|WHAT||Michigan v. Illinois|
|WHEN||2:30PM EST (appx)|
KenPom: 33% W
|TELEVISION||ESPN (Dave O'Brien, Dan Dakich)|
This Is The Most Important Game Of The Season. It's the last one of those, too. If the Wolverines win this afternoon in Indianapolis, they'll participate in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. If not, they'll sweat it out on Sunday.
In the teams' lone meeting this season, Illinois emerged victorious in a heartbreaker for fans of the maize-and-blue, as Evan Smotrycz and Stu Douglass missed potential game-winners from 3. Not a bad result, considering Michigan had an uncharacteristically terrible shooting night, but you play to win the game. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Etc.
Since that game, Michigan has continued their strong late-season form, winning three of four, with the only loss coming on a banked buzzer-beater to Wisconsin. The Illini lost three of five, with the only wins coming at home against Iowa and Indiana - by far the worst teams in the league.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy:
|Michigan v. Illinois: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Illinois Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. UI Def eFG%||49||24||I|
|Mich Def eFG% v. UI eFG%||155||31||II|
|Mich TO% v. UI Def TO%||13||259||MMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. UI TO%||254||108||II|
|Mich OReb% v. UI DReb%||327||157||II|
|Mich DReb% v. UI OReb%||67||169||MM|
|Mich FTR v. UI Opp FTR||336||67||III|
|Mich Opp FTR v. UI FTR||35||329||MMM|
|Mich AdjO v. UI AdjD||52||20||I|
|Mich AdjD v. UI AdjO||51||34||I|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
The numbers are slightly more skewed in Illinois's favor than they were last time these squads played, though part of that is because the Illini closed the regular season with a trouncing of hapless Indiana (and a big boost to the Illini's field goal defense comes from unforced misses by Michigan last time around).
The keys for Michigan will primarily be based on the bigs. Michigan's post players must stay out of foul trouble. They did a decent job last time, but that's more the exception than the norm, especially against a huge team like Illinois. Keeping Illinois honest defensively will also be a key, and the Jordan Morgan pick-and-roll should be among the ways they do that.
The battle of the point guards will also be a factor. Demetri McCamey used the last game against Michigan to morph from a cancer in the locker room into the senior leader he's supposed to be. He was more scorer than distributor, but he did what he needed to do in order to win.
Finally: HIT YOUR SHOTS. Michigan's shooting had been steadily improving before last time these teams played, but 2/18 certainly isn't an encouraging factor. It's not going to be easy sledding against Illinois, so when Michigan can get an open look, they must hit it. Aside from preventing opponents from putting the ball in the net (at which they excel), the Illini are just an OK team. Take advantage when you can.
The loss in Assembly Hall left a bad taste in the mouth of Michigan's players and coaches, and they knew that a lot of their struggles were unforced. They're out to change that, and as one of the hottest teams in the country since the end of January, I think they will. Tim Hardaway Jr. will lead Michigan in rebounds and scoring, with Darius Morris close to matching his numbers (with assists instead of boards). Michigan pulls away to end the game, earning the 70-63 win.
[Ed: I said on WTKA this morning that I didn't think this should cost Tressel his job, but I changed my mind upon reading the Hayes piece that contained details of exactly what Tressel did in the months between April and now.]
So I was pretty pissed yesterday. It was one of those moods that's obscure until suddenly it isn't, and the moment of clarity came when one of the Eleven Warriors guy pinged me on IM, suggesting that I must be happy today. I responded that I'd be happy if Ohio State's prospects for the near future had actually been affected… and there it was.
Jim Tressel was dishonest and his team benefited to the tune of a Big Ten co-championship and a BCS bowl victory; Ohio State's response to this was to suspend him for games against Akron and Equivalent. Ask Georgia fans who watched their team stumble to 1-3 start absent the services of AJ Green how that feels:
As a partisan, my immediate reaction to the complete bullshit which emanated from last night’s Ohio State presser was a question: what was Jim Tressel’s first thought upon hearing the news that A. J. Green had been suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season? “Suckers“? “There but for the grace of God go I”?
I'm a partisan too but a couple months ago I went on the Bucknuts podcast and told them I though Tressel was a top five coach who had created a problem I never thought I'd have as a Michigan blogger: lack of material. I bought the Senator act wholly. My biggest complaint was that he was boring beyond belief.
