Our 2010 Home Opener Opponent Is...

...UConn.

We are going to play a home-and-home series against The Connecticut Huskies. Rivals story.

UConn will travel to Ann Arbor September 4, 2010, and Michigan will make it's maiden visit to Rentschler Field in Storrs, CT on September 21, 2013.

Yay.

Funny Stuff, Zoltan and Jamie Foxx

Sometimes blogging gold just falls right into your lap. And that happened for me yesterday afternoon when I stumbled upon this on Every Day Should be Saturday...


A user who goes by the handle "LSUFreak" posted this. It is awesome...so we must repost it here. Your welcome.

Also in the news lately is the enormous popularity of Michigan senior punter Zoltan Mesko. Aside from being a pre-season All-American (according to Playboy), as well as an All-Big Ten punter from last year...he is, by all accounts a Space Emperor (of Space).

Some good folks in the blogging community have taken a shot at Michigan for sending a lowly punter along to the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago this week...along with OL Mark Ortmann and S/LB Stevie Brown. My argument for sending him is: 1) He's an All-Big Ten punter and likely a consensus preseason All-American. And 2) His name is Zoltan Mesko. With a name like that, he does pretty much what he pleases.

Rich Rodriguez had a surprise encounter with actor Jamie Foxx at a local restaurant in downtown Chicago while in town for the Big Ten Media Days. Word is, the two talked over drinks for about and hour. Not sure if Jamie discussed any of his QB abilities from his work on Any Given Sunday, but no doubt that had to have come up in the conversation.

While it's cool and all that Rodriguez is all buddy-buddy with Jamie Foxx now...it still doesn't even come close with the Lloyd Carr-Russell Crowe courtship that blossomed in the summer of 2007. That was a special time.

Big Ten Media Daze, Official Roster Released

Oh whadda whirlwind of activity going on in Chicago this week as the Big Ten officials, coaches and marquee players gather to discuss and over analyze pretty much every aspect of the upcoming season. Its a media circus. And for us bloggers, we went from having the "there's no news to report" excuse, to having the abundance of news and juicy quotes to mull over.

I've always thought of the Big Ten Media Days as pretty much just a dog and pony show. There's never really a lot to discuss that really matters a whole lot. Coaches and players sit in front of the microphone and give canned responses to canned questions. Its a lot like a Monday presser during the season. Coaches and players talk about all of the improvements that have been made and how excited they are to start practice. Coaches discuss how the Big Ten is on par with the other conferences in terms of talent and competitiveness. I can't speak for all of the Big Ten coaches, but Rodriguez's presser was pretty standard stuff.

Rodriguez's presser from today:


Only one little nugget stood out and that was that Michigan is efforting a 2010 home opener against a BCS opponent. Which, basically means an opponent from the Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big East or Pac-10. He did not disclose with whom they've been speaking, but it sounds like it could be a home and home type of agreement...and that disclosing it to the public at this point would end those talks.

mgoblog's take on who we might play is found here.

This comes as very good news to me. I was on the side of the fence that thought Central Michigan would roll into Ann Arbor for the christening of the newly refurbished Big House next year. Michigan owes it to itself to start scheduling like a top tier program should. I hope that Bill Martin realizes that no one wins when all we play is ND, 2 MAC schools and a FCS opponent every year. What's worse, scheduling Georgia for a home opener and losing to a prestige program, or scheduling Toledo and losing to them?

The official 2009 roster has been revealed...complete with updated heights/weights and incoming freshman #'s...and you can that here.

