Unverified Voracity Gawps At Stuff

Unverified Voracity Gawps At Stuff

Submitted by Brian on September 5th, 2012 at 12:02 PM

[Programming note: UFR is coming today, but later than usual, say 4 or 5. For some reason I'm having trouble summoning the willpower to slog through all of it.]

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Sponsor note. You may be driving in for the Air Force game and wondering where you will park. It hangs over you like a great dark cloud: where will my friends be? Will I have to walk through miles of jungle to get to them? Where did all this jungle come from anyway?

Well, skip that bit. Park 'n' Party solves those issues by organizing gameday parking. You can park next to your buddies, no intervening jungle. You can reserve a space just where you want it. You can do all of these things. Bonuses this year:

Air Force parking awaits you. Soon they will debut a 2.0 website. Soon.

Holgo. I know they hate our guts and went all ex-girlfriend on us when Rich Rodriguez left, but I can't help but want West Virginia to tear the Big 12 up. They're weird, passionate, isolated from all recruiting hotbeds that are not Pittsburgh, they've got a history of putting up video-game numbers, and their coach says stuff like this:

I don't think it would go well if we hired that guy (learning: I has it), but I'll admire them from afar.

I am not sure you are up on recent events. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun on Michigan:

"There are a handful of programs in college football that are guaranteed at least 10 victories every season," Calhoun said, "Michigan is one of them. They clearly are the favorite to win the Big Ten Conference."

I'm imagining a world where this is literally true. I'm so happy, in this world. I wear sunglasses all the time and high five anyone I come across. I make pancakes a lot just so I can put a whipped-cream smiley face on them. If my car breaks down, I exclaim "aw, shucks!"

I chew bubble-gum nonstop.

0902_taxi_fans08[1]

my watch says it is STAB O'CLOCK

How did this not end in homicide? Serious question:

The misery wasn't over for some fans of the No.8-ranked Michigan Wolverines on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington when their team took a 41-14 pounding at the hands of then-No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide.

Many who planned to catch a taxi for the return trip to their hotels or other lodgings after the nationally televised football game were in for a long wait. Some complained of standing in line with dozens of other fans and waiting as long as two hours for a cab.

Beer + that game + two hour wait for cab == STABBY STABBY STAB STAB. The local news channel interviewing these folks says this lady is not mincing words!

Michigan fan Elizabeth Jahn minced no words. "If there's a system, and this is where the fans are supposed to be stationed and situated, that should be communicated to the cab companies," she said.

That lady minced those words, TV station. She took those words and made them tiny and even by chopping. If she was not mincing words she would have said "I STAB YOUUUUUUU."

Alphabetical. Spencer kicks it off by talking about how Alabama owned Michigan. At least we're not alone:

Again, it is not a Big Ten thing: disabuse yourself of that notion immediately, Michigan fan. The last thing we want you feeling is special, because what happened to you on Saturday night in Dallas was not special. Slightly different than in past years? Perhaps: Doug Nussmeier's offense appears to be a bit more happy to turn A.J. McCarron loose, particularly in early innings, and the defense didn't pressure so much as constrict Michigan into tiny, useless spaces turning Denard Robinson into a doomed sub captain. Depth charges: Alabama has them

Unfortunately, his assertion that no one died does not account for the Countess injury. Sad face.

Bubble popping? I've muttered about how college football fans are getting close to the breaking point for a while now, and Pat Forde has just documented an opening weekend that was an attendance bust all around. I was shocked at more than one of these factoids:

There was exactly one announced capacity crowd in eight Southeastern Conference home openers. Before the Labor Day Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game, six out of seven Atlantic Coast Conference schools had smaller crowds than their openers last year – some of them much smaller. Attendance was down at six out of eight Big 12 home openers from 2011. Five out of eight Pac-12 schools had smaller crowds as well, and Oregon's 13-year sellout streak was in jeopardy until game day.

I saw the Florida-BGSU game and was shocked at a corner of the endzone in the upper deck that was all but empty. Even the bluebloods are reaching their limit.

Michigan doesn't seem to have similar problems except when it comes to getting the students to show up on time, but they should benefit from this trend. They may have already after snagging one-off home games with Oregon State and Colorado in the near future. Would those have happened ten years ago? Probably not. Increasing ticket prices and the ubiquity of television are pushing the economics of college football back  towards actual games between teams. Tomato cans aren't going away but we should see them gradually recede from their boring-ass apex. High five, epic ongoing recession!

Bubble expanding. Via Get The Picture, the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit that threatens to drain money from the NCAA and give it to the players whose images have been expropriated has decided to aim higher:

O’Bannon seeks a judge’s permission to expand the class action to include current D-I football and men’s basketball players. O’Bannon does not ask that current players be paid while in college. Instead, he wants a temporary trust set up for monies generated by the licensing and sale of their names, images and likenesses. Players could access those trusts at the completion of their collegiate careers.

The O'Bannon plan sends half(!) of broadcasting and a third of video game revenue to the players. Even partial success here would be seismic. I'm in favor, obviously.

Austin Hatch to 2014. Everyone in the world speculated that Austin Hatch would take another year of high school after his tragic plane crash, and now that's official. He's a 2014 recruit now.

Michigan is now at 13 for next year's team will have open spots if Hardaway or Trey Burke head for the NBA, which is why they're still after some 2013 guys. The most prominent is Reggie Cameron, a 2.0 version of Smotrycz hopefully without the existential depression.

As for Hatch, if he doesn't recover to the point where he can play, Michigan will still honor his scholarship. Presumably they would give him a medical; I'm guessing in this situation the NCAA would provide whatever waivers would be necessary lickety-split.

!?!?!?!? Touch the Banner interviews JB Fitzgerald, and he says this!

(3.)  If you had to choose, who was your favorite coach at Michigan, including position coaches?

"So many great coaches I had the privilege of learning from, which I expected going into a program like Michigan. Two coaches really stand out.  First, Greg Robinson - truly a class act and the depth of football knowledge that I was able to gain from him is hard to put a price on. And then of course Coach Hoke."

/gawps

Air Force stuff. Via mgovideo:

Oosterbaan unretirement. MVictors scores an interview with Ben McCready, Bennie Oosterbaan's godson:

MVictors:  As one of the representatives of Bennie Oosterbaan family, did the athletic department reach out to you to ask if the family would be interested in participating in the Legends program?

McCready:  Dave Brandon contacted me last September to see what I thought of the Legends program.  I loved the idea.  He and asked if I could put him in touch with members of Bennie’s family. I was happy to put Dave in touch with Bennie’s surviving relatives (8 in all), most of whom Bennie and his wife Delmas were very close to throughout their lives.  Dave sent letters to all of them. Every member of the family responded to Dave that they loved and supported the Legends Program and the "unretiring" of Bennie’s jersey.

McCready wants Jordan Kovacs to wear 47, which nooooooooooooooooooo.

Seriously, though, as the guy who famously hauled in Benny Friedman's passes, I'd hope Oosterbaan's 47 goes to a wideout. 47 would be a lot more notable on a WR than a defensive player, and Michigan already has to throw Gerald Ford's #48 to someone other than a lineman due to modern-day number restrictions. The Wisterts' #11 should end up on the DL somewhere; Ron Kramer should obviously be given to a TE.

Etc.: Quality diary featuring Hall and Oates. A dinged Rex Burkhead does not need surgery. He may be out a bit but should be fine by the time Michigan hits Lincoln. Texas A&M is going to get pwned. This Week in "John L Smith must stay forever": prank-calls reporter at presser. Comprehensive M blogosphere Alabama react collection. To his credit, Dantonio says MSU players need to shut up.