I've now reverted to default partisan conspiracy-mongering and hatred. It's hard not to when the mea culpa press conference features Tressel lying his ass off about emails now in the public domain, forcing out stumbling answers that are such obvious crap that not even the state of Ohio thinks Tressel got what was coming to him:
Even the deepest red section of the country looked at OSU playing see-no-evil to a BCS bowl victory and said "uh-oh." In no way is OSU's response proportional to the crime. That's what pisses me off. Michigan eventually proposed penalties that were reasonable given precedence and were accepted essentially as-is by the NCAA. (The committee added a third year of probation, as they are wont to do.) Ohio State proposed functionally nothing for a far worse offense. Twelve coaches have violated the NCAA bylaw Tressel did in April, and eleven were fired.
What's more, they spent the press conference announcing their gentle wrist massage lying. Tressel invented a fiction about how he couldn't look into the matter because of "confidentiality" that absolutely would not prevent him from interviewing the accused or finding out whose frickin' names were on the pawned memorabilia and then suspending them for the proverbial violation of team rules. This would not have exposed anyone to lethal payback from ruthless drug dealers or whatever, not that anyone was actually in danger.
Ohio State's trying to pull a fast one, and the NCAA should hammer them. A show-cause for Tressel is just as viable as the one widely speculated to be heading down the pike at Bruce Pearl. Tressel's lies were repeated. OSU's official letter to the NCAA lays it out. As summarized by Matt Hayes:
• Tressel signed a document on Sept. 13, 2010 that said he was not aware of NCAA violations.
• He failed to tell school officials on or around Dec. 9, 2010 about emails he received in April explaining players’ involvement in selling memorabilia.
• He failed to tell school officials about the emails — or his knowledge of players selling memorabilia — when specifically asked on Dec. 16, 2010. He also misled school officials that day when stating he “did not recall from whom he received the tip,” and that he “did not know that any items had been seized.” …
Another significant — and potentially more damning — issue: In a Feb. 8, 2011 interview, Tressel admitted it was “inevitable” that players named in the email had committed NCAA violations and would be ruled ineligible. In other words, Tressel knew the players were ineligible and played them anyway.
Whether it's a lie of omission or commission it's a lie, and Tressel's had a much larger effect on his team than Pearl lying about whether or not Aaron Craft was at his house. It is impossible to believe he did not remember the repeated correspondence from this lawyer. He probably sent it up the chain, making this a department-wide decision, but we have no proof of that. We do have proof that Tressel had at least four opportunities to come clean, starting with the day he got the first credible email from that lawyer, and failed to take any of them. As a result Ohio State won a Big Ten title.
With serious benefits should come serious repercussions; Ohio State's incredibly weak self-sanctions are an insult to the NCAA. If the association doesn't want to make themselves a joke they will come down hard on OSU with a thorough investigation stretching back to 2001 with the potential for vacating multiple years and a show-cause penalty that should make it impossible for OSU to continue employing Tressel as their head coach. That's a punishment that fits a very serious crime in the eyes of the NCAA—eleven of twelve fired before the NCAA had a chance.
The NCAA should use this and the Pearl case as a warning.
apropos image via MNB Nation
The media explosion in the aftermath of Tressel's folly has been nigh overwhelming. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who writes about college football who hasn't put finger to keyboard in the aftermath. Even Inside The Hall, an Indiana basketball blog, decided to transcribe Bob Knight's clueless defense of Tressel so they could shake their heads at it. It's kind of a big deal.
Well played, douchebag. Mark Schablach manages to piss off both OSU and Michigan fans in the same piece by laying into Tressel ("might be even worse than other coaches corrupting college athletics") in a fashion irrational even to this Michigan fan at the same time he conflates Michigan's stretching-and-confusion with what seems like a serious, games-will-be-vacated offense (At least Michigan "had fired their cheating coach").
And now… THE COMFY CHAIR! SBN OSU blog Along The Oletangy headlines a two game suspension against MAC teams "Jim Tressel Forced To Take Tough Medicine." Michigan suffered more concrete penalties for the Jihad—at least they lost some practice time. Of course, the NCAA probably isn't going to say "good job, here's an extra year of probation" when they get around to their own discipline.
