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07/17/2018 - 3:14pm Yep, I'm not that optimistic…

Yep, I'm not that optimistic we'll ever move the needle in basketball, unfortunately.  People prioritize their allotment of sports time and money to football at M and I don't see that changing soon even with great, likable teams.

I do think the AD could do more to make the atmosphere more intimidating with the people that do show up.  That starts with getting more of the maize rage on the court. 

07/17/2018 - 3:08pm Ann Arbor itself is 120k…

Ann Arbor itself is 120k people.  It's the only sports event in Ann Arbor.  So even without support from Metro Detroiters, there should be more people there.

I think it's a symptom of a much larger media consumption/preference trend.  When you can watch incredible television with no commercials from the comfort of your own home, that's a tough competitor.

Gotta believe the increasingly competitive admissions standards and increasingly out-of-state student population (who didn't grow up M fans) are having a sizable effect on student attendance at all M sporting events.

07/17/2018 - 1:12am Agree with your first two…

Agree with your first two paragraphs, except that you can't pick up a basketball at age 13-14 and be good unless you're about 6'6 or taller.

Which brings me to my next point: Soccer is a sport for which being really, really skilled is necessary because it's a more skill dependent sport than football or basketball.  You have to be incredibly skilled to be a good soccer player.  You can't get by being really tall or really large and athletic with a couple years of skill building like you can in basketball and football.

So you almost necessarily have to start young and put in a ton of hours to get as skilled as you need to be to be a really good soccer player.  It's highly advantageous to start young to get the hours in, moreso than that being some "special" developmental period for the skills required.  

07/17/2018 - 12:57am 1) Substitutions take time. …

1) Substitutions take time.  One of the best things about soccer is that play does not stop (except for fake injuries which are really about getting a breather), and allowing unlimited substitutions would be horrible for the pace of the game.

2) Like baseball, it adds a level of strategy to the game that is interesting.  You have to make smart substitutions because if you take a guy out, that's it for him.

3) It makes fitness a key component of the competition.

Besides, why would we want to see more of the second string if your best players can be in good enough shape to play the whole game anyway?

07/17/2018 - 12:37am The number of tickets sold…

The number of tickets sold was relatively small too. It was like 80,000.  That's not even enough to fill a big soccer stadium (which other countries do multiple times a day during their club seasons and which the US certainly doesn't with MLS).

Plus, any idea how many of those tickets were bought by Americans and for Americans?

There are over a million ex-Pat Brits living in the US.  That's a number a quarter the size of the entire Croatian population.  Huge numbers of immigrants from other countries too.

Besides, no one doubts that the World Cup is popular in America.  So is Olympic figure skating.  But they're both once-in-four-year novelties here.  There isn't the regular support and dedication necessary yet.

07/16/2018 - 11:15pm Every sport is a dumb game. …

Every sport is a dumb game.  EVERY sport.  Totally f-ing stupid sports are to spend time watching.  Strangers chasing a ball or puck around trying to outscore the other team of strangers based on arbitrary rules.

But we watch them and care about certain ones to an irrational degree because humans need things to care about and things to build community around.  We become fanatics because our parents are, or kids at school are trading cards, or our heros are athletes on TV or we go to a college that is obsessed with said sport.

Which sports we care about as spectators depends on which ones our communities baptized us into. For most Americans, soccer is not one of those sports and it has nothing to do with soccer as a sport.

07/16/2018 - 9:11pm No's 1 and 2 apply to all…

No's 1 and 2 apply to all sports.

In fact, as it relates to number 1, football and baseball are by far the most complex, convoluted, espteric sports (out of the "big 5").  Those are the two that are most difficult to pick up, let alone appreciate as someone who wasn't raised around the sport.  If you think scoring is the only important part of the game in basketball (or that it's more important in basketball than it is in soccer) than you don't understand basketball, and it's understandable why you are mistaken that soccer is somehow more difficult to appreciate, all things equal, than basketball or football or hockey.

What is far more important about fandom of a sport is CARING about it (or a team that plays it).  People in America care about football and basketball and to an extent baseball because their friends and parents did/do and caring about a sport is social.  That is soccer in most other countries.  It is cricket in India.  Any sport can be appreciated at the highest levels, but caring about a sport is a cultural thing and that's what makes a fan a fan - caring about the sport or a team that plays it.

