Detroit News - Michigan Index Detroit News - Michigan Index       Detroit Free Press- Michigan Index Detroit Free Press- Michigan Index
Stadium and Main: June 2006

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Off-Topic Tuesday: Parkour

No Skateboards. No Skates. No Helmets.Have you seen this stuff yet? If you live in "the big city," odds are that you have. And if you have access to a television, you probably saw that Nike commercial. While the popularity of Parkour only began in recent years, and is attributed to Sebastien Foucan, I swear that my boys back in Michigan were doing this kind of stuff in the mid-to-late-90s. We just called it "Freestyle Walking" (for real). Oh, and we weren't doing anything nearly as intense as this or these. If you see somebody that knows what they're doing, it's pretty amazing to watch. Although I must admit that it probably isn't cool anymore since I saw some 15-year-old wannabe tree-huggers busting it out in Arlington, VA. Ugh. Parkour: Over before it even got started?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

T-minus 10 Weeks

Just 70 days until Michigan's first game of the season, and the mainstream media is getting ready for college football season. Look out!! Nothing too mind-blowing here, but if you have a DVR and love college football, take a second to create a series recording or "season pass" for ESPNews' "The Pulse." This show airs from 1-4 p.m. Eastern every Saturday, and today they started a countdown of their "experts'" Preseason Top 10 (Florida State was #10, fwiw). Will Michigan be in their Top 10? Possibly, but I kinda hope not (they picked us at #3 last summer! Whoa!). Regardless, it is worth fast-forwarding through to look back at what happened last year and see what is expected this year. Sometimes they even interview beat writers that actually know what they're talking about! Check it out - it will at least give you something to do with your summer Saturdays besides play with fireworks or whatever.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Don't Kill Your TV

Tune InSome of the ideas and rumors that were discussed in this post have come to fruition. The Big Ten is starting its own TV channel, and has extended its agreement with ABC/ESPN for 10 more years. This is a good thing, in my opinion, but there are some potential problems. My take...

The Positives:

- More football (and basketball) games on TV. This is always a good thing. Despite the wide array of sports channels and national football coverage, there are always a few games each year that I search for but can't find. Starting in 2007, when you look at the ESPN2 ticker and see that Illinois is leading Purdue by 7 in the 4th, there will be a better chance that you'll be able to see the (exciting?) conclusion. And, yes, I would watch that... because I'm a loser.

- More exposure for the Big Ten. Some fans have asked whether this TV channel and new ABC/ESPN deal make it more likely that the Big Ten will expand to 12 teams. I don't think so. Although I'm sure that higher ratings in markets like Pittsburgh or New York would be desirable, do you really see the Big Ten adding Pitt or Syracuse in the near future? It once again comes down to the need for adequate athletics and academics. There doesn't seem to be a "good fit" out there, although that standard seems to change from year to year. Regardless, having a 24-hour propaganda machine will be nice, and will make the "Notre Dame has its own network" idiots chill out (for a second, at least).

The Negatives:

- Some (many?) people won't have access to the channel. DirecTV subscribers can rest easy - they have already signed on. But seeing that most cable providers have yet to add ESPNU (which has been around for more than a year already), will they jump at the chance to add another expensive sports channel? I would encourage fans to call their local cable company and start requesting the channel now, because we know that it will take these fools forever to get the ball rolling. If large cable providers like Comcast and Cox don't get onboard, this is gonna stink. Get on the phone, son.

- Even if you have access to the channel, you might not be able to afford it. If the Big Ten Channel is placed in a "premium tier" or a "sports package" on your cable/dish service, you might not be able to afford it. DirecTV has said it will be part of their basic "Total Choice Package," but will other companies follow suit? While many of us take cable for granted, you have to realize that plenty of people (and potential recruits) don't have it. That is why many Detroiters are saying that the loss of WJR 760 AM is a bigger deal than it seems. While the new radio deal is more than adequate, watching or listening to Michigan "for free" might become less common in the future.

The Unknowns:

- How will this impact the ESPN Gameplan package? Will Big Ten Channel games be shown on that, too? If so, how often?

- Will local networks be able to cover any Big Ten Channel games, or will they be shut out for good? Will they be able to "purchase" the games of their local teams, much like what used to happen with ESPN Sunday Night Football (where the local ABC affiliate would put the game on so those without cable could watch, too)?

Other Unrelated (but still related) Stuff:

I'm glad that Brian agrees with my interpretation of this text, because I thought I was hallucinating when I read this:
"All regional afternoon football games aired on ABC will be aired by ESPN/ESPN2 in outer-markets, making these games nationally available."

