to play football, not to play trumpet
We’re a couple weeks away from the massive void that is playoff hockey and basketball. What is close at hand before then are exciting M events: Lion Kim at the Masters, the Frozen Four and the Spring ‘Game’. Sure, we have our other Winter and Spring sports at UofM to cheer, but it’s the latter of this year's ‘April Three’ that likely stirs us most. Without the winged helmets, not much else matters. Or does it?
As has been well documented here, this year’s last football practice has been dubbed the Mott Spring Game. And to boot, there’s a post today regarding the matching commitment from the Beam family – an unbelievable commitment at that.
C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is a blessing to those in southeastern Michigan. It is the best insurance you can have if you have children – insurance being something you’re willing to pay for but hope to never use. As I’m sure many of you are aware, Brian Griese, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson have made significant contributions to that insurance tab with donations to Mott and have collectively made it their personal missions to make a difference with the construction of the new Mott hospital.
Being ‘all in’ has become a consistent theme of late. Hopefully, we can all agree that being ‘All In for Mott’ is a great thing. And beyond the Spring game contributions and other fund raisers around Ann Arbor, there’s amazing events through Griese/Hutchinson/Woodson Champions for Children campaign. The fund raising events for Mott (http://champsforchildren.org/) include tailgates at multiple locations around the country and an annual event in Ann Arbor.
Personally, I have been fortunate enough to never need Mott. Neighbors of mine have needed the services of Mott for 2 of their children, as has our AD. I appreciate that we’re all in different positions to give and subsequently, we all can’t attend events like those in the Champions for Children campaign, but given how important Mott is to kids, and to our legacy as a Michigan community, I hope you’ll spare a few bucks at the Mott Spring Game.
We're already a few weeks away from the spring game and recruiting is in full swing. With two commitments under their belt the coaches are expecting a few more to come in before or during the spring game. Here's a look at a few visit reactions, upcoming visits, and general notes.
6'5", 228 lbs.
North Canton, Ohio
Appleby has been making his rounds across the country for unofficial visits. He took a trip out to Florida to see the Gators and then made his way up to Ann Arbor.
I wasn't offered on this trip, but we sat down with the coaches and they told me what they want out of me to get that offer. They said they want to see me at their camp and based off of that we'll talk about an offer. They told me that they've seen my film and that they really like me but they want me to camp before they offer.
Normally when you hear that from a prospect it's not good news. However, Appleby has the talent to eventually get an offer depending on what happens with Zeke Pike and Maty Mauk. The fact that Michigan hasn't offered isn't discouraging him.
With Coach Hoke we were just building the relationship and he told me they definitely think I'm a D1 quarterback. It's a challenge to me because I have all the confidence in myself and I'm excited to prove what I know I can do.
Austin got the full treatment from the coaches and felt that he got a good idea of who the new Michigan coaches are.
We met with the coaches and Coach Singletary. We went straight to practice and the players were popping around. They look like a whole new team, I definitely think they're on the right track. The overall enthusiasm and attitude was great. Everything they do is about beating Ohio State. I think the coaches were great, they were honest and genuine. It's hard to compare visits, but I'm definitely interested in Michigan.
I think Michigan would be in good position with Appleby if they were to offer. We'll see if that happens.
6'3", 220 lbs.
I brought up Antonio as a name to keep an eye on a few weeks ago. He hasn't been offered yet, but is planning on taking a trip to Ann Arbor this Saturday.
I'm really interested in Michigan. That was my favorite team growing up. I talked to Coach Hecklinski and they haven't offered yet, but they really like me.
Morrison is hoping for an offer this weekend, and if Michigan does offer they could vault into his top group.
I know the coaches from San Diego State, but I don't know too much about them. I have about ten offers right now but the schools I talk to the most are Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana. [Michigan] would definitely be in my top three schools if they offered. I don't really have a leader yet, but if Michigan were to offer they might be at the top.
There are already a good amount of linebacker prospects with offers that Michigan is in good position with. We'll see if Antonio does get offered this weekend, but I wouldn't be shocked if he wasn't.
6'4", 295 lbs.
Battle Creek, Michigan
Latta is a big prospect that hasn't started to pick up steam with his recruitment yet. He currently has offers from Wisconsin and Western. Some schools prefer him on the offensive line and some prefer defensive line. Michigan has shown interest in Kelby, and the new coaching staff has made that feeling mutual.
I like the kind of mentality the new coaches are bringing and starting to get. I like the style of ball they're playing, and I just want to see what kind of coaches they are and how we get a long.
Kelby hasn't picked up many offers yet so he isn't anywhere near making his final decision. He does have an idea of how it will play out though.