Only in Ohio. The blacked-out name of the lawyer who tipped Tressel off in April has been revealed: Chris Cicero, a former OSU walk-on. I wonder if he's going to get hammered for trying to help the program. Also:
In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended his law license for one year because of misconduct. The lawyer led others to believe he was having sex with then-Judge Deborah P. O'Neill, who had appointed Cicero to defend a client in a criminal case.
Our old friend. Remember Michael Buckner, the Florida lawyer who seemed to show up in every piece about Michigan's misappropriate stretching and GA sketch? He's back:
"Just looking at it, it may seem a little light, especially in light of the fact Tressel didn't report it to the university within a reasonable period of time," said Michael Buckner, who heads a law firm that helps schools deal with the NCAA.
OUTRAGE. "Disingenuous Tressel Is Wizard At Spinning Empty Words"—a Yahoo piece from something called "The Postgame." They're right about the spinning empty words bit.
OUTRAGE. "No trouble spotting hypocrisy in college sports"—this one is just awful:
And now, our latest offering from a septic tank of a system that's unlikely to be flushed out in our lifetime.
OUT—NEVERMIND, MILQUETOAST. "Tressel report appears damaging"
OUT—ACTUALLY, A REASONABLE QUESTION "Tressel docked, but what does it take for a coach to get fired?"
Retrospective reaffirmation. Mets Maize has one Michigan-related takeaway from Michigan's recent turn under the lights:
Dave Brandon, like any good athletic director should do, showed tremendous leadership by taking the reins and guiding Michigan through a 6-month investigative gauntlet. He answered questions like a political ninja, hired a third-party independent firm to couple with an internal investigation, and reported back to the committee of infractions with a comprehensive review and self-imposed penalties in line with the violations and precedent. This was for stretching. The NCAA ended up adding 1 measly probation year and agreed to take away some of the most damaging charges--something unheard of in terms of appeal.
People complaining that Michigan's approach to their NCAA violations invited more bad press and ended up resulting in stiffer penalties than pretending there was nothing to see here are going to get empiricism in their face over the next six months. I've given Brandon a lot of stick for The Process and the results therein but the whole Identity is a Ceiling thing isn't all downside; he was still pimp throughout the whole process and saved Michigan the OUTRAGE you see above.
Can you imagine anyone associated with the Michigan athletic department saying "I hope he doesn't fire me" when talking about a football coach, joking or not? Bo could have been sitting there* and that wouldn't have happened.
This all banks on the NCAA crafting a punishment that fits the crime here, but I think that's likely given the existence of paper, both the emails sent to Tressel and the forms he signed and the transcripts of the December investigation. The NCAA has way more linking Tressel to a serious offense than they ever had on USC—though that was a more serious offense still—and OSU's pathetic wrist-slap will not help them avoid the penalties they have coming.
*[In a hypothetical world where Bo wouldn't have immediately suspended and possibly killed all six players.]
MORE OUTRAGE. "Lame defense affirms winning is the only thing that matters for Jim Tressel, Ohio State." I mean, right?
SEXY OUTRAGE. "Ohio State mess latest example of college athletics gone wild"
PROTIP: do NOT start looking for humorous "gone wild" pictures by typing in "bears gone wild."
ENTIRELY PREDICTABLE OUTRAGE. Doyel. /wanking motion
OUTRAGE WITH SURPRISING VERBIAGE. Never thought I'd see this word in an H1 on AnnArbor.com: "Ohio State coach Jim Tressel: A fraud, manipulator and image whore." That's actually from the Drew Sharp of Central PA, David Jones, but dang.
METAOUTRAGE. That's Ray Ratto writing a column about the columns that are outraged about Ohio State and their handling of this.
The Free Press Jihad ended with Bruce Feldman quoting people saying it's a "joke," Kirk Herbstreit declaring it a "joke," and the final NCAA word declaring the original lurid descriptions were overblown. The OSU reaction was such that people were writing columns about said reaction the day of. Boring, honest, NCAA-is-serious-business press conferences are so obviously the way to go.
Let's win this NCAA violation contest. "Document" on three.
Just like Haloi Ngata. Tom points out that Jake Ryan's twitter photo displays the first fruits of hiring Greg Mattison—redshirt freshman Richard Ash's levitating hair:
So we've got that going for us.
Too awesome to don't click here. Irrelevant, but here's three of my favorite things in one thing:
Further position clarification. Just to highlight something from Tim's post:
Cameron Gordon will play outside linebacker, because they want to get the guys into the best position they can to make plays. "And then what's the most upside." He has great ability to grow, and has that upside at OLB. "As compared to being a safety, I think he can do that too, but we have other guys that can do that."
