so much for that
Josh Elliot has an article up at SI.com on NFL rule changes he'd like to see.
Interestingly, four of the changes he wants to see are already implemented in the college game: the overtime format, the 15-yard maximum on pass interference, the number of feet required inbounds for a completion (one for college, two for the NFL), and whether a receiver forced out of bounds by a defensive back without getting his feet down will be given credit for a completion (no in college, yes in the NFL).
He mentions something in his discussion of the overtime format that I have wanted to see myself: moving the OT starting point back to the 35 yard line instead of the 25. (He calls the 25-yard line "absurdly close," which is stretching the boundaries of the word "absurd.") The biggest flaw in the current system is the fact that it can literally take forever. A few six- or seven-overtime games have been played, leaving both teams exhausted and pissed off when they get waxed the next week. Moving the starting points back ten or fifteen yards will force teams to get a first down before moving into reasonable field goal range and increase the chance that a team will end up not scoring on their drive, increasing the variance of each possession. Make that change, declare the teams tied after three overtime sessions, and call it a day.
When it comes to pass interference I'd actually like to see colleges add a flagrant version of pass interference that would be a spot foul without the 15-yard maximum. The rule as currently structured can lead to a situation where intentionally committing a penalty is a good thing, which should never be the case (I'll probably subject you to a diatribe on that subject as it applies to the end of basketball games eventually). The flagrant version would probably be an exceedingly rare call, as it would only be assessed when the defensive back was intentionally committing interference, and how many times is a defensive back badly beaten enough to want to interfere intentionally and able to do so? Infrequently. But when it happens it should be penalized appropriately.
Elliots other four suggested changes are less interesting to consider. One ("don't show that blue LOS line on TV") isn't even a rule change. Another ("no cut blocks") is a radical departure from the current NFL rules that will never see the light of day. The last two are impractical. He suggests that the ground should be allowed to "cause" a fumble, which makes no sense. If the ground causes a fumble it's because you've hit it. You're down by definition. Changing that rule introduces a heap of inconsistencies my brain doesn't want to deal with. Finally, he suggests "no fair catches," which is an invitation to murder punt returners unless you reintroduce the much-reviled halo rule. It was also a feature of the ill-fated XFL, and my motto is "find out what the XFL did and do the opposite." (If you're curious, no, my motto doesn't come into play all that often.)
Why am I talking about the OHL draft? Well, there's a weird dynamic going on there with potential NCAA players. OHL teams draft on a combination of talent and the likelihood of a particular player reporting. For instance, Andrew Cogliano was obviously the most talented player available in his draft year and would have gone #1 overall if he wasn't committed to Michigan. Instead he went in the third round to St. Michael's, his hometown. The chance a talented player will end up in the OHL is inversely proportional to his draft status, so it's worth seeing where potential NCAA recruits end up.
Given that interpretation of the results, Michigan fans can exhale after some tension about Tristan Llewellyn possibly defecting to the OHL's Kitchner Rangers. Llewellyn went in the fifth round to Saginaw, ending that speculation and seriously reassuring this fan. In addition, Kevin Shattenkirk went in the 11th round and Ian Cole in the 12th, strongly implying that they are headed to college. Shattenkirk and Cole are two high-end '07 defense prospects. Blake Geoffrion went undrafted.
One more defender Michigan was recruiting heavily, Nick Petrecki, was drafted in the first by the Plymouth Whalers--he's gone.
Overall, good news for Michigan. Holding on to Llewellyn was the most important thing by a wide margin and it looks like that is likely. Petrecki going to the OHL is not a huge surprise and if Llewellyn stays with his commitment Michigan will not have a huge need on defense that year anyway.
So there's this kid John Tavares in Canada. He's 14 and good at hockey. So good that the OHL is going to allow him to be drafted this year in an attempt to get more fans to their rinks. To relatively sane people this is obviously wrong, but the culture of hockey, especially in Canada, is anything but sane. There are a few people out there getting fed up with the direction things are going. Damien Cox of the Toronto Star is among them. His most recent article ripped the OHL to pieces.
Seriously. This is his lede (he's in Austria for the IIHC World Championships):
It's heartening to know that while the world tries to celebrate the badly battered game of hockey here in Europe, the sociopaths who run the Ontario Hockey League are helping to soil the sport just a little more.
