Believe nothing until you see the whites of their eyes. Yesterday saw yet another Big Ten expansion panic as some Kansas City radio station reported offers had gone out to Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Rutgers. This was pointedly denied by the Big 12 wing of the rumor, and laughed off by Notre Dame. Rutgers squinted its eyes as hard as they could and thought please be true please be true please be true. They sent in the fourth formal acceptance since the process began and later tearfully announced that this one didn't count, either.
People of Earth: I know I give a lot of stick to newspapers, but in this matter you should not believe a "report" until an actual newspaper—and not some intern piloting their pale imitation of a blog—from a place other than Chicago writes an article about with quotes in it.
This goes double for people at, you know, newspapers. It's amazing how credulous newspapers are with this stuff. All it takes is one yahoo on the radio talking about topics that do not directly pertain to the locals who know how much of a yahoo said radio guy is and wham:
Any semblance of a corporation behind a news-media-type organization and it's off to the races even if it's talk radio, the least accurate source of information on the planet, or some intern with a blog linking to the Bleacher Report. This one's all on you guys. Can't blame the internet.
Get it. Brock Mealer is training under Barwis in preparation for the UConn game, where he'll lead Michigan onto the field. Barwis is posting videos of his rehab:
What is the number? 22 million is the number that's usually thrown out in the midst of articles describing the BTN's status as a wondrous money cannon spraying cash across the midwest. Por ejemplo:
"We hoped it would be profitable eventually. But it turned a profit in, what, its second year?" said Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi, whose athletic budget reaped an estimated $22 million in TV rights (including ABC, CBS and ESPN contracts) alone. "I don't believe anyone truly expected to be this successful this quickly. It's absolutely remarkable."
But estimated by who? If it's Maturi, okay. If it's a reporter in Chicago, alarms should be going off. Despite being the guy who appears to have hatched this meme, even Teddy Greenstein doesn't believe it anymore:
The Big Ten has declined to confirm the $22 million. What it has released is a figure of $220 million ($20 million per school) for 2010 that covers revenue from national television contracts, bowl games, the NCAA basketball tournament, licensing and the Big Ten Network.
So… by "declined to confirm" he means "denied." This year's conference distribution is $20 million, which you'll note is 1) not $22 million and 2) inclusive of many things that are not television. Bowl revenue accounts for about 2.2 million per school, for one.
That's still excellent. Last year the SEC shelled out just $11 million to its members. Michigan's conference distribution last year was $17 million and they projected another million this year. If that number is up to 20 that's a fantastic windfall, but it's also not the same as saying that Big Ten schools raked in $22 million from their TV deals. IIRC, the Big Ten now controls everything, even nonconference games, so there's no way the distribution fails to include all the TV money.
(Side note: that last thing is a major drag on the quality of nonconference schedules. When Michigan plays Notre Dame they get no more money from that game than Indiana does. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers are playing Indiana State in an effort to get bowl eligible. If the Big Ten would guarantee teams most of their nonconference TV revenue, there would be less financial incentive to schedule tomato cans.)
Also in that document. The "conference distribution" link takes you to last year's athletic budget presentation, in which you learn that a wrestling practice facility scored 75% more donations than the basketball version of same despite the wrestling facility coming in at 5.5 million and basketball coming in at 23.2. Also, the second major project other than "rebuild Crisler" is replacing the bleachers at Yost.
Why we always got to go and do that? Michigan seems incapable of scheduling a mildly interesting opponent that doesn't turn out to be considerably more than they bargained for these days. Utah, of course, finished the 2008 season by pantsing Alabama and finished undefeated at #2. This year, UConn is returning almost everyone from an 8-5 team that suffered a string of narrow losses. Echoing warnings that have been deployed here, Athlon has them 20th:
The Huskies welcome back 16 starters and possess plenty of optimism in a Big East that is wide open. The question for Connecticut is whether it is ready to play more as it did at the end of the season, when it won four straight games, including a bowl triumph over South Carolina, or if it is more like the outfit that dropped three consecutive league contests in the middle of the year, by a total of 10 points.
Survey says former.
Etc.: Mike Hart and a couple other NFL players from New York are starting up a free football camp for Syracuse-area kids. They're looking for some donations to help defray the costs.
TODAY: SPENT WITHIN NANOMETERS OF A BILLION CATS
So, right. Angelique talked to the people in question when it came to the weekend's Morgan Trent brouhaha:
Carr disputed the representation of the meeting during a phone interview on Monday with The News.
