go go go
Tomorrow at 8 PM Adidas and Michigan and Notre Dame will have an under-the-lights unveiling of the uniforms both will wear when the first night game in Michigan Stadium history goes down. That's odd: marketing 101 is "when you have bad news, release it on Friday at 5 PM." Michigan is treating their great unveiling like they're firing their coach for massive NCAA violations.
On the other hand, maybe it's not so odd. Yesterday the M-Den momentarily posted what looked like the official thing:
If that's what you're deploying, 8 PM isn't late enough. Broadcast the announcement from the Chinese factory where they'll be made at 4 AM Eastern.
The M-Den twitter feed later posted a three-part item expressing regret for the "mistake" that obviously failed to address whether or not those were the real McCoy. They likely are. Tom pointed out the close-up teaser image has the exact same M the mistakenly posted jersey does. If they're different, they're not much different.
Tomorrow we'll enter the ranks of schools that dress up like clowns for a little bit of money from a shoe company. Notre Dame will as well. I'll make some sarcastic comments, privately think anyone I see wearing one of the jerseys is a total sellout, and move on. This September we'll watch Clownz Faceoff 2011 and life will go on. It's not really a big deal. Everyone does it, and traditionalists sigh, and recruits say they're excited.
So why does this make me want to buy a shotgun, rocking chair, and lifetime supply of lawn fertilizer?
Well, there was a way to do this that would not give people hives. It did not require the assistance of a crack team of uniform designers, and it didn't have stripes conjured from one of their fever-dreams.
The numbers on the helmets (and the different wing pattern on them), block Ms on the socks and shoulders, and overall retro stylings of the mid-60s (like gray face-masks) would have provided a distinctive, historically accurate look. (Doctor Saturday pointed out that it would have been a look from an era when Michigan and Notre Dame were in one of their periodic snits, but whatever.)
It wouldn't have been much different. It would have been cool, though:
It would have been a genuine callback to another era of Michigan football. They could have brought out some former players, celebrated a Rose Bowl win, whatever. If they're going to do that in the Franken-uniforms they'll have to bring out a nighmarish assemblage of Horace Prettyman's arms and shoulders stapled to Bill Yearby's torso and head; the lower body will be a cyborg entity from 2211 that shoots postgame celebration laserz. The legs will stop at the knees because bony undead horror robots of 2211 come hovering or they don't come at all.
This bothers me because it makes it obvious that honoring the program's past doesn't crack the top several reasons they'll put the stripes on this fall, falling behind at least "money," "making Adidas happy," and "allowing Dave Brandon to 'create the future'." My money teat is easy to milk, but not that easy. I won't put on a Big Chill shirt with an Arby's logo on it and I'm not buying whatever that is above.
This makes me an old man but it also strikes me how stupid the corporate culture Dave Brandon comes from is. At a consumer-facing, mid-sized, publicly-traded corporation it's all about three months from now when you report your numbers and the stock price goes up or down and you're a hero or an idiot. Once companies go public they slowly lose the distinctive characteristics that made them successful in the first place and become a collection of generic suits*. The suits get paid exorbitant amounts of money to trade long-term goodwill for numbers that will allow another set of suits to increase the exorbitant amount of money they are getting paid.
The best example of how this doesn't have to happen is privately-owned Chik-Fil-A, which is still closed every Sunday for religious reasons and is so loved by Southerners that when the corporation bought the naming rights to the Peach Bowl it was generally regarded as an improvement. These are correlated factors.
These days a lot of tech companies are remaining private longer than they would have in the past—Facebook is the best example—in order to avoid the relentless make-your-numbers effect of being a public company. It seems like Michigan is announcing its IPO Friday night.
*[Once you get to the behemoth side of the scale you can maintain identity via monopoly: Google and Apple are distinctive entities that appear to have ethoses (ethii?) other than making money hand over fist; they can probably have these because they are making money hand over fist.]
(HT on the 60s uniform picks to "cutter," denizen of Michigan messageboards everywhere.)