Unverified Voracity Finds A Delightful Tag

Unverified Voracity Finds A Delightful Tag

Submitted by Brian on January 5th, 2012 at 2:06 PM

File under "Phil Knight is an immature wheel of cheese." Since you are not related to someone on West Virginia's football team you did not see the Orange Bowl postgame—or the second half—and thus could not boggle at Nike's latest foray into puns a six-year-old thinks are played out:

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I'm just like… man. Man. Democracy is over. When can we be ruled by machines? Is it soon? I hope it's soon.

The mind further reels at the notion that there's another one of these things left and Nike has already used their finest Def Leppard reference. What's left? "SHOW ME YOUR TITTLES" is left. Search your heart. You know it to be true.

BONUS: how about that dynamic offense in Morgantown winning a BCS game? We should hire that Holgorsen chap, I think. What could go wrong?

Just one more time, six more times. Hinton's sworn off shooting the rapidly cooling corpse of the BCS but can't help pointing out that no matter the outcome of the game I probably won't bother to watch, Alabama cannot have a better season than LSU:

With a win in the title game, the Crimson Tide will finish the year 12-1 with two wins over teams ranked in the final polls, none of them from outside of the SEC. With a loss, LSU will finish 13-1 with four or five wins over teams ranked in the final polls (give or take West Virginia [ED: that would be take]), four of them coming outside of Baton Rouge and two of them coming against fellow conference champions (West Virginia and Oregon) who are also playing in BCS bowls. The Tigers and Tide would be be 1-1 against one another, with LSU's win coming at Alabama. LSU will still be the champion of the division and the conference.

In a system that continues to defer to polls and resumés, there is virtually nothing Alabama can do short of ritually sacrificing the Tigers to the sun that can make its season better than LSU's season.

Every game counts except the national title game. Whenever you think the BCS has reached its maximum cockup level, just wait two years. I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store. Possibilities:

  • Alabama versus LSU
  • LSU versus Alabama
  • Alabama versus Alabama
  • Alabama versus the entire Pac-12 with assault rifles
  • Alabama versus crippling ennui
  • The Los Angeles Angels of Alabama versus Giant Catfish
  • Tiny Alabama versus Ditka
  • The 1996 Olympics' rhythmic gymnastics competition versus the Large Hadron Collider
  • Just, like, Harvey Updyke wanking it for three hours

I have Updyke –3 over the Higgs Boson. Elsewhere in controversy needlessly barged into, Jacobi wonders what's to be done about "rogue" AP voters in an article with one of those jarring in-post links to another column. This is from Doyel:

Splitting BCS national championship 'stupidest idea ever'

That's settled. AP voters who will not vote for Alabama under any circumstances are to be given a cookie and a certificate vouching for their cognitive abilities. This is essentially Jacobi's conclusion as well.

Flantastic. Darryl Stonum, this is not so good:

Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum… was ticketed this morning in Ann Arbor for driving on a revoked license, 15th District Court records show.

Stonum, 21, was stopped by Ann Arbor police after he checked in with probation at 7:03 a.m., said Steve Hill, Stonum's probation officer. Hill said Stonum was not taken into custody.

A probation violation form is being completed, but so far Stonum has not been charged with violating probation.

Reading between the lines it seems like the court is not hugely peeved by this, but thin ice and all that. I don't think this should have an impact on his availability next year as long as he successfully jumps through all his hoops. This probably adds another half-dozen. Stonum needs an understanding brunette to wake up at 6 with him.

Turnover in Madison. Bielema got raided pretty good this month:

Wisconsin lost two assistant coaches Wednesday -- wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander and linebackers coach Dave Huxtable -- bringing the total number of departures to four. Huxtable will join former Badgers aides Paul Chryst and Bob Bostad in Pittsburgh as the Panthers' defensive coordinator. Chryst is Pitt's new head coach, while Bostad will serve as his offensive coordinator. Alexander is joining Arizona State's staff.
Bielema initially thought Bostad would be the only assistant joining Chryst at Pitt. It appears as though Huxtable will be the last departure.

It'll be interesting to see how Wisconsin copes. Their offense went from decent to lethal with Chryst's arrival. Losing him is kind of a deal. The hot name right now is Oklahoma "co-OC" Jay Norvell, which sounds like a good idea. Why does Wisconsin consistently have good ideas that no one else in the Big Ten does?

Longhorn fail. A major opportunity for ESPN to strongarm the Longhorn Network onto someone, anyone's cable has come and gone:

Comcast and the Walt Disney Company announced a 10-year, multiplatform distribution deal Wednesday that brings the “TV Everywhere” concept one step closer to reality. The Longhorn Network however, is not a part of the ESPN channels included in the agreement.

I'm rooting for the LHN to be an ignominious failure for many reasons: irritation at Texas for being one of two main parties that screwed up the structure of college football, a desire for the Big Ten's model to remain cromulent, etc. If the LHN doesn't get on cable by this fall it probably won't ever. At least it got a commenter on the above article to call Texas "the Ted DiBiase of college football."

No, not so much. From a Daily article on Molk:

“How we came in and how my first four seasons went, I thought we were the stain on Michigan tradition,” Molk said, walking slowly toward the winner’s podium on the turf. “But the reality is that we came back from everything and we’re back to where Michigan is.”

This is why people like Michael Wienreb don't Get It. Also the HSR referenced small-caps DEATH, which is an autolink.

A big game. Basketball takes on Indiana tonight in Bloomington. Vegas and Kenpom both have them 8 point underdogs against the resurgent Hoosiers, which makes this a gravy outing. Win and that's a major bonus; lose and eh, we're okay.

Rumors be rumoring. There was some recent chatter from the OSU side of the rivalry that moving The Game was inevitable and had a good chance of happening when the new set of schedules came out. Dave Brandon says this is not so:

"That's just Internet rumor that has no factual basis," he said. "It's not going to happen."

Good.

Etc.: more postgame react from the Key Play. Getting a bit ornery (justifiably in cases that are not the overturned TD) as the shock fades. Shakin' the Southland reacts to the Orange Bowl fallout. Via On The Banks, a NYT report on Penn State documents unveiled by FOIA requests shows the institutional reaction to the media firestorm. I'm surprised the NYT can manage this since Pennsylvania has somehow exempted Penn State from transparency laws.

Wallpaper from the MZone.

Picture Pages: This Is Not A Stack

Picture Pages: This Is Not A Stack

Submitted by Brian on November 3rd, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Note: no UFR today, as the torrent got down late Monday and I couldn't do the first half then. Hopefully both halves tomorrow.

You'll have to forgive the picture quality on this one—both of these are low-quality torrents. Just like Michigan's defense. AMIRITE!

So in the game column this week I complained about the alignment of the middle linebacker in this bastardized version of the 3-3-5. Michigan has him maybe a yard behind the nose tackle, like so:

kovacs-1

This creates a major vulnerability against misdirection, as we'll see. This play is a first and ten on Penn State's first drive. They've driven it into the Michigan half of the field because of depressing things, and more depressing things will happen. This isn't one of them. Michigan shows a two-deep with six in the box, but moves Kovacs down late to add a seventh guy, which gives Michigan the formation above versus Penn State's ace 3-wide.

At the snap the offset fullback heads inside the tackle to his side. You can see the handoff is going to be made to the right side of McGloin. Linebackers start scraping as each and every DE attempts to take on two blockers:

 kovacs-2

Here's the handoff point. The fullback is hitting the backside B gap, which makes me think this is a called counter play. Where's Demens?

kovacs-3

Demens has taken a step towards the line of scrimmage and has hit a guard. Now… he hit the backside guard, the one that PSU is cutting towards. He read the play, but he's a linebacker two yards from the LOS meeting a guard with a free release who's much bigger than him. Momentum means that the best he can do is bounce off it and attempt to flow down the line. (This is much more apparent in the video below.)

kovacs-4

The play cuts back as designed. Roh has attacked a frontside gap. Martin and Demens are caught up in the wash on the interior, and Mouton, who was scraping along well back of everyone else, is going to eat the fullback four yards downfield:

kovacs-5

The saving grace here is Kovacs, who sifts through the blockers and makes a mediocre ankle tackle that the RB (Royster, I think) steps through:

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Demens and others finish it off but after four yards:

kovacs-7

Michigan got away with this by putting an extra player in the box late. When Penn State was not caught in a bad playcall, counters like this gashed Michigan all night.

