Brian is out of town until tomorrow and I'm desperately trying to finish up my HTTV obligations before taking some much-needed time off, so posting will be light today.
Big Ten Recruiting, SEC-Style
After replacing Bill O'Brien with Vanderbilt's James Franklin, Penn State's become a most unlikely source of SEC-style recruiting insanity. That refers both to their ability to haul in top recruits—the Nittany Lions rank second in the 2015 247 Composite rankings—and their general approach to promoting the program. Let's check in on OL coach Herb Hand and various other members of the PSU coaching staff to see how their Easter weekend went:
— Herb Hand (@CoachHand) April 19, 2014
If you've seen something like this before, it's highly recommended that you stop mixing hallucinogens with your morning bowl of Trix. If you continue to see such images, seek immediate professional counseling.
Big Ten Recruiting, B1G-Style
Iowa assistant Eric Johnson was a member of Kirk Ferentz's original Hawkeye staff in 1999 as a grad assistant, and since 2003 he's been the program's recruiting coordinator. Until yesterday, that is, when Marc Morehouse reported that Johnson left the program to "pursue opportunties outside of football." After 15 years, that must've been one heck of an opportuni--
— Eric Johnson (@HawkeyeCoachEJ) April 19, 2014
In the most Big Ten thing to ever Big Ten in the Big Ten, a Big Ten recruiting coordinator chose opening a franchise of a Wisconsin-based fast food joint specializing in butterburgers and frozen custard over a major college football coaching job.
Thanks for keeping up appearances, Iowa.
The Wolverines hosted a few top targets over the weekend, including four-star CT TE Chris Clark, who'd been high on Michigan before committing, then subsequently decomitting, from North Carolina. He spoke highly of his time spent with Jake Butt, the coaching staff, and the M-PACT program when he recapped his visit to 247's Steve Lorenz ($). After capping off his weekend with a visit to Ohio State, Clark told 247's Bill Kurelic his recruitment could very well become a classic Michigan-OSU battle ($):
“Honestly, it’s starting to feel a little like Ohio State and Michigan,” Clark said. “Both are right there. I like both schools a lot. I don’t know if I’ll visit Auburn now. Those two schools (Ohio State and Michigan) are definitely the best schools I’ve been to so far.
“I want to get back to Ohio State and Michigan with my mom,” Clark said. “My mom has to see both schools (before I decide). I’ll probably visit both in June.”
Caveats about here, however. Clark committed to UNC in a surprise move last month, only to have that commitment last a week before he opened his recruitment back up. He seems like the type of kid who gets blown away by a lot of his visits—this isn't a knock on Clark, just a reason why his recruitment is difficult to predict.
That said, Auburn is the only other visit Clark has set right now—one he's considering canceling after seeing U-M and OSU—and he did see Notre Dame at the end of March, so there's reason to believe his current top two will stick. The tentative plans for return trips to both schools are big here. Proceed with caution, but leave room for optimism.
Four-star VA DE Clelin Ferrell also left Ann Arbor impressed enough to want to see it again, per Lorenz ($):
"I want to come back (to Michigan)," he said. "It will either be sometime this summer or for an official visit. I haven't fully decided where I want to take my official visits yet, but there's a good chance that Michigan will be one of them. I just want to take some more unofficial visits to get a better idea of the types of schools I want to consider and will go from there."
Ferrell is working on narrowing down from a list of 11 schools, so his process should take more time than Clark's.
I haven't seen a full article yet, but 247's latest Inside Michigan Recruiting post($) includes a one-word visit reaction from the top tackle seriously considering U-M, VA four-star Grant Newsome: "awesome."
Newsome spent all weekend on campus with his father, so expect to hear more on him soon. His recruitment could come down to Michigan and Penn State; in this case, fellow tackle Sterling Jenkins's heavy interest in PSU could actually help the Wolverines.
