i like 'em both
Programming note: with the onset of the season, "Monday Recruitin'" may end up moving to Thursday. We'll see how it works out.
Update 8/20: Linked to articles on LA CB Robby Green, PA WR Jonathan Baldwin (second), PA HB Christian Wilson (useless; only linked to assuage potential fears), KS LB Arthur Brown, CA S Vaughn Telemaque, PA LB(DE?) Shayne Hale, AR WR Joe Adams, NC CB Spencer Adams. Removed SC OL Kenneth Page (dropped us), AZ OL Zach Schlink (ASU). Added FL S Karnell Hatcher, SC CB JT Floyd. Noted header from GBW: we are getting official from LA CB Robby Green (OMG shirtless).
There is an updated Scout 300. I also point out this Darrell Simmons article, but do not add to board. There is also another Wilson article, plus articles on CA DE Jamar Jarrett , OH TE Brandon Moore, PA RB/WR/KR Cameron Saddler, and AZ CB Marc Anthony.
Editorial Opinion: Page was one of those guys who drops Michigan's name amongst 20 other schools early in the year and there's never any follow up. Schlink, though, was a guy who was generally regarded as a decent possibility. Their departure from the board leaves the offensive line section very thin on potential additions. I still think that Michigan would like to add another player after only picking up two kids a year ago, but with Zebrie Sanders likely headed south and Vaughn Dotsy seemingly not getting much interest from Michigan of late the only player on the board who has an offer and seems even remotely possible is Tennessean Preston Bailey. Michigan will be scouring senior tape for another Huyge-like offer if Bailey doesn't commit.
On to other items. PA HB/LB Christian Wilson is down to Michigan and Rutgers according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He is blue on the board; everyone expects him to commit sooner or later. Also, he's totally OCD:
People might be surprised to know that ... I brush my teeth like a million times a day.
Things are also looking good for CA DE Jamaar Jarrett (#234 and four stars to Scout, recently downgraded to three stars by Rivals after being a top 250 kid):
Those colleges in cold weather places will be heartened to know that Jarrett loves the snow, having lived in Ohio for a time. He has Michigan as No. 1 on his list right now because the Wolverines have recruited him the hardest, with Cal, Oregon and Nebraska also in his top four.
I think that's tenuous but it's good to lead. Between Jarrett, Shayne Hale (more on him next) and Nick Perry Michigan has an excellent chance of landing a couple of high profile defensive ends. Jarrett quote reminiscent of Conan the Barbarian:
"I love to hear the little girl noises quarterbacks make when they get hit," said Jarrett, who totaled eight sacks last season. "I just love to play football."
He lusts for the lamentation of your quarterback-women.
Meanwhile, PA LB Shayne Hale is now PA DE Shayne Hale:
The skinny: Hale is ranked one of the top linebackers in the country, but he has been switched to defensive end for this season. Gateway coach Terry Smith said the move is best for the team and also said defensive end is the position Hale likely will play in college. ...
What do you think of the position switch? It isn't a big deal. At first, I wasn't real happy. But once I got the feel and started making plays in practice, I thought to myself, "This might be my spot." So it's not a big deal.
Shouldn't affect Michigan's pursuit of him. Hale's cousin, mouthpiece, and possible package-deal partner Cameron Saddler was also featured in that ongoing "Blue Chip Chat" series. His article contains no news but does reveal Saddler to be a wag:
How tall are you? C'mon now. You know every time a reporter calls me, I lie and change it. But I have to start keeping up with my lies. A reporter called me the other day and said, 'How big are you?' I said 5-8. He told me the last time he talked to me, I told him I was 5-9. So I said, 'I guess I'm 5-9.'
There's also this cold-eyed appraisal of college recruiters:
Tell me what you think about college recruiting: You get a whole bunch of junk fed to you. Everywhere you go, coaches say, 'You come here, you're going to be the man.' The coaches are like used car salesmen. That's what they are. Everyone is trying to sell their product.
