Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-20-12: Greg Mattison

Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-20-12: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on November 20th, 2012 at 4:33 PM

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How much film can you use from last year? Can you take anything from it?

“No. No. It’s everything, and usually with most teams we don’t watch last year’s. The only thing we might watch is against ourselves, if it’s the same opponent type deal, but everything’s for this year.”

What do you take from that in terms of slowing down Braxton Miller?

“He’s a great talent. Obviously I think they’re the number one offense in the country right now. It’s going to be a great challenge for us. He’s a great football player. The good news is we’ve played against some really really good quarterbacks this year, and we play against a great one every day in practice. So we’ll be ready to go.”

Monday Presser Transcript 11-19-12: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 11-19-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on November 19th, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Bullets:

  • Fitz's surgery went well. He should be out of the hospital by now.
  • Denard is improving. May be able to throw.
  • Desmond Morgan should be back.
  • There's some kind of football game happening on Saturday.

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Presser

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Opening remarks:

“Number one, Fitz had surgery. Went very well. Saw him yesterday. Should get out of the hospital today, and should have a full recovery, and we’ll move forward and he’ll move forward. But everything went well, as well as it can as far as having an injury. No one wants that for any kid.

“The Iowa game was one where we have to play much better than we did this week to be successful. The great thing about it was our guys, the seniors of this team, being able to come up that tunnel for the last time and sing the Victors in the locker room here. That was a real positive and as we look forward, we’ve got a great challenge in front of us and an opportunity, one that -- this is a fun football game. Any time you have a rivalry like this, this is a fun game to play.”

How much will it help your team that having been able to get game experience using Denard the way you used him?

“Well, I think it helps our football team. When we moved Devin, and he wanted to move to wide receiver, we were helping our football team because you’re putting your best 11 on the field. I think Denard fits in that either as a quarterback or as a slot receiver or wherever it may be. It helps our football team. Was it good to see him in live action? Yeah.”

Unverified Voracity Says Never Mind The New Era

Unverified Voracity Says Never Mind The New Era

Submitted by Brian on August 9th, 2012 at 4:17 PM

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Four years. Phil Brabbs just celebrated four years of existence post-Multiple Myeloma. Here's to forty more.

New era: GTFO. UCF getting a single year of postseason ban for their lack of institution control was exhibit A, and now it seems like that the ever-expanding evidence that UNC football players were in fraudulent classes is not the NCAA's concern:

Going a step further, a report engineered by a faculty committee concluded -- though not yet fully endorsed by the university -- that academic counselors assigned to specific teams perhaps pushed athletes to those baloney classes.

And the NCAA apparently has no jurisdiction in this matter.

Which is why, dear folks in Indianapolis, people just don't get you sometimes.

It would seem to the layman that the intersection of athletics and academic dishonesty is exactly the right spot for the NCAA to step in.

Except, as of right now, there is no indication that the NCAA will revisit or re-examine the penalties it has already inflicted on UNC and its football team for violations related to improper benefits and academic misconduct involving a tutor.

This goes beyond clustering, but UNC is apparently not going to get anything tacked on to their now-standard single year of penance and slight hindrance in the future. Any hopes schools that egregiously break the rules would suffer consequences that would make them hesitate seems gone. Maybe when the new penalties come in, I guess.

Sirius bomb. SiriusXM was on campus a couple days ago and produced a bunch of podcasts for your delectation:

Rick Neuheisel asks some good questions, worth a listen.

Basketball preview things. Eamonn Brennan and Big Ten Wonk take to the pages of ESPN.com to say things about Big Ten basketball. Trey Burke (surprise!) is named Michigan's most important player. Brennan's worst case scenario is better than just about every team Michigan's fielded since the Fab Five:

Worst-case scenario: It's hard to see this team, which is indisputably more talented and almost certain to be more dynamic, somehow not being in Big Ten title contention by the end of next February. But if somehow the Wolverines are merely above average in 2012-13, it could be because they carry over last season's just-OK defensive effort (No. 60 in adjusted defensive efficiency). Or because they lack the breadth of reliable 3-point shooters (Evan Smotrycz transferred, while Zack Novak and Stu Douglass graduated) who have come to define coach John Beilein's two-guard front offense, which relies on 3-point shooting to stretch the floor. I think Beilein will make it work, and I think Michigan will be very tough to beat. But increased success is far from guaranteed.

Mr. Gasaway's bits are Insider'd Power Rankings($). Michigan checks in fourth behind the three teams you'd expect:

I may not be betting on a second consecutive Big Ten title for Michigan, but I love their chances to make it further in the NCAA tournament than they did last time around.

Hopefully that won't be hard. I think Gasaway is a little too down on Iowa, which adds a couple of touted freshmen to a solid core of White/Marble/Basabe and should find themselves breaking their NCAA tourney drought this year. He has them ninth; I'd put them sixth.

Oh, man. Fire Jerry Kill proposes more Penn State shirts produced by that awful "Smack" company responsible for the hur-hur-hur rivalry shirts favored by Larry the Cable Guy enthusiasts everywhere. This one may be based on actual threads from BWI:

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I couldn't wear that ironically, but someone make this and I'll take a dozen:

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Gendo is so getting sued by old Penn State lettermen.

BONUS: Gendo surveys the "#teamoutlaw" twitter phenomenon and comes up with ICP.

DOUBLE BONUS: are you in the market for some appalling comments about the various Penn State transfers? (The comments are in the comments.)

It was expensive while it lasted. Michigan announced a StubHub partnership last year to great fanfare; now, like the Pac 12-Big Ten scheduling accord, it appears we're never to speak of it again. Michigan's now showing up as a "past partner" on the hub:

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Wonder what went wrong. I can't imagine the AD passing up a buck.

FWIW, the StubHub think always struck me as brilliantly nefarious. By giving you printed-out tickets that would invalidate the originally issued ones, they undermined all ticket markets that were not StubHub. If you bought a ticket you had no assurance it hadn't been sold already; if you sold a ticket you had no guarantee it wouldn't be resold twice and get you in hot water when someone complained and they traced it back to you, the person Michigan originally sold the ticket to. The only way to guarantee you got a valid ticket was to buy it off Stubhub. It was evil and brilliant and whoever came up with it got a promotion. Now: kaput. I wonder why.

