Dan Murphy at Bo's grave. A memorial day thing:
The cemetery groundskeepers say that during most weeks there are a few maize and blue trinkets at the foot of Schembechler's grave, but traffic really picks up in football season. On a spring day this year, there were a pile of pennies, a few Canadian dollar coins, a bell, a blue foam football, a couple of rusty "Beat Ohio State" buttons and an egg keeping Bo company. No one is quite sure what the deal is with the egg, but the best guess is that Bo often liked to jab at his guys by calling them "ham-and-eggers" when they weren't being as productive as they should be.
Women's College World Series on deck. A dramatic comeback win in game two of softball's super-regional sends them to Oklahoma City, with #1 seed Florida watching on TV. Michigan gets the late game Thursday (9:30 PM) against LSU; Alabama and Oklahoma are the other half of their bracket. All games are on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.
Meanwhile Brendan Quinn profiles Carol Hutchins:
Carol came along in 1957 and immediately raised hell. In fifth grade, playing with matches, she set a field behind the family home on fire. Two fire engines arrived to douse the flames. The Lansing fire chief pulled young Hutchins aside to let her know: "You're lucky you didn't burn down the entire southside of Lansing."
When her father arrived home in his blue trooper uniform, Carol ran up and said, "I have to tell you something: I burnt down the field."
She was grounded.
Even more satellite kerfuffle. SEC meetings are happening so there are more opportunities to ask southern college coaches about the scourge of satellite camps. They still don't like them. The reasons they offer are still a blend of hilarious and infuriating. Nick Saban is the latest, and he followed the script:
"I don't know how much it benefits anybody because all the people that say this is creating opportunities for kids, this is all about recruiting," Saban said. "That's what it's about. Anybody that tells you that. What's amazing to me is somebody didn't stand up and say here's going to be the unintended consequences of what you all are doing."
Again with the SEC's insistence that going around and scouting football players is—gasp—part of a recruiting strategy, again with the yammering about unintended consequences. This is a conference that managed to set off a firestorm of recriminations because their two-sentence rule change unintentionally screwed over small schools nationwide. Now they are complaining because something that was legal remaining legal will have unintended consequences.
A second talking point the SEC keeps hammering is about the influence of "third parties":
"All you're doing is allowing all these other people that we spend all of our time at the NCAA saying, you can't recruit through a third party. You can't be involved with third-party people and that's exactly what you're doing ...
Then hand met podium.
" ... creating all these third parties that are going to get involved with the prospects and all that. And who gets exposed on that? I go to a camp and I'm talking to some guy I don't know from Adam's house cat and he's representing some kid because he put the camp on, and then I'm in trouble for talking to this guy? And who even knows if the guy paid to go to the camp."
Not only is this amazing chutzpah from the League of Extraordinary Bagmen, this argument wants us to believe that allowing college coaches to go to camps and directly interact with players is going to increase the influence of middlemen. Because someone has to give those kids a ride…? I guess?
Harbaugh, as is his wont, ended the internet again with a tweet.
"Amazing" to me- Alabama broke NCAA rules & now their HC is lecturing us on the possibility of rules being broken at camps. Truly "amazing."
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) June 1, 2016
That is the other thing: Alabama is the worst possible cow to have moo about compliance issues. Saban has pushed the envelope for years himself. There's a bump rule named after him. When he was recruiting a couple of five-stars from Dr. Phillips in Orlando he coincidentally had Alabama's bowl practices at that high school, mirroring Michigan's trip to IMG this spring. His huge pile of medical hardships forced the conference to start reviewing all hardship requests. The program itself has been the target of investigation after investigation dating back to the Stone Age. Nobody in the state of Alabama has ever—everrrrrrrr—shown any indication that they give one tenth of a crap about compliance except insofar as sanctions are a drag on wins.
On the one hand, this is knee-slapping stuff. On the other, the construction of vapid arguments that a segment of partisans will lap up veers way too close to politics for comfort. Nonsense delivered in the cynical pursuit of power is best left to trivial things like the nuclear codes.
And all this over what? Over nothing.
“I think that’s probably the unique thing and I can say after observing Harbaugh last year, the vast majority of kids at this camp are probably not Division 1 football players or aren’t likely to make it there. But I thought every one of those kids got the same attention and the same direction from the Michigan coaching staff whether they really showed that potential or not.
