in town for free camps
A friend is getting married in New York, so I will be out thataway the next few days. Should be a post per day, as there are a couple items mostly completed, but there's a small chance I'll be super busy or something. Just FYI.
I meant to link this earlier, but forgot. Other Michigan blogs have picked up the slack; let this be Kevin Newsome on the anchor leg.
Tornadoes just ripped up Oklahoma and Georgia, half of the Irrawaddy river delta's underwater, and Sichuan province just got rocked by a 7.9 earthquake. Pony up and make some primo deposits in the karma bank today.
If you learn anything from the totals, it's this: don't mess with Michigan in a fundraising war.
Team Donation Standings:
1. Michigan - $2,985.00
2. Ohio State - $2,305.00
3. Florida - $1,570.00
4. Texas - $480.00
5. Auburn - $355.00
6. Florida State - $350.00
7t. Case Western Reserve - $300.00
7t. Virginia - $300.00
8. Alabama - $230.00
9t. South Carolina - $200.00
9t. Georgia Tech - $200.00
9t. SMU - $200.00
10. Oklahoma - $185.00
Lurking: Tennessee, Nebraska, Va Tech, LSU, Notre Dame
At the moment it looks like this blog will be sporting Maize and Blue on Thursday, but that's not a done deal. Because you are ready to donate and support your school of course, here are the particulars:
2) Email the donation confirmation to email@example.com and state your team affiliation by 8pm EDT on Wednesday, May 14th. BE SURE TO STATE WHETHER YOUR DONATION GOES FOR YOUR TEAM OR AGAINST ANOTHER. Either way it counts, but we want you to have some fun with it, too.
3) Results will be displayed at Every Day Should Be Saturday and Fanblogs throughout the week, with the final results shown by Thursday, May 15th.
4) The winning school will have its colors displayed at EDSBS and logo/mascot shown on every page at Fanblogs.
Mondo important reminder: ALL DONATIONS MUST BE IN TO FANBLOGS BY 8PM EDT (5PM PDT) TONIGHT.
Donate early, donate often, and remember to specify your team donation. We're at around $11K right now and expected to get a few thousand; getting to $20K would be beyond all but the wildest expectations.
One of the safest bets in the sports opinion world is to take whatever the NCAA has just done and call it stupid. The AP could run a story like so...
NCAA DOES SOMETHING OR OTHER
SOMEWHERE (AP) -- The NCAA has decided to do something. No details are available.
...and fifty bloggers would link to it. There would be a 50% chance of "NC$$" and "lol" in each post. And 90% of the time, they would be right.
This is the only explanation I can muster for what appears to be a universally negative reaction to the NCAA's newly toothy APR penalties, which knocked on the doors of hundreds of programs at dozens of schools in a wide variety of sports, just not at, like, USC. Except in basketball, where it did. A sampling:
[Orson at TSN.] The NCAA has its own No Child Left Behind Act, and it is called the Academic Progress Rate. It's the NCAA's own road to hell, paved with good intentions. It is on the way to thinning the ranks of Division I college football, and little but common sense seems to stand in the way of it happening.
[Salon's King Kaufman] Schools have always pushed their athletes into taking easy classes and avoiding challenging majors. The APR creates more incentive to push more of them that way. More kids graduating doesn't necessarily mean more kids are getting more education. But that's OK, the NCAA isn't about education. It's about profits from a multibillion-dollar entertainment industry with a mostly unpaid labor force.
[Wizard of Odds] Not exactly sure what Myles Brand has accomplished in his tenure as Grand Poobah of the NCAA outside of collecting a fat paycheck. He likely would point to his fraudulent Academic Progress Report, which was released Tuesday.
(That last is from the Wizard of Odds, who is excellent at digging up stories and was an awesome resource during last year's clock fiasco but is always outraged when given the slightest opportunity and usually wrong in the process of doing so. I have such a love-hate relationship with that site; you go from daily compendiums of interesting things to outrage factories like "the cheapest shot of the year.")
Orson's analogy to No Child Left Behind is inapt. NCLB, oddly, takes money from failing schools. The APR takes students, leaving behind a smaller corps of kids the Idahos (Idahoes? In your area codes?) of the world can fail. If this makes Dick Tomey complain about "class warfare" in the same article he says San Jose State had "no academic support to speak of," he can suck it up. What are the chances San Jose State would have an academic support program now if not for the looming threat of the APR? Zero. Small schools are complaining that they have to spend money educating students.
Both of the latter pieces attack the validity of the APR by speculating that it's the big money-flush schools that have the most incentive to bring in low-achieving students. Kaufman:
The more time you spend studying, the less you have for practicing or working out. The more road trips and tournaments and nationally televised midweek games you have, the less time you have to go to class. The more a school requires its athletes to be good students, the more good athletes it loses out on.
