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Thursday, April 10, 2008

What is the chance of us getting a prime time night game at U of M? There is a ton of exposure goes on with night games and the athletic department can't just sit and watch other schools take away that exposure. Now that Rich Rod is here is it more of a possibility?
I would assume that it's more of a possibility with Rodriguez around, as WVU was willing to play on a Tuesday at 3 AM if it got them on TV, but probably not a strong one. Rodriguez can change some things by fiat; this is not one of them. For evidence of this check the Michigan stadium renovation plans, which do not include lights.

The opposition to night games is an institutional and cultural one that won't go away overnight. The administration doesn't like the idea of a night game because
  • Old people would fall asleep in the third quarter and maybe die from cold
  • Young people would pass out in the third quarter and maybe die from drink, and
  • Middle-aged people would get cranky about driving back to Chicago.
I wouldn't mind a night game or two, personally, but I understand the admin's reluctance. It's not like Michigan is suffering for television exposure.

One idea I think might work: pick a Big Ten opponent and play one night game every other when that opponent comes to town. That would provide said game with extra cachet and maybe amp up the stadium experience for that particular contest. Ideally, the team should be consistently good and not have any extant tradition or rivalry. This rules out Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Indiana. Purdue... meh. Illinois must never get the impression that we care about them in any way whatsoever, so they're out. Candidates, then: Iowa, Penn State, and Wisconsin.
I have one question for you, regarding two certain web sites I think you have had plenty of experience with. Which site would you recommend subscribing to: or I only want to join one, and I am hoping you say the better site has the better mag as well.
I must confess to having considerably less experience with Scout than one might expect. I was briefly a subscriber there but let it lapse. (Subscribing to two separate recruiting websites is a bridge too far even for me.) Also, I've never gotten either site's magazine. I've leafed through a copy of The Wolverine or two and it seemed fine for something on "paper" or whatever you call it. From what I've gathered, Scout's mag is weak sauce that only exists so the U can't turn them down for press credentials and the like.

I do have some experience with both, and participate -- mostly lurk -- on a message board where opinions about the sites are often bantered. What follows is a combination of personal experience and the collected wisdom of said message board.

Scout and Rivals are extremely different sites. The Wolverine is amongst the most professional recruiting sites out there. Go Blue Wolverine is a cult. This isn't all bad for GBW, since the cult is based around Tom Beaver, the chief koolaid purveyor* in all of Wolverine land. Name a personality disorder and Beaver probably has it: megalomania, workaholism, ellipses fetishization, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder. Slightly over half of these are very annoying; the other half are useful. The end result is the premium message board at GBW, a "TJBlog"-laced minefield of unreadable crap, hero worship, outright speculation, and a really spectacularly annoying system of "percentages" wherein a wink-wink lock is "50.1" to Michigan and a no-way is "49.9" and it's just all very grating.

HOWEVA, within that minefield is more information than is generally provided at Rivals, for a given definition of "information." Occasionally GBW will be out ahead of a story; occasionally they'll be out ahead of a story and just be plain wrong, which cues another round of highly annoying recriminations. Eight now they've collected a set of program insiders and coaches who are providing a wide array of spring practice information that Rivals is getting a shadow of.

Rivals' advantages:
  • Hockey coverage. Though much of it is free, it's much better than GBW's nearly nonexistent version of same and you should support it on principle if it's important to you.
  • Prose. Rivals isn't David Foster Wallace but Beaver and the people he hires sometimes seem nearly illiterate.
  • Software. Scout was programmed by gibbons and it's damn near impossible to navigate. Rivals has a more navigable, more usable site.
  • Professionalism. This is a matter of taste. Rivals will let you read between the lines when they know a kid is going to commit to Michigan but not come right out and say it. The annoying hero-worship aspect that overwhelms at Scout is still present at Rivals but toned down.
  • Big stories. Rivals killed Scout during both coaching searches. I think it's clear they're much closer to the administration. This is no surprise since Beaver lives in Texas, IIRC.
Scout's advantages:
  • Insiders. Often the best content on the premium sites is provided gratis by mysterious program insiders that just want to be internet heroes. With the dissolution of Fort Schembechler their importance is lessened in some ways (injuries and the like are no longer state secrets) but heightened in others (open practices attended by high school football coaches are a goldmine of information). Right now GBW has an array of guys providing their takes on what they've seen that outstrips Rivals' considerably.
  • More updates. If you're the sort that needs to know what's going on NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW, and NOW, GBW is probably for you.
  • They don't delete MGoBlog links on sight. I'm just sayin'.
Both sites have pretty weak basketball coverage.

What it comes down to is your tolerance for bad information and general stupidity versus your desire for every tidbit, dubious or not, you can scrounge about Michigan football. The choice is yours.

*(usage note: references to "koolaid" and the Jim Jones suicide cult have been driven into the mainstream by Jim Rome and his robot followers and now rank amongst the greatest crimes any sportswriter can commit, but in this case the metaphor is highly apt and must be used.)