Year Of The Petunias

Year Of The Petunias

Submitted by Brian on October 31st, 2011 at 12:23 PM

10/29/2011 – Michigan 36, Purdue 14 – 7-1, 3-1 Big Ten


Melanie Maxwell/

At some point, Michigan will find out what it is this year. I have no idea when that point will come.

We know they're better than they were last year. How much better remains frustratingly murky. You think you have the answer when Michigan is punked in East Lansing, but then the Spartans get throttled and Michigan beats Purdue and there they are again in the national rankings…

10. South Carolina
11. Virginia Tech
12. Clemson
13. Michigan
14. Houston
15. Penn State

…and you wonder what happened to the rest of college football. This team is transparently flawed, incapable of going ten pass attempts without throwing the ball to the other team, and one year removed from having a defense that couldn't slow down a band of coked-out lemurs. So of course they are on the cusp of the top ten, hanging out with Houston, South Carolina's dumpster-fire offense, and Penn State's bold experiment into quarterback-free football. College football 2011: contagious and 100% fatal.

With one loss and seven wins everything is on the table as long as Sparty manages to biff it once down the stretch (don't get your hopes up)… and no one knows if they're any good.

This must be what it felt like to be a Minnesota fan in the middle of the Glen Mason era. Consider: you were a national power, and then you were wretched forever. One 3-9 year counts as "forever" to Michigan fans. We are sheltered, sheltered people.

You start showing signs of life. One season you get off to a great start, and collapse. Okay. We got off to a great start! It's better than being wretched!

The next season you get off to a great start, and collapse slightly less. Okay. We are building something here.

The next-next season you get off to a great start, are ranked in the top 15, have an unstoppable ground game, and… well… is there going to be anyone on the schedule? No? No teams at all?

Ah, Michigan. Here we go. /dies


It wasn't like this before. Michigan was Michigan, fergodsakes. All victories were expected and all teams were inferior and all losses were inexplicable or unjust and there wasn't a question about any of this. Michigan was just better.

Evidence to the contrary was suspect and invariably proven—or at least argued to be—false. There was this call or this mistake or this thing, and if the game had continued until a victory was well and truly certain, the opponent would have left shattered into a thousand mournful pieces*. This mentality was so pervasive that Michigan fans still have a reputation for the above thought process even after the last five years.

I don't think like that anymore. At first I was like the materialized whale from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

"Big Ten? What's that? I wonder if it will be friendly."

Now I'm trying to figure out whether I am the bowl of petunias…

The only thing that went through the bowl of petunia's mind as it fell was Oh No, not again.

…or if something novel is happening, something like not plummeting to my doom after materializing in an area where gravity is not my friend.

The Big Ten is not helping out here. At all. Michigan's conference wins are over Minnesota, Northwestern, and Purdue, teams which have lost to North Dakota State, Army, and Rice, respectively. Meanwhile, where is the proverbial other shoe? The nearest proximate shoe just lost to the Gopher team so bad they inspired GopherQuest. Gopher blog Fire Jerry Kill shows how this is possible by splitting out various quarterbacks' stats when they are playing Iowa vs Not Iowa. Here's MarQuies Gray:

Not Iowa*    9/19 125 47.3 6.6 .5  .7  104.3
Iowa        11/17 193 64.7 11.3 1   0  179.5

And here's Steele Janz:



This is not much of a shoe.

The next potential shoe lost to the Purdue team Michigan just outgained two to one. They didn't score against the Boilers until there were ten minutes left. And they're coached by Ron Zook. Comparative scores are a dumb way to do anything because football is weird, but it kind of seems like football will have to be weird for those shoes to drop. There is a strong possibility that Michigan reaches ten games this season without playing a decent team other than 1) the one they beat thanks to a fluketasm and 2) the one they lost to in a trash tornado.

Then it's just Nebraska and Ohio State. Just.


The stakes here are simple and vast as the ground that may or may not be rushing up to meet us: a satisfying season. That's something Michigan hasn't had in almost a decade. 2006 left a nasty taste because of the way it finished. Michigan hasn't beaten Ohio State since 2003, hasn't done that and won a bowl since 2000. Expectations keep deflating but we still haven't hit the point where they cross the actual accomplishments of the football team.

I want to believe. I miss the days when accusations of Michigan arrogance were accurate. I just don't know, man. I don't feel the air rushing past my face, but it turns out I'm not very good at identifying certain doom rushing up from below.

*[Unless it was from the Pac-10 or Florida, in which case please take your 30-point victory and GTFO before we have to alter our mentality.]


Via Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer:

Maize and Blue Nation also has a photoset, as does

Bullets That Hope To Be In Orbit Or Something

Kovacs. I sort of had the Kovacs information but it was only one unconfirmed source so I held it and hoped it was not true. Now that it is obviously true I can tell you a couple things about it:

  • It is supposed to be an MCL sprain, which means he can barely move his leg at the moment and will be out a few weeks. When the coaches say he's "questionable" for Iowa they're in all likelihood…
  • …lying their boo-boos off. Kovacs did not practice Tuesday but no one noticed this because they threw Matt Cavanaugh out there in #32.

The Cavanaugh thing is the clincher after a season of mysterious fake-seeming injuries that conveniently explain things like why the national defensive player of the week immediately ate bench. Hoke will bend the truth for better PR or gamesmanship purposes. It's back to the Fort. This is a 180 from the injury-report-issuing Rodriguez, though IIRC Rodriguez would occasionally surprise by leaving off a guy who was not already known to be dinged up.

Anyway, the plan going forward is to take any Hoke statement about the injury status of a player with a grain of salt. So no, I don't believe Woolfolk was moving to safety before this happened.

We have to talk, scoreboard person. An artist's impression of the replays on the brand new scoreboards at Michigan Stadium:


The scoreboards are very big. The replays are even bigger, to the point where they are useless unless you're a helmet fetishist. Widen your shot, good sir, and the blessings of Bo will be upon you.

The next defense. After years of being an untenably young defense, Michigan has reached average-ish. Despite that they're slated to lose only four players next year, one of them a walk-on. With the swap at WLB and the seemingly permanent insertion of Blake Countess into the starting lineup the breakdown is like so:

  • Three freshmen (Ryan, Morgan, Countess)
  • A sophomore (Gordon)
  • Four juniors (Roh, Floyd, Demens, Kovacs)
  • Three seniors (Martin, RVB, Heininger)

And then there's Woolfolk, who is a starter as long as Kovacs is out. If only Rodriguez had recruited some dudes in the middle of the line you could project the returners to be non smoke-and-mirrors good. Even as it stands you've got a senior Campbell and hope for decent play from Washington, Rock, and a bunch of freshmen. They should be able to maintain their play next year.

The one true tiebreaker. Everyone's talking tiebreakers in the West division because it was looking like a bunch of cats in a sack at the end of the year before Iowa went out and ended GopherQuest. The Big Ten's are typically goofy, prioritizing head to head over a better measure of superiority: the record of your conference opponents.

The first tiebreaker should be the conference record of your opponents in the other division, which works for two- and three-way ties. Right now that looks like this:

  1. Nebraska: 9-4 (Wisconsin (2-2), PSU(5-0), OSU (2-2))
  2. Michigan: 6-7 (Purdue (2-2), Illinois (2-3), OSU (2-2))
  3. MSU: 4-9 (IU (0-5), Wisconsin (2-2), OSU (2-2))

If the season does end in a three-way tie here* any system that would give the nod to the team that played Illinois and Purdue or IU and Wisconsin instead of Wisconsin and Penn State is a broken system. Instead the tiebreakers are all head to head and divisional record, which makes no sense. You've all played eight conference games and proven yourself equal—it's time to figure out who played the tougher schedule.

