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Stadium and Main: May 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Off-Topic Tuesday: Lost, Season 2

See you in September!I know you get your Lost fix from e, but it's time for me to chime in. After taking almost a week to let the Lost Season 2 finale “sink in,” I think I’m ready to assess the show. In my opinion, the 2nd season was better than the 1st. It is very similar to how I feel (errr, felt) about the show 24. With both shows, the 1st season was amazing because they were so original. But in the 2nd season, both shows hit their stride. With the writers knowing that they could write a full season (and beyond), and knowing what fans loved and/or hated about the 1st season, improvements were made. I can only hope that with Lost, the producers/writers don’t make the same mistakes that have been made on 24 – can you really drive from anywhere in L.A. to CTU in less than 5 minutes?!... but that is a complaint for another time.

Random thoughts Lost Season 2:

(1) The first episode of Season 2 ("Man of Science, Man of Faith") was possibly one of the greatest 2-hour segments in TV history. The opening shots, causing many fans to ask “am I on the right channel?,” were brilliant. This certainly made up for what I considered a disappointing Season 1 finale. The introduction of Desmond and “the computer” presented so many great questions – many of which were answered by the end of the season. While the season did drag during a few episodes, it really kept my interest most of the time.

(2) I was about to say “strike one!” when Libby was killed. I usually have a “three strikes and you’re out” policy for TV shows. And it appeared that Libby was killed off due to “off the field incidents,” which would have made me mad, considering her creepy presence in Hurley’s flashback. But, with Libby popping up in Desmond’s flashback during the finale, it seems as if she has some sort of “evil” (Dharma, Widmore, Hanso) ties. I expect her to appear in other flashbacks as time goes on. One thing to think about – if she was a “mole” for Widmore Labs, or The Others, or something like that, what impact will her death have on them?

(3) It appears that, assuming he survives, Mr. Eko will be the only (living) Tail section person to be a major player in the series (sorry, Bernard). That seems kind of odd to me.

(4) I enjoyed the episode “The Other 48 Days,” which showed what the Tailies went through after the crash. I thought that “Dave,” Hurley’s psych ward flashback, was pretty worthless. I understand the point (it’s not all in Hurley’s head, it's not all a dream), but that hour didn’t give us much (other than the Libby craziness, mentioned above). On the other hand, an arguably "pointless" episode that I really liked was "The Long Con," which was a Sawyer flashback and had some good writing.

Dramatic painting!Season 2 Finale random thoughts:

(1) It was very good. To the people complaining that it didn’t answer enough questions, or that it just added more confusion… Hello?! That is what the show is all about. If you want a nice, clean 42 minutes of predictable television, tune in to Law and Order: Special Idiots Unit or some other garbage. You will get your answers in an hour, and you won’t have to use any brain power to do so. Enjoy!

(2) The biggest complaint people seem to have is: “Why would Desmond go along with Locke’s idea to let the counter run down past zero, considering that Desmond had seen “the magnet” activated before.” To this, I say: Desmond had seen the counter run past zero, and seen the magnet start working, but he had not let it run its course. For all he knew, originally, letting the counter run down might have only done minimal harm, and the magnet might have eventually stopped, or only effected metal items in the hatch. But, later Desmond realized that the magnet was likely much more powerful (“I crashed your plane”). As soon as Desmond realized this, he was not willing to follow Locke’s plan. So, (1) I don’t think it was stupid for Desmond to originally follow Locke’s plan, but (2) I think Desmond was kinda dumb for not telling Locke what he had seen before (counter running down, magnet working for about 20 seconds, etc.). But can you blame Desmond? He was likely still a bit drunk (or at least hung over), and mentally unstable. His actions (or inactions) were understandable.

(3) The biggest complain that I have is why is everybody just chillin' out by the fire while Eko and Locke are still missing? Charlie just plays it off like he's still on smack or something. Idiots.

(4) The last scene was another “am I on the right channel?” moment. Quickly cutting to some random arctic region, with dudes playing chess and speaking Portuguese (gibberish, to me) – that was weird. But the importance of that scene should be noted. It was obviously the producers’ way of saying “this is not a dream, this is not purgatory, and there are people in the ‘real world’ that are going about their business while the Lostaways are stuck on the island.” Now, was Penny (a.k.a. Desmond’s woman) looking for Desmond, or for the island, or for something else? That was somewhat ambiguous.

