Monday, August 6, 2007

Greetings From... Michigan!

The University of Michigan, arguably crippled in their attempt for a bid at the 2006 National Championship by the deficiencies inherent to the BCS system, are looking to rebound from a disappointing 32-18 loss to the University of Southern California in the Rose Bowl. For Head Coach Lloyd Carr, the 2007 season will mark a pivotal turning point in the immediate fortunes for the Wolverines. Returning senior quarterback Chad Henne will stand as one of the Big-Ten's top passing threats during the '07 campaign, while senior halfback Mike Hart has been identified as a preseason Maxwell Award candidate, along with the possibility of leading the NCAA in major rushing statistical fields. Michigan has the luxury of returning an explosive talent in the form of junior wide reciever Mario Manningham. Manningham, nicknamed "Super Mario", has the talent and agility to change the face of a game with one play, arguably giving the Wolverines the best QB-HB-WR trio in all of college football. Anchoring the defense in 2007 will be a pair of standouts: sophomore safety Jamar Adams and senior linebacker Shawn Crable are both considered early front-runners for the coveted Bronko Nagurski Award for top defensive player in the nation.


Like many of the nation's premier football powers, the University of Michigan was no stranger to controversy during the 2007 "off season". In March, four players (including TE Carson Butler) were dismissed from the team for unspecified policy violations. A fifth, wideout Adrian Arrington was suspended for a period from the team as well, but was recently re-instated by Lloyd Carr. Adding to the complications is the injury of junior fullback Kevin Grady, who will miss the entire 2007 season due to a torn ACL. Similar to USC, the Wolverines have the ability to return their coaching staff largely in tact, with the only addition being the hiring of Vance Bedford to coach the defensive secondary.



KEY GAMES


  • September 1st, vs. Appalachian State (Two-Time Reigning Division I Football Championship Subdivision Champions).
  • September 15th, vs. Notre Dame (Defeated #3 Notre Dame, 47-21 at Notre Dame in 2006).
  • November 3rd, at Michigan State
  • November 10th, at Wisconsin
  • November 17th, vs. Ohio State (Lost to Ohio State, 42-39 in 2006)


KEY ADDITIONS

  • CB Donovan Warren (California)
  • QB Ryan Malett (Texarkana, Texas)
  • WR Martell Webb (New Kensington, Pennsylvania)
  • LB Austin Panter (El Dorado, Kansas)
  • DE Ryan VanBergen (Whitehall, Michigan)


KEY SUBTRACTIONS

  • CB Leon Hall - Declared for NFL Draft (First Round, Selected by the Cincinnati Bengals).
  • DT Alan Branch - Declared for NFL Draft (Second Round, Selected by the Arizona Cardinals).
  • DE LaMarr Woodley - Declared for NFL Draft (Second Round, Selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers)
  • LB David Harris - Declared for NFL Draft (Second Round, Selected by the New York Jets).
  • WR Steve Breaston - Declared for NFL Draft (Fifth Round, Selected by the Arizona Cardinals).


The Verdict... the Michigan Wolverines have the luxury of playing a somewhat easier schedule than the other major National Championship contenders in 2007, although it is not an easy schedule by any stretch of the imagination. Ranked as the fifteenth toughest schedule in college football by Sports Illustrated, Michigan is fortunate enough to play a majority of their toughest matchups in Ann Arbor, where they play Oregon, Notre Dame, Penn State, and Ohio State. Their toughest test will come during a two week stretch in early November, where they play Michigan State and Wisconsin on the road back to back before returning home to play Ohio State in their regular season finale. As stated previously, Michigan may have the three of the top offensive weapons in college football this season, though depth may become an issue if the injury bug strikes again. Freshman recruit Vince Helmuth may be called on to replace Grady as the starting fullback, although an answer from the bench may be forthcoming instead. If Michigan can remain healthy, they should have the talent to overcome a system that gave a shot (and the eventual championship) to Florida instead of the Wolverines.



Prediction... the Michigan Wolverines will go 12-0, escaping a close call against upstart Minnesota at home and Wisconsin on the road, capturing the Big-Ten Championship and a spot in the BCS Championship game.

18 comments:

Patrick N said...

Notre Dame will upset Michigan MARK MY WORDS DAWG.

dook!e said...

How can you care about a collegiate league that values $ over competition. Until the BCS replays the national champ game of Boise St vs Ohio St, I will not be watching.

