Hello: Russell Bellomy

Hello: Russell Bellomy Comment Count

Tim January 25th, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Expect a sight delay in getting this post 100% uploaded, as the malware issue is giving me all types of trouble - UPDATE: Images should be good now.

Suck it, Purdue. Brady Hoke has extended the recently-established Michigan tradition of yanking commits from the Boilermakers by landing TX QB Russell Bellomy, according to both premium sites.




Scout Rivals ESPN
3*, #39 QB 3*, 5.5 3*, 78, #35 QB

Rivals is the least optimistic on Bellomy, as they rank 30 pro-style and 30 dual-threat QBs, with Bellomy nowhere to be found. The other two sites have him ranked in their top 40 combined QBs.

As for size, Rivals says he's 6-3, 178, Scout says 6-3, 185, and ESPN credits him with 6-3, 180. That's some consistency, right there. ESPN's evaluation:

He is a very good athlete with a tall, but gangly frame that has a ton of room to fill out and develop strength... Is a riverboat gambler that looks like a pocket passer, but is a deceptively good overall athlete with good foot speed and quickness for the position... Shows the ability to keep a play alive, evade within the pocket and make plays on the move. This is the area that surprises you the most about him-- he is a very good runner and improviser. Shows quickness, elusiveness and top end speed to be a guy that you have to contend with as a runner on the perimeter or the zone-read keep...

So that's his athletic ability, but how about his passing?

While his mechanics can be a bit wild and inconsistent, Bellomy displays toughness, grit and a competitive demeanor... Gets the ball out quickly and with good zip to short and intermediate areas of the field. Gets set quickly, shows very good feet in his drop and can anticipate routes and throws to a spot very well... Throws a soft, catchable ball that has the necessary zip to fit into tight windows when he has to... He has a good arm, but not great power or the ability to consistently stretch the field vertically.

The National Underclassmen Combine has an uninformative update:

Bellomy is a very versatile QB who does far more than throw the ball accurately. He's a terrific rusher and plays the game at a fast pace, making him perfect for today's style of play.

There's precious little else out there on his game, and the subpages on RussellBellomy.com seem to be busted. A horribly coiffed columnist from the Dallas Examiner caught up with Bellomy and asked him a few questions:

I have played baseball since I was little. I kept with it and played on select teams. Here at Martin, we have a big school and I made varsity as a sophomore which was pretty cool. I also played for a Kansas City Royals scout team. In the end, I gave up baseball for football so I could focus all of my attention on it.

That definitely speaks to his athleticism. Continuing with his style of play:

Some people say I look a little like Tom Brady. I'd like to think I play similar to him too. He doesn't run much so we are different in that aspect, but some of the throws he makes are crazy.

Nice Michigan connection.


No offense to the Boilermakers, but I had assumed that as a Purdue commit, Bellomy didn't have many other options prior to his senior year (he committed in June), but that's not the case. According to Scout, Boise State, Colorado, Michigan State, Minnesota, and South Florida had all offered scholarships, along with a host of MAC/CUSA-level offers.

That's no murderer's row, but Boise State and Michigan State have recent history of QB success, and have done so by developing under-the-radar recruits. This guy could be a serious steal.


ESPN has junior stats:Russell_Bellomy.jpg

Completed 121 of 202 attempts (59.9-percent) for 1,546 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. Rushed for 438 yards and six more scores

Thanks to our pals at Hammer and Rails, we have periodic updates from Bellomy's senior season:

So far he has Martin high off to a 1-2 start, but he is 26 of 49 for 281 yards and a touchdown against an interception. He has also rushed for 253 yards and four touchdowns in the run based offense. 210 of those yards came in Friday's 58-48 win over Flower Mound.

Round 2:

Bellomy has led Martin High to a 6-2 overall record and, more importantly, is actually healthy. He has thrown 994 yards and nine touchdowns against two picks, while running for 533 yards and seven scores. He has even caught a touchdown pass. Martin is on a 6-game winning streak and should make the state playoffs.

In addition to a link to the Martin High School football website, which has season-long stats. Russell finished 114/194 passing for 1584 yards (58.8%, 8.16 YPA) 15 touchdowns and 3 picks. He also rushed 120 times for 805 yards and 9 TDs. He made the All-District First Team.