"That paragraph is completely a distortion of my conversation with Morgan," Carr said. "That is a complete distortion, and it is not accurate. I have never spoken with the author. I have never met him. I have never had a conversation with him to the best of my knowledge."
Trent on Monday told The News he initiated the conversation with Carr about what he had heard from NFL scouts regarding comments attributed to Rodriguez.
"Lloyd didn't bring any of this to my attention," Trent said. "When we spoke, I brought it up to him, and he said he had heard some of the same things."
This makes virtually everything I said about Carr wildly inaccurate and amongst the stupidest things I have to leave up, mocking me, for the rest of time. It has the added bonus of being not just factually inaccurate—see "we're totally going to a bowl in 2008!"—but mean-spirited and completely wrongheaded about someone who has given far more the university than I, and probably anyone reading this, has.
I mean… shit. Seriously. From time to time I am forced to look in the mirror and consider myself an asshole. This is one of those times. I don't know, man. The last few years have been wearing on me and at this point you would not believe the kinds of totally unverifiable but plausible-seeming stuff that hits my inbox and sometimes, like when you feel compelled to address the same damn thing that doesn't mean anything at all for the tenth time in the last few months the dike breaks and you publish something you regret. There is a lesson about the value of editors and a news cycle that has some time for reflection, consideration, and actually talking to the people involved. Sometimes it's unfortunate that this enterprise basically couldn't exist with the former and sometimes—still, even after five years—fails to apply the lessons learned over that timespan when it comes to the latter. And by this enterprise I mean "I". I know better by now, but apparently sometimes I don't. I absolutely should have applied Occam's Razor to "Lloyd Carr sells out university OR [CENSORED] who writes for Rivals' Rutgers site writes a book that vastly misrepresents something." I didn't.
All I can ask for is understanding. Mea culpa.
(At least I didn't buy the latest Big Ten rumors, amirite?)
Why was I so feared, and you so loved? What was it? I was no less honorable. I wanted to do good. What betrayed me? My mind? My heart? Why do I condemn myself so? I swear, on the lives of my children: Give me a chance to redeem myself, and I will sin, no more.
If you have followed this series, you are now familiar with the message: light but focused recruiting plus really bad attrition equaled a defense with some really great players and some suicidal kittens.
Here's a question: based on recruiting and retention from 2006 to the present, how good will Michigan's defense be this year?
This diary will look at the talent on Michigan's roster in 2010 versus that of 2009, plus that of two rivals in that time, to try to get an idea of what kind of team we will be looking at this coming season.
In the first, we met the family.
In the second, we saw that family destroyed.
Today, I bring you Part III.
You know, the one that's chronologically incompatible with the other two, with the substantially lower production values, that rehashes old characters and plotlines from the previous flicks in order to squeeze more cachet out of the franchise.
In the third (and final?) installment of the Decimated Defense Trilogy, I will look to the future, comparing Michigan's 2010 defensive roster and attrition numbers against those of last year, and also against 2009 and 2010 for two relevant rivals: Ohio State and Michigan State.
Still interested? [ED: YES YOU ARE.]
Another week, another riot. We are all Greek. The cause of this one:
At the end of the book, Deren describes the scene with Lloyd Carr, the former Michigan head coach that recruited Trent to Ann Arbor, breaking the news to Trent that current head coach Rich Rodriguez did him no favors.
“Rodriguez had bad-mouthed him to every NFL scout he could,” Deren writes. “Rodriguez claimed that Morgan was lazy, he had an attitude problem and he was a big reason the Wolverines finished with a 3-9 record…”
Trent admits the words were “jarring,” and they were hard to understand given that he was so serious about his career that he actually moved in with his brother and sister-in-law and their two small children while going to Michigan. [ed: "Morgan Trent was so serious about football he decided to save on rent."]
But Trent was also worried about what Carr thought about his words showing up in the book. He talks to him, not Rodriguez. “I really like Coach Carr. He’s been very good to me,” Morgan says. “I think at first he was wondering, but I let him know it didn’t put him in a bad light. I would never do something like that to Lloyd. He’s great.” …
“I guess it was motivation,” Morgan says of the words that Deren estimates may have cost him $1 million. “(I) want to show people it was all false.”
Consider it done.
Here we go again, after one hell of a game of telephone from Rodriguez to NFL scout—at this point the story can get passed to and fro ad nauseum—to Carr to Trent to book author Deren. Rodriguez issued a denial…
“The comments attributed to me are inaccurate and absolutely ridiculous,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I said just the opposite about Morgan Trent to NFL scouts and wish him well with the Bengals.”