*[Say M beats Nebraska, loses one other, MSU loses to… uh… Iowa, Nebraska wins out with exception of M loss.]

Jake Ryan edge update. I have negative complaints this week. This is also known as praise. There were no sections confused by my "AAAARGH JAKE RYAN" outbursts because the most notable thing that happened in This Week In Jake Ryan's Edge Play was Ryan annihilating a sweep in the backfield by submarining a blocker on a blitz and tackling. +3, Mr. Ryan.

Quite a find there, especially considering that Michigan picked him up because he was an effective blitzing OLB in a 3-3-5 in high school. He could be a fish out of water in this scheme.

Michigan under-center running update. It… worked? Somewhat. I have no idea how to classify things like Fitzgerald Toussaint taking a toss play opposite that Denard jet action and motoring 59 yards. That's not really manball. It's not spread 'n' shred. It's gimmickball.

It worked, though. It looked like Michigan finally got that pin and pull zone operational, possibly because they identified an issue with Purdue's DEs. If they're easy to seal the pin and pull gets you the advantages of an outside sweep in a faster-developing play. The pulling linemen have less distance to cover.

The I-Form stuff did work to some extent. As we'll see below, the extent was such that every newspaper in the state is running a piece on how

1: Lo, Bo looked down from Football Valhalla and said "I am pleased, my son." 2: "It is the will of Old that the quarterback shall taketh the ball from the center by hand and turn his back to the line of scrimmage." 3: "Motion of the ball through the air, whether forwards or backwards, is an abomination to Old." 4: "Pitches are excepted."

Judging the effectiveness of the base offense will have to wait for the UFR to break down the yardage. I'll probably have to categorize the gimmickball separately.

Inverted veer. Rodriguez played with it some but never really put it in the offense for realz; Borges whipped it out against the Boilers to good effect.

That's a play that gets Robinson going north-south with a pulling lineman if the defense doesn't force a handoff, which Purdue didn't. That was to their detriment.

I probably won't complain about showing it against a weak opponent if/when it doesn't work down the road. Purdue was nowhere near the baby seal that Minnesota was. The game remained in contact until the third quarter. This is a different thing than knowing you can name your score after the first drive.

Taylor Lewan. @mgovideo tweeted "Taylor Lewan is undead" and I have nothing that can top that. Shoot him in the head, Gholston, or he's coming for you next year. Make sure to double tap.

Students who are not reading this: you suck. Weekly complaint about student section is lodged. No one reading this is included. It is your slothful classmates who must feel the lash.

Now, there are some extreme bottlenecks upon section entry that mean a lot of student who show up on time spend 15 minutes waiting in line before actually getting into the stadium. Vitriol towards the student section up to halfway through the first quarter should properly be directed at the athletic department's crappy logistics.

HOWEVA, when half of the upper reaches remain empty throughout a Big Ten game that's on various students who don't know what MGoBlog is. There's no reason to sell those people tickets at discounted rates if they're not even going to show up and be loud. The carrot and stick:

  • Assign points to students based on ticket scans. 5 for 20 minutes before the game, 2 for before kickoff, 1 for showing up at all. Validated tickets do not score.
  • Reduce the size of the student section by 10%.
  • Prioritize renewals based on points, not seniority. Also prioritize bowl lotteries based on this. Top 10% get half off. Anyone below some crappy cutoff gets no tickets.

I'd love to see a similar policy enacted for regular season ticket holders but that's infeasible since they're already pressing them for maximum cash and cannot easily replace people pissed off by something like that with other super rich dudes.

This is the cost of luxury seating: seeing the most expensive seats in the building half-full at best. This is most obvious at Yost, where the club seats are literally 40% full for every game.

Special K: die in a fire. I've linked to various Penn State blogs complaining about the environment at Beaver Stadium to provide ominous warnings about what our future is like, but I thought that would be in five years… not five games. Volume: ear-splitting. Choices: inane. Seven Nation Army: played one dozen times, including before opening kickoff. It's bad when I am tired of 7NA. I once listened to 7NA for a half-hour straight until someone yelled at me to stop.

HSR suggests another White Stripes song:

That works. He probably would have gotten one that does if he had chosen at random. There are more Stripes songs that are plausible than ones that aren't. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground. You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told). Fell In Love With A Girl. Icky Thump. Conquest. Blue Orchid. Never has a local band had a better collection of killer opening riffs plausible for pump-up purposes. If the athletic department prioritized having their own thing instead of having the same thing everyone else does they might look into this.

Meanwhile, we're treated to "GET LOUD" and an animated train exploding on the videoboards. (Instead of replays, of course, because who wants to watch a football game anymore?) We are Michigan State. It took less than a season. I was all like "you go girl" to this Bando Calrissian comment:

Yesterday was the closest to a minor league baseball game experience I've ever had at Michigan Stadium.  The RAWK was out of control(and more often than not earsplittingly loud), the Rocket Man deal struck me as an unnecessary gimmick (play the Space, Bitches PSA and call it a day), that train graphic on the scoreboards, everything felt extraordinarily cheap and generic.  Very un-Big House-esque. 

And, here' s a fun fact:  One of the highlights of Homecoming has always been the alumni cheerleaders doing gymnastic tricks in the end zones during stoppages in play.  It's fun, and always gets the fans really into things during lulls in the action.  They were told this year they were not allowed to do flips and such on the field, or so one of them told a few of us in Alumni Band.  And it was true, they basically just sat and did nothing for the entire game.

A little bit at a time, the uniqueness of Michigan is being chipped away in favor of a generic, corporate, sterile experience.  Seems to me "revenue streams" and marketing gurus rule the day in DB's Athletic Department, and it really doesn't need to be that way.

Corporate ass-covering and focus-group research, all of it. What's happening to Michigan Stadium is reason #1 this site will always remain independent. This is what you get for hiring someone who made his living sending people things they didn't want in the mail.

Yeah, guy who doesn't care about any of this and complains about people who do, you're cooler than those who do. Pop that collar.

THE ONE GOOD THING: No dog groomers except once before the band came out.


ST3 goes inside the box score:

With apologies to Denard, this section belongs to Fitzgerald Toussaint this week. In fact, I will refer to him as Filthgerald. Filthgerald gained 170 yards on 20 carries, scored 2 TDs, had a long of 59 yards, and averaged 8.5 YPC. Can someone explain to me again why he only got two carries against staee? Forget that last comment, I’ve moved on.

There is also a way-too-early BCS standings look. No Hoke for Tomorrow, unfortunately.


Media, as in unwashed blog masses. Sap decals. Trends from MGoFootball. Maize and Go Blue with a game recap. MZone autopsies:

Yes, I'm so damn scarred by the previous three seasons that, after Purdue's initial drive, I felt a flash of deju vu all over again.  But Michigan stayed the course and eventually put Purdue away, pretty much by halftime and certainly before the 3rd quarter was over.

How refreshing.

TTB on Toussaint:

Fitzgerald Toussaint is hitting his stride.  Finally healthy after two years of long-term injury issues, Toussaint is showing what he can do.  He had 20 carries for 170 yards, including a spectacular 59-yard touchdown run (Michigan's longest run of the year).  He's averaging 6.1 yards per carry on the season.  Perhaps the best part of Toussaint's game is the way he finishes runs.  Despite not being particularly big, he always seems to churn his legs for an extra couple yards after contact.  His yardage total was the best by a Michigan running back since Michael Hart had 215 against Eastern Michigan back in 2007.

Holdin' The Rope:

At this point, Michigan is grabbing wins like items at an Old Country Buffet; these things might not be of high quality, but this is America and MORE is better than anything else. Yes, I am comparing the quality of Big Ten competition to the lukewarm comestibles of a buffet chain.

