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01/11/2019 - 4:28pm By the way, both the Indiana…

By the way, both the Indiana and Penn State games are now available on HailTV, my favorite place to re-watch this team's season and the football season in its entirety. Thought I'd give a shoutout to a great Michigan resource.

01/11/2019 - 4:19pm You can stat yourself to…

You can stat yourself to death about this team and where its shortcomings mostly reside, and it is in the shooting game, because there will be games where the opposition makes you pay when you aren't at your best shooting from where you are most comfortable.

It's obviously harder to score against set defenses than in transition where you find an open shooter or a cutter going to the tin for a dunk or a layup. I agree we need to get Matthews and Livers going to the basket more often whenever possible.

I don't know if they are trending better at the line or not, but at least when they shoot from there, Matthews, and Simpson especially,  looks more comfortable.  He sank his free throws very smoothly last night.

Teske had his third double-double of his career last night, to go with four blocks. He is now getting more ref respect for his offense even two-and-ones last night to go along with greater frequency of beyond the arc launches. If Teske and Simpson start hitting those consistently, we won't have to worry about Kenpom numbers.

We can only hope this is a thing that is gradually improving like his hook shot. Speaking of getting to the rim, Michigan had several fast-break opportunities last night that were foiled because Simpson tried to take them home instead of hitting a trailing teammate  with more leverage and size to throw it down or make an easier layup when he is trying to beat more than one defender. He usually demonstrates good judgment in these situations, but he has had several shots vigorously rejected against Indy and the Ilini.

Talk about nit-piking an undefeated team's 10-point win on the road that led Brendan Gleeson to toss his coat in admiration after a Simpson possession dribble was restarted by too-tight Illini defense. That was a good no-call and a bridge too far for Underwood under the circumstances. Michigan killed Illinois at the free throw line because they were otherwise outshot by the Fighting Illni. So, sometimes shooting percentages and scoring efficiencies are misleading.

Michigan is playing by the McGary phillosophy --Just win the game.

 

01/11/2019 - 11:48am Well, the coach doesn't…

Well, the coach doesn't believe his team will go undefeated but Beilein coaches his team to make sure it does. So there is the dichotomy of expectation versus preparation. You assume the worst and prepare to be the best to over come any obstacle or adversity that threatens your performance.

How many times did Michigan get blown out last year before they turned things around at 19-7 by winning 14 straight before losing to Villanova? And why did they lose as they did before that turnaround and only once since?

I can remember them blowing a big lead to Ohio State in Columbus and then getting their head handed to them by Nebraska in Lincoln.

If you don't shoot well and compound that with mediocre or poor defense, you will lose to any one in the league. If you don't rebound enough missed shots on both ends, if you don't shoot well from the foul line, if you turn the ball over and allow the opposition more scoring chances, you will lose. So, essentially it comes down to managing your team's shooting percentage and limiting the opposition's. So far, in 30 of their last 31 games, Michigan has done all of that to their advantage.

And when you look at a win as just another brick in a bigger wall of success, that brick is only as significant as the next one. And knowing that each game is just another brick in the wall, keeps your perspective from bricking your performance in any given matchup.

01/11/2019 - 11:29am It was just announced today…

It was just announced today that UNCC will play defending national champion Clemson on Sept.21 in Clemson. The Conference USA school has played three other Power 5 conference schools in its 7-year history, Kansas State, Louisville and Tennessee. The 49ers will also play Appalachian State and Middle Tennessee which Michigan opens the season against next August.

01/11/2019 - 11:16am When you are 30 for your…

When you are 30 for your last 31, and your only loss was in a game in which the opposition played four NBA players, I would say the major weakness might be skill level and then not shooting better. Because shot creation and great shooting overcomes any other problem you will face on any given night.

Michigan didn't shoot well last night against Illinois. In fact, the Fighting Illini shot better from inside and outside the arc. Michigan didn't get as many steals and it committed 14 TOs, the same as Illinois.

What it did do better was win the rebound battle 38-30 and shoot 82 percent from the foul line. Each starter scored in double digits and Livers was one point short from making it six. Every starter also had at least 5 made baskets, and Michigan only hit 5 threes, three of which came from two unlikely sources, Simpson and Teske.

So, what do those numbers say? They say that Michigan, at least last night, Michigan shot poorly based on 26 percent three-point shooting. But inside that number was hidden a certain improvement, with the source of that scoring coming from Simpson and Teske, who also contributed in other significany ways. Teske had his third career double-double with 11 rebounds and 13 points to go along with four blocks, while Simpson handed out five assists and was the leading scorer with 16 points.

In other words, what you are discovering is that individually each player is better understanding their role as it fits with the concept of team performance anchored by a defense-first attitude, and that every contribution improves team performance.

If you shoot 82 percent from the foul line on the road, and you are getting better free throw percentage shooting from known poor shooters, Simpson, Matthews and Teske, who are also on the floor most of the time, then that weakness tends to become significant as time goes on. And this is something that impacts winning every game.

