Friday, April 28, 2006

NCAA To Expand Bowl Field, Myles Brand To Bathe in Tub Filled with Gold Bullion

So Much Cash, Gotta Keep It In Hefty Bags

Myles Brand must need new shoes. According to the Associated Press, the NCAA recently approved four new bowl games. One of these new Bowls will be a fifth "BCS" Bowl designed to keep the NCAA regents and directors neck deep in silk linens, lobster tails, and imported euro-asian hookers everyday for the next 2000 years.

I have no idea why the NCAA decided that these games were necessary. Well, yes I do.

Last year there were 28 bowl games. These included the MPC Computers Bowl, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, the aptly named Fort Worth Bowl, the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the EV1.net Bowl, and you get the picture.

Quick Test: 1) Where were these games were played, 2) who played in them, 3) who won, and 4) what was your favorite memory from the game.

If you got a zero, you're not alone. Despite the fact that no one wants to watch Houston or Kansas play football, much less in a bowl gainst each other, you're going to get more of it. The College Football post season is generally seen by its faithful followers as a reward for superior in-season play. You play well, you go to a bowl. Unfortunately, it hasn't been that way for a while.

Look at Kansas. A stellar 6-5 overall record. A whopping 3-5 in conference. Yet off to a bowl they went. It's only going to get worse. The Bowl field could grow to 32 bowls by the end of this upcoming season. It's fairly conceivable that big conference teams with losing records will go to bowl games as the bowl field continues to increase. There are 119 D1-A schools. The thought that 54% of them will play in bowl games is rediculous. Lets just change the name to the NHL and be done with it. It is now officially harder to miss the post season than to make it.

It has nothing to do with wins or loses, it has to do with soaking as much money out of post-season starved alumni as possible. But then again, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. Now it will simply be a little more blatant.

The three new pseudo-bowls will include International Bowl, the Birmingham Bowl, and the New Mexico Bowl. First, the International Bowl, which should be played on an island in the south Atlantic so we don't have to watch or hear about it, will be played in Toronto. The only way this is a good idea is if the NCAA's ban on booze during games is lifted and a fresh I.V. of Labbatt's is administered to every poor sucker who paid admission. I can only hope that the game is played under Canadian Football rules. That, I would pay to see.

However, there are positives to the idea of the International Bowl. 1) The drinking age in Canada is 19. Therefore, college students who are under age in the states, yet legal on Canadian soil, can party it up legally while "supporting" their team. 2) The dollar goes a lot farther in Toronto than in Houston. Its a fact. Hotels, food, tickets, etc. will be a lot cheaper in Toronto than in the states. Gotta love the depressed Canadian economy. Look at all that pink and purple. (Our Money sure is gay.) Beer and booze however, are a tad pricy due to government regulations. 3) Canadians are just so darn nice. Think about it. You can piss on the space needle and they'll ask if you need toilet paper. Everyone says hello and excuse me. They'll even help you clean the vomit off your West Virginia jersey after the game. You can't ask for more than that.

The rationale behind the soon-to-have-their-name-changed-to-a-corporate-sponsor's-name Birmingham and New Mexico Bowls leaves a little more to the imagination. Because my sister-in-law goes to BC, I admit I watched a little of the MPC Computers bowl. There were ten people there. I can't imagine anyone got much of a payoff from participating in it. I'm willing to bet it cost more to play in the game than the payout. That is what you're gonna get with these two new turkeys. From what I'm told, the Birmingham and New Mexico bowl people "pooled their resources" and had a successful meeting with NCAA overlord Myles Brand. A photo from the meeting appears on the right.

What makes it worse is the fact that this is going to strech out the bowl season EVEN LONGER than it already is. I miss the days where January first, you'd wake up with a hangover, put on some sweats, order a pizza, make a bloody mary, and plop down in front of the tube content that you were watching the end of the college football season. There was peace and finality to it. Now it'll be Easter before than damn season is over. Again, just change the name to the NHL and get it over with.

Actually, the season will end January 8th. One of the four new bowls will be the yet unnamed Fifth BSC game which will be played in Glendale, Arizona in the Cardinal's new stadium. This unnamed cash cow will host the national championship game on January 8, 2007. That's right. January 8. More than a full week after the new year, we still won't have a national champion. Why is it whenever the NCAA does something that impacts college football I feel like I need a shower? 5 Major bowls, at least 26 minor ones.

Man. I can't wait to see Baylor play Arkansas State in the Birmingham Toilet Bowl.

I need a shower.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thursday's Docket: The Voice Retires, Fluff For All

Keith Jackson Announces His Retirement

According to the New York Times, Keith Jackson, the voice of college football, has permanently retired from play-by-play broadcasting. The Times reports Jackson, who is 77, decided he couldn't deal with the stress and the travel anymore and decided to hand 'em up. Jackson also stated this will be IT. No come backs. No West Coast schedule. Last time Keith retired, he retired to do PAC-10 games. However he made clear that this time he's going to sit in the rocking chair and find himself the biggest, duckiest pond you ever saw.

Jackson's retirement, if final, marks the end of an era for College football broadcasting. If you haven't gotten chills when he utters the words "Whoa Nelly!" then you have no pulse. Jackson has called more Michigan games than I can remember and has consistently been the best play-by-play announcer on the air. His deep voice, complete with a tinge of southern drawl, has announced national champions, covered the NFL, and trilled football fans since the 1960's. His emphasis was always on the right syllable. His timing was nearly always perfect. His sense of humor always came through.

Whether it was in the Rose Bowl or against Ohio State, Jackson always made watching the game that much better. In some way he became almost as important as the game, and for that reason will always be linked as a part of it. Jackson's voice singaled the beginning of Fall and the importance of a game. I'm still hoping he loosens up the vocal cords for one last Michigan/Ohio State showdown. But if he doesn't I've got a trunk full of Keith Jackson memories to keep me smiling.

When the season kicks off I'll still be excited. But when the big game is on, and Jackson's not calling it, it will seem like something's missing.

Marshmallow Fluff All Around

The Detroit Free Press is predicting Gabe Watson will be drafted somewhere in the Second Round of this weekend's NFL draft. Warning: Drew Rosenhaus is mentioned a lot. Go Blue Wolverine also has a piece on Watson's Pro Day/Draft Profile. Excellent read.

Rivals named Michigan Offensive Tackle University, based on the Maize and Blue's propensity to turn out dominating Tackles. Like I mentioned, when you turn out guys like Backus, Jansen, Runyan, and Maurice Williams all of whom are considered at the top of the heap you get your props.

M Zone puts together its All-UM team. Take a guess who's the quarterback? (Hint: Drew Henson isn't mentioned).

The Mayor Revamps College Football: Kyle's still got a bit of a Gym Dawgs hangover from the Lady Dawg's recent national gymnastics championship. Still, he's found time to completely redesign the college football landscape. In his latest installment Kyle tears up the Big 11 Ten, drops Northwestern and Indiana, strips us of Penn State, adds Notre Dame(!), Missouri(?), Iowa State(??), and Miami of Ohio(WTF???), and finally splits the new "Midwestern Conference" (come on Kyle, you've gotta have a better name than that, I propose the Bratwurst Conference) into Northern and Southern Divisions. Interesting proposal. Not one I can agree with. But intereting. It does free us to play Georgia though. In addition, the conference championship would be played at soldier field. I may be able to get behind this after all.

My favorite part: the beautiful, gratuitous photo of Angie Harmon (sigh...) and resurrection of the Southwest Athletic Conference. The SWC is back baby. Now the broad based, full fledged, SMU cheating can return to its glory days.

(Oh, and next time you're near the beautiful SMU campus, stop off as get a burger at Balls Hamburgers, their mini-burgers are amazing. Strangely enough, I spent my high school years in Dallas and those tasty burgers were the only thing that kept me sane. Kyle's post helped drudge up some fun memories.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wednesday's Docket: Gumpy White Guys Everywhere!

NFL Teams Looking Seriously at... Graham Brown?