AZ CB Marc Anthony maintains three leaders:
"It's not 100 percent yet, but I'm probably going to visit Cal on September 1 for the Tennessee game," said Anthony, ranked by Scout as the nation's No. 32 cornerback. "I'm then gonna visit Nebraska on September 15 for the USC and I'm visiting Michigan for the Penn State game on September 22."
Anthony came to camp and got an offer off an impressive performance; his affection for the program seems plain:
"I think that Cal is gonna have a great year," Anthony said. "They are always pretty consistent and always do well. Same with Michigan. Michigan is always a top five team and I think this year they'll be competing for the national championship.
"I really like the Big Ten and I love the defense they play. Michigan is just a big-time program."
With last visit and a reported post-camp lead, Anthony is Michigan's best bet as a second corner in this class. Meanwhile, fellow western DB Vaughn Telemaque, a safety from Long Beach Poly (Donovan Warren's school), is deciding soon:
"I think I'm getting closer to making my decision, and I plan to this month with my teammate (DT) Jurrell Casey," said Telemaque.
Telemaque's only offers are from Rutgers, North Carolina, Oregon, and Michigan. He hasn't visited Michigan, somethi
ng that would normally disqualify him, but I don't think he's visited any of his offers save Rutgers, and he decided to commit in the next couple weeks before the RU offer. I think it's probably between ourselves and Oregon. Telemaque isn't highly ranked at the moment but seems to be upwardly mobile.
A few southern kids probably not worth getting your hopes up about to round out this week. FL S Karnell Hatcher has Michigan in his top five:
One school that Hatcher would really like to visit is Michigan. "I don't really know too much about them," he said. "But I know they've got great tradition and I've love to be able to go to the Notre Dame game (Sept.15). That would just be an amazing experience. I've heard it's a great place to see a game and the atmosphere is supposed to be incredible."
Other schools in the top five: Auburn, South Carolina, Miami, and LSU; other offers mentioned are all southern with the singular exception of Iowa. 95% of the time a southern kid listing Michigan alone amongst a wide array of southern teams is staying closer to home. Anything can happen with visit blah blah blah.
AR WR Joe Adams has a weird schedule. He's committing in two weeks. He has a top five of schools that are not Michigan. And yet:
"Michigan isn't in my top five, but I like them a lot too," Adams said. "I've always wanted to visit them and see what it is like up there. They have a great program and the coaches are really nice too.
"I think Michigan has a good shot to win the national championship this year."
Um... okay? Highly skeptical he even visits.
GA S Darrell Simmons was on the board early after expressing Michigan interest; I then dropped him after he was arrested -- at least, someone with his name was arrested -- earlier in the year. He still lists Michigan top five but has a strong leader in Miami; I'm not even bothering to re-add him.
Chances are less remote for LA CB Robby Green, who lists Michigan among seven leaders:
"It'll also be interesting to see how Michigan does this year too," he said. "They have a great team every year and should have a big season again. I know everyone expects a lot from them. The Ohio State game is going to be big."
A GBW article indicates in its header that Green will take an official.
Patch impresses. Our highest-drafted incoming hockey recruit at the WJC camp:
Max Pacioretty (MON) was impressive at the camp. He used his body and played with a lot of energy before missing the last game due to a minor injury to the stomach. "He was one of the best players in the games I have seen," commented Timmins.
Palushaj called out as someone who "might have to step it up a bit more"; other attendees not mentioned.
Orson Swindle, blogger for www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com, identifies this fan-made "Zoltan for Heisman" tee-shirt as proof of the recent online Heisman fever boom. When asked what the most outside-the-box thing in terms of pre-season Heisman hype he's seen, Swindle says, "Does this shirt count? Because it should, damn it. Zoltan Mesko is Michigan's very good -- but far from Heisman-worthy -- punter."
Yep, a punter.
Ironic or not, there's Heisman buzz out there.
