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Tag:Michigan
Posted on: August 27, 2008 3:56 pm
Edited on: August 28, 2008 9:42 am
 

Who's No. 26?

Utah didn't make the cut, not in my preseason top 25 which debuted on Wednesday.

Being No. 26, though, is no disgrace. To explain Utah's absence I have to both disparage and praise the Utes. In one sense they are -- next to BYU -- the non-BCS team most likely to play in the Orange Bowl. That's part of the problem, though -- their proximity to BYU, both physically and in the polls.

My No. 12 Cougars are darn good, put in the vernacular you'd likely hear on the Provo campus. BYU is quickly getting back to the days of Lavell Edwards under fourth-year coach Bronco Mendenhall. It has the roster and the schedule to go undefeated.

One thing to remember, though. BYU finishes the season on Nov. 22 at Utah. That might mean a little something, certainly something more than the Mountain West title.

This comes down to the Cougars having a slightly better roster. BYU has Arizona State transfer Max Hall at quarterback. Utah has senior Brian Johnson who has been around so long, I can remember him as a freshman in 2004 under Urban Meyer. Johnson is athletic, running an offense similar to the spread option Alex Smith ran under Meyer.

We'll find out if Utah is any good right off the bat. It plays at Michigan on Saturday. I'm shocked to see that the Wolverines are a 3 1/2-point favorite. Utah has a better team, more experienced. Michigan has the home field, such as it is.

Utah's season hinges on that trip to Ann Arbor. It can lose but I see nothing on the schedule before the BYU game that will cause pollsters and/or computers to take notice.

Why No. 26? Before the Utes get to November, they have to take care of August.


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 6, 2008 2:00 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2008 4:28 pm
 

Five things you should know about the MAC

Five things you should know about the MAC

1. Yes, Nate Davis is wearing gloves ... which is strange if you're a quarterback. Ball State's Davis was the MAC's top passer last season throwing for a conference-most 3,667 yards. No. 1 in MAC pass efficiency, Davis leads a return of the conference's top seven passers.

Ball State offensive coordinator Stan Parrish calls Davis one of the best he's ever had. That means something considering Parrish has both Super Bowl (Tampa Bay) and national championship (Michigan) rings. He worked with some guy named Brady while at Michigan.

Why the gloves? Davis, a shotgun quarterback in high school, had trouble taking the snap under center when he arrived at Ball State. Parrish suggested gloves for traction. Davis never took them off, playing some of his best games against BCS schools. Two years ago Davis threw for 250 yards against Michigan in an eight-point loss. Last season he threw for 422 yards and three scores in a one-point loss to Nebraska.

2. Postseason embarrassment. There's no doubt the MAC is better but it needs to get it going in bowls. In the last four years the league is 4-10. It lost all three bowl games, two by embarrassing scores: Rutgers beat Ball State 52-30 in the International Bowl and Tulsa laid an epic 63-7 whipping on Bowling Green in the GMAC Bowl.

3. Temple is no longer a joke. Al Golden went 4-8 in his second year with the Owls. The program hadn't won more than two games since 2002. Temple is believed to be the only I-A team with all 22 starters returning.

4. Ditto for Buffalo. In two short years, Turner Gill has led Buffalo to respectability. The Bulls were 5-7 last season, the program's best record this decade. Gill will be Nebraska's coach some day if the success continues.  He's just not ready yet. In the offseason his name came up for the Huskers vacancy.

5. Play up. It would be nice for the MAC to start winning some of these non-conference games against BCS schools. The conference went 5-37 against BCS-conference programs last season. Maybe the news is that Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Toledo and Kent State each actually beat one of the big boys.

Last year there were embarrassments like MAC champion Central Michigan's 52-7 loss at Kansas and Western Michigan's 38-point loss at West Virginia. Toledo did beat Iowa State but it also lost to Purdue and Kansas by a combined 60 points.

This season MAC teams play 10 games against teams currently ranked in the coaches' poll. Games to watch this season: Akron at Wisconsin, Aug. 30; Central Michigan at Georgia, Sept. 6; Western Michigan at Nebraska, Aug. 30; Northern Illinois at Minnesota, Aug. 30; Toledo at Arizona, Sept. 6; Bowling Green at Pittsburgh, Aug. 30; Vanderbilt at Miami (Ohio) on Aug. 28 followed by the RedHawks' trip to Michigan on Sept. 6; Boston College plays Kent State in Cleveland on Aug. 30.