The Purdue point of view is unenthused or bizarrely optimistic. The former:

Purdue's execution, especially when it was really needed was atrocious. Conversely, UM shored-up the issues that had been exposed v. MSU following their bye week...and played soundly all game.

Michigan seemed to want to test Purdue physically in the trenches and Purdue failed as they looked pensive, slow and soft when popped in the mouth. The end result was a sound defeat for Hope's squad, 36-14...but it felt much worse than that score.

The latter:

Yes, the final margin was 22 points, but we were close through three quarters and the difference of a few plays swung the scoreboard wildly in their direction. Things got wildly out of control after a few key mistakes, as often happens in college football.

I'm just all like… it was 36-7 at the start of the 4th and Purdue had 200 yards of offense to Michigan's 510. That's not a game that swung on a few plays. Elsewhere in his post Hammer and Rails's T-Mill gives Michigan plenty of credit, so this isn't a lol delusional homer thing. I'm just surprised anyone could do the point-at-critical-plays thing after that.

Media, as in dying legacy organizations (and ESPN). Before we get into the scoffing, the Daily covers the jetpack flight in column-length detail.

The scoffing! Man, does everyone want to seize upon this as proof Brady Hoke Gets It, This Is Michigan, and This Is Not Last Year:

Just like that, Fitzgerald Toussaint proves the Michigan football team can resemble its old self

…against Purdue.

Sometimes I wonder if my brain has mutated to the point where I'm not even watching the same game as some of these people. This is about the MSU game:

With the backs providing little to no punch offensively, Robinson was forced to become Michigan's exclusive run threat. Partly because of that, he was also subject to immense pressure in the passing game, as he was sacked four times and eventually forced to leave the contest early due to injury.

My version of this paragraph is "With Al Borges inexplicably enthralled with the passing game, Robinson only got twelve carries to go with Toussaint's two. Because of something entirely unrelated that also impacted the ground game, he was also subject to immense pressure in the pocket. Later he left with an injury caused by a late hit."

Yes, this is the usual mumbling about media narratives that have no relation to reality. You're like 3000 words into this post and are clearly addicted. Suck it up. This is the point in Requiem for a Dream where your arm is a mass of black veins and you're still shooting up.

Martin leads resurgence of traditional Michigan defense against Purdue

…against… yeah, them.

This is a different Michigan team

…than the one that beat Purdue last year.

Wolverines' 'old-school' whipping of Purdue would've made Bo Schembechler proud

This one is a wow experience. I mean:

[Toussaint] transforms into a sledgehammer when he runs between the hash marks.

He's not Carlos Brown but come on, dude. And I challenge you to distinguish this from a seventh-grader's B- paper:

Even against a powder-puff Big Ten team such as Purdue, the Wolverines regrouped after surrendering a 48-yard pass on a simple slant-screen that shredded the defense for a touchdown in the opening minutes of the game. No one panicked on the sideline. Instead, the much-maligned unit discussed it and agreed the appropriate response called for equal parts inspiration and perspiration, but no more excuses.

Holy pants. Someone agreed this paragraph should be set down in print and copied thousands of times so its wisdom could spread throughout the land, no more excuses.

Even Wojo fell prey to some extent:

In finding running game, Michigan re-joins Big Ten title race

Ann Arbor— As the day's events unfolded, one thing became clearer and clearer. Michigan is back in the running, and it got there by getting back to the running.

The Wolverines pounded a weaker foe Saturday, which isn't a big deal unless you acknowledge how it happened, and what happened elsewhere in the Big Ten. Michigan bashed Purdue, 36-14, and did the job without everyone waiting around for Denard Robinson to do the job.

Michigan's rushing offense before playing Purdue: 12th nationally. Rich Rodriguez: not involved with the decision to throw two-thirds of the time against Michigan State.

Strategy matters, simple things unrelated to hearty grit toughness can provide huge swings, coaches make mistakes frequently, and no one at a newspaper ever watches a game a second time. Facts.

Unverified Voracity Features Video Flood

Unverified Voracity Features Video Flood

Submitted by Brian on August 15th, 2011 at 12:31 PM

They are alive. HD scoreboard what:


It's so lovely.

Also there is a ton of video from Media/fan day. Choosing one at random:

Choosing a second:

And LB coach Mark Smith pronouncing Marell Evans's first name "MAH-rell":

There's also fluff, JT Floyd, Craig Roh, Mike Cox, Junior Hemingway, Taylor Lewan, Stephen Hopkins, DBs coach Curt Mallory (who still gets asked about Denard despite being the DBs coach), and RB coach Fred Jackson (who talks up the freshmen and describes the offense as "West Coast").

And then there's Countdown to Kickoff talking to Mike Shaw, and Rivals has a full transcript of the presser Tim covered yesterday. Also MVictors took pictures. Matt Wile has a big forehead, all the better to kiss expansively when he makes a 32-yarder. Tim's also got his assistants/players recap in the hopper; that will be coming up this afternoon.

I haven't found this in a linkable form yet but the buzz yesterday was that Frank Clark was quickly moved to WDE and Brennen Beyer was flipped to SLB—an inversion of what they were expected to do. We'll see if that sticks.

Other things Fred Jackson said. I've been shepherding select Fred Jackson quotes for the season preview in order to throw a little cold water on the Rawls/Hayes hype train but what the hell, you'll probably forget about it in two weeks anyway: last year he said Stephen Hopkins was "another Chris Perry, except I don't know if Chris Perry was ever 230 pounds." So when Fred Jackson says this

"Every day they come to work, they know they got to bring their lunch pails because the freshmen are coming out there like they're sophomores," Jackson said.

"Those two freshmen have made the whole room different because now the upperclassmen look around and know the competition is way beyond where they expected it to be (during spring practices)."

…I'm maybe not 100% convinced.

When Fred Jackson says this…

"I got a guy who's going to be a great third-down back for us," Jackson said. "I don't want to say right now who that guy is because I'm still trying to develop depth at the position.

"But the first game, you'll see who that is. I promise you, you'll see who that is."

…though, I believe him because that's obviously Vincent Smith. That would seem to take him out of the running to be the primary guy. I'm still betting on Shaw or Hopkins.

Schwing? Here's one of Scout's national analysts sort of kind of saying Michigan might have a lead-type substance for Mitch McGary:

*There was some clarity given to the Mitch McGary recruitment this week with him narrowing it down to six schools. As we said in the last recruiting report, the school most consistently mentioned by people close to the situation is Michigan. Now does that make the Wolverines the leader, not necessarily, but they are in as good a position as any school in his top six.

This weekend McGary is scheduled to go down to Florida to check things out. This will be an unofficial visit, and McGary’s first trip to the Gainesville campus. Look for another unofficial to Michigan before it is all said and done, and then probably two or three official visits once he gets back to Brewster.

I'll take it! McGary's supposed to wrap his recruiting up by October. Adding him may or may not amplify a scholarship crunch that may or may not exist in 2013. He's widely believed to be a one-and-done; if he does end up committing and sticking around it seems like the only thing that will create a serious issue is Hardaway also sticking around for four years.

BONUS: GRIII has moved up to #39 in Scout's latest rankings. Outrage: no Stauskas.

Fourteen is less than twelve. I have no idea why the SEC is going to bother with Texas A&M. I guess media markets and all that—the constant battle to make more money will not cease until every toilet is gold. But the sacrifices entailed are great. Instead of playing opponents in the other division every other year a 14-team conference will have a whopping two crossover games against a randomly selected set of seven teams. That's about three times a decade.

Despite this, certain SEC partisans are demanding the presidents vote yes even if there is no vote. Very postmodern.

Apparently the Big Ten is content at 12, and thank God for that. There were compelling reasons to go to 12—no more annoying co-champions, title game, etc.—but there is exactly one school that should prompt the increasingly inaccurately named Big Ten to bloat further. I refer, of course, to Wake Forest.


sex appeal

Demon Deacons or bust.