Further shootin' up the charts. ESPN releases post-summer rankings and both Irvin and Walton get bumps. Irvin's gone from 60th to 21st, on the verge of five stars. Dave Telep explains why:

"Zak was a hunter all summer long," Telep told AnnArbor.com via email Wednesday. "He looked fresh, hungry. He played to his size, looked like he improved his skill. Having said that, we've taken a flier on him.

"I don't think everyone would agree on him this high. We're rolling the dice and monitoring his senior year closely. Obviously we liked what we saw in the summer when compared to his peer group."

Derrick Walton made a smaller move from 40th to 32nd, but hopped over four point guards in the process. Mark Donnall slid but sticks in the top 100 at 97. Telep says Walton and Irvin are in the conversation to get in the McDonald's game.

JLS!

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That is all. Via EDSBS.

Orson on Wright Thompson on Meyer. Another part of the OSU PR offensive comes in an exclusive Wright Thompson sit-down with the Buckeyes' wooden but very, very successful head coach. Spencer Hall on that:

Wright Thompson got the full-access treatment to Urban Meyer, something he's never really granted anyone in a coaching situation, and pretty much nails the weirdass, ciphery personality of Meyer in his longform profile of him. One key point about Meyer is that he was never really likable as a head coach, so it's nice to see that Meyer doesn't even really seem to like himself a whole lot, and really never has.If that's a puff piece we disagree with your definition, but the last paragraph in particular is really, really interesting. <--arches eyebrows, invites literary discussion.

"He's gonna be different," Urban Meyer's wife says, and makes me preemptively sad for her.

Etc.: Michigan Stadium gets two and a half votes for "toughest place to play in the Big Ten." Beaver Stadium gets eight, so they'll be moving up in the 2016 version of this poll. Mark Mangino at OSU practice looks like just another OSU fan. Don't forget to tilt that head, though.

The Black and Blue producers tell the Willis Ward story in the News. The NCAA has to release financial documents to the Ed O'Bannon group. Maize and Go Blue looks at the freshmen numbers and their pasts. Part 1. Part 2.

Sound Mind/Sound Body 2012: Recap

Sound Mind/Sound Body 2012: Recap

Submitted by Ace on June 14th, 2012 at 1:33 PM


2013 OL commits Logan Tuley-Tillman (left) and David Dawson

Yesterday's Adidas Sound Mind/Sound Body camp at Southfield High School featured some of the Midwest's best talent, including five of Michigan's 2013 commits (actually, six, but Csont'e York showed up late and I didn't get a good look at him). It also provided a rare chance for players to get instructed by coaches from Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, and several other schools; U-M, OSU, and MSU each sent their full staff, save Mark Dantonio, who had a speaking engagement.

This was my first camp experience, so I mostly focused on the Michigan commits; at these camps, there's so much going on that it's difficult to focus on more than a handful of players. Here are my impressions of the Wolverine commits as well as a couple other standouts:

SHANE MORRIS

I didn't spend a ton of time watching Morris in the passing drills, mostly because I was more focused on the receivers and defensive backs, but he was excellent as usual on Wednesday. Morris threw harder than anyone else there, displayed great accuracy, and could make all of the throws. He's also improved from what I saw of him last fall in terms of knowing when to change up speeds and when to just unleash.

As you can see above, Al Borges kept a very close eye on Morris. UAB head coach Garrick McGee was running quarterback drills, but Borges made it clear that he would be the one coaching Morris. As Brian pointed out in today's UV, the running theme of the camp was coaches in disbelief that this was all legal; it was, thanks to SMSB's status as a charitable event.

DAVID DAWSON

Dawson was easily the most impressive lineman present, both from a physical and technical standpoint. He looks like he's in the 280-290 pound range but doesn't appear to be carrying much bad weight at all. He shows an advanced understanding of technique for a high school player; Coach Funk was presiding over the offensive line drills, and when he needed to give an example of what he was looking for, he had Dawson give the demonstration. Dawson displayed very quick feet, shuffled well in pass protection while keeping a solid base, and showed a very strong initial punch.

In one-on-ones, Dawson excelled in a drill that gives a clear edge to the pass-rusher. He got great depth with his initial step and had three or four pancakes (not all of his reps are on my film above). When Dawson did get beat, it was usually when he let the defender get into his body instead of keeping the rusher at bay with his arm punch. The proverbial mean streak was also on full display. On one rep, Dawson got beat off the edge, and the defender went back to his side screaming "Let's go!" and "I'm hungry!"* Dawson didn't appreciate the woofing, asked for an immediate rematch, and buried the guy into the turf.

Dawson is expected to end up at guard in college and after seeing him yesterday I think that's the best place for him. While his strength allows him to dominate high school competition, he isn't the longest lineman out there, which makes it harder to keep edge-rushers at bay. As you can see above, when Dawson slid inside to take a rep at guard, he dispatched his man with ease.

LOGAN TULEY-TILLMAN

Tuley-Tillman didn't quite perform at Dawson's level but still showed off the potential that earned him an offer in the first place. When I talked to Logan, he told me he weighs about 315 pounds, a 15-pound drop from where he was at the Columbus NFTC last month. He's still carrying bad weight, however, and is going to have to turn a significant amount of fat into muscle before he's ready to play at the next level.

I was initially down on Tuley-Tillman when watching the one-on-ones, but after watching the tape he did better than I thought. When he gets his hands on a guy it's tough to escape and he finishes his blocks with authority. He did struggle some against the speed rush; Funk pulled LTT aside during drills to work on getting better depth in his drop when pass blocking, and there's still work to be done there. When he got his footwork right, defenders had little chance of getting past him.

Despite the technique issues, Tuley-Tillman has great feet; when he's coached up, he should have every opportunity to play tackle at the Big Ten level. He's definitely got some conditioning work to do, though it sounds like he's on the right track. Multiple experts who saw Tuley-Tillman in Columbus, where he reportedly struggled significantly, said his performance yesterday was a vast improvement.

JOURDAN LEWIS

Lewis continues to look impressive on both sides of the ball. While I thought he looked better at corner when playing for Cass Tech last fall, there may be a battle royale between the offensive and defensive coaches over where he'll play at Michigan; the offensive coaches have made it clear that they covet Lewis as a wide receiver. They'll have to fight Greg Mattison for him, however, and that may be a losing battle.

Lewis is never going to wow you from a purely physical standpoint—he's 5'11" and pretty skinny—but his athleticism is just a notch below elite. He showed off great closing speed at cornerback, though he sometimes relies too much on his ability to recover; he's not quite at his 2012 teammate Terry Richardson's level when it comes to staying in a receiver's hip pocket. His ball skills, however, are exemplary; he tracks the ball in the air extremely well and knows exactly when to go for the catch. If a quarterback threw a 50-50 ball in his direction, whether on offense or defense, he came down with it or at least broke up the pass.