Recently anointed five-star 2016 WI OT Ben Bredeson took the trip with his mom, who was very impressed with the M-PACT academic presentation, and told Lorenz that Michigan should be in it for the long haul ($):
"Michigan has it all, and I've been able to see that now," Bredeson noted. "Their academics are great, the athletics are amazing and the people within the program are all really good people too. Michigan is definitely going to be a strong consideration for me throughout the process."
Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Wisconsin have all offered in the last couple months, and interest in Bredeson won't stop there. While it should be a battle for his services, it's a good sign that he's taken two unofficials to Michigan in a three-week span.
Two New Offers
According to multiple outlets, Michigan offered a pair of top-100 2016 receivers in the last week, Tampa (FL) Catholic's Nate Craig and Sicklerville (NJ) Timber Creek's Cameron Chambers.
Michigan is on the outside looking in for Craig, as he named Auburn his leader among a top five that didn't include the Wolverines just a couple days ago, per 247's Keith Niebuhr ($). He held his U-M offer by that point, so they're a longshot at the moment.
Chambers is more focused on Midwest schools, namely Ohio State, and it looks like Michigan could get into the running with him—he certainly looks like a more likely option than Craig.
The Wolverine's Brandon Hunter checks in with 2016 MI OL Thiyo Lukusa, who came close to committing to Michigan in February but has decided to take his time ($):
Many expected Lukusa to become Michigan's second commitment in the 2016 class, but didn't pull the trigger when he visited Ann Arbor in February. Still, Michigan is in excellent shape with the talented young lineman, though he no longer claims any school as his favorite. A commitment from him may come later on in his process, as he plans to visit more schools and participate in summer camps.
"All the schools are cool for now," Lukusa said. "I haven't seen enough from anyone to say they are my favorite yet."
Lukusa mentioned that Michigan has been the school in closest contact with him; while he may not claim a favorite, U-M is still in very good shape.
The NCAA has stopped accepting coursework from 24 "nontraditional" high schools run by a company called K12 Inc. While Eastern Christian Academy, the football-focused school with online courses that produced Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, isn't among the listed programs, it's difficult not to wonder how long it'll take before the NCAA starts taking a hard look at them, too.
Alabama, being Alabama, hauled in four blue-chip recruits last weekend. Among them was five-star NJ CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, who held a Michigan offer; happy trails to him.
Possesses excellent dunkface (via PennLive)
First reported by Sam Webb and confirmed by multiple sources, 2014 Allentown (PA) Central Catholic G Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman committed to Michigan while on his official visit this afternoon.
Abdur-Rahkman picked up heavy interest from the Wolverines as they prepared for the potential losses of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III; once those two declared for the NBA Draft, MAAR's recruitment hit the fast track. He becomes the fifth member of Michigan's 2014 class, joining Kam Chatman, Ricky Doyle, Austin Hatch, and DJ Wilson.
|3*, NR SG||NR SG||2*, 64, #101 SG||NR SG||NR SG|
As one would expect from a prospect picked up as a late-cycle contingency plan, MAAR flew under the radar of most of the recruiting services, with only ESPN even bothering give him a complete ranking—and they don't even list his weight. The other sites are in relative agreeance regarding his measurables; all list him at 180 pounds, with Rivals and 247 pegging him at 6'4" and Scout shaving off an inch.
Unsurprisingly, scouting reports on a largely overlooked prospect are hard to come by—there's not a single scouting-related article on him on Rivals, Scout, or 247. ESPN's evaluation was last updated in June 2013, so while it gives us a starting point, it doesn't include any progress MAAR made during his senior season [emphasis mine]:
He's extremely versatile with the size and length to offer minutes at any of the three perimeter positions, and is a match-up problem virtually anywhere on the court because he's capable of making plays for himself and others over top of smaller guards and has the speed, quickness, and handle to go by most bigger wings. He's equally versatile defensively where his size, length, and ability to cover the court might even be bigger weapons.