Rivals is the only premium site with a listed 40 time for Bellomy, crediting him with a 4.63. Though he's expected to be mostly a pocket guy in college, he's a pretty good runner at the high school level, so that's not unrealistic. A mere two FAKEs out of five.


Senior highlights:


So. Bellomy is far from a polished prospect, but Michigan only has two other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster for next year. I would guess that the staff does whatever they can to redshirt him, unless they need him to play a bit. That gives him a year of separation from Devin Gardner, and provides a good start to QB depth going forward.

HOWEVA, if Bellomy will agree to being primarily a depth player throughout his career, the staff will give him a bit of playing time as a true freshman. Michigan needs three quarterbacks with game experience - plus walkons.

So Bellomy's career arc, then, depends on the fates of Michigan's current quarterbacks. Either Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner may leave Michigan early for the NFL, and there's not even a guarantee Robinson sticks around after spring practices this year. Michigan will target top quarterbacks for next year, so unless there are extenuating circumstances, Bellomy should be a backup who occasionally plays significant minutes.


The Wolverines desperately needed a quarterback in this class, and they have their man. He's skilled enough that he can contribute - possibly even as a freshman - but not highly-touted enough to scare off bigtime prospects in the next couple classes.

Now that the Wolverines have filled the majority of their needs for the 2011 class, defensive line, linebacker, offensive line and tight end are the only remaining positions that must see more commitments. Any prospects in addition to those are icing on the cake.


2010 Recruiting: Jeremy Jackson

2010 Recruiting: Jeremy Jackson Comment Count

Brian August 16th, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, DE Jibreel Black, DE Kenny Wilkins, DT Terry Talbott, DT Richard Ash, C Christian Pace, WR Drew Dileo, and WR Jerald Robinson, and WR DJ Williamson.

Ann Arbor, MI - 6'4" 195


Scout 3*, #79 WR
Rivals 3*, #22 MI
ESPN 4*, 79, #39 WR
Others NR
Other Suitors Florida? Texas? LSU? Tennessee?
YMRMFSPA Greg Mathews or Tyrece Butler
Previously On MGoBlog TomVH interviews Jackson. Friday Night Lights took in one of his games.
Notes Son of RB coach Fred Jackson. Early enrollee.

Of all the fine players Fred Jackson has coached in his tenure, he's the most excited about his son, Jeremy, who shoots lasers out of his eyes and reminds him of a Braylon Edwards, except fast and with giant hands made of glue. And when Jackson committed to Michigan months before the previous class even signed it seemed like this was a widely-held opinion. Every article about it mentioned hot-damn offers:

When high school senior Jeremy Jackson looks through the family mail, he commonly sees what every high school student athlete dreams of — full ride scholarships to the colleges of his choice.

Jackson cites offers from four of the top 10 football college in the land, including Florida, Louisiana State and Texas.

But wait, there's more!

Michigan wasn't the only major program to offer Jackson a scholarship. Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa and North Carolina all came calling, too, and Jeremy seriously considered signing with LSU.

Order now and we'll throw in a 5'8" tailback (just pay shipping and handling):

In addition to Michigan, Jackson had scholarship offers from Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and North Carolina.

ESPN confirms as well. There are a bunch of Scout articles with those claims that also add Louisville and Stanford to the docket. Tennessee even came in months after his commitment with an offer. Texas was on him "hardest." As Christopher Walken might say about hot dogs: wow.

HOWEVA: not to suggest that a member of the Jackson family might be given to exaggeration, but given the way the Jeremy Jackson story played out it's more likely that the offer-type substances listed above were "verbal" offers that, like a Les Miles letter of intent, evaporate when someone attempts to use them. When it came time to rank the kids, Jackson's offers from the best schools in the country amounted to a generic three star rating from the drop. Even Ricardo Miller, about whom more in the near future, started off with a ranking slightly proportional to the hype. Jackson checked in at Anonymous Three Star and stayed there for the duration. Rankings systems aren't infallible but when a player actually has the offers Jackson claims he did six months before the previous class signs he at least starts off a four-star.

