have enough rough stuff still to play that everyone's expected to end up 14-4.

Etc. A better-late-than-never wrap-up of things Brian said on the D.C. trip—if you ask your local alumni chapter nicely (and you don't live in a crappy, unvisitable place like Dallas) you too can get a visit. The weekly LSAClassof2000 stats thing is a Geographic survey of freshmen in the Bentley database that's mostly useless if you don't take out the walk-ons—I had a hell of a time with that same problem when I did the historical team makeup from Ohio (the yellow part) graph for 2011 HTTV. Free throw attempts = EFFORT (and refs but mostly EFFORT!) A made-up backstory for rapture guy (the guy who reached ecstasy in that one gif); the real story will be on these pages soon courtesy of Ace. Lacrosse opponents primer. Please give details. Blockhams was pretty funny.

Requested: A diary on Michigan's ski team, which is club but I'm told is pretty good this year and has Bob Thomas's son on it (and competes in a division called "Michigan Men").

[After the jump: the winner of last week's "Find me a Game…Stauskus lookalike from the Fab Five" contest, and some stuff from the board.]

Dear Diary is Just Like the Fab Five

Dear Diary is Just Like the Fab Five

Submitted by Seth on February 8th, 2013 at 10:23 AM



What is Hoke pointing at?

Option 1: Dick Vitale with stitches on his nose. Deadspin rumors are often just that, but I have it from the guy who was walking ahead of Dickie V when this occurred that the account of announcer meeting glass before the Ohio State game is mostly true. Variations: it happened more like an hour and half (as opposed to just-) before the game, and it was the glass next to the door (not the glass door itself) that transferred Dickie's forward momentum into Dickie's face in much the same way that air wouldn't have. Tirico FTC%20Sliding%20Glass%20Door%203behind him stood stunned for a moment before he registered Vitale was possibly really hurt. Staff sat him down in a side room at Crisler and then released him to do the broadcast, which given the circumstances I admit is pretty boss. Usefulness of this knowledge to you is minimal unless you were among those particularly annoyed by the inanity of Vitale's color commentary, but it is important if you are to fully appreciate this epic comment by suspected MGoReader "snoop-a-loop":

University of Michigan Emergency Department
Date: 2013/02/05
Time: 19:01
Patient: Vitale, Dick 73M

Option 2: I think he just recognized something and is like "hey that totally reminds me of…


I'm giving Max an epic basketball Hoke point for this photo essay that matches the iconic Fab Five pics to the 2012-'13 team doing the similar things. Judging by how long it took me to match the four above I figure this took quite a while longer than it looks. 100 more points to whoever can find a Game…Blouses from 20 years ago. Closest I can find so far:


Companion piece is GOLBOGM's well-written look at each of the main players (by position) on this year's team up through the Indiana game. He also put together a rundown of the remaining schedules among Big Ten contenders, though it needs an picture-34698update after last night. Profile says this guy's only had an account for 11 weeks but I've seen him popping up with great comments in various threads, so keep an eye out for the guy with the Hoke RAWR '97 avatar:

LSAClassOf2000 wrapped up Basketball History Week with a comparison of the current team vs. all those since the last national championship squad. Before going on a charting binge he posted a direct statistical comparison of averages which I must front-page:

Stat 1988-2012 Current Team
FG% 45.80% 50.50%
3PT% 35.10% 40.20%
FT% 70.80% 70.50%
Rebounds / Game 35.6 36.4
Assists /Game 14.2 15.4
Points Per Game 71.9 77.8
Offensive Eff. 1.008 1.181
Defensive Eff. 0.993 0.915
Off. Rebound % 31.80% 31.40%
Def. Rebound % 68.80% 74.60%

The mean of 1989+Fisher+Ellerbe+Amaker+Beilein-to-2012 is not a stat (I'm building a new hoops database which I intend to break that up a bit better), but this is how we feel about the basketball team in a nutshell. Free throws and offensive rebounding are sore spots but on par with our typical teams. Where these guys differentiate themselves is they make their shots and win the board battles on defense. Defensive efficiency is down less than offensive efficiency has run off the charts, and the result is 1 more point for every four (total) possessions than we're used to.