As it relates to number 2, I assume your kids only played soccer because hoooo boy this could not be more true about basketball.  I don't know about football because I didn't experience it first hand but youth basketball is ridiculous. The tallest players in 5th grade get put down low because they can post up smaller kids and get rebounds even though 99% of them aren't going to be taller than 6'4 and will never play the post above a high school level.  I could go on and on about how bad youth basketball is, but tall kids learn to dribble and shoot on the playground because there, there are no positions and no coaches and kids just get to play.  If kids played soccer on the playground in the US, they'd get ridiculously good at handling the ball, controlling it out the air, and developing the balls skills that are the foundation of soccer.  The tactics can be coached into them easily if they have the skills.  US kids don't play enough to get the skills necessary to play at the highest levels though.

07/16/2018 - 8:03pm Soooo, you agree with his…

Soooo, you agree with his point, correct?  Because it is absolutely 100% spot on.

There are kids in the America that could be the next Messi and Ronaldo but they're wasting their time playing the wrong sports because all their friends are and it's culturally not cool to play soccer/ (and only highly lucrative overseas where role models aren't as accessible).  It might get them a scholarship in the Sun Belt in football or basketball but they could have been a megastar in soccer.

07/16/2018 - 6:56pm Citing the number of…

Citing the number of participants in youth soccer leagues is, as was pointed out earlier, misleading because those are kids whose parents signed them up to add the 12th activity to their week (along with the piano lessons, diving lessons, voice lessons, math camp, etc).

Those kids aren't going home and juggling for hours on end in the backyard.  They're either not that interested or they have boy scouts followed by sailing lessons and don't even have time.

The kids that can and will go to the playground to play a sport all day long are mostly playing basketball in America.


07/16/2018 - 6:43pm Well, you're mistaking the…

Well, you're mistaking the cause and effect.  It is only expensive because it is unpopular here in the US.  Unpopularity is the root cause. And as such it is expensive to get the few serious soccer players together in one place (since they have to travel) to play one another and get good instruction.  But it wouldn't be that way if it were more popular.

The practice and training to become an elite young soccer player can (and almost necessarily has to) be done in the backyard or on the playground like it is in a huge number of other countries with (typically) dad or uncle or the neighbors teaching kids the basic fundamentals and encouraging them to be highly engaged.

That doesn't happen in the US because most kids are doing other things. You wouldn't need that large soccer complex to practice soccer if a bunch of kids in your neighborhood wanted to play soccer in the streets all day.  And if there were a bunch of kids playing in the streets in every community and those communities supported their HS soccer teams like they do their football and basketball teams, they'd be able to hire better coaches, etc.  It all comes back to popularity.

BUT yes, the only way to accelerate the cultural shift and get kids to consider soccer as an option is to put resources into complexes and academies to bring kids together and get them instruction (like MLS teams are starting to do) but they wouldn't be necessary if the sport were a lot more popular. 

Basketball doesn't require nearly as much travel or resources because you can get in a pickup game or find a competent dad in every school and community in America (and it is a downright obsession in many).  And conversely, that's not the case with basketball in other countries.

07/16/2018 - 11:44am HAHAHAHAHA.  One statement…

HAHAHAHAHA.  One statement in this entire thing sums it all up: "We chose soccer for my kids because of genetics, my wife is short, and I can't jump."

In other words, rich people that are bad athletes have their kids play soccer in the US because they can make the team over other rich, mediocre athletes because the good athletes play football and basketball.

Until the good athletes are kicking soccer balls around starting at age 2 they way they spend hours and hours playing basketball at the playground, the US isn't going to be elite at soccer.  And that won't change until poor kids and poor cultures know and value soccer they way they do football and basketball.

That won't happen naturally so it'd have to be helped along with significant investments.

07/16/2018 - 11:35am That pay-to-play excuse is…

That pay-to-play excuse is wrong.  You don't have to pay to play soccer.  Soccer is the most accessible sport in the world.  That's why it's so popular on every continent, rich or poor.  Literally anyone can kick around a ball of socks.

