For those of you that weren't following along... Thursday's strip saw the Blockhams patriarch Glenn literally DIE when his youngest son delivered the news that he had fallen for the unthinkable.... a Buckeye girl.
He awoke beside pearly gates, among the clouds, and in the presence of a familiar and legendary man....
(Click the image to view full size)
The old man himself. Bo.
I really enjoyed putting this one together, as lengthy and wordy as it is. Obviously it was pretty easy to see where this strip was going, but I felt a real need to pay honor to the man who made the program what it is. And in light of, well, yesterday, especially here in PA, I thought about him in ways I never thought I would. But for better or worse, Bo never pretended to be perfect... he only inspired perfection.
On Thursday, Glenn returns to his earthly form and gets like the last ten pages of 'A Christmas Carol.'
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every Tuesday here at MGoBlog,
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PSU is in deep trouble in football terms. Some here have tried to argue that maybe they'll weather this like USC did. That's very, very doubtful. They are going to have to compete with a 65-man roster from 2013-16, and the four-year bowl ban all but guarantees that good recruits won't come the next couple of years. The free-transfer policy will likely lead to what underclass talent they have now leaving.
If that weren't enough, PSU as an institution is just starting the nightmare. More trials are to come. Civil suits will follow. The Department of Education will investigate. The NCAA itself may investigate further to look into inidividual liability. In other words, this scandal - which was instigated by the football program - is going to remain on the front pages for years. That will further cripple recruiting. Altogether, PSU is not going to be allowed to have a "normal" roster (with four balanced classes) until 2020, and by that point they will likely have stunk on the football field for years, and have invested zero money in facilities (since they won't be able to afford it), so there is no guarantee recruits will suddenly line up to go there. I would not surprised to see Pitt emerge as the dominant program in Pennsylvania. (Incidentally, the two programs are going to renew their annual series, which will give Pitt the chance to drive that point home to recruits.)
Unfortunately for PSU, I expect them to be bad for awhile, maybe for good. So what does this all mean for the Big Ten? Consider the current divisions, which were set up in the name of competitive balance. The Big Ten formed these with the intent to split up the "Big four" (U-M, OSU, Nebraska, PSU) and give each one a protected game against another to keep things competitive. Here are the two divisions, with each team's protected rival in parentheses:
Legends Bo Leaders Woody
Michigan (OSU) OSU (U-M)
Nebraska (PSU) Wisconsin (Minn.)
MSU (Indiana) Illinois (NW)
Iowa (Purdue) PSU (Neb.)
Northwestern (Ill.) Purdue (Iowa)
Minnesota (Wisc.) Indiana (MSU)
If indeed PSU will be down, then not only will the Leaders division likely be weaker than the Legends, but there will be a competitive imbalance in the Legends division as well. Why? Because we'll be playing OSU every year while Nebraska, our presumed top competitor, will be playing a downtrodden PSU. Throw in MSU playing Indiana and we're at a significant disadvantage scheduling-wise. Likewise, OSU is at a disadvantage vis-à-vis Wisconsin, which gets a gimme win against Minnesota while OSU has to play us. The Big Ten set up these divisions precisely to avoid unbalanced schedules, and yet here we are. Get ready for Michigan to regularly have the hardest schedule of any conference contender. (Only Minnesota, which has to play us while we only play them, will have a tougher schedule year-in and year-out.)
The solution? An east-west geographical split:
This would balance things out nicely. Assuming Wisconsin is here to stay as a conference power, there'd be two power programs in each division. What's more, this would eliminate the need for cross-divisional protected games altogether, since all the rivalries would be contained within each division. Rivalries that the league is currently throwing by the wayside, like Wisconsin-Iowa and MSU-PSU (as much as we mock the Land Grant Trophy, MSU fans really liked that rivalry) get restored to annual meetings.
It will take a couple of years, at least, but at some point, if my pessimistic take on PSU turns out to be true, the league should really look into this.
Is there no Penn State fan who truly gets it?
I’ve been browsing fan websites for weeks, looking for a sign that Penn State fans understand why there is such enduring controversy surrounding their football program and school. I can’t say that I’ve seen evidence that even a single fan really gets it. The current president of the university seems to understand, but the most vocal PSU fans and alumni want to ride him out of town on a rail. The PSU fans seem to respond to the lunatic fringe of the blogosphere with answers to questions that no sane person is asking.
For example, PSU fans acknowledge that pedophilia is horrible and should never occur, but then act as though that somehow shows that they “get it.”
PSU fans list all the positive attributes of Penn State, its football players, its graduates, etc., etc. Yes, we sane “outsiders” all understand that there is more good than bad in Penn State and there is plenty to be proud of. Again, that’s never been in question, except to the lunatic fringe.