At receiver, Lewis put those ball skills to good use, coming up with a couple of spectacular catches including one diving effort against 2014 Cass Tech teammate Damon Webb (much more on him below). I still like Lewis's upside more at corner, where his size plays better, but he's convinced me that he could contribute on either side of the ball at the next level.

KHALID HILL

Hill looked very good in the reps I saw him taking, running crisp routes and catching almost everything thrown his way, including the pass pictured above. He nearly pulled in a ridiculous one-hander early in the morning session, but couldn't quite haul it on; otherwise, any pass in his direction resulted in a catch. Hill isn't the fastest tight end out there, nor the biggest, but he finds a way to get space from defenders and then shield them off with his body.

Given that he's being recruited for a very specific, not-always-used position—H-back—he's got a more limited ceiling than most of the commits; at around 6'2", he doesn't have the size to play much on the line. That said, if he can run routes and catch like he did yesterday, he could be a solid piece to the offensive puzzle.

DAMON WEBB (2014)

Webb turned heads a couple weeks ago when he blanketed Laquon Treadwell at the IMG 7-on-7 and he built on that with an MVP-worthy performance yesterday. Despite being a year younger, Webb has more bulk on his 5'11" frame than his teammate Jourdan Lewis, and like Lewis he's an outstanding athlete.

Also like Lewis, Webb can play either wide receiver or cornerback at the next level, though his size suggests that corner is his optimal position. He was fantastic playing corner in the one-on-one drills, staying step-for-step with Lewis—though Jourdan managed to bring in a diving catch—and 2013 Notre Dame commit James Onwualu, who was torching the less-heralded prospects. Webb faced Onwualu three times, and aside from slipping on a hitch route, he came out on top. Webb doesn't rely as much on recovery speed as Lewis, instead playing a more physical style; he's not at all afraid to come up and jam the receiver, and he flips his hips well when transitioning from his backpedal.

Allen Trieu reported this afternoon that Webb earned a Michigan offer, which comes as little surprise after he performed so well in front of the entire staff. While they're targeting him as an athlete for now, I'm guessing he'll be the next in a long line of Cass Tech corners to play at the BCS level. The Wolverines appear to be his clear leader at the moment and there's a chance his recruitment wraps up early. He'll be in Ann Arbor next week for Michigan's camp.

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*"I'm hungry" guy was one of the highlights of the camp, as he repeatedly—and loudly—proclaimed his hunger after just about every rep. When Hoke spoke to the campers after the morning session, he singled the kid out for his enthusiasm, then had this exchange:

Hoke: "Did you have lunch yet?"
I'm Hungry Kid: "Yes, sir."
Hoke: "Well, I guess you're not hungry anymore."
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NOTES

  • 2014 MI DE Malik McDowell wasn't listed on the roster—he wasn't alone in that regard—and only took a couple reps in the morning, so I didn't get a chance to evaluate him. I did head over to where the linemen were gathered in the afternoon, however, and I can say he certainly passes the eye test. That is one huge rising junior.
  • Two other 2014 kids who caught my eye were Cass Tech linebackers William White and Gary Hosey, who both stood out physically among the linebackers. White appeared to have an inch or two on Hosey, but both looked solidly built with the frame to add more bulk. I was busy watching the linemen while they were going through drills, however, so I'll have to catch them play another time.
  • A friend who was helping instuct the linebackers at the camp raved about Michigan State linebacker commit Jon Reschke. I thought Reschke was a no-brainer four-star when I saw him play against Farmington Hills Harrison in the playoffs last year; State got a good one there.
  • Urban Meyer, from the morning presser: "The problem with intercollegiate athletics is that it's almost anti-student-athlete." All the coaches talked about how great it was to be able to instruct recruits at an event outside the usual team camps. There was also discussion about finding ways for recruits to be able to take visits to campus without the cost becoming prohibitive; there definitely seems to be support for summer official visits if the NCAA decides to look in that direction.
  • Yes, Brady Hoke uttered the words "Ohio" and "State" in succession during an impromptu on-field Q&A session with reporters. Yes, there was a subsequent race between the Michigan beat reporters to tweet that bit of news. I believe the winner was AnnArbor.com's Nick Baumgartner.
  • Terry Richardson, James Ross, and Oregon CB (and former Cass Tech Technician) Dior Mathis all were present. Richardson was walking around eating ribs while the Michigan coaches teased him about getting his weight up.
  • After watching them in a camp setting, it's very easy to see why Michigan's coaching staff has so much success both on the field and in recruiting. I kept forgetting to film the OL/DL one-on-ones because I was so intent on listening to Coach Funk give technique pointers to individual guys after their reps; I learned more about blocking technique in five minutes of standing near him than I have in the rest of my life put together. They're all great with the players, as well; you could tell the kids were hanging on every word of instruction.
  • Former Michigan lineman and current EMU OL coach Kurt Anderson, who was running drills with Funk: "You're protecting your family, your food, your quarterback." [via Mike Rothstein]

PHOTO GALLERY

Pictured coaches, in order of appearance, are UAB HC Garrick McGee, OSU HC Urban Meyer, MSU DC Pat Narduzzi, EMU HC Ron English, Hoke, Mattison, EMU's Mike Hart, Syracuse's Tyrone Wheatley, and Michigan's Darrell Funk and Jeff Hecklinski.

Jayru Campbell's hair did not disappoint:

Neither did Shane Morris's afternoon attire:

That's all for now. Interviews with Morris, Dawson, and Tuley-Tillman coming later this afternoon.

Unverified Voracity Eats Ribs Or Raw Broccoli

Unverified Voracity Eats Ribs Or Raw Broccoli

Submitted by Brian on June 14th, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Ribs. Meyer and Hoke ate them.

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also via Mike Rothstein. For whatever reason, pictures of football coaches eating == MONEY

Those dudes look like they know what they're doing in re: making ribs. That's from the Sound Mind, Sound Body camp, which Ace attended and will have a report on later. One of the main themes of the day was "I can't believe this is legal":

Because the Sound Mind, Sound Body event is a charitable camp, college coaches are able to attend and provide instruction to the campers -- something that's outlawed at most public camps throughout the country.