At least he's annoying. Brady Hoke has gotten the goat of the Ohio State fanbase:

I AM SO TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT BRADY HOKE. Did you know Brady Hoke "gets it"? He's changing the culture?  On and on and on. What is so revelatory about the coach of Michigan has expectations this year? Have I been reveling so much in Michigan's despair that I've failed to realize just how pathetic they've become over the years?

I also get a kick out of how he's riding his Segway around up there (this is how I like to envision he travels everywhere) like he's the second coming of Bo Schembechler (who currently resides in the 7th Circle of Hell) when he's really a homeless man's Rex Ryan who has won as many games at Michigan as I have. Brady, you've been at Michigan for like two months, bro. Quit your posturing.

So as you're wincing when Hoke refuses to deploy "State" for the duration of his career at least know he's making people in Ohio peevish. If he actually wins some games there is the potential for helpless rage. That sounds fun. Let's do that.

In the grand tradition. Russell Bellomy on his decision to switch from Purdue:

I ended up choosing Purdue [on] June 1st. I’ll never forget that. But then

the best opportunity I’ve ever had fell in my lap. In the middle of January, I got a call from my head coach, and he said ‘hey Russ, Michigan called; are you interested?’ He left me that voicemail, and I was just like ‘is that even a question?’ So I called him back, and then Coach Borges ended up coming down here to my school, and then he came for a home visit right after that, and we sat here from about 6:30 on just sitting here talking, and on the way back to the hotel, he called me and offered me, and me and my dad were going insane.

I like to think of an enraged Danny Hope twirling his mustache upon reading that. I like to think of an enraged Danny Hope twirling his mustache in many scenarios, actually: in a sinking boat, catching his wife eating yogurt, at Stalingrad in 1942, upon discovering he will not be able to attend the REO Speedwagon concert.


"She knows yogurt has bacteria in it, goddammit. This aggression will not stand."

Etc.: The South Bend Tribune has details on what went down with Corwin Brown. You can have your very own Justin Boren jersey. Photo gallery from Maize n Blue Nation. Rod Beard is the guy who drew the short stick and had to interview random fans for their random opinions. I hate every single quote in that piece.

Unverified Voracity Wears Silly Things

Unverified Voracity Wears Silly Things

Submitted by Tim on July 21st, 2011 at 2:16 PM

I, for one, welcome our Nike overlords. After two straight years of using The Game to prove even Ohio State can look more ridiculous, Nike will strike again this fall, outfitting Michigan State in their Pro Combat line of jerseys for the October 15th tilt against the Wolverines. (Yeah yeah, those in glass houses and whatnot).

In fairness, going to Pro Combat might be an improvement from the OMG MODERN FONT look straight out of Any Given Sunday that Michigan State switched to last year:

MSU-ugly.jpg opposed to going away from the classic look of Ohio State's traditional jerseys (/immediately feels dirty, showers).

We live in an age where the apparel companies are going to do what they do in search of the almighty dollar. Methinks it's best to just to just accept it and move along. It certainly doesn't hurt that I'm not nearly as "get off my lawn" about Michigan's night game jerseys as is Brian. We'll see if Adidas plans to make frequent use of cash-grab alternates, like Nike is doing.

[Ed-M: As Michigan fans, however many headaches we've had to suffer thanks to Adidas's neon-ish idea of "maize" is made worth it when we see our rivals come to school looking like their colorblind mothers got lost in the kids section at Target.

For those wondering why they don't just go with the classic 1960s thing, MSU's official site rules out the obvious Duffy-era look because they rocked that for ND in 2006 -- not that anyone noticed. You can't really do too much damage with MSU since they've had 9 significant uniform changes since 1993, but they already have a home alternate, so either they're scrapping that, or State will play just three games all year in their "home" jerseys. Oregon indeed.

Futzing with Ohio State's classic helmet disco ball covered in bird poop for Michigan week is the kind of thing that can make the football gods remove their favors.]

Speaking of ill-advised Spartan doings. Justin Abdelkader jokes that he wishes to bomb Michigan Stadium:

This is INCONTROVERTIBLE PROOF that all Spartans are terrorists. Look it up.

Barbecue snobs are certain to clarify this is merely a "cookout." As you've likely noticed, Wednesday Recruitin' has been a little calm over the past two weeks, after a whirlwind late spring/early summer parade of commitments to Ann Arbor. A slow period should transition immediately into another action-packed (though not necessarily commitment-packed) period coming up soon, with next weekend's "Barbecue at the Big House" recruiting event.

Much more about it in next week's Recruitin' post, but if you need your fix now, Tom has an ever-evolving list of visitors up in the Diary section. Those not already committed to Michigan are of the greatest interest to us because, you know, they could commit. All this and MUCH MORE next Wednesday (they call that a tease, kids).

Why would anyone want to leave that state? Also regarding the barbecue, Eleven Warriors calls Kyle Kalis and Tom Strobel "Ann Arbor's new favorite couple," but it is not supposed to be a gay joke - except there's no other way for it to realistically be intended. They could be Purdue commits for all I care, but what century are we living in where "hurr hurr u r gay" is still an OK insult?

If you Google "Kyle Kalis ACL," the first infinity results are of Ohio State message boarders wishing injury on a 16-17 year-old kid. Kalis has gone into (mostly) radio silence since his commitment, for fear of backlash. Ohio State fans bashing him for "poor morals" because he decommitted from a school that's about to get hammered for lying to the NCAA? Irony reading: high.

I'm not trying to pick a fight with Eleven Warriors here, but come on dudes, hold yourselves to a higher standard - which, to be fair, they usually do.

Godzillatron will be ours. Updates on the scoreboards? Updates on the scoreboards. Pictures can be seen at Michigan Stadium Aerials (also with updated photos of the hoops Player Development Center), and if you're into the "paint drying" thing, you can watch the assembly live on the internet at MGoBlue.  

OK, so it's not quite as impressive as the mega-boards at places like Texas and... Minnesota... but it's certainly an upgrade over the recent past.

The QB my friends, is blowin' in the wind. Tate Forcier was told "thanks but no thanks" by Hawaii, of all schools, because his transcript is really that bad. The official mgoblog position is "hope he gets his life in order," but uh, is anyone still second-guessing David Brandon's alleged refusal to schedule a meeting with QB5?:

"I needed a certain amount of credits. The incompletes, I took care of those. Dave Brandon still wouldn't let me stay. He refused to even meet with us."

If Hawaii isn't even going to meet with you, Dave Brandon proooooobably wasn't in the wrong here. It sounds like you have more than "a few incompletes" to take care of.

Etc. The Big Ten goes in the wrong direction by going from 3 to zero teams on its preseason media ballot. Men's lacrosse picks up a top offensive coordinator - and tons of solid 2012 commits - including a football teammate of Erik Magnuson. Big Ten schools gettin' that paper, yo. Rest in peace, Jimmy Maddock.

Unverified Voracity, Thrilled By Polygonal Dreads

Unverified Voracity, Thrilled By Polygonal Dreads

Submitted by Brian on June 30th, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Why I stopped buying NCAA in two sentences. Go:


Also this is definitely because of Denard.

Hockey bits. It was announced a while ago but in case you missed it, Big Ten hockey has adopted a fairly sensible playoff format. The bottom four finishers have a best two-of-three series at the higher seed's home ice and then there is a four-team single-elimination playoff on the #1 seed's home ice.

It's a little strange that the second-place finisher gets zero home hockey games but it could have been worse. I still prefer best two-of-three series the whole way because it's more hockey and less arbitrary.