He's a dribble drive player on the offensive end, and not yet a consistent outside shooter. That flaw in his offensive repertoire is likely to be exposed much more at the next level when the game slows down and he's not able to get out in the open floor with the same frequency. Even at that, he's going to be much more effective in an up-tempo system at the next level.
He has a very intriguing combination of size, length, quickness, and smooth handle but he's going to have to continue to get more skilled on the perimeter in order for his game to translate as well to the college level.
The inconsistent jump-shooting is a concern for any guard coming in to play for John Beilein, though MAAR's drive-oriented game at the very least gives U-M a different type of player to put out there, especially if he lives up to his reputation as a defensive stopper.
The most recent, thorough analysis of Michigan's latest addition comes from UMHoops, which posted a scouting report on MAAR this week, as well as the video embedded later in this post. The whole thing is obviously worth your time; Dylan praises his transition game and passing ability, sees room for improvement in his shooting and ballhandling, and comes away with this conclusion:
Abdur-Rahkman might not be the traditional Beilein wing, but he would bring a lot of things to Michigan’s backcourt that are currently lacking. He looks like a natural fit to play the two-guard spot, but down the line he could potentially slide to the three or the one. Michigan’s inability to contain dribble penetration last season was no secret and Abdur-Rahkman might be able to shore up some of those concerns – especially down the line. He’s already physically mature (he’ll turn 20 in September) which means he could be ready to play at a college level, but also that he’s been able to bully younger players at the high school level.
That last bit means MAAR is probably closer to his ceiling than your average incoming freshman, which can be a benefit in the short-term but does add some concern for how much he'll improve over the long haul.
Sam Webb asked Abdur-Rahkman for a self-evaluation this week, and he had no issue noting the areas of his game that need improvement ($):
I’m more of a facilitator, get in the lane, drive and kick, find the big guys inside. I can play defense. I’m a good defender – perimeter. I can shoot a little bit…I need to get better. Dribbling better, but need to get better. Midrange is pretty good.
Despite his scoring acumen, note that MAAR calls himself a facilitator first and foremost.
Coach/teammate evaluations are difficult to trust entirely for obvious reasons, but do at provide insight into how a prospect handles himself in the locker room, and Abdur-Rahkman comes in for high praise in that regard:
“He is a complete player,” [Central Catholic head coach] Dennis Csencsits said. “Not only does he lead us in scoring but he leads us in assist, he is a very good rebounder so he is a really well-rounded player, very smart, very savvy basketball player.”
Although he continues to excel on the court, Abdur-Rahkman’s teammate says the “friendly and outgoing” star has been their mentor.
“Muhammad has helped me become a better leader and a better teammate,” sophomore point guard Zay Jennings said. “Just learning some basketball [techniques] that he does, overall, he is just a good teacher and a good leader.”
As you'll see, MAAR was a scoring machine in high school, but the stats, film, and quotes show that he's an unselfish player, as well.
About those stats—they're quite impressive:
Barring a major surprise, Abdur-Rahkman will be named to the Pennsylvania all-state team next week [Ed: he was], making him the first player in Lehigh Valley history to be an all-state selection four times.
He also was a unanimous choice as The Morning Call's player of the year for the second consecutive year.
The 6-foot-4 swingman was the driving force behind one of the greatest seasons in Lehigh Valley basketball annals.
With Abdur-Rahkman averaging 23.6 points, 4.1 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game, Central Catholic became the first area boys team to win its first 29 games, sweeping the Lehigh Valley Conference and District 11 3A titles en route.
The dream season ended with a 60-50 loss to eventual state champion Neumann-Goretti, but few will ever forget this Central Catholic team or the talents of Abdur-Rahkman.
He finished with 2,136 points — the most in CCHS history and the sixth most in District 11 annals.
That article contains more background on MAAR and focuses, once again, on his humble demeanor and unselfish play. This quote from Abdur-Rahkman sums it up:
"The numbers don't mean much to me," he said. "I'm just glad we won four district titles. That was our goal. We put in a lot of hard work and we just got better each year. One day it will all hit me what we've accomplished but right now, hard work is what I want to be remembered for."
