[Note: Jamie's got an Odds On Favorites post to accompany this but life intervened and it's part-done. Putting this up now so you have time to pick your teams before tomorrow's games. OOF will be posted separately.]
THIS WEEK'S GAME: COLLEGE. BASKETBALL. EMPHATIC PERIOD.
Our coach is awesome. Our conference is the best. We have some really good, future pro players. This probably won't make you depressed.
MGo's fantasy sports partner Draft Kings is starting their college hoops games this week, and though Michigan plays its opener Saturday there's a bunch of names you should know well in the Friday pool.
Also it's the season opener so having watched basketball last year makes you smart. There's some pretty good deals on the board: Amile Jefferson (130.1 ORtG last year) and Quinn Cook (120.2) are playing Presbyterian, and come at $5,500 and $6,200, respectively. Rakeem Christmas (125.7) is missing his setup man but at $3,700 he's a pretty good fill for when you're over budget. If you're of the belief that MSU's offense has to go through Brenden Dawson early on, $7,200 is reasonable.
- $3,000 prize pool.
- $2 entry fee. FREE entry with first deposit.
- $450 1st Place prize.
- Top 400 are paid.
- Starts on Friday, November, 14th at 6:00 EST.
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 8 spots.
- Roster Format: 3 G, 3 F, 2 UTIL.
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
Hillsdale (with an 's' so not like the Back to the Future II/III housing development) is a small, DII private school nestled in rural south-central Michigan. If you take Michigan Avenue out of Ypsi and stay on it past the cottage lakes and US 127, you'll find the turn-off for it. It's small, expensive, teaches a classical liberal education (you learn Greek and stuff), and has a deep political party alignment that dates back to abolitionism. Average GPA and test scores of incoming freshmen are on par with Michigan. Things they're proud of: never accepting a tax dollar, sending a greater percentage of their student body to the Civil War than everyone but West Point, sending a desegregated ROTC unit to WWI, graduation rates (96%) that even Schlissel would be impressed with, and a popular publication (2.7 million readers) that gets quoted a lot on internet message boards.
You probably know them from that school with the 18-year-old mayor whom this was based on:
How This Works:
- Readers predict the final score of a designated game by placing a guess in the comments, preferably in the format of [M score][hyphen][Opp score], for example "41-30" or "35-31 Michigan", or "28-24 Go Blue", or "38-34 Gardner FTW!" or "38-0" etc.
- The three guys who read this part holler at people who post in a different format
- First person (by timestamp) to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, I contact you for an address by your MGoBlog account email, and you give me some time to get that to you.
- If nobody got it right we push it to next week or let it go.
- Brian voices displeasure at the puns in the headlines.
About Last Time:
I stopped doing these after September because football got depressing. You know what's not depressing?
This Week's Game:
Hillsdale at Michigan in a competition of basketball prowess, Crisler Arena, 2pm Saturday.
And on the Line:
Two tickets to the Maryland game. The football game. Sorry if that's depressing.
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. The algorithm is going to downvote anyone who mentions politics in this thread. No, pointing out that a school is bent toward a political party when that school advertises that fact as its main selling point is not politics. The algorithm tried to be cool by not pointing out that pretty much every bit of material Hillsdale puts out to promote their school also tacitly rips on Michigan in some way. This is not the algorithm. It gave up on being that long ago.
Our latest thing/apology cycle comes courtesy of the president, who told a large faculty meeting that he didn't really get it when it came to sports.
"We admit students who aren’t as qualified, and it’s probably the kids that we admit that can’t honestly, even with lots of help, do the amount of work and the quality of work it takes to make progression from year to year,” he said. “These past two years have gotten better, but before that, the graduation rates were terrible, with football somewhere in the 50s and 60s when our total six-year rate at the University is somewhere near 90 percent, so that’s a challenge.”
Schlissel said an individual’s academic deficiencies are often overlooked to fill competitive rosters.
And that's fine. It's fine that he said it, fine that people reacted to it, and fine that the next day the university issued the lawyered-up CYA statements that large organizations always do when someone does something remotely controversial.
