this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
That's One Way To Get An Exclusive
Shortly before four-star NC RB Robert Washington was set to announce his college choice on Saturday afternoon, Bleacher Report released an exclusive commitment video in which Washington, somewhat surprisingly, pledged to Florida. Then things took a turn to Classic Weird Recruiting Story:
But at 3 p.m., Washington announced his pledge to Syracuse at Ascending Faith Church in Dallas, N.C. He explained the bizarre sequence in a brief phone interview.
"I did the report on Thursday," Washington said. "I had my mind set for the report, but I changed my mind the next day to Syracuse."
The last-minute switch caught all coaching staffs involved off-guard:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) April 25, 2015
Either way, Washington isn't a Michigan commit. Right now, at least. Happy trails to the young man, though it might be worth keeping tabs on this recruitment until he enrolls somewhere.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
our very own MarktheNomad leads the way
Well done. The EDSBS charity challenge has completed, with Michigan once again lapping the field several times over:
By collectively cracking 30k, the commentariat has forced Spencer into getting a Michigan-themed tattoo. He reports being interested in some sort of wolverine-in-profile wearing a top hat. I am taking submissions, both good and bad. Load up the photoshop and do your best. Or worst! Either way.
Jeff Goodman's on the bandwagon. Hopefully this edition of the Big Ten can be as entertainingly proficient as the 2012-13 version that Indiana won (and Michigan did not win by a micron) with their Zeller/Oladipo outfit:
Big Ten is gonna be so strong next season. Not much separation between Maryland, Michigan St, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, even Purdue.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 26, 2015
You can make a legit argument that eight of the top dozen or so teams may come from Big Ten and Big 12 next season.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 26, 2015
Not sure I'm seeing it with Purdue but otherwise, yeah. How Wisconsin transitions away from the Dekker/Kaminsky teams is uncertain—they have Hayes and Koenig back but lose the kPOY, a lottery pick, Josh f-ing Gasser, and Traevon Jackson. That latter might be their secret weapon.
I assume they'll be good, because when have they not been good under Bo Ryan, but they should be taking a significant step back. I don't know who their 6'10" guy who shoots threes and looks like the perfect player for Beilein is going to be.
I am mildly surprised at this. Max Bielfeldt is transferring and getting interest from schools that are a bit bigger than hometown Bradley:
Bielfeldt confirmed to MLive on Saturday that he made his first visit on Friday, traveling to Ames, Iowa to tour Iowa State and that he's in the process of setting up more visits.
The current list of schools that have contacted Bielfeldt and are under consideration includes Boston College, Kansas State, Iowa State, Bradley, Stanford and DePaul.
Obviously Iowa State's Hoiberg Home For Lost Big Ten Boys was going to get involved here. Due to a bizarre footnote in NCAA regulations the city of Ames will be expelled from the surface of the earth if they do not have a basketball player who used to call a Big Ten school home.
The half-dozen other power conference schools are more than I thought would knock on Bielfeldt's door. He must fit better on teams that aren't averse to running out two posts at the same time—he's a lot more plausible as an old-timey power forward than a center.
And it is possible we are doing Johnny Dawkins a solid for keeping his kid stashed in witness protection long enough for Michigan to swoop in on him.
Could this be related to last year's injuries? Michigan is looking for a new basketball athletic trainer. People move on to new jobs all the time, etc., but the timing there suggests that maybe Beilein wasn't particularly pleased with the way Walton's injury was handled. Add Spike's hips, LeVert's twice-broken foot, and Mitch McGary's general unavailability and that's a lot of injuries for a basketball team comprised of 18-20 year olds.
Your parents must be very interesting. Remember Equanimeous St. Brown, the California wide receiver who speaks several languages and ended up at Notre Dame? There is another.
There is apparently a third St. Brown pass-catching brother who goes unnamed in that article. The possibilities are endless. Sahara? Odin? Vladivostok? Benzene? The mind boggles.
I'm just here on name patrol but FWIW, St. Brown says he's headed to Sound Mind, Sound Body and will visit Michigan as part of that trip.
UPDATE: Ace points out the younger brother is Amon-Ra!
Scouting Austin Davis. Scout's Brian Snow took a look at Michigan's latest commitment and came back reporting something in line($) with what everyone else is saying:
When on the floor in terms of actual skill, Davis is very good on the low block. He has pretty good footwork around the rim, soft hands, and a nice touch. Most of his damage comes close to the bucket, and he is able to overwhelm opponents with size and has the skill to go with it.
He's not a jumping jack of an athlete and has to compete at the 5 with Teske since neither has the ability to guard anyone on the perimeter. There's been some chatter that Davis might take a prep year and come in in 2017 if that is mutually agreeable, FWIW. That would somewhat ease the coming logjam at center and give a developmental big some more time to develop.