There is hope: Five years ago MAC teams beat five ranked teams.

Posted on: July 28, 2008 10:59 am
Edited on: July 28, 2008 11:00 am
 

Five things you need to know about the Big Ten...

 

1. Ohio State is really, really good: The rest of the league, not so much. In building up to this point, the Buckeyes have played in the last two BCS title games. This is the team that was supposed to win it all. As long as the SEC doesn't show (Ohio State is 0-9 vs. the conference in bowl games) the Bucks should win the national championship.

Meanwhile, the rest of the league has slipped in recent years. While Ohio State is chasing its fourth consecutive conference title (third outright), no team has stepped up to challenge it. It certainly isn't Michigan (lost six of the seven to Ohio State). Iowa and Purdue have declined. Northwestern is Northwestern. The Big Ten was 2-5 in bowls last season. Only 28 players were drafted, fifth-best among I-A conferences.

2. Illinois is the IT team: It's not all about trashing the rest of the league. The Illini fired a shot across Ohio State's bow by winning in Columbus then advancing to the Rose Bowl. Ron Zook wants his previously scatter-armed quarterback Juice Williams to complete 70 percent of his passes. (Williams says he can do it). The defense should be the strength even with the loss of linebacker J Leman. If Illinois gets past Missouri in the opener this could be a special year.

3. However, Wisconsin will finish second: Bret Bielema has won 12 and nine games in his two seasons in Madison. He is loaded again this season and gets Ohio State at home. The only question is at quarterback which never seems to matter at Wisconsin. Going back to 2004, the Badgers are 25-1 at Camp Randall. Look for another January bowl.

Wisconsin is one of only three teams to play in that month each of the last four seasons. The others are USC and West Virginia.

4. JoePa doesn't know: He spelled it out at Big Ten media days when asked (again) how long he's going go. "I-D-O-N-T-K-N-O-W". The Nittany Lion In Winter is working without a contract this season. That's going to make it easier for president Graham Spanier to make a change after the season. The next question (and battle) is whether the replacement comes from inside or outside the staff.

5. Rich Rod takes off: With no proven quarterback, tailback or receiver Rich Rodriguez brings his zone read spread option to Ann Arbor. Piece of cake, right? Well, the last "outsider" at Michigan (Bo Schembechler) seemed to do OK.

Rodriguez has been well received and should finish 8-4 or 7-5 in his first season. Watch out, though, in Years 2 or  3.

  

 

Posted on: July 11, 2008 12:36 pm
 

The final word on The $4 Million Dollar Man

Bill Martin is a businessman, a great one judging by his resume. A billion-dollar developer of residential and commercial property, Michigan's AD also founded the Bank of Ann Arbor before moving to the athletic side.

It's hard to figure, then, how Martin ever let it get to this point at Michigan. Columnists with a lot more business acumen than me have been torturing keyboards this week in the analysis of Rich Rodriguez' buyout agreement. See, it isn't an agreement at all. It was a bailout. Michigan is picking up $2.5 million of the $4 million Rich Rod owes West Virginia.

Martin had to know it was going to end this way -- with his coach owing the entire $4 mil and Michigan paying part of the bill. I have questions. Then, below, I have some comments from Rodriguez from a June interview.

--Did Martin, that shrewd businessman, read the court documents? In hindsight, it was a fairly cut-and-dried deal.

--How did he not tell Rodriguez that the coach didn't have much wriggle room on this one? In the end the issue was simple: The coach's name was on the contract agreeing to the buyout.

--Assuming Martin did his due diligence why wasn't this issue addressed before, or shortly before, Rodriguez signed at Michigan? Shoving the two-ton elephant to the corner is the exact same thing Rodriguez did when he signed his last West Virginia contract.

Instead, Rodriguez, West Virginia and Michigan were needlessly dragged through the mud. Obama has handlers to spin things when the presidential candidate dares to deviate from his well-crafted script.
 