No. That is not a typo. NFL teams desperate to find the next Antonio Gates have begun scouring the college basketball scene for gigantic power forwards who lack the basketball skills to play in the NBA. The rationale behind this movement is three fold: 1) These hulking behemoths can actually move their feet; 2) They've got better hands than most graduating TE's from constant basketball drills; and 3) They present a matchup nightmare for 6-2 linebackers and 5-10 DBs.

Enter Graham Brown. In his four years at Michigan Brown garnered both praise and disdain for his aggressive play on the hardwood. Voted by his fellow Big Ten players as the dirtiest player in the league he was oxymoronically given Michigan Basketball's sportsmanship award. Looking at him, through sunglasses, he is as white as a Barry Manilow concert. You're safer looking directly into a solar eclipse, with binoculars, than staring at him. Seriously, the glare off his skin can bring water to a boil.

That aside, he is absolutely jacked. Jacked and 6'9". What Brown didn't have in basketball talent, he made up for in the weight room. The last two years in particular he made life miserable for anyone who made a living in the post or driving towards it. If you were a six foot safety watching him avalanche down the middle of the field, directly at you, you'd probably say a few prayers, close your eyes, and attempt to take out his legs, hoping his knee doesn't collapse your skull. Add that up with the fact that no one is going to be able to cover him in goal line situations, you've got yourself a TE.

This experiment will not be without its disadvantages. Brown is slow. John Navarre slow. Watching him run is painful. Say what you want about Tyler Ecker's ill advised jaunt down the Fiasco Bowl sidelines, but he looked like a runner. Brown's running style can best be described as a baby, three legged giraffe learning to walk for the first time. Brown hasn't played football in five years either, and I'm sure his blocking skills will take a while to develop. Finally, there is going to be a serious leverage problem when fleet of foot LBs and DEs with substantially lower centers of gravity line up against him. His size could also prove to be a disavantage when he goes up for a poorly thrown hospital pass and those little missles known as safeties or Ray Lewis target his speen.

All my sarcasm aside, I think this could work for Brown. He's been a tremendous asset to Michigan basketball, and his work ethic over the past four years has proven if he sets his mind to it, he can accomplish it. He's got decent hands. He's a good athlete. He's as dedicated an athlete as I've had the pleasure of watching. And he is NFL level strong. If he can work on his route running, and learn to be just a tad more graceful in his stride, he's going to make a lot of money in the NFL.

At least I hope he does. According to the Free Press, seven (7!) NFL teams have contacted Brown's agent with interest in converting him into a tight end. Brown will have a better idea of which options are feasible after this weekend's draft. For everything he did for Michigan basketball, it'd be nice to think that Michigan returned the favor by preparing him for his next career, whatever it might be.

Who knows, some Sunday this year or next, I may turn on the TV and see a gigantic tight end sky for a back-of-the-endzone touchdown. I may look and see the name "BROWN" on the back. Confused, I'll have to look again, because no matter what jersey he's wearing, my mind will play tricks on me. Football or otherwise, I'll always see him in Maize and Blue.

In Case You Missed It

Texarkana 6'7", 5 Star, QB Ryan Mallet committed to Michigan yesterday. Its a verbal commit until February, when he'll sign a national letter of intent. Huge get. Its in the papers too. Joey and Johnny have placed Notre Dame on notice that "It's on, bitches."

UPDATE: I didn't see this earlier, lo siento, but iBFC has a piece up on Mallett. Everyone is excited. While I don't know how to have Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" play everytime you view the Mallett piece, rest assured if I did, it would. Feel free to hum along.

Ha Ha. Now its stuck in your head too.

Basketball Recruiting Update

Tommy is supposedly going to sit down with Scottie Reynolds sometime this week to discuss his matriculation to Michigan. While Michigan and Georgetown are listed as his most likely landing zones, LSU has jumped into the mix with the courtship of Scottie's best friend and fellow McD's All-American Darrell Arthur. The Diag has all the details.

LSU throwing its hat in the ring is BAD BAD news. If Arthur ends up in Baton Rouge, Reynolds will most likely follow. Reynolds also announced he'll take a recruiting trip down to LSU to check things out.

We'll see how this pans out, but I'm not putting a whole lot of stock in Reynolds committing to Michigan. Georgetown and LSU are both Tourney teams. LSU made the Final Four. While I think Michigan stacks up better than G-town, unless there's no chance Reynolds would see the floor for two years, I can't imagine him passing up an opportunity to play for a national championship contender.

Tommy's got his work cut out for him. On the positive side, Reynolds liked Michigan before committing to OU. Michigan is a great playing time fit. Michigan is also a likely tourney team next year, and with a point guard could compete for the Big Ten title. I know its a long shot, but its laid out for him.

Michigan's basketball team, despite its profitability, has been kicked pretty hard in the recruiting game. Hopefully we're due for some good news.

More as it develops.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mallett To Michigan

Ryan Mallett will offically commit on Wednesday according to Go Blue Wolverine, Rivals, and Joey.

You may now breath a sigh of relief. He's good.

Update: Brian at MGoBlog has written more on Mallett than you ever cared to know. Most importantly did you know:
On August 4th, 1941, a U-boat sunk a critical shipment of gunpowder destined for the shipyards of London. Private First Class Ryan Mallett was enlisted to hurl flak at incoming bombers, downing six and preserving an orphanage full of strippers. Four years later, he killed Hitler with a well-placed fifteen-yard out.
The rest is even better.

Tuesday's Docket: If You're Gonna Pound Something

You Need a Mallett

Today another top flight QB recruit will announce his destiny, and this time, it's a recruit we actually care about. Ryan Mallett told Go Blue Wolverine that he will announce his college choice today "either before or after [football] practice".

Mallett apparently said this after being visited by a cadre of Michigan coaches and staff who came down to talk with his coaches, teammates and watch practice. Hell, apparently they even stayed after to break down film with the guys. Michigan coaches, along with representatives from FSU, OU, and Bama will be on hand today for Mallett's announcement.

In stark contrast to the show put on by Notre Dame uber-recruit Jimmy Clausen (at right), Mallett said he'll announce his decision through a local radio station and leave it at that. In case you missed it, Clausen made his announcement at the college football hall of fame (which should be in lower case permanently for allowing a stunt like that) wearing more bling than Mr. T. As a result, ridicule has been dished out liberally. In case you're curious about Clausen anyway, Blue Gray Sky's got the scoop. Mallett's low key announcement will be a welcome respite from such nonsense.

While I am happy to kick Notre Dame while they are up (they got their #1 QB), we will have to wait until the afternoon to learn Mallett's fate. However, Mallett's decision is being seen by those in the recruiting world as leaning Michigan's way. I'll take the presence of the Michigan coaching staff in Texarkana as a good thing too. Michigan's main competition comes in the form of FSU and Coach Bobby Bowden who have been hot on Mallett's trail since Texas dropped out of the running.

Comparing the two schools, Michigan has to be the clear leader. FSU has been a place wheree top QB's go to die over the last ten years. With the exception of 102 year old Chris Weinke, FSU quarterbacks aren't making any impact in the ACC or NFL. Additionally, FSU has TWO (2) sophmore quarterbacks battling it out for the starting job, meaning Mallett would get two years starting time if either of them turn out to be decent.

Michigan, however, has been an NFL pipeline. It's current QB is a junior. The starting job at Michigan will be Mallett's for 4 years after his redshirt. These are facts that I'm sure are not lost on Mallett.

While Basketball recruiting's been rough on Big Blue, football recruiting's been going well. Keep your fingers crossed.

Michigan: Quaterback U

Rivals has been doing a series on Universities that turn out the best position players in football. Michigan, as you're probably aware, was named QB U. Michigan was named as a runner up for Interior Offensive Linemen and Tight Ends. Offensive Tackle is next on the list of stories, as is running back and safety. Expect Michigan as at least a runner up at the Tackle position with five tackles on different NFL rosters (Backus, Jansen, Pearson, Runyan, and Maurice Williams).

Annoyingly, Michigan went unnamed in the Wide Receiver category. Apparently Amani Toomer, Tai Streets, Braylon Edwards, Derrick Alexander, and ANTHONY CARTER don't count for much.