Other logistical bits continue to filter out:

  • Teams have "already been asked" to play two Monday night games per season and Wednesday games between nearby teams have also been broached. The article also mentions the possibility of some Sunday-Monday series.
  • The Big Ten "will" reach a scheduling agreement with the WCHA that will take care of "perhaps eight" of the new Big Ten's 14 nonconference games.
  • They might have to move the state basketball championships in Wisconsin.

I expect the WCHA scheduling agreement just involves Minnesota and Wisconsin. Having the WCHA suck up the eight extra nonconference games now on OSU's, MSU's, and Michigan's schedules would hurt the CCHA further, and I'd rather to see them play traditional opponents like Miami, Northern Michigan, Ferris, etc., than fly to Minnesota to play St. Cloud.

As far as moving games for television goes, I'm all for the increased exposure but when I looked at the schedules it seemed like Sunday was a vast wasteland for basketball that hockey could fill. Is the NFL that much of a beast?

Meanwhile, it is alive:


Illini, probably not. A Champaign-Urbana developer is planning a $15 million ice arena with two sheets of ice in a 100k square-foot building. This immediately got message board folk speculating about Illini hockey, but it doesn't sound like that kind of investment is anywhere near what you'd need for a D-I program. Illinois would probably have to spend at least double that to get a proper D-I rink. Add in a former club player's perspective

Even though the club team has operated at a profit and has the third highest game attendance per season of all sports on campus (average 800-1000 per game with an all time high of around 2000), there are still too many things standing in the way for Illinois to field a D1 NCAA hockey team in the near future. Using the current ice rink for a D1 team is not an option due to the fact that the NCAA requires a minimum seating capacity of 4k-5k for all new D1 NCAA hockey teams (seating capacity at the current rink is ~1250) and the rink is not regulation size. Another problem is that while hockey may have proved that it is in demand in C-U, it is pretty far down the list of sports the AD would like to add. Mens swimming and men's soccer are both sports that could be added to the Illinois AD for significantly less money and without having to add new facilities to the university.

… and it sounds like if the Big Ten adds a seventh member in hockey it won't be the Illini unless they get a Terry Pegula-level donation.

One wing forward extra crispy. It seems like basketball might have its two-ish open spots for the 2012 and 2013 classes filled promptly, what with Flint's Monte Morris declaring Michigan his leader, albeit only from the four teams who have offered, and August($) his decision timeframe. Meanwhile, Indiana's Zak Irvin is stepping up his campus visits considerably. He says he's not going to make an immediate decision but it doesn't sound like he's going to wait that long:

“Right now I’m just taking my time with it,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to do anything soon. I’m just reviewing all my options.”

In addition to Butler and Michigan, Irvin also has offers from Baylor, Illinois, Indiana, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Purdue and Xavier. Asked about his recent offers, Irvin said he “likes both coaching staffs” of Butler and Michigan.

“I’m still curious to see who comes out in July,” Irvin said of next month’s evaluation period. “I doubt anything happens before the

Irvin told Sam Webb that rumors a Michigan commitment was imminent were false and that "there are other schools" on his list.

Irvin's now being listed at 6'7" some places, FWIW. He'll be Sim Bhullar by the time he hits campus. Glenn Robinson III teammate Mitch McGary is also scheduled to be on campus shortly but probably remains a longshot.

Austin Hatch's situation makes Michigan's recruiting even more complicated. It will be a while before it's clear whether he can play basketball at a high level again. While I assume the NCAA will work something out so he can attend Michigan either way, there's uncertainty there. That's in the triple digits about "things you should care about related to Austin Hatch," of course.

The cheddar issue. The Business of College Sports highlights Michigan's massive construction projects:


That is a lot of money being spent on buildings that only indirectly benefit student-athletes:

As you can see, gifts help make these capital projects possible, but they only make a small dent in the total amount needed. The athletic department has incurred debt for a number of the projects and has budgeted $13.2 million in expenses for this debt service for the coming year. This is up $2.2 million from last year due to debt incurred for the Michigan Stadium and Crisler Arena projects.

In addition to this debt service, Michigan has another $14.4 million budgeted for “Facilities Expenses” and a “Deferred Maintenance Fund Transfer”. I should point out that $4.5 million of the $14.4 million  mentioned is for the “Deferred Maintenance Fund Transfer”. This is a fund set up during the 2003 fiscal year that is being built up to fund future “major repair and rehabilitation projects” for athletic facilities. Because Michigan turns an operating profit each year, they’re able to put aside for future capital projects in ways I’m sure many other universities cannot.

The $14.4 million I just detailed on top of the $29.9 million set aside for renovations to Crisler and Yost and $13.2 million in debt service on facilities adds up to $57.5 million Michigan is spending next year on facilities alone.

When we point at the surpluses run by large athletic departments and say some of that money could go to athletes we should also keep in mind that if facilities are going to be kept up to date colleges have to make that happen themselves. They can't extort local governments for stadiums, so they have to build up reserves and carefully plan ahead.

The insane future. Braves and Birds has hopped on the promotion and relegation bandwagon, proposing a two-tier SEC that's not entirely dissimilar from my tortured attempts to turn the hypothetical Mega Big Ten people were tossing around last summer into an actual conference instead of two conferences glommed together.

My tortured attempt was tortured largely because I was trying to find a way to prevent the Auburn problem. Auburn was 2-6 in conference in 2008 and 3-5 in 2009. They would have been in the second division of the SEC. In 2010 they were the best team in the country. An outright promotion/relegation system would have seen that team unable to compete for a conference title at all. That seems unacceptable, and that makes a straight system like B&B proposes unworkable. This doesn't affect soccer much because the top division is 18 or 20 teams—the chance the next tier down actually contains the best team is tiny. Not so much when you have smaller numbers and rapid turnover.

The only place I think a straight promotion and relegation system might work in CFB is with the Mountain West and assorted other teams. Right now they're on the verge of an automatic BCS bid, but they'll drop out of that after the TCU, Utah, and BYU departures are accounted for. If they had an eight-team top division and rounded up the WAC/Sunbelt/etc to comprise a lower division they could assure themselves the SJSUs of the world wouldn't drop their average rating while automatically sucking the strongest teams into a group of eight that just might qualify.

Meanwhile, I think I came to the conclusion that the only way a super-conference works is if you use dynamic scheduling (i.e., play part of the season and figure out the rest of the schedule after that). If you play half the conference slate, then have teams with good records play each other while the teams with bad records do the same, you can get enough interaction between the top teams to actually feel like 16 teams are a coherent whole.

Etc.: Shawn Hunwick (and a couple of Michigan athletes you're probably less familiar with) get their charity on. Fulham, a soccer club in London, inexplicably has a Michael Jackson statue in front of Craven Cottage, and now they're selling equally inexplicable merchandise related to it. OH DE Chris Wormley says Michigan leads. TTB talks to Desmond Morgan.

Unverified Voracity Sees Jon Merrill's Pores

Unverified Voracity Sees Jon Merrill's Pores

Submitted by Brian on June 21st, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Great. Let's never do this again. Because it's June and someone had a pretty good idea for June, the Big Ten Network had its own awards show. They named Denard Robinson the breakout player and possessor of the "most dominant performance," that his 500+ yards against Notre Dame. Michigan 67, Illinois 65 was Game of the Year:

There wasn't much competition—the other candidates were Wisconsin's 13-point win over OSU and a basketball game.

Something interesting might happen next time. The NCAA hockey rules committee didn't do much other than the bi-annual point of emphasis about this or that (this time around it's hits to unsuspecting players and diving), but there are four interesting things under consideration for the next cycle:

  • Four-on-four OT. This is "strongly" under consideration along with other methods to get a winner including a lengthened OT period. Shootouts will continue to be allowed, but support for mandating them is "limited."
  • Awarding obviously imminent goals if the net is dislodged by the defense. This may be in direct response to an event at the Big Chill:

    Michigan State did score, though. They put in a power play goal when a puck deflected high off Hunwick and fluttered to the goal line to be batted in, but a nanosecond before that happened Hunwick fell into the net and knocked it off. While the refs got the call right, it was totally unfair: you definitely scored, you didn't do anything to get the net off, and you still get nothing. They should probably change it so that if your goal is imminent when the defense knocks the net off you still get it.

