"You know how Kyle Flood still has a job? Yeah, all Jourdan."
Apologies to AC1997, but my reply turned into a diary. There is a lot of snark here, it's not aimed at you, it's just because I'm snarky.
Brian's mentioned Bill Simmon's article about PEDs and its natural extension into college recruiting. Whenever a school, Ole Miss in this case, gets a recruiting windfall, illicit or otherwise, or has a sustained run of success at the top, like USC, lots of folks question whether or not the success is legitimate. Then, they openly speculate, often using terms like "U$C" or "Ole Mi$$," (AC1997 did not do this) why no one sheds light on the violations. Here's my take as to why really big recruiting violations rarely come to light.
First, let's set the scenario. Phil Philbert is a five star dual-threat QB from Springfield. Instead of staying home to play for Local U (LU), he instead goes to Football University (FU), which is on the other side of the country. LU fans cry foul and demand justice, but no one sheds light on why Phil was seen leaving town in a new Maserati.
In this scenario, I think there are three ways Phil and FU get caught:
- NCAA investigation.
- Concerned insider tells all.
- Investigative journalism.
First, we all know the NCAA isn't out to discover recruiting violations. If the NCAA is a part of a police force, its job is that of a detective. In other words, they here about something bad and investigate to determine what happened and who is responsible. This detective would be taking many of its calls from cops on the beat. The only problem is, there aren't any paid cops on the beat. If the NCAA and its members wanted that, there would be paid staff at FBS schools "patrolling." No one involved really wants that. Therefore, the NCAA is waiting by the phone for options 2 and 3 to call before starting an investigation.
The most obvious person to call the NCAA would be the concerned insider. They would have first-hand knowledge of the situation and could steer the NCAA toward FU's egregious violations. The problem is, who are these insiders with direct knowledge? The parties with direct knowledge are:
- Phil's parents.
- Phil's high school coach.
- FU's coach.
- The deep pocketed booster who bought the Maserati.
- The bagman.
None of these people has any incentive to talk. Phil and his family got a free car (or cash) and don't want to go to jail for not paying taxes on the gift. Phil's coach can't tattle or he gets fired and his high school becomes persona non grata in recruiting circles. FU's coach doesn't want a show cause penalty or to lose his buyout. The booster and the bagman love FU too much to tell. Anyone else who talks has circumstantial evidence unless Phil (or the bagman) is dumb enough to talk about their nefarious deed into a microphone.
That basically leaves investigative journalism. However, there are serious problems with developing these types of stories. Even disregarding the lack of actual journalists who have the skill and tenacity to run down these types of stories, they still have to get someone to talk. That's really hard. Additionally, which news outlet would run the story? The most obvious one is LU's home paper. However, LU's home paper probably isn't doing very well right now and is likely devoting their investigative stories (if there are any) to things like crime, serious corruption, or serious societal issues. FU's home paper is definitely out. Papers struggle for readers as it is, they don't need to anger their subscriber base by getting FU in a bunch of trouble.
That basically leaves Charles Robinson at Yahoo! and a few other journalists at big-time news organizations who have the time and organizational backing to do this type of work. I heard an interview with Robinson a year or two ago. In it, he basically said he has a bunch of Nevin Shapiro / Miami stories in the works at any time, but journalistic standards of prohibit him from publishing until he can get credible on-the-record conversations and / or a lot of verifiable evidence. Again, that's really hard to come by given the few people with insider knowledge and their lack of incentive to talk.
This is one guy's opinion as to why serious recruiting violations don't come to light very often. They're hard to find and hard to verify. Furthermore, I don't believe much really serious stuff actually happens anymore. It's too easy for someone to Tweet a picture of himself holding a stack of cash and add "loving FU right now, LOL." Cheating today is an incredibly short-sighted tactic that can't go on long. It would be impossible for wholesale, SMU-style cheating, to be kept quiet, just like it was then.
Since it was a slow (but happy) National Signing Day for Michigan fans, I thought I'd take on a related topic today regarding recruiting and our friends in SEC land.
As Brian briefly touched on during his NSD piece, Bill Simmons’ latest column dealt with the subject of steroids and how the media avoids speculation about who might be juicing. It is a really good piece that you should read. The message is this – we all have a mental list of players who we want to see pee in a cup to prove their innocence…..why not openly talk about those lists?