Sean over at Michigan Sports Center took the time and effort to pull the incoming freshman #'s...along with some notes about shared #'s...and they are:

2 – J.T. Turner
2 – Vincent Smith
4 – Je’Ron Stokes (I imagine this will be changed, as it would prevent Stokes and Brandon Minor from being on the field at the same time.  Also, Brandon Smith is listed as being #4 as well, and I doubt 3 people would have the same number.)
5 – Tate Forcier
5 – Vladimir Emilien
7 – Brandin Hawthorne
13 – Adrian Witty
14 – Teric Jones
15 – Thomas Gordon
16 – Denard Robinson
26 – Isaiah Bell
27 – Mike Jones
28 – Fitzgerald Toussaint
29 – Jeremy Gallon
34 – Brendan Gibbons
73 – William Campbell
75 – Michael Schofield
76 – Quinton Washington
77 – Taylor Lewan
84 – Cameron Gordon
88 – Craig Roh
90 – Anthony LaLota
Other noteworthy numbers:
4 – Brandon Smith (as alluded to above, he switched from #28)
19 – Kelvin Grady

Nice to see MBB star Kelvin Grady's name on the roster. I have no idea how well he'll manage on the football squad...but having another athletic slot-type receiver will only help us.

And finally, Bo Schemblogger has posted some fotos of Michigan's new indoor practice facility. Looks like progress is being made. It looks as if she should be available for practices starting this fall.

Outgoing: Justin Feagin

For reasons not known to the public, sophomore WR Justin Feagin has been dismissed from the team.
"Justin Feagin was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules Thursday evening," head coach Rich Rodriguez said in a statement.
Feagin was Rodriguez's first spread-option style QB recruit last season. But problems picking up and learning the position sent him away from QB and into a slot receiver role with the offense. I thought it was really something that a kid who was recruited as basically a running and throwing QB could not unseat Sheridan or Threet who floundered most of the season as our QBs last year.

It was not clear what his prospects would be at the slot position. I had hopes that he could be more of a Pat White type of player as a QB. But those hopes were dashed pretty quickly. But he had potential to be a very nice slot type of receiver.

But for now we'll just wait and see what the fallout of this situation will be. We'll keep you informed.

Mainstream Predictions

Its that magical time of year when all of us college football die-hards start to come out from our summer comas to see the light at the end of this dark tunnel. We're 44 days away from kickoff in the Big House on September 5th. 44 short days away from the tailgates, the marching band, the M Club banner, the winged helmets and the 3rd quarter student section wave.

Its about this time every summer that most folks, mainstream media included, have had just about enough of baseball. I don't mind baseball really, it's just the only sport going on right now. And baseball can be a tad bit on the boring side. But it's this time of year when we all really start looking forward to college football, and make our hopeful predictions. I did so a couple days ago. But what are other folks saying about the 2009 edition of Michigan football?

Prolific ESPN Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg posted his 3 preseason predictions for Michigan. And of course, in true blogger fashion, we must link to them and discuss. And they are:

1. Brandon Minor rushes for at least 1,300 yards -- Michigan's run game should be its strength, and Minor leads a strong stable of backs. After playing last season with essentially one arm, Minor is 100 percent healthy and primed for an excellent senior season. He showed featured-back qualities at times last fall and will be running behind a more seasoned offensive line in Year 2 of Rich Rodriguez's offense.
2. At least two players will start games at quarterback -- True freshman Tate Forcier should get the first shot, but another signal caller will take snaps at some point, either because of performance or injury. Denard Robinson will get a chance to prove himself in preseason camp, and his elite speed shouldn't go to waste. And don't forget about Nick Sheridan, who was performing well in spring ball before breaking his leg. Sheridan likely isn't the long-term solution, but he'll be more comfortable running the system this fall after a difficult 2008.
3. Michigan makes it back to the postseason -- The Wolverines are at least a year away from contending for the Big Ten title, but 6-8 wins is certainly a reasonable expectation, given their schedule. Michigan will survive Week 1 for the first time since 2006 and could start 4-0 if things fall the right way. There will still be some growing pains with a young team, but Michigan should find its way to Orlando, Tempe or, at worst, Detroit.
I would love to see all three happen (aside from Forcier getting injured). And I agree, 6-8 wins seems to be the standard guess for wins for us this year. Of course, that was also pretty much the standard for most people last year as well...so, ya know.

