Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Just so we're all on the same page, this llama (via) is dressed as Batman, because Horford is transferring from a team that graduates Jordan Morgan for reasons of playing time. Farewell, and good luck, Al Llama Batman Sartre Horford; our time together was too short to understand each other, but I shall ne'er forget the awesome.
Let's start with that because things are about to get even weirder and less relevant (e.g. Michigan's spring game). But first: VICTORS:
|User||Day 3 Points||Prize|
|rgfmich||177.25||Design an MGoShirt|
If you're like "what?" that was the final standings among MGoBloggers in the Draftstreet 40k TourneyDraftstreet 40k Tourney a few weeks ago. Thank to our fantasy partners again for sponsoring the Day 1 and Sweet 16 liveblogs and everything; if anybody else wants to see how much fun it can be to give me money, jump in on the 100k MLB tourney for $22, or place in the top 5 of one of the $1 satellite leagues to win an entry.
It's a bit early for early returns, no? The Diarist of the Week™ (sorry I've been lapsing on that) is alum96 for his double feature (offense, defense) that looked at the various Übermenschen from Hoke's first uber-class as they enter their junior and redshirt sophomore season. I chart:
|Kalis||5*, Hutchinson 2.0||Not that||Pipkins||5* Hoke impersonator||
|Magnusson||4* Schofield 2.0||On track||Henry||3* Afterthought||A gem|
|Braden||High 3*, Wisc OT||On track||Wormley||High 3* DL||On track|
|Bars||High 3* project||Too soon||Strobel||Low 4* lolOSU||Too soon|
|Funchess||3* receivy TE||Great WR||Godin||3* local DL||Useful|
|Chesson||High 3* skinny||On track||Ross||High 4* prodigy||On track?|
|Darboh||Low 4* possWR||On track||RJS||4* hitter||On track|
|A.J.Williams||3* blocky TE||Not-good||Bolden||High 4* natural||On track?|
|Houma||3* runnyblocky||On track||Ringer||3* might be Foote||Wasn't|
|D. Johnson||Low 3* local||Gem?/inj.||Gant||3* S/LB tweener||Too soon|
|NORFLEET||4* god of Smurfs||Hi.||Wilson||4* Jamar Adams 2.0||On track|
|[No Quarterback]||Richardson||4* Cass mite||Cassmite|
|Clark||3* Shazorite||On track|
That's actually way better than I thought. Injuries set back some of them, and half of those who don't look like they'll turn out to be Big Ten-caliber players have been getting a lot of playing time regardlesss. More amazing, only Kaleb Ringer is gone.
Speaking of Morgan:
David Merritt is doing a signing event with J-Mo this afternoon at his store on South U.
Basketball diaries/etc.: Padog is now into the better-than-Indiana part of his worst-to-first conference preview of next year's Big Ten basketball teams, with Penn State, and Minnesota. Final stats on the shooty 2013-'14 season by LSA.
[Jump for a board of great relevance]
underneath the Banyan tree, wherever he goes
University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beileinannounced today (Thursday, April 10) that senior forward Jon Horford (Grand Ledge, Mich./Grand Ledge HS) will not return to the Wolverine program in 2014-15, planning to transfer for his final season of eligibility.
That is not good. With Jordan Morgan graduating, Michigan's only other post is Mitch McGary. Even if he comes back next year, Horford figured to get a significant amount of playing time when McGary was tired or in foul trouble.
While Horford struggled badly down the stretch, you could say the same for Jordan Morgan last year and that worked out okay. Fifth-year senior bigs tend to be better than you'd expect. Horford's departure opens up time for Mark Donnal and likely means a redshirt for Ricky Doyle is no longer an option. That latter is unfortunate; again, see Jordan Morgan.
The one possible silver lining here is that the reason Horford is moving on is that he feels he'll get more playing time elsewhere, a decision that implies McGary's return and maybe even Robinson's since that would increase competition for minutes everywhere. It's hard to believe he would skip town with 30 minutes a night staring him in the face. But Horford was always a bit of a different guy.
They probably didn't mean for his hat to look like a butt
A slow April day in the middle of the college football wasteland had a bomb detonated on it when Stephen Godfrey and SBNation published an in-depth article on the shadow economy of the SEC, wherein people get paid by other people to play football for school X.
"I had this one kid, great player, good guy. Never got in trouble, but never did much on the field. But he's calling me all the time. 'Hey, the sunroof in my car is leaking,' he says, so I tell him to come meet me. $150. Two days later it's: 'Hey, I'm going out this weekend with a girl, can you help me?' $200. Next week after that he's got $300 in parking tickets. So one day I go to meet him to give him money and I ask, "Hey man, aren't you a business major? Have y'all learned what ROI means yet? It means return on investment, and at this rate I'm going to need to start seeing some touchdowns.'"
