Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: Mel Pearson’s Journey to Yost and Back

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: Mel Pearson’s Journey to Yost and Back

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 10th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[courtesy U-M Athletics]

It’s a cooler than usual Monday in September outside Yost Ice Arena, nature’s heavy-handed hint that hockey season is just weeks away. Inside, the new head coach’s office looks decidedly less new than it did a few weeks ago. The smell of leather fills the air—new chairs—albeit less so than in July. The built-in book cases have filled up with years of accolades and other snapshots from a life in hockey.

Framed photos line the upper shelves, but Mel Pearson doesn’t reach for those. Asked how he first got involved in hockey, he rises from his chair and plucks a photo from the top left corner of the furthest shelf to the left. It’s propped up in front of another picture, the lone unframed photo in the bunch. Pearson lays it down on his desk next to the neatly organized stacks of paper, presumably drills and practice plans and  scouting reports that bear the emblems of teams from all over; one of the stacks is topped with a sheet that has the Pittsburgh Penguins’ logo in the top corner. “You’re just sort of born into it,” Pearson says, pointing to the back row of the photo. “This is Coach Berenson—this is an All-Star team up in Saskatchewan—and that’s my dad, so they actually had some history. It’s awesome. So they played together.”

It feels like a foundational event, a peek behind the curtain, the revelation of the moment that destiny staked its claim on a kid from Flin Flon, Manitoba. In reality, Pearson’s point is that the hockey world can be an awfully small place. George “Mel” Pearson’s son was about to criss-cross North America, a party to his father’s dream, soon to discover that sentiment was more true than he ever could have guessed.

[After THE JUMP: ties, timing, and the moment it all came together]

The Oral History of Yost in the 1990s, Part 3: One Goal Lead

The Oral History of Yost in the 1990s, Part 3: One Goal Lead

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 16th, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Previously: Part One, Part Two

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[Yost in the late ‘90s/Kalmbach via Bentley Historical Library]

Michigan’s heralded 1993 and 1994 recruiting classes began paying dividends immediately. The 1993-94 Wolverines had three winning streaks of seven games or longer in just a 41-game season, the longest of which reached 11 games. The 1994-95 team took something of a step back—their longest winning streak was only nine games—while still winning 30 games and finishing first in the CCHA.

The most dominant streak of the decade dovetailed with the vaunted recruits becoming upperclassmen. The nature of collegiate hockey scheduling left its mark on previous winning streaks; many took place across multiple road series with neutral-site games sprinkled in. In 1995-96, however, Michigan’s offense hit its stride just as the Wolverines returned home for a six-game homestand at the beginning of January. Their eight-game winning streak started with a GLI title that they took by a combined score of 9-2. They put up even gaudier numbers in front of their own crowd, averaging 9.6 goals per game over six home contests.

The season ended with Michigan’s first national championship in 32 years; before they got there, goalies were pulled, the wooden bleachers creaked and swayed, the crowd beyond the students got involved, and for opponents, the ghosts of Yost were growing louder.

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Brendan Morrison, forward (1993-97): That was an incredible stretch. I think we averaged that month or six weeks or whatever it was, we averaged something ridiculous like 8.7 goals a game or something like that. [Ed. A—They averaged 7.6 goals per game over the ten games from the GLI at the end of December through the end of January and the aforementioned 9.6 goals per game counting just the six-game January homestand.] Just absurd. I know every single home game we played, the other team’s goalie was pulled at some point. I don’t think it was a very fun place for other teams to come in and play. They knew they were walking into kind of the lion’s den there; we were rolling and scoring a bunch of goals. It was intimidating. I remember other programs coming out and verbalizing that it was a tough place to play. It was difficult. It’s almost like with our fans and playing in that arena, it was like you were up 1-0 or 2-0 before the game even started.

Marty Turco, goaltender (1994-98): For me, having us rolling teams, you look at the scores and you’re like rolling teams, yeah, 8-3, 7-2, 10-4. You’re like, Alright. Everybody else was happy except for Red because Red was like, “No one cares because we won and we dominated but how about those two you let in there?” I might not have been needed as much to have the game on the line early and mid-year, but he wanted to make sure I was the guy he thought I was at the end of the year. So it wasn’t all hunky-dory during that year [1995-96] for me in particular but it was huge in terms of growth.

Tim Carmody, student season ticket holder: It was exciting. It was definitely very relevant. People would go all the time. People would show up a little bit later for parties on hockey nights.

[After THE JUMP: the crowd’s creativity, the environment’s advantage, and the quirks of an old barn]

The Oral History of Yost in the 1990s, Part 2: The Magic Kingdom

The Oral History of Yost in the 1990s, Part 2: The Magic Kingdom

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 8th, 2017 at 2:18 PM

Previously: Part one

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[Bill Rapai]

The time blocked out on Red Berenson’s schedule for handing out free tickets could be reallocated to recruiting by 1993. Michigan had won or tied 56 of their last 62 home games by the beginning of the 1993-94 season, was riding a three-year NCAA Tournament streak, and had finished no worse than second in the CCHA each of the past three seasons.

The success of the team fueled Yost’s atmosphere, and the atmosphere helped reel in recruits; Michigan’s 1993 recruiting class featured future Hobey Baker winner Brendan Morrison as well as John Madden, Jason Botterill, Mike Legg, and Warren Luhning. The recruiting success continued in 1994, as Berenson signed Marty Turco, Bill Muckalt, and Matt Herr. Stories of Yost’s unmatched gameday environment spread by word of mouth and students were soon filling the entire east side of Yost. The means for procuring tickets changed drastically as the one-time Diag freebie became one of the hottest tickets in town; students camped out as more highly-touted recruits came in.