If Minor can only reach 1300 yards rushing, I think that will be a pretty mild disappointment. But only if he's getting 80% of the rushes and we're not passing the ball well. Idealy, we'll have Minor, Grady and Brown all sharing rushing duties. And not to mention Tate Forcier and/or Denard Robinson.

I look at Brandon Minor, a healthy senior with an experienced offensive line in front of him, and I see 1500 yards or better. There is no reason why he can not get to that level.

The QB situation is a tough one. I really think Tate Forcier has the leg up on Denard Robinson by enrolling last spring. But that certainly doesn't mean Robinson won't see the field this year. My prediction is that Tate will start game 1, and they will split time pretty evenly through the first 3-4 games. Robinson will start once or twice early in the season to see how he handles it.

But I hope that it doesn't turn into a Threet/Sheridan situation where one guy messes up so much that he has to come out of the game in favor of a guy who sucks less. I want, in a perfect world, for Rodriguez to have to pick between the better of two capable QBs who can command this offense.

By October, we should have a bonafide starter. I really don't want Michigan to be juggling two freshman QBs all season long...again.

FYI...
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Kurt Wermers: "I figured I'd get out while I could."

Those will be the lasting words from former Michigan lineman Kurt Wermers who annouced his intentions to transfer to Ball State last week. I was gone on vacation when this story dropped, so bear with me while I finally get around to posting my thoughts.

The Northwest Indiana Times posted the news on their website last week.
Wermers said he didn't mesh with Michigan's new coaching staff, led by head coach Rich Rodriguez, who took over for the retired Lloyd Carr following the 2007 season.

"I really didn't get along with the new coaches," Wermers said. "They were bringing in a lot of different kids that were not my kind of crowd. Coach Carr's staff was a whole different ballgame. It was like a family. But when Rodriguez came in it was a whole different feeling. It was more of a business.

"I figured I'd get out while I could."
Interesting for a couple reasons. First of all, Rodriguez has been largely accepted as a coach who runs a very close-knit program with quality players. There will always be some guys that you might not get along with...that will happen when you get a hundred or so guys together. But to cast a Boren-esque statement like: "Carr = Family, Rodriguez = Business", just reeks of someone who's just not fitting in/is being pushed too hard and wants to run home to mommy.

Secondly, Wermers never played for Lloyd Carr. He was initially recruited by him...but he was never actually on campus or ever participated in any practices/games/meetings/drills under Lloyd Carr or his staff.
"It was fun, a great school and I loved my teammates," Wermers said. "But if I'm not happy every day that I wake up, why keep doing it?"
Good point. But it slightly contradicts his statement about not liking the guys Rodriguez has brought in.

 ESPN's Adam Rittenberg posted his take on this situation couple days ago.
Former Michigan offensive lineman Kurt Wermers was academically ineligible when he announced his transfer to Ball State last week, sources told ESPN.com.

Wermers cited disagreements with head coach Rich Rodriguez and Michigan's assistant coaches as the primary reason for his decision to transfer. In an interview with The Times of Northwest Indiana, Wermers said he didn't get along with Rodriguez's staff or the types of players Michigan was recruiting.

...according to sources with knowledge of the situation, Wermers was already out.

His academic struggles would have prevented him from suiting up with the Wolverines. Wermers wasn't even enrolled in summer school at the time of his departure.
That's the other part of the story that really makes this whole thing pretty laughable. From my perspective, all this is, is a disgruntled lineman who didn't like the new conditioning program, couldn't cut it in Ann Arbor academically, so he decided to absolutely torch his bridge as he whined his way out of town.

Goodbye Kurt. Best of luck in Muncie, IN.

2009: Managed Expectations

I'll be the first to admit that I was a little too hopeful for an 8-win season in 2008. But looking at the schedule and taking time to really think about our opponents, I thought 8 wins could be possible. If we got off on the right foot and could keep injuries down...we might get there.

