Lo and behold: the academic progress rates are here. This year marks the first that the NCAA has put teeth behind the numbers, docking 11 I-A football programs a total of 41 scholarships. The most prominent offenders: Arizona (four) and Hawaii (one). The most obvious: Florida International, which will lose a whopping nine scholarships. (Never fear, single living FIU fan: your school can't find enough guys willing to fill out a football roster anyway. Docking FIU scholarships 76 through 85 is like removing the spoiler from a Dodge Shadow.) Is this good? Is this bad? Respected and esteemed internet colleagues seem to be taking a cynical tack. SMQB:
The NCAA released its third annual report on "Academic Progress Rate" Wednesday, hitting eleven mostly smaller Bowl Subdivision schools with scholarship penalties for failing to meet no doubt draconian, bureaucratically skewed benchmarks.
Orson dubs the cruelest abbreviation the "Annual Pipsqueak Reaming" and then gets his own ream on:
This post is therefore sponsored by the burgeoning field of NCAA compliance and the American Union of NCAA Compliance Officers. Through an increasingly incoherent and flexible policy, the NCAA's done little more than subsidize the growth of an industry devoted solely to countering its own policies, and one that will likely require the services of that most pricey and ornery of professionals: the attorney. Schools unable to afford representation will gradually be razed out of sport, since the market will clip the weaker competition (HBCUs and San Jose States of the world) out of business.
In the future, the best defense in college football won't be wearing a mouth guard and eyeblack. They'll be carrying a valise and a J.D. from a top 25 law school, and their playbook will be much, much more complicated than that of its opposition for one very good reason: the other team faxed them the game plan before kickoff.
Dang! Orson also references Miami Hawk Talk, which has been all over the APR since its inception. Even though Miami of Ohio has one of the best APR records in the country, they are not pleased:
The NCAA released its third annual round of academic progress rate ("APR") reports yesterday and the upshot is simple: While 40% of college football programs missed the alleged 925 "cut-off" standard, the NCAA waved its magic wand (called the "squad size" adjustment) and opted to sanction only one BCS-conference football program. That was Arizona, if you were curious. Without getting into all the gory details of the squad size adjustment, we simply note again this spring that the explanation that a sport with an 85-man roster needs slack for "small sample size" strikes us as complete bullshit.
(MHT also claims to not have the "earnest indignation" of MGoBlog. I'm trying to figure out if that's an compliment or an insult.) This is a misinterpretation of the squad size adjustment's intent. It's designed to build in some slack for teams with smaller rosters that can be heavily affected by a single departure. In essence, the NCAA agrees that the idea an 85-man roster doesn't need said slack. As the NCAA backgrounder notes:
Elimination of the squad-size adjustment will begin with the 2007-08 APR reports for any team with an aggregate cohort of 30 or more student-athletes.
The reason it's being applied now is because the NCAA only has three years of data:
While the NCAA is working toward a rolling four-year APR for each team, the adjustment will prevent some teams from being unfairly assessed a penalty in the short term.
There would be serious complaint from most schools that they weren't given time to get up to speed with the new regulations. This is a completely reasonable step to take, isn't it? Most of the accusations being leveled at the NCAA right now are criticisms of things they haven't even done yet. If next year comes and the squad size adjustment does not evaporate or if it does and the NCAA weasels its way out of hitting Michigan State because they have an improvement plan, then give them both barrels. When the NCAA announced the APR they said it would advisory its first couple years, then in the third year they would start phasing in penalties for extremely low performers and in its forth year it would be fully enforced. They have not deviated from this yet and deserve a tiny bit of faith.
Many assert that this all comes down to money, and maybe it does. But the spectacle of college football fans and media coming down on the NCAA only punishing small schools because the big ones have the resources to dump money into making their athletes graduate is a bizarre one. The APR is forcing schools to spend millions of dollars getting its athletes in the classroom and eligible. This is a good thing. This is its purpose. Some schools don't have the money and resources to do this; they should not be playing D-IA football.
The main complaint registered by APR opponents is that it affects the small schools too much, but they are the bad guys here. They wish to acquire the prestige and notoriety of the big time schools and to do so they will 1) spend copious amounts of money better deployed on actually educating their students, 2) bring in academic nonentities that were passed over by schools who don't have to scrape the bottom of the barrel, and 3) fail those guys out with no remorse, all for the aggrandizement of the geniuses who think FAU and FIU should have football teams #6 and #7 in the state of Florida. (Historically black schools and Katrina-affected schools, commonly cited as victims, are being granted waivers and such; if they aren't then they should be, granted.) The schools at the top of the food chain are financially solvent, academically responsible relative to the bottom feeders, and have the resources to provide their athletes with academic support.
