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Varsity Blue

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Preseason Mailbag

Chen Geng (whose name can be pronounced in such a way that it sounds eerily/hilariously similar to "chain gang"):
Since it seems this season will go where the OL goes, what's the injury history been for RR's WVU teams? Did Barwis use chocolate milk to make their knees unbreakable?

Much thanks for the site.
It is my (and a generally-held) opinion that injuries are mostly freak occurences, and you can only prepare for them so much. That said, West Virginia has had a lot of luck (or injury prevention ability, if you believe in such a thing) over the past couple years. They bring back five starters this year, all of whom started most of last year except the right tackle, who started the final 6 contests.

Michigan, by contrast, started a smorgasbord of starting lineups, with Jake Long, Justin Boren, and Adam Kraus the only consistent starters (and even then Kraus and Boren trading starts at two different positions). Alex Mitchell, Corey Zirbel, Steve Schilling, Jeremy Ciulla, Mark Ortmann, etc., all started games as well. Of course, part of this was due to lack of production, rather than injuries (though they played a big part as well), but you can see that consistency is a big part of success.

So, it appears as though West Virginia has been mostly lucky in the past few years in terms of keeping starters along the O-line uninjured. If you believe that Barwis's exercises have some sort of magical ligament-fortifying power (Corey Zirbel would tend to disagree), then the futur might look bright for Michigan offensive lines.

Tony in Markley (for the record, I love the use of dorm name for location, rather than, you know, where you're from):
So, uh, what would a Forcier commit mean in comparison to Michigan just keeping Newsome committed?
Well, for the short-term, it is much, much better. Forcier is the most ready of all of Michigan's quarterback prospects to step in a contribute right away. Like many of the SoCal QB prodigies (yes, including Jimmy Clausen), he has a private QB tutor, so his mechanics and reads, etc., are well ahead of your average high schooler. That, in combination with his predicted early enrollment, would mean he might be able to challenge for a starting job in 2009. That said, any true freshman is going to be a liability as a starting QB, but Forcier would be the best to step in as a true.

In the long-term, Newsome has a higher ceiling as a prospect. He is taller, faster, probably a little stronger in the arm department. That said, he is raw as a quarterback. Even an early enrollment (which he is/was also planning on doing) wouldn't be enough time to get a QB like Newsome ready to play as a true freshman. However, he could have been an unstoppable beast down the road, once he became familiar with the responsibilities of the quarterback, and capable of doing what he needs to do to succeed.

I'll also take this opportunity to give a WTF to the stated reason for his decommitment. Newsome's father said he "heard" (ed note: this means the coach at another school, with no motivation to lie whatsoever) that Michigan wouldn't give Kevin a legitimate shot at playing quarterback. Instead, he "heard" that they would give him one chance then switch his position. This does not make sense. The Newsomes believed the most obvious bullshit negative recruiting about THE ONE school that had no intentions of ever even considering making Kevin play anything other than quarterback.

Matt from Louisiana (since I've had parenthetical commentary on each commenter so far, I'll disclose that I know Matt personally, and he wasn't expecting my answer to come in mailbag form):
Tim,

This individual was not the first to suggest such an idea:

http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/209097

But what are you thoughts on a SEC-Big 10 Challenge over Labor Day weekend (ala Big 10-ACC challenge on the hardwood)? As the NFL would not have started, you can have games on 3 days. You would rotate sites and let the 6th place team in SEC East/West (rotate) sit out. In the current state of college football, this is merely interesting fodder for discussion. However, upon moving to a playoff system (which will happen eventually), I think school presidents will value the growth of their sport (and ratings and revenue) over playing a really tough game (and a potential loss) the first weekend of the season.

-Matt

Corso makes Gameday go. I can only listen to the smart Herbstreit talk college football for about 1.5 hours. But I will stick around for 2 hours to see that PLUS Corso's antics.
Matt, as the proud proprietor of a blog, I reserve the right to condescendingly answer your question in mailbag form, rather than the simple e-mail that you definitely would have preferred.

However, from a strictly economic sense, I'm not sure that this would be a guaranteed way to make more money. Take the excuse of Bill Martin for not playing a tougher out-of-conference schedule (which, essentially, this would be forcing schools from each conference to do): they simply can't afford it. Of course "can't afford it" is secret code for "can make more money with a different system," in this case playing Notre Dame and a rotating series of tomato cans. If you guarantee 3 home games, and shell out a half-million bucks to the helpless opponents (helpless unless, of course, it's Appalachian State - too soon?), you are still netting more than going year-on, year-off in a home-and-home scenario, since you make the same amount off TV either way. Some teams, including those in the SEC, have neutral-site OOC games to make more money, but it is literally impossible to sell more tickets at any other venue than The Big House, Happy Valley, or The Shoe.

With the Big Ten locked into contracts with the Big Ten Network and ESPN, and the SEC's recently-signed deal with the ESPN family of networks, there isn't much of a way for the conferences or the schools themselves to make much more cash by playing a good OOC schedule. The networks can make more money by promising better ratings and charging more for ad time (which, technically, in the case of the BTN would make more money for conference schools), but this revenue typically doesn't trickle down to the schools.

Also, there is the issue of coverage. Every weekend that Big Ten teams are in action, the BTN is guaranteed at least three games to cover. In SEC country, that would mean 3 SEC games that fans can't see (and, knowing SEC fans, they wouldn't even PPV the games, because they wouldn't dare contribute money to the Big Ten).

While I think that such an idea would be good for college football, in addition to being downright entertaining (and perhaps being a yearly notch in the conference supremacy belt), when it's all about the benjamins, a Big Ten-SEC Challenge isn't an economically preferred system.

As far as the GameDay thing, Orson Swindle posted a pretty good synopsis of my feelings about it under his flesh name over at The Sporting Blog.

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“Preseason Mailbag”