If soccer were a rich man's sport, it'd be dominated by rich countries the way hockey and golf are.  But it's not.  It is a sport in which a relatively poor eastern European country like Croatia can beat the rich countries or a very poor country like Uruguay can as well.

Poor kids just don't play soccer in the US because culturally football and basketball are what's popular in poor communities.  It's as simple as that.  Those are the sports their parents played. Those are the sports their parents know (and thus can give free instruction to their kids).  Those are the sports poor kids see people like them use to find a way out of poverty and make millions.  They could be playing soccer easily from a resources perspective.  A soccer ball costs the same as a basketball or football.  They just aren't even aware of it, are not encouraged to play it, and aren't instructed to play it and it a parental/cultural thing.

07/16/2018 - 11:12am Genetic makeup? A few…

Genetic makeup? A few generations of soccer playing doesn't alter a populations genetic makeup.  That's not how evolution works.

BUT the fact that they have for a couple generations grown up watching, talking, living soccer means their athletes grow up with a ball at their feet much like a lot of kids in the US come out of the womb dribbling a basketball.

That level of knowledge and dedication is what it takes to have the skill to play at the highest levels.  We don't have enough athletes in the US living, eating, breathing soccer from a young age because being a professional soccer player is not what kids talk about on the playground, its not the sport they watch with their fathers, its not what they see people from their neighborhoods grow up to do. 

07/14/2018 - 12:09am Totally agree that we're in…

Totally agree that we're in a perfectly good position overall.  I was just making a point that Ford especially is a major longshot so I'm surprised your hypothetical didn't include a couple more realistic guys like Johnson and DiCosmo to make your point.

07/14/2018 - 12:05am Well I don't think we'll…

Well I don't think we'll ever run out of physical bodies to play at WRs if that's your only criteria for having depth.

It wasn't quality depth and it doesn't really matter that it was youth and inexperience that was the cause of the lack of quality depth.

While Eubanks did have nice play against UF and it's theoretically possible he could have been a difference maker, I don't think he would have made it into the top 2 for TEs.  McKeon and Gentry were essentially flex TEs and didn't make a difference.

All that said, the passing game was a disaster mostly because of bad QB play and a lack of protection so hard to say too much about the pass catchers.

07/13/2018 - 11:58pm Allagash Curieux.  IMO, one…

Allagash Curieux.  IMO, one of the best American craft beers and certainly a classic.  Found it in a four pack of 12 oz bottles which is a godsend because I can't do the 750mls by myself.

07/13/2018 - 8:07pm Miles Sanders was the #1 RB…

Miles Sanders was the #1 RB in his class and is highly talented.  Barkley was incredible but Sanders may very well be almost as good. It's absurd to even say that we don't have any reason to think he's not almost as good.

To assume the OL still blows is also curious considering all we know is they returned a lot pieces and are now actually somewhat experienced.

07/13/2018 - 7:31pm Ford and Crouch are big IFs…

Ford and Crouch are big IFs though.

07/13/2018 - 7:28pm Yes, Black is the guy that…

Yes, Black is the guy that won't be around 5 years considering he was the #1 WR as a freshman last year.  Nico Collins didn't work into the rotation meaningfully all season, even with the Black injury.

Collins would have been a 5th year candidate for sure.  Black is not barring another injury or something.

07/13/2018 - 7:25pm "Much of the WR depth can be…

"Much of the WR depth can be mitigated by the FLEX TE position if need be."

How did that work out for us last year?

07/13/2018 - 12:15pm But 3% of a 12 game football…

But 3% of a 12 game football season is not even close to even one game per season. It's just one third of one football game.  That's pretty close to negligible.

07/13/2018 - 11:56am It's hilarious when people…

It's hilarious when people say that others need to look deeper than surface level...and then proceed so spout untrue assumptions without looking deeper.

Clemsons classes by average recruit rank in the years that gave them a national title:

2016: 9th highest average rank (move ahead of Texas and Michigan when only considering average rank).  They took 8 3 stars to only 1 5 star that year.

