Unverified Voracity In Bed

Submitted by Brian on July 20th, 2009 at 11:52 AM

The fortune cookie of articles. Does it seem like this description of Shaun Alexander's recruitment should end with "…in bed"?

Alexander drove through a snowstorm to Michigan, where the school’s recruiting hostesses greeted him in their standard-issued khaki pants and golf shirts.

A week later, Alabama representatives picked him up in a private jet. On the way to Tuscaloosa, the pilot slid over and let Alexander fly. Once on campus he was greeted by a group of sundress-wearing co-eds named the ’Bama Belles. The young lady assigned to Alexander was the reigning Miss Alabama runner-up.

I'm pretty sure I know what that infamous golf shirt outfit looks like (right):

golf_cheerleader

Michigan has since replaced those shapeless… items with something more appealing. Maybe they allow the hostesses to wear something other than cotton garbage bags these days.

Michigan would get the last laugh when Ryan Pfluger shanked an extra point in the first overtime of the 2000 Orange Bowl, and in 2004 the NCAA would significantly restrict the ability of schools like Alabama to fete their recruits Paris Hilton-style. 

Show me your jets. There's been a lot of scuttlebutt about how Michael Shaw's injuries saw his abilities decrease in his intermittently-impressive freshman year, but I believe this is the first confirmation of such a thing from the man himself:

"I remember the Minnesota game, and nine times out of 10 that's a touchdown," Shaw said, referring to his 48-yard run, which led to his season-best 71-yard day. "I broke a long run and got dragged from behind. It was then that I was like, 'I'm really hurting. I've never not been able to run, not been able to explode.' " …

"I had significant playing time last year," Shaw said. "With those two guys (Minor and Brown) in front of me, it's up for grabs, and camp is a great platform for me to show I can still play and I'm ready. ... I'm about 90%. I'll be 100% by camp."

Yes. Remember that Mike Shaw is also made of dilithium. Last year he fumbled and disastrously tried to bounce it outside a few times each, but when he wasn't forcing facepalms out of the fanbase he was slashing into the secondary and picking up 20 or so yards a couple times per game.

Shaw's unlikely to wrest the starting job away from the two seniors unless both succumb to injuries. A good sophomore year would see Shaw remain healthy, rip off the occasional long run whilst spotting the two co-starters, and throw down the gauntlet for anyone who presumes to challenge him in 2010.

More for the great leap forward. The latest effort of Football Outsiders' college guru Bill Conolly tackles tailbacks and has a number of data points relevant to Michigan. The stat in question is "Points Over Expectation." The brief summary: it's a metric that rewards you for rushing for lots of yards over many carries. It's something midway between YPC and yardage. (You can get a longer explanation at the link above.)

The notes of interest:

  1. Sam McGuffie checked in with the seventh-worst POE number in the country last year.
  2. Brandon Minor had the 12th-best POE number, and is the tenth-best returning tailback.
  3. !!!
  4. Javon Ringer ran a lot, but to little effect:
    Ringer was fourth in the country in rushing yards last year, but where did he stack up in POE? A whopping 137th, between Ball State backup Cory Sykes and Colorado backup Demetrius Sumler. Ringer's 390 carries merited a POE of -0.3, meaning an average college running back would have put up exactly what he did in 390 carries. While there is certainly skill (or at least good genes) involved in managing 30 carries per game without breaking down, it is unlikely that the skills Ringer possesses will in any way translate to pro success

In football numbers always require interpretation. Mine: the difference between McGuffie and Minor is partially, maybe even mostly, due to the radical improvement of Michigan's offensive line as the season progressed. The vast bulk of Minor's carries came in the second, effective half of the season. McGuffie was stuck running behind some super-confused guys.

But, man, the size of that gap is epic. Minor was more effective by leaps and bounds. This may something anyone who watched the two could tell you anecdotally, but if last year's Michigan's running game was the 12th-most effective in the country when Minor got the ball that's an accomplishment nearing magnificence. I've been making the case here that we should expect the rushing offense to take a considerable step forward this year; these numbers support that, possibly even to an extent I haven't dared suggest.

