It's a doubleheader Saturday for Michigan's Class of 2010. The Big 33 All-Star game takes place in Hershey, PA with Michigan's Talbott brothers playing for the Ohio Team. Taking place in East Lansing is the Michigan High School Football Coaches' Association All-Star game at 3:30PM. (The game will be aired on TV on Comcast 900 on Monday at 7PM and Tuesday at 8:30AM.)
Though Michigan doesn't have any scholarship players participating in the game, a number of other Big Ten schools do (Ohio State, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Indiana). Michigan's sole player in the game is preferred walkon Baquer Sayed. I caught up with him and East coach Jim Sparks at media day for the game.
Tim: When are you getting up to Michigan?
Baquer: I'm moving up there in like two weeks.
Tim: Why did you pass up scholarship offers from MAC schools to walk on at Michigan?
Baquer: Family-wise [the media guide says Sayed is one of 9(!) kids in his family], and school, and degree, and everything. It's made up for by the school. If the NFL doesn't work, Michigan's better than all those offers I got in the MAC.
Tim: How would you describe your game?
Baquer: Speedy, long-ball quickness.
Tim: What can we look forward to seeing from you on the field Saturday?
Baquer: Just getting the ball and going in a scoring. Catching the fades over the corners, that's what I like to do.
East Head Coach Jim Sparks (Clawson High School).
Tim: You're running a spread offense on Saturday. Is it more run-focused or pass-focused?
Sparks: What kind of coach would I be if I told you what we're going to do? I'm just gonna say "yes."
Tim: Am I gonna see Baquer Sayed catch some passes though?
Sparks: Yeah, I would expect him to. He's a tremendous athlete, and that's why we run the offense that we do. We have so many athletes that the trick to the spread is just get those kids the ball in space and let them do their thing.
Tim: He told me he likes to go up and get the fade. Is that what you see in him?
Sparks: It's a huge part of his game. He's serious. I told him after you interviewed him that I've never seen a kid that has the ability to adjust to the ball and go up, and play that deep ball the way he does.
Thanks to Baquer Sayed and Coach Sparks for taking the time to talk to me. Here's Baquer's highlight video, for a taste of what to look forward to on Saturday:
Note: with Antonio Kinard's qualification status in doubt I'm going to hold off on him until we get an answer either way.
|Millersville, MD - 6'2" 195|
|Scout||4*, #7 S, #1 MD, #96 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #38 ATH, #10 MD|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #38 OLB|
|Other Suitors||Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Maryland|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post|
Furman on defense as a junior:
And this is from one game, Furman's ridiculous 414 yards against state #1 Arundel in the quarterfinals:
Thanks to youtube user fslade1267, you can check Furman highlights—mostly long runs—from virtually all games during his senior season.
The first thing on the Furman resume is ridiculous speed. Literally: the first Scout article written on him mentions "gaudy athleticism" in the headline. He clocked an electronic 4.36 at a Pittsburgh combine, causing Scout to declare his athleticism "off the charts"($) and ESPN to claim that his "elite testing marks … should help his recruiting stock continue to soar." The Washington Post cited another 4.36 from 2008, when Furman was just entering his junior year. He has the fakest 40 of anyone in this recruiting class by a mile.
More from ESPN on his ridiculous combine showing:
From a pure measurement standpoint, Josh Furman may have had the single best outing out of any prospect on this year's Under Armour combine tour. He posted a wind-aided 4.39 40-yard dash, a 42 inch vertical jump, a 4.12 short shuttle and a modest broad jump of 9 feet, 8 inches. His 16 reps of 185 pounds were also very impressive and a bit surprising given his longer, rangier frame (6-foot-2, 192 pounds). While he did look a bit lean, his great wingspan and overall body length suggest continued physical development. We believe he will eventually have a well-developed frame that will tip the scales in the 225-pound range while he'll maintain the great quick-twitch burst and speed we saw Friday night.
Hello, nurse. Quick-twitch 225 on a rangy frame is upside piled upon upside. Given the context, this quote from his coach seems more justified than most in its rapturous tone:
“The explosion and power this kid has, it’s phenomenal. I’ve seen kids with almost the same amount of speed like 5-10, 5-11. But being 6-2, 6-3, being able to run … I’ve never seen anything like him. He’s definitely a freak. Definitely a freak.”