I created the shirt, and there is no irony in it whatsoever. Perhaps he did not deserve it a year ago, but trust me, when he averages 58 yards a kick this year and coffin-corners every one inside the five he will be in NYC. And then he will be our space emperor, and perhaps then you shall feel the wrath you incurred by questioning his worth. Yea, Zoltan the Inconceivable will make you pay for your lack of faith.
Na ga da. Rumored Ohio freeview of BTN on opening weekend -- relevant as a possible thaw in cable-BTN relations somewhere -- is a no go:
"I'm sure Time Warner would love to offer the games for free," Big Ten Network spokeperson Elizabeht Conlisk said today, "but I don't think our other partners would be very happy about that."
This isn't a change in thinking. Conlisk basically said the previous report did not accurately reflect the conference's position on the issue. Conlisk was right though - a Time Warner spokesperson said the company would be happy to show the games without a deal.
Why wouldn't they?
Like... duh. "We're perfectly willing to show the games for free! Why does the Big Ten hate America?" Etc. More of the same from the Chicago News-Tribune's Teddy Greenstein:
What will I find on Comcast Ch. 255 this weekend?
A Big Ten logo. Although Comcast doesn't want to meet the BTN's asking price, it wants its customers to believe that it's striving to make a deal and carry the network.
However, it does sound like things are moving along on all fronts except one particularly relevant one:
"We remain in discussions with five major distributors," Delany said. "Some negotiations are pretty mature. Some are pretty immature, in particular those with Comcast. We're in the fourth quarter for our launch, but we're in the first quarter (in negotiations) with Comcast.
"We're totally committed to a broad-based distribution. They are insisting on a narrow sports tier distribution. That's not something we can concede to."
I fail to see how Comcast can possibly justify throwing the BTN on a sports tier (or, rather, not having it at all) if the network gets deals done with other providers. Comcast's only leg to stand on is the BTN having unreasonable demands; deals with other providers will establish a pricing benchmark and undercut the idea that the BTN doesn't deserve expanded basic placement.
I'm with Mark Tupper, author of the above piece (and "oracular Illini observer" in the words of the dear departed Big Ten Wonk). I'm willing to wait a couple weeks into football season to see if an agreement can be reached, largely because I'm going to be at all three games that have been mentioned as potential BTN games, but once basketball/hockey season rolls around I am gone if I can't get the BTN. I imagine droves of Michigan State fans will follow the same pattern.
No fumbles. Mike Hart talking about his lack of fumbles:
Etc.: somebody named Kyle Busch really likes Michigan. I do not know why this is significant. Jason Forcier is staying out of the Harbaugh thing. The Hawkeye Compulsion tracks down the whereabouts of Mike Hart.
WTKA was granted access to a Michigan practice and had interviews with Carr, Henne, and Ron English. Items of note:
- Carr confirmed that the shotgun had been implemented and would be utilized this year.
- Avery Horn has been impressive and may be the fastest guy on the team.
- You can take this whichever way you'd like, but Henne claimed Hart had been pulling away from Michigan defensive backs in practice. Either Hart is running around with a rocket pack strapped to his back our our secondary is going to be Spartan-esque this year. I choose to believe neither, given that the one thing our secondary does have without question is speed. Sears, Trent, and Brown are all reputed to be lightning quick, which is not something that's easy to screw up. Either he runs fast or he does not. Hart does not, they do. I call shenanigans.
- English, unprompted, called out Johnny Sears as a guy who's made great strides and has had a really good fall. Please be true. He also likes Will Johnson lots.
- DeBord said watch out for Mike Massey. Um.
Poll poll poll! I post this in the spirit of extreme flexibility. This is an off the cuff poll that I will refine over the next week with help from commenters and other bloggers. So I'll skip commenting on the fairly obvious USC #1, Michigan top five stuff and focus on things that may or may not be outliers.
POTENTIALLY WAY OVERRATED
- #2 Oklahoma. One: believe in the Demarco Murray hype; return virtually everyone. Have very hyped recruits set to go. Still have no quarterback, might not need one.