I want to have it down to three schools by the time football season comes around. I know Wisconsin will be in there and the other two spots are open. Michigan has a chance to be in there. I'll probably make my final decision at the end of the season. I'm really just looking for the style of play, if they can win, the coaches, the class I'd be coming in with, and the education.
Wisconsin is the leader for now, but Kelby has interest in finding out more about Michigan. Latta says that the Michigan coaches have told him they prefer him on the offensive line. They have quite a few offers out already to offensive linemen with around 4 committable spots left.
- If you missed it you can take a look at what QB Zeke Pike thought of his visit to Michigan here. Pike just took in Arkansas this past weekend, but Michigan has done a good job of getting in the conversation. Zeke plans on making his decision within the next few months and as of now Michigan has a great chance.
- Visit reactions from Minnesota OL Jonah Pirsig and Ohio TE AJ Williams are here.
- East Detroit TE Ron Thompson told me he will be making his decision within the next few weeks. He doesn't have a set date, just whenever he feels ready. Michigan is in good position.
- Ohio LB Kaleb Ringer will be announcing his decision on April 15th at 6pm EST. Michigan is in good position here as well.
- Michigan offered Texas fullback EJ Fatu (5'10", 235 lbs). His late father was Eddie Fatu, the WWE wrestler and his cousin is The Rock.
[Ed-M: Bumped because this is all important stuff. Photos: MGoBlue.com: all from March 30 practice. Click through to see, among other things, Urban Meyer on the sidelines.]
I want to start by wishing a Happy Birthday to Bo. Born this day in 1929.
I attended practice yesterday and here are some very random notes and observations.
I gravitate to the LBs because that's what I coach and I try to pick up new drills/techniques. Here are the 11 guys who were working with the LB corp: Cam Gordon, Brandin Hawthorne, Marell Evans, Kenny Demens, Isaiah Bell, Mike Jones, Jake Ryan, JB Fitzgerald, Paul Gyarmati, Brandon Herron, Jordan Paskorz. They were running a lot of basic drills because, quite frankly, this group has a LOT of work ahead of them.
- Cam Gordon is ALL of 6' 3". He's gotten taller since he was a senior in HS (I know because I stood next to him at a spring practice last year and I was definitely taller than him). He looks good, physically. He's added a significant amount of muscle and has real good pop. During one particular drill where the LB shuffles downhill then forms up on the "ballcarrier," Cam surprised the ballcarrier with an explosive pop. It was either Bell or Demens. Whoever it was felt it, I can promise you that.
- Josh Furman has sweet dreads. He's a good sized kid too and got a lot of reps
- Marell Evans got a lot of reps with the ones during the scrimmage. He seems very comfortable with his teammates and coaches.
- Jake Ryan's helmet is chipped all to hell, which tells me he keeps his head up at the point of contact and has a nose [Ed-M: Or more accurately forehead] for the ball. I thought Cam looked taller but they're both listed at 6'3" on the roster.
During the scrimmages, the defense moved around a lot, displaying multiple looks. Although they were running a 4-3, Mike Martin was lined up over the center (or shaded) most of the time.
Big Will and Q got a lot of reps (with the 1s and 2s). I think Will probably gets more coaching than any kid on the team. It appears to me that the coaches REALLY believe they have something special in Will if they can just coach him up and bring it out of him. He is a big kid with a lot of potential and could be scary good if he makes up his mind and puts in the work. BTW, Will talks a lot of shit. On one play, he pursued Devin to the sideline and out of bounds, gave him some lip, then smacked the ball out of Devin's hands. It was all in good fun and I think it shows that Big Will is feeling like he's an integral part of this team. BW is big but QW isn't far behind. These two have a chance to make a huge impact, if they simply learn to work hard and realize what they can achieve.
Curt Mallory is by far the most intense person on the entire field. He is working hard with the DBs.
It's obvious both sides of the ball are learning new schemes. Lots of mistakes and miscues. However, the intensity is there. Ryan Van Bergen is your vocal leader of the defense.
Here are the DBs I noticed getting lots of reps: Courtney Avery, Jordan Kovacs, Thomas Gordon, Floyd Simmons, Cullen Christian, Jared VanSlyke, Greg Brown, Marvin Robinson, Tony Anderson, and Al Backey.
- During one scrimmage, Jordan Kovacs dropped the hammer on an outstretched Je'Ron Stokes. It was a BIG lick, but Stokes held onto the ball and popped right up.
- Courtney Avery ran with the 1s all the time. He looks good although I think 5'11" is generous. I talked with his dad (Courtney Sr) for a while. Super nice family (mom and younger brother were there too). He said everything is completely different for Courtney and it's like starting over: Terminology, technique, alignment, philosophy, scheme.
