Moving the Stati-Sticks: Post-Indiana

Moving the Stati-Sticks: Post-Indiana

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 25th, 2016 at 11:00 AM

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[Bryan Fuller]

The title of the post still says “Post-Indiana,” but I seriously considered bucking convention and naming it “Pre-Ohio State.” With the stakes of The Game as high as they’ve been in a decade, it only felt right to look at where the two teams’ advanced stats are similar and where they’re different.

Still, it’s worth discussing what happened against Indiana. The offense took a fairly large hit in overall efficiency, falling from 23rd to 41st in success rate. The rushing offense’s success rate saw a nearly identical drop in the national rankings, falling from 21st to 42nd. The passing offense did even worse, with the success rate falling from 45.3% to 42.5% and from 26th to 50th. On standard downs, Michigan’s offensive success rate only dropped from 51.5% to 49.5%, but their ranking tumbled from 22nd to 43rd. The offense fared worse on passing downs, with their success rate dropping from 34.4% (39th overall) to 31.5% (62nd overall). The offense had a difficult time keeping on track, and their inability to pick up the necessary yardage to stay in manageable down-and-distance situations led to the drops in success rate. Of note is that the offense struggled in that department across the board (passing, rushing, standard vs. passing down, etc.) but with little impact on their other numbers, which stayed fairly stable. A few long runs helped keep the offense’s explosive play-realted numbers afloat.

The defense, already at or near the top of most categories, saw little movement. One of the bigger changes was in the defense’s IsoPPP, the number Bill Connelly uses to track explosiveness; Michigan moved up from ninth to fourth. That’s pretty much it. The defense is good. The stats are good. They both remained so against Indiana.

[After THE JUMP: how Michigan stacks up against Ohio State according to S&P+ and FEI]

Opponent Watch 2016: Week 12

Opponent Watch 2016: Week 12

Submitted by BiSB on November 23rd, 2016 at 9:23 AM

About Last Week:

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Upchurch

The Road Ahead:

Ohio State

When they play Michigan: This is a pretty simple week.

We can discard with the usual trappings of this column. Every other week of the season we recap the opponents’ previous games, and we analyze how frightening they are, and we look at what should worry you about those teams and what shouldn’t. Those are necessary artifices when we are trying to add some color to a game three weeks out against Maryland, or to put a win over Illinois in greater context. The Game needs no added color. It needs no greater context. It brings its own.

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You don’t need me to tell you what can make you feel better about this game. Nothing can, and you know that. You don’t need me to tell you why you should worry about this game, assuming you have the power of memory. And we don’t need to recap Ohio State’s previous games, nor Michigan’s for that matter. They don’t particularly matter, nor do they tell us much of note. The Game is an entity untethered from the rest of the season. Last year, Michigan came in as a top-10 team, and got their doors blown off at home. In 2013, 6-5 Michigan was a two-point conversion away from beating 11-0 Ohio State. In 2011, it was Luke Fickell’s 6-5 Ohio State team was one overthrown bomb away from beating Brady Hoke’s Sugar Bowl team. And the John Cooper era was one long video game where the player breezes through the level but can’t get past the boss.

The rest of the season has to be played, of course. Each week the two teams dutifully clash with their respective opponents. But each does so with one eye on the other, like two Homeric heroes cutting their way towards each other on an ancient battlefield. And sometimes, when things line up just so, the teams arrive as they do this year; with each having something extra weighing on the outcome. Not since 2006 have both teams had so much relying on the final score. But that simply affects the week leading up to The Game, and the days, weeks, and months afterward.

The hatred and familiar loathing take on a different hue in light of the conference and playoff implications, but the underlying artwork is unchanged. The first time the ghastly tones of that abhorrent fight song hit your ears, or the first time some Buckeye player throws up an O-H, or (god forbid) the first time the broadcast shows that vapid, poorly-cased narcissism sausage, Big Nut, you will be transported back to the place where the context is irrelevant, and the hatred is all-encompassing. Is this 1970? 1986? 2016? Who knows. Who cares. It’s these guys. I *hate* these guys. Get ‘em. F***ing get ‘em.