Before picking up the Michigan offer on his visit, Abdur-Rahkman held offers from Bucknell, Delaware, Drexel, George Mason, Lehigh, Robert Morris, and VCU, according to ESPN.
The UMHoops scouting video is a must-watch:
Brian posted his impressions on it earlier this week:
MAAR's shot selection here would be terrible except he's in high school and the shots he's getting off are probably better than wide open looks from a number of his teammates. And he puts down a lot of his terrible, terrible shots. It's the open ones, whether it's at the free throw line or generally, that seem to need work. As UMHoops notes, one of the games here features five threes from MAAR, which is a major outlier for a guy who hit 1.9 a game.
We could see some improvement in MAAR's shooting once the onus for creating most of the team's offense no longer falls on him.
Also, a four-second assessment of his athleticism reveals that...
...yup, he's athletic.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Abdur-Rahkman needs to develop on the offensive end, but he still might see the floor next season—his physical maturity should help him there. While the worries about Michigan's depth for 2014-15 have focused on the frontcourt, Jon Horford's transfer and the NBA losses have created a ripple effect that leaves the backcourt a little thin, especially at the two. While Caris LeVert will play the vast majority of those minutes, Zak Irvin—the presumed starting three—may have to play more minutes at the four than the two, especially if Mitch McGary decides to go pro.
That leaves MAAR as the only backup guard aside from Spike Albrecht and Austin Hatch, and it's unlikely Hatch is going to be ready to play after returning to the court this past season. I doubt Beilein used a scholarship on a 20-year-old freshman at a position in need of depth without plans to utilize him immediately; even with the iffy jump shot, MAAR should carve out a niche role as a defensive specialist who can get out and lead the break. How he's utilized from there will depend largely on the development of his offensive repertoire.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has one remaining open scholarship for next season. I'd be surprised if they took another recruit in the class. It's more likely they'll look to add a transfer if the right player shows interest, and if that doesn't happen they can pocket the scholarship for 2015-16, which currently has just one open spot—though that figure could grow given the distinct possibility Mitch McGary and Caris LeVert are NBA-bound by that time.
EDIT: Or I'm totally wrong, as Sam Webb just tweeted out the latest offer news:
#Michigan has offered 2014 New Hampton (N.H.) Prep guard Aubrey Dawkins
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) April 19, 2014
This can mean a few things: the transfer front isn't looking so good, Beilein expects further attrition, or the coaches just really like Dawkins. We'll see.
If you aren't already, get used to this, and I wouldn't blame the students.
In news that will come as a shock to many, charging students $295 for a home schedule in which the best game is against Penn State and the race for second is between Indiana, Minnesota, and Maryland doesn't go so well—especially a year removed from alienating much of the student fanbase with an unpopular, poorly implemented, and subsequently scrapped general admissions plan.
The deadline for renewing student tickets came and went on Tuesday, and in years past there's never, to my knowledge, been a need to extend the deadline. Student/poster bdsisme noted an email went out today urging some students to renew their tickets for the fifth time—in the three years prior, according to him, there'd been just four combined emails of that nature, which is consistent with how it was when I was in school ('06-'10)—and offering an extension to "Michigan Football SuperFans":
Thank you for being a Michigan Football SuperFan! According to our scanned data, you attended 5 or more home football games on-time last season (prior to or at kickoff). As a result, you have been granted SuperFan priority for the 2014 season.
Earlier this week (Tuesday, April 15) was the deadline to renew your season tickets for the 2014 season. However, since you have proven your loyalty this past season, we would like to offer a one-time extension of the season ticket renewal deadline in order for you to continue your devotion as a Michigan Football Superfan.
We know you are busy closing out the Spring semester and may have questions regarding the new seating policy for the 2014 season. By extending the renewal deadline to Friday, April 25, we hope you are now able to guarantee your seat as a Michigan Football Student Season Ticket Holder.