Elsewhere his coach describes him as "lights out fast," as does the coach he victimized in the state semifinal, about which more later. For its part, Rivals echoed that assessment after he attended their Five Star Showdown, where he played offense:
His speed and burst jump out at you. He's fast and looks effortless when running. He's also very athletic and versatile, able to play many positions at the next level. … His effortless, galloping running style that simply outdistanced everyone who tried to cover him. You can't teach his combination of size and speed and he runs low despite being a bit tall for a tailback -- a good habit.
That athleticism bore itself out on the field, most spectacularly in a state quarterfinal game against #1 Arundel in which he ran for 414—not a typo—yards in a 58-55 double overtime win. The video is embedded above. He was as stunned as anyone about his stats at the end of that game:
“The only time you can run for that many yards is when you are playing the easy level on Madden,” he said referring to the popular video game. “Can you repeat my stats again? Did you say 414 yards and six touchdowns? I can’t even imagine doing that.”
In the aftermath his coach said Old Mill would "just keep feeding the beast" and the next week he ran for 201 yards, punching in the winning score with under a minute left in the state semifinal. He suffered a minor knee injury after just six carries in the state final but his team managed its first-ever state championship in a 17-16 thriller (highlights). By year's end he'd racked up 2,283 yards and 36 touchdowns, narrowly missing a state yardage record because of the knee injury. He was the local paper's blindingly obvious selection as the local athlete of the year.
With that combine pop and production it's a little surprising to see that two of the three services give him just three stars. ESPN rates him lower than Davion Rogers at OLB (though they end up with the same 78 grade). Their scouting($):
Furman is a big, rangy and physical football player with good vertical speed for such a lengthy athlete. Tall and physically intimidating as an outside linebacker. This guy is a real threat rushing from the outside. Has enough quickness to accelerate by an offensive tackle setting back to pass protect. Most running backs do no not want to take him on due to his size and strength. A very disruptive perimeter defender. Shows the speed and closing burst to run a ball carrier or quarterback down from the backside when rushing off the edge. … Furman is a very good football player that has size and quickness. The only area of physical concern may be flexibility in the lower body. A guy with a ton of upside and physical development left.
It's the "upside" bit that sees him rank lower than you might expect. In the same combine evaluation above, ESPN diplomatically says his performance was "a bit less extraordinary" when it came to football skills and that he was "a bit straight-lined" at times, displaying "some stiffness and inflexibility." Their prescription was for more bulk and improved technique. Touch The Banner has some specifics on those technique issues:
Tends to be undisciplined regarding his gap responsibility . . . Does a poor job of using his hands to disengage from blockers . . . Not a big hitter, more of a grabber . . . Does not bring his feet with him when he tackles
Rivals is basically in the same boat, naming him the #38 athlete—three spots off four stars.
On the other hand, Scout sneaks him in at the tail end of their top 100, and when Tom interviewed MaxPreps's Stephen Spiewak he cited Furman as possibly the second-best recruit in the class:
TOM: Besides Gardner, is there anyone in this class that you look at and say, Michigan really needed to get him, or they're going to be excited about him?
STEPHEN: I really, really like Josh Furman. I think he'd be able to contribute on offense, but I think he'll be a big boost to the linebacking unit. I have heard about Furman for a few years, and this year he really put it together and was flat out dominant. I know some people think he has NFL potential.
Opinion is decidedly split.
As far as offers go, West Virginia and Maryland were the first entrants. As early as signing day, Furman was being pursued by Clemson, Florida, FSU, Michigan, OSU, Tennessee and Virginia Tech and had a Pitt offer. By March, Virginia Tech had offered; they were followed shortly by Oklahoma and Michigan. The latter two made the unusual move of offering on nothing more than a highlight tape. Other prominent offers came from North Carolina, Rutgers, Illinois, Purdue, and Miami (That Miami). Florida was interested enough to have him visit but never offered($), and frankly that Oklahoma offer is a little dubious given the fact he never visited and Oklahoma fans never really heard of him. It's in the Post, though:
Furman's first major offer from a school outside of the region set off a frenzy. Oklahoma requested Furman's highlight tape. The school received it on a Saturday, and Furman had an offer from the Sooners three days later.
