the season has truly begun now
I wrote this open letter to Drew Sharp after listening to Sharp's podcast provided by BlockM. Should he reply, his reply will appear in the comments. Anyway, here it goes:
I am going to preface my email by telling you that I am a Michigan student and a lifelong Michigan fan, as I feel that it is only fair that you are aware of this before I address the subject of your comments about Demar Dorsey. Furthermore, I will also say that I have no problem with your asking questions about Dorsey’s history to Coach Rodriguez, as that is justifiably part of your job as a reporter. However, I do take issue some of your comments made on your 1130 radio show, having listened to the released podcast.* Also, it is only fair that I inform you that this is an open letter and I will make public your the entirety of your response, if you are so kind as to provide one.
First of all, I question your stance on accepting athletes who have been charged with a crime, but not convicted. As I understand it, Demar Dorsey was acquitted of an armed robbery charge and had charges of burglary against him dismissed. Based on your comments, I assume that you do not believe that athletes who are charged with a crime (or at least, charged with a crime and brought to court), should be allowed to play for the University of Michigan. I take issue with this because it means that any teenager incorrectly charged with a crime is automatically precluded from playing football at Michigan through no fault of his own. As Dorsey was acquitted, and Coach Rodriguez says that he has investigated the matter and believes that he did not commit any crime, I cannot see any moral justification for denying him the opportunity to play football at the University of Michigan. According to your view on how Michigan should conduct itself, Michigan should not accept any player accused of a crime, even if the university believes the player to be innocent, on the basis of upholding a high moral standard. Forgive me, but that seems to be rather disingenuous.
Second of all, I question the journalistic ethics that you have applied when commenting about Demar Dorsey. You compared Dorsey’s acquittal to OJ Simpson’s acquittal without giving any link between the two cases other than the fact that both of them involve football players. Furthermore, you heavily suggested the possibility, and seemed to insinuate that you believe it is likely, that Demar Dorsey was not found guilty because he is a high profile football player. I take issue with this because you did not justify this suspicion with any evidence. You did not discuss any specifics of the Dorsey case, including the evidence that the prosecutors presented in his jury trial. You did not provide any quotes about Dorsey by anyone who knew him. In fact, the only thing that you provided as reason to distrust the Dorsey verdict was a sweeping generalization of football players in the court system, claiming that football players often receive favorable treatment in the justice system. And the only evidence that you provided to back up this generalization was the OJ Simpson case, a heavily publicized trial involving one of the most famous NFL players of all time. Forgive me, but that does not seem to be a fair parallel to a trial involving a high school football player in Fort Lauderdale.
As you consider yourself to be a legitimate journalist, I feel that it is your obligation to provide specific details and a body of evidence to support your view that there is reason to doubt that Dorsey actually committed any crime. If you do not do so, as a journalist it would be unethical to do anything but recant your previous statements and offer an apology to Demar Dorsey.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
*Here is the link to the podcast I listened too, should you wish to hear the entirety of the comments that I am writing to you about:
There is always a debate about the significance of recruiting rankings when teams don't have the same number of recruits. Here's the question for this year.
Is it fair to rank UM's class higher than OSU's, as a number of the recruiting services have done, with rivals not even putting OSU in the top 25?
Some argue that OSU’s class is only ranked lower because they had a smaller class size. But how does class size affect the impact of the recruiting success of the entire class.
We can get a very crude idea of the impact by asking a purely hypothetical, simplified question. Suppose you have a class the size of UM’s and each recruit has an independent, 50-50 chance of succeeding. Then the likelihood that more than half of the recruits succeed is itself, coincidentally, 50% (see link). By contrast, the chance of success of the same number of recruits in the smaller class for OSU is only 2 %.
But what if we raise the chance of success for OSU's recruits (with an average rank about 6% higher in scout or rivals, as I recall)? Let's be generous and say that each of OSU’s recruits has a 10% greater chance of succeeding than UM’s. Then the chance that their class succeeds as a whole (more than half contribute) is still only 9%, less than a fifth of UM’s.
This oversimplified analysis admittedly ignores possible dependencies, heterogeneities, different degrees of contribution, and the fact that recruiting more players today may lead to more spaces next year, or vice versa. However, it’s uncertain how important the latter is.
UM’s large class this year may also be due to the smaller size of prior years (after attrition) as compared with OSU’s. So, prospectively, it is possible that we will be able to recruit as many as OSU in the coming few years—somebody might check this out. So, possibly, this year, we just made up a lot of ground and evened the playing field in numbers, while also making this year's class a lot more likely to succeed than OSU's.
(Diarist Note: This is the beginning portion of a longer post at the JCB. I figured I would post the Michigan section here. Check out the rest of the post for a spin around the Big 10, in addition to even more Michigan talk. We do something silly, like compare Michigan and Louisville's resumes. It's closer than you think. And: Pick$$!!)