How magnanimous of them.
Michigan is bringing in not one but two basketball recruits this weekend as they seek to fill the holes NBA attrition has wrought on the roster. Michigan now has two slots open and possibly a third depending on the status of Austin Hatch. They will seek to fill at least one spot, obviously. A second late offer is less likely, but if you can get a transfer like Eron Harris…
…you get a guy like Eron Harris. Ditto Sean Obi. Guys with 31% DREB rates don't grow on trees.
But neither of those guys is on campus this weekend. Two gentlemen are.
Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman
Try to remember as you are watching this that it is high school and in high school many, many shots are flat-out terrible. Googling Aubrey Dawkins for the next section I discovered that his high school career ended when his team scored five points in the first half and ended up going down 35-25.
Anyway: MAAR's shot selection here would be terrible except he's in high school and the shots he's getting off are probably better than wide open looks from a number of his teammates. And he puts down a lot of his terrible, terrible shots. It's the open ones, whether it's at the free throw line or generally, that seem to need work. As UMHoops notes, one of the games here features five threes from MAAR, which is a major outlier for a guy who hit 1.9 a game.
I do not want to guess at the collective net worth of the families represented here
Unfortunately there's not any equivalent video of Dawkins out there where you can see the overall shape of his game. There are only the highlight videos in which he never misses and dunks everything.
In them you do get some information. Dawkins has a diversity to his layup game, capable of getting off shots quickly when he gets to the rim from a variety of angles. His three point stroke is pretty high and decently fast. And he has impressive hops. Not GRIII level, but he'd probably be the most athletic dude on the team. He has that airborne pause you see sometimes where the guy takes his time dunking because he can. He can be an above the rim guy; MAAR is not.
Like many guys available late, Dawkins took a prep year after his high school career. That paid off with a scholarship offer to Dayton recently and now bigger outfits are sniffing around. As of last year, Dawkins was a two-star to ESPN who was Just A Shooter on the college level:
If Dawkins wants to take his game to another level, he must get better handling pressure while dribbling. His handle can get sloppy when defenders get into him-especially when he goes left. His jump shot is solid, but as he gets stronger it needs to get more consistent for the scoring guard position.
He's added a crossover to his game, it seems; he's probably more Hardaway than Stauskas or LeVert in terms of ability to create shots inside the rim.
While Dawkins took a prep year, MAAR's also older, so that's a wash.
New Challengers Appear
you're supposed to put them on your eyes bro
On the other hand, Michigan might be amenable to a fifth-year transfer who would not interfere with whatever they're planning for the roster down the road. When Ace took a look at available fifth years the pickings were slim; they've just gotten less so:
USC’s leading scorer, Byron Wesley, is has left the program because he was uncomfortable over his role next season, according to sources close to the situation.
Wesley, who could not be reached for comment, is considering Big Ten schools Indiana and Michigan and should be immediately eligible since he expects to graduate from USC this summer.
The 6'5" Wesley was impressively efficient for a miserable USC outfit, hitting 72/50/34 from the floor with high usage and taking care of the ball as the Trojans' undisputed go-to guy.
The question is whether Michigan can offer him the kind of role he wants with LeVert and Irvin slotted into the 2 and 3. This is a guy coming off 32 minutes a game; he's not going to want to be a 20 minute backup, and incredibly that's probably what he would be even after Michigan got raided by the NBA unless Irvin gets a lot of minutes at the 4. I know he was just a freshman but that seems like a pretty bad idea to have a guy with a DREB rate south of Nnanna Egwu playing your second-biggest spot on the floor.
If Wesley was three inches taller they'd be all over him; as it is, Sam Webb mentioned on WTKA that chatter about Wesley is coming from California, not locally. One dollar says Wesley's camp knows Nik Stauskas is NBA-bound but not much else about Michigan's situation.
