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Chris Rock is #5

Yesterday news broke that Columbus (OH) DeSales DE Chris Rock committed to Michigan. Rock is a 6"5, 250 lb strong-side defensive end prospect who has been high on Michigan's recruiting board for some time.

Rock had near-double digit offers from programs including Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Oregon, and West Virginia. At this time Rock is a three-star to Scout, and while he's on the rivals 250 watchlist, most Michigan fans seem to know very little about Rock.

In a normal recruiting cycle Rock probably would have been more heavily recruited by Ohio State, but the Buckeyes took early commitments from Defensive Ends Steve Miller and Kenny Hayes. With that being said, Rock is a very good athlete and a solid pass-rusher. He's not quite as quick off the line of scrimmage as Craig Roh, but has a very good build and could potentially add another 15-20 lbs to his frame.

At times, Rock was a dominant player on a very solid defense. The biggest criticism I've heard of him, especially from Buckeye fans, was his inconsistency. In some games, Rock would be absolutely be dominant, while in others, his name would rarely be called by the announcers.

Notre Dame was heavily recruiting Rock to play as a defensive end in their 3-4 scheme, and with Michigan's move to a 3-3-5 look Rock will be a perfect fit as a larger-sized defensive end, similar to current junior Ryan Van Bergen.

What does this mean for the rest of the class? Michigan will likely pursue another defensive end like Corey Marshall or Deion Barnes. With only 12 or so scholarships to give out right now, look for the coaching staff add at least another linebacker or two (Frost, Jackson), and at least one defensive tackle (Cooper). Michigan is still in the mix for a number of cornerbacks and safeties, and with only 3 offensive linemen taken in the past two classes, that area will obviously continue to be a heavy focus of recruiting.

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Dark Blue needs a new Avatar

At the moment Dark Blue is rocking this at Mgoboard.

It's awful. I told him he comes off like a Hobo since he changes his avatar weekly. When I read message boards I know people by their avatar's. I barley read the names. Before TOB changed his I knew it was him because I saw a 60's rock group as his avatar. Same for ShockFx. I don't even have to read the name. So now we have a little poll off to the right. Vote for Dark Blue's next avatar. Here's what we got for poll.

1.A tiger wearing a Michigan jersey
2.A MS Paint portrait of Dark Blue done by me.
3.Some Porn chick
4.Block M
5.Soccer Ball
6.A Cat wearing a MS Paint Michigan Hat 

Please vote. Poll is on the right. 

Midnight Maize 119

Big Ten Expansion and the New World Order #5: Best Case Scenarios

There are a number of goals that the Big Ten has with regard to Big Ten expansion. As I understand it, the three main goals, in order of priority, are thus:

1. Make more money via the Big Ten Network.
2. Improve the CIC by adding high-level research institutions (which would make more money on the academic side).
3. Improve the level of athletic competition within the conference (which leads to better games, which leads to better television ratings and attendance, which makes more money through BTN ads, ticket sales, and renewed contracts with national sports networks like ESPN and CBS).

Looking at these goals, I would infer that the best-case scenario is to make the Big Ten Network into a national television network carried on basic cable, while adding top rate academic and athletic institutions. The resultant question, of course, is whether or not this can actually be done.

Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to attempt to figure out the optimal selection of feasible additional schools in order to accomplish these goals and then attempt to determine whether this selection of schools would be adequate. To do so, we need to consider and prioritize the desirable attributes of potential candidates and use them to evaluate possible candidates for expansion.

Criteria for Selecting Among the Big Ten Expansion Candidates:

1. Size of fanbase—The most important factor of any potential candidate is the size of its fanbase. If a school’s fanbase is small, as is the case with schools like West Virginia, then adding them does no good because they will not produce many viewers for a game and by extension, they will not add much revenue to the Big Ten Network. Nor will they be very appealing with regards to producing nationwide (or even regional) broadcasts because the ratings will be much lower than for other upper-tier programs.

2. Strength of football program—Adding strong football programs is key for the Big Ten. Strong football programs have two features that are important with regard to expansion. First of all, strong football programs typically have more devoted fanbases, meaning that they bring in stronger support on a local basis and draw more attention from their alumni. As such, fanbases of stronger programs are generally more likely to petition their local cable companies to add the Big Ten Network, which provides the Big Ten with leverage during negotiations with cable companies. Second of all, strong football programs bring more general interest in their games from a regional and national standpoint, which increases ratings of their game, which in turn increases the amount of ad revenue that the Big Ten Network gets for their games.

3. Strength of academics—Academics are important to the Big Ten for many reasons. First of all, the Big Ten has an academic wing, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), which includes all of the Big Ten schools and the University of Chicago. The purpose of the CIC is to have high-powered research institutions work on collaborative research projects together, which brings in large amounts of money in the form of grants from the federal government and other third parties. The amount of money brought in by athletic departments pales in comparison to the amount of money brought in by research initiatives by Big Ten universities, so there is no chance of the Big Ten inviting any school that cannot pull its weight with regard to getting these opportunities. Incidentally, the alumni bases of these schools are generally found throughout the country, rather than heavily concentrated in their localities, because employers nationwide will recruit graduates of academically high-powered institutions.

4. “Cultural fit”—This is a tricky trait to qualify. Basically, the “cultural fit” of any potential addition is its ability to identify itself as a Big Ten school and act as an equal and integral member of the conference. This is important for the purposes of stability and prosperity. Adding a school that is unlikely to fully identify itself as a Big Ten school over time leads to infighting and instability.

This actually befell the Big 8 when they added the Texas schools and became the Big 12. After joining the conference, Texas did not act as an equal partner. Instead, they used their weight to create a number of rules and administrative changes, including unequal revenue sharing, the move of Big 12 headquarters to Dallas, and higher academic entry requirements, all of which served to alienate most of the other Big 12 schools and led conference loyalty to deteriorate. This story by the San Antonio Times covers the events that led to Texas joining the Big 12, and while it is biased towards Texas’ point of view, it does illustrate the sources of the rifts we see in the Big 12 today.

Currently, while individual Big Ten schools will often have disagreements with each other, they are generally resolved without issue and the conference acts as a unified body, which has allowed the conference to do things like create the Big Ten Network. In order to ensure that this does not happen to the Big Ten, any expansion move should add teams that can develop viable rivalries with other Big Ten teams, not break up any current major rivalries, utilize a system of equal revenue distribution, and allow all members equal input on the running of the conference. Any expansion candidate would have to abide by these measures.

5. Strength of basketball program—The Big Ten is and always has been a football-first league. Furthermore, football programs bring in much more money into the Big Ten than basketball programs. That said, basketball is a revenue producing sport and accounts for a lot of the Big Ten Network’s programming, so adding good basketball programs is beneficial.

6. Strength and Number of Other Varsity Sports—This final category is important in the Big Ten because the Big Ten Network partially fills its airtime with a lot of other live events. It is especially interested in adding other baseball and hockey teams, as those sports bring in decent ratings. Furthermore, an additional hockey team would allow for the immediate creation of a Big Ten hockey conference, or some other type of Big Ten hockey championship, which would involve some of the best hockey programs in the country, including Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.


