Well, this is interesting: Tom Keegan of the Lawrence Journal-World is reporting that a source with ties to the Big Ten has told him that the conference is in “preliminary exchanges” with the University of Texas about becoming the 12th Big Ten team. Yes, that University of Texas. While this rumor, by virtue of not being started on Twitter, seems to have more credence than the “Pitt to Big Ten” rumors from a couple weeks back, it’s still very early in the expansion process for the Big Ten, and I would not expect to hear anything concrete on this for a while. Still, it’s fun to speculate: Brian has already posted a wild 14-team, three-tier conference alignment proposal (with the addition of Pitt, Missouri, and Texas to the Big Ten, presumably) that uses soccer-style relegation. It is, admittedly, completely insane, but it’s tough to deny how fun that setup would be.
In football news, Touch the Banner has posted a three-part geographical breakdown of Michigan recruiting, looking at offers, commitments, and percent of accepted offers by state. Not surprisingly, Michigan puts most of their offers out to players from Florida and Ohio, while pulling the majority of their commitments from Ohio, Michigan, and Florida. It would be really interesting, if the date were available, to extend this research over Rich Rodriguez’s full time at Michigan, as the small sample size (just the Class of 2010) makes it hard to draw any big conclusions from this, but it’s still interesting to look at.
The Big House Blog scored an interview with Jeremy Ross, a kicker from my alma mater (Ann Arbor Pioneer) who will walk on to the team next season. He’s tiny (5’5, 145 pounds) but has some really nice high school numbers (warning: lots of third-person self-referencing ahead):
BHB: If you were a evaluating Jeremy as a kicker what would you say about him?
JR: If I was evaluating Jeremy as a kicker I would say that he is very consistent. His form makes up for his lack of size and he proves it with every kick. He shows his worth with his consistency. If he was asked to go out there and make 10/10 kick he wouldn’t shy away from it.(Unless it was from 37 yards, in my career I’m 22/25 and every one that I missed has been from 37 yards, its really weird and when I go out on the field I don’t even think about it.
BHB: What is the longest field goal you have kicked in a game or at practice?
JR: In a game my longest field goal is 45 yards, in practice I’ve hit from 55 yards, and out of my 22 field goals in high school 8 are from 40+ yards.
Ross will be enrolling in June, and his stated goal is to earn a starting spot and become Michigan’s version of Reggie Ho (the former Notre Dame walk-on-turned-starting-kicker). Best of luck to the kid — it’s always nice to see Ann Arbor talent on the Wolverines.
Moving on to basketball, Dylan takes a closer look at what most Michigan fans are calling a disappointing season for Manny Harris. You wouldn’t guess it from watching the games, but Manny has actually been just about as good in Big Ten play as he was last season (in fact, his offensive rating has improved slightly). The issue, says Dylan, is expectations:
So perhaps nothing is wrong with Manny Harris at all. This is the same Manny that we saw last year during Big Ten play. He will have his great games but he also has his off-days when nothing seems to work. Every player has his bad games, that’s undeniable. The problem is that even if this is the same Manny Harris, Michigan was hoping for an improved Manny.
Expectations were high this year because improvement was expected. Harris and Sims would become more consistent. Michigan’s role players would slightly refine their games to become less one dimensional. Looking at Manny specifically, I firmly believe that if he could shoot ~35% from three point range he’d be a lock first round draft pick.
Over at Burgeoning Wolverine Star, Chris calls for more Darius Morris — who appears to have assumed the starting point guard position — as he begins looking ahead to 2011:
I assume Morris’ start against Wisconsin is the beginning of the Morris era and we rarely see him start games on the bench for the rest of his time at Michigan. A lot has been made of the fact that he can’t really shoot from the outside, to which I say, bullpuckey. I don’t want Morris shooting threes anyway. I want him to be a point guard, something that he’s increasingly proving he might actually be. I’m exceedingly pessimistic about the 2011 season but that might change as Morris gets more and more playing time and we get to see just how well he can run the offense.
Also, UMHoops chatted with the Minnesota blog From the Barn in preparation for tonight’s game against the Gophers.
Finally, ESPN has an interesting piece on a Michigan name I hadn’t heard in a very long time: MaliVai Washington, the former M tennis star who made the Wimbledon final in 1996. As it turns out, Washington wasn’t exactly a model student-athlete at Michigan, as he talks about showing up to class late, sleeping during class, and leaving early on a regular basis. He did not graduate before turning pro, but now, post-playing career, he is taking academics much more seriously as a finance major at the University of North Florida. He has also become very active in his community:
Washington also devotes himself to the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation, a nonprofit based in Jacksonville’s rough-and-tumble 32209 zip code. Dropouts, teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse — this neighborhood has it all. It also has, thanks to the efforts of Washington and his colleagues, a 9,000-square-foot youth center, eight tennis courts and a program that combines tennis and education.
Great to see Washington representing the University well, even if he’s moved on to a different school.