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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Well... it was a disappointing end but given the expectations at the beginning of the year -- picked fourth in the conference, some concern over extending the tournament streak -- the results -- CCHA double, GLI title, Frozen Four -- are outstanding. Probably the only Michigan revenue sport to exceed expectations since... uh, 2006 football. Never mind.

Highlights from the year that was:

The Hoover Street Rag says next year in DC, and got even more jerseys than we did.

Now that's a lot of trouble. I wonder what a Michigan list the equivalent of this soaring, majestic dossier of Penn State malfeasance would look like? A brief, representative snippet:

17. Tony Johnson - Arrest, DUI - Guilty
18. Richard Cheek - Arrest, Stolen Credit Card - Guilty
19. Yaacov Yisreal - DUI, - Guilty
20. Dan Drogan - DUI Leaving Accident, - Guilty
21. Dethrell Garcia - DUI, - Guilty
22. Scott Paxson - Criminal Mischief, Summary Charge - Guilty
23. E.Z. Smith - Drunk in public - Summary Charge - Guilty
24. R.J. Luke - Arrest Assault, - Acquitted
25. Damone Jones - Unknown Charges - Dismissed From School
26. Mike Sothern - Terroristic Disorderly Criminal Mischief - Guilty
27. Mike Sothern - Criminal Mischief Expelled - Guilty
"Terroristic Disorderly Criminal Mischief" is the best charge ever. The list, which dates back to 1999 or thereabouts, comprises 57 separate incidents including JoePa's road rage and generally paints the picture of a team that no longer fears or respects their coach, possibly because he works from home. And is one billion. And tries to eat their brains.

While I don't think Michigan could match Penn State's achievement in this category, if you took just the last few years the schools would be pretty close: Sears, Arrington, Richards, Butler, Germany and so forth and so on. Moral of the story: once you lose your "I'm gonna kill you" fastball, discipline and performance starts slipping as your guys start getting frisky. Thus Penn State -- .500 in the Big Ten over the past eight years -- and Michigan's uneven performance in the last years of the Carr era. Is it a coincidence that West Virginia started racking up Fulmer Cup points in earnest as soon as mean ol' Rich Rodriguez left and nice ol' Bill Stewart was promoted from teaching European History to tenth graders?

Mean is good.

Seriously? Is this "OMG Tressel" tiff still "going on"? Rodriguez was asked (yet again) about whether he was a Rumpelstiltskin-style* child kidnapping fetish after Jim Tressel made a joke that probably wasn't directed at Rodriguez at all. A recap:

What would you describe this as? I would go with "patient explanation to child with a tape recorder." The Free Press went with:

Rich Rodriguez fires back after Jim Tressel's jab at his recruiting tactics

The thing they cited first as "firing back":
“If not being a gentleman is recruiting guys until the end, until signing day, particularly after all visits — guilty as charged."
Can you fire back by agreeing with someone?

Of course, someone scurried off to the next Tressel press conference with Rodriguez's stunning riposte and asked for a riposte riposte:
Asked if he had a beef with Rodriguez, Tressel said, "I've known Rich for a long time; no beefs at all. He'll do a good job. I've said that all along."
This is exactly why I never begrudged Carr his churlish relationship with the media. What a waste of time.

I was flicking through the spring practice pictures on the Free Press' website when I hit this one...

...and thought to myself "I wonder if his questions were any less substantive than those of the professionals?"

Probably not. I bet Derek Tinkle's work is in need of some copyediting but no more or less informative than your average newspaper piece.

This might also be the place to relate that when Michigan was in Denver preparing for their semifinal against Notre Dame, they made it clear Billy Sauer didn't really want to talk about the North Dakota game last year. The first question (from a knob at the Denver Post) was basically "how do you feel about being such a goddamn failure in the North Dakota game last year?"

It's one thing to ask a "tough question" when there is the possibility of an enlightening response or someone has undertaken ethically questionable activities. Tough questions in the context of the Ann Arbor News' investigation into independent study and the like are fine. (That the Ann Arbor news passed on the opportunity to ask those questions because they didn't want an email interview is another matter entirely.) A "tough question" to a 20-year-old kid when the answer to that question is going to be the standard athlete cliche boilerplate about taking it one game at at time is just being a dick.

But journalism has this weird machismo thing going on where that's prized: see any anti-blogging screed that claims the basement-dwellers inferior because they don't say rude things directly to the players themselves. I've always found it interesting that said screeds contain the implication that bloggers are wantonly negative because they don't have to face repercussions. Newspapers, meanwhile, are full of people who are wantonly negative because they like being wantonly negative even in the face of social approbation.

Which group sounds more maladjusted?

*(apparently the Firefox dictionary has "Rumpelstiltskin" in it, which... like -- gnome (yes) griffin (yes) hippogriff (no) sphinx (yes) mindflayer (no) gorgon (yes) Perseus (yes) Icarus (yes) -- is apparently only the tip of a nerd iceberg. It figures: open source.)

Reverse. Of course, it's not all bad. See this informative piece on NCAA, Big Ten and Michigan drug testing regimes by Mark Snyder that explains just how Manningham could play despite testing positive for weed. Operative area:
As for punishment, a Michigan athlete who fails a first test will be referred for counseling and attend an assessment with the athletic department doctor. If the athlete does not participate in the counseling, "additional disciplinary action will be taken by the athletic director and/or head coach and may include, but not be limited to, suspension from practice/games," according to the policy.

A second positive test -- at least 90 days later -- results in suspension from competition for 10% of the maximum allowable contests in the traditional season and must be served immediately. The coach may enhance the penalty.

Manningham was suspended for the Eastern game this year but no others. Question: I recall Arrington being suspended for large chunks of his career, and he was one of the three guys -- Eugene Germany and Carson Butler the others -- in serious trouble after the Rose Bowl for an incident widely rumored to be getting crunk in the hotel days before the game (WHAT?). I bet one of his one-off suspensions was for a second positive test and the Rose Bowl incident was his third; Butler also got a one-off suspension during his redshirt freshman year, IIRC. Both nearly got the boot.

Speaking of weed, man.

1) At Copper Mountain on Saturday they were having some sort of season-closing music fest. When I got off the hill, George Clinton was playing and man... freaky, man.

2) Ohio State's having their own problems with the marijuana:
That 2008 Buckeye defense we’ve all been daydreaming about just took a bit of a hit. The rumors from earlier in the day proved to be correct and Donald Washington, Jamario O’Neal and Eugene Clifford are in a bit of trouble.
Eleven Warriors says the message-board buzz is that Eugene Clifford is gonzo -- hello, Cincinatti -- and Washington may follow him out the door, while O'Neal is in trouble but safe. That's probably in inverse order from what Buckeye fans would like (other than "no pot issues at all"), as Jamario "Toast" O'Neal is a backup as a senior and has been a bust whereas Washington is a useful nickelback and Clifford was the highest rated recruit in OSU's 2007 class.

3) Ladies and gentlemen... Ohio State fans!

What are the chances this guy didn't smoke a bowl ten seconds before this? Zero. What are the chances this guy really likes Chappelle's Show for all the reasons that drove Dave Chappelle crazy? 100%.


Etc: Stuff Golden Domed People like from MNB... MNB's wife is a Domer so this one's authentic; some sort of Fan Day will happen in August; we're slow but smart; Russ Levine drops a Tacopants reference in this FO article; MVictors digs up a bit of M history on Will Johnson's Meyer Morton award; Ekpe do you not know the pathways of my heart?