I am highly unlikely to devour something unpleasant. These SEC schools with sudden and inexplicable five-star windfalls need to be stopped says AC1997; getting Ole Miss to pee in a cup is harder than it sounds, replies Zone Left. I co-sign the thing about how treadlightlyit's hard for anyone but a journalist with an agenda to uncover evidence—players don't rat, fellow students have no interest in Bartman'ing their own teams, and everybody at the program level has dirt on everybody else. I'll add it's even harder to get a laughably incompetent and profit-motivated NCAA to investigate without tripping over itself, or to sanction to a degree that it's any kind of deterrent.

In this regulatory environment Urban Meyer is technically right in calling out the rest of the conference for its miserly ways. "…I mean we're giving out cars and cash all over the country and you can't match a few grand to a five-star receiver in your backyard?"

Mathlete pointed out yesterday that it's just the top of Mississippi's class that's noticeably different from their historical hauls. I take it as more circumstantial evidence that something was fishy about the top guys, since a "Freeze is just a better recruiter" or "players think Ole Miss is on the up" explanation should have seen a more even distribution of success. There was no across-the-board greater interest in Ole Miss this year among 4-stars, which is the greatest indicator that a program is recruiting at a higher level. Rather they got the same 3-stars they always get, and to that added a ridiculous success rate among the elite of the elite. If this happened naturally I'll eat something unpleasant—let's make it the sleeve of an MGoShirt if no evidence emerges in the next four years because I'm not sure I want to bet the entire digestive tract on how poorly Ole Miss can cover their tracks a lemon because there's already a tag for that. I'm guessing what happened is like in Blue Chips, where Ole Miss decided to leap into a game they figured everybody else was playing, and got burned by Superman III- slash Office Space-level over-success.

Etc. Primer on Lacrosse opponents. Mock Rock videoschatster points out that the native dance Sione Houma and the football team are doing is the Haka from New Zealand's Maori, but nobody knows where they got if form—perhaps Russell Crowe is hovering around the program again?

[Hit THE JUMP for the board stuff, and why I am suddenly a huge fan of Michigan's rowing team.]

Dear Diary is Four Degrees from Kevin Bacon

Dear Diary is Four Degrees from Kevin Bacon

Submitted by Seth on February 1st, 2013 at 10:16 AM


Wallpaper by jonvalk

Multiple well-researched recruiting retrospectives, everything you need to know about being Number 1, and so many memes explained. Buckle in sports fans because this was a week for user comment worthy of being ranked over Kansas. But first, the thing where I give money to i give money to yooooooouuueeee:

IN WHICH VOGRICH AIN'T SO POOR. You have until 11 a.m. tomorrow to register your fantasy team in our Saturday free pool. Winner gets $100, and there's another $200 split among the 2nd through 15th placers. Details are in the Diary. Really it's just you pick eight guys under a salary cap and see who can get the most rebounds, assists, and points. Wings get called guards, which I find appropriate and kind of interesting in a Beilein has changed the game kind of way. This time I tried rolling with a tempo formula and ended up with both parts of the Cody Zeller-Mitch McGary matchup.

Some of the valuations are weird, for example McGary is $7, 476 while…


Did I just put that there because MGoBlog is obsessed with boxscore bagels? Maybe.

IN WHICH WE BELIEVE EYEBALLING IS BETTER THAN MATH. On Tuesday Brian told Big Ten Geeks that if their metrics were coming up "Jordan Morgan is the Big Ten's best defender," the metric is probably wrong. Most people would see a battle of internet sports nerds of this magnitude and just nod on the sideline, but the brave Blue_MQT dove right into that, putting four countable defensive factors (field goal %, turnovers, rebounding and free-throw rate) against defensive efficiency to see which correlate the best. Then he shows pictures to demonstrate the stuff good defense is really made of, and why it doesn't appear in statistics. A million ugly Big Ten forwards with weird names agree.