Now taking these factors into account, I can now speculate on the best set of additions to the Big Ten, as well as whether these additions would be capable of turning the Big Ten Network into a nationwide television network. It is easy to wipe some oft-named schools immediately, namely Missouri and Rutgers, both of whom have lackluster athletic programs that cannot deliver viewers beyond their immediate localities. The same goes for a number of dark horse candidates, including Boston College, Connecticut and Colorado. Taking the remaining viable to semi-viable candidates, I have Notre Dame, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Maryland. The next step is to evaluate these candidates:

Notre Dame
Pros: Notre Dame has a large fanbase that is a major presence throughout the nation. They have one of the most storied football programs in the country. They also have many competitive non-revenue sports that could draw viewers outside of football and basketball coverage. Notre Dame also has running Rivalries with Big Ten schools Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue.

Cons: While Notre Dame is a cultural fit from the standpoint of being a Midwestern school, their devotion to being an Independent means that the integration of their football team into the Big Ten could prove difficult. Many Notre Dame fans would oppose the move and that discontent could introduce an element of instability into the Big Ten. Also, while Notre Dame’s academics are excellent, they are not a major research institution, nor are they a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), which would be a drawback with regards to the CIC.

Other Notes: Notre Dame’s basketball program has enjoyed somewhat limited success over the years and would be a middle of the road program in the Big Ten.

Pros: Like Notre Dame, Nebraska has one of the most storied football programs in the country. While their fanbase is not necessarily one of the biggest in the country, it is certainly one of the most passionate, meaning that Nebraska’s television ratings have generally been high. Nebraska’s non-revenue sports have been generally strong, including excellent programs in men’s gymnastics, women’s gymnastics, and women’s volleyball, and nationally competitive baseball and softball teams. Nebraska would be a good cultural fit, as they have a distinctly Midwestern identity and could easily create rivalries with Iowa, Penn State, and Michigan, among others.

Cons: First of all, Nebraska has a terrible basketball program that has never won an NCAA Tournament game. While their football program has historically been a major player on the national scene and is paid attention to by the nation for that reason, the population that is heavily invested in Nebraska athletics is relatively small. Finally, while Nebraska is an AAU member, their academics would rank among the worst in the Big Ten if they joined.

Pros: Kansas has one of the most storied basketball programs in the country and is one of the few basketball programs that could be a major financial benefit for the Big Ten Network. Kansas has a decently sized and devoted fanbase. Kansas’ football program is very old and has recently experienced one of the best seasons in its history. Kansas also has a number of longstanding non-revenue sports. Like Nebraska, Kansas would be a very good cultural fit although it would be somewhat more difficult to develop rivalries in the Big Ten.

Cons: For the most part outside of basketball, Kansas’ athletic programs are decidedly mediocre. While Kansas has a decent fanbase, they are not a major presence nationally. Kansas is an AAU member, but like Nebraska, Kansas would be at the bottom of the Big Ten academically. Kansas basketball is followed nationally, but fails to deliver a large geographic area, although it can, in theory, deliver a larger local population than Nebraska.

Other notes: While a number of Kansas’ non-revenue sports have had a lot of success in the past, they have not been doing very well recently.

Pros: Texas has a huge and very devoted fanbase. Texas’ has one of the most storied football programs in the country. As such, Texas football draws tremendous TV ratings. Texas is an AAU member with very strong academics that are approximately equal to Wisconsin’s. Their basketball program has seen its fair share of success, winning two NCAA titles in the ‘90s (the only in their history). They only have 18 varsity sports, but they are generally excellent, including their baseball program, which is the winningest team in college baseball by any measure (wins, winning percentage, CWS wins, etc.).

Cons: Texas is a questionable cultural fit. If Texas were to join the Big Ten, they would have no natural rivals unless someone joined with them. They would also have to interact as equals with the rest of the Big Ten schools, something they didn’t do in the SWC or the Big 12. Finally, they would have to be committed to the Big Ten forever (for all intents and purposes). All of these are potential pitfalls, assuming that the Big Ten can even get Texas to join in the first place, which is difficult for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to an imperfect fit, state politics, and competition for their services.

Texas A&M
Pros: Texas A&M has all of the pros that Texas has, but to a lesser degree. Their fanbase is large, but smaller than Texas’. They draw good ratings, but worse ratings than Texas. Their academics are good, but not as good as Texas’. And so on and so forth.

Cons: Like Texas, Texas A&M is a questionable cultural fit. However, this is only due to the lack of natural rivals and not being a Midwestern school. It has nothing to do with fears about the school not being willing to interact with the other Big Ten schools on an equal basis.

Notes: For the most part, Texas A&M is to Texas as Michigan State is to Michigan.

Pros: Syracuse basketball, despite only having won one NCAA Basketball championship, is the fifth winningest men’s basketball program of all time. While Syracuse football has struggled recently, their football program is a storied one. Their fanbase is moderately large and has a major presence in New York City. Although Syracuse is a private school and not a Midwestern school, they would still be an adequate cultural fit, as they fall in the same region as Penn State and would have an immediate rival in Penn State, and possibly Illinois as well. While Syracuse doesn’t have a huge number of non-revenue teams, it is worth noting that they have a number of great ones, most notably their men’s lacrosse team. Syracuse is an AAU member.

Cons: Syracuse’s historically strong football team is going through a lengthy streak ranging from appalling to mediocre. While being an AAU member, Syracuse is not a major research university, ranking 199th in the country in terms of research expenditures. Indiana is the last in the Big Ten at 127th. Indiana spends over $100 million a year on research. Syracuse spends under $40 million a year.

Note: For the sake of comparison, Notre Dame ranks 148th, spending over $75 million a year. Syracuse ranks below every other Big Ten candidate that I’ve mentioned and would be a big problem academically.

Pros: Pitt has strong football and basketball programs. Their academics are great, both in terms of research and undergraduate education. Of all the candidates under consideration, only Texas is comparable to Pitt academically. Pitt is also an excellent cultural fit with the Big Ten, as they lie within the footprint and have a natural rival in Penn State. Piit has a number of reasonably competitive non-revenue sports, including track and field, wrestling, and volleyball, among others.

Cons: Pitt’s biggest negative is that their fanbase is not particularly big and is located within the Big Ten footprint. It also often fails to fill their stadium, a big negative. Furthermore, while their football and basketball programs are strong, they are not consistently able to bring high levels of attention nationally.

Pros: Maryland has a reasonably large fanbase that involves a large portion of the mid-Atlantic region. Their basketball program is very strong, although it has been somewhat mediocre over the past several years. Academically, Maryland is very strong as well. Their non-revenue sports rank among the best in the nation, particularly in soccer and lacrosse.

Cons: Maryland’s football program is not very good. This is a huge problem for the football oriented Big Ten. Furthermore, Maryland has very strong ties to the ACC, making them a potentially poor cultural fit, although Penn State would be a natural rival.