On Ringer: I think most people who saw a lot of Ringer would disagree with Connolly's conclusion at least somewhat. Ringer's lack of per-carry production was a product of extreme overuse, predictable playcalling, and being backed by the "threat" of Brian Hoyer*. I've also heard from a couple of educated Michigan State fans that the reason last year's Michigan State team had about one run play—power off tackle—was the ineptness of the offensive line. That's all they could do. He was not put in a position where he could succeed, and he managed to get drafted despite Dantonio treating him like a pack mule. Ringer has talent—probably not NFL-level, but you could say that about a lot of tailbacks with much better POE numbers.

It'll be interesting to see whether the repertoire expands next year or if they're the new Rock, Rock, Rock of the Big Ten. I lean towards the latter. Dantonio may have herded the cats at State into something resembling a competent defense, but offensive creativity does not seem like a specialty.

*(Brandon Minor gets to deploy all these excuses as well since Michigan ran two-thirds of the time when he was the feature tailback, largely because the alternative was having Threet or Sheridan throw. And yet… the numbers. I'm going to go breathe into a paper bag for a while and then write "I will NOT predict 9-3" on a chalkboard 500 times.)

Ah, Doyel. I've previously called Gregg Doyel a junior-high version of Christopher Hitchens and that he remains, but goddamn if it isn't satisfying to read a Christopher Hitchens piece when his strident personal morality happens to intersect with yours. So, yeah, Doyel's latest is a rip job on the inane Meyer-to-ND meme personally started by professional provocateur Paul Finebaum, and I like it.

I want to highlight this bit:

Finebaum's source? He doesn't mention one. Because he doesn't have one. His source is either Spurrier's "rumor down there," or that vast empty space Finebaum calls his skull. …

the Meyer rumor won't leave. Newspapers in Gainesville, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla., have written about it, all in the past six days. Why? Because of Spurrier. And Finebaum.

This is pretty much the exact thing newspaper partisans get upset about when a baseless rumor flies about the blogosphere, reproducing willy-nilly despite a total lack of evidence or credibility. This is not a bug unique to the internet. Like everything else, it just happens much more slowly in newspapers.

In a way it's even more likely to result in untruthiness. Scratch the right sort of Notre Dame, Michigan State, or Ohio State fan and eventually he'll say something along the lines of "lol, Shredriguez" because last year a West Virginia newspaper published an embarrassingly credulous story about Rodriguez invading the Sacred Single Hardcopy Room and destroying all evidence that West Virginia even had a football program. The thing in question takes on a patina of reality due to the institutional momentum behind such a meme—it in a newspaper, it must be true—even if it's purest crap.

Etc.: Terrific UMHoops post on the three-point line move and Michigan's bombing ways.

Comments

Erik_in_Dayton

July 20th, 2009 at 12:16 PM ^

Given that the O-line is the engine that makes an offense go, it is hard not to start dreaming about an offense that will be a lot better this year when you hear the coaches say that they're the most improved unit on the team. Must...not...get...too...excited.

Re: Cheerleaders (and acknowledging that we've had this argument on the board before), I'm glad U of M doesn't pimp out it's cheerleaders like a lot of the southern schools do...And yes, I realize that U of M football players still manage to have sex (with girls, not each other) b/c they're football players.

Re: Ringer, I don't see how Brian can say that Dantonio treated him like a "pack mule." A classy person wouldn't do that and Dantonio is nothing if not classy, not like the arrogant, short-running-back-having, 3-9 Michigan Wolverines, who are not classy like Dantonio (who is classy).

wishitwas97

July 20th, 2009 at 1:51 PM ^

overrated. Anybody could post numbers with the number of carries that he had last season. This numbers confirmed my suspicion. His YPC wasn't that impressive and the fact that Michigan as whole had better YPC than MSU despite the fact that MSU ran the ball a lot more than Michigan, Ringer's number just wasn't that impressive to me.

