"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
State turdstorm UPDATE! Yesterday Eleven Warriors graciously posted that Maurice Clarett might be a troubled weirdo who tried to take down Ohio State after he got the boot, but at least he's a trying troubled weirdo and he's not all bad. This is a level of understanding I do not have with Tractor Traylor even after the guy died tragically.
11W's reward for this understanding is to have Ray Small go MoCo:
"We have apartments, car notes," he said. "So you got things like that and you look around and you're like, ‘Well I got (four) of them, I can sell one or two and get some money to pay this rent."
The wheeling and dealing didn't stop with rings. The best deals came from car dealerships, Small said.
"It was definitely the deals on the cars. I don't see why it's a big deal," said Small, who identified Jack Maxton Chevrolet as the players' main resource.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on May 7 that OSU was investigating more than 50 transactions between OSU athletes and their families and Jack Maxton Chevrolet or Auto Direct.
Representatives for Jack Maxton Chevrolet did not return repeated requests for comment.
NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from benefiting from the sale of their merchandise. Small said he wasn't the only one.
"They have a lot (of dirt) on everybody," Small said, "cause everybody was doing it."
Man… Ray Small. That guy was in trouble from day one at OSU, threw regular public hissy-fits about it, and he wasn't even that good at football. If I was an Ohio State fan he would be in my circle of the damned. Their term for this rapidly expanding category that includes Kirk Herbstreit and (to the truly deranged) Chris Spielman is "Fake Buckeye."
You can add Mark "Club Trillion" Titus to that list after he posted there was definitely something "shady" going on with football players' cars, then followed it up with a rebuttal saying that he shouldn't get death threats because that's mean. Titus claims the shadiness was to the point where most students knew or should have known what was going on.
Meanwhile, the local news station is investigating the Gibson thing and while that transaction continues to get more complicated it's not getting proportionally more explicable:
10 Investigates [sic] found that Gibson had a trade-in. He traded in a 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo that BMV records showed he bought for $15,400 just seven months earlier.
But the dealership may have given him only $1,000 toward the trade-in, [instead] dropping the sales price of the car he was buying by a substantial amount.
10 Investigates [sic] has learned that's what Kniffin has told investigators with the BMV.
The trade-in business materializes as predicted; an explanation for how Thad Gibson scraped together enough money to buy two cars worth a total of 30k in less than a year is yet to be explained. Along The Oletangy responds to the investigation apparently clearing the transactions:
In any case, it doesn't matter what the BMV finds when they analyze Jack Maxton Chevrolet's tax forms as long as no special treatment was given to Ohio State football players.
It's obvious plenty of special treatment was provided, but where is the smoking gun?
Position paper on demolition of Ohio State program and whether it is good or bad. If Ohio State was going to fall apart by Notre Daming themselves with a series of coaching hires ranging from questionable to insane, that would be a thing to be conflicted about in the same way certain Ohio State fans are bored with a terrible Michigan team they're just going to blow out.
This is a different thing entirely since it suggests the fence Tressel legendarily put up around Ohio's borders is one based on massive NCAA noncompliance. Meanwhile, thanks in part to this (and in part to Michigan imploding) they've gone 9-1 and turned the Big Ten into their personal playground. If the NCAA finds proof of this massive noncompliance and OSU gets bombed into the stone age and is no longer any good, there's no conflict there. It's an unadulterated good. Michigan has been hypersensitive about this stuff since the Ed Martin Day Of Great Shame, and it's obvious their main rival hasn't. Putting that on even footing will help put the rivalry there if it doesn't swing it all the way back to the Cooper days, which fine by me.
Hot under the collar, part II. ESPN's Mike Fish, you may remember from the above-referenced Maurice Clarett bombing, has a new article. This is the header image:
Africa basketball charity, AAU player headed to Indiana, Tom Crean, Indiana AAU coach. This can't be good. Not pictured: involuntary adoption. Hooray Beilein.