Brendan Morrison, forward (1993-97): My freshman year we had a great team and were competing for the national championship and every single night we went into that arena and played at home it was sold out and the students led the charge. You look at the architecture of the rink and you read about the history of the field house and how it evolved over the years to where it is now or where it was my senior year— I remember students would sleep outside the Michigan Union there for two nights in order to get season tickets. When you walked by there as a player and you saw the commitment that your fellow students were willing to make in order to come and watch your team play, it was truly a special thing to be able to go out there and play in front of them and it really made you understand how special a place Yost is.

Roger Spurgeon, student season ticket holder: I met these guys and we made friendships our freshman year, so our sophomore year I wouldn’t be surprised if it was me who said, “Hey, let’s go get season tickets.” They sold them at the Union and I don’t think we actually camped out. I think we went there at maybe 6 AM.

Scott Spooner, student season ticket holder: Yeah, I think the first year we were like “Let’s get there early” so we got there at like 6 AM.

Spurgeon: Yeah, like 6 AM, and there were maybe 50 people in front of us. I kind of remember that season tickets were about $60 and we got a free hockey jersey. It had “Subway” written on the back. It was a cheap reproduction hockey jersey, it wasn’t anything fancy. I think the next couple years they gave us sweatshirts. Like, nice sweatshirts as incentives to buy season tickets.

Spooner: That still said “Subway” on the back.

Spurgeon: We didn’t care. We got freebies, so we didn’t care if it said “Subway” or not.

Megaphone Man, student season ticket holder: Demand was high. You got a season sweatshirt when you camped out and put in your order for tickets. I remember they were sponsored by Subway, so they were kind of like a must-have item, kind of like they do with the football shirts and the Maize Rage shirts. Before they started doing it on a regular basis for the other sports, I think hockey was the only one really doing it at the time.

[After THE JUMP: fandom expands, everyone dances, and the rules of the rule-free student section]

The Oral History of Yost, Part 1: Borrowing from Bears

The Oral History of Yost, Part 1: Borrowing from Bears

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 1st, 2017 at 1:34 PM

[Editor's note: If you've wondered where Adam's been this summer, he's been working on this. We did not feel we could let the Red Berenson era end without doing it justice, and this is our attempt. Enjoy. –BC]

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It’s the roof. It has to be the roof. Yost Ice Arena, née Yost Fieldhouse, wasn’t made for hockey, but stand outside and look up and it’s impossible not to feel like it’s a relative of an Original Six building, perhaps the Montreal Forum’s cousin or the sibling of the Olympia in Detroit. No, it wasn’t built for hockey. At its core, Yost is just a big brick barn; it’s the people inside that made the barn a rink and made the rink one of the most maddening, intimidating places for opponents to play hockey in North America. The sharp wit of the crowd, the perfect pep band, the waves of sound that crawled the walls, crested at the ceiling, and crashed to the ice were staples of Yost throughout the 1990s. Getting there, though, might not have happened if not for a chance encounter with a bunch of Bears.

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2017 logoo_thumbSponsor Note: this post made possible by our continued partnership with Homesure Lending. If you're in need of a mortgage, Matt will collect your information quickly, check several different mortgage companies for the best possible rate, and pass it along to you. Then you get a house.  Or a houseboat, I guess? Don't buy a houseboat, that's my advice to you.

Well fine, then. Be like that. Buy a dang houseboat. See if I care. –BC

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An Empty Barn

Red Berenson, head coach: It was disappointing [when I first arrived] from the standpoint that our team wasn’t very good and the image of the program wasn’t very good, so the fans were really— they weren’t there very often. When we played Michigan State was the only time we had a full building, and there were more green and white people there than there were Michigan people. So, it was hard to recruit good players to come here and then see that we weren’t getting the support from our fans, but we were all confident that when our team got better that they would come.

But we had to do some things away from the rink, too, and I think we did a good job. We got our players to go up and visit fraternities and sororities, we got the ticket office to take season tickets and particularly Michigan State tickets— those seemed to be the hottest ticket— up to the Diag and interact with the students; the same thing in the dorm. I constantly was on the move around town giving away tickets, trying to get people to come to the game, and just telling them “If you like it, I guarantee you you’ll want to buy a ticket next time.”

Mel Pearson, assistant coach: It was interesting. When I first got here one of the first things that happened to me was that I was given 400 tickets to give away for every game, which I found...odd. We had trouble putting people in the building. Then obviously when I left here later on I could hardly get four tickets for my family, so things really evolved.

The first few years I think we had to change the culture here, change the atmosphere. Coach Berenson brought an exciting brand of hockey. He would always say he wanted to play like the Montreal Canadiens in the ’70s and the Edmonton Oilers in the ’80s; upbeat-type teams. I think that really transformed the whole atmosphere in Yost.

Berenson: The building was never intended to be a hockey rink. It was built as an indoor field house, the first of its kind, but when Don Canham built Crisler for basketball and they moved basketball out of Yost, I don’t know whose idea it was to put hockey in Yost— or to try it— but they did it and from the old Coliseum over by Fingerle Lumber, well, that’s where I played. In fact, I lived just down the street from there at 424 South Hill Street my last two years here. So, I’d just walk to the rink. I could see people lining up all the way down nearly to our house before the games.

