Why Is Michigan Playing Appalachian State Again?

At a house party in 2008, Jason Gingell was talking about the University of Michigan’s upcoming Pro Day. He hadn’t done so well in his private NFL auditions, and this would be his last chance to impress a team. “What position do you play?” a sophomore girl asked. A different girl answered for him: “He’s the asshole who missed the kicks against Appalachian State.” Gingell quickly exited the party.

Three years ago, when I saw the press release announcing Michigan vs. Appalachian State: The Rematch, I figured it was a sick joke. “We look forward to facing Appalachian State again,” Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said in the release. We? Is he speaking on behalf of Appalachian State fans? Because no Michigan fan is looking forward to this game. We think it’s a terrible idea.

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What’s the Point of the ESPY Awards?

I’ve never fully understood the premise of the ESPYs, ESPN’s annual awards show, which airs for the 22nd time tomorrow night. Sports declare their winners through actual competition, and ESPY recipients have already earned more meaningful awards. Handing out Oscars and Grammys to actors and musicians makes sense. Declaring Adrian Peterson the Best NFL Player does not.

And yet, I have fond memories of the ESPYs, as I was fortunate enough to attend the show in 1997 and 1998. While it has since moved to the West Coast, at the time it was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The hour or so before the show started was sports heaven for my 10- and 11-year-old self. I snagged autographs from players like Tim Duncan, Keyshawn Johnson, and Lisa Leslie. I brought a small notepad for this purpose, but when several players were standing together I ended up with multiple signatures on the same piece of paper.

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NBA Draft Coverage

Nik Stauskas (second from right) with the rest of the top prospects and commissioner Adam Silver.

Nik Stauskas (second from right) with the rest of the top prospects and commissioner Adam Silver.

I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, but I’ve been keeping myself busy with plenty of freelance writing. On Thursday, I shadowed Nik Stauskas at the NBA draft, just as I’d done with Trey Burke the year before. Stauskas was drafted by the Sacramento Kings at No. 8, higher than he was projected in any mock draft I saw. It was a fun day, and I wrote about it for Michigan Today. The story was published yesterday.

Before the draft, I collaborated with friend Nick Williams on a statistical analysis that shows why drafting centers is unwise. That ran on Sports on Earth last week.

Thanks for reading!

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