Many of us feel like NCAA corruption is a similar topic – taboo to the main stream media. Much like how the baseball writers looked the other way when McGwire and Sosa were “saving the sport” we see college media look the other way as Saban hands out medical redshirts like candy, Reggie Bush lives in free housing, Oregon pays a pseudo agent, or OSU lets players trade equipment for benefits around town. Why has there never been a “deep throat source” willing to blow up recruiting violations? John Bacon even touches on the subject in “Three And Out” when interviewing the quarterbacks, but doesn’t dig deeper.
In 2013 the obvious “pee in the cup” list for recruiting corruption starts with Ole Miss. This is a team with a mediocre recent past if we’re being generous. They haven’t won the SEC since the 1960’s and haven’t been relevant nationally except for their #20 finish in 2009. Yet this season they bring in a consensus top ten recruiting class and some of the nation’s best players. What gives?
It is easy to speculate about potential corruption but aside from a picture on LaQuan Treadwell’s twitter account of him holding several hundred dollars, there’s no way for us to have any evidence. So we could sit here and rant about it while sounding like Skip Bayliss debating the wonders of Tim Tebow, but then the message is lost. Can we find statistical evidence that something is deviating from the norm with Ole Miss?
I contend that there are several ways we can do this, and I’m going to start such a conversation. However, I have neither the time nor the skill to finish this scavenger hunt so I wanted to post this primer and then let the power of the Michigan blog sphere potentially dig further if there’s interest.
Below is a table summarizing Mississippi’s recruiting classes from the past several years along with their final record and rank:
Total # of
(# from MS)
(# from MS)
|n/a||7||27||3 (0)||9 (5)||7|
|2012||7-6||40||19||0 (-)||2 (1)||1|
|2011||2-10||19||27||1 (1)||5 (5)||0|
|2010||4-8||18||25||0 (-)||7 (6)||1|
|2009||9-4||18||37||1 (0)||8 (2)||7|
|2008||9-4||29||31||1 (0)||2 (0)||3|
|2007||3-9||27||22||0 (-)||6 (1)||5|
|2006||4-8||15||30||2 (0)||7 (4)||5|
|2005||3-8||30||28||1 (1)||2 (0)||2|
|2004||4-7||45||25||0 (-)||3 (3)||0|
|2003||10-3||38||21||0 (-)||2 (1)||1|
|2002||7-6||33||18||1 (1)||8 (7)||1|
Without running any data through statistical analysis, here are some observations:
- There were several good recruits in the state of Mississippi this season and historically players from that state stay home to play football. The Rebels deserve credit for signing those guys and that helps to tone down suspicion perhaps.
- Coach Hugh Freeze was hired before last season and did enact somewhat of a turn-around with a 7-6 record that included a bowl win. New coaches can sometimes lead to a bump in recruiting prowess. However, prior to this season he had a total of ONE YEAR of college head coaching experience…..at Arkansas State.
But there’s still something out of the ordinary going on here:
- Ole Miss has never had a class ranked higher than 15th….but this year they are 7th. It would also seem that their higher ranked classes from past years were based as much on quantity (37 recruits in 2009???) as quality.
- In the four previous seasons Ole Miss got a TOTAL of eight players ranked 4-star or higher to commit from out of state. In 2013 they have seven.
- Only one five-star recruit in four seasons has attended from out of state….three are coming this year.
- From 2010-2012 the Rebels had a record of 13-24 and pulled in a total of one 5-star and fourteen 4-star recruits, all but one of whom were from the state of Mississippi. This season they have signed twelve top recruits and just five are from the state.
It is very possible that Hugh Freeze is a great recruiter and has found a new method that is within the rules to attract this talent. It is also possible that this recruiting class had somewhat of a snowball effect and talent attracted talent. But there’s enough circumstantial evidence here for further investigation. This is where I turn it over to the talent on this blog. Here are some ideas for further analysis:
- Have other teams out-performed their historical trends by this much in the recent past?
- Based on the presumed correlation between record and recruiting success (probably 2-year record) has any other team out-performed their on-field success this abnormally before?
- Can we quantify the typical recruiting improvement a coach sees after his first year and compare it to what Freeze is doing?
- Has anyone on the blog been recruited and witnessed corruption first hand?
- Are there any theories on why this seemingly obvious corruption hasn't come out in the open at any school despite the large number of people involved and the fact that many of these people are teenage kids not being recruited for their ACT scores?
Maybe I'm alone in my frustration on this topic, but when you hear ESPN go on and on about the SEC and even Ole Miss specifically on signing day I'd like to hear someone at least ask the question - how are they doing this?