For an up to date listing of Michigan alumni in the NFL, CBS Sportsline has everyone currently playing. Did you know Todd Collins is still playing??

Monday, April 24, 2006

Monday's Docket: Recruiting News Out The Yin Yang

Mallet to Decide This Week

According to GBW, 5 Star QB Ryan Mallet out of Texarkana, TX will make his college decision this week. Cross your fingers. Mallett will be choosing from Michigan, Florida State (a recent hard charger), Alabama and Oklahoma. GBW seems to think we're in the lead because Michigan's the only school he actually visited. Mallett also confirmed speculation that Texas gave him a 24 deadline to decide on their offer before he cut Texas out of the picture.

Anyone else excited? Michigan's been after Mallett since it was legal to pursue him. It was perceived for a while as a two dog race between Texas and Michigan until Texas dropped an ultimatum on Mallett. He shot them down and "opened" things up again. Since then FSU has been all over him like Charlie Wies on the Old Country Buffet dessert table. Apparently they sent him several of the cards to the right. While FSU can certainly offer Cowgirl Jen, Michigan can offer an NFL pipeline and the starting job in 2008 when he comes off his (stated preference of a) first year red-shirt.

While we've been down this road before, all signs point to Ann Arbor. So stay tuned.

GBW also put together a great look at Michigan's recruiting on the Defensive side of the Ball. Excellent work. I'm not going to rehash it, but this is pure gold for you recruiting junkies. (Thanks to the Diag for pointing it out). Here's a hint, its heavy on DBs.

One Less QB Out There

There is also officially one less uber-qb-recruit out there. Jimmy Clausen, brother of former Tennessee QB's Casey and Rick, announced he's committed to Notre Dame as a 2007 recruit. While Michigan had offered Clausen, it was a two horse race between ND and Southern Cal. While it would've been sweet if Clausen had pulled a Carlos Brown and committed to Michigan out of the Blue (pardon the pun), he wasn't really on the radar. Ryan Mallett has been Target #1 all along.

The Good News: ND is no longer in the market for a #1 QB to replace Quinn. If Jabba the Wies can keep from eating Clausen, or freezing him in Carbonite, Notre Dame is out of the QB recruiting picture for a couple of years. Also, this kid is a Clausen. We've seen how good they are. Plus Tom Lemming likes him which creeps everyone out. They can have him. Maybe his mere presence on the roster will turn ND into Tennessee. If so, look for the Georgia Tech upset and a string of hookers-n-blow related incidents in South Bend.

Bad News: Meh. If something goes awry and we lose out on Mallett, it means USC's intensity will be stepped up. Nothing really bad here.

Basketball: Reynolds Released From Oklahoma

The good news just keeps rolling in. Scottie Reynolds, formerly one of Michigan's top Basketball targets for 2006, was released from his letter of intent to Oklahoma. With Patrick Beverly's commitment to Arkansas, it seems we have an opening for young Mr. Reynolds. Reynolds was a McDonald's All-American and plays point. Lemme check. Yeah. There's a spot for him.

Reynolds has been rumored from the start to have Michigan on his shortlist because it was among his final choices before choosing OU. There's not a lot of time between now and the start of school, so expect an announcement relatively soon. As long as he doesn't visit anyone, we're in good shape.

Michigan Hockey Picks Up a Forward and a Goalie

Mgoblue.com and The Diag are also reporting that we've picked up two new letters of intent for the hockey team. Forward Trevor Lewis from Utah and goalie Steve Jakiel from California. Lewis was a point machine in the USHL, coming in second in league scoring with 75 points in 56 games (35-40).

Any goalie help is good help. Jakiel will be expected to battle Sauer for the starting goalie job. Also of note, Jakiel is 6-4 and has 20 pounds on Sauer. Good news. I'm a big proponent of large goalies, and if Jakiel's as good as his reported .910 save percentage in the USHL last year (imagine a test range for the A-10's autocannon, then you've got the USHL), we'll be in great shape between the pipes.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday's Docket: Football, Baseball, and Body Sushi

More Teams Michigan Should Play

Two days ago I took a swing at rescheduling Michigan's out-of-conference games. After spending seconds thinking it out, I came up with Georgia, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, and Florida. What I forgot were a couple of outstanding programs that we either need to reschedule, or schedule for the first time. Please accept my appologies for this oversight.

1. ESU - Seriously. Hasn't it been long enough since we played these guys again? We played them on their home turf and these bastards haven't had the courtesy to finish off their end of the Home-and-Home. Liquidated Damages clause my ass. Anyway, the last game was a classic. Two Heisman hopefuls. Scoring a-plenty. And MAN, sealing the game with a goal line interception. Woo! Joe Kane may be gone, but they're back and loaded with talent.

2. Texas State University - A season without the Fightin' Armadillos on the schedule is like aday without sunshine. Yeah, in the early 90's they got nailed by NCAA sanctions, but its a Texas school. They're back. You can tell by the Escalades in the football parking lot. Besides, I hear their kicker is hot.

3. South Central Louisiana State University - Ever since they beat the University of Louisiana in the Bourbon Bowl, I've wanted a piece of this team. Boucher's gone, but his mystique lives on fo-eva.

Just thoughts for the 12th game.

More Idiocy Over Luxury Boxes

The Detroit News finally caught up to the rest of the Michigan alumni base. Unfortunately they gave the soap box to the wrong people. Several of people (Brian, Joey, etc.) have written far more eloquent and complete reasons for supporting luxury boxes at Michigan stadium, so I won't rehash it here. All I can say is let the boxes go in. Please. And please find something more productive to do with your time. In the interest of fairness, here's the opposition's website.

UPDATE: MGoBlog has had enough of this anti-luxury box crap.

Derek Lee Out With a Broken Wrist

Well, there go two seasons down the drain in one fell swoop. In case you missed it, Derek Lee broke his right wrist on Wednesday in a collision with Dodgers' shortstop Rafael Furcal. This officially torpedoes the Cubs season and screws me in my fantasy baseball league. Why is it when the bottom falls out of the Cubs season they've gotta take everyone along with them?

The Sushi Craze Gets Creepy

In case you've missed it, yet another west coast fad has made its way to Chicago. Recently, a failing up-scale sushi joint in Chicago's Gold Coast area figured out a way to get boat loads of free publicity and save its business. The answer: Body Sushi.

The owner hires half/mostly naked female models to use as serving pieces for his Sushi. And it ain't cheap either. $500 a person for 4 to 6 people. People are (pardon the pun) eating it up despite the cost. While the idea of having a naked model to eat off of may sound appealing at first...

please, let you mind wander...

(and we're back) raw fish isn't what you'd ideally have in mind. Nor would sharing this dirty little thought with 3 to 5 of your friends/coworkers/girlfriends/wives/family. Even so, this hasn't stopped people from coming to the restaraunt in droves. Apparently I'm the only person creeped out by the thought of eating raw fish off of a stripper.

Well, the craze has reached a new level of "ick". One of my buddies was fooling around on Craigs List and found an advertisement requesting a "male body sushi model". This got me thinking. Who in the hell would want to eat raw fish off a dude!? Apparently there's a market for it. So I convinced my buddy to send in a resume and a photo. What do you think?


Seconds Anyone?

We call it "Sushi in a Sweater". Enjoy your lunch.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Sun Rose Again This Morning

Thoughts on Recruiting

Hard to believe grown men and women get so wrapped up in the decisions 18 year-old kids make. Especially when they're not even their kids. Oh well. MGoBlog summed it up best:
Bye, random person.

Mea Cupla. If you feed the hype machine it will bite you in the end. The Detroit News gave a brief blurb on Beverly's decision and The Diag takes a quick look at who's still out there and who's on the radar for next year.

We're still waiting for word as to whether or not Oklahoma will let Scottie Reynolds out of his LOI now that Sampsons at Indiana. According to the Diag, N.C. State, Michigan, and Indiana appear to be his prime landing spots. The way things have gone, I'm not counting on him.

