Faster than a speeding bullet,
More powerful than a locomotive,
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…
Look, up in the sky!
It's a bird!
It's a plane!
It's the reason we'd rather watch college football than do almost anything else in the world.
It's been a week of ebullient celebration in Ann Arbor while Columbus burns but even those outside of The Sacred Brotherhood have started to muse on the actual justice of it all. WatersDemos took the premise of a New Yorker article – "Is college worth it?" and ran with it for college sports. Most prescient, I thought, was goodness of creating a class of "fake" (not his words) students to serve the interests of what's essentially brand marketing.
I'd like to take that further: what's so good about college sports?
(after the jump, it's a job [lowers voice] for Superman.)
All better. Denard doppleganger détente, dastardly dialogue defused:
That is downright eerie. They are the same person.
Manball cyborg of yore. Have a desire to see Tom Coughlin get his face caved in Gary Moeller? (Very gradually, anyway.) Here you go:
The skill position talent that year was Desmond Howard, Derrick Alexander, Tyrone Wheatley, Ricky Powers, Elvis Grbac, and Dave Diebolt. That's insane, and Michigan played like it when not going up against Steve Emtmann. They put up at least 20 points in every game until losing to #1 Washington in the Rose Bowl, put up 30 eight times (including a 31-3 blowout of OSU), and cracked 40 five times against Big Ten opposition.
Deep as the sea. The Daily's Tim Rohan got Larry Foote and Jarrett Irons on the record about player payments; what they have to say is surprising unless it's completely unsurprising:
“It’s a lot bigger than Tressel,” said Foote, who was the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2001. “I’ve been telling people that. It’s a lot bigger. College atmospheres, big universities and athletic programs, they’re dirty — a lot of them are dirty. And coaches, they’ve got to take the fall.”
Both Foote and Irons said that in each of their own unique experiences they have come to understand it is common. Yet both denied any wrongdoing happening at Michigan.
“When I was at Michigan,” Foote continued, “that’s one thing I pride myself about Michigan, because the stories I hear about other teams with the money and the alumni and the stuff like that, the stuff I’m hearing — I mean it is brand new.
“And people don’t understand when they ask me, ‘How much money did you get?’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ I’ve never even heard of players at Michigan getting money. Not one story.
Irons is speaking from his experience attempting to recruit players to IMG, so he's a guy who would know. Michigan's compliance program coming down hard on anyone with a new car is recounted (again).
Maybe so? Previous skepticism about Notre Dame setting money on fire to join Hockey East because it has schools people have heard of (and by "schools" we mean "Boston College") is less skeptical now that one Jeff Jackson is on the record about it:
“It’s a possibility,” acknowledged Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. “I know our athletic director and associate athletic director are doing their due diligence in looking at all of the alternatives.” …
Jackson said they will be looking at being in a conference with “like-minded schools” and that pertains to academics and other areas in addition to athletics.
“It’s not just about the hockey end of it,” said Jackson. “And we’re also looking at our access to TV rights.”
There are still a lot of hurdles. Hockey East does not want an odd number of teams so a 12th would have to be added, whether that's CCHA-killing Miami or one of the Atlantic Hockey schools that would like to offer a full complement of scholarships.
I'm not a big fan of the move, which would put the CCHA on precarious footing, but what can you do?
Go on you Tangerines. I linked this series on one Canadian's excellent adventure at the bottom of the Premiership table already but I'll do it again so I can grab a paragraph. Blackpool has just gone from 2-1 up with 33 minutes left to safety to 4-2 down and relegated. The third goal—the crippling one—was an own-goal by Blackpool stalwart Ian Evatt. In the aftermath Evatt is just shattered (example @ right). Cue Blackpool fans:
Marvelously, the Blackpool fans were chanting “ONE IAN EVATT…THERE’S ONLY ONE IAN EVATT.” Evatt, a few yards up the pitch from Holloway, head down and shoulders slumped, turned an acknowledged the support with a wave. I’ve mentioned it before but the relationship between clubs and fans in Europe is so different from the relationships in North America. When Steve Smith scored in 1986 to eliminate the Oilers from the playoffs, he was met with something less than complete support from the fans in Edmonton. As great as the Edmonton fans were in the 2006 playoffs, it was unthinkable that Ty Conklin could take to the ice again after his mistake in Game 1 - he didn’t have the reserve of goodwill to draw on that Evatt did but even if he did, it’s tough to imagine him receiving this sort of support. By turning the sporting experience into the commodity that it’s become in North America, in explicitly turning it into a business from which profits are expected to be generated, the relationship is different. Fans aren’t supporters in North America in the way that they are in Europe - they’re consumers. If the product that the team is offering stinks or the team hits on tough times, they react like consumers who are receiving poor service.