Furman's offers are encouraging but not quite the sort that demand four stars. I'll take any linebacker sort that Virginia Tech is after, though.
Early in Furman's recruiting Michigan was behind his father's alma mater, but after visits to all of his suitors, Michigan was far and away the choice. Prepare for a double-helping of the most common cliché in recruiting from Papa Furman:
"My mind was made up that he was going to Maryland and follow in my footsteps," Tyler Furman said. "When we went to Michigan, I was blown away by the coaching staff and the facilities. I was blown away by everything they had to offer."
Furman delayed his announcement so he could do it at the Maryland Crab Bowl, but as soon as he left Michigan's campus his recruitment was over. His reasons why:
“Going through the recruiting process I came to realize that this is a business and I think out of all 13 scholarships I had, Michigan, the coaching staff and the recruiters were the most honest and realistic with me,” Furman said. “I went up there for the Michigan-Notre Dame game, I just loved the atmosphere. It just had so many positives toward the college. I know they had two bad season, but if you really look at it they’re not a bad team at all, and I think they’re going to be a good team for the next four or five years.”
Here's hoping that's true.
In Ann Arbor, Furman is ticketed for the spur/spinner slot occupied by Stevie Brown last year and tentatively assigned to redshirt freshman Thomas Gordon for 2010. This is, apropos of nothing but a West Virginia offer Furman didn't seem that interested in, the exact position Scout analyst Matt Alkire suggested would be his home:
Having watched his film personally, one position he could fit very well in is the “spur” safety position Rich Rodriguez used in his 3-3-5 at West Virginia. Mike Lorello was an excellent player for the Mountaineers in it and Furman has the range to cover the field and the power to hammer people as well.
ESPN concurs, saying he "projects best in a heavy-pressure defense in which he can attack vertically" similar to his high school defense… which is (surprise!) a 3-3-5:
"We play a 3-5 defense just like West Virginia and Coach Casteel could see me fitting into it. That's where they offered me," said Furman.
Interestingly enough, West Virginia's early interest was for outside linebacker, and Touch the Banner suggests that Furman's natural position is weakside linebacker, comparing him to Shawn Crable.
Why Stevie Brown? I already used Crable, who seems like a pretty good comparison, and Furman has the combination of athleticism and linebacker-tweener size that Brown did. Brown also took to the spur spot like John L. Smith to Michigan's recent repeal of an anti-dueling law. Brown, unfortunately, also had major tackling and coverage issues that were only mitigated by his senior-year move.
Etc.: Scout interview before his official. Early Scout article. Forcing a fumble. A Washington Post video feature that describes his six-sack half(!!!) as a freshman defensive end and features Ecstasy of Gold. Worth watching if only to see him make up 15 yards on some kid on a kickoff return tacle.
Guru Reliability: High despite the difference in opinion. Furman went to combines, suffered no injuries, and embarked on a crushing campaign that resulted in a state championship, and you can't poke an analyst about him without getting the "crazy athletic and raw" refrain. Look at the ranking difference as a reflection of his variability: he could be an All-American, or he could be a frustrating loose cannon who never develops.
General Excitement Level: Daddy needs a new pair of shoes. Roll them dice and hope Greg Robinson and Adam Braithwaite are the savants they're reputed to be. I will say that some of the skepticism at ESPN and Rivals appears to be based on questions about his fit in a 4-3 system and I lean towards the positive side since he'll be walking into (but not on to) a defense that plays to his strengths.
Projection: Man… I don't know. With Michigan currently running out a walk-on on the two deep at his position it's hard to imagine him redshirting, but it's also hard to project him contributing much as a true freshman given his offensive focus in high school, need to add weight, and technique deficiencies.
It's a good thing we have an almost direct comparable, down to the dreads: Furman is Denard Robinson on defense. Expect a mostly wince-worthy but occasionally tantalizing freshman year followed by a mountain of hype going into 2011. From there? Ask again later.
With camps and unofficial visits in full swing, news is coming in fast and furious. Check out the all-time updates on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board.
KY LB Lamar Dawson (at right) plans to visit Michigan this summer, he told ThaRinger.com:
Dawson has a few visits scheduled this summer and will also showcase his skills on the national stage in July. “I’m just going to visit a couple places. I’m gonna go to Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, Illinois and I might go to Arkansas. I got invited to this Gridiron Kings by ESPN. That’s in July, it’s a 7-on-7 camp.”