Ryan

July 22nd, 2009 at 1:03 PM ^

"and the fact that Michigan as whole had better YPC than MSU despite the fact that MSU ran the ball a lot more than Michigan"

I'm not sure 'despite' is the word you're looking for. If you run the ball disproportionately more than you throw, then you should expect the defense to play the run and hurt your YPC.

los barcos

July 20th, 2009 at 12:26 PM ^

"these numbers support that, possibly even to an extent I haven't dared suggest."

IF forcier/robinson is even halfway competent, this is going to be a very productive offense. and IF the defense can stay healthy, this team is going to surprise alot of people....

redcedar87

July 20th, 2009 at 12:34 PM ^

"It'll be interesting to see whether the repertoire expands next year or if they're the new Rock, Rock, Rock of the Big Ten. I lean towards the latter. Dantonio may have herded the cats at State into something resembling a competent defense, but offensive creativity does not seem like a specialty."

Dantonio's been the head coach for two years. His first season had a balanced offense (the #1 scoring offense in the Big Ten until Purdue hung 51 on CMU in the Motor City); his second was the run-heavy Ringer show. Given the massive gap between data points, I don't see the trend. Dantonio effectively utilized Thomas/Davis and Ringer/Caulcrick in '07 and was left with only Ringer (and Dell, who was streaky/injured) in '08.

With inexperience at RB/OL, depth (albeit unproven) at WR, and a non-Hoyer QB this year, I would expect a return to a more balanced offense.

Nick Sparks

July 20th, 2009 at 12:44 PM ^

Brian,

When you say:

"I've been making the case here that we should expect the rushing offense to take a considerable step forward this year; these numbers support that, possibly even to an extent I haven't dared suggest."

Does this mean that you're now possibly daring to suggest it?

I only ask because I really want to get excited for this year, more than anything, but I think after the last couple years we're all a little traumatized and have a hard time really letting ourselves fall.

You seem to do a better job than most at not letting your M allegiances cloud your judgement. Should I just keep "optimistically" telling myself 7-5... 8-4 if we're fortunate; or should we legitimately be getting excited about this season for above said reasons?

PS Erik, that's a wonderful amount of snark this afternoon - most appreciated. I'd +1 you if I could.

dex

July 20th, 2009 at 9:45 PM ^

honestly, yes, she's hot and the video confirms it, but you feel impossibly dirty and wrong after watching it. i mean, taping through a peep hole? that's pretty fucked up.

i have no idea where to find it now. i'd imagine it will be tough to find.

wlvrine

July 20th, 2009 at 10:48 PM ^

I agree, she is hot. Smok'in. Would I spy on her (or anyone) through a peephole if I knew I would not get caught?
No, because like you said, it's pretty fucked up. I understand it can be hard (heheh I said hard) to see how watching this video and literally peeping on someone is the same thing. But it is.
I'm not saying that viewers are as creepy as the guy who filmed this video. What he did was premeditated. Whereas most internet surfers could click a link in less time than it takes to form any sort of opinion about legality or a persons right to privacy.
I do not judge my fellow MgoBloggers. I only ask them to please carefully consider before choosing to watch this video.
Consider that there is a real person with real feelings who is dealing with the shame and humiliation of being secretly filmed in the nude.

gpsimms not to…

July 20th, 2009 at 12:50 PM ^

I wish the best for the kid's future, but I think OL improvement was the secondary reason for the improved running game while McGuffie's replacement by Minor/Brown was primary.

Watching McGuffie get tossed around like a rag doll by Toledo was telling.

By the end of the Toledo game McGuffie had 3 TDs on 113 carries and 3.9 YPC in 6 games.

In that same stretch, Brandon Minor had 2 TDs on 13 (!!!) carries and 6.6 YPC.

