Unverified Voracity Eyes The Jugular

Submitted by Brian on April 27th, 2009 at 12:21 PM

MONDAY MONDAY MONDAY! This is probably going to be way less blood-spattered than the average person who might care about this would like, but it should be entertaining anyway: I'll be on Bacon's show on WTKA this afternoon… with Jim Carty! Carty's on at the beginning of the 4PM hour and I'll be joining him midway through. You can probably guess the topic: the dissolution of the Ann Arbor News. No, I'm not planning on getting into a really complicated discussion about the academics investigation that 15 minutes on a radio show can't do justice.

(One of these days, I promise, I will be on the radio to talk about football. Again, it's April.)

Christening. It looks like Michigan's going to open up their spectacular new renovated stadium next year with a terrific game against traditional power Massachusetts:

According to a source, it was Michigan that approached UMass about the game, which would be played at Michigan Stadium, which holds 106,201 for football.

“We’d like to, we want to, and we’re looking into it,” said UMass spokesman Jason Yellin.

Lame. Might as well get the yearly complaint out of the way: this is the worst thing about college football. Bill Martin's decision to extend the ND series until the sun expands was fine as long as Michigan would occasionally schedule an interesting second game, but that looks like it's never going to happen. When is Michigan going to agree to any series against an opponent respectable enough to demand a return game, even if it's a 2-for-1 situation? It doesn't have to be USC, but this is awful.

Two changes that will never get made that would improve things immeasurably: banning I-AA games and instituting a maximum of seven home games (or a minimum of five true road games, which would prevent things like Michigan vs New Mexico State at Ford Field from evading the directive). Since exactly zero people in the NCAA's hierarchy care about the people who pay for the entire enterprise, this will never happen.

Leaving as fast as possible in as many ways as possible. Lane Kiffin caused defections at Tennessee are up to a spectacular nine now, which is a lot more folk a lot faster than Rodriguez "ran off," to use the parlance of people who don't know what they're talking about. The latest is QB BJ Coleman, who actually appears to have gotten run off:

“It’s the best move for me,” Coleman told The Free-Press. “What changed my mind is, after this spring, I don’t see myself getting a fair shake. Based on conversations with coaches and things that happened this spring, I feel the staff has goals that do not include me."

This brings Tennessee down to two scholarship quarterbacks, one of whom is terrible senior Jonathan Crompton. And yet Kiffin said no thanks to the two committed quarterbacks he inherited from Fulmer, including top-100 guy Tajh Boyd. Relevance to Michigan? Slight. I guess he's taking a lot of heat that might otherwise be directed at Rodriguez.

Despite the irrelevance, the mention is because he's instantly the most fascinating head coach in college football. He committed yet another stupid, minor recruiting violation recently, by the way. Of course he did. This could go towards Spurrier direction or John L Smith; I have no idea which it will be.

Smotcyz! Smotycrz! Smotycz! Smotrycz! There's an inside view into my Smotrycz spelling process for you. I plan on charging 9.95 a month for things like that soon*, so soak it up now while it's free.

Anyway, Michigan's most recent commit had another AAU weekend and there were a couple reports. This is from NBE:

Good height, but needs to get physically stronger before the Big 10. His size and skill away from the basket makes it look like he was made for John Beilein’s system and he should get the most of his strengths at Michigan. Showed ability to slash to the basket, but needs to finish more often once in the paint, as evidenced by failing to convert on an easy lay-up. Added strength will help.

Kind of sounds like Deshawn Sims, no? Smotrycz is taller but probably not as athletic. Meanwhile at NERR:

Evan Smotrycz was the catalyst as the Michigan bound forward really brought his game to another level.  Not only was he making shots from the perimeter, but he also showed a much improved dribble drive game, as he was able to break his man down with a right to left cross-over on more than one occasion.  But it wasn’t just his ability to score off the dribble that was so impressive as he also passed the ball tremendously well, acting as a facilitator in the second half with his ability to create open looks for his teammates.

Evan Smotrycz picked up right where he left off a day earlier as he was outstanding for the second consecutive day, making shots, breaking people down off the dribble, and passing the ball very well.  It was his consistent excellence throughout the course of the weekend that helped propel the Rivals all the way to the finals before finally losing to a New Jersey Celtics team that featured top 50 junior Kyrie Irving and the nation’s top sophomore Michael Gilchrist.

I'm getting a little skeptical of these reports from NERR because identical ones are showing up at Scott Hazelton's site. Hazelton runs a basketball school/camp sort of business and Smotrycz is a protégé. The glowing reports might not be 100% fair and balanced, then. Might want to scale those down to places where Smotrycz is not a titan astride basketball.