Colleges have, well, I've said this for years ... College athletics needs an image consultant. From ham-handed SIDS and public information officers (the overwhelming majority are great people, by the way), to despotic coaches to bankers-turned-AD, the industry knows squat about crisis management. It knows how to let coaches shut down practices. It knows how to limit media access to players whose scholarships are subsidized by the public. It knows how to let a coach chase rainbows in court.

Just being congenial human beings sometimes is a lost art. We long for fall Saturdays and March Madness. We get seat licenses sucking loyal alums dry. We get tuition increases to pay for flat screens in players' lockers. We get ... corporate b.s. There's a situation in Kansas right now involving the university and a local T-shirt maker. Larry Sinks owns JoeCollege.com in Lawrence, Kan. (please, look it up). Kansas contends in a lawsuit that Sinks' is selling unlicensed Kansas gear.

Sinks does not use Kansas trademarks or logos. In fact, the shirts are some of the most devious and creative I've ever seen.

--In reference to overweight coach Mark Mangino: Our Coach is Phat!
--Same reference: Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach
--Transpose the first letters and you'll find out what KU thinks of rival Missouri: Muck Fizzou

Kansas is no different from most schools when it comes to "officially licensed" merch. It is tired, old, over-priced and pretty much sucks. As a longtime consumer of logo gear let me say this: Creativity (and affordability) go out the door when licenses are signed.

The school, obviously, is making a killing on its stuff after winning basketball's national championship. According to Sinks, he is trying to get through life day to day after being slapped with the lawsuit. His storefront on Massachusetts St. in Lawrence is unassuming and modest. But apparently Kansas has determined Sinks has established a lucrative beach head in raiding the school's coffers.

Kansas essentially is trying to say it owns the rights to the color blue and the word "Kansas". The case could be landmark if the jury decides that a shirt with the phrase "If You Mess With The Bird, You Get The Beak," constitutes a licensing violation.

The state itself is named after the Kansa Indian tribe. Using NCAA logic, the school should be barred from wearing anything with the word "Kansas" on it. The NCAA has set arbitrary rules for schools using Indian nicknames. How is Illini "hostile and abusive", as the NCAA put it, and the state name, Illinois, isn't. Both refer to Indian tribes?

How "Seminoles" is less offensive than Indians or Tribe (William and Mary) is a case of palms being greased. The Seminole tribe has a business arrangement with Florida State.

Anyway, back to Rich Rod. Back in June he told me that West Virginia's intent was extend the lawsuit into the fall; not only bleed him dry but distract him from his job. With fall practice looming, it became time for everyone to move on.

Here is Rodriguez' take on the issues taken from that early June interview in Ann Arbor:

 "I was always pushing for things for the program at West Virginia. But that was my job. People say I was petty. I was thinking the other way.

"I was told (by administration), 'Don't worry about (the buyout) ...  We'll reduce it or eliminate it. I don't believe in buyouts.' That's what I was told by the No. 1 boss at the school (president Michael Garrison).

"(I was told), 'We've got to get (the contract) done right now. There's pressure from the governor, to the board to the president.' Maybe I should have had an attorney present. I was getting ready to start practice in a week.

"I probably didn't tell enough in my deposition, how many times I was told, 'Just trust us." That phrase, 'Just trust me,' went on for five or six months.

"I had a meeting with the president before I left. One of the things I said was, 'Here I've been at a place seven years and we've done some pretty good things. You're telling me no to everything. Where there's another school with great tradition, great opportunity telling me, yes.' I said 'I'm getting confused. It should be the other way around.' That was probably the most shocking thing to me, the actions of the president."

Finally, let's end this mega-blog with an anecdote. Shortly after Rodriguez took the Michigan job, his wife Rita was back in West Virginia grocery shopping. A bag boy noticed the Michigan plates while taking the groceries to her car.

"When you go back to Michigan, tell that guy Rodriguez, 'Blah, blah, blah,' Rodriguez quoted the bag boy as saying.

"That's my husband," Rita Rodriguez said.

"Why did he leave?" the bagger replied.

After relaying the story, Rodriguez leaned back and said, "It's time to move on."