But anyway, when I came back it was disappointing, the support and the image of the program and so on wasn’t very good, but then it slowly changed. Even in the building I thought our administration and building management— I think it was Wilf Martin at the time and Mark Renfrew and we recognized that we needed to spruce up the building, so we did that slowly. We filled in underneath the bleachers, for example, and we added some storage areas and we didn’t put up new boards but we put up new signage and we got new nets, and slowly the rink started to look a little better. We cleaned up the lobbies and we tried to improve the lightning.

Well, it wasn’t until ’96 that we did any kind of a serious renovation, but we were doing something every year, so I felt better that the building was more acceptable. I think there was a time where Canham took all the mirrors out of the ladies’ washrooms in football— I don’t think we did that in Yost— because of the ladies taking too much time and then creating lineups. We didn’t have that problem at Yost, but we tried to make it fan friendly, but you still had to win. But you didn’t want people coming to a dirty rink or sticky seats, little things like that, so that’s what it was like. We had our moments of glory in that building, but the fans didn’t get to see much of them. Slowly they started to come.

[After THE JUMP: Kent Brothers’ speech, the legend of the Doughboy, and how Yost boosted recruiting (for Michigan and opponents)]

Hockey Hot Takes: Here We Go Again

Hockey Hot Takes: Here We Go Again

Submitted by Brian on October 20th, 2015 at 12:13 PM

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MGoBlue

In Michigan sports that weren't that, Michigan kicked off its hockey season with a shaky sweep of Mercyhurst. The Lakers were .500 in Atlantic Hockey last year and lost five of their top six scorers to graduation. They looked like they were in for a rough year; Michigan dominated attack time and shots. They did not so much dominate on the scoreboard, with one-goal wins Friday and Saturday. (Michigan got an empty-netter Friday.)

Hockey takes in addition to Adam's Goal By Goal:

  • Not seeing much difference in the team this year. A lot of individual talent, a lot of breakdowns. Michigan gave up a ton of odd-man rush goals and turned the puck over at or near the blueline far too much. Actual zone entry plays were rare; instead Michigan just tried to gain the zone with individual skill. They'll win their share of games, but I didn't see much that would indicate a turnaround from the last few frustrating years.
  • Example of the above. On Sunday Alex Kile was on a 3-on-2 on which he had two guys open and trailing; he chose to try to beat a defenseman around the corner and blasted the goalie for an interference penalty.
  • Werenski is up and down and frustrating. He stands out as a super talented even with a bunch of other NHL draft picks on the team. I expect his wrister to pick out a corner every time he gets an opportunity with it. But he was the D caught up ice on Mercyhurst's 2-on-1 goal Sunday and there were several other questionable defensive plays besides. He was iffy on D last year and should by rights be a freshman right now; I don't think that's a reason for long term concern but I was hoping he'd show a little better.
  • Nieves is still Nieves. Perimeter player. Not expecting a breakout year. He's centering the "top line" mostly for morale reasons, I think—Compher's line is the actual top line.
  • I don't have a feel for Connor yet. Sometimes takes me a while to figure out what I think of a player. Connor is currently in that boat.
  • The third line is pretty dang good. It was Calderone, Marody, and Warren. All of them are high effort, physical guys. Calderone had some trouble receiving passes, but other than that those guys dominated their opposite number. Michigan is going to get production out of them against opponents' bottom six.
  • Depth: questionable. Michigan skated seven defensemen on Sunday and elected to double-shift centers on the fourth line. I'm fine with this—one of my complaints over the last few years is that Michigan didn't seem to play its stars enough—but if there are injuries Michigan could be really thin at F.

This will be another season flirting with the tourney cutoff. Michigan's awful schedule hurts them significantly here. The Big Ten appears to be a tire fire again. These days RPI overcorrects for home games and Michigan loaded their schedule with them. And their nonconference schedule is mostly crap. I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan is the non-tourney team with the best record in April.

More Big Ten tire fire details. Alarmingly for the league and Michigan's schedule strength, Minnesota is 0-3 and has scored just one goal. Everyone expected the Gophers to take a step back after graduating huge chunks of their team; that much of a retreat is going to be yet another anchor for a league that is already carrying several around.

Meanwhile Wisconsin is coming off a BU/BC weekend in which they were outscored 10-1, OSU has been swept by Miami and BGSU, and Michigan State was just swept by Denver (total goals 7-2). Big Ten teams aren't just losing, they're getting crushed.

Penn State(!) is the only team with anything approximating an encouraging start after a competitive split with Notre Dame. Everything else points to a repeat of last year minus a good Minnesota team. Maybe the Big Ten could spend some of their filthy lucre on hiring non-incompetent hockey coaches next year? Could we try that maybe?  MSU and Wisconsin allowing Tom Anastos and Mike Eaves to return is bad for everybody.

Yost things. They have walked back a lot of the in-game commercials this year, so that's nice. IIRC the only thing still around is Find The Object Under The Corporate Logo. That's down from just under a dozen per game last year.

The folks in charge are still a bit off, though. Hockey Special K has limited opportunities to do his thing because of the nature of hockey but he's still jamming in a goal horn—completely unnecessary w/ the bad—and then playing pump-up music before the puck drop. Why Special K insists on playing 5 seconds of music before every kickoff/puck drop is always going to be a mystery.