- Cullen Christian has sweet tats on the back of both arms. Written in old english font with a 2 and C on the left arm and 4 and C on the right. (That's some Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporting, isn't it?)
- Speaking of tats, it's one thing I noticed we have a LOT of. There's some sweet artwork out there.
- Woolfolk and Floyd were off in the corner with a S&C coach, working their asses off. The coach had one of those punching dummies that the two players would take turns delivering two handed shivers in rapid succession.
Here's something I'm sure you'll all be fired up about: the 1st team D owned the first team O in Red Zone scrimmage. Three times in a row the D stuffed the O, including a 1st and goal from the 2 which resulted in a fumble, recovered by Herron. The defense was noticably more vocal than the O, but I don't think that means anything other than the O is doing a lot more thinking, rather than just playing.
It was quite evident that this was the first week of practice under a new system. On the other hand, the 2nd team O scored in one play (both passes to the right side) TWICE against the 2nd team D.
Offensively, Rocko Khoury was the center during the scrimmages, but Molk participated in the conditioning. I don't recall seeing Molk out on the field, but maybe I just overlooked him (shame on me).
Your first O line was (from left to right) Huyge, Barnum, Khoury, Omameh, Schofield. Lewan wasn't in pads. Second O line was Barnum, Khoury, Burzynski, Pace, Gunderson.
Every time I looked up, it seemed Drew Dileo was retunring a punt or kick. There was a decent amount of time devoted to special teams at the begining and end of practice, which I thought was, you know....... important (lol). Both kickers were lined up on opposite hashes (Seth on the right hash, Brendan on the left), starting with 27 yard kicks then moving back to 35 yarders. I will leave you with this....... they need more practice.
I didn't watch the offense all that much as I was trying to concentrate on what the defense was doing and who was on the field. However Denard is sweet. His smile and personality resonate from across the field. I honestly feel like we have been blessed, not with just a hell of an athlete, but a hell of a kid. That is all.
Finally, I had a chance to talk with Coach Jerry Hanlon for a bit. I haven't seen him in a LONG time, but he looks and sounds great. I'm surprised he still has a voice because he did a LOT of yelling back in the day. I remember one spring practice, for some reason, Coach Hanlon decided to coach from the press box, which was really odd. Nobody ever did that.. Anyway, we were going through a scrimmage or inside skele and all of the sudden, from WAAaaaay on high, this high-pitched, angry voice bellowed down from above. It brought practice to a screeching halt as everyone stopped what they were doing so they could take in the ass chewing Coach Hanlon's dished out to some poor linemen from 100 feet in the air. I guess you had to be there, but it was memorable.
These updates are a little late, but I tried to space everything out so it wasn't all one big bombardment. Here are two more updates from last week's junior day visit from Minnesota OL Jonah Pirsig and Ohio TE AJ Williams.
6'9", 300 lbs.
Blue Earth, Minnesota
Yes, Jonah is 6-foot-9 and he's from a place called Blue Earth. [Ed: Next time Tom talks to him I'll have him ask if he's got a pet ox and has been bewilderingly located in East Lansing of late.] Pirsig has racked up some big time offers--Auburn, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, MSU, Ohio State, and Wisconsin to name a few. He took in Ann Arbor this past weekend and got a chance to talk with his potential position coach.
Right away we had a meeting with Coach Funk. We didn't watch tape or anything, but he gave me some history of the coaching staff and what he's done with offensive linemen. He went over the depth chart and his coaching style. He said they'll be running pro style but they're going to still run Denard. I think I definitely fit in that offense. Coach Hoke was talking with my dad and me. We didn't talk much about football, just about random stuff like two guys.
Pirsig came up on a off practice day so they weren't able to watch any actual coaching. That may not have been a negative though as it gave him more time to interact with the coaches.
We went in the Big House and it was pretty overwhelming walking out on the field. They gave us some facts and told us that they're planning on adding about 10,000 seats eventually. We got a tour of the locker room and the training room. I think this visit helped Michigan because I was just talking to the coaches, and now I can put faces and personalities to the name.
Jonah said he wants to narrow things down pretty soon, but he's not exactly sure when that will happen. Like he said, this visit helped Michigan but I have a feeling they still have work to do.
6'6", 260 lbs.
Williams has put together a nice offer list himself with Boston College, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, MSU, NC State, and WVU among the programs interested. AJ journeyed up to Ann Arbor with his father and both seemed to like what they saw.
It was great. I love the facilities and the way the coaches welcomed us in. I went with my dad and he loved it too. He loved how the coaches showed me how I would fit in and how they were honest about everything.
Williams was also up on a non practicing day, but there's always plenty of things to see and people to talk to.