After Beverly's decision, the question was posed "We're a better school. Why doesn't that ever work for us?" I thought about that for a little bit because it bugs me too. Michigan is an amazing academic institution. Our professors and instructors are second to none and our campus is littered with new development and academic opportunities. However, when I thought about the reasons I went to Michigan and the reasons a potential starting athlete would go to Michigan I came up with an entirely different list.

For me it was academics, reputation (You went to Michigan? I love/hate them. Great school.), the campus, chance for a job after college, the benefit of Michigan on my resume to go to grad school, the students, the town, the people, the teachers, was it where I fit in, what's the situation with the ladies, etc. I didn't even look at the gym till my second semester.

For a top athlete in one of the major "professional" sports determining factors are: recent success, available playing time, am I a starter, who's playing with me, coaching, how many guys have gone pro here, how many guys have gone pro under this coach, weight room, trainers, practice facilities, how do they get to games, where am I going to be living, what's the financial support (living expenses [the legal stuff]), am I going to be able to complete a degree, do I want to complete a degree, am I going to have help completing a degree, what's the situation with the ladies, etc...

Unfortunately, outside of offensive linemen, the education isn't the most important factor in the equation for most of these kids. If you're playing major program D-1 ball, chances are you're going to a decent school. While Arkansas ain't Michigan, it isn't Westbumbleton Community College either. At a certain point, the degrees are interchangeable if you're going to focus on being an athlete. I'm not saying this to denigrate the quality of a Michigan education compared to Arkansas. I'm simply pointing out that if your goal is to play basketball for a living rather than go to grad school or work in an office, then academics cease to be important after they reach a certain level.

To take a parallel from a professional sports franchise, my beloved Chicago Blackhawks, trying to sell playing for a team based solely on tradition and the city you play in doesn't work. Bill Wirtz, the 'Hawks' owner, has tried to convince people to play in Chicago for less than they would receive elsewhere simply because they get to wear the indian head on their chest and play in Chicago. Sound familiar? Michigan is trying to sell the basketball program to recruits based on name and educational value. As much as you or I love the program, for kids that didn't grow up rooting for any particular program that doesn't fly. They want to see a commitment which gives them the best shot to go pro.

The rationale of "we're a great school, you'll get to play immediately" just doesn't work when viewed outside of our fan-demonium. If those things were the determining factors, how would we ever lose a recruit to O$U, LSU, Miami, FSU, or any number of prime football schools with questionable academic credentials. Taken a step further, that rationale would mean our baseball teams would annually compete in the College World Series as a favorite rather than an occasional invitee. That's not the case because college baseball players want to play where its warm, the facilities are top notch, and you get maximum exposure to scouts. Take a look at the number of scouts in the stands at a Big Ten game and an ACC or Big XII South game and you'll see what I mean. The education's nice, but the potential to make your living as an athlete overrides that. Yes, plenty of marginal players commit based on academics, but they're not the subject of this debate. Take any top tier athlete, ask him whether he'd rather have a state of the art training facility or a noted scholar teaching Greek and Roman Wars. You know the answer.

While the criteria for these decisions are different for a student and a student-athlete, the rationales are not. Where do I have the greatest chance for success in my chosen field of endeavor? That remains the key. In evaluating the criteria that lead an engineering student to choose Michigan over Florida, we must also evaluate the criteria that might lead an athlete to choose OSU, Arkansas, or even Texas over a school like Michigan.

If there's one thing recruiting teaches you it is you must divorce yourself somewhat from your own biases in order to make sense of it. I will point out that my argument on this point only holds true in the sense that Michigan's basketball program is not an elite program. I cannot apply this to our football recruiting because Michigan, in spite of its 7-5 record last year, is still an elite program which will be ranked in the top 10 at the start of the season. This doesn't work for hockey for that same reason. My argument only holds in the sports where Michigan is not a top tier program.

When Alex Legion decommitted, his mother compared scholarship recruiting to purchasing a car. Applying that to our latest recruiting failure, compare Michigan and Arkansas basketball programs as they are. They're both Maximas (mid level programs). They're both nice (Playing time). Michigan has a few more miles on it (facilities), but it does have GPS (good school) and leather seats (decent program). Arkansas is up on crome dubs (new facilities), no GPS or leather but has a turbo charger (NCAA appearance) and a boomin system (program on the rise). Stacked up, I'm sure Beverly made the right decision for him.

However, the failings in Michigan's program can and will be fixed. The Maxima will turn into a Bentley again soon enough. The trick is not to get too down when a customer walks off the lot.

Let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Gone in a Flash

Beverly Commits to Arkansas

Show of hands, who didn't see this coming? In yet another kick to the groin of Michigan basketball, Patrick Beverly committed to Arkansas today. Despite what was perceived as a great visit to Ann Arbor during Michigan's NIT run, Arkansas brand new facilities and NCAA tournament berths won out for his services.

Bottom Line: This sucks. While I can't say his decision is a surprise I was holding out hope he'd commit to Michigan. Like I said earlier, everything he mentioned following his trip to Arkansas indirectly pointed out the major flaw in Michigan's current program. While we both could offer playing time, Arkansas had some shiney new digs to show off and we didn't. Another thing that likely killed us was Alex Legion's decommitment. I got the feeling from Beverly's interviews that he was impressed by the fact that Michigan had secured such a high profile player. When Legion bolted, I'm sure Beverly took note. With Legion, Beverly had a bona-fide fill the net partner on the wing. It looks a lot better as a pointman when you've got a scorer to dish to. Without him, well, you don't.

As annoyed as I am, I can't blame Tommy for this one. The first thing out of Beverly's mouth was how great Arkansas' facilities were. Tommy's gotten us just outside on several different recruits, only to have Michigan's shoddy practice and weight rooms derail once promising recruiting efforts. Take a look at our facilities (at right), would you want to practice here? Hopefully losing yet another commit based on the physical problems with the program will help Martin to realize the team desperately needs some infrastructure help. NCAA appearances generate revenue and good publicity. However, they cost money (in terms of buildings and repairs) to obtain. So make it happen Billy, or watch the program fade into Bolivian.

As for a silver lining on this little storm cloud, Michigan will now turn its attention to another once promising prospect. Guard Scottie Reynolds, a former top Michigan target, has asked to be released from his letter of intent to play for Oklahoma following Kelvin Sampson's departure. Michigan was one of his top three before committing to Oklahoma. Reynolds is ranked as the 74th best player out of the Rivals.com top 150. Like Bevelry, he's a scoring point guard who could fill Horton's shoes. We'll see how Tommy's renewed pursuit pans out.

Wednesday's Docket: Recruits, Football Wishlists, Baseball and the NBA Playoffs

Maize n' Beverly?

We'll find out today. Beverly is scheduled to announce his decision at a press conference around 3 pm (CST) today. I'll keep my fingers crossed and keep you posted. In addition, Beverly's skyrocketing stock was further boosted by Rivals.com ranking him the 64 best prospect out of high school. This is the first time Beverly was been ranked in the Rivals Top 150.

If you look a little higher up on the list, you'll also see signed UM recruit DeShawn Sims checking in at #31.

In case Mr. Martin is wondering how to spend the reported $17 million in profits the Athletics department rakes in I suggest following Georgia's lead. Check out the Stegeman Coliseum Annex (at right). The new annex cost $30 million and will apparently not generate enough money to support itself. It will, however, generate a significant buzz amongst, oh say, uber recruits looking for nice practice facilities. This will in turn help bring the university the notoriety that only a NCAA tournament appearances can generate. Why is it that only schools in the South (and Ohio) have figured this out?

More Football: 5 Teams I'd Like To See Michigan Play

This question was recently posed by a Burnt Orange Nation reader in response to Mayor Kyle's out of conference scheduling postings. As usual, Kyle quickly put together a witty retort which includes a gratuitous photo of Kristin Davis. Michigan tops his list.

Here's My Top Five Out of Conference Wishlist:

1. Georgia - For obvious reasons. Sun. Booze. Southern cooking. Gym Dawgs.

2. LSU - Oh baby would this be a party. I'm stocking up on beads in anticipation. On top of that, playing the Tigers in Baton Rouge, supposedly one of the toughest places in the country to visit would be a great measure of both Michigan's coaching and talent.