    I'm in favor, obviously.

  • Dumping cages for visors. This is mostly to look as cool as CHL players. Red was in favor of this, IIRC, but I have a hard time seeing it pass in the safety-first NCAA.
  • Allowing hand passes everywhere or disallowing them entirely. At first blush allowing hand-passes in the defensive zone only does look weird but I think this is one of those rules that evolved over time to be the least annoying option. Allowing a guy on the ground to slide a puck to a teammate for a goal seems ridiculous to me; banning defensive-zone hand passes will just mean more whistles since players will do it anyway. The alternative—an ugly turnover by a guy not in position to recover—is worse.

Sadly, the hockey rules committee remains ignorant to the existential threat posed by too many offsides whistles.

Hockey now plz. That exhibition against a Canadian team is going to be the most exciting exhibition against a Canadian team ever:


Brandon uber alles. I hope to yell "I CAN SEE YOUR PORES, WHICH ARE CALM AND EXCELLENT PORES, LET ME TELL YOU" at Jon Merrill next year.

Yost yesterday, Yost today, Yost tomorrow, Yost forever. It's kind of a duh statement to make after Yost has just had its fifth renovation since the mid-90s approved, this one a 14-million-dollar one, but Yost Ice Arena is not going anywhere. Red:

“I think Michigan has been really happy with our building and our program for the most part and they’d like to maintain that at this point,” Berenson added. “I think they like Yost so much that they don’t see a reason to build another building. And so, if we like Yost that much, well then why don’t we fix it up?”

This renovation costs twice as much as the other four combined and with the new scoreboard is a definitive statement Yost is the future for the hockey program for at least the next 20 years.

This might be surprising coming from a guy who is militantly pro-tradition, but I have some mixed feelings about that. A lot of Yost's sightlines are sub-optimal and the weird overhang from the club seats/press box means the last few rows are surprisingly bad places to see a game in a 7,000 seat arena. That'll be even more true next year when people stuck in those seats are peering at the 90's-vintage tube TVs used as a substitute for the scoreboards. Whenever I go to Munn I think "this is a nice building even if it is filled with zombie monks" because there are many fewer bad seats.

I'm not sure if this is even possible but if they want to maintain the building as is without it being so cramped they might want to think about lowering the ice surface ten feet or so, which would allow them to reclaim those rows at the back of the arena and make the seating steeper to provide better viewing angles.

Let's destroy college baseball to save it. Man, Jim Delany has some crazy ideas about college baseball:

Perception says the Big Ten doesn't care about baseball. But no administrator in America has pressed harder to revamp the system. Delany's biggest ideas:

• Adopt a national start date in March or April and move the season deeper into summer.

• Devalue the RPI, which favors Sun Belt schools.

• Ditch the current method of national seeding and return to regional qualification for the College World Series.

College baseball's answer: No. No. No.

Then, last summer, Delany formally proposed the CWS move from eight teams to 10, with the two new slots reserved for cold-weather schools. Cold shoulder again.

“I've got no more proposals,” Delany told the World-Herald. “I'm out of ideas. What else can we possibly do?”

There is one alternative. Delany expresses interest — though he hasn't officially proposed it — in an even bolder plan: Secede from the South. Form a new college baseball division. Compete for a different national championship.

"Hey, guys, I know you think this is insane and want to spit on my grave, which is in Transylvania next to Joe Paterno's, but wait until you hear these proposed Division names…

wait for it…

wait for it…

this is so exciting…

Leotards and Leopards."

The article linked above follows that list of wacky ideas up with a lot of Southerners laughing at Jim Delany and telling him he's killing his conference by not allowing oversigning. Southerners reading this post may have just involuntarily done the "just like football clapclaplclap" chant.

BONUS WEIRD ITEM: Jim Delany's first presentation to the NCAA about equity in baseball was made one day before 9/11. #coincidenceithinknot

(HT: The Bylaw Blog.)

Etc.: TSN's final NHL draft rankings are a little more down on John Gibson than most—he's 37th, one spot in front of OHL defector Lucas Lessio—but surprisingly include D commit Brennan Serville at #60. They don't have a picture or explanation for this, but that's quite a rise from Canisius commitment to fringe second rounder.

Doctor Saturday profiles Nathan Scheelhaase, the main reason Illinois is a potentially frightening opponent next year. Eamonn Brennan on Michigan basketball's sudden turnaround. The Daily profiles Zach Hyman.

Unverified Voracity Is All Shiny

Unverified Voracity Is All Shiny

Submitted by Brian on June 15th, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Release the offer kraken. Today is the first day 2013 basketball recruits can be offered, and since John Beilein is king of the rules he sticks to this date religiously. He's also more than a little crafty by doing this since Michigan just got a first-hand look at most of its top targets at Michigan's elite camp. UMHoops reports it was the most talented of Beilein's tenure and there was one potential offeree who stood out:


Monte Morris won the day

Michigan’s top point guard prospects were all in attendance and everyone in the gym, including the players themselves, knew it.

The guard targets all played pretty well but it was Monte Morris who was most impressive. Morris was very good during drills, took a couple tough losses in 3-on-3 play and then exploded during 5-on-5 play to finish the night. He had a string of great games on the main floor, in front of the Michigan coaches, controlling the tempo and dominating the game as a great point guard should. He didn’t force shots, but scored with ease slicing to the basket, and also ran the pick-and-roll very well. Most of the games on the main floor came down to the final possession, or were even decided by sudden death free throw shooting contests. When Morris’s squad started clicking on the main floor they cruised to a couple comfortable victories.

Michigan is presumably interested in Morris, then. Yesterday GBW published this headline, from which you can extraopolate who the #1 is:

A Clear #1 for Morris

By Kyle Bogenshutz & Sam Webb

Michigan’s Elite Camp managed to attract several top prospects including four of the c/o 2013’s best point guards. The top performer of group on the day was Flint (MI) Beecher standout, Monte Morris. GBW caught up with the talented floor general to get his thoughts on the camp, his recent unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, his decision timeline, and the school he currently has at the top of his list.

Unfortunately for Obviously Extrapolated Leader, when UMHoops interviewed Morris he was planning to take his recruitment until the end of his junior year. As anyone who's followed Brady Hoke's recruiting can tell you, timelines can move up. Keep your ears perked for one of Sam's gut feelings.

Hockey indoors and out. A smattering of news items on the hockey team have come down the pipe.

One: they'll be replacing the College Hockey Showcase with game against Northeastern. You can count so you know that's one game too few to replace the CHS; in the past what this has meant is that two Eastern teams head out and switch off against Michigan and MSU. Oddly, NU (not that NU) released its entire schedule and their game against M is just a one-off.

Two: Michigan and Ohio State are apparently going to play an outdoor game in Cleveland this January. That seems to be a questionable way to create the future. Ohio State does draw better for Michigan games, but not well enough to fill their basketball arena. A football stadium in Cleveland is going to be a tough sell, especially one year after Michigan fans nearly packed the Big House. When they did so they found out that outdoor hockey is pretty cool but kind of a gimmick—sightlines are suboptimal. I think I'd rather watch it on TV, and if I want to watch it on TV that stadium is going to be half-full. If it's part of a Winter Classic featuring the Wings and Blue Jackets, on the other hand… that could work.

Three: the new scoreboard in the flesh is so sexy.


This is creating the future I can get behind.