I'd like to think that college sports have some insulation from that but once PSLs come in and uniformz are deployed and it's clear your money teat is being milked not at all gently—80 dollar Eastern Michigan ticket ho—the differences are less than you might like. At least there's a damned war about booing people after things like the Toledo game. That's not a matter up for debate in pro sports.
(As a side note, what a good idea for a vacation: go to England during the final week of the Premier league season and go to as many relegation battles as possible. That's quality sports tourism.)
The court is a lie. Nobody circles the wagons like non-fake Buckeyes, even if they're Penguins. Former YSU quarterback and booster largess recipient Ray Isaac:
Number one, I’m totally responsible for what I did at Youngstown State University. Every year, from the time I was on campus, from ’88 to ’91, Tressel had compliance seminars — not to deal with bookies, not to deal with drugs, not to deal with not buying or selling anything. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I met [booster] Mickey Monus. It is implied that on the first meeting that I had with Mickey Monus that I received $150. That is the biggest lie ever told. … Jim Tressel never ever knew anything about our dealings. I kept it secret. To say Coach Tressel knew about this car, or knew about this money, listen, the only way that anyone knew about the money I received from Youngstown State University was Mickey Monus got indicted on $1.1 million worth of embezzlement and fraud.
In 1988, according to court documents from a jury-tampering trial involving Mickey Monus, a wealthy school trustee and the founder of the Phar-Mor chain of drug stores, Tressel had called Monus about arranging a job for Isaac. The player and the CEO had never met, but Isaac told SI that he had heard of Monus's "philanthropist-type hand" from two basketball players. At his first meeting with Monus, Isaac received $150. According to the court documents, by the time he left Youngstown State, in 1992, Isaac had collected more than $10,000 in cash and checks from Monus and Monus's associates and employees. …
Three years later Monus was on trial for jury tampering in the government's first prosecution of him, which had ended in a hung jury. During this trial (at which Monus was found not guilty) Monus and Isaac, who had pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a juror on Monus's behalf, disclosed their financial dealings while Isaac was a student and alleged that Tressel had set these in motion with that first phone call.
A reporter covering the jury-tampering trial called the school and reported Monus's and Isaac's testimony, prompting an internal investigation. That probe revealed that Isaac's car was the worst-kept secret on campus. According to NCAA documents, all of Isaac's teammates who were interviewed "except one" knew about the car or had suspicions about it. Even people outside the football family knew. Pauline Saternow, then the school's compliance officer, had such misgivings about the car that she recused herself from the investigation committee because, according to Cochran, she did not feel she could be objective. Everyone raised an eyebrow -- except Tressel.
You can believe Ray Isaac, or you can believe Ray Isaac in court and all of Ray Isaac's teammates except the guy who you have to send all the Snopes links to.
Etc.: North Carolina braces for a notice of allegations from the NCAA. It will be a while before any penalties are clear but it sounds like UNC folk are expecting to take a scholarship hit of "minimal" intensity. LeCharles Bentley writes a David Mayo-level column for ESPN Cleveland: "[Denard Robinson, Braxton Miller, and Nathan Scheelhaase] would not have chosen the Big Ten if Pryor had not chosen the Big Ten — except perhaps Robinson. But that goes back to the point: Robinson followed Rich Rodriguez to Michigan in hopes of changing the landscape of the Big Ten."
UMHoops checks up on Robinson, Stauskas and possible (but probably not extant) third 2012 recruit. Greg Schiano wants to replace the punt with a 4th and 15 from the 30. I'm intrigued. We could actually shoot threes last year.
For some reason they put a statue of Barry Switzer outside of Nick Saban Memorial Hospital. Seriously, why did Alabama put up a statue of Barry Switzer? I'm so confused.
- SEC teams can only sign 25 a year, down from 28. You can still backdate early enrollees.
- There's going to be some sort of conference overview of St. Saban Memorial Hospital.
- Attending summer school counts as enrollment—no more Elliott Porters.
- Anyone transferring to an SEC school must have at least two years of eligibility—no more Jeremiah Masolis.
That last one is kind of beside the point, but since these grad exemptions are pretty close to free agency it's understandable why they were an issue to be addressed. The arrival of Masoli and Florida pirating an all-conference cornerback from Utah were evidently unsettling, so no more of that.