Hey let's rehash this again. MZone noticed that I hadn't mentioned Lloyd Carr's election to the College Football Hall of Fame and asks why I hate Lloyd Carr, complete with requisite psychoanalysis and link to me being mad in the immediate aftermath of the Hoke hire when everyone was mad, something I've obviously backed away from in multiple column-length pieces since.
To defend myself: I don't take the CFHOF seriously. It just elected Deion Sanders. When Tom Curtis was elected it warranted about two sentences. For better or worse, I am totally uninterested in the charity work of rich people. I've also said my bit about Carr as Michigan's coach over and over again. Contrary to two-bit psychoanalysis it was not negative, or at least it was far less negative than many.
And I am pissed off at the hostility to change that's obvious every time any former Carr player says something about anything. We've got a program of Joe Morgans. I'm worried how that will manifest itself on the field. It's not hard to draw a contrast between what's gone down the last three years and what would have gone down if Bo was still around. Bo would have been on the warpath; he probably would have dropped by to scream at Rodriguez some. The impression we've gotten from every one of Carr's former players is that there is exactly one person responsible for Michigan's decline—Rich Rodriguez—and not only is that incorrect (Horror, DeBord, Tressel vs Carr) but it's detrimental to Michigan's future. If we got back to the days where every bowl opponent laughs at how predictable we are that will not be good.
(I don't think that's happening because Borges is a real live offensive coordinator and not a broken robot that only calls zone left. Hoke uber alles.)
Eyerolling reorg. Adam Wodon on the inevitable hockey realignment coming sounds like anyone talking about anything last year when talking about conference realignment:
It all starts with Notre Dame. (Well, it all started with Penn State and the Big Ten, but that's already happened.) Think about it — you're Notre Dame's president. Your sports teams all play in the Big East, or, in the case of football, is the most storied program in college sports. You fire up CHN's iPhone app one morning to check the hockey standings, and what do you see? You see Notre Dame competing against some MAC and D-II schools. You recoil. This is not what Notre Dame does. This is not what Notre Dame is.
That is not a knock on the other schools, it's just reality. There is no way that Notre Dame is staying put. That means that the CCHA is certain to lose its remaining powerhouse (from an institutional, NCAA-wide standpoint), and fall further to seven teams. That means the CCHA is in trouble, as a whole.
Maybe Wodon's got some inside chatter on this that he's refusing to mention in an effort to make his column as annoyingly speculative as possible, but this is the impetus for an elaborate reorganization scenario that sees Notre Dame move to Hockey East because they'd rather play Merrimack (seriously) than Ferris State.
Notre Dame is choosing between some games against BC and then a bunch of schools no one at Notre Dame has heard of plus flying for literally every road game and staying in the CCHA. While ND has money, are they going to spend it on that for no real benefit? And will Hockey East expand to an eleven teams just for the dubious benefits of having ND in the conference? Travel costs matter in hockey, the longest season in the NCAA, and no one is going to make enough money on an ND move to justify the increased costs even if "this is not what Notre Dame does." Yeesh.
kitten does not like
David Brandon was on WTKA discussing the new(!) varsity lacrosse programs, which you know all about, when he was asked about your favorite newspaper's purported stripey Michigan night game uniform thing:
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon was asked during an interview on WTKA-AM (1050) this morning if that was an accurate representation of U-M's uniform.
"No," Brandon said.
Brandon said Michigan's uniform would combine "elements of a couple different eras," but emphasized that the final product has not been revealed.
Before you point and laugh at the Free Press, a good source indicates the mockups everyone's gnashing their teeth about are "one of many possibilities," one that ended up "in the top two or three." The final result is not going to be like the "1960s look" Brian Kelly said Michigan was going to bust out in his press conference. That was never on the table because, as mentioned, the uniforms of the 1960s are hardly different than today's. The end result is going to be spiritually similar to the above: a throwback that attempts to go way, way back—source says "foot-ball yore"—and in doing so discards any pretense of historical accuracy.
This or something like it got so far down the pipe that the biggest holdup is the lack of a number on the front. Brian Kelly hates that because it makes it harder to track the opposition's substitutions. (As the kind of person who obsessively tracks his own team's substitutions and gets irritated at teams who don't put names on their jerseys*, I get that.) Michigan is hoping they can get away with a small number like a C or A on a hockey jersey above the block M or that numbers on the helmets will suffice.