Looking over the teams in question, two things are immediately clear:

1. Notre Dame absolutely must join the Big Ten if the BTN is to become a national network.

2. Texas absolutely must join the Big Ten if the BTN is to become a national network.

Despite the potential cultural pitfalls both programs represent, they are indispensible because of their athletic programs and fanbases. This leaves Nebraska, Kansas, Texas A&M, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Maryland. The Big Ten can take one of these teams, thus expanding to 14, or three, thus expanding to 16.

Of the teams remaining, I do not believe that any fanbase has a large enough national presence to make a substantial impact as to whether the BTN could become a national network. Therefore, I will not consider the size of a fanbase as a major factor when evaluating these remaining candidates. As such, I will move on to the quality of football programs as the most important remaining criteria, as high quality football programs breed national interest, even for fans that have no major stake in the game. Here, Nebraska clearly stands out well enough to overcome the weaknesses of its academics and basketball program. So I will add Nebraska as the 14th team.

Of the remaining candidates, Kansas and Syracuse have top-tier basketball programs, and are good fits, but are very mediocre at football and are weak academically. Pitt and Texas A&M are generally good, but not great athletically and strong academically, but would not add anything new to the conference. Maryland adds a strong, but not elite basketball program, great academics, and great non-revenue sports, but the weakness of its football program coupled with its rather poor cultural fit make Maryland the weakest of the bunch.

I see four options here. First, the Big Ten could add the all-around solid programs of Pitt and Texas A&M. This would provide the Big Ten with an extra interesting conference game each week in football, some more relatively strong basketball programs, and two more good research institutions. Second, the Big Ten could take Kansas and Syracuse, which would make the Big Ten into arguably the best basketball conference in the country. Third, the Big Ten could take a combination of the schools from option 1 and option 2, making the Big Ten a stronger basketball conference without weakening the football side of things. Finally, the Big Ten could do nothing after adding Texas, Notre Dame, and Nebraska.

I actually favor the last option. While it would mean that there would be one fewer conference game per week than there would be in a sixteen-team conference, the number of games between the best teams in the conference would increase. Furthermore, a sixteen-team conference would be a major logistical challenge that could confuse and put off fans, weakening the Big Ten’s brand. Finally, adding any two football programs to a conference that would include the five winningest teams of all time (Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Texas)* would, in my opinion, unnecessarily dilute the conference. And because football is by far the most important sport to television, adding additional basketball programs at the expense of football seems to me to be a poor move. Meanwhile, the addition of Texas is satisfactory from an academic standpoint and Texas and Notre Dame bring in fairly good basketball programs, so the Big Ten shouldn’t be adversely affected in this respect.

The remaining question is whether the Big Ten Network could become a national network if the Big Ten added Notre Dame, Texas, and Nebraska. Unfortunately, I am inclined to believe that the answer is no. While the network could expand substantially, as Notre Dame, combined with Michigan, could theoretically deliver the Northeast and New England, in addition to the ability of Texas and Nebraska to deliver most of the plains states. I could even make a stretch and say that the combination of Notre Dame, Texas, and the overall strength of the conference could deliver the Pacific states and the rest of the western half of the country. However, I simply do not see this network capturing SEC country. None of the Big Ten teams would have a major presence in SEC country and the football fans in the Southeast are much more likely to watch SEC games over Big Ten games because the quality of the regional SEC games would generally comparable to whatever the BTN produces and the regional SEC games would be of greater relevance to the fans there. As such, the demand for the BTN would be very low and cable companies wouldn’t add them.

*Penn State is the 7th winningest team of all time, with 812 wins. Alabama comes in 6th with 813.

Forty-two #3

I'll get to the big question, but first, I have a smaller question to ponder.

Y, Stevie Y?

I think this was a great move for Yzerman, and it could end up being a great move for the Wings down the road. Yzerman would have been brought along slowly in the front office of the Wings because there are so many people ahead of him who have been so instrumental in the success of the franchise. It could have been ten or even as many as twenty years before he would have gotten this opportunity in Detroit.

As a Tampa Bay area resident, I love the move. I moved here just as the Lightning were finishing their improbable journey to the Stanley Cup. Most of the fans here don't know hockey; the prevailing attitude was "Wow, dude, a Stanley Cup; let's go to the beach." They had no idea how difficult it is to win one. And they had no idea that the reason the Lightning won was a convergence of a hot goalie, many players having career years, and the synergy that happens when young players are "all in." Torterella had a team that would literally run through walls for him.

The next season they played, after the lockout, the Lightning were just another team. The "Bulin wall" had gone on to Chicago, too many players got huge raises for their second contracts, and the intensity wasn't there anymore. Inexplicibly, the fans wondered "what was wrong with the Lightning?" The answer of course, was that there really wasn't anything wrong with them, but that a ton of things had to go historically right for them to win the previous cup.

Torterella would eventually be fired, and the shit hit the fan. There have been two new ownership teams and numerous changes on the coaching staff and in the front office. Since the team has hit rock bottom, Yzerman is a great choice. After all, not a lot of people seem to remember this, but the Red Wings were not far removed from being the laughingstock of the league until Yzerman got there. He has been through the building of a champion as a player, and trying to sustain excellence in the front office.

How could this beneift the Wings? Easy: if things happen in Detroit that mandate a change, there will be an experienced Yzerman waiting in the, uh, "wings." Detroit has been on top of the NHL for so long that some forget the transitory nature of the game. Due to the system, what goes up usually comes down for at least small periods of time. Montreal, Edmonton, and Colorado are great examples.

If Detroit does have a down cycle, as most teams do, Yzerman will get the best "welcome home" party in the history of the market. Meanwhile, I plan on enjoying his work down here.

How will the NCAA probation affect Michigan?

I am in agreement with many who have posted on this subject. I think the NCAA will either accept the penalties as proposed, or add something like a year of probation just to show UM "who's the boss." Basically, though, it is all posturing. The penalties here will fit the so-called "crime:" relatively insignificant. As for the effects, I think it will all be positive. And we can now take comfort in the fact that, because of all the scrutiny, the University of Michigan now runs the cleanest program in the NCAA.

By August, the uncertainty will be over. Recruits who have been waiting to see what is going on should commit to Michigan. Most of the media shitstorm will have calmed down. Most of all, the players and coaching staff will be as focused as they have had an opportunity to be since RR got to UM.

As I have said before, the Big Ten's worst nightmare is a UM team coached by RR that is fully able to execute his offense. This team is now old enough and big enough to not get pushed around by opponents anymore. They know the offense now, and have had two years with the same DC. Playing so many freshman and sophomores the last two years will now become a major benefit as many grow into juniors, and next year into seniors. They still have a fairly young team, but most of the players have experience beyond their years.

This is the year of the turnaround for RR. I plan to enjoy it.

How will the UM situation affect Misdemeanor State?

Sorry, Sparty, but you had better get your bragging in now while you still can, because you will be singing a different tune by November. Sparty fans still call the UM basketball program "cheaters," more than ten years after the Ed Martin scandal. I would expect them to call the football program "cheaters" for at least the next ten years. Luckily for them, it will take some of the attention away from all of the convicted criminals on their football team.