The main disconnect here is the opposite of the "muggles" thing. Muggles supposes that student-athletes are a breed apart when I guarantee 99% of them would self-destruct in EECS 100, let alone that f-ing networks class. That's fine. Guys like that one hockey player in my EECS 380 are true marvels. That kind of dude is not nor should be required for universities to feel good about their big ol' sports programs.
Sports are a valid pursuit for someone in college. They are hard as hell.
College sport is a weird enterprise where people are admitted to a University because they have a particular skill, are expected to hone that skill upwards of 40 hours a week, and also get a meaningful degree in something totally unrelated. I do not think I would have done well at football practice after yet another f-ing night spent trying to convince the automated grader that I had in fact replicated TCP/IP precisely.
We have a model for this: music. Applicants to Michigan's School of Music have to submit a headshot, a resume, a "repertoire list", and submit to an audition. Also this:
Pre-screening recordings, portfolio, video interview, studio teacher preference, and/or writing samples required by your Department
SAT scores are not really that important. Music gets lumped in as an acceptable academic pursuit; sports do not. Music people get to go music and then get a liberal arts degree around it; sports for credit is ludicrous.
Why? Tradition and momentum. Sports started out as an extracurricular thing and the history of the NCAA has been a futile attempt to keep it from moving to its rightful place. I mean, scholarships used to be controversial.
The unfortunate thing is that football's towering media profile blots out the various other extracurricular-type activities that fulfill the same purpose. Poke a newspaper sports section in this country and you will find Daily grads crawling all over its staff. When I was in school some friends and I started the Every Three Weekly, and contemporary alums from that include this guy who writes movies and this lady who writes for Modern Family. They did not get their jobs by having a shiny GPA.
There are a number of professions out there in which chops are everything. These often follow models that boil down to "show me." Football is one of these things, along with any creative pursuit you care to name. A degree in it is a valid idea, and erases a bunch of the supposed hypocrisy that comes along with the model. You know, the stuff that causes some yob at the WSJ to lead off with this:
Who believes in the myth of big-time college sports anymore? The polite fantasy of the student-athlete playing gratefully for pride and tuition has been stripped away by an overwhelming financial reality that became too big and rich to ignore. The hypocrisies can be seen from outer space, and public opinion—not to mention the courts—are catching up.
The force of my eye-rolling threatens to detach my optic nerves. Over the past few years I have met many former players, and they are universally impressive. From Vincent Smith to Marlin Jackson to Brandon Williams to Todd Howard, all of these guys got out of the University of Michigan what they put into it: a ton. I bet some of them didn't pay too much attention to their grades because that is a reasonable thing to do when you are doing something as demanding as football. People do not have infinite reserves of energy, and their grades won't matter—even if they end up in something else. For history majors, GPA is a demonstration of effort. For athletes, that's assumed.
Universities would be better off saying "yes, this is weird but it is valid" instead of clutching their pearls. Michigan needs to take kids and prepare them for existence outside the university; in my experience they are terrific at this.
Let them graduate in their field, with a liberal arts distribution attached. Test them when they arrive and when they leave to make sure you're doing a good job of educating them. I'd much rather be affiliated with a university that takes kids with some academic questions and turns them into the guys I've met than one that snootily says "not you" because of things outside that kid's control.
We're in a brief dead period for basketball recruiting, which seems like an ideal time to check in on the latest developments. I'm keeping the focus on the 2015 and 2016 classes for now; Michigan is still in the early stages of reaching out to 2017 recruits, and there's plenty to cover in the '15 and '16 classes, anyway.
2015: Dozier to SC, M Interested In German Prospect
After Michigan took transfer Duncan Robinson, it appeared they were all but done with the 2015 class, but the coaching staff is still pursuing a few talented prospects, including a couple players who've only emerged on M's radar in recent weeks. Michigan won't land anyone during the early signing period, which began yesterday and runs through the 19th, but they're in on a few players that could sign in the second period (April 15-May 20).
First, let's take one target off the board: PG PJ Dozier ended up surprising many with his decision yesterday, but it wasn't the surprise Michigan fans hoped for—instead of choosing Louisville, as expected, Dozier decided to stay in his home state and play for South Carolina. Happy trails to the young man.
Even operating under the unlikely assumption that no underclassman leaves the program after this season, Michigan has an open scholarship to work with for 2015-16, and they're focusing on a handful of top targets.