The fact that people debated which running back was a more viable option as the starter still irks me.

gpsimms not to…

July 20th, 2009 at 2:56 PM ^

I do remember those things, I am simply suggesting that Minor's body of work suggested he was the more capable runner than McGuffie from day 1. Injury/fumbles or no, he made several "superior runner" type runs during the "green OL" days of the first half-season. If I recall correctly, his Utah fumble was a questionable call; his ND fumble was what should have been a drop on a forward pass; and he didn't fumble against Miami. (I may be mistaken, did he fumble one more time early?)

As for the doghouse thing, Rodriguez started so many terrible players against Utah it is hard to say which starting spots were earned/deserved.

(Sheridan>Threet?)
(Evans>anyone?)
(McGuffie>Shaw>Minor?)
(Panter>anyone?)

I should mention, that I do remember an October-ish article in which minor said he began working even harder around Wisconsin time, so maybe he was slacking in practice before.

blueblueblue

July 20th, 2009 at 1:12 PM ^

"Minor was more effective by leaps and bounds."

The irony of this turn of phrase is too great to ignore when comparing Minor to McGuffie. McGuffie is known for his leaping ability and Minor is known for his steamrolling ability. One had a good amount of success, the other, well, meh. McGuffie's upright running style put him in danger of getting the shit knocked out of him, which he did with great success. Minor rarely went down on 1st contact, McGuffie seemed to do so much more often. I am not trying to bash McGuffie, with an overhaul in his style he will be successful. Just saying that I was much happier last year to finally have Minor as the go-to-guy, and I am just as happy to have him this year.

Tater

July 21st, 2009 at 11:38 AM ^

I don't know how many concussions McGuffie really had, but I am pretty sure it was more than what we were told. I am quite sure he kept "re-concussing" himself by telling coaches he was "OK" and getting back in too soon. Anyone could see how he lost valuable fractions of a second on his reflexes the last half of the 2008 season.

It was enough to turn him from elusive prey to a sitting duck. And once you have had even one concussion, they come a lot quicker the next time. I hope McGuffie goes to class, warms the bench, gets a nice degree from Rice, and has a nice career when he gets out of school. Sadly, I think he is going to continue to compete in a compromised state and get the crap beaten out of him. I hope he isn't a "shot fighter" at 23.

Seth

July 20th, 2009 at 1:22 PM ^

Keep in mind, B, that We the Sheeple would believe a baseless rumor in a heartbeat if it was published on this blog, and that's only after several years of you building cred.

Newspapers make sure their 3-figure years of this is printed right on top. Newspaper cred didn't just appear out of the nether -- it was culled from a century of figuring out and implementing rigid, medium-wide standards of excellence. That a number of journalists along the way decided to take the medium's cred vehicle out for a ride is a matter of indisputable record. But they still earned it.

I understand your frustration: here's a blog that takes journalistic integrity more seriously than the local papers, or at least it does on the blog's official topic. And therefore you are more than justified when someone questions your credibility because you are "just a blog," to lash out.

Just keep some perspective: you function in the same medium as Drudge, and Drudge is still the mass-perceived median of blogging integrity. You are, for the moment, at best, an evolutionarily more advanced species during the early stages of an evolutionary shift in mass media, which will likely take at least another generation to complete. You are a specimen of bloggus credibilus antecessor, in an period that later generations will still consider the age of bloggus vitriolis. Or so I would like to believe -- you may end up a pleasant anachronism, the proverbial ancestor who was genetically impervious to cancer but was stung by a scorpion at six.

In other words, I understand why a blanket distrust of blogging is unfair to you (and a number of other trustworthy bloggers who have made the dissemination of information their livelihoods). But neither your blog, nor the blogging medium in general have the institutional megalith of quality control behind them to compare with any daily rag. Have patience, it takes an awful long time for a medium to earn the kind of trust that newspapers enjoy (and abuse).

Gus_possessive…

July 21st, 2009 at 3:51 PM ^

Newspapers advertise their centenarian status atop every issue for the same rhetorical purpose that Plochman's proudly informs us on every bottle that they have delivered mustardy goodness since 1852: consumers equate brand longevity with quality, and, in the case of newspapers, credibility. Newspapers neither deserve this positive association nor the reverence your post affords them.