For those who demand greater context? Fine. Win, and there is a fooball game next weekend. Michigan goes to the Big Ten Championship Game for the first time. You see Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton and Jourdan Lewis and Jake Butt and the rest of the seniors play to hoist a trophy. You will get to see more Jabrill Peppers. Michigan will be the favorite to earn a playoff berth. A win sends Ohio State, who entered this week as the #2 team in the playoff rankings, home as the #3 team… in their division. Lose, and none of these things happens, and the one-sided nature of the rivalry continues unabated for another year.

But that’s Saturday morning stuff. That’s just what they’ll talk about on College Gameday outside the Horseshoe. Noon on Saturday is about Maize and Blue and Scarlet and Gray and a hundred urgent, violent moments. Let God and the committee sort the rest out.

This week: Everything. Noon. ABC.

Objects in the Rearview Mirror

Hawaii (5-7, 4-4 MWC)

Last week: Won at Fresno State, 14-13

Recap: Hawaii took down Fresno State, and is now one win away from Bowl eligibility (they get 13 games because they’re in the middle of the ocean and that’s how things work). To get there, they will have to win a rivalry game for the Voyages That Would Have Killed Anyone In The First 95% of Recorded History Trophy, as Umass will travel more than 5,000 miles to play the Rainbow Warriors. It would be quite something, after the entire offseason of laughter about Michigan’s no-conference schedule, if all three teams made a bowl game.

This week: vs. UMass, Midnight (Hawaii -7.5)

[AFTER THE JUMP: I told y’all about the Buffs…]

Dear Diary Won't Have Another Game

Dear Diary Won't Have Another Game

Submitted by Seth on November 28th, 2014 at 10:34 AM

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There won't be another one after. Not for Gardner. Not for Jake. Not for Hoke, for whom the accumulated effects of progressively worse seasons will mean the end. Not for a Michigan team that has less talent than their star ratings gave them, but far more than their record demonstrates.

As we come to the end—there will be no bowl game barring a miracle—for the Brady Hoke era, the tragedy is all of that wasted talent. That precious snaps with Denard Robinson and Vince Smith and David Molk and Patrick Omameh were wasted on Power because dogma. That Devin Gardner was never given the coaching or the system or the stability or the offensive line to be more than a freshman who runs around a lot. That Jake Ryan, who would have been Lawrence Taylor if he lived 30 years ago, spent his senior season having to learn a very hard thing he wasn't made to do. That Blake Countess is a coverage nickel because the cornerbacks play man all day. That Devin Funchess was a tight end, and then a bubble screen slot bug, until it was too late to care. That Dennis Norfleet was dancing around on the sidelines while A.J. Williams whiffed on blocks of defenders who wouldn't have been in the box otherwise. That senior seasons of Mone, Wile, Dymonte , Hurst, Gedeon, Houma, Delano, RJS, Ojemudia, Pipkins, Drake Johnson, Raymon, Da'Mario, Jarrod, Norfleet, Jourdan, Brandon Watson, Taco, Bolden, and Shane effing Morris were traded for a bare handful of freshman snaps that other guys might have taken.

That four years of Michigan football were wasted on Brady Hoke, and that here, at the end of all things, we're still not even sure those in charge will consider something besides unwavering faith in the gospel of "Michigan" in the next J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach.

The next guy. These are now a week out of date but Eye of the Tiger put together a couple of roundups of the coaching candidates in our crosshairs. Factors are: Potential upside, Potential downside, Transition costs, Overall desirability, and Chances of him coming. Both start with Harbaughs; the first has Jim, Les, Mullen, Graham, and, uh, Belichick? Second has John, Patterson, McElwain, Herman, and…okay so the fifth guy is always some joke.

Alum96 added a defense of Les Miles to answer some guy made of straw who goes around saying LSU has regressed lately. Straw men are stupid. The main arguments against Les are that he's too old, and his coaching style is a better fit for LSU, which is near the extreme of anything-goes for college football, versus Michigan, where the local press turns you in for accidentally practicing an extra 20 minutes.

[Jump for seniors departing, a new basketball stat, and college football parity]

Monday Presser 11-24-14: Players

Monday Presser 11-24-14: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 26th, 2014 at 9:07 AM

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Jarrod Wilson, Jack Miller, Brennen Beyer

Before you were at Michigan, your favorite Michigan v. Ohio State game. Maybe something that you watched growing up?