(5) Will we ever see Michael and/or Walt again? Will they encounter more Seabillies? Will they run out of gas? The answers are out there, if you look hard enough. I won’t spoil it for you, but I doubt you’ll make it through the summer without hearing the info.

On to Season 3:

The Three (button-pushing) Amigos… Who survived?! Locke, Eko, and Desmond were all (theoretically) in harm’s way when Desmond turned the key to kill the hatch magnet. But did that kill him?... Or them? Immediately after the show aired, most people believed that Desmond was a goner. And most believed that at least one of Locke/Eko would be back. A week later, many are thinking that Desmond will be back, and both Locke and Eko will be back. Here are my un-spoiled odds:

89% chance that Locke will be back. Probably the safest bet, although I can’t put it at 100% because (1) I don’t write the show, and (2) Terry O’Quinn has expressed some frustration with the way the character has developed.

73% chance that Eko will be back. While he’s (apparently) not as integral to the storyline as Locke, Eko is another fan favorite, and (1) he still has to build that church!, and (2) when he looked into “Smokey” (a.k.a. the monster), the audience could see a picture of a woman (along with his brother, a crucifix, etc.). Since Eko has had flashbacks involving those other things, I expect him to come back and have a flashback involving said lady.

14% chance that Desmond will be back. Many people believe that Desmond has been “redeemed.” Others argue that he still has to get back his “honor,” and that he must be alive when Penny finally rescues the Lostaways (in the series finale, possibly?). Now, I don’t know anything about Electromagnetic Pulses, or whatever that was, but since he was the closest to the source, and considering the drama involved in that scene, I think it’s over for him. As Desmond would say, “The End!”

Again, this is probably another instance of “you can find out if you look hard enough,” but as I mentioned above – I don’t know anything here, so these odds are spoiler-free. On to other things…

Many people are expecting a Henry Gale flashback sooner rather than later. This makes sense, considering the producers have gone on record as saying that while Season 1 focused on the Lostaways and the island, and Season 2 focused on the hatch, Season 3 will focus on The Others. Let me go on record as *really* hoping that we eventually get a flashback of the DeGroots, shot on the University of Michigan campus. East Hall, East Quad, East Engin, what-what?! [More Michigan & Lost stuff here]

In case you missed it, the schedule for Lost won’t be as annoying this fall/winter. There will be “a seven-episode arc in the fall [beginning some time in September], followed by a 13-week break, then a straight consecutive airing of the remaining episodes [through mid-May].” Sounds good to me.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Radio deal, etc.

Michigan announced a new radio deal (err, deals) for its athletics coverage. Most of the reaction has been positive, especially from Michiganders. MSU usurped Michigan on WJR 760, which I think WJR will regret. But the new coverage package is fairly adequate. It would have been nice to announce a long-term satellite radio deal, as well, but it sounds like they plan to stick with Sirius for the foreseeable future.

Check out the broadcast teams for ABC and ESPN college football games this year. Ouch. Not much to work with, there. Dan Fouts doing play-by-play? That could get ugly. No more Mike Tirico, either. I’m not saying he’s the greatest, but it was nice to have an Ann Arbor resident calling a game or two each year. I know he’s movin’ on up to the Monday Night Football side, but couldn’t he call the Saturday Noon games on ABC or something?

Here’s the official "action request" PDF that was later approved for the Michigan Stadium renovations. FYI, baseball and softball are getting new digs, too. What about Bob basketball?...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Off-Topic Tuesday: Random Thoughts (Part 1)

Do you ever stop and think about the radio? I do. How in the world does that work, anyway? Songs float through the air and magically come out of your speakers. You can’t see them. They have no weight. But it works! Whoa!

I’m not getting my hopes up for the Lost season finale. Last year’s was a bit of a letdown (for me, at least), so I’m a bit nervous about Wednesday night. I think some major questions will be answered, but of course new questions will be raised. The show is obviously character-based. It’s clear that in order to have a proper “ending” to the show, the producers must make the audience care about the Lostaways, and have their eventual rescue (which will happen) be emotionally satisfying. “But what about the mysteries of the island, and the Others, and all that stuff,” you say? That makes for nice drama, but there are far too many nerds out there that have already thought of every plausible idea to “explain” those things. Trust me, the “explanation” won’t be mind-blowing, which is why our emotional attachment to the characters is the key. I definitely plan to discuss more Lost stuff in the future, maybe as early as next Tuesday. Let’s hope that the finale is a good one…

The buzz around the Borat movie has been picking up since this early review. By many accounts, this could be Spinal Tap-esque, especially if it is released unedited (DVD style). I’m disappointed that it isn’t set for release until November, but I think it will be worth the wait. I know JB will be excited to see it, and add some (true) stories of her own.