Also the concession prices remain completely out of whack. When it's more expensive than Joe Louis I'm going to avoid buying things out of principle. I can't imagine the tiny incremental profit increase is worth the psychic damage to hockey fans who are already pretty beat up. I almost dropped my tickets this year because I could probably TiqIq the entire schedule for half of what my seats cost. Like, I decided not to and then two weeks after the deadline I relented.

Yost is not priced at all sensibly, especially when it comes to students. They're down to two sections and an overflow in the endzone, which is super depressing. I know we want the hockey program to break even but surely the atmosphere in the building is more important than X thousand dollars.

Mailbag: OC Or DC Background, The Other Kelly, Blues Brothers Dance Hug-out

Mailbag: OC Or DC Background, The Other Kelly, Blues Brothers Dance Hug-out

Submitted by Brian on December 12th, 2014 at 5:04 PM

The importance of coach background?

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Patterson is a rare defensive HC standout

Hi Brian,

I know there are plenty of questions about the coaching search coming through, I'd hoped to give a different take.

In your opinion what is the preferable background of a coach. In the modern game with high powered, explosive offenses being the key to success, the trend seems be leaning towards guys with strong background in developing offenses (Tom Herman, Gus Malzahn, etc). I still maintain that the best background for a head coach is having a much stronger background on the defensive side of the ball. A top notch defense requires  the ability to adapt to the offense (everyone runs the same offense week to week, defenses must adjust) putting a higher premium on extensive experience multiple jobs running multiple defenses.

The other key to success is recruiting (it seems you can out scheme your way to an effective offense, but a defense is more about the 'Jimmy's and Joe's). In my estimate, the best coach would be a guy with a lot of DC experience who knows what hates to defend and hires that guy. For instance, if Hoke had just admitted he didn't know anything about offense and spent the blank check Brandon gave him on the best guy to run a Denard led team (As I recall there were heaps of Oregonesque coordinators out there who would kill to walk into an experienced Denard job with money to spend on top assistants), we would probably be celebrating Hoke as a genius for not wearing the headset. I'm not sure Rodriguez hiring a stud D coordinator and letting them run the D the way they wanted would have worked because a number of his D recruits didn't pan out, which I believe goes to talent identification.

Please don't excommunicated me from the M family, I still think Harbaugh is the top candidate despite his offensive background!

Regards,
Steve

You've got a pretty good case with "DC who knows what he hates to defend," as that's exactly what Bob Stoops did and he's been pretty successful. On the other hand, the top guys in college right now have a decided offensive bent.

Defensive guys at top 25 schools: Saban, Dantonio, Patterson, Snyder, Whittingham, Mora.

Offensive guys: Meyer, Helfrich, Fisher, Briles, Mullen, Freeze, Rodriguez, Johnson, Richt, Graham, Pinkel, Swinney, Andersen, Malzahn, Harsin, Petrino, Miles, Sarkisian, Kill.

A few of those are tenuous (Swinney was never a coordinator, Kill has been a head coach for so long he's just a head coach); even considering that it seems like the rapid evolution of offense has made OCs preferable to DCs.

And when DCs do have sustained success it's often because they have an oddball system they make work, whether it's Saban's NFL-style pattern matching, Dantonio's hyperaggressive cover 4, or Patterson's 4-2-5. Imposing your will is possible on defense; it seems to be a lot easier on offense.

How long?

Brian,

I know you are being loaded with questions around the coaching search. My question is for after the search is over. The basis of the question is simple. How long do you think until Michigan is back to at least consistent 8 to 9 win seasons.

My personal belief is that with Harbaugh the chances are quick. But, what if it is not Harbaugh and someone who specializes in spread concepts to their offense, ie.) a Mullen or Herman? Do you think those hires would lead to as heavy an attrition as the Rich Rod transition did? If not how well would the current roster mesh with those schemes. Lastly if one of those two or another spread guy was hired, and the transition isn't a great fit, should we be prepared for Harbaugh, Harbaugh, Harbaugh, all over 4 years from now? Thanks in advance.

Brewandbluesaturdays

There wasn't actually that much Rich Rod-Hoke transition attrition. Most of the guys who left did so because they couldn't stay in school or find playing time. IIRC, Cullen Christian and Ray Vinopal left with Tony Gibson to go to Pitt, but I don't think anyone else could be claimed to have left as direct effect of the changeover. (Check the most recent Attrition Watch and correct me if I'm wrong.) In general, transfers are rare. PSU had their program burned to the ground and open season declared on their players and they only lost a few guys.

Recruits who haven't signed LOIs are a different matter, but if Michigan has a coach in January they'll have about ten spots to fill.

As far as spread/not spread, the differences in personnel there are considerably overstated. OSU and Miss St run power-oriented spread offenses built on being beefy mean guys; that kind of offense would fit well with Michigan's recruits on the OL. Receivers are receivers; Michigan has a couple slot guys. Tailbacks like Brandon Minor and Carlos Hyde function in the spread; Michigan's current crew could do just fine.

QB is the big difference, and it's an issue. I do think Morris has sufficient wheels to be a keep-'em honest threat, and as OSU's shown over the past half-decade or so, a spread oriented system tends to keep reads for shaky QBs relatively simple.

Hoke did a very good job stocking the roster with guys who stick around and they are beginning to mature, so a relatively quick (read: year 2) turnaround is within the realm of possibility.

[After the JUMP: frankly, things get very silly.]

Unverified Voracity Judges 70s Mustaches

Unverified Voracity Judges 70s Mustaches

Submitted by Brian on November 14th, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Here's something to read as you wait for Hand to make you self high-five or send you further into your depressive tailspin.