One of the Games Of The Year in the Big 10 takes place tonight. But its not the game you think.
Oh, sure, tonight's Michigan State at Wisconsin game feels like a heavyweight fight. But, for our purposes here of tracking the state of the Bubble, there arent going to be many more games as important in the conference as the game in Evanston tonight between Michigan and Northwestern.
How in the world is a Northwestern home game against an 11-10 team one of the season's critical juncture points? It's the confluence of the Wildcats urgency to earn their historic tournament bid, a soft bubble, a cratering Big 10 Bubble and the fact that Michigan represents one of their tougher challenges the rest of the way. At 3-6 in the Big 10, the Cats need to win twice as many games as they lose the rest of the way to probably be under legit consideration. That might seem like a tall order. But KenPom actually projects just such a finish, with Northwestern getting to the clubhouse at 9-9 in league play, 21-10 overall. Hard to see them left out of the field with those numbers. By giving the Wildcats a 62-percent chance at winning tonight, KenPom makes Michigan their fourth toughest hurdle over their final ten overall games.
This a major swing game for them. They will be favored by Vegas in a lot of those games down the stretch as well, so a big run to get their league record resume worthy is not out of the question. That run becomes harder, if not impossible, without a win tonight. Some feel the Cats need to go 4-0 in their next four to get back into contention. If Northwestern wins, they stop a two game slide, can start gobbling up wins en route to a 20-win campaign and work their way up the Bubble ladder. They have quite a ways to go. With 48 precincts reporting to the Bracket Matrix, and all but a small handful having updated since the weekend, only 5 mock bracketologists put Northwestern in their fields. That not only puts them out of the Final 8 cut from the Matrix but with less votes than Arizona and UTEP. If they lose tonight, you can do the math. They wont be anywhere close to anyone's bracket. They only have one game left--at Wisconsin--that they could win and radically change a lot of people's mind on just what postseason bracket Northwestern deserves. Every game from here on out is a must win for Northwestern's hopes, but there are a few they could afford to lose. This is not one of them. This would be a bad loss.
But not many bad loss candidates come in with the Experts in the Desert calling it a coin flip. Despite the disparate records, placement on the bubble and the home court edge, oddsmakers have made Northwestern just a 2-point favorite tonight. That's a testament to the fact that plenty of folks within in the betting public give Michigan as much of a chance at winning this game than the hometown Cats.
Where does the perception come from? One word: Defense. Michigan has some. Northwestern doesnt. The Wolverines have evolved into one of the best stop units out there. They're 35th in the nation in points allowed and 10th in three-point percentage defense. They also remain one of the top teams in the country at turnover margin. For all the Wolverines' flaws, they do a few things well, notably pushing you into taking treys from beyond your comfort zone and forcing sloppy play. On a points per possession allowed standpoint, Michigan is right up in league play with conference stalwarts MSU and Wisconsin. Their points per possession margin from offense to defense also puts them in the top half of the conference. If only their win/loss record did the same, then maybe Michigan would have some stack on the table tonight as well. As for Northwestern, they couldnt guard a crosswalk. The Wildcats have the most porous defense in the league. They might not allow a ton of points, per se, but they are the worst in the league at points allowed per possession. Michigan would be wise to push up the tempo at times. I think their defense can handle the extra possessions. I dont think Northwestern's can. If Michigan can limit its own turnovers against a 1-3-1 zone defense that they are obviously more than familiar with, then they will control this contest.
The teams find themselves in opposite positions from a year ago. in 2009, Michigan snapped a NCAA drought, but would not have done so had they not been the only team in the Big 10 to sweep Northwestern last season. A year later, its Northwestern that needs the wins to put an end to their own March Madness drought. But, they probably will fall a win or two short if they dont beat Michigan tonight for a season sweep of the Wolverines.
If the game is anything like the last two contests, then buckle in. Michigan won a crazy OT game in Evanston last year that proved to be a big swing game for both sides. Last month in Ann Arbor, Michigan held a big early lead. But Drew Crawford, a freshmen, blew up for 25 points, including 11 in a row in the first half to get the Cats back into the game, and 15 in the second half to push the Cats to victory. Michigan took a late lead, but Northwestern scored the game's final 7 points and Michigan's final two possessions ended in shaky turnovers.
Expect another close game tonight as the Wolverines attempt to avenge a painful defeat from earlier in the season. Close games have been killers for Michigan. In games decided in overtime or by less than 6 points, the Wolverines are just 2-6 overall and 0-4 in Big 10 play this season. That's the difference between the NCAA Tournament and the NIT right there. While Michigan tries to reverse its season long bout of bad luck, they do have some historic numbers on their side tonight. The Wolverines are 10-3 ATS vs Northwestern, 8-1 at Welsh-Ryan Arena and the road team has covered four of five in this series. Something has got to give.