Four: In addition to placing goal replays directly into your brain, Brandon is creating a $14 million renovation of the old barn. The future includes completely replaced seating, the conversion of the current media level into "loge boxes," a new media level above that, and some additional "corner and platform seating." Seems like they might squeeze another 500 seats or so out of the old barn.

Not mentioned was the top priority of the blogosphere—returning the old man to his rightful place:


But they did mention "concourse improvements" so those are probably putting Yost's head on everything.

There can be no UV without tatgate. catches up with a local memorabilia dealer to find the state of his business with college guys:

“We would never touch a college guy,” said Newhouse, a 38-year-old Ann Arbor man who operates “We know that’s the ultimate taboo thing.”

…“That’s just stupid,” Newhouse said. “It makes no sense, and people should know better, especially if it’s a team you like. These are Buckeyes fans who ruined their team for years. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

I don't know, man, if I had the ability to make Terrelle Pryor show up at Chuck E. Cheese I might mortgage my program's future for one shining moment.

Taylor Lewan's golf swiDUCK

Taylor Lewan’s first tee shot Monday at the David Mealer Memorial Golf Classic went screaming off of his undersized iron, traveling in a straight line into a wooden area located right of the tee box on hole 17 at Brandywine Country Club. A subsequent loud thud was Lewan’s ball hitting what everyone could only hope was a tree.

“Let’s get this day started!” Lewan yelled, sarcastically, in response to his regrettable shot.


(Thirty-two Michigan players and a coach, Brock still working out with Barwis at his new Plymouth digs, Kevin Koger not playing because he's worse than that, general impression they should have done this at the swankiest putt-putt place they could find.)

Sharps hate us. The Wolverine Blog asks "why not us?" at a convenient time. Here's why not us: Just Cover notes some huge line movement at the Golden Nugget, which annually releases a set of "game of the year" lines early. In each case, Michigan got hammered:

…everybody is betting against the Michigan Wolverines. Along with Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State and TCU, the Wolverines were a popular bet against team among the betting professionals. And, hey, why not?  Until further notice, the defense still sucks, the potent offense from a year ago is undergoing a makeover and, well, did you see last year? The Wolverines went 0-8 against the number in Big 10 play and have been one of the best teams to bet against during the ill-fated, three-year Rodriguez tenure. The coaching change isn't enough to inspire betting confidence.

The Golden Nugget released lines on five Michigan games and in four of them, after a crazy initial weekend of betting, have moved significantly against the Wolverines. Nobody is betting them, at least nobody among the crowd of sharps and wiseguys who do this for a living, so much so that they pack the Golden Nugget in early June in to get bets down before most of the college football betting public has even bought a preseason annual. The critiques are that Michigan remains a soft team, the Golden Nugget overrated a typically public program and sharp bettors love betting against first year head coaches installing a new system. The Nugget is going to take a bath unless the Wolverines, as my old bookie once urged them more than a decade, can just cover the spread.

Notre Dame moving from M –2 to ND –3 with reports that is up to ND –6, Northwestern moving from M –4 to a pick'em, and MSU going from a 3.5 point favorite to 7.5. Sharps are betting Al Borges Denard Fusion Cuisine does not go well.

Meanwhile, our neighbors to the south had no lines posted for obvious reasons.

The young people. This, from one of those alumni tour things, is all your fault:

Finally, for all you MMB fans out there, I was able to speak with DB about the piped in music at the stadium. DB said that there was some resistance in the Big 10, but that they have been able to change the rule and now can mike the band. They expect this to make a big difference. He cautioned that they will keep some piped in music because the 'young people' like it, but is hoping for about 65% MMB and 35% recorded.

Let the bodies hit the floor, yo.

Etc.: Pitt and Penn State miraculously sign a two year contract to play in 2016 and 2017. Article subtitle "new coaching staff stresses accountability" makes inevitable appearance as dictated by the laws of man and God. Mets Maize on fanbase 180.

Mike Hart Visualizes You Some Scoreboards

Mike Hart Visualizes You Some Scoreboards

Submitted by Brian on April 6th, 2011 at 12:55 PM

The worst thing is when you know you saw something useful somewhere obscure a long time ago and stare at the Google box certain it will not help you. So it was yesterday when I tried to dig up a scoreboard comparison graphic that I thought I saw on a Mississippi State blog sometime in the murky past. Never found it, [UPDATE: It was on an Auburn blog; we are basically going from South Carolina to Tennessee] but the Daily did this:


So there you go. Bigger than a blue whale. IIRC, this is a standard Daily graphic they use whenever they have to compare the size of anything to objects in the world. I remember that elephant.

The actual viewable area for the boards is 47 x 85. This is large. When I went to Auburn a few years back I reported their single HD board was "killer" and that Michigan fans had "no idea" how much they needed one. That board:


That board was packed with frippery and advertising—about every fourth play instead of a replay you'd get a frustrating ad—that Michigan's boards will presumably be free of. This is going to be life-changing. Serious. Your life will be different. There will be a band hype-up video that actually gets you hyped up. You will understand what is happening in football games better. You will have up to date stats. Also grapefruit will taste better.

Let's explore in the universal language of Mike Hart pictures. I could not find dimensions for the existing scoreboard but I remember Michigan State's setup, also installed the late 90s, as nearly identical. The size of that increasingly vintage board:


The size of Auburn's board:


What you'll see this fall:


Very big. Somehow still considerably smaller than Minnesota's. And just for the hell of it here's Godzillatron:


Ah but wait:

In its first usage, the portion of the new screen that was typically used for showing replays and film highlights was approximately the same size as the old video screen. More recent games have featured a 16:9 format image centered in a ring of advertisement and score/clock related information. Nevertheless, complaints continue about the advertising, with some fans shouting out "We won't shop/eat/bank there" when advertisements are played loudly in the stadium.

This is wikipedia so it's true. With ads…


…Godzillatron loses a big chunk of its advantage, especially if they blare as loud as the ones at Ohio Stadium or Memorial Stadium. Michigan's going to have the best combo of replay and lack of annoyance in the country. Point Dave Brandon.

Scoreboards: Large

Scoreboards: Large

Submitted by Brian on April 5th, 2011 at 2:47 PM


I'm apparently the last person in the world to get this press release, but someone posted it up so it doesn't matter. Here are the relevant parts:

Michigan Stadium

The demolition and removal of the existing video boards began in March. Over the next several months, TS Sports will install new state-of-the-art LED screens in both end zones of Michigan Stadium, which will be 40 percent larger than the previous system. The new video screens will be 47’ (h) x 85’ (w) and be located in the end zones. The Big House upgrade will be completed in August prior to the 2011 season.

The new video display at the “Big House” features:
· Two (2) Lighthouse Impact 16 video displays measuring over 4000 square feet each (Resolution: 900 x 1632)
· New Custom Scoring System
· New Custom System Enclosure
- Size: 62’ (h) x 108’ (w)

Crisler Arena

The new center-hung at Crisler Arena will consist of 14 LED video displays:
· Four (4) 12’ x 16.8’ Pi10 10mm main displays
· Four (4) 6.28’ x 16.8’ Pi10 10mm scoring displays
· Four (4) 6.28’ x 6.3’ Pi10 10mm advertising displays
· One (1) 2.1’ x 81.9’ Pi10 10mm top video ring display
· One (1) 2.1’ x 44.1’ Pi10 10mm bottom video ring display

Yost Ice Arena

For the first time in its history Yost Ice Arena will get a facelift that will include LED video displays for the arena.
The new center-hung at Yost Ice Arena will consist of 9 LED video displays:
· Four (4) 13’ x 16.8’ Pi10 main displays
· Four (4) 12.5’ x 6’6’ F16 corner displays
· One (1) 2.5’ x 75.59’ F16 video ring display


The new Michigan Stadium boards will vault Michigan to around sixth nationally. They'll probably end up nestled in between those at Neyland and the Swamp. Right now Wikipedia's insanely comprehensive list of college football scoreboard sizes doesn't even list Michigan, so… yeah. It's kind of a big difference. Getting replay at Yost is clutch as well. I love me some universe just for you moments but I also like knowing what happened.