To all of my D.C. friends: No more ruined Saturday afternoons thanks to Maryland, Virginia, Clemson, Wake Forest, and all of the other sorry, boredom-inducing ACC jokers. If Michigan is playing at 3:30 on ABC, you will get to see it on ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2. Finally, we have justice.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Off-Topic Tuesday: The NHL Playoffs

Property of Lord StanleyIf you watched the first 8 minutes of last night's Edmonton-Carolina Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 and you still don't like hockey, there is no hope for you. That was one of the most intense, exciting stretches of athletic competition that I have ever seen, and the fact that it was Edmonton and Carolina, and I was still going nuts... well, that just shows you (or me, rather) how great of a sport hockey is.

It's really a shame that the NHL Playoffs were getting lower ratings than NCAA Women's Softball at times this summer, but what can you do? If casual fans are only going to watch when big market teams are playing, or when the puck is glowing, then I say so be it. Real fans will keep watching, and loving it. Props to former Wolverine Aaron Ward for scoring the first goal of the game and giving the Hurricanes a lead that they would not relinquish. And props to the Carolina fans, who made more noise than I ever expected to hear outside of a Duke-Carolina b-ball game.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The BCS avoided another black eye last year

Ruining College Football Since 1998As I scanned through Phil Steele's college football preview magazine, I could have sworn I saw a typo. In his "should there be a playoff or not" article, he mentioned that Oregon finished #5 in the last BCS poll of the 2005 regular season. I thought to myself, "huh?" Then I remembered the whole drama about Notre Dame being selected as an at-large BCS pick over Oregon. And then I remembered that Oregon finished the regular season with just one loss - to "team of the century (or not)" USC.

Then I thought about this... What if Oregon hadn't played USC last year? They didn't play them in 2003 or 2004, so that idea wasn't too far-fetched. Oregon would have almost certainly been #3 in the BCS, and (more importantly) undefeated. Considering that Oregon had a weak schedule and really wasn't that good last year (see 17-14 Holiday Bowl loss to a mediocre Oklahoma team), this would have been pretty ridiculous. However, I'm kinda upset that it didn't happen, because I'm all for the implosion of the BCS.

This scenario reminds me of 2002, when the BCS big-shots were (in retrospect, at least) thanking Iowa State for somehow beating Iowa early on in the season. Otherwise, we would have had an undefeated Ohio State and an undefeated Iowa - both from the same conference. Iowa would probably have finished #3 in the BCS, although Iowa fans would certainly argue that they would/should have had a shot at #2 (for example, Iowa whooped Michigan, while OSU held on for a very close win (just like they did against, oh, 6 other teams!)).

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your position), this is less likely to happen in the future. The Pac-10 has announced that it will begin playing round-robin schedules this season (with some teams getting 5 conference home games, and others just 4). Will this mean less drama for the BCS fools? I hope not, but I'm afraid so.

Friday, June 16, 2006

What's Old is New Again

Wondering what The Big House is looking like these days? Concrete and bleacher replacement appears to be coming along, judging by the pics below. A very big "thanks" to He-(or She!)-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (Voldemort style) for getting these pics to me. Only 78 days until the first game! Will your seat be ready?...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Quick Update: Michigan at OSU is a 3:30 start

So I guess the dude I mentioned in this post was the real deal. Michigan at OSU has been officially announced as a 3:30 kickoff on ABC. Also mentioned in that link - Central Michigan at Michigan (Sept. 9th) is officially a Noon kickoff on ESPN Plus (local) television.

Off-Topic Tuesday: The Office, Season 2

The Fab FourLike many fans of the original BBC (British) version of The Office, I was a bit wary when NBC announced that it was developing an American version. It was very odd to see the pilot episode, nearly word for word, being acted out by Americans. The first season had some highlights, but was too short (only 6 episodes) and thus didn’t have much plot development. It did a good job of introducing the main characters, though.

Season 2 was a vast improvement, and seemed to get better as it went on. Running a full 22 episodes, there was time to introduce many other great minor characters, like Oscar and Phyllis. Episodes like “Christmas Party” (“Yankee swap!”), “Drug Testing” (“It has to be official, and it has to be urine.”) and “Conflict Resolution” (“Make the poster into a t-shirt.”) were some of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Not to mention the season finale (“Casino Night”), where Creed and Toby nearly stole the show (literally, in Creed’s case). [Note – Creed and Toby are my favorite characters] The big cliffhanger with Jim kissing Pam, and her (apparently) kissing him back. This is where things get interesting. The British version was only 13 episodes long, total, so they never entered this territory with their work flirts (Tim and Dawn). Will the American writers be able to keep the love story fresh? Will it all be resolved in the Season 3 opener? Will any explanation(s) be logical? I’m a bit worried that they might mess this up royally, but I should be more confident judging by the quality of Season 2. [Side Note: Did you know that Roy’s last name is “Anderson,” so if Pam marries him, she will be “Pam Anderson?” Heee! (cite here)]

I guess the only minor complaint I have with Season 2 of The Office would be the unexplained change of Kelly from a quiet nerd to a wannabe Valley girl. It was a complete character overhaul. But the writers get a pass on this one, because (1) they probably weren’t planning for a long term run when the show started, since American TV-watchers are generally stupid and they were probably thinking the show would get cancelled, and (2) it allowed for some funny interaction between Kelly and Ryan.