Let's face it, the opener against Utah was a close game that Michigan really should have taken. Too many opening-game mistakes plagued us. I mean, we were a ranked team (#24) and we only lost by 2. Sheridan and Threet split playing-time...which was really a mistake to begin with. Utah turned out to be a pretty good team last year...so a loss to them isn't as bad as it was to some.

Game 2 versus Miami of Ohio was more of the same. Threet saw more of the action in this game, but mistakes and poor offensive play all-around hurt us badly. Hanging only 16 on a MAC school hurts...especially when you're Michigan playing at home. But a win was a win, and we were 1-1.

I thought we played much better in week 3 at Notre Dame. Weather was an issue with torrential downpours...which led to fumble after fumble...but the offense showed signs of life in the first half (before the rain). Down 17-28 at halftime wasn't great, I thought...but it could be worse. Especially at South Bend against a decent Irish squad. I expected this game to show up in the loss column...but maybe if we came into this contest 2-0...we might carry some confidence and momentum. But it was not to be.

Week 4 against Wisconsin was by all accounts, the biggest win of the 08 campaign. A huge come from behind win against what was still a good Wisconsin team should have catapulted Michigan to at least a moderately successful year. But when Illinois came to town...Juice Williams had maybe his best game of a disappointing 2008. And we were torched 45-20.

The rest of the season was more of the same. Turnovers and inconsistent defensive play (mostly due to being on the field too long) killed any sort of momentum that we could've had. The following week's loss to Toledo was the back-breaker. There is simply no excuse to lose to a MAC school in your own house.

But things looked brighter the following week when we strolled into the Penn State locker room at half time with a 17-14 lead. Unfortunately they hung 32 points on us in the 2nd half.

But by this point in the season, I thought we'd be sitting at 3-4. An expected loss to little brother the next week sent us into November at 2-6. I expected a win each of the next three weeks at Purdue, at Minnesota and back home against Northwestern. But only one of those turned out to be true.

The finale against tOSU was a total dismantling of our defense and a collapse of any offense we had left. Sheridan was thrown into an impossible situation with Threet injured. No way he was going to command this offense in Columbus on the door-step of the worst season in Michigan football history. The players were fed up with playing, and it showed with a minor fight that broke out on the Michigan sideline during the game that may or may not have led to Scott Shafer being let go from the coaching staff this off-season.

Either way, things spiraled out of control for Rodriguez and his staff in 2008. They probably had no idea what they were getting into...and this makes me awfully cautious about going into 2009. Maybe they have a tighter rein on the players and how things are supposed to run. But I think Rodriguez learned very quickly this this isn't Morgantown. And the Big Ten ain't quite as much of a pushover that the mainstream media may have you believe.

So with that, where do realistic expectations fall for the 2009 season?

It's easy to think that the failures of 2008 will plague this team for at least another season. We are back to not having a proven QB heading into the season. We have depth concerns on defense. We still have a relatively green coaching staff...including another first year DC.

But even with those concerns factored in...I am still blindly hopeful for at least a winning record in 2009. Let's briefly look at the schedule game-by-game.

Week 1 (0-0): Western Michigan
Not a usual question mark for Michigan most years. But 2009 won't be most years. WMU is an upper-class MAC team. They have a ton of play-makers who can do exactly what Toledo or Appy State did to us the past 2 seasons. They're an in-state opponent...so many players will know each other. Somehow that can level a playing field.

I think Michigan wins this game but it will be close going into the half. I count on things like lessons learned from recent stumbles against inferior opponents and hopefully having much better conditioned players to lead us past WMU in the second half. Maybe a 10 or 14 point win...

...or a crushing 3 point loss. Who the hell knows. But we're going to count this as a "W".

Week 2 (1-0): Notre Dame
This game is going to be a tough one. In one hand, we've done well against the Irish at home lately. But this will be much closer than 2003 or 2007. ND is a much more poised squad than in recent past. Their pretty-boy QB Jimmy Clausen can actually wing the ball around the field pretty well.