But it won't take the attention away from losing. And MSU will lose big to UM this year. Let the whining begin. I, for one, will always remind them that NCAA probation is better than having ten percent of your scholarship players on real probation.

How is the media treating Michigan this week?

The national media is treating this as it should; there are exceptions, but the general position is that UM is getting nickle-and-dimed by the NCAA as it tries to throw its weight around. A couple have even gone so far as to mention that the freep did a hatchet job and was wrong.

As for the local media?

Friends (those who are positive or at least objective): Angelique, Wojo, Rothstein, Albom

Enemies: Rosenpuke, Shyster, Sharp, Rob Otto from mlive, Lynn Henning (inadvertantly, I might add), and a new A2 dot com guy named David Jesse.

Trying to stay objective in spite of bias and doing an OK job: Sparty Dave, David Mayo, Huge.

MIA: Philip Zaroo

Why isn't he on the UM beat yet: Andrew Reid

The most disturbing of the locals is the emergence of a new writer at A2 dot com: David Jesse. He cites a nationally-based column which says that UM is "protecting RR," and that the NCAA won't accept the self-imposed penalties. I don't know what A2 dot com is thinking here; they have apparently reined in Sparty Dave a little bit, and now they bring in another "writer" who appears to have an anti-UM bias? What the fuck is Tony Dearing thinking?

I don't think Tony will be en-"Dearing" himself to UM fans anytime soon.

When can I put away my umbrella?

After UM trounces MSU this October to go 6-0, the shitstorm will officially be over.

Midnight Maize 118

Shreds Top 15




Others Receiving Votes-Hulk,OSD,Joeyb

The Shake Down

This weeks love for LOST was more apparent than ever in the Top 15. Seth9 keeps the top spot with great big 10 posts and even a future LOST post. SCS dodges the LOST dive by helping me out and starting Live Blogs at 11pm. JC brings good info every time, no questions asked. Tater's postings of 42 have been a great read. Fly as of late has been bringing some JC/TOB type of info to the blogs. Sec20 Lost hating hurt him a bit but he doesn't go out of his way ala Hulk. TLP flew up the charts. His great understanding of LOST+UM love=Future Greatness. Dark Blue took a hit for his LOST hating ways but got a boost when he said he may check it out. TOB surfaced after being off the grid for weeks, we welcome you back friend. MMW is an older fella who keeps spirits (mine) high when people get tired. Jen jumped into the Top 15 for her efforts to watch LOST sooner or later. OSD and Hulks LOST hating ways have thrown them into "others receiving votes" hatch so they can push the button forever, if they don't.. what will happen to the blog?

This Top 15 has been brought to you by Darma Beer, the best beer to be found on the Midnight Maize Island.

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Preview: NHL Playoffs Stanley Cup Final

2. Chicago (West) vs. 7 Philadelphia (East)

How they got here: Chicago swept San Jose, completely outplaying them in the process. Philadelphia knocked off Montreal in 5, dominating the Habs with the exception of Game 3.

Last SCF appearance: Chicago 1992 (Lost to Pittsburgh), Philadelphia 1997 (Lost to Detroit)

Last Stanley Cup Win: Chicago 1961, Philadephia 1975

Series Overview: Anyone who followed both series closely saw the pure domination by both of these teams against their opponents and should expect a hard fought series complete with physical play and potentially plenty of scoring. Chicago is an offensive juggernaut that also has good defense and good goal-tending, after Antti Niemi outplayed San Jose's offense and Evgeni Nabakov. Philadelphia is just on a roll after the Boston series, and has one of the hardest working players in the game in Mike Richards. If Michael Leighton can continue his run, this series might be closer than most think. In the end though, Chicago's offensive power will probably finish off Philadelphia, leading the Hawks to their first cup in 49 years. Series begins Saturday at 8:00 PM EST. All games are at 8:00 PM EST, with games being played on May 29th, May 31st, June 2nd, June 4th, June 6th, June 9th, and June 11th, with the last three being if necessary.

Series Prediction: Chicago in 5

Current Prediction Record: 6-8

LOST! Final! OMG!!11

I started a Lost thread over at Mgoboard that's going pretty good. Check it out for the latest.
This has been a long time coming. An end to amazing story. It's truly sad that the ride is over. It easiest one of the best TV shows ever.

My Top 5 characters

Top 5 Worst Characters
3.Ana Lucia

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Midnight Maize around the web


Well it's been one busy week. The ol' Shredder has been all over the internet doing interviews and previews of Michigan for the up coming season.

College Football Zealots was nice enough to ask me to do a Michigan season preview. I am no Hulk, JC or TOB when it comes to X and Os but I tried my best. Make sure to go over there and comment the hell out of it.

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by MGOBLOG's SixZero. It was an honor. I just wanna thank SixZero for the effort he put into the interview and having me as a guest.

I will be on tonight with a Live Blog.

Oh and this just in...

  31 (72%)
  10 (23%)
  2 (4%)
Soft Drink
  0 (0%

Pop... Boooyeah!

Midnight Maize 114

Forty-two #2

Did we miss an LC breakthrough?

Lost in the melodrama of the Carr/Trent/RR saga was an occurance that may be one of the bigger breakthroughs in the RR "era:" Lloyd Carr actually spoke in RR's defense: sorta.

Since RR was hired, Carr has gone out of his way to keep silent, saying that he doesn't want to "interfere" with RR. In the meantime, his silence has been interpreted in different ways. Some have taken his silence at face value. Some have taken it as "proof" that Carr is involved in the alleged anti-RR faction within the AD. Some, such as I, have taken a "wait and see" approach. Intrisnically, Carr's silence doesn't really prove anything, but call for solidarity in the style of his mentor Bo would go a long way toward uniting the department or at least changing the perception of a "Big House divided."

Consequently, I was very glad to see Carr finally speak out on the Trent allegations. I would like to see Carr realize that his words, when used correctly, can still carry a lot of weight in Ann Arbor. Also, he needs to realize that his silence can "speak" louder than words in some rather inflammatory situations. Carr didn't ask for it, but the role of Schembechler-style "coach emeritus" and mentor is begging for him to step in. He doesn't need to involve himself in the minutae of coaching, but a few well-placed words, such as the ones he gave us concerning Trent, or a well-timed "LC glare," could keep those who are allowing their personal agendas to harm the program in line.

Anyway, Lloyd, thanks for finally speaking out and helping to change the perception of opposing factions destroying the AD from within. Hopefully, Carr will continue to use his position to help RR and the football program in any way he can, even if it involves more public statements or putting a few people in their places behind the scenes. As he realizes his true power and settles into his role, he could make a huge difference in helping to return UM to its rightful place among the elite programs in college football.

What's up with Sparty Dave?

Sparty Dave Birkett seems to have been making an effort to do his job without allowing his Spartan emnity toward UM to affect what he writes, but he sorta "fell off the wagon" last week. First of all, his coverage of the aforementioned Trent allegations was all too enthusiastic. Then, he got a little carried away in his coverage of the charity golf outing. He asked a bunch of former players what they thought of the program. Most said they didn't like losing, but the program was on the right track.