Specifically, Gordon will be the SAM linebacker, which is a spot fairly similar to the "spur" Michigan used last year in their disaster of a 3-3-5. This answers one of the main questions from the Hello Old 4-3 posts. It seems like your starting front seven next year will be:
DL: Van Bergen-Campbell/other three tech-Martin-Roh
LB: C. Gordon/Demens/Winner of massive WLB free for all
Only the WLB spot and three-tech are up in the air.
SPARKZZZZ. A Daily article on Sparks does seem to confirm the only possible reason Lindsay Sparks would mostly hang out in the press box on a team decidedly lacking in… well… spark:
By the time Michigan headed into the stretch run, the offensively-skilled forward had played in just 10 of his team’s 34 games, mainly due to concerns about his defense. … According to Michigan coach Red Berenson, Sparks took his game to another level in practice in recent weeks. It paid off. He took the ice in both games of the final regular-season series.
Sparks picked up an effort-y assist against Northern and flashed near-Hagelin speed against Western. Surely he's a regular next year with all the departures. Prepare for me to badly overrate him.
SNUBZZZZ. Michigan didn't have a whole lot of individual stars this year but it's a somewhere between disappointing an enraging that Shawn Hunwick didn't get even a single vote for All CCHA. Spath has numbers:
Hunwick went 14-6-1 in 21 CCHA games - the coaches are only supposed to consider conference statistics - ranking second in winning percentage (.690) to Notre Dame's Mike Johnson … Hunwick also ranked second in save percentage (.931) and second in goals against average (1.95). He was the lone netminder in the CCHA to rank in the top two in winning percentage, save percentage and goals against. …
Nagle went 12-12-4 for the Bulldogs, ranking seventh in winning percentage (.500) while his .920 save percentage also ranked seventh among conference netminders and his 2.11 goals against average left him fifth. Greenham …. ranked sixth in save percentage (.921) and seventh in goals against average (2.19).
And Hunwick has the CCHA's most entertaining twitter feed. Watch him talk smack to Steve Kampfer:
.010 in save percentage + twitter should be a slam dunk for All CCHA, especially since the team that, you know, won the league only scored two of 12 players. I guess people are still hung up on the fact that he's just two cells pasted together.
Q: what was the last time Michigan had a goalie as good as Hunwick was this year? If you go by the stats, Billy Sauer's junior year is the recent best by a Michigan goalie. (The online database appears to start midway through the Tuco years.) He put up a .924 before his spectacular Frozen Four meltdown. Hunwick's .920 in 27 games is the next approximately qualifying season—if you want to roll his junior year in to get to 38 games that hardly changes the number—and then it's Montoya, Hogan, Montoya, Turco, and Josh Blackburn's four identical .905s.
If you think Sauer's meltdown poisons his whole year this is Michigan's best goaltending since Al Montoya was a sophomore who gave a crap.
Fab Five preview. Dylan got his hands on a promotional copy of Sunday's Fab Five documentary and provides first thoughts:
The brash exuberance of the Fab Five is not just captured through the clips on the court, which are obviously entertaining. A majority of the interviews do a great job of portraying the same energy. Whether it’s listening to the Fab Five describe their feelings on Duke and Christian Laettner – using words like “Uncle Toms” and “soft bitch” – or one of the many hip hop icons of the time explaining their cultural influence.
This is a no punches pulled documentary even without the presence of Chris Webber:
The range of topics discussed spans just about everything that you would expect to see. There are pictures of Jalen chugging beer out of a 40 and he discusses his drug house incident. There are also other ugly sides, such as shots of all of the racial hate mail from Michigan alumni and the inevitable discussion of the NCAA sanctions.
As I said, prepare to be massively conflicted. Sounds like it will be appointment television: 9PM, Sunday, ESPN.
Back to being an insufferable thing. Now that Jim Harbaugh is just another fish in the sea instead of the Chosen One we can resume thinking of him as kind of an asshat. This won't come as a surprise to anyone who perused the Stanford roster in the aftermath of Harbaugh's comments about Michigan funneling kids into easy classes, but—surprise—Stanford funnels its players into easy classes.