Rutgers: the team that gravity remembers constantly. Land-Grand Holy Land checks in with Rutgers first season of Big Ten competition. How'd they do? Fourth in women's soccer. Not so good in almost everything else:
So to recap, not only did Rutgers fail to capture a single league title in their first season,they haven't even come close, only cracking the top four in two sports. Rutgers finished (or is currently ranked) last or second to last in an astonishing eight sports. Their football program was their best male team sport, and they didn't crack the top six of the conference. Rutgers has been uniformly terrible at nearly every level.
Plus, not only has Rutgers been awful on the field, those mid-week flights from places like Nebraska and Iowa to New Jersey are probably just awesome for student athletes, right Delany?
But hey, TV sets. Location. National brand. Enjoy those hypothetical Nielsen ratings the next time you have to watch a terrible Rutgers sporting event in the near future.
Maryland is vaguely defensible. Rutgers is just an anchor.
Sounds good. Freshmen ineligibility isn't going anywhere. There are a thousand reasons for that. Here's one: even the NCAA's president, our nation's most skilled double-talk practitioner, is pretty much like nah.
"It's a really interesting notion that's worthy of debate," Emmert said. "It has all kinds of problems. It is highly controversial."
"It has all kinds of problems." This is a person who publicly states that the NCAA itself has no problems. DOA.
They're all over on satellite camps, BTW. They'll be banned by next year.
Etc.: Lax misses Big Ten tourney. Many Big Ten fanbases have no life balance. Robert Washington's weekend commitment was… interesting. Sling TV reviewed. Brian Kelly is "the worst coach Notre Dame has ever allowed to oversee its football team for at least 65 games." Nebraska adds satellite camp. Gasaway on early entries.
Jim Harbaugh is Jim Harbaugh and will remain being Jim Harbaugh. The parable of the donut shop.
The basketball program announced today that Austin Hatch will move to a medical scholarship and transition to a role as a student assistant. This means that while Hatch's playing career is over, he stays on full scholarship and enjoys all the other benefits of being part of the program. From the official release, which was accompanied by a longer feature:
"This is, and has been, a very difficult decision; one that we have been discussing with Austin over the last few months," said Beilein. "Together, we made this decision at the end of the season and have been waiting for approval from the Big Ten for his status change. With the request for a medical exemption waiver approved (April 27), we are ready to move forward with the next steps in Austin's career."
"Over the past year, we closely observed Austin's academic and athletic progress. In the end, Austin and our staff agree that the waiver is the proper next step. This change allows Austin to devote the necessary time he needs to be successful in his studies and obtain a Michigan degree. We also wanted to be sure we continued our commitment to Austin keeping his full scholarship in place for the next three years. This waiver allows for both.
"What makes this move equally important is, with NCAA rules, it allows Austin to continue to be a valuable asset to our team as a leader, mentor and assistant. As a student assistant coach, Austin will be allowed to continue to be engaged in our practice and training and to travel with us when it can fit into his academic schedule. The only real change will be that he will no longer be on our active roster or allowed to play in games.
"Austin remains an important part of our program and culture, even if we do not have that chance to see him compete again."
"Basketball has always been a huge part of my life; however, it is what I play, not who I am," said Hatch. "It was a goal of mine to return to the game that I love so much and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to play for Michigan. After all that I have been through, it was a dream come true for me to put on a Michigan jersey and get into a game at Crisler Center.
"As I have progressed through this first season, I know that I am not where I want to be, both academically and athletically. My priority is academics and I feel that it is in my best interest to devote more time to my studies. This decision honors my father, and it is something that I know he would agree with and be proud of me for making.
"Coach Beilein, the staff and my teammates have been so understanding of my situation. They have supported me through everything I have been through and I now view them as part of my extended family. My words cannot, and would not, adequately express my gratitude for all they have done and continue to do for me.
"I am honored to be, and will be, a part of the Michigan Basketball program going forward -- in whatever capacity my studies allow me to be. I am a Michigan Wolverine for life. Again, I am honored and truly grateful that I am in a position to say that."
Hatch played in five games during his freshman season, tallying points in an exhibition against Wayne State and a regular-season game against Coppin State.
Hatch's move to a medical scholarship opens up one scholarship for the 2015-16 season, and Michigan is in continued pursuit of 2015 prospects Jaylen Brown and Kenny Williams. The Wolverines have been rumored to be in Brown's top two, while Williams is planning an official visit. (Max Bielfeldt's imminent departure also opened up a spot, which was taken by Moritz Wagner.)
Ramifications for next season aside, it was an honor and a pleasure to cover the team as Hatch took the court last season, and it's great to see he'll continue to be an integral part of the program moving forward.
We talk Caris LeVert, Real Sports segment, Harbaugh satellite camps, Jaylen Brown's top two, and Craig falsely accuses me of not wearing pants. I wear pants at all times, usually multiple pairs.