Here's the video:

I don't have an exact replica of this from Rodriguez's WVU days but here's an inside zone Rutgers ran in their 2007 game. Rutgers was no joke on the ground in '07. Ray Rice was around and the Scarlet Knights finished 26th nationally.

The first thing that's obvious is that the MLB is six yards off the line of scrimmage, not two. Also despite playing against a bigger set—Rutgers has a tight end on the field instead of a third wide receiver—West Virginia maintains two deep safeties:

 wvu-2007-inside-zone

At the snap WVU has shifted to an aggressive look with the OLBs and the spur at the LOS; the MLB has moved up a yard:

wvu-2007-inside-zone-2

At the snap six players attack the line, giving all but one WVU DL a one-on-one matchup:

wvu-2007-inside-zone-3

This is a similar setup, really: inside zone. Main difference is that there is an inline TE instead of a fullback on the backside, but they block the backside end above. The playside end is about to beat a Rutgers tackle to the inside. Note the MLB two yards away from the LOS now—where Demens started the play—after the handoff. He's scraping to the hole. A Rice cutback would be somewhat problematic for him but he's not likely to get a lineman in his face:

wvu-2007-inside-zone-4

MLB has now engaged an OL at the LOS. Rutgers tackle is totally beaten and forces Rice to start cutting:

wvu-2007-inside-zone-5

There are four WVU guys in the area:

wvu-2007-inside-zone-6

And Rice goes down shortly after he crosses the LOS:

wvu-2007-inside-zone-7

On the day Rutgers would get 183 rushing yards, but Mike Teel completed under 50% of his passes and threw two interceptions on a 128 yard passing day because WVU left the safeties back the whole time. West Virginia won 31-3. Their rushing defense was 18th nationally.

So, things:

  • It seemed like Michigan was using Jonas Mouton like WVU used their MLB in the 3-3-5. Except Mouton was four yards off the LOS, not six, and not aligned in the middle of the field. So if he's going to get to anything on the frontside he has to run hard, which means he is susceptible to cutbacks.
  • I don't think Demens ever had a prayer of dealing with a cutback or counter because of his alignment. One step to the playside and he's a yard away from the LOS about to get swallowed by a guard.
  • Michigan plays Demens at the same depth in their other line alignments. 3-4:
    base-3-4
    4-3:
    moutong-ugh-1 
    Paired with the disconnect in WVU's 3-3-5 this signals shoehorning to me. Demens should be at a certain depth in more conventional sets and putting him six yards back would confuse him in pass drops, run fills, etc, but in the 3-3-5 he takes one step and there's a lineman releasing free into him. In these sets he's got a chance to scrape without dealing with an unblocked OL all the time. So…
  • Michigan's deployment of the 3-3-5 isn't really a 3-3-5. I don't know what it is, but that whole attacking from everywhere, making different fronts, blitzing, getting guys through the line unblocked thing is something you can see on a fairly typical WVU play above. There are six guys on the LOS threatening and a dedicated cleanup guy behind them with the space and time to get anywhere along the line. Michigan is a passive three man line with guys you can easily single block (but get to double if you want) and linebackers who are living a nightmare. It's incoherent, and Michigan going back to it after having a fairly solid day against Iowa basing almost exclusively from traditional fronts is a miniature version of what happened against Purdue in 2008. Michigan's 3-3-5 is a 3-4 with linebackers in places that don't make sense.
  • Michigan only escapes the above play by outnumbering the offense. No one on the defense beat their counterpart. Everyone was blocked out of the play, which means you can't win unless you've got an extra guy, which means you can't play two deep without getting smashed.
  • I have no idea what Greg Robinson is trying to accomplish. This puts me in the same situation as Greg Robinson.

Former WVU Players On Rich Rodriguez, Unvarnished

Former WVU Players On Rich Rodriguez, Unvarnished

Submitted by Brian on October 29th, 2010 at 1:06 PM

grant-wileydee-mccann quincy-wilson 
Grant Wiley, Dee McCann, Quincy Wilson

So MGoUser fab5 found a West Virginia blog called Couch Fire Sports that had an interview with former WVU linebacker Grant Wiley—a totally unvarnished interview. The blog's managed to land almost a dozen of these interviews with former athletes and they're… blunt. A section of cornerback Dee McCann's interview:

CFS: Was WVU your first experiance with mass amounts of “white girls”?

DM: Yes it was, and I had fun.

CFS: Is it true you knocked out a younger star recruit at Hardees and sent him straight to Divison 2 ball over a very cute female athlete?

DM: NO COMMENT, Hahahaha. NO COMMENT !!!

These things have a zero BS rating, and a lot of them talk about Rich Rodriguez. The results follow.

Dee McCann [CB, JUCO, 2004-2005]:

CFS: How were the practices in the NFL compared to thoughs of Rich Fraud? Did he have you practice to many hours also?

DM: The practice hours were about the same but Coach Rods practice was more high tempo but he prepare me for the next level.

CFS: If you could tell Rich Fraud one thing it would be … Hey Coach …

DM: THANKS FOR EVERYTHING.

Anthony Mims [CB, 2000-2005]:

CFS: How do you feel about the negative light being shed on WVU by Ex Coach Rich Rodriguez?
AM: I think it’s some BS, but not mainly on Rods part, but the NCAA. Those “violations” can be seen at any other school in the country.

CFS: If you talked to Coach Rod on the phone, you would say … Hey Coach ….
AM: I’d wish him luck on the upcoming season and thank him for everything he’s done for me.

Quincy Wilson [RB, 1999-2004]:

CFS: So is Rich Rod a dick? What are your thoughts?
QW: The whole Coach Rod thing was handled wrong on both ends. I never had a problem with Coach Rod. I think if you want to leave then fine will find a coach that bleeds blue and gold like Coach Stew.

Also:

CFS: What are your thoughts on the Super Bowl Shuffle?
QW: one of the classiest songs ever.

Vaughn Rivers [CB, 2003-2007]:

CFS: How do you feel about the negative light that is shed upon WVU with all the Rich Rodriguez drama?
VR: Alot of propaganda you know alot of behind the scenes issues the public really never knew about. Some things that never get brought to light but the loyalty of the West Virginia faithful is incomparable and I can also understand their feelings of betrayal.

CFS: If you talked to Coach Rod on the phone, what would you have to say to him? Hey Coach …
VR: I would tell him as I always have and always do, thank you for the opportunity you gave me and the work ethic you installed in us.

John Pennington [walk-on WR, 2000-2003]:

CFS: How do you feel about the negative light Rich Rodriguez has brought upon WVU with the investigations?
JP: I know Bill Stewart will do a great job handling the situation and I hope we can turn it into a positive.

Finally, Grant Wiley [LB, 2000-2003] wrote paragraphs and paragraphs, too many to replicate here. Here's a chunk:

Couch Fire Sports: First impressions of Rich Rod?
Grant Wiley: … Michigan players, fans, and alumni need to stop crying like a bunch of babies and turn on the 2007 Mountaineers so they can see their future.

I remember coming back to school after the Music City Bowl, on crutches, for our first meeting with Rich. I didn’t research him or read any of the papers so I really had no idea what to expect. I wouldn’t have known that I was Big East Rookie of the Year hadn’t it been for the trophy I was presented with.  So Rich introduced the staff and very adamantly told us we were going to play like our hair was on fire or not play at all. From the start he was re-instilling the discipline I feel we needed at the time. The meeting ended and typically people were overreacting, trying to find their exit strategy, and a lot of guys were just ready to take that next step to win, coming off of destroying another SEC team.