Jackson didn't, and even ESPN—by far the most enthusiastic service in re: his talents—put out an evaluation that uses the word "lumbering" in the first sentence($):

Jackson is a big, lumbering wide receiver prospect with great size and a thick build. He is strong and knows how to use his size. He has a nice combination of size and athleticism. Possesses long arms and a wide catching radius. Comes off the ball hard and will push defensive backs off him. Looks a bit like an H-back type. He is versatile and can be effective both inside and outside. He has good hands, plucks on the run and uses his body very well to shield defenders from the ball. If it's reachable, he will make the effort and display excellent focus.

The rest of it is more of the same: "lacks great burst," "may struggle to create separation," "mismatch in the red zone," "reliable," "excels in a crowd," etc. He gets a lot of Eckstein adjectives; the evaluation screams "son of coach"; in no way does it make it seem likely that Florida and Texas offered a kid in Michigan before his junior year is over.

That book on Jackson is consistent. The Rivals evaluation:

STRENGTHS: Jackson is a big target. He may actually be taller than his 6-3 listing in his profile. He has really soft hands. He catches the ball away from his body well, and makes it look easy. He is a better-than-average route runner as well. He will be a very reliable receiver at Michigan, and overall, was impressive on Friday.
WEAKNESSES: Jackson lacks top-end speed. It shows most in his inability to separate himself from defenders on deep routes. However, he does have pretty good body control and good hands. With some added strength, he will be able to make catches with defenders on his hip. - G.L.

Scout's version:

Is a big bodied kid who uses his body well to out-position defenders. Has good ball skills and timing and is able to go up over the top of defensive backs to make tough catches. Has fantastic hands and makes grabs in traffic. Lacks top end speed and ability to stretch the field but should be a reliable possession receiver and red zone target.

"Hands," "size," and "red zone weapon" are his assets; "speed" and "downfield threat" the negatives. Everybody hold hands and sing in harmony: the scouting report on Jeremy Jackson is unanimous. Even Jeremy Jackson agrees when talking about things to improve on:

They haven’t talked about speed, but my Dad just told me to keep working hard every day. I ran a 4.58 at camp, and I’d like to get that down to a 4.4 or 4.5. I want to improve my weight, and I can’t really improve my height at all, so I’ll focus on those. I’m assuming they want me to gain weight, they haven’t mentioned it. Rich Rodriguez isn’t influencing me on my speed either; it’s just a goal of mine. My route running and catching ability are my strengths right now, which helps.

His coach is also on board:

“He is big and strong. He uses his body very well when playing against a (defensive back). He cuts very quickly and has great feet and hands,” Gildersleeve said.

“He is a good teammate. He does his job and works very hard,” Gildersleeve said. “The players on the team look for him to make big plays for us.”

Gildersleeve liked the "big and strong" part so well that he moved Jackson to tight end as he installed a veer offense; despite this he managed to call the kid's number enough for him to lead the county with 47 receptions (and 691 yards), an increase on his 42 catches (and 620 yards) as a junior. This came despite games in which he was targeted five times and had an opportunity to make a catch once.

Because his dad coached at Michigan his recruitment was extraordinarily brief and obvious save for the offers listed above, which we just covered. At Michigan he'll be a wide receiver unless he packs on a ton of weight and becomes a slight, but potentially dangerous, tight end. A side note on his potential usefulness: as a former high school TE and a gritty Gritstein of a player with excellent size and long arms, his ability to block on the edge could be a major asset in the ground/screen game.

Etc.: Interview with Jackson and Nick Hill. An interview with Maize Nation. Made one catch for 38 yards in that weird Hawaii All Star game. His coach destroys the word tangible:

"He brings a lot to a team," Huron coach Joel Przygodski said. "The most tangible aspect of his game can't be seen on film - he is so smart on the field. He's a very, very difficult player to game plan for. We just shake our heads at some of the things that young man has done."

Father son stuff gets weird:

When Jeremy emerged as one of Michigan’s top recruiting targets for 2010, Fred drew the role of lead recruiter. He wrote Jeremy a letter or two each week, as he did all of his prospects, explaining how much he wanted him and what Michigan had to offer. And he made regular trips to see Jeremy at Huron High School.