It's the oversigning stuff that's everyone main focus, though, and passing those bylaws has been met by another raspberry, this one media-based. A Jeff Schultz from the AJC:
The SEC, as the highest-profile college football conference in the nation, had a chance to make a loud statement at its meetings this week. It kind of wimped out. Rather than attack the oversigning problem with significant legislation, it decided only that it would lower the annual scholarship offer cap from 28 to 25.
Let me translate: Coaches now have a lower limit as to how unethical and morally reprehensible they can be. Feel better?
This was sort of like the real SEC passing a rule: “We recognize that insider trading is a problem. So we’re going to cap profits from said illegal transactions at $2.7 million.”
While both parties are right that the Big Ten's approach cuts down on the churn and the SEC is not going that far, the legislation they passed will have a real impact. As mentioned in the earlier post, if this had been around the last four years Auburn would have signed 19 fewer kids—almost an entire class—Alabama 13, South Carolina 11, and so forth down the line. Cropping the limit from 28 to 25 cuts the cuts by about half at the worst offenders.
Meanwhile, adopting the Big Ten approach (you can only sign three more kids than you have available scholarships, and you have to petition the conference to do so) doesn't necessarily cut down on attrition. It just moves the abattoir from "whenever we find out if this guy qualified" to late January. While a combination of both rules is ideal, either in isolation is exploitable.
So this is exploitable, yes, but less so than it was before. It's something between pure public relations and Total Internet Victory. Partial internet victory is still kind of something—whine for five years and people will give ground. Nick Saban was pissed off when this happened. That's a heuristic that indicates a step in the right direction. While it could be better, complaints about the proposal are making the perfect an enemy of the good.
Someone else comes up with a simple solution to something that's definitely a problem. That said, I love love love the idea the first commenter on the above-linked Oversigning.com post lays out:
If we are going to create a new system, why not get rid of the 85 scholarship limit. What makes that number so valuable? Why not just set an annual signing limit of (pick a number) 30 to 35. Make the grants for 5 years and allow 5 years of participation (eliminate redshirts and medicals).
Under the system describe above the onus is placed squarely on coaches to evaluate, motivate, train and retain signees. May the best coach win.
30 to 35 is excessive, especially if you're giving everyone five years. That almost doubles the number of kids on scholarship, which will be fought by smaller schools and make life under the dominion of Title IX even more difficult for non-revenue men's sports.
HOWEVA, There is a number (somewhere from 22 to 25) that provides rosters approximately equivalent to today's and rewards keeping kids around in case they become useful. Once you find that number all of this goes away because you no longer have the perverse incentives the current system offers. In this hypothetical world people are mad at Nick Saban for being ruthlessly better at avoiding attrition. Another guy later makes a point that's especially salient what with all the chatter about full cost of attendance scholarships:
Scholarship limitations are not in the best interest of the SA. Scholarship limitations are about parity, which in is in the interest of the institutions. To make arguments about over-signing being evil is like saying we want what is best for the SA as long as it does not hurt my school. Which is to say the main goal is not the SA’s best interest, but the institutions.
If big programs want to move towards a system that places student-athlete welfare first, leaving San Jose State to pound sand, that benefits everyone worth benefiting.
(A few details I'd propose:
- Transfers in count as fresh enrollees.
- There would be a limit, probably 85, that once under you could offer scholarships to walk-ons if you wanted.
- You might have to offer some sort of leniency for schools that recruit a lot of JUCOs. This system places a premium on keeping kids around for four and five years and turns a JUCO from a easily replaceable quick fix to a guy who's an empty scholarship for two or three years. Guys who go to JUCO are mostly reclamation projects that college football should be striving to help, so maybe you can get a scholarship here and there back "early."
The evaluation period is over, which means no more off campus visits by the coaches. There is a quiet period from now until July 31st. A quiet period allows a coach to write or call a prospect and recruits can visit the school's campus.
So the next big events for Michigan will be unofficial visits and camp (June 19th-23rd). Here's a look at what could be happening in the near future, and where a few other prospects are at in their recruitment. As always you can follow me on Twitter at TomVH, and feel free to email me with tips or questions at [email protected].
6'3", 175 lbs.
St. Louis, Missouri
Chesson received an offer from Michigan this past week, and it was one that he thought would be coming in soon.
They had been looking at me for awhile, and they told me that I'm among eight kids that they were evaluating. Coach Hecklinski visited my school and they didn't offer right away, but he said to hang in there with them. He finally told me that the staff wanted me and they offered.
Jehu is an interesting prospect because he had been recruited by the old Michigan staff, and actually knew them better than the current staff.
