An article ran today on MLive, and I felt the need to respond, mostly because it was bullshit. The article was entitled "U-M stymies student governmen's review of Brendan Gibbons sexual assault investigation." I don't want to call it a hack job, but it has several hack marks as if somehow hacked at by a hacking device.
University of Michigan's student government wants to review the school's sexual assault investigation involving ex-football player Brendan Gibbons — but U-M has refused to disclose investigation documents.
They confuse "has refused to disclose" with "is legally prevented from disclosing." We've been through this, but FERPA (20 USC 1232g) is a federal law that prevents the disclosure of any "education records" to anyone that does not fall into one of the exception categories without the permission of the student.
Education records are defined as "those records, files, documents, and other materials which (i) contain information directly related to a student; and (ii) are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution." Investigation documents pertain to a student (Brendan Gibbons), and were created and maintained by the University. They are educational records.
The CSG (the student government) does not fall under any of the exceptions that would allow UofM to release records to them. The closest exception is 1232g(b)(1)(A), which allows the release to othe "school officials" with a "legitimate educational interest" [ED: see the update below]. But the CSG is not a school official (nor are its officers), and they have no legitimate educational interest.
So, as a matter of federal law, Michigan cannot release investigation documents to the CSG. Full stop.
The Central Student Government and U-M administrators disagree about whether student government should be given access to investigation documents.
"It's a little disappointing on our end," said CSG president Michael Proppe, a senior statistics major. "A review would have provided transparency about this process."
The whole point of FERPA is to prevent 'transparency" with student records. But we'll get back to that later.
CSG believes it has the right to review the investigation due to a provision in U-M's student discipline code allowing a CSG representative to review discipline cases.
U-M's Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities reads:
"Periodic, regular review of records of resolution actions will be made available, in confidence, to the Code of Conduct Advisory Board Chair of CSG."
But U-M is refusing to provide access to the investigation documents.
Okay, a quick primer in Federal law: it trumps the U-M Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. It trumps it by a lot. Like the Right Bower trumps an off nine. So even IF this was the subject matter to which the Statement referred, it doesn't matter. Federal law wins.
The school has again cited student privacy and also maintained that under revisions made to the sexual misconduct policy in 2011, sexual misconduct reviews no longer fall under the Statement of Student Responsibilities.
Cool. And irrelevant. If the investigation records fall under FERPA (they do), then it couldn't matter less for the present case if they are included in the Statement of Student Responsibilities.
"We aren't making those reports available," U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said.A review would have provided transparency about this process.
"We've maintained all along that case-specific files and anything that would be an investigation report are considered to be educational records protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, so we cannot share those with the CSG taskforce," he continued. "The new policy on sexual misconduct, it's really not part of the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities, but it's a separate policy referenced in the Statement. Sexual misconduct doesn't apply to that [CSG] review."
What he said.
In September 1991, U-M's student government investigated an Ann Arbor Police Department tear gas incident; in January 1992 it looked at U-M's interim policy on discrimination and discriminatory harassment; and in 1997 it reviewed allegations of excessive force by U-M Department of Public Safety officers following a football game.
You know what all of those have in common? They aren't investigations of STUDENTS. You can review the records of officer so-and-so or review policies until you're blue in the face without running into FERPA. You can also review those records without any knowledge of the students involved. You can't, however, say, "HEY, GIVE US ALL OF THE GIBBONS RECORDS" and then pretend to redact the name of the only guy it could possibly be.
Proppe said student government has also reviewed past sexual misconduct investigations, although not recently.
I question this
[ED: Michael Proppe contacted me, and told me that they do have a file of previous investigations. The difference is that the records have the names redacted. Once the records are identifiable as being Student X's record, they are protected. Props to Michael for the clarification. Get it? Props? Proppe? /Shrugs, leaves room.]
"We certainly disagree with the university's interpretation," Proppe said. "The university main concern is 'Was this going to violate the privacy of individuals involved?'
That's not the case, Proppe asserted, saying CSG intends to maintain student privacy and confidentiality.
Cool, but that really doesn't matter. Michigan can't tell the federal government "we know you said not to disclose this, but they promised they wouldn't tell anyone else." There is NO provision for these records to be disclosed to other entities if they pinkie-swear not to further disclose it.
Plus, you're selling this entire thing as "transparency." How can you say you're trying to make the investigation transparent while simultaneously declaring that you won't reveal anything?
CSG has commissioned a law firm to consider U-M's refusal to turn over investigation documents.
Hey, look, I just saved you a bunch of money.
