Official Statement on B1G/Pac-12 Collaboration

Because we play so well on the left coast.
Excuse the press-release copy/paste, but this just came down the pipe. Just as an aside, since the 1998 Rose Bowl win over Washington State, we're 1-6 against the PAC-12 (the lone win was Washington in 2002). But also, for a graphic representation of the most recent year/how many times each B1G and Pac-12 team have played each other, Hoover Street Rag breaks it down for us. I respect a good chart when I see one.

Via the official B1G press release:

Iconic Conferences Seek to Broaden National Scope
while Enhancing Experiences for Student-Athletes, Fans and Alumni

Park Ridge, Ill., and Walnut Creek, Calif.  – With a history of Rose Bowl competition dating back more than a century, the Big Ten Conference and Pac-12 Conference announced today a collaborative effort to enhance long-term scheduling commitments between the two conferences across all sports amongst the 24 institutions.
The new Big Ten-Pac-12 collaboration will feature more games between the two conferences in an effort to enhance the experiences for all student-athletes, fans and alumni while broadening the national scope of both conferences. Details of the new effort will continue to unfold as administrators and conference staff members meet in the coming year.
“As other conferences continue to grow through expansion, we believe there is great merit in deepening the historic relationship between the Big Ten and Pac-12,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E.  Delany. “We believe that both conferences can preserve that sense of collegiality and still grow nationally by leveraging our commonalities in a way that benefits student-athletes, fans and alumni. This collaboration can and will touch many institutional undertakings, and will complement our academic and athletic missions.”

“Through numerous conversations over the past several months with stakeholders from the Big Ten and Pac-12, we decided there would be great value in building upon the history and collegiality that exists between our member institutions, by initially committing to an increased frequency of play between our schools in all sports,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.

In football, the objective is to create an annual 12 inter-conference game schedule between the two conferences by the 2017 season. The plan calls for each school to play an opponent from the other conference every year with some flexibility built into the process to respect existing post-2017 FBS non-conference match-ups. Additionally, more inter-conference games are expected to appear sooner based on schedule openings. Many sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, could see an increased level of inter-conference competition in the near term, possibly as early as the 2012-13 academic year. Over the coming months there will be a series of detailed scheduling planning meetings among administrators of both conferences to work out exact details.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 share culture, tradition, values and a rich history of intercollegiate competition, dating back to the inaugural Rose Bowl Game in 1902. The two conferences have met in Pasadena on 62 occasions, including 55 consecutive meetings from 1947-2001. Both the Big Ten and Pac-12 have strong commitments to diversity, gender equity and the sponsorship of broad-based programs, with over 17,000 student-athletes competing on more than 550 teams between the two conferences.

In addition, the Big Ten created the first national conference-owned television network, the Big Ten Network (BTN), which was launched in 2007 and is now in its fifth year of operation. The Pac-12 will be launching its own television network in August 2012. Both networks will be able to provide national coverage to a number of the inter-conference competitions.

Big Ten and Pac-12 Reveal Scheduling Agreement

I'm sure more details will emerge, but here's what we know right now. This deal will involve all sports, not just football. [via USA Today]...
The Big Ten and Pacific-12 are extending their partnership well beyond the Rose Bowl, announcing Wednesday that they'll step up interconference scheduling, cross-promote on their respective television networks and even set up academic and cultural exchanges.

Without formally expanding either 12-team league, officials say they expect many of the same benefits from collaboration. Each league will extend its reach. There'll be more to sell to TV. Revenues should rise accordingly.

"It's sort of in lieu of what some other people are doing (with expansion)," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said.

"Our idea is you can't stand still. You have to build in an environment where people are competing for attention, where they're competing to have the best competitive assets and to present themselves in the best way. I think both of us believe … this is the most constructive way for us to do that."
Also, this little nugget.
By 2017, each team's nonconference football schedule will include one game against a team from the other league. One could be featured annually as a preseason kickoff event, perhaps staged at the Rose Bowl. Others could be played in neighboring NFLstadiums, including the planned Farmers Field in downtown Los Angeles, the San Francisco 49ers' new facility or Chicago's Soldier Field.
It's also said that this agreement might effect the B1G's decision to go to a 9-game league schedule by 2017. Official announcement today at 4PM. More details then.