- #7 Arkansas. Shouldn't this be a better offense than it was a year ago? McFadden, Jones, Monk, and Casey Dick return. Ben Cleveland is a promising tight end. If they get any semblance of a quarterback, yikes. I am leery of only two returning offensive line starters and the departure of Chris Houston and Jamaal Anderson, but five of seven starters return to the front seven and the secondary is moving a lot of people around but has a number of folks who started games last year. Yeah, yeah, Arkansas is a maelstrom of controversy and insanity and could implode at any moment but if there's anyone out there who can ride this wave of pork crazy, it's Houston Nutt. His internal monlogue is a David Lynch movie. He can do it.
- Penn State/Ohio State/Wisconsin. This knot of Big Ten teams seems close to indistinguishable to me. I think they're all a couple notches too high, but who goes in front of them?
- #13 Oregon. I read the Blue Ribbon preview of them and was terrified. Because Blue Ribbon is on crack, though, they predicted something like 6-6. Again. They imploded last year, Dennis Dixon played baseball this summer, and they've been stuck in neutral for the last few years. But Jonathan Stewart, and Dixon is a senior now, and many returning receivers. On defense they've got a guy with way, way too many vowels in his name (Donald Faaeteete) who picked up 5.5 TFLs in a half season of starting as a DT. Their horrible run defense last year could be chalked up to a slew of injuries; their horrible pass defense probably had something to do with the starting corners being freshmen. This seems like a place to buy Oregon low.
- #14 Appalachian State. What? This is reasonable placement.
POTENTIALLY WAY UNDERRATED
- #14 Florida? Nine starters gone on defense and a new quarterback, no apparent running game and worrisome Percy Harvin tendinitis has me skeptical. But both Zook and Meyer have recruited very well. Maybe this is an overreaction to the nine doofi coaches who ranked them #1?
- Unranked Georgia. I am highly dubious about Matt Stafford's ability to develop behind Georgia's patchwork, JUCO-laden and just preposterously thin offensive line. They also got red flagged by B&B's Charles Rogers theorem, which isn't good. Georgia's season-ending surge was built by games against Brandon Cox, Reggie Ball, and Sean Glennon. More ominously:
Georgia returns two starters on the offensive line and have a true freshman penciled in at left tackle. That couldn't be a problem against Derrick Harvey or Quentin Groves, could it? On the defensive line, Georgia returns one starter. Its projected starters at defensive end are a junior college transfer and a senior who has never started before.
Sell. Sell sell sell.
Note: on second thought I should excise Iowa with a vengeance, as they're dead to me after last season's performance -- I ranked them #2 preseason.
Cover. Hey... I know that guy.
Curse-fretters fret not, as Hart is one of five tailbacks marked for death on regionalized preview coveres. He only picked up a 20% dose.
Seriously? Can we go like a week without something stupid happening? This time it's FnDC:
Two University of Michigan football players are accused of attacking a man at Touchdown Cafe in Ann Arbor last March, causing injuries so severe the victim required facial surgery.
Quintin Patilla, 19, was bound over on a misdemeanor aggravated assault charge at the conclusion of his preliminary hearing in Washtenaw County District Court on Wednesday, said Ann Arbor Police Detective Amy Ellinger.
His teammate, Robert Thornbladh, 20, faces a felony charge of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, along with misdemeanor assault charges. He is scheduled to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing later this month.
Thornbladh is a walkon and highly likely to be a former walkon; also we now know why Patilla was off the roster at the start of fall camp. A felony charge was filed against Patilla and dismissed for a lack of evidence; there's apparently a videotape of the incident which Thornbladh's lawyer hopes will exonerate him of the felony charge.