Other guy named Jeremy Jackson: David Hasselhoff's son on Baywatch, who put out a sex tape in 2008 and is now endorsing a product that prevents premature ejaculation, but only in Australia. AMBIGUOUS CLAUSE WOOT.

the more you knowWhy Greg Mathews or Tyrece Butler? Butler is probably the closer comparison since he was also around 6'4" and sticks in my memory as the Michigan WR most likely to get tagged with "lumbering," Listed at 6'3", 211, he was not a hyped recruit and ended up a bit player until his senior year, when he caught 21 passes as the #3 receiver. (Did he get injured or something? All of his passes were made in the first eight games; he registered nothing in the last five.)

Mathews, meanwhile, was considerably more hyped as a recruit—he squeaked into the tail end of the Rivals 100 on their last revamp his recruiting year—but turned out to be overrated because he couldn't really get separation from defensive backs. He did have some spectacular hands, though, and would have been a reliable underneath target if he'd had a non-freshman quarterback either of his upperclass years.

Guru Reliability: High. Yes, despite the spread between some on the rankings, when they all say the exact same things about a player there's no reason to expect anything different than the scouting reports.
General Excitement Level: The opposite kind of moderate that dropped on DJ Williamson. Williamson could be anything from Braylon/Mario III to Doug Dutch II; it seems obvious that Jackson will be a solid, unspectacular contributor who would ideally be the #2/#3 receiver on the team when he is an upperclassman.
Projection: Enrolled early and has a shot at playing time outside with the scant experience past the starters, but still likely to redshirt since it seems like Miller and Robinson are getting more early buzz. Probably won't see the field much until Stonum and Hemingway go; redshirt sophomore year is his first shot at playing time.


Mailbag! Jaunty Style!

Mailbag! Jaunty Style! Comment Count

Brian May 6th, 2010 at 12:52 PM

always look on the bright side of life

Should we be depressed watching this draft seeing very limited Michigan players taken?  I mean I know we haven't been a good football team lately, but I look at a guy like Donavan Warren.  Couldn't SOMEBODY have told him he wasn't ready for the pros?  Unless I'm way wrong and he is ready?  I just wanted to get your thoughts on when it makes sense for a junior to declare early.  It seems to me that if you aren't a lock in the first 3 rounds, it's just not worth it.  I could be wrong on this, that's why I'm asking your opinion on it.

Thanks man,

Chris: if you are surveying the recent history of Michigan football and deciding that this year's NFL draft is the reason to be depressed, you are the modern day equivalent of one of those guys on the cross singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

As far as Warren goes, I touched on it briefly when Mark Carrier went to the well and declared the Michigan Warren signed up for "wasn't there anymore," but to expand on it: there were a lot of different factors that went into Warren's unwise decision to declare. Conventional wisdom held that Warren was looking at three years and out from the moment he stepped on campus. All the coaches he signed up to play for were broomed. Then he got a mid-round-at-worst grade from the NFL Advisory Committee—basically a "lock for the first three rounds." His decision was an expected outcome. The unexpected bit was not getting drafted.

FWIW, when all this was going down I did get the impression that Rodriguez thought Warren was not ready for the pros:

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said in a radio interview Monday he wishes cornerback Donovan Warren would have got more information before declaring for the NFL draft.

"I probably would have preferred to wait until I get the NFL advisory committee information back, which I have not gotten back yet," Rodriguez said on WDFN 1130-AM. "I don’t know if he talked to enough people yet or not, but he feels he has. I kind of wish he got a little bit more information so he would have been sure before he made his declaration."

He took off anyway. It happens from time to time—remember Shantee Orr?—but less frequently when you haven been placed in a situation someone else chose for you.


I had a discussion w/ Jon Chait about the 2 QB system. I personally feel that it is a bad idea but I don't necessarily always agree with the platitudes spun on ESPN ("if you have 2 QBs it means you have none"). Is there any evidence of a 2 QB system really being bad? Jon brought up the Leak/Tebow duo and the 1982 Miami Dolphins. Certainly 2 teams in 25 years is not much of a success rate but I was hoping you or Mathelete might have some more detailed data.