The article is fascinating and you should go read it now. I'll wait.
Now, let's talk about how much we care about this. I do. I've got a sneer or two in me left when I see kids at Clemson and Ole Miss whose recruitments did 180s away from Ann Arbor. There was a recruit in the last five years who Michigan led for; his sudden decision to go somewhere else was financially motivated and that was an open secret amongst that recruiting class. As a guy who wants to see his football team win games, that kind of thing still grates my gears.
But that's all at this point. It's just partisan crybaby stuff. I regard it as a character flaw. (The tatgate thing was different since Tressel lied to the NCAA multiple times. You can't do that and expect to keep your job, even if you lied about stupid rules that make no sense.)
So I don't care, you know, morally. The NCAA's prohibition on kids taking money is not only asinine but (obviously) unenforceable. It also serves no purpose other than to concentrate wealth in the hands of administrators. Whenever I get in discussions about these sorts of things with the dwindling number of people on the side of amateurism, the conversation usually boils down to this:
ME: I guess I just don't see why rich guys giving some of their money to poor people is such a problem.
THEM: But then they'll have money.
ME: I'm unclear on why that's an issue.
THEM: But then they'll be influenced.
Around here we like to say things like "I'm so glad Michigan doesn't do that." I think it's time to stop that. The rule is arbitrary, the system inherently corrupt, and if Michigan has a shadow network of boosters my main problem with them is that they're not good enough at being shadowy and boostery. The basketball recruits other schools have swooped in on aren't picking these other schools because of the coaching, man.
I'm over it. And you should be too, because the attitude about I'm So Glad We Don't Do That that's so pervasive around these parts is almost certainly false. I'm So Glad We Don't Do That As Much doesn't have the same horse height. Very averaged-sized horse, that. That's a horse that you can see your lunch getting eaten from only.
And in the service of what?
"Last week I got a call. We've got this JUCO transfer that had just got here. And he's country poor. The [graduate assistant] calls me and tells me he's watching the AFC Championship Game alone in the lobby of the Union because he doesn't have a TV. Says he never owned one. Now, you can buy a Walmart TV for $50. What kid in college doesn't have a TV? So I don't give him any money. I just go dig out in my garage and find one of those old Vizios from five years back and leave it for him at the desk. I don't view what I do as a crime, and I don't give a shit if someone else does, honestly."
Everywhere else in society, an 18 year old who works really hard at something is financially compensated for it and most of them do not… I mean… why am I even arguing about this? If you're the kind of person who thinks that young people doing dumb things with money is a threat instead of, you know, life, you probably start arguments with "Speaking as a parent." Anyone who starts arguments with "Speaking as a parent" wants you to turn off your brain so they can feelingsball you. They are my mortal enemies, speaking as a person who can formulate an argument.
The aura of paternalism that hangs over objections to letting players get theirs is suffocating. "But if they get money they'll…" They'll what? They'll still be under the thumb of a drill sergeant of a football coach desperate to remain in his good graces lest the faucet turn off. They will be the same, just with fewer things to stress about.
They might waste it. They might not. I just don't care anymore. Let them have their five hundred dollars.
A Rumor, Dispatched
Track Meet 1, Touchdown Jesus 0
On Tuesday, a tweet appeared in my mentions, seemingly out of the blue, asking how long it would be until I wrote the "Goodbye" post for Shaun Crawford. This caused a great deal of confusion until I noticed the thread on The Wolverine's message board that discussed "slight rumblings" from Notre Dame posters that Crawford would visit for the Irish's spring game this weekend ($). That, of course, would be a bit of an issue with the Michigan coaches regarding his status as a commit.
While Tim Sullivan rightfully attached a healthy amount of skepticism to the rumor, noting Crawford is scheduled to run in a track meet in the Cleveland area on the day of ND's spring game, it wasn't debunked entirely. The internets, as they are wont to do, took it and ran. Well, for a bit.
247's Steve Lorenz left no room for speculation ($):
Shaun Crawford: Shaun has a track meet this weekend. He is not visiting Notre Dame.
Sam Webb also posted a thread on the GBW premium board stating Crawford's camp touched base with the coaches and said he isn't visiting South Bend ($).
In the interest of objectivity, I'll note that Crawford showed a great deal of interest in Notre Dame before his Michigan commitment, and back in December he considered visiting Ohio State before discussing the matter with U-M's coaching staff. Until he says so himself, the possibility that he wants to look around can't be eliminated; by that same token, I'll believe he's willing to risk his spot in the class to visit another school when a trip actually materializes.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Jake Fruhmorgen, a big-time weekend visitor, 2015 quarterback targets, spring game visit reactions, and more.]
this person is eligible to be drafted we know nothing else [Bryan Fuller]
Mississauga, ON’s Nik Stauskas will enter the 2014 NBA draft and choose Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports to represent him reliable sources have told Hoops Hype Canada.
