The Story 2013: All Together Now

The Story 2013: All Together Now Comment Count

Brian August 26th, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Previously: The Story 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008. Preview 2012.

Also Previously: Podcast 5.0.

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I had this thing I was always going to write about Denard, and I said I'd put it in Hail To The Victors, and Seth really, really wanted it because we really, really had to send everything to the printer, and I sat in front of my keyboard and could not do it. As you're about to find out this week, putting words into a computer is something I do quite frequently. My problem is usually keeping those words relatively concise. This time I sat there, and the thing I'd had in my head for years sat there too.

We stared at each other. Nobody moved.

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This is a program that has been in flux for nearly a decade now. The first indication was Jim Herrmann's one-year experiment with the 3-4 in 2004. Like everything in the Late Herrmann period, it worked just enough to make you crazy when it didn't. A year later, Michigan was running a 4-3 again, had a 9-point lead against Ohio State with 7:49 on the clock, and blew it.

Herrmann was given the NFL position coach gold watch, and because any motion towards the future must be paired with an equal and opposite motion towards the past a year later Mike DeBord was re-installed as the offensive coordinator. He completely overhauled the offense, dumping pulling linemen for a zone-stretch running game. Two years later, Rodriguez came in, overhauling everything except David Molk. Three years later, Hoke came in, overhauling everything except David Molk.

All along, the panic grew. Michigan started casting about for anyone they thought could help, whether it was mentally unbalanced defensive linemen or guys with no offers who showed at camp or defensive backs who hadn't ever played a varsity game. Or Mike DeBord. The decisions being made became increasingly unmoored from reality in the late aughts. Something named Appalachian State beat Michigan. At some point Greg Robinson was hired.

Here is a Hieronymus Bosch painting, because nothing else can represent the thought process that ended with that decision.

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Chaos descended on Michigan gradually, until a bird-man and spiky monkey and plague dude and bird-hippo-thing murdered it and its magnificent beard. You can assign the various actors their roles based on your preferences, except the plague guy has to be GERG.

This is still a team in flux. Rodriguez got axed just in time for Michigan to complete its transition to spread personnel, echoes of which are still on the team today: a right tackle who was high school hurdler, a #1 receiver standing 5'8", a quarterback who's probably going to jet for 60 yards at some point this year. There are two (two!) upperclass offensive linemen.

This will be the first time since 2003 that anyone at Michigan has entered his third year—let alone fourth—in the same defense, under the same coordinator. Even as the defense settles in, the offense prepares for a drastic change in its nature. The Hoke recruiting classes are just blooding themselves in the two deep; the disastrous 2010 recruiting class looms in holes across the roster.

But for the first time in a long, long time, you can see the trajectory. No one's clamoring for the defensive coordinator's head; no one's looming over the shoulder of the offensive coordinator, ready to pull the plug on anything that looks remotely dangerous. For the next half-dozen years, Michigan is going to be an aggressive 4-3 under defense paired with an offense of titanic humans who will make safeties choose between pounding on the ground and long-range aerial bombardment. The coaches will be the coaches with the exception of a position coach or two who will probably be replaced by a Michigan legend.

On fourth down, they're going.

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Deadlines are deadlines, so I wrote the thing eventually. It wasn't what I wanted. It was supposed to have turrets and buttresses and run a 4.1 40. Instead it was… okay. It's not the worst thing I've written. None of that mattered. Time was up. It was done.

In the aftermath a peculiar feeling descended on me. If I spoke German, I would crush together several contradictory words into a multi-syllabic monstrosity that would not quite entirely fail to communicate it. It was over, and that was terrible. It was over, and that was necessary. I wanted to go back, and wanted to go forward.

The thing that was keeping Michigan between states of being had dreadlocks and could outrun a photon. Denard could not do the things Al Borges wanted him to do, and Al Borges could not figure out other things to ask. And yet there he was, so we kept banging that square peg against the round hole. To do otherwise was incomprehensible.

Regrets, I've got 'em. Everyone's got 'em. But there's no going back. Finally, it's in the past. Finally, everyone can focus their efforts on refining what is there instead of throwing it all away and starting over, and then throwing it away next year and starting over again.

This is Michigan, a guy said once. What does that mean? Now we find out.

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Comments

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-7-13: Al Borges

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-7-13: Al Borges Comment Count

Heiko August 7th, 2013 at 3:29 PM

"Is that salmon?"

Canteloupe. 

"Canteloupe? We use that as an audible color. How you guys doing?"

Good.

"It's been a while. Can't tell you how much I've missed you. You guys kind of sensed a hint of sarcasm, didn't you? Heiko! I made you a hero. Unbelievable."

MGoFlexesBicep.

Thoughts on Devin's maturity? 

"Yeah, he's doing a nice job. When you know that you've done it so long -- he's always been a pretty confident kid anyway, but now that he has a chance to kind of be the guy, I think he's taken the next step."

What's it like having two experienced tackles?

"Yeah, you know, when Taylor said he was coming back, that was a great, great day for Michigan and for our offense because breaking in a new left tackle is never fun. I don't care what level it is. But Mike Schofield, who doesn't get talked about as much but is really a good athlete. He can move. He was a hurdler in high school. He's got a lot of talent. Mike's played a lot. He's played guard, he's played tackle. I think he's kind of fit into a comfort zone a little bit with tackle, not to where he's complacent, but he's comfortable in the position now. He kind of had to relearn the position a little bit. He's been in the offense. He's been pretty consistent the first couple days and in the spring."