JM: “I was never a particular fan of either team, but when you grow up in the state of Ohio or Michigan the last weekend of November the game is always kind of a big deal, so I always watched them. I don’t necessarily remember a specific one more than another. Maybe when they were #1 and #2 one year down in Ohio or whatever, maybe that one. But you always know about it. You always watch it, and it means a hell of a lot.”

 

Jack, we just had your offensive coordinator out here who was talking about the challenges you guys have gone through adapting to a new system here. I know it hasn’t been maybe the year you’d hope for, but how do you feel you’ve done trying to learn what he’s been teaching and what kind of struggles have happened along the way?

JM: “I can only speak from an offensive line perspective, and maybe that’s a bright spot for us is we’ve gotten better as the season’s gone on. In November, which is arguably the most important month, we’re running the ball really well. We’re protecting Devin pretty well, and so I’m pretty proud of how the offensive line’s coming together as a team and we’ve been pretty successful down the stretch, but we haven’t put it all together as an offense or as a team and that’s the ultimate goal, which we’ve failed to accomplish.”

 

If you could just briefly describe your feelings for Ohio State. Obviously it’s a more elevated rivalry, but what about them makes this special for you?

BB: “Growing up in Michigan this game’s been my favorite game to watch moreso than any other sporting event I’d say just being a big Michigan fan. Playing in it is pretty cool too. It’s just got so much weight in the football game, two programs, two top-of-the-line programs. There’s just so much going into it. So much history and so much tension in the rivalry. It’s awesome. It’s the game you want to play in.”

JM: “I think I’ll say it the most diplomatic way I can: I’m not a big fan of Ohio State. I never have been. Ever since they beat Miami in the 2002 National Championship Game I’ve always disliked them, and I don’t like the Horseshoe and I don’t like Carmen Ohio. That’s kind of how I feel about them.”

JW: “It’s the greatest rivalry in college football. As far as Ohio, being an Ohio kid I kind of grew up watching them but never really was a fan of them. For this game I’m just really excited to play.”

[More after THE JUMP]

Monday Presser 11-24-14: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser 11-24-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 24th, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Hoke presser 2

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News bullets and other items:

  • Derrick Green won’t be far enough along in his recovery from a broken collarbone to play against Ohio State
  • Hoke said that he has no idea whether a win over OSU would help him keep his job
  • He said he doesn’t worry about his job, because that would be a distraction and would detract from what he’s trying to do for his players
  • Someone asked Hoke how he would make the case to Jim Hackett that he should keep his job and he declined to make said case, saying that a press conference wasn’t the venue for that
  • The Game, mutual respect, rivalry, atmosphere, preparation, etc.

Opening remarks:

"Thanks for coming. This is one of those weeks where there's a lot of excitement and obviously with this rivalry, which I believe is the greatest one in sport and that obviously would make it the greatest one in college football, and so it's fun and it's fun to prepare. It's a game where the intensity level between both teams is always at its highest. I think we all want to play our best, and that's the goal, to play your best game that last Saturday in November. Very balanced team we're going to play when you look at what they do from [an] offense, defense, special-teams standpoint. There's a great deal of pride when you play in this game and coaching this game that's special, and you talk to the guys who've played in it and they can tell you how special it is.

"We've got to improve. We've got to improve every week, and that's one of the goals we've always had. At times we're making strides and at times we're not as good executing as we'd like to be, but this is a game that is like no other and we're excited about it."

So many people thought that Ohio State was going to be in big trouble when Braxton Miller went down. Can you talk about what their quarterback is done just filling in?
"Yeah, I think JT [Barrett], I think you look at the progression from the first start to going through the season and I think he's done a great job in how they manage and what he wants and has to do offensively. He's athletic obviously. I think the way he's thrown the ball, the precision on that – I know last week was one of those games where the way it started wasn't as good. I think he's overcome a lot when those things have happened and I think he's been a guy who's done a great job for them."

Given the nature of this rivalry, given the perceived disparity between these two teams, in what ways do you prepare differently for this weekend differently than past weeks if at all?
"I think it's always a little bit different preparation, number one, because of the game itself and being The Game that you both on both sides have a lot of passion for and those kind of things. In rivalry games I think the preparation that you put in, how hard you're going to play is a big part in what happens in it."