So while it's possible the giant raspberry emitted by the public sees Michigan change direction on this specific design, the end result here is going to be an ungainly Frankenstein that no Michigan player has ever worn before. As Eleven Warriors' Ramzy said: "here, have some of our Pro Combat nightmare juice." The only thing that can rescue it is if all the players have Fielding Yost-level lip brooms by kickoff.
But… hey, new scoreboards, right?
*[Penn State excepted for reasons of tradition.]
Ohio DE Tom Strobel (6'5", 245 lbs) took a trip up to Ann Arbor this past weekend. Strobel has had his interest in MIchigan steadily rise the more and more visits he's taken. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say about the most recent trip.
TOM: Who came up to Ann Arbor with you this time, and what did you get to see?
STROBEL: I've been up there before for the spring game, but I went with both my parents this time. We got a small tour of campus and facilities. We talked to all the coaches.
TOM: I'm assuming that this visit gave you a better chance to actually get to know the coaches?
STROBEL: For sure, we got to sit down and talk with them. They talked about football and family mostly. We didn't really go over scheme or film. We really just talked about football here and there, it was honestly more about the person they want to come to Michigan. It was all about character. They said they want to get someone that fits as soon as possible. I told them I wasn't supposed to make a decision any time soon. I'm not sure exactly when I'll decide, sometime in the near future.
TOM: Since your parents were there what was the overall impression of the coaches for both you and your parents?
STROBEL: The coaches are very kind, respectful, and very personal too. They didn't really talk about football it was more about my mom and dad. They asked me about how I feel about academics, which I appreciated. It's nice not to talk football all the time. They just explained to us that they want to have that Michigan man.
TOM: Have you narrowed your list down yet, or started to?
STROBEL: I'm starting to narrow schools down now. Michigan's in the top with schools like Ohio State, Stanford, and Notre Dame. Academics are big for me.
TOM: Have you been out to see all of those schools yet?
STROBEL: The only places I haven't been are Stanford and Nebraska. I'm interested in Nebraska also.
TOM: What's the criteria to evaluate these schools? How will you narrow it down?
STROBEL: I look for the pros and cons in each school. I'll look at the facilities and the strength and conditioning coaches. I'll be spending most of my time with them so that's important. I want to get in depth with the core of the program, rather than all the bells and whistles. I want to see the food too, I want to see what kind of food I'll be eating. I also want to see what type of coaches they are at each school.
TOM: I have to ask, since you're from Ohio did you grow up an Ohio State fan?
STROBEL: I think everyone in Ohio is an Ohio State fan. I grew up a little Buckeye, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will affect my decision. I'm looking at this without the fan side in it.
TOM: Did you know anything about Michigan before your visits, other than they're the Buckeyes' rival?
STROBEL: I just knew that it was Michigan. To be honest I didn't expect much going there, but then when I got there it was just an eye opener. These visits are what got them in the top group.
TOM: What about any of the coaches? I know they're new to Michigan, but did you know anything about them?
STROBEL: I knew that Mattison had been at Baltimore, but it shows that he's going to be there and he's not going anywhere if he came from the pros. I don't want to be switching coaches constantly, so it makes a difference for a coach to be there the whole time.
TOM: How do you think your recruitment is going to play out? Do you have a timeline yet?
STROBEL: I'm not sure how it's going to pan out yet. I want to get out to Stanford and some other places. I'd like to get my official visits in, but we'll see.
Michigan announced the formation of men's and women's varsity lacrosse programs this morning, A few interesting tidbits from the press conference:
- Athletic Director David Brandon said his "team" has identified lacrosse as the fastest-growing sport in America, and in Michigan. HS programs in the state have gone from 50 to 180 in the past 10 years. "It's also a great television sport," which likely means some TV down the road.