I really like King Kaufman -- most underrated sportswriter on the planet -- but he's wrong here. It's commonplace for academically at-risk recruits to fall to the Troy Trojans (We're From Troy!) or Akron or whatever. Bigger schools have the luxury of passing on some of the severe academic risks* and the guidance structures in place to keep their academic risks on path to a quasi-degree. Players with a potential NFL carrot at the end of the rainbow are also more likely to preserve their precious eligibility.
*(or oversigning by like six and taking the ones who hack it best. Whatever, we're the SEC! We do what we want!)
This annual report regularly punishes the smaller schools and rewards the larger institutions, which are able to prop up their so-called "student-athletes" with an endless supply of tutors, favorable professors and state-of-the-art academic centers.
Yes, that "favorable professors" link goes to what you think it does. Of course, favorable professors are all they have at Florida International -- that's why it's Florida International -- and Panther athletes still fail like whoah. Oh, and they're cheating. The slam on "state of the art academic centers" is weird, too: God forbid schools are forced to spend some of their filthy lucre on the students that actually rake it in.
Of course, the issue here is that many schools do not rake in filthy lucre, and instead blow millions of dollars attempting to keep up with the Space Joneses in a futile attempt to... what, exactly? Let everyone know that Florida has run out of real names for its universities? Remind folks of the existence of schools in north Texas? The NCAA, as of yet, has no real safeguards against the Florida Internationals of the world wasting their money and everyone's time with a foray into I-A that's destructive to their students, their opponents' fans, and Lamar Thomas' broadcasting career.
SMQB recently laid into the very existence of the program, and I co-sign wholeheartedly:
FIU is not the only bad team, nor the only team that falls short of its various extracurricular benchmarks; most of the SBC and a dozen or so other perennially feeble programs probably aren't worth the ink that sets them apart from the lower divisions. It is, for now, the worst on both fronts, and easily taken advantage of, like a sick, feeble herd that keeps on giving to the bigger, quicker predators in the bush. Is there any reason at all Florida International's continued existence in I-A does not constitute a diluting of the sport's gene pool and a waste of its time?
I would expand that to include the entire wretched Sun Belt outside of the aforementioned Troy Trojans (We're From Troy!) and two or three teams each in the MAC, WAC, and Mountain West that are, like Florida International, failing everywhere there is somewhere to fail.
Orson's dire threat above sounds like a positive to me. There is no reason D-I should be forced to suffer the presence of San Jose State or Florida International and if sustained bludgeoning from the APR forces them to drop down to a level more appropriate for their resources, more power to it. There is ample evidence very Saturday in September that I-A is 20 programs too fat.
There are real criticisms of the APR to be levied. They appear to be thus:
- This waiver business is arbitrary and ripe for exploitation. Bruce Feldman points out this article in the State that breaks down the 492 programs that fell short of the APR minimum but did not get dinged. 315 programs avoided penalties because they have no money or did better than their student body at large; 253 of these avoided penalties because no one left ineligible. But then there are the 6
6 programs, including those from Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana, South Florida, Oregon, and South Carolina, that got waivers because they promised to do better, ie: spend more. This can't be done by smaller programs and we should have little sympathy for the pleas of big schools that fall below the minimum. Oregon was at 921 with all of Phil Knight's money: dock them the two or three scholarships. And how the hell did Arizona (APR 902, worst in the BCS) get off this year after getting hit last year?
- The schools themselves set minimums for academic progress and the APR gives them a strong incentive to give students the most remedial classes they can find. End result: the numbers go up but the amount of education does not. The NCAA should institute an exit exam for revenue sports that tests basic reading comprehension and math skills and the like.
Misc.: Protesters have remarked that only two of 37 penalized programs were BCS schools as if the fate of Howard University has any relevance to the landed gentry. Your D-I offenders: *
- Big 12: Kansas
- Pac 10: Washington State
- MAC: Central Michigan, Akron, Temple, Toledo
- Sun Belt: Florida International, Florida Atlantic, North Texas
- WAC: Hawaii, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Idaho
- CUSA: UAB
- Mountain West: UNLV, San Diego State.
Sixteen offenders, two in the BCS, FWIW.
Get the Picture has a good take on the situation, as well.
Last year, MGoBlog had a highly successful contest to create a new banner for the site. Unfortunately, Baxter Allen's winning banner...
- the happy kitten forever blog,
Despite all this, we're going to have another contest, and if we lose to Utah we can blame the whole freshman-quarterback no-seniors-on-offense thing, mkay?