As a result, Borges spent most the of the day giving pointers to Shane Morris. If that's legal, expect one of two things to happen: it's quickly outlawed or similar camps multiply like weeds.

Meanwhile, this seems cute given Michigan's lockdown on state of Michigan prospects whose fathers didn't play at State:

Michigan, especially under Hoke, has developed a reputation of having recruiting success in Ohio over the years. Now, Meyer says, it’s his aim to return the favor.

“I know this area real well," said Meyer, who once coached at nearby Bowling Green State University. "As for Ohio State ... we have some very good players from this area.

“If we have not, we will."

Good luck!

Not ribs. Via Blake Countess, poor Pee Wee and his grim salad of raw-looking broccoli and stuff:

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It will all be worth it when you're ragdolling Alabama OL in fall. (Please.)

KYLE MEINKE IS GRIM. The AnnArbor.com reporter got screencapped by the youtubes looking like he's about to heroically tackle a terrorist or Mark Dantonio:

Also that's four minutes of Hoke talking to the media from Maize and Blue News. MGoVideo provides the entirety of Hoke's speech to the assembled campers:

If you don't want to watch the whole thing, the News and AnnArbor.com transcribed some highlights.

Cue the crack Free Press investigatory teams. Michigan has again claimed that unspecified academic performance is good and stuff:

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said last week the Wolverines registered the best "academic performance" in their history under first-year coach Brady Hoke last year. He didn't cite specific numbers.

The last time this happened the Free Press hammered at Michigan with FOIA requests until they scuttled the claim. Here's guessing that doesn't happen this time around.

UMass reinforced. You probably already know that Mike Cox transferred home to UMass for his final year. They've also added former touted ND recruits Deion Walker and Hafis Williams, a wideout and a DT. They still shouldn't be a problem now that Michigan has one of those defensive coordinator things.

Longsnapper rabble rabble 'Bama what? If you're still slightly peeved that Michigan expended a precious scholarship slot on a longsnapper this might make you feel better:

According to BamaOnline, Saban did something at last week's special teams camp in Tuscaloosa that he's never done in his 17-year career -- offered a scholarship to a long snapper.

Bakersfield, California prospect Cole Mazza is rated by 247Sports as the nation's top long snapper in the Class of 2013. …

"I snapped really good during the camp and Coach Saban told me in his office that they were going to offer a long snapper within the next two days after a staff meeting," Mazza told BamaOnline. "The next day I called him and he told me he was going to offer me."

I'm confused about how these guys are suddenly valuable enough to warrant scholarship slots, but apparently they are.

[HT: Holdin' the Rope.]

How can you do the divide. This from Orson's introductory course on bad sports rhetoric is a truly amazing screenshot from the World Wide Leader in having no idea what that slash thing under the question mark is for:

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Cram the data into your meme. The data doesn't fit? Yes it does.

NFL draft stuff. Michigan recruits feature in the United States Of Hockey's American top ten. Defenseman Jacob Trouba:

Michigan-commit Jacob Trouba is a bruising defenseman who showed what he can do with his big frame at the National Team Development Program. He also proved he can play above his head by his performance at the World Junior Championship. Some are considered Trouba relies on his physicality too much and that there might not be much offensive upside. However, for a physical defenseman, Trouba can skate well and has good agility. His hockey sense has vastly improved, even though he’s still prone to the bad decision now and again.

Sounds more like a Komisarek type than another Merrill-style puck mover.

Forward Boo Nieves:

…a 13-game stint in the USHL confirmed some of the concerns that Nieves struggles with the physical aspects of the game. The thing is, he has some filthy puck skills and a really nice 6-2, 185 frame. Nieves could have calmed concerns in a long USHL playoff run, but he had to return to Kent to finish his schooling so he could get into Michigan for next year. Still, those puck skills allude to some nice potential, but he’s still a likely mid- to late-second round choice.

Michigan's going to need scoring punch from him right away; hopefully he can deliver despite his issues in a short USHL stint.

In other hockey recruiting news, Michigan picked up a 2014 commit from Dexter Dancs, a BCHL kid from the same team that provided Michigan with Brendan Morrison, amongst others. Michigan used to make a habit of grabbing high-scoring forwards out of that league but hasn't taken a BCHL player in a while. College Hockey Prospective got a quote out of his coach that provides some insight into what kind of player Michigan's getting:

“Dexter Dancs is a big, young, raw power forward with an excellent skating stride and an equally as good set of hands and shot,” said Hengen.  “Dexter will as easily take the puck hard to the net, set up a play or drop his gloves to stand up for a teammate. Dexter will be another one of many Michigan Wolverines that they will develop to have a chance of playing pro hockey.”

Don't get too excited if Dancs puts up video game numbers next fall, as the BCHL is a notoriously high-scoring league.

Irish secondaries are thin. After recruiting defections and plenty of graduation, Notre Dame's secondary is a major concern this fall. It's one that just got more concern-y after Austin Collinsworth's availability next fall has resolved itself:

Notre Dame junior safety Austin Collinsworth has undergone shoulder surgery and is expected to miss a significant portion of -- if not the entire -- 2012 football season, ND director of football sports information Brian Hardin confirmed Wednesday.

Collinsworth suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during ND’s wrap-up to spring practice, the Blue-Gold Game, on April 21. When the condition didn’t improve with rest, surgery was scheduled. Recovery time is projected to be four to six months.

Collinsworth was probably going to be the nickelback, possibly the starter if Jamoris Slaughter was forced to move to corner.

Etc.: MGoUser informs world that Michigan has acquired walk-on WR/TE Michael Jocz. Will Campbell takes the misdemeanor plea, obviously. Surprise: football recruit who commits without ever visiting is just using you as a placeholder. What everyone wants from a playoff.

Unverified Voracity Is Immobile

Unverified Voracity Is Immobile

Submitted by Brian on April 11th, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Hello. When awake, I'm lucid, and I've got all these tabs driving me crazy. So here are the tabs.

We've really done it now. Not satisfied with tight shots, the official site's practice video now goes field-level:

For their next trick they'll make a video from a helmet cam pointed inward at Denard's face.

The Old Man speaks. Great find by MVictors to get an audio clip from "A Toast To Yost From Coast To Coast" in which we here the genesis of Ufer's famous "Meeechigan":

Perhaps the best thing about the internet's transformation of fan culture is our ability to connect with the past of the program. Wolverine Historian and Greg have provided a sense of the whole program from its beginnings to the present day. We're extremely fortunate to have those two—I don't think there's anything close in any other fan base.