That looks official what with its number and the Adidas logo and looking all like a thing that exists in the world. You still can't buy one (it errors out when you click on the monstrosity) but I think it's official enough to say that Michigan is going to look very, very stupid when they take the field against Notre Dame.
(new scoreboards new scoreboards new scoreboards not a cesspool of filth and corruption so deep Sepp Blatter is impressed deep breaths)
Is it possible to write things not about Ohio State's rapidly unraveling sweater? There is a hypothetical world in which this is the case, but it is not this one. Almost literally every day some new mortar lands in the Ohio State compliance department and detonates.
Some detonations are widely hyped and a little disappointing. Others are stealthy-like, come when you're watching Clint Dempsey add "…bitch" to the end of every sentence (and score!) and are like whoah. Blockquote unnecessary but present:
Terrelle Pryor, who announced through his attorney Tuesday that he would bypass his senior season at Ohio State, made thousands of dollars autographing memorabilia in 2009-10, a former friend who says he witnessed the transactions has told "Outside the Lines."
The signings for cash, which would be a violation of NCAA rules, occurred a minimum of 35 to 40 times, netting Pryor anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 that year, the former friend says. The source spoke to ESPN under the condition that his face not be aired on TV and that his name not be published.
As far as unsubstantiated anonymous sources go this one comes with a guy sporting an "infickellwetrust" handle on the eBays that was until recently "intresselwetrust" who sells all kinds of sports memorabilia including that from a lot of Buckeyes. So… wow. Get that paper, ignore the sense you are a walking self-parody. (Game used Henson cleats just 120!)
Does this add anything substantial to Ohio State's mounting pile of accusations or is it just a pile-on? Well, it has excised Terrelle Pryor from next year's season, leaving Ohio State to pick between Brooks Bollinger Memorial Eighth Year Senior Joe Bauserman, who's like 30 now or something and an assortment of underclassmen of whom true freshman Braxton Miller is the most touted.
But that's in the past, as Rich Rodriguez might have it. As for the future, this specific accusation is one that sounds scary but seems less likely to have a paper trail a compliance program can be expected to trace. Unlike the other accusations there's no email sitting in Tressel's inbox or compliance audit five years ago that was basically ignored or guy in charge of the equipment that should have one of those inventory things.
But while this specific thing may or may not add to the NCAA dogpile, if Brooks is correct about this…
In addition to Pryor’s past NCAA transgressions, today I confirmed that Ohio State was recently cited by NCAA enforcment officials for dozens of payments Pryor received in past years from a Columbus sports memorabilia dealer that are considered outside of NCAA rules.
The NCAA violations were discovered when the name of the local memorabilia dealer, Dennis Talbott, was seen on checks Pryor was depositing in his personal bank account.
…and personal bank accounts are being examined (probably with the threat of terminated eligibility hanging over the request), well, items have acquired a distinct nature of being in reality.
And then there's the stuff already known
Braves and Birds makes a point I've been trying to make but haven't done so as eloquently:
We are coming off of a season in which several teams lost key players because of suspensions for improper benefits. Ohio State’s head coach (and arguably their compliance department, which seems unable to find evidence of wrongdoing despite media outlets finding stories like candies tumbling out of a piñata) ignored evidence of similar violations on the part of his players. Doesn’t the NCAA have to reward schools like Georgia and North Carolina for being proactive in dealing with improper benefits by showing that the alternative is significantly worse? The NCAA needs to hammer Ohio State and not for punitive reasons or because the Bucks derived a major competitive advantage from its players trading memorabilia (that point is debatable), but rather to send a message to its members that self-reporting is a big deal. The whole system, which most closely resembles a rickety dam trying to hold back a flood of money headed towards the athletes who create it, depends on honest self-reporting.
It's hard to look at the USC violations, which were tied to the Trojan staff based on one two-and-a-half minute phone call to the running backs coach, and not see something worse coming down the pipe for OSU. USC:
- Had one player implicated for an awful lot of money.