01/11/2019 - 10:32am This, of course, begs the…

This, of course, begs the question, do recruits change their interest in a school based on their allegiance to a recruiter or the program he represents? So, if Gattis were recruiting a kid for Alabama that Michigan also had interest in, as suggested here, and he was being recuited by a different coach, how does that affect their management of his recruitment going forward?

Obviously, given this change in status, you would likely have a better idea whether it was the person or the school that the recruit was tied to. I recognize this issue occurs a lot these days and every case is different with the campus and team environment almost certainly a deciding matter in most instances, but this does alter the situation for the kid and raise the old Seinfeld question, do we root for the kid in the jersey or the jersey itself?

01/11/2019 - 10:09am Instead of 30 for 30, we are…

Instead of 30 for 30, we are 30 for 31. Not bad after a 19-7 start last year and then 14 straight, 16 straight to start the year. Get to the end of January, and we could be shooting for 20 straight. Would need to beat NW on Sunday night, Wisconsin next Saturday and Indiana the following Friday night again in Bloomington to accomplish that. Pretty difficult task. Let's see if we can survive as the last undefeated team this year. Virginia has to play Va Tech and Duke coming up.

01/11/2019 - 9:43am Autobench. Signals no fouls…

Autobench. Signals no fouls early and we will compensate. Livers had a pretty solid return. Would like to see him take more shots and threes. We only hit 5 three's last night. And the coach seemed pretty intent on keeping the starters and Livers on the floor to avoid any upset possibility especially after a rather sloppy first half.

Man, it's incredible how some teams manage to hit some terrible looking shots against Michigan.

01/10/2019 - 4:02pm Well, we need an SEC guy to…

Well, we need an SEC guy to recruit big lineman types in the Southland. So, if he can do that, get those big uglies to come up north and not get intimidated by a few cold Saturdays in the fall, then maybe Gattis will work out.

01/10/2019 - 3:57pm So, here's my question: when…

So, here's my question: when does Ryan Day consider poaching Gattis, and does this mean that we are paying him more than Mattison got to go to Ohio State? Intrigued minds are intrigued by the potential intrigue at work here, especially in light of the possibility that the Buckeyes would steal Bama's backup qb to go along with the other backup guy that played for the other former nc title team last year.

Feldman saying this is a big move for Harbaugh, and yet Harbaugh has actually gone to the Super Bowl and makes staff changes every year even if most here think otherwise. So, really, how big could this really be, especially when we have no clue if he will be coordinating and not actually play-calling which is apparently the crux of our late-season offensive issues, according to most.

01/10/2019 - 3:44pm Maybe Dantonio is rehiring…

Maybe Dantonio is rehiring Dan Enos. He apparently doesn't want to work at Michigan.

01/10/2019 - 3:41pm So, if people were upset…

So, if people were upset with only scoring 39 against Ohio State, they must be ecstatic that we have now hired the co-architect of the Alabama offensive game plan that managed 16 points against Clemson.

01/10/2019 - 2:25pm It seems unlikely that Hurts…

It seems unlikely that Hurts would want to go to a contested qb situation with only one year of eligibility left. I read today that Miami was also a very likely stop for him. Hadn't heard about Auburn, which would really make his transfer a slap in the face to Alabama.

I can see Ohio State recruiting Hurts though as a way to ensure continuity and immediate playoff contention with Fields transfer and immediate availability a question mark. I mean if they would go after two Michigan defensive coaches simply to damage Michigan recruiting effort and staff, they would clearly do that. The thing is, though, if Fields gets immediate eligibility, they have created an unnecessary backlog and new problem. Still, look for them to make a run at Hurts.

01/10/2019 - 12:42pm Murray is the quickest and…

Murray is the quickest and perhaps the fastest college quarterback besides Denard that I've seen play. But those attributes will never offset the size issue that he faces playing the pro game. I think he can obviously play the game, but will he want to deal with the banging and bruising sure to come from the NFL grind.

In their two final games, the Panthers started backups for Cam Newton, and neither of the guys who played behind him could get through one game without getting knocked out with shoulder injuries or worse. They couldn't survive four quarters and in the finale the Panthers faced the New Orleans Saints second-stringers on defense most of the game.

How long did Denard last playing running back for the Jaguars? I think if Murray wants a pro career with lasting potential, he plays baseball.

If the Cardinals are dumb enough to pick him first, and they are as well as being snakebit as a franchise in making qb choices, then good luck to both. But I believe he's better off playing pro baseball than football. Or maybe doing what Tebow is doing, trying to make it first in the NFL and then in pro baseball. The Mets are actually putting Tebow on their Triple A team this year with the idea of him competing for a big league roster spot. He can't hit a curve ball. So, it's mostly a pr move.

01/09/2019 - 1:16pm Whether you agree with the…

Whether you agree with the aim of the game plan or the play-calling in the Ohio State game, what Harbaugh settled on doing was actually running all of Michigan's best plays against the Buckeyes.