- "On the men's side, we've applied for admission to the ECAC." [ed: for a rundown on Michigan's future conference opponents check out MaizeAndBlueWahoo's excellent diary.] The application has been received, and Brandon is confident the Wolverines' bid will be accepted, saying "we have high expectations that process will happen quickly, and we are very encouraged in terms of initial feedback we have received."
- On the women's side, they will apply for admission to the ALC. Florida, Hopkins, Northwestern, Penn State, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt are the current members of that league. The Athletic Department and Michigan's coach are going to work together to set up the non-conference portion of the schedule.
- David Brandon stated that a national search will begin immediately for a women's coach, but as far as men's goes "I have a primary candidate in mind for that position." That candidate is longtime club coach John Paul. As soon as Michigan has the position publicly listed for a week (in accordance with the law), JP will be introduced as men's coach. For women's coaching candidates, Brandon said he wanted somebody with a track record of building a program from the bottom up.
- JP stated that 25 members from this season's club lacrosse roster will return to the team for next year's inaugural varsity year, including 4-time MCLA All-American Trevor Yealy, who will be a 5th-year senior. Filling out the first varsity roster for Michigan are 10 incoming recruits and several potential transfers.
- Brandon gave some love to the "Project Lacrosse Founder's Club," which was formed over the past few months. They have worked hard to ensure the necessary fundraising could be completed. Over 70 people contributed monetarily, including several "major gifts."
- "We are in the process of putting facility plans together. And what we're trying to do at Michigan Athletics, as opposed to creating one-off plans, we've really spent a lot of time of late in a master planning mode." Lacrosse has been included in the AD's "master planning process." It's still a work in progress, and Schembechler's practice fields, the Big House, the UM Soccer Stadium, and other facilities will be used in the meantime. Building their own home is in the long-term plans, though Brandon said that's at least 3 years off.
- Lacrosse is gaining momentum as a sport, and Brandon is hopeful that Michigan's programs can be a revenue-generating opportunity down the road - though that has nothing to do with why they're adding the sport. "I've seen around the country, crowds that show up in double-digit thousands for their competitions." Operating costs for both programs combined will be $3 million. That will be a big investment, but donor support is expected to be a major help.
- Brandon is most excited that 84 more athletes at the University of Michigan will have varsity athletics opportunities, and 25 new scholarships will be available for student-athletes. "What a great opportunity. At a time when a lot of Athletic Departments are shrinking and contemplating cutting sports, for us to be here adding two major sports like the ones we're adding today is something we're blessed to be able to do."
- There are no plans to add any other sports in the near future. Taking on two more is a big deal, and the Athletic Department will take some time to "digest" that before making any other moves.
- Brandon expects the men's and women's teams to both be competitive right away. "The only thing I'll tell you is: We're Michigan. We're not gonna add these sports, and we're not gonna make the financial commitment and put the time and energy that we have and will put into these if we're not prepared to go out and compete for championships." He doesn't want arbitrary timelines, but they'll evaluate the programs going forward. Competitive reasons explain why men are going in 2012, while women will start playing games in 2013.
- "The idea of featuring the sport in conjunction with the spring [football] game - because the seasons overlap from a timing perspective - I know Ohio State has done that with great success." That's something Michigan will consider going forward. Having the largest stadium available to the program will be a great opportunity. If Michigan is fortunate enough to host a first-round NCAA Tournament game down the road, they'd submit a bid for Michigan Stadium to host.
- There are a lot of rivalries available to Michigan - Ohio State, Notre Dame, and others. Lacrosse started as an Eastern regional sport, but it's spreading to the West. Colleges as far as California are considering adding the sport. "We think this is going to take us some really interesting places, and they're not all in the East." Brandon believes that forward-thinking Big Ten ADs will look at lacrosse as a new varsity sport in the future.
