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November 21, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-11-21

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 7A

Rutgers University
joins the Big Ten

Senior quarterback Denard Robinson spent time at wingback, tailback, wide receiver and quarterback last weekend in his first game back from injury.
Robinson eys Borges s new

Daily Sports Editor
For Michigan offensive coor-
dinator Al Borges, football is a
game of possibility. It's survey-
ing a field or scribbling plays on
a napkin, devising ways to get
two top-five NFL draft picks in
the same backfield, getting play-
makers in open space or to get
your playmaker the ball even if
he's injured. In his mind, there
are possibilities.
"My creative juices are flow-
ing all the time," Borges said..
"Depending on the game, I'm
considered creative or idiotic.
But they're always flowing."
Saturday was creative. Junior
Devin Gardner played most of
the game at quarterback against
Iowa, as he has for three weeks
now after senior quarterback
Denard Robinson injured his
elbow against Nebraska. Rob-
inson, the explosive playmaker,
often lined up in the backfield.
Robinson hasn't thrown a
pass since Michigan's game
against Nebraska on Oct. 27, but
the possibilities are still abound-
ing. There were new formations
and handoff options and a triple
reverse: loads of new possibili-
ties - some realized and some
theoretical - for which Ohio
State must prepare.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke
said Borges had already created
nine plays featuring Robinson

as a back before he was injured.
After Robinson's injury, Borges
drew up six more. Borges said he
devised some of the plays from
scratch, and others he tweaked
from existing offenses.
"When you coordinate an
offense for it seems like 100
years, you run a lot of plays at
one time or another," Borges
"So consequently, there's a lot
of copy-cats and thievery. I've
had plays stolen from me, and
I've stolen plays from other guys
then tweaked plays to make
them hopefully fit with what
you're doing."
Michigan's new offensive
look, though exotic, isn't a
novel concept in college foot-
ball. Clemson featured plenty of
inverted wishbone - the same
formation Michigan uses for
its three-back look. The Green
Bay Packers featured the same
look two years ago in the play-
offs. Then, it was used to give
a power-offense look, not what
Michigan seeks to create with
its full-house set.
Louisiana-Monroe used
an even more unconventional
offense for one series against
Baylor earlier this year, using
two quarterbacks who each had
the option to pass. On one play,
one quarterback handed off to
the other, who then threw the
ball. Though Robinson has not
thrown with much zip in warm

ups for the past three weeks, the
possibility is there.
The idea of using playmak-
ers in unconventional roles isn't
new for Borges. As the offensive
coordinator at Auburn in 2004,
he coached Ronnie Brown and
Cadillac Williams, both top-five
NFL draft picks the following
He was handed the key to two
Ferraris, but he only had one
driver. Well, OK, one was actu-
ally a Cadillac, but he had to
figure out a way to utilize them
both at the same time.
"They're both tailbacks, you
know?" Borges said. "It didn't
seem like a fit, but if you could
do enough homework to figure
out how to get them both back
there, there were ways to do it."
And though Robinson didn't
throw on Saturday, Borges still
found him a way to get involved
- Robinson played in 20 of 62
offensive plays against Iowa.
He lined up as a tailback and a
wingback and a quarterback. He
touched the ball on 18 of those
Eight times, Robinson played
quarterback, though he only
went so far as to fake a pass
once. (He lined up as a quarter-
back one other time, but Michi-
gan called timeout before the
Another six times, Gardner
was under center flanked by
Robinson and two other backs.

He also lined up three times as a
tailback and three as a wingback
or receiver.
"There's so many different
things you can do with 11 guys,
it's like no other game," Borges
said. "That's what kind of makes
this game fun for coordinators."
And Borges had his fun. Early
in the game, Gardner handed
off to Robinson, who then ran
the option with redshirt junior
tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint.
Later, he used a triple reverse
to get Robinson into open space.
But Robinson may have been
more effective as a decoy. In the
full-house formation, Borges
called a throwback screen and
a misdirection pitch, each of
which set up touchdowns. And
with defenders creeping, Gard-
ner enjoyed his best passing per-
formance yet.
"When Denard had the ball,
he made big plays, but when
he didn't have the ball, we had
our even bigger plays," Gardner
said. "Just the attention he gets
is amazing."
The offense is still evolv-
ing, and Borges did not reveal
much at his press conference on
Tuesday, other than to say that
the tinkering has been fun. And
though the offense has been
designed in Borges's image, he
hasn't come up with a name that
is likely to stick.
"We call it, 'Denard in the
backfield,"' Borges said.