So, the issue for him apparently, was not attacking their defense with special plays or using what others had effectively tried and modifying the playbook to fit an alternative scheme, but to base the attack on what Michigan did best during the season, running their most effective plays,

And may be that was a good plan going in. But then, circumstances changed. in any case, that's how he explained what his thinking was going in. So, it wasn't really a matchup issue, it was an anti-matchup issue.

For example, if you are facing fourth and whatever for a first down or a game-deciding score, what would you run? Would you run a play that worked earlier in a similar situation, a modified play off the same look to confuse the opposition, or your best play, the one your team runs most effectively each time it's called. Right or wrong, for better or worse, you gotta live with that decision.

That was the thinking that went into choosing that game plan. Whether right or wrong, that was the option decided on.

And I will point out that one of the biggest plays in the Bama-Clemson game was a pick on the same pass play that led to Alabama's late win over Georgia last year. Coaches always go back to what has worked for them in the past, which is why adjusting is the key to learning how to defend tendencies in key moments.

Success isn't always the outcome of choices so much as it is in how you make those choices and decisions work for you. Harbaugh clearly hasn't found the right alchemy in his decision-making against the Buckeyes.

01/09/2019 - 12:47pm Not really. The emotion and…

Not really. The emotion and stakes for that game were completely different. The bowl game was simply a matter of pride for both sides. I would contend the emotional stakes for the rivalry make every aspect of that game including how it plays out to be much different. For one thing, it was a neutral site contest, so there is no home field tilt. That game was essentially over from a Buckeye perspective in the fourth quarter, and they took their foot off the accelerator against the Huskies.

The trouble is, once you do that, you give up the very rhythm to your game plan that put you in the driver's seat in getting the lead.

The other thing was, Washington mounted pressure on Haskins and played tight coverage on the Buckeye short passing game behind it, making enough plays to get the ball back and then executing their downfield passing game.

01/09/2019 - 12:35pm Looking at the highlight…

Looking at the highlight package there, what sprang to mind for me was that one pick where the safeties and corner switched and the deep safety coverage where Tagliova failed to read the safety coming over to help, both those plays were called in Alabama's win over Georgia in the title game win last season with more effective results.

In fact, the deep pass interception was on the same pass play that led to Alabama's come-from-behind winning play against the Bulldogs. So, clearly Clemson spent a lot of time going over film of Bama past and present and Venables had a great plan to cover what amounted to one of Tua's favorite deep plays. That route, by the way, is run by a lot of teams including Michigan. We threw that same pass against Florida at least twice with Nico Collins making a big play on one pass.

 

01/09/2019 - 12:16pm Whether one team is…

Whether one team is materially better than another, every game turns on execution of a game plan on both sides of the ball, whether that means creating turnovers leading directly to scores or completing big plays on offense, Ohio State did both just like Clemson did both in their wins.

Alabama was never really throttled by the Clemson defense, it just didn't keep pace in the scoring column after awhile and allowed too many explosive plays including two long TD passes and a spate of big runs. In the past, neither of these would have occurred against Saban's team.

Which explains why trailing by 15 points at half, while Michigan trailed by two and could have tied the Buckeyes or seen the deficit rise before stopping a late TD drive, nobody was counting Alabama out even when Clemson threatened to extend the lead to a three possession margin as the first half closed.

The point is, and you've seen this phenomenon occur in many big games over time, one team's focus and execution overcomes the opposition they are playing agianst in spite of limited or eveb widely perceived talent or capability differentials. Execution and big plays always have a way of altering the outcome of games that consensus expectation otherwise portended being closely contested. 

Michigan's safeties and linebackers were picked apart by a highly successful Buckeye game plan that produced more big plays than Michigan could match on offense, just like Clemson did the same to Alabama beating their deep safety coverage time and again. Neither Michigan nor Alabama successfully pressured the quarterback and paid the price of that with both encountering  sustained drives, timely first downs and key runs that enabled both OSU and Clemson to wear down Michigan and Alabama's defense by the fourth quarter.

These were both major beatdowns. But in each case, they were exacerbated as these games always are by the emotional drain and mental fatigue which always makes them feel worse than how they actually resulted.

 

01/08/2019 - 2:56pm I can see the influence of…

I can see the influence of Meyer in stealing Mattison away. Greg has always sought to maximize his career moves  financially when offers arose, which is what he did last time he left Michigan as Lloyd Carr's DC for a lateral position at Notre Dame. Then, the move was associated with his daughter's education there and softball scholarship.

Whether he had not received a new contract from Michigan and Harbaugh and belatedly got one after OSU sought his services to help mold a new DC hire there and advance their recruiting while damaging their chief rival, this is still a big fuck-you move no matter how it wound up happening. I mean the hiring of Washington makes more sense in terms of going forward. Maybe this is ultimately payback for going after Warriner who had already left the Buckeyes and then got hired by Michigan. But Harbaugh didn't go after him until he was a free agent.