Sugar Bowl: It's Game Week

Posted at Schembechler Hall
So it's finally game week. Michigan players and coaches assemble in NOLA tomorrow, but there's already a ton of stuff to discuss about the upcoming Sugar Bowl, so let's get to it.

Big Jon Falk in the Big Easy? Why, yes please.

Amazing to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes on to move virtually the entire program, coaches, players and support staff all down to the bowl game. So much work. Props to Tulane for being so accommodating.

Happy Holidays, Happy Over-eating

According to Michigan coaches, Michigan players deserved the much-needed 4-day Christmas break. But the big guys will probably spend much all of those 4 days shoveling cookies whole turkeys into their mouths, so whipping them back into shape in NOLA is going to be important.

And in case you missed it, Mike Martin took 4 seconds out of his day to wish you all Happy Holidays.

As usual, Michigan coaches have been busy, and some one of their duties in getting ready for the bowl game is talking to us. Al Borges, Brady Hoke.

Special unis
Not a mystery to most Michigan fans as images of the special uniforms the Wolverines will wear in for the bowl game have already been released, but I haven't mentioned them yet.

First impression is mixed for me. I like the look, mainly because I really don't like the current away jerseys we have, so anything different is a step in the right direction. I also like them because it looks like we're heading back in the right direction towards arm stripes we had in the early-mid 90's. Props to Oregon though, their Rose Bowl jerseys are freaking awesome.

Just a side note to Adidas, you're comp image above looks like blurry garbage compared to the Oregon comps from Nike. Just sayin'.

Ticket sales have been good, but some still remain on UM's website. Word was that of the 17,500 allotment, over 15,000 have been sold, so hurry up if you have $125 burning a hole in your pocket. But of course there are other better/cheaper venues to purchase tickets from...which it seems like a lot of fans are doing.

The same can not be said for VT. Ticket sales have been less than good on their end. But that's just what we're hearing from the official VT allotment from the Sugar Bowl.

VT without their starting kicker

Someone hasn't been very nice this year. I hope Santa reads the Washington Post.
Virginia Tech kicker Cody Journell has been suspended indefinitely after being charged with breaking and entering. Blacksburg Police say the 20-year-old Journell was one of three men charged Wednesday night after an alleged home invasion. Police said the men were arrested after officers responded to a report of a “physical altercation” at a house near downtown.

Journell was 14 for 17 in FGs this year. And you can bet that "suspended indefinitely" includes the Sugar Bowl.

Maybe not so much with the Virginia Tech next time
I don't know about you, but seeing as how VT's tickets are exactly flying off the shelf, and now their kicker was just arrested, but I think the Sugar Bowl has got to be rethinking their decision to invite the Hokies to NOLA. Especially since Boise State just blew out Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

I know VT is a BCS team and Boise isn't (yet), but still. \

Why yes, there are rumors of some sort of big announcement tomorrow from Michigan. No word yet as to specifics. But rumors are definitely flying around.

Update: Here it is.

This Just In: Denard is Fast

Just how fast? 21.82 miles per hour in the open field. I don't know about you, but forget fake 40 times – give me mph! You'll notice at the 1:33 mark, Shoelace's breaking ability is compared to the same G-forces as experienced in a space shuttle launch.

Yeah...the space shuttle. Space!


I know I said content would be sparse non-existant until after Christmas, but I had to post this. Now, observe said holiday.

Michigan Santa Doesn't Care What Holiday You Celebrate

We first brought you Michigan Santa last year, but since we're in a lazy giving mood, we'll dust him off and recycle him for 2011. I actually snapped this photo in the tunnel prior to the Purdue game in 2009, which was in late October of that season, but whatever.

Posting, which has been pretty light around here these past couple weeks, will continue to be so for a few more days. We fully expect to unleash an onslaught of content in the week leading up to the Sugar Bowl, so look forward to that. See how I oversold that? I need to work on my oversell/under-deliver issue.

Merry happy whatever holiday you celebrate.

