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Mailbag Part 1

All the questions pertaining to things other than recruiting:

ikgodofsky inquires:
How will the current roster adjust to the spread? Who will be Owen Schmitt? Do we really need all these slots? I want to avoid a USC situation where we have tons of guys taking up roster space when they can’t all play at once.

The current roster is certainly not composed in a way that is suited perfectly for the spread. The O-line was allowed to get fat and slow under Andy Moeller and Mike Gittleson, the quarterback isn’t that mobile, and there is a complete dearth of slot receivers. Michigan will certainly need to count on several incoming freshmen to contribute, or it could be a very rough first year offensively.
Owen Schmitt was considered the heart of the WVU offense (in terms of effort and enthusiasm, the guy who was actually the key to making it run was clearly Pat White). Though fullbacks may not be the rare athletes that wideouts or running backs are, Schmitt was definitely a near-perfect fit for the role in the WVU offense. Whoever plays the role in Michigan’s offense will have huge shoes to fill. It’s almost like asking “who will be Michigan’s next Jake Long at the tackle position?” That question is setting unrealistic expectations for anyone. The players who will contend for fullback in the first year will be Mark Moundros and Vince Helmuth. Both played last year, and Moundros was the player used more often of the duo. He also had a better spring, but Helmuth is the more athletic player of the two.

Michigan’s offense relies on having a bunch of little slot receivers. Considering Rich Rodriguez inherited a team with none of them, it will obviously be a big need in his first two recruiting classes. The roster at Michigan will be composed in a different way than it has been in the past, carrying slightly fewer offensive linemen, but more QBs and receivers. Michigan will have Terrance Robinson and Martavious Odoms (both true freshmen), along with several other guys who may play some slot. It is obviously a recruiting need. These players are also capable of playing multiple positions, so they aren’t just taking up dead roster space.

As far as the USC comparison, I’m not sure that is quite accurate. While the Trojans did have 10 running backs coming into 2007 (which led to some of them transferring), there is a difference between the types of players Michigan has and the types of guys USC had.

USC’s players were all big, classic running backs. There is only one of these guys on the field at a time, or occasionally two. In addition, the running back position is one that traditionally has a true starter that takes most of the snaps, then a couple backups who get the rest of the carries.

Michigan’s offense, on the other hand, will use at least 1 slot receiver on pretty much every play, most often 2 of them, and sometimes three. There is a lot more playing time available to slot receivers than running backs. In addition, the wide receivers on a team rotate more frequently than do feature backs. The final thing to keep in mind is that these guys are pretty much all capable of playing multiple positions (having played WR, RB, or QB in high school). The versatility of the athletes will also allow for there to be much more of them at a time.

So, if there is a fire sale on slot receivers, Rich Rodriguez is snart to be the first in line. The team needs many more of these players than currently populate the roster, and they will play an important role in the Michigan offense of the future.

A lot of people have asked me some variation of this question:
How does USC/OSU/ND/other get away with cheating? Michigan should be rewarded for doing things the right way.
I really disagree with the notion that everyone except Michigan cheats. Sure, there are certain schools (mostly in the SEC) that don’t quite keep everything aboveboard, but to claim that the reason Michigan hasn’t won a championship in 11 years is ridiculous.

I would much prefer that Michigan fans accept the fact that we don’t have quite as much to sell right now as do schools like Ohio State and LSU. Instead of trying to claim they cheat, I would rather they hope that the Wolverines are better in the future to compensate. This makes us look less like Notre Dame fans/head coach (whiny excuse makers), and more like true fans of the game who understand that everyone can’t win every game, and instead just focus on our own team, and wish them the best in the future.

Jared from Chicago asks:
So I hear you've had some experience with Big Ten Network in the past. I'm also fairly certain the whole Comcast debacle will make a blip on the Michigan Football/Sports radar for at least a few more months. What's your take on the campus programming they have lined up recently? Is this just a revenue source to help them break even until Comcast can signed with? Is this a way to try and sell BTN to comcast as not just a sports tier package? Most importantly, is this going to be permanent non-sport coverage? I tell you what, I know I can't wait for "Purdue Campus Programming: Vet School Diaries - Large Animal Hospital" showing Wednesday (5/21/08).
I am led to believe by various reports that the Comcast deal should be resolved by the time football season rolls around. This is a relief for fans of every Big Ten school (unless, of course, you are a huge fan of the remaining spring sports). This time, it sounds like something is actually going to happen, rather than empty promises from both sides. I think Comcast lost a lot more subscribers over the past year than it would like to admit, many of them simply because they wanted to get the BTN.

The campus programming has been part of the Big Ten Network’s plan from the beginning. Unless something changed over the course of a year, these programs are entirely produced by the universities. BTN’s reasons for presenting this information are many:
  • Something to show in the summer when there are little or no sports.
  • Outlet for Universities to show off some of their facilities and programs, enticing new students to apply.
  • Chance for the universities to show that they are about more than just sports.
The third reason is the one that the Big Ten Network was really pushing immediately prior to its launch, and when President Mark Silverman toured all the universities in the conference to take questions from concerned citizens. I don’t believe the presence of this programming has ulterior motives in terms of profiting without Comcast, or getting the Annoying Corporate Monolith to pick up the station as something other than a Regional Sports Network.

To the best of my knowledge, the Network is still planning to keep this coverage each summer as a permanent fixture of the schedule. Personally, I think it’s a bad idea. The BTN is, first and foremost, a sports network. If this material was really worth watching, it would appear during the sports seasons as well, when there weren’t any games on. BTN needs to understand that its audience is composed of not just Big Ten fans, but primarily sports fans. This type of programming should probably be relegated to late-night programming, since it is essentially just infomercial material.

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“Mailbag Part 1”

  1. Anonymous formerlyanonymous Says:

    thanks buddy.

  2. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    I know why a lot of people ask you about the cheatin, because where there's smoke there's fire. Let's see USC (Reggie Bush), Ohio State (Maurice Clarett), need we say anymore. Do remember the NCAA DII problems that Tressel had at Youngstown State? There's a reason Michigan has never had any NCAA investigations with it's Football Program. Sorry, but there are dirty programs and it's not just in the SEC.