Friday, May 18, 2012

Miscellaneous Minutiae, 5/18/2012

UTL Part II? With Michigan joining the rest of the college football world last season by playing under the lights--I love how this is a phrase that we use, as if this is some outrageous concept--it has been the general understanding that Michigan will play more night games in the Big House in the coming years.  Next year does not provide the best home slate possible...outside of the Michigan State game, of course. As you can imagine, there may or may not be some trepidation in the athletic department regarding playing the Spartans at night that have to do primarily with off-the-field concerns...whatever, I don't really care much about that. However, I will say that this is some admirable Machiavellian trolling on the part of Mark Hollis. 

Really, this is a win-win for him and MSU. If this ends up being a night game, MSU gets primetime exposure, a boon for any program. If DB shuffles his feet and says no or fails to adequately sway the networks--if that is something that he can even do in the first place--it will then look like Michigan is, gasp, scared to play MSU at night. Of course, the fact that Hollis himself notes that the athletic directors don't exactly have final say (or much of one at all) in these matters would ordinarily represent an instance of cognitive dissonance; since this is college football, and since this is Michigan-Michigan State we're talking about, this is simply a fine case of Grade A trolling (which, in general, can be annoying but is good and potentially integral to the college football experience). 

Alabama and West Virginia fans. In the same place, at the same time. This is yesterday's news, but yes, the Tide and Mountaineers have agreed to open the 2014 season--i.e. Shane Morris's second Heisman campaign--in Atlanta. Obviously, that game is a long way's away, but if both coaches are still there then that should quite the barnburner.

Nick Saban's tightly-wound, cybernetic "persona" pitted against his home state school, led by the Red Bull-guzzling Skulletor? Narratives!

Things I actually agree with Big Ten brass about. So after I basically called everyone in the Big Ten stupid the other day, I have to say that I agree with this. As irritating as the B1G's capitulation was, it wasn't a battle we were likely to win; if doing that expedites the process in other aspects of the process, then that's a good thing. Maybe this is just me trying to rationalize the decision away into a billion little pieces, but, again, we are not in the meeting room with Delany et al. I still don't feel confident that the folks in charge will come away from the table with anything other than reactionary "victories", but we are only a chapter or two into this book.

Unfortunately for us, the fans, this uncertainty regarding strength of schedule's future importance (or unimportance), will likely mean a fairly brutal non-conference schedule in the near future:
As for now, Brandon said he's "dragging his feet" with future scheduling until he knows how important strength of schedule will be in the future postseason formula, and the Pac-12 partnership is sorted out.
"I fear we could get into a world where we’re all scheduling down to make sure our records are where they need to be," Brandon said. "We’ve seen this in basketball, where the regular season has become diminished because this tournament has become bigger than the regular season." 
Now, I'm not one of those guys that criticizes Brandon for the sake of criticism, but...don't we live in that world already, right now? Haven't we lived in that world for quite some time? As I write this, Florida's Jeremy Foley just scheduled another in-state non-conference minnow and Michigan is looking to hemorrhage some cash in the general direction of some far-flung bottom tier FBS school (or even FCS). Good news for the season ticket holders: there will be games! Bad news: they won't be entertaining games, for the most part.

In any case, anything to mitigate SEC bias in the polls and to coerce schools into playing somebody worth anything in the non-conference.

Speaking of DB and scheduling. Here's another example of the tried and true "is the ND-Michigan series going to end?" rumor mill, from SI:

"What I personally know at this point is that we're going to play for the next three years," Brandon said. "I don't have any control over what Notre Dame may be thinking moving forward beyond that. And the world is changing pretty rapidly."
Personally, as an out-of-stater, the ND rivalry is second only to Ohio State in importance and general vitriol. Beating ND in the manner that Michigan has the last three years has been simply incredible. I don't want to lose that, but, at the same time, I've always wanted Michigan to venture out into the world and play some new teams. That doesn't mean that we have to end the rivalry in any indefinite way, just that it would be nice to throw a change-up now and then to mix things up. Blimpy Burger is good, but not for every meal of every day; variation is key, folks (also, exercise).

In an ideal world without previously signed contracts to which schools have to adhere, I'd go on a 2-1 basis, meaning Michigan would play Notre Dame at home in Year X, away inYear Y, and then take a break from the series to play somebody else (Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson, Oregon, Oklahoma, etc.) in Year Z.

More? The Big Ten favors a selection committee for the future playoff; Andy Staples concurs. Michigan's basketball recruiting success getting some respect from the national media, via UMHoops. Haven't actually listened to this yet, but here's a podcast from discussing the upcoming season opener between Michigan and Alabama.

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