I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
So, yeah, should probably address this bad publicity from Jim Harbaugh:
"Michigan is a good school and I got a good education there, but the athletic department has ways to get borderline guys in and, when they're in, they steer them to courses in sports communications. They're adulated when they're playing, but when they get out, the people who adulated them won't hire them."
As you might expect, this has sent the sort of Notre Dame fans who are always looking to dump on Michigan into a veritable tizzy. Also in a tizzy: various insulted Michigan fans who declare that this forever bars Harbaugh from the sainted halls of Fort Schembechler. He's sold us out! Tizzy tizzy tizzy! (This is probably an overreaction to the reaction, but "tizzy" is a fun word.)
There are many vectors of personal opinion here that don't lend themselves well to one flowing column thing, so let's do some section headers:
Harbaugh basically speaks the truth. Michigan does get anyone who meets NCAA minimums admitted and has a tendency to funnel them into easy classes and majors. (His assertion they can't get jobs after they graduate is unsupportable, though.) I don't have a problem with this. It seems odd to expect people who are in the top percentile in one field to also be competent in another. Hey, concert-level violinist! Do this calculus! This goes double and triple when the persons in question are usually black and, more to the point, poor and thus blessed with largely dysfunctional school systems. Most of these kids have already been hard done by educationally and now they are expected to join a major university, swing a full-time job on the side, and be students that require no shepherding? While we're having a fantasy, I would like Scarlett Johannson to ride in on a unicorn wearing nothing but lingerie made of bacon. Mmmmm. Scarlett Johannson bacon lingerie.
It's not the fault of the university that by in large the average football player is not a very good student. All they can do is help their players along as best they can. There's an enormous gray area here; the APR numbers and the anecdotal things I hear lead me to believe that Michigan is doing its best in an imperfect world. And I'm fine with that. Michigan doesn't have to be the last beacon of integrity in a world gone mad (they let kids move out of the dorms!) because I didn't go to a cult masquerading as a university.
Harbaugh is still the same guy who guaranteed victory over Ohio State. Maybe if this was an isolated outburst it would feel more insulting, but not two months ago Harbaugh got in a media slapfight with Pete Carroll when Harbaugh asserted Carroll would be in the NFL next year. When Carroll fired back, Harbaugh didn't back down. This marks the second controversial thing he's said in the past few months, and given his history we can expect more uncensored, potentially unconsidered comments from him in the future.
Whether this is a positive or negative is a matter of personal taste. Bay-Area media are probably high-fiving each other. Stanford's program is happy whenever anyone is reminded of their existence. And certain Michigan fans would treasure the "swagger" the rootin'-est, tootin'-est coach on either side of the Pecos River would bring. Personally, I prefer a coach more inclined to Spurrier-esque zingers than incendiary comments but either is preferable to Carr's style of mostly boredom.
This affects Harbaugh's chances for the job in no way. The presumption Carr is retiring after the season is universal and Harbaugh just can't be a candidate after one year at Stanford. Anything multiplied by zero is zero.
He's #1? Jake Long is the #1 overall prospect for the '08 draft at NFL Draft Countdown.
Meanwhile, ESPN's initial list($) has Jake Long the #4 overall prospect and Chad Henne #9. Mike Hart is the #3 RB, Adam Kraus the #4 OG, and Jamar Adams the #3 safety. (Only seniors are listed.) Next year is going to be a weird one for the team: they should have a tremendous amount of experience but over half of the nine scholarship seniors they lose are rated amongst the best at their position in college.
The Houston Chronicle also has a list out, one that features Mike Hart as a first round pick. This is something I've seen a few different places, but as much as I love Mike Hart (lots), I don't think there's any way he goes higher than the second or third round. Dude just isn't fast enough.
Help possibly not coming? Given incoming goalie recruit Bryan Hogan's weak year in the USHL I don't know if anyone is looking at him as a surefire Sauer replacement, but Chris Heisenberg notes that, weirdly, he went relatively early in the OHL draft:
One other point of interest is Erie's selection of Lincoln USHL goalie Bryan Hogan in the fifth round. What makes it interesting is that he is an '88 in a '90 and '91 draft. Those picks mean the team has a special reason for taking the unique pick. Last year Matt Martello was a similar pick, and while he stuck out his commitment to LSSU, there was smoke, and later he ended up in Kitchener.
That is early to take a flyer on a player you can only have for a year or two, especially when he wasn't exactly tearing up the OHL. But would it make any sense for a marginal NHL prospect like Hogan to pass up the opportunity to start at Michigan for a brief (one year, I believe, since 20 is the age limit) OHL term followed by... um... what exactly do they do with old OHL players? Is there a furnace somewhere?