…but even so, don't you kind of believe it anyway? Don't you sort of want to believe it? I believe Rodriguez told NFL scouts some version of what Deren says. I also believe that Trent was a lazy player with an attitude problem who was one of the main reasons Rodriguez's first team was a jumbled sack of cats attempting to claw in 20 different directions. Even if he didn't say it, I believe the words attributed to Rodriguez are accurate.
Trent's personal animosity towards Rodriguez has been made plain. We've previously established around here that football players are not compliance experts and the distinction between countable and non-countable hours befuddles even said experts. A former player's opinion on Michigan's we're-talking-about-stretching violations says more about his relationship with Rodriguez than anything about the violations. It's a Rorshach test. What Morgan Trent sees*:
"I'm not surprised because I know what happened, and I know what kind of rules were broken. I couldn't see how they were going to get out of that."
"Whatever steps need to be taken (to restore Michigan's winning tradition), I'm all for it. What is happening right now obviously is not working. I don't know how long they're going to let this last until changes are made."
"Coach Rod’s a good coach, and people are just trying to get him in trouble to me," Graham said.
So Morgan Trent is not disposed to give Rodriguez the benefit of the doubt when Lloyd Carr convenes a special meeting of the Anti-Rodriguez illuminati with the express purpose of revealing the dastardly secret carried about by Rich Rodriguez…
who controls the practice logs?
who puts Michigan Stadium in a bog?
weeeeee dooooooo… we do!
…that any Michigan fan could already have told you.
this happened like eight times in that game
He was not particularly good at football. He badly regressed after a promising junior season. Then when he went to the Shrine Bowl he "struggled," reinforcing the opinion of scouts "already down on him." The reason for this is now obvious: he hated the transition to Rodriguez, probably hated the coach himself, and spent a year half-assing it. The responsibility for this lies with Morgan Trent, even if he was so serious about football he lived with relatives(!). Attempts to deflect it only reinforce the very criticism (possibly) leveled by Rodriguez. It had nothing to do with the quality of the team, as Trent claims elsewhere in the article. A guy from Hillsdale went in the third round this year. The Bengals hadn't even talked to Rodriguez and still waited and waited and waited to take him.
During the very moments when Trent was doing whatever it was that made him a team cancer, Brandon Graham was turning himself into a first-round pick. We have not had any reports on what Rodriguez told NFL scouts about Brandon Graham, but dollars to donuts they were along the lines of "draft this man first overall and ask if he will adopt your kids." The reason Rich Rodriguez would say this is because of the things Brandon Graham did. You see, Rudy?
Now, there are a disturbing number of people who look at the Rich Rodriguez inkblot and see big pointy teeth. One major reason for this is that Rodriguez appears to be much harder on his players than Lloyd Carr. It's the very tippy top of the peak of hypocrisy for any Bo-venerating Michigan fan to look down on Rodriguez for this (his failure to resemble Bo in the win column is another matter). Part of that veneration is accepting the idea that being a coach often involves being very harsh to people who aren't living up to your expectations.
I wish that Rodriguez had managed to enter more smoothly but don't really blame him for the massive culture clash no one from fans to players to athletic director anticipated. He has a track record.
To be perfectly blunt and enraging to the denizens of the comments who get enraged when people pop on here and say dumb MLive-type things about departed players, I do blame Trent. Michigan is not going to be in good shape if Rich Rodriguez leaves after this year, and Trent would clearly like to see that happen and is operating either without a care as to how his inability to suck it up affects the program or with the express intent of getting rid of Rodriguez. Loyalty to the institution does not occur to him. It appears that correcting the record is so important to him that he's willing to sell out his alma mater to refute allegations that may not have actually happened and no one knew about. In doing so he's convinced me that the potentially fictional and definitely obscure allegations are true.
So… congratulations Morgan. You've invented a variant on the Streisand Effect.
As for Carr, he gave explicit permission to Trent to sell Rodriguez out in this book:
But Trent was also worried about what Carr thought about his words showing up in the book. He talks to him, not Rodriguez. “I really like Coach Carr. He’s been very good to me,” Morgan says. “I think at first he was wondering, but I let him know it didn’t put him in a bad light. I would never do something like that to Lloyd. He’s great.”
