Saturday, July 30, 2011

Big Ten to move to nine games in 2017

Looks like the Big Ten is taking one step closer to a round-robin in football, with adding one conference game (total of nine) beginning in 2017.  Said ESPN's Adam Rittenberg - "Big Ten coaches aren't thrilled about the idea of a nine-game conference schedule, which likely will debut in 2017.  But another potential scheduling twist is gaining support around the conference. Big Ten coaches are discussing the possibility of playing one league game earlier in the season, like you see in the SEC, ACC and other major conferences."

ES loves it.  More conference games the better.

Cousins WOWs at B1G Ten Luncheon

Kirk Cousins, albeit a bit fast on his delivery (he is only what 21 years old???), blows away the crowd with his take on what it means to be a Big Ten football player.  Standing ovation, watch, listen, and clap... He gets it right at the end, with a hearty "Go Green." 

Captain Kirk:  Just follow this up with 3,000 yards, 30 TDs, and 0 INTs and we'll be happy... :)  :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rollerball on Steriods: MSU to Pound scUM with Nike Pro Combat System Uniform on October 15

The ES met with an old colleague from his days working in the Michigan State Senate... he used to play cornerback for Bo Schemechler at scUM.  He said, "I haven't seen you in a while, what have you been up to?" ES response:, "since we been kicking your arse, I haven't needed to get in your face."  He laughed, and said: "well, that's about to change."  The ES said "show me."  Fantastic engagement.  Loved it.

As for any football updates, the one interesting tidbit is Rollerball #2 is about to hit Spartanland this fall.  We saw our first Rollerball playout last year with the debut of the new OregonNikeIsh Spartan football jerseys last year.  Now, MSU will display some freakish highly advanced "fully integrated uniform system" for the MSU vs scUM matchup this fall, October 15, at Spartan Stadium.  Nike officially calls this a "2011 Nike Pro Combat system" -- those who will sport it will include Army, Boise State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan State, Navy, Ohio State, Oregon and Stanford.

What is interesting is we got a taste of it already (at right), at least those of you who watched the professional debut of Cam Newton in the 2011 BCS Championship Game, as Oregon with its Combat Uniforms did its best to leapfrog the Auburn Tigers, to no avail.

What to expect?  ES guess is some freakish helmet whose colors shimmy from green to white to gray, a green uniform with tiny whitish spots and some ugly gruff "pretend" shield painted on the shoulder pads like the stupid feathers painted on the Ducks' pads, and some whitish/graying pants.  You will see them keep the Rollerball-ish numbers and Michigan State typeface on the front, a la Oregon. Any stripes?  Nope, not anywhere -- they ain't on the Oregon combat unis, and don't expect them on the Spartan combat unis.

Will we see Neon Spartan Green?  It remains to be... well, seen....  Who cares, so long as we kick Brady Hoke and his scUM arse, we can wear pantyhose and pink jerseys for all the ES cares.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Spartans' Captain Kirk to be featured at Big Ten Annual Media Day

OK, Big Ten media day is coming next week (Friday, July 29), at McCormick Place in Chicago.  And... other than BTN's Dave Revsine, the other lead speaker is none other than... Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins who will speak on behalf of the players in attendance. No shock there - anyone who has ever heard Cousins' interviews, whether after a shining or sloppy performance, win or lose, he's as natural on t.v. as anyone you've ever heard.  He will represent the Big Ten players well. Go GREEN! 

In addition, Revsine and Captain Kirk will be joined at the Kickoff Luncheon by each of the 12 Big Ten head football coaches and 36 of the conference's top returning players. Revsine will sit down with the coaches in groups of three to discuss the upcoming season - a departure from years past in which coaches individually addressed the crowd.