Yerk. I am not sure if this news is newsy enough to mention given the hideous pun in the headline, but former Penn State head coach Jerry Dunn has accepted an offer to be Beilein's lead assistant. Dunn held the position under Beilein at West Virginia. Mark Synder at the Free Press chooses to report this like so: "Beilein's staff nearly 'Dunn'." Aaaaargh, my brain.
This completes Beilein's staff. Mike Jackson was rehired shortly after Beilein took the job; WVU director of basketball operations John Mahoney moves over to fill the third spot.
Nate Fenno has an interview with Beilein.
Nein nacht. The Free Press also notes that Michigan is increasingly left out of night game mania. They've never played one at home and with a road schedule featuring NW, Illinois, and Michigan State there are few appealing options for road games. (Michigan's contest in November against Wisconsin looks like an appealing option, but let's review: Wisconsin. November. No thank you.) This causes grumbles from TV execs and may hamper Michigan's PR efforts. So... why not have a night game every once in a while? I understand the desire to maintain Michigan's midday tradition, but when night has fallen on Michigan Stadium in recent years the results have been spectacular: Michigan's 27-24 win over Penn State in their first OT game ever, the epic Braylonfest against Michigan State, and Mario Manningham's literally last second touchdown that provided the only bright spot during the Year of Infinite Pain. All of these events have been enhanced by the unusual spectacle of the lights and the dusk.
So, a proposal: play Penn State and only Penn State at night when they visit. TV executives are happier. The Penn State game acquires a bit of extra shine. And I think fans would enjoy the occasional change of pace. Yesno?
Etc.: Eric Lacy provides more on Trapani; sounds like the visit went well. (Someone tell him not to cut and paste articles from Word if he wants to get rid of the weird characters.) WCH on the CHL versus NCAA (yes, it's that time of year again).
Update 5/7: Linked to Scout header indicating IL OL Graham Pocic has an offer. (This means the gray icon has been replaced with a yellow.) Linked to AJC article on GA DT Omar Hunter, blog post on AZ RB Covaughn Deboskie. Noted assertion on BP that OH RB Darius Ashley has officially snagged a Michigan offer (FWIW. Seems solid to me). Added PA RB Cameron Saddler, TX LB Joseph Ibiloye, NV DT Lawrence Guy, AZ CB Marc Anthony. Removed MD OL Lane Clelland(ND). Linked to articles on MD RB Josh Haden, PA TE Hubie Graham (#2), PA WR Jonathan Baldwin.
Editorial Opinion: Not an enormous amount of news, but an interesting week when it comes to running back offers. Buckeye Planet is reporting an offer to Ohioan Darius Ashley. BP isn't a rock solid source but usually the guys reporting these things are close to the players in question so it's likely. Pennsylvanian Cameron Saddler also picked up an offer after a strong combine performance, though he probably isn't being looked at as an every-down back. (He's tiny, more of a scatback/slot/returner type. As a recruit he's reminiscent of one-time 2007 commit Marquise Maze, who eventually decommitted and went to Alabama or Tennessee or something.) Meanwhile, Jonas Gray still waits despite being an instate kid who just won an overall camp MVP at what I believe is the same combine. So... yeah. Two potential reasons:
- the staff is very confident on either McGuffie or Deboskie (as the above-linked post notes, Deboskie is shooting up the charts and is probably one of the best backs available this year)
- the staff doesn't believe that Gray is a good fit for the zone running game.
Hopefully it's the former and not the latter, as the latter seems kind of presumptuous. (Will we still be running the zone even when our personnel isn't suited to it? The expectation is for the position.... bleah!)
Further evidence that Michigan has started recruiting a certain type of back comes in the form of a reported offer to MD RB Josh Haden. He's presumed a Florida lean (his brother is a cornerback there) but has nice things to say about Michigan:
Although his brother is a Gator, Haden says he always liked Michigan growing up. "I like that they are a running school and I used to like them a lot as a kid," Haden said. "I don't really know a lot about them except for what I see on TV. I'm gonna visit them this summer."
Haden, like Ashley and Saddler (and Mike Hart), is a 5'7"-5'9" lightning bolt of a guy. McGuffie is slightly larger but much the same sort of back. Deboskie is the only offeree at this point who breaks 6'.
Other than that, added a bunch of guys who claim offers but I don't know much about yet, linked another article on Jonathan Baldwin that's encouraging...