Consider that the last words on the subject. Aren't you ready for some football, Michigan?

 

Posted on: April 25, 2008 3:37 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2008 11:39 pm
 

(Rumor) Millin' Around

Lloyd Carr might end up being despised by both Ohio State and Michigan. Seems that Ol' Lloyd facilitated the transfer of offensive lineman Justin Boren to Ohio State.

 Texas Tech's Mike Leach on continuing to call his own plays unlike many of his more high-profile peers (Mark Richt, Charlie Weis, etc.):

"Otherwise, I'm just a hand shaker," Leach said.

 Wake Forest's Jim Grobe has written a letter of support on behalf of Cincinnati quarterback Ben Mauk. Mauk is seeking a sixth-year of eligibility. He was denied by the NCAA in February. Mauk has been injured in two of his five seasons but according to the NCAA his eligibility, his clock has run out.

Mauk transferred from Wake to Cincinnati in 2006. Last season, he led the Bearcats to a 10-3 season. In 2003, Mauk was injured and sat out the season. The NCAA has ruled that was his decision.

"He should be given another year," Grobe said. "It's really a slam dunk from my perspective. Most (college) presidents would like to see kids redshirted their first year ... When you redshirt a kid he should be given the chance to play four years of college football."

 You've seen the quickie books. You've sat through the I'm-going-to-the-NBA press conferences. But did Randy Bird get enough credit for Kansas' recent success in football and basketball?

Randy Who?

Exactly.

Bird is the 30-year-old nutritionist for KU's sports teams. One of only 17 full-time such persons in the country, he claims.

"I control the menus...," Bird said. "If you look at a team like Memphis, they ran out of gas. Our guys had quite a bit of energy in those last few minutes and overtime. The funny thing to me, before the game they were talking about Derrick Rose eating Twizzlers and a bunch of candy."

 My post-spring top 25 will hit cyberspace in the next few days. I'm seriously considering replacing No. 1 Georgia. As always, your input is always dreaded, er, welcome.

Posted on: April 11, 2008 5:40 pm
 

Rockin' in in the Rockies

Dave Plati is feeding squirrels.

 What, YOU don't feed rats with tails from your office window? Plati does, as I was shocked to find out Friday afternoon. The veteran Colorado sports information director has a friendly relationship with a couple of squirrels outside his office here in Boulder. OK, that wounded weird. Please, keep reading.

Plats has one of those windows that crank open. The squirrels have become accustomed to climbing almost into Plati's office for their treat, which on this day is peanuts. 

You know you're in Boulder when a squirrel is feeding a squirrel.

Just kiddling, Dave.

  How bad having things gotten at Michigan? The Wolverines' spring game will be played Saturday at a high school.

 

There is an explanation. The Big House is undergoing renovations so the game is being moved to Sailine (MIch.) HIgh School.

The game will be closed to the general public. Saline cannot accomadate the 20,000 or so fans that usually watch the spring game at Michigan Stadium. This is one of the most anticipated spring games in the country but crazy-go-nuts Michigan fans will be able to watch the game on the Big Ten Network. I knew the BTN would come in handy some day.

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: April 10, 2008 12:49 am
Edited on: April 10, 2008 1:22 am
 

CFB national notes

Trying to sort out college football while wondering if Doyel scares small children sporting that dead beaver on his head ...

 Just wondering if Bill Self accepts that crazy/sick/monster money from Oklahoma State, what it does to the football side.

 

While $3 million is the new $2 million, college football has only one $4 million man in Alabama's Nick Saban. Does Oklahoma State's impending offer possibly cross sports and raise the bar for everyone. I'm told that hoops coaches around the country are hoping Self takes the money from OSU for obvious reasons. It would help everyone.

 Oregon offensive coordinator Chip Kelly added this nugget on how hard it is to evaluate talent: "All of us have only three weeks in December and three weeks in January (actually parts of November and February too for in-person contact). It's such a restrictive calendar, how are you evaluating someone that you're going to invest $150,000 in (in scholarship money) when all you have is bad high school film."

 

 Fresno's Pat Hill wasn't as upset as I thought when I called. Kansas State recently pulled out of a game to host the Bulldogs in September. It's almost unheard of do something like that less than six months until the beginning of the season. It was a heck of a message K-State coach Ron Prince was sending his players: We aren't good enough to beat a third-place team from the WAC in our own stadium.