Michigan is currently outside his top four, which consists of Kentucky, USC, Louisville, and Florida. However, the Wolverines have a chance to make up ground when he hits campus. Box of M.E.S.S. also talked to Dawson, and he's not down on Michigan for the subpar record the past couple years:
Michigan was overall 5-7-0 and 1-7-0 in their conference, could last years record affect your decision or will you give them an opportunity no matter what?
Dawson: I’m going to give them a chance because they have the most wins in NCAA history so they know how to win all they need is the right players to do it.
Vaught's Views also provides some recruiting fluff on Dawson, mostly related to Kentucky's attempts to keep him in-state.
VA LB Curtis Grant plans to visit Michigan in August. He also gives Tom a brief rundown of his game:
"I'm going to try to work on everything as a player. One of my strengths is being able to read and attack. I also think I need to be the leader on the field. I call the plays, and keep the team motivated, so that's important. I really see myself as that kind of player at the next level, too. I like being the leader," he told me.
He's a highly-regarded prospect, and a visit is a good sign.
OH LB Sean Duggan visited Ann Arbor recently, and he came away enthused, as he tells Tom. Michigan is now in his top 3.
Michigan makes the top 5 of VA LB/DE Corey Marshall, but Tennessee and Virginia Tech seem to have the edge.
PA LB Armstead Williams holds a Michigan offer and plans to visit at the end of this month.
There Shall Be Only One (Quarterback)
It seems as though this is starting to become a weekly feature, at least until Michigan lands their quarterback in the class of 2011. With only one spot available at the position, and very few offers out, it's worth keeping an eye on.
A couple shakeups in the past week then, as we bid Happy Trails to FL QB Jerrard Randall, who has committed to Oregon. No word on whether teammates and fellow Michigan offerees FL S Jonathan Aiken and FL WR Curt Evans are likely to follow.
I was going to write a long segment about how Randall's commitment could have a positive effect on Michigan's recruitment of AZ QB Brett Hundley—who had been favoring the Ducks—but he eliminated Michigan yesterday.
VA QB Marquise Williams has accelerated his decision timetable ($, info in header). Since he won't get the chance to visit Michigan before that commitment, it looks like the Wolverines may be on the outside looking in.
So where are we now? OH QB Cardale Jones is the only quarterback prospect still out there who is holding an offer. This makes it much more likely that FL QB Kevin Sousa (seen at right) eventually lands that coveted letter from Rich Rodriguez. In fact, I suspect the coaching staff may be holding off because they think he'd immediately jump on it, leaving them out of luck with the prospects they like a little more. He continues to rack up mid-level offers, and Colorado State is the latest. His skill set sounds very good for Michigan's system. Though he's a project, Michigan has time to let him develop behind Forcier, Robinson, and Gardner.
Additional Happy Trails-ing.
FL WR Ja'Juan Story, who had previously seemed pretty enthusiastic about Michigan, has eliminated the Wolverines in his most recent cut.
SC WR Charone Peake committed to Clemson.
Happy Trails to NJ OL Shane Mertz, who committed to Northwestern.
Happy Trails, WI DT Donte Phillips. Committed to Indiana. He was squarely in the "sad josh" category, so his coming off the board is not a big negative.
Happy Trails, FL S Jabari Gorman. He has narrowed his list to a final three: Alabama, Miami, and Ohio State ($, info in header).
OH WR Devin Smith recently picked up an Ohio State offer, so we could be bidding him adieu soon. For now, he remains on the board.
New Offers, Enthusiastic Recruits
OH DE/DT/OL Jack Miller visited Michigan a couple days ago, and managed to head out of Ann Arbor with an offer in hand ($, info in header). Michigan likes him on offensive line, which is where I'd had him projected on the recruiting board. His offer list is actually much more impressive than you'd expect, given his rankings:
Miller estimates his scholarship offer total to stand at between 20 and 25. His list includes Michigan State, Boston College, Illinois, Northwestern, Pitt, North Carolina, West Virginia, Stanford, Louisville and Syracuse.