In their infancy newspapers were essentially unilateral mouthpieces of the opinionated elite, each with its own agenda and literary stylings. (If it cost a lot of money and/or nepotism to operate a blog, would bloggers inherently have stronger ethos?) That blogs are populist and bilateral does not hinder the medium's credibility as traditional newspaper folk assert. Perhaps counterintuitively, I'd argue these very qualities lend themselves to an even higher degree of accountability and integrity.

Without deconstructing the entire history of journalism, complete with endless examples of newspapers' “institutional monolith of quality control” failing to actually control quality, suffice it to say that newspapers don't enjoy the credibility you perceive them to have as a result of a century's devotion to rigidity and excellence. Rather, newspapers since their inception have routinely violated every principal of ethical journalism-- all while under the pretense of delivering news that is factual, objective, balanced, important, etc.-- usually without repercussion because of a lack of competition from other news outlets. News organs and consumers alike should celebrate the alternative medium that the internet provides. If a pre-internet reporter fabricated baseless stories such as Meyer-to-ND, the publication for which he wrote might publish a clarification, reiterate its commitment to fact-checking, and resume its pompous post as the only source of local news. Today, its reasonable to assume the guilty paper would fear losing some readership to the competent and increasingly popular network of blogs who actually report real stories.

Where your argument that longstanding tradition makes newspapers a more credible medium holds water is that legal precedence exists that outlines traditional reporters' rights and privileges, their relationships with government and public figures and sources. Blogs, conversely, represent the Wild West of news media- a lawless, disorganized band of news gatherers with various degrees of talent and accessibility. A former newspaper purist who rejected the informality of the blogosphere, I'm quickly learning thanks to sites like Brian's that blogs can be successful without giving way to hyperbole, fabrication, or links to hot, naked chicks. And much of this success is dependent on a self-politicking, inquisitive and keen readership whose collective and continuous commentary serves as a singular editorial staff.

It's curious that you recognize on one hand how quickly Brian effectively (“We the Sheeple” lol) established credibility, yet on the other hand you seem to believe that the blogging medium is generations away from achieving the trust that newspapers enjoy. Consider this: If Brian fabricated stories on MGoBlog, he would put at risk his entire reputation and would have to explain to his readers, who, through visiting his site, are ostensibly his employers, why the inaccuracies occurred. When a MSM-enabled solipsist like Finebaum fabricates stories, his indiscretion will only be justly punished if the publication in which he misled readers stands to monetarily suffer. Now ask yourself: which person is held more accountable to the high-minded journalistic principle of writing for the readers? This structural difference suggests it might not be a very long time before blogs achieve the same trust you view newspapers having, and as privy bloggers continue to monitor MSM, the shift in credibility might happen sooner rather than later.

Seth

July 21st, 2009 at 10:19 PM ^

Thank you for that well-reasoned, well-supported rebuttal. One thing we both forgot to mention about blogs is that the "editorial" section is more reflective of the readership, because it actually IS the readership. I don't think I've ever been so pleased to have my arguments so thoroughly taken apart, and while I must give most of the credit to you, sir, I thank Brian, too, for providing a medium of such exquisite quality as to attract conversations such as this.

Imagine such a discourse in a newspaper.

Actually, do -- imagine an opposing discourse that goes on for thousands of words without one instance of fallacy or ad hominem. It happened, you know. There used to be a lot more newspapers, and they ran the gamut from so high-minded that Henry Adams would think it pedantic, to so low and vitriolic it would shame Ann Coulter. They were, 250 years or so ago, much more like blogs than the thick, 2-per-city broadsheet behemoths we came to know. Oh, sure, it was the elites who were writing them, but if you look at the demographic of who owns blogs today, it's the same folks -- the hoi polloi boys still lag behind those exposed from an early age to high language and high ideals.