We talked to Coach Hoke and he is a great guy. I love how cool he is with just talking about life and how it's not all about football. He was having a good talk with my dad. I would say this trip was a solid 9, and it helped Michigan.
This visit really seemed to make an impression on both AJ and his dad. He's not sure when he'll make his final decision, but he said it will be either before his football season or before his basketball season next year. After this visit Michigan has put themselves in good position.
As we all know, there have recently been many scandals involving paying football players (Cam Newton, recruiting, OSU players selling gold pants, Tattoo-gate, etc). It's not just football players involved, either: we all know what happened with the Fab 5. Is paying sports players so bad though? We all know that universities make millions of dollars based on their football - and to a lesser extent basketball - programs. In addition, many players come from extremely poor backgrounds and must support their families and/or kids. Obviously, if we were to pay them, it would need to be legalized by the NCAA.
First, I know that many of you do not believe in paying sports players. Why pay them when they're already receiving a free education worth 200K? I would like to present an unusual but strangely compelling analogy between football players and PhD students. As an engineering PhD student, I've noticed many similarities between the two. Obviously the analogy isn't perfect but I consider it to be an interesting one.
- Both PhD students and football players provide more value to the University than they receive in direct compensation. PhD students draw grants worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars from companies (if you're an engineering or science PhD student) and the federal government. A good PhD student provides a lot of exposure for the University in the research community and in the news: when you read about some professor's science breakthrough in the Science section of the NY Times, keep in mind that the PhD students working for the professor are the ones who did 99% of the work. In compensation, the PhD student receives free tuition (sounds familiar?), and a minor stipend for living expenses. Obviously, we all know that football players generate way more money in athletic revenue and generate tons of exposure for the university: see the Doug Flutie effect. Also, would anyone not in Idaho have heard of Boise State University if it weren't for football?
- Both PhD students and football players get a free education. All PhD students do not pay for their tuition, either receiving funding through teaching (TA), research (RA), or an internal or external fellowship.
- The #1 job of PhD students and football players is not to do well in class. The #1 job of the PhD student is to do lots of research. Taking classes is mostly to learn some background information, although one or two classes will suffice for their research area. Of course, they need to take more classes to graduate. After the first few classes, all other classes are just for the sake of your own interest, to "make you a better person." Your advisor will also pressure you to spend more time on research and less time on classwork (assuming that you're not in danger of failing out). Obviously most coaches would rather their star football players focus on football rather than studying (assuming that they're not in danger of failing out).
As we can see, from a high level perspective, there are many similarities. The difference is that PhD students get a stipend, which varies based on the school and the location. Also schools may offer PhD students different amounts of money for their services based on how good they are. For example, an OSU PhD student choosing between OSU, MIT and Stanford will probably get a larger offer from OSU than one who just got into OSU. Stipends range between 15K to 30K a year, based on the department, school, and your attractiveness as a candidate.
Aside from these points, PhD students and football recruits share another similarity: recruiting visits. Obviously they aren't as lavish as the football recruiting visits, but schools still make an effort to wine and dine you, paying for your airplane tickets, hotel rooms, and gourmet food.
So if we wish to pay football students, how much money should they be offered? It shouldn't be too crazy: they're still basically amateurs, and frankly many smaller schools can't afford it. However, they should be paid enough to support themselves and possibly a family. Guess what? That sounds exactly like a PhD stipend! PhD stipends are already designed to support a student's living expenses and be able to just barely cover them if they already have a family. They are designed to be affordable for the school, competitive with other schools, and support the student based on the cost of living in the area.
Based on these facts, I propose that football and basketball student athletes be paid as much as the minimum PhD student stipend at the university (maybe multiplied by some value between 0 and 1 since athletes already have many aspects covered such as food). The stipend is enough to support them and encourages universities to pay their PhD students more money if they would like to raise the stipend for their sports players, thus fostering better research. The NCAA has said many times that student-athletes are students first, so now it's time for them to prove it or shut up. Making the football stipend based on some academic stipend is a good way to do it since it will improve the quality of graduate education as well as giving student athletes enough money to support themselves and their families back at home.
What if the school does not have a PhD program? An alternative strategy is to make the student athlete stipend based on the minimum professor salary. Here are some examples for what the student athlete salary can be:
Athlete Salary = A * (Teaching Assistant stipend)
Athlete Salary = B * (PhD stipend)
Athlete Salary = C * (Assistant Professor salary)
Where A and B are maybe between 0.5 and 1, and C is around 0.1 or so.
TLDR: Here's the main question that I'm posing: how do we distinguish between Div 1 basketball and football players from PhD students, in light of the fact that they both produce more value than what they receive?