Luncheon starts at 11:30 CT.  Read more here

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New NCAA Hockey Conference Serves Death Blow to WCHA, CCHA

Interesting changes in the Division I hockey landscape this summer.  Basically, the long traditions of the WCHA and CCHA are ending.  The power teams in the two conferences will all leave by the 2012-2013 season, when the Big Ten adds hockey with a new team at Penn State, CCHA members MSU, scUM, and Ohio State, and WCHA members Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Now, a new hockey conference will take the remaining power teams from the WCHA (Minnesota-Duluth, Colorado Collage, Denver, North Dakota) and Miami-Ohio and Nebraska-Omaha from the CCHA. That announcement today was the final death blow to the WCHA and CCHA.  Notably, the former commissioner of the CCHA, Tom Anastos, read the writing long ago when Penn State announced the beginning of its hockey program -- and bolted to the opening head coaching position at Michigan State to replace the retiring Rick Comley.

The funerals for WCHA and CCHA will likely be held in those teams that have been left out in the cold, like Michigan Tech, Ferris State, and Western Michigan, all season long beginning this fall.  Welcome to new NCAA hockey in 2012!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Phil Steele disappoints on #28 Michigan State

Reading Phil Steele's writeup of his #28 Michigan State Spartans was one of the more disappointing reads of the preseason previews; although he is accurate in his assessment by position, he uses a negative connotation about MSU, unlike his love of the scUM mystique.  Just starting with the cover -- a scUM player (Robinson), a Ohio $tate player (Williams), and a Nebraska player (Crick).... even though Steele picks MSU in a tie in the Legends Division with Nebraska. 

But, his analysis of the Spartans sez this by position, fairly accurate:
  • QB: "Cousins should be one of the Big Ten's best"
  • RB: "This is one of the deeper RB corps in the country"
  • OL: "With a deeper overall unit MSU could top last year's production"
  • DL: "This looks like the Spartans' deepest and most complete DL since at least '07"
  • LB: "With the loss of the top 2, however, this unit will be down a few notches"
  • DB: "This group is equal to last year in terms of experience and 6'2' Tony Lippet could be a big upgrade at CB if he stays on defense"
  • ST:  "may drop a few notches"
Forecast:  "This year MSU has just 12 returning starters and play five road games vs. bowl teams. Despite that 7-1 mark in Big Ten play they were only +39.9 yards per game.  MSU also benefitted from three net close wins and had just 7 starters lost to injury.  This is probably the strongest team that Dantonio has fielded but the above factors make it tough to match last year's 11 wins."  He ranks Michigan State #28 overall, although he has them in a tie for first in the Legends Division... ????

ES:  My problem with the forecast is the framework provided by Steele is one of the glass being half empty instead of half full:  why is ypg, close wins, and lack of injuries seen as a negative?  This is Dantonio's style, to play tough on defense and give his teams a chance to make plays and win.  Spartan fans will (hopefully) see this year in and year out... and also celebrate the victories to match. 

Notably, in every other BCS conference where he picked a #1 team or a tie at #1 in a conference division, Steele ranked them in the Top 25 (except the Big Least with Pitt) :  SEC (Alabama #1, Georgia #9), ACC (#5 Virginia Tech, #10 Florida St), Pac-12 (#4 Oregon, #17 Southern Cal), Big East (#25 South Florida, #27 Pittsburgh), Big 12 (Oklahoma #2), Big Ten (#12 Nebraska, #15 Ohio St, #23 Wisconsin, #24 Penn St). 

Steele projects Michigan State to play Florida in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day.  He has Cousins as his #6 QB, Baker as his #7 RB, Martin as his #51 WR, Cunningham as his #65 WR, Linthicum as #24 TE, Foreman as his #7 OG, Conroy as #16 PK, Worthy as #2 DT, Norman as #43 LB, Adams as #33 CB, Robinson as #17 FS, and Martin as #15 PR.  Never in my years reading Steele have I seen as many Spartans listed so highly. 

As units go, Steele has MSU QBs at #23, RBs at #6, DL at #25, ST at #6.  Steele blew it not including the Spartan WR corps or the DBs in his top 25 -- clearly they deserve a nod. 

Bottom line: the ES despises being lumped into the same category as Pittsburgh and not being given a nod for its talent... but, this just means that Dantonio has lots of work to do to give Michigan State the respect after so many years of underachieving.  That starts with 2011-12.