<Falsehoods galore after the jump>

Comments

Unverified Voracity Has A Lot Of Video

Unverified Voracity Has A Lot Of Video Comment Count

Brian August 1st, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Countdown to Kickoff exists again. Talkin' with Devin Gardner:

Countdown to Kickoff 2013: Day 30 - Devin Gardner by mgovide

So that explains that. If you were wondering why Michigan's option plays weren't actual option plays the last couple years, well, yeah:

“We did it [the Wildcat] in OTAs and a couple of times he ran the ball and fumbled the ball and he didn’t know how to pitch," Bradley said, according to the Register.

The one time he did try to pitch on a speed option was when he got lit up in the backfield, and that was a fumble.

Oklahoma State was not always good. Wolverine Historian presents the 1992 non-classic:

Gardner on Darboh. I think both of last year's wide receivers are on pace to work out, and Darboh is ahead of the curve:

"He's just a great athlete," Gardner said of the wideout. "He's strong, he's fast, he catches the ball well. He's pretty much everything you could ever want in a receiver."

Gardner compares Darboh to Junior Hemingway, but fast. No, seriously:

"He goes up and gets the ball just like Junior. And he runs fast."

I'll take it.

O'Bannon-related victory. I thought Sam Keller's lawsuit had been folded into the O'Bannon suit, but apparently not. They've just won at the appellate level:

By a 2-1 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said EA's use of the athletes' likenesses in its NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball games did not deserve protection as free expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

EA is disappointed that free speech doesn't cover important things like college football videogames using the representations of people without mentioning it to them, and plans to appeal, for all the good that will do.

They'll have to name him Lack Of Seat Cushions. Sorry, those are the probably fictional, possibly offensive stereotypical Native American rules:

I don't make the probably fictional, possibly offensive stereotypical Native American rules. I just enforce 'em, lady.

Jordan Paskorz: I'm not dead yet! Michigan could use some tight end depth with veteran Mike Kwiatkowski departed, and Jake Bu—MAH GAWD THAT'S JORDAN PASKORZ'S MUSIC, AT LEAST I THINK IT IS BECAUSE I'M NOT SURE HE EVEN HAD SOME:

[Paskorz's] career has since been derailed by seemingly interminable instability.

But that's about to change, as he enters his second season at tight end and seems to have fought his way into the rotation as a blocking specialist. …

"What I like is, we settled him into that position and I think he can be a guy who gives us a little more on-the-line-of-scrimmage movement. That’s exciting."

At 6'3", 251, he is about the right size to be more of a pusher at TE. AJ Williams is a guy Michigan will ask to fill that role as well, but he needs a lot of technique work to get there. We'll see if the talk translates into playing time.

When do I get to be on a bulletin board? Because if Steve Everitt's lighthearted jab at Kirk Cousins qualifies

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…surely I can come up with something vile enough to get up there despite not being a viking. Hey, Spartans! You smell! Bad!

I'll work on it.

In related news, Dave Brandon once again reiterated that he doesn't want a night game in the series. This is correct. I hope the real reason is wanting to tweak MSU by playing anyone but them at night, but I'll take "don't want a bunch of East Lansing people drunj" after the Gathering of the Juggalos that was two years ago.

Speaking of. UTL II Hype Video:

Glenn Robinson: now he can jump. Yeah, now:

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His vertical is up four inches to 12'3".

Etc.: Introducing Dr. Gay Hitler, who was of course from… Ohio, and the son of George Hitler, and a dentist.

Here is a class of 1927(!) alum talking bout her days on campus. Oregon has some money. People don't like dynamic pricing, except for that one guy on facebook who hasn't been to a game since 1982 but likes being a prick to people on the internet. Bill Connolly previews Ohio State. Lewan talks Gholston punch.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Knows A Girl Who Reminds It Of Cher

Unverified Voracity Knows A Girl Who Reminds It Of Cher Comment Count

Brian June 14th, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Sensible ideas. From the hockey committee even. USCHO reports that the hockey rules committee is looking at ways to make the infamous TUC cliff in the pairwise less of a cliff and more of a gradation:

“We’re looking to see if there’s a way to reduce the variability that seems to happen as people watch that at the end of the year,” said committee chair Tom Nevala, senior associate athletic director at Notre Dame.

“It’s going to happen a lot early, but by the end of the year it seems like it should be a little bit more cut-and-dried. So we’re going to see if there’s some options there.”

This is a crew that still uses RPI, so don't expect anything too clever. Maybe they'd have a tier in which games count for your TUC record at half-weight, that sort of thing. While that still has cliff issues that turns it into more of a large step than a cliff.

In other news, the committee is going to ask future regional sites not to ask for 90 dollars for three hockey games featuring teams from across the country, which is an insignificant step in the right direction. Tom Nevala, an associate AD at Notre Dame, is still sounding a call for sanity:

“The fans who come and support us all year are in and around our campuses,” Nevala said. “Whether it’s east or west, at least I’m not satisfied looking at the numbers that have generally appeared at regionals.

“Whether we’ve considered some of the eastern regionals well-attended or not, I think you could still do better. And hopefully the ticket pricing and the things that they’re going to attempt to do in the next cycle will help. But I’m convinced that we would be better off on campus in general.”