STEP AWAY FROM THE GROBAN. Okay yeah don't ever talk to a Michigan player about anything but this is a flashback I do not need right now.

Brady Hoke: Fans who want to bash players via social media 'need to get a life'

At least this time there won't be a moronic media backlash against an obviously correct and appropriate sentiment about douchers on the internet who take their frustration out on players. So at least we've got that going for us. Someone make sure that Mike Rosenberg has still been run out of town on a rail. (He what? He got a job where? As a janitor? Oh. Well, the world is a terrible place.)

The Daily has compiled Ace Williams and other 16 year olds having hissy fits at Gardner on Twitter. While it's getting tiresome every time someone points out that racists, idiots, and the 16-year-old-pretending-to-be-Oxford-attending-face-gel-model Ace Williams have access to the internet, yes, all of these people should be shot into the sun. But I think a lot of people should be shot into the sun. I don't think we should put me in charge of the Which People Go On The Rocket Into The Sun committee.

TOP FIVE PEOPLE GOING IN THE ROCKET INTO THE SUN

  1. Sepp Blatter
  2. Fred Durst
  3. Jonathan Franzen
  4. Whoever popularized quinoa
  5. Bill Hancock

Q: Where is Al Borges in that line?

Aw man he doesn't deserve to be burned into a crisp. Don't ask me about this in the immediate aftermath of a muffed punt.

Last. Michigan is now dead last in tackles for loss allowed.

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This is amazing. For once, your perception that thing X about your team being the greatest or the worst is accurate. Savor this moment. (Forget about all of this immediately using whatever techniques or substances required to do so.)

Stop thinking about that think about this.

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if they called it "Bovember" I would be required to do it by law

Steve Sapardanis rates Michigan mustaches of the 1970s. Why didn't I do this instead of the UFR? Because I am dumb. I am beyond dumb.  Anyway, here's Sap's greatest mustache of all time:

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That's Jon Giesler (1975-78), who is obviously an offensive lineman.

Booing. Michigan Stadium booed during the Nebraska game. I disapprove of this at all times, but at least this time it was blazingly obvious that the fans were booing two runs into the line for nothing that everyone in the stadium knew were coming and would not work. That is coach-directed, and of a different tenor than the stadium-wide hissy fit early in the Rodriguez era. But hey give the media a chance to write a story about it and they will, asking everybody about it about six times. Even, uh…

Obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinion,” [Desmond] Morgan said. “It’s a little bit disappointing, I would say. The guys in this building are the guys in this building. We’re together. We’re not too concerned about the outside influences, whether the fans are up or down.”

…the defense! File under trying too hard.

Resume thinking about misery. So… yeah. "Line Yardage" is a metric that chops out everything over ten yards and relatively discounts yards from 5-10 in an effort to see which offensive lines are doing the best at getting yards under the assumption that most of the stuff after about five yards is not on them.

You're probably thinking that Michigan isn't doing too well in this stat. You are correct.

Worst single-game Line Yardage average in 2013:
1. Michigan (vs. Michigan State): -0.53
2. Oregon State (vs. SDSU): 0.11
3. Michigan (vs. Nebraska): 0.47
4. Miami (vs. Va. Tech): 0.57
5. North Texas (vs. Georgia): 0.58

Georgia State got a better push against Alabama than Michigan got against Nebraska.

That seems un-good. That's appalling, is what that is. Against Nebraska of all teams Michigan checks in with the third worst line yards number of the season, right on the heels of… ahem…

*losing an average of a half yard on actual run plays against MSU once you cut things off at ten yards*

UNGOOD

SUBOPTIMAL

SMELLS LIKE A PANICKED POSSUM

OH IT IS REALLY JUST FOUL

How it's going. The first data on college basketball's fouling crackdown is in. Drumroll…

So scoring is up, but it doesn’t appear there’s much contribution from a change in the way game is played. It’s almost all due simply to more fouls being called in lieu of turnovers forced. Whatever adjustments teams make to avoid committing fouls have yet to take place.

It's ugly out there right now. Hopefully we'll see adjustments and fewer fouls, except in Wisconsin's case, where I hope every single Badger fouls out in the first seven minutes. If you're a Michigan fan or just a fan of basketball that doesn't look like two pigs fighting over an onion, quotes like these are infinitely delicious:

Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy was quoted as pointing out that if someone pays to see Celine Dion in Vegas, she doesn’t foul out at intermission. In an article about the new defensive rules, USA Today quoted coaches, most notably West Virginia’s Bob Huggins, in various states of dismay regarding the changes that make the use of hand-checks, arm-bars and defensive jabs illegal. In a preseason press conference last week, Xavier coach Chris Mack said, “I think they stink.”

And closer to home:

"You're not going to believe what happened," Izzo said on his radio show Wednesday. "I got home last night, and I walked in the house, and my wife was sleeping, so I gave her a kiss on the forehead. A referee blew his whistle and gave me a technical."

A BWAHAHAHAHAHA was heard emanating from the MGoUndergroundLair.

Come on, baby needs a  new All-American center's back. The latest on McGary's back, which needs to come back if Michigan is going to go back to the promised land. Back.

“For the first time now he’s done some workouts,” Beilein said. “He’s had more repetitions in practice over the last 10 days. He’s had repetitions and he looks very good and we’re going to continue increasing his repetitions.”

McGary’s on-court workouts are still limited to non-contact, individual work, according to Beilein.