Fast forward to the megalith publications of today. What I was speaking of, for the most part, is the perception of the public, and the utter futility of defending a medium in transition. If you went back to 1767 and decried the broadsheets because they couldn't match the quality of pamphlets, you'd hear 30 cheers for your name, because broadsheets were trash (and in the 1500s the same could be said for pamphlets). It took hundreds of years of refinement, through Yellow Journalism, etc. of improving to obtain their status. As you and I both pointed out, they are hardly perfect, but it's a gross over exaggeration to say they "routinely violated every principal of ethical journalism-- all while under the pretense of delivering news that is factual, objective, balanced, important, etc.-- usually without repercussion because of a lack of competition from other news outlets." Because they competed with each other. It wasn't until TV started replacing them that the market shrank and those left became practitioners of 'churnalism.'

I see the same potential for blogging that you do. But as a medium, blogs are still in their juvenile phase, with 30 purely puerile sites for every Brian Cook, Matt Hinton, et al. Only in the last year has big business really started to take notice. So like the early rags, a typical blog's credibility is tied to the unimpeachable integrity of one man (or woman). And the trouble with this is once you lose Ben Franklin, you lose the Pennsylvania Gazette. It takes so much more to build a brand, and few blogs have even thought that far ahead. What if we lost Brian today?* Is this blog repeatable enough for someone else to pick up the mantle?

I think it will take a generation -- 30 years lets say. And this has nothing to do with blogs' capabilities, or the quality of the best blogs or even the quality of the worst blogs. It's just that's how long it takes for the public to tire of vitriol and titties, and get over its initial excitement over the "new" way of doing things, to tell the bottom feeders to take a hike.

Thank you again for your reply. I regret that I have only but one +1 to give.

*sorry Brian -- I wish I could promise this was the last hypothetical in which you get rubbed out (not to give away the uni bracket's surprise ending or anything...)

Gus_possessive…

July 22nd, 2009 at 12:38 PM ^

First, cheers to pleasant discourse! We all know how difficult it is to find a forum for such debate on the internet.

Some quick thoughts follow.

I did (try to) mention that a blog's readership IS its de facto editorial section when I wrote that "... much of (a blog's) success is dependent on a self-politicking, inquisitive and keen readership whose collective and continuous commentary serves as a singular editorial staff." And, yes, all credit goes to Brian for conducting his blog in a manner that discourages dolts. Or most dolts, at least.

We're on the same page concerning the argument that early newspapers were like blogs in many regards. And it sounds like we both agree that over time the cream will rise to the top. You pose an interesting question when asking what happens when the "cream" finally curdles. (Brian, I realize you're still young, but have you considered shaping an apprentice? Or does MGoBlog die when you very well please?)

As for transitional media, let's just say I'm still mad that the printing press put honest movable clay typists out of work. But seriously, you make a good point here that the anti-blog sentiment is less of a personal attack than it is a reflection of many peoples reluctance to change. I don't think it will take 30 years, however, but maybe that's a sensitive response to the shrinking, expediting globe that Thomas Friedman types paint.

I've tried not to consult any old mass media textbooks, and I'm still not going to, but are you saying that the era of Yellow Journalism was a necessary evil on the way to a refined press? Please clarify...

I'll stand by my "over exaggerated" assertion that newspapers have sinned without consequence for as long as they've existed, but will clarify that I'm speaking about newspapers as a whole. Although I would be interested to see how many pre-TV papers went out of press because they lost credibility as a result of violating journalism ethics. Today, we'll both agree, that the strongest brands in print media (WSJ, NYT, WP, The New Yorker) can break rules without losing readership to other papers. Their watchdog, and increasingly their competition is blogs. And to tie back to the original point, Brian does his job by highlighting the follies of lolmsm.

*Did I just hear correctly that Phil Eck was on Price is Right today? Somebody please confirm.

Seth

July 23rd, 2009 at 11:09 AM ^

I guess we've come to a general consensus. Rock!

My main point through all of this is not to view blogs through the prism of an an all-out war with newspapers. Rather, I see them as new medium, embarking on the same journey of institutionalization that every new medium before has traveled.