Rich pulls me into his office and breaks me down like this. “Grant, you had a good year, and I think you are a good player. You didn’t really have to work for your position, it was kind of handed to you.” At the time I wanted to tell him to go fuck himself, but I knew what I went through to start as a freshman and the work I put in to be the best linebacker in the country. So I didn’t over react, I just took it as more motivation to prove this guy I was the best. Maybe that is what his objective was to begin with.

Wiley's "one knock" on RR was his lack of "truly  genuine relationships" with the players he didn't recruit. Wiley says he's sure that's changed, but the transition at Michigan suggests it hasn't.

A second question about whether he'd rather play for RR or Bill Stewart has this section:

I loved the fact that Coach Rod’s in your face attitude was being embodied by guys I played with that naturally didn’t have that attitude, so in the end they were better players because of it. I mean the proof is in the pudding. Coach Rod wins games. No matter where he goes, he is going to win games. Coach Stew has been winning games as well. But, I don’t see the same attitude out on the field, offensively, as when Rich was in charge. You can teach technique until your blue in the face but if you don’t have that killer inside come out when you play, you won’t stand a chance.

You should probably read the whole thing; it's more insight into Rich Rodriguez's philosophy and program in a few paragraphs than we've gotten since his hire.

BONUS UNEXPECTED BEILEIN HATE. One basketball player who experienced the John Beilein era was interviewed, Drew Schiflino:

CFS – If you and Coach Beilein had a phone conversation how would it go, Hey Coach ….
DS – Hey coach you’re so fake and the biggest asshole ever, karmas a bitch … CLICK.

That's like… hanging up the phone, right? Not pulling a trigger?

UPDATE: should note that Schiflino was kicked off the team before his senior year.  You could probably find some WVU football guys who did not complete their careers with unkind words for RR, too.

Illegal Stretching Goes On Tour

Illegal Stretching Goes On Tour

Submitted by Brian on April 15th, 2010 at 1:40 PM

So the NCAA is all calling people at West Virginia to see if Rich Rodriguez was illegally stretching lawyaz in Morgantown, too, and the people who do the sort of stentorian wailing that passed for insight in 1982 are doing what they do:

How Much More of This Man Can Michigan Take?

The first step is acknowledging you have a problem.

The second step is doing something about it.

THE FIRST STEP IS REALIZING YOU DON'T HAVE TO HIT ENTER AFTER EVERY PERIOD ARGH.

The second step is assessing whether this is likely to be a big deal. You'd have to be a complete Stacy to voluntarily put yourself on the chopping block merely to spite your ex-boyfriend, but… yeah…

image

That is a state full of Stacys.

What we know is that in September, WVU was nonchalant. A quote given by one of the WVU guys has been kicking around message boards and blogs as people attempt to relieve the panic, but that quote is old. A fuller excerpt:

Of course, WVU officials identified this as a concern back in September of 2009, when the UM-Rodriguez story first broke. Our Dave Hickman caught up with athletic director Ed Pastilong, who indicated then his big house was in order. He suggested he and then-compliance man Brad Cox almost babysat Rodriguez's practices, almost obsessed over record-keeping.

So when the news broke, they double-checked their records and smiled.

"We looked into it,'' Patrick Hairston, WVU's assistant for compliance, said. "We're very comfortable no NCAA rules were broken."

I can't help but wonder how comfortable that position is today. There certainly seemed to be a lot of squirming in the practice facility on Tuesday.

That last sentence is complete speculation. Nonetheless, the happy quote has no relation to the investigation-type activity that's going on now. Which is this:

The NCAA has met with individuals involved with the West Virginia football program to identify any potential rules violations. The university has fully cooperated with the NCAA during this process. West Virginia University and its department of intercollegiate athletics is committed to operating its athletics department in conformance with the legislation and policies of the NCAA and the Big East Conference.

That is all the new information we have. "We looked into it" is not new.

Okay, so that's no good and certain excitable people are running around screaming about the end of the world. Allow me a moment to defuse that: the NCAA had access to everyone in Michigan's program discussing events that happened while they were at Michigan. They also had a variety of disgruntled ex-Wolverines willing to exaggerate wildly because of a combination of ignorance (of admittedly arcane rules) and bitterness. What they came up with was less than earthshaking.

At West Virginia they'll be attempting to determine what happened in 2007 and before with no leverage on players who have already seen their eligibility expire and probably like Rodriguez just fine. The exact details of a practice week three or four or five years ago are not likely to be fresh in their minds, anyway. This will come down to records. If West Virginia does not have records, that's a problem for West Virginia. If they have records that show a pattern of misbehavior that's gone unreported for years, that is a problem for both Rodriguez and West Virginia. If the pattern of misbehavior remains "slightly exceeded NCAA practice regulations," it won't change anything.

Would West Virginia actually have records that show years of unreported NCAA violations? Doubtful. They did hire Bill Stewart because he was a nice man who didn't trip Noel Devine so that is a possibility, but a screwup that vast has to be considered improbable.

Preliminary assessment: file this with Braylon Edwards #1 Jersey Fiasco in the pile of fiascoes that have no tangible impact but will be cited in all cases to fire Rodriguez by people who are bad at making arguments. Show tangible progress towards being a football team and this is just another scrap of noise.

Of Course This Is The New Policy

A rain on your wedding day note follows. The Bylaw Blog suggests this is a new thing:

This isn’t standard due diligence though because to my knowledge, this is unprecedented. The most likely comparison will be Kelvin Sampson, but that case was much different in that Oklahoma was already under investigation and going to appear before the Committee on Infractions when Sampson left for Indiana.

This is the opposite: a violation at the second school causes an investigation at the previous institution. Now knowing what to look for, it makes it much easier for investigators to see if the violations stretched back to previous programs in a coach’s career.

Hopefully this a move toward building cases against the individuals involved rather than the school.

It seems like John Calipari's great escape after a second Final Four appearance was vacated under his watch is the equivalent of Houston Nutt's 37-member Ole Miss class of a year ago: the straw that breaks the shame-camel's back and forces a re-evaluation of priorities. The NCAA is now trying harder to pin stuff on people, not just universities.  And Rodriguez is the first guy subject to an "unprecedented" background check. Of course he is.

FWIW, The Bylaw Blog seems skeptical anything can come of this since Rodriguez, unlike Sampson, has been clean to date and there was no hint of any issues when he was hired at Michigan. In the seemingly unlikely scenario where this amounts to something serious, the end result would be a sanction against Rodriguez that could force Michigan to dump him but nothing else that impacts the school.

Here is a picture of a ninja assassin fairy:

ninja-assassin-fairy

I think it's about equally likely that Rodriguez is done in by one of these as this look at West Virginia's books. I'm going to resume panicking about the spur and bandit positions, because I like my panic to be sensibly directed.

Etc.: Doug Gottlieb had some strong words in favor of Rodriguez, for whatever that's worth. Sporting News guys say the needle doesn't move: win and stay.

Unverified Voracity Found A Northern Daniel Moore

Unverified Voracity Found A Northern Daniel Moore

Submitted by Brian on January 19th, 2010 at 1:15 PM

So this happened. Will MS Paint ever go too far? If it hasn't already, it won't ever get there:

woodson-int If you think that's impressive or, more likely, disturbing you should see user LongLiveBo's collection of these that now goes six deep. "Barwis Beach" is a favorite. I hope LLB is a hobo or student, because if he's not his job is really, really boring.

Bzzzt. Mark Snyder got the defensive coordinator job at South Florida, which takes him off Michigan's list for their linebackers opening. He also talked to reporters, including this here site's Tim Sullivan, about the position at halftime of the UConn game. Birkett has a quote currently open in my tabs so we'll go with that:

“Still talking to guys,” Rodriguez said Sunday at halftime of the Michigan-UConn basketball game. “I may do it in a week or 2, I may do it after signing day.”