Dan Rontal

I could probably dig up some evidence that two QB systems are less effective than your average one QB system but that's a lot of effort to state something logically obvious: the chances of having one excellent quarterback are low. The chances of having two are vanishingly small. Therefore, playing two quarterbacks means you do not have an excellent quarterback. QED.

HOWEVA, this assumes that quarterback excellence comes in one shape, something that was 100% true for the duration of the Carr regime. The shape was a 6'5" fixed artillery piece 50% as white as We Are ND.

that's really, really white

When Carr experimented with his Henson-Brady platoon, that was something he'd promised Henson to prevent him from signing an enormous baseball contract. Even that petered out as Michigan began to realize what it had in Tom Brady. They were running the same stuff with both, so it made no sense to go with the guy who wasn't a crazy accurate cold-blooded senior.

The situation in 2010 is a lot closer to Leak/Tebow (minus the hellacious defense) than Brady/Henson. Michigan's two quarterbacks are radically different players. In that case it makes sense to use them in different situations. On third and one, Denard is a better option. On third and fifteen, Tate is. On first and ten it will depend on who the opponent is and how the quarterbacks are playing that day.

I have a feeling that by midseason it will be clear one or the other is the starter, but I also think both QBs will see snaps in every game this year.

Hi Brian-

I was wondering if you could help me understand something.  How does this deal between ESPN and SEC affect the amount of Big 10 games that are televised on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2?  In terms of football, is the SEC really getting that much more coverage on ESPN compared to the Big 10 on Saturdays (the Big 10 doesn't really play games any other day of the week too often)?

Up until now, I have been able to watch tons of Big 10 games on these channels (I live in Boston), but now I am afraid that they are going to be playing more SEC games and I will only get the 1 game at a time I get on the Big 10 Network.  Everything I read makes it sound like ESPN bought the broadcasting rights to all these SEC football games and other athletic events and that they will be dominating the ESPN airwaves, but if it started last fall (2009), I sure didn't notice a difference because they still played pretty much every Big 10 game not on the Big 10 Network (Indiana vs. Minnesota aside).

Any ways, just wondering if you have any insight on this.

The SEC deal has no impact on the Big Ten/ABC contract. ABC always gets first choice of Big Ten games every weekend, then ESPN, ESPN 2, and the BTN have a complicated system in which they alternate the second pick. The BTN gets two or three opportunities to go second—which is how they scooped up the M-MSU game in year two of the network, causing mass panic at the prospect it might not be on television in the state.

In fact, the much-hyped SEC deal is now coming in for local criticism because MLS and women's basketball have more pull than SEC gymnastics. The net effect has been to move the crappy SEC games from Raycom syndication (the ironically beloved "three Daves" setup) to the obscurer reaches of the ESPN dial (U and Classic). Since Big Ten games were never played on those networks, the impact on the conference is nil. I don't think the SEC pact actually does much of anything for the league other than fill their pockets: ESPN isn't going to stop televising good Pac 10/ACC/Big 12 games.

The Big Ten's ABC/ESPN deal is even better than the SEC deal in one critical respect: it mandates that any regional broadcast is "reverse mirrored" on another channel. End result:

The Boilermakers appeared on National or National/Regional Television for every game (12) [ed: thanks for the game count protip, marketing droid!] during the 2009 season. Boiler Up!

11:20 AM May 5th via web

That's really cool for Purdue. It is also true for every Big Ten team, even Indiana. There is no such thing as a Big Ten football game you cannot get nationally. The genius of the Big Ten network is matched by the genius of the reverse mirror. Whoever got that inserted into the Big Ten TV contract earns his keep.

BONUS: how huge is the ESPN/SEC contract going to look in 15 years? Not very huge. The Big Ten is already matching or exceeding it and their deal with FOX includes profit-sharing that has already kicked in. When not speaking publicly, Jim Delany is a ninja.

It seems to me that if we are going to poach from the Big 12 -- it makes the most sense to make a play for Texas as taking 2 teams from the conference makes its demise all but certain and could push Texas into the SEC or Pac-10.
If we are going to be Machiavellian a la Notre Dame, it makes no sense to pursue two decent Big 12 schools when doing so pushes the crown jewel (athletically, academically, and demographically) into a rival camp.  Thoughts?
Relatedly, what is the basis for the comments that the TX legislature would only permit that if the Big 10 took A&M too? 
Thanks for humoring me.
-Name Withheld

Daddy, would you like some sausages?