3. Miami - One of the preeminent programs of the last three decades. Even though they got whupped in last year's finale you're a fool if you count out the 'Canes. Recruiting is as strong as ever and Coker is a good coach. This team will be a force to reckon with for years to come. Besides, any excuse to go to Miami Beach is a good excuse.

4. Oklahoma - Ohio State got Texas, so we'd naturally get the team that usually beats the pants off of Texas. If you're gonna go rivalry, UM/OSU and UT/OU are up there as the meanest, nastiest rivalries on the face of college football. It would be rather fitting too, as UM has dropped a few to OSU and OU got pounded by Texas last year.

5. Florida - The chance to lift a luke warm PBR with Orson doesn't hurt, but more than anything I want to see "The Swamp". I've heard its a loud miserable place to play in if it ain't your home. The Urbanator has brought in some top flight talent, they're a fun team to watch on TV, and personally I'd love to see them on their home turf in a game I cared about.

Also receiving votes:

Alabama - Two of the winningest programs in college football and because Keith Jackson would call the game; and

Florida State - Cowgirl Jen aside, Lloyd v. Bowden would be awesome. Just think of the man boobs involved in that matchup. Oh, and it would be a pretty good game down in Tallahassee too.

Yeah their all southern schools, but we tend to play PAC-10 teams on a regular basis so I excluded them from the list. Look at the list. Tell me you wouldn't love to go to any of these games. Beats the hell out of playing Indiana in Bloomington.

Anyway, in case you're jonesing for some more Michigan news, The Daily takes a look at the Final Spring Practice. Johnny's back up and running, and posted a sweet, sweet SI cover from 1986. You've gotta see it.

Harry Doyle Here...

Hey all you Michoo maniacs, in case you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven't, Michigan has started to win a few and is threatening to, bolt into first? The Nine n' Blue swept away the Buckeyes this past weekend. Michigan is currently in second place in the Big Ten and stands a game out of first behind first place Northwestern. Michigan pounded OSU 14-3 on Friday, and then took both games in a Saturday doubleheader 7-1 and 2-1 (in extras).

Michigan travels to Purdue this weekend to play the third place Boilermakers who stand third in the Big Ten, and post an overall record of 20-11. In case you were wondering, the Cats are 9-3 in the Big Ten but 3-17 outside of it. Go Cats! Reow!

In Other News

The NBA playoffs are just about set. If the Bulls beat the Raptors tonight, they don't have to go to Detroit, a right so many of us take for granted. (Thanks to the Trib for the joke).

The the Bulls had better win. I was hoping the Bulls would stick around a series or two. A trip to Detroit should include golf clubs because that's what you've be using three/four games later. I can't think of anyone who wants to face those guys. On the plus side, with a win, even if the Pistons don't finish off the wizards tonight, Chicago's worst outcome is playing Miami. The Heat are nowhere near as complete a team and the Bulls split the season series with. However, a loss means a trip to the tees with a three game layover in Detroit. Here are the Bulls' playoff scenarios.

BTW, am I the only guy who thinks Tayshaun Prince looks like an alien? He's just goofy looking. Seriously. Look at this dude. Hey looks like a tan version of Gumby.

It's NHL playoff time! Which coincides with the end of the Blackhawks season. The Hawks downed the Blues in their season finale in front of 10 or 15 people. If a tree falls in the woods...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tuesday's Docket: Pins and Needles

Beverly To Announce Decision on Wednesday

According to Rivals.com and The Diag, Chicago standout guard Patrick Beverly has made his decision between Michigan and Arkansas. I wish I could say I knew where he's going, but I don't. Michigan seemed like a solid favorite before Easter/Passover weekend. Then Beverly took his visit to Arkansas. Like a rusted out '52 chevy, it looks like the wheels may be coming off the Michigan recruiting wagon.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette had a brief piece on Beverly's visit where he said mostly the same things he said at Michigan (courtesy The Diag). One change: "The facilities, everything, is brand spanking new." Even so, in reading the write up, I'm less convinced that its a slam dunk for Arkansas.

Beverly's commitment should give us a pretty good indicator of where Michigan stands in College Basketball. If he commits, I believe it shows a program on the upswing which can land mid-top tier talent even with (and most likelydespitete) its current facilities. If not, it shows Michigan, despite its name and money, is still at the bottom of mids, looking from the outside in at the big boys and the not so-big boys. With the way things have been going, I'm watching the wheels on that '52 pretty closely.

MGoBlog is reporting SIGNED recruit DeShawn Sims was the MVP of the Capital Classic. Good news. Even better news because he's locked in.

Light and Fluffy

The Free Press has a nice article on Linebacker LaMarr Woodley. Apparently after a disappointing season, his draft stock wasn't quite as high as he would have liked it, so he returned for one more year. For more fluff, look right, and click here for more photos from the final Spring Practice on GBW. Michigan Sports Center's got a great wrap up too.

More Football:
Georgia v. Michigan, Kyle Goes on The Offensive

For those of you who haven't been following it, The Mayor, Kyle T. King proprietor of Dawg Sports University of Georgia Sports blog, has been attempting to rally fans of our two great institutions to lobby their respective administrations to support a future home-and-home series with the Georgia Bulldogs.

Kyle took the nay-sayers of this marvelous idea in today's Dawg Sports posting. While Kyle harbors no secret love of the Michigan program, he does do magnificentnt job of reviewing the program from an outsider's perspective. Because its so hard to view our the Maize and Blue through anything but a cynical eye these days, Kyle's write up is a nice look back at the success Michigan has had, as well as a look forward to the success we will have again.

I have to tell you, the thought of a Michigan Georgia match-up gets me all goosebumply. Ever since my wife and I visited the lovely town of Savannah, GA on a trip, a part of my heart has remained in the south. One of the best memories I have is staying at a lovely little bed and breakfast just outside of Savannah's downtown (which I cannot recommend highly enough). The owners had a beautiful bulldog named Dutchess who was part of Uga's litter. Needless to say, if my wife and I get a dog, its gonna be a bulldog. (Who can resist that face?)

Their fervent fandom for their alma mater is not unlike our own. The traditions are similar. The fans are knowledgeable and respectful. The quality of the two programs can't be questioned. Finally, the prospect of an early September game in Athens and drinking in the warm southern sun (combined with a Michigan win), well, that's tough to beat.

On top of that, playing a top tier college program like UGA would continue to grow the Michigan legend as a team that can play with, and beat, the best in the country. (The revenue generated from such an event would be something to behold too, Mr. Martin).

Huzzahs all around.

cc. Bill Martin

More On Red's New Contract

The Daily has a nice piece on Red's new contract. In addition, Berenson announced that Matt Hunwick will be next year's team captain, and T.J. Hensick and Jason Dest will serve as assistant captains. Congrats boys!

Adding Blogs To The Roll

If you haven't done so already, check out Stadium and Main, a another recent addition to the Michigan blogosphere. Excellent insights and some fun revisionist history on Michigan's recent football past.

The Wolverine Den popped up a couple of days ago, too. Welcome to the seemingly never ending sea of Michigan blogs.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Monday's Docket

Red's Back, Basketball Recruiting, The Final Spring Practice, and a Creme Egg Coma

Hope everyone had a great Easter or Passover. A weekend full of fun, family, religion, and loads and loads of Cadbury Creme Eggs. I am convinced that if you eat enough Creme Eggs in one sitting you will reach Nirvana. It's equivalent the spice essence. You either die or become an interstellar messiah. Worth a shot either way.

Still my mind seemed to wander back to Ann Arbor. And for good reason.

Berenson Signs On For Three (3!) More Years

You read right. Red's sticking around. USCHO.com is reporting that Bill Martin did something right. During Saturday's Hockey Banquet Martin announced that Berenson had been signed to a three year extension which will keep Red behind the Michigan bench through the 2009 season. Oh happy day! This couldn't be better news for the hockey program.