#JUSTIFYYOUREXISTENCE. An experiment designed to see whether a newspaper would publish any press release issued by the athletic department no matter how minor succeeded today with the news that everyone considers putting a twitter hash tag on the field for the spring game "news."

They're burying the lead, which is that an alien who can only badly mimic the English language has wormed his way into the athletic department:

"This initiative will help our athletic department use technology as a competitive advantage to engage and connect to fans, build brand loyalty, grow the digital audience and monitor and listen to what is being said through the digital engagement cycle," said Jordan Maleh, U-M's director of digital marketing.

Whatever said that is not human. It is probably from Trafalmadore.

I've got a great explanation about why things like this rub me the wrong way bouncing around in my skull but when I try to express it the vitriol overwhelms whatever point I'm trying to make. In itself, putting a hash tag on the field is a non-event. As part of the pattern we've seen since Brandon's hire it's another piece of evidence that what you get when you hire a bunch of MBAs into makework positions is a bunch of makework. There's no such thing as a bad idea as long as it's something that hasn't been done before.

Events other than actual Michigan football games at the stadium increasingly serve as a glimpse into the dystopian future in store for the program once Brandon gradually wears resistance down: presenting sponsors, endless distractions, curly fries on the field. Etc.

Five star flip. Rivals made good on its repeated promises to elevate Glenn Robinson III into five star territory. He's now the #11(!) player in the country. Mitch McGary slid to 30th, which seems fair. Stauskas crept up a little bit as well; he's now #71.

Please be sandbagging. Hoke's not a fan of where both of his lines are. This is not so good:

"On either side, it's not very good right now, I can tell you that," Hoke said Tuesday afternoon on a teleconference with reporters. "I think the kids are working, I think they're coming in here with energy and all those things, but I think the expectation level, how physical we want to be as a football team, I would say we're not where we need to be."

I know Omameh is never going to be the ideal guard for Hoke but he's an established starter with a decent to good track record and the only other spot on the line that's really an issues is the other guard. I get that the DL is going to be a work in progress much of the year, but that OL should be good. If it's not… erk.

At least Hoke's long term vision for the Spring Game is considerably less sour than Carr's was:

"If we had the choice, I think we'd really like to draft and split up the teams and go at it that way, but we really don't have that luxury because of our depth at our offensive line, our defensive line, a little bit at the receiver position, and it just isn't going to work out that way," Hoke said.

"We'll formulate some ways to make this as game-like as possible."

Carr gave off the impression he'd cancel the thing if he could get away with it. Drafting and playing an actual game-game would be far more entertaining than anything Michigan's ever done. Rodriguez wanted to do the same thing but had the same problem with line depth, which of courses invites the question WHY DIDN'T YOU RECRUIT SOME LINEMEN ARGLB.

I also have no idea where those tattoos came from. The Hayes story on Urban Meyer was light on Charles Robinson-esque bombs but heavy on evidence that Meyer's more Les Miles than Brady Hoke. Meyer then helped that along by flat-out lying:

Meyer adamantly denies the reports of course.

“I’ve never heard of Circle of Trust before in my life,” he said.

Internet says I remember all things:

Certainly there will still be opportunities for other players to advance into the "Circle of Trust" as the season unfolds. We all remember — and if we don't we are often reminded by No. 15 — how David Nelson came out of nowhere in the middle of last season to become a go-to-guy in some of Florida's biggest games down the stretch.

But after Saturday, Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow will know who belongs in the Circle of Trust.

"I think so," Meyer said. "I know I trust the Pounceys. I trust Tim. Who else are we going to trust? Who is going to be the fifth or sixth lineman? Who is not going to blow a coverage because we're more multiple back there.

"So, yeah, that's what you're trying to get done."

This worked out so well the last time. Via Brooks. [UPDATE: Nevermind. That's what I get for repeating anything Brooks says.]

Not that this is new. Remember this from Darryl Stonum's recruitment?

"He told me that he talked to Coach Carr and Coach Soup and that they told him that I would be a much better fit in the Florida offense than I would be in the one at Michigan," Stonum recalled.

"I thought, wow, my coaches are selling me out?  I confronted them about it.  I asked Coach Carr and Coach Soup about it, and they said they never talked to that guy and that there was no way they ever said anything like that and that they think I should be a Wolverine.  I believed them.  Right then, I knew just how Florida rolled."

Ohio State may have picked the wrong guy to lead them through probation.

Rock someone else, Amedeo. Michigan canceled Amedeo Della Valle's visit in the aftermath of Burke's return and Albrecht's commitment. Sam Webb mentioned something on the GBW message board about potentially bringing in that grad-year guy, so it's possible they'd like to get that extra bit of guard depth they lack right now without committing to a guy for four years (or, like, two years, I guess). Unless that comes off it looks like your roster right now is what Michigan will go into 2012-13 with.

Michigan technically does not have a spot open in 2013 but that makes some dodgy assumptions. Austin Hatch is likely to reclassify and Michigan is all but guaranteed to lose someone to the NBA draft after the season, possibly multiple someones.

The nice thing is that Michigan doesn't have any truly pressing needs for 2013. They've got a PG, a center, and a high-quality wing committed. They will lose Vogrich and may lose a PG, a high quality wing, and a combo 4 type (if McGary or Robinson is really good right away). They can swing for the fences at any position from the 2 to the 4 and see if anyone bites without being too down on their chances in 2013-14 if they don't connect.

Legacy. Did we know that Drake Johnson's step-dad is Tom Slade?

"It wasn't so much pressure as it was expected because my whole family's gone to Michigan. It runs in my family to go to the university. My mom is the head cheerleading coach (Pam St. John). My dad went there; my grandfather went there. My step-dad played quarterback at Michigan (Tom Slade). . . . Yeah, he's my step-dad and he passed away almost six years ago, coming up. . . . When I was really young, my mom used to be really afraid of me going to games because there was like 110,000 people walking around and she didn't want me to get lost, but then at like age 13 I'd go to maybe four or five games a year."

In that interview at Touch The Banner he claims to run consistent 4.3 40s at 206 pounds and talks about an affinity for wide receiver as well. That'll be a backup plan if Johnson gets squeezed out by Hayes/Smith/Isaac/Shallman.