Here's the Orange Bowl video I talk about midway through BTW:
THE USUAL LINKS
Brian has already covered Jim Harbaugh's Troll God move from, uh, one perspective. Given this is now the biggest news on an otherwise quiet Friday in the college football world, I wanted to take a closer look, so here's a list of the various aspects of this that are just the best.
1. THIS IS BRILLIANT
Purely from a recruiting perspective, this is innovation at its finest. SEC coaches are publicly complaining about Michigan's cross-country tour of satellite camps, the one recruiting loophole the SEC can't exploit? Fine, make them all look petty:
There are two ways opposing coaches, SEC and otherwise, can react to this. They can sit out the camp, missing out on a recruiting opportunity and appearing afraid of competition in the process. Or they can attend, therefore contributing to Michigan's camp becoming a massive draw for recruits. This isn't a decision Nick Saban will enjoy making, and that goes doubly so for Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio. Harbaugh essentially blackmailed the college coaching world into making his program's camp a premier event.
It's not just smoke and mirrors, either. If Michigan is able to get even a handful of well-regarded coaches to participate, it'll be hard to deny Michigan the "Exposure U" tagline they've attached to this project. Getting the program to have the reputation as the place to get noticed would be a huge boon for recruiting.
2. IT'S ALREADY WORKING
Bob Stitt is in! Somebody check on Brian!
@CoachJim4UM I'm in! Thx for the invite!
— Bob Stitt (@CoachBobStitt) April 24, 2015
In all seriousness, this move should attract plenty of innovative smaller-school coaches like Stitt, and it's always a positive to expose the coaches to new and different ways of doing things. Urban Meyer may not be down to discuss the finer points of running power out of the shotgun, but Stitt could give some advice about incorporating the fly sweep; recruiting doesn't have to be the only aspect of the program that benefits from this.
3. THIS COULD POTENTIALLY HAPPEN
I'll give $50 to MSU beat reporter who asks Dantonio after spring game if he'll go to UM's camp. Make it $100 if its first question of day.
— jamie mac (@justcoverblog) April 24, 2015
I'll happily ante up, as well.
4. ADD TO THE HARBAUGH LEGEND
Harbaugh is the rare college coach whose views and actions aren’t motivated by fear, particularly of what others are doing.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) April 24, 2015
Harbaugh made a power move (the satellite camp tour), SEC coaches pushed back, and instead of making any sort of concession, Harbaugh made an even bigger power move. As evidenced by Wolken's tweet, this is going to play well in the media, and you can bet recruits will take notice, as well. In the court of public perception, this is a decisive win. Harbaugh turned a nothing Friday into a day to grab headlines.
There will be no stake-related apologies.
5. MOTION TO MAKE THIS THE SITE TAGLINE
I'll be ending all my conversations, formal and informal, in this manner from now on.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) April 24, 2015
Find a bridge, and look under it. There you will find something you did not expect: a crude charcoal figure in the shape of the man. On certain nights when the moon lances through the overpass just right and strikes the figure at just the right angle, the markings take on a three dimensional aspect.
As you're squinting, wondering why it looks familiar and kind of pisses you off, Harbaugh, Master Of The Toll, will step forth from the rock to answer one question you have. I have been across this nation's highways and byways, searching out the dwindling numbers of his worshippers. Pushed out by EZ-Pass and foreign purchases of American roads, the United States troll is literally at a crossroads.
They ask him about inflicting pain on the country that spurned them.
He told them "form a country duo that sings about comin' to your citayyyy."
He told them "tell 'em it's about ethics in gaming journalism."
He told them to make a website on which anyone can talk to anyone with a 140 character maximum.
He told them to run athletic departments like conglomerations of mining interests.
He told them to name something "The KFC Yum! Center."
Yes, with the exclamation point smack in the middle of it. He is diabolical.
I sought him. I invoked daemons of minor annoyance. They told me that sitting outside in some nice weather and watching something approximating a football game was the sign of a diseased mind, but they also told me where to find him. The bridge was old and rickety, all but abandoned. Long ago a chunk of wood had been clattered free, so the light at this bridge was direct and fulsome. After a time, Harbaugh stepped forth from the charcoal.
I said I had a job for him.
I said he would find glory, and he was uninterested.
I said it paid very very well, and he bridled.
I said he could follow in the footsteps of the all-troll who birthed him from a cauldron of spite, and he took one half-step towards me. I knew not whether I had made progress or a terrible mistake.
I said that all the football coaches in all the land would gnash their teeth and shake their NCAA-mandated chains and wail and wail and wail, that entire fanbases of people would rise up in one agglomerated mass of incensed powerlessness, that even the greatest and mightiest of football would feel their bile rise uncontrollably at his visage.
He said "I accept."
And then he was gone. Shaken, I began the long journey home under the moon.