IN WHICH BRAYLON GIVES OUR RANKING A SCHOLARSHIP. Every time Yeoman does something that takes a lot of work and ends up being super valuable to our interests, the author of this column must decide whether or not to deploy the obvious double-entendre. This week's impressive solo-farming effort yielded the tournament fates of the last 30 top-ranked teams in January. I make pie:


Now keep telling yourself this. Relatedly: LSAClassof2000 charts AP votes for Michigan this year, creates a chart that seems to suggest there's a ranking zero. Blazefire imagines a 2013-'14 without Burke, Hardaway and GRIII; how about we lose only Vogrich, Akune, Bartelstein, McLimans, and Person and repeat as National Champs, did you think about that?? [me choking Blazefire.gif]. No, no, the chart, remember the chart. Anyone else's arm getting tired?

[After the Jump: the final word on the difference between a 4- and 5-star running back. And many memes explained.]

Dear Diary Passes the Shakalaka

Dear Diary Passes the Shakalaka

Submitted by Seth on January 25th, 2013 at 8:44 AM
Get Adobe Flash player

A ho-hum home win versus Purdue doesn't quite register on the official Muppet meter, even if the No. 1 team lost on Wednesday and we're the No. 2. And we can't all be celebratin' an ultimately meaningless ranking that hasn't been posted yet. So I propose a compromise:

Finding a marquee road win on its dwindling schedule was imperative for Purdue's fading tournament hopes, and for much of last night you could tell the Boilermakers were stiffing it. Then Glenn dropped the family stone


Soundtrack | Ace

Two epic gif dunks in two weeks and we've got ourselves a new Robinson to love. A top ranking may be academic from here with Duke falling to Miami, but just in case you don't trust the coaches to do right, Mmmm Hmmm has tracked the poll movement among B1G title contenders this season. He did the same with football earlier this week, and giving him the Diarist of the Week honors for it so he doesn't have to ask the mods to bump things anymore.

LSAClassof2000 has his own metric for comparing the top teams in the conference based whether you're above or below average on 18 stats he can pull from box scores. When he's done it looks thus (click embiggemates):


The things we're below average in are the usual things; the lack of an elite defender has Michigan last in the conference in blocks with only Penn State, Nebraska, and--oh okay--Indiana in the neighborhood. For what it's worth THE_KNOWLEDGE says we'll play Ohio State in the Big Ten tourney.

A Michigan Man will coach the 49'ers. Brian on Wednesday bumped the diary by stephenrjking pleading for people to forgive Harbaugh his academic comments in '07 because, like, we're blood. I'm Harbaughwhatever; the thing I don't like is when people say they're mad at Harbaugh because he was "disloyal." If there's something that makes Michigan different it's not that we stand by each other, in fact I can't think of any other family among major college programs that's as ready to criticize itself (we're still biased). We're not the school with a "Sacred Brotherhood" that you violate by complying with NCAA investigators and tell the truth.

Jim's crimes were the same as Snyder/Rosenberg's—being mostly inaccurate in his criticism, and being motivated by spite and personal gain—although to a far smaller degree. Harbaugh doesn't care about your grudge anymore than he cares that he currently employs four (Boone, Whitner, Grant and Ginn) Buckeyes who could be exempli gratias for how little our rivals care about educating players to do something besides football or work at a car dealership. He said the thing because he was competing for the same kids attracted by Michigan's academic/athletic combo pitch while being hamstrung by Northwestern-level requirements we don't meet.

If there's an exceptionalism to Michigan—the school and the sports—it's a focus on being exceptional over whether we appear to be so. That's what distinguished Bo from Paterno, it's what distinguished Carr from Tressel, and it's what made Hoke a great choice for Michigan's head coach in 2011.

Rutgers and Maryland Explained? Using a database published by USA Today, woomba found valuations for the pieces the Big Ten recently plucked in the current media environment by manually adding "Rights/Licensing" to "Other". Maryland ($22 million) was still just No. 6 among Big East and ACC teams in this metric, and Rutgers ($14.5 million) was 12th. For reference, Nebraska was at $35.8 million the year before they joined the Big Ten.

Things of interest not related to killing the conference to gamble on an outdated TV model: Michigan leads the nation in licensing but our "Other" is a relatively pedestrian $6 million (Ohio State's was a ludicrous $20.6 million last year but other schools at the top were all around $10 to $11 million). I'm almost sure this difference is in-stadium advertising but don't tell Brandon (I'm sure he already knows and that this grates him endlessly). The football ticket shakedown and replacing the coach raised contributions from $12 million in 2010 to almost $28 million last year. Ohio State's contributions dropped by almost $10 million after Tatgate.

