I'm in Chicago. I'm going to go to the Big Ten Media Hootenanny and see if I get kicked out or stabbed or something. If I don't I hope to ask Joe Tiller "if there's a gentleman's agreement amongst Big Ten teams not to recruit each other's verbal commitments, how did Michigan State commit Garrett Bushong end up signing with Purdue?"
After his head explodes I'll try to get up a post in the afternoon.
For now, links and such.
Adieu. Michigan's put out the fall roster; Marques Slocum is not on it. There are no other unexpected departures.
No. I don't know the female t-shirt model's name. Or her phone number.
What? Speaking of Tiller, I ran across this article from a few days ago in a Wyoming paper on the Big Ten's most walrusy coach:
"But since I've announced my retirement, it's amazing to me how many people come up and thank me and say they're appreciative. I'm thinking, 'Where were they a year ago when the bloggers were nailing me for losing to Michigan in Ann Arbor?'"
No offense to the two burgeoning Purdue blogs Off The Tracks and Boiled Sports, but they were probably sitting around being totally unaware of the internet firestorm raging inside their computers, just like the great majority of Michigan fans assume you had heat stroke you said "great game from Tacopants today."
Is this a good deal? Alabama and Clemson are opening the season in Atlanta. Kudos to them; the trend of moving football games off campus is far less annoying than the one in which no one plays anyone. But I wonder if it's worth it:
Alabama and Clemson will reportedly earn nearly $2 million apiece for their season-opening matchup in Atlanta.
Quick calculation suggests that $4 million divided by 90k (the approximate capacity of Bryant-Denny) is about 44 bucks, and we know that on average SEC tickets go for well more than that. So why not just have a home-and-home?
Diaries. SpartanNation drops in and gives us a taste of what we have coming; it's ugly. Chrisgocomment provides some further perspective on Carr's career. And wolvrine32 lists Michigan Commandments that Rich Rodriguez is enjoined to follow.
I still believe Kirk Ferentz was someone's first choice to be Michigan's next head coach. We'll never know, but the preponderance of rumormongering from here and elsewhere is hard to deny absent any contradictory hypotheses.
From a neutral perspective, Ferentz was a weird first option. He was successful... three years ago. Because of that rapidly receding success he was paid six kazillion dollars a year. And he was way ethical if you ignore the spate of questionable characters he recruited over the past few years and the housing scam he ran with his son.
But by God, he looked like an honest man. Nice jaw. Appealing salt-and-pepper hair. Aura of calm politeness at all times. Super hot daughters and strapping lad sons. People began to question his performance, but most of the opinion directed at Iowa's extended run of Facebook terrorism was meta-criticism: "isn't it weird no one's giving Iowa heat"?
Ladies and gentlemen: heat. This Iowa stuff that's gone down? Heavy. In sum:
- Cedric Everson (remember him?) and Abe Satterfield allegedly have nonconsensual sex with another Iowa athlete.
- The university suspends and eventually boots Everson and Satterfield, but pressures the victim into handling it "in house," allows Everson to move in with his girlfriend(!) three doors down from the victim, and generally appears to have no inclination towards actually doing something until the victim files formal charges.
- Some recruit is chased by eight cops whilst naked, racking up Iowa's 634th arrest in the last three years.
The mother of the victim was so incensed she released a scathing letter originally sent to Iowa eight months after she originally sent it. This is the money quote:
"University of Iowa's character was non-existent. It is disappointing to say the very least," the alleged victim's mother said in a phone interview. "We were told the school will take care of it. We will keep it in house. We will be swift. We will be just, and you don't have to worry about it."
And this is the money quote about Kirk Ferentz, Michigan's probable first choice coach in November:
Speaking of dorm rooms, the alleged assault occurred in a "ghost room," registered to a third player but unoccupied. After the incident, according to affadavits obtained by the Press-Citizen, Ferentz ordered the player to reoccupy the room, and a different player moved into the room as well. The room was never secured, evidence was never gathered from it, and the incoming players cleaned all the mess from the alleged assault. [mess including a used condom and sheets with an "orangish-reddish" substance on them -ed]
When I read the Press-Citizen article the first time around I thought it was a case of university bureaucracy exhibiting spectacular stupidity, not malice. This is not. It certainly appears like the behavior of the athletic department -- keep it "in house" because Iowa's got a first class prison right next to the chem building, throw away the evidence contained in the ghost room, keep it vague in the media -- was mostly concerned with whether or not they could salvage the careers of two defensive backs.