Those who can't hack it shouldn't be playing. Personally, anything the NCAA can do to nuke FIU and their ilk out of I-A is a good thing. Florida International in no way deserves a Division I football team, but because they want to blow a bunch of money to have one they do. Every game the Panthers play detracts from college football. Hell, the entire Sun Belt fits in this category. Each pitiful Buffalo or FIU or Temple in the D-IA ranks is four or five opportunities for real football teams to avoid playing each other. They're miserable on and off the field. They're a blight on the game. No one will mourn their passing or even notice that they're gone. I-A football is not a right.
Apex. Another youtube highlight package, this one of the '98 Rose Bowl. You may remember that game, yes?
I echo the sentiments of the video's first commenter: dynoguy88, who is the source of many of the clipreels featured in this space, is the man. Often these things are frenetic things set to hideous rap rock; dynoguy lets the key plays breathe and brings us Keith Jackson. And when the option to provide Keith Jackson is there, any other choice is the wrong one.
Vermont is known for many things. Ice cream, presidential primaries, hazing... and killer Michigan basketball recruits! Vermont freshman Joe Trapani, a 6-8 wing/forward, is transferring after one year at UVM. Eric Lacy says he thinks Michigan is a likely destination (no permalink, might have to scroll down):
Based on the conversation I had with Charles [Trapani's father -ed], I think Michigan has a great shot and landing his son.
"They have a tremendous tradition in both football and basketball," Charles Trapani said.
I wouldn't be surprised if Joe Trapani commits while on his visit - or while on the way back home.
(Apparently that one-sentence newspaper style is hard to let go of even when your text is internet only.) Lacy then throws this discouraging nugget in:
That's what Reed Baker apparently did after playing pickup with the team.
All right! Reed Baker 2.0! Well, not really. Trapani averaged 15 points per game before injuring his foot and struggling through the rest of the season, putting up 21 points on Michigan State and 13 and 8 boards on Boston College, Michigan's main competition for Trapani.
(Side note: interesting contrast between the blog entry and the brief blurb that made the paper, which omits any of Lacy's speculation based on the tenor of his conversation.)
Er-nest Sha-zor. Notre Dame running back Darius Walker entered the draft early and was passed over entirely. Whoops. His dad, who is actually named Jimmie Walker, says the situation is not dyn-o-mite:
"How does a guy that's fourth on the all-time rushing list for Notre Dame not get drafted?"
Unfortunately, the twelfth game, the increasing prevelance of freshman starters, and the decision to include bowl statistics has made career records virtually meaningless. Mike Hart and Chad Henne will leave Michigan the all time leaders in rushing and passing yardage, respectively, but are they the best to have ever played at Michigan? Probably not. Official Father of Walker then trod closely to making a pointed comment about Weis:
"If you look at the backs who were drafted on the first day, he had the same stats or better as guys drafted on the first day. The only difference is the guys had the height and the pushing, the backing and the pushing and promoting from their respective areas, whether that be the media or whoever else."
Asked if he didn't think Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis backed Darius enough in the draft process, Jimmy answered simply: "I have no comment on it."
Sounds like he already made his comment.
I would also note that Darius got off a bonafide zinger in the weeks leading up to the draft:
"You can't control what team you go to," Walker said that day, "unless you're one of the Mannings."
That's genuinely funny! Try broadcasting, kid.
Etc.: Infamous recruit-turned-LSU-Tiger Joseph Barksdale got jacked by a former Tiger DB and has a broken jaw; the Stanford Daily reports on the Forcier departure (link not just because the article references MGoBlog, I swear); chicks send (hopefully) unsolicited bikini shots to Rich Eisen, wife not amused; brief recap of yet another Beilein radio appearance at Varsity Blue; ABC Saturday Night schedule.
The Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with forward Andrew Cogliano on a three-year contract.
Cogliano, the Oilers' first round draft choice (25th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, has decided to forgo his final two seasons with the University of Michigan Wolverines (CCHA) and pursue his professional career.
At least he did it early. Michigan still waiting on Porter and Mitera. Kolarik is supposed to be a lock to return. It looks like it could be another year of struggle for the hockey team.
He has a day job? So I'm innocently reading this Daily article on the plea bargain Carson Butler and Chris Richards have reached...
The deal requires Butler and Richards plead guilty to assault and battery, Jarrett said.
In return, the counts of aggravated assault, as well as Butler's minor in possession charge, will be dropped, he said.
Butler and Richards must also spend eight to ten hours a week mentoring youth in the juvenile system, complete a year of probation and pay the victim $8,062 in medical expenses.
The victim's family also requested the two men undergo random drug and alcohol testing during their year of probation.
...when a name strikes me as familiar:
When Richards's attorney Nicholas Roumel made a request similar to Simon's earlier that day, Mattson had held to the original bond conditions.
Nicholas Roumel? Where have I heard that name before? Then it hits me.