Unfortunately, this is the last year Nevala is going to be on the committee. At least there's one guy saying the most obvious thing that would help college hockey.

At least it won't die. Some terrible person broke a chunk off Howard's Rock, which Clemson touches before each football game. This is why we can't have nice things.

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I just… I mean. People.

Jamarco comin'. Whatever prevented Jamarco Jones from taking his planned weekend swing through his three finalists has been resolved, so he'll be on campus Saturday. This is good for Michigan, which is generally regarded as trailing but in possession of a puncher's chance. Mom's apparently in Michigan's corner, because obviously.

FREDS ON FREDS ON FREDS. Filing this under Fred Jackson hyperbole and thus yoinking it from recruiting roundup deployment: Fred Jackson on 2015 FL RB Jacques Patrick.

"I talked to Coach Jackson for about 45 minutes, I was in there for a while. He was telling me he's watched around 50 running backs and I'm one of the best he's seen," he said. "That means a lot, because he's been doing this for a while."

Yes, for all possible definitions of "this." FWIW, Patrick held FSU and UF as leaders before trips to OSU and M. He now says he's going to open things up some, but the smart money still has him staying in Florida.

I know a guy who thinks of ghosts. Denard will make you breakfast. He'll make you toast. He don't use butter, he don't use cheese. He uses?

[Eddie] Lacy - who's about to get his first taste of cold weather football as a Green Bay Packer - then asked what Robinson's method was for staying warm "up there in the snow".

"What I did was put vasoline on, a lot of vasoline," Robinson said showing Lacy how he used to coat his arms with the petroleum jelly.

"So the vasoline keeps you warm?," Lacy asked cynically.

"It keeps the heat inside your body," Robinson told him. "It closes your pores up, that's what it does."

I know a guy who goes to shows. Tim Hardaway Jr has cracked Hated Chad Ford's Big Board, coming in #30. His game does transition neatly to an NBA environment, so there's that. Meanwhile, Ford is muttering about Michael Carter-Williams still, which screams smokescreen to me but hey if Burke slips to the Pistons I get a free pro sports team to care about again.

I know a guy who's going down in a flaming barge made of flames. His name is Mark Emmert, recently buffeted in an SI article that made him look like a clueless twit:

In many interviews with NCAA officials about enforcement, the topic quickly shifted back to the leadership of Emmert, who is known internally at the NCAA as the "King Of The Press Conference." That's not a compliment.

With high-profile members of the enforcement committee fleeing for individual schools as fast as they can, this is the state of NCAA enforcement.

One ex-enforcement official told SI, "The time is ripe to cheat. There's no policing going on."

So why hasn't this guy gotten fired?

"If you force him out, you're essentially telling everyone he has failed," one NCAA president told Sporting News. "When you're dealing with (litigation), it's not prudent to admit failure at the highest office."

Lovely. People in charge of things are just in charge of them, often for no reason.

Also:

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JESSE. WE'LL COOK IN THE ABANDONED NCAA ENFORCEMENT OFFICES.

Devin Gardner speaks, is spoken about. On Toussaint:

"I've been watching Fitzgerald Toussaint throughout his whole (leg) rehab and everything," Gardner said Tuesday during an appearance on SiriusXM radio. "He's running faster, he looks way stronger. Fitzgerald Toussaint is going to be our guy.

"But we have a young guy coming in (also)."

And an interesting listing of the receivers:

"Our receives are doing really well, catching the ball, running fast and they look stronger and bigger," Gardner said. "Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson and obviously Jeremy Gallon (Michigan's leading receiver in 2012).

"I feel like we're in really good shape."

Darboh and Chesson in front of potential mentions of Jackson and Dileo.

Gardner also says people are almost pissed off.

"The finish we had in the (Outback Bowl loss against South Carolina on Jan. 1) was really beneficial for us even though we lost," Gardner said. "Because you've got a lot of guys that are hungry, almost pissed off, that it ended that way."

Gardner also mentioned the offense will be "more of a pro-style deal" with spread elements to take advantage of his athleticism.

Meanwhile, Borges has been taking Fred Jackson pointers and compares Gardner to RG3:

Q: Who does Devin Gardner remind you of?
A: He’s not really like anybody I have had. I’ve had so many prototype drop-back passers. He isn’t like (former Auburn quarterback) Jason Campbell, who was athletic but he really wasn’t a runner. I haven’t had a lot of real runners. He’s different. He’s hard to compare to someone else. He’s more like an RG3 type of guy. He’s a little taller than RG3 but plays a lot like him.

He also suggests he wants a 50/50 run/pass split perhaps a little biased towards the run; he, too, mentions Darboh and Chesson first when wide receivers come up (though he later flat-out states Gallon is their #1), then amazingly refers to Dileo and Jackson as "our two slots." Jeremy Jackson, slot receiver, Rich Rodriguez's head explodes.

Etc.: Attempting to explain Kentucky's recruiting (which isn't like fourth as the sites have it since they're out in front, but they will finish top 20, so still). 83% of SEC fans say the average fan has been priced out from attending games.

Comments

This Week in the Twitterverse

This Week in the Twitterverse Comment Count

BiSB May 16th, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Sparty Gonna No.