My read is this: with the talent staying, and the talent in the pipeline, Red thinks this is a championship calibre team. Red's a proud guy. There's no way he would've signed on for three more years if he was going to spend it pulling out what little hair he's got left. He's got designs of going out on top, and that's good news for all of us.

Kudos to Martin for taking care of such an important deal, quietly, quickly and professionally. Now about the Crisler renovations...

Speaking Of Which (Basketball Update)

Patrick Beverly has announced that he's just about at a decision. Scout.com and The Diag are reporting the Chicago stand out guard will announce his decision between Michigan and Arkansas this week. Um. Let's see. He just came back from a visit. Everything went well. Its warm down there. They've got "brand spanking new" facilities. They just made the NCAA tournament. And he wants to make an announcement on his choice of school.

Verdict: Bad, bad news. Seems to fit the way things have gone for the basketball team, great build up, followed by collapse. Hopefully Beverly will sit back and weigh his options a little more before making his decision. I think the more he looks at things, the more Michigan stands out. Going into this weekend visit, which was supposed to be St. John's according to the Trib, Michigan was the clear favorite. Now I rate it as a toss up. However, if playing time's as important as it seems, it should give us an edge. Our academic facilities blow Arkansas out of the water, but our practice facilities and weight rooms are a serious problem.

Hopefully, Beverly's comments about the facilities weren't lost on Bill Martin. Michigan should NEVER lose a recruit to Arkansas. If it happens and the basketball team continues to be mediocre, Martin's can only look in the mirror for the reason why.

No One Important Got Hurt!

Michigan Football wrapped up its final spring practice on Saturday without a single starter getting hurt. Whew. The football team wrapped up its 15th spring practice with a series of drills and an offense-defense one quarter scrimage. None of the starters, for that matter none of the second string, appear to have played in the scrimage. Michigan is going into the off-season healthy. A welcome change from the season of seemingly infinite injuries. Mgoblue.com has the photo's from Saturday's practice up here.

Photo Courtesy UM Photo Services

The majority of coverage from Saturday's final practice revolved around junior-to-be running back Mike Hart. The generic copy line would be simple, "Michigan Has a Healthy Hart". Hart told reporters that the hamstring and ankle injuries that kept him out of 6 games last season have finally healed. Hart said he finally started feeling normal around January, and is able to cut and run as well as has since coming to Michigan. He also told reporters he's taken a much more aggressive injury prevention regimen which hopefully will keep him in the lineup all season. The Free Press, Detroit News, and Ann Arbor News are all drooling over the prospect of Hart and Henne back at their freshman production levels.

In other good news, Carlos Bown broke loose during the spring scrimage and provided everyone who jumped up and down when he signed with something to talk about during the summer. Brown, who has seen time at corner and as an option quarterback this spring, went back to his normal running back position and busted out a 55 yard TD run during the scrimage. Carr's given Brown a lot of praise during spring practice. Apparently, this is why.

Brown's emergence gives the backfield three different backs with three different looks. Hart will shoulder most of the load as our every down back. While an excellent between the tackles runner, Hart has shown the ability to juke defenders out of their cod pieces and pick up yards where none seem to exist. Even so, he'll need to be spelled and thats where the youngins' come in. Human wrecking ball Kevin Grady, who has dropped 15 pounds this winter and now looks like he was chisled out of granite, and scram-jet freshman Carlos Brown will give Hart a breather this season. What's better, both will scare the crap out of opposing defenses as they both present very different concerns for the suckers on the other side of the ball. Juke it, smash it, or simply out run it, Michigan's backfield will be a true threat again next year.

Finally, the gamesmanship continues on the defensive side of the ball. While speaking with the Detroit News Alan Branch said that the only difference between last year's defense and this year's will be intensity. Hopefully that doesn't mean they'll be trying to give up fourth quarter leads even harder this year. Fear not. Branch is doing what everyone expects, laying out a smoke screen to cover the fact that it will be a very different defense from the last few years. With the number of complaints Lloyd muttered to the press during spring practice, and the number of quotes from defensive players talking about new assignments, its easly to ascertain that we'll see a much different defense this year.

One consistent statement from the players has been about the "intensity" of practices. While I'm sure Herrmann got after his players from time to time, that mustache wasn't scaring anyone. English's gleeming dome, complete with the bulging vien of anger which pulsates across his forehead to the peak of his skull, casts a far more intimidating shadow than anything ole' Jimbo could possibly arrange. Its one thing to have an old, fat german dude telling a 360 lineman how to cut inside. Its another to have "The Vein" glaring down on you, secure in the knowledge that 360 or not, he could still kick your ass. Under those circumstances, you'd better believe practices and games will be a little more intense.

I don't know if "the vein" exists or not. But I like the visual.

Football practice resumes on August 6.

More, Because That's What You Crave

For a far more indepth set of personal observances, head over to Mgoblog. Brian was there on Saturday and doles out some droll takes on the last practice.

iBlog For Cookies went absolutely apeshit with spring football. Check out his breakdown of EVERY scholarship player on Michigan's roster and the spring preview directly below. Unreal and, as always, right on the money.

Johnny's been busy too. RBUAS has answers to the Schembechler Hall roundtable questions I was too lazy to answer myself. Good stuff.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday's Docket: Spring Games, Basketball Updates, and Henne's Twinkie Fetish

Final Spring Scrimage 50/50

The final Spring Practice is still set for 1 p.m. Saturday at the construction site formerly known as Michigan Stadium. What goes on at that practice, however, is up in the air.

Injuries have taken their toll on the Wolverines this spring. According to the Detroit News the following players are nicked up and questionable for Saturday's final practice:

John Thompson (FB) - badly bruised arm. Expected to practice.
Mario Manningham (WR) - a "nothing serious" sprained a knee. This makes me nervous.
Rueben Riley (OL) - Unspecific injury. Somewhat scary because we had him slated at tackle, and we need a Tackle. Bad. Otherwise get ready for "Henne Season II" on repeat.
Chris McLaurin (LB) - Shoulder problems that require surgery. If so out till fall practice.
Antonio Bass (RB/QB/All Around Nice Guy) - Blew out a knee. Gone till 2007. Sucks.

From the way Lloyd's been talking I wouldn't expect a scrimage on Saturday. Losing Bass to a nasty knee injury, one QB for the season, and all kinds of nicks and bruises seem to have influenced him to keep it simple. I'm guessing a relaxed final practice, a wave to the fans, then back down the tunnel.

Another problem with the constant renovations at the Big House, no fan session after the practice.
Due to ongoing construction and safety issues, the team will not be signing
autographs following practice and fans will not be allowed on the field. The
cement and bleachers on the west and south sides of the Big House are being
replaced.

Oh well.

Saturday also marks the Men's Hockey Garage Sale. I am seriously pissed I can't be there. The one time I can restock my stick and equipment needs for the next season or two I'm stuck in Chicago playing hockey. Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes. Let me know if there's any good stuff there.

Hey. Wanna See my Twinkie?

Apparently there was a reason Chad looked like he was towing a house boat every time he "sprinted" out of the pocket last year. In a Detroit News article Henne admitted to enjoying snacky cakes and cheesey poofs (Hostess cakes and Taystee treats) on a regular basis as a late night snack. Apparently our fleet of feet QB dropped the Ding Dongs and has also dropped 10 pounds. There was more to the story, something about this being his big year and how good he'll be, but I tuned it out after Taystee Treats. The mental image of Henne curling up in the fetal position scarfing down Ho-Hos and Twinkies after a rough game cracks me up.

Wild, Baseless Basketball Speculation!

Just because the season ended three weeks ago hasn't prevented there from being a surplus of basketball news. The Diag is trumpetting the possible transfer/aquisition of the biggest fish in the transfer pond, center Eric Boateng from Duke. Boateng is supposed to be a top teir talent, but averaged almost nothing in his first year at Duke. So he wants out. According to the post, Michigan and Georgetown appear to be likely landing places for the former Duke center. However, this is the first I've heard anyone mention a transfer destination for this kid. At this point, yeah he'd be a great transfer, but there's nothing to support such speculation. Put this one in fantasy land until something comes along to substantiate it.

