Michigan’s Denard Robinson dilemma

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson (16) runs the ball by Ohio State defender Johnathan Hankins (52) during the second quarter of their NCAA college football game in Columbus, Ohio, November 27, 2010. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Michigan’s new head coach, Brady Hoke, is facing a difficult dilemma. On the one hand, he needs to bring Michigan back to playing Michigan football after the disastrous RichRod experiment. That means moving back to a pro style offense and moving from the absurd 3-3-5 defense that stopped nobody in the Big Ten back to a traditional 4-3. Michigan needs to get bigger, and Hoke has started that process with his 2011 recruiting class.

Yet with respect to the offense, Hoke also has Denard Robinson, one of the most explosive college football players we’ve seen in years. He was perfect for RichRod’s offense, even though that offense and Robinson sputtered against better defenses. It was an all-or-nothing proposition, and naturally Hoke is anxious to move on.

So how does he use Denard Robinson going forward? Hoke says “We’re smart enough to have elements he does well from what he did in the past in our offense.” But he plans on using Robinson as the quarterback in his pro style offense, which will have Robinson taking snaps under center instead of the shotgun and relying on play action.

I’m skeptical this can work. Sure, he’ll still unleash Robinson at times, and I suspect they might use the option play, but Robinson’s effectiveness will likely suffer dramatically under this system.

Robinson made big plays in the passing game last year, but that was because he found wide-open receivers when defenses tried in vain to slow down his running game. This year he won’t have that luxury. I don’t see Robinson consistently making the tough throws demanded in a pro style offense. He’s also very short and that will limit him as well.

We’ll see how this experiment plays out, but I suspect that Hoke will regret taking Robinson out of his element.

A better option might be to have a traditional quarterback run Hoke’s new offense, and keep a version of RichRod’s system around for Robinson to run as a Wildcat formation. He could also use Robinson as a Slash-type weapon in the traditional offense.

Right now their odds of winning the Big Ten are set at 15/1, so few are expecting a breakout year.

With this transition and the drama surrounding the Big Ten this year with the addition of Nebraska and the troubles at Ohio State, Michigan should be one of the more intriguing stories of 2011.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

What do we think of the new Pac-12 logo?

The soon-to-be Pac-12 Conference recently unveiled the Pac-12 logo and it looks an awful lot like the Pac-10 logo, only with a “12” instead of a “10.” That shouldn’t be overlooked, however, given the way the Big Ten is clinging to that moniker despite expanding to 12 teams next season.

The Pac-10 has an easier time switching to Pac-12 because the conference name is more about “Pac” than it is the number of teams in the conference. The Big Ten doesn’t have that luxury because it was so uncreative in naming itself way back in 1899 (when it was the Big Nine) and 1917 (when it became the Big Ten). They should just bite the bullet and rename it the Big Midwest. It would only take a year or two for the name to catch on BECAUSE IT IS SO MUCH BETTER and ACTUALLY MAKES SENSE.

Nothing at noon: Early college football slate has been boring

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 02: Terrelle Pryor  of the Ohio State Buckeyes leads teammates including Justin Boren , Dan Herron  and Mike Adams  off the field during a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 24-13. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

If you like to sleep in on Saturdays (like, really sleep in), you’ve been in luck. The noon (eastern) slate of college football games this season has been both lacking big-time games, and any kind of surprises. It’s essentially the bad Big Ten and ACC games, and maybe lower-level SEC matchup.

I imagine it has a lot to do with television, and the networks trying to get the biggest games in the prime spots (3:30 and 8). But in year’s past, I seem to remember there being some noon games that were worth watching. And even if they weren’t worth turning on at the start, there always seemed to be at least one game that you saw the score for that made you turn on the TV.

Outside of Florida’s scare against Miami (OH) in Week 1, South Carolina’s win over Georgia in Week 2 and Miami’s win over Clemson last week, there really hasn’t been that much to watch early in the day. And really, none of those were all that exciting. This is surprising in a year where college football has had a ton of big games with a lot of hype. As a couch potato who loves to come home from my morning duties and take in some football right away, I’m very dismayed by this.

Sure, the 3:30 and 8 time slots are great, but if you plan on focusing on one game, the others might as well not even be on. Plus, some of the bigger games get pushed completely off of television in different markets. For instance, last week’s 8 p.m. ABC game in Michigan was Notre Dame vs. Boston College. If you’re not a Notre Dame fan (or I suppose a BC fan, but there’s really not many of those in this state), that doesn’t do much for you. The mirror game on ESPN2 was Washington at USC, which turned out to be a good game, but really doesn’t draw that much interest in the Midwest.

One of last week’s biggest games, Stanford at Oregon, wasn’t even on TV, and I’m not just talking about my crappy basic digital package at home. Buffalo Wild Wings, which has like 75 TVs, didn’t have the game on because it wasn’t available. You’re telling me Notre Dame at Boston College couldn’t have been moved to the noon time slot where people in the Midwest and East (the obvious major markets for that game) could have been awake and watching?

Surely there are more pressing issues in college football right now, but this dearth of noon games seems to be the easiest to fix. So get on it, NCAA, because not only is this boring me early in the day, but it’s really making it hard to find things to write about before 3:30.

Big Ten strong in early part of brutal slate (insert sarcasm tag here)

LINCOLN, NE. - JUNE 11: Big Ten Conference Commissioner James Delany with University of Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osbourne (R) speaks at a press conference for Nebraska accepting an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference June 11, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. The university will begin integration immediately and start athletic competition as soon as 2011. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

The Big Ten is in the middle of a brutal stretch of games today. Of the 10 conference teams in action, eight of them play MAC schools. The other two play FCS opponents.

Well done, Big Ten.

It’s weekends like this that are embarrassing, and spit in the face of the anti-playoff “every week matters” argument. These weekends are even more embarrassing when a team loses (looking at you, Purdue). From some of the noise on Twitter this morning, it’s a money issue, and the conference needs these games to offset Title IX losses.

Really? Sounds like a pathetic excuse to schedule a bunch of cupcakes, to me.

To be fair to the conference, it’s not the only one that schedules like this, and some of its teams schedule some difficult games early in the season. This weekend is just so glaringly awful that it has to be pointed out. But as long as the BCS is around, nothing is going to change, and we can be sure to see more weekends like this throughout the country.

TV revenues would double if Big Ten expands

So says a report by the Chicago Tribune:

Last year, schools received roughly $9 million each from the conference’s deal with ABC/ESPN and another $7 million to $8 million from the BTN. Add revenue from bowl games, the NCAA basketball tournament and licensing, and you arrive at the estimated $22 million-a-year distribution figure that’s the envy of every Division I school outside the Southeastern Conference.

If the Big Ten expands and chooses the right schools, conference officials have seen estimates of television revenues doubling by 2015-16.

If the conference could lock up the tri-state area (New York/New Jersey/Connecticut) by adding schools such as Rutgers, Syracuse and Connecticut — granted, a big “if” — it could add more than 9 million TV households. Rutgers is also an hour from Philadelphia and its 2.95 million households.

“That’s a lot of homes,” one TV executive said, “and a lot of money.”

As the article points out, if the Big Ten wants to maximize TV revenues, the conference could start scheduling more games during the weekday – specifically on Thursday nights. Ohio State and Indiana will host night games on Thursday, September 2, so maybe the conference is growing less apprehensive of scheduling weekday contests.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Related Posts