Etc.: Elsewhere in calling out silly lies, Jalen Rose pwns Skip Bayless. UMHoops on Burke's return. Open letter to the GT athletic department from a designer who knows his stuff. Interesting to think about what a Michigan analogue would look like. This week in the Inevitable NCAA Split On The Horizon. Tim Hardaway Jr. didn't even put his name in for an eval. Blake Countess interview.

Tough stuff on deck for the hockey team: Michigan plays Ferris, Western, Notre Dame, and MSU four times in conference next year. Those are the top two teams in the league, a team that should bounce back big time if they can just find a goalie, and… uh… Michigan State.

What if Will Campbell is really good?

Unverified Voracity Sips Coffee

Unverified Voracity Sips Coffee

Submitted by Brian on April 9th, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Hunwick. Got in. Faced zero shots. But got in!

If that's it for Hunwick in the show at least he got his cup of coffee. Couldn't happen to a better guy. Speaking of…

College hockey on the upswing. This is a remarkable graph, albeit one that is a little deceptive in its axes:

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In ten years the percentage of NHL players from college has jumped 50%. Euros made up 23% of the league a year ago, leaving 47% of the NHL from the traditional major junior route. Since there are only 40-some college hockey teams that produce NHL talent* versus 60 CHL teams, the NHL talent per capita between NCAA and junior is now almost a dead heat. The CHL continues to have a lion's share of the top, top guys but college competition is a lot older.

*[Atlantic Hockey excluded.]

Final rankings. The CSB has published final rankings for the various eligible Michigan guys. Results:

  • Jacob Trouba: 9th
  • PDG: 22nd
  • Boo Nievies: 29th
  • Connor Carrick: 124th

Milne and Selman are not ranked. Neither is Rutledge. As always, remember that the CSB splits these guys into North American and European categories and ranks goalies separately so add 20-30% to draft rankings to get approximate positions. Trouba should go around #12, PDG and Nieves sometime in the second, and Carrick in the fifth or sixth.

Oddity: The IIHF yanks Q-bound NTDPer Stefan Matteau from its U18 roster after stating that he hasn't played two consecutive years in the US since he turned ten. His spot goes to Anthony Louis, a diminutive Miami commit who is amongst the NTDP U17 leaders in scoring.

Basketball recruiting: now what (again)? Michigan has one open slot for 2012 and a second they could use on a grad-year guy if they want. With Burke's return and Albrecht's commitment the urgency to fill that latter spot—and the attractiveness of it—gets drastically lower. I doubt they add a 13th guy now, graduate or not.

The 12th spot is another matter. UMHoops reports that Arizona picked up a commitment from Matt Korcheck, a 6'9" power forward. While Korcheck doesn't directly conflict with Amedeo Della Valle, he's no longer visiting Arizona this weekend. The Wildcats are likely out of spots. Point Guard U says his Michigan visit is still on and "likely Ohio State" after that. Texas A&M and Gonzaga are the other suitors; it probably comes down to the Big Ten teams now.

Should Michigan take Della Valle now that Albrecht is in and Burke is back? I'm not sure. It was hard to get any sort of read on his game from the Findlay Prep games I watched. If he's really a 50%+ three-point shooter, obviously you take him. That's doubtful, though. He is a 6'6" wing/SG/PG who would be useful to have on the roster if GRIII or Hardaway leaves early and he does have a number of other offers from majors. Michigan would be filling their roster for 2013 by taking him only if everyone sticks around, and how likely is that? Not likely. I'd take him if he wants to come and continue going after a fourth guy in the class of 2013.

McGary continues to slide. I don't think this will affect any recruiting rankings but reports on him from the Hoop Summit were not positive, particularly this bombing by NBA Draft.net:

Mitch McGary, C: The big lefty who burst onto the 2012 recruiting scene this past summer showed he is definitely far from a finished product. After going from relative unknown to garnering comparisons of Tyler Hansbrough, McGary came back down to earth once he got to the more organized play of his Brewster Academy prep school. Mitch’s motor was advertised as being non-stop, but have yet to see that and have yet to see anything close to the ability of Psycho T. Mitch is a decent athlete and has good size, but he went with the trend of staying more out on the perimeter.

FWIW, another observer noted that McGary spent the week icing his feet and legs due to a presumed injury. He weighed in at 6'10", 265 and looked a lot more sluggish than he did over the AAU season. He'll have to recapture the passion that drove him to the top of rankings boards and get in shape to have the sort of impact Michigan fans are hoping for.

Brock walks. Brock Mealer update video from Barwis Methods:

Keith Jackson, Ufer, Bo, and Anthony Carter, 1979. If you need more than this, I cannot help you.

It kills me not to be able to see what Jackson's wearing.

Fun fun fun. I may have more on this later but for right now know that Matt Hayes just bombed Urban Meyer in a Sporting News article:

Multiple sources told Sporting News that Meyer—who won two national championships in six years at Florida and cemented his legacy as one of the game’s greatest coaches—told the Diggs family that he wouldn’t let his son go to Florida because of significant character issues in the locker room.

Character issues that we now know were fueled by a culture Meyer created. Character issues that gutted what was four years earlier the most powerful program in college football.

I haven't had time to read it yet but am preparing bib and knife to do so.

UPDATE ON FURMAN: Better Call Saul disclaimers apply but this is the picture painted by his potty-mouthed lawyer:

"Joshua didn't do anything," Mason said. "He's got one guy sending him threatening text messages, and then when he gets upset about the nasty text messages, somebody else pulls his hair out, and then the poor bastard gets arrested.

"My suspicion is (the women) will show up in court and make a record in court and say, 'Hey look, this guy didn't hit us, he didn't punch us, he didn't do anything,' and at that time the judge will have a little trial or entertain a motion to dismiss it.

"We're working through the case and hope the charges disappear, once cooler heads prevail."

If that turns out to be true then Furman will get restored to active status in a couple weeks.

Etc.: Holdin' the Rope profiles the Alabama OL. Meinke on Jibreel Black's move inside and Jerald Robinson's move up the depth chart.

Ohio State's Scholarship Sign: Fiction

Ohio State's Scholarship Sign: Fiction

Submitted by Brian on February 21st, 2012 at 3:28 PM

"The academic support at Ohio State, there is no way you can fail. Even if you’re giving minimal effort there is no way you can fail.”

-Adolphus Washington

So, the sign.

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It caused Ramzy to do some deep musings on what the value of an education is anyway. I'm not here to speak on Michigan's general studies major or clustering, but rather to point out that the sign is a bald-faced lie. It highlights three impressive-sounding fields in which Ohio State has many majors and Michigan has few. You will be unsurprised to find out virtually all of these players are walk-ons.