So, what did Sparty Dave do? He described the mood of former players as "trepidation," which is roughly equivalent to dread. Even though none of the quotes used in the column demonstrated anything remotely resembling dread, he used the word as if it were the prevailing opinion. To me, it appears that he is a nice guy and is genuinely trying to be objective, but eventually and often falls victim to the old adage that "blood is thicker than water."

I wish he could find a job for more money working the Sparty beat somewhere and Andrew Reid could have the UM beat. That way, everyone would win. I wouldn't wish for Birkett to be fired because he hasn't shown any malicious intent like Carty, Rosenpuke, or Shyster, but I fail to see what Tony Dearing was thinking when he hired an MSU grad to work the UM beat for A2 Dot com. Birkett would be happier reporting on his alma mater, Reid would be happy using the considerable talent he displayed at the Michigan Daily reporting on his alma mater, and readers and advertisers would benefit from someone who likes the school reporting on it.

As for Birkett, I think he could probably advance his career faster if he were elsewhere. If I were a Spartan stuck on the UM beat, I would feel like I was jogging at the beach in galoshes. I think his talent needs and deserves a more appropriate opportunity than "sleeping with the enemy." He would actually be a lot of fun to read on a national beat as long as he wasn't discussing UM.

It will be interesting to see his reaction and his reporting style when UM's self-punishment and the NCAA's response come out. I would like to see him cover it objectively with a lack of histrionics or drama, but I think the chances of that happening are about the same as me finding a well-insulated case of 1963 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild on my doorstep tomorrow.

Is "Fort Schembechler" back at UM?

From all appearances, yes. And many of the players have made it easy for RR. Some players, including Tate Forcier, are so pissed at the local media for their "reporting" that they don't want to talk to reporters. When one of your team leaders hates the media, it's great for keeping them at bay.

There is an old saying that if you give someone enough rope, he will hang himself. This is obviously a metaphor, but it is exactly what has been happening at UM in a metaphoric sense. When RR came in, he gave the media unprecedented access to his players. Did the media thank him for making his job easier? No. They busted his chops worse than any coach in the last fifty years, lied to his players to get information for hatchet jobs, and even turned the school that is indirectly putting roofs over their heads in to the NCAA.

For years, reporters have lamented that they didn't have the access they felt they needed to do their jobs at UM. When they finally got the access they have desired for so long, they abused it. Consequently, they no longer have the access they were given by RR. I guess they would rather have RR give them the Carr glare from the cozy confines of Fort Schembechler.

How many freep writers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Oh, that's too easy. The answer is, "none." But they will turn you into the NCAA if it takes you a couple of minutes too long.

Shreds Top 15



Others reciving votes-Cunninglinguist,Jen

Due to Time and work I won't be able to "Shake" this out. 

This late Shreds Top 15 you brought to you by OSD's Iheartpotter.blogspot.com

Midnight Maize 113

Midnight Maize 112

Midnight Maize 111

Been a while

Sorry everyone, haven't been, around in a real long time, having to get up at 5:30 am doesn't really help with a blog that has "midnight" in the title. I've got nothing new to report, at least recruiting-wise, but heres a new Lupe Fiasco video. I hope you enjoy it.

Great Lakes Loons

DSCN2345DSCN2349 DSCN2348


DSCN2365 - Copy
DSCN2374 - Copy

So this weekend I made the drive over to Midland and received a full tours of Dow Diamond , The home of the Great Lakes Loons, the class A affiliate of the Las Angeles Dodgers.
For being part of the Dodgers, the crew that runs things in Midland sure knows how to put on a good show. I was treated to a full tour of the Front Offices, the Press Box, and the indoor batting cages. It was quite cool. I have been to several Minor League ballparks over the last few years, and Dow Diamond ranks right up near the top of the list.
As for the game itself, we were treated to extra innings baseball. This unfortunately was offset by the FREEZING cold temps. In the top of the 14th the Dayton Dragons scored to take a 3-2 lead. The Loons had their last chance in the bottom of the 14th and boy did they take advantage. With 2 outs Christian Lara doubled home Austin Yount and Rafael Ynoa, to end the game with a 4-3 victory.
Would I go back? Yes, even if this team is affiliated with the Dodgers. They put on a helluva show, and played really good baseball.

Midnight Maize Press Conference


Reporter: Whats the big news?

The Shredder: I was asked by my work to move to 2nd shift which would make doing Midnight Maize hard. I was given a week to think about it. I thought how nice it would be to have a normal day life. How nice it would be to hunt turtles by night and not by day. I thought how nice it would be to not be tired all the time.

Reporter: So is this gonna change MM?

The Shredder:.... No, I decided to stay. I will not be leaving 3rd shift(people gasp and flash bulbs go off). By moving to 2nd shift I would lose a few things. My weekends. The blog would be affected. As tired as I am I have a lot of freedom to do whatever I want on most days.

Reporter: So will the same live blog schedule continue?

Shredder: No I am happy to report that I have a brand new schedule that will be the same every week. This what we are looking at. Starting now.

Monday Night-Live Blog
Tuesday Night-Live Blog
Wednesday night-Live Blog
Thursday night-Off
Friday night-Live Blog
Saturday night-off
Sunday night-off

Shredder: This should help people know when the live blogs are taking place and can only help the site grow.

Reporter: Will Live blogs take place on Saturday nights during the season?

Shredder: Yes, we will add live blogs to Saturday night so we can all meltdown after loses or get over hyped after wins.

Reporter: Any Top 15 news?

Shredder: Yes, it will be moved to tomorrow due to the schedule news.

Shredder: That is all, thanks for coming out.


(Shredder leaves the table)

Midnight Maize 110

OK: so how about a playoff?

If Seth's or any of many predictions for conference realignment come true, the BCS could easily have a playoff to determine the 1 vs 2 matchup for bowl season.

Assuming that the ACC and Big Ten absorb the Big East, the SEC absorbs one or two Big 12 teams, and what's left forms a giant "Big 12-Mountain" conference, that would throw most BCS teams except the indies into five conferences: Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Pac Ten, and whatever the "Leftoverture" conference (which would, of course, include Kansas) calls itself.

Then, the BCS could easily hold a "qualifying tournament" using the five champions and one at-large team to be taken from indies and/or conferences that aren't in the BCS, such as whatever is left of the CUSA, but not from the losers of conference championship games or teams that didn't win their division. That would "cover their assets" legally and ensure that there would be no antitrust suit. To promote "fairness" and interest, not to mention money, there could even be a play-in game among the "best of the rest" during conference championship week.

The easiest format for the playoff, once the conference championship and play-in games are over, would be to seed the top two champions, selected just as they are now, into the semis and have the other four teams play a quarterfinal round. Then, the semis could be held the next week and the final after the bowls, just as it is now.