Black Heart, Gold Pants has been calling for mass resignations, and I'm not quite there. But Kirk Ferentz is alleged to have instructed two football players to
destroy evidence in a rape case involving another football player occupy a room he knew was a crime scene. [Update: clarification; Ferentz probably didn't say "you go destroy that evidence"; he did tell someone to move into a room that he knew would be of police interest.] If that turns out to be true (since that information is based on affadavits given by the players who moved into the room, that's highly likely), Ferentz immediately sets up shop one level above Dave Bliss in coaching hell.
We've heard an awful lot about Rich Rodriguez's lack of character this offseason because he changed jobs, tried to reduce his buyout, and said some silly things about the truth coming out. This was despite a seven-year run without a hint of NCAA sanctions and repeated weak showings in the Fulmer Cup. Meanwhile, Iowa is imploding and it took the most serious allegations leveled at a college head coach since the Bliss incident for anyone to notice. If you hadn't listened to Kirk Ferentz and Rich Rodriguez, hadn't seen pictures of their wives, couldn't hear their accents, this would all be terribly mysterious.
But we have and it's not. The whispered accusation about Rodriguez -- he's a hillbilly -- is true. He shops at Costco and is only interested in Rudyard Kipling if he's 17 years old and benches 400 pounds. He makes goofy jokes at press conferences and occasionally says things you wish he hadn't. He does not inspire third-party confidence like Bo or even Lloyd did. He is not a titanic figure astride the globe, molding young men into little Academic All-American Adonises. He is resolutely, publicly human, full of venal sins. He is impossible to truly adore in the way college football fanbases wish to adore their proxy father figures. He punctures the "Michigan Man" myth every day. He, like Zaphod Beeblebrox, is just this guy, you know?
And, like, okay. I'm nearly 30. I have a father. I just want someone who will win football games and not utterly disgust me when the scales fall from my eyes and the preposterous lie is exposed for all to see. I prefer my heroes poor and uncertain of their future, anyway.
The rich history of Michigan stealing traditions may go even deeper than previously known. Michigan, of course, stole Cornell's hockey cheers and Princeton's winged helmets and West Virginia's coaches and, on three separate occasions, Notre Dame's dignity. And this is the first page of the 12th chapter of a 1960 book by Bear Bryant:
Insert Dave Letterman going "eeeeeh" and pulling on his collar here.
Not even I believe this. Ex-sign-gobblin' linebacker and current Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald pulls out the Playbook of Ultimate Boredom when quizzed by ESPN's Adam Rittenberg re: Rodriguez:
I see you have a magazine on your desk with Rich Rodriguez on the cover. How will his arrival at Michigan impact the league?
PF: It will be a huge change for Michigan football. I've gotten to be around Rich a couple times and I'm very impressed with him as a person. I'm very impressed with his demeanor and his humility. A coach that who's been a head coach since a young age, has been very successful in his time as a head coach. The success that he had at West Virginia is incredible. To bring that mind-set and what they do to Michigan, it's going to be a great challenge for all of us. I'm not looking forward to competing against him. He's had great success. It's just going to take him a little bit of time, like it takes everybody when you go to a new university, to get all his pieces into place. But I'm sure he's got an acceleration plan to get that ready this fall.
Emphasis mine. Product Rodriguez's humility does not appear in my list of TOP 500 RICH RODRIGUEZ ASSETS. (All assets omitted are "Mike Barwis.")
1. Approx. 15 years experience as collegiate head coach
2. Modern, ass-kicking offensive system
3. "Coal spoon" mentality
4. Tendency to hire people based on qualifications, not friendship
5. Mike Barwis
11. Brandon Graham
23. Donovan Warren
56. "Lion King" joke he tells during press conferences.