Big East and ACC aren't exactly SEC, Big... uh... 10 or Pac... 11, but significantly more impressive than MAC. Jamie Mac of Just Cover turned me on to Miller a while back, including some Toledo INSIDERZ information:
I am sure you are on top of things, but the Toledo grapevine is buzzing that Jake Miller, a OT/DE recruit from Toledo St John's will be getting a Michigan offer pretty much any day now. He'll probably get an OSU offer shortly thereafter.
I have no idea if he's leaning in any direction, but he [has said] that a Michigan offer would be a game changer for him in the recruiting process.
Should we be on commitment watch? Tom also interviewed Miller:
JACK: [I]t's safe to say that Michigan and Boston College are my top two... I have the offers I want, so it's time to decide. I'm really going to thin it out this week, and I'll hopefully have the decision made by the end of the week.
Commitment watch indeed. Miller should either be a Wolverine or an Eagle by the end of the week. There's also more in Tom's post about his connection to another Wolverine target from Ohio.
In other "Recently Offered and Michigan Probably Holds a Healthy Lead" news, MI LB Ed Davis heard the good news from Rich Rodriguez over the weekend ($, info in header), and he has Michigan atop his list. He may not commit immediately, but conventional wisdom has him joining the Maize and Blue. He was one of the more impressive prospects at the Michigan Football Showcase.
[Ed: Davis attends Detroit Southeastern, a school that Michigan has had extreme difficulty recruiting of late. With the departure of Archie Collins to be a Michigan State video coordinator, Southeastern looks like it will be friendlier in the future.]
Michigan has offered IN OL Nick Martin ($, info in header).
Chris Rock (Still) Goes Blue
The Columbus media has finally gotten around to covering OH DE Chris Rock's commitment to Michigan:
"Chris is excited," Stallions coach Ryan Wiggins said. "He ended up with 20-plus BCS offers and he just felt very comfortable with Michigan. We have a player there and our football community is pretty tight-knit, so I think Patrick helped recruit him there."
Wiggins also talked briefly about what Chris brings to the team:
Rock has impressed as a defensive end and a tight end in his time at DeSales but may bulk up to the point where he could see time on the interior of the D-line at the collegiate level.
"I think he's a versatile enough kid that he can do a lot of things," Wiggins explained. "That's one of the reasons he's so good. I think the question will be how much bigger he'll get. That'll be up to the guys at the next level." ...
"He's big and he's very athletic for his size," Wiggins said of the 6-foot-5 Rock. "That's the biggest thing. I think he's a fast learner, too. He plays fundamentally sound and he's coachable."
If Rock is healthy this season, he could rocket up the rankings.
The recruitment of FL RB Demetrius Hart takes another turn, as he now plans to wait until January to make a commitment.
A couple different sources evaluate FL WR Curt "Spiffy" Evans. First, the Miami Herald:
From the first time he handled the ball at the youth football level at Northeast Hollywood, there was little doubt that this was going to be a future standout on the gridiron.
Speed, athletic ability and a knack of reading defenses has provided this quality football player an opportunity to get noticed.
After starting his career at Hollywood South Broward, his decision to attend Chaminade-Madonna has worked out as college coaches have had the chance to watch him catch balls and lead the team on offense, and now as he heads toward his final year, look for him to play defensive back and fill a void at running back.
...and newly-formed Minnesota blog I'm In Love With A Fringe Bowl Team:
Curt can make cuts on a dime and showcases outstanding body control to not only make difficult catches in traffic, diving and stretching for poorly thrown balls, but he also makes lethal jump cuts that make him a nightmare to bring down in the open field...
In route running, Evans closes the gap on the zone defender quickly and makes a fast, fluid break to get open. Gets up the seam in a hurry and makes the tough over-the-shoulder catch look easy.
As noted above, his teammate Jerrard Randall committed to Oregon, so the package deal is off the table. He won't be at Michigan's camp, but hopes to visit at some point this summer.
MI WR Jermal Hosley, a prospect at the slot position has received his first offer, from Ball State (free on Scout). He's hoping to re-schedule a camp visit to Michigan.
IL OL Rafe Kiely attended Michigan's Elite Camp, and followed it up with an impressive performance at a Chicago Under Armour Combine:
"I thought I did extremely well at Michigan and that carried over today," said Kiely, who carries a 4.2 GPA. "There's a lot of competition out there for scholarships and I'm looking to prove myself worthy this summer by attending the camps and combines."