- "Should have known" based on Todd McNair's Fisher-like desire not to know.
- Laughably stonewalled.
- Has one player implicated for a lot of money plus a half-dozen more confirmed NCAA violators plus an alleged two dozen more.
- Absolutely did know because the head coach was directly informed.
- Laughably stonewalled and, as a bonus, got the NCAA to declare its players eligible for the Sugar Bowl.
Unless the raw amount of money funneled to Reggie Bush is a significant factor (and I can't see why that would be since the difference here appears to be between low six digits and mid-fives) it seems hard to make a case that Ohio State shouldn't get penalties harsher than USC's—significantly harsher. I'd be interested to see if anyone can make a Devil's Advocate case that what's currently happening in Columbus is less severe than the Bush imbroglio. Pretty much the only person who's tried is Drew Sharp, and he did not do well* even considering he's Drew Sharp.
Seriously. The gauntlet is thrown down: can anyone make the case Ohio State should get off lighter than USC?
Anthony Standifer Goes Blue
When the ball is in the air, he goes up and gets it at its highest point. He also has very smooth hips for a kid who's 6'1" ...I also really like the way Standifer deals with blockers; they're nuisances to him and he finds crafty ways to get around people who are in his way... I have doubts that Standifer can be a truly elite corner because of his lack of high-end speed, but I think he has sufficient speed to be an impact corner in the Big Ten.
The Wolverine Blog's Jack Slice:
All in all, with a couple years’ weight training and technical work, Standifer could become the sort of corner who, while not always locking down their man, won’t let up many big mistakes, and should position himself to make a play after the catch. While I like him better at corner, I wouldn’t object to placing him in a deep zone, provided he puts on some weight, ideally 10-20 pounds.
Mark Snyder of the Free Press talked to his coach:
"He's a kid who's over 6-1, may get to be 6-2 and is 6-3/6-4 in spikes," [Crete-Monee coach Jerry] Verde said. "His physical makeup makes him also very athletic. He has long arms, good speed and a good vertical jump. He also has excellent instincts."
Verde also said that Anthony transformed from a great athlete int a great football player as a junior. For more, check out the Hello: Anthony Standifer post.
Scout's Allen Trieu has kind words for both Standifer and Gant (notably saying that Gant's athleticism is underrated by people who have only seen him on tape).
As the Buckeyes are the reigning overlord in the Midwest (at least from a recruiting standpoint), their struggles with following the rules are bound to have an effect on some of the other regional schools in terms of recruiting.
This week's Sam Webb column in the Detroit News is a roundtable with Scout's Allen Trieu and Bill Greene. First, on OH OL Kyle Kalis:
Trieu: I think there is a good chance that he is going to at least take another look around. Obviously that doesn't mean he is going to decommit.
Greene: So if he thought about decommitting on Monday, and you were able to talk him off the edge on Tuesday, you've still got a long time between now and February 2012 when he can be signed. I would guess that you are going to have to revisit this issue again with Kyle Kalis.
Kalis talked to Tom about his commitment, and he's still a Buckeye, but considering a few other schools. Back to Webb. On OH RB Bri'onte Dunn:
Bill Greene: I think Michigan absolutely has a legitimate shot at Brionte Dunn. I think Penn State would be appealing to him too. I would not be surprised to him take official visits in the fall regardless of him reaffirming his commitment to Ohio State two days ago. I think there is still some uncertainty there.
and on OH DE Chris Wormley:
Allen Trieu: Even through all the things that he was saying, I always felt like Michigan was the leader for Chris. I think Michigan is the clear leader now and I think it would be an upset if he went anywhere but Michigan.
Bill Greene: I have had Wormley going to Michigan since the Ohio State camp last year. I still see Chris Wormley at Michigan and I've never wavered from that. We'll see.
There's much more in there, but you'll have to click through so I'm not stealing all of Sam's content. Next week's column will cover several more prospects with Michigan and Ohio State interest, including Dwayne Stanford, Kyle Dodson, and others.
