Craig: Welcome to "Whatever This Is", a new semi-regular feature of The Hoover Street Rag
Geoff: So. Where to begin?
Steve: D-1A coaches as Deadwood characters?
Geoff: Hold on to that one, Steve.
Steve: Aye aye.
Craig: Thank you, I wouldn't have anything to contribute.
Geoff: Want to do a little on our signees, a little on hockey, and a little on basketball?
Craig: Yes, but not too much on signees, because signing day to me is America's evil little holiday.
Steve: So many predictions made off of so little info?
Craig: No, being obsessive about 18 year old kids as potential messiahs.
Steve: Alright, who do you think is our best recruit?
Geoff: Ryan Mallett.
Craig: Vince Helmuth.
Geoff: Mallett's the QB of the future, regarded as #2 in the country by most services, and it's a position we need desperately after Henne's gone.
Craig: Geoff, I don't disagree with you, I just needed to say someone different in order to have more of a discussion.
Geoff: The recruit we most needed was Donovan Warren, because the secondary is...well, a bunch of dudes who aren't Leon Hall.
Craig: Mallett is a huge prospect, literally, he's bigger than Navarre.
Geoff: Ah, the Water Buffalo.
Steve: Never heard that nickname before.
Geoff: It's an MGoBlogism.
Geoff: Two biggest [signing day] non-surprises: RoJo and Finch land elsewhere. Shockers, both [/sarcasm].
Craig: You know, the verbal commitment game is such an odd thing. How many people committed to Florida like, you know, yesterday?
Geoff: Yeah, really. With Finch, it sounds like Meyer just went out to show he can order off the menu any time he likes.
Craig: But Mallet is like what, 8'4", laser/rocket arm?
Geoff: He's Voltron.
Steve: No, Voltron had a flaming sword and no lasers.
Geoff: Is he Optimus Prime?
Craig: My argument for Vince Helmuth is that while fullback is not an ultra-important position, a great fullback can make a major difference
Geoff: Fullbacks are awesome. Obi Oluigbo had a breakout year this season.
Steve: Where would Mike Hart be without him? The guy created some big holes.
Craig: Plus, goalline stands and decoying.
Geoff: He caught a couple passes too.
Craig: But Helmuth is seen as the #1 true fullback in the country, and is a Saline boy, so like, you know, it's almost in the name, he's just down the road!
Geoff: I like the guys who you know are Michigan men.
Craig: Plus, early enrollee, which might mean playing time next year
Steve: My only concern with Helmuth is how tempted the ESPN guys are going to be to make professional poker references when talking about him.
Craig: I also agree with Brian et al that he will become a fan favorite at the Big House. Fullbacks tend to get the cult.
Geoff: Fullback is the archetypical workhorse who doesn't get the highlight reel material, but is instrumental in making the team better. Unless he's Mike Alstott and grabs the 1-yd TD run every time.
Craig: So, I didn't see the consensus, did Michigan get the best in conference class, or was it Illinois?
Geoff: I think Illinois was up there.
Steve: I believe that ESPN gave it to Mr. Zook
Geoff: We're a borderline top-10 class across the board.
Craig: OK, did anyone find it weird that it had no Ohioans, but it did have Californians and Texans?
Geoff: Yeah. That's strange.
Steve: Oh, if I might correct myself. ESPN gave us #10 and Illinois #12
Geoff: We've got at least 4 Californians this year, I think. And the depressing trend of top Michigan products going elsewhere.
Steve: Exactly 4.
Geoff: At least this time around they're turning more towards non-Big Ten schools.
Craig: The California thing I have heard attributed to Mr. English. By the way, may I just make the point that Illinois should not be a big surprise, Zook is known as a recruiter, and as recently as 2001, they were in a BCS bowl
Geoff: Yeah. [NAME REDACTED] always had great classes at Florida, as EDSBS points out.
Steve: 22 of 24 starters on this year's national championship team were his recruits. Although John L. thinks there be goin's on.
Geoff: ESPN also had an article on Zook and it paints him as a recruiting junkie. I think John L. Slappyface just has sour grapes.
Steve: That seems to be the consensus among the sports media as well.
Craig: John L. is still upset about the losing streak.
Steve: There's also the fact that he's never appeared to be playing with a full deck.
Craig: Motion to move on?
Geoff: Carried unanimously.
Geoff: Basketball? To get it out of the way?
Craig: Yes, it's like the second story on a Simpsons trilogy, the weak one goes in the middle
Geoff: In a word: Ugh. In a longer word: Ugggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh.
Craig: Yes, in another word, craptacular!
Geoff: The OSU game was predictable, and it wasn't an embarrassment.
Craig: Well, it is hard to beat Greg Oden, a/k/a Wise LeBron for the commercials.
Geoff: Yeah. Sigh.
Geoff: The ones that kill me are games like Iowa.
Craig: Where we had a big lead and dropped it like it was hot.
Geoff: Letting the Hawks go on a 20-1 run won't win you a lot of ballgames.
Steve: Yep. But with the Ohio State game I'm dissapointed that we lost by 13 when were only down by 4 a couple of minutes into the second half.
Geoff: Bah. That one got away from us late.
Craig: I have to ask, did any Michigan fan truly not see this coming?
Steve: Which part?
Craig: The idea that Michigan would have this kind of meltdown as we moved through February
Geoff: Oh, no. Especially not with the schedule we've been looking at. We knew when we were 11-1 that it was an absurdly soft 11-1.
Craig: What gets me, deeply, is I begin to wonder how much Michigan fans truly are upset by this?
Steve: In my case not very. I've come to expect nothing of Michigan basketball.