According to OSU's 11-12 media guide

BIOLOGY:

  • Walk-ons: four.
  • Scholarship players: zero.

ENGINEERING*:

  • Walk-ons: six.
  • Scholarship players: one. DE Darryl Baldwin is an ME.

BUSINESS:

  • Walk-ons: five.
  • Scholarship players: one. Jordan Whiting. Taylor Graham is listed as one and has transferred. [UPDATE: Whiting is now considering a transfer to Louisville.]

Meanwhile Mark Huyge can make, like, boats and stuff. There's always a tiny number of football players who are superfreak enough to put 40 hours a week into an "extracurricular activity" and still get a serious degree, but they are few, especially at a place like Michigan that won't even admit you to the B-school until you've scored a 3.8+ in your fist two years.

If you're looking to get a scholarship from Ohio State there's a 90% chance you will end up in the usual communications/"sport and leisure"/taco preparation majors. Which is fine. I just went to a coaching clinic—playing football in college is challenging both mentally and physically.

Just don't pretend you're something you're not. Ask Jim Tressel about how that works out in the long run. Enjoy your bowl this year, guys.

[UPDATE: Should clarify that I also excluded kickers and longsnappers for obvious reasons.]

[HT: Michael Scarn's diary.]

Unverified Voracity Challenges You To A Duel

Unverified Voracity Challenges You To A Duel

Submitted by Brian on February 3rd, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Blood battle part deux. Beat Michigan State. Give blood.

And then they went "aaah." UMHoops shows how back screens blew up the Indiana defense:

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And there was much jumping up and down and yelling. Look at those wing defenders not sagging off the corner threes.

A key point UM Hoops doesn't quite get to: a major reason these things work is the position of the ballhandler and the frequency with which Michigan runs ball screens. On each play (there's a third one on which Novak gets the layup attempt) the post defender is sticking close to his man because he is expecting Michigan will ball screen and he will have to hedge hard upcourt when that happens. On two of these Smotrycz is the five and there is some justification for checking him out to 18 feet*, but on that first one you've got the opposing center guarding Jordan Morgan basically at the three-point line.

*[Not much of one, though. The threat is a long two, ie: not a threat.]

22-Big-Ten-Partay[1]

This is not Nam. There are rules. Immaculate image via Doc Sat. Additional Big Lebowski reference available at A Beautiful Day For Football.

Tempest in the Urban-pot. This is not a very good bolded sentence or two. It was one thing for Bret Bielema to complain about Urban Meyer's "illegal" recruiting tactics. Bielema tends to say things without considering how they'll make him sound, and do things without considering how many dead Hoosiers will be on his hands. But they appear to  be pursuing this business by complaining to teacher:

“I can tell you this,” says Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema. “We at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC—in any way, shape or form.”

Just so we’re clear: Bielema wasn’t talking about winning national championships. He was talking about Meyer’s recruiting tactics—and how after a little more than two months on the job, Meyer already is getting under the skin of his colleagues.

Just how much, you ask? Bielema, whose teams have won more games than any other Big Ten team in his six seasons in Madison, says Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez will speak Friday with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany about Meyer’s recruiting methods during the league’s athletic director meetings in Chicago.

That is a cheesed off coach. All of this is because of one decommit. I wonder what Bill O'Brien thinks about the four Penn State suffered?

“I’m looking forward to getting back [to the hotel] and working on third downs in the red zone."

Oh. Bill O'Brien is wondering when the draft is.

Meanwhile, Michigan State is firing up a recruiting "rivalry" based on their solitary decommit of a guy who never would have committed in the first place if Ohio State had a long-term coach. The long term impact of this: zero. Ohio State will stop talking to Wisconsin and Michigan State commits because no one who secretly wants to play at OSU will commit to them. I'll believe the "illegal" bit when I see it.

Meyer's response:

"You're pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got 9 guys who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time."

LET'S GET READY TO RUMBBBBBBLE.

Green knee update. There's nothing seriously wrong with Draymond Green's knee but it sounds like his availability for Sunday is far from certain. Green's mom:

Babers said her son is off the crutches he used Tuesday night and has a chance to play.

"It's a possibility," she said. "He's able to put some pressure on it. But it's just that he has some swelling. It's all about how fast his body heals."

Meanwhile, Izzo said on Wednesday that Green "could return to practice within the next few days." Green himself tweeted out a picture of his leg in a futuristic fast-healing encasement.

I'm sure that if the doctors don't outright disqualify him he'll be on the floor. How likely that is, and how effective he'll be will be uncertain until tipoff and possibly a while after. It seems hard to believe he'd be full go six days after being unable to put any weight on it.

With freshman Brandon Dawson coming on I'm not sure how much it matters except when it comes to three-point shooting. I mean, it obviously matters. But don't get your hopes too extended. Green has not played well against Zack Novak to date so it's uncertain how big of a blow that is.

Brock Mealer standing some more. This is relevant to my interests, and apparently Jessica Rabbit's.

Novak prepares for the chantings. The AP has picked up on the Everyone Hates Zack meme:

Zack Novak has a pretty good idea what kind of reception he'll face when he takes the court Sunday at Michigan State.

"Awful," the Michigan senior said with a slight smile. "Yeah, I'm not very liked." …

It's easy to understand how Novak became the Michigan player opposing fans love to hate. His enthusiasm is on display every game, whether he's chasing after a loose ball or trying to fire up his teammates in a huddle. He's the type of player fans can't stand losing to.

Also he occasionally hits people in the head, hard. Surprisingly, he singles out Indiana as the worst place for taunting. I would have bet many dollars on MSU.

Two: two dumped recruits ah ah ah. Three star defensive lineman Darius Philon got dumped on Signing Day by the Sabanator and ended up signing with Arkansas. Clearly, the SEC's new cap on signees is one that has some impact. Now two guys currently on Alabama's team get to keep their scholarships and the two guys cast off are less likely to meet the same fate. Stars apparently don't care about this, unfortunately, but at least the worst excesses of oversigning have been tamed. Good job, internet?

Etc.: Daily on MSU matchup. Wojo on same. Mike Martin on the Huge show; TTB collects what people are saying about his draft prospects. Rittenberg puts out an all-name team for Big Ten recruiting. Late Iowa flier Daumantas Venckus-Cucchiara is a strong challenger for Hugs Etienne's name of the year title. AA.com on the linebacker haul.