The coaching business is a revolving door and you are only as good as your next job opportunity.  The work doesn't change, just the colors and alma mater of your next employer. Maybe Greg wanted to know how the other side lived.

This reminds me of a scene from Godfather 2 when Frank Pentagele's character  meets with Michael Corleone, and Pentangele warns him during a communion party sitdown conversation while upset by by his family's  treatment that whatever their business dealings, Hyman Roth and his Sicilian messenger boy, Johnny Ola, are not to be trusted.

Doesn't matter what their personal relations are, or how they conducted business now or in the past, Roth, like Meyer and Day are the enemy. It's a zero sum game. Maybe Harbaugh will see that in these latest moves. Maybe Mattison is simply a pawn and never was the Maize and Blue loyalist and Michigan disciple he led us all to believe. 

His move just reinforced the old Godfather lesson of life and ultimate competition: keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

01/07/2019 - 4:17pm Someone who recruits like…

Someone who recruits like Mattison and develops great recruits into dynamic performers with a personality to match. We had this guy a couple of times. Now he's gone.

01/07/2019 - 4:11pm How about showing some…

How about showing some respect by starting with the correct spelling of our coach's last name. My God, you write a complete thread on a coach who is the winningest in Michigan history and you don't even have the courtesy to spell check the man's name. Remember this simple rule, in spelling Beilein, it's always two vowels and they go in alphabetic order, e before i. This is not hard to remember.

01/07/2019 - 3:15pm This was an apparently apt…

This was an apparently apt thread for this newsworthy day but who knew the OP's sarcastic topic would make tonight's game a secondary reality on a headline refreshing day here. One thing remains true, Fuck Ohio State.

01/07/2019 - 2:09pm There is just something…

There is just something seriously shitty about this. You think Mattison bleeds Maize and Blue forever then realize he's now planning to jump to Michigan's arch rival after having served its other major rival back in the day. The only thing to hope for is that it portends an NC in the offing like it did when he last bolted the program for ND.

His career is replete with Michigan ties wherever he has gone, including Iowa and Western Michigan. And he supposedly came to AA to be near his grand kids and daughter.

01/07/2019 - 1:58pm No, incredibly Mattison to…

No, incredibly Mattison to Columbus as OSU's new DC replacing Schiano and likely the end of Larry Johnson's run as Dline coach. Wonder if Mattison would put in a word for Hoke on the staff there. This is some real greaseball shit.

01/07/2019 - 1:54pm Yeah, when we play the…

Yeah, when we play the Spartans with only four games left, it will be like Carolina-Duke's year-end matchups.

This team still has some serious growth potential before we get there. Let's see how we fare against Illinois later this week. That will be a different contest than even Penn State and Indiana. But I love how jacked our defense was starting out against the Hoosiers. Matthews was the major catalyst playing one of his best games ever as a Wolverine.

I have no real issue with Duke getting the No. 1 brand. They have to defend that ranking and their rep every time they hit the floor. I think that Saturday matchup with the Seminoles will be a major test for them on the road. Meantime, we have to prove we can go anywhere and win. 

01/04/2019 - 1:43pm And....so, what? What are we…

And....so, what? What are we supposed to do about it? I mean, this is ridiculous. It's like getting upset because the Yankees or Red Sox were to sign the latest free agent.

Play better, compete or you get beat. You don't get beat by transfer papers or on signing day. You get beat when you don't execute or compete on game day. Win the game.

We don't control what others do outside the white lines.

01/01/2019 - 7:02pm Seriously, what are you are…

Seriously, what are you are complaining about, teams that execute based on their roster and those that have come up short? Is it systemic, material or just bad play-calling and execution? It is whatever you think it is, and it won't change until this team convinces its fan base that it has turned this corner. Will you be satisfied when that happens? 

After all, we don't lose to Purdue and Iowa by astronomical numbers on the road and deprive our playoff-worthy team a chance to get bounced by the only two teams in college football head and shoulders above everyone else.

Must suck to be Riley at Oklahoma and beat everyone with back-to-back Heisman winners and then still get your ass kicked by Alabama. Or maybe not fielding a complete team but being so entertaining everyone forgives the fact that you spot the opposition 28 points almost every week in nail-biter epic shootouts.

How about Clemson? You know, I remember when his team couldn't beat South Carolina or how the fan base was pissed that Tommy Tuberville left and some guy named Dabo was the new coach. Now, Dabo is the toast of college football success. Playing Alabama is an annual year-end excercise, almost a given rivalry. He isn't in favor of expanding the playoff format. Wonder why?

And Clemson as a campus, is like no school in the Big Ten. It is very small potatoes. But they win. Can't beat Duke in basketball but they are great in football.

Winning in college football is a prism of your own experience of success. We know this. We used to experience that. Now we just get frustrated with our past and inability to repeat its glory.