Then, the bowls and the title game would look the same, but the two teams in the title game would have had to win a playoff to get in. Would there still be "sour grapes?" Of course there would; that is part of sports. But this would give six (actually 12 counting the conference championship and play-in games, which would be de facto playoff games) teams a legitimate shot at the National Championship after the end of the regular season. And, really, anyone who wasn't a conference champion really wouldn't have much of an agrument under a true playoff system.

Some say it would diminish the regular season to have a playoff, but I say it would do just the opposite. It would encourage a lot better non-conference games because teams would know that an early loss against a great team from another conference wouldn't ruin their chances at making the title game. Those who want to see, for example, Michigan play Georgia or Florida in a non-conference game, might get their wish if the conference champions were guaranteed a berth in the playoff. Also, it would make the conference championships more important than the polls. That would be a major bonus.

It's time for the champion of the NCAA's signature sport and biggest cash cow to be determined where it belongs: on the field. It's also time to stop rewarding teams for playing patsies during the non-conference schedule or for being from a conference that is weak on the field but strong on the computer. A playoff would accomplish both.

Most of all, we would get to see a true champion, and the word "mythical" could officially be removed from "National Champion."

Big Ten Expansion and the New World Order #4: A Response to TheLastProphet

In the comments section of the last post, TheLastProphet made a rather interesting proposal for a form of Big Ten Expansion. As my response greatly exceeds the word limit for the comment section, and the discussion is somewhat interesting, I figured I'd just put it up as a new post. First of all, the comment:

Just to kind of throw this out there and see what you think Seth...If we go to 16 teams I'm of the mind that they would probably just split it down the middle 8 and 8.

So for fun I'm assuming the schools are:

Michigan State
Ohio State
Penn State
Notre Dame

If the divisions were split 8 and 8, the dividing process would probably go something like this:


Division 1:

Ohio State
Michigan State
Notre Dame


Michigan and Michigan State would have to be together.

I would also think that M and OSU would have to be together.

With M and MSU in the same division I would think that because they are both major rivals of ND, that you have to put them in D1 also.

Purdue, ND, and Indiana are all in Indiana, and Purdue has a Rivalry with ND, and Indiana, so I figured all of the Indy teams should go together.

Then I thought, considering Illinois thinks that they have a rivalry with Michigan, that I would throw them, along with their rival Mizzou to round out the division.

Division 2:

Penn State


Because I knew one division would pretty much have to contain M, OSU, MSU, and ND, there was no way PSU was going into that same division.

This meant Pitt would also be in this division, and I figured that Rutgers, another team out East, would fit in as well.

Wisky and Minny can't be split up.

Iowa was too good to put in the other group, and they really don't have too many major rivalries in the Big Ten (not on the level of M-OSU, M-MSU, Wisky-Minny, PU-IU, M-ND, Ill-Mizz), so they go in this grouping.

Nebraska I can see becoming a rival for Iowa, and I really couldn't justify breaking up the Indiana trio to fit them in with Mizzou (I don't think they're rivals anyway?) in with the other group.

Northwestern is in this group for the same reason as Nebraska. No real rivals (Illinois, but meh) and couldn't justify breaking up the rivalries in the first group to fit them in.


I'm not sure how balanced these divisions are.

For basketball D1 looks beastly. MSU, OSU, Purdue are all good. ND and Mizzou are usually a tournament teams, and then you have M, Indiana, and Illinois, who have all been basketball powers in the past and could get their acts together in any given year.

For football, they look a little more balanced, with an edge to D1, due to more depth and the fact that M and ND have higher ceilings than the top teams in D2.

I think that you could swap out Illinois-Mizzou for some combo of Rutgers-Nebraska-Northwestern, to even out the divisions if they were too unbalanced, but this seems ok.

Regardless, I'm of the mindset that we will in all likelihood end up with OSU, ND, and MSU, which would be an extremely difficult division for basketball, and football.

So I'm thinking that regardless of what happens Michigan will probably get screwed, but I guess that's what happens when you have major rivarlies with extremely strong programs.
My Response:

I think the teams you laid out are a definite possibility, perhaps the most likely combination of teams should Notre Dame consent to leave the Big East, although Syracuse may be substituted for Pitt.

However, the divisions you laid out do present problems. First of all, I would switch Missouri for Northwestern. The reason for this is that Illinois and Northwestern have a running rivalry, as do Nebraska and Missouri. While Illinois-Missouri could develop into a rivalry, it makes no sense to break up two current rivalries in order to form one potential rivalry.

That said, I would not even use eight team divisions, because eight team divisions would make games between teams in opposite divisions too uncommon. Instead, I would use the following rotating four-team pods:

Pod A: Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Purdue

Pod B: Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern

Pod C: Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota

Pod D: Penn State, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Rutgers

There would be a rotation so that Pods A and D would be stationary and Pods B and D would rotate thusly to form divisions:

Year 1-Division 1 consists of Pods A and B; Division 2 consists of Pods C and D

Year 2-Division 1 consists of Pods A and C, Division 2 consists of Pods B and D

Year 3-Division 1 consists of Pods A and B; Division 2 consists of Pods C and D

Year 4-Division 1 consists of Pods A and C, Division 2 consists of Pods B and D

And so on and so forth.

Now, each team in Pods A and D would have permanent rivals with one team in Pod B and one team in Pod C. This would mean that in the years that Pod A is not in a division with Pod B, they would still have a permanent rival with a team in Pod B, meaning that Michigan would still play Ohio State every year. Finally, each team in Pod A would rotate on a three year schedule (or six year schedule, but it doesn't really matter) for playing a game against teams in Pod D. The same would hold for teams in Pods B and C playing each other.

Now, here is what II think the teams you laid out are a definite possibility, perhaps the most likely combination of teams should Notre Dame consent to leave the Big East, although Syracuse may be substituted for Pitt.

However, the divisions you laid out do present problems. First of all, I would switch Missouri for Northwestern. The reason for this is that Illinois and Northwestern have a running rivalry, as do Nebraska and Missouri. While Illinois-Missouri could develop into a rivalry, it makes no sense to break up two current rivalries in order to form one potential rivalry.

That said, I would not even use eight team divisions, because eight team divisions would make games between teams in opposite divisions too uncommon. Instead, I would use the following rotating four team pods:

Pod A: Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Purdue

Pod B: Ohio State, Illinois, Northwestern, Indiana

Pod C: Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota

Pod D: Penn State, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Rutgers

There would be a rotation so that Pods A and D would be stationary and Pods B and D would rotate thusly to form divisions:

Year 1-Division 1 consists of Pods A and B; Division 2 consists of Pods C and D

Year 2-Division 1 consists of Pods A and C, Division 2 consists of Pods B and D

Year 3-Division 1 consists of Pods A and B; Division 2 consists of Pods C and D

Year 4-Division 1 consists of Pods A and C, Division 2 consists of Pods B and D

And so on and so forth

Now, each team in Pods A and D would have permanent rivals with one team in Pod B and one team in Pod C. This would mean that in the years that Pod A is not in a division with Pod B, they would still have a permanent rival with a team in Pod B, meaning that Michigan would still play Ohio State every year. Finally, each team in Pod A would rotate on a four-year schedule for playing a game against teams in Pod D. The same would hold for teams in Pods B and C playing each other.