Growing up, Baldwin admits that Michigan was his favorite team. "I used to watch them all the time," he said. "They have a nice program and I've been there a few times and love their facilities. Everything looks brand new."
...but not really encouraging. He does name a top four of Pitt, Michigan, ND, and USC. One tidbit of note: his current basketball offers are Marquette, Florida State, and Buffalo. I would think the lingering threat he plays basketball in college is a minor one.
Lo and behold: the academic progress rates are here. This year marks the first that the NCAA has put teeth behind the numbers, docking 11 I-A football programs a total of 41 scholarships. The most prominent offenders: Arizona (four) and Hawaii (one). The most obvious: Florida International, which will lose a whopping nine scholarships. (Never fear, single living FIU fan: your school can't find enough guys willing to fill out a football roster anyway. Docking FIU scholarships 76 through 85 is like removing the spoiler from a Dodge Shadow.) Is this good? Is this bad? Respected and esteemed internet colleagues seem to be taking a cynical tack. SMQB:
The NCAA released its third annual report on "Academic Progress Rate" Wednesday, hitting eleven mostly smaller Bowl Subdivision schools with scholarship penalties for failing to meet no doubt draconian, bureaucratically skewed benchmarks.
Orson dubs the cruelest abbreviation the "Annual Pipsqueak Reaming" and then gets his own ream on:
This post is therefore sponsored by the burgeoning field of NCAA compliance and the American Union of NCAA Compliance Officers. Through an increasingly incoherent and flexible policy, the NCAA's done little more than subsidize the growth of an industry devoted solely to countering its own policies, and one that will likely require the services of that most pricey and ornery of professionals: the attorney. Schools unable to afford representation will gradually be razed out of sport, since the market will clip the weaker competition (HBCUs and San Jose States of the world) out of business.
In the future, the best defense in college football won't be wearing a mouth guard and eyeblack. They'll be carrying a valise and a J.D. from a top 25 law school, and their playbook will be much, much more complicated than that of its opposition for one very good reason: the other team faxed them the game plan before kickoff.
Dang! Orson also references Miami Hawk Talk, which has been all over the APR since its inception. Even though Miami of Ohio has one of the best APR records in the country, they are not pleased:
The NCAA released its third annual round of academic progress rate ("APR") reports yesterday and the upshot is simple: While 40% of college football programs missed the alleged 925 "cut-off" standard, the NCAA waved its magic wand (called the "squad size" adjustment) and opted to sanction only one BCS-conference football program. That was Arizona, if you were curious. Without getting into all the gory details of the squad size adjustment, we simply note again this spring that the explanation that a sport with an 85-man roster needs slack for "small sample size" strikes us as complete bullshit.
(MHT also claims to not have the "earnest indignation" of MGoBlog. I'm trying to figure out if that's an compliment or an insult.) This is a misinterpretation of the squad size adjustment's intent. It's designed to build in some slack for teams with smaller rosters that can be heavily affected by a single departure. In essence, the NCAA agrees that the idea an 85-man roster doesn't need said slack. As the NCAA backgrounder notes:
Elimination of the squad-size adjustment will begin with the 2007-08 APR reports for any team with an aggregate cohort of 30 or more student-athletes.
The reason it's being applied now is because the NCAA only has three years of data:
While the NCAA is working toward a rolling four-year APR for each team, the adjustment will prevent some teams from being unfairly assessed a penalty in the short term.
There would be serious complaint from most schools that they weren't given time to get up to speed with the new regulations. This is a completely reasonable step to take, isn't it? Most of the accusations being leveled at the NCAA right now are criticisms of things they haven't even done yet. If next year comes and the squad size adjustment does not evaporate or if it does and the NCAA weasels its way out of hitting Michigan State because they have an improvement plan, then give them both barrels. When the NCAA announced the APR they said it would advisory its first couple years, then in the third year they would start phasing in penalties for extremely low performers and in its forth year it would be fully enforced. They have not deviated from this yet and deserve a tiny bit of faith.
Many assert that this all comes down to money, and maybe it does. But the spectacle of college football fans and media coming down on the NCAA only punishing small schools because the big ones have the resources to dump money into making their athletes graduate is a bizarre one. The APR is forcing schools to spend millions of dollars getting its athletes in the classroom and eligible. This is a good thing. This is its purpose. Some schools don't have the money and resources to do this; they should not be playing D-IA football.