Best of the Board


A 2012 highlights/2013 hype video by MGomaha. All of the highlights and none of the "crap" Brady. If all of these are so good it'll be a pleasant offseason. Still nowhere close to a Better Son or Daughter or the Weapon of Choice/Dilithium spring reels.


They just wink very suggestively. Discussion on Hinton's Superbowl starters by recruiting stars article linked. One thing I noticed was that most of the guys he listed as "N/A" because they were before the Rivals database were major, major recruits. Frank Gore, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anguan Boldin, Terrell Suggs and Bryant McKinnie were all among the top 10 high school players in their years (Moss and Boldin of all time). Carlos Rogers and Justin Smith were Superprep All-Americans, which is the equivalent of being a Top-50 player. Jonathan Goodwin you could call a 3- or 4-star; he had all the offers but went to a MAC school so he could play right away.

If you call the other "N/A" guys unranked you end up with a Superbowl roster made up of roughly a quarter each of five-stars, four-stars, three-stars, and lower. Some readers saw that and came away with "See it doesn't matter what you're ranked out of high school because half of the guys in the Superbowl weren't blue chips." This is because these readers don't know how math works.

Rivals this year lists 34 players who are 5 stars, and had 250 players get 4 stars or higher, and gave at least 3 stars to 1,650. That's out of 8,171 high school players profiled. So let's compare percents shall we?

Rating 2013 Recruits SB Starters
5 stars 0.42% 24.5%
4 stars 3.06% 28.3%
3 stars 20.19% 24.5%
2 or less 76.33% 22.6%
Players 8,171 53

If stars didn't matter these two columns ought to be apportioned the same. Yes it's too small a sample size to scream correlation, but that's a very suggestive wink.

Your Moment of Zen:

Sorry dad.


Via mgovideo - Apparently he and I share an internal playlist.

EDIT: The title of this article was changed after posting because apparently it was causing Creed-related seizures. Please note that the title to the Sly & The Family Stone song where they say "Boom Shakalaka" is "I Want to Take You Higher." There is no reason to have any other song come to your head when you hear those words.

Dear Diary Is Just Someone You Met Online

Dear Diary Is Just Someone You Met Online

Submitted by Seth on January 18th, 2013 at 7:50 AM


A sixth year senior? Fake! David Jones|Star Tribune

What is existence, really? If a person who was never born dies, but you believed they had been alive, is not the mourning real? Who among us has never felt sad for the death of a fictional person—okay put your hands down Millenials who cried about Dumbledore. You too people who fell for the character of George O’Leary in George O’Leary’s Resume. I mean just a few years ago there was that legend of the basketball player who would appear every year on a different team until his knees…

Okay so I’m being told that Trevor Mbakwe actually exists. Apparently I have not only seen him play basketball as recently as 12 hours ago, but many other independent sources have all confirmed that Mbakwe still has some eligibility left despite the fact that Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend was in fake middle school when this dude was hawking rebounds for Marquette. How this is possible I'm not sure but one reader in the game thread suggested it might be because they're putting his brain in the stomach of an exosuit:

"Mbakwe looks like Krang from Ninja Turtles. –Dubs


Okay I kinda see it. Also not a myth: Mbakwe is the only member of Minnesota’s starting five who’s not averaging 10 ppg, via the quick preview by robbyt003. LATE BREAKING: the rest of the schedule previewed by mistersuits.

We saw last night just how non-mythological this Michigan squad really is, doing to the Gophers in their building what a million KP100 teams couldn't (the Duke loss was at a neutral site). Before the last 5 minutes turned into Foul Fest '13, Michigan was shooting 58 percent, and not the "they're just going in" kind of 58 percent (like Stauskus couldn't make a 3 for awhile) but the Mr. Hardaway is sick of hearing about how athletic their forwards are kind. Highlights:

Get Adobe Flash player

"Center the ball! Center the ball! Center the ball!" –Dickie V

Hypothetical Wolverines of the 21st Century: Now that the 2013 class has progressed to the point that M is actively turning away offensive linemen (this is true!) we’re starting to get the comprehensive 2014 lists. Allin4Blue kindly collated the bigger Michigan targets. To recap, Michigan has commitments from LB Michael Ferns and OT Denzel Ward, and is the presumed leader for a handful of other dudes. Long way to go before signing day. The 2014 Recruiting List (originally published in June) is now updated.