Looking for a great summer “chill out” CD? I recommend the new Zero 7 release, The Garden.

Friday, May 19, 2006

2010: A Stadium Odyssey

Out with the old...
Things are certainly gonna look different. The University of Michigan Board of Regents voted to approve an estimated $226 million major renovation plan for Michigan Stadium, rumored to be completed by the start of the 2010 season (with construction beginning in 2007 or 2008, and not affecting the Stadium during football season). Most notable are the addition of luxury boxes, more bathrooms, wider seats, and new concourses with more concessions.

While the “artist’s rendering” seen here is not officially official, it is rumored to be the plan that will be presented to the Regents. And if they have half of a brain between them, they will approve it. Some people are a bit worried that the 5-3 vote to approve the funding could mean that the actual construction plan/design will not be approved if any of the 5 regents in favor of renovation “switch sides.” I would be surprised if that happened. You have to assume that if the Ann Arbor News (and other media outlets) knew about the proposed designs, the Regents did, too, and think that they’re acceptable.


- This will not be a big monstrosity. Check the specs – the boxes (luxury, press, whatever) will only be 7 feet higher than the current scoreboards. That is not that tall. It will help keep sound in, which is nice, but it won’t be overwhelming.

- HNTB Architecture is arguably the leading sports architecture firm in the world – a good choice. They have worked on plenty of college stadiums, as well, garnering praise for the recent Ohio Stadium renovation. If you look at their portfolio, don’t be taken aback by the futuristic designs – I am sure that Michigan will keep things simple and traditional. Tom Goss is gone – no halo worries here.

- Stadium capacity will likely go up to 108,335, which is fine with me. Unless I missed some other plans by Tennessee, PSU, OSU, or someone else, we will have the largest capacity for the foreseeable future. But hear me now and believe me later – when this renovation is done, we need to stop worrying about being the “Biggest” House. Other schools may pass us, and we need to not freak out. Having a stadium that is in great shape, with plenty of amenities and good traffic flow (concessions, bathrooms) is much more important than a few seats here or there. Having the largest capacity is nice, but is not the top priority in today’s football world.

- Even if you’re against “luxury boxes,” I hope that you are smart enough to at least admit that they are probably a necessary evil. The luxury boxes will be the building block for funding for Michigan sports in the coming years, and pay for themselves sooner rather than later. I bet that if you’re against the luxury boxes, you’re probably one of the people that complains that schools like OSU and Texas have bigger athletics budgets and better facilities. It’s gotta start somewhere, and it starts with football at Michigan. That’s the cash cow, and it will help to fund improvements to other facilities (like Crisler Arena and a b-ball practice facility… like, ASAP, please).

- Will your current seat location change as a result of the renovations? The current capacity is 107,501. The new capacity is supposed to be 108,335 (give or take). There will be 3,200 new club seats and 1,328 new luxury box seats (83 boxes including 16 seats each). That gives us about 4,528 new seats, and about 3,694 fewer seats in the main (original) seating area. While some people will make the “jump” from the main seating area to the nicer, newer options, I doubt that 3,694 will do so. So, yes, some people will be affected. But who? I would guess that the Athletic Department will (or should) attempt to coordinate the seat “eliminations” with season tickets that are not renewed. If possible, eliminate those seats first (since nobody “has” those seats when they are not renewed). Any variation of this plan will likely lead to a lot of seat “eliminations” in the end zones, since this is where the vast majority of new season ticket holders are placed. Adjustments will be made with those groups of seats first, and the remainder of the stadium will be “shifted” accordingly. Guesstimating 25,000 for the student section and 5,000 for the visitor’s section (which are both locked in place), the chance of seat reassignment is about 1% to 5%, with 5% representing the worst case scenario where nobody goes from regular to nicer seating, and 1% representing the most plausible best case scenario, where only about, say, 1,000 fans are forced to relocate. The most turnover will occur in the end zones, but (theoretically) everybody should be equally "at risk" for seat relocation.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Game Time… Woof?!