One of them just the radar: Berlin (GER) forward Moritz Wagner, whose highlights grace the top of this post—the 6'9" forward very much has the look of a classic Beilein big. Beilein flew to Germany recently to personally invite Wagner to campus; if he visited, he'd presumably get an offer. Duke and UConn have also reportedly shown interest, and Wagner also will have the option of going the professional route, per UMHoops:
“To study has always been my goal and that is parallel to the sport in the United States at the best,” Wagner recently told Berliner-Zeitung (translated). “On the other hand, it was always my dream to become a professional. Because the temptation is great, tackling issues. This is both cool.”
Wagner was born April 26th, 1997 and would be a member of the 2015 class. He recently told BZ-Berlin that he will make a decision on his future, signing professionally in Germany or attending college in the United States, after the season. He has reportedly been offered a four-year contract by Alba Berlin.
Obviously, this is a wait-and-see situation.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the recruiting outlook, including Michigan getting into the mix for the nation's #2 overall prospect.]
ON HAVING THINGS. I don't have anything. Nobody has much. This appears to be because the Schlissel quote about how the AD search would get underway in a couple weeks was accurate, and of course the coaching search consists of "we still have a coach" and "HARBAUGH."
Have heard that Harbaugh is very interested, no foolies. Again. But you know how much that means.
ON THINGS SAID BY SAM WEBB ON THE RADIO. There have been a number of threads about what Sam's saying that are a bit panicked. This is seemingly because the panicky people tend to be the ones running to post the threads about the slight possibility something seemingly bad might happen.
I have not gotten any vibes to get panicked about from him. I've actually urged him to be more explicit about his thoughts, and Sam says "THAT'S WHAT I'M DOING!" and kind of vibrates in frustration. So. Either the situation has changed from what some were panicking about or these threads are wildly inaccurate, because we just had our WTKA roundtable and Sam asserted that:
- Hoke has no chance unless he wins out.
- Even that is no guarantee.
- Hackett is likely to be around for the coaching search in the event Michigan does, say, get beat by 20 by OSU.
If you don't like #3, okay. But at this point the chance that there's a chance Hoke returns is slim indeed. And given the timing here if your top priority is a new coach that's fine. Hackett can make a reasonable decision and then go search.
I guess I have to talk about this pipedream
ON STOOOOOOOOPS. Fresh off an emasculating blowout at the hands of Baylor comes Bob Stoops, who's an indisputably really good coach in a weird Lloyd Carr holding pattern: he wins, a lot. He frustrates his own fans more than he probably should. Carr let teams hang around and reaped the occasional whirlwind; Stoops gets blown out a shocking amount for a guy who wins 11 games a year.
Still, you're probably all like "Bob Stoops? The persistent ND fever dream? Why not just bring up ESPN goblin John Gruden?"
Hey, I'm with you. But Dan Wetzel's urging it:
The odds of San Francisco 49ers coach, and Michigan alum, Jim Harbaugh returning to college look longer each week. The perception around the NFL is that if he's let go by San Francisco, a shot with another franchise (New York Jets? Oakland? Miami? A new L.A. team?), featuring more control and money, seems far more likely.
If so, Michigan should try to convince Bob Stoops not just how he'd be great for Michigan, but how Michigan would be great for him.
There is nothing in this article resembling concrete information; it's just a "hey, do this" thing. Okay, I guess, we would look into doing that before heading down the list but a move like that is just about unprecedented in the last 20 years of college football. Oh, and Stoops just signed a contract that pushes him to around $5 million annually. Michigan would have to match that and pay a hefty buyout just for starters. Doesn't seem at all likely.
There is a little bit more substance to Travis Haney's ESPN piece:
“I think it’s very real,” one coach said when I asked him generally about OU's staleness. “Fans get spoiled. A lot of coaches move on to keep it new, keep energy high. Look at Urban [Meyer].”
Maybe it was just a contract leverage play, which worked, but I believed some coaches when they told me Stoops had genuine interest last winter in the Cleveland Browns job.
“I think he’s looking for other options,” a coach said Saturday.
Stoops is 54, FWIW. I got dollars to donuts less than nothing comes of this chatter.