12/31/2018 - 12:14pm I mean you don't get it. Or…

I mean you don't get it. Or you don't appreciate the shit that Harbaugh went through changing the dynamic of recruiting at Michigan upon his arrival. The SEC recognized it and cut him off ASAP after he started holding football camps in their backyard and used all the tactics necessary to get the media to push back on his recruiting efforts as loony and out of place in order to protect their talent turf.

You know it's really kind of funny, because teams like Oklahoma are never gonna win NC's unless they put together complete teams. And teams like ND, with all their ties and tradition, will never win one without superior play on both sides of the ball that is guaranteed by the kind of tactics that the SEC engages in to maintain their league's talent pool and ability. Look at the West Coast, the schools out there don't even compete at the top level any more. The years of Oregon and USC domimnating are over.

The SEC operates diffferently than any other confrerence. They schedule differently, they politicize their interests with greater representation on the playoff committee, and they get the NCAA to look the other way with regard to their recruiting practices. Division 1 college football is the only sport regulated by the NCAA without a more expansive tournament ending the season. And there is a reason for that which is both historical but also tied to regional interests.

You should know that no SEC school rarely if ever plays a game outside its footprint of influence, ever.

And the SEC as a conference prefers it that way because their sacred ground is assured both through regional representation of bowl games and the ultimate big game, which are never held outside the South or West.

So, until the college football championship is expanded and scheduling changes are brought to bear in earning that title, the SEC will continue its dominance in the game. And it matters not what other coaches and officials try to do about it. But, Harbaugh has done more than any other coach in recent memory to defy and change the complexion of the game.

In the end, it comes down to players and those in the game changing the nature of how its played and won.

 

 

 

12/31/2018 - 11:48am Really, Saban is your…

Really, Saban is your example of a guy who responds with proper decorum to the media on any occasion? You must live in a different world than I do when it comes to interpretation of  q and a sessions. The media's intetrest is the media's interest, and I can assure you that in NY the media is still promoting the idea that Harbaugh is going to be the next coach of the Jets. This speculation is on Fred Wilpon's cable blog. You know Wilpon, the majority owner of the Mets, whose name graces the women's softball complex at Michigan.

What is relevant to the media, what is asked and what is reported out of press conferences have very little to do with actual news reporting. And if you don't get that, then you don't understand how the news world works. Jim Harbaugh like all coaches is obligated by contract to answer media questions and represent the interests of his program. HIs job isn't to assure restless fans that he will soon be making changes in staff to punish people for not taking us where we all want the program to be.

That will come. He has never worked a year here without making a change of some kind with staff and work assignments. Why would anyone believe otherwise at this point. His staff has undergone major chanbe in the time that he's been here. And you can't deny it. So, why make a complaint about some bs response to a question after a sad defeat and add to the discomfort?

12/29/2018 - 2:03pm They have 128 yards rushing…

They have 128 yards rushing and 70 of it is from Franks who has 100 yards passing. Shea has thrown for 132. We can't run the ball with any authority. Michigan has been daring them to run up the middle with that dime package on defense. The Florida TD came after a second and 19 situation on about the 35. You can't give up a score like that.

When Michigan puts Florida in must-pass with pressure, they are effective on defense. But the spread run and shred is killing us.

12/29/2018 - 10:50am So, my sister and brother-in…

So, my sister and brother-in-law are spending the afternoon at the Belk Bowl, my son left early this morning to drive back to DC in time to watch his alma mater play ND in the first of today's college playoff games and I'm waiting for Michigan to put a winning cap on our season in Atlanta, having considered a day trip for the game. Go Blue and may we avenge yesterday's awful Purdue performance against Auburn, which was even worse than the final score.

 

12/20/2018 - 9:49pm I'll teach a class in…

I'll teach a class in character and leadership for community service if Crouch comes to Michigan.

12/19/2018 - 4:14pm Thank Christ. I am so sick…

Thank Christ. I am so sick of hearing the bad news that has deadened the outcome of this season as if it were a disaster after Ohio State. Today's recruiting class announcements are so exhilarating that nothing else truly matters because this program is alive, well and doing fine.

12/17/2018 - 2:45pm Kansas plays SD State on…

Kansas plays SD State on Tuesday.

12/17/2018 - 2:25pm I don't recall Ohio State…

I don't recall Ohio State taking out their regulars on offense or defense at any point in that game until the closing seconds. I keep hearing that none of the points scored were significant because of when they were scored. But that's like saying that losing by 29 as Ohio State did to Purdue instead of 23 as Michigan did to Ohio State, makes Ohio State's 29 less meaningful because they didn't really score in the third quarter.

They still got their ass kicked and didn't make the playoff as a result. They couldn't stop a run up the middle and then Haskins threw a pick six in the final four minutes. The score was 35 to 20 before that. So, those were apparent garbage time scores, except both sides were still playing to win or manage the outcome of the game.

It wasn't the scoring output that pisses people off about the umpteenth Buckeye loss, it was losing by a margin that challenged the very strength of the team that nobody wants to acknowledge.