Unverified Voracity Watches Paint Dissasemble

Unverified Voracity Watches Paint Dissasemble

Submitted by Brian on March 8th, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Good news for people who like boring news. There is a webcam of Michigan taking down their new scoreboards. You can watch it, or you can look at this picture. They are basically equivalent:


Yes, they left the Big Chill lingo up.

Womp-rats? Yesterday at about 7 PM Yahoo released its latest article that terrifies and thrills, and it's a doozy:

Tressel knew of gear scheme last April

If true, that would expose Ohio State to the worst kind of NCAA justice. Cover-ups are very bad. They got SMU the death penalty and are soon to terminate the job of Bruce Pearl.

Can Yahoo/the NCAA prove it, though? The Robinson/Wetzel piece relies on one anonymous source who said Tressel was "troubled by the information" and promised to investigate. I don't think OSU can reasonably suggest they investigated and found nothing since it didn't take the NCAA long to confirm the story, but previous Yahoo gotchas came with paper trails—as of now there isn't one.

The worst-case scenario here is that this gets rolled into an investigation of Terrelle Pryor's perpetual loaner and it turns out that—surprise—zealous OSU boosters are funneling massive amounts of impermissible benefits to players. It's getting to the point where it's hard to downplay everything that comes to light as an isolated incident, especially when Antonio Pittman tweets that cats have been getting hookups on tats since 2001.

I don't think anyone knows where this is going but if Yahoo can produce paper a major violation, an actual one not about stretching, is in the offing. Eleven Warriors just tweeted that they are hearing Tressel will admit wrongdoing(!) and sanctions/suspensions are "possible."

No serious harm done. According to Mike Spath, Carl Hagelin and Billy Powers expect Louie Caporusso to return for next weekend's CCHA finals at the Joe. Presuming Michigan can get by Bowling Green, by far the worst team in the league this season, without him they won't be short in their quest for a one-seed.

Word. Best NFL draft evaluation ever on one Justin Boren:

Plays angry on the field but his mental makeup is in question after a transfer from Michigan. Day 3 prospect.

Love to bits. The SBN Oilers blog goes off on semi-regular rants about how numbers are just not understood, man, that I love to tiny bits. Their latest is about the Avalanche and their fluky run last year. According to hockey's advanced metrics last year, the Avs were a terrible team. According to the standings midway through the year they were pretty good. They managed to survive a massive late slump to squeeze into the playoffs and fans thought this was sustainable and numbers were stupid. This year they're pretty much the same team except they're not nearly as lucky, so they're just above the Oilers in the standings and fans are discussing whether they should fire the coach they were pumping for the Jack Adams last year.

Key section:

Avalanche fans are not alone in ignoring, even denying the evidence behind the performance of the team. In an article entitled "When the scientific evidence is unwelcome, people try to reason it away" in The Guardian, author Ben Goldacre explores what happens when people are "...confronted with scientific evidence that challenges their pre-existing view." His conclusion? "Often they will try to ignore it, intimidate it, buy it off, sue it for libel or reason it away." Goldacre references a 1979 paper from Lord, Ross and Lepper. From the paper's abstract:

People who hold strong opinions on complex social issues are likely to examine relevant empirical evidence in a biased manner. They are apt to accept "confirming" evidence at face value while subjecting "disconfirming" evidence to critical evaluation, and, as a result, draw undue support for their initial positions from mixed or random empirical findings.

Goldacre goes on to discuss a second group of people - those who attack the science behind the evidence presented to them.

When presented with unwelcome scientific evidence, it seems, in a desperate attempt to retain some consistency in their world view, people would rather conclude that science in general is broken.

This line of thinking is similar to that used by fans who argue in favor of shot quality. Shot quality has become the great foil used by those arguing against possession metrics as a basis of hockey analytics. The ever-increasing mountain of possession data, evidence and studies means little to the shot quality folks. Arguments abound in favor of shot quality with no evidence to back it up, so lacking so Desjardins challenged the world to prove the existence of shot quality. There were no takers.

Goldacre concludes:

When presented with unwelcome scientific evidence, it seems, in a desperate attempt to retain some consistency in their world view, people would rather conclude that science in general is broken.

What's that on the horizon? It's getting closer! It's getting closer very fast!Joe-Morgan

This is why numbers are important—they at least force you to consider things that conventional wisdom holds are ridiculous, like Derek Jeter being a pretty crappy defensive shortstop. The advanced metrics said the Avs were due to regress badly and they did. This would be just another guy who loves numbers accepting confirming evidence while some other team that defied the numbers would be seized upon by the Joe Morgans of the world as their confirming evidence… except for the fact that you can collect big sets of numbers and show they are accurate more often than not. We had a discussion about this before college football season when I predicted Iowa wouldn't do so hot and Iowa fans were like "numbers are stupid."

The other end of the spectrum from Joe Morgan is David Berri, who's just as wrong as Morgan and relies on a just-as-irrelevant credential ("I was the greatest second baseman of all time"/"I went to Princeton") in his quest to reduce everything in sports to a regression. I'm not arguing for that, either. The numbers gathered by football and basketball box scores are witheringly insufficient to hope to explain anything.

In reality, numbers are insufficient to fully explain anything but baseball for a lot of reasons. Baseball's easier and there are orders of magnitude more data—Pitch FX is insane. But in all sports advanced metrics can at least provide a much better answer for "what," if not how and why. An example: about a week ago LaVall Jordan tweeted that Michigan had the fourth best defense in the Big Ten. That's true on a pure counting number basis but if you do something like divide they were ninth*. That's a huge difference and the tempo-free number is indisputably better. There's a huge difference between talking about why Michigan has an above average defense or why they have a below-average one, and anyone who would prefer to talk about the former is just wasting people's time.

*[The MSU game moved them up to seventh.]

Hardaway explosion. Rod Beard's latest in the News has a wide array of quotes on the emergence of Tim Hardaway Jr. Vitale is involved, but don't let that phase you. Here's the most interesting bit on his recent blowup:

"When he was shooting a lower percentage earlier in the year, I called him in and we just talked a little about getting a better shot than he was taking," Beilein said. "(I told him) you're probably going to take just as many shots, but the ball will come back to you again.

"He did it immediately and his shooting percentage has gone way up."

Beilein has repeatedly praised Hardaway's coachability, which suggests he will continue to improve over the duration of his career at Michigan. Dad is also impressed:

"He's developed very well and the whole team has, from November to today," Tim Sr. said. "You can see a lot of confidence in them and you can see their swagger. They're playing well, they believe in the system and they believe in the coach."

Random offer thought. Michigan continues to litter the nation with offers, but a Q: could this be a more general pattern? The NCAA just implemented a rule that prohibits schools from sending written offers until August. In the past there was the verbal offer, which was more of an indication of interest, and the written offer, which was as close to official as something that says "we can revoke this at any time" gets. Now there are no written offers, nothing to distinguish between the two, and kids who may have waited to declare they had an offer until they had the actual paper in their hands now have nothing else do go on.

In any case, the universal predictions that this rule would lead to confusion and would do nothing to slow down the breakneck pace of recruiting have come true, like it was obvious they would.

Etc.: Posnanski writes something about the "joy of rooting against Lebron" that expands on yesterday's trash-talk assertions. According to Ira at WTKA via Brandon, Michigan's club seats and suites are sold out. Evolving Evan Smotrycz. Big Ten wrestling details.