Hiring a guy right now does not seem like a huge priority. If it was going to get done before signing day it probably would have gotten done at the coaches meetings.

The new name. And since all Michigan coaching news involves the Bulls in some way, the new name on the list is recently departed USF linebackers coach David Blackwell. He's talked with Michigan about the job:

Linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator David Blackwell has had contact with Michigan about its linebackers job.

Blackwell was officially given his walking papers and is looking for a new gig. As you can see in the table below, Blackwell has extensive experience as a linebackers coach.

Coaching Experience - 16 Years
Year School/Team Assignment
1993 East Carolina Rush Linebackers
1994 East Carolina Rush Linebackers
1995 East Carolina Rush Linebackers
1996 Illinois State Recruiting Coordinator / Defensive Line
1997 Illinois State Recruiting Coordinator / Defensive Line
1998 Illinois State Recruiting Coordinator / Linebackers
1999 Illinois State Recruiting Coordinator / Linebackers
2000 Pittsburgh

Linebackers

2001 Pittsburgh Linebackers
2002 Pittsburgh Linebackers
2003 Clemson Recruiting Coordinator / Linebackers
2004 Clemson Recruiting Coordinator / Linebackers
2005 Clemson Recruiting Coordinator / Linebackers
2006 Clemson Recruiting Coordinator / Linebackers
2007 Clemson Inside Linebackers
2008 Clemson Inside Linebackers
2009 USF Co-Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers

That's twelve straight years Blackwell's been coaching the position, eight years as a recruiting coordinator, and one year as the increasingly popular "co-defensive coordinator." His bio has a bunch of accomplishments that are debatably his—it's hard to assign credit or blame to a single position coach, but it is true that Clemson was a consistently excellent defensive team with Blackwell coaching and his departure was because Tommy Bowden got axed, not because he just wasn't hacking it.

Also, if some people are concerned that this might be a sort of crony hire, that's hard to see. Rodriguez was long gone from Clemson by the time Blackwell showed up and whatever weird USF connection he's got going appears totally coincidental since Blackwell only got one year with the Bulls before Jim Leavitt had to choke a walk-on. Rodriguez's familiarity with Blackwell is limited to coaching against his Pitt team for three years early in his tenure at West Virginia and whatever contact he maintained with Tommy Bowden's staff at Clemson. This is not a guy Rodriguez goes way back with.

In Blackwell's single season at USF the Bulls finished 49th in rushing defense, 25th in pass defense, 24th in total defense, and 19th in scoring D. However, some of USF hilariously weak non-conference opponents had something to do with that. Wofford, Western Kentucky, Charleston Southern are two I-AA teams and a team (WKU) that was a I-AA three years ago.  Also, those numbers are a slight step back from the previous year, when USF was 10th in rushing D and 11th in total D against a tougher slate of opponents.

In games against actual competition, USF gave up 7 to an explosive Florida State outfit and 19 to West Virginia but 34 to Cincinnati, 41 to Pitt, 31 to Rutgers, 31 to Miami, and 29 to UConn in losses. Not all of those numbers are as bad as that, though. Like Michigan in 2008, USF's defense was crushed once Matt Grothe went out and ridiculously erratic BJ Daniels came in. Daniels seemingly went three-and-out or threw a 70-yard touchdown on every drive, so there were a lot of opportunities for opponents to score.

Also, one year is not a good sample size.

Blackwell also has a twitter. It tends towards multiple exclamation points and was last updated in August.

Brief, unavoidably homoerotic interlude. So this picture of Denard Robinson at his track meet—which MGoBlog covered in detail—has been floating around the internets:

denard-robinson-ripped1. Daaaaang. I bet he can punch through a cow.
2. It looks like Denard got a temporary case of Greg Oden disease there, eh? (The one that makes you look old, not the one that makes you have a series of increasingly terrible injuries that cause people to compare you to Sam Bowie.) 
3. Pretty sure the big bald white dude in the background is OL coach Greg Frey.

As long as we're talking about Robinson, Devin Gardner finally getting the piece of paper he needed from Inkster and enrolling at Michigan for spring practice opens up a world of possibilities at quarterback. Everyone's got their opinion on this—I've been getting emails about it since Gardner committed—and here's mine. Assumptions:

  • Gardner will almost certainly not be better than Tate Forcier this fall. If Michigan gives a freshman quarterback extensive playing time for a third straight year it is bad, Rodriguez-firin' type news.
  • Redshirting Gardner is best for both him and the program unless Gardner plays a lot better than he did at the UA game and in the state finals. That throwing motion degraded over the course of the year to the point where he was really pushing the ball; he needs probably a solid year of coaching to go back to the zippy delivery he developed over the summer.
  • Robinson didn't even run the zone read last year and is so far behind Tate that once there are other options at quarterback it makes sense to get Robinson's athleticism on the field in any way possible.

So. Tate starts, Gardner is groomed as the backup quarterback but not put on the field unless circumstances demand it. I just can't see a few plays late in blowouts being more helpful for Gardner and the program than a fifth year. If Tate gets dinged for a series or two, Robinson is the guy. If he's out for an extended period, it's time to put in Gardner (and pray). Robinson evolves into a slash player that takes some wildcat-type snaps at quarterback and also functions as a slot receiver/tailback. Michigan should also look at having him return kicks.

Cone, mad flow, nothing new here. Via TomVH, David "Febreze" Cone's latest masterpiece:

(Someone needs to unescape their text.)

This is why you don't hire your head coach as an assistant. I think most people thought West Virginia was in a little bit of trouble when Doc Holliday got snatched up by Marshall, but probably not this much trouble:

Didn't he say that he would not go after Florida commits when he came here as an assistant?

After his "racist" comments while at NC State I never thought I could forgive him. I got over it and accepted him with open arms. After this, I hope he is never welcomed back at WVU.

Hide the trash cans if he comes to the Civic Center on Wednesday.

That was after Holliday swooped in and snake oiled two West Virginia commits away from the 'Eers, so West Virginia fans are probably even more pissed off now that WR Darius Millines pulled the same trick. Add in Richard Ash and Davion Rogers defecting to Michigan and it's been a suboptimal recruiting year in WVU. They're losing recruits like Tennessee did in the aftermath of the Kiffin fiasco… so who's the head coach there anyway?

The other angle: dude, Doc Holliday is some sort of ninja snake charmer if he can get recruits to bail on a consistently top 25 team in a BCS conference for a mediocre CUSA team in the same state.

Etc. Underground Printing is featured at AnnArbor.com. I'm quoted about our relationship, which is working out great. Baseball picked up a commitment from the top player in Illinois. Teric Jones is moving back to offense for spring. Orson goes curling and loves it. In three months he will be Canadian. West Virginians search for Rich Rodriguez vastly more often than people in Ann Arbor.

Mailbag!

Mailbag!

Submitted by Brian on September 25th, 2009 at 11:39 AM

Brian,

You probably already covered this but:

It is suggested that Rich Rod can do more with less and our current lack of high star recruits is related to the 3-9 record so as Rich Rod began to put winning seasons together at West Va did his recruiting classes increase in its ranking?   Does/will a Rich Rod program attract a highly ranked recruit or does his program with its level of intensity scare them away (ie Justin Boren = Seantrel Henderson)?

fraleyblue

When Rodriguez was hired I touched on this in Rodriguez's Profile In Heroism:

  Rivals Rank WV PA OH FL
2008 31 (currently) 1 2 2 4
2007 23 3 4 6 4
2006 52 0 5 3 4
2005 31 4 7 2 8
2004 47 1 6 4 2
2003 46 1 5 4 1
2002 37 0 5 4 2

That 2008 class would finish #23 as well, so there was a noticeable uptick in WVU's recruiting rankings towards the tail end of Rodriguez's career there. (The 2006 class was very small, and recruiting rankings are always biased towards large classes; that dip is an anomaly.) Bill Stewart and Doc Holliday (mostly Holiday) have continued that trend. How much of that is courtesy WVU's increased national profile and how much is on the supposed recruiting aces on WVU's new staff no one will ever know.