We visited campus last summer. I kind of wanted to see it so we sacrificed a little and made the trip. They obviously have a different coaching staff from last year. Right now I just need to build that relationship with them. I know Coach Hecklinski. The number one thing for me is to have a role in the offense. I'm a receiver, I'm a little bias to having the ball in my hands. I can control how good I become, but they're the ones that choose how to use me.
Chesson plans to take his time with his recruitment, and wants to wait to see what schools offer before he makes any decisions.
I'll take all of my official visits. I would definitely consider Michigan for an official visit because it's not a place I can easily get to. Take an official to Michigan would make more sense than a place like Mizzou. I want to narrow my list down at the end of the summer. It should be a pretty long list still but at least I'll be getting it somewhere. After that I'll try to get a top five.
Michigan would obviously like to land a receiver in this class and it looks like this is one position that they'll have to wait to find out who they get. Chesson plans on waiting, Dwayne Stanford wants to announce later in his season, and Aaron Burbridge has some work to do in the classroom.
6'6", 265 lbs.
I mentioned this past week that Olson would be visiting Michigan this Tuesday (the 7th). His Michigan offer came in recently and Michigan will be the last school he sees.
About two months back Coach Mallory said that the offensive line coach had watched my highlights and loved them. We kept in contact and I told him the interest was mutual. Eventually about three weeks ago they pulled the trigger and offered me.
Some prospects only say that academics are a big part of their decision but Olson's final list makes it clear he means it.
I really want a school that combines academics and athletics. It's something that's really important to me and I've told a number of schools not to waste their time recruiting me because of their academic standing. I have a 3.2 GPA, but I'm at a very rigorous private school and I scored a 1930 on the SAT and a 29 on the ACT.
So yeah, he's pretty serious about that. Olson says he's playing everything by ear, but he would like to have a decision made by mid summer. With Michigan being the last visit and a good combination of what he's looking for, they have a good shot.
6'5", 308 lbs.
Rochester, New York
Jones has been committed to Penn State for some time, but has said that he will continue to visit schools. Michigan is one of the programs he and his family would like to see more of. I spoke with his mother about where he's at, and when he should be at Michigan.
If you asked Jarron he would say Penn State was the best place for him, but that was after visiting Rutgers and Pitt. Before talking to me and his dad he told a reporter that he was committed to Penn State. We said he should have talked to us first. He does feel he loves Penn State and Larry Johnson was the first person to critique Jarron. I loved that because I don't want someone to feed my son, he needs reality. Life is reality, and he needs a dose of that. It's not that we don't like Penn State, if that's still the best place for him then Penn State it is. We're going to discuss it as a family.
As far as what schools they're looking into now, his mother outlined some of the programs they like and how they feel about distance from home.
He told the Florida coaches he's not really interested in going that far, and we're not interested in him going to the west coast. I want to be able to get to him if something were to happen. Virginia Tech is a school he's loved since childhood so we'll be going there. We're going to Michigan in June when we visit Notre Dame at the end of June. At the end of July we'll go out to Louisville and maybe Ohio State.
The Jones family doesn't know too much about Michigan yet, but they're eager to learn more.
I called and talked to Coach Montgomery. We had a long talk and he seemed excited to get us up there. Me personally, I have no real knowledge of Michigan. I understand that they're a great institution. Jarron has some knowledge as far as the football side of things. I told Michigan that I would like to see their APR score for the last few years, too. I need to know the coaches are going to do a good job of being a mentor to him. It's very important for us to know what type of coaches they have.
These visits will help their family get to know everyone, and help them figure out where the best place for Jarron is. There obviously won't be a decision until after the visits are done, so they won't know anything at least until after July. [Ed: APR score should come with lots of explaining.]
California OL Erik Magnuson is visiting on the 10th. I outlined this in the last Weekly Update, and he has Michigan as his number one team. This is a very big visit for Michigan, very big.
Massachusetts DB Armani Reeves told me that he has dropped Michigan from his list. He says he is no longer going to camp at Michigan, but will visit Notre Dame instead. His list is Penn State and Notre Dame now.
As you can see New York DB Wayne Morgan decided to hold off on making his announcement. There probably won't be room for him once he's ready to decide, since he wants to take his official visits now.
Ohio S Jarrod Wilson did visit Michigan last week, and now has Michigan in his top three with Penn State and Notre Dame. I should have more from his coach Ricky Powers this week. Wilson could potentially be making his visit in the near future.
I will outline a list of recruits that I think Michigan could get, or is in good shape with sometime this week. There's been a lot of people asking about that, so I'll post that soon. I'm trying to confirm a few visits, so I'll post those when I get them as well.