It's almost that time!Remember the old Chicago Bulls pre-game chant? It was in some commercial that was constantly on ESPN in the mid-90’s. Did they say “Woof!” at the end, or was it something else that I wasn’t cool enough to decipher? Was it "Hoo!"? Please advise.

Anyway, game times have been announced for 6 Michigan games this season. All times Eastern:

Sept. 2nd – Vanderbilt, Noon - ESPN (possibly HD)
Sept. 16th – at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. - NBC HD
Sept. 30th – at Minnesota, 8 p.m. - ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2 (all likely HD)
Oct. 7th – Michigan State, 4:30 p.m. - ESPN (likely HD)
Oct. 14th – at Penn State, 8 p.m. - ABC HD (split national coverage with ASU at USC)
Oct. 28th – Northwestern, Noon - TV TBA

Thoughts, in chronological order:

-Will the Vandy game continue the tradition of opening game scorchers (as in, HOT)? With little shade in Michigan Stadium between Noon and 3:30, let’s hope for 70 degrees and partly cloudy instead of 83 and sunny.

-Our first road game, at Notre Dame, is a 3:30 start. This will be another ulcer-inducing day for me. Do we have a chance to win? Sure, why not? [Because Lloyd will go fetal on us, that’s why not!] But I’m more worried about the 5 hours I have to kill between the start of Gameday and the kickoff. That is always the worst part of the weekend for me.

-Another night game at Minnesota is a definite “trap” game. The last of three straight “revenge games” (at Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and at Minnesota), right before a home rivalry game with MSU, and at night… could be a struggle. Let’s hope it’s not as nuts as the 2003 game. But as long as we win, I’ll take it.

-The MSU game should be a great atmosphere. A 4:30 start is the latest that I can remember at the Big House. And although it will be early October (pre-Daylight Saving Time), the lights will have to be turned on. According to this article, “Sunset in Ann Arbor on the day of the Michigan-MSU game will be at 7:07 p.m., or sometime in the second half.” Sounds good to me. Even if we have a few losses going into the game (which is possible), it should still be a great atmosphere. And if we happen to be 5-0? I’ll be the guy in Section 9R (since when did they add the “R,” and what does it stand for?) breathing into a brown paper bag.

-The PSU night game stands out. Their fans are going to be bloodthirsty that night. Any sort of “PSU graduated 90% of their good players” argument just went out the window. If you think we’re gonna walk in there and blow them out, you probably thought we would beat Notre Dame last year… and the year before. I’m not saying we will lose at PSU, but it will be a close game either way.

-Northwestern at Noon is to be expected. It is Homecoming, and Michigan rarely has Homecoming kickoffs at 3:30.

So, those are the officially announced times so far. If I had to guess on the other games, I would say:

Sept. 9th – Central Michigan, 90% chance Noon ; 10% 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 23rd – Wisconsin, 50% Noon ; 50% 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 21st – Iowa, 50% Noon ; 50% 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 4th – Ball State, 99% Noon ; 1% 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 11th – at Indiana, 90% Noon ; 10% 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 18th – at Ohio State, 90% 1:00 p.m. ; 10% Noon

The guesstimates above are based on Michigan’s unofficial “policy” of not having 3:30 starts at home after Daylight Saving Time. Also, ABC has the rights to the Michigan-OSU game, and has favored the somewhat odd 1 p.m. kickoff time in recent years. I expect that to continue.

As always, check the Schedule on the right sidebar for updated times and TV stations.

Related: ABC has some more prime time games this year, all in HD. It’s about time.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Off-Topic Tuesday: Riding on the Metro (D.C. Style)

Them's the rules!If you’re into cheesy 80’s new wave, you might remember the classic Berlin tune. But I want to vent some frustrations about my fellow passengers on the Metro subway system in Washington, DC. I recently started taking the Metro to work, but I’ve (obviously) been thinking (read: obsessing) about this stuff for a while. I’m sure that these “suggestions” would apply to many subway systems, so it might be worth your time to read. So, in no particular order:

(1) When the trains are crowded, move to the middle. The new “Metro lady” even reminds you to do so. It's Traffic Flow 101, and it will make things run much more smoothly.