Unverified Voracity, Founded 1982

Unverified Voracity, Founded 1982

Submitted by Brian on November 30th, 2011 at 1:54 PM

I would pay in diamonds if this was Michigan related. Someone found this in Thailand:

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Thailand: not just for sex tourism anymore. That is amazing. The people who take these pictures immediately clean out the store, right?

Well, you can't say never anymore. Since Dave Brandon created The Horror II there is no nonconference scheduling scenario that you can entirely rule out. A six-game series with Washington State on the moon? Someone call Richard Branson to see if that's been floated.

Still, this seems pretty implausible:

"His expression to me was he felt he had a better chance to win the national championship at Arizona [than Tulane] if he recruited properly and they promised him they would put Michigan on the schedule within three years."

That's a Louisiana high school explaining to Tulane boosters why Rich Rodriguez took the Arizona job over Tulane. (He could have just gone with "duh.") So this is a second-hand account of a one-sided promise that Arizona may or may not have actually offered presumably made without actually talking to anyone in Ann Arbor, involving Michigan playing a real nonconference opponent.

If there wasn't a risk of enormous humiliation I'd say there was a zero percent chance of that happening. Since there is, ballpark it at 10%.

Yerk. UMHoops with the grisly numbers from yesterday's game:

Michigan was never able to find an offensive rhythm against Virginia’s Packline defense. The Wolverines scored just .93 points per trip despite shooting 45 percent from three point range. Michigan, obviously bothered by Virginia’s physical play, was unable to convert the two point shots that carried the offense in Maui and converted just 42% of its two point looks. That lackluster two point shooting was accompanied by first half turnover woes and little to no production on either the offensive glass or at the free throw line.

Dylan says the offense "devolved into glorified isolation plays most of the night," and it's hard to disagree.

I am surprise. The guy who runs the book at the Wynn on Hypothetical Sugar Bowl Everyone Is Projecting:

SUGAR BOWL, JAN. 3
Michigan Wolverines (+4.5) vs. Houston Cougars

“The Cougar football program gets center stage for the first time,” Avello said. “The Wolverines have struggled in bowl games losing eight of their last 10.”

Houston's offensive numbers are gaudy as all git out but the one BCS team they played was UCLA, who they scraped by 38-34. I'd think that line would go the other way.

That's the ticket. The #1 Meyer won't destroy us theory is that he doesn't scout, choosing instead to use recruiting lists from the gurus and annihilating the programs he leaves with his crappy recruiting. That's grasping at straws, as all reasons Meyer will not succeed are, but given what went down with Jerimy Finch I think you can make the case Meyer recruits a lot of flakes. Por ejemplo:

One day after the coach who recruited them to Florida was introduced as the new boss at Ohio State, once-hyped recruits Joshua Shaw and Lyndren Trail announced plans to transfer from Gainesville, making them the ninth and tenth members of Urban Meyer's 2010 recruiting class to leave the team in less than two years.

Florida's roster is down to 68 scholarship players. A bunch (11) have taken off since Muschamp arrived, but Jebus, man.

Speaking of flakes, Rich Rodriguez and Urban Meyer are desperately clawing to hire… Tim Brewster. TRY FIGHT WHAT

Hatchdate. Hatch will not play high school basketball this season:

"Austin continues to make great strides in his rehabilitation; this first year is vital to the recovery process," the statement begins. "As a result, it is unlikely that Austin's physicians will clear him to play basketball this season."

I assume this means he's reclassifying to 2014, which would clear any scholarship logjam in future seasons unless no one goes pro or transfers before the 2013 class hits campus—unlikely to say the least.

With the Poke and the man. Oh, good lord, Michigan just recruited a 1996-born hockey player. His name is Dylan Larkin and all you get is stats:

His 13 goals this season is tops on the team, which leads the Great Lakes Division of the MWEHL with a 14-0-3 record. The next highest on the team has 9 goals. He's also second in points (Kyle Connor has 21). Surprisingly, only one of his 13 goals has come on special teams, so he's getting it done at even strength. He also leads the team with 4 game-winning goals.

This is because he is a 2014, Michigan's first. Presumably he's pretty good.

In other hockey news, crap crap crap crap crap. Michigan's losing streak has hit four, the defense is totally clueless, Hunwick isn't exactly bad but he's not playing to last year's standard, and a lot of the games have embarrassingly thin crowds. It's not so good.

Not having Merrill is obviously a big problem. Brennan Serville had his pocket picked for Union's second goal Sunday and sat until the 13 minute mark of the third period. Their third pairing is terrifying and I'm not so sure about the second one, honestly. Not skating Burlon in the title game and the fallout from that, plus the Merrill thing has turned the defense corps from the deepest in the country to one pairing and then Katie bar the door. I don't even know, man. Michigan plays a Michigan State team this weekend that's not much better on paper but has actually won some games recently; if I'm back in the MGoDitch feebly trying to have a real good time after this weekend you know what happened.

The bombs, even more targeted. Dan Wetzel wrote "Death to the BCS," so his take on the latest BCS debacle is not a surprise. It is also not wrong:

No matter what it says, the BCS is not a system designed to choose a championship matchup. It is merely a tool to stave off the inevitable playoff bowl directors fear will cut into their millions in tax-free profits, a casino-style distraction to placate the masses.

It is what it is, and until it collapses (even a four-teamer is a major, positive step), college football is stuck.

That said, if the BCS somehow survives in its current incarnation, the formula to determine 1-2 must be scrapped.

It currently consists of two-thirds human opinion polls that are ripe for political foolishness, full of oft-uneducated voters and subject to groupthink.

I'm waiting for the championship games to play out before doing the Official Tedious Thing I always do around this time, but imagine a six-team playoff with no autobids with the first two rounds played at home sites and the final at the Rose Bowl. Tentative version of that this year:

1. LSU vs 4. Oregon/5.Wisconsin
2. Alabama vs. 3. Oklahoma State/6. Stanford

Or something along those lines. What matters? This weekend. Who can complain about the outcome of that? No one. What does it do the bowl system? Hardly anything. What does it do to the importance of the regular season? Increases it.

Bowls are parasites on college football.

Etc.: Spencer Hall hits up the last Texas-Texas A&M game. Bust details. Rumors that Dayne Crist is going to use the fifth-year transfer rule to become Wisconsin's next free agent quarterback abound. The Big Ten has denied they are employing seat fillers for the championship game, which is true in a narrow technical sense only.