After days of rumors, Rutgers
confirmed Tuesday that it was
joining the Big Ten, becoming the
conference's 14th team only one
day after it was announced that
Maryland would also join the con-
Rutgers University president
Robert Barchi, athletic director
Tim Pernetti and Big Ten Com-
missioner Jim Delany announced
the move in a Tuesday afternoon
press conference. Rutgers' jump
from the Big East to the Big Ten
will likely mean an increase in
revenue as the school hopes to
capitalize on the conference's
lucrative television contract and
national stature.
After the Rutgers Board of
Governers faxed in its application
Tuesday morning to join the con-
ference, the Big Ten Council of
Presidents unanimously voted to
approve the Scarlet Knights. Rut-
gers, founded as Queen's College
in 1766, becomes the conference's
oldest university.
"The BigTen includes America's
most highly regarded academic
institutions, known for both their
athletic success and academic
achievement," Barchi said. "This
is exactly the right conference for
Rutgers. Our university is one of
the nation's leading research uni-
versities and our student-athletes
excel in the classroom and on the
playing field."
Barchi called it "a historic day
for Rutgers University." Pernetti
said it was "a transformative day."
"The Big Ten conference is the
ultimate academic neighborhood
to live in," Pernetti said. "And
we're not in that neighborhood,
with like-minded institutions,
peer schools. This is notjust about
collaborations on the field of play,
this is about a collaboration at
every level."
Though Maryland announced
it would join the Big Ten on July
1, 2014, an exit policy with the
Big East has handicapped Rut-
gers in determining a date to
join the conference. The Big East
requires 27 months' notice before
a team departs, though the Scar-
let Knights are in discussions to
negotiate a deal to leave earlier.
The additions of Rutgers and
Maryland, along with Nebraska
joining the conference in 2010,
has expanded the Big Ten foot-
print 200 miles east and 300
miles west in the past two years.
There are significant financial
bonuses in the deal for both Rut-
gers and the Big Ten. Each Big
Tenuniversity earned $24 million
last year from The Big Ten Net-
work, the most lucrative televi-
sion network in college athletics.

With the addition of the Scarlet
Knights and Terrapins, the net-
work will enter the New York
City and Washington, D.C. mar-
kets, a move that ESPN estimated
Monday could bring the confer-
ence and its member schools up
to $200 million in extra revenue.
Delany, however, said the Big
Ten's desire to exploit the East
Coast market has been "a little
"The assessment by us was
really one that there had been a
paradigm shift in conferences,
and we were maybe slow to take
it up," Delany said. "We lived
with 11 members for 22 years, we
weren't necessarily seeing our-
selves at 14 or 16 members when
we added Penn State in 1990. We
weren't seeking the New York
market, we were seeking a great
institution located in an adjacent
state with a prosperous academic
and athletic approach. It wasn't a
TV play."
The relationship between the
Big Ten and Rutgers has been an
ongoing one, Delany explained,
with conversations dating back
several years. Pernetti described
the relationship as "the perfect
storm of relationships."
"Our job starting today at Rut-
gers is going to be to help create
new value for the Big Ten con-
ference," Pernetti said, "to bring
new things to the party that's
going to help further this confer-
ence as the greatest conference in
college sports."
The announcement culminates
a quick climb for Rutgers athlet-
ics, and particularly the football
program. Rutgers was 0-21 in the
Big East from 2000-02 before
then-head coach Greg Schiano
lifted them to six bowl appear-
ances from 2005-1.
The Scarlet Knights are 9-26
all-time against Big Ten football
opponents and have never faced
Michigan. They also have the
.designation as the first victor in
college football history - Rutgers
beat Princeton, 6-4, on Nov. 6,
1869 in the first-ever intercolle-
giate football game.
Rutgers joined the Big East in
1991 and it has won six Big East
team titles in that time - three
coming in baseball and one apiece
in women's basketball, men's soc-
cer and men's track and field.
Similar to Maryland, the Rut-
gers athletic department cut six
varsity sports - men's tennis,
men's lightweight crew, men's
heavyweight crew, men's swim-
ming and diving, men's and
women's fencing - in 2006. Per-
netti said the university intends
to focus on bolstering the 22 var-
sity team it still fields before look-
ingto reinstate any ofthe teams it
cut in the last decade.