Carlos Brown: less broken. Brown's coach posts as "Dawgs824" on Rivals from time to time. This is his take on his former player's injury:
Just talked to his mom... Reply
She said they bolted the bone back in place (between the index finger and wrist) and it shouldn't take long to heal. He will only miss the rest of this week in practice. He will practice next week. They think he should be ready game one. As I'm sure you know, those small bones in the hand heal up pretty quick. Any other position would be fine, but he has been getting a lot of work in the return game so hopefully it will heal up quick.
I doubt they risk anything against Appalachian State, but he should be ready to go for Oregon/ND/etc. This does mean that someone else is probably going to start the year as the returner.
Buckeyes more broken? Buckeye Commentary returns from a near-death experience to report on a slew of injuries both minor and undefined:
We are a solid two weeks into fall practice and the injury bug is starting to surface. By now, you all probably know about Ray Small twisting his ankle. On top of that Curtis Terry was carted off the field the other day (HT: BuckeyePlanet), the day after The Dispatch ran a nice piece declaring him injury-free. Jinx! Elsewhere, so many folks are talking about injuries to OL Kyle Mitchum and Jon Skinner that I'm not even going to find links. I believe it to be true. Even the franchise, Beanie Wells, came down with a stinger during a recent Hoot 'n Holler drill.
Unlikely any of these last until November. BC also accuses Mike Hart of being "good but overrated" in response to a campaign by moi that attempts to label James Laurinaitis the same. Points:
- Hart is not widely acclaimed the best player at his position in the country, nor did he pick up a shiny award for being the best linebacker in all the land when he wasn't even the second best linebacker in the conference.
- Hart's 4.9 YPC was depressed by Michigan's extreme run bias last year.
This is my boomstick. Basketball on the Big Ten Network:
If you want to see 61 percent of the Big Ten's men's basketball conference games, you're going to need the Big Ten Network to do it.
According to the schedule released Tuesday by the Big Ten office, 64 of the league's 99 conference games will be on the Big Ten Network.
Also contractually obligated to be televised: all home nonconference games not picked up by other networks. Illinois will have half its games on the BTN; Indiana 10-13 plus nonconference; Purdue similar; Michigan State similar. Buy into your local Torch & Pitchfork Co. now before the winter stock spike.
Oh, man, don't say that. Michigan's #5 in ESPN's opening Power 16. The analysis is probably not interesting to anyone dedicated enough to read this blog, but this quote is awesome:
"[Hart] put his life and his career in my hands," Long says. "It's an honor to know that he has that much confidence in me."
Here's the money, and the phone.
Please, Dude, follow whatever
instructions they give.
Her life is in your hands.
Oh, man, don't say that..
Mr. Lebowski asked me to repeat that:
Her life is in your hands.
Her life is in your hands, Dude.
I hate the Detroit News' web designer. So Eric Lacey has a blog and posts interesting things on it. Like this about a potential walkon who is looking at a MAC offer or two or an opportunity in Ann Arbor:
"I knew about coach Beilein for a while and liked what I was hearing," Person said. "Then I just fell in love with him even more at the team camp."
If Person comes to UM, he says he would most likely come on an academic scholarship and then work his way toward getting a regular basketball scholarship.
What makes this situation interesting - if he decides to go to the school - is that he could get up 75 percent of his college tuition payed for at a state public institution through the Kalamazoo Promise plan that's received plenty of media attention within the past year or so.
There's more, but I can't link to it because the Detroit News' "Big Ten" blog has no permalinks. Nor does it have an RSS feed, so the only time I stop by is when someone links to it on a message board. It's incredible that a major metro newspaper can't install Wordpress on their site -- a change that would take a web developer approximately a day -- and has to make due with HTML better suited for "I Love the 90s, Netscape Mosaic Edition". Grumble grumble. Anyway, Lacey also mentions another young black man used up and discarded by the Michigan football program in a post on this coming "All-American Football League"":
Horn told me Tuesday that [Carl] Tabb is currently in medical school.
Incidentally, The AAFL has signed a deal to have a team at Ford Field; Lacey's blog notes that Tabb and Tai Streets(!) are potential players for the team.
