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Monday, March 10, 2008

Really really? Like really? The Free Press cites an anonymous source and cribs from the subscription-only Sports Business Journal about the Big Ten Network potentially coming to an irritating corporate monolith near you:

The Big Ten Network appears on its way to most homes in Michigan.

According to a source close to the negotiations, Comcast and the BTN have made significant progress toward a deal and only an unforeseen setback would prevent it from being on the cable system by football season.
This would appear to be Comcast caving on their sport-tier-only proposal... mostly:
Sports Business Journal, which reported a deal was close in its Monday edition, said Comcast has agreed to place the network on expanded basic in most of the Big Ten footprint, but not all.
That's odd. What areas of the Big Ten footprint wouldn't be covered? Parts of Pennsylvania, maybe, and Ames, Iowa, I guess.

A wholly uneducated hunch on the Comcast reversal: with AT&T bringing U-Verse online and Verizon's FIOS service rapidly expanding its footprint, Comcast doesn't want to give the apartment-bound and tree-blocked a further reason to switch.

As always, take this with a hefty dose of skepticism.

Update! Might want to ratchet down the skepticism. The Sporting News has the full text of the SBJ article, and it's convincing.

Tell me about the rabbits. EDSBS linked up this ESPN feature on Muck City, Florida, where they 1) play football, 2) play football, and 3) chase rabbits around. This is the home of incoming WR recruit Martavious Odoms:

Super secret alias. So if you go puttering along for information on new basketball recruit Zack Novak, you get this near-blank AAU profile page that reveals the secret true identity of "Zack Novak"...


More serious like, there's a surprising profusion of information on a guy who claimed offers from Ball State, Colorado State, Valpo, Oakland, and the Fort Wayne version of the confusing "Indiana-Purdue" chain of alphabet soup public schools at the time of his commitment.

One: dude scores lots, averaging over 28 points a game and shooting better than 40% from three. Two: he is either a 6'5" shooting guard or a "smallish 6'3" swingman"; given the offers it's probably the latter. Three: he is "a smart kid and an American," according to the same article. Good to know Indiana (motto: "Easy to leave!") remains a part of the union. Four: uh...
“Coach (Bob) Buscher told me I had a nice butt,” Novak said. “Guys might be bigger than me but I can get lower to the ground.”
So there you go.

In the realm of effusive quotes we have Bob Gibson:
"Novak is an outstanding catch-and-shoot wing player,"'s national recruiting director Bob Gibbons said. "He appears to be an ideal player for coach John Beilein's style of play."
Head coach Tom Peller:
"You know the rule, give it to Zack and get out of the way," Peller said. "In my opinion, he's the best all-around player in Northwest Indiana. His outside shooting is so much more consistent. He's very, very good inside and he has a tremendous driving game. He's truly the complete package now."
The same coach who was checkin' out Novak's assets earlier:
"He's the best player in the conference and by far the best warrior," he said. "We tried to stop him but he plays all over the court. We should take a lesson from him."
Some guy named "Bigfoot" on a Ball State message board who knows the family:
I would add to what PL BSU said that Michigan recently had Zach go through some sort of a work out highlighting his ball handling and shooting skills. I heard they are looking to improve their outside shooting and feel Zach may fit that bill. I also was told that Zach really lit the gym up in this workout with his outside shot to the point that he got in a groove that even Zach was surprised about. I was told he hit 16 of 21 shots from what would be the equivalent of an NBA 3 from various spots on the floor. I guess in the shooting side of the work out he hit nearly 80% of his shots from various ranges.

I understand he an the Michigan Coach even chuckled about it but none the less it was a very impressive shooting performance.
More from him:
Someone mentioned a comparison of Novak to Tom Coverdale which strikes a cord with me. Zach would be a much bigger version but there are similarities. Zach would be more versatile player IMO as he can go down low and score in a crowd with his strength (has strong thighs and calves) as well as upper body for a HS kid. I would see Zach as a real threat with a three guard offense in particular. It would take a very athletic defender with size to handle him at a small three position.

I also heard Zach is still growing not that his current 6'4" height wouldn't work already for us.

If we can sign him I think people will some day wonder why he was not better known. Being a four year starter at a large school like Chesterton that plays in a tough league speaks volumes about his ability. He was not only a starter in his early years but was a prolific scorer even then.
Another one for the potential whitewash down the road. I'll reserve judgement on Beilein's recruiting until these guys actually get in and play for a year or two; though their rankings are universally meh Beilein has made his living finding and coaching up kids like this.

Outposts. Spartans have finally started slouching into the blogosphere, and though they're the last Big Ten school to find representation their initial attempt is a good one: Spartan Weblog is a tempo-free-focused basketball blog in the vein of Big Ten Wonk that hates Drew Sharp and has affectionate, obscure acronyms for dear, departed Wonk. Recommended.

Also, frequent MGoBlog commentator gsimmons85 has started up his own blog. The prose is rough but the technical detail is... uh... detailed. As an honest-to-god football coach, his knowledge outstrips mine; also recommended. Sample posts here and here.

Finally, there is a blog called MGoSwim that covers Michigan swimming. Check the freaky banner: it moves.

Update: NYT on scholarships and such; Yost Built checks out Nebraska-Omaha.