So, let's go after the offense for failing to match every score when it mattered. Every fucking point matters. Just like nearly tying the game in the first half was huge when they were down by two scores, and people bitched about the play-calling because they only scored after a kickoff muff. 

You play to win and score whenever possible, who the hell cares when it happens, so long as it does. I am so sick of this bullshit criticism. Ohio State beat our ass, I accept it, on both sides of the ball. And we weren't good on defense but we weren't awful on offense, as some would like to conjecture as failing to get closer to winning. Make changes, get better, improve your decision-making, and try again.

12/10/2018 - 3:45pm These other teams,…

These other teams, especially Duke and Kansas, get rated preseason based on their historical reputation and incoming recruits. I don't even think Kentucky is a very competitive team within their own conference, but beating them gave Duke this huge leg up the first game of the season.

These veteran coaches know if you get a big win early or a loss, you will ride the tide of that victory, and if you lose, you won't be tagged so badly, because the matchup is regarded as courageous.

From my standpoint, Michigan is the best team in their league, but documenting that all season long is a tough grind. If Michigan gets to the 20-win mark without a loss, then we will be looking at a year that goes back in time when Ricky Green and company challenged Bobby Knight's best-ever team in Indiana. Michigan was almost just as great but the Hoosiers had all the right stuff that year.

12/10/2018 - 3:30pm Yeah, but you make the…

Yeah, but you make the argument that Michigan played lesser ranking lights by contrast, except when they played all those teams, Villanova, UNC and Purdue, they were all ranked higher, and part of the reason they aren't ranked as high now is because they got beat soundly by Michigan.

Michigan beat Villanova by 27 on their home floor on the night they inaugurated their new gym.

Duke took out Hartford by 30 on their home floor but led by 9 at half. They've played Army and Yale besides Gonzaga. Not exactly a murder's row lineup. And they are getting substantial credit for that win besides preseason ranking based almost exclusively on one-and-done frosh reps and historical success.

And why do you get credit for beating teams at home by a small margin despite a player being out? That again, has more to do with reputation than performance. Kansas is not the second best team in the country, regardless of how they are ranked. They aren't a great offensive or defensive team. And Bill Self's  best player is a transfer from Memphis.

12/09/2018 - 8:37pm Yeah, because the NFL should…

Yeah, because the NFL should hold character sway over athletes it only controls based on projected interest and dictate professional futures it doesn't even invest in, except to evaluate talent and offer opinions.

College football teams offer pro football an unfunded minor league system and have the advantage of limiting a player's professional life based on suggestion of a talent evaluation by one of its paid scouts.

Kids go to college to learn a trade or the groundwork for a professional life, and to the extent that certain professions are controlled not only by actual physical examinations but by alleged health concerns, should make the average college fan cringe over the leverage and control pro football has over the college game.

And it does nothing to change the basic fabric of that relationship with the athletes it influences, even while college programs engage in their own perpetual arms race to provide the very benefits that ensure the ongoing success of the NFL. Imagine having no need to pay for the development of the talent that infuses your league with fresh faces and leaders.

No other professional game enjoys that benefit.

12/09/2018 - 7:58pm Well, it makes little sense…

Well, it makes little sense to project victories until you see and understand lineup matchups because certain teams in the league will offer more resistance than others, no matter what kind of defense we play.

Last night, I watched New Mexico State play Kansas and they are a matchup nightmare for anyone, including our team. They play a moving, patterned offense, can score inside and out and were on the cusp of beating the Jayhawks except they lacked the intangible an underdog needs to pull off that kind of upset.

And when you get down to it, Michigan has reached the level now where they are like the football program, everyone's target.

I thought South Carolina matched up well even though their starting lineup included three guards. They had some big men who could post and work it around the basket. In fact, it was their backcourt that was the liability. They had an all-conference big and some inexperienced younger players who our guys took advantage of.

At this point, I think we are capable of and should beat anyone on our schedule. It's just a matter of execution and how we handle road exposure and pressure, especially making plays and free throws down the stretch. The victory will of the this team as they go forward will forge our destiny this season.

But make no mistake, on any given night in this league a Big Ten team is capable of taking out another.

12/08/2018 - 9:56am In its time, when I was a…

In its time, when I was a boy, this game was one of the biggest in college football, and revered as a rivalry with greater passion than most others in college football. It is still a great rivalry and each year my brother-in-law who went to the Naval Academy and then proudly served thereafter gets to enjoy his school's day in the sun or usual slate gray weather in Philadelphia or Baltimore where this game is usually played, nearby to both military academies. 

One of my dad's late best friends also attended Annapolis and graduated in the same class as former president Jimmy Carter.

I recall games when Army and Navy were at the top of the college heap, and playing in New York's big baseball stadiums that drew the kind of attendance that we now regard as a smaller scale Big Ten contest on any Saturday in the fall. But next year, Michigan after scheduling and then seeing matchups with Army postponed throughout the last three decades, will finally get a date to play the Cadets at the Big House. That ought to be fun just like today's game always is.