I'll have some more specific stuff (i.e. "stuff that's completely uninteresting to people who don't already care about lacrosse") up on GreatLaxState this afternoon. And, to close it out, the final video blog in Michigan's MCLA history, courtesy of graduating senior Pat Stansik:
no one takes better fake dictator pictures than Nick Saban
Limiting the size of a football signing class in each academic year to 25, down from the current level of 28. The NCAA adopted that SEC-sponsored legislation put forward in 2009. The 25 limit would cover those who sign from Dec. 1 to August 1. The rule now runs from the February signing day to May 31, which allows schools to exceed 28 by enrolling signees before or after those dates. An exception would be made for mid-year enrollees included in the current academic year's initial counters.
I'm not sure I understand this, but I'm pretty sure the odd range of dates—you can't sign until February so what is December doing in there?—is to count JUCOs, who IIRC do sign sometime in December. (As a Michigan fan my knowledge of these things is minimal.)
This would make the LOI cap 25 + early enrollees. The language about "current year's initial counters" is there because early enrollees can count as the year's previous but don't have to. So if you enrolled 25 kids the year before you couldn't sign more than 25, period, because all your early enrollees would have to count as recruits for the current year.
This would appear to create a hard cap of 100 LOIs per four-year cycle, which would cut down on the churn considerably. Half the SEC would have to curtail their issued LOIs—Auburn has averaged 112, Mississippi State 110, etc. The impact on other conferences would be minimal. Iowa State, Kansas State, Oregon State, and West Virginia are the only other BCS schools averaging a significant amount over 25.
Making football signees who attend summer school on athletic aid before the fall semester count against a school's scholarship numbers for that next academic year.
There currently are no limits on how many can attend summer school, which can leave a recruit already on campus to be asked to delay enrollment until January if there's no room. The proposal would go into effect in summer 2012.
AKA The Elliott Porter Rule. No more moving into the dorm, then getting evaluated over the summer, then getting shoved out the door. An obvious step to take after Outside The Lines shredded LSU's practices.
Giving the SEC office more oversight in medical scholarship exemptions to review and determine outcome for cases. A team doctor, trainer and athletic director would need to sign off on each case.
A vague attempt to shut down St. Saban Memorial Hospital. Unknown how that will go, but I'm guessing it will be ineffectual. Having team doctor, trainer, and AD sign off on something beneficial to team doctor, trainer, and AD does not seem like the world's most rigorous check.
What they should do is have the school submit a medical request to the conference that locks in that scholarship, and then the conference tells the football team in question whether they can use that on someone else.
Keeping early enrollees from signing an SEC financial aid agreement until they are enrolled and attend class at the school. Currently, recruits can begin to sign a financial aid agreement after their junior year of high school, which keeps other SEC schools from recruiting them.
This has nothing to do with oversigning, but it's a neat end-around of the LOI system. Given the frequency with which kids in the South decommit it doesn't seem like a widely used one.
It's better than nothing but short of something that puts student welfare—thanks to Jim Delany the new hotness—above all. If the LOI limit above truly is a hard cap that will immediately curtail some of the worst offenders a significant amount. If one was in place four years ago Alabama would have signed 13 fewer kids, Auburn 19, South Carolina 11, etc.
It's not perfect. Twenty-five is still above what seems like a reasonable good-faith attempt to keep kids in school will see a team sign. Eyeballing the numbers on Oversigning.com, it appears that number is 22 or 23. Getting down to that level would start catching schools that are not actively tossing recruits into the trash heap, though, and starts to impact student welfare from the other direction by reallotting money from scholarship players to fortunate walk-ons.
As for the other two items, the first is an obvious response to the ESPN expose but even if that's the case it shuts down the absolute worst practice going on right now by eliminating the summer-camp tryout business one Les Miles is working. The medical scholarship stuff is too vague to evaluate but there's a decent chance something does come of it if only because other coaches must be hopping mad about this:
Meanwhile, guess who's confused?
"I really don't know what everybody is so up in arms about," Saban said, according to the Birmingham News. "This is something that people have done in college football for a long time and it's not illegal. We have never had a player leave our program who didn't create the issues himself that he made a decision to leave the program."
This is what I keep this Upton Sinclair blockoute around for:
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
I knew setting up ctrl+alt+f6 to do that would come in handy some day. Don't make me ctrl+alt+f7 you, Saban. It will be withering.