Just wanted to reiterate that any reports about my future intenions are FALSE! I have NOT made ANY decisions on my future yet!
— Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11) April 10, 2014
I'M GETTING MY HOPES UP
U-M hoops fans getting their hopes up … I wouldn't. That's not inside info. Just everyone thinks Nik will go. Nothing has really changed.
— Michael Spath (@Spath_Wolverine) April 10, 2014
Actually that seems like a bad idea
Well this was pointless
Can we at least get some recriminations
For whatever reason, BS sourcing standards that would never fly for regular stories are commonplace for sports. "Sources say?" Come on.
— Zach Helfand (@zhelfand) April 10, 2014
The college football offseason is a long, lonely time. Some fans are lucky to have a basketball, hockey, or baseball team worth watching in the meantime, but for those whose monogamous life partner is college football, the offseason is between eight and nine months long, and often seems even longer. So you can imagine what it’s like to be a college football writer. Sure, you’ve got National Signing Day and spring practice. And you’ve got the occasional Fulmer Cup issues and other assorted stuff. But that won’t sustain you. No, no. You need narratives. And nothing… and I mean NOTHING… chews up clock like chaos at the quarterback position.
So, in light of that, we’ve assembled a How-To manual for selling a quarterback controversy.
THINGS YOU WILL NEED:
Having two new guys doesn’t do it. Sure, you can milk a few “who will replace Johnny Graduate?” stories out of it, but that’s just a quarterback battle. We need a quarterback CONTROVERSY.
Notice that you don’t need a bad incumbent. I mean, if the incumbent sucks, that’s fine. But it isn’t a requirement, and in fact may not be enough. Instead, you need…
A Disappointing Season
We’ll call this the Football Leadership Ability Correlation/Causation Observation Effect (or the “FLACCO Effect” for short). Regardless of numbers, the eye test, or the relentless nagging nature of numbers and stuff, people will inevitably correlate team success with the righteousness and overall gooditude of the quarterback. Win a Super Bowl? Massive contract, because you are ELITE. Go 7-6 despite incomprehensibly huge numbers? Constant complaints.
Does the defense have something to do with it? Maybe the offensive line, or the receivers, or the schedule, or the coaching? Yeah, yeah. Excuses, excuses. Winners win, dammit, and winning quarterbacks win when they quarterback. You didn’t win. You aren’t a winning quarterback.
Take, for a completely random example, the University of Michigan. Michigan was 7-6 last year, and the offense struggled. Devin Gardner led the offense. It was therefore Devin Gardner’s fault.
An Intriguing Challenger
This part isn’t terribly important, but it helps. And by “intriguing,” I don’t necessarily mean “good.” Again, if he’s good, cool. Go with it. But all you need is somebody plausible. In other words, you need a blank slate with a soupçon of positivity. You can have some data on the guy, but it better either be (a) good, or (b) scarce.
Do you have a former four- or five-star recruit lying around? Maybe he played a game or two and didn’t crash into a wall or vomit repeatedly? Cool. Go no further. You’re in.
Check all that apply:
- Did the Incumbent have a bad game at any point?
- Did the Incumbent throw any interceptions at bad times?
- Did the offense stall from time to time?
- Were there moments where the Incumbent made mental errors or displayed anything that could be perceived as weakness or a lack of desire?
- Did unrelated good things happen to other people?
Notice the lack of an “if yes, explain” box. There’s no need to go fleshing this out with context. Data points don’t need context. That’s how data points work.
Check all that apply:
- Has the Challenger ever looked good for any stretch of any game?
- Has he thrown any touchdown passes?
- Did the offense move the ball from time to time under the direction of the Challenger?
- Has the Challenger ever demonstrated positive intangibles of any kind?
- Does the Challenger have… uh… physical/demographic characteristics that seem more “quarterbacky” to some readers?
- (Optional) Does the Challenger have any trait or skill that the Incumbent lacks, or has it in greater quantities than the incumbent?
It’s all about body language. Who looks more into the game, huh? HUH?
Quarterback controversies don’t just fall from the sky. They must be conjured by a powerful force. A wizard is preferable, but failing that, coachspeak will do just fine.
Question: To be clear, when Devin is healthy, obviously he will be at some point, Shane is going to get a chance, Devin is going to have a chance or is Devin going to go in as your starter?
Answer: “I think that is an unknown. Again, we were 7-6 and we’ve got a lot of young guys. We’ve got a lot of competition. Now does Devin have the most experience – yes. There is no question.”
Did you miss it? Let’s try it again, but this time without that messy ‘rest of the answer’ crap.
Question: “…is Devin going to go in as your starter? “
Answer: “I think that is an unknown.”