For everyone asking about DE Chris Wormley, he does have Michigan as number one right now, but still hasn't decided when he wants to make a decision. I'd imagine it won't go too long though.
For the first time in approximately forever, the Wolverines do not have a new commit. Action since last rankings:
5-31-11 Michigan gains commitment from Allen Gant.
6-1-11 Ohio State gains commitment from Tyvis Powell. Michigan gains commitment from Anthony Standifer.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Watchlist||24/7 Avg|
24/7 Sports has gone through and ranked another round of 3-stars (and even added some 4-stars), so those numbers are updated. ESPN's initial rankings are expected to come out this Wednesday.
Remember CARA? Michigan's NCAA troubles began when the compliance forms designed to track countable hours stopped getting submitted in a timely fashion. One of Michigan's regular internal audits came around, noticed the empty file, and wrote something stern about it. Someone who has hopefully been fired with prejudice leaked that report, the Free Press piled on that molehill like a mofo, and bam: major-ish NCAA violations. The whole saga is encapsulated in a lengthy rant on this site.
The equivalent in Columbus has just been FOIAed:
An audit of Ohio State University's compliance department in November found that it was not doing enough to monitor the use of cars, uniforms and equipment by athletes.
… The OSU auditors wrote in November that the department needed to pay more attention to athletes' cars, particularly those driven by football players, and needed more control over the inventory of uniforms and equipment.
At this point Tressel had already failed to act on Cicero's email and the legal department was just about to stumble on this fact.
In Michigan's case they ended up releasing a torrent of emails from compliance to the football administrators that went unreplied to. (The only figure censured in the final report still at Michigan is Labadie-badgerer Ann Vollano.) In Ohio State's case it seems more like willfull ignorance, as the Dispatch buries its lead way at the bottom of its article:
In 2006, the auditors' review of athletes' car registration forms found that they were incomplete and sometimes inconsistent with the car registry maintained by University Transportation and Parking. Compliance officials vowed to correct the problem.
But last year, the auditors reviewed car registrations of 152 athletes and observed vehicles driven by football players to spring practice. Auditors found that 44 athletes bought parking permits for, received parking tickets in, or were seen driving cars that weren't registered.
Records obtained in May show that football players continue to submit incomplete forms, lacking sales prices, dates of purchases, co-signers and other required information.
That is an obvious, huge problem that Ohio State officials took no action on despite problems existing five years ago. Dollars to donuts the bulk of those odd cars were being driven by football players. Probably a third of the team was driving around in cars they had not registered with the department. They cleverly hid this fact by driving those cars to practice.
It makes me fist-shakingly angry to hear the new Pryorlawyer's spin about this—he just buys a new car every three months and takes them on test drives and this keeps happening despite getting two heinous speeding tickets. This does not happen to humans. It only happens to Buckeyes.
In The Tank
On a similar note, man, the Dispatch is fanboi central. You do not need to be told this. They have a "days since Michigan beat OSU" clock. But if they had any stones at all they would have turned this up years ago. In a way we might actually be thankful to them since the pattern of don'tgiveadamn got longer and longer as they asked Tressel about how awesome he was, but it's telling that all the Dispatch stories are coming from the news side of the aisle. Toy department in full effect.
As an example, by miraculous coincidence I actually read a Facebook message someone had sent me*; This message was attached to a message the guy had previously sent me in 2008, when Ohio State defensive lineman Doug Worthington picked up a DUI. Doug Lesmerises of the Plain Dealer checked the VIN number of what the police report said was a "2004 Cadillac station wagon" and found the car was in fact an Escalade. Homer McHomer (AKA Ken Gordon) at the Dispatch left that out of the story, causing one of those internet newpaper tiffs in which the principals gently poke at each other while maintaining solidarity against the masses.
Meanwhile, even Lesmerises missed kind of a thing when he attempted to explain the discrepancy:
What exactly does that mean?
Not that much, according to Richard Morman, the deputy chief of police for the OSU campus police. He said that Worthington had recently purchased the Escalade (which goes for about $20,000 to $24,000 according to the Kelley Blue Book). According to Morman, the dealer put his old plates, from what Morman said was a GMC sports utility vehicle, on the Escalade and told Worthington to make sure the plates were properly transferred
Lesmerises noticed the discrepancy between what the car was supposed to be on the police report and what the campus police said, but didn't follow up. That's better than Homer McHomer playing see no evil, but something less than dogged.
This section will probably get me a sarcastic tweet from a newspaper guy comparing this section to my reaction to the Free Press. So: I've never been against digging, just being completely wrong and sensational.
*[Do not send me facebook messages—I don't reply. Sorry. Email is always best.]