From your perspective having lived in Ohio, having coached in Ohio, even having coached across the nation what makes the Michigan – Ohio State rivalry unique compared to other national rivalries?
"Yeah, I think the intensity and the masses themselves. Buckeye graduates and Michigan graduates, I think that's huge is how they feel. The size of the stadiums they both have, the atmosphere in the stadiums, and the passion in the stadiums."

There's obviously some speculation about your own future. How do you handle that personally and professionally, especially this week when there seems to be more speculation?
"Well, you know, they can speculate and do all that. I honestly – if we get distracted, if I get distracted with what we're doing then that's not fair to those 115 kids, so from that piece alone, and I think I've said it, I've never been worried about a job. I worry about the job we do for those kids."

[After THE JUMP: Basically “can you explain why everything is so terrible?”]

Unverified Voracity Is Probably Named Pappy

Unverified Voracity Is Probably Named Pappy

Submitted by Brian on May 17th, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Brace yourself. LSUFreek spent yesterday swapping rival coaches' hair. Paul Chryst/Dana Holgorsen:

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Aaand our local rivals:

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As Orson says, that makes Hoke look like a senator straight out of O Brother Where Art Thou.

Point Gene Smith. OSU's AD on the possibility of playing The Game at night.

"Are you crazy? What's wrong with you? It'll be noon. I have to be open to 3:30, but noon is my favorite time for that one."

Grudging respect meter: incremented.

Oh come on man. I'm gonna need some more detail on this($), Wyatt Shallman, before I agree this is a thing that actually happened:

In elementary school, he once caught a 10-pound bass using nothing more than a Spiderman fishing rod and a Lifesaver candy.

I wasn't born yesterday, Wyatt Shallman.

Goodbye, stupid o'clock bowl. The Big Ten has (likely) dumped the Insight.Chicken bowl in Arizona, not that Michigan ever showed up in it since any vaguely bowl-eligible Michigan program got snapped up as soon as the Big Ten bylaws allowed it and they were too far down the pecking order. I mean, that 7-5 outfit a couple of years ago got snapped up by the Outback.

For people looking for more variety in their bowl destinations, it's still grimly central Florida in the consolation prize area:

The Gator Bowl and Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl previously had rotated the No. 3 Big Ten selection after the Rose Bowl. The Holiday Bowl is expected to get the No. 3 Big Ten pick, after Capital One and Outback. The next Big Ten team could go to the Gator Bowl or Music City Bowl, depending on the year.

They've only managed to insert the Holiday in there and lessen the big ten presence in the Gator Bowl. Meh. The Pinstripe and Please Change The Name Of The Bowl In San Francisco are likely to be added, but again so far down the pecking order that it's unlikely Michigan is around when those bowls are picking. Also slightly alleviating the central Florida malaise is the Orange Bowl, which will get a Big Ten team at least three times over the next twelve years. In those years the ACC will send a team to the Citrus. Miami, while inconvenient to get to, is essentially its own insane tinpot country that is at least interesting.

More helpful than the bowl switch up is the Big Ten taking back some of their autonomy as far as who goes where:

"We'll probably be somewhere in between (a bowl committee) selection and a conference placement," Delany said after the league's athletic director meetings in Chicago. "So what we'll do is give a lot of conditions to each bowl, and they will have to get conference approval for the selection that they choose.

"The goal is going to be that we keep these games fresh and also that the bowls create the best possible lineup. I think there's been some fatigue."

So if fanbase X that's been to central Florida six straight years ends up in a big pile of approximately equal teams they'd probably ship 'em to the Holiday or Music City.

Also in annoying things, the Holiday will feature the #2 Pac-12 team against the #3 Big Ten team. The Big Ten has a couple extra teams, yeah, but with the road-ish nature of that game that should be an even 2-for-2 or 3-for-3 if it's going to be even in the long run. The Big Ten doesn't help perception of itself much when its quest for maximum dollars continually puts them at a disadvantage in bowl matchups.

Weird thing I just thought of in relation to all this: if we do get a Ten Year War II going on the Rose Bowl is going to be the consolation prize for the loser of The Game. Ew.