See how easy that was? Heck, we can take it one step further, in headline form:
Brady Hoke: Quarterback position “is an unknown”
And we’re off to the races.
Putting it all Together
The rest is pretty simple. Rehash the disappointing season, introduce the new guy, compare the apples to the oranges, and throw in a quote or two to prove you didn’t make it up. Let’s see how this all works, and tell me if this sounds familiar.
After a disappointing 7-6 season, Michigan has a lot of questions to answer. One big question is whether Devin Gardner will be the starting quarterback next season.
Gardner started 12 games last year, but doubts linger as to whether he’s the best fit for the offense Brady Hoke wants to run. Gardner, who was recruited to run Rich Rodriguez’s spread option attack, struggled at times last year. He threw key interceptions in near-calamities against Akron and UConn, and the offense he led stalled in losses to Iowa and Nebraska. The Wolverines also lost, once again, to rivals Michigan State and Ohio State. Both arch-enemies up in BCS bowl games, while Michigan ended up in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Brady Hoke is under serious pressure, and he has to be looking for a change.
Enter Shane Morris.
Morris was a five-star recruit out of high school, and sat most of his freshman year behind Gardner. Morris started the BWW Bowl and showed flashes of the kind of arm strength and poise that make him a threat to take the reins for Big Blue. He threw for nearly 200 yards and completed over 63% of his passes (higher than Gardner’s 60.3% completion rate). If Hoke wants to return to the days of the big-armed pocket passers, Morris looks like his guy.
Hoke insists this is an open competition, saying instead that it’s “unknown” who will start.
Of course, I just made that whole thing up, and the only part that required me to do more than look at box scores and pull fun narrative storylines out of my ass was the last sentence. See also: here and here and here and okay stop clicking those links.
What If We’re Wrong?
Oh, that’s the best part. You can’t be wrong. You’re not claiming the new guy WILL start… you’re just saying the new guy MIGHT start. It’s 50-50. Heck, you can even give the incumbent a 60-40 edge. Repeat after me: “this battle will go right through fall camp and right up until the season opener (and maybe beyond), though if I had to make a prediction, I’d guess that Gardner starts.”
What’s even better is that almost nothing can refute your narrative, and just about every piece of news can confirm it in some way. Devin Gardner has a poor spring game? “See, the door is open.” Practice reports indicate Gardner is an unstoppable hell-beast? “The competition is bringing out the best in Gardner.”
If things get slow during the off-season, this particular well won’t go dry. You just need to add a fresh ‘source,’ such as “buzz from practice,” “sources inside the program,” or even “the word out of Schembechler these days.” You can also ask hilariously loaded questions, like asking the new guy “do you think you can be the starter?” (as if anyone is going to say, “nah, I’m not that good, so pray that this guy stays healthy ‘cause I’m basically a 7-loss season waiting to happen).
It was terrible that Hank left him in that safe house all alone. I wonder how long he stayed.
You may be starting to think to yourself “this is kinds sounding plausible.” And you might even start believing it yourself. And in doing so, you might be tempted to engage with people who think you are completely full of crap. DO NOT DO THIS. This “controversy” is an oblique attack. Stick and move. Don’t get tied up on the ropes. If you do, people will probably point out some of the following tidbits:
- Devin Gardner is going to be a 5th year senior. He’s been on campus for 51 months. Shane Morris will be a true sophomore. He’s been on campus for 10 months.
- Gardner has 17 starts as a Michigan quarterback (and another 8 at wide receiver). Morris has played approximately 5 quarters.
- Devin Gardner completed 60.3% of his passes last year. He threw for 2960 yards (247 yards per game) at 8.6 YPA. Those are pretty damn good numbers.
- In Big Ten play, Gardner threw for 14 touchdowns and 3 picks.
- And he put up those numbers despite (a) having absolutely no running game (and in some cases LESS than no running game), (2) having absolutely no pass protection, and (d) playing through a broken Devin and three cracked Gardners.
- You probably can’t name the last time an incumbent starter who threw for 8.6+ YPA didn’t start the next year. I know I can’t, and I looked back to 2005 to try to find someone. Couldn’t.
- In his most recent game under center, Gardner threw for 451 yards and accounted for five touchdown without a pick. He did so on foot so busted he was limited in practice three months later.
- Shane Morris’s bowl performance was basically a series of bubble screens and those jet-sweep-in-front-of-the-QB things that somehow still count as passes. His downfield throws were… an adventure.
- Insider buzz has apparently confirmed what history and basic logic would indicate: it’s Gardner.
- Incumbents always always always win these “battles.” In 2012, Andrew Maxwell completed 52% of his passes at 5.8 YPA. And he STILL started the opener (and likely would have continued to start if he hadn’t thrown for under 3.5 YPA).
Wow. I wouldn’t put that stuff into your articles. It kinda makes it sound like the earlier stuff was complete bullshit.