A list of things that people believe will make them more successful than a football scholarship to Michigan State University:

1. A football scholarship to the University of Michigan (obvs)

2. A football scholarship to Northwestern University

3. A music career with dese skillz:

(Heads up: video contains explicit lyrics and imagery, and really bad rap):

Mark Hollis did say yesterday that they're trying to make the Big Ten more hip, but then MSU admitted they dropped him weeks ago when the first blunt hit the YouTubes. Which is probably correct but doesn't make MSU's receiver recruiting any less hilarious.

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Some Stuff the Other People Already Posted

I post once per week, and Brian posts daily, so sometimes he gets to the good stuff first. Now, I could put in the effort to go find other stuff. But I am exceedingly lazy, so we’ll all just pretend that he didn’t already post this stuff, and we will laugh at it anew. Good? Good.

With this week’s announcement of Marvin Robinson’s transfer, Michigan lost the quintessential OMG Shirtless player. M-Rob was the patriarch of the movement [Tyrece Butler is its godfather], and his loss will be deeply felt. But when Angry Michigan OMG Shirtless Hating God closes a door, He opens a window into some crazy stuff. Behold what AMOMGSHG has given us:

Maybe this is a response to the Abercrombie and Fitch CEO saying he didn’t want… uh… larger people wearing their clothing. Maybe they just honestly forgot to wear shirts that day. But I like to think that they were assuring the apprehensive Michigan faithful that the shirtless tradition would continue, albeit in a much more MANBALL fashion.

This also has the makings of a great ‘positive self-image’ campaign:

It doesn’t matter if you’re a little pasty white. Or if you’re carrying a few extra pounds around the midsection. Or if you don’t have what would be considered a “neck” by traditional standards. Or if you make questionable fashion and facial hair choices. As long as you can pancake a sumbitch or two, you are beautiful.

[One side note: Brian referred to this incident as “AmBearcrombie and Bearfitch.” I humbly submit “ManBearCrombie” as an alternate nickname. ]

Elsewhere in wonderfully poachable Twitter-related news, Greg Mattison sat in a truck.

[After the jump]

Comments

Tomnard Brobinson And Other Frankenplayers

Tomnard Brobinson And Other Frankenplayers Comment Count

Ace May 7th, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Photoshop is a very dangerous tool if left in the wrong hands, which is why nobody should've ever let me get a copy of CS5. Seth's post this morning contained this nightmare-fuelish mashup of Jordan Kovacs and Ernest Shazor, his version of the Bill Walsh ideal strong safety:

Most people's instinct, upon seeing such a picture, is to turn and run and not stop running until they've reached a technological wilderness that makes it impossible to see said picture ever again. Because of my tenuous grasp on sanity, especially during the offseason, I decided instead to create a few more Frankenplayers. If these three rather horrifying creations ever donned the winged helmet, Michigan's offense would be unstoppable, albeit a bit strange-looking:

TOMNARD BROBINSON

Denard Robinson and Tom Brady took wildly divergent paths to quarterback stardom. Denard's running exploits were the stuff of legend, while his passing left something to be desired, especially when he was out of the comfy confines of Rich Rodriguez's spread offense—one perfectly tailored to his strengths. Brady, meanwhile, was never fully appreciated during his time in Ann Arbor despite his pinpoint passing—only in retrospect, after multiple Super Bowls, was he fully acknowledged as an excellent college player. As a runner, though... he was a great pocket passer.

So what do you get when you jam Brady's upper body onto Denard's legs? (While, of course, still harnessing the power of the dreadlocks.) Only the most fearsome dual-threat quarterback in college football history, not to mention one charming franken-guy.

SAMICHAEL McHART

As a college running back, Mike Hart was just about everything you could ask for—productive and durable, coupling great vision and agility with surprising power and an inability to fumble. Despite lacking in top-end speed, Hart famously made the journey from three-star recruit to Michigan's all-time leading rusher.

Sam McGuffie, on the other hand, came in with a world of recruiting hype and plenty of athletic talent—his high school highlight tape featured him jumping over linebackers when he wasn't able to use his top-end speed to simply take the top off of the defense. Unlike Hart, McGuffie had the potential to be unstoppable in the open field. When it came to absorbing punishment, however, McGuffie fell short at Michigan, transferring to Rice after a disappointing and injury-plagued freshman season in 2008.

Stick McGuffie's legs (not pictured) onto Hart, though? Now we've got the production, durability, between-the-tackles running, and open field explosiveness no Michigan running back has possessed since Tyrone Wheatley. Do you want to claim Samichael McHart wouldn't front-flip over Will Gholston in the open field if given the chance? I thought not.

JEREMY TACOPANTS

Jeremy Gallon emerged last season as Michigan's best wide receiver, proving especially productive when Devin Gardner took over at quarterback. The former high school option quarterback is both shifty and fast with good hands and explosive leaping ability. Unfortunately, he's also about 5'8", which limits his potential as a downfield threat.

Enter Tacopants, Jason Avant's 11-foot tall imaginary friend whose career high point was Chad Henne's inconsistent sophomore season. Combine him with Gallon, and, well—it's a giant wide receiver, guys, he's going to be pretty good.