Fox Toledo talked to Wormley, though he doesn't provide much insight into whether it changes his decision timeframe:
The Toledo Blade's Ryan Autullo spoke to Wormley at the state track finals, and has a hunch that Michigan will land the talented Toledoan.
Ohio recruiting guru Duane Long thinks OH DE Se'Von Pittman was a Michigan lean even before Tressel got the axe.
Fox Sports Ohio covers the "risky time" for Buckeyes recruiting.
The Wayne Morgan Saga
NY CB/S Wayne Morgan had previously planned to make a final decision last Thursday, but his choice between Michigan and Rutgers is delayed. Since Michigan was the heavy favorite to land him, that's a bad thing, as it gives other schools a better chance to sway him.
From the sounds of things, Michigan's coaches wanted him as a corner, and the delay means that there will likely not be a spot for him when he decides (MA CB Armani Reeves dropped the Wolverines for similar reasons). Michigan's coaches are probably looking for a true free safety to close out the DB recruiting class.
May I suggest OH S Jarrod Wilson, who visited last Tuesday, and named Michigan to his top 3 shortly thereafter? He plans to decide before the start of his senior season. His coach, former Wolverine great Ricky Powers, told Tom that Jarrod plans to enroll early.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins was the guest of honor for a live chat with Rivals last Thursday. Some highlights:
- Ondre plans to visit Ann Arbor at the end of the summer, or for a game. He'll narrow his list in June, and his final decision will probably come in early December. He plans to announce at a press conference, but will finish his high school year rather than enrolling early.
- He spent a lot of time talking about his favorite football player: former Wolverine Lamarr Woodley. He plans to wear #56 in college to honor the Steelers all-pro, and Woodley is one of the mentors helping him through the recruiting process.
- His other recruiting advisors are Tennessee-bound DeAnthony Arnett (and his brother Ralph), and former Spartan Clifton Ryan.
- There are a lot of things Michigan has going in their favor from the start with Pipkins. He still considers Saginaw his home, and grew up a fan of Michigan and Michigan State. Michigan Stadium is tied for his favorite in the NCAA (with Alabama), and he says Michigan has the best helmet in the game. His favorite sports movie is Jalen Rose's "The Fab Five" (another tie, this time with fellow 30-for-30 project "The U").
- He wants to major in Business Administration, and a good program there (check) will help a school in his eyes, along with good relationships with the coaches, and a shot at early playing time (check).
He also seems to be high on Michigan's coaching staff, and the way they're recruiting him. For example, his answer to two separate questions (the first about Hoke and staff):
They seem very family oriented. Very honest and up front.
Yes, family is very important.
He also answered some specific questions about Michigan's coaching staff:
Q: How does the fact that Michigan has 3 DL Coaches, along with former Ravens Defensive Coord. weigh into your feelings with Michigan?
It really does ... because it's going to be a defensive-type of team and defense wins championships.
Q: Hows Greg Mattison as a recruiter. Heard hes the best in the biz.
He's very good ... he just tells you straightforward what you need to hear .
That certainly goes well with his answer to a different question, asked earlier:
Q: Do you ever feel some coaches just tell you what you want to hear and are just worried about you as the football player and not you as a person?
Yeah, I definitely feel that way. The ones that tell you wht you need to hear are the coaches that have the best interests at heart for you.
And finally, he talked a bit about his game. He doesn't matter what scheme he plays in, and doesn't care if he's simply used to plug holes so the linebackers can make plays. He loves opening lanes for the linebackers and making the plays himself, as well. His mean streak and hand movement are his strengths, along with versatility, while he admits he needs to work on staying low and getting an initial punch.
Ondre thinks he's a hard enough worker both on and off the field to be in the running for five-star status. He hasn't been invited to any All-Star games yet, but he is working hard to earn the honor.
[Ed: Pipkins was also talking about wanting Woodley's number on the Twitter. You can have the whole outfit, kid!]