He's "Counterpunt"! He's Nick RouMel. He spars with with comrade Ken "Sky" Walker, AKA "Punt" in the back of the free programs they hand out before home football games. Until I was twelve I thought he was one of the six coolest people on the planet. And apparently he's a local defense lawyer who just happens to get Chris Richards' case. I wonder if the university keeps him around to defend football players who get in trouble.
Anyway... I was excited. So here I am, communicating my excitement. EXCITEMENT.
Prep school mostly gone. This appears to be major news that's flying as under the radar as anything written about in the New York Times can:
In perhaps its most significant move to deter diploma mills, the N.C.A.A. will limit high school students to one core course that would count toward college eligibility after a student's four-year high school graduation date.
As per usual when anything happens, some coaches are pissed off:
"If you have a problem with some of the prep schools, shut them down, do what you've got to do," [Memphis coach John] Calipari said. "Why blow the whole thing up with a bazooka? I understand what their concern is, but I know that they've never discussed it with any of us."
And in this case, I see their point. (The silly quotes over text messaging... not so much.) All of a sudden, only kids who barely miss eligibility can look at prep school as a possibility. The Callahan Brights and Anyone Who Plays Basketball At UConn ... er... -s of the world are now going directly to JUCO without passing go. This doesn't benefit anyone as far as I can tell. The athletes have a longer, more obscure road to a major college. The colleges deploy marginally less interesting athletes who are 1.5 standard deviations below the average student instead of 1.6. Etc. While the NCAA is taking a hammer to the diploma mills, this is a nuclear warhead to any prep school, including places like Hargrave Military or Fork Union or Milford (where freshman defensive tackle Marques Slocum went after failing to qualify) that have established reputations. The scorched earth approach here is excessive.
That said, this should be a small net benefit for Michigan. Slocum is the only recruit in recent memory who went the prep school route and actually showed up on campus. The removal of the prep option harms schools that tend to "draft and follow," oversigning academically questionable kids and attempting to get them eligible year after year, sometimes by stashing them in questionable places. This describes Michigan in no way.
The upcoming. Stadium & Main has a look at next year's schedule. At first glance, once we're through the opening home stretch against Oregon, ND, and Penn State there is a major skate section in which the toughest game appears to be home against Purdue before the finishing @ MSU, @ UW, OSU trio.
c:/Windows/WIN32/ping you.til.you.ded. This has been briefly noted on mgo.licio.us but deserves fuller treatment: holy hell the baseball team is doing their best impression of an aircraft carrier undergoing a cruise missile liquidation scale. The team -- the whole thing -- is hiting .348, which is top five in the country. They've lost one Big Ten game, though the cancellation of their Minnesota series means they haven't played the second best team in the league. Unfortunately, they have a terribly weak schedule and aren't likely to pull a top seed. Rivals has started projecting the field of 64; they have Michigan a two-seed facing #7 (overall) UNC. Minnesota is also a two-seed. No other Big Ten team is in the field.
Two University of Michigan football players reportedly were in a car that allegedly contained drugs when it was stopped by police in Monroe County. No one was arrested and the Michigan State Police are waiting for lab results before any charges are filed. ...
Sources said a small amount of marijuana and tablets of Vicodin, a painkiller, were found in the car. A passenger in the car apparently told police at the scene that he had a legal prescription for the Vicodin, but it was not in his possession. Two other people in the car had the marijuana, according to sources.
No names have been released by the police officers in question. However, I got a tip from a reader when this happened a few days ago. I don't wish to sully anyone's name unnecessarily (nor does the Monroe News: check the reportedly-allegedly double burst of libel protection in the lead), but since this reader had the information on this the day of the incident I'm confident that he's right. So...
One of the guys in the car was Mario Manningham.
Okay. Okay. Okay. This is probably a pot bust and a first offense. He could even be the legal Vicodin guy -- he did have some surgery in the offseason. There's no way he gets in serious trouble for this if he's even in trouble. Maybe a slap on the wrist against Appalachian State, but nothing big. (Please?)
(Sidenote: A friend and I tried on our journalism hats and attempted to confirm this with the circuit court in question but since they haven't been charged with anything pending the results of the drug test they didn't have anything. My IRL information-gathering skills leave something to be desired.)
As above. I've mentioned this in passing before, but not explicitly: I'm editing and writing a large chunk of a new Michigan annual that's coming out this summer. (For an example of the general gist of things you can check out Maple Street's Here Come The Irish from last year; this is a Michigan version of that.) Anyway, the deadline on that is fast approaching and I'd like it to be very good, so I am temporarily redirecting most of my energies to that. So there will be no enormous diatribes, excessive previews of Northwestern, or cool charts in this space for the next week or two. I will get something up every day, if only so the commenters can have a place to discourse, but it'll be along the lines of the last couple days' activity.
After that I'll jump headlong into the previews and hammer out that tempo-free stats thing I mentioned during the season.