That's not to say the last two weeks haven't been very good for public perception of Smotrycz's game: every national pundit who's offered an opinion has been extremely positive, and most have brought him up apropos of nothing except his ability to ball.

*(not really)

In other basketball recruiting. UMHoops has a wider roundup for those interested, with the most important development being the apparent cooling off between NY PF Will Regan and Michigan. Regan's latest top five doesn't include Michigan. With Michigan still hot on the heels of Trey Zeigler and in need of another point guard after Kelvin Grady's transfer, both open slots in this class are probably going to guards or wings, which Regan is not.

Grady's transfer brings the 2010 class to at least three spots. I've suggested in the past that Michigan might take four depending on the NBA status of Manny Harris and the fifth year status of Anthony Wright, but it's been pointed out to me that Michigan would then be approaching the loaded instate class of 2011 with just one open slot unless there was unexpected attrition. That's something they probably won't want to do unless the hypothetical 2010 player they're taking is freakin' awesome.

More media machinating. So: a kind mention from John Bacon on his weekly NPR commentary (transcript here) amidst his take on the Ann Arbor News is going kaput. Carty takes issue with some of the numbers:

I'm a little skeptical that, as John claims, more people read MGoBlog during football season than purchase the Ann Arbor News (this is a metrics issue, not a shot at MGoBlog, but a question about the difficulty of measuring individual Internet visitors, vs. the 250,000-plus people a week who you know bought the News, because you have their money).

Carty's right as to the difficulty of measuring the relative readership across mediums. My stats are public in two flavors:

  • Sitemeter, which measures pageviews and visits, and
  • Quantcast, which does an awful lot of complicated stuff to come up with some demographic numbers.

The upshot, as far as I can tell: the blog does about 2 million pageviews a month now. By traditional internet accounting these hits come from about 110,000 monthly uniques, but Quantcast thinks that's about 2x too generous as far as the number of actual people who check the site. The Ann Arbor News has a circulation of about 45k, which by standard industry math corresponds to sixty trillion readers. So… draw your own conclusions. The mere fact that it's plausible is probably more interesting than the current winner.

More JMFC, and friends. To hockey recruiting now: Jack Campbell was interviewed by the Wolverine, and certainly sounds like a guy who will end up on campus by his scouting reports on teammates current and future:

Merrill - absolute stud. Enough said. Next JMFJ.

This is a man who is into Michigan hockey. The second, premium section of the interview($) contains another statement similar to the one discussed earlier, where Campbell professes his loyalty for Michigan before mentioning the dark possibility that the team that drafts him will be really into Sutter brothers and want him elsewhere. Chances of a defection remain slim but nonzero.

Elsewhere, 2010 D Kevin Clare was the subject of an extensive Red Line Report profile. After JMFJ2.0 and Adam Clendening were called up to the U18 team, Clare was handed increased responsibility on both ends of the ice and responded:

“With the departure of those two skilled players, Kevin has completely stepped up his game and shown to everybody that he has a lot more to his game than just being a hard-nosed, tough defenseman,” remarked U-17 assistant coach John Wroblewski. “He is exceptional with the puck, cool under pressure and can handle the power play very well.”

“We look at him to be one of the harder players, to set the tone physically and to make sure that the opponent knew when he was on the ice,” Wroblewski said. “The biggest thing with Kevin is lately he has shown such a great ability to go back for pucks and just read the situation on the breakout. As a defenseman, it is invaluable to have that knowledge and presence back there.

“On the opposite end of the puck, he has shown an absolute knack for knowing when to step up into the play and delivering pucks to the net. That has made him a great asset on the power play as well as 5-on-5.”

Cool biographical tidbit: Clare's father is Irish, as in from-Ireland Irish, and played Gaelic football, but didn't want Clare to get into it because there's no professional opportunities.



April 27th, 2009 at 12:41 PM ^

I agree on the annual scheduling debacles. Would love to see Michigan rekindle the Pac10 home and homes, albeit hopefully with more success. I even mentioned this to RR during his west coast trip last spring but I'm sure to no avail. It's sad when money has become the only factor with respect to future schedules. It's a shame that we don't stagger great away games against the ND schedule.


April 27th, 2009 at 1:25 PM ^

You have the power to do something about scheduling! Don't buy season tickets, and don't buy those awful packages that force you to get a ticket to see UMass along with the game against State. The AD will only reconsider scheduling good teams when the stadium is half-full for the crappy games.


