Football is here, and it is beautiful. Two pallets filled with boxes with 55 books apiece arrived at Underground Printing's warehouse yesterday afternoon. The people with rush orders ought to be getting them in their mailboxes today. I've moved the writeup over to the diaries for now so all those who helped can remain standing and be recognized. If you happen to run into any of our authors, production folk, photographers, etc., celebrate these people. Hold a shindig in their honor, build a statue in their commemoration, and declare the day Eric Upchurch Day or Greg Dooley Day or Courtney Fathers Day, etc. Maybe bring a cloak and scepter to work today in case you need to drape one over them. Basketball-hockey is now in production and should be out around late September.
Diaries were weak this week. LSA's thing compared turnover margin to winning over time among too small a sample and offers no conclusions. The other was k.o.k.Law remembering the Ed Martin scandal and the '98 Rose Bowl before coming back to finish his trip to the hoops championship game story. Best to head to the board.
PEOPLE WHO PROBABLY ALREADY HAVE DAYS NAMED FOR THEM
If you're looking for former players, try…paintball?
That is Vincent Smith, but those are not finger guns. People who helped support the Hope for Pahokee thing got to play a round with the Pahokee guys. I prefer to remember Smith jackrabbitting around as a freshman and finger-gunning and blocking like a mountain goat, not for his role as a supporting actor in how great Clowney looks when nobody blocks him.
Those who've been here since the site moved from blogspot, happy 5 years of Never Forget banners, Shavodrick Beaver news. Those who've been around since the before times will remember what it was like to live through the first coaching search. Aye, before there were sailboats there was utter panic and profiles in heroism and way more Flight Tracker. There was also the Fandom Endurance Badge, which props to the Glove for framing it.
Let's everyone Bruce Lee kick a Buckeye in celebration.
REVERSING THE O'BANNION EFFECT
You know how Beilein likes to get those younger-than-they-should-be guys like LeVert then cackle when they turn into 6'6 wingers. The other side of that is kids who get held back a year so that they're a year larger and more athletic while trying to distinguish themselves against high school and collegiate competition. This was going on at least as long ago as when I was a kid. Some of these kids then leap back to their correct grade if they've reached the elite mark, in order to get to the NBA sooner.
RIVALS MAKES A LIST, WE CHECK IT TWICE
MGoBlue.com put up a bunch of interviews with Michigan coaches of the various sports on Wednesday and fished a Michael Spath article out of it. Read it as "Michigan has five coaches ranked higher in their sport than Brady Hoke if anything before 2012 is a dark and mystical past." Red Berenson isn't even among the five. Frankly I'm surprised it's just that many. There are a bunch of coaches in college football's ranks who've won one or more national championships, built multiple programs to prominence, and have been simply doing it much longer than Hoke has. Meanwhile Michigan is an annual competitor for the Director's Cup because the athletic department shells out for the best of the best in many sports that SEC teams don't even bother playing. If we're not tilting to the sports people care about I don't know if Beilein would be first either; he is tops on their list because Rivals is a very "What have you done for me lately" kind of outlet. But if we're being serious about his, I mean: Carol Hutchins, Red Berenson, Kurt Golder. Chaka Daley didn't even make Spath's Top 10. Wrestling just brought in the country's top recruiting class.
The second-worst game ever. Wolverine Historian has digitized the 1995 Purdue game, which was played in miserable conditions and ended 5-0 to the Wolverines:
so I herd you like mudkips
It's not 2008 Northwestern because the team didn't finish 3-9 and won that game, but it's probably the second-worst game of the last twenty years to attend. I didn't; I was playing Quiz Bowl in high school.
A man after Lloyd's own heart. Don't bother asking incoming freshman OL Jack Miller any uncomfortable questions. His presser-fu is unassailable:
"On the Buckeyes, they're a great program and they will be resilient. But we need to take this opportunity as a team to move forward and keep getting better."
Maryland self-reported the violations and recommended penalties — which the NCAA has accepted — that will include the loss of 2 ½ hours of the normal 20 hours a week maximum for practices and games. The penalties will be enforced during the 2011 season. Maryland officials confirmed details Friday in response to inquiries. …
"Specifically, 30 minutes of meeting sessions and 30 minutes of practice on Mondays and one hour of weightlifting on Wednesdays were not accurately reported," Maryland said in a May 5 letter to Chris Strobel, NCAA director of enforcement for secondary violations. "During the review it was apparent that the coaches and staff at the time believed those activities were voluntary in nature; however, when reviewed in detail, the institution determined the activities to be mandatory."