(2) Related to (1): When you step into the train, don’t just stand there. Remember that there are likely people behind you that also want to get onboard. And guess what? They can’t when you’re just standing there blocking the entrance!

(3) Don’t try to stop the doors. Messing with the doors, even for a second, can mess up the whole system, and everybody might have to de-board the train and wait for the next one. You don't want to be "that guy." The doors are unforgiving – they will not open just because you are trying to hold them open for your friends. Also, they leave some nasty grease stains on your hands/shirt/briefcase (yes, I learned from experience on this one).

(4) Know where the doors will be opening for the next station, and don’t block those doors. For instance, if you get on the Red Line at Farragut North on the “left side,” you will be getting off at Metro Center on the “right side” (and vice versa). Pay attention on your daily commute, and know where to be (and, more importantly, where NOT to be).

(5) Your Newspaper/Crossword/Sudoku takes up space. It’s simple – the "circumference" and/or "surface area" of every person is, by definition, larger when they are holding a paper or a book out in front of them. You think you're minding your own business, standing there doing your crossword puzzle... but in reality you’re making it more cramped for all of us, including yourself. Certain things, like purses, briefcases, and umbrellas are absolutely necessary. But I think the sun will rise tomorrow even if you can’t finish your crossword – so save that for some other time. If you’re sitting down, go for it. But if you’re standing, forget it.

(6) Some Metrorail cars are about to change to fewer seats, with more “open room” for standing passengers. But for now, each “bench” has two seats. And here is my main rule on that one: Don’t sit next to me if there is a totally open bench somewhere nearby. Once every single bench has one person sitting in it, THEN (and only then) can you sit next to me. Of course, all bets are off for certain individuals (the elderly, etc.). But don't plop down next to me when every other bench is open. It’s like those creepy old dudes that always use the urinal right next to you, even when there are 45 other options. Completely uncalled for!

(7) Mind your breath. I’ll admit that my “dragon breath” is probably not the most pleasant thing, so I try to be aware of my respiration. When it’s 7:15 in the morning, the last thing I want/need is you blowing mouth farts all up in my nariz. Not fun.

(8) Tourists. Ugh. Tourists, please realize that it is not a federally mandated law that you must search feverishly for and obtain a seat on the Metro. I swear, these people are like housewives fighting over the last Cabbage Patch Kid, circa the mid 80’s. And FYI – I know you are sweaty, lazy, and ignorant, but (1) I can’t eat or drink on the Metro, so neither can you, and (2) I assure you that you can walk the 3 blocks between Metro Center and Gallery Place/Chinatown. You (probably) won’t die.

Just remember that a little bit of common sense and courtesy can make everybody's life better - especially mine. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Preseason Magazines are becoming irrelevant

I'm worthless!I remember those good ol' summer days, when I used to check my local Arbor Drugs (later bought out by CVS) on a daily basis for College Football Preseason Magazines to arrive. Back in the early 90's, they were often released in July (or later). Today, they come out in early June, which I must admit does help treat the off-season blues.

Before computers took over our minds, bodies, and souls, many fans had to wait for those preseason mags to clarify if a player was returning, if somebody had transferred, or if an Assistant Coaching change was made. The magazines were very valuable to all fans, and a must for "real fans" that wanted the (alleged) "inside scoop."

But unlike the days when I used to hang on every word written in Athlon, Lindy's, Street & Smith's, The Sporting News, or any other publication, I find these magazines pretty unhelpful nowadays - almost to the point of being (dare I say) a complete waste of money. I know I'm not stepping out on a limb here, but I just wanted to add my two cents. People often bash preseason mags, mainly for ranking "my favorite team" too low. But there are plenty of other reasons why these magazines are becoming irrelevant:

(1) The magazines come out too early. That's right, the earlier release dates are both a blessing (as mentioned above) and a curse. By being published in late May and early June, these mags contain even-more-cookie-cutter-than-usual quotes from coaches and players. Interviews are conducted right after the season has ended, and sometimes before Spring Practice has even begun. While I never expect to hear something cool from Lloyd Carr, I know that I won't get anything meaningful from any college coach from an interview conducted on February 19th.