In sum, it's barely May and I've already stooped to this for offseason content. I'm so sorry. Carry on.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Chases Stanford Futilely

Unverified Voracity Chases Stanford Futilely Comment Count

Brian April 24th, 2013 at 12:30 PM

YOU'RE A TALLER. User Bombadil reports that Ian Bunting is still getting mail from Mississippi State, too.

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This may be fake but probably not.

WE'RE ALL FLIPPER. Congrats to the men's gymnastics team, national champs. Sam Mikulak is your champion on parallel bars and high bar plus the overall individual national champ.

With men's swimming bringing home a title of their own plus the basketball team's run to the final, Michigan is actually threatening Stanford's Director's Cup hegemony. When the Director's Cup releases their updated standings tomorrow Michigan should be on top of the rankings with only a few sports left: golf, base/softball, track and field, women's water polo, women's lacrosse, and men's volleyball.

Michigan's pretty good at some of those… but, uh, unfortunately Stanford is better.

Top 25 Rankings for Stanford in spring sports, most rankings updated last weekend:

Softball - 16

Men's Golf - 8

Women's Golf - 12

Baseball - receiving votes

Women's T&F - 9

Women's Water Polo - 1

Men's Volleyball - 6

Women's Rowing - 9

Women's Tennis – 12

This is how you dominate the Director's Cup since a year after its inception. If you want even more details, the board has you covered.

Goodbye, 11 to 15 minutes. Draft Express's Trey Burke draft video is all kinds of fun. Even the five minutes dedicated to Burke drawbacks features a number of Kobe assists or shoulda-been Kobe assists:

What an awesome player.

YER A BALLERZ. The NCAA 14 cover:

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Will I buy this crap-pile of a game from the worst company in America because it has Denard Robinson on the cover? Maybe. Have they fixed the kangaroo linebackers yet? Made any positive changes to gameplay since 2004?

ORGAN TRAWLERZ. The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau has released their final rankings, with a slew of future Wolverines included:

  • #34 JT Compher
  • #49 Michael Downing
  • #84 Tyler Motte
  • #111 Nolan De Jong
  • #136 Alex Kile
  • #142 Andrew Copp
  • #157 Evan Allen

2014 recruit Dexter Dancs fell out of the rankings after being 154th in the midterm. Everyone went up save Compher, who dropped from #20. Default reminder: the CSB has separate lists for goalies and Europeans, so add 30% to each guy's ranking to get a projected draft spot. FWIW, Compher and Downing have appeared in a lot of first round mock drafts I've seen.

So. Michigan's class may lack a Trouba-level dominant star, but it is extremely deep. Everyone who's coming in next year* save recent goalie pickup Zach Nagelvoort and Bryson Cianfrone is likely to get picked in the upcoming draft. Kile in particular is a bonus after being passed over a year ago. He nearly doubled his points in the USHL this year and gives Michigan another option for a scoring-line forward.

That helps make up for the fade from Cianfrone, who was headed for the first round of the OHL draft before his Michigan commitment. He's off NHL draft radars and has a 6-15-21 line in the USHL this year. He is a 5'8" kid who's coming in as an 18 year old, so you can construct a picture in which he still develops into what he was supposed to be a couple years ago.

Anyway: strong incoming class that hopefully sticks around long enough to be impact upperclassmen. And how about Andrew Copp?

*[Spencer Hyman and Max Shuart may also arrive, but neither signed a LOI so I assume they are walking on.]

And we're done. Show us what we've won. Oh, it's a wheezing dog and a dead iguana. Jim Delany on further Big Ten expansion:

"Given everything that has gone on, yes," Delany said when asked about the ACC’s deal cementing the current five major conferences to their respective lineups.

Although Delany said the 16-team superconference format was also "an arbitrary number" that he wasn’t part of, the Big Ten was open to further expansion. ... There still is the possibility that a team from the SEC (Missouri) could leave for the Big Ten -- the SEC has no grant of rights or exit fee -- but that’s a pipe dream, at best.

So here we are. Playing Rutgers and Maryland every year, and not Iowa and Wisconsin and Nebraska. It's hard not to see Delany as a giant middle finger to fans, just walkin' around. Mighty big hand you escaped from there. Tell us more about media markets. Please, yes, just like that. Yes. Like that. About media markets.

What is a name, anyway? The powers that be paid someone millions of dollars to tell them to call the college football playoff "College Football Playoff." Nice work if you can get it. Not quite as good as Bill Hancock's job, which is to say whatever the hell he wants at any time without bothering to pretend he believes it.

That is not actually a name. If you call your dog "dog" you have not named him but described him. It is bad when your "name" for a thing is in fact a description of a superset of what you are—there are already other, separate college football playoffs. Delany:

"I'll be happy with whatever. Obviously I'm not great with names."

Yes, but that's no reason to eschew the concept entirely. You can try again, Mr. Delany, as long as you float some trial balloons to see if the entire internet mocks you before you make a decision. You can love again.

Anyway. These folks trademarked their name-type substance. Can you even do that? I want to make shirts that say "COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF" to test this out. If Xerox is too generic to be a trademark, how can "college football playoff" be unique enough? Someone who likes being in lawsuits, please find this out.

Further confirmation. In not-quite-announced news that's pretty much announced, yeah, Desmond Morgan is permanently moving to MLB so James Ross can start at WLB:

“Playing in space is something I definitely had to adjust to my first two years here because I wasn’t used to that in high school. I was more of an in the box kind of guy,” Morgan said. “Going back over to MIKE, I kind of feel a little bit more comfortable in a sense because of that.