12/05/2018 - 2:30pm Well, so the point of this…

Well, so the point of this proposal or idea, is because the CFP committee gives precedence to teams that have already earned tickets to the big dance, let's consider putting our teams with the best record regardless of division in the best position to compete for a national championship. Hard to argue with that logic. 

Imagine if Alabama lost to Georgia on Saturday, that Hurts couldn't turn water into wine after being subbed for in the second half of the championship game a year ago against the Bulldogs, do you really think that Bama would have been kicked out of the playoff? No fucking way.

Delany is simply trying to assure that the Big Ten gets a chance every year to punch a ticket into this playoff. This bowl compromise playoff system favors the SEC and the very elite of the game in a way that makes arrogance seem like normal behavior.

Don't get pissed at Delany for wanting his conference to be represented every year instead of playing a non-competitive West Division team that has never and will never get into the playoff. Maybe Frost has a team that strikes a challenge or maybe Paul Chryst gets Wisconsin into the championship game with a puncher's chance of making a first quarter threat in a playoff game, but the chances are the best recruited teams are going to go the farthest in the current playoff system, without any change. And that is what Delany is seeking to counter.

Until expansion of the playoff system, why should the SEC and its minions control who gets in based on historical precedent and subjective choice. That is the issue being confronted here, nothing more.

12/05/2018 - 1:54pm I thought in the first half,…

I thought in the first half, that Northwestern did a great job of guarding Michigan and keeping them off the 3-point line. Michigan really had to work their offense to get things going and that continued throughout much of the game.

Michigan really needed to drive more and then kick, but the Wildcats weren't really collapsing or giving help on drivers to the basket, allowing Pardon to guard the rim. As it was Simpson was doing a fairly effective job taking the ball deep seeking to draw defenders to him, but Northwestern did a great job of team defense, I thought.

At least their defense was the best against Michigan's primary deep shooting threats, Livers and Poole. And with Matthews and Livers both silenced from the offense, the Wolverines fell into the trap late of giving three-point looks to guys who aren't high percentage shooters outside the arc.

There was a stretch late in the game when Teske, Simpson and Iggy missed like 5 consecutive trey attempts instead of moving the ball and trying to get a layup.

Northwestern has just enough length, athleticism and a post presence to create problems for any team and Michigan got a good wake-up call in its first conference road matchup of the season. I thought afterward, that the reason Beilein seemed almost giddy abut the performance, was the level of difficulty the Wildcats presented to his team. Nothing like adversity to stretch your development.

12/03/2018 - 6:08pm The greatest competitor in…

The greatest competitor in the game of football, all-time. Yes, I think so.

12/03/2018 - 6:01pm One thing the NFL gets right…

One thing the NFL gets right is its postseason. Every game counts in the league because your record decides whether you get to play in January. It doesn't matter whether you have a perfect season or not, because the teams with the best records get to participate and demonstrate whether they belong in the final competition.

The NCAA does this at all levels of its competition except one, Division 1 college football. And the reason is tradition and bowl history. And we are so ingrained in that system that the idea of changing it, defies imagination.

I mean the NCAA collects all its money every year from which sport? Football or basketball? Basketball. And guess what, in that tournament system, conference championships gain you entry into the playoff tournament, automatically. And the rights fee for CBS televising the basketball tournament is in the billions.

Which explains why the NCAA doesn't need to collect money from football or change its championship format. But actually, the NCAA isn't a bunch of bureaucrats, it's a colloquy of college presidents. And because they are so invested in the bowl system, the issue of changing the format of college football remains it ain't broke, so don't fix it question.

12/03/2018 - 5:19pm That's not the issue. The…

That's not the issue. The issue is that this playoff format is simply a compromise to satisfy those who wanted something other than a poll ranking deciding championships from bowl matchups, which were conference tied and contractually binding. That method of crowning achievement left Michigan and Nebraska sharing a championship in 1997.

The current system is still a beauty contest that eliminates all contenders except the game's most elite which is decided by a committee which is biased by its very makeup. Why allow people to decide something that the game itself should decide by the players who play?

So, why are we playing meaningful conference championships to decide exhibition matchups if those games don't matter, even though the NCAA claims every game matters. Not really. The teams that the committee deems worthy of championship status matter, all the rest are playing for the exhibition season.

12/03/2018 - 5:00pm You may not think it's…

You may not think it's meaningless, but at least one player on Michigan has made that determination for himself, understanding what the risks in playing an exhibition game outweigh his pro future in the sport. And there will likely be more players making that choice in the days ahead.

Bowl practice won't begin for another week.

12/03/2018 - 4:49pm I hate harping on the same…

I hate harping on the same point, but the playoff system as it now exists is simply an extension of the bowl system of crowning a champion, in whatever iteration you recall it being, and until that system changes the playoffs are a beauty contest and the bowls remain marketing exhibitions. They've always been that, but fans elevated their status because there was no other way in the greatest spectacle game in collegiate sports to determine a champion.