Hypothetical Meaning of Football-Related Activities: Ever since he took my suggestion of adding lolcats to his posts, LSAClassof2000 has been getting progressively more interesting. This time he compared the top teams to their performance in top general stats (offense link, defense link) to see which are greater indicators of a team’s likelihood to succeed. Being good defensively seemed to be a slightly better predictor than being good on offense. Otherwise stat values by category:

  • Very valuable: Yards per play, Total TDs
  • Somewhat valuable: Total yards, yards per game
  • Only a little valuable: Number of plays

Takeaway: the object of offense is to score. Don’t let anybody tell you different.

The University of Michigan baseball team lost to Nebraska, 15-2 at the Wilpon Baseball Complex in Ann Arbor, Mich, on  May 17, 2012.


Hypothetical Fourth Major Sport: There was a time in 2006 when baseball got really good and people cared. Becoming nationally relevant again is not likely to happen until either a.) NCAA tells the southern teams they can’t keep starting the season in mid-winter, or b.) global warming makes that irrelevant for every state but Alaska. Or perhaps c.) Young coach who turned Vanderbilt into a power is hired, given massive budget and A++ facilities, and gets to go around offering Michigan degrees. Raoul wrote two baseball-centric diaries this week, one to bring you up to speed on Erik Bakich’s program, and a second on the in-state recruiting efforts, which I’ll warn you are like hockey/hoops in that kids commit right after potty training.

I’ll admit what usually gets me to a game a year is when there’s a future MLB’er on the roster so I can later say I saw him in college and sound like major baseball dude. Michigan’s not projected to be very good this summer spring late winter, but there are two speedy outfielders who could see The Show: junior Michael O’Neill who’s the better all around player, and returning captain Patrick Biondi (pictured above), who was a Tigers draft pick out of high school and steals everything in sight.

The Best of the Board


All hail chatster for putting together a list of where the seniors we care about will be playing in the various senior bowls. He includes a lot of former opponents but here’s the former Wolverines:

  • Last Week: Stonum played in the Casino Del Sol game.
  • Tomorrow at 3 pm: All-Star Clasic: Roundtree (#89 in red)
  • Tomorrow at 4 pm: East-West Shrine Bowl: Campbell (#73 for West)
  • Tomorrow at 5 pm: NFLPA Collegiate Bowl: Mealer (#76 for National team) will play tackle. Also appearing: McGuffie.
  • January 26 at 4 pm: Senior Bowl: Denard playing receiver for North.
  • February 2 at 2:30 pm: Texas vs. the Nation: Kovacs is playing for Nation.

Siri, remind me at 3:55 pm on January 26th that it’s my last chance to see Denard in a winged helmet.


This question from Hail-Storm will be answered in depth in the coming months (hopefully in super detail in HTTV—maybe Chris Brown will step up to that one?). Basically he’s asking what kind of offense would best suit a team that has a few short but good receivers, questionable running backs of varied talents, a very young interior line, very good offensive tackles, and Devin Gardner at quarterback.

This is a too-short answer but I’d say it’s obviously to live on the edges. Find a guard among the kids who can pull really well and make the base play Toussaint or Gardner running outside, keeping the defense honest by running against their strength when they cheat to Lewan’s side. If it works the corners (who get edge duty) won’t be able to play man on Gallon and Dileo so much. If we can find a tight end who can block, sweeps. If not, there are things you can do with Funchess to keep the LBs from cheating outside. Actually it might not be so different from what Ohio State ran this year. Again, pass with max protect—Gardner can create, is liable to do insane stuff if you make him dodge more than one dude.



So BlueBarron got to shoot a Slippery Rock game earlier this year. When their scores come up at Michigan games I always imagine it as this clearing in the middle of the forest with a rocky little brook cutting through the back of one end zone. Which was actually kind of close. What I didn’t imagine is how similar they look to…you know, that one guy what’s his name…sorry hang on my little brother is jumping up and down with his hand up right now…dude stop I’m trying to think who this Division II team reminds me of.