Not news, but this is a quote from the quote gods, one every Cal undergrad will be wearing next year:
"(Stanford) accommodates athletes in the manner that they accommodate students with disabilities."
Michigan's new football coaching staff met with the media today prior to the start of spring ball. Here are some excerpts of what they said. Video coming tomorrow.
Head Coach Brady Hoke
I spent much less time with Hoke because we've had chances to hear from him before. The assistants have much more new stuff to say.
"We've talked a lot about 'this is a fresh start' and going back to square one."
The facility upgrades are a lot different than last time Hoke was here. "You look aesthetically at how everything looks, and it's beautiful. It's a sign of the times in college football."
Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison
"We have to take who we have, and make them as good as they can be." Can the team make dramatic improvements on D? "It has to. Michigan forever - and you guys know it longer than I do - Michigan has taken great pride in defense, and will take great pride in defense again." It starts with technique, fundamentals, and stopping the run. Not allowing big plays and great red zone defense are huge.
It was tough to come to Michigan, because the Ravens are a great team, and "probably one of the best franchises in the NFL right now." In the end, he couldn't turn down working with Brady again and coming to Michigan again. He likes working with young guys and teaching the game.
On Hoke: "He's number one a great leader, he's a great person, as far as knowing what has to happen. He loves Michigan. He's always loved Michigan. He has a passion to get Michigan back to where it always was." Mattison and Hoke stayed close even though they weren't on the same staff for several years.
Cameron Gordon will play outside linebacker, because they want to get the guys into the best position they can to make plays. "And then what's the most upside." He has great ability to grow, and has that upside at OLB. "As compared to being a safety, I think he can do that too, but we have other guys that can do that."
"How dangerous? I don't know that, because we haven't hit anybody." Don't know how tough the team is until they have contact practices.
Nobody on the staff is selfish or looking out for their owns goals. "Everybody has Michigan first. It's not about any individual on that team."
Mattison hasn't watched any film on the defense from 2010. The only useful thing would be for individual ability, but he'll learn that through conditioning. "The players we have here are who we have here." Improving the defensive rankings doesn't matter. "I want this defense to be the best they can possibly be... It doesn't matter what the numbers were before. If the numbers were 50 a game and it goes down to 40, that isn't good enough." The bar at Michigan is higher than most places.
The coaches have to invest their own effort for the players to buy in. "Through their effort, they can become 'Michigan football players' again. And they're not far off."
"Very very physical, aggressive defense. A defense that, when somebody comes out on that field, they know their in a war." The other point of pride is having excellent technique.
Young kids are excited to play for a coach who's had Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, and Ed Reed play for him. "The good news is, you don't coach these guys any different than you coach them. It's just teaching."
Defensive Line: Jerry Montgomery
"They're going to be a reflection of me. I'm passionate about what I do, they'll feel that passion, and eventually it will rub off." The defensive linemen will play with intensity and "we're going to be the best-coached group on the field." Building a relationship with the players is one of the most important parts of coaching.
There are a lot of different defensive schemes out there, "but at the end of the day, you get to a lot of the same things." Michigan's 4-3 this season won't be worried about confusing the offense or disguising what they're going to get on a given play, unlike some of the other schemes out there. It'll be a lot of "here we are, come at us." Think along the lines of what Iowa does.
"Our goal is to stop the run first. That's priority number one."
The players who are best capable of playing "within the defense" will be the ones who play. If they're All-Americans in another scheme, but can't accept the coaching, they aren't going to play.
Coach Mattison is able to compare linemen to Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, and other great NFL linemen, so they know the bar is set high, and what they're aiming to achieve. "What they're asking is 'how can I be more like him?' Well, I'm going to them them." They'll watch the Ravens film because "we're going to be running that defense. So we've got the luxury of using that film."
"I'd like to rotate a bunch. But we've gotta have the players for us to do that. I won't know until we get deep into spring ball what type of depth we have." They want to keep the linemen fresh as much as possible.
It's exciting to work under Coaches Hoke and Mattison, because they're former D-Line coaches, and it's great to learn under them.
On Mattison: "Regardless of how old he is, he's great with the players, he relates to the players, and he's a great recruiter." He's as energetic as Montgomery, despite the age difference. He has the enthusiasm of a young guy, and cam back to college because he loved recruiting so much.
Offensive Coordinator Al Borges
The installation timeline for the offense isn't set in stone. They'll work on certain things as long as they need for the players to get it.