Bowl Ban for Ohio

• 1 year post-season ban*.
• 9 scholarships lost over 3 years.
• 3 years probation.
• Vacate entire 2010 season, including the Sugar Bowl.
• Repay $338,000 for 2010 B1G bowl payout.
• 5-year "show-cause" for Jim Tressel.

Seems like a lot, but they deserved more. A lot more. More scholarships lost, at least. Probably another year of a bowl ban. And Gene Smith should be shown the door. And let's not forget, it's because of all of this that Urban Meyer is now Ohio's new coach.

I don't think this will change anything.

* Post-season ban includes the B1G Championship game. So should Ohio finish the season and qualify for the title game, their spot would fall to the second-place team in the Leaders Division. Wisconsin fans should be very happy about this.

MBN College Bowl Mania League

It's that time of year again! Just 4 short days until the first bowl of the season (Temple and Wyoming, come on down!) Time for the 2011-2012 MBN College Bowl Mania League! As usual, we're hosting the league via ESPN, and Moe Sport Shops has stepped up yet again to offer up a $50 gift card to the winner!

The rules are pretty simple. One entry per user, just pick the winner of each bowl and rank them via confidence points (1-35).

Here's the link, group name and password:
Group: Maize and Blue Nation
Password: Sugar

Pass this on to anyone you like, the more the merrier! Good luck!

MBN Pick'em League Regular Season Results

Way back when, in August of this year, we announced our second annual MBN Pick'em League sponsored by our good friends over at Moe Sport Shops/UGP in Ann Arbor. We had a great turnout for the regular season league, and we're so happy in the way the season went down.

I am very proud to present the top 3 winners for the 2011 season: jefflint, Gary 253 and psy187 (ESPN usernames of course). The top finisher took home a $75 gift card to Moe's, 2nd place took home a $25 gift card, and the 3rd place finisher got a t-shirt. It should be noted, that it came down to the final week when our eventual winner overtook the second place finisher for the first time to bring home the win.

It should also be noted that the 2nd place finisher was none other than my dad – proving that great college football prognostication runs in the family! It was tough to watch him lose on the last week, but as the coordinator of this event, I was afraid if he had won, too many people would cry "foul". Whew!

Not to be outdone, my father-in-law finished 4th overall and was able to get a free t-shirt out of the deal because our 3rd place winner was MIA after the contest. You snooze you lose, I guess.

Here's the final standings of those who completed the entire season.
Click to embiggen.
You'll notice my big fat zero for week 12. That was a strategic move on my part to ensure I would not win. Yeah...yeah, that's what that is.

Congratulations to our winners and a huge thanks to all those who played! Thanks also to Moe Sport Shops for sponsoring this event!

Stay tuned for MBN Bowl Mania which will be announced very soon!

For VT

David Molk Wins Rimington Award, First-Team All-American

David Molk prior to the Ohio game on Nov 26th.
Via UM Media relations:

U-M Center David Molk Named Rimington Trophy Recipient, First-Team Walter Camp All-American
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Fifth-year senior center David Molk (Lemont, Ill./Lemont Township HS) of the University of Michigan football team has been named the recipient of the 2011 Rimington Trophy, announced Thursday (Dec. 8) during the ESPNU Home Depot College Football Awards Show at The Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  Molk becomes the second U-M player to win the Rimington Trophy, named after former Nebraska center and two-time All-American Dave Rimington. David Baas shared the award in 2004.
"I am truly humbled to be the Rimington Trophy recipient," said Molk. "It's such an honor considering all of the great centers around the country, including the other finalists. It's an individual award, but it's a credit to our offensive line, our team and our coaching staff. I'm proud to represent the University of Michigan."
The official Rimington Trophy presentation will be held Jan. 14, 2012, at Rococo Theater in Lincoln, Neb.
Also during the ESPNU Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Thursday, Molk also was named a First-Team All-America by the Walter Camp Foundation.
Winning the Rimington Trophy and earning First-Team Walter Camp All-America recognition comes one week after Molk earned All-Big Ten Conference first team honors by the league's coaches and was named the inaugural Big Ten Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Molk, a four-year starter, has opened 41 career games at center for Michigan. A senior captain who started all 12 games in the 2011 regular season, he helped lead the Wolverines to a 10-2 record and the Sugar Bowl.  Molk and the offensive line helped pave the way for two 1,000-yard rushers (Denard Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint), the first time since 1975 Michigan has had two players eclipse 1,000 rushing yards.  The line also allowed only 15 sacks in 2011, while the offense averaged 34.2 points per game, (2nd in the Big Ten), 235.7 rushing yards per game, (2nd in the Big Ten and 12th in the FBS), and 423.1 yards per game (rd-best in the conference).
Molk is set to make his 26th straight start in the 78th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech on Jan. 3, 2012 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.  The game will be televised on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Michigan Headed to Sugar Bowl to Play Virginia Tech