Cole Huff is a large man who can stroke threes, but he's no center
A gentleman who is three inches taller is expressing similar transfer interest. He is Nevada F Cole Huff:
No visit dates have been set yet for Cole Huff but Dayton Iowa creighton Vanderbilt Michigan are the schools he's most interested in
— clint parks (@Brotherhood05) April 18, 2014
FWIW, Huff was restricted from transferring basically anywhere on the West Coast, a restriction later lifted—but before that tweet from his AAU coach.
The catch here is that the stated reason for Huff's transfer was to play the 3, which he thinks is his NBA position. This is not likely to happen at Michigan, but if the real reason is "I hate my coach" or "I want to play in the tournament" or something then M would have a real shot.
At first blush, Huff looks like a good fit, an 82/50/40 shooter at 6'8" with a low turnover rate and a pretty good 14% DREB rate. Huff is in the same eligibility spot as Eron Harris: he'd have to sit next year and then would have two to play. At 205 he is probably a 3/4 at Michigan except in desperate situations, so his attractiveness depends largely on how plausible Mark Donnal is at the 5.
The fit is also less than ideal here since Huff has to sit out a year and duplicates a number of skills already on Michigan's roster in a way a rebound vacuum like Sean Obi does not. But Obi might go off the board to Duke this weekend and Michigan hasn't been involved just yet, so perhaps they perceive their needs differently than they look from the outside.
Hayes Gets Wisconsin Offer, Postpones Decision
Michigan looked to be sitting pretty with 2016 Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Daelin Hayes last week when he announced his intention to make an April 27th decision. After receiving an offer from Wisconsin yesterday, however, Hayes has decided to take more time with his recruitment, per Rivals's Josh Helmholdt ($):
"Once [Wisconsin] offered I was in complete shock," Hayes said. "I honestly didn't see it coming. It was an amazing feeling and I immediately thanked God."
"My parents are the reason I decided to wait things out," he said. "[They] want me to slow down the process."
Brandon said Hayes will now wait until after his junior season to make a decision.
According to TomVH, Hayes now has Wisconsin in his top three with Michigan and Michigan State. While the second quote above indicates that the postponement wasn't entirely due to the new offer, it's clear the Badgers are going to be a factor moving forward.
In related news, 247 is the first outlet to release complete rankings for the 2016 class, and Hayes comes in at #126 overall (#8 RB—he's being recruited at multiple positions). Michigan's lone commit in the class, IL OT Erik Swenson, gets an initial ranking of #233 overall (#23 OT); that comes as a bit of a surprise, as Swenson had been billed as a potential five-star when he committed.
Given that these players have yet play their junior seasons, and most of the offseason camps are still to come, I wouldn't put a great deal of stock in these rankings. By the time these players sign their LOIs, the list will have changed dramatically.
[Hit THE JUMP for details on two recent offers, a big-time weekend visitor, Michigan commits in the updated ESPN300, and more.]
YOU'RE GONNA HAVE A BAD TIME
You asked today “how Borges is Nuss?” I think equally appropriate is “how Gibson is Funk?” It seems to me that their respective backgrounds, personal ties to the HC and seeming invulnerability in the face of terrible performances on the field are quite similar. And, my fear is that loyalty to Funk – like RR to Gibson before him – will ultimately lead the HC’s demise.
Do you agree?
I am about to conjure forth a firestorm of controversy and despair. Be warned.
Gibson's miserableness is likely overstated. Back when everyone was like "this secondary is the worst secondary in the world" I went back and looked at WVU's passing D performances under Rodriguez and found that they were decent. Tony Gibson coached Ryan Mundy well enough to get him drafted by the NFL—something that did not seem in the cards when he was at Michigan. Tony Gibson is… possibly not a complete twit.