Now, here is what I would use for the permanent rivalries:

A-B Rivalries

Michigan-Ohio State

Notre Dame-Illinois

Michigan State-Northwestern


A-C Rivalries


Notre Dame-Nebraska

Michigan State-Wisconsin


B-D Rivalries

Ohio State-Penn State





Nebraska-Penn State




The result would be the following four-year conference schedule for Michigan (not in date order):

Year 1: Notre Dame (A), Michigan State (A), Purdue (A), Ohio State (B), Illinois (B), Northwestern (B), Indiana (B), Minnesota (permanent C rival), Penn State (D)

Year 2: Notre Dame (A), Michigan State (A), Purdue (A), Ohio State (permanent B rival), Nebraska (C), Wisconsin (C), Iowa (C), Minnesota (C), Pittsburgh (D)

Year 3: Notre Dame (A), Michigan State (A), Purdue (A), Ohio State (B), Illinois (B), Northwestern (B), Indiana (B), Minnesota (permanent C rival), Missouri (D)

Year 4: Notre Dame (A), Michigan State (A), Purdue (A), Ohio State (permanent B rival), Nebraska (C), Wisconsin (C), Iowa (C), Minnesota (C), Rutgers (D)

The only deficiency here for Michigan is that we would play Penn State 25% of the time, which is unfortunate but not terrible. Similar problems exist for teams like Iowa and Wisconsin, who would only play OSU 25% and so on and so forth. However, these problems would also exist in an eight-team division system as you described, only more teams would be played less often.

Big Ten Expansion and the New World Order #3

Having covered the motivations of the conferences that are considering expansion and the potential expansion candidates, it is now time to begin looking at some of the plausible results of conference realignment, plausible being the key word here.

First of all, we can throw out any realignment plans that involves the following measures:

  • Any structure of 4 super-conferences that defect from the NCAA.
  • Any conference making a move that will reduce the payouts to individual teams within the conference.
  • Any expansion moves driven solely by the wish to be better than another conference, unless such a move makes long-term financial success.
  • Any move that brings a lower tier academic institution into the Big Ten.
  • Any move that dissolves or splits the Big Ten or SEC.
  • All schools will act out of self-interest first and foremost and will not willingly make any sacrifices.

These principles automatically exclude approximately 96% of the expansion scenarios that can be found via the Internet, including most of those proposed by ESPN and Sports Illustrated columnists. However, there are still quite a number of expansion possibilities, most of which are incredibly unlikely. To limit these, we can impose some logical rules for specific teams and conferences:

  • Texas will not go to the SEC for academic reasons.
  • The SEC will not take northern teams like Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri.
  • The Pac 10 will not take any team east of the Mississippi and will strongly favor teams in the Pacific and Mountain West time zones for scheduling purposes.
  • All Big East teams will jump ship at the first possible opportunity.
  • Eastern Conferences will not unite with western conferences.

Now, using these rules, combined with the motivations of the various conferences and teams outlined in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we can begin to forecast different scenarios regarding conference realignment. We can begin by assuming that the Big Ten, Pac 10, and SEC would take Texas and Notre Dame if they want to come. Furthermore, if Texas makes it a condition that Texas A&M come with them, the other conferences would invite Texas A&M too. However, Texas and Notre Dame have shown no inclination to join any other conference, so they will not move unless they are sufficiently pressured.

It follows that the Big Ten would be looking at Big 12 North teams, such as Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. We also know that the Pac 10 has been looking at taking Colorado. It is further likely that the SEC will at least think about looking at some Big 12 South teams, such as Oklahoma. This serves to pressure the Texas schools into finding a new home, particularly if the Big Ten chooses to take a couple Big 12 North teams.

Meanwhile, the Big East is also in a somewhat interesting situation with regard to Notre Dame. As things stand, it also seems somewhat probable that the Big Ten will also expand eastward. This means taking teams from the Big East. Should the Big Ten take more than one team or a highly important team like Pitt, the Big East will collapse. As such, the Big East may consider forcing out Notre Dame, in an attempt to force Notre Dame to join the Big Ten and thus reduce the chance that the Big East will be eviscerated. Even so, it is not necessarily likely that Notre Dame would choose to join the Big Ten, because they still would have options for their non-football sports, although these options would not be as good as the Big East.

Now, with this setup we can speculate on scenarios. To begin with, we will let the Big Ten take two Big 12 North teams. If this were to happen, I personally would bet that Nebraska and Missouri would be taken. Such a move would also require the addition of a 14th team, which could be any Big East target, Notre Dame (if they would come), or even Texas. The most likely Big East addition would probably be Rutgers, who would bring in the biggest population base, although Syracuse and Pitt are also definite possibilities (Pitt would benefit the BTN’s ad revenue and be a boon to the CIC).

Now things begin to get interesting. When faced with the loss of two highly important schools, the Big 12 would be in very bad shape. They could conceivably invite BYU and another team to try to fill the void, but BYU would be the best option on the market, and they would bring a weaker program than Nebraska and a smaller base of viewers than Missouri. This new weakness would put a lot of pressure on every school to ensure its security. At that point, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Colorado could all probably bolt for another conference without much difficulty (although the SEC may not want to take Oklahoma as they are currently locked into the ESPN deal and would have to give Oklahoma a piece of it for years before reaping any benefit). It’s a fair bet that one or more of these schools would take action and leave. For instance, Texas could decide to bolt to the Pac 10 or Big Ten, taking Texas A&M if they want or leaving them to the SEC if they choose not to. Or Colorado or Oklahoma could make a pre-emptive move in order to assure themselves a home. From these circumstances, a number of different things could happen:

Texas and Texas A&M could join the Big Ten or Pac 10. If they joined the Big Ten, the Pac 10 could take Colorado and either BYU or another Pac 10 team like Kansas, while the Big Ten would make a push to fill out their 16th slot with Notre Dame or, barring that, some other Big East school. If they join the Pac 10, the Big Ten would still attempt to grab Notre Dame and barring that, one or more Big East teams.

Colorado could defect to the Pac 10, which would probably destroy the Big 12 and send the rest of the conference looking for a new home. In this case, Texas may wind up in either the Big Ten or Pac 10 with or without Texas A&M. If they brought Texas A&M with them, both conferences would probably need to add one more team. If not, then the conference that got Texas would stop expanding while the other tried to work out an arrangement with one or more schools. Texas A&M, meanwhile, would probably go to the SEC along with Oklahoma or some other school.

Texas and Texas A&M could both make moves but go to separate conferences, with Texas A&M likely headed to the SEC. In this case, we would likely see Oklahoma or FSU or somebody go to the SEC with Texas A&M. Meanwhile, Texas could go to the Big Ten, in which case the Big Ten would cease expanding and the Pac 10 probably wouldn’t expand (expansion for the Pac 10 makes much less sense without a big name school). If Texas went to the Pac 10, Colorado would probably join them and the Big Ten would fill out with their pick of the remaining teams available.

