Back in February 2006, I started Michigan Sports Center as nothing more than a hobby. Quickly it became something much bigger, however, and ever since it has led to numerous awesome opportunities, including running Pride of Detroit, SB Nation’s Lions blog. The newest opportunity that has come my way is to be the managing editor of SB Nation Detroit, which launched last night. SB Nation Detroit is one of 20 regional sites that will launch as part of the SB Nation network this month, and I’m very excited about what is in store for this new venture.
Although this is an awesome opportunity and I’m pumped for it, the one down side is that effective today, I will be done updating Michigan Sports Center. With the time I need to dedicate to SB Nation Detroit and the fact that I will be writing about U-M sports there, it was simply not feasible to continue updating MSC. After all, as you probably noticed the last few months, I haven’t had a ton of time for MSC in the first place, so it would have been unrealistic to try to keep this blog going, update Pride of Detroit and SB Nation Detroit, and have time to worry about my classes.
It was certainly an interesting four years of Michigan sports for me to cover. The first year of this blog, I was lucky enough to cover the 2006 football team, which just barely missed out on going undefeated in the regular season but did earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. Then in 2007, well, it was quite the roller coaster ride. Disaster happened when Michigan lost to Appalachian State and then was demolished a week later by Oregon. Michigan got its season turned around, however, and was able to send Lloyd Carr, who announced his plans to retire following the Ohio State game, out a winner by beating Florida in the Capital One Bowl.
Probably the most interesting single story to follow was the coaching search that immediately began following Carr’s retirement announcement. Every day there were new rumors about the latest hot name in the coaching search, and who could forget the Les Miles saga that Kirk Herbstreit helped create on the day of the SEC championship game? In the end Rich Rodriguez ended up getting the job, and we all know how that has gone. Rodriguez’s first season coincided with my first year at U-M, and to say things went poorly would be an understatement. Then, a year later, a promising 4-0 start resulted in a 5-7 finish. Oh, and there was practicegate and NCAA violations. Perhaps you heard about that, too.
This blog was also around for the firing of Tommy Amaker and the hiring of John Beilein. Beilein struggled mightily in his first season at Michigan, but season two was the highlight of my freshman year at U-M. The basketball team upset UCLA and Duke and made a strong late-season run to make its first NCAA tournament in a long, long time. Watching the selection show at Crisler was an absolutely awesome experience, and watching Michigan beat Clemson in the first round of the tourney was even better. Things didn’t go according to plan this past season and the future is very uncertain with Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims gone, but there’s no denying how great the 2008-09 season was.
The hockey team was the most consistent of the big three sports during the four years of this blog. Every year until this past season Michigan was consistently ranked near the top of the polls. Of course, Michigan still had an amazing season this year after making an unremarkable run to the NCAA tournament, and that run would have continued to the Frozen Four had it not been for some incompetent officiating. The Wolverines did make it to the Frozen Four once during the four years of this blog, but unfortunately they lost to Notre Dame in overtime in the semifinals.
The non-big three sports provided some memorable moments as well. There were plenty of Big Ten titles, a few club titles (lacrosse), and one national title (men’s gymnastics team) from the non-revenue sports teams, and the success of the baseball and softball programs has been great to watch. Who could forget the baseball team’s upset of Vanderbilt to make it to the super regional of the NCAA tournament a few years back? And for softball, well, they’re contenders for the College World Series every year, even if they didn’t make it this season.
Overall, it has been quite the ride to cover Michigan sports these last four years. There have been many highs and many lows, but all in all it has been very fun. And even though my role at SB Nation Detroit will require me to cover more than just Michigan sports (I even get to write about MSU too now. How fun!), you can bet I will still be writing about the Wolverines quite a bit. I won’t be able to cover every little tidbit of Michigan-related news, but it’s not like there is a shortage of awesome U-M sports blogs, so I’m sure you will all manage to get by.
Anyways, I just want to say thanks to everyone that read Michigan Sports Center over these last four years (coincidentally, the site just crossed 3,000,000 views yesterday), and I hope you will check out Pride of Detroit and SB Nation Detroit. I imagine there may be some future moments where I pop in here for a post every now and again, but to continue to follow my coverage of U-M sports, make sure to check out the Michigan football and basketball pages on SB Nation Detroit.
Thanks again for everything and Go Blue!
- Jon Bills, Mark Moundros, and former Michigan player Kirk Moundros were in a car accident yesterday, and Bills is going to have surgery today because his injury is apparently pretty serious. My thoughts go out to both him and the Moundroses.
- Smoking will be banned in all of Michigan Stadium starting this coming season.
- Michigan got a commit from Columbus defensive end Chris Rock last month.
- Sam Webb isn’t optimistic that Demar Dorsey and Antonio Kinard will make it to Michigan. Everybody else should be good to go, though.
- Desmond Howard isn’t entirely sure what he will say during his induction speech for the College Football Hall of Fame, but he is definitely going to honor Bo Schembechler.