110. Access to lifetime supply of hairspray.
124. Tight buns, according to my grandmother.*
234. $2 million dollar West Virginia home he will never ever sell
298. General lack of proximity to Mike Debord
343. Still-beating heart of West Virginia cheerleader
412. Pact with devil
499. Crack team of a lawyers who say things like "OMG he's a slave"
500. Agent Mike Brown.
*(Sadly, not really.)
Wisconsin 1999. Via the prolific Wolverine Historian:
"Rivalry" of a sort. Fanblogs compiled the top 15 most lopsided series (minimum: 50 games) and Michigan is on the good side of four:
15) Michigan-Purdue, 53 games, .770
14) Michigan-Iowa, 54 games, .778
11) Michigan-Wisconsin, 61 games, .795
4) Michigan-Indiana, 59 games, .847
#1 is Oklahoma-Iowa State, which Oklahoma is winning at a 92% clip; the only other Big Ten matchup in the list is #9 Ohio State-Northwestern.
Another 3:30 start. I hate 3:30 starts. You can't see the end of the noon games or (obviously) any of the 3:30 games or the start of the later games and in general I feel like I've missed a whole day of football whenever that goes down. So, like, bleah to Stadium & Main's clever breakdown of the possibilities for the Michigan-Michigan State game that leads inevitably to this:
Maybe there's an super-small chance that if both Michigan and MSU absolutely stink, the game will be given a Noon start on BTN, ESPN, or ESPN2, but that would mean no Big Ten 3:30 game on ABC - and I don't think that's ever happened, or is even allowed to happen since it probably violates the Big Ten's contract with ABC/ESPN.
And thus the conclusion that M-MSU will be 3:30 on ABC.
I think we can swing a few grand for edumahcation. If anyone ever tells you your plan to funnel more money to kids playing college football by extending their scholarships by a year or two is "too expensive" or something like that, please do me a favor and laugh in their face:
In just the last three years, assistant coaching salaries in the Big 12 have risen by almost 37 percent.
At OSU, that figure is a Big 12-high 65 percent, and would've been even higher had former Cowboy offensive coordinator Larry Fedora - who was making $393,000 - not left to be head coach at Southern Mississippi.
Once a bottom dweller in assistant coaches' pay, OSU, at $2.13 million, is now second in the Big 12, trailing only Texas' $2.38 million payroll.
The money goes somewhere, and increasingly it goes into palatial facilities and rich coaches.
That's what she said. A guy on MGoBoard points out that walk-on defensive back Jermaine Jackson is from Alaska, and he's not someone you want to mess with in the Eskimo stick pull:
University of Michigan defensive back Jermaine Jackson, a Bartlett High School graduate, won the Eskimo stick pull in an intense battle of leverage and strength against Matthew Evans.
In the event, two athletes sit facing each other with their feet together and knees bent and try to pull a short stick away from each other. Evans had a longer reach and a weight advantage, but he needed to defeat Jackson twice in best-of-three rounds. He took the first round, but Jackson won the second.
"What I was thinking was grip, all grip," Jackson said. "I was losing my grip in the first round."
Good news for Jackson: "Hold the rope" is one of Rodriguez's mysterious catchphrases ("spot the ball" is the other).
Odd demographics. This is probably not the exact right place to mention this, but if you live around MIS there's a charity raffle going on with this sweet hog as a prize:
Updated with information and stuff!
A defensive end has signed up. His name is awesome: Dequinta Jones. It is so awesome that a google search for just his first name pops up stuff about him. (When you are a blogger prone to google-stalking these things become disproportionately important; I vaguely hope Mike Jones changes his name to "Frobozz Tamoshanter" before he commits to Michigan, if indeed he does so.)
Update: Okay, this one's pretty weird. Jones hasn't visited Michigan and the last time he touched base with a recruiting site he claimed that Alabama and Cal led with a decision pending on Signing Day. He wasn't even on the recruiting board. Then out of the blue he picks Michigan. He is from Louisiana, the national epicenter of wacky recruitments. All these things indicate a potentially shaky situation. But, like... what the hell. He's committed. On with the show.