No, just Rodriguez. Any question as so whether or not there is a major rift between the two coaches is now gone. If there wasn't, Carr would have talked to Rodriguez about it. He would have gotten some clarification or a denial or something, and he wouldn't have presented it to Trent in the fashion he did. If he didn't do that, he would have told Trent to shut up when given the opportunity.
If there is really a New Era of Accountability in the athletic department, Carr and David Brandon should have a come-to-Jesus meeting in which Brandon does a lot of screaming. Trent is a pissed-off kid who was working for a scholarship. Carr is supposedly a program icon and an athletic department employee. Michigan shouldn't be paying someone who is actively working against the interests of the athletic department. It's obvious that Carr could have helped smooth things over with any number of players but chose not to, chose to exacerbate things in certain situations. He could have been of help during the transition; he was the opposite.
Through it all, Rodriguez just grits his teeth and asks if you've heard his Lion King joke. I shudder at the tell-all book that will inevitably follow a Rodriguez canning.
*(meta: I had to link to a mgoboard message board post instead of the News because the News shoved their story behind a paywall a month after they posted it. No one is ever going to pay for that article. Go newspapers.)
What a dump…
Michigan took it on the chin this weekend, dropping two games to open the series at Minnesota, but they battled back to win a close game three and keep pace with the Big Ten Joneses. Recaps, thoughts, and the opening stanza to a MICHIGAN STATE HATE mid-week series after the jump. And no, no pretty pictures as baseball can't be pretty in the Metrodome.
As I've noted previously, the Michigan Wolverines have earned the #1 overall seed in the MCLA National Tournament, another step on their quest for an unprecedented 3-peat National Championship.
The full MCLA bracket follows, with a preview of Michigan's first-round opponent, the Texas State Bobcats. A look at the whole bracket (with predictions!) is after the jump. One quick note: Though the semi-finals and finals will be broadcast on Fox College Sports, if you want to catch Michigan's early-round games, you can vote on the Collegelax.us forums for them to be webcast (and no, I don't feel guilty about encouraging you to vote, as there's already a fairly obvious BC ballot-stuffing initiative).
For an interactive-ish bracket (a phrase which here means "you can click to see individual teams' schedules and players), visit MCLA.us.
Texas State Preview
Tuesday May 11, 4PM MDT, Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Denver CO.
Record: 12-3 (4-1 Lone Star Alliance). LSA Tournament Champions.
Rankings: #18 MCLA LaxMag, #18 Prodigy, #23 LaxPower.
Common Opponents: None
Previous Meetings: None
Schedule. Playing in the Lone Star Alliance isn't any way to endear yourself to pollsters, and the Texas State Bobcats found that out the hard way. Thanks to a weak non-conference schedule, the only ranked team they faced all year was Texas. They split with the Longhorns, losing 12-10 in the regular season, but turning the tables for a 12-10 victory in the LSA tournament to earn a bid to the MCLA Tournament - and rob Texas of theirs.
Texas State picked up non-conference wins against the likes of LSU, Missouri, and Cal, while losing to Stanford and Loyola Marymount outside of the LSA. They finished 12-3 overall, with a 4-1 LSA record. They made the MCLA Tournament by winning the LSA Conference Tournament.
Personnel. As the #2-in-command in the LSA (think Michigan State in the CCLA), the Bobcats landed a number of players on the All-Conference teams. Making the first team were Attack Matt Malcolm and midfielder MIke Zdonczik. On the second team, midfielder Chad Henning, defenseman Jesse Herrmann and goalie Asa Spain represent Texas State. Attack Harrison Parr, midfield Robert Jones, and defense Raul Santiago were all-conference honorable mentions.
Coach Chris Park was the LSA Coach of the Year. Henning was the league's faceoff specialist of the year, and Malcolm shared player of the year honors with Texas's Johnny McKnight.
Analysis. Though the Bobcats ran up some impressive scores this year (23-5 against LSU, 15-7 against TCU), the competition in those games was very weak. Nearly every team that Texas State played this season outside of Texas would have been in the worst 3-4 squads that Michigan faced. Quality of competition is important.
The Wolverines have performed better than Texas State, and against much better competition. There's a reason this is a game between the 1-seed and the 16-seed. Michigan should get on the board early and often on the way to a big win.
There might be times that it seems like Texas State is having the best of Michigan, or that the Wolverines aren't running on all cylinders, but that shouldn't be the story of the game. When they need to turn it on, Michigan will do so, and get much more than they need on the way to a 22-6 victory.
Bracket Breakdown and Predictions after the jump.