Patrick N said...

I like money over competition. Most of the teams I like solve their problems with money. And being from Anaheim, we have no real football team except USC who gets the #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 pick every year. The only reason to not watch college football is because there is no playoff system. I would be alright with no playoff system if it was run like Soccer league around the world, but it's not. Besides that, college football > college baseball, softball, lacross, bowling, chess, and hopscotch.

Nick Pomazak said...

gonzaga and boise state can both lick my balls

Steve Price said...

The (real) main reason a playoff system will continue to elude the NCAA, at least in football, lies in the obvious weakness that conferences like the WAC and the Sun Belt demonstrate compared to the Big-Ten and the SEC, etc. In the case of a Boise State, you had the case of a team with an average, not great schedule that never lost the games they weren't supposed to lose (aka doing their job) and then beat a major football program in the Fiesta Bowl (which has earned the coveted "Save Until I Delete" status on my DVR). Under a playoff system, the easiest format is to place the the conference champions into a tournament. But then, can you honestly say that the team coming out of the Atlantic Ten is better than the second or third best SEC or Big XII team? And if you rely on the coaches/AP Poll, you're bound to get controversy (i.e. Michigan-Florida swap from last year).

The way to go to appease the BCS and the college presidents would be to have the bowl system in place, with twenty regular bowl games. Then, the top eight teams in the nation, determined by the polls, will compete in the major bowls (Fiesta/Sugar/Orange/Rose). Then, determined by their pre-bowl season rankings, the winners of the big four bowls would play in a two week mini-tournament, with the Fiesta vs. Sugar winners and the Rose vs. Orange winners matching up. The winners of these two games then play for the BCS National Championship the next week. For all bowl game winners, they earn a spot in the AP Top 25 the following year.

dook!e said...

Ahh.. ok. Last I checked, there are several divisions of college athletics (Div I, II, etc.) If you aren't going to treat all teams in a given division on a level playing field (such as, W-L record, wow!) then what the hell use is it having divisions? Why not create 6+ divs like high school and divide them by TV revenues. Then you can compare apples to apples and let the teams play their bowl games and Boise St can be a champion just like Florida is.

My solution to bowl games is to simply have a 32 team tourney.. the smallest revenue bowls get 1st round games, and on up. If you can grab the biggest pot at the end of the rainbow, congrats! You get to host the BCS Champ game.

dook!e said...

And with this 32 team tourney..

Conf champs get 1st round byes, after that no table scraps

Seeding determined by the Great BCS computer, coaches poll is the most redonkulous thing I have ever heard of. Can you trust that at all when coaches will give you votes in return for other favors? And how do coaches have all this extra time to sit and watch other games?

dook!e said...

BTW.. the reason NONE of these potential solutions are in place is because of $$$, which is my major beef in the first place. Nobody wants to alter their coveted long-term TV/radio contracts in favor of collegiate(amateur!) competition and fair matchups.

My contention is.. letting bowls compete for choice games increases competition between the bowls, will increase revenue over time, and lets nobody blame the system for being unfair as to which game you get to host (only laziness will be to blame).

You will be able to bracket each bowl game based on their revenues and the tourney determines who plays, not the bowl bids (another redonkulous power struggle).

dook!e said...

To Steve's (real) reason..

You use the term "obvious weakness" but you mean money. Because the WAC doesn't have the revenues of the SEC, any team from the WAC will be preceived inferior. ESPN has taught you well.

Whats amusing is how the NCAA basketball tourney doesn't distinguish weak money teams from strong money teams when allowing teams an opportunity to play and win the tournament.

To Patrick's point, college basketball postseason > college football postseason, so they need to start taking some pointers from that.

Steve Price said...

Uh, no, actually, I was leaving the money point out, since the money issue is the reason why the playoff system is not in place. My point is that a playoff system is hard to put into place. Yes, USC has more money than Ball State. They also have a thing called "talent", and in the real world, Ball State will never close the gap between their program and USC thanks to the weakness in the system. You're always going to have an imbalance in the system, regardless of how you try to buck the system.

Nick Pomazak said...

i dont want to see any kind of playoff in college football..then the regular season will suck just as much as the college basketball regular season does...

honestly...boise state would have gotten beat by about 50 points against florida...who needs to see that

dook!e said...