Jones is a three-star to everyone. Tiger Rag's "Midsummer Top 40" published just a few weeks ago weirdly claims no offers and interestingly claims he'll end up inside:
27. DeQuinta Jones DT (6'2,265, 4.8) Bastrop HS - Jones is explosive off of the line of scrimmage and is a quarterback's nightmare. Jones moves along the defensive line for his high school team fulfilling different positions, but with some added weight he will likely be more of an inside guy at the next level. Jones is currently flying under the radar as he awaits his first offer, but like many other talented prospects offers should appear flowingly throughout his senior season. During the spring, Jones took in visits at LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
"Dandy Don" has him a bit higher at #19, saying he is a "little under-sized but has great speed and outstanding work habits." He appears to have fallen in the estimation of the gurus after starting out a member of the Rivals 250; clearly that's no longer the case. He's actually moved steadily down, falling from #187 in the first Rivals 250 to #218 above to entirely out and just a three-star. I know I've said this a few times already this year, but he might have some upward mobility left with his late-ish flurry of offers and Michigan commit. 50-50 he ends up a four star and back in at the tail end of the Rivals 250.
ESPN, however, is not particularly impressed, providing a 77. His evaluation is littered with words like "adequate"; in summary:
Has the ability to develop into a solid college defender that can at worst could be a good swing guy.
They, too, bring up the defensive tackle thing.
Unfortunately, that's about all on Jones: he's a DE/DT prospect that is sitting on the 3/4 borderline. Given Michigan's needs, a good pickup but not a thrilling one.
And now, a word. Earlier this year there was a mailbag in which a reader asked which of the premium sites was the better one to subscribe to. At the time I hadn't had much direct experience with Scout, but I related the general opinions of a trusted group of internet friends. I've now added some direct experience to my portfolio of Scout knowledge.
Sometime yesterday both sites came out and said "we can't confirm this yet, but we're getting indications that Dequinta Jones has committed to Michigan." Rivals got Jones on the phone and got these direct quotes from him:
"I talked to Coach (Jay) Hopson and he asked me if I was ready to be a Wolverine and I said 'Yes sir,'" Jones told Rivals.com national analyst Barton Simmons Monday afternoon. "Coach Rodriguez was in his office and heard the celebration down the hall and came out to see what it was all about and found out I committed."
Point for Rivals if you care which recruiting site posted information about a commitment nanoseconds before the other. No one who's sane should, but this is internet recruiting we're talking about here.
Scout did not take this well. They've got a story up with quotes from Jones' parents saying that Jones hasn't committed anywhere and that he was "on the farm." Okay, fine, whatever, different information. But Tom Beaver has posted this in at least three separate places:
Let's hope this didn't get messed up by the gun-jumping.
This garners responses like this:
TOS ["The other site" -ed] at their best. Way to do the due diligence Sam/Tom. That's why I come here for the real news.
To recap: Rivals has a direct quote from a kid saying he has committed to Michigan and that Jay Hopson and Rich Rodriguez know. They run a story reporting this. Tom Beaver laces his premium message board with innuendo about "gun-jumping" and lets his message board minions leap to the desired conclusion. Given the situation outlined above -- weird, no-visit Louisiana commit out of nowhere -- there's at least a small chance this commitment doesn't make it to February, at which point Beaver will tut-tut those jerks at Rivals who had the audacity to run a direct quote.
Lord knows I've had issues with a couple of the more sanctimonious Rivals writers, but Beaver routinely pulls stunts like this whenever he's beaten to a story. It's dishonest and drives me crazy. If you're looking to sign up for one site or the other, keep it in mind.
Two further news items in the ongoing coverage of Alabama's oversigning escapades:
- Destin Hood was a second round pick of the Nationals and has signed an MLB contract. This doesn't affect Alabama's numbers. They were already at the 25-player maximum (actually 27 with two early enrollees) without Hood, who was always expected to play baseball.
- Ezekial Knight has a name that always looks misspelled. He has also been shot down by Alabama's doctors after surgery to repair a heart murmur didn't totally fix the issue. Is this legit? On the one hand, Knight was a starting linebacker in 2007 and 'Bama is now critically short at the position. On the other:
"They didn't clear him to play at Alabama for some reason," said Randy Boyd, his former coach at Randolph County High. "He thinks he can play, and being young ande ambitious, he's going to try and get cleared at a smaller school."