Bottom line, there are a bunch of open questions for the University and the Athletic Department on this issue. But when people focus on the stuff that the University categorically cannot do, it distracts from the stuff onto which we actually SHOULD be trying to shine a light. And to say the University is somehow "obstructing" this student government investigation through the failure to turn over investigation records is, as they say, crap.
UPDATE: After a conversation with Clarence Beeks (who, frankly, seems like more of a Corporate/Securities Law expert (watch good movies, people)), I felt I should include the following info.
Because the statute does not define "school official", that definition is left to the University, and the University must give public notice of that definition. Michigan's definition is as follows:
A University official is any person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support position; a person elected to the Board of Regents; a student or a University graduate serving on an official University committee or assisting another University official in performing his or her tasks; or a person employed by or under contract to, or serving as the agent of, the University to perform a specific task.
The CSG is not an "official University committee," a list of which can be found here. It is, by its own description, a student organization. Its members are chosen by the student body, not the University, and it performs no designated University function. Further, the definition of "legitimate educational interest" is as follows:
Legitimate educational interest is the need to review an education record in order for a University official to carry out his or her responsibilities in regard to performing an administrative task outlined in the official's duties, or performing a supervisory or instructional task directly related to the student's education.
(Emphasis mine). Even if we're somehow assuming students on CSG are officials, reviewing such cases is almost certainly not part of their outlined duties.
Keep talking youngster
I've banged with a dozen players better than you
You can have your NBA hype
You can have your superstar calls.
That's nothing but fuel.
'Cuz I've got a secret
I would sell my soul to win this game
You may be taller
You may jump higher
But you will pry this rebound from my cold dead hands
You think you're tough?
Try getting an engineering degree from Michigan
Studying in hotel rooms and restaurants.
This aint my first rodeo
Go ahead and help your man getting beat to the rack
I've got friends in the league
And I've got friends on this team
They've got one thing in common
If they get me the ball in this paint
I am going to make this rim suffer
I am going to make you look weak
I am going to make your fans cry
It's nothing personal
This is what I do
And tomorrow I'm going to wake up
Feed the dog
And do it all again.
OK, so that happened. The great thing about the Big Ten standings is that they don't take 19-point first-half deficits into account. :-) Unsurprisingly, the performance in West Lafayette reduced KenPom's probabilities of Michigan victory in each of the next three games; combined with an Illinois victory over Nebraska, the remaining schedule looks a couple of percentage points harder than it did a few days ago.
Having said that, GRIII's layup turned a 74% (pregame) probability of victory into 100%, which more than makes up for the slightly smaller future percentages. Here's an updated chart of Michigan's expected final record, again to two signficant figures:
Staee hasn't played; their chart is nearly unchanged:
Wisky, now alone in third place:
|11-7 or worse||13%|
Ohio, still up half a game on Iowa:
|11-7 or worse||67%|
|11-7 or worse||79%|
(Nebraska, unsuprisingly, has been eliminated from title contention).
Combining the various scenarios, we get the following chance of winning the title with the given record (i.e., the rows add up to 100% and represent the probability of each outcome if Michigan achieves the record listed).
|Record||Outright Title||Shared Title||No Title|
Multiplying by the data in the first table -- the chance that Michigan achieves each of these records -- gives us an 83% chance of an outright title (up from 75% on Sunday) and a 15% chance of a shared title, for a whopping 98% chance of hanging a Big Ten championship banner for 2014.
With the victory over the Boilermakers, Michigan has also locked up a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament. (I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that even if they lose out, Michigan's worst possible finish is a tie for fourth, and the winning record against the top teams in the B1G standings would pay dividends in any tiebreaker).
Clinching/eliminatation scenarios for the remainder of the week and weekend:
- Michigan cannot clinch the outright title this weekend. However, Michigan can clinch a share of the title with a win and a loss by Staee.
- Iowa plays @Indiana and vs. Purdue and is eliminated with any loss or Michigan victory.
- Ohio plays @PSU and @Indiana and is eliminated with any loss or Michigan victory.
- Wisconsin plays @PSU. A loss or Michigan victory means that they can do no better than a share of the title; a loss and a Michigan victory would eliminate them entirely.
- Staee plays at home against Illinois; if they lose and Michigan wins, they can do no better than a share of the title.
As always, Go Blue!
(Edit: corrected a typo - "play dividends" -> "pay dividends")
This is our off-season strategy, and I love it
It's easy to forget that the "Hail Mary" is not just a football play, but also a prayer. While Brady Hoke's desired scheme is more Lloyd Carr than Rich Rodriguez, his coaching approach is certainly closer to Art Briles' play-calling than Mike DeBord's.