Previously, McGary was essentially limited to shooting drills.

That's… that is still rather alarming. It sounds like there's little chance he comes back full strength for a while yet.

Line revamp #2. Hockey! Hockey. Michigan's putting the lines in a blender again with a bye week to work on business. The new configuration, according to the Daily:

  1. Di Guiseppe – Copp – Motte
  2. Guptill – Compher – DeBlois
  3. Nieves -  Lynch - Moffatt
  4. Selman – Hyman – Allen

#3 is a guess; the article doesn't really mention it. It would be odd to see Lynch center those guys but Michigan has too many scoring wings to put them all on lines with scoring centers. Hypothetically, anyway. Hypothetically, they have scoring wingers. To date they've been sort of scoring.

So far it seems like they just are who they are and will remain so no matter how many lines are thrown in the Cuisinart.

In other news: Racine is ready to come back but Berenson won't name a starter until the weekend and Mike Chiasson will continue playing in place of injured Kevin Lohan.

Old Yost, man. Follow up to that mailbag question about why Yost isn't what Yost was: here's a clip from a 1999 playoff series against Bowling Green that Michigan Hockey Net unearthed.

Bob Gassoff couldn't play hockey worth a damn but he was kind of like a living program-wide hype man. Flip ahead to 4:30 and just see how many people there used to be in the student section. This was before the overhang and before the most recent seat-stripping renovation; in the same space there are probably twice as many people. What did you do, Bill Martin? Why did you kill that so you could put in some seats for boring people who barely show up?

Etc.: If you haven't noticed I've given up on Ace Williams radio silence since yobs like Bill Simonson are citing him as a credible source, this blowing up my inbox and making various players on Michigan having to tell everyone they know they're not transferring. New policy: repeated statements about his lack of credibility.

Daily on Jon Falk. Daily on the long history the NTDP freshmen have with each other. Is Darryl Funk a witch? Here is a Grape Nuts commercial featuring Biggie Munn. Borussia Dortmund is the best, man. John Kryk on the 1973 vote to send OSU to the Rose Bowl.

QUINOA IS TERRIBLE.

Mailbag: Plenty Of Sad Football What Now Stuff, Yost Back In The Day

Mailbag: Plenty Of Sad Football What Now Stuff, Yost Back In The Day

Submitted by Brian on November 5th, 2013 at 1:36 PM

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Bryan Fuller

Hi Brian:

Watch Michigan lose to Michigan State on Saturday was frustrating and somewhat difficult to put into perspective. We want to believe that the coaches are capable of understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their players so the players can successfully execute. We also have to have the right players. It seems that we are still not where we want to be in terms of talent, coaching and understanding. How far away are we before we have the right combination?

Thanks,
Robert

Let's just get to the big question first. Michigan is still staring at the crater where their senior class is supposed to be, and reeling from Rich Rodriguez's inept offensive line recruiting. The 2011 class is also not spectacular, as it was a few in-state true believers, Blake Countess, and guys with little recruiting profile thanks to Rodriguez's sinking profile and Michigan giving Hoke three weeks to pile ten guys in. The talent on this team is mostly underclass.

That will not be the case on next year's defense. A projected starting lineup:

  • DL: Clark (Sr), Beyer (Sr), Pipkins (Jr), Henry (Rs So)
  • LB: Morgan (Sr), Ross (Jr), Ryan(Sr)
  • DB: Countess (Rs Jr), Taylor (Sr), Wilson (Jr), J. Clark (Rs So)

This defense is an okay unit still beset by personnel issues. Snaps at NT not given to Quinton Washington against MSU went to… Jibreel Black. Yup. 250-pound Brennen Beyer is now the starting SDE. Before that the existence of Black was the only thing separating the situation the SDE and 3TECH positions from the one Michigan is dealing with at guard: one sophomore with a middling recruiting profile (Bryant on OL, Heitzman on DL) and a pile of freshman who are still freshman no matter how touted. I expect Michigan's defense to take a significant step forward from good but not great to maybe great next year.

The situation on offense is much more frightening. Michigan hasn't been able to move snap one away from Fitzgerald Toussaint, which is an indictment of Michigan's recruiting or development or both there. Michigan hasn't had a QB who wasn't massively turnover prone since Borges arrived, and there are zero seniors on next year's OL. Does a starting line of Magnuson-Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis-Braden featuring four sophomores and a junior who is a former walk-on entice? No.

Michigan's probably a 9-3 team next year and then you're putting all your eggs in Shane Morris's basket at QB the year after. So… not for a while.

[After the JUMP: oh good the "when can we fire this guy" tag is back. Yost: not really Yost.]

Unverified Voracity Quits English

Unverified Voracity Quits English

Submitted by Brian on October 4th, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Touchdown Billy Taylor. A trailer for Dan Chace's upcoming Billy Taylor documentary:

More Yost pictures. From new M hockey blog Yost Section 25:

2012-09-30_13-05-10_766[1]

The first Sunday matinee game is going to be a trip.

Game: stepped up. OSU just announced a series with TCU starting in 2018, which is somewhat notable since they've already got Cincinnati on the docket. If TCU is notable, this is jaw-dropping:

"We will play two more BCS games that year," [OSU AD Gene] Smith told Yahoo! Sports via email Wednesday, using the parlance for a quality top six-conference opponent.