“During the spring, it’s been an adjustment but it was something I kind of grew up playing.”

Joe Bolden and Royce Jenkins-Stone will back up the MLB and WLB spots, respectively.

BONUS: James Ross named "most improved player" this spring. Hype rocket is entering stage two.

Ann Arbor is pretty all right. Click for big.

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WE AGREE OH MY PANTS. Dave Brandon and I both think a ten game conference schedule is a good idea.

"I'm in favor of looking at it for the same reasons we went from eight to nine," Brandon told MLive.com. Those reasons include more competitive schedules, as well as greater ability for players to see each of the league's 13 other teams in their careers.

The money thing is an issue, but raise your hand if you'd willingly eat the extra costs from a hypothetical exhibition game in exchange for a tenth conference game. That's everybody, right?

Etc.: "In a sign of the times, Michigan has competition at fullback." : /

25 memories of "college sports' dumbest goldrush." Blake McLimans taking his talents to Oxford. RIP, Toomer's oaks. Senior highlights from Mark Donnal. Stretch four, yo. Athletic directors are sad. David Thorpe really likes Trey Burke($).

Comments

Unverified Voracity Thanks John Wilkins

Unverified Voracity Thanks John Wilkins Comment Count

Brian March 13th, 2013 at 4:07 PM

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Say this for the man: he dances when you tell him to dance. (AnnArbor.com)

Thanks for the service. One of the secret joys of being a Michigan fan has been the excellent service provided by John Wilkins and the alumni band when the students aren't available. Wilkins always brought an entertaining flair to the job he created 21 years ago. He has just retired, and he'll be tough to replace:

Deciding to retire from the pep band was not easy for Wilkins. “I will miss the Alumni Pep Band very much,” he said. “The opportunity given to me to conduct a Michigan band at Michigan games, to play this great Michigan music, was a dream that I had since a little boy, a dream come true. Over the years I have developed incredible friendships with the players and will miss working with them on a regular basis. I'm glad that I have been invited to come back every year to conduct the entire Alumni Band at the football game in October on homecoming weekend.”

Also I have that tie.

It's kind of like the Heisman I guess. Denard will be on the cover of EA's most recent slight rehash of NCAA Football 2003. Smile incoming:

NCAA_CoverVote_Winner_Blog_Robinson_656x369[1]

He joins Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson. The game will pay tribute by having linebackers jump impossibly high to snag interceptions off everybody.

There were vote shenanigans that threatened to propel Texas A&M's Ryan Swope over the top, but EA promised they would eliminate fake votes, and by "eliminate fake votes" they meant "put Denard on the cover even if he finished last because this is EA, and EA gets dollars son even if it means turning a single player game into an always-online fiasco because we are mad at pirates."

He probably doesn't realize he's twisting the knife. After three straight weekends in Ann Arbor, Drake Harris finally gave the "it's not you… it's me" speech to Michigan State, decommiting. Except he said it was actually you, Michigan State:

"Since I'm just playing football now,” Harris told reporters after his regional basketball game Monday in Grand Rapids, “I want to play at a bigger school, win a national championship."

Analysts are saying don't count your 6'4" elite wide receivers before they hatch, but it looks like the field is catching up to Michigan now. They'll have an opportunity:

“I don’t have a frontrunner, I don’t even have a top list right now. I’m supposed to go down to Florida on March 22, and then Ohio State sometime in April and Notre Dame sometime in April. I’m not sure what I’m going to do in the summer. I’ll probably go out and visit some schools out West.”

Harris says he'll enroll early and plans to commit in October. Long way to go.

[Ace, you can just C&P this section into Friday Recruitin'. Sorry.]

Well, yeah. Trey Burke is a first-team All American to the Sporting News and the Big Ten's player of the year, the first time in 24 years a Michigan player has brought that award in. The last guy was Glen Rice, which also yeah. Burke said "I feel honored" in response to being honored. Tautological point guard is tautological.

It really came down to Oladipo versus Burke, and while I love Burke with a Denard-crush intensity you really can make a case for Oladipo, who shot 66% from two(!), was the #5 guy in true shooting percentage, has a near-top-100 OREB rate—something Michigan felt the lash of on Sunday—and is a defensive superstar. It's that versus Burke's huge usage and incredible assist rate and turnover avoidance. It's Woodson versus Manning for the Heisman, except Indiana fans probably won't be bringing it up 20 years later.

Well… uh. Tim Hardaway also made first-team All Big Ten on one of the two ballots. This I am not so sure about. Aaron Craft got the nod on the media ballots—a weird situation where the better defensive player gets the hype and the coaches go for offense—and to me that's a lot more justifiable than going strictly by scoring average. That's how you pick Hardaway over, say, Gary Harris, who shot 74/52/42 on FT/2s/3s versus Hardaway's 69/50/38 on virtually identical usage. Hardaway did rebound a lot better, but what rebounds exactly was Gary Harris supposed to acquire as a the two-guard in a lineup with Payne, Nix, and Dawson?

I haven't watched Harris that closely but I doubt Hardaway brings much defensive value he doesn't. Eh. Awards are pointless, see…

The CCHA's continuing inability to do anything right. This is far less egregious than the various Hunwick-related snubs last year (Hunwick was a top-three Hobey finalist and not the CCHA goalie of the year), but Boo Nieves was honorable mention All Rookie this year despite having the second-most points of any freshman in league play. Alaska's Tyler Morley's 8-7-15 was better than Nieves's 8-14-22.