"From what he tells me, they tell him that he can't play, but they can't give him a reason why. They just tell him he just doesn't need to play. One or two smaller schools have told him if he gets cleared by the doctors, and the physical has been passed, they are going to let him play."
Of all the medical disqualifications handed out by Alabama, Knight's is the least questionable. He was a starting linebacker who had a heart murmur and lingering complications from surgery; if he were to keel over during practice or a game after the warning signs he's received it would have been a permanent black mark on Alabama's program. Also, he would be dead.
In any normal situation, no one would even cock an eyebrow at the departure, but this is the thing: once you put yourself in the spot Alabama is in you stop trying to retain kids at all costs and start trying to eject them. I probably should have put a question mark in the "Cut" headline -- "Cut?" -- because we don't really know what happened with Tarence Farmer. I think it's incredibly doubtful that a redshirt freshman wide receiver/defensive back would transfer in mid-July instead of, say, after spring practice or not at all. But it could have been a voluntary transfer after Saban pulled him aside and said "kid, you're never going to play here and you should transfer" or been rude to him or cold to him or indifferent to him. There are ways of encouraging kids to leave your program.
The thing that's often lost here is how lucky(?) Alabama is to only have one scholarship to go. Jeremy Elder commited armed robbery for 28 bucks. Jimmy Johns delivered coke so fast you'll freak. An incredibly large number of kids came down with medicalscholarship-itis. Farmer had a mysterious mid-July transfer he doesn't want to talk about. And they're still a scholarship over.
It doesn't really matter whether Farmer was explicitly or implicitly told he should no longer be at Alabama. Schools should not be in the business of encouraging attrition from guys who aren't likely to contribute on the field, or they should just give up on the idea they're a non-profit organization in the business of promoting capital-S "student-athletes". You are operating in dubious waters when the result of Tarence Farmer's transfer is not the loss of a potentially useful player but his replacement by a higher-rated one.
I've said it before and will say it again: you should not be able to sign a player to a LOI unless you can show the NCAA where the scholarship is coming from. Extend the signing period past the end of spring practice, require a uniform "returning roster" date, and permit only enough LOIs to fill that gap. No more of these last-second medical hardships or midsummer transfers. No more pushing kids out of the boat. Punish attrition.
Update 7/21: Linked to articles on MS S Dennis Thames, FL LB Brandin Hawthorne, MD RB Tavon Austin, GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore, TX S Rex Burkhead, NJ DE Anthony LaLota, various pieces on SC DE Chris Bonds. And more fun Newsome stuff, plus rumor-mongering of a bogus variety.
Re-added SC RB David Sims.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting Board lives here.
Everybody thought IN OL Zach Martin was going to visit Michigan, then decide, but instead he committed to Notre Dame. This has been an unfortunately common occurrence over the last few years. Geniunely Sarcastic has the details; suffice it to say the scoreboard since 2006 is ND 9, Michigan 1. This overstates things since it doesn't include the likes of Dann O'Neill or Ricky Barnum, who are widely regarded to be players at least equal to the ten players fought over here, but it's a concern.
GS goes for the soothing balm of Dan Mozes, the two-star West Virginia center who became a four-year starter, All-American, and Rimington winner. I'm more circumspect. All-Americans and Rimington Award winners are picked by the media, who know f-all about offensive linemen, and when you've got a four year starter on a team that runs for 300 yards a game he's going to get fawned over whether he deserves it or not. See: Matt Lentz, All Big Ten 2005. Mozes went undrafted by the NFL and was cut in training camp by the Vikings. In all probability he was massively overhyped.
What does suit as balm: Weis' remarkable ability to turn a line not far off Michigan's last year in terms of recruiting hype and returning experience into the worst unit in the country and possibly the worst unit of the decade.