And that's because the sport never devised a season-ending method to finalize a championship. It's simply a matter of history and the advent of the Rose Bowl.

Every other sport including lower classes of college football follows a traditional playoff structure to crown the best team instead of using a subjective voting method including a committee to decide who gets in and who doesn't. Michigan was victimized by the bowl system of championship by selective ranking in 1997.

The bowls are what they are, a chance to fill the ESPN programming void with games of limited interest. Michigan is playing Florida as a play-in viewer contest or appetizer for the playoff bowl contests on Dec. 29. Many people will skip that go to the main viewing entrees that day. And why not?

I just think until you tailor a playoff process that enables every major conference playing a conference championship to actually play them off for the national championship in whatever format is devised you're kidding yourself about a game that is essentially the best time of the sports year. The game and those who play it, deserve to earn the final grand achievement of their competition on the field instead of a committee choosing the participants.

You can always pencil Alabama and Clemson in. Then you are left deciding who the other two teams ought to be. And if the top two lose, there is always sentiment to keep them in even if or when they lose a tough one.

12/03/2018 - 2:26pm The defensive line has good…

The defensive line has good depth with solid veteran performers including Julius Pepper who at 38 is practically a one-man force in getting pressure. Yesterday, the defense managed 4 sacks against Winston, and he was mostly under duress while the running game went nowhere for the Bucs whose leading rusher was Winston.

I mean Cam Newton threw 4 picks and it was the pressure he got in the pocket that led to virtually all. The move to fire Hoke  and the secondary coach seems like an emotional band aid for the head coach-- doing something to shake up the team. Both coaches are brand new to the staff so there isn't any real relationship damage stemming from their departure.

You know that Rivera was a teammate of Harbaugh with the Bears, and he might have vouched for Hoke before his hiring. There was a rumor that Hoke might be in consideration for the vacant UNCC head coaching job which the school's AD had seemed likely to fill with Division 2 coach until that offer was pulled last week. So, Brady truly wanted to stay in Charlotte, he could apparently interview for that position right now.

12/03/2018 - 2:12pm Yes, but the Dline pressure…

Yes, but the Dline pressure really hasn't been that effective this season for the Panthers. Their issues as a team go way beyond Hoke and the secondary coach's alleged failings. They are breaking in a new offensive system with some great young talent. They appear to be solid and mostly effective, but they have just played too many close games, winning and losing both.

They have just lacked consistency in every area of the game, and that failure more than anything else is responsible for this losing streak. They can't count on the offense when the defense plays well as it essentially did yesterday.

They gave up a TD on a third down prayer by Jameis Winston to the end zone where an iffy 52-yard PI put the ball on the one and then led to a 14-point margin, late in the third quarter. It wound up being the difference in the game after the Panthers kept stalling after Cam Newton drove the team repeatedly into Bucs territory only to give it up with interception after interception. He threw four in the game and the Panthers went to 1-5 on the road this season. These firings apparently were the coach's response to a team wakeup call from the owner,

 

12/03/2018 - 1:41pm In basketball, much as in…

In basketball, much as in football, your traditional profile of success carries a lot of weight until consensus builds among pundits about your team's overall performance and capability. And offensive firepower always trumps defense in the rankings.

Right now, at No. 5, Michigan which allows about 52 points per game and scores 73 on average, for a 21-point margin trails the likes of Duke, Virginia, Kansas and Gonzaga, your basic Final Four preseason candidates in the eyes of many so-called basketball experts. I suppose the other candidate not listed in that group but still Top 10 contention are Kentucky and Michigan State, which was automatically assumed to be the best team in the Big Ten.

As of this moment, Virginia is virtually tied with Michigan in positive scoring margin per game and team totals for points per game and those allowed at 73.6 and 52.4. Nobody else in the select group plays the kind of defense that Michigan and Virginia do. All the others allow their opposition to score in the lower to upper 60's while their offensive output easily outdistances the No. 4 and 5 teams with scoring averages in the high 80's to 90's in the case of Duke and Gonzaga.

You might wonder after Michigan beat UNC last week by 17 that in the second half, the Tar Heels sped up the tempo of their offense even when they weren't great shots and their offensive pace was doing little but give Michigan extra possessions they wouldn't ordinarily get against other teams just because of the game tempo which Michigan clearly won, even while giving up 15 more points than their season average on defense.

But if you are going to compete against teams with NBA-style tempo offenses in the ACC like Duke, which averages 94 points a game, and their one-and-done talent, then you play fast, I guess even when you have trouble playing defense allowing Michigan to put up 84 against them.

The point is, depending on your competition and arena, your team can't always control offensive output or shotmaking efficiency, but you can control how your team plays defensively. So whether the experts think that scoring efficiency is more important than other because its gaudier to watch, the fact is that the scoring margin between all these teams at the top are virtually the same and the primary mission control of any team is the ability to slow the other team and limits its scoring output on any given night. So, to me, defensive efficiency is way more important than offense in the long run.