In other news, highlights of Michigan's 3-2 win over Northern on Friday contain one Michigan goal and two by NMU.

#gongshow

Where was this all year? Hockey resoundingly swept Northern Michigan over the weekend in two games I did not see because I assumed Michigan would not have a home series last week, because when has Michigan ever finished between 6th and 8th in the CCHA? LOL that idea.

In any case, Michigan's Saturday demolition of Northern was so comprehensive it makes you a little mad. Michigan outshot Northern 23-6 in the first period and 16-3 in the second, whereupon it was 4-1 and all over but the shouting. If you can do that now…

Anyway, Saturday's game was a weird one with two penalty shots:

Copp converted the second once the goalie went for a poke and missed it, leaving his five-hole exposed. He also scored a grinder earlier.

Center Ice has recaps of Friday and Saturday. They've recovered from that January funk and go to Western this weekend. CI:

A few guys are really standing out on a weekly basis, Copp, Racine, Nieves, Merrill, Guptill, they just are playing on a level that no one else is coming close too. I vividly remember our series against Western earlier in the year because every stoppage of play a Bronco went to a Wolverine, chirped at him and gave him a shove. No one did anything about it. Today I thoroughly enjoyed seeing any Wildcat who went near Racine get a push and shove, most of the the time it was Andrew Copp doing it. Little things that make a big difference.

The Guptill-Copp-Deblois line sees Guptill on a seven-game point streak; Nieves was sick last weekend but played through it.

Vincent Smith AMA. #2 popped up on Reddit yesterday to do an AMA promoting his Pahokee kickstarter, and the first question is… not about Clowney. It's about what kind of sub he ate. Well done, zparts. The second question mentions Clowney, but also finger guns. There was also the inevitable MGoBlog question that got the inevitable "I don't really read it" answer.

There is another. Derrick Walton senior highlights:

He won't be Trey, but if Hardaway and Robinson are back he won't have to be. If he can be a better version of Yogi Ferrell (18% usage, 26 Arate, 43%/32%) Michigan shouldn't have too much of a dropoff on offense what with everyone else back.

Etc.: Denard pro day interview. Who wants to dwell on the Indiana game? Special teams… not bad? Jordan Morgan : Space Jam :: Brian : Big Lebowski. Hockey's had a lot of breakaways of late.

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Unverified Voracity Read The Wikipedia Article On The Black Death Mostly By Coincidence

Unverified Voracity Read The Wikipedia Article On The Black Death Mostly By Coincidence Comment Count

Brian January 16th, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Hey guys. After sleeping for 12 of the last 16 hours, I feel better. Better is not great, but here is a linkdump.

Oh, and an mgolicious note: my chrome extension broke when delicious updated their site for the first time since the Civil War, so that aspect of the site has halted for the moment. If anyone knows of a functioning chrome extension for the new delicious let me know. Also: sidebar tabs. Why do you hate me, Google?

Creepily accurate. This list of Denard Robinson smiles from 10 to 0:

image

Click through for bigger to confirm. Yes, that last one is from the Outback. Via r/cfb and Eleven Warriors.

Bowl revampin'. It appears that the people with the football teams have surveyed the landscape and discovered that oh yeah we have the leverage here. Mike Slive:

“Since we’ve made such a significant change with the playoff, it’s a perfect time to look at the bowls and how they work,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said this week. “This is a very good time to take a hard look at how we do our bowl relationships and see if there’s a better way.”

Since Mike Slive just created a "Champions Bowl" that he let sites bid for and picked the Sugar Bowl to host it despite what I assume was a ridiculous offer from content-mad Jerry Jones, I'm guessing his better way does not involve bowl directors making 800k.

According to Stewart Mandel, that model is already in place with the Rose Bowl, which is probably one of the reasons the Pac-12 and Big 10 were so intent on keeping their baby. Anyway, the schools are going to move the risk from the schools to the bowls, because they can see...

image_thumb[1]

the problem

Meanwhile, Jim Delany made some noises about diversifying the Big Ten's bowl slate. The current setup is great if you like the worst cities in Florida, but not so great if you like, you know, culture and stuff.

We heard this about seven months ago as well when the Big Ten had its smoochy session with the Rose in a futile attempt to cover up for the fact they couldn't get enough votes for home playoff games. I assume that the desire is real, and that when the contracts come up there will be diversification into places that are more than strip clubs and strip malls.

Congratulations to all of us for collectively being fed up or financially unable to support this model, and thus forcing  a change.

[HT: Get the Picture. ]

Obligatory plea. Denver! December/January highs average in the mid-40s, it's usually sunny or snowing, the stadium district is pretty cool, and the Front Range is just an hour away.

