spoiler alert: i linked this
The teams involved are up to wild speculation. Texas? Notre Dame? The Cleveland Browns? Logically, there are only a few schools that fit the right criteria to include into the conference, without an unforeseen massive expansion to the south or west. These schools (Missouri, Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers, and Syracuse) may or may not be willing to enter the conference. For the sake of discussion, let's just all assume that these schools would be willing to become a part of the Big Ten for the academics, revenue sharing and lucrative T.V. contract.
My idea for the new Big Ten (I am not creative enough to come up with a good name for it), is to make it the Big 14. It's not outside of the realm of possibility.
A conference statement spoke of an "evaluation of options for conference structure and expansion."
"Anything is possible," one source said, beyond the conventional wisdom of simply adding a 12th school.This idea largely hasn't been approached, but it could work if the Big Ten decides to aggresively expand to fourteen. A split into two seven-team divisions would be obvious, as would the addition of a ninth conference game (like the PAC-Ten, who plays a round-robin with 3 OOC games). The real question would be if it is really worth it for the Big Ten to expand to fourteen. The WAC had a 16-team conference, and it was inevitably doomed due to its size. Teams would lose out on additional revenue with the loss of an OOC cupcake home game. Teams in different divisions would rarely play each other. The divisional champions would have to play a total of 10 conference games, which would make it hard for a team to run the table or receive a second BCS berth. These are all legitimate reasons not to make the jump from eleven or twelve to fourteen, but there are plenty of incentives to do so:
- The conference would generate much more T.V. revenue, due to the expanded T.V. markets and alumni base, as well as the conference championship game
- More schools would receive bowl and NCAA Tournament appearances from the conference
- The conference would become the elite conference in all of college sports and there would be a large increase in national attention to the conference
- An undefeated football champion would all but be assured of a national championship berth, and a one or two loss team would be assured a BCS berth due to strength of schedule
- A conference with more than twelve teams (the MAC) has not experienced too many problems
- A team would not go three years without playing a team in the other half of the conference (see below)
Breaking the conference up into divisions would not be too difficult depending on who is added. There are already three states with two existing Big Ten teams, and if Pitt enters, that would make four. breaking up these in-state rivalries would not go over well, so Michigan-Michigan State, Indiana-Purdue, and Illinois-Northwestern (and maybe Penn State-Pitt) would be in the same division as their rival. Selfishly, we can add Michigan and Ohio State to the teams have to be in the same division. These fanbases can agree that playing the rivalry twice in the same season would not be good for the rivalry, and both parties would be vehemently opposed to being in different divisions. Dividing the proposed teams into East and West, there are four teams to the east (Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers, and Syracuse), and one to the west (Missouri). Therefore, the only possible combinations for adding teams would be adding two teams to the east and one to the west or adding three teams to the east.
Adding three teams to the East would be easiest (a team is across from its permanent rival, some of which are arbitrary):
*any of these three can be switched for Syracuse
However, adding Missouri would put the Big Ten into quite a conundrum, some rivalries would inevitably be split up (and I know that the geography of the divisional names is not quite correct):
*either Rutgers or Syracuse could be switched in for Maryland or Pitt
The schedule would work something like this (if there is an East-West alignment), a team in the East would play all of the other six teams in the East, their permanent rival in the West, as well as a two out of six teams from the West that rotate yearly off the schedule so that the team in the East would play their non-rivals from the West once every three years.
For example, Michigan's schedule may look something like this:
|at Michigan State||MICHIGAN STATE||at Michigan State|
|PENN STATE||at Penn State||PENN STATE|
|at Maryland||MARYLAND||at Maryland|
|at Rutgers||RUTGERS||at Rutgers|
|at Indiana||IOWA||at Illinois|
|OHIO STATE||at Ohio State||OHIO STATE|
So logistically, a move to fourteen is feasible. The practicality of it is in question, but it is the offseason and thus it is the time for wild speculation. Any thoughts?
Beilein signs contract extension
ANN ARBOR, Mich.---University of Michigan Men's basketball head coach John Beilein has agreed to a contract extension to lead the Wolverines through the 2015-16 season, athletic director Bill Martin announced today.
"John Beilein has been a wonderful addition to our staff here at Michigan. What he has done on and off the court with our men's basketball team has been tremendous, and he has made it clear he wants to coach at Michigan until he retires," said Martin, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. "This contract extension is a win-win situation for the men's basketball program at Michigan and for Coach Beilein."
Beilein's total compensation under the new contract will be $1.7 million in 2010-11, $1.8 million in 2012-13 and $1.9 million by the 2013-14 season.