(2) The Internet, like, rules!! I can find better info on,, or even oft-ripped For "my home team," I can check the Rivals and Scout Michigan pages, along with a quality selection of blogs. Heck, even the poorly-designed, rarely-updated at least has the correct player names and eligibility. Want to know what the best games will be this year? Don't wait for the mags to tell you - check out my boy at he'll even tell you what channels they're on!

(3) Team previews in the magazines are written by random dudes. When you've got a guy that freelances for the Chicago papers writing your Michigan preview, you're probably not gonna get much out of it. Does he (or she!) actually follow the team during the season and the off-season? Or is he too busy thinking about Illinois, Northwestern, and Notre Dame to even know that Antonio Bass is likely out for the year? Too often it is the latter.

(4) Regional bias. The Sporting News is the worst offender here. I don't have the time or energy to prove this (this isn't a Master's thesis, after all), so just trust me (again). It's all about the SEC with these dudes. In fact, until recent years, they would only put out a National edition and an SEC edition. And as of 2005, they still didn't bother with a Pac-10 edition. Granted, there are tons of college football fans in the South, but it is clear that The Sporting News gives them exactly what they want to read/see/believe (Southern Speed, y'all!!). I'm convinced that the 2003 Auburn hype was a direct result of the hacks at The Sporting News (for real).

I could probably go on, but those are the four main beefs that come to mind first. I think that magazines like Phil Steele's are usually worth the money, if only for the vast amounts of crazy info contained therein ("Michigan is 9-4 ATS in weeks following a victory over Indiana which occured in the rain and started before 3 p.m. CST." Huh?!). But otherwise, buyer beware. Nevertheless, I am 97.2% certain that I will squeal like a little girl when I see a magazine with Mike Hart on the cover, and my inner demons will force me to buy it. The end.

Friday, May 12, 2006

2007 Recruiting Off to a Good Start

Michigan has picked up 6 commitments early on in the recruiting process this year, many of whom are potential impact players. This is more "early commits" than usual, but Michigan has a few more scholarships to hand out this year than in most years. Here's a quick look at the first 6 commits, in order, followed by some comments on remaining needs for this class:

Michigan's 2007 Commits

Artis Chambers - Safety - Fort Wayne, IN - Michigan's first commitment for the 2007 class was a bit of a surprise. Many fans had not heard of him, and even some "insiders" didn't know that Michigan had been in touch with him very much. However, he has good stats and a better-than-expected highlight reel. 68 tackles and 8 or 9 INTs (depending on the source) as a Sophomore; 50 tackles and 4 INTs as a Junior; a sub-4.5 second 40-yard dash. Could be another "diamond in the rough" type (I hope).

Vince Helmuth - Fullback - Saline, MI - A real physical Fullback. Was recently named Bigger Stronger Faster Athlete of the Year, and has extensive, impressive highlight reels ($) on FYI - his brother is former Michigan State and current New York Jets Tight End Chris Baker. Vince might grow out of the Fullback position, which would be a shame because he seems to have a low center of gravity and is hard to tackle.

Ryan VanBergen - Defensive End - Whitehall, MI - Seems to have a quick burst off of the line, but this is against somewhat weaker High School talent in West Michigan. Friends with all-world Muskegon CB Ronald Johnson, which *should* help with his recruitment. Comes from a military family, and is originally from Vegas, baby! Might end up on the Offensive Line, and will definitely Redshirt. Worst case scenario: never sees the field. Best case scenario: Glen Steele clone.

Ryan Mallett - Quarterback - Texarkana, TX - A huge pickup for Michigan. Arguably the best QB in the 2007 class. First QB selected ($ link) for the prestigious Elite 11 QB camp. At 6-7, 235, the word "Navarre" is being bandied about. But Mallett will be much better - or else!

Martell Webb - TE/WR - Pontiac, MI - More likely a TE at Michigan, in the mold of Michigan Redshirt Freshman TE Carson Butler - good basketball player, faster than usual for a TE. In a talent-rich year in the state of Michigan, it is a good sign that recruiting guru/weasel Tom Lemming said that Webb might be the best prospect in the state (sorry, can't find a link here, but I'm sure I read/heard this - just gonna have to trust me!).

Jerimy Finch - Safety - Indianapolis, IN - Our most recent commitment. Probably the consensus #1 player in Indiana, although his ranking might be hurt by his early commitment (recruiting services are dumb like that). Already listed as a 4-star recruit by Scout, and could/should be a Top-100 guy according to many. Here is some decent free video (thanks to mgoblog for the find). Might play at Weak-side Linebacker eventually, especially if he gains weight and/or loses speed (which I expect he will).