The important qualities for a quarterback are 1) proper management, and getting the offense into the proper plays, 2) throw accurately, and 3) "when there's breakdowns, particularly in the passing game, can you create?" The third quality separates system QBs from great ones.
There will still be some designed run plays. "He's not gonna rush for 1700 yards, I've already told him that." If he runs for 700 less and makes up for it in passing yards, that's a win. "Denard wants to be a next-level player." He's aware that this coaching staff gives him an opportunity to develop enough to play quarterback at the next level.
Borges has coached guys who can run in the past, but nobody with Denard's running skills. "He definitely has next level skills." As a quarterback? "Possibly." He's about as big as Michael Vick, and a little faster. He just needs to get the passing skills where they need to be.
Devin Gardner has a chance to play. "We have complete respect for what's been accomplished by Denard and anyone else in the lineup. But by the same token, everyone's going to have to prove to us they can play their position." They'll start with the guys that finished last year, but there's no entitlement.
The offense has a zone package, but they're not primarily a zone running team. "We're a combination of zone, gap, and insert schemes." They'll explore more options with what works well in practice. They've gone toward more gap in the past (SDSU) and also more zone (Auburn). All of it is available. The read-option isn't dead, but it's not a priority of this team.
Aaron Wellman, the team's strength coach, is as good as anybody at determining every individual player's maximum efficient weight. If guys can be most efficient a little lighter, so be it.
Running Backs: Fred Jackson
Every player in the running back position group (even Vincent Smith!) will play both running back and a bit of fullback, except John McColgan, who is strictly a fullback. They won't necessarily be doing the traditional Iso blocking, of course. Added versatility will make them all better players.
Running backs in this system have a wider range of responsibilities than the previous system. They have to be able to be pass catchers not just in the flat, but as downfield receivers as well. For the running backs, the spread wasn't that complex an offense. "For this offense, you're involved in every scheme of the protections, you're not free-released as much."
Vincent Smith is excited for the new offense, but he's a little nervous that the new offense has a reputation of favoring bigger backs. "But Vincent Smith for his size, pound for pound, I'd put him up against anybody. He's a tough, tough kid."
On Mike Cox: "He is by far better-suited for this offense. What he has to do to see the field is grasp the offense. I think I've talked about that in the past."
As high school players, Thomas Rawls is very similar to Mark Ingram: "What Mark has done right now, you can't really compare to anything," but they are very similar coming out of high school.
Justice Hayes is versatile enough to play several positions. "He can play running back, he can play receiver, he can play defensive back." For now, he's a running back, but "he can do a lot of things."
Offensive Line: Darrell Funk
It's tough to know what you have at your position group until actual spring practice starts. At offensive line, it's even tougher until you get them in pads. "I'm really excited. Even though we really enjoy recruiting and all those things that come with the job, we're here to coach football."
The biggest key for these guys is to teach them the new system, including the terms, etc. that are different from before. "There'll be some growing pains that way." That doesn't mean it's all about three yards and a cloud of dust - you have to be able to run and pass.
It's not just football that the players need to adjust to: "in the weight room, and in the training, and in the conditioning... doing things like we want to do."
They had to transition the offense from spread to pro-style at San Diego State as well, though that was more of a passing spread. "It ended up being real good in a 2-year period." The Aztecs were a 2-win program the year before this staff came in, so they might start a little further ahead at Michigan.
This group of kids at Michigan is an intelligent and attentive group. "It's mostly older kids in there. The David Molks and some kids who have played a lot of football." They're very willing to learn.
"We don't want guys to put on bad weight... just like every place, there's some guys who need to put on weight and there's a few who probably need to lose a pound or two. At the end of the day, if you can perform what we need done at, say, 290, and you want them to be 300: at the end of the day, production is key."
Left: Yahoo's Charles Robinson. Right: Death.
The Colonel Klink scandal unfolding at Ohio State is interesting from a hur-hur rival perspective, obviously, but I'm also fascinated by the responses across the blogosphere in the 23 hours between Yahoo posting their story and Ohio State's ham-handed press conference*.