Currently in his third season at the helm of the Wolverine program, Beilein has continued to be a proven winner throughout his career. Beilein has won 588 career games, placing him in the top 20 in victories among active Division I head coaches. In 32 years behind the bench, Beilein has compiled 27 winning seasons including 15 20-win campaigns.
In his second season with U-M, Beilein guided the Wolverines to a 21-14 record and steered the Wolverines back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 seasons, advancing to the second round following a first round win over Clemson. Michigan's 21 victories during the 2008-09 campaign tied a school record for the largest single-season turnaround in program history at 11 games.
Beilein is the only active coach in the collegiate ranks to record a 20-win season at four different levels---junior college, NAIA, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division I. In addition, he is one of seven coaches to take four different schools to the NCAA Tournament---Canisius (1996), Richmond (1998), West Virginia (2005, 2006) and Michigan (2009). However, with Beilein's 1988 Division II NCAA Tournament appearance with LeMoyne, he has taken five different teams to the NCAA postseason.
During his coaching career, Beilein has only served as a head coach, with stints at West Virginia (2002-07), Richmond (1997-2002), Canisius (1992-97), LeMoyne (1983-92), Nazareth College (1982-83) and Erie Community College (1978-82).
Beilein played college basketball at Wheeling College (now Wheeling Jesuit University) from 1971-75 and served as team captain his junior season. He received a bachelor's degree from Wheeling in 1975, majoring in history, and earned a master's degree in education from Niagara in 1981.
Get paid, my man. This probably affects just about nothing in the grand scheme of things, as I'm sure Beilein, barring an (even more) epic collapse of the team over a couple years or NCAA sanctions, was going to stay at Michigan until retirement anyway. He'll be 63 when this contract extension is up.
First, let's set the scene, and ask a couple of questions:
In covering the appointment of David Brandon, the Free Press has made much of the question of "factions." The press (I presume, until shown otherwise, that Mark Snyder or another Free Press reporter) broached the subject of "factions" with Brandon at the time of his introduction-day press conference. But the Free Press' coverage of any "factionalism" is profoundly strange; the Free Press has not identified any "factionalists" by name; it has not been specific about who might be part of any "anti" faction, or even whether there is an "anti-Rich Rodriguez" faction to speak of at all.
Is it not the job of the Free Press, if there are "factions," to report on who the factionalists are; to ask them why they have any disagreements, and to support their dissenting views under reporters' questioning?
This is the continuing problem with the Free Press -- it started with inexplicably "anonymous" reports of CARA-reporting issues. Now, it contiunes with inexplicably "anonymous" factionalism. Whether you like or hate the Free Press' editorial actions, IS IT NOT THE FUNCTION OF THE PAPER TO REPORT, TO IDENTIFIY, TO ATTRIBUTE, TO EXPLAIN AND TO CHALLENGE ANY 'FACTIONS' IN THE CONTEXT OF PUBLIC DEBATE?
Now, to the details.
When David Brandon was named Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, he naturally recieved front-page coverage. The Free Press' coverage was werid, insofar as it was headlined, "New Michigan AD Doesn't Fear NCAA Probe." That was the first, out-of-the-box headline on the day of the appointment, January 5, 2010. The headline was technically true, but only as a result of a reporter having asked Brandon about that issue. I'd like to find a complete transcript of the press conference, to know who asked the question about the NCAA investigation, and how it was asked. Even in the context of the Free Press' own news story of the day, the single issue was plucked out of a much more wider-ranging statement.
But that's the Free Press for you. It is their absolute right to cover the stories they like, in the way they want to. In this case, however, it is clear; the Free Press is self-sustaining the story that it created in August of 2009, with its still-unexplained use of anonymous "current and former players" to build a story based around a leaked July memorandum from the University's athletic department auditors that said although there was no evidence of any wrongdoing or any NCAA violations, the football team had not submitted its CARA-reporting forms, which are a university policy but not an NCAA requirement.
So then we get to the "News Analysis" part of the Brandon-appointment story. Oh, joy. Just what everybody was holding their breath for. Noted experts Drew Sharp and Michael Rosenberg, pronouncing on the wisdom of, and the significance of, the appointment.
First, Drew Sharp. Sharp said,
"Brandon ... is a Michigan Man with every breath he takes. He might be the only person capable of bringing together the warring internal sects, saying that 'factions and divisiveness are enemies of success.' [Brandon said that, after he was specifically asked about it by a reporter.]