CA DT Aziz Shittu will probably make his open commitment to Stanford into an official decommitment sometime soon. The highly rated big man wants to take his time and experience what other schools have to offer before choosing where to spend the next 4+ years of his life. He told Tom:
If he does reopen his recruitment that would likely mean he would take summer visits. "I'm not sure yet where I want to visit, but I'm going to get out there. I'd like to make it out to Michigan," said Shittu. "I like [Michigan's] tradition and the style of play they want to do."
Michigan was in his top-5 at the time he committed to the Cardinal, and academics are a big priority.
I would guess Pipkins is priority #1 at DT for the Wolverines (with Shittu near the top of the list as well). As for likely pipe dreams, NY DT Jarron Jones is still planning to visit Ann Arbor, so anything is possible.
MA OL Eric Olson visited Michigan yesterday. The Massachusetts prospect is relatively unknown to the recruiting services, but will make a decision soon.
CA OL Erik Magnuson is visiting this weekend. Tom says this is a "very big" visit for Michigan, so if Erik likes what he sees, it could be a great weekend for the maize-and-blue.
IL OL Jordan Diamond will be in Ann Arbor later this month ($, info in header).
If Michigan closed out OL recruiting with that trio, I think there would be very few complaints.
Another tackle, PA OL Adam Bisnowaty, is also visiting today.
OH TE Sam Grant committed to Boston College.
CA TE Taylor McNamara committed to Arizona.
GA DE/LB Jarontay Jones committed to Virginia Tech.
IN QB Gunner Kiel is deciding soon ($, info in header). It seems like Michigan has fallen off in his recruitment.
CO OL Paul Thurston may be deciding soon ($, info in header).
MD DE Ryan Watson will camp at Michigan this summer.
Michigan is "in the mix" for MD DE Michael Moore ($, info in header).
Michigan has entered the top 5 for NJ S Elijah Shumate.
CBS's pre-season high school top-25 includes Farmington Hills Harrison (home of Michigan commits Mario Ojemudia and Devin Funchess), as well as several other schools with Michigan targets. Speaking of Ojemudia, he's been selected to join his future teammate Royce Jenkins-Stone in the 2012 Army All-American Game. Congrats, Mario!
Fellow commit OH LB Kaleb Ringer will move to outside linebacker this season to prepare to play that position at the next level.
The annual Sound Mind, Sound Body camp takes place next week.
IL WR Laquon Treadwell had a good visit to Ann Arbor last week. His teammate, Anthony Standifer, so enjoyed the visit that he committed to Michigan's 2012 class.
PA TE Adam Breneman will visit Michigan ($, info in header).
MI DT Kenton Gibbs is hearing from Michigan. He's a Cass Tech product, so Michigan should have a shot at him if they decide to pursue.
Michigan has offered CA LB Michael Hutchings ($, info in header). He's a product of Concord De La Salle (alma mater of Matt Gutierrez, Amani Toomer, and a few other former Wolverines).
[Ed: light day. Going to Gold Cup game(s). Also is June.]
If reporters looked like this the world would be a different, stranger place. College Football Live called up a local Morgantown reporter to discuss what Doctor Saturday has dubbed "As The Couch Burns." They immediately improved said reporters self-image:
If Mike Casazza woke up today with wolves and a fridge full of chocolate milk this is why.
While we're on ATCB, yes, it has been broached: bring back Rich Rodriguez.
"Mentor." The Dispatch FOIAs Tressel's communications with one Ted Sarniak and comes up with a heavily redacted set of information that invites questions as to who is mentoring who, exactly:
After Tressel received an April 2, 2010, email from a former player warning him of potential NCAA violations, the coach exchanged 77 calls and text messages with and spent a total of 4 1/2 hours talking on the phone with Ted Sarniak, the hometown mentor of quarterback Terrelle Pryor in Jeannette, Pa.