It is the next point, though, that begins to get at the crux of the problem. PSU fans point out the half truth that this sort of thing happens everywhere. Yes, child sex abuse is far more prevalent than most people realize, and most of us probably do know someone who has been abused and very well may know an abuser without realizing it. These truths, though, ignore the difference, the reason Penn State is singled out and stands alone among US universities (as far as we know): at no other institution were there repeated allegations of child sex abuse that rose to the very top of the university where the response was to cover up, protect the pedophile, thereby allowing him to continue abusing children for over a decade.
Now, many PSU fans do acknowledge this last point, but almost none without spinning it in such a way to convince themselves it was just an isolated incident with just a few bad apples (I don’t know how many times I’ve heard it was just one monster and two, perhaps three others) and they are now out of the university, so the problem has been resolved. That third individual, which many PSU fans still refuse to acknowledge, played a role in this is a if not the central figure in the cover up. Joe Paterno, for all the teaching and preaching (and leading by example) he did about honor, integrity, doing things “the right way,” failed miserably on the biggest test to ever come his way. There is no getting around this. But these are the points I’m waiting for a Penn State fan to acknowledge, and it is some semblance of refusal to acknowledge these or similar points that leads to many saying Penn State fans still don’t get it:
1) There was a cult of personality surrounding Joe Paterno. This is not unique to PSU, so I’m not quite sure why there is such resistance to acknowledging this point. The only difference might be that Joe Pa’s longevity and success led to a level of reverence perhaps never achieved at another university.
2) Joe Paterno was the most powerful individual at Penn State for decades.
3) While he might not be culpable legally under Pennsylvania law, morally and ethically Paterno failed the child abuse victims and the community by not doing more to stop Jerry Sandusky.
4) When the most powerful person on campus, the athletic director, and the president of the university all cover up and enable a child rapist to continue his abuse for decades, and others in far lower positions in the university are afraid to come forward with complaints there is a question that must be asked and answered: who or what enabled the enablers?
In the wake of the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State, many fans are wondering what this means for the future of Nittany Lion football. Many of the forecasts are quite dire: that Penn State is now (effectively) an FCS team; that they’ll go 0-12 for four years; that no one will want to play or coach there; that the program will take a decade or more to recover; or perhaps that it will never recover its former glory.
These predictions are grossly exaggerated, and they ignore many of the basic realities of college football.
Like most of the sport's premier teams, Penn State has huge structural advantages that NCAA sanctions can't erase. Their stadium seats 106,572, more than any in the U.S. except the Big House. The rest of their facilities are top-notch, as you'd expect at such a program.
Penn State fans are loyal, just as Michigan's are. Even in the darkest times, they will continue to fill their stadium; boosters will continue to donate money. Although I pray that such a scandal would never occur at Michigan, if it did I would remain blue, and so, I suspect, would most Michigan fans. Those at Penn State are no less dedicated to their school.
Penn State benefited historically from a geographical accident. In relation to its population, the New England and middle Atlantic states are very densely populated, but they have very few football schools. New York is the third-most most populous state in the country, and it has just one school in a major football conference: Syracuse. New Jersey, the 11th-most populous state, has just one: Rutgers, and they're terrible at football.
The upshot is that there are millions of kids in the Northeastern U.S. for whom Penn State was always the best football school within driving distance, with very little real competition. For kids that cared about playing close to home, which is a lot of them, a Penn State offer always meant that they'd made it. These loyalties, built up over generations, don't just disappear because of Jerry Sandusky.
The NCAA hammered Penn State with two sanctions that affect the ability to field a competitive team: a reduction of 20 scholarships per year for four years; and a post-season ban for the same period. These are substantial penalties, no question about it — the worst the NCAA has ever imposed, aside from the death penalty. But they are not as serious as they first appear.
Penn State can still give out 65 scholarships a year, enough to give a free ride to all of the starters and many of the key backups on the football team. It's true that they can't go bowling for four years, but consider the following:
Many of the schools Penn State is now being compared to (Indiana, the MAC, the FCS), never or hardly ever go to the post-season. But Penn State's facilities are far superior to those schools, and it offers a better education than most of them. Penn State will still play a Big Ten schedule, which means it will see better opponents, and 100 percent of its games will be televised. Many athletes, though admittedly not the elite ones, will consider those advantages sufficiently compelling.
Penn State will still get a few recruits with competing Big Ten offers. How much better is it, really, to go to a school like Purdue, where you go to bowls about half the time (and usually a "meh" bowl at that)? Even kids with top-tier offers will see opportunity in the Penn State depth chart. Many will prefer the chance to be a near-certain starter at Penn State, than going to a bowl-eligible school but spending most of their career as a backup. Given the choice of starting 12 games at Penn State or the potential of sitting on the bench for 13 at (say) Illinois , some will surely choose Penn State.