Are we dumping the only incompetent Germans? This is admittedly a bit of a stretch that Drake Harris would be the one guy who knows what Michigan's plans are in re: their apparel contract, but he's tweeted out "when we got back to Nike, I hope we get [appalling uniforms that prove seventeen year olds are blind and/or insane]" and responded to a guy asking him about it that he thinks it'll go down in two more years. That's not accurate according to Angelique Chengelis, though the door is going to be open:

Brandon on WTKA says 3.5 years left on Adidas contact. Will honor contract. And then....negotiations begin

It is possible that they're telling recruits they plan to switch in an effort to assure them they won't end up having to play skins in a critical conference game. There are many, many reasons to do this, from Adidas's uniformly (ha!) appalling alternates to the labor kerfuffle to the fact that the only incompetent Germans can't supply Michigan with non-tearaway uniforms or replacements for the tearaway ones.

Well, yeah. Brandon says the 2014 Penn State game will likely be at night:

"That's a good hunch," Brandon said when asked the likelihood of a Michigan-Penn State night game at Michigan Stadium. "I would expect that Penn State game would be a terrific game in early October to have as a night game against a Big Ten opponent."

…because the other three are Maryland, Indiana, and Minnesota. Dave sounds a little defensive, must be getting a lot of heat for the Worst Home Schedule Ever. At least he acknowledges it's a problem:

"Football can be pretty boring in September if you've got all your teams playing down to competition," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said. "It's boring for the fans at the stadium and it's boring on television. We don't want to be boring, so we want to strengthen the schedule."

Also in October and November when you're playing Rutgers and Maryland every week. My mind is still struggling to interpret those as football games instead of extra byes.

Chrome it up! Death comes for us all. YOLO. Synergy. Brandon:

Michigan ended last season by making a rare alteration to its winged helmet, adding a matte finish for the Outback Bowl. That theoretically could open the door for more changes, including a chrome helmet, which many teams already employ for their alternate looks.

The idea surely would ruffle feathers in some corners of the fan base. But Michigan has also shown a willingness to push the envelop during the Brandon era.

So, would he do it?

Brandon said he is reluctant to alter the helmet so drastically -- but added, "never say never."

He cites "some polling done," which… I mean it's already locked in your brain or it's not. Also he calls college football "the platform" at some point. I hope MBA programs know they're killing the language.

/buys even more Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork stock.

I'm with Dave here though. The MSA president, still as useless as ever:

"The students are upset to say the least, they feel that the athletic department broke its long-held social contract with the students," said Michael Proppe, Central Student Government president for the 2013-14 academic year.

Oh I see they've changed the name to something more evocative of Stalin to emphasize their extreme lack of power. Anyway. Ahem.

YOU broke the "long-held social contract," Michael Proppe, by not showing up. You and lots of other people. The deal was: you get cheap tickets, show up, and be loud. You have altered the deal. Pray Dave Brandon doesn't alter it any further.

Etc.: Oh goody: "dead is a strong word" for expansion. Big Ten ADs want seven wins to be the minimum for bowl eligibility. Rutgers' new AD was on the wrong end of a lawsuit about discriminating against pregnant women. Kicker: is a woman.

Yes please can we ignore the twitter losers with five followers who rant at players? Rick Reilly, world's most overpaid man. Hawaii goes back to "Rainbow Warriors." Thumbs up.

Sports On Earth's Matt Brown demolishes MSU. Ugh protected basketball rivalries, ugh. Denard profiled. Single plays suck in a 14 team conference.

The Survey to Save Michigan-Ohio State (but won't)

The Survey to Save Michigan-Ohio State (but won't)

Submitted by Seth on December 1st, 2012 at 2:51 PM

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HT DIABEETUS.

The Big Ten doesn't actually care what you think about the destruction of longstanding rivalries so they can have more NYC/DC viewers in the duration of tiered cable's death throes. However BTN has put up a survey for the purpose of discussion points on their Monday show that represents the first crack I've yet seen in the conference's apparent immunity to public opinion on its expansion plans. This, like the survey when they announced the division names, will of course be duly ignored; I say let's tell them anyway.

Take the Survey on Facebook.

Take the Survey on the BTN homepage.

Call your friends and family and that girl you studied abroad with what's her name, and make them take it too. Whatever you answer in the rest, say "VERY IMPORTANT" for Question 9, and use 17 to ask they put Michigan and Ohio State in the same divisions.

The questions, and opinions:

1. What is your favorite B1G school?

This one is thrown in there to weed out the hardcore fans when they break their mouse by clicking on this SO HARD.

2. My favorite school is in which division?

???? I think it says "Leaders" in the song; I'm guessing that one. Also I'm guessing if everybody says "I have no idea" that can become a talking point against the division names.