Geoff: Ones that grew up on the '89 title and the Fab Five are weeping. Ones that better remember the Ed Martin affair or the time when Michigan was nothing aren't that moved.
Craig: Geoff, that's a good call
Geoff: It's a good call, it's a right call.
Craig: Thank you.
Steve: As someone born in 1984 I can say that '89 and the Fab 5 are in the far reaches of my memory.
Craig: Who is next on the hit parade? For men's hoops. Or Tommy's Tragic Circus.
Geoff: Minnesota at home. It's a trap game.
Craig: Oh, the Ackbar Special
Geoff: The Gophers suck, but the next game up after them is MSU in East Lansing.
Steve: Followed by a home game against Indiana.
Craig: Awesome, the greatest of all Futurama episodes is on
Geoff: Deep South?
Steve: Heck yeah
Craig: Hail Atlanta!
Steve: "Oww, my small intestine!"
Geoff: Arrgh, the laws of science be a harsh mistress!
Craig: Anyway, sorry
Geoff: Tournament hopes.
Steve: Slim to none?
Geoff: [Laughs until the laughing turns to weeping]
Craig: Is there something that is lower than the NIT?
Geoff: Yeah. That's what I thought.
Craig: If we end up there again, can we bring signs to the NIT games calling Tommy a NITWIT?
Geoff: I would not oppose such a measure.
Craig: This is what bothers me. I want to like Tommy, I really do. But at some point, being a nice guy is not enough, no?
Steve: With a school of this size, you're expected to win occasionally.
Geoff: Tommy, from all accounts, is a good guy. He did well to bring the program back from the days when Ellerbee still had the scandal hanging over us
Geoff: But at some point you have to start winning for real.
Craig: I know the popular call is for Rudy T, but I am going to start calling for Cazzie. I mean, I hear he's doing good things down at SCAD.
Geoff: Rudy T wouldn't take it, I don't think. Health problems.
Craig: That was my thinking
Geoff: I'm not sold on the need for a personal connection to the Michigan program. I don't care if it's a guy looking for his step up the ladder.
Craig: I'm also down with that as well
Geoff: We want a kickstart back into the ranks of nationally-prominent programs. If some guy hangs around for a couple years, gets us to win a tournament game, and then bolts for some perpetual power, that's good enough. Because after that you can get a guy more willing to stay.
Steve: And that brings in better recruits. Along with the better record.
Craig: True, because then you have the Michigan name and the recent history
Geoff: OK. Next: Hockey
Geoff: We ended up with a nice January there.
Craig: Yes we did, and I'd like to make an observation about last Saturday's game, which I watched in its entirity. Before watching Bubba Ho-Tep.
Geoff: Please do.
Craig: It was the first time this season where I felt I saw Michigan not only trying to do the little things, but succeeding. First to the puck, winning board battles, blocking shots, making the extra pass. And while it was only a 3-1 win against a middling CCHA team at Yost, it looked like they were playing with some heart and vigor.
Geoff: That's the sort of thing you really want to see. When we had ND at home, it was just the opposite.
Craig: And for the first time all year, I felt a little confidence about the team's prospects in the tournament, should we get there
Geoff: I should go buy my regionals tickets to Van Andel and go regardless of which teams they put there.
Craig: Again, good call, right call
Geoff: Anyone else in for it?
Craig: Which weekend?
Craig: Is it March 24?
Steve: I'm game.
Geoff: March 23 and 24.
Craig: I'll let you know
Craig: What I also like is that I think that the defense is playing better in front of Sauer.
Geoff: OK. So the next game on the docket is MSU at the Joe. It's a big game.
Craig: It is. And I will be there for it.
Craig: I think it's a big game on a number of levels
Geoff: We will demand appropriate reportage.
Craig: I shall.
Steve: Craig, how did Sauer look to you?
Craig: Oh, I don't know. He had three exceptional saves where he finally looked like a goalie who was following the puck like a dog follows a laser pointer.
Geoff: We won 3-1. That's good enough for me when it comes to Sauer.
Craig: I think he's like a Beatles song...he's getting better all the time. But i will be interested to see him on Hockey Day in Michigan.
Geoff: You were saying before that you think this MSU tilt is a big game on a number of levels, Craig?
Craig: Yes, as much as winning the last six games has been big (and I fully expect that to be seven by Saturday), they have been against the teams which currently sit 9, 11, 8, and (12) in the CCHA standings. MSU is a rivalry game on neutral ice against a team only four points back with a game in hand, so if Michigan wants to hold on to second place in the league, they need this one. At least a tie.
Geoff: You mean "neutral" ice. And, yeah. It's a biggie.
Craig: I don't know, as much as I liked thinking of JLA as Yost East, it really hasn't been in recent years.
Geoff: Oh, I meant the opposite.
Craig: Oh, OK, that makes sense. And the Sparties are very boisterous, and they bring the bass guitar, which is totally cheating
Steve: There's no electricity in pep band!
Geoff: The last few times I've been there it's been wall-to-wall green and white, except for the CCHA championship where we beat OSU. Ok, not really. But there have been a lot of them.
Craig: Well, I'll have the maize jersey on. By the way, MSU's game in hand will even out on Tuesday when they play Ferris to finish out the home and home starting on Friday.
Craig: I don't see Michigan catching the Domers, but holding on to #2 and potentially drawing Miami at the Joe would be big. So they really need this one
Geoff: You know it. And with that, I think our Hour of Power draws near closing.
Craig: Indeed, the old hand on the wall is pointing to 11, and that means, that's all for this week's edition of "Whatever This Is"
Geoff: See you next time, folks.
Steve: I enjoyed it
Craig: Please feel free to comment on this, contribute, or suggest topics to discuss next time
Geoff: Thanks guys.