So: dust off your photoshop and whip up something killer. Mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "banner"; in about two weeks I'll collect the candidates and put a poll on the site so readers can vote for their favorites.
The winner receives this fabulous prize package:
- An MGoShirt of their choosing.
- A copy of Hail To The Victors 2008 (2007 book link).
- A single MGoWish that can be redeemed for anything reasonable of the winner's choosing: a post that addresses a specific topic, increased coverage of something or another, or increased emphasis on a particular technical task.
Go, and capture the zeitgeist.
In the latest edition of "this ain't your father's Michigan football program," ESPN did their all-access thingy with a spring practice:
The segment goes downhill once Captain Platitude Kirk Herbstreit declares that Michigan is adopting an "us versus them" mentality, instead of, like, the "some of us versus them and the rest of us" adopted by Notre Dame last year.
(Via the Diag.)
Speaking of, nobody cares about Charlie Weis using H E double hockey sticks to describe where Michigan can go; we have heard the word deployed and, yes, do know that Bo basically said the same thing about ND. We're just laughing at Weis E Coyote preemptively mocking Michigan's "excuses" mere days after muttering about thugs and hooligans. Unlike Notre Dame fans, we do not think a not-for-public-consumption statement that expresses disdain for an institution via bad words is particularly noteworthy or horrible.
There is funny news about the basketball program. It is not bad news, nor indifferent news. It is an entirely new basketball-related sort of news. I think it is called "good"?
The NCAA has granted Arizona transfer Laval Lucas-Perry's appeal to be granted an extra year of eligibility, meaning the guard will be eligible to play three and a half seasons at Michigan
Lucas-Perry still has to sit out until the winter semester, but will be considered a freshman by the NCAA instead of a sophomore.
Hostybits. The baseball season is winding to its end, and the newly renovated Fish is likely going to see a heavy dose of postseason action. Michigan has won the Big Ten for the third straight year and will host the conference tournament, and with a few smaller schools who will not bid for regionals poised for #1 seeds, the general opinion is the committee will attempt to provide Michigan a regional. Baseball America:
San Diego and Coastal Carolina look like strong contenders to earn No. 1 seeds for the second straight year, but neither team is likely to submit a bid to host a regional as they did a year ago. USD coach Rich Hill said San Diego State's Tony Gwynn Stadium played like a neutral site a year ago, rather than a home environment, so the Toreros don't plan to bid again. And the Myrtle Beach Pelicans have said their stadium is unlikely to be available again for Coastal, meaning the Chanticleers would have to bring in temporary seating to Charles L. Watson Stadiumâ€”a scenario that also seems unlikely. So USD gets shipped to Michigan as the top seed, and Coastal is the No. 1 seed at East Carolina, which is 10th in the RPI and would give Conference USA a second host.
Michigan is a #2 seed in San Diego's regional; #3 LSU and #4 Wright State are the other teams. Michigan, by the way, is the only Big Ten team in the field.
This could be a significant advantage for Michigan going forward. With the fancy new stadium and college baseball's desire to have hosts in the midwest more often than not, Michigan is in line to host more than their fair share of regionals.
History! I haven't actually embedded a WolverineHistorian video in a while:
West Virginia newspaper columnists are awesome. This contretemps about the #1 jersey and Braylon being ticked is highly likely to be resolved satisfactorily in the near future, but don't tell that to West Virginians:
For a sports writer in this neck of the woods, Rich Rodriguez has become the gift that keeps on giving.
This is the slow time of the year around here, finals week, graduation, a time when a sports columnist has to wrack his brain â€” or what's left of it after dealing with the likes of Pacman Jones and Chris Henry â€” to come up with a story idea.
This is Bob Hertzel, and he is correct to warn the reader that he is brain dead.
The No. 1 uniform meant a lot to Edwards. It has belonged exclusively to a wide receiver since 1979, dating back to Chris Carter.
There's something wrong with this sentence: his name is "Cris Carter." Oh, and uh... here's a photo of Wolverine legend Cris Carter in his precious #1 jersey:
Little known fact: in 1979, Michigan and Ohio State were sent the wrong jerseys. With the nation at war with Cuba, all horses were diverted to Teddy Roosevelt's unit so they could be heroically and futilely shot. The two rivals had no choice but to don the other's silks.
Also, one equaled two for a brief period in the fall.
Please. You'd think Penn State fans' righteous indignation about Rich Rodriguez's recruiting would be severely blunted by the fact that PSU just yoinked Maryland cornerback Darrell Givens out from underneath Ohio State's nose. Not so much. Black Shoe Diaries:
I'm sure that certain people who swear there is no gentleman's agreement between Big Ten coaches will claim that we just violated it. Whatever. It's pretty obvious since Rodriguez joined the conference that anything goes, so when in Rome...