3. As the conference expands beyond 12 teams, should the new teams be added to an existing division or should new divisions be drawn from scratch?

Start from scratch please.

4. What do you think of the "Legends" and "Leaders" names? (Strongly Like to Strongly Dislike.)

Again, this is put here to make you break your clicking device. Gently. Gently.

5. Should the B1G change or keep the current division names?

Gently!

6. If you think the division names should be changed, what should they be changed to?

This is an input box; write what you want. Like most old timey NHL fans I prefer divisions named for historical guys, so Yost-Stagg or Bo-Woody. Brian likes East-West. North-South. Plains-Lakes. Big Ten-Little Four. Persistence-Perseverance. Wait no not that last one, they might actually go for that.

7. If divisions were to be changed, what criteria should be used to determine them? (Rank by importance Competitive balance, geography, protect traditional rivalries.)

I suggest putting "Protect traditional rivalries" first because they're all important but at least that might put M-OSU in the same division.

8. How important is it for IN-STATE rivals to be in the same division? (Very important to not important.)

Irrelevant. Every in-state school is already traditional rivals with the other one.

9. How important is it for TRADITIONAL rivals to be in the same division? (Very important to not important.)

VERY important. Rivalries need something at stake, and beating your divisional rivals counts as virtually two wins if you're against them for the championship invite. If we're not with Ohio State the game becomes a "protected" rivalry, which means we'll see them every year while our division rivals face them maybe twice a decade.

10. Currently, the number of conference games the B1G plays is 8. Should this increase?

The answers they give here include "Yes, increase to 10 games (2 non-conference games; 5 home conf games and 5 road conf games)" which, hell yeah (now that ND is gone I think 2 games is plenty to have a warm-up and an interesting matchup) except it will never happen because they make their money off of home games and more conference games means more losses at the end of the season and fewer bowl-eligible teams.

11. What is your preference on a B1G Basketball Tourney? (Every team qualifies, or 12 of 14 teams qualify.)

They don't let you go less than 12. So 12, obviously.

12. Currently, the B1G has no divisions for basketball. Should this be changed?

I'd go for a tiered system before divisions. Don't care either way; if I knew they wouldn't screw it up I might be more inclined.

13. If yes, why should there be divisions for basketball?

Text entry. Share your opinion; mine is above.

14. If no, why shouldn't there be divisions for basketball?

Text entry.

15. When people reference "B1G", do you recognize that to be the Big Ten Conference?

Obviously you do, but think about what this could mean in context: if everyone is saying "no" then the talking point becomes "Nobody even knows what B1G means." I'm all for talking points that hurry along the demise of that embarrassment of a logo.

16. With 14 teams currently, should the B1G remain the "Big Ten", or should its name be changed?

I don't have a better name for it; we should have sued the Big XII and the Big East when we had the chance because "Big" is the nickname that grew up organically and should be the qualifying piece of information in the name, not the number.

17. Do you have any further thoughts on B1G expansion?

PUT MICHIGAN AND OHIO STATE IN THE SAME DIVISION! Also don't add Maryland and Rutgers, name the divisions from whatever's on the motivational poster in your boss's office, make another stupid looking logo, etc.

GO VOTE!

Unverified Voracity Thumps Tigers

Unverified Voracity Thumps Tigers

Submitted by Brian on November 22nd, 2011 at 11:30 AM

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Sponsor thanks. It's The Game week, when tailgates are packed with people you haven't seen all year and space is tight. If you plan with our local sponsor Park n Party you get peace of mind and a total lack of implied eyebrow cocking at your lack of support. Visit their Ohio State reservations page. Or I'll lift that bad boy.

NOM. So this was weird.

Explanation:

"This program's been starving for a while," Robinson said Monday. "It's time for us to make something happen.

"We've been starving. It's time for us to eat."

BONUS THING YOU CAN HEAR IN YOUR HEAD LIKE FARNSWORTH:

Michigan hasn't beaten the Buckeyes since 2003, when Robinson still was in the seventh grade at Deerfield Beach Middle School.

"Oh man, that's crazy!" Robinson said.

Kablam. Memphis: you officially suck worse than Western Illinois. Sorry.