A Good Start - But What Else Does Michigan Need?

-Cornerbacks: Priority #1 is Muskegon CB Ronald Johnson, as mentioned above. He is a 5-star prospect, and likely a National Top-10 recruit. CB Dionte Allen from Orchard Lake St. Mary's is allegedly a Michigan "lean," but probably won't announce until he takes his Official Visits this Fall.

-Offensive Tackles: Missing out on OTs Sam Young (Notre Dame), Daron Rose (Florida State), and Josh Oglesby (Wisconsin) over the past 2 recruiting seasons has made OT a priority.

-Wide Receivers: Really looking for a game-breaker or 3 here. Toney Clemons from PA, Junior Hemmingway from SC, and Taurian Washington (another Orchard Lake guy) seem to be the most likely options, and all 3 are very good (in my opinion).

Don't Expect To See:

-Any more "good" QB recruits. Ryan Mallett is the man there. I doubt that Lloyd gave him "the Drew Henson promise" to not recruit other QBs in 2007 or 2008. But most high quality QBs will not be looking at Michigan now due to Mallett's commitment. We might get a "project" type of QB, or a walk-on at the end of the recruiting season, but probably not a future star.

-A Punter or Kicker getting a scholarship. Shocking! After handing out 'ships to Punter Zoltan Mesko and Kicker Bryan Wright the past two years, there is no need here. Quality MI Kicker Rockne Belmonte wants to play at Michigan - I'm just not sure if they will have room for him.

Monday, May 08, 2006

R.I.P. Ben Huff

This is really sad. Ben Huff was a DL for Michigan from 1993-1997. He was injured during 1997, but at least was able to come along for the ride. He was only 31 years old. Here is his old biography.

*Update: A more detailed life story and a proper obituary have been added. Also, the Michigan Athletic Department has set up a scholarship fund in Ben's honor:

Ben Huff Memorial Scholarship Fund
University of Michigan
Victors Club
1000 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Some NFL Draft goodies

Bored at work? I bet you are! So check out this 16-page PDF file regarding Michigan's NFL Draft history. It will bring up some blasts from the past. It's also broken down by team, so you can see which poor souls had to start their careers in Detroit, Cincinnati, Arizona, etc.

And in case you were living under a rock, these 3 guys were drafted, and these 5 dudes signed free agent deals.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Off-Topic Tuesday: Stevie Y. and Joe D.

It was pretty painful as a die-hard Red Wings fan to watch them blow yet another first-round series last night. I give tons of credit to the Oilers - they deserve it all - but it doesn't take away from the sadness of watching Steve Yzerman play what was possibly his last game ever.

I want to make some quick comments about Yzerman and Joe Dumars, because I really think they are two of the most under-appreciated athletes of all time. I am likely biased due to my Detroit roots, but these two guys both possessed a quality that many "great" athletes don't have: complete body control. What does that mean? It means that Yzerman was still shaking players out of their jocks in his early 40's. It means that Dumars could post up on anybody. These guys knew the intricacies of their sports, and knew how to use their bodies to get in perfect position and/or make their opponents look silly.

For Dumars, maybe his greatest asset was his big butt. That's right, his big ol' booty. It allowed him to get position by backing down, and use subtle head and body fakes from there to get open jumpers and even layups. It was uncanny. Current Piston Chauncey Billups has a "mini-booty," but Dumars is the O.G. of the butt. And besides his own offensive positioning skills, it's quite likely that without Dumars' superior defense, the Pistons would have 2 fewer championships and M.J. and the Bulls would have 2 more.

With Yzerman, it was always the best hand-eye coordination in the league. In his prime, he literally won every face-off. Check the tapes. Watching him and the rest of the Wings cycle the puck in the offensive zone circa 1997-98 (and certain years before and after) was a thing of beauty. Yzerman not only saw things happening before anybody else did, he had the body control to make things happen for both himself and his teammates.

With Joe D. rightfully in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and Stevie Y. well on his way into Hockey's version, it only seems appropriate to take a look back and remember how amazing these guys really were. Thanks to both for giving me some of the best sports memories of my life.

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