I'll give you a snapshot of history before radio and TV: in 1918 Detroit had the Detroit News, the Detroit Tribune, the Detroit Journal, the Detroit Evening Journal and the Detroit Times as dailies, as well as the Sunday Herald. By 1950, that number was down to three. By the mid-'60s, it was down to two. In 1989, the Freep and News entered a joint operating agreement, essentially making them one monolithic news source. These moments coincide directly with the advent of radio, television, and cable news, respectively as viable media.

What we've seen from history, particularly the history of newspapers, is that it's not necessarily the creme de la creme of journalism who survive. The transition through capitalism will reward the most accessible, which are not necessarily the best.

As newspapers grew, they gave up on certain markets that were too small. The Democratic Free Press and Michigan Intelligencer, first published by Sheldon McKnight as an anti-slavery Democrats' paper in the 1830s, didn't even think to appeal to a large audience -- they saw a niche between a paper published by Jackson Democrats (which was pro-slavery), and one published by the "Yankee"-ish folks. Over time, the Free Press morphed its editorial mission to please the general public of Detroit and Southeast Michigan, and then the world.

This transition will happen to blogs, too. It comes with institutionalization, which is a necessity for the medium to increase its economic viability.

Think of it this way: if blogs replace newspapers, how can blogs make enough money to do the things we expected of newspapers?

One way to institutionalize would be for blogs to combine. Maybe it starts with an agreement between 20 great college football blogs across the country, where they all pay into a trust. That trust sells ads for all the sites (opening up a much bigger revenue stream for the bloggers), and also provides services for the bloggers, such as IT help, secondary hosting, what have you. Over time, that institution grows -- when one blogger wants to move on to something else, they have to approve the replacement. Then they start picking the replacements.

They also hire national reporters -- guys who can cover major recruiting events, go to games, and provide extra high-end content for the blogging coalition. They contract with a publishing house to print extra-blog materials. In essence, they identify market opportunities and exploit them. The blogs they represent, now making more money, also grow. They take on writing staffs. They take on Web experts. They take on local salesmen.

Over enough time, you've built a media machine much like those that grew from newspapers. They become ownership groups. They focus on cost-cutting, which is essential because much of what used to be free on the Internet (e.g. video streaming) has been monetized. The cost cuts change the blogs.

Yellow Journalism was one step along the way for newspapers. It wasn't necessarily a "necessary evil," so much as a warning. What happened was that the 10 newspapers in a given region realized they'd make more money by banding together, and this trend continued until there were only a few monoliths, who then could act with impunity. As you point out, we have a similar effect going on today with the major national papers.

Yellow journalism proved the folly of tying the a medium's credibility to a man rather than an institution; if the death of Ben Franklin spelled the beginning of the end for his Gazette, Pulitzer and Hearst spelled the beginning of the end for solo-publishing. Blogs will hit this point eventually as well -- one day Arianna Huffington will have something blow up in her face, and though she'll still have a following, her usefulness to the mass general public will diminish (as has that of most conservative radio personalities and bloggers already).

I don't make any judgment about what's best, or right, or what have you. Blogs have been able to fill a market niche of deep, high-end content in niche fields that was lost when newspapers had to shrink and conglomerate to compete with TV, etc. Over time, however, time and the lure of capital will force blogs into the same institutionalization.

The creation of more and more blogs will also force institutionalization, to prevent the dilution of the market. Like the 1700s in newspapers (which, too, were largely filled with reader contributions), as a regular poster becomes more and more known and respected, the likelihood increases that he will break off and form his own blog. That new blog will inherently compete for pageviews with the parent blog. To prevent this, the big blogs will need to bring their best contributors into the fold (once they have the money to do so, of course). They will also, as newspapers did, swallow up their competition. This effect is already happening -- note the popular Red Wings blog "Behind the Jersey" is now folded into the SBNation blog "Winging It in Motown." SBNation itself, in fact, is an institutionalizing force.