Etc.: Rocky Top Talk has an interesting post on the differences between the 4-3 and the 3-4.
I figured this would happen. In the comments to "Destroy Harbaugh" there first came a pebble:
No mention of the 38% stat, I see. Because lets be honest, it doesn't matter what major you are if you don't actually graduate.
And then another...
Etc. These claims invariably come from Notre Dame fans. What can I say? Their obsession with Michigan knows no bounds. They even harass innocent bloggers who don't even cover their team.
This is the sort of criticism that only the truly deranged could come up with. While Michigan has spent most of the past decade fighting a protracted court battle against anti-affirmative-action groups, eventually winning and sort of losing at the same time, and has vowed to do everything in its power to keep the undergraduate population representative in the wake of Proposal 2's passage last fall. Michigan's administration had a deep-seated and continuing freakout over losing the ability to consider an applicant's race when it comes to admissions. In January they said race would still be a part of the application but that admissions officers could be trusted to ignore that information. The university stepped up its outreach and recruitment efforts so much that applications actually went up five percent:
According to preliminary admissions data, a total of 2,460 underrepresented minorities had applied to the University by the beginning of February - a 5 percent increase from the same point last year.
The increase in applicants may have been due to the fact that Proposal 2 was looming. Students at Cass Technical High School in Detroit said that before the initiative passed, University admissions officers encouraged them to apply as early as possible because it would be harder to get in if Proposal 2 was approved.
"Admissions officers came to our school and told us to apply early," said Cass Tech senior Dwayne Riley, who has already enrolled at the University for next year.
Admissions officers visited Cass Tech - a major feeder school for underrepresented minorities who attend the University - frequently throughout the fall.
Ashley Grant, also a senior at Cass, said the University's image may have even improved since Proposal 2 passed.
"I definitely don't think Proposal 2 hurt Michigan's image," said Grant, who is still waiting to find out whether she's been admitted to the University. "If anything, I think it made the school look a lot better because it was trying to do everything in its power to admit as many students of color as possible."
Meanwhile, Notre Dame admits virtually no black students. A minuscule 3.6% of the undergraduate population is black, and the only reason it's that high is because of varsity athletics. One third of the black males on campus have letter jackets. A third! Without varsity athletes there would be 102 black undergraduate males at Notre Dame, 2.4% of the male student body. If you had a scavenger hunt on the Notre Dame campus, "black undergraduate male" would be tough. I don't mean to imply any racism on the part of the administration or school itself; far more likely is that an expensive Catholic school in South Bend, Indiana doesn't appeal to black students very much. (Its appeal to others remains a mystery.) As a private Catholic school their admissions policies are their prerogative. But it's clear that Notre Dame doesn't really care to change that perception or the composition of their student body.
So to be subject to a constant fusillade of racial criticism from fans of this school that suffers less than four percent of its student body to be black is amazing and infuriating, because the implication is always that Michigan is a racist institution that doesn't care about graduating people who aren't white. One school bends over backwards to help black students be the first in their family to go to college; the other virtually ignores them unless they can help out their sports teams... and it's Michigan that's criticized?
But it is leveled time and again, so it may as well be addressed.
1. 38% is a fictional number. I don't know where it came from or if it was a low ebb or what, but at the very least it's not current. The most recent NCAA data:
Three numbers, none of which are 38%, though one
is uncomfortably close to it. Which do we use? Well, 99-00 is just one class and the 4-class and GSR rates encompass a large number of athletes so we should prefer them. And the difference between 4-class and GSR or "Graduation Success Rate" is that the GSR removes "permissible exceptions" like religious missions or, um, death as well as players who transfer out of the program in good academic standing. It's more accurate, as it doesn't punish Michigan for losing a guy like Cobrani Mixon. That number: 50%. Obviously this is not ideal, but let's at least talk about a real number.