SIGNING DAY, 2013
(Click the Image to See Full Size Version)
Yeah, I'll post this now, even though I know everyone's reading the Live Blog before Coach Hoke's press conference begins. Good day, no surprises...
I also used to do a post on this day every year cautioning all of us to remember not to rain on any young man's dreams today, this is their moment to shine. etc. But as far as I can see there's no rain on the forecast. Great class, great day, Great To Be, etc.
Friday Fun will discuss this thing called basketball, and how exciting it was last night.
Some new formatting news for the New Year:
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every Wednesday here at MGoBlog and on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out the Friday Fun, my weekly single panel comic based on trending Michigan events, available on Twitter and the home page every Friday.
Jalen Rose was tonight's emcee, Betsey Armstrong, Jeff and Tiffany Porter and a CS Mott patient were the judges.
For everyone who attended hopefully you had a great time supporting a great cause, if you didn't make it here are a few performances of note.
And your winner
The rest of the skits can be found here
As promised, here is where the recruiting rankings stand with two days until Signing Day 2013. Michigan still has command of the board, and a few of the Big Ten's best programs still languish in the bottom half of the rankings. Link to last rankings (too many changes to list).
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^||POINTS*|
^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.
*The product of number of Commits and Average Average
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
On to the full data after the jump.
I know I just wrote a diary yesterday.... I hope this one is appreciated!
Below is the remaining schedules for the top-6 BigTen teams:
|INDIANA||MICHIGAN||MICH ST||OHIO ST||WISCONSIN||MINNESOTA|
|Game 10||AT ILL 2-7||OSU 7-2||MINN 5-4||AT UM 7-2||IOWA 3-6||AT MSU 7-2|
|Game 11||AT OSU 7-2||AT WISC 6-3||AT PURD 4-5||IND 8-1||UM 7-2||ILL 2-7|
|Game 12||NEB 2-8||AT MSU 7-2||UM 7-2||NW 4-6||AT MINN 5-4||WISC 6-3|
|Game 13||PUR 4-5||PSU 0-9||AT NEB 2-8||AT WISC 6-3||OSU 7-2||AT IOWA 3-6|
|Game 14||AT MSU 7-2||ILL 2-7||IND 8-1||MINN 5-4||AT NW 4-6||AT OSU 7-2|
|Game 15||AT MINN 4-5||AT PSU 0-9||AT OSU 7-2||MSU 7-2||NEB 2-8||IND 8-1|
|Game 16||IOWA 3-6||MSU 7-2||AT UM 7-2||AT NW 4-6||PUR 4-5||PSU 0-9|
|Game 17||OSU 7-2||AT PUR 4-5||WISC 6-3||AT IND 8-1||AT MSU 7-2||AT NEB 2-8|
|Game 18||AT UM 7-2||IND 8-1||NW 4-6||ILL 2-7||AT PSU 0-9||AT PURD 4-5|
|v. 8-1 IND||N/A||HOME||HOME||ROAD + HOME||N/A||HOME|
|v. 7-2 UM||ROAD||N/A||ROAD + HOME||ROAD||HOME||N/A|
|v. 7-2 MSU||ROAD||ROAD + HOME||N/A||HOME||ROAD||ROAD|
|v. 7-2 OSU||ROAD + HOME||HOME||ROAD||N/A||HOME||ROAD|
|v. 6-3 WISC||N/A||ROAD||HOME||ROAD||N/A||HOME|
|v. 5-4 MINN||ROAD||N/A||HOME||HOME||ROAD||N/A|
|v. 4-5 PUR, 4-6 NW, 3-6 IOWA, 2-7 ILL||HOME- PUR DNP NW HOME IOWA ROAD ILL||AT PURD DNP NW DNP IOWA HOME ILL||AT PURD HOME NW DNP IOWA DNP ILL||DNP PURD ROAD + HOME NW DNP IOWA HOME ILL||HOME PURD AT NW HOME IOWA DNP ILL||AT PURD DNP NW AT IOWA HOME ILL|
|v. 2-8 NEB, 0-9 PSU||HOME NEB||DNP NEB ROAD + HOME PSU||AT NEB DNP PSU||DNP NEB DNP PSU||HOME NEB ROAD PSU||AT NEB HOME PSU|
The top six teams all have 9 games left in conference- I showed all of those games. Then I separated the BigTen into the top 6, the sub-500 teams who can surprise teams, and Nebraska and Penn State who should not surprise anyone no matter where the game is being played. Now I will analyze the home-away breakdown for each sub-group of teams before analyzing each team separately.