"They all walked out of here thinking that was a pretty worthwhile camp and left an awfully nice taste in their mouth about the University of Michigan."
One of these things is not like the other. PFF has a reason for hope for each Big Ten team, many of which are items like "Cornerback Jalen Myrick may be a better player than 2015’s NFL departees" for Minnesota or "The aerial attack is intact" for… uh… Nebraska. Rutgers's reason for hope is a return specialist.
Michigan, on the other hand:
Michigan: The Wolverines could be fielding a historically great defense in 2016
That would be okay. In our ongoing quest to get a read on every player in the PFF database I believe this is the first time they've mentioned where Ryan Glasgow ended up in their system a year ago:
Returning on the defensive line are three of the top 16-graded interior players (Chris Wormley, Maurice Hurst and Glasgow), and DE Taco Charlton, who in 2015 had the highest pass rush productivity of all defensive ends coming back this year.
They've talked a ton about Wormley and Hurst already so I'm guessing Glasgow is their #16 interior DL from last year. At this point I think we've seen or deduced their opinion on every starter from last year save Jeremy Clark.
This is a bad idea. Signing Day is at the right time. It is after the yearly coaching carousel has concluded, giving players and coaches a month or two to find appropriate landing spots after the chaos of December. Allowing players to sign before that will inevitably lead to many more instances where player and school are a poor fit. And yet there seems to be a push to do that very thing:
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has long been an advocate for a rather radical change to the process of signing recruits to letters of intent –eliminating signing periods and instead allowing prospects to sign at any point when they’ve decided they’re ready to end the recruiting process.
Johnson said at the ACC meetings in early May that he thought that the option was gaining in popularity. He may have known what Division I football oversight committee chairman Bob Bowlsby acknowledged in an interview with the AJC last week – that the committee is looking into it.
“I think a case can be made for that,” Bowlsby said. He called it a “large departure from where we’ve been in the past. Maybe it’s time for consideration of that."
The reasons offered up here are somewhat compelling—being able to sign right away resolves questions about how "committable" an offer is and how solid a commitment is—but the downside outweighs them considerably. Whenever this comes up I suggest a more flexible model:
- Commits can sign a non-binding LOI at any time before Signing Day
- The school has to offer a full LOI when the time comes.
- School and prospect have unlimited contact and can arrange an additional official visit.
- Prospect cannot take an official to another school.
- Other coaches cannot contact prospect.
- Prospect can withdraw LOI at any time.
That goes a good distance towards resolving the issues Johnson's proposal resolves without locking players into situations that can change radically by the time they're on campus.
Etc.: Baseball was left out of the tournament after a late slide. MGoFish looks at what's next. Saban also proposed a commissioner, which is never happening. Verne Lundquist to step down as SEC game of the week guy after this year. CFB is losing their best announcers at a disappointing rate. Popular opinion is that Baylor won't get the Penn State treatment from the NCAA.
It's Defensive End Season, Apparently
Corey Malone-Hatcher (left) announces his decision Thursday. [Fuller]
The next couple weeks should be quite eventful for Michigan on the recruiting trail after a couple top defensive end targets set their decision dates.
Top-100 VA WDE Luiji Vilain has been considered a heavy Michigan lean since his visit a couple weeks ago, and he told 247's Steve Wiltfong his mind is "made up" heading into his announcement on June 12th. Vilain will choose between Michigan, USC, and Virginia Tech; all signs indicate he'll choose the Wolverines.
The prospect of Michigan starting to fill its open spots at defensive end is probably what prompted four-star St. Joseph WDE Corey Malone-Hatcher to set his decision for Thursday afternoon.
Top schools: I will be announcing my commitment on Thursday @ 3:30pm at SJHS. Thanks to all that recruited me pic.twitter.com/E6SA0k59Du
— corey malone-hatcher (@CMH2017) May 31, 2016
While Malone-Hatcher still has ten schools in play, his Crystal Ball reads 100% for Michigan; like with Vilain, it'd be a huge surprise if he went elsewhere.