Last year we were able to move the ball decently in the first half before the rains came. I'm trusting that Rodriguez has studied the tape from last year and will put super glue on the hands of our kick-returners this year.

This sucks...but I'm going to throw this game into the loss column. The Irish have a good offense with Clausen and Tate. The defense is a little iffy...but will be enough to make our young QB throw some bad passes.

I'll say Irish by 10.

Week 3 (1-1): Eastern Michigan
Off the heals of a tough defeat to ND...we get another MAC squad into the Big House. This time, one coached by former Michigan DC and one of my favorite coaches out there Ron English. Eastern will be a good team under English...eventually.

Michigan should roll in this game. I expect...nay...demand at least a 20-point victory. I want to see us break the 30-point threshold for the first time in this game.

Week 4 (2-1): Indiana
Our 4th straight home game to open the 2009 season will most certainly end with a victory. Hard to find a team that struggled more than we did in the Big Ten last season...but Indiana was it. They will continue to struggle this year. This is homecoming in Ann Arbor, and what better way to welcome back the alums than with a big win over an over-matched opponent?

Michigan rolls.

Week 5 (3-1): @ Michigan State
Hoyer is gone. Ringer is gone. Half the line is gone.

But crazy old Dantonio isn't a bad coach...and he does return 8 starters on defense. He has Sparty believing that greatness is possible in E. Lansing. This game will be close. But I think Sparty might be in for it in this one. Speed is one thing MSU has always had an issue with. And hopefully speed is something we'll have in spades.

We win a close one.

Week 6 (4-1): @ Iowa
Iowa on the road at night...no thanks.

We saw Penn State blow their BCS title hopes in Iowa City last year. Unfortunately, we also get to play there under the lights in prime time. I really think Iowa is going to be the sleeper in the Big Ten this year. So does many other bloggers...so maybe less of a sleeper and more of a likely contender.

In order for them to do so...they must win this game. This is a huge one for Iowa. And we're going to have our hands full with a defense (especially at linebacker) that might be the best in the league.

Greene is gone from the RB spot...but they still bring back 7 on offense. And they are good.

Iowa wins.

Week 7 (4-2): Delaware State
Ahh...what would a schedule be with out a FCS squad on it?

If we don't win this game...we might as well not suit up for the following game against...

Week 8 (5-2): Penn State
It's true. We did OWN Penn State. And until the 3rd quarter last season, we could still say that.

Penn State is likely the favorite to win the league...or at least come in 2nd. But why? They only have 6 returning starters on offense, and a measly 4 on defense. Of course, those guys coming back are RB Evan Royster, QB Daryll Clark, DT Jared Odrick and LBs Hull and Bowman. Not bad.

The O-line and D-ends have been gutted...and the defensive backfield is a question mark.

I want to say this could be like 2005 when we handed them their only loss in a last second miracle from Henne to Manningham. I want to say that...but who could predict such things? I'll throw this one into the loss column.

But damn...this game has the potential to be a really close one.

Week 9 (5-3): @ Illinois
Last year we sucked against Illinois. I know...I was sitting in the Illinois fan section.

Don't ask.

Anyway, I don't know if Juice Williams will actually play like we know he can or not...so it's tough to predict this one. If he is on like he was last year and somehow Morgan Trent comes back to play one more game for us...and this game is at night, then we're screwed.

But if we can keep him off the field with better offensive output...than we might have a shot. This game will be close...but I'm going to throw it into the win column.

Week 10 (6-3): Purdue
If we blow another one to Purdue like the way we did last year, then we might as well not even get on to the bus to go to...

Week 11 (7-3): @ Wisconsin
Oh Bret Beilema...what happened? You had such promise going into 2008. A steady decline in winning percentage since that great 06 season has Badger Nation concerned. And the way you lost in Ann Arbor last year was simply awesome.