Threes of doom. I wish this Five Key Plays bit included the loony long Burke two that kicked off Michigan's fatal sequence, but it gets everything else:

1. Hardaway takes heavily contested three with a hand in his face with 25 on the shot clock.
2. GRIII takes a basically open three with 11 left—the contest is token and doesn't impact him.
3. Burke runs down and takes a three that Ravenel is credited with a block on that airballs. Since Ravenel comes nowhere near the top of Burke's shooting motion… no. This should be a foul, and with Morgan charging towards the basket with Craft on his back anything that hits the rim has a decent chance of being a putback dunk. Much less upset about this, now filing under Big Ten refs are cowards instead of insanity. Dollars to donuts there is a post-airball whistle if this game is at Crisler.
4. Terrible contested NBA-ranged three with 29 on clock from Stauskas.
5. Decently open look from Hardaway with 25 on the clock; Hardaway run over, no call.

Part of the reason Michigan's offense looked so bad in this one is just the way the game was being called. OSU was in They Can't Call Everything Mode—and with M so foul-averse I wonder if that hurts them on the offensive end since refs have an unconscious bias towards keeping foul calls relatively even.

Beilein was okay with the final three, BTW. I didn't mind it either since going for a win in that situation is at least on par with attempting to tie it with a slightly easier shot. If Michigan gets that one extra point from the Burke breakaway bucket, though…

This week in post touches suck. Via UMHoops:

 

Team % Time Poss Points PPP
Indiana Hoosiers 8.9% 118 110 0.932
Michigan Wolverines 1.8% 23 21 0.913
Wisconsin Badgers 10.5% 124 111 0.895
Ohio State Buckeyes 6.4% 80 71 0.888
Iowa Hawkeyes 8.8% 122 107 0.877
Minnesota Golden Gophers 8.9% 122 105 0.861
Michigan State Spartans 10.1% 131 112 0.855
Purdue Boilermakers 11.3% 146 121 0.829
Nebraska Cornhuskers 9.9% 113 89 0.788
Penn State Nittany Lions 9.7% 118 92 0.780
Northwestern Wildcats 9.8% 119 86 0.723
Illinois Fighting Illini 4.2% 59 35 0.593

 

The D-I average points per possession is 0.995; every Big Ten team is well below that. I wonder if the data is only considering shots from post-ups and not kicks and rotation and suck, because that's so amazingly low across the board that it feels faulty. Surely there are some post-touch benefits this analysis is missing, or coaches simply wouldn't run them anymore.

Anyway, no I don't think Michigan should post up Morgan and McGary more.

This week in loldelany. Your Successories conference is not working out.

When deciding on division names in December 2010, Delany said the Big Ten "didn't have great options."

"We weren't going to go with 'Bo or Woody,' 'Black or Blue,' or 'Plains or Lakes,' " Delany said. "Obviously we got some acceptance [with Legends and Leaders], but not as much as we would have liked."

Delany said he was a "little surprised" by the backlash when the division names were announced.

People in charge of things are just in charge of them. There is not a reason. They instantly become megalomaniacs despite this.

"I'm not sure it was a national survey [of people who didn't like the names], but people who hit the 'send' button," Delany said. "I don't take umbrage to negative reaction. I don't necessarily change when I hear it. I think on the other hand, we said we would test-market it, and we have for a couple of years. We have the opportunity to look at it again. I'm sure we will. Whether or not we change or not is to be determined. I don't have any presumption that we'll change on it, but that doesn't mean we're not looking at it.

"I don't think when you try to build something, lead some organization, you don't want to be tone deaf. But it's not up for vote every week."

That is the best probably unintentional double-negative ever.

The UV bullet doesn't count. Hockey got swept by Alaska this weekend for the first time ever, which came as no surprise, really. The first line was AJ Treais and the only guys who skate hard consistently: Andrew Copp and Zach Hyman. They skated five defensemen since they've got three out injured. So that's where the team is: injured on the backline, lackadaisical on the front line, and still getting really bad goaltending.

Yost Built has a recap.

Zak Irvin is kind of good. He's the favorite for Mr. Basketball in the state of Indiana—Michigan has never acquired one of those—and seems like a bigger version of GRIII:

Zak Irvin:  6’7” Shooting Guard, Hamilton Southeastern H.S. (2013)  I just love watching him play.  He is the best Senior in the state and I don’t think it is even that close.  At 6’7”, he can shoot the lights out, handle the ball well, and really gets after it defensively.  I really don’t see how he isn’t ranked higher by some national scouting service.  He is the total package.  Will be great at Michigan.

More:

“He is fundamental with both hands,” Harrison senior Mark Huston said of Irvin. “The best you can do is try and contest (his shot) to the best of your abilities and hope he misses. But he is a great talent, and he doesn’t do that a lot.”

“It almost felt like he was guarding three people at once with his length on traps,” Huston said. “He can jump passing lanes real easy, so it was tough for us to get the ball moving."

Etc.: Cierre Wood enters draft. Basketball is young. The latest on Austin Hatch. It's hard to win all your games. Chip Kelly: he gone. Enjoy your sanctions, Oregon! Dawg Sport's T. Kyle King retires. If blogging age is defined by the number of words you put on the internet, he does so at the young age of 120. Mike Harden profiled. Michigan is just one of five programs with the same staff for three straight years. DON'T TWEET AT ATHLETES PEOPLE WHO CAN'T READ THIS BLOG ANYWAY. Mel Kiper, soulless robot. Michigan in comic book format.

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Dear Diary Remembers Dennis Bergkamp

Dear Diary Remembers Dennis Bergkamp Comment Count

Seth 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.

DENNIS BERGKAMP!

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!

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

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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:

OLStatsbyCSS

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.]

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