/rain of blood
/skies turn black
/rabbit graveyard sees rabbit corpses assemble itself into evil zombie rabbit voltron
He is obviously not great, as secondaries he has been around since tend to be disaster zones. But the things that made him look like a twit at Michigan are some of the same things afflicting Funk: his coordinator doesn't know what he's doing week to week and therefore his players don't know what they're doing, everyone is confused and miserable.
Then someone shoots the glass in your underwater research lab. When the structure is so broken there's only so much you can tell about which part of the rubble was marginally less sound than other parts of the rubble.
You are right that we can take a look at heuristics in an attempt to find out if there are reasons other than perceived competence that Funk is around. Funk does not appear to meet Good Ol' Boys standards. Whereas Gibson came up with Rodriguez all the way from Glenville State, Funk has bounced from coaching staff to coaching staff on his way up the ranks. Hoke hired him from Colorado State just before his last year at Ball State, whereupon the Cardinals rushed for nearly five yards a carry. San Diego State went from 115th(!) in yards per carry to 28th in the two years Funk was there. And he did rather well to start at Michigan before the full weight of Rodriguez's recruiting came to bear.
Funk's track record with Hoke is pretty good, and he is not a guy who has been around forever-forever. I'm not sure we're going to get much clarity about whether he's a good coach this year given the issues with personnel, but it's put up or shut up time no matter what.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts on using an opt-in system for student tickets. In my opinion, this would solve several problems. First, it would immediately reduce the number of empty seats by identifying non-attending students and allowing the University to resell their tickets. Second, it would condense the student section which--in the opinion of a recent alum (2006-2013)--would improve the stadium experience for students and, in turn, encourage more students to show up.
Under the system I envision, you would pay a fixed amount (approximating the price of season tickets) which gives you the right to opt-in to each individual home game for no additional fee. During the week leading up to each game you have the ability to "claim" your ticket online, up until some cut-off period. For example, maybe you have until 12:00am the night before the game.
If you don't claim the ticket by then, you cannot attend (I have mixed feelings about whether you should get some sort of small refund. maybe $5). Any unclaimed tickets would then be assigned the upper-most seats in the student section and then be resold by the university the morning of the game. The students would have to be alerted, somehow, as to which rows of the student section have been resold and are no longer part of the general admission section.
There would also have to be some penalty for students who claim their ticket but are no-shows. For instance, if on two separate occasions you claim your ticket and don't show up, you lose your right to claim tickets for the rest of the season. Obviously the University would have to start tracking student attendence (maybe by putting the tickets on the MCards like in bball), but I dont imagine that would be difficult.
This is what Michigan did for basketball this year except presumably Michigan will not be overbooking the student section by 50%.
I'm opposed. A claim system does allow the university to sell seats that would otherwise be empty; it's a pain for people, though, and as part of my withdrawal from the field of the War On Students I'm in favor of making the process of going to games as easy as possible for everyone but especially the fickle next generation.
The question then becomes: how do you reward loyalty without annoying overhead? Michigan's revised student section policy is a major step forward:
By 2015, seat reservations will be based entirely on loyalty. Attendance points will be accumulated the following ways: each game attended is three points and arriving 30 minutes prior to kickoff earns an additional three points per game, for a total of six points per game.
Groups of up to 100 students can reserve seats together.
Groups get the average priority of everyone in them. That's simple and effective; it does not put any onus on the students except to show up early, and it was obviously concocted by the student government because I mean seriously the guys in suits have been trying to fix it and came up with HAIL and the world's worst GA policy. (I hope that my repeated rants on the subject had some influence there, but probably not.)
It's a step forward. Others can be taken. The new priority system does not solve one of the main reasons the student section ends up looking empty: it is extremely difficult to flip tickets. The university decided it wanted full price for a student ticket not used by a student way back in the day and put a cumbersome validation process in place; if that was ditched most of those tickets not being used would get sold and deployed.