So what the hell does that mean?
I love--as I believe most do--Hoke's aggressiveness on fourth down. But we've learned quite a bit more about his willingness to go "all in" this off-season, and the result will be a 2014 team that looks drastically different from its predecessor. No less than six position changes that could affect the starting line-up, a new offensive coordinator, and significant scheme change on defense. This is the "Hail Mary" off-season: it is both a long, risky pass, and a prayer.
2013, to me, was The Season of Infinite Pain. It wasn't just the losing, it was the way we lost. The go-backwards offense that decided four downs were just too many combined with a defense that seemed to know exactly when to self-destruct made for a season that was excrutiatingly painful to watch, and I believe that the manner in which we lost (and won) was even more of a factor in our recruiting death spiral than the record itself. In the few games where the offense did click (Notre Dame, Indiana, Ohio) the defense couldn't keep-up, and the offensive line was never even close to adequate.
I hope we're all still smiling in December
So what did Brady Hoke do about this? He fired his friend and Offensive Coordinator--with whom he'd had lots of success. He made wholesale changes to the positions the defensive staff coaches, and removed himself as a position coach. He will be instituting a new scheme on both sides of the ball--completely new on offense, and moving from a 4-3 Under to a 4-3 Over on defense. Make no mistake about it, this change on defense is almost as significant as moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 (but not as significant as going to a 3-3-5). On top of that, Hoke is reshuffling a slew of starters and key back-ups.
Here's what I love about this:
- It's all on Hoke. If this season ends in disaster, the J. Ira and Blah Blah Blah Coach will be the last place for the finger to point. It's mostly his roster, the coaching staff has been rebuilt, player positions have been changed. The answer to the question, "Can Brady Hoke coach?" is now clearly: "See 2014 season."
- The courage to change. I get Brian's negativity about some of the changes. A new OC? A new scheme on defense? Changing the position of your best player on defense (maybe the best player on the team)? It all smacks of desperation. That's scary as hell, and should make you nervous. It makes me nervous. But last year was awful, and here is a coach saying, "You know what? We have to make significant changes. Tweaks aren't going to do it." He's admitting the failure--not just through coachspeak--and making changes that could turn things around.
- Win or lose, this should be better to watch. Devin Gardner called it "a new style of practice." We know that Nussmeier at least practiced the no huddle at Alabama. Whether or not we see U-M stopping for a group chat between every play this season, I would expect the offense to move more quickly and the QBs to have more time at the line. I can damn near guarantee you'll see some of the constraint plays many on this board have been clamoring for, since Nuss' has always used WR screens and extended hand-offs. And we now know that Devin Funchess will be playing "on the outside." Nussmeier has always used a balanced attack that focuses on getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers and scoring points. Even if our offense doesn't set records this year, it should be a lot more fun to watch.
- Defense, too. The Tampa Two defenses that were en vogue in the NLF in the early '00's (and longer for the Lions) proved that "bend-but-don't-break" defense could work. Forcing the offense to plod towards the end zone and use all their downs increases the chances of a mistake and forces an offense to be more precise. I have two problems with that: 1) It's much harder to do against a no-huddle offense, since you can't rotate your D-Line as much, which MUST get pressure. 2) It's not as fun to watch. Last season, it often seemed like Mattison's "Keep the ball inside and in front" mantra mostly meant, "If you want a first down passing over the middle, we're happy to give it to you." Compounding that frustration was the snake-bitten (or gypsy-cursed) outside coverage that always seemed to be in the right place at the right time but didn't make the play. Even though we produced 17 INTs and nearly as many turnovers as we did in 2011 (when we recovered a ridiculous 20 fumbles) it never felt like a game-changing or play-making defense, mostly because there were far too many times when we let teams like Akron, Penn State, Indiana, 2nd-half Iowa, Ohio State, and Kansas State move the ball seemingly at will. Too many times, when it mattered most, our defense whiffed. Hoke says NO MORE! The changes that have been made public about positions and scheme strongly suggest we are moving to a high-pressure, in your face defense closer to MSU's style than Monte Kiffin's. I expect more blitzing, more play-making, and more TFLs. Might we get torched more often? Maybe, but I'd rather watch that brand of football, and I think players (and recruits) would rather play that way.