I think the show still has a lot of potential. As mentioned earlier, a lot will depend on how they handle the Jim/Pam thing. Part of me hopes that they end the show after the 3rd or 4th season, so it doesn’t get stale and/or ridiculous. But since they’ve shown the ability to produce many classic episodes that can “stand alone,” I wouldn’t mind seeing them go for 5 or 6 seasons.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Some Alternatives to Sleep Away Camp

I taught this guy, I can teach you!Although it is too late to sign up for a few of these things, there are some random Michigan Football camps this summer. First, for the ladies - the Women's Football Academy on June 17th. This camp benefits the Coach Carr Cancer Fund, so even if you disagree with Lloyd's punting strategies, it's for a good cause. A few women that I know have attended the camp and really enjoyed it, so if your lady is even mildly athletic, think about it for next year. For the high schoolers looking to make a name for themselves, there is the annual Michigan Football Camp, where Seniors can earn "official offers," and players can try to get on Michigan's recruiting radar. If you have any thoughts of playing at the D-1 level, this camp is worth your money. Finally, there is the 1st Annual Michigan Men's Fantasy Football Experience, which sounds cool, but is limited to season ticket holders (and is therefore quite pricey).

OT: There is a poster on The Victors Message Board who is adamant that the Michigan-OSU game will be a 3:30 kickoff this year - saying that he's seen the official ABC TV documents and such (I would link the post, but they scroll off the board). Usually I would write this off as phony, but this guy can spell and stuff. So, I figured I would throw this out there for you to chew on. [Updated: The rumor is rolling around on other sites, too.] If it happens, the 2nd half of the game would have to be played under the lights. Probably not a good thing for Michigan, but it might look pretty darn cool. We shall see.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

If you wrote to "the suits" about the Stadium renovation...

then you were e-mailed the response below today. Just thought some of you might want to read the canned rhetoric... [Also, check out the new FAQ over at]

"Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on the Michigan Stadium renovation project. We have decided to proceed with the project because we believe it is in the best interests of the Michigan Athletic Department and the University in the long run.

Our stadium is a treasure. Generations of Michigan alumni, students, faculty, staff, and fans have a stake in it - not just in the modern game-day experience, but also in the proud tradition of the Big House and Michigan football. It is precisely because it is so valued that I feel such a deep responsibility to renew its aging infrastructure and attend to the 80-year-old stadium's most pressing needs.

Most importantly, renovations to the stadium will improve the game-day experience for all of our fans. Specific improvements will include an increase in the number and quality of restrooms; an increase in the number of concession stands and a greater variety of fare; widening the aisles and seats and adding handrails; increasing the number of points of entry and exit for improved crowd circulation and safety; a significant expansion of seating for fans with impaired mobility; and the addition of premium seating.

As you probably know, we have been studying these needs and potential solutions for a long time now. Bill Martin and his staff in the Athletic Department have completed the most comprehensive planning process I have ever seen undertaken on a university project. Their extensive research has included surveys of fans and ticketholders, focus groups, market studies, and detailed cost analysis and financial modeling.

Although we considered a number of models for renovating the stadium, we rejected less ambitious efforts because they did not meet all of our goals and/or contained considerable financial risk to the University. Building enclosed seating is the only reasonable economic model we have found to pay for the costs involved in a renovation project of this scope and scale. Our very conservative financial planning will support the renovations with the revenue generated by the new seating, without placing an additional burden on either the average ticketholder or on the University's general fund.

And, once the costs of the renovations are recovered, revenue from the new seating will be available over the long run to support facilities upgrades and other costs for our 25 men's and women's varsity sports. Bill and I believe this project is essential to allow us to remain nationally competitive.

The stadium has undergone many significant changes throughout its history, and this project will represent another evolution in its appearance. As the stadium enters this new phase, I will make certain that the renovations are of the highest quality and that the designs respect the stadium's tradition and character.

There will be many additional opportunities for public input as we finalize the designs and develop more detailed plans. I encourage you to watch our website at for updates on the project.


President Mary Sue Coleman"

Detroit News - Michigan Index Detroit News - Michigan Index       Detroit Free Press - Michigan Index Detroit Free Press - Michigan Index