Wow. Sounds like me talking about Terry Foster. The rest of it is equally savage and paints the CHL in a dim light indeed. Cox beautifully sums up any NCAA proponent's argument against the CHL right here:
Anybody with a conscience has had to be troubled by the OHL's act in recent years, how the league has continued to allow teenagers to punch each others' lights out every night so they can impress NHL scouts with their toughness, how teenagers are getting the same $60 a week they were getting more than 40 years ago, how teenagers can be traded from Kingston to Sault Ste. Marie to Plymouth, Mich., in the middle of a high school year without anybody batting an eye.
I should state for the record that the US system is not leaps and bounds better. Goalie recruit Billy Sauer, for instance, moved from upstate New York to Chicago this year to play for the USHL's Chicago Steel. His family did not accompany him. Many of the elite US players end up far away from home playing for the NTDP right here in Ann Arbor or at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Minnesota. The life of a teenage hockey player is generally a strange, somewhat sad thing spent far away from home, eating some other mom's dinners. Elite Minnesota high school players and eastern Junior B players manage to avoid getting shipped off at 16, but most kids chase their NHL dreams thousands of miles from where they grew up. At least in the US they aren't spending two weeks at a time on the road, away from anything resembling a classroom, and when they get to college they graduate. The OHL's education packages, which are generally partial and expire if you play more than a year of professional hockey, present a Solomon's choice for fringe NHL prospects--give up the dream you've chased across timezones, provinces, and states since your childhood or risk getting coughed up at 24 or 25 by minor pro hockey without a degree of any kind.
Hockey youths: Go to college. There are sorority girls and education and stuff. It's the bomb, yo, to use the particular vernacular you are accustomed to, dawg.
Update 4/6: Added WR Jamar Hornsby, RB Anthony Elzy, DT Jason Pinkston. Noted that GA leads for WR Chris Slaughter. Noted that USC and M are listed as co-leaders for WR Andrey Baskin. Added link to some free video of WR Menelik Holt.
Link is here.
It's bash the media day at mgoblog, I guess, and Mitch Albom's next in line. Undeterred by his national spanking after making up stuff... oops! He's done it again.
His latest faux pas:
I went down to Joe Louis Arena earlier this week. The halls were dark, the tunnels empty. I was about to leave when I heard the sound of conversation.
"And that makes one year," a voice whispered.
"One stinkin' year," said another.
"Yeah. Happy stinkin' anniversary."
I crouched low. Through the dim light I saw a stick and a puck. The stick had hundreds of notches on its shaft. It had just cut a new one. I'm not sure how, since a stick has no arms. Then again, sticks aren't supposed to talk, either.
"Three hundred sixty-five notches," it said. "Three hundred sixty-five days. One full year. No Red Wings."
"One full year," the puck said, glumly.
Nice try, Mitch, but everyone knows that sticks don't talk and even if they did they wouldn't talk to pucks, because pucks are black and sticks are really racist. When is someone going to hold this guy accountable?
I do not come here to praise newspaper media. I come to bury it.
I've harped on the general shoddiness of professional sportswriting before, and I have a crystal clear example now.
Terry Foster's latest:
The Tigers dipped to 3-8 in one-run games following Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. It is a disturbing trend considering they were 12-27 in one-run games last season. It is not a coincidence. It is a trend. And it is a trend that must stop.
This concludes Terry Foster's in-depth examination of the situation. But wait! Let's hear from The Detroit Tigers Weblog:
Using data from Retrosheet, I looked at every team's performance in one run games from 1970 to 1993. The result is 903 team-seasons of data to look at.... (extensive analysis) ... As you can see there is no correlation from one year to the next.... This leads me to believe that performance in one run games has more to do with luck and less to do with skill.
So what does this mean for the Tigers who's .325 one-run winning percentage was the 13th worst since 1970? Since it is pretty rare for a team to perform that badly once, chances are the Tigers will do better. Of the 83 teams who had a one-run winning percentage less than .400, only 4 were worse the following season. In fact, of those 83, forty of them posted a .500 or better winning percentage in one-run games the following year. Now the Tigers 0-5 start this season has put them in a hole for finishing over .500, but the Tigers stand a good chance of improving over last year. Furthermore, much of it will come down to luck as opposed to a failure of the offense, bulllpen, or the manager.
You got served, Terry Foster! YOU GOT SERVED!