Penn State has historically scheduled weak OOC opponents (notwithstanding their home & home with Alabama the last two years). In 2014, they'll face the gantlet of Temple, Akron, Rutgers, and UMass. Even with a 20-scholarship handicap, they'll probably be favored in those games. Some of their Big Ten match-ups will be favorable (e.g., Indiana and Minnesota), and some of the others could be a push (e.g., Purdue, Illinois).
Although the sanctions last four years, after the first two they can recruit kids who'll be able to play in bowls by the time they're juniors, the point in their careers when they would have hoped to be starters under the old regime. Instead, by the time the sanctions expire, they'll be juniors with two years of solid playing time behind them, instead of garbage time somewhere else. By the time the sanctions expire, Penn State's starters will have lower recruiting rankings than your typical Penn State squad, but more experience, because most of them will have started as freshmen and sophomores.
Although the next couple of years could be dire, you could easily imagine Penn State fielding a squad of mostly 3* starters in years three and four of the sanctions, with a handful of 4*'s who choose Penn State due to academics, geography, legacy ties, or because they like their chances on such a thin depth chart. Such a team would be easily capable of getting to 5-7 wins with Penn State's fairly soft schedule.
If Bill O'Brien can get Penn State up to around .500 while playing under such severe sanctions, which is very clearly possible, imagine what he can do the instant the sanctions are lifted. By that point, Jerry Sandusky will be five years in the rear view mirror, which is an eternity from the viewpoint of a kid who's deciding where to play football in college. All of Penn State's structural advantages (stadium, facilities, academics, fans, geography) will still be in place.
Of course, Bill O'Brien's ability to lead any program, much less a program with such a cloud hanging over it, are unknown. He has never been a head coach on any level, and he was an offensive coordinator in the NFL for only a short time before Penn State hired him. My point here is not to predict what will happen, but to show how Penn State could quite easily get out from under what appear to be practically nuclear sanctions.
Although Penn State's recovery might not proceed exactly as I've described, the premier programs have historically made their way back to prominence, no matter how severe the sanctions. Penn State's sanctions are unprecedented, but their overwhelming structural advantages will probably work in their favor, once they are again able to recruit a full class.
With the talk of a potentially impending commitment from Laquon Treadwell, Tremendous noted that he might be the most highly touted receiver recruit in Michigan history (extending only to the modern recruiting era, of course).
The prompted me to look at the actual recruiting history of Michigan and fill out a Hall of
Fame Highly Touted roster, ie the most highly regarded players to sign Letters of Intent to Michigan from 2002-2012. Players are ranked only on their recruiting stature. If a player was ranked at different positions by multiple sites, I tried to go with the site that ranked them highest. Without further ado, your Michigan 5-Star Recruiting Hall of Highly Touted.
Michigan’s newest members of the Hall of Highly Touted
Quarterback - Ryan Mallet-(90 points)
Was ranked behind Jimmy Clausen as the number 2 QB in the 2007 class and top 20 overall on three sites. Saw action for an injured Chad Henne during his true freshman season before transferring to Arkansas after Lloyd Carr retired. Was a third round draft choice of the Patriots.
Running Back - Kevin Grady (80)
A consensus five star and top 5 RB in 2005. Showed signs his freshman year after becoming Michigan’s first early enrollee but injuries, legal trouble and the presence of Mike Hart all restricted him from matching his on field results to his profile.
Wide Receivers - Mario Manningham (71) and Antonio Bass (69)
Manningham was Michigan’s most productive wide receiver to come after the 2002 class, twice earning all Big Ten and was a 2nd Team All American in 2007. Was drafted in the third round and made a crucial catch in the Giants Super Bowl win last February.
Antonio Bass saw limited action as a true freshman in 2005 before blowing out his knee in the spring of 2006. Was never able to play again.
Tight End - Will Paul (68)
Scout considered him the #2 Tight End in 2003. Played defensive tackle and fullback at Michigan.
Other skill position - Darryl Stonum (67)
Consensus Top 75 player and Top 15 wide receiver in the 2008 class. Set the single season kickoff return yardage record in 2009 and had a decent 2010 season before a fourth alcohol related incident ended his Michigan career last year.
Offensive Line - Stephen Schilling (73), Justin Boren (72), Kyle Kalis (69), Brett Gallimore (61), Dann O’Neill (58)
Schilling was a sixth round pick in the NFL draft. Boren took his plow and his family values to Ohio. Kalis pulled a reverse Boren and abandoned the Buckeyes and will be a freshman this season. Gallimore switched to defensive line without making much of an impact on either side. O’Neill transferred to Western Michigan after a redshirt season.
Defensive End - LaMarr Woodley (85) and Tim Jamison (69)
Woodley finished his Michigan career with a consensus first team All-American season in 2006 followed by a second round pick in the NFL draft. He was Scout’s #1 ranked defensive end in 2003 and Rivals’ #3 inside linebacker.
