Tuesday, December 8, 2009

other stuff that's going on

The obvious problem with a coaching turnover is that it blots out everything else. Pretty much literally everything. I mean, there's a national championship being decided in soccer. So let's see what the hell's going on there.

We find ourselves in Cary, NC for the College Cup; a much less impressive-sounding destination than Foxborough or Omaha, but no less meaningful. To put this in a little perspective for Cavaliers fans drowning in misery over our historically crappy revenue sports, the three "secondary" men's sports (not quite as high-profile as basketball and football but on a tier above the Olympic sports like cross country or wrestling) all ended up in the championship destination of their respective sport in this calendar year. Lacrosse and soccer - Final Fours both, and the baseball team was in the CWS, finishing fifth. UNC has soccer and baseball going for them, but no other school can claim three. Not even if you include hockey, which sadly we don't participate in. This would be an explanation for why we're currently leading the Director's Cup (!) except that that's only fall sports - the baseball and lacrosse were last year. Just wait til it adds the soccer results (women didn't do too badly either) and the reaming we're about to unleash on the rest of the world in the swimming pool.

(Swimming being the Olympic sport I actively care about, you should know that that particular season is well underway, and the men and women both administered beatings to Poly and Kentucky - the latter having finished 17th in the men's nationals last year to our 9th. And we suffered two very close dual meet losses to Florida - 5th and 7th at nationals, if you're wondering. Both the men's and women's teams derived the bulk of their points at the ACCs and nationals last year from non-seniors and are poised for another outstanding season.)

Anyway, soccer. Jeff White and numerous others already mentioned the insane shutout streak that the team is currently riding, so I don't feel jinxy about pointing out that still nobody's scored on us since October 17th. I wish I could find the actual number that is the shutout streak record for a goalie, but all I can remember is that it's likely we'd have to go into next season before Diego Restrepo can beat it. Still, we're currently over 1,000 minutes of goal-free soccer. This is not a place I imagined we'd be at the beginning of the season when it seemed like we were the ones not scoring ever, but who's complaining?

Also, the only reason the Final Four isn't four ACC teams is because 1) the team that isn't ACC is 23-0-0 and 2) they didn't put any ACC teams in that quarter of the bracket anyway. Instead they forced the ACC to beat up on itself, and we obliged, handing a whooping-stick in the form of a 3-0 thrashing to defending national champion (ugh) Maryland. Up next is Wake Forest. Excellent team. No crazy Cinderellas in this Final Four. I'm wary, as we never seem to be able to beat them without some kind of major-league drama. Twice in a row now we've seen them in the ACC tournament and twice in a row we've had to deal with double overtime. They'll be out for blood, what with all the close, close losses they've suffered at our hands lately. But they have to score on us to beat us.

I was going to follow up with some basketball, but I'll save that for later. Plenty of time for that, now that the team is on final exams break. But we do have some football odds and ends.

First, a recruiting board update. Exciting, no? That would be because commitment #13 is on there, and it's a quarterback. Woo. Update is as follows:

- Added QB Michael Strauss to orange.

- On that note, moved QBs David Olson and Hutson Mason to red. We are still a touch thin at quarterback, having only four scholarship ones on the roster next year. Assuming Riko Smalls is, in fact, a quarterback. So we might take another one, or, I think equally likely, wait til next year.

- Moved DT Johnathan Hankins to red; once he got that Michigan offer, it was basically over for us.

So, where we stand in the big picture: we have 12 graduating seniors and 13 verbals, which puts us one over. I think. If I have my scholarship numbers right. No matter though; we still don't know about which fifth-year seniors won't be asked back. I think that number would be no higher than three; if that many, the players we give the watch to would probably be Matt Leemhuis, Isaac Cain, and Staton Jobe. Also take into account the ever-present likelihood of some attrition over the offseason, and I think we will take anywhere from 2-4 more commitments. If we can get as many as four. I think it's likely to be a really slow couple of months before Signing Day. Never fear; the 2011 board will show up just about a month from now.

Now here's something we hope you'll really like. This is fun. The university doesn't usually like to come out with this stuff this far in advance. Normally we have to wait until pretty much everyone else has found out theirs before we get to learn ours, and then we only get to learn the upcoming season. What the hell am I talking about? Out-of-conference opponents! Jeff White lays it all bare until 2015. This would be about as close as you get to official confirmation that that deal which was supposed to give us four free home games from MAC opponents is a dead donkey. Frickin' MAC weasels. With that knowledge in hand, it sort of annoys me that a MAC opponent (that we probably had to pay for) is coming to town, but at least it's as big a patsy as they have to offer.

Anyway, here, I'll spoil the surprise and type it all out. This isn't in any order, so don't go thinking one game comes after the other just cause I (or White) put it down that way:

2010: @USC, vs. Eastern Michigan, vs. Richmond, vs. VMI
2011: @Indiana, vs. Idaho, vs. William & Mary, vs. Southern Miss
2012: @TCU, vs. Penn State, vs. Richmond
2013: @Penn State
2014: vs. Richmond, vs. UCLA
2015: @UCLA, vs. William & Mary

Thoughts in bullet form:

- Next year's schedule is the least enticing I've ever seen. Two I-AA teams means we have to win seven to go to a bowl. But a poster on CavsCorner had a sentiment I'm stealing: better 6-6 and no bowl than 5-7 and no bowl. What, you really had "bowl game" on your 2010 to-do list after this fiasco? It would take a massive, massive improvement.

- Idaho? Huh. That might be the most random opponent I've ever seen.

- Hey, cool, UCLA! That's the kind of opponent I want to see plenty of on the schedule. USC is interesting and all but would be a lot more so if we weren't chopped dog meat to them. But a BCS opponent is always enticing, and more so when they're a team sort of on our historical level. I liked having teams like Wisconsin and South Carolina on the schedule a few years back.

- Would be nice to not play so many I-AA teams.

Closing thought for the day: Mike London has established a pace of one verbal commitment per day on the job. This is a fun trend and I want to see it continued. Forever.

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