Michigan has also made a move for three-star OH SDE James Hudson, who decommitted from Kentucky just before visiting campus two weekends ago, and he picked up an offer on the trip. After speaking with multiple sources familiar with Hudson's recruitment, 247's Steve Lorenz put in a Crystal Ball pick for Michigan, and in doing so he clarified M's outlook at DE:
The Wolverines appear to be in great shape with four-stars Corey Malone-Hatcher and Luiji Vilain, both of whom are expected to make a college decision in the very near future. An eventual addition from Hudson would give Don Brown a trio of defensive ends to work with in the 2017 cycle. We would expect Michigan to take at least one more at the position in 2017 after that.
None of these potential commitments would preclude the others from joining the class. The trio of Vilain, Malone-Hatcher, and Hudson would be a great haul at defensive end, and Michigan would still have space to pursue the likes of DJ Johnson and Deron Irving-Bey to round out the group.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
An irregular series in which I fix all of a sport's problems. Previously: hockey.
10. Use goal line technology. The imposition on the flow of the game is minimal and there is no reason to not have it. Whether or not a goal is scored is kind of a big deal in a sport that sees 3 or 4 a game.
9. Offsides is reviewable on goals. Again, this disrupts the 90-minute-flow that soccer and only soccer has. But since the game is getting broken up anyway—at least slightly—a quick peek at whether an offsides was or was not accurate is worth it as long as they adopt the NFL's hard limit on time available to make a decision. If it's not obvious in 30 seconds the call is close enough.
8. Stop the clock when people are injured. Ideally soccer would dump the whole stoppage time concept and have a clock that actually reflects what time it is. Every other sport manages this. In lieu of a total overhaul which is not coming, soccer games should borrow a concept from college soccer and allow the ref to cease the inexorable march of time with an X symbol over his head.
The X is deployed when the game is stopped because a player is down. Right now the perception amongst players is that falling over when nursing a late lead helps you win, so it happens all the time. Erase that perception and second half time-wasting gets 50% more tolerable.
7. Yellow cards for being Pepe. In the Champions League Final, Real Madrid defender Pepe twice rolled around like he'd been shot after light taps to his face. These should be cardable events. I will also accept a firing squad.
6. Dump Financial Fair Play and replace it with… I don't know. FFP, if you don't know, is an attempt to prevent a rich owner buying a Chelsea or Manchester City and making them very good by spending a lot of money. Because teams are allowed to spend what they make it tends to set the current power structure in concrete, Leicester notwithstanding. Also it does not work for the same reasons that NCAA amateurism rules, and prohibition more generally, don't work. There is always someone smart enough to cheese the rules. Like… yep, Leicester.*
I have no idea what to do with it in its place. Ideally the euro soccer structure would change so that a Leicester City event was more of a one-in-ten-year event instead of one in a hundred, but I struggle to come up with something that would work. Even Germany—which has the most even revenue distribution and rules against club ownership by individuals—has seen Bayern win four straight titles and 12 since 1998.
The predictability of euro soccer is the main reason I can't be bothered to care about any of it. I have the choice of picking the Yankees or the Lions, and no thanks to either. But without radically reshaping it into a socialist American-style thing*, which isn't happening, there appears to be no solution other than buying a little defensive midfielder from Ligue 2.
*[The cheesing Leicester managed was not enough to get them anywhere near the giants in the EPL and should not color anyone's perceptions of the magnitude of their accomplishment. The fact that there's a Guardian expose on the fact that Man Who Owns Soccer Team Spends Money On It that includes the phrase "Leicester City’s dash to an unlikely Premier League title is billed as football’s most romantic story in a generation but" is so very NCAA and demonstrates why FFP is destined to fail.]
**[The irony here is vast, yes.]
5. Allow refs some discretion on PKs. Right now a lot of fouls in the box don't get called because the punishment for them is outlandishly severe. Also some harmless situations get punished in an outlandishly severe way. If a ref spots a foul in the box that doesn't disrupt an imminent scoring chance he should be allowed to call for a free kick at the spot.
4. Free kicks resulting from fouls that draw yellow cards should be more dangerous. Defenders should not be allowed to line up in the penalty box on the resulting free kick unless they are level with or behind the ball*. That's not as severe as a penalty kick, but it's a lot more severe than it currently is and would adequately punish teams that specialize in those canny fouls just outside of PK territory.