Three threads hit this week for the people in the comments to make comments about people in the comments. In the first we all reminisced about the great posters of yore who are no longer with us. I arrived late but my blanket answer to most of the “where did _________ go he was hilarious!?” questions is “I finally got sick of his shit and caved him.” If it wasn’t that he’s probably writing for another site right now. Like remember how those dudes took some mention of the spread being “communist football” and made that a running theme? They had a blog. What happened to the dudes who wrote that blog? I don’t know. I still have Sharik’s cell from the one time I wrote a diary about safeties and he was like “you are wrong about everything—quick come meet me for a beer while I explain this to you!” which is among the most awesome experiences of my blogging career. I don’t know where he went off to. Others I miss: Meechigan Dan, MCalibur, Space Coyote.

Thread the second was for your favorite posters among the dudes still here. It pretty much devolved into a posbang thread, if one of the more epic of that persuasion.

Thread the third lets you call a press conference and announce something. Already used this week: I have a fake dead girlfriend; I am an athlete and I admit to doping/steroids/HGH; I am a famous person and I love this other person whom I lived with for 20 years and raised some kids with; and two Spartans beat up some dude for no reason.


The thinly disguised post-OSU ref bitching thread yielded an interesting conversation between Tom from AA and Ghost of Yost on the proper calling of blocking fouls and why a defender with a sliding foot who makes contact can still draw the charge. Yes I just linked to something people moderated as “trolling” – sadly this still happens to the guy taking the position that doesn’t side with Michigan, even though I think in this instance Tom from AA is right.


Glimmers of the Pattern. Open thread yesterday. Press conference react. He kept talking about her. Sadly none of it explains why he seems to become a non-factor when linemen get the luxury of meeting him downfield (see: Alabama, Michigan in 2010), and yet he kills everything otherwise (see: Michigan in 2012).

Your Moment of Zen:


Dear Diary is Back in the Car Again

Dear Diary is Back in the Car Again

Submitted by Seth on January 11th, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Before I forget, go draft your FreeRoll team for tomorrow—if you finish in the top 12 you get legal tender, and you don't have to give up any legal tender for it. If enough people don't sign up we don't get to keep doing these.


Okay so maybe I'm still a bit shaken from encountering a real life Tyrannosaur …

Outback Bowl - Jadeveon Clowney


…who's not even allowed to enter the draft, but the thought of Lewan leaving for the NFL felt like being stuck in the middle of Jurassic Park with nobody but your 8-year-old brother for protection.

"That's not what I'm gonna do." –Taylor Lewan

So yes I saw new starters at 4 of 5 OL positions and turned into a hyperventilating girl—like you didn't! Thank Denard for Dr. Grant. I have no idea why he thinks a stereoscopic scavenger with an occipital lobe 8 times the size of its cognitive center who's related to visually acute crocodiles and birds would have movement-based vision (maybe it's the frog DNA?) but if I'm gonna walk the length of an island of angry therapods I'm very happy to have this man along one more time. That sentiment was passed on personally by justingoblue and megangoblue, at Crisler. Pretty pictures with the cool story bro&sis but guys I'm feeling really warm and fuzzy inside.

How warm and fuzzy? 1.64 degrees centigrade fuzzy. That's the heat generated by the burning of calories in running 4,495 yards according the post-drunk maths of Blazefire. Here's another way to visualize it:


In case you were wondering, yes West Virginia fans are going to boycott everything because Denard used handoffs for the final stretch. LSAClassOf2000 added some perspective on the Denardian career by the percentage of Michigan's total offense he accounted for. Roughly, from the time he was a freshman, half of Michigan's yards were his.

In other things you ought to read, Ron Utah did a comparison of the 2011 and 2012 seasons, concluding the Denard arm was a big deal. Here's some of the things I pulled from that:

Stat 2011 2012
Rushing YPC 5.15 4.76
Fumble Recoveries 20 of 25 (80%) 11 of 22 (50%)

Surprisingly Michigan improved on 2011's unprecedented ownership of 4th down, converting 69% of our 13 attempts (up from 59% in '11), and holding opponents to 43% (not far off the 38% of last year).