This includes mine, essentially "I'm not sure if there's any paper but Yahoo is serious business." Eleven Warriors echoed:
it is highly unlikely that either Charles Robinson or Dan Wetzel would risk their reputations on a piece of investigative journalism that they didn't believe was accurate and authentic. Yahoo! Sports is a legitimate reporting organization, and whatever you think about either Wetzel or Robinson, no editor with a shred of sanity or professionalism would allow such a damning story to go live without at least something behind it. Some OSU fans have pointed out that the story cites only one anonymous source, which is fair criticism, and if that source continues to be unnamed and the only supplier of information to this story, then its credibility should be put in doubt. But keep in mind that Yahoo's track record with regard to investigative sports journalism is anything but shaky, and that it is probable that Wetzel and Robinson have not played every card in their hand.
Dr. Saturday was in the same boat:
Presumably – considering we're working on the word of respected reporters with a pretty good track record when it comes to NCAA scandal – that's a solid source, and presumably there are others leading the reporters to the same conclusion without saying as much outright. Presumably, too, there's more evidence (circumstantial or otherwise) on the way.
EDSBS went farther, into open hostility to anyone who would point at the single anonymous source as a reason to discount the story:
The story by Dan Wetzel uses a single anonymous source, the red flag for stupid people who like to point and say "HURP WHY ANONAMOOSE MEDIA FURRP." An anonymous source is fine, especially because this is Wetzel, who knows his shit and has a long track record of solid reportage. Don't rely on this as a critique unless you're dumb, and if you are please, feel free to get your dumbness all over the place somewhere else.
Wetzel and Robinson's one anonymous source is the moment when the blogosphere's trust in the Yahoo military-investigative complex went from implicit to explicit**. Anywhere else, even most newspapers, and the skepticism would be between substantial and total. Here it was minor, mostly limited to the question of paper. Slow States FTW:
So the winner here is clearly Yahoo! and Wetzel, not only for getting their name all over this one but doing the impossible: proving to the Internet (!) that you can in fact trust them next time they come out with a report based on what would at any Kansas City radio station be hardly worth a retweet.
Yahoo has accomplished what the set out to when they hired Wetzel and Robinson and a few other guys and told them "be NCAA enforcement." Q: is it working financially? We've seen Fanhouse go the wide-and-shallow route and eventually give up, leaving TSN to fire everyone except some overpaid columnists. We've seen Deadspin's mix of terrific and awful work. Lord, have we heard the complaints from newspaper folk about how no one cares about quality and no one pays for investigative work. Yahoo seems to be an encouraging counterpoint to the narrative that says in ten years all newspapers will be TMZ and all restaurants Taco Bell.
I know two things:
- I'll be just as depressed as anyone at a newspaper if it turns out Wetzel and Robinson almost singlehandedly causing Bruce Feldman to title a post "Is College Football Falling Apart?"($) does not work financially. If you can't get paid doing what Yahoo is doing you can't get paid doing any substantive reporting.
- The reasonable response to a Yahoo article linking your school to NCAA wrongdoing is to wet yourself and hide in the corner.
BONUS: Interviewed on Chicago radio, Robinson says Yahoo will break two more stories before football season, one a 6-7 on a ten point scale on which Tressel is an 8, the other a 10. I've got Clemson in the pool.
*[With rhabdogate and the whole Legends/Leaders debacle, this appears to be a Big Ten specialty.]
**[There was one obvious exception of local interest that seemed kinder to ignore, but somehow I find myself called out for not responding to it. So, fine: of late MNB Dave has 1) declared moving The Game was not only not a big deal, but a good thing, 2) declared Michigan's most recent recruiting class "awesome", 3) been the only person on the planet other than Dave Brandon to defend Dave Brandon's process, and 4) called out Robinson and Wetzel as what's wrong with modern-day journalism.
He's either sustained a major brain injury or is—as emailers have taken to suggesting on the regular—started taking idiotic contrarian positions for the attention. Either way I'm past the point where a response would be anything constructive. If you agree with any of the above points we are speaking a different language and interaction is pointless. Maybe if I was a better person I could gently explain the many specific ways in which the above positions are incorrect, but I'm sure halfway through I'd go HULK SMASH and start talking about how people look like horses and should be quarantined on the moon so their disease does not infect the rest of the planet. Since I prefer to restrict my vicious ad hominem attacks to people I haven't met I'm taking mom's advice and not saying anything at all… except when directly called out. So: MNB, for the love of God either get a coherent editorial position or fan out into a half-dozen different blogs so I can better distinguish which things to ts;dr.
You don't care, I know, which is why this is a footnote.]