2. It is hard to graduate black men.
I'm not going to speculate on the reasons for this, but Michigan -- a school that we've seen wants to do everything in their power to get black kids on campus, and presumably graduate them -- only gave degrees to 61% of the black males it admitted over the four-year span in which our 50% number applies. This is a nationwide phenomenon:
Troubling, but not a symptom of wanton disregard from the university.
So it's not surprising that a group of black males with lower GPA and test scores than the general population, which already graduates at a lower rate than any other group, have an even tougher time getting out of college with a degree. Especially what with that full time job on the side. Of course, is that degree as valuable to varsity athletes?
3. Graduation is not a priority for many of Michigan's black athletes.
Some leave early: Woodson, Terrell, Branch, Shantee Orr, etc. Others, like Lamarr Woodley and David Harris, stay four years but are clearly going high in the NFL draft. They may not graduate because they choose to spend their final semester preparing for their chosen (and extremely lucrative) career instead of picking up a cosmetic diploma. This is clearly a larger effect for black players than white players. Despite an approximately 50-50 split between white and black players on Michigan's team, two-thirds of the draftees in the past ten years have been black.
And because whites are disproportionately concentrated on the offensive and defensive lines, tight end, linebacker, and quarterback -- all positions that tend to see redshirts a plenty -- they get a critical fifth year in the program much more often than black players do. An excellent comment (<-- also where the above referenced draft stat comes from) from Jim Carty's blog breaks down the details:
Of those drafted, % who were in school 5 years (really 4 and 1/2 since the guys preparing for the draft do not go to school second semester of their 5th year):
Black: 29% (9/31)
White: 87.5% (14/16)
Michigan's graduation rate for black males in school for four years hovers around 42%. (The 61% is the five-year graduation rate, from appearances.) Again I would like to stress that this is an outlier in no way whatsoever; this is a nationwide phenomenon.
This is only a subset of the total number of athletes, but it's a significant subset. Mike DeSimone shows 200 players signed in the previous decade, four of whom never got to campus and shouldn't be counted. Approximately half of them were black; approximately 31% percent of Michigan's black players ended up in the NFL over the past decade. This is a significant drag on their graduation rates, as a 1996 paper by Lawrence DeBrock, Wallace Hendricks, and Roger Koenker demonstrates. In it, they do a sophisticated statistical analysis of a set of variables. Their findings: when controlling for other factors, average GPA and SAT scores were not indicators of likely graduation or not, but four of the five professional success metrics were highly negatively correlated with graduation rates for an obvious reason: the acquisition of a degree is not as economically significant.
In each of our structural equations, our measure of the value of a degree from the institution had a strong positive impact on the graduation rate of scholarship athletes. This result was robust for all specifications, sports, and genders. In addition, we found evidence that the alternative economic opportunity of professional sports plays a significant role in the decision of scholarship athletes to stay in school. In both of the sports that had professional leagues, the opportunity to play in these leagues had a significant impact on graduation rates. In the case of women's basketball, where no such opportunities exist, those athletes who we predict would normally leave school early for this career are more likely to stay in school.
Alternative labor market opportunities are very real for this segment of the student body. These opportunities have significant impacts on graduation rates in football as well as men's basketball. The athlete's choice of a college is certainly driven by how the particular school will influence future financial returns; this is the same for nonathletes. The difference is that for athletes, this income stream is not as contingent on graduation as it is for other students. The strong implication is that movements to mandate graduation rates are misguided.
The market forces that lead some schools to have lower graduation rates among the student-athletes will continue to cause many students to rationally leave school early. Just as it is impossible to attempt to impose cross-institution equalization of graduation rates for the overall population of students, restrictions on graduation rates of scholarship athletes across campuses would be equally inefficient. While there is some informational content to raw graduation rates, it is considerably smaller than either the U.S. Congress or the media seem to believe.
Ironically, graduation rates are depressed because Michigan's elite football players are no fools: they have little use for a degree, at least not within the narrow five year band in which graduation rates are declared and discarded.