Other stuff: NJ DE Anthony LaLota is listing a number of schools that are all excellent academically, including Michigan. However, he's visited five of his leaders and has a trip planned to a sixth (Penn State) this weekend. Michigan not so much:
"I haven't had a chance to visit Michigan yet and I don't know too much about the new coaches," he said. "I'm really looking forward to getting to know them better. I think they'll do great and I really expect them to have a great season."
If he visits, then we might have a shot; for now we're just hanging on.
MS S Dennis Thames, nephew of Detroit Tiger Marcus Thames, had a lot of positive things to say about Michigan after his visit...
"It was like a dream come true," Thames said of his time at Michigan. "Everything I'm looking for in a college, Michigan had it. Education-wise, everything up there is professional. They know what they're doing. If football doesn't work, they make sure you get your education."
Based on what Thames witnessed in the weight room, he believes the Wolverines know what they're doing when it comes to training, as well.
"Mike Barwis -- that's an awesome dude," he said about Michigan's new strength and conditioning coordinator. "I'd say about 25 pro football players were there. He was helping them work out. It was awesome. He took me through some drills showing me how they do it up there."
... but he's backed off the assertion he made whilst in the Tigers locker room that Michigan leads:
As for his college choice, Thames said, "I will say Michigan is in my top three with Mississippi State and Auburn."
Mississippi State, bizarrely as ever, remains the biggest threat.
FL LB Brandin Hawthorne has five finalists and plans on " committing" August 30th; Michigan is regarded the favorite. Cause of scare quotes:
ESPN 150 Watch Lister Brandin Hawthorne will choose between South Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee and Louisville during an Aug. 30th game against Olive Branch (Miss.) to be televised on ESPN, affiliate Web site InsideTheU.com reports.
Hawthorne will then take official visits to all those schools except South Florida and will travel to Iowa State instead.
Last season, the 6-foot-1, 181-pounder racked up more than 80 tackles, 28 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
And by "commit" we mean "announces early leader." And by "five finalists" we mean "six finalists."
GA LB Devekeyan (or "Dede") Lattimore says Michigan is a slight leader:
"I love the tradition at Michigan and they have some good new coaches that are really going to be changing things up," he said. "I like coach Rich Rodriguez and it really impressed me that he was one of the few head coaches (and UCF) that offered me himself. That meant a lot."
Lattimore is a three star with one other big offer, that from Clemson.
And, finally, what would a recruiting post be without more discussion of VA QB Kevin Newsome's status? It would be shorter. Anyway, Josh Helmholdt put up an innocuous story on the Free Press site headlined something like "Michigan's quarterback issues are temporary" that one of the OMG HITS editors at the Free Press changed to "If Kevin Newsome bolts, Michigan has a contingency plan." This set off a completely predictable mini-sitewar between Scout and Rivals with Scout touting Sam Webb's recent conversation(?) with the Newsomes and claiming 1) Newsome was totally solid and 2) if Newsome did end up decommiting it was Helmholdt's fault for writing that article. Helmholdt, for his part, has been writing articles that can be retitled "If Kevin Newsome bolts..." and include references to Jason Forcier and Eugene Smith. Read between the lines.
My contribution: a man named "Crotch Bat." A reader sends along this thread from Something Awful's "Sports Argument Stadium" in which a VT fan/insider(?) says thusly:
What I'm hearing is that Kevin Newsome is all but gone from Michigan and that scenario will play out sooner rather than later. Look for VT and PSU to be in the thick of it for him.
Again, don't shoot the messenger but like I said, none of this stuff is going away and I hear new stuff more and more.
Reasons to give this more credence than you would to your average random internet rumor? Well, there is the claim of deep insider info and the generalized respect shown this guy, who's been posting at SA since 2003. The emailer comments:
I tend to believe him because in the few years I've been reading that forum, he has always been there and is consistently a knowledgeable, intelligent poster.
A reason to disregard: even if he's got the info he claims it's coming from the VT side of things and may be biased or just incorrect. Also: "Crotch Bat." Also also: there was another Rivals even this weekend that was attended by both Bryce McNeal and Newsome; McNeal, at least, didn't detect any floppiness. As always, I throw up my hands and say "hell if I know."
Etc.: TX S Rex Burkhead doesn't mention Michigan here; longshot.