- Assistant coach Mike Jackson is leaving Michigan to be an assistant at Purdue. Ouch.
- Darius Morris has been working out with likely No. 1 overall pick John Wall this offseason.
- Anthony Wright is going to transfer to Toledo and will be able to play next season if he pursues a graduate degree not offered at U-M.
- Construction of Michigan’s basketball practice facility has begun.
- John Beilein shared his memories of John Wooden, who passed away last week.
- The Michigan softball team ended up getting swept by Tennessee in the super regional, ending their season.
- The Michigan baseball team was eliminated from the Big Ten tournament after a couple of late-game collapses, so their season came to an end in May as well.
- Michigan’s Peter Vanderkaay is now training for the 2012 Olympics, which would be the third Olympics of his career.
- Someone from the Tampa Bay Rays is a Michigan hockey fan.
- Miami (Ohio) captain Tommy Wingels signed with the San Jose Sharks.
- The Michigan softball team lost its first home game since 2008 last night. Pitcher Jordan Taylor only gave up one earned run during the game, but Tennessee capitalized on a few Michigan mistakes and ended up winning 5-0. The Wolverines only managed one hit during the game, breaking up the near no-hitter in the seventh and final inning. To advance to the College World Series, Michigan will have to win twice today. Game two of the series gets underway at 4:30 p.m. on ESPNU. If Michigan wins and forces a third and deciding game, it will start around 7 p.m. and be shown on ESPN2.
- Bree Evans, who’s had enough injury problems to deal with, hurt her right arm last night when a foul ball hit her in the dugout. Evans was on the ground for a few minutes before going to the clubhouse. She did come back out to Michigan’s dugout with her right arm in a sling, but there’s no word on how bad Evans’ injury is (she was supposed to get x-rays last night).
- The baseball team opened the Big Ten tournament with an 18-4 win over Iowa.
- MVictors took a look at where Bill Martin fits into this whole CARA forms mess.
- Get well soon, JoePa.
- Michigan opens its Super Regional series against Tennessee tonight at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor. Tonight’s game begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN. Tomorrow’s first game begins at 4:30 p.m., and if a third game is necessary it will start at 7 p.m. Friday’s first game will be shown on ESPNU, whereas the third game will be on ESPN2.
- Desmond Howard has been elected to the College Football of Hall of Fame.
- Michigan’s hockey captains next season will be Carl Hagelin and Luke Glendening. The alternate captains will be Matt Rust and Louie Caporusso.
- For the third straight year, Michigan’s season-opener in football will be broadcast nationally and start in the afternoon. Just like the Utah game in 2008 and the Western Michigan game a year ago, the UConn game on September 4 will start at 3:30 p.m. and be shown on ABC/ESPN2 (depending on where you live). Also, it was announced that the UMass game on September 18 will start at noon and be shown on the Big Ten Network. So far the game times/TV details have been announced for five games. The other game times will be determined either six or twelve days prior to kickoff.
- Brian of mgoblog went through the documents included in Michigan’s response to the NCAA and determined that Brad Labadie and Scott Draper should be canned over how incompetent they were in handling the CARA forms. It’s truly amazing to read through the different e-mails and see just how poorly this was handled. If I were Rich Rodriguez, I would demand both to be fired right now, because this situation was made a lot worse over how mishandled it was by Labadie and Draper.
- Jonathan Chait took the Free Press to task for how inaccurate their “investigation” was.
- Michigan’s game against Kansas at Crisler Arena has been scheduled for January 9, the Sunday after the winter semester starts. Also, the Utah game is set for December 10, meaning it will be played the night before The Big Chill at the Big House.
- Ashton Kutcher had to wear a Michigan Wolverines shirt for some movie he’s in, and based on this picture I’d say he’s not a fan.
Michigan made its NCAA response public this morning, announcing the specifics of its self-imposed sanctions:
- The quality control staff has shrunk by 40% (five to three), and the remaining three staff members will be prohibited from “attending practices, games and coaches’ meetings for the remainder of 2010.” A new NCAA bylaw actually now gives the quality control staff the ability to attend coaches’ meetings, but as part of its punishment, Michigan will not allow that until 2011.
- Michigan will lose 130 hours of practice and training time over the next two years. Because it was determined that Michigan went over the countable athletically related activities (CARA) limit by 65 hours during 2008 and 2009, Michigan decided to punish itself by doubling that number and reducing practice and training time by 130 hours.
- Michigan will be on probation for two years.
That is really it as far as actual penalties go. Seven staff members will be reprimanded for their “responsibility for these violations occurring over an extended period,” including Rich Rodriguez, Mike Barwis, Scott Draper, and a few people in the compliance office. Alex Herron, the quality control staffer that allegedly misled NCAA investigators, was fired months ago.
In addition, Michigan has “taken corrective measures to prevent these or similar violations from occurring in the future.” For example, a new “fail-safe” method of tracking internal matters has already been introduced in order to prevent any potential violations from happening again.