- Musical chairs on defense. Moving Keith Heitzman to TE is a virtual no-lose change: here's a guy who had been passed by younger players at SDE, switching to a position he played in high school where we need toughness and depth. But moving your best defender (and maybe player) to MLB from what was closer to a 3-4 OLB? It's a gamble, and not a small one. The upside is huge: if you go right, Jake Ryan is there; if you go left, JMFR is there. Starting from the middle, he has the potential to be involved in every play. But what if he's not very good at his new job? What if JRIII gets put on his ass by opposing TEs? What if Desmond Morgan is too slow to play the WILL in a 4-3 Over? Hoke took his deepest, most experienced position group on the entire team and changed everything. If it works, it could be beautiful. If it doesn't, he could be fired. But Jake Ryan went from 6.8 tackles/game to 3.7 and, even more alarming, from 1.27 TFLs/game to 0.56. Sure, some of that is the injury, but some of that is opposing teams saying, "We're not letting him beat us." Now? Defensive coordinators will have to fool Ryan to beat him, because we already know he can shed blocks and move sideline-to-sideline. If he can diagnose plays, he's going to kick some serious ass in 2014. And now Mattison is his position coach.
Do these changes make me nervous? Of course. These are huge changes, and change always brings risk. But, to me, these changes seem to directly address the issues--both in terms of success and enjoyment--that made 2013 so damn unwatchable. And win or lose, we'll know what we have in a head coach.
What it all boils down to is this: it's Hoke's fourth season, and very much the fourth quarter in a game he's losing to stay on as Michigan's blah blah blah Head Coach. And he's not calling the safe, conservative I-form off tackle play, or even the single-back play-action post; while it may require some help from the heavens, he's calling the fucking Hail Mary.
We'll just have to pray it works.
ONWARD TO THE FINISH
Having dispatched Michigan State on Sunday, we find ourselves with four games to go and, at least by the estimates, a rather good chance of compiling a good record in those remaining games. As a matter of fact, using the updated Massey numbers from this past Monday, the estimated chances of winning three of the last four, or indeed, winning out are not bad at all:
With deference to our most recent win, here are MSU’s chances at various win totals in their final games in the conference schedule:
Here are the summary averages, current as of the end of the game on Sunday:
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
Off. Rebound %
Def. Rebound %
Assist / Turnover Ratio
True Shooting %
Free Throw Rate
Points / Possession
As seems to be typical, the greatest advantage that we maintain is that we are the better shooting team and we seem to get to the line a little more than our opponents on an average day. Our turnover percentage seems to be on par with our opponents, although Sunday’s very low in-game percentage definitely helped drive down the average nearly 0.5%, which is rather significant. The defensive efficiency is over 1.00 points per possession, but again, we seem to mitigate this by sheer accuracy on our own end.
The four factors as they have looked in the last five games are below. This is somewhat significant as this, I believe, is the first time two losses have been in the charted stretch here.
Most significant here is the steady decline in turnover rate over the last five games. This is definitely something that concerned many on this board, and although we may not top the Michigan State performance for discipline with the ball, there is still a vast difference between keeping this figure closer to 10% as opposed to 20%.
SOME OTHER STATS:
Other statistics of note over the last five games –
(No cat photo for now as the Internet here is acting up)
(Apologies if this belongs elsewhere, but I haven't seen this analysis done yet).
At 11-3, with a half-game lead on Staee and four games remaining, Michigan is obviously in the driver's seat for the B1G basketball title. Using the game predictions from KenPom's site, I've done a quick probability analysis to see what the odds are that there's a banner to be hung.
First, Michigan's expected record, along with a percent chance:
(I used two significant figures, since there were two in the KenPom data; obviously, they won't add to exactly 100%).
Here's Staee's expected record:
|10-8 or worse||12%|
|10-8 or worse||2.4%|
|10-8 or worse||23%|
|10-8 or worse||68%|
Put it all together, and you get the following possibilities (all chances here are conditional -- e.g., each line should add up to 100% within the limits of rounding and significant figures):
|Record||Outright Title||Shared Title||No Title|
|11-7||< 0.01%||0.20%||> 99%|
When you factor in the chances that Michigan achieves each of these records (from the first table), and add it all up, and there is a 75% chance of an outright title, a 19% chance of a shared title, and a 6% chance of being bannerless. (Coincidentally, I coded up a simulation using the same KenPom percentages, ran it 100 times, and got at least a share of the title exactly 94 times).
Long story short, even with a single loss, the odds are still in our favor to win the title outright, since KenPom doesn't think Staee is likely to run the table, and 2-2 down the stretch is likely to be enough to secure a share of the title. Like many of you, I never would have predicted this in December.