*[IE, they can still defend the opposition on FKs that are more or less corners.]
3. No shootouts in finals. I don't care what you have to do to prevent them. Anything vaguely resembling the actual sport that's going on is far superior to the current system, in which all of a sudden a darts competition breaks out after 120 minutes. The only person who likes that is Steve Lorenz. I grudgingly accept that maybe you have to have shootouts for early stages in competitions because winning the equivalent of a triple OT hockey game is going to destroy your fitness for the next game. Finals should end with someone scoring a goal.
There are various ways to approach the problem but I think the simplest and best is to remove the goalies after 30 minutes of extra time and play sudden death. Is that 100% soccer? No. But it's at least 50% instead of 0%.
2. All throw ins must have a totally rad flip before them. I mean.
This one is obvious.
1. Teams have the option of putting a guy on field with skates. Offsides does not apply to him. Goals he scores count double. It works for any sport!
Some of the best uniforms in college football
In the BCS era, only five programs from the non-automatic bid conferences made it into a big bowl game – Utah and TCU each made it twice and are now in Power 5 conferences, Boise State also played in two BCS (and one New Year’s Six) games and usually is one of the best mid-major teams, and NIU, with one BCS bowl appearance, has won its division in the MAC seven straight times. And then there’s Hawaii. After Greg McMackin left the program amid controversy relating to a homophobic slur McMackin used in an interview, Hawaii hired Norm Chow, who proceeded to go a combined 10-36 from 2012 until most of the way through 2015 – he was fired before the season ended by a new athletic director.
Hawaii reached its apex with that undefeated regular season and Sugar Bowl appearance* back in 2007, but the Rainbow Warriors have largely struggled since and are on their third crack at replacing June Jones, who left after that year to coach SMU. That 2007 team was amazing (and has a really well-detailed Wikipedia page, which is something I’m sure Michigan fans can appreciate): UH didn’t play the toughest schedule, but they won six(!) one-score games en route to a 12-win season behind Colt Brennan and Jones’s wide-open Run-and-Shoot offense. Unfortunately, Hawaii is far removed from those days, which seem like a distant memory.
Of course, the recent losing amplifies the underlying existential uncertainty that seems to follow Hawaii around. Their football program was rescued by the Mountain West after the WAC fell apart, but supposedly the unique (mostly financial) challenges of college football’s most remote outpost generate an undercurrent of rumors about the solvency of the program. There haven’t been any indications that the Rainbow Warriors won’t be playing football in the future, though attendance issues and extreme travel costs are cause for concern. Since the program has been around since five decades before Hawaii became a state, it seems unlikely that the program would ever be forced to drop down a division or quit football entirely – but I guess you never know.
*Georgia destroyed them, but still.
[After the JUMP, the scoop on UH]
Ambassador Long Already At Work
Jim Harbaugh called David Long a potential ambassador for the program, and that appears to be coming to fruition already. Five-star CA CB Darnay Holmes hasn't been mentioned much around here, but that's about to change, per 247's Steve Lorenz:
“Michigan is for sure moving up in things," Holmes told Huskers Illustrated analyst Mike Schaefer over the weekend. “Coach Jim Harbaugh is building a monster up there. My best friend David Long is going up there in June. Dylan Crawford is up there. A lot of California guys go up there. That shows Ann Arbor isn’t a bad place to go."
There are a few promising things to note here. Holmes plans to take an official visit to Ann Arbor in the fall. Long is quoted in the article saying Holmes is "like a blood brother," and he's been talking to both Holmes and his father about Michigan. Perhaps most tellingly, Holmes talked up Michigan to a Nebraska reporter.
Lorenz added a report today that provides a new layer of intrigue. Yesterday, Jim Harbaugh contacted Desean Holmes, Darnay's cousin and a 2015 four-star receiver who didn't enroll at San Diego State for personal reasons. Desean could visit soon, and if he winds up at Michigan, Lorenz "strongly believe[s]" that would move Michigan up Darnay's list. Desean could fill a major 2017 need with Chesson and Darboh outgoing and help deliver a five-star corner. Sounds good to me.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]