2015: Moves DOWN to 12th from 9th.  This was a big class of 26 in which they took a whopping 14 3 stars or below. So not at all consistent with your claim of high average, small class.

2014: Move up one spot to 15th from 16th (they move ahead of 4 with more points but behind 3 with fewer points - interestingly, they had a lower average ranking than Michigan's tiny 16 man class that included Peppers).

2013: This class stays right at 15th (Texas moves ahead and Miami moves behind on average class size).

Soooo, no.  Your assertion that "their average recruit rating has vastly outpaced their overall placement due to small classes" is 100% incorrect.

They may have had a handful of good Juco transfers and that's a talent bump that schools like Michigan won't get (but other will).

Doesn't change the fact that they haven't been close to as talented top to bottom as OSU, Bama and others.

They've followed a simple, brilliant formula (and were lucky enough that Deshaun Watson was and is a generational talent at the most important position on the field):

1) Get a great QB and use a smart offensive system to leverage his arm and legs so as to get by without elite OLs.

2) Get elite DLs because that's the most important position on defense and leverage their impact.

Program and system continuity definitely helps too.  PSU isn't at the same level of talent at QB and DL but they've had some pretty good ones and the thing Franklin did do correctly the last two years, which made a huge difference was hiring a good coach to run a smart offense.

07/13/2018 - 2:51am Well, technically you said …

Well, technically you said "pretty much" but point taken, yes.

And yes, they lost their top 3 skill players but they return their next 3 (Johnson, Thompkins and Sanders) and those guys will step into the shoes of the departed pretty well.  And in the case of the WRs, one could easily be better than Hamilton was last year.

They lost guys but the ones that remain will mostly improve over the course of a year as well.

And I do agree that the loss of Gesicki may be the biggest loss because thats probably the biggest dropoff from the departed to his replacement.

I think they'll be worse as a unit, possibly a lot worse, but it'll be almost solely the result of an OC downgrade.  I don't think their personnel will be much worse on offense overall, and factoring in OL, could be better.

07/13/2018 - 1:08am That's a good question and…

That's a good question and it obviously depends on the personnel returning and how much of the "old" system is kept in place.  As a counter to your example of Michigan keeping the train rolling for the most part from 2011 to 2012. look what happened from 2007 to 2008 when few players returned and the system was completely overhauled with the wrong guys in place.  It fell further down a cliff that one could have imagined possible.

In the case of PSU, I think they have pretty good personnel returning.

They return the most important player: the QB.

They replace a really good RB with...another RB perhaps almost as good.

Stringer Bell is wrong that they lose all their skill position players.  They return their #2 and #3 WRs from 2017 (Johnson and Thompkins, respectively).

They do lose Gesicki which might prove to the toughest guy to replace.

But most importantly, they finally have some experience on the OL and that position group is the second most important for an offense and it's likely to be the best in three years.

I don't think they'll fall far, they certainly have a lot of talent left, and Rahne was a least around the pest two years so he's not going to do anything too drastic or risky.

07/13/2018 - 12:41am Was that the year they won…

Was that the year they won the B1G title or the year they went 11-2 including a win in the Fiesta Bowl?

07/13/2018 - 12:35am That's actually not true…

That's actually not true about Clemson's recruiting.  They won the national title in 2017 with these four classes:

2016: 11th

2015: 9th

2014: 16th

2013: 15th

None of those classes remotely qualify as ridiculous, even on their own.

It wasn't until their 2018 class which has five 5-stars that they really broke through with a "ridiculous" class and that class hasn't even played a down.

Clemson climbed to the top with very modest recruiting.

07/13/2018 - 12:23am Yeah, I'm not sure he made…

Yeah, I'm not sure he made the right hire, and it will be interesting to see how Rahne does. He was the passing game coordinator during the Hackenberg era which didn't go so well.  I'm sure he learned a lot from Moorhead but we'll see if it was enough to do it on his own.

I would have gone out and replicated the Moorhead model and hired a proven OC at a lower level.

07/12/2018 - 12:20am I'm going to get into the…

I'm going to get into the political science of the two party system (so not politics, just the science).

Your initial statement that the system set up by the founding fathers that created the two party system is correct.  Hence, people can't just become smart enough to change it.  The two party system is a result of our Constitution and can't change unless we amend the constitution pretty dramatically.