The big difference for blogs as opposed to previous media is, as you said, the readers get to post. This is a blessing and a curse. Yes, the readers on this blog have done most of the policing. On the other hand, just recently the most popular fan-post was "Jury's Still Out on Rodriguez," a troll attack. How blogs ultimately deal with trolling will help define the future of this medium. I imagine it will involve a development of more complicated user levels, granting greater access to contributors of higher quality. Of course, to do this right will require a full-time quality manager, i.e., an editor.

MGoBlog is fantastic..for us. But it's also limited by its own nicheness. How many smart, Internet-enabled Michigan football fans are there out there? Certainly there's still room to grow, but not infinitely -- under our standards, for example, there is little room for the masses who post on M-Live, or Rivals. If you want to grow, though, you have to take on new markets. And in a capitalist market, you either grow, or you die.

Maybe we'll be so lucky that Brian will be happy with what this blog brings him as an independent entity, and he won't lose interest or quality for another 30 years. I hope so. But even if that happens, he'll still need to keep finding new and better sources of information, and he'll still want to make enough money to send his kids to good schools (or Michigan State), and he'll want (and we'll want him) to take advantage of institutionalization's market benefits to the reader.

Put it this way -- the school sees it as its responsibility to allow the press access, because otherwise the press will incite the fanbase. But would you turn away from Michigan football if Brian was kicked out of the room and denied information? Institutionalization gives the press the power to represent their readers' interests; a niche blog has far less pull.

I wish every medium would return to the quality level that Brian has. I wish the blogosphere would generate an MGoBlog for every niche interest in the country, and bigger MGoBlogs where I could get my political news and my local news, etc.

But what country do you think this is? What market are we operating in? How much of the market shares the same tastes as us?

blueheron

July 20th, 2009 at 1:23 PM ^

They should fire the administrator / coach who added 15 years and 15 pounds to the cheerleaders with those hideous outfits. I'll bet they lost two recruits that day. :)

Nick Sparks

July 20th, 2009 at 1:39 PM ^

I wonder how much it would cost to spend a day following RR around... in his professional life only of course...

Just to sit there in the office, while he's doing recruiting stuff or whatever he does, and know every detail of what's going on with the program.

There could be some minimum talking clauses that only allowed me so many questions, that would be understandable, but I think Bill Martin should really look into creating a program like this.

PS The suggestion that Bill Martin would actually look into something like this was made in jest and does not need to be met with a myriad of explanations why this idea would never work out.

ZooWolverine

July 20th, 2009 at 2:31 PM ^

I think the rankings quoted here are incorrect . . . if I'm reading Minor's ranking's correctly at the link provided, he was the 26th best overall 2008 POE and the 12th best PPP+ for a returning player. That's all from one table which lists the "top 10" returning players by PPP+ but which, for some reason, after number 10 lists Minor as #12.

Since that table says he's got the 26th best overall 2008 POE and a quick count of the top 25 players shows 9 leaving, he should have the 17th best returning POE.

ShockFX

July 20th, 2009 at 3:47 PM ^

McGuffie was constantly ganged tackled in the backfield. I expect to see about equal Carlos Brown to Brandon Minor, freak injuries not withstanding.

Token_sparty

July 20th, 2009 at 11:52 PM ^

The story with Ringer is simple: he piled up yards and carries against bad run defenses. Against good ones, he just piled up carries. State fans worried that the workload would keep him from being a factor in any bowl game, and yea, verily, it came to pass. Say what you want about Dantonio, he focuses on defense, leaving most of the offense in the hands of Don Treadwell, who apparently had a mind-meld with Lloyd Carr in re rushing offense.

McGuffie, idk, he was actually pretty good until he got KTFO'ed by Kendell Davis-Clark and Marcus Hyde (?!!?). That he got knocked out of the game by a corner and safety is pretty telling, though. Upright running style, and all that. He fumbled on that play, which did give him something in common with Minor, FWIW. I'm pretty sure coaches pay much more attention to whether an RB is getting the yards you need -without fumbling the football- rather than some bullshit made up stat like POE.

Should be fascinating to see this year with both teams having some semblance of a real quarterback.