April 27th, 2009 at 1:55 PM ^

Giving up my tickets to see OSU, PSU and ND because I don't really care if I get to attend the Deleware State game? Yes, the home schedule isn't always so great, but "Boycott [whatever]!" seldom works.

I'll eat the $50, give the tickets to someone who doesn't get to go to games (and who will appreciate the chance to see Michigan play anybody) and simply complain about the current state of college football.


April 27th, 2009 at 5:32 PM ^

Thanks for proving my point. Complaining isn't going to do crap, because you're still buying tickets. Maybe you really just enjoy complaining with no discernible impact, but an organized ticket boycott is the only way to improve the schedule. When the money stops coming, things change.


April 27th, 2009 at 5:50 PM ^

That's like not talking to your brother for 20 years because he forgot your bday one year just to prove your point.

I will still buy my season tickets while living 2,000 miles away so I can attend 2-3 top games/year while selling the rest to friends/family for face value. I'll also continue to push the athletic department to start sceduling better OOC games.

You go ahead and stop buying tickets and organize a boycott until the scheduling issues are sorted out. I'm also sure you can get the 10,000+ that are on the ticket waitlist to get off waitlist as well.

Let me know how that works out for you.


April 28th, 2009 at 11:32 AM ^

And I'm telling you that as long as you keep giving the athletic department your money for season tickets, they're going to laugh in your face when you push them to schedule better teams. I didn't say a boycott would be easy or even feasible, just that it's the only way to get things done. Got any better ideas?


April 27th, 2009 at 1:53 PM ^

If there was ever a game for the administration to bust out the pocketbook and pay a team enough to not have to give a return trip, the re-opening of the stadium is the game. They could easily get a beatable team with name cache and history if they wanted. Its insulting to the fans who will pay for the stadium upgrades to have to watch UMASS in the first game in the new stadium. I'm disappointed that the AD sees UMASS as a fitting opponent to open the stadium. Awful.


April 27th, 2009 at 2:16 PM ^

I don't mind scheduling teams like Delaware St. and UMass right now, considering the current state of the team. I think Coach Rodriguez would take a hell of a lot more heat for losing the stadium opening game than for scheduling (and presumably beating) a 1AA school. Once the new regime gets its legs under itself I think this should definitely stop (don't want to see these teams on the schedule in 2011 or 2012) but for now I don't see any problem with letting the team gain some experience/confidence and ease into the schedule.


April 28th, 2009 at 5:27 PM ^

While I agree that UM should not be looking for a fight it cannot win, at least schedule someone from a decent conference. There is no connection with UMass, and I am fairly certain that a good high school team could compete with the Minutemen. I would prefer UM try to schedule (a) a decent-to-good non-BCS team like TCU/East Carolina/Utah/BYU, or (b) schedule a mediocre BCS team, maybe from the Big 12 or the Big East.


April 27th, 2009 at 3:47 PM ^

Two changes that will never get made that would improve things immeasurably: banning I-AA games and instituting a maximum of seven home games (or a minimum of five true road games, which would prevent things like Michigan vs New Mexico State at Ford Field from evading the directive).

What if the latter arrangement meant that our athletic department were to cease being profitable? Would that change your perspective? Our operating expenses have soared over the past decade, in large part due to spiring tuition costs (which are not subsidized here, unlike most schools).


April 28th, 2009 at 8:37 AM ^

GREAT radio yesterday on the ticket. It helps that anything Bacon touches turns to gold, but I found it to be the most interesting show of the new format.

I'm so glad the show is "BIG" and not "HUGE"

but this blog....EPIC :)


April 28th, 2009 at 11:59 AM ^

The Detroit News is reporting that MSU has announced home-and-home series versus Alabama and West Virginia. MSU has also is extending their series with Notre Dame. MSU is taking on big time opponents while UM is scheduling FCS teams.


April 28th, 2009 at 5:23 PM ^

We are talking about 2015 and 2017 here. Saban will likely be gone from 'Bama at that point, and nobody knows if WVU will be any better than a FCS team when that game is actually played. I give MSU credit for scheduling some good OOC teams, but I suspect UM will be playing some good teams as well over that span.

Also, let's not discount the fact that MSU may be viewed as an "easy" OOC win by the opposition. It seems that elite teams have a hard time scheduling other top teams in the OOC (and I know there are the exceptations - see OSU) because neither team wants to play a really tough opponent when both teams are still a little rusty and still have the conference slates to deal with. I think Dantonio is going to put MSU in a better position than under JLS, but I don't think 'Bama or WVU are expecting a NC candidate when they meet up.