Also, unrelated to this, for those of you that don't know, I recently started a company called, U Recruit, www.recruitforu.com . We will guide kids through the recruiting process, and help them get scholarships. We have about 6 athletes we're helping right now, and are trying to spread the word. Take a look at our site, and pass on the information to anyone you think we could help.
This might sound homerish, but I have been thinking about this for a long time. The NCAA Tournament needs to be expanded. Not to the 96 or 128 that everyone is talking about, but to 72. By expanding the tournament to 72 it will do a couple things, make the 1st round more competitive, give the really small schools (i.e. Vermont, Binghamton, Manhattan etc) a chance at playing more than 1 game, it also will allow more mid majors the opportunity to get in the tournament, and finally it will make sure that the "best 64" make it to that first weekend.
The idea would be to seed the teams 1-18 much they way the seeding is currently done today. Seeds 15-18 in every region would be involved in a play in game held on Tuesday night before the tournament starts. This creates 8 games played at 4 sites, which could be done a couple of ways. The Tournament could reward the 15 seed of each region with homecourt, or they could choose pre-determined neutral sites much like the way it is now with the play-in game. The benefit to rewarding the 15 seed would be atmosphere, excitement and less travel costs for one team, but on the flip side a neutral court keeps the integrity of the tournament in tact. By expanding to 18 in each region and having these lower echelon teams (that usually just get pounded by the 1-2 seeds) play each other it will make the 1st round more competitive. The last 16 teams in the tournament are usually very similar, small schools out of a 1 bid conference that lack talent and size. By making them play each other it will create a survival of the fittest element out of these small schools while allowing them to experience the "win and advance" aspect of the tournament, and I believe the experience would make each of these teams better prepared for that traditional first round game.
By expanding the tournament, you simply move the bottom 16 automatic qualifiers down a couple lines and move more quality teams into the 13-14 seeds. The way the tournament is today, most of the "last teams in" are seeded in the 11-12 seeds. With this expansion you would have the "last teams in" seeded 13-14. This would make the 3-14 and 4-13 games much more competitive, which would create more of the cinderella story that the NCAA so deeply loves. The bottom line is that by expanding the tournament it would ensure that the best 64 are in the tournament through the process of selecting 7 more at large bids to get in the tournament.
Curious to hear what everyones thoughts are on this topic.
This is a retread of a previous diary...
It appears that geographic divisions into N-S or E-W don't really work, at least for Michigan fans, due to the East being too top-heavy and the N-S thing messing up "the game" so this is an alternative that would spice things up in the off season. Though this system is probably better for 14 teams, it's a reasonable option for 12 teams and adding 2 later is easy once the kinks are ironed out.
Conference name: The Really Big 12
The 11 Big Ten teams are grandfathered in and PITT is added.
Each team would have 2 rivalry games every year and these would be ironed out before the inaugural season taking into account historical and geographic factors in deciding who gets who. So, Michigan's rivals would end up being Ohio St and Mich St and since these teams would probably mutually select each other. As a second example, Pitt would get PSU and have little say in who its other rival would be as a new member. Conference rivalries would be reviewed by the league's brass every 4 years and teams who are looking to change this up would have a reasonable chance of getting this done.
A preseason spring-summer draw would determine 2 divisions (Group A and B) each year ala FIFA's way of organizing the world cup except all members are equal regardless of rankings, history, or geography.
--Once Group A and Group B's members are determined, the schedule would be organized such that each team plays the 5 members of it's group, 3 members of the other group, and 3 non-conference games that would always take place prior to the onset of a team's conference schedule--no exceptions.
--For rivals not placed in the same group, they would automatically be slated to play each other as an "other group" game with home field alternating from the previous year. Games would be set up as randomly as possible while ensuring that each team has equal numbers of home games each year and is basically even head to head within each 4 year span.
--Stage 1: 3 non-conference games of the team's choosing all at the beginning of the season.
--Stage 2: 8 predetermined intraconference games from the draw.
--*Stage 3: The Championship Game and Conference Tournament Finale Games
--The top teams from Group A and B determined only by Stage 2 results then meet at a neutral site with the undisputed conference championship at stake.
--The other 10 teams get a 12th game and 9th conference game based primarily on league play seedings; however, only games that did not occur during Stage 2 would be permitted to avoid rematches (ie., only the championship game could be a rematch). --There would be an off week between Stages 2&3 for obvious logistic reasons. The Championship would be at night and the others earlier in the day and set up at two prearranged neutral sites like Chicago, Indy, Detroit, Cleveland, Cinci, etc.
--The postseason plays out as usual and the overall records and total body of work would determine who the BCS sends where, so that it would be possible for a team other than the conference champ to be the #1 team if non-conference and overall conference records sway voters in favor of another strong team in the conference.
*Note. Stage 3 can be replaced by THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME by adding a 4th non-conference game OR by adding a 4th "other group game" and either way you eliminate the conference finales and play up the championship game.