Meanwhile at Michigan, Rodriguez added nine recruits to Carr's final class and all of them except one or two, IIRC, had four stars on one of the two major sites. His second class finished #6 nationally after Rivals accounted for losses to academics and baseball and whatnot (cough cough Ole Miss). Rodriguez, clearly, likes high profile mofos about as much as any other coach around, and when positioned at a school like Michigan can do a pretty good job of acquiring said high profile mofos. The reputed intensity of the program might be a turnoff to some but to others, like Craig Roh, it's a selling point.

Long term I expect Rodriguez will recruit on about the same level as Carr did. This class isn't going to be a great one because of 3-9, not any desire or deficiency on Rodriguez's part.

More on that:

Hi, Brian:

Given our early season success, it is apparent that this season has more upside than most of us had anticipated – both in terms of wins and the corresponding (generally) positive media attention generated. In your opinion (e-pinion?), if we were to theoretically get to 9-10 wins (including a bowl game), will the fact that we took so many commits early have limited the upside of our recruiting class? It seems like a lot more guys who weren’t giving us a look prior to the season are now at least considering it, and we may or may not have room for everyone we would have liked to have taken.

Conversely, is it possible that OSU has limited the upside of their class by taking too few players prior to the season now that they are in a state of semi-turmoil? (Maybe I’m overestimating internet grumbling here, but the current pub can’t be doing great things with recruits.)
Apologies for the over-use of parentheses, and thanks in advance for any thoughts!

Go Blue!
Phillip Zinda ‘05

Well… yes, theoretically. But probably not really. I've followed recruiting a long time and it's almost an iron law that an implosion-type season will be followed by a relatively weak recruiting class.

Holding out in the hopes of turning your fortunes around doesn't help that much. With the accelerated recruiting timetable, kids you like but aren't great would go off the board and then you'd be hoping 1) your turnaround would happen like whoah and 2) there would be enough open-minded folk out there to fill up your class. Not likely in the current environment. I do expect that Michigan's turnaround will provide a small bump, but these days the relationships you build happen when players are juniors or younger, at summer camps early and summer visits and fall unofficials as juniors.

Dear Brian-

1) I am a little worried about the defense and time of possession in the spread offense. Do defenses on spread teams get more worn down (more plays, etc)? Are there examples of excellent defenses on spread teams from the past? I can't think of any off the top of my head.
2)  Has anyone attempted to empirically test the changes in noise level on the field after the lux boxes went up? I would imagine somebody has measured decibels in the past (although I wonder if decibels is the best measure of the impact of crown noise on an opposing team.
Thanks for all your hard work on this.

Niels Rosenquist

1) Do you count Florida or Oklahoma or Texas as spread teams? Last year Florida's defense was better than its offense. Oklahoma's warp-speed attack wasn't as successful but there are some false assumptions built into total yardage numbers. Oklahoma and their opponents averaged almost 13 possessions a game last year, 20% more than Texas did. Adjust for that reality and viola:

Oklahoma’s offense is now rated a more reasonable shade under 11% better than Texas’ offense. And whereas Texas’ defensive advantage was nearly 27% it is now just over 8% in the new analysis.

That still wasn't great, as Texas finished 51st in total defense, but how much of that had to do with the Big 12's offensive explosion last year? It's hard to tell.

As far as pace and time of possession and Michigan go: this year, 90-yard touchdowns or kick return touchdowns are going to result in defense fatigue, walk-ons hitting the field, and poor defensive performance. It's not a coincidence that the defense gave up two long touchdown drives immediately after Notre Dame had a long field goal drive and Stonum returned that kick. So, yes, the severe lack of depth this year might make it more sensible to keep things at a leisurely pace. Long term, though, powers should be doing what Oklahoma did last year. More possessions reduces overall variance by increasing the number of trials and makes it unlikely an inferior team can hang with you.

2) Not to my knowledge.

Hi Brian,

I'm not sure to what extent you've already addressed this, but I am wondering what your thoughts are regarding Devin Gardner next year.  From what I've heard/seen Gardner is a phenomenal athlete, and has recently improved his throwing motion to the point where I believe rivals has him the highest rated QB in the country.  I really appreciate what Tate has brought to the table this year, but I think he is limited by his physical abilities.  I don't think it's reasonable to sit Gardner just because Forcier is doing a good job if Gardner lives up to his potential.  Do you see a two quarterback situation in the future?  Assuming Forcier continues to play well, and Gardner keeps playing like the #1 QB recruit in the country, what do you foresee happening in the next 3 years at the quarterback position?

Thank you,

Chris Vandervoort
UM 2010

Michigan should try its hardest to redshirt Gardner next year. Getting two years of separation between him and the freshmen will be really important down the line. He's not likely to be better than Forcier fresh out of high school, especially if he doesn't enroll early. (Current status of that: maybe, maybe not.) In 2014 you have these choices at quarterback: fifth-year senior Devin Gardner or Anyone Else. I'm going with Gardner.

Assuming Michigan does manage to get a redshirt on the guy, in 2011 and 2012 he'll be available. At that point you probably turn Robinson into a bizarre hybrid of Antwaan Randle-El and Percy Harvin* and Gardner into Tim Tebow circa his freshman year. Forcier plays the Chris Leak role. Implementing a Michigan version of the Gator Heavy gets Gardner playing time, fills a potential hole in Michigan's offense, and promises the occasional awesome jump pass. Also… goal-line sets with both Forcier and Gardner on the field promise to be chaotic fun. Fade to Gardner? Wolverine Heavy? Hell, let's throw Robinson in there too and do a triple-reverse play action jump pass. WOOOOO.

*(Hhhyarrrrr! It has four legs and four arms and can run around the sun!)

After reading the Dinosaur Schematic Advantage and the Smart Football smackdown of Tressel, I've been thinking about what this means for the U-M/OSU rivalry in both the near and long term.  I know it's early to already be thinking about this year's game (then again, maybe it's never too early), but do you see this current Michigan team being close enough in talent to OSU to be able to win it based on home-field and schematic advantage?  There are obvious concerns with the defense and depth, but maybe Tressel isn't capable of fully exploiting them?

And for the long-term, do you believe that Rich Rod's innovation and tactical mind will be able to make up for the institutional advantages that OSU has (money, better home state, less competition for recruits in-state comes to mind) to give Michigan an edge in 2-3 years when the program has maximized its potential?  My best case scenario is a Carr over Cooper or Tressel over Carr -style domination eventually.  I would love to hear your (mostly speculative) thoughts.

Best,

Mike Forster, Class of '05

The short term in a word: no. Ohio State's good at lining up and out-executing folk they have a talent advantage over and that will be true in spades when their offense is on the field. And their defense is going to be very difficult for Michigan to handle with so many young kids everywhere and without a true deep threat on the roster (unless Stonum gets way better or Hemingway is faster than he seems).

In the long term: that is, indeed, the best case scenario. It's not likely to happen just because of math: both recent streaks have seen their share of flukes where the other team should have won but for life-on-the-margins type stuff. The edges of binomial distributions are uncommon. And those streaks were helped along by poor coaching from the other side of the aisle. Tressel may not be Urban Meyer but he's not Lloyd Carr over the last few years of his term. His decline phase is just beginning if it's beginning at all and at his age (56) he can probably coach another 8-10 years before becoming an anchor.

Unverified Voracity Bids Anti-Jim Davis Adieu

Unverified Voracity Bids Anti-Jim Davis Adieu

Submitted by Brian on August 6th, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Wow [/walken]. I spent last year posting Garfield Minus Garfield strips in the game previews instead of kittens. At first this was a commemoration of the new era and the shift in program philosophy we'd been waiting for—we went from cats to the specific, willful omission of them. As the season progressed, however, the lack of Garfield became, to quote Garfield Minus Garfield itself, "a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb."