"I really liked Rafe Kiely," [Under Armour O-line Coach Mike] Barry said. "He's got what it takes to be a solid guard at the D-I level. Rafe moves well, he competes his tail off and he's extremely coachable."
He hasn't been offered yet, but keep an eye out for him.
IL DE James Adeyanju holds a Michigan offer, but he currently favors Illinois, Arizona, Boston College, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.
PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett finally got the Penn State offer he was waiting for, but that doesn't mean he's going to commit to the Nittany Lions any time soon:
There won't a be rush to make a decision. Jarrett plans on taking his allotment of five official visits and going from there.
"I've been hearing a lot of people who are very protective, a lot of guidance, saying commit before the season," Jarrett said. "I do want to take my officials though out of the top five that I have by then and honestly I'm just going to pray on it. Hopefully whatever happens happens and I get my answer."
I get the strong vibe that whatever happens will indeed happen, so Jarrett will get his wish.
Tom interviewed MD ATH Brandon Phelps:
TOM: You said most schools are recruiting you for defense. Which schools are recruiting you the hardest right now?
BRANDON: Probably UCLA, Virginia, Michigan, Maryland, and Penn State...
TOM: Where does Michigan fit into that? Are they getting a visit?
BRANDON: Oh yeah, I'm definitely going to try to get up there; they're on my list. Growing up I really liked Braylon Edwards, and I watched them on TV, so I've been following ever since. My coach said the Big House is unbelievable, because he's been there for a game. He told me that whenever I visit, he's coming with me.
Michigan is looking at Phelps as a safety or slot receiver.
For updates on NC LB Kris Frost (camping this weekend), FL OL James Elliott, and FL Slot Prince Holloway, check out Tom's Monday update. If you want a full list of visitors to this weekend's camp, Tom has that covered as well.
One 2012 note: keep an eye on MI OL Kevin Darcy. The teammate of Wolverine freshman Austin White impressed at a Chicago combine.
Jack Miller is a versatile athlete out of St. John's Jesuit, in Toledo, Ohio, who just added a new offer to his list. Jack was in Ann Arbor two days ago, and received an offer from the Wolverines. This was an offer Miller was hoping for, and was very excited about it.
He's versatile, currently plaing on the defensive line for his team, but Michigan happens to be recruiting him for the offensive line. Here's a look at his film, and what he had to say about Michigan.
TOM: Who from Michigan have you mainly been in contact with?
JACK: Coach Tall recruits Toledo, so it's mainly been him.
TOM: How did this offer come about, and how many are you up to now?
JACK: I visited up there today (yesterday, June 14th), and they offered me. I have somewhere around 20 or 25, something like that.
TOM: With all those offers, where does Michigan rank in there?
JACK: They're pretty high up there, that's for sure. I'm still processing everything, but it's safe to say that Michigan and Boston College are my top two. I've taken a visit to Boston College already, too, so now I just have to figure out which school is the best place for me. I'm actually best friends with Ray Hamilton, too, so we've talked a little about it. We've been best friends since first grade. Our approach is to find the best place individually for us. If that turns out to be the same place, then that will be cool.
TOM: When do you think you'll know?
JACK: I have the offers I want, so it's time to decide. I'm really going to thin it out this week, and I'll hopefully have the decision made by the end of the week.
TOM: Where does Michigan see you fitting in?
JACK: They'r recruiting me for offensive guard, or center. I'm comfortable on the offensive side, and I really like the idea of playing offensive line for them.
TOM: Oh, wow. What is your height and weight right now, then? I think there's some varying numbers out there.
JACK: Yeah, I'm at 6-foot-4, and I weigh 270-pounds right now.
Worst State Ever goes national. On cable, but still:
You, too, can own this piece of History Channel-famous clothing. If you already own one, your Grandma needs one.
Why the hell? This is apparently the reason the Big 12 did not fall apart:
No FSN deal has been signed, and nothing is expected for several weeks at the earliest. But sources say FSN has told Big 12 officials that it would increase its annual payout to as much as $130-$140M per year. It currently pays $19.5M per year for the cable TV rights, a deal that ends following the '11-12 season
How in the flaming hell is that a good business decision for FSN? You're increasing your payout 600% for games that are on average less interesting without Nebraska—the Big 12 was recently reassured that ESPN would not demand a "rebate" on their existing contrat.