Oklahoma may preemptively join the SEC (not likely, but possible), leading to another situation in which the remaining Big 12 teams scatter.

In all of these cases, it’s an open guess as to what would happen to the rest of the Big 12. My guess is the most powerful schools remaining would attempt to form a conference with the best MWC schools (and possibly Boise State), leaving the lower tiers of the FBS to sort themselves out. One possible conference would consist of BYU, TCU, Utah, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, San Diego State, Air Force, UNLV, New Mexico, and Boise State. Such a conference would be decent in both football and basketball, while being able to put on a championship game and get a BCS bid. Of course, there are endless variations of such a conference, but the general idea seems somewhat logical.

Now, the potential expansion cases do not even begin to cover all of the plausible scenarios for conference re-alignment. For instance, it’s quite possible that the Big Ten will ignore the Big 12 and concentrate on getting Notre Dame and some Big East schools to capture New York in a 14-team expansion. Or the SEC could choose to aggressively move on the ACC, taking teams like FSU or Virginia Tech and forcing the ACC to move on the Big East, prompting an arms war between the ACC and Big Ten. Or nothing could happen whatsoever. At any rate, it must be said that the possibility certainly gives us something to talk about during the offseason other than spring recruiting events and old opinions on who will start at QB.

Midnight Maize 109

Shredder revealed



As a matter of fact Mr. GoBlue it is the Shredder, his identity has finally been revealed. Shredder only so long could you hide your cat pictures from the world. Now the secret is out my friend. Where is my money? Or my picture of a cat? Am I not worthy of your art?

Click here to visit the original thread.


And Shredder come on cats seriously. You could at least draw Wolverines.

Preview: NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Final

So I picked the Montreal series exactly as it went, and then Boston went out and laid an egg. 3rd team to lose after being up 3-0 in a series in the NHL. So here are your teams:

7. Philadelphia vs. 8 Montreal

How they got here: Philadelphia came down from a 3-0 deficit in both the series and game 7 to knock off Boston 4-3 in both the game and the series. Montreal knocked off the defending cup champs in 7 in what could be considered a shocker.

Series Overview: Both of these teams seem like they are the team of destiny. Philadelphia has used 5 different goaltenders to get to this point, and 3 have been injured at some point in the season (the other two played one game each). They then come back from a 3-0 deficit to win, something that has not been done since the 1975 New York Islanders. Michael Leighton must not get injured this series if Philadelphia wants to win, as Ray Emery and Brian Boucher are extremely unlikely to return for the playoffs. Jaroslav Halak must continue to play like he has to keep Montreal alive. Michael Cammalleri must also continue his scoring tear and hope that he gets support (which he has so far). Point of interest, if both Montreal and Chicago win, this will be the first Original Six Stanley Cup Final since 1979, when Montreal and New York faced each other. Series begins Sunday at 7 on CBC, Versus, and RDS.

Series Prediction: Montreal in 6

Prediction Record: 5-7

Note for other series: Begins Sunday at 3 on NBC, TSN, and RDS.


In honor of Douglas Adams, I have decided (for awhile, anyway) to do a weekly "grab-bag" post of questions and call it "42." Since, as HHG readers know, it is impossible for the ultimate answer and the ultimate question to exist in the same universe, it follows that no question or answer can be truly ultimate, so I'm just going to give opinions and have fun.

Where is LBJ going?

Contrary to the opinion of professional oddsmakers, I can't imagine LBJ subjecting himself to a career in a cesspool like the "mistake on the lake." And, as much as I would love to see LBJ become a Piston, it's not like Detroit has many redeeming qualities, either. Remember that he can choose between anyplace in the NBA.

My guess is that his buddy D-Wade takes him to a few parties on South Beach and sells him on the lifestyle there. Orlando may be a great "dark-horse" candidate, too. LBJ needs a great suppporting cast, and Florida has no state income tax. Oh, and did I mention that Florida has no state income tax? LBJ would save enough to pay a driver, a gofer, and three hangers on every year he had a primary residence in Florida. And he might even escape a lot of his homey hangers-on if he gets out of Ohio.

What is up with Tiger Woods?

It was a great move to part ways with Hank Haney. Haney's Hogan-esque teachings work wonders for many, but they are the opposite of what Tiger needs. Much like Michigan's woes on the football field of learning a new system, Woods' current swing requires him to think when he should be naturally reacting. He is restricting himself so much that his natural swing is pretty much gone.

Luckily, though, a person's natural swing is still their natural swing, and he can get back to it. I would like to see him subjugate his ego and go back to Butch Harmon, but I don't see him doing that. At any rate, though, he has to go to a slower tempo and less fast-twitch muscles if he wants to stay healthy enough to win those last few majors for the record.

Can Tiger learn to back off within his natural swing? That is a question for another time, but many old-timers teach an interesting method: hit the ball with your practice swing. That pretty much makes you look like Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, or Freddie Couples. They all got pretty good results.

The other thing Tiger obviously needs to do is divorce Elin and get on with his life. She tricked him into not only covering up her Thanksgiving attack, but public confessions of infidelity, thus ensuring that she will be the richest "model" in the world at the stroke of a pen. Tiger needs to sign off, settle for a half-billion or so, and start making money that he won't have to share with her.

Then, Tiger could have as many women as he wants and be a hero instead of a heel in the court of public opinion, especially in that all-important 25-54 male demographic. A savvy agent could get him a lot of great endorsements if he was creative enough. Maybe, somewhere down the road, we will even see a Tiger Woods condom. I can see it now: "You may not ever be chased by a Swedish model with a nine-iron, but you can have the same protection Tiger uses. Tiger-wraps, for the man who does everything."

What's up with "Spartina?"

Not the Spartans, but the word. Over at the "mothership," we saw possibly the second-biggest blogmaster negbang in the history of MGB, when Big Redacted was docked 100,000 points for using the word "Spartina." I guess the moral is that UM fans have too much class to use "terms of negative endearment" about opponents. So, I guess these are probably not recommended there, either:


I am guessing that if Nebraska joins the Big Ten, "Nebraska Cornholers" won't be welcome, either. In addition, references to Shittsburg, Slutgers, Pissouri, or the "Shite-ing Irish" will probably be discouraged.

Sometimes, it is really hard to stay classy, but I guess it is its own reward. Or something like that. And I'm happy to see that Big Redacted has been given back all of his points.

Has Shredder elevated his MS Paint game or what?

The uniforms are his best work yet. I wonder if he took Sparty criticism to heart. Apparently, some Spartan fans from mlive, pissed at my never-ending mission to not allow Spartan trolls to look like their opinions are a majority, visited here. They decided that it was I who was doing the paint jobs and not Shredder. Apparently, they don't teach reading or logic at MSU or they would have noticed what is done by "tater" and what is done by "shredder."

Anyway, thinking he was me, they raked him over the coals for his MS paint work. This proves that most Sparty trolls are doubly "intellectually challanged." Not only were they wrong about his work, but they couldn't even figure out who did it.

Anyway, the Shredder has definitely elevated his game, and that can only bode well for those of us who enjoy his work.

Long may he shred.

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