On the stronger, somewhat supported side of the basketball recruiting fence, GBW has a wrap-up of Michigan's recruiting efforts for 2007's guards and wings. Great Stuff. Looks like losing out on Legion has actually helped our standing with a couple of key recruits.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thursday's Incoherent Ramblings

State of The Blog

With little to do last night I decided to try my hand at updating the site. Even though HTML is as foreign to me as cooking Ethiopian food, I gave it a shot. As you can probably tell, I made a couple of minor tweaks. As my confidence grows, I'll put up a nifty little banner involving some sort of team sport and a beverage made from hops. Until then the content will have to keep you entertained.

Tommy's After a Big Fish

A 6-foot-10, 260 pound frosh that is. The Diag is reporting Tommy is quietly, but heavily recruiting Anderson, IN big man Gary McGhee for Michigan's 2007 class. This is "big" news if you'll pardon the pun. With Ohio State pulling in meatnormous 7 footer Greg Oden, Michigan could be in big trouble for the next four years because of the absence of an answering force. Michigan does not have a true center inked after Courtney Sims departs next year. Oh, and just so you know, there is no way Sims will be able to guard Oden. Too big, to quick.

Signing a young man like McGhee would go a long way to make Michigan competitive down low. Anderson is big, and could battle Oden based on size alone. While Graham Brown couldn't stay with the Big Ten's lead centers offensively, he pounded on them based solely on his strength and body weight. Now imagine Brown, a couple of inches taller, and with an actual post move. Such a signing would also be the first true center Michigan's had since, ugh, Robert "Tractor" Trailor.

McGhee is garnering interest from Wisconsin, Virginia, Connecticut and Wake Forest according to The Diag. His Scout.com profile has the highest profile school interested in him as Indiana, with Purdue, Valpo, and Miami (FL) showing interest. At this point it doesn't appear any offers have been made. Scout has him ranked as the 13th best big man in the 2007 class.

Apparently McGhee's dad is pretty high on Michigan. Again, our academics give us a leg up. Gary Sr. stated Michigan will definitely be one of the schools they visit. If Tommy pulls this one out of the hat I'll be shocked. UW, UConn, and WF are all preinial NCAA teams. McGhee's even gotten some interest from UNC. It's a long shot at best, but if there is any movement on the Crisler rehab, and McGhee sees that he'll start immediately in the Big Ten there's a chance he could be persuaded. I'll give Tommy this, he ain't sitting on his laurels. Maybe he can land this one.

If not, prepare for two years of total domination of the Big Ten by Ohio State. Then disgrace, early exits, two failed championship runs, a questionable timeout, boosters get caught, program gets the death penalty, and all those banners have to come down.

Hey. It happened to us.

Football Spring Practice

Update coming after lunch.

Until then these articles in the Detroit News, Ann Arbor News, and Free Press will have to keep you happy. But just in case:

Antonio Bass is out for the season. To be honest, I don't think it affects us that much. Bass is a true athlete, and was slated as our number two QB, but we're not an option team. So far, Bass has been an athlete without a true position. He's been put at RB and WR. They've tried him on defense. They were trying him at QB when he blew out a knee. It truly stinks when a good kid gets hurt the way he did in spring practice. However, considering where the team was before, and is now, his loss is not one that puts Michigan behind the eight-ball. Athletes of his caliber typically make pretty good recoveries. Hopefully when he's back on the practice field Lloyd will have found a place for him.

Carlos Brown is being used at corner? Are we in that much trouble at CB or are we in that good with Brandon Saine? MGoBlog described Saine as a jet engine in a helmet because of his track star speed. Saine's apparently a life long Michigan fan. If that's true, and we're in like our man Flint, sweet. If not, why not give Brown as many reps as possible at RB considering the durability problems Hart had last year.

There could also be the possibility that things are working out better with Brown in the defensive backfield. Carr's mentioned CB's Charles Stewart and Johnny Sears as having had good springs. In addition, the only group he's singlehandedly leveled the boom on has been the linebacking corps. So that indicates our defensive backfield, under English's new system either takes some pressure off the DB's or they're adapting faster than anticipated.

While its a possibility, I don't buy it. We need CB help. Bad. When Jai Eugene left, we lost a starter and we're still looking for a replacement. Maybe the thought is Brown can hold fort till next season when we can fill that position with a hoss. Maybe the position change is permanent, and with Brown's height (six feet even) he could make it happen. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

All Beverly All The Time

Praise Continues to be Heaped on Michigan's Top Basketball Target

The Patrick Beverly Recruiting and Promotion Department formerly known as the Chicago Sun-Times is awash with stories about young Mr. Beverly's past present and future.

In several recent articles stemming from the April 9, 2006 Chicago Roundball Classic played at the United Center, Beverly has been called the following:
1. "A major talent" by Bob Gibbons of CSTV; (Sun-Times)
2. "Right now, he's definitely in the top 75 or better" by Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports; (Sun-Times) and
3. "The top unsigned recruit in the nation" by Roundball director Sonny Vaccaro. (Trib)
(Photo Courtesy Chicago Tribune, photo by Terrence Antonio James)

Beverly apparently put on quite a show at the Classic. Playing against some of the best talent in the nation, including four of Ohio State's Fab Five re-dux (complete with cars, drugs, and cash, cash, cash) on the other side of the court, Beverly scored 13 points, dished six assists, nabbed three steals and a blocked shot in 23 minutes of play. He led the way for the West early, scoring nine points in the first half. In the second half, he helped to seal the game for the West with a break away dunk. The article also mentions his poise with the ball and confidence running an offense. Apparently he can hit from just about anywhere on the court. The Trib reported that his mother made Patrick a sweet warm-ups deal to get him ready for the tournament. He had eight minutes, $2 a three, chase your own ball. He made 33 threes. Not bad.

Beverly is scheduled, according to the Trib, to make a visit to St. Johns over Easter Weekend, and then visit Arkansas April 20-21. This differs a tad from earlier reports, but if he's pushing back his Arkansas visit to go to St. Johns, I'll read it as a good sign. You'd think if he was excited about a school he'd see it sooner rather than later. Just my experience. Take it for what its worth.

Every article in the Trib or Sun-Times continues to have Beverly listing Michigan and Arkansas, in that order, as his top choices. In a Trib article by Bob Sakamoto, Beverly said "I was impressed by Tommy Amaker on my visit in March. Both he and Stan Heath (Arkansas) give their guards the freedom to take over a game." He also told the Sun-Times Steve Tucker ''Michigan and Arkansas are my top two, and I don't see that changing. They are both pretty big-time programs."

At this point it appears Michigan is his top choice of the two. In every article I've read, he consistently lists Michigan first and continues to heap praise on Tommy Amaker. To be honest, the Sakamoto article was the first time I ever head Arkansas coach Stan Heath's name in an interview or article with Beverly. Even so, its still up for grabs. Beverly made clear in his interview with Rivals.com that playing time was going to be one of the deciding factors. (courtesy of MGoBlog). In it, he may have proven that Tommy actually knows what he's doing. Beverly was quoted as saying Amaker told him with Horton's departure the starting point position was his if he came to Michigan. Good job Tommy.

Strangely, academics may be a critical factor as well. Beverly was reportedly impressed by Michigan's academic support programs. And when you compare a Michigan degree to Arkansas, well, it speaks for itself. We'll see what happens when he comes back from St. Johns and Arkansas. They'll put on a show for him. Hopefully his first Michigan experience left as much of an impression on him as mine did.

If that's the case, lets help him pick out a new number.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

These Badger Fans Are Crazy

My Day At The Frozen Finals

In case you can't read the bottom:
3) Phil Kessel (Minnesota) at home watching on TV!!!!
Priceless!