Weak, man. A little rhetorical flourish to preemptively dismiss the obvious: there never was any "gentleman's agreement" and Penn State fans are full of crap. Yeah, "anything goes" since Rodriguez showed up, which is why the very post BSD linked has no fewer than four examples of intraconference poaching the year before Rodriguez showed up.
Give it up, guys. This, like JayPa's efforts to recruit skill position players, is getting pathetic.
Update 5/12: Linked to articles on TN OL Alex Bullard (downgrade to red), TN OL Alex Bullard (upgrade to yellow... woo conflicting info), MD RB Tavon Austin (second, downgrade to red), GA S Darren Myles (second), MI WR Dion Sims, FL RB Mike Gillislee, LA WR Willie Haulstead, PA DE Tyrone Ezell, header on MN WR Bryce McNeal, NC OL Xavier Nixon, OH S Isaiah Bell.
Roundup article from Kornblut has news on SC DE Chris Bonds, claim of offers for SC ATH David Sims and SC WR Alshon Jeffery. (Via Big House Blog.) Added Sims, Jeffery, FL WR Rantavious Wooten (video), MD DE Sean Stanley, OK CB David Gordon, GA LB DeDe Lattimore, MI QB Keith Nichol(?... I guess... more).
Removed FL WR Nu'Keese Richardson (very probably dropped us), MS S Rod Woodson (owie it's cold hold me). Bumped CA QB Jason Forcier to yellow.
Editorial Opinion: Full board is here.
I bet you thought we were done talking about quarterbacks until February. No, not so much, and it's not just one.
First: I've upgraded CA QB Jason Forcier from red to yellow after persistent efforts from Forcier to reassure everyone that Michigan is still under consideration. Also, a reader provides this tip:
My buddy who worked for the team last year has also been saying that there's still a pretty good chance we could land Forcier even with 2 in the fold. I kind of had the same reaction you did. This tidbit doesn't really mean much, but it adds a little bit more credence to what GBW is saying...
So... if the guy's got the confidence to come in and take a shot, hey, I'm all for that. We might have an ND-esque transfer party in two years, but at least the winner will be as awesome as Jimmy Clausen. Er. Scratch that.
Speaking of transfer parties, Oklahoma freshman Keith Nichol is fleeing from the presence of ninja freshman starter Sam Bradford. A top-100 sort last year, Nichol originally committed to Michigan State in the hopes of being the next Drew Stanton. When John L Smith slapped himself out of a job and Mark Dantonio brought his paleolithic offense to State, he decommitted for the greener pastures of Rhett Bomar-less Oklahoma.
Now he's on the open market again and likely to end up somewhere close to home, as transfers often do. Michigan suddenly has a crowded depth chart in '09 -- sophomores Steven Threet and Justin Feagin, freshmen-to-be Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver -- but none of those guys exactly projects to have a Bradford deathlock on the job. There is a consistent undercurrent of speculation, much of it based from Lowell -- where he went to HS -- locals scurrying to the internet to assure people Nichol will be at Michigan in the fall.
At first glance, it seems like an excellent fit. Nichol ran for over 1,000 yards in both his junior and senior years of high school; he also completed 63% of his passes. I mean... his senior stats are preposterous:
As a senior, Nichol, a three-year starter at quarterback, threw for 2,225 yards, 31 TDs and six INTs (118 for 185); and he rushed for 1,075 yards and 19 TDs on 121 carries. he was named to the Detroit News "Dream Team". Keith Nichol is one of the very best quarterback prospects in the Midwest. He threw for 2,200 yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior. Also rushed for 900 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore. committed to Michigan State before his junior season.
In '09 Nichol would presumably have a leg up on any incoming freshman, with a year and a half years at Oklahoma (he enrolled early) and a year of getting Barwisized and learning the offense at Michigan, but it's risky: if he doesn't get the starting job he's either got to give up the dream of playing in college or head to a I-AA school.
A Free Press article makes it sound like Nichol is just looking for options at this point and will consider anyone who wants to offer him:
"People assume it's a Michigan State-Michigan deal," Nichol said, adding he's open to all options. "But they're the same as any other program in the country, just more attractive because they're closer to home."
The popular perception is that Michigan is QB depth chart heaven, but though State moved away from Nichol's preferred offense they graduate Brian Hoyer after this year and two low-rated redshirt freshmen are the only other quarterbacks on the roster. (State does have a commit from instater Andrew Maxwell.)