Since we beat you in 08...I'll throw the 09 game into the loss column. Why? Because the game is in Madison in the middle of November. It will probably be played at night and we're just never that good in Madison.

This game really could go either way. And maybe I'm just being cautious...but we'll error on the side of a loss on this one.

Week 12 (7-4): tOSU
I hate tOSU with the heat of a thousand burning suns, and I am so tired of losing to them that I won't even come close to thinking realistically about this game.

Michigan will win.

I don't care. We will win. We must win. For all that is holy and true in this world we must win this football game.

So there you have it...we will end the season with 8 wins and 4 losses. And for those keeping score at home, 5-3 in the Big Ten. We'll make a bowl game. Likely a pre-New Year's Day bowl. Maybe the Alamo Bowl or something along those lines.

So what do you think? Too modest? Too hopeful? Add your thoughts.

Shameless Self-Promotion

It was really only a matter of time before we took MBN to the Twitters and Facey-spaces. We've been going strong on Twitter for a while now...and slowly growing everyday. And tonight I finally got around to getting MBN up live on Facebook.

You'll notice three new bugs on the far right sidebar under our "follow" section --->

Facebook is surely one of the most popular and socially significant websites of all time...so why not cast our Maize and Blue spell onto Facebook users as well? Please, if you have a minute, head on over to our MBN Facebook page and become a fan. Whenever I post, a note will show up on your news feed. We're just getting started, so don't be shy. You'll be able to tell all your friends that you were one of the first MBN fans on Facebook!

Also, in case you also use Twitter, head on over to our Twitter page and follow us. It's super easy and only takes a minute to sign up if you're not already a user.

This is nothing huge, just alternative ways to stay informed as to what's happening with this blog and how to keep up to date with my posts. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed using whichever reader you prefer. We here at MBN suggest Google Reader for all of your reader needs. We use it daily and it's awesome.

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That's all for now. If another huge social networking site pops up, we'll be sure to get MBN involved somehow. Thanks for reading...and thanks for following!

Incoming: Austin White, and Other News

Okay. I know...I've been one very lazy blogger these past few weeks. I have no better excuse than I'm busier than usual with work, summer, work, vacations, work and more work. Plus, anything closely relating to news has been so slow these days that, frankly, I'm better off not writing at all than filling these pages with useless filler.

But I love filler. It's so lame and boring that it really does help make these lazy summer days just melt away. ESPN and their fellow mainstream co-horts are so good at coming up with useless summer junk that it makes me jealous that they're getting all of the bored sports fans attention.

Let's face it, football is amazing. Just thinking about it can ease us through a summer full of boring baseball highlights. College Football Live on ESPN is all we really have no keep us plugged in during the off-season. That and YouTube, blogs, BTN and ESPN Classic. We have a responsibility to bring useless filler to the masses for summer consumption. Anything to lessen the boredom of baseball season.

So, where to start?

• Well, we have a new verbal for the 2010 class. Austin White (6-0, 186) is a RB who hails from Livonia, MI. He's a 3-star recruit according to Rivals, and a 4-star on Scout. Either way, he's a solid back who will surely see plenty of playing time before he exits Ann Arbor. He chose Michigan over MSU, Notre Dame, Purdue, Wisconsin, Alabama, Illinois, Iowa and LSU.

More detailed posts via mgoblog and Varsity Blue.

• According to Mgoblue, the new Michigan football indoor practice facility will be named: the Al Glick Field House.

• Everyone's favorite tOSU head coach, John Cooper was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, IN over the weekend. He will be part of the same class as former ND coach and all-around moron Lou Holtz, Troy Aikman, Thurman Thomas, and NU coach Pat Fitzgerald. I've said it once and I'll say it again...Coop was the greatest coach in Michigan Football history. Somewhere near his bust should read "2-10-1".

• Think this is a knife? Now THAT'S a knife!