 

"What can you say? It irritates me. (But) it worked out good for us," Hill said.

Thanks to a chance meeting with Greg Schiano at a Nike event, Hill started to find a replacement. A cable network getting involved and Fresno found Rutgers to replace K-State, in what will be one of the better early-season non-conference games. K-State picked up Montana State, an automatic W, to replace Fresno. Prince might be feeling some pressure to produce after sinking to 5-7 last season and lost the AD who hired him. Tim Weiser recently went to the Big 12 as a deputy commissioner.

Hill is used to such schedule shenanigans. His program long ago became too good for most I-A powers to play in non-conference games -- on the road or at home. Fresno is 12-14 against BCS-conference teams this decade but that's only half the point. Hill's anyone-anytime-anywhere philosophy means the Bulldogs have played an average of 3.25 BCS-conference schools each season since 2000.

Coming off a 9-4 season with 16 starters returning, Fresno arguably has the best chance of any non-BCS program to make it to a BCS bowl. The schedule gives them a chance. The season kicks off on Labor Day night at Rutgers. Wisconsin comes to Fresno on Sept. 13 before the Bulldogs visit UCLA on Sept. 27.

Hill has done himself no favors by battling some of the teams for which his team is supposed to roll over. USC had to fight to wire to win 50-42 in 2005 at the Coliseum. Fresno started 8-0 in 2001 beating Colorado, Oregon State and Wisconsin. Since 2004, Kansas State has lost twice to Fresno, including last season's 45-29 thrashing.

"If we were playing a real weak schedule, it would be a lot easier," said Hill who is entering his 12th season. "That's our niche, though. Not many West Coast teams are going home-and-home with us, and we're not going to play a bunch of I-AA games."

It's a Catch-22. Hill would have a better chance of going undefeated if he played an easier schedule, but that would make it harder to get a high BCS ranking. Playing a tough schedule gets the Bulldogs attention and a ranking, if they win. That's a big if.

Playing a weak schedule worked for WAC rival Hawaii last season. The difference was the Warriors at least were ranked going in (No. 23 preseason in AP).

"Lose and we just fall off the map," Hill said. "We just hate it."

 Notre Dame recently issued a tersely-worded e-mail to media covering the Irish. It basically warns media to stay away from recruits while they're on campus. Fair enough. Interviewing or photographing recruits while they are on campus can land a program in NCAA hot water.

 

Where ND stepped over the line is this passage: " ... any attempt by you or your staff members to contact ... any prospective student-athlete while they are in the South Bend area for the purpose of visiting our campus may be cause for sanctions ..."

Let's see, would that include a certain publicity-hound quarterback who called his own press conference "in the South Bend area" (College Football Hall of Fame, actually) to announce his commitment? We're talking about Jimmy Clausen who  sought the attention two years ago, coming to the press conference with an ESPN camera crew in tow.

ND has overstepped its authority with that last passage. On campus, we understand the concerns. Other than that, we can call recruits, we can call their parents, we can drive to their houses to interview them. We can talk to them when they come to campus -- just not on campus. Remember, these are recruits, public figures, not the property of Notre Dame.

If the school wants to keep us from interviewing the Jimmy Clausens of the world, tell the Jimmy Clausens to stop seeking the limelight.

 The play calling will stay in the family but Steve Spurrier is ready to delegate duties. http://www.charleston.net/news/2008
/apr/05/spurrier_its_time_delegate3
6233/

 

 A former big-time recruit at San Diego State is facing murder charges.

 

http://www.signonsandiego.com/sport
s/aztecs/20080408-9999-1s8azfoot.ht
ml

 This Joe Paterno contract situation might come to an end soon. One resolution being talked about is that JoePa goes on a year-by-year contract. Paterno doesn't seem to be concerned about the recruited repercussions. His current contract expires after this season.

 

 What kind of country club was being run at Michigan previous to Rich Rodriguez? Part of the reason given by offensive lineman Justin Boren for leaving the team is that linemen had to run to the line out of the huddle. 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com