Another part of the response includes some disagreements Michigan has with what the NCAA found and with what the Free Press reported back in August last year.
• U-M disagrees with the NCAA enforcement staff that Rodriguez failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program. The information gathered during the investigation demonstrates that Rodriguez has been committed to both compliance with NCAA bylaws and with the academic success of his student-athletes during his time at the university. Rodriguez has been responsive to direct requests from the compliance and academic support staffs.
• U-M found no evidence of student-athlete abuse, nor any evidence that its employees disregarded student-athlete welfare. This is in stark contrast to early media reports.• While U-M could be considered a repeat violator as a result of a May 8, 2003, men’s basketball case, the institution does not believe it is warranted in this instance.
Michigan obviously admits that violations occurred and is punishing itself for those violations. However, Michigan also feels pretty strongly about how much the Free Press misrepresented what actually happened.
“The University is satisfied that the initial media reports are greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect.”
While the Free Press’ investigation was already determined to be very inaccurate and completely off base in some instances, it’s interesting that Michigan commented about it. They didn’t specifically call out the Free Press, but it’s obvious that’s who they were talking about in the quote above.
Anyways, going back to the self-imposed sanctions, the early returns are that Michigan “slapped itself on the wrist.” The sanctions announced are basically what I was expecting, although I was a bit surprised that there were no scholarship reductions. I felt that it was possible Michigan could lose an assistant coach spot for a year or two, but it lost a couple quality control staffers instead.
All in all, these sanctions aren’t too bad. Losing 130 hours of practice time over the next two years stinks, but that’s much better than some of the alternatives to deal with the violations, such as losing numerous scholarships or being banned from the postseason or whatever.
Michigan’s hearing with the NCAA Committee on Infractions is set for August 13-14. The Committee on Infractions will then later determine if the self-imposed sanctions are enough or if additional sanctions are needed. Michigan put their response together with the hope that their self-imposed sanctions would satisfy the NCAA Committee on Infractions, so let’s hope that ends up happening. The last thing Michigan needs to worry about now is having the NCAA add to the list of infractions or worse, having the self-imposed sanctions thrown out altogether because they’re too light.
You can find all of the documents included as part of Michigan’s response to the NCAA here.
- The Michigan softball team rolled through its regional, beating Wright State once and Notre Dame twice in dominating fashion over the weekend. Michigan will now host Tennessee, the No. 15 seed in the tournament, in a super regional in Ann Arbor. Thursday’s game starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN. Friday’s first game starts at 4:30 p.m. on ESPNU. The second game, if necessary, will also be shown on ESPNU.
- Michigan’s response to the NCAA over practicegate was expected to be submitted today. We should hear about the details of the response on Tuesday.
- Although Michigan and Notre Dame announced a 20-year extension of their rivalry a few years ago, there is no contract making it official. Dave Brandon wants to make it official at some point, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a game played every single year. Remember, the rivalry is taking two years off in the future, and honestly, that is something I’d like to see more often. If the Notre Dame game is going to prevent Michigan from playing in big-time home and home series, then I’d rather play ND every other year or for two years and then take a two year break. That would give Michigan more flexibility with its schedule and allow for matchups with the big-time programs in college football like Ohio State has been doing.
- Tate Forcier is excited to play against San Diego State in 2011 because he feels they didn’t show him much love when he was being recruited in high school.
- Soony Saad, an incoming freshman for Michigan, received the honor of being named Gatorade’s National Soccer Player of the Year.
- That Big Ten expansion rumor from a couple weeks ago was complete BS, as confirmed by Jim Delany. Delany also said that the Big Ten is going to stick to its timetable, meaning we shouldn’t expect a sudden expansion announcement to happen this summer.
- Lloyd Carr’s opinion on Big Ten expansion is that “it’s inevitable.”
- In addition to some of Braylon Edwards’ former teammates at Michigan, Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes, Donte’ Stallworth, and Kerry Rhodes also are scheduled to participate in his charity basketball game at Crisler Arena next month. Tickets are now available.
- WolverineHistorian uploaded a video of the trophy presentation after Michigan won the Big Ten title in 2003. As you’ll see in the video, Chris Perry was happy, to say the least.
- Michigan’s response to the NCAA’s allegations of rules violations (try saying that three times fast) will be submitted next Monday and made public on Tuesday, May 25. The response will include self-imposed sanctions, which Michigan hopes will satisfy the NCAA Committee on Infractions, who Michigan has to meet with in August. During that meeting the committee will determine whether more sanctions are needed or if the self-imposed ones are good enough.
- Rich Rodriguez and company won’t find out Demar Dorsey’s status (if he qualifies or not) for another few weeks.
- Michigan’s only serious injury during spring practice was when Will Heininger tore his ACL.
- The Griese/Hutchinson/Woodson Champions for Children’s Hearts Weekend raised more than $1 million for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
- MVictors has a recap of the Swing to Cure Diabetes Event.
- The Michigan basketball team could travel to Europe in late August for some games.
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