The main complaint registered by APR opponents is that it affects the small schools too much, but they are the bad guys here. They wish to acquire the prestige and notoriety of the big time schools and to do so they will 1) spend copious amounts of money better deployed on actually educating their students, 2) bring in academic nonentities that were passed over by schools who don't have to scrape the bottom of the barrel, and 3) fail those guys out with no remorse, all for the aggrandizement of the geniuses who think FAU and FIU should have football teams #6 and #7 in the state of Florida. (Historically black schools and Katrina-affected schools, commonly cited as victims, are being granted waivers and such; if they aren't then they should be, granted.) The schools at the top of the food chain are financially solvent, academically responsible relative to the bottom feeders, and have the resources to provide their athletes with academic support.
Those who can't hack it shouldn't be playing. Personally, anything the NCAA can do to nuke FIU and their ilk out of I-A is a good thing. Florida International in no way deserves a Division I football team, but because they want to blow a bunch of money to have one they do. Every game the Panthers play detracts from college football. Hell, the entire Sun Belt fits in this category. Each pitiful Buffalo or FIU or Temple in the D-IA ranks is four or five opportunities for real football teams to avoid playing each other. They're miserable on and off the field. They're a blight on the game. No one will mourn their passing or even notice that they're gone. I-A football is not a right.
Apex. Another youtube highlight package, this one of the '98 Rose Bowl. You may remember that game, yes?
I echo the sentiments of the video's first commenter: dynoguy88, who is the source of many of the clipreels featured in this space, is the man. Often these things are frenetic things set to hideous rap rock; dynoguy lets the key plays breathe and brings us Keith Jackson. And when the option to provide Keith Jackson is there, any other choice is the wrong one.
Vermont is known for many things. Ice cream, presidential primaries, hazing... and killer Michigan basketball recruits! Vermont freshman Joe Trapani, a 6-8 wing/forward, is transferring after one year at UVM. Eric Lacy says he thinks Michigan is a likely destination (no permalink, might have to scroll down):
Based on the conversation I had with Charles [Trapani's father -ed], I think Michigan has a great shot and landing his son.
"They have a tremendous tradition in both football and basketball," Charles Trapani said.
I wouldn't be surprised if Joe Trapani commits while on his visit - or while on the way back home.
(Apparently that one-sentence newspaper style is hard to let go of even when your text is internet only.) Lacy then throws this discouraging nugget in:
That's what Reed Baker apparently did after playing pickup with the team.
All right! Reed Baker 2.0! Well, not really. Trapani averaged 15 points per game before injuring his foot and struggling through the rest of the season, putting up 21 points on Michigan State and 13 and 8 boards on Boston College, Michigan's main competition for Trapani.
(Side note: interesting contrast between the blog entry and the brief blurb that made the paper, which omits any of Lacy's speculation based on the tenor of his conversation.)
Er-nest Sha-zor. Notre Dame running back Darius Walker entered the draft early and was passed over entirely. Whoops. His dad, who is actually named Jimmie Walker, says the situation is not dyn-o-mite:
"How does a guy that's fourth on the all-time rushing list for Notre Dame not get drafted?"
Unfortunately, the twelfth game, the increasing prevelance of freshman starters, and the decision to include bowl statistics has made career records virtually meaningless. Mike Hart and Chad Henne will leave Michigan the all time leaders in rushing and passing yardage, respectively, but are they the best to have ever played at Michigan? Probably not. Official Father of Walker then trod closely to making a pointed comment about Weis:
"If you look at the backs who were drafted on the first day, he had the same stats or better as guys drafted on the first day. The only difference is the guys had the height and the pushing, the backing and the pushing and promoting from their respective areas, whether that be the media or whoever else."
Asked if he didn't think Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis backed Darius enough in the draft process, Jimmy answered simply: "I have no comment on it."
Sounds like he already made his comment.
I would also note that Darius got off a bonafide zinger in the weeks leading up to the draft:
"You can't control what team you go to," Walker said that day, "unless you're one of the Mannings."
That's genuinely funny! Try broadcasting, kid.
Etc.: Infamous recruit-turned-LSU-Tiger Joseph Barksdale got jacked by a former Tiger DB and has a broken jaw; the Stanford Daily reports on the Forcier departure (link not just because the article references MGoBlog, I swear); chicks send (hopefully) unsolicited bikini shots to Rich Eisen, wife not amused; brief recap of yet another Beilein radio appearance at Varsity Blue; ABC Saturday Night schedule.
The Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with forward Andrew Cogliano on a three-year contract.
Cogliano, the Oilers' first round draft choice (25th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, has decided to forgo his final two seasons with the University of Michigan Wolverines (CCHA) and pursue his professional career.
At least he did it early. Michigan still waiting on Porter and Mitera. Kolarik is supposed to be a lock to return. It looks like it could be another year of struggle for the hockey team.