Yeah, you read that right: secondary violations. I'm not sure why these are secondary. It seems Michigan got hit with a major violation because its problems were persistent, not isolated, and that that was enough to trigger all the stuff Michigan dealt with the last two offseasons. Here Maryland did almost exactly the same thing and gets almost exactly the same punishment but doesn't get the black mark.
It's mostly important for semantics, but goddamn if the NCAA had hit Michigan with the exact penalties they did but only secondary violations that would have been epic win for the internet in Internet vs. Free Press. Maybe the sensational nature of the original article caused the NCAA investigation and prevented Michigan from self-reporting the results of the audit they'd already done.
Oregon stuff. So… yeah, that thing about the NCAA having to make an inference a fourth-grader could make and this being an important thing for them to do: nevermind all that. Unusually for a dude who received a big check for acting as a "street agent," Lyles has taken the opportunity presented by an NCAA investigation to launch a media blitz.
You know about the Yahoo article. That in and of itself isn't unusual. What's unusual is what happened the next day: instead of recanting after people threatened to burn him at the stake (or offered him dollars) Lyles said more stuff. He called up a local columnist who had called him "scum" and a "slimeball" and offered an extensive interview with quotes like this:
Lyles said he’s willing to fully cooperate with NCAA investigators. Said Lyles: “What did coach Kelly say to the NCAA? What did he say to the administration? That’s going to be a key piece of information for them. I keep things. I don’t throw things away. It bodes well in this circumstance.”
His defense isn't totally unbelievable insofar as it doesn't seem like Lyles is a terrible guy. He's inserted himself as a middleman in a market created because of NCAA restrictions and got some football players to go to some colleges, for which he got paid. If not for NCAA regulations he'd just be a guy doing a job.
But those NCAA regulations do exist and Oregon paid 25k to a representative of their athletic interests who got to act outside said regulations, so they've got to suffer. How much will be fascinating. This isn't an extra benefits case so the USC benchmark doesn't apply.
Tim Hardaway is fifth on the USA U19s in scoring; they're 5-1 in pool play after avenging a blowout loss to these same Lithuanians in a tourney tuneup. They just lost to Croatia today. Two more games until the quarterfinals.
This is what it sounds like when no one has any idea of anything. If this whole hockey superconference-insofar-as-you-can-call-an-eight-team-conference-that thing comes to fruition and some CCHA teams fold and everyone blames the Big Ten that's going to be annoying. Nebraska fans feel me on this after being blamed for the Big 12's dissolution when there was going to be a Pac-16.
But it might happen. North Dakota is the latest school sporting the initials ND to make noises about it:
UND is having formal discussions about pulling out of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and joining several other schools in creating a new power hockey league, multiple sources have told the Herald. … It is believed that eight teams are involved in the talks to some degree.
UNO, Miami, Notre Dame, and Western Michigan(!) are specifically mentioned in the article. Add UND, CC, DU, and Fortunate Minnesota Team Pretty Much Indistinguishable From The Ones Left Behind and that's an eight-team conference that has a lot of traditional or nouveau powers, no geographical sense at all, no home base, and some chance of keeping pace with the Big Ten.
You've also got flailing WCHA and CCHA remnants trying to figure out how to survive. The WCHA schools might be able to grab Air Force* for an eighth team; the shattered rump of the CCHA would probably grab a handful of Atlantic Hockey schools who want to offer maximum scholarships. The financial viability of the WCHA schools isn't much in question—most have just put a lot of money into infrastructure and hockey is king in Minnesota. The CCHA would be in some trouble, though.
If I was Michigan I'd be rattling my saber at anyone eyeing this new superconference, promising to play any local nonconference games against the teams who don't get raptured up into the Engelstad Conference.
Ugh—I just realized we have two more years of this before the Big Ten even exists.
*["Might" because the conventional wisdom in the hockey community is that priority #1 for AF is being in the same conference as Army and Atlantic Hockey's scholarship restrictions and general lack of behemoths makes them more competitive.]