I don't know what the basis for the TX legislature road block meme is Austin seem like the active sort and I buy it. Besides, A&M is a fine school in its own right.

Anyway: I'm with you. It's been universally agreed that Texas is the biggest fish in the pond. The problem with Texas is that it's geographically isolated from the Big Ten and beholden to a state legislature that somehow finagled perpetually useless Baylor into the Big 12. They've got power and they're nosy enough to use it.

But if this 16-team Big Ten is actually going to transpire, is that relevant? If the Big Ten grabs five teams they can lop off Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma in one enormous western surge. Big Ten Manifest Destiny seriously reduces the geographic implausibility and provides the Big Ten the most sheer intimidation possible. If we're putting the Big Cthulhu on the table, I don't see why the Big East has to be involved at all, or Notre Dame for that matter. It makes more sense to dismember one conference in its entirety.

I know that Oklahoma's academic standing has been widely declared a nonstarter for the Big Ten's ivory tower types. If that's the case, grabbing Colorado or Kansas has almost the same effect—Texas tentacles—with considerably less chewing tobacco at conference meetings.


Exactly what happens between now and August?  I really mean EXACTLY, not just "they do some conditioning and stuff".  Someone out there (football coaches or maybe former players) must know the answer.

Thank you,

Marc 71

I can't give you an all-caps EXACT answer, but I did ping Tyler Sellhorn for a moderately detailed one. Without further ado:

Dear Brian,

While school is still in session, the program can require attendance at conditioning.  When school lets out the players voluntarily submit themselves to The Church of Barwis, take 4-6 credit hours of summer school (so that most players, i.e. general studies majors, can take a minimum full-time courseload during the year and still be on track to graduate), most student-athletes will spend a week at home, and then Fall camp starts in August.  Also, the quarterbacks and defensive leaders are usually encouraged to organize skeleton passing sessions as well, but as we know too well now, coaches are not permitted to even witness said seven-on-seven sessions.

That is not an exactly, but a general overview that should answer less curious minds than Marc71.

God Bless,
Tyler Sellhorn

Thanks to Mr. Sellhorn.


Unverified Voracity, Unexpectedly Feisty

Unverified Voracity, Unexpectedly Feisty Comment Count

Brian November 18th, 2009 at 3:31 PM

On UFR. Yes, it's coming, but not today. I'm trudging through it as fast as Henri will let me, and plan to get both up tomorrow.

This. This is the greatest thing in the history of creation.


Via the WLA. Of course.

Hype video. You might have noticed that this space is not very hyped about the football game on Saturday what with all the depressed otters hanging out around these parts. But still, hype video exists:

Not a Paul hype video, FTR. Would have more Explosions in the Sky or whatever that pretentious indie band is.  [/hypocrisy]

Hey now. Many points to Rittenberg for having the same reaction Rich Rodriguez did when he was asked the same stupid question about "getting the rivalry" for the 100th time:

"Just because I did not coach here before, I did not play here, I'm not from the state of Michigan, doesn't mean I don't understand the rivalry," Rodriguez said. "I understand it as well as any coach can understand it. I've only [coached] in it in one game. Trust me, I understand the importance of the rivalry."

The fact that Rodriguez has to keep defending himself on this issue is ridiculous…

All right!

…and it perpetuates the argument that Michigan will always be skeptical of anyone outside the fraternity.

Wait, what? Doesn't it perpetuate the argument that press conferences are useless things and many reporters have never had an original thought in their lives? I don't see how a meme propagating itself across a group of people that basically asks the same dumb stuff every week/year reflects on anything except newspapers.

I mean, in the same press conference someone asked Rich Rodriguez if he thought there was something to the idea he didn't "fit" at Michigan. Rodriguez spluttered out similarly incredulous answer that did everything except directly call the questioner a dip.

Irrelevant but must happen. The Silverdome just got sold to some Canadians who want to renovate the thing to turn it into a soccer stadium for use by an MLS team. This will never work. The Silverdome was too big for an NFL team. Soccer-specific stadiums in this country seat about a quarter of the dome's capacity. And the MLS commissioner just shot down the idea.