Etc. I forgot to front-page Mathlete this week; amazingly there were two plays that swung the game more than Tyrannosaurus Clowney making a goat disappear. Combining the sagarin and UPI rankings makes Michigan the top football-basketball combo school in the nation (Florida, Notre Dame and Louisville come after). I'm guessing Ohio State doesn't count for that. The Blockhams was great this week, though the text still needs to be way more succinct—not that I of all people can really talk.

[Lewan photoshopping and really smart raptors, after the jump]

Dear Diary Remembers Dennis Bergkamp

Dear Diary Remembers Dennis Bergkamp

Submitted by Seth on January 4th, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Don't listen to anyone in the Netherlands who says otherwise: "Dennis Bergkamp neemt de bal aan" is Dutch for "Denard Robinson picks up a block!"

Between the WMU run and this week's bitterly unsatisfying conclusion we coined and created new uses for words like "Shoelace", and "Dilithium", and "ERMAGHERD", and "Eating" and "Robinson to Roundtree." Every sharp cut and rocket acceleration by his gangly, graceful legs created another moment pregnant with so much meaning you could utter gibberish about it in another language and the guy next to you would understand exactly what you're trying to say.


Think back on the Michigan you knew the moment before the camera first panned to 'Lace's shoes. Think how utterly un-Michigan it all looked: a Floridian freshman who couldn't throw the ball stepping into a role occupied by artillery Denardthrowspieces and disciplined option men since as far back as any reader of this site can remember, dropping the snap, wandering over toward the sideline, then hyperdriving through a field full of men bigger than he is. It used to be other teams' little jet mites doing that to our colossuses.* It was too astounding to be repeatable. How are we to crush souls if every few plays this sprite is jetting off to the end zone, then smiling at everybody? Doesn't he realize scoring touchdowns is just giving the other team more time of possession?

Here at the end we're all not sure what it is we just saw. The thing that turned some practice observers in 2010 into raving lunatics on these boards never stopped being a source of some sort of controversy, from spreadvocates who'd rather Borges run an offense he doesn't know than see him waste such a talent, to insufferable puritans who called him a running back.

To those last to whom circumstances and mankind's ill-planned brachial nervous system ultimately gave them their wish, I give you 100-ish yards on 23 carries, and a ho, and a hum, and a little secret…gonna have to lean closer…a bit closer…I need to whisperDENNIS BERGKAMP! DENNIS BERGKAMP! DENNIS BERGKAMP! AAAAAAAHHHHH!


*If I'd said "it used to be other teams' Vins doing that to our army of Koloss" would anyone have gotten the reference?


CHRISTMAS IS STILL RELEVANT. Enough so at least that there remains much to be gained in mistersuits's X-mas Eve basketball roundup, which does things like compare this team to last's, and compare this team to the Fab Five, and publishes the schedule reorganized by expected KenPom difficulty, and lots of analysis and good formatting and stuff. I was out on holiday (and watching SEC football) and missed the chance to bump it—even now it's front page material by a good margin, just a little bit outdated. The diary describes an SEC-like gauntlet of Top 15-ish teams that Michigan and Indiana will both have to navigate.

FILE UNDER NO FRIKKIN WAY: TSS has found an NCAA rushing stat that Michigan leads the country in. Seriously. He calls the statistic "open field rushing yards" and it tracks how many yards you got on top of every rush of 10 positive or more yards. Indeed when Michigan managed to get the ballcarrier into the secondary this year, more often than not he'd be going full DENNIS BERGKAMP! Or losing a shoe. Minnesota was second-to-last.

Actually that stat is just a byproduct of his real effort, which removes the Bergkamping after 5 and 10 yards and gives credit for the first bits back to the O-lines. Relevant results cropped:


Note Michigan's the huge outlier in "AOFY" which is "adjusted open field yards" to the OP, yet still hanging at the bottom of the conference with "AALY" which is basically how many yards per play the offensive line might take credit for. Of course they're also hindered by RBs missing cuts or being too small to carry momentum through a linebacker. Yeoman's work here, with scatterplots and a lot more than the above. Diary of the Week(s). Read it.