Barnett shelved. TX TE Chris Barnett was one of Brady Hoke's biggest recruits in the brief window he had to acquire dudes before Signing Day, and he plays a position of desperate need now that Michigan's going all pro-style and stuff. Unfortunately, this does not sound like a guy who is going to be ready to play this fall:
I tore my ACL in early October, and I didn't have surgery for it until December, because like I said, me and my mom, we struggle. We don't have a whole bunch of money. So the injury thing wasn't to the point where I could go get surgery. But I've been working out really hard...I came up on the spring game, and I was 295 [lbs]. Right now, I'm 272. Coach wants me to be 280 -- no [not any] more than 280. But at the same time, I'm getting stronger. I'm crisp [while] running. My knee that I had surgery on still isn't 100%, so I go about 80/85%. But talking to Coach, I still have 2 months [before the season starts] to rehab with them
That sucks in four different ways. Hopefully he makes it back but December surgery plus generally being a freshman seems like a recipe for a redshirt.
I lasted a quarter and a half before giving in to my inner old man and muting the television. Chris Martin had not just said that the receiver Roy Roundtree reminded him of was Braylon Edwards, but that's all I remember from the first hour. I love the Big Ten Network's picture quality and was pleasantly surprised when Saturday's director consistently cut away from highlight packages to show the game. Not so much the people paid to talk.
I was home alone since the last time I tried to watch a game in the company of people it was the Penn State game. I went home at halftime after demonstrating my severe case of sports Tourrette's. I didn't trust the team enough to expose the world to me for those three hours on Saturday, and that turned out to be a good call. Slop happened, swears were deployed, and sometime in the third quarter Sean Robinson threw a ball directly at James Rogers for the ninth turnover of the day.
It was a this point that Yakety Sax spontaneously started playing in my otherwise silent apartment.
Possibilities washed over me. One: I have been driven insane by last four years of Michigan football. Two: I am now dangerously, thrillingly super-sane and will walk-around hearing situationally appropriate music everywhere I go. I will hear "Yes We Have No Bananas" and know I don't need to bother with the produce section. People will have to tell me what Mark Dantonio says as "Breakin' The Law" thunders in my skill. I will stop complaining about Special K because instead of "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor," I will hear the marching band.
I ONLY EAT BANANAS AND HEAR YAKETY SAX SPONTANTEOUSLY WOOOOOOO—damn. It turns out that I still had a liveblog window open and when you post a video it auto-plays because it loves breaking the cardinal rule of the internet. Elaborate sigh, dreams deferred.
I'd forgotten because I don't participate in the liveblogs mostly because I'm at the games. Even when I'm not I avoid them—I don't like my own furious overreactions, let alone the furious overreactions of hundreds of other people.
What have we learned in week ten? Eh… I'm not sure you can take much out of this game except a growing concern for Denard Robinson's turnover issues and healthy fear of Ryan Kerrigan. Football played between good teams gets ugly when the rain is constant and the field starts coming up in big sliding chunks; football between bad teams causes spontaneous yakety sax. I don't think we're under the illusion that Michigan is a good team.
The footing issues were most apparent with the tailbacks but applied to everyone, so I'm not sure how much the offensive line getting owned was the conditions and how much was Kerrigan being Brandon Graham 2010 and how much was just the offensive line getting owned. The rest of the problems extended from that—Denard got the first serious, consistent pressure of his career and responded like most quarterbacks dealing with their first case of happy feet do. The running game was a slog. This week's epidemic of dropped passes has a good reason.
Unfortunately, the same logic applies to the other side of the ball, where Michigan took on Gritty Eckstein at tailback and went to work against a team that got the ball down 11 with no timeouts and a minute and a half left and decided this was the best course of action:
Throw in the flat from one freshman quarterback to the other freshman quarterback, who had lined up at wide receiver.
Five yard hitch.
The scariest thing Purdue's offense did all day was start Justin Siller. We have finally found the team whose offensive incompetency outstrips Michigan's defensive incompetency.
There is no data here not obviously affected by the opponent and the weather. Next week when the footing is solid and the opponent has a quarterback whose default option is not a dumpoff to the other quarterback everything will be completely different. Since it was a win—one that was in retrospect not in much danger after Michigan scored to go up 20-13—this game will be relegated to the scrap heap of mud-ugly games past and forgotten.
Now if I can just figure out where "Livin' on a Prayer" is coming from, we are in business.
Non-Bullets Der Wet Catten
This did not happen. Remember that these things can be much, much worse. The saddest picture in the history of Michigan football came from the 2008 Fandom Endurance III game:
The Orin Incandenza Award. The play of the game is Will Hagerup's 72-yard bomb early in the fourth quarter that put Purdue on their own three. Courtney Avery would biff a long handoff on the next play but give the ball back on a fumble. Michigan punt, Purdue punt, Michigan excellent field position for clinching touchdown. Watching this game was a blast from the past; feeling my decision matrix switch from GO FOR IT GO FOR IT GO FOR IT to "it's third and seven, we should run it and then punt" was like being possessed by the ghost of Lloyd Carr*.