This would likely not be true if Trey Burke wasn't as horrendously underrated as Tim Hardaway was last year. Check the postgame presser transcript at UMHoops for Trey Burke's opinion on that item.

The constant referencing of five-star Joe Jackson makes the lines to read between less than cryptic. Good thing Rivals dumped him lower after his Ohio Mr. Basketball high school season. Credibility: shot. ESPN is currently the worldwide leader in Michigan-basketball-related recuiting cred.

Anyway. Big win against a team whose flaws won't be exposed much against a Conference USA schedule and should end up a nice neutral-site feather in the cap when it comes tourney time. Most impressive aspect of it: defensive rebounding. Even with Morgan out big chunks of the game and Michigan playing with Smotrycz at the 5 a for a not-inconsiderable period of time, Michigan rebounded something like 80% of Memphis misses. That should mitigate your otherwise understandable Smotrycz frustration.

Chad Ford checked the game out and reported back on a couple of players the NBA finds notable. On Burke:

What stood out most was Burke's poise in the face of an athletic and aggressive defense from Memphis. A number of NBA scouts are keeping a close eye on Burke. While he's not an elite draft prospect yet, the potential -- thanks to a great NBA body, quickness and poise -- is there.

    On Hardaway:

Hardaway grew an inch to 6-foot-6 this summer, but where he's really grown is in his shot selection. Last season, Hardaway shot 42 percent from the field. He's now at 49 percent for the season and is playing under control more and more. While scouts saw him as a marginal pro prospect coming into the season, they are warming to him. Several told me after Michigan's practice on Saturday that they were impressed by his maturity and leadership. If he keeps playing like this all week, he could be a potential late first-round pick.

I've heard that the Hardaway plan is three and out, which makes sense in that context. Establishing yourself as maybe a late first rounder is usually not a reason to leave unless you're jumping into the weakest NBA draft in a long time, like Morris.

Ford also pointed out the various massively ranked Memphis players who struggled against Michigan, particularly post Tarik Black, who "should have dominated the Michigan bigs." He made one field goal.

Beilein owned Josh Pastner, which makes sense. Pastner is a glorified agent. Seriously:

"We're not a big zone team," said Memphis coach Josh Pastner, whose team went 19-for-57 from the floor. "(Michigan is) very good at what they do."

That is not about Memphis playing zone. It's about them playing against it. Josh Pastner: agent.

Other Memphis items: UMHoops recap and a David Merritt photo gallery. Michigan plays Duke at 7 tonight.

Seniors. The Daily on Michigan's seniors:

“There were rumors that Denard (Robinson) was going to transfer,” said fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen. “There was going to be people going all over the place. Everybody was going to jump ship.”

“We’ve seen it before — we saw it when coach (Lloyd) Carr left and Rich Rodriguez came in — where everyone who was on that swing fence, where they could either leave or stay, they left,” added fifth-year senior center David Molk. “And we kind of disbanded as a team. And it wasn’t good for our team in a lot of ways.”

In early January, Van Bergen and Molk called a team meeting to make sure everyone bought in — not to a coach, but to themselves.

“We didn’t really have (a coach),” Van Bergen said. “There was speculation it was going to be the coach from Stanford or LSU. And we’re just like, ‘We need to stick together. Whatever happens, we’ve got a good thing going that people don’t necessarily see.’

“We wanted to see this thing through.”

One more win.

We be having the moneys. Random bit of an enormous XKCD chart on money:

image

Injury whine. I try not to use the word whine, but Nebraska complaining about Michigan simulating injuries in Saturday's game is a straight-up no-evidence whine about getting annihilated. Michigan had all of two defensive injuries on Saturday. Jordan Kovacs went out. Kovacs:

  • is one of Michigan's best players
  • did not return for the rest of the drive
  • was clearly getting attended to on the sideline
  • had been on the field for like twenty plays all game because of Nebraska's offensive incompetence

Sure, that's definitely an injury Michigan faked. The other one was Brennen Beyer; I watched that happen from the stands and knew he was hurt as soon as it happened. This is not MSU falling over and winking about it in the postgame.

Why you should not be mad at Borges for Illinois. Is anyone? Probably not. In case you are, this bit from A Lion Eye in a post containing various items on their impending coach search emphasizes the wind conditions in Champaign:

Wind.  It plays a role in 60% of the games played in Memorial Stadium.  There are no hills in east central Illinois, and because of that, the wind rolls in off the plains unabated.  And the design of the stadium doesn’t help – the balconies concentrate the wind towards the center of the field.