ON PATTING PEOPLE ON THE HEAD AND SAYING "THAT'S NICE." Mike Shanahan could be convinced to take the Michigan or Florida jobs. Mike Shanahan, who is 62 and has not been in college since 1983. Thank you for your interest, Mike Shanahan.
But he's a young 62!
Shut up, bolded alter ego.
ON ROTE NON-DENIAL DENIALS. Brad Bates was asked the inevitable question and said this:
“It really doesn’t distract me at all,” Bates said “I love it here at Boston College, my values align with the institutional mission and we’ve really enjoyed living in New England, one of the greatest cities in the world. It hasn’t been a distraction at all.”
When asked if he knows if UM has been contacting candidates or has even contacted him, he elected not to directly comment.
“There’s no value of me commenting on other institutions and their processes,” Bates said. “I love it here at Boston College, my values align with this institution and I hope to be here a long time.”
"…unless I am offered the Michigan AD job, whereupon I will leave so quickly my clothes will hang in the air for a comical moment before collapsing in an empty heap."
The Detroit News headlines this "plans to stay as Boston College AD," which is not at all what that passage says unless you are unfamiliar with rote non-denial denials. Also in this vein:
Sources: UConn AD Warde Manuel has no plans to go anywhere. // He's been on a list of potential candidates for the Michigan AD job.
— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) November 7, 2014
Burns is a former Daily guy so he's probably got a good connect. But, as always, sources say things they don't 100% know or mean. I've heard he'd also leave an empty pile of laundry if offered the job.
News bullets and other items:
Dennis Norfleet will play against Maryland
Derrick Green may or may not be back against Maryland. He, like Devin Gardner and Jake Butt, are getting healthier every day
President Schlissel called Hoke to apologize for his comments regarding academics and athletics. Hoke said that they recruit kids that fit the Michigan blueprint and that it’s not for everyone
Hoke said the Northwestern game was the offensive line’s best of the season
Nussmeier and Fred Jackson make the decision on which RB has the “hot hand,” and the decision can be made as early as the third series
“Thanks for coming out. Number one, yesterday we had a good chance with the players to look at the Northwestern film [and] make the corrections we need to make, but really emphasize the good things because really that's what you want to see are the good things. We've got to keep emphasizing those things. We practiced and it wasn't long but there was a lot of energy and a lot of good timing, and the one thing when you talk about bye weeks a little bit is the timing. You don't want to lose that part of it or if you need to get a little better you need to get a little better, especially in the pass game and all those things, so that was really productive.
“Start a little bit on Maryland today. I think the most exciting part of it is we are going to scrimmage some of the young guys against some who have played a little bit and those who haven't. We'll do about 30 minutes, probably 25 to 28 plays. When we do that we have to make sure it's going to help the team because those are your look teams going into the next week so I think it will be very good for us.
“Bye week again gives us a chance to rest some guys. I think getting Dennis [Norfleet]back will be very good for us. He'll be healthy. I think the health of Devin keeps – Gardner keeps improving and so in a lot of those guys there's a lot of guys who're just beat up a little bit. That's the way it is in football.
“The other thing is the president made some comments and I've talked to him. He called and apologized for his comments and I'm not going to speak for him. He put out whatever statements or interpretations that he needed to. We have always believed that this is truly an academic University. I was here for eight years before, as you all know, and I think the one thing you know being a former player and a coach is you only play so long and that's what this degree, a Michigan degree, is all about. And being the truly academic institution that it is, that degree will last forever so we take it very seriously. We try and recruit the best football players, the best student-athletes, and people that fit the blueprint here at Michigan. It's not for everybody because it is demanding and that's the way it should be.”
You kind of had the incident with Jake Butt. How much is he a work in progress on and off the field in terms of what he can be?
“I think Jake, he – from an athletic standpoint and all those things he continues to get healthier. He's one of those guys who another week, if we continue to do the right things with him… and the double edge sword is the timing of the routes and all that because you do want to rest guys so that they get a little healthier. I think he’s always developing and we are happy with his development.”
Have you seen the jerseys that his family where is when they come to games?
“I have not.”
Papa butt and headbutt and stuff like that. Have you seen him embrace that? He talks about getting teased about his last name.
“Yeah, he gets teased but… he gets teased.”
[After THE JUMP: We are grinders. It is stupid. Also some academic stuff.]