This brings back the unpleasant specter of the dudes I knew in college who bought tickets just to put them on eBay. I don't think that's going to be nearly the problem it was when student tickets cost $295 for the privilege of watching Penn State and nobody else. If Michigan's not capturing full value there they have to be close. Michigan should let tickets be sold normally while still scanning M-Cards for priority, and if you don't go to at least three games you no longer get to buy tickets.
Ugh. Capturing full value. I'm going to go take a shower now.
What's your solution to the Bag Man?
I put up a post on this on Bag Man Day that was immediately stepped on by the Horford transfer; I wanted to expound on some questions I got in the mailbag and picked this guy's email from about a half dozen.
Part of college football's draw is amateurism; kids playing for education not money. Obviously this is all smoke and mirrors anymore, but it's hard to let go of that aspect of it (if for nothing other than nostalgia's sake). I have a passing interest in the NFL as compared to college football. There's just a sense of cynicism when everything is commercialized and athletes are getting paid big money to play a kid's game while the "rest of us" slave at work for crumbs. Here are some questions you may be able to give your opinion on assuming some sort of compensation is awarded to student athletes.
Shouldn't we just make college football a D-League or create one for those who want to skip college?
Is the draw amateurism or the fact that these guys are students like the other students? Amateurism proponents are quick to mention the Insane Dollar Value of their scholarship. Some even go so far as to include all the world-class training and such in their effort to portray the college athlete as already well-compensated. If they're successful in their arguments, don't they just defeat themselves? They're already being compensated. Now we're just discussing the price.
Might as well go all in and not try to walk some line between amateurism and professionalism right?
Walking a fine line is dumb but neither should we upset the entire apple cart if we can at all help it. College has a lot of good effects for players even if they're not getting engineering degrees, and with most of them headed for brief pro careers at best the current model does a lot of good for a lot of people. We've done a half-dozen events with Carr-era players, and man they make you glad that college football is the way it is instead of being minor league baseball or the CHL.
Why stop at a fixed stipend? Should there be some kind of salary cap? If there is a stipend or other form of compensation, won't there still be bag men to get top recruits extra money to attend certain universities?
A stipend is only one way to approach it. The Olympic model is another. If the NCAA was to say "we won't pay you, but we don't mind if you get paid for your likeness" that sidesteps Title IX issues and mitigates bag-man issues. The difference between ten grand and zero dollars is a lot more compelling than 40 grand and 50 grand. While it'll still have some influence, other factors actually become more prominent.
I mean isn't this really just bidding wars for free agents that we see in pro sports?
Even if this is a negative, and I'm not sure it is, it is already happening.
Should all the athletes get the same wage and who decides the pay scale? Wouldn't there then be problems with different "salaries?"
We seem to have figured this out for everyone else in America. I don't understand why this is a particular issue for athletes.
Do "student athletes" also get a scholarship?
Yes. I mean, it's a perk that costs the university almost nothing and has great symbolic value.
Is competitive balance a casualty? Poorer and smaller schools certainly won't be able to afford top recruits, and maybe not even the stipend, so do we just have the same handful of teams who can actually afford to be competitive and get national exposure, eliminate the "Cinderellas" and certain universities' football programs altogether?
Unless you can find a kid who chose the MAC over the Big Ten right now this is just the status quo.
I guess I just don't see a fix to an already broken system. There's a ton of money to be made and everybody wants a cut. Paying the athletes, which I'm not totally against and there are legitimate arguments for, isn't going to solve the problem entirely because the NCAA doesn't have any teeth to enforce their rules. Athletes will get a stipend but then there will still be bag men steering athletes to certain schools. In essence, they'll be getting paid twice.
There isn't a fix, other than dropping the Victorian-era approach to amateurism. Probably the most ludicrous regulation of all is that athletes can't sign with agents and maintain their eligibility. An agent! Someone who's job is to be an advocate and aid for your career, and you can't even say "you will be my agent" even without getting money and the NCAA yanks your eligibility. It's ridiculous.
Simply, the NCAA needs to look at the rules and decide which of them are even vaguely enforceable, then dump the rest.