That thing flipped the field position in a game where field position is a tug of war instead of a minor inconvenience en route to the endzone. It soared. The returner is a lithe whippet of a man somewhere around 20 years old and he didn't bother to run since it was too long. Ain't running that far. That's going to China, yo.
*(The author is aware that Carr does not actually have a ghost.)
Growing concern for turnover issues. The interceptions were bad but maybe that just happens because of the weather and the pressure which may have been caused by the weather, etc., but the fumble was the continuation of a bad habit we've seen all year: when Denard gets outside he does not switch the ball to the outside arm. On Saturday that allowed some guy to come from the inside and strip the ball as he spun Denard to the ground. That's a basic coaching point and I'm not sure why a guy who runs as much as Denard hasn't had it hammered into his skull.
Quarterback rotation. I thought putting in Forcier here and there was the right move even if it didn't result in any of those yard things (Forcier was one for four and his one completion was blown up by a Molk hold, leading to another pooch punt) since the offense wasn't going anywhere and the two quarterbacks are different enough that it's plausible Forcier could do something Denard couldn't, especially after the two INTs.
I also liked Rodriguez's response to some question about "benching Denard." To paraphrase: benching is a strong word. If he's a tailback or wide receiver he's getting a rest. We put him back in. You are making 1000 times less than me for a reason.
Right, I mean? Right? I think the headphones are key.
Grim weather past. All games played in driving rain on shoddy turf kind of melt into each other, a never-ending parade of fumbles, third and eight runs, five yard throws that hit spectators in the face, and either shots of people looking wet and cranky in ponchos or looking grim and cranky in a poncho yourself.
But in one specific way, this game reminded me of a previous slopfest around 2002 or so when a to-that-point disappointing Justin Fargas had the first and only 100 yard game of his Michigan career in a mud pit against Northwestern. Fargas was much better than Michigan's other backs because he was small* and could change direction without engaging pratfall warp drive. I thought of him as Vincent Smith changed direction relatively quickly and came up a yard short of the first 100 yard game of his career not played against baby seals.
I also was like "aaargh why aren't you a step faster" several times. Smith's had a good couple games but unless he's not really 100% after the knee injury it seems like it's cost him some of his giddyup.
*(He would get Brian Cushing roid huge at USC—at Michigan he was diminutive.)
A moment of pure terror. Was anyone else about to have a conniption fit after Avery let that WR zip by him with nothing but Ray Vinopal between that guy and the endzone? Rogers was pursuing to the backside so if Vinopal missed he just had to slow the guy or make him cut back, but watching a true freshman two star scurry down his angle as the last thing between Purdue and a 97-yard wide receiver screen touchdown is a whiskey-inducing experience.
Vinopal made a fine tackle and Purdue had the decency to fumble on the next play, so the moment passed successful. But jeez.
I-form: die. Die die die. Die die die die die.
Oddities. One: Gallon was clearly not making a fair catch signal and shouldn't have been flagged. Two: Purdue kicked off from the 35 once. WTF?
No Video of All Varieties yesterday because the pickings were understandably slim, but here's a bird talking about the game. Stay tuned for the twist ending:
I wish this would happen to certain WTKA callers. There is also a Wolverine Historian clipreel:
Purdue bloggers say their defensive back who scored "displayed shades of Deion Sanders" by having a ball thrown directly at him whilst being five yards from the nearest receiver. They do post video of girls fighting. The guy who guaranteed a win declares the game the "ugliest football game" he's ever attended, which yeah pretty much. The comments are weirdly negative. If mean, if anyone deserves a pass it's Purdue and their new mascot:
On to Michigan blogs: the Hoover Street Rag drops a Warren G. Harding reference that I misread as a "Warren G" reference when they tweeted it out. Alas, these guys are still bandos and history teachers (I'm guessing, anyway) and we don't get to find out what bandos/teachers would say in re: Warren G and Michigan football. The Harding bit:
Harding was widely reviled for his incompetence, his willingness to let his friends do as they pleased, the general sense of fail that emanated White House followed him until his death in 1923. Except, when historians look back, they see that things were not as bad as they once thought. Harding was blamed when things went wrong, but got little to no credit for the things that went right. People saw what they wanted to see and argued their points as they chose a new path to their future. Then again, Harding never got America bowl eligible, so we'll see.