As head football coach, I will make that wind my obsession.  The wind is there for nearly every October and November game, so when those games arrive, my team will have an advantage. 

I will have had my quarterbacks work on giving it a little extra and taking a little off.  I will train my punters to read the flags and set their angle accordingly.  And my returners – yes, I will pull my returners out to practice on a windy day, put them on the turf inside the stadium, and have each and every one of them learn how far a ball will drift (or die) because of the wind.  My kickoff returners will be ready at the 20 instead of the 8, my punt returners will never let a ball sail over their heads, and my field goal units will be well-versed in the wind swirl that sometimes happens at the south endzone.

Michigan played Illinois on a particular windy day even for that section of the country; after the MSU game and the way the defense set up against the Illini offense any complaints about play selection are complaining for complaining's sake.

Penn State bowl apocalypse scenario. I wondered why Jerry Palm had Penn State in the Hawaii bowl when they're going to be 9-3 at worst; Ryan Terpstra pointed out an article on CBS sports suggesting bowls will look at the Nittany Lions like poison.

I thought that was silly because this is not 'Nam. There are rules. Rules that I thought would preclude the Big Ten bowls from selecting a 7-5 team over a 9-3 team. There is a rule, but not one strong enough to help Penn State out:

CITRUS BOWL — Can select any eligible team after the BCS except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses than another eligible team.

OUTBACK BOWL — Can select any eligible team after the Capital One Bowl except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses than another eligible team. BUT if a second Big Ten team moves up to the BCS, the two-win/loss differential no longer applies.

There are no rules past those two bowls. Penn State is boned since Nebraska and the title game loser will be more attractive candidates.

Even so, I'll believe someone takes Purdue over Penn State when I see it and if I was Delany I'd be leaning on the Fiesta Jr. or Gator to take the Nittany Lions. Dropping them out of the bowl selection order will hurt the league's bowl slate and probably their record.

Worst cheer ever. You know that thing Akron State does when they sing about how they don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan? Yeah, somewhat dumb. One percent as dumb as this in the aftermath of Tennessee's OT win over Vandy:

The team goes on to sing, "Don't give a damn for the whole school of Vanderbilt, the whole school of Vanderbilt, the whole school of Vanderbilt. Don't give a damn about the whole school of Vanderbilt, we're from Tennessee." Catchy, right?

Tennessee would like you to know that their pathological hatred for Vanderbilt extends to the entirety of… Vanderbilt.

The game, understood. Ramzy on the weekend:

The reality is that like Notre Dame, Michigan has long been everyone's rival, and that's fine for everyone. But Michigan - not the recent odorous, incompetent Michigan, but the traditional pain-in-the-ass Michigan - cannot reciprocate. It can have big national games, it can even have a state championship, but it can only have one arch-rival.

Hoke understood that, and he's given each opponent the appropriate focus and esteem. This isn't great news for Ohio State, who had made this rivalry one-sided in part because Tressel also understood the philosophy that Hoke has clearly embraced.

He is now at the brink of a ten-win season in what had been scheduled to be a year of cleaning up the wreckage of the last three years. Neutralize Ohio State to end his first run and the tone for the Hoke era is established. It would be the ultimate validation of his stewardship and confirmation of his methods.

Should Michigan lose - as an 8.5-point favorite at home to an Ohio State team that is as listless as it is lacking any cohesion - then not only is Hoke's eventual legend weakened, but the success of the 2011 season will be questioned.

This game is ripe for Michigan to take, and convincingly. Failing to do so would lacerate healing wounds. Schembechler won his first Ohio State game. So did Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr. Rodriguez did not, annually losing in a disastrous manner so abysmal it practically had style points.

Whole thing recommended.

Tagged. OSU's Mirror Lake, where people will jump in stuff on Friday:

DQWO3[1]

Via a reader. SWAT teams are been deployed to erase this as we speak.

Etc.: Alumni Association interview with Desmond Howard. Dave Brandon talks economics and stuff, but the Daily's four page transcript gives you access denied after page one. WSJ bombs Paterno with an interview with a "former chief disciplinarian" who Paterno got fired for wanting to, like, discipline people and stuff. Rich Rodriguez hired at Arizona.