If there is a better college sport to watch than college hockey, I haven't found it. Yes, football is fun, basketball makes your heart beat a little faster, and women's gymnastics is, well, women's gymnastics (special thanks to Doug at Hey Jenny Slater for opening my eyes to the glory of the Gym Dawgs). But for an in game experience, nothing tops college hockey. So, this past weekend perhaps by providence, I headed up to Milwaukee, camera in hand for a day of Brewers baseball and an evening of College Hockey.

This year I was lucky enough to have my one of my old buddies call me up and say "I've got your ticket for the hockey finals in Milwaukee." No "Hey" or "How's it going?". And frankly its all he had to say. Marshall's a pro and college hockey database with legs. Back in the day we used to head over to the Michigan hockey games to scream things we'd never say anywhere other than Yost. It seemed to carry over. So, during that short phone call a month ago I knew this would be a good time.

Even though Michigan laid an egg in the first round, I have to admit I was still pretty excited about the match up in the finals. Wisconsin, consensus #1 in the land, against my sister-in-law's Boston College Eagles, the team I had the pleasure of seeing earlier this year in Boston. The perfect system played by a system team versus raw skill and speed. On top of that, it was going to be played in front of 20,000 rabid Wisconsin fans in Milwaukee.

In case you haven't gathered by the photo at the header, Wisconsin fans don't like anyone playing their team. However, they really don't like Minnesota. At all. Its not the "ha ha, you go to State" kind of half-ass-we-really-don't-care-about-you ribbing we give the Spartans. No. This is flat out I will punch you in the ovaries hate. Just look at the header. That kid couldn't have been more than 12. They start 'em young. Hating the Gophers is almost as much of a pastime in Wisconsin as drinking beer and making cheese.

Need proof? While heading out the door on Saturday morning I put on the my Boston College Hockey t-shirt, and then threw on my big-ass, white Michigan Block M hockey jersey. Marshall showed up in his blue version of the same jersey. Several of the Badger faithful took some umbrage to our attire. Our response was simple, "Gophers suck." Then we were one with Badger Nation. By simply saying those words, all was forgiven in their eyes, because we, at least on a surface level, shared one of their passions.

Another passion is wearing candy-stripe red and white overalls. I can't explain this.
And to think my wife questioned my attire when I went to the game in a Michigan jersey.

After 3 hours of Brewer Baseball at beautiful Miller Park, we headed to downtown Milwaukee to meet up with some friends who happened to be Badger fans. Both did undergrad at UW. And both were dressed in Badger red. Thankfully, they were not dressed like the King, above.

The bar we met at was packed. (With dudes. The only women there were the servers and bartenders. If there is a fault with following college hockey, it is that women do not care about it.) However, much to our surprise, the Hobey Baker award was present and on display at the bar.

While we were pretty excited to see it, the good people of Wisconsin realizing the Hobey was not staying in state, constructed another trophy to hand out which was much, much better.

I'll say this for the Cheeseheads, they love their Red Bull and vodkas.

After a couple of beers, we headed over to the Bradley Center for the 6 pm puck drop. Ticket in hand, I happily marched through the gates. Again, it was a sea of red. While I'm sure there were Eagles fans in attendance, they were hard to spot.

Our seats couldn't have been better. Even though we were in the 400 level, the sight lines were perfect and we sat just to the right of the Wisconsin goal line. Both bands were playing. It was kind of a Hockeyaplooza. As you looked around you could see jerseys of teams who didn't quite make it. We had seven North Dakota fans sitting directly behind us. Further up there were a handful of Minnesota fans. Across the aisle were a really nice elderly couple in Michigan garb. Jerseys and all.

That's the thing about going to college hockey. If you're there for the finals, chances are you're a real hockey fan. It's not like the basketball or football championships, where the only pre-requisites to get in is a checkbook and a tie. No. To be at these games you had to a fan of the sport. That's one of the things that makes it special.

The game itself was great. Halfway through the first BC scored on what can only be described as the ultimate grinder play. Dan Betram of BC came from out of nowhere to beat two UW defenders to the puck on the right side of the boards, flung it out in front of the net past another Badger defenseman, to find a covered Pat Gannon who chipped a wobbling puck backhander past Wisconsin Goalie Brian Elliot. Elliot was outstanding the entire night, and it took a perfect/lucky shot to beat him. 1-0 BC.

Even though they trailed, Wisconsin controlled the tempo of the game. Every time BC looked to run, Wisconsin stepped up, stripped the puck and took it the other way. Most of the First Period was played in the Eagles end, with Wisconsin out shooting BC 17-9.

BC came out stronger in Second, but to no avail. Wisconsin did an excellent job of limiting BC's scoring chances and kept most of the Eagles' shots and traffic to the outside. Elliot was only forced to make one or two tough saves the entire period. One thing I never gave UW enough credit for was their speed. It really surprised me. I was sure that BC's young legs would cause problems for the Badgers. Nope. The Badger defense stayed stride for stride will BC's lead sniper Chris Collins. They played near flawless defense (minus their first period let up).

To BC's credit, their defense was just as good. Most of the Badger's chances were from the outside. While Cory Schneider was forced to make a few more saves and face a few more legit scoring chances, its wasn't really until the third period that the Badger's onslaut really got to them. Much like BC's first goal, the Badgers jumped onto the scored board with a flat out hustle play. Robbie Earl after getting absolutely flattened at center ice, got up in obvious pain, trailed a two-on-two into the Eagle's end, and snuck around the BC defense to take a perfect pass Adam Burish and deposit it and himself into the back of the BC net. The goal seemed to wake BC, as they controlled the physical aspect of the period. Several huge hits on Badger forwards and the occasional running of a defenseman put the Badgers on notice BC would not go down quietly.

Even so, the fact that BC concentrated on the physical game more than their fun-and-gun attack, showed us that UW had successfully dictated the style of play and taken BC out of its game plan.

After the Second Period I decided to take a look around the arena. One of the great things about the finals are the banners they hang to mark the event. One of them was Michigan's.

Sweet.

Happy in the knowledge that North Dokota still needed two titles to equal Michigan, and that even with a victory Wisconsin needed three more to equal us, I returned to my seat for the final period.

From the start Wisconsin controlled the third period. They dumped and chased. They pounded on BC's defenseman. They crashed the net. BC looked as though it was lost. Finally, BC was forced to haul down one of the Badger forwards in front of the net, and Wisconsin went on the power play. Up until this point both power plays had been inept. In fact the Badgers had better chances on the kill than up a man. The same could be said of BC. Both kills had looked good till that point. Then in a moment of BC confusion, the Badgers pounced. Sneaking in from the point, Defenseman Tom Gilbert took great pass from Joe Pavelski, skated in between the hash marks and beat Schneider low stickside to give UW the lead.

On the goal it was obvious that BC's forwards failed to communicate on their coverage and blew an assignment. It was weird. That powerplay was the first time BC had decided to press the Badgers on the kill. BC's forwards were over-aggressive on the boards toward the lower end of the faceoff circles. They were caught deep, out of position, and it ended up costing them.

After the Badger's goal, there were only 9 minutes left in the period and BC still couldn't get anything going. It's important to point out the the Eagles played 7 freshman. Four of whom logged significant ice time as defensemen. And as it came down to crunch time you could tell. Passes weren't as crisp or on target. Then with less than four minutes left, BC took a boarding call. You could see the wind leave the sails. Even so, they hung tough, killing off the penalty with under 2 to go.

What followed could only be described as a mad scramble. BC spent those two minutes trying to gain the zone. In it would go, then out again. Then with four seconds left desperately churning on the boards the puck sailed out to one of BC's freshman defensemen, pressing on the left side of the boards, who flung it desperately on net.

As the puck left his stick there were two ticks left on the clock. The Badger fans were already beginning to celebrate because nothing was going BC's way. Somehow the puck made it through the traffic. It sailed low and fast and on target. It beat Elliot who appeared to be screened cleanly.

It didn't beat the right post. A millimeter or two to the left, the puck bounces off the post and into the net. With about 1.4 seconds left on the clock the puck slammed off the post and rebounded straight out into the crowd of players in front. None of the BC players parked in front even saw it lying there. Then the horn sounded and Wisconsin had won the championship.

A great game. A great day.

More tomorrow.