[The Jump: lots more diaries, and stuff, and stuff, and by now you should realize I always leave something nice for my clickers-through.]

Dear Diary is Michigan's Biggest Rival

Dear Diary is Michigan's Biggest Rival

Submitted by Seth on December 21st, 2012 at 9:38 AM


Programming Note: No Dear Diary next week unless you guys spend Christmas making diaries or something.

Trevor Miller of Hammer and Rails this week queried the bloggerati of ESDBS's boards to create a programming schedule for a fictional BTN2. Among shows like Hoarders: Jim Delaney Edition and a thing where Rutgers fans run around Manhattan trying to find someone who knows they exist, there was this idea:

11-midnight - "Why We’re Your Rival, Now." - Each school gets to explain why they are a Most Hated Rival of another.

I pointed out in the MGoBoard discussion that this would quickly turn into a Jerry Springer episode where Michigan's in the chair while they keep trotting out progressively more disgusting ladies who say they're our girlfriends.

That thread was perhaps was the impetus behind MGoSoftball embarking on a quest to ask every Big Ten (plus Notre Dame) blog to rank their rivalries. I'm excited for the results, though I don't think any fanbase is truly united on this front. For example Brian would put Notre Dame 2nd, while I think he needs to step outside of WTKA's signal for a day and see what's it like among the Sparties. One man's Michigan rivalric rundown:

  • Actual Rivals: Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Minnesota.
  • One-way hate, them: Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, OHIO!, West Virginia, Princeton, Delaware, Rich Rodriguez, SEC, the Cleveland Indians
  • One-way hate, us: USC, Wherever Nick Saban is coaching, Lou Holtz, Duke, Notre Dame's president and athletic department.
  • Schools who aren't rivals but we have that one thing we'll never agree on to provide an infinite hate well: Nebraska ('97 N.C.), Tennessee ('97 Heisman), Penn State (JoePa, and because we each find each others' fans completely insufferable).
  • Rivals only in the sense that one can be rivals with a paraplegic neighbor who's always asking you to punch him in the face: Eastern Michigan
  • Hey, you forgetting someone? Like YOUR BIGGEST RIVAL who you got players suspended for and beat you that one time with a totally unsuspected onside kick???: …? On to the diaries. Where there were only three diaries, plus something I bumped from the boards, and they're all still on top. On to the rest of the board.

The Rest of the Board



The world did not end in fire or flood or the mountains caving in; it ended it matte. Futzing with the helmet is a sure sign of the end times, as if maize numbers with blue trim wasn't. Relive the freakout above, or join the mass hysteria in threads dedicated to changing the look of the end zones, or defending David Brandon.

On that last, a suggestion for those about to start threads they think will be unpopular: don't lead with "I know you're all going to neg me for this," or by telling everyone who disagrees with you that they're Brian Cook's sheeple. Make your points, address only the best possible form of the opposing argument, and then stand by to politely debate your assertions, being ready to modify, improve, or even back off your position if you get stumped. Cypress has a valid argument that maybe we've been too hard on Dave Brandon for turning our favorite amateur team into the 2nd biggest franchise in college athletics, since all of those nickels and dimes are building cathedrals for sports most schools can't afford to carry (and consequently giving M the inside track for the Directors Cup). But then the OP's presentation of that argument is overly contentious. It's exactly this kind of contempt for people with other opinions that makes the difference between a great debate thread and a messy flame war the moderators have to clean up.


Your diarist of the week is Asgardian for picking through the last four classes worth of Rivals rankings to find positional trends in who gets the higher stars. For some reason Midwest offensive linemen are getting proportionally higher rankings. It could just be the biases of recruiting analysts who think skill players have to come from the Southeast (imagine the difference in Toussaint hype if he was from Florida instead of Ohio) or it could be they're sick of Iowa and Wisconsin consistently pumping out NFL linemen from guys they rated a 2 or 3, and are making an adjustment. I'd like to see the sample extended back to 2002.

[After the jump, NCAA may be letting Oregon off the hook or taking the first steps towards finally nailing Ohio State for the stuff everyone knows about, and I seriously consider buying something Brian is totally going to make fun of me for.]