To paraphrase Kanye West, does Michigan care about black people?
You can't just add 50% and 31% to get a healthy 81% of Michigan's black players who end up either with a degree or in the NFL, as there's undoubtedly some overlap... but it probably isn't much given early departures, the prevalence of four-and-out NFL draftees, and the powerful economic disincentive provided by the potential of an NFL career -- Michigan will always be there, but your NFL combine comes but once a lifetime. Even if the overlap is quite large, Michigan's athlete success rate climbs above its non-athlete success rate. Peg it at around 50% of NFL players and Michigan athletes are at 65%, above the 61% of your typical student. That's estimating conservatively. Add in previous studies indicating that athletes are generally better off than non-athletes after graduation even without the pro sports option and it's clear that Michigan has little to apologize for. The goal here is not necessarily to rubber stamp some diploma. It's to provide these players a foundation from which they can live their life. Michigan does that by all accounts save one man who's got an obvious ulterior motive.
Is there room for improvem
Yes. Michigan makes an awful lot of money off these guys and owes them more than a typical student, who provides only tuition. Unless Michigan starts handing out degrees like candy the graduation rate is not likely to exceed 70-ish percent even in optimal cases. Ideally, everyone in the program is either degree-bearing or in the NFL minus a certain number of washouts that will happen naturally. Without a radical change in the philosophy of the university, 65% is a point the U should aim for an attempt to reach in the next few years.
What about Notre Dame?
This is about Notre Dame since it is always Notre Dame fans that bring this up, probably because they're about the only school that's appreciably better at handing kids degrees than Michigan is amongst national powers. Oh, and since they haven't won a bowl game in nearly 15 years. Or been among the top 25 programs in the last decade. Or finished with fewer than the three losses they deride Lloyd Carr for accumulating since 1993. When you can't talk about results on the field, talk about results off of it.
Anyway, according to the latest numbers ND has a GSR of 90%. Great! Good for you. But please realize that once you get into Notre Dame it is nearly impossible to not get a degree. One of eight Michigan undergraduates fails to graduate; that number at Notre Dame is one in 20. You can explain this gap any number of different ways, from the culture -- or lack thereof -- at Notre Dame to an Ivy League-like refusal to not pass people. I don't know which it is, but don't try to tell me that a school that recruits Tony Rice and Robert Blanton (810 SAT!) and the like but still graduates virtually everyone is particularly strict. Call this the Aaron Taylor Theory: if Aaron Taylor holds a degree from your university, chances are a sizable number of six-year-olds could also manage said feat.
Postscript. I'm tired of talking about this, but there is no one in the media who's willing to look at this any deeper than the surface level. Those that try, like Jim Carty, have put their muckraker hats on and are just digging for dirt without any consideration of complicated things like economics or common sense. Carty's perpetual assertion that it's way sketchy to have 60% of your declared majors in a particular program -- not an actual major -- which spans the entirely of LS&A but totally un-sketchy to have 60% of your declared players in only four majors, like Stanford does, is Carty at his worst. He did this "why won't Michigan answer my questions" junk after the Year of Infinite Pain, too. It's a common rhetorical device: assume Michigan's desire to avoid someone clearly looking to paint the university in a poor light is a virtual admission of guilt.
It's clear why Michigan is not going to talk about the subject: the last time they did they got an ill-considered Pat Forde article down their throat and Carty complaining about "silence." Since the media can't be trusted to do anything except rub their nonexistent goatees and try to impress chicks with their deep concern for Serious Issues instead of actually taking a point of view that's something other than willfully naive, they have no incentive to actually talk. In the end, the answer to "why won't Michigan talk to Jim Carty?" is "because he's Jim Carty."
Now: on to actual football. I have said my piece. I would appreciate it if commenters would link this whenever some daft Notre Dame fan runs into the comments and accuses Michigan of being the Josef Mengele of universities; nothing more on this topic will be published. Probably.