Look up Duverger's law for an explanation for why we have and always will have a two-party system under our current Constitution.  When an electoral system awards a plurality vote earner as the single winner (as is the case with house, senate and most seats), a two party system will necessarily result because coalitions will form amongst losing parties such that equilibrium will be reached right around 50 percent for each of the two parties in the long run.

For example, suppose there are three parties.  One gets about 40 percent of the vote, the other two get 30 percent.  Under our current system, the 40 percent party would win every election, every time.  It'd be stupid for the other two parties to keep the same platform and lose every time.  So they form a coalition and a single party to adopt a compromise platform to get 60 percent of the vote and now they win.  Of course, this means that some of the voters will have made sacrifices beyond what they wanted and the other party will then adopt those issues to become competitive and it goes back and forth. 

The party platforms shift (sometimes dramatically) over time as different issues become important to people, but they inevitably come back to two parties hanging around 50 percent for plurality winner elections

This is why no third party has ever had any staying power on a national level.  This is why every time a presidential election has two unpopular candidates (2000 for example) and people disavow the two-party system and other parties get a significant chunk of the vote such that it appears a third party could emerge....the exact opposite happens.  Those third party votes were useless, their votes probably gave those third party voters the winner they least wanted (as happened with Nader voters in 2000), and those third parties wither in subsequent elections (Nader went from nearly 3 percent in 2000 to 0.3 percent in 2004) because coalitions need to be formed to get to 50 percent.

I personally think it's the best system because we get to know the coalitions before voting.  We know what sacrifices we have to make when casting votes.

For proportional representation democracies like a lot of European parliamentary systems, people vote and then parliamentary coalitions are formed amongst all the random parties and the voters don't get a say in how those groups come together.

If people are willing to accept that not everyone can get everything they want, they'd appreciate the system we have.

07/11/2018 - 11:32pm Ooorrrr Brian runs for…

Ooorrrr Brian runs for public office.  Hmmmmmm.

07/11/2018 - 11:28pm No, pretty sure it's a…

No, pretty sure it's a reference to the Mike Tyson quote after he lost to Lennox Lewis in 2002 (or something like that).  When asked where he goes from here, he says, "I don't know, I guess I'm just going to fade into Bolivian."

So Bolivia(n) became a euphemism for some fictional place far, far away and someone started using it to reference getting bombed from the blog and it stuck.  That's my recollection anyway.

07/11/2018 - 6:44pm It's incredible that the guy…

It's incredible that the guy has been able to parlay hot shooting in a mere six (or was it just five when he signed?) summer league games - games that are lightly coached and not scouted at all such that they're essentially pickup games - into a two-way deal.

Awesome for Duncan.  Way to hit the shots when it matters most for you.

07/11/2018 - 12:36pm But being an every down DE…

But being an every down DE in which he'd have to learn pre-snap reads, play the run, etc. is probably nearly on par with the complexities of OT.

You're correct that maybe he tops out at a third down pass rush specialist but even a green player could learn enough in this first three years at OT to be a starter in year 4 as a RS Jr.

I wonder how good his English is. That seemed to be a barrier for Moe Wagner in year 1.  That could put him behind a typical learning curve.

07/03/2018 - 1:14am The ocean is great and I…

The ocean is great and I live within biking distance but it's totally different than a peaceful inland lake or river on which I miss being able to boat, fish, etc.

07/03/2018 - 1:12am After Gary, IN, and Flint,…

After Gary, IN, and Flint, MI, Fresno is the third worst city in America, slightly worse than Toledo.  Your ex wife clearly has questionable taste.  Thoughts and prayers.

07/03/2018 - 1:06am If the people are a con and…

If the people are a con and it's the provincial thinking capital of the world, how is that a better chance for your grandson?  I'm not agreeing or disagreeing about the people of kansas but if you dislike them so much, why turn your grandson into one?

07/03/2018 - 12:57am Ah yeah, heat is an issue…

Ah yeah, heat is an issue where you are.  I live in in Venice.  70 degrees in the winter.  80 degrees in the summer.  I don't even have AC and it hasn't bothered me one bit this summer (luckily, I'm leaving before the heat wave this weekend and heading to MI where there is supposed to be a break from the heat they've been having).