We're going back to kittens this year for obvious reasons. Kittens are cute. They work better than lack of cat. The switch was probably responsible for at least two special teams fumbles.

But here's one last lack of Garfield for the road, if only because it's theme-appropriate:

what-rhymes-with-wolverine

"Listerine?"

Historian! My RSS feeds got screwed up somehow and I stopped getting Wolverine Historian's torrent of clips in my reader. Fixed now; WH brings you the 1982 Purdue game:

Anthony Carter's last game at Michigan Stadium.

Hello again, Mr. Harbaugh. Jim Harbaugh's tendency to talk without regard to potential future consequences has once again brought him to the attention of the Big Ten, but this time($)…

You're not a fan of teams from other leagues playing two FCS schools.

Some of these teams are playing Delaware State (as Harbaugh's alma mater, Michigan, is) or Towson (Northwestern).

You know, somebody really ought to take notice of this stuff. You have eight or nine wins and so you're a great football team? Well, what if you played four patsies in your nonconference and then you only won half your conference games and so you get to go play in the Alamo Bowl and everyone says you're a great team. That's what happens. There's no question that the Pac-10 doesn't get that respect for playing teams out of conference of like caliber. Maybe some of these teams have a 1-AA team in there but it's rare.

…I couldn't agree more with him.

I guess it's a little bit of a cheapshot to mention Delaware State when Michigan is far from the worst nonconference scheduler in the league (cough wisconsin-minnesota-indiana cough) but I'm guessing it was just one of the foremost inter-division matchups in his mind since 1) he's an alum and 2) the Delaware State game has been held up as an especially stupid example of these sorts of things since DSU has forfeited a conference game to line up their payday. Northwestern gets it right in the face (Lake the Posts is displeased).

He's right on with the rest of it, and totally correct that the Pac-10 doesn't get the respect they probably warrant in the polls because they play a round-robin. Does everyone remember Hawaii in the BCS? That's the clearest evidence that not nearly enough attention is paid to schedule strength we've got. The more coaches that rail against stupid scheduling tricks, the better off fans will be. Even if it's obviously self-serving.

Merph merph. I'm more okay with the UConn deal now that it seems to have caused the Huskies' ridiculously unbalanced schedule with ND to evaporate, but this is still a much-preferable matchup:

The Hartford Courant reported on Saturday that Connecticut has booked a football home-and-home with Michigan. The Huskies open next season at the refurbished Big House; the Wolverines return the trip in 2013. According to a Michigan source, Pitt was in negotiation with the Wolverines for a similar arrangement but UConn was more flexible on the return date.

Pitt fans are terrible, so this would have allowed myself and 30,000 of my best friends to descend on Pittsburgh and take in the game. I'm not driving to Connecticut.

Maybe if I squint real hard and pray we'll get better. Another argument for Rodriguez's all-encompassing run-murder-death offensive abilities can be found in what happened to his old digs once he left. West Virginia returned Pat White, Noel Devine, and six offensive linemen with extensive starting experience. This happened:

west-virginia-play-distro

I'll divide for you: the dip in run tendency does not account for the decline of the rushing yardage. In 2008, WVU averaged 5.3 YPC. Across the rest of the White era, WVU averaged 6.0.  In 2007, the nearest comparable, it was 6.2.

This seems like a good place to mention that When Carcajous Attack(!) has researched the Rodriguez offensive line in-depth.

Elsewhere in the Northeast. This NYC bowl getting knocked around may involve a Big Ten team:

The sources said that Mark Holtzman, marketing director of Yankee Stadium, discussed the possibilities of a bowl game at a meeting with the Big East athletic directors. Mark Lamping, CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium Company, expressed his facility's interest.

If the bowl game comes to fruition, it likely would match a Big East school against an at-large team, preferably from the Big Ten, which has millions of alumni in the metropolitan area.

That is what I am saying. I'd rather deal with the cold for a couple hours and then be in New York than be in San Antonio or Nashville or Orlando… ever.

The article makes it sound like this would be a real rinky-dink operation, though, with the last-ish bowl-eligible Big East team versus anyone who's floating around without a tie-in. This will be a Big Ten team approximately once in a zillion years. Iowa missed out on a bowl at 6-6 a couple years ago, but I don't recall any other eligible Big Ten team escaping the gravitational pull of the Motor City Bowl.

O RLY? Apparently some Ohio State assistant was spouting off to some guy at the Dispatch—possibly ESS EEE CEE guy—about how defenses have caught up with the spread. Rodriguez decided he wasn't going to run it any more as a result oh wait no not really:

"I could care less what he says," Rodriguez said. "Everybody's opinion is an opinion. We study everything, and our ultimate goal is to win. We sit down as a staff, and coaches and say what can we do that gives us the best chance to score points and win ballgames. For us it goes back to running the system we know."

Rodriguez is one of the gurus of the spread-option offense and has spent years adjusting it.

"This whole thing about catching up to this, it's all about execution," he said at the Big Ten media days in Chicago last week. "They said the same thing about West Coast offenses, pro-style offenses. If you've got better players, you execute better, you'll win 100% of the time, no matter what system you run."

The exact term in the article above is that offenses have "caught up to the quarterback run." This is coming from a coach at Ohio State, which had Terrelle Pryor pass 165 times last year… and run 135 times. Fail? I think this is fail.

Are these measuring the same things? Black Heart, Gold Pants points to an article on Iowa's athletic budget that indicates how the Big Ten is doing relative to the Joneses, and by "Joneses" we mean SEC:

The $19.8 million in budgeted Big Ten income reflects Iowa's share of the ESPN contract and BTN profits.  It's also nearly $4 million more than SEC schools stand to make under their new Leviathan deal with The Worldwide Leader, despite the fact that the Big Ten receives half as much from ESPN for television rights (just as expected).

The 4 million number is right

Florida, like every SEC school, will receive about $16 million in total television money for the 2009 season, $11 million of which comes from ESPN.

…if those are measuring the same things. (That same article claims the Big Ten gets 100 million to the SEC's 150, which okay whatever.) I don't think they are. The quote that $19.8 million comes from:

Iowa will receive nearly $19.8 million through the Big Ten and NCAA, mostly through television contracts. That’s an increase of nearly $700,000.

Mostly? So greater than 51% but less than 100%? Where is the link to the PDF? Argh. I don't think a 4 million dollar gap is realistic, since if that encompasses every dime coming from the Big Ten and NCAA a decent chunk of it has to be bowl revenue. I'm guessing the overall money just from TV is essentially equal.

Which is still a major difference from what a thousand newspaper articles trumpeting the eternal hegemony of the secessionists would have you believe. (That's right: secessionists.)

Etc.: Rodriguez is "a little better than JoePa" at tweedle-dos.

Put Your Money Where Your Dumb Is

Put Your Money Where Your Dumb Is

Submitted by Brian on July 13th, 2009 at 12:23 PM

My new preferred way of dealing with idiocy surpassing all bounds of reason—or "hobby" in XKCDese—is this:

From: Brian Cook [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: Attn: twit

I run mgoblog. I will bet you your entire year's salary that Rich Rodriguez does not get fired after this season. Since you believe it's "obvious" he will be fired, this is an opportunity for you to make a cool fifty bucks.

-Brian

It's satisfyingly goading, and when the twit in question fails to respond it's a tacit admission that the assessment in the subject is correct.

This, of course, was in response to idiocy surpassing all bounds of reason that you may have seen linked and mocked various places already. Money graf:

First, it's pretty obvious to me this is going to be Rich Rodriguez's last season as the head football coach at the University of Michigan.