'M 'faces Pitt in NIT Tip-Off

DailySports Writer
Once upon a time, the National
Invitation Tournament was a
prestigious postseason tourna-
ment where
teams would vie P*
for the national 6
title - but that vs. Michigan
was before the Matchup:
NCAA Tourna- Pittsburgh 4-0;
ment and the Michigan 3-0
March Madness When:
that comes with Wednesday
it. 9:30 p.m.
Today, the Where: Madi-
postseason NIT son Square
is a consolation Garden
for, teams that TV/Radio:
don't make the ESPN2
NCAA Tour-
nament, but
its preseason counterpart has
become more esteemed.
The 2012 edition of the NIT
Season Tip-Off has No. 4 Michi-
gan as its heavy favorite, seeded
first of the 16 teams. After the
Wolverines dominated IUPUI
and Cleveland State in the first
and second rounds, they will
spend Thanksgiving weekend in
New York City.
Michigan (3-0) will play Pitts-
burgh in the semifinals of the
tournament Wednesday at Madi-
son Square Garden. The Garden
seems to be Pittburgh's home
away from home, as the Panthers

have amassed a 28-14 all-time
record in the arena. Michigan
junior guard Tim Hardaway, Jr.
admitted playing on such a big
stage can be a bit nerve-wracking.
"I'm kind of excited to go to
New York," Hardaway said.
"It's great, playing in Madison
Square Garden for the first time.
It's a blessing to have the oppor-
tunity to play in front of people
in New York, and the alumni out
Led by head coach Jamie
Dixon, Pitt (4-0) returns 11 play-
ers and has added a few notable
freshmen. Forward Talib Zanna
and guard Tray Woodall head a
Panthers squad that is deep and
experienced, something that
Michigan coach John Beilein
knows is key to performing well
in a big-stage tournament this
early in the season.
Zanna is arguably Pitt's best
defender and is a rebounding
threat along with 7-foot fresh-
man center Steven Adams, the
preseason Big East Rookie of the
Year, who will be the tallest man
on the floor and can also rebound
Junior guard Trey Zeigler,
who transfered from Central
Michigan during the offeseason,
brings an athletic, flexible body to
the Panthers lineup. The 6-foot-
5 guard caught the eye of Beilein
after Zeigler's father, Ernie, was
fired from his post as the Chippe-

was' head coach in March.
The one concern the Wolver-
ines may have with the Panthers
is their rebounding ability. Pitt
has four players listed at 6-f'oot-9
or taller, all of whom consistently
see the floor, while Michigan has
just three players on its entire
roster at that height. Rebound-
ing has always been a concern
under Beilein, but with the addi-
tion of freshman forward Mitch
McGary, rebounds have improved
so far this season.
And with the Wolverines play-
ingin Pantherterritory, this game
could provide an early test for the
"I'm very proud of our team,
that we're in this situation, that
we're going to New York and play
on a national stage," Beilein said.
"Our kids are really excited about
Added Hardaway: "It's defi-
nitely a huge honor, and it's great
not only for ourselves and our
team, but for Michigan. We work
hard, we get to show everybody .
what we're capable of and set an
example for the people coming in
next year."
The NIT Season Tip-Off is just
one of many notable tournaments
the Wolverines have participated
in - Michigan traveled to Hawaii
last year for the Maui Invitation-
al and just announced it will be
heading to south next year for the
Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament.


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