Talent is an intangible that you can't measure and doesn't make a load of difference in the course of a football game in determining who win will. There are other intangibles such as strength, desire, perseverence, luck in football. They make the college bball tourney so compelling and entertaining to watch. Why is college football the only one who is trying to hold on to talent and money for dear life? Because all the NCAA cares about is $.

My beef is that Boise St. isn't given the opportunity to play in the championship game. Their schedule was likely determined before the current roster was recruited. A schedule from the past is hurting the team in the present. Given that you must play teams in your own conf 1-2 times per season and you only play 11-12 games, their only chance of winning might be to do well this year so 4 years from now they can play Florida in the regular season (in Gainsville). Meanwhile you leave an undefeated team feeling cheated.

dook!e said...

Ballzak, how is that much different than Ohio St. losing by 27pts?

If Boise St. pulled off their crazy comeback/upset of Oklahoma against Florida in the championship game, that would have been the greatest thing ever seen on TV, on the biggest stage.

Nick Pomazak said...

"Talent is an intangible that you can't measure and doesn't make a load of difference in the course of a football game in determining who win will. There are other intangibles such as strength, desire, perseverence, luck in football. They make the college bball tourney so compelling and entertaining to watch."


I disagree 100% on your comment about desire, passion, fire meaning anything in top level college football. It is ALL about talent. I'm sure those I-AA schools that play the big boys in September to pick up a big check for their school work very hard and have great passion for the game, and may even be very good teams at their level, but they get killed in those games..

There is no comparison between basketball and football when you talk about potential for a huge upset. In basketball, a 5-8 white guy can hit 20 foot jumpers all day long and keep a team close. In football, a 6-6 320 pound tackle playing for Ohio St. is going to pound the crap out of a 250 pound defensive lineman who plays in the WAC on every single play.

Patrick N said...

If you want to challenge for a title, compete for a spot at a school known for it. If you go to Boise State, you better fukn know you probably won't have a good of a chance to compete for a title than USC, LSU, or a school in Florida.One of your reasons for going to a school like Boise State should not be, "Imma get a title here!" If you're lucky one year while your team had some big wins and USC and the other regular contenders have off years, then you can compete for a title. Otherwise, apply to a school you know has a chance at a title.

dook!e said...

Final point, then I'll shut up..

The NCAA should disband if they don't give every school the opportunity to win any championship. Its the nature of competitive sports.

The NCAA is no better than ESPN, all they want is more face-time for popular athletes so they can sell their advertising and promote themselves. But when it comes to NCAA rules for players/coaches/etc, they act like their sports should adhere to high standards for non-professional athletes on the field and in the classroom. Its the biggest wool-pulling-over-the-eyes I have ever seen.

Steve Price said...

In my honest opinion, I believe the NCAA uses the star talent to build up the school programs, not the other way around. The NCAA would have no vested interest in building up, say, a Colt McCoy for the merchandise and sponsorship dollars he would bring in. Rather, your building up of superstars exists solely to build the reputation of the program itself. Colt McCoy has a maximum shelf of three - five years, tops at Texas. The Longhorns will tote out plenty more "Colt McCoys" and "Vince Youngs" in the future. You're not mistaken when you say that the NCAA cares about money first and foremost. But the money is not in the players themselves, but in the schools.

Case in point, if the NCAA was building up its stars, then why do we all think of John David Booty when we think of USC, instead of Reggie Bush or O.J. Simpson. The mindset is on the current program, not its past standouts.

Steve Price said...

Parity is a major issue in the NCAA, no doubt about it. There are three main reasons for this. First, the NCAA will naturally be compared to the NFL, whose salary cap restrictions prevent the rise of a juggernaut that wins for seven straight years. When compared to the NFL, it makes the NCAA look stagnant admist the major schools that always find their way in the Top 10.

Second and third, the NCAA does not "pay" their players (using that term loosely), which makes it next to impossible to enforce any kind of reasonable quota on the quality of talent that comes into schools in a given year. Whether we like it or not, Notre Dame has higher institutional values academically than the University of Montana. NCAA athletes are student-athletes, not athlete-students. It's irresponsible and unfair to a student to recieve his education at Iowa State when he could have recieved an education at Stanford or Notre Dame, but couldn't because of talent regulations on the football program. It's for the clandestine reasons like this that the issue isn't as black and white as some people claim.

By the way, you have some very good points, and I'm neither intending to or trying to bash them. It's late, I'm bored, and I'm out of cash for alcohol, so I thought I'd write a bit more and entertain myself between episodes of Entourage.