One game advantage will be critical since they have the hardest schedule left in my opinion. While MSU and OSU both play one more game against a top-6 team, Indiana plays 4 on the road, including closing out against Michigan. They do have 3 home games against the bottom half, but the game at Illinois could be a trap after a tough fought Michigan game. If they win the conference they will have really earned it, since almost half the remaining games are playing on the road at OSU, MSU, MINN, and UM.
Average schedule amongst the top six. Easier than Ohio State’s or Michigan State’s and Indiana’s most likely- which is very good for our chances of winning the conference. Only Minnesota and Wisconsin play less amongst the top-six, but they are two games and one game behind us respectively. Fortunately we have one more home game against the top-six than roadgames- a nice combo with also having less games against top teams. Plus we play PSU twice and Illinois at home. At Purdue is our sleeper game in my opinion.
At least 4 of the 6 games against the top-six are at home, other than that there is little to be too pleased about for the Spartans. Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin at home are all tough and Ohio State and Michigan on the road will be tough to get. Plus they play Purdue on the road also. They do not play Penn State in the last 9 games, and even the “easy game” of Nebraska is away… poor Sparty. A game behind Indiana and tied with Michigan and Ohio State it will be very hard for them to win the regular season conference crown.
Like Michigan State they have more than half their games (six) against the top-six teams. They play the top two teams (Michigan and Indiana) on the road as well as Wisconsin. Their home top-six are another against Indiana, and then Minnesota and Michigan State. They do not play either Nebraska or Penn State either for easy wins. As is the case with Michigan State there is a lot working against Ohio State. That could all change however if they beat Michigan next game. If they lose to Michigan they will be two back of Indiana (assuming Indiana wins at Illinois) and one game behind us and Michigan State (if they beat Minnesota at home). If they get the upset they can claw their way to a regular season championship, if not the odds get pretty long.
2 back of Indiana they have little hopes to start with. Jumping 4 teams will be a monumental task. Their style of play creates matchup issues but they lack the elite level of play of the teams above them in my opinion. In their favor are only 4 games against the top-six. Home against Michigan and Ohio State and away against Michigan State and Minnesota. No more against Indiana, home against two 7-2 teams, and road against a 7-2 and 5-4 team. They have the easiest schedule of the top-six teams- but not easy enough to be a serious threat to win the regular season in all likelihood.
Should they even be in the top group? Are they going to start off great every year and collapse in conference? They have a lot of work to do if they want to win- and as was the case with Wisconsin they have an easier schedule remaining than the top-four teams. At Michigan State and Ohio State and home against Wisconsin and Indiana. If they don’t win all four their hopes fade away… but at least they exist… for now.
Minnesota is too far gone to be a serious threat. Wisconsin, despite an easier path, needs to much to fall in place in order to win it. Michigan has an easier path than Michigan State or Ohio State, our fellow 7-2 conference mates, and Indiana plays 4 top teams on the road. Too be honest all four have pretty similar odds looking at the schedule- so it will come down to who wins the bigger games- particularly on the road. If Michigan takes care of business against Ohio State our chances rise. If Michigan State loses to Minnesota at home as well after the next conference game it may be Michigan and Indiana fighting for the title with MSU and OSU dropping to long shots. It also seems like there is a very good chance of a split again this year.
My current odds:
I think there is a 1/3 chance there is an outright champ and a 2/3 chance its split. It could be split with two, three, or four teams, so my odds for a split are funky- and maybe mathematically impossible but they are rough estimates anyway.
Michigan and Indiana are so close- the fact Indiana closes at Michigan (that will be such a classic game if things shape up as they seem to be) and that they play more road games against top opponents leaves me thinking Michigan has a slightly better chance of a title in any capacity- and equally as likely to win outright. MSU and OSU are half as likely given tougher schedules than Michigan and a game behind Indiana. They are also less likely to get a split in my opinion, but both have good odds. Wisconsin has almost no chance to win outright, only an easy schedule in comparison keeps some hope alive. They seem possibly in the hunt for a split title- kind of like ours last year with everything needing to fall in place. Minnesota is too far back now and can only hope the top teams beat up on each other enough so everyone gets dinged and they take care of a schedule that’s easier than the top 4 teams.