Tim Jamison was a top eight defensive end to both services in 2004 but had an under-the-radar career at Michigan. Despite not winning any major postseason awards and going undrafted, Jamison posted the two highest EV season for a Michigan defensive lineman not named Brandon Graham, and has spent three years in the NFL with the Houston Texans.
Defensive Tackle - Marques Slocum (78) and Ondre Pipkins (69)
Marques Slocum only spent a season in Ann Arbor after earning a five star rating from Scout in 2005 but his internet legend will live on forever.
Pipkins comes to Michigan with high expectations of replacing Mike Martin as a true freshman. Hopefully his football career is as great as Slocum’s answers to the quiz.
Linebacker - Brandon Graham (83), Jim Presley (69) and Joe Bolden (61)
Brandon Graham may have suffered through some of the worst defenses Michigan has ever fielded but he did his part to live up to recruiting expectations. Despite ending up on the line, Graham was rated by all the services as a five star linebacker in 2006. Graham was the only player on this list that was ultimately selected in the first round of the draft.
Jim Presley was a four star Top 75 linebacker recruit in 2003 who never was able to cut it academically at Michigan.
Joe Bolden enters his freshman season with Michigan as a consensus four star.
Safety - Prescott Burgess (90) and Jonas Mouton (68)
No Michigan recruit has come with higher ratings than Prescott Burgess. Rivals saw him as the #1 safety in the country in 2003 and Scout saw him as the #3 linebacker. Burgess wasn’t a total bust but never earned more than Honorable Mention All Big Ten and was selected in the sixth round of the NFL draft.
Like Burgess, Mouton ultimately saw his career at Michigan come at the linebacker position. Mouton was up and down at Michigan but was selected in the second round of the draft.
Cornerback - Donovan Warren (74) and Boubacar Cissoko (59)
Warren had three solid seasons before going undrafted as a surprise early entry. Coming out of high school, Warren was considered one of top five corner backs to both Scout and Rivals.
Cissoko paired with Warren to start the 2009 season before legal issues saw him kicked off of the team. His legacy lives on as Teric Jones, Delonte Hollowell and Terry Richardson all committed to come from Cass Tech to Michigan, none of which cracked 5’10.
Defensive line was easily the most competitive position with seven players missing the cut that were rated higher than peers who made it other positions. Chad Henne, Gabe Watson, Will Campbell, Craig Roh, Shawn Crable and Devin Gardner were notable names who were higher than other but not high enough at their position.
Of the 22 players on the list, seven went on to get drafted by the NFL, eight failed to finish their career at Michigan, five finished their career at Michigan without being drafted and Kyle Kalis, Joe Bolden and Ondre Pipkins are yet to begin their careers.
Lloyd Carr brought in nearly all of those players, with between 2 and 4 players from each class from 2002-2007. The 2008 hybrid class had three players on it, none of whom ultimately contributed substantially. In his first full class, Brady Hoke has three new additions to the list and Kyle Bosch and Patrick Kugler are all poised to knock Gallimore and O’Neill from the list once they ink their names in February. If Treadwell ultimately signs then he will knock off Antonio Bass and potentially move in front of Manningham depending on where the final ratings land.
Boubacar Cissoko is far and away the lowest rated player on the list (once the 2013 players join). His consensus value is 59 points. After his spot the two 2013 lineman and Joe Bolden are the lowest rated players, in the low 60s. Everyone else on the list is at least 67 points. Overall Most Touted Recruits are Prescott Burgess for the defense and Ryan Mallett for the offense.
Yes. They still. Even though the Michigan Hall of Highly Touted is a mixed bag tilted more towards busts than wins, I am a still a firm believer that recruiting ratings matter. The important distinction is that recruiting is a volume game, not an individual game. There is still a low rate of individuals living up to their recruiting hype, but if your team is deep with talented players, you should do pretty well.
The recruiting rankings return this week with Northwestern(!) making a big move up the board. Also, the fallout begins from the Freeh Report and the teams at the bottom begin to fill in their classes. Changes since the last rankings:
7-8-12: Notre Dame picks up Alex Anzalone. Minnesota picks up Chris Wipson.
7-9-12: Nebraska picks up Johnny Stanton.
7-12-12: Iowa picks up Jon Wisnieski. Northwestern picks up Matt Harris. Minnesota picks up Jordan Hinojosa. Indiana picks up Danny Friend.
7-13-12: Tre'vell Dixon decommits from Nebraska. Northwestern picks up Jayme Taylor.
7-17-12: Northwestern picks up Anthony Walker Jr. and Brett Walsh. Purdue picks up Parker Cothren and Myles Norwood.
7-19-12: Ohio State picks up Taivon Jacobs.
7-20-12: Purdue picks up Johnny Thompson.
7-21-12: Greg Webb decommits from Penn State.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^|
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
On to the full data after the jump.