Even if those are Colorado-style one-off guarantee games, dang. OSU may be done with the Little Sisters of the Poor:

"That year [2018] is a snapshot of future years," Smith said. "As we move forward, from 2018 and out, our goal is BCS only. We are looking at top ranked teams, 1-50 teams."

Here's a thing I never thought I'd say: Gene Smith, I am impressed. If OSU puts together a full slate of BCS opponents in 2018, that will be their first time since 1995 (4-8 BC, 7-4-1 Washington, and 2-9 Pitt) and second time since 1990.

Michigan's last all-power-conference lineup was in 1997, and Dave Brandon has a lot of work to do to keep up with the Joneses what with the Notre Dame series ending*.

*[ : ( ]

Playoff: a motivator. Wetzel points out a key motivator behind the sort of scheduling seen above:

In 1988, before the creation of the Bowl Alliance, the precursor to the BCS, there were 15 non-conference games where both teams were ranked in the AP preseason top 20. This year there were just two featuring AP preseason top 20 teams: Alabama-Michigan and Clemson-South Carolina.

While one of the BCS's oft-repeated talking points was that it protected the regular season, it was, in fact, destroying the non-conference portion.

Now it's back to the future as athletic directors across the country place their faith in a selection committee that will rationally analyze a body of work, not just blindly follow records.

For example, Oregon was ranked fifth in the final BCS standings last season, one spot behind Stanford. The Ducks had two losses, but one was to then top-ranked LSU on a neutral field. Stanford had just one loss, but it was to Oregon, by 23 points at home. The Ducks also won the Pac-12 title.

The BCS didn't care. It claimed Stanford was better. An informed selection committee would never make that decision and thus penalize Oregon for playing a challenging non-conference schedule. Conversely, a weak non-conference schedule might cost you on selection day.

Even Wisconsin says it will seek out "at least" two major opponents in the non-conference schedule. Man, the BCS sucked. Not only did it pick the wrong team about half the time, it also created the worst scheduling practices since things like Iowa Pre-Flight stopped existing.

Money is another factor, of course. With ticket prices rising along with guarantee requirements the money has started coming in on the side of actual games.

Trouba: the devil on skates. Three tweets from the immediate aftermath of Jacob Trouba's first practice at Michigan:

I think we are going to like Mr. Trouba.

Goalie: ack. In less sunny news, Red Berenson revealed that projected starting goalie Jared Rutledge had retina surgery recently and may not be available early in the season. Meanwhile, top backup Steve Racine is also coming back from injury:

Racine underwent an offseason surgery that limited his physical activity, Berenson said.

“He’s just starting to get close to 100 percent, but he looks pretty good,” Berenson said.

Racine is 21 after a long junior career and will be a nice guy to have on the roster—not every 5'6" walkon is going to be the statistically-best goalie in Michigan history.

Ain't got no headset. Hoke on WXYT:

"It is overrated," Hoke said Thursday on an interview with the Stoney and Bill Show on WXYT 97.1-FM. "You ever watch guys on head sets and they don't say a word? This gives me an opportunity to coach kids during a game.

"The game is a mental game, it's a game of motivation and enthusiasm and teaching. Not wearing a headset, I get to teach on the sideline and be a part of it."

As for the question of whether or not he knows what play offensive coordinator Al Borges is sending in, Hoke says he doesn't need a headset to hear that.

"I do know what the calls are, because there's a guy standing right behind me who tells me every call that's going in," Hoke said.

People keep bombing the Vincent Smith call, but when two linemen don't pull that's not really on the playcall.

Also Hoke likes "Smoke on the Water," surprising no one. I would watch a sitcom based around the misadventures of 20-year-old Brady Hoke in Muncie. I would break that thing down.

Oh for the love of God. Two sentences from two PR things I received today:

Heart of Dallas, a newly minted nonprofit, exists to inspire Dallas millennials to become the next generation of influencers and philanthropists by leveraging a consistent calendar of sports and entertainment events. Proceeds from Heart of Dallasactivities will be used to invest in collective impact strategies that make Dallas a better place.

make it stop

Flagstar had an interest in co-branding with our digital properties and we’re excited to have them partner on our website and student loyalty program. We look forward to having Flagstar as a partner in our top-rated digital space on the collegiate level.

if you roll your eyes too hard do you evaporate into a mist of condescension

AAAAAAAAH!!! Do you need to bore someone to death? LITERALLY TO DEATH? DO YOU NEED SOMEONE SO BORED THEY MELT?!?!?! THIS IS WHAT YOU NEEEEEED.

image

I QUIT ENGLISH. EFF THIS LANGUAGE. I'M OUT. HOLA AT YOUR BOY.

Etc.: Ed O'Bannon lawsuit forces ESPN to release a ton of contracts. Go Ed O'Bannon lawsuit. GLI would move back indoors if the Winter Classic is lost to the NHL lockout. Game preview from Hammer and Rails. Guys don't have names like Adolph "Germany" Schulz anymore.

Unverified Voracity Is Getting A Call From Mom

Unverified Voracity Is Getting A Call From Mom

Submitted by Brian on October 2nd, 2012 at 2:09 PM

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wait, what? – Caleb TerBush

Yikes. Michigan is a mere three-point favorite against Purdue this weekend, which seems mighty narrow to me. I may be assuming that Denard Robinson does not turn the ball over five times, which Vegas is not. Boo 2012 Notre Dame game, boo.