HOWEVA, I feel compelled to bring up the greatest idea I've ever had: if and when Detroit gets an MLS team, it should be called "Detroit City" and the crest should have a big rock in the middle. They can call the team "the Rock" and it can be sponsored by Prudential. This must happen.

Is this a shark? I haven't read Malcolm Gladwell's latest book or the slam job the New York Times executed it, but I find Gladwell's counterargument disappointingly shallow:

In one of my essays, I wrote that the position a quarterback is taken in the college draft is not a reliable indicator of his performance as a professional. That was based on the work of the academic economists David Berri and Rob Simmons, who, in a paper published the Journal of Productivity Analysis, analyze forty years of National Football League data. … I found this analysis fascinating. Pinker did not. This quarterback argument, he wrote, “is simply not true.”

I wondered about the basis of Pinker’s conclusion, so I e-mailed him … He had three sources, he said. The first was Steve Sailer. Sailer, for the uninitiated, is a California blogger with a marketing background who is best known for his belief that black people are intellectually inferior to white people. … Pinker’s second source was a blog post, based on four years of data, written by someone who runs a pre-employment testing company, who also failed to appreciate—as far as I can tell (the key part of the blog post is only a paragraph long)—the distinction between aggregate and per-play performance. Pinker’s third source was an article in the Columbia Journalism Review, prompted by my essay, that made an argument partly based on a link to a blog called “Niners Nation."

Spot the fallacy: ad hominem. Berri and Simmons may be "academic economists" but they're also the people who wrote a whole damn book attempting to justify Dennis Rodman as one of the greatest players of all time and basically fudged their way to an arbitrary metric or two that the basketball statistics community very politely ripped to shreds. I'm inherently skeptical of their work since Wages of Wins was those guys applying a lot of advanced statistics to reach an obviously dumb conclusion. (Presenting: a very complicated mathy explosion of the idea that Rodman was particularly valuable.) If there was going to be a brilliantly written fisk blog dedicated to tearing statistical zealots a new orifice it would be called "Fire David Berri."

So… yeah. Just because two guys have a lot of complicated metrics that say one thing doesn't mean much to me when they've got the track record they do.

Don't re-write history plz. This site's had a love-hate relationship with Jay Bilas ever since Tommy Amaker started flailing about towards the end of his tenure at Michigan. Bilas is one of the best color guys in college basketball, a genuinely smart guy who adds a lot of value to the games he broadcasts. He was also totally insane about Michigan's supposed lack of support for Amaker, and when Manny Harris made a basketball move that no one on the opposing team said was dirty, he went off on him. Why? I don't know. It sounds like Bilas doesn't even know:

There are times in dealing with coaches and players you have a relationship with and dealing with comments you get off the record. That's where you hope your best judgment comes in. I worked with Manny Harris of Michigan two summers ago. I have not worked with or been around a better kid. Last year, he was involved in an elbowing incident and I was pretty hard on him. I could have sat there and said, 'Great kid, let's dismiss it,' but I didn't. I said what I thought and I had a lot of critical comments from Michigan fans. But I didn't know any other way to handle it. I worked with Manny again this summer and we joked about it. Adults don't handle that situation better than he handled it. I wish I had the poise that kid has.

Bilas got a lot of critical comments from Michigan fans—including in this space—because he absolutely deserved every last one for misrepresenting his play, especially given his reaction to a far more flagrantly unsportsmanlike act committed by his alma mater:

Bilas on his relationship with Duke:

"If I criticize Duke when I think it's warranted, I don't particular care whether they like it or not. As long as I am confident in what I say and the judgment I made, I will stick up for what I say. If I am wrong, I will say I'm wrong, and I am wrong on occasion."

That's… well… tough to defend. Bilas was wrong about Manny Harris

"I respect his right to protect his kid and stand up for him, and I respect that, but that doesn't mean I have to buy it. I don't buy it. I saw (the play) 100 times. That's not a basketball play. That's not the way the game is played. How many games are played every day, high school, college or pro, and players execute rip-through moves, and how many noses are broken?"

