Thursday, June 14, 2012

Miscellaneous Minutiae, 6/14/2012

I know that it's the middle of June, but I've decided to continue my newly minted policy of not discussing realignment, playoff scenarios, etc. It's for the best. As long as you understand that it all boils down to each entity looking out solely for its own interests, it all becomes transparently not worth expressing much righteous indignation over. The fact is, we are destined to have some sort of playoff...and it will probably be a stupid one. So it goes. 
Michigan fans take to the streets to express their displeasure over the coaching staff's extension of a scholarship offer to a long snapper...definitely not soccer hooligans in Poland.

On the importance of long snappers. Now, I don't mean to set the precedent that because Nick Saban is doing something, that something is inherently good or valid, but...regarding the mini-uproar over Hoke's scholarship offer to long snapper Scott Syniewski, here's this on Saban's recruitment of long snapper Cole Mazza:
According to BamaOnline, Saban did something at last week's special teams camp in Tuscaloosa that he's never done in his 17-year career -- offered a scholarship to a long snapper.
But but oversigning! Okay yes, whatever, guy. Still, I'm going to go ahead and say that the staff knows more about what Michigan needs than various recruiting obsessees on the Internet. Classes are not only a collection of players that provide certain talents and skill sets, they fill specific needs, ranging from "need a big wide receiver" to something as hyper-specialized as "need guy to snap the ball really far every once in a while." In the end, nobody will remember whether or not this class was #1 or #5 or #842 in four years, just as long as the guy brought in to snap can snap, the receivers catch, the linemen block, the linebackers tackle, the quarterbacks complete passes, and so on and so forth.

In short: trust the coaches, over-anxious star-gazer.

Big Ten wide receiving talent...not so great. In spite of the popular notion that the Big Ten is some slow, plodding conference that still gets a print newspaper delivered every week and receives its milk via milk man, the conference has put out its fair share of wide receiving talent over the years. However, this does not appear to be one of those years, as the position group across the entire league seems to be a glaring weakness.

ESPN's Big Ten blog asks who the best B1G's receiver is, with the options being: Keenan Davis, Jared Abbrederis, Roy Roundtree and Justin Brown. No offense to any of those guys, but that is a pretty uninspiring list. I'm not that old, but I can't remember the last time the talent on the perimeter was this weak in the conference.

With AJ Jenkins, Junior Hemingway (and Stonum, I guess), DeVier Posey, Derek Moye, Marvin McNutt, Jeremy Ebert, Nick Toon, and Damarlo Belcher all having moved on for one reason or another, the conference will be sorely lacking in proven talent at WR. I would imagine that this will translate to less big plays in 2012 than there were in 2011.

Michigan will need Roy Roundtree to return to form and at least one of Jerald Robinson, Darboh, and Chesson to step up. Ohio State needs guys like Evan Spencer, Devin Smith, and Verlon Reed to step up, and early enrollee Michael Thomas is also probably in the mix there as well. Northwestern is hoping to get USC transfer Kyle Prater eligible to play this season. Keenan Davis and Justin Brown look to take over for McNutt and Moye as the #1 receiving options at Iowa and PSU, respectively.

It's going to be an interesting year on offense, and by "interesting" I mean "probably conforming to the aforementioned B1G stereotypes." Let's hope the newspaper doesn't land right on that puddle over there.

Think about the kids, fergodsakes. Okay, so I'm sort of breaking the "no playoff talk" rule here, but I just wanted to note this in order to add...
"Whatever happens, here’s the only thing I hope: I hope they think about the kids, and the families of those kids who are out there on the field, because how many games do we want to play?" Hoke said this week during a meeting with the Michigan Associated Press Sports Editors at Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor.
"These are not professional athletes. They are student-athletes. They have classes."
...that Hoke is one of a tiny clique of folks in college football that can invoke "the kids" without me completely rolling my eyes. That is all.

Nebraska fans at Ryan Field. Northwestern blog Lake the Posts discusses Nebraska's upcoming visit to Ryan Field this season and what can be done to limit their numbers. If for nothing else, it's worth clicking through to watch video of the famous 2000 Nebraska-Notre Dame game in which Husker fans made Notre Dame Stadium look like this:

Of course, as we all know, the problem of fans selling their tickets to opposing fans is not one that is limited to Northwestern. Yes, I'm referring to Michigan and Michigan fans. The amount of green at the 2008 Michigan State game and the amount of scarlet at the 2009 Ohio State game were, to be quite honest, fairly embarrassing. I will never understand how people can willingly give their tickets away to a fan of a rival team like that. I get that times are tough and all, but come on.

So, reading the linked LTP's impassioned plea for NU fans to get out to Ryan Field, I started to wonder whether or not this sort of thing would stop happening in Ann Arbor. It happens far less often and on a far lesser scale, proportionally, than it does in Evanston. However, there is no excuse for the number of Spartan and Buckeye fans that have invaded the Big House in recent years.

We won't truly find out until 2013's home slate, but this year's Michigan State game will prove to be a solid litmus test in this regard, especially if Michigan happens to roll into this game with 2 losses (Alabama and ND). We all know that Spartan fans will be dying to show up to the Big House en masse this year given that MSU has the chance to win its 5th in a row, and a 2-loss Michigan team will definitely test the resolve of lesser Michigan fans (unfortunately, there are more of this type of fan than you'd think). You'd think that the success of an 11-win season would be enough to keep even the bandwagoniest fans from selling their tickets to someone wearing green, but you never know. I guess we'll find out on October 20th.

MnB's Zach Travis interviews BHGP's Patrick Vint. An all-around excellent interview at Maize n Brew, one that gives a pretty excellent picture of where Iowa football is at right now. The apex was of course the 2002-2004 run of top 10 finishes, but since then Iowa has been fairly up and down, showing brief flashes of that old brilliance (2009). Vint on the Tao of Ferentz, which sounds a lot like Lloydball except instead of slowly bleeding away a somewhat comfortable lead all the way to an excruciating loss, Kirk seems to do pretty well:
The other thing to remember is that the 2008 and 2009 teams really didn't play that many close games. What those teams played, for the most part, were two-possession games where the opponent got a late score to make it close. Iowa is deadly in those situations; Ferentz has only lost two games in thirteen years where he had a two-possession lead with 8:00 to play. Give Iowa a chance to make you drive the field, milk some clock between the tackles, and then make you drive the field again, and Ferentz will beat you. But put him in a situation where he has to tactically beat you for 8:00 and Iowa loses nearly 2 of 3 (since 2005).
Well, that sounds familiar (i.e. this past year's game at Kinnick). Note to self (Cc: Brady Hoke): don't let Kirk Ferentz be up by two scores with around 8 or so minutes left in the game.

More? MAH GAWD THAT'S URBAN MEYER'S MUSIC PLAYING AT THE SOUND MIND SOUND BODY ACADEMY IN SOUTHFIELD, MI. I admittedly don't follow basketball recruiting as much as I do football recruiting, but Vitto Brown (via UMHoops) sounds like an interesting prospect, even if he doesn't end up getting offered. An athletic 6'8'' guy playing the 3/4 with shot-blocking ability? He definitely sounds like a departure from the Beilein big guy prototype, but it's been five years and a Michigan version of Pittsnogle (or even a poor man's iteration) has yet to materialize. Maybe it's time to give up the ghost and just recruit more conventional Big Ten bigs?

I was out of town so I didn't have a chance to do a Shameless Self-Promotion post, but anyway: I wrote a thing about Purdue football and another thing about Brandon Hawthorne and Antonio Poole over at Maize n Brew last week. There, now you're caught up.

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