Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Miscellaneous Minutiae, 3/20/2012

General Site Stuff: With the basketball season ending as abruptly, cruelly, and in somewhat-surprising-but-not-really fashion, not unlike Woody Harrelson's character in No Country For Old Men, the focus will of course shift back to Michigan footbaw. Yes, great news...except it's March.

With spring practice underway and the spring scrimmage in less than a month, there's some football substance to be talked about, including but not limited to: who will turn into Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson because they lost/gained a certain amount of weight (and by "certain amount" I mean "any amount"), how much these coaches get it, and whether or not we are going to die against Alabama. After that, it's the Eliot-esque wasteland of rumor-mongering and general retching in the corner, a psychosomatic reaction to a world in which baseball is the only major sport being played at a given time (well, after the NBA and NHL playoffs are over).

There'll probably be a few more basketball posts to wrap up the season and look ahead to next year...after that it's back to being all football, all the time. Feel free to follow me on Twitter--also known as the thing in which all signs of civilization melt away, one hashtag at a time--and subscribe via the widgets to the left. Once I remember, I'll also add a link to my SB Nation profile for my stuff over at Maize 'n Brew.

Better Than Nothing: Spring practice is upon us, the next major step to having real football again (after Nation Signing Day). I ran through some spring ball questions on both the offense and the defense over at MnB. It would be redundant to reproduce all of those observations here, so just go read those if you want to know what I think about Will Campbell, what underclassmen I will definitely not irrationally tether my hopes and dreams to, and other important questions of our time. Here's the visual evidence that football things are happening:

For what it's worth, the group of linemen seen driving the sleds in the beginning goes as such from left to right: Lewan-Mealer-Barnum-Omameh-Schofield. That probably means nothing, but it seems like, if they were to play today, that that would be the starting 5. It's easy to say this in the doldrums of March, but that line is not half bad. Lewan and Omameh return, and Schofield swings out to the right side (where he would probably be an upgrade over Huyge), leaving LG and C as the only question marks. I would imagine that a guy like Kalis will get a chance to challenge Mealer, but I'm really rooting for #57, for obvious reasons.

Mattison Says Things of Various Interest: As representative of the new zeitgeist as Hoke's pressers have been, it's hard to argue against the fact that the coordinator pressers are infinitely more interesting. While some of the spring verbiage is bound to be fluff, much of what Mattison and Borges end up saying is actually pretty interesting. The presser transcript (HT: Heiko) is worth reading through, but here are the points I found most interesting, funny, or worth mentioning at this news-starved juncture in the offseason:

  • On EE Jarrod Wilson:  “He’s young. I’ve seen that he’s a guy that’s got his books in his hand, and he just came from a class that he’s never seen before, and he saw some pretty girls probably, I hope."
  • Re: Thomas Gordon, Mattison emphasized that he "must play faster" and "must play more reckless." I thought that was an interesting choice of words, and perhaps is a window into why Woolfolk took some playing time from Gordon despite the latter looking pretty good as a starter. It's important to keep in mind that he was moved to safety from the linebacker position under RR, so him not playing fast enough is not exactly a surprise. Gordon isn't the fleetest of foot to begin with, but one way to look faster without actually being faster is by knowing the system: a 4.6 guy that knows where he's going is faster than a 4.3 guy that has no idea what he's doing. This of course applies to the rest of the defense. 
  • Regarding Craig Roh's move to SDE:  "Craig Roh will be a better football player moving into a 5-technique than he would be out on the edge where there’s a lot of open spaces." I'm so glad he wasted away as a linebacker for a year...as if you needed any more confirmation that the previous coaching staff had mostly no idea what it was doing on defense (and I say this as a once staunch supporter of RR). 

Silver Linings: Nick Baumgardner runs through the season that was, with a quote from Novak that just about sums it up in my mind, emphasis mine:
"A year ago, Darius (Morris) left, and everyone said we were screwed," Novak said. "We proved a lot of people wrong.
"We won the best conference in the country."
When I remember this season, I won't think about the way that it ended; I'll remember that it was the first time Michigan was able to accomplish something that gets you a banner in seemingly forever. Say you what you will about the Buckeyes and Spartans being better teams...they indisputably are better, at this point in time. The thing is...that banner is going up, and this time it's staying up.

If you need any more data to assuage your angst vis-a-vis how it ended, look at how the Big Ten teams have performed in the tournament: four teams in the Sweet 16, and it would have been five if Purdue had not done the standard "run the shot clock out and get a horrible shot" routine near the end. Yeah, Michigan won that conference, and anybody that wishes to denigrate this team can pry the share of that title out our cold, dead hands.

NCAA Silliness: Dennis Dodd on the Jamar Samuels thing. I am far from having the answers to how to remedy the situation of the modern student-athlete re: payment or not, and I know that rules are rules, but...I sort of have to wonder what the breaking point for all of this will be. Samuels was ruled ineligible for accepting a $200 payment from an AAU coach, because, according to the coach, Samuels "needed to eat." Again, rules are rules, but isn't it a bit ridiculous for someone to ask something like this in light of the modern college athlete's place relative to the multi-billion dollar institution of which he or she is a part and not allowed to directly benefit from:
Essentially what you have here is the AAU coach for a K-State basketball pipeline, financially supporting players. How is that fair to other Big 12 coaches or any coaches? 
He also references an NCAA enforcement officer once telling him that "if it wants to, it (the NCAA) can classify a ham sandwich as representative of the university's interests." If you can't tell, this piece is about as reactionary as it gets: yup, the NCAA is completely in the right guys, nothin' to see here.

This is nothing novel, but as awesome as college sports can be 99% of the time, there exists a dark, mostly nonsensical underbelly. I'm pretty sure we're going down a road which ends in players getting paid "legally," especially in light of the new 4-year scholarship thing...I mean, this can't keep going on indefinitely, right? We can't keep living in a world in which players can have their college careers destroyed--even if they actually do need money to eat, despite Dodd's belief that this is basically inconceivable--because of a measly $200 while everybody else involved gets to swim in pools of money like Scrooge McDuck? Nobody is calling for A-Rod-esque payouts for college athletes, but come on, make it somewhat equitable fergodsakes. People like Dodd--who back the NCAA unequivocally while also unwittingly revealing its ridiculousness--aren't really helping the cause.

Ann Arbor, never change: So, this happened. Some guy was all "I posit that The Corrections is not, in fact the worst thing ever...in fact, Winston, I do believe I somewhat fancy it."...and then it was on like Ernest Hemingway circa the late 1920s. Don't ask me why they're talking like they're from Victorian England and not Southeast Michigan, okay.

If the punchee was in fact a Franzenite, then the puncher was pretty much doing everybody a service. Hemingway is currently sending a thank you letter from the grave, the entirety of which reads like so: "Thanks." Ha, minimalism!

More? Eye on College Football spring practice primer on Michigan. Mark Titus on the tournament thus far...re: the Buick Verano commercial he is absolutely right.

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