…and has yet to say so.

Etc.: I think I had beef with "Cold Hard Football Facts" at some point in the past—maybe they repeated the Brady-didn't-start myth?—but their breakdown of the disparate reactions to the Belichick forth-and-two between the mainstream media and the blogosphere is awesome. Well known national sportswriters actually think "fourth and jackass" is funny and on point. From the MB: every OSU torrent in the universe that you'd want to download. Smart Football has thoughts on people's thinking about Belichick.


Culture Shock: Yay, Boo

Culture Shock: Yay, Boo Comment Count

Brian March 23rd, 2009 at 2:30 PM


One of the great complaints about Michigan football as conceived under Lloyd Carr was its distinct funereal air. I was a Carr proponent in many things, but at times it seemed like he barely tolerated the fandom that paid his salary.

This on display most obviously when it came to the spring "game," which Carr canceled a couple times due to stadium construction and downplayed at all other times. Never in its history was it, like, an event, and that seemed like a missed opportunity to have some fun. You know… "fun"? Ah, hell, forget it.

Rodriguez likes fun:

In hopes of enhancing Michigan’s annual spring football game, the athletic department will offer additional activities this year, including a flag football game featuring former U-M players.

The hour-long event, scheduled to start at 10 a.m. April 11 at Michigan Stadium, will feature former U-M head coach Gary Moeller coaching the maize squad and longtime assistant Jerry Hanlon coaching the blue team.

Cool. Also:

On Friday, the athletic department announced that fans will be able to tour the Michigan locker room and take photos from 8-10 a.m.

The cheerleaders and the band will be involved last year, unlike previous ones.

Rodriguez wants to break the all-time attendance record for the spring game. This is going to take some doing. Some showmanship. And so forth and so on. Even attempting such a thing will transform the Spring Game from a sleepy thing attended mostly by diehards into something that fosters a connection with the program. I am enthused and grateful for this sort of thing.

HOWEVA, an email:


I just happened to catch Rich Rodriguez at UMDM on the live video at www.umdm.org.  He mentioned this:  (allow me some room for error, I don't have a recording)

"We want to make the Big House the most electric atmosphere in the nation.  We're obviously gonna keep the band involved, and we're gonna try and play a little music, do a few new things with the scoreboard and stuff like that."

Feel free to interpret that as you will, but I'm worried about a little sparty creeping into the Big House...


Yikes. This is the flip side of that coin. It's not easy to protest this sort of thing without emitting a "get off my lawn, kids(!)" air, but: dude, seriously, get off the lawn you hippies.

An attempt: one of the most powerful things that forges a fan community is the shared culture that naturally arises when you can say things like "one second left against Penn State" and know that the person you're talking to is thinking and feeling the exact same thing you are. It sets the group apart. This apart-ness is fundamental to the passion sports fans experience: it's us and them, and the more us our us is and the more them their them is, the more important the thing beneath us seems.

Michigan has a lot of culture. That, fundamentally, is its main asset. From that culture flows the passion, and from that passion flows the money. Part of that culture is a public address announcer who embodies neutral gravitas. Part of it is the lack of advertising in the stadium. And part of that is the way the game is presented inside the stadium, with no "NoISe!!!" signs or plastic chariots or electromagic Spartys with frickin' eye lasers.

I like it like that. I like my church with incense and deceased Jesus, my Christmas carols by Bing Crosby, and my Michigan Stadium without frickin' eye lasers.

It's safe to say I'm torn about what's going on here. I'd like it if the spring game was a game. And if it was worth going to. But that's not worth making Michigan Stadium chintzy. Any stadium experience revamp should be made with Michigan's existing culture in mind.

For example: Michigan debuted a hype video for the first time ever this year. It was fine. I thought it was pretty good. But it could have been a hype video for just about any school that had so few offensive seniors it had to drag Mike Massey into things. It would have been much better if it had taken some Michigan themes and integrated them. One such change: instead of "I am Michigan," or whatever, have people say "the team." There: done. Bo invoked, Michigan-specific, hurray.

Go ahead and change things, but please have a delicate hand. Let's not rush to join the great sweaty mass of brahs all around us. Let's not toss away something unique.