Would State have interest in a kid who stiffed them? Would Michigan take his transfer and risk spooking Newsome and/or Beaver? I dunno. A caller to the "Huge" show claimed that Nichol was a done deal to Michigan, FWIW. The same caller apparently predicted Nichol's transfer three months ago, but that bit of prognostication was obvious to anyone who picked up Oklahoma's depth chart and saw the "Fr" next to Bradford's name. There's also been considerable internet buzz to the same effect, but nothing from a reputable source.
Offensive linemen are starting to shake out. The best news from Michigan is what appears to be strong interest from NC OL Xavier Nixon:
Offensive tackle Xavier Nixon, an ESPN 150 Watch List talent, is holding about 40 scholarship offers, according to affiliate Web site GatorCountry.com. Despite the long list of suitors, Nixon already knows that he'd like to visit Notre Dame and Michigan. "Those are the only two that are set in stone, but I don't know beyond that."
Nixon also expressed what he's seeking in a school, "I'm looking at education, how comfortable I feel at a school - if it's a place that reminds me of home, if my playing style fit the program, if I can take what I've learned in high school and ap
ply it there instead of having to chance everything I've learned."
Nixon is one of those super-elite sorts (#27 overall to Rivals and the #1 OT, period, to Scout) who defies the conventional wisdom that offensive line rankings should be taken with a grain of salt; landing him would be a coup.
Michigan has an offer out to TN OL Alex Bullard, but he seems likely to stay in state. There is this hilariously biased article from "Vols Extra" to consider wherein he names a top three of ND, Tennessee, and Florida; more neutral is an Allen Wallace piece:
Although Bullard says he's still open, he admits he favors Tennessee slightly over Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida and South Carolina. All of his favorites have offered.
"I like them all, but Tennessee is close and they are recruiting me the most right now," Bullard said. "Just the prestige and tradition there is amazing. That's a place I know a lot of people at and feel at home. I really like coach Phillip Fulmer. He's a very good man and very kind. He's easy to talk too."
Tentatively yellow but it's not looking good here.
The recent subject of a Scout-Rivals tiff, instate WR/TE Dion Sims plainly likes basketball more than football despite having a far higher ceiling as a 6'5", 230 pound wide receiver than a as tweener basketball wing. Scout analyst Dave Telep:
"I think he's a college hoops prospect on the mid-level. His body is a huge asset and his mid-range game is a help. So far this year in the limited times I have seen him, he's had moments where his shot has looked very good and he can pass the ball. I would think MAC programs would love to get their hands on him. To be higher, you would like to see him round out his game â€” maybe add a post-up element to take advantage of size mismatches."
Sims' father says Michigan State leads slightly:
"It is real close," Donald Sims said. "I wouldn't say one or the other, but if I had to really put down where I think his heart is at this point as far as in-state, I think Michigan State has a little bit of an advantage."
Hopefully that's because of the basketball programs' relative strength; if so that might change after a reassessment of which sport is the wiser one to pursue in college. One other note: Rodriguez is recruiting Sims as a tight end, not a wide receiver.
Some new names at defensive end: PA's Tyrone Ezell and MD's Sean Stanley. SC's Chris Bonds also has us in a leading group of about seven. Not much free on the new guys yet, but a few more names on the board is reassuring.
A couple of Nike Camps went down over the weekend. OH S Isaiah Bell was singled out for praise by ESPN:
Under Armour All-American safety Bell could have passed for a weakside linebacker and actually looked bigger than his listed measurables. When you look at his rangy, long-limbed frame, particularly the length of his arms, it's not out of the realm this kid has another inch or two of growth left. He looked far from frail though and was defined with good muscle tone and lean bulk. We joked with the recruited safety that linebacker could be in his future at Michigan, and he smiled like he had heard that comment before. It's hard not to see a potential 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame in two or three years, and he did look better at times playing the ball in front of him Friday as opposed to backpedalling.
Reports vary on how Bell did in drills but safeties always get the shaft at these things because they're essentially forced to play corner. Fitzgerald Toussaint did not show in Columbus because of an injury; in State College commit Will Campbell crushed all opponents and Teric Jones had an impressive day. Campbell still insists he's going to visit places like Miami, FWIW.
Update: ESPN's just posted their recap of the State College Nike camp. This is their opinion of Will Campbell:
Kevin Newsome got gently panned, though:
He showed some flashes of becoming a solid passer but has a lot of mechanical and technical glitches to work through. He is very inconsistent with his accuracy, but when he is fundamentally sound, he delivers the ball with nice zip and good power on the deep ball. With his frame and athleticism, he is definitely a candidate to be moved to tailback, safety, linebacker or wide receiver.