Sports Business Daily says that along with that payout will come "third tier rights" that include radio, stadium signage, local media, and third-tier TV rights. I'm not exactly sure what the value of that stuff is but since IMG is involved I imagine they're similar to the rights deals M and OSU have with IMG that amount to something like 8-10 million annually, with teams like Purdue getting maybe half of that. Ballpark those at 4 million per school (which is a complete guess*) and Fox is only… uh… more than doubling its commitment to the Big 12 after it lost a good bit of reach and interest.
We may see a system where more rights devolve to the league itself, thus artificially boosting the conference distribution without actually boosting the revenue much. It'll be like a heavily back-loaded NFL contract that's more show than substance. I'm sure the Big 12 will increase its payouts in a real sense, but the demographic realities that almost saw the conference implode aren't going away. I agree with this guy who is cited by USA Today as an expert:
However, he called the projected average annual TV splits of $20 million for Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, with the other schools getting $14 million-$17 million each, "too high, just not realistic."
"Now, who knows? Maybe they can break the mold and come up with a model nobody's seen."
More likely they'll just dress it up real purty to save face. Doctor Saturday has more.
*(But I think it's the right range since schools will be able to hold onto whatever other rights they require to start their own networks.)
Appeal not so much. The #1 must-read piece on USC's sanctions comes from the Bylaw Blog, which delves deep into the record-length document to reach some conclusions no one else has the expertise or care to. The main takeaway:
In that detailed account, the Committee on Infractions lays out the case that USC took in two student-athletes with no regard for the amateurism rules, and then failed to notice when they began accept benefits and enter into agreements in violation of the rules. The overall gist of the NCAA’s stance was summed up by one quote from Paul Dee, the chair of the Committee on Infractions during the teleconference discussing the report:
High profile players demand high profile compliance.
IE: no more see/hear/speak no evil for Carroll and Friends. Compliance Guy also provides a heartening opinion on why the document is so long and took so long: the NCAA lacks a true smoking gun and instead laid out its case meticulously in anticipation of a USC appeal. The top priority was making the penalties stand.
At this point a USC appeal would probably damage the school more than help it, as the penalties would just be delayed. So, go ahead, USC. Appeal.
Seriously pissed off, you guys. The hockey committee dropped a couple of major rules changes on college hockey:
- Icing always counts even if you're killing a penalty.
- Hits to the head are an automatic five and a game.
The second is just another version of the committee's temporary freakout about hits from behind after North Dakota's Robbie Bina was seriously injured by a dangerous check from behind by Geoff Paukovich. The NCAA decided to combat incompetent refereeing by making all hits from behind five and a game, leading to a brief period when every hit along the boards was accompanied by a nervous glance at the ref just in case he decided to toss your guy from the game. Refs started calling boarding instead and a few years later we're back to square one when it comes to hits from behind: still illegal. We'll have an annoying period where routine minors are wildly overreacted to, refs will start calling roughing, and everything will go back to the way it was.
The icing change promises to greatly increase the efficacy of power plays and has been met with fuming, largely because the coaches voted against it… unanimously:
“I think it’s just a crime,” Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said. “I’ve been in college hockey for 18 years and I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. It was almost unanimous for the entire coaching body. How can the committee overturn the entire coaching body? I think it’s sad, the lack of respect that the committee had for the coaching body.
“We didn’t spend any time even talking about it because it was so radical. We just voted 12-0 and moved on.”
Coaches are also irritated by a change to delayed penalties where a team that scores on the delay still gets the power play, but that hardly ever happens so at worst it's a minor annoyance.
- Goaltenders now change ends in overtime. This might be a direct response to what happened at the Fort Wayne regional, when Michigan got stuck with the long change for four out of five periods in the double-OT game against Miami. It's not a rule change that will have an impact anywhere else, but it's a good one anyway.
- Icing modifications. The "obtainable pass" rule where a player who attempted to pass to a teammate who just missed it saw his icing waved off is gone, which I don't like. On the other hand, if an offensive player is clearly going to beat the defender to the puck they will wave it off. Net impact is about neutral, I guess.