Purdue's coming off a not-as-close-as-you-think game against Marshall in which they led 42-14 at halftime before yielding three touchdowns in the first 18 minutes of the second half and allowing the Herd to get within ten points. They traded touchdowns in the final 12 minutes, and that was the final margin. Marshall's lost to Ohio and beat Rice in two OTs; they've got the worst scoring D in the country at the moment, and they outgained Purdue by 91 yards. If Michigan only wins by three I'll be expecting bad things the rest of the season. Purdue QB Caleb TerBush was ineffective against ND (8 of 19, 79 yards, 1 TD/2 INT) and was pulled for a considerably better Robert Marve. Marve won't be available.

So what I'm saying is that at first blush I don't like the spread, which makes me feel both sad and alarmed because it's the best predictor available. I would like to avoid posting this at any point over the weekend:

mjVSD[1]

Beyer's back. The most newsy bit of the press conference:

How’s your team’s health?

“There ya go. You know, I think Beyer will be back. Brandon Moore will be close. He’s getting better.”

Richard Ash?

“Richard is better. Uh there’s one more, too.”

Hopkins?

“Hop’s fine. Devin’s fine. They all practiced last night. Yeah Ricky Barnum was a little -- sore shoulder. He was fine last night. So with the guys who aren’t out for the year, the rest of them are okay.”

Marvin Robinson?

“He was better. He ran around last night and he feels much better.”

Beyer was walking around in an air cast after his injury and I was a little worried he might be laid up for a long time, which would have been bad. The options at WDE were a major target for ND and didn't do so well. Beyer at least gives them another option at the spot. Clark makes more plays you notice, but I'll bet a nickel Beyer is less likely to get caved in and give up the edge.

Also, feel free to infer that Brink is out for the year from the above.

Also also, this:

Are you worried that Denard is what he is, i.e. not improving in your system?

“No. Not at all. I mean, he’s our quarterback, and he’s a damned good quarterback. I didn’t say that, so don’t write that. No we’re very comfortable and we’re very confident in him. … I know you’re going to write that.”

I will.

“Daggone it. My mom’s going to read that and get mad.”

She doesn’t think you swear?

“Why don’t you just ask a question.”

And you're fired and you're fired and you're fired. Extreme media hostility isn't just for Los Angeles anymore:

Tuesday, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier finally spoke with his media after two days of giving an opening statement and then refusing to field questions.

What has Spurrier so irked? Apparently columnist Ron Morris — again.

Ron Morris is a columnist at The State in South Carolina and has become Spurrier's nemesis. Last October, Spurrier called out Morris for something he wrote in the spring regarding then-basketball player Bruce Ellington and how Spurrier persuaded Ellington to play football.

This time, according to Saturday Down South, Spurrier seems to be mad about a Morris column that questioned playing quarterback Connor Shaw against UAB. Shaw, who has been nursing an injured shoulder he suffered in the season opener against Vanderbilt, injured the shoulder again against the Blazers.

The excerpt from the column that follows is pretty tame (also: dumb). Spurrier is accused of a "poor decision" to play Connor Shaw with a dinged shoulder, which he re-injured in the game. The column is just another tossed-off nothing (Shaw was 20 of 21 against Missouri), but apparently this business goes back a ways. Be chill, OBC.

Meanwhile, a local news station axed the guy's weekly segment, causing free speech rabbling.

Meanwhile in local media situations. Meinke is writing articles based off of his viewing of Inside Michigan Football. Interesting ones, even. Here's Mattison on Morgan defending that goddamned counter draw:

Mattison said he was most impressed by Morgan's discipline, specifically citing one counter draw play on which the sophomore could have pursued the ball, but elected to stay home as he was taught.

The play came back to him, and he made the tackle.

"We gave him that play probably four times in practice, and every time we gave it to him, we said, 'Desmond, you've got to stay home. You can't help on that sprint anyhow,'" Mattison said. "Well that same thing has happened before and he would go running and try to make the play because he's a young guy eager to make plays.

"All of the sudden, in this game, he became more of a veteran."

And Mattison on Raymon Taylor:

"Raymon has really improved," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said this week on the Inside Michigan Football radio show. "He has been thrown in the fire. If someone would have said to me at the beginning of the year, 'Will he be starting against Notre Dame?' I don't know if I would have said yes.

"(But) I was really proud of him how he played. He knows he's got a lot of things he has to get better at, but one thing he didn't do was shy away from anything. He competed."

I'm not sure you can do that. In yet another NHL draft ranking, Chris Peters tackles prospects 26-50. D Michael Downing and F Tyler Motte show up, FWIW, but I'm most intrigued by this construction:

49. Tyler Motte - C - U.S. National Under-18 Team (USHL) - 5-9, 190

When at his best, he's an offensively dynamic talent. Good speed, solid strength despite a smallish frame, and good finish around the net make him an intriguing prospect. Motte has had a problem with consistency, which he has a whole season to prove isn't a problem anymore.

Lloyd Carr feels you, Mr. Peters. Also, yes please 5-9 kid good enough to be a second rounder. Needs moar tiny scoring machines at Yost.

Nice concourse. Wow:

concourse[1]

That's quite a difference from last year. Also the zambonis have studded tires now. Yost Built is back to posting, BTW. The Blue/White game scheduled for next Sunday will be a start-studded even thanks to the NHL lockout.

Etc.: UMHoops previews Jordan Morgan and Matt Vogrich. AP Mealer article is everywhere. Trey Burke is a third-team All-American to the Sporting News. Baumgardner on Burke. Weinreb on Holgo and the WVU-Baylor game. Michigan hasn't sucked after byes.