The rest of it is a bunch of one-sentence paragraphs that end up with Rodriguez landing at Marshall. It's not coherent enough to bother fisking, but one of the sentences says the alumni "hasn't" warmed up to Rodriguez. (No, guy on the message board thread, that's not proper usage. Alumni is a plural noun—alumnus is the singular version—instead of a singular noun (like "flock") that describes a group.)

We'll see if he takes me up on the offer. I bet he doesn't.

Unverified Voracity Faces Death Midgets

Unverified Voracity Faces Death Midgets

Submitted by Brian on June 24th, 2009 at 1:32 PM

Light day today due to Spain-USA. May we die with honor. Braves and Birds previews it for you.

Times and dates. A press release containing every exciting Big Ten matchup against Towson has been C&Ped into the diaries. Michigan games listed:

  • Western Michigan at MICHIGAN, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Notre Dame at Michigan, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Eastern Michigan at MICHIGAN, Big Ten Network, Noon ET
  • MICHIGAN at ILLINOIS, ABC, 2:30 p.m. CT

Yes, Western Michigan at Michigan is a 3:30 ABC game. Woo! It's not like there's anything else going on but Jebus. If the rest of the schedule wasn't dire enough to get WMU @ M on ABC I'd put in my usual complaint about a home 3:30 start really impinging on my ability to see games around the country.

Also: was it widely known that the Illinois game would be a 3:30 ABC affair?

We were good except for the eighty yard touchdown we gave up six times. I couldn't dig up a specific instance of this concept in the archives, but I'm pretty sure at various times last year I described the defense as doing pretty well except for the four long touchdowns. Michigan wasn't a team you drove the field on, it was a team you mostly failed against until someone in the secondary or one of the linebackers screwed up and then you ran for a long time and got seven points. Sometimes this happened most of the day (Illinois), sometimes it didn't.

It turns out there are numbers to support this idea:

The most interesting name on this list is Michigan. They were seventh in Success Rates+ but 62nd in PPP+ [Points Per Play]. That suggests that they played pretty efficient defense overall, not giving up consistent gains, but the breakdowns they did suffer were large ones, and they gave up far too many big plays.

There aren't any helpful glossary links that explain exactly what goes into these metrics, unfortunately, so I can't tell you if they attempt to account for the terrible field position Michigan found itself in time and again, but even that can't explain all of this discrepancy.

So: the stats point a finger squarely at last year's safeties, with some bonus points accruing to the sloppy linebacking.

More metrics for good. The Free Press summarizes Steele's metrics on Michigan, all of which point in the right direction. Many of them will be familiar to readers of this blog:

  • Teams coming off extremely negative turnover years improve 80% of the time.
  • Teams who lose three or more close games than they win improve basically 80% of the time.
  • Michigan returns many starters.
  • And holy hell the offense has to be way better.

Upshot:

Steele predicts an improved season for the Wolverines, the fourth-most improved season nationally, trailing only Illinois, Ohio and UCLA. He also sees them in the Champs Sports Bowl against Miami (Fla.).

Raise your hand if you'd take that right now. That appears to be everyone.

Another bullet in the head. Man, this coaches poll thing… eh… not so good:

the Coaches poll is a different story. Only 5 of the 18 non-BCS teams have a positive average, meaning that the overwhelming majority of non-BCS teams drop further in the Coaches poll after a loss than the average team does. (It’s true that in general, the Coaches drop teams further for a loss than the AP, but not by that much – it’s a difference of 0.2 spots.) In fact, the Coaches dropped non-BCS teams more than the average in nearly 2/3’s of their losses. Looking at it one final way, all of the BCS teams combine for the average 0.0 in the Coaches poll – non-BCS teams combine for a -1.6 average, losing a spot and a half more per game than BCS teams.

(HT: Blutarsky.)

And Carson went forth amongst the Hittites, and slew many, and gloried in the destruction, whereupon he was released from the football team to the annoyance of his high school coach. Minor PR fire at Detroit Renaissance arising from an interview with its head coach. First, the facts: Ren's Antonio Watts is being interviewed by "Hondo," who's a Spartan-slanted (and apparently unemployed now) TV guy the RCMB mocks.

First he references Carson Butler—"now with the Green Bay Packers"—as one of the major athletes in Renaissance's past, at which point Hondo asks why everyone loves Dantonio, at which point Watts says, in effect, "Dantonio shows up."

Then there's some garbled ungrammatical stuff from Hondo about the current Ren kids at State; Watts launches into this apropos of nothing—Hondo never mentions Michigan:

"I had two kids who went to the University of Michigan with Lloyd Carr and when Rodriguez took over last year, in my opinion they weren't done well. They weren't treated well. Carson had to leave early… to the NFL, and Andre Criswell, who's still up there, he's a graduate assistant who's not doing anything. And that hurt my heart. And I have a kid at West Virginia who's not very happy there. And I feel that."

Well, then. One: don't expect anyone out of Ren to go to Michigan in the near future. But let's not confuse this coach's slant with reality. Criswell is a great guy but he was the last guy in his recruiting class, a guy Carr offered on signing day because he had an extra scholarship. He came in as a fullback, never played under Carr in three years, and never played under Rodriguez. As mentioned, he's currently a grad assistant. I'm finding it difficult to see how that can be spun as anything negative. I'm even assuming his withdrawal from the program was entirely his decision: Michigan has extra scholarships this year. So what the hell?

And Carson Butler… well. Carson Butler is the most embarrassing program alum in the last decade. He punched a Notre Dame player last year. The year before that he participated in the St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre, was kicked off the team by Carr, and only let back on after he managed to evade legal consequences. At the time it seemed clear that Carr would have rather washed his hands of him then and there but couldn't justify it since he was acquitted. On the field the guy was a false-start prone headcase whose interest in blocking was nil.

And the stories that have hit my inbox about him have been either hilarious or disturbing, or both. There's a typical Carson Butler story in that thread linked above; I've heard three or four others of similar vintage. Unless this is an amazing hoax, the guy is a sociopath who got far more consideration than he deserved from Michigan.

So over it. A couple of weeks ago, Rich Rodriguez called up a couple of guys in West Virginia in an attempt to bury the hatchet. Here's how that went:

My wife is not a sports fan. 

Recently, though, she read the front page article by the Daily Mail's Jake Stump about Rich Rodriguez, the one where the former West Virginia University coach said how much he loved West Virginia and hoped the tension between him and hard-core Mountaineer football fans was fading.

Her observation after reading the article was, "Who is this man? What a pitiful, whiny, self-serving creature."

You, sir, have a very dramatic wife. Who likes adjectives.

Teeny tinies are the trend. Some of the roiling sea of consternation about Michigan's future is about the tiny wide receivers and their unsuitability for the NFL and that sort of thing. Maybe this helps?

Though there were no wide receivers taken in the first round in 2008, 10 went in Round 2, and a quick look at their first-year statistics paints an interesting picture. The success among the smaller guys was led by 5-10, 182-pound Eddie Royal of Denver, who embarrassed then-Oakland cornerback DeAngelo Hall in the season opener on Monday Night Football to the tune of nine catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. That was just the opening salvo in a season that saw Royal finish with 91 catches for 980 yards in 15 games.

Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson is another example of a small receiver having a big impact as a rookie. At 5-10, 175, he finished with 62 catches for 912 yards, but only two touchdowns. Even the surprise first receiver taken in 2008, 5-11, 184-pound Donnie Avery of St. Louis, had a stellar debut. He had 53 catches for 674 yards and three touchdowns, not too shabby for a 'rook.'

Meanwhile, all the big guys from that draft haven't done anything. Now, none of these guys are 5'2" or whatever Jeremy Gallon is, but they are in the range that of a Je'Ron Stokes. And if you're one of these guys you're probably going to go to the school that can best deploy your tiny windmilling legs, right?

NHL draft bits. McKenzie has released his annual, accurate list of the top prospects in the draft. It finds Mac Bennett and Chris Brown in the second round, with Kevin Lynch an "honorable mention."