Well, it's official. Michigan is headed to it's first BCS bowl since the 2007 Rose Bowl. We're headed to New Orleans for a date with Virginia Tech on January 3rd. This will be the first meeting all-time between the Wolverines and the Hokies. And yes, it's okay to call it "Hoke vs The Hokies".

Like I said before, the BCS is just about as flawed a system as it can get...but it's a marquee bowl against a good team. Frankly, I'm much happier to be playing VT than, say, Houston or Kansas State or TCU. But that's just me.

Congrats to Hoke and the Wolverines for making to the 2012 Sugar Bowl! Much more to come soon.

We're Talkin' Bowls

A dash of sugar would make Michigan's 2011 season that much sweeter.
Well sports fans, Michigan's chances of getting into a BCS bowl got a nice shot in the arm yesterday. I'll preface this post by saying that, yes, the BCS is a horribly flawed system. But, at the moment, it's all we got. This is me, making lemonade. The rankings as they appeared this week:

1. LSU
2. Alabama
3. Oklahoma State
4. Stanford
5. Virginia Tech
6. Houston
7. Boise State
8. Arkansas
9. Oregon
10. Oklahoma
11. Kansas State
12. South Carolina
13. Michigan State
14. Georgia
15. Wisconsin
16. Michigan
17. Baylor
18. TCU
19. Nebraska
20. Clemson

A few things conspired yesterday to get Michigan where they needed to be (top 14 overall in the final BCS standings due out tonight at 8:15 live on ESPN). Those events, in no particular order, were...

• Michigan State losing. We needed Sparty or Wiscy to lose, and the Spartans pure Spartanfreude fashion. #SpartyNo!

Gus Johnson, FTW.

• LSU beat Georgia. I'll admit, when the Bulldogs shot out to an early 10-0 lead, I was thinking this  would be the beginning of The BCS Meltdown, 2011 Edition – but the Tigers made my Maize & Blue heart smile with a thorough beatdown of Georgia 42-10. This was the biggest key for Michigan's BCS hopes and dreams.

• Houston was upset by Southern Miss. Many had us pegged to play Houston in the Sugar Bowl. But  Case Keenum's 41 for 67, 373-yard 2 touchdown and 2 INT performance was not enough as Houston's defense simply forgot to show up.

• Clemson beat Virginia Tech. While I doubt this helps us that much, it's interesting to note. Also interesting, is if Oklahoma State was somehow able to jump Alabama for a shot at LSU in the title game, that could have a ripple effect for other BCS at-large teams (like us).

And then today...
• The coaches poll, just released, has Michigan ranked #12 and Michigan State ranked #13. The AP poll has us flipped, but that's less important as the coaches poll is 1/3 of the BCS formula, the AP poll is not.

Soooo, how should the BCS mess sort out tonight? I see it like this...

1. LSU
2. Alabama
3. Oklahoma State
4. Stanford
5. Oregon
6. Arkansas
7. Boise State
8. Kansas State
9. South Carolina
10. Wisconsin
11. Virginia Tech
12. Michigan
13. Baylor
14. Geogia
15. Michigan State
16. Oklahoma
17. Houston
18. TCU
19. Clemson
20. Nebraska

And the BCS bowl projections?

BCS Championship: LSU vs. Alabama
Rose: Wisconsin vs. Oregon
Sugar: Michigan vs. Kansas State
Fiesta: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
Orange: Clemson vs. West Virginia

How right will I be? We'll find out tonight at 8:15. Follow me on Twitter, that's where you'll find me during the broadcast.