The half-shield proposal was tabled so that more studies about injury could take place.
BONUS: That last article suggests the CCHA will drop the shootout. I actually didn't mind it once they went to a system where all games were worth the same number of points.
Etc.: Bacon goes way back to cover Michigan's brief withdrawal from the Big Ten around the turn of the 20th century. All of the CU/NU penalty fees will go to OU, Texas, and A&M. NHL.com profiles Carl Hagelin. Contrasting Michigan's response to the NCAA with USC's.
With Nebraska's addition the next question is how to split the Big Ten into equitable divisions. Most people are interpreting Delany's ordered list of priorities…
“First priority’s competitive fairness to me,” Delany said last week. “Second priority is maintenance of rivalries, some of them are very important. They’re part of who we are and they’re not treated lightly. And then I think the third is what factor, if any, does geography play?”
…that mentions geography only to explicitly dismiss it, as evidence that the Big Ten will run an end-around on the ugly geographical reality that would see Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State in the same division. Doc Sat's interpretation of the Big Ten's priorities, for instance:
1. Splitting up Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan, the three programs responsible for eight straight conference championships/automatic BCS berths and four of seven at-large BCS bids since 2002; and
2. Preserving the prominence of the Ohio State-Michigan game in the regular-season finale.
IE: Old-school-NHL-style division names or a complicated twelve-team pod system that I'm surprised I didn't dream up or divisions based on various alphabetical orderings. Cutting the conference along an axis is apparently not an option.
Most take a look at the rivalries and arrive at the conclusion that the Michigan-Michigan State-Ohio State triplet has to stay together and that the Nebraska addition to the Iowa-Wisconsin-Minnesota triumvirate of hate is natural. Then you throw Indiana and Purdue in with the west, and all you're left with is a decision about where to put Penn State and, if you dump them in the "east" which Illinois school to lift. It doesn't really matter for football. For basketball, you've got OSU, MSU, IU, and Purdue in the same division… so take Northwestern in a (futile) effort to balance things out. End result with 20 and 10 year records added in for color:
|Historical Record||Historical Record|
|Bo||20 year||Rank||10 year||Rank||Woody||20 year||Rank||10 year||Rank|
This is just about equitable according to the numbers, but the Woody division is undeniably top-heavy. Four of the top six schools in the conference are in the Bo division; Woody is Michigan, OSU, and a bunch of teams that think "Alamo Bowl? Awesome!"
Weirdly, The Only Colors stares down the Michigan-OSU-PSU division and says "sign me up." They average the Sagarin ratings for the last decade in an effort to show that shoving Penn State out of the west doesn't do much to help balance the divisions. I think the focus on average rating is the wrong approach when we're talking about picking two teams for a championship game. Since we don't have any idea how divisions would actually play out we'll use the Sagarin Ratings TOC assembled as proxies and pick the best team in each division for a hypothetical championship game:
|Year||Team 1||Team 2||Sagarin||Team 1||Team 2||Sagarin|
|2002||Ohio State||Iowa||---||Ohio State||Iowa||--|
|2005||Ohio State||Wisconsin||3+14||Ohio State||Penn State||3+4|
|2006||Ohio State||Wisconsin||--||Ohio State||Wisconsin||--|
|2007||Ohio State||Illinois||11+30||Ohio State||Penn State||11+26|
|2008||Penn State||Iowa||8+22||Ohio State||Penn State||8+14|
|2009||Ohio State||Iowa||--||Ohio State||Iowa||--|
Most of the time the change wouldn't have had an impact, but three times in the last decade having Penn State in a division opposite from Ohio State would have made for a better championship game. TOC argues that past results do not guarantee future performance, but since the cost of the switch is a very slightly increased travel I think it's worth it from the perspective of the league. Since Penn State suffered its post-Paterno swoon in the middle of the decade, the competitive balance effect on (on the championship game only) is more likely to be understated than overstated by the last decade.
If you want to go straight geography for non-revenue sports, fine by me, but in football I think the Big Ten will align things in a a way likely to avoid the Big 12 problem, and putting Michigan/Ohio State opposite Nebraska/Wisconsin/Iowa/Penn State is the most likely way to get sexy championship games.