Their longest phone conversation - 18 minutes - happened on Dec. 21, two days before OSU announced Pryor and five others would be suspended for part of the 2011 season for violations.
The two also spoke for three minutes immediately after the Dec. 23 news conference benching Pryor, Daniel Herron, DeVier Posey, Solomon Thomas and Mike Adams for five games and Jordan Whiting for one game.
Tressel and Sarniak exchanged text messages on March 8, the day OSU announced that Tressel had known about the violations for months.
Sarniak will now offer tearful testimony about how Jim Tressel made him into a man. There's still a bunch of stuff that's redacted with OSU claiming it's "personal," but OSU also tried to withhold Chris Cicero's name and a bunch of other things besides that they had no legal ground to do so. That doesn't much matter since the NCAA can ask to see them on pain of pain. (I think, anyway. Lawyer me in the comments if I'm wrong).
"Mistake." Again with the "mistake" language, this time from bow-tie wearing university president and fool Gordon Gee:
"Any time that there is a mistake, or any time that there is an issue that flares up, and we go back through and scrub everything very, very carefully," he said. "We want to make certain that we're asking all the right questions."
It is not a mistake to engage in a months-long cover-up, just like it's not a mistake to give Jim Tressel a gentle massage when you find out he's violated a very serious NCAA bylaw. Nor is it a "mistake" to ignore two separate warnings that you are barely checking on your athlete's cars, or a "mistake" to talk with Terrelle Pryor's shady handler for four and a half hours.
Meanwhile, that article has another insight into OSU's compliance department:
The university's compliance department, however, did warn another university about a former Buckeyes player who has been linked to the NCAA scandal.
In January, former Ohio State running back Jermil Martin enrolled at Ashland University, an NCAA Division II school midway between Columbus and Cleveland.
As required by NCAA rules, Ohio State notified Ashland of problems with Martin's eligibility, Ashland athletic director Bill Goldring said.
Martin was cited in the SI article as a guy with a close relationship with Rife, so the eligibility issues they reported to the DII school should have led to an investigation and so forth and so on. Instead it was all like "whoops, third string fullback, you did bad and have to go and It Is Fortunate you are the only one."
On the other hand, OSU has just updated (in April) its compliance procedures to the satisfaction of the auditing committee. Close that barn door, baby.
Steelebits. Via Get The Picture, Michigan returns a higher percentage of its yards on offense than almost anyone—they're tenth at 93%. And they only graduate one starter on the line. The offense was going to take a step back in terms of FEI and other advanced metrics just by regressing to the mean, but trying to parse out how much of that is going on versus how much the offensive transition is hurting things is going to be difficult.
Actually, it might not be if they just can't run (or throw) out of the I. That'll be something tracked in UFRs. Because it's interesting, not because I am full of hate. Hoke Uber Alles.
Offtopic but wow. Haven't bashed a local columnist in a while and while it's probably not nice to make fun of someone obviously suffering from late-state syphillis… wow:
Pistons need tough leader like Isiah Thomas as coach
If only we had known about this before a dollar of penicillin could have prevented this tragedy. Isaiah Thomas will sexually harass the players, yo, and then he will do what he's done to every NBA team he's ever come in contact with: make them so much worse than you ever thought possible.
Etc.: Mike Hamilton resigns. With OSU on the Volunteer path that means Gene Smith has a couple months before he does the same.
Faster than a speeding bullet,
More powerful than a locomotive,
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…
Look, up in the sky!
It's a bird!
It's a plane!
It's the reason we'd rather watch college football than do almost anything else in the world.
It's been a week of ebullient celebration in Ann Arbor while Columbus burns but even those outside of The Sacred Brotherhood have started to muse on the actual justice of it all. WatersDemos took the premise of a New Yorker article – "Is college worth it?" and ran with it for college sports. Most prescient, I thought, was goodness of creating a class of "fake" (not his words) students to serve the interests of what's essentially brand marketing.
I'd like to take that further: what's so good about college sports?
(after the jump, it's a job [lowers voice] for Superman.)