07/03/2018 - 12:53am You win the thread.

Are you…

You win the thread.

Are you hospitality?  Curious to know how you've managed the island life for 30 years.

07/03/2018 - 12:48am Unfortunately, it's the…

Unfortunately, it's the second most important position in football.  If you can't protect the QB, it doesn't matter that much who your QB or who he is not throwing it to.  And then if you can't protect the QB, it's harder to open holes for RBs.

So yeah, a lot is riding on that position.

07/02/2018 - 6:42pm Actually I do have an actual…

Actually I do have an actual con: as a Michigander, I do miss having an abundance of accessible inland, freshwater lakes and rivers in Southern CA.

07/02/2018 - 6:40pm LA here too. Via GR, Ann…

LA here too. Via GR, Ann Arbor, Chicago, etc.

The pros are too many to list: world class city (LA) with anything and everything you could imagine to do.  world class industry.  limitless professional talent and opportunity, all the things you said, etc.

Any con anyone could ever have is a direct result of how great it is here and thus how high the demand is to live here (cost of living, traffic, etc.).  And even still, the cost of living and traffic is quite a bit better than SF and NYC.

07/02/2018 - 5:28pm So you live in a suburb of…

So you live in a suburb of Atlanta is what you're saying...

06/29/2018 - 7:14pm This is sarcasm, right?  I…

This is sarcasm, right?  I never really know with you.  A true wildcard.

06/29/2018 - 7:01pm Yep, at first I was like,…

Yep, at first I was like, good luck to a guy that didn't play a ton at Columbia.

Then did a little research.  Big guy at 6'10 so much more difficult to come in right away as a big. Rated #7 in the state of Michigan and 322nd in the country as a senior in HS.  Definitely could earn a scholarship and get minutes as a backup center, especially if he develops on outside shot in his RS year.

Solid low risk pickup.

06/29/2018 - 5:20pm uhh, "Michigan Arrogance" is…

uhh, "Michigan Arrogance" is a term mostly accurately used to describe the school ALL THE TIME.

the dictionary definition of uppity: self-important, arrogant.

So yeah, uppity and synonyms get used all the time to describe Michigan, Notre Dame, Ivy League schools....and the description has plenty of merit if we're being honest with ourselves.

06/28/2018 - 6:04pm There's nothing all that…

There's nothing all that impressive about struggling with Australia 2-1 and beating Peru 1-0, though.

A +2 GD in a very weak group isn't that impressive. 

Completely agree that that pod is impressive in name recognition from top to bottom without a weak team in the group but the winner of it is likely to be the 2nd weakest semi-finalist.

06/28/2018 - 4:42pm Probably not because Japan…

Probably not because Japan is so weak as a first round opponent that it's still about even between winning group G or being runners up.

06/28/2018 - 4:41pm That "pod" is definitely the…

That "pod" is definitely the toughest of the four.  Those teams each have to face group champ quality competition twice to get the to the semi's. 

06/28/2018 - 4:23pm And the game effectively…

And the game effectively ended for it started for France/Denmark and Belgium/England this year too.


06/28/2018 - 4:19pm Correct, those would be the…

Correct, those would be the potential opponents and I don't actually think there is an "easier" route there.  It looks to be about dead even based on 538's SPI.

Colombia is SIGNIFICANTLY better than Japan such that playing them in the first round even though you have you face the winner of Brazil/Mexico in the second round makes that about the same difficulty to the semis as Colombia + Sweden/Switzerland.

Once there I don't think there is a big difference between the potential opponents.  Spain/Croatia isn't easier than France/Argentina/Uruguay/Portugal.  That latter foursome is better OVERALL but there isn't a single team there as good as Spain and you only have to play one of them.  And Croatia look really good right now too.


06/27/2018 - 5:00pm Completely agree.  Talent…

Completely agree.  Talent-wise, this years team wasn't much different than the 15-16 team.  The difference in being a bubble team and a 3-seed that reached the title game was almost entirely defensive coaching.