If there has been any fracturing that has occurred as a result of whatever, it’s something that needs immediate attention. It needs to be fixed,” he said. “And, truthfully, it won’t be tolerated.”
It certainly helps Brandon’s cause that he calls himself a graduate of the Bo Schembechler School of Leadership. His acute political instincts will serve him well in a position that basically has become a non-elected political office."
Sharp's thesis was this ridiculous; he proposed that Brandon's yet-to be-determined legacy would be judged on the basis of whether Rich Rodriguez was a success or not. It is the same meme that Drew Sharp has supplied with respect to Bill Martin; that Martin's success or failure will be determined by any success or failure of Rich Rodriguez. And for a certain segment of society -- the casual fan, the general sportstalk radio listener, the badly-informed Free Press readership -- Drew Sharp might be speaking some measure of truth. Drew Sharp is there for people whose only substantive connection to the University of Michigan is via their purchase of logoed merchandise. Drew Sharp is the spiritual leader of "Wal-Mart Wolverines" everywhere. He speaks to people whose only connection with Michgan is watching games on tv, and looking at rankings in the newspaper. People with no other connection to the University, much less the 24 other sports under the managment of the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Sharp on Brandon:
Sharp on Martin (same thesis):
Then, there was our old friend Mike Rosenberg. Rosenberg is probably smarter than Sharp; Rosenberg's recent column on David Brandon said little of substance, sort of like the guy who is sitting in the back of the room, not saying anything, but smirking broadly. Here's Rosenberg, playing all sides at once, and settling on the most noncommittal and self-protective position possible:
"If you want to believe Brandon is 'all in' for Rich Rodriguez you could read his comments about Rodriguez wanting to win more than anybody and reach that conclusion.
If you want to believe Brandon is putting Rodriguez on notice, you could read his comment that "we're a program that likes and needs to win" and reach that conclusion.
Or you could conclude, as I did, that Brandon was wisely answering questions in a way that will not come back to bite him."
Then, came the "factions" discussion. Rosenberg had to go there. Not because anybody at Michigan brought it up; only because a reporter had earlier asked Brandon about it, and Brandon answered the question, and now Rosenberg wanted to riff on the answer, as had Drew Sharp. This isn't a normal two-fer in journalism (two stories for the price of one); this is more than a three-fer. This is a logarithmic expansion of a manufactured story. Ask Brandon about "factions," get his answer, then paste it onto one front-page story, then a larger sports-page story, and then two separate columns on the topic.
Rosenberg finished up this way:
Brandon said he wouldn't tolerate factions. This is an admirable goal, of course, but it's easier to say than do. There are real rifts and hard feelings; telling everybody they have to get along is not going to be enough.Link to Rosenberg:
So the bottom line, the takeaway on this week's wrap-up of Freep depredations aimed at Rich Rodriguez: the biggest story at Michigan these days, is "factionalism," whatever that is.
And then, there are my questions for the Free Press: Freep, you say that there are "factions" at Michigan. Who are the factionalists? Can you put names to them? How large a group are the "factionalists"? What are their complaints? Do they have a good basis for complaints?
Because absent the Free Press (hell, forget the Free Press -- I'd be happier still for someone else at another media outlet to do the kind of reporting that we can now never expect from the Free Press), my presumption is that any "factionalism" at Michigan is VASTLY OVERESTIMATED; that the faction(s) are small, with lilttle to say for themselves. That they have almost nothing to claim for themsleves in terms of rightful influence in the best interests of the University and the Athletic Department, and when and if they were confronted, they'd largely melt away.
That is merely my opinion and my presumption, but here's an example, also taken from the news of the last week:
We had Braylon Edwards, on a huge-ratings Sunday Night NFL football broadcast, cryptically introducing himself as being from "Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan." In less than 24 hours, the Free Press had its headline, "Braylon Edwards takes shot at Rich Rodriguez." Factions, you ask? The Free Press has your factions, right here; his name is Braylon Edwards. But then, people, mostly on the blogosphere (no thanks to the Free Press) asking questions. "What up, Braylon? Is that what you meant? Are you part of a 'faction', Braylon? You can say whatever you want, Braylon, just speak up and be really clear about it." And at that point, Braylon "clarified." He meant no disrespect, no insult to coach Rodriguez, whom he supports. (With Coach Rodriguez fully and wholeheartedly honoring Braylon's #1 jersey scholarship program.)
So there's a very good example of what happens to so-called factionalism, as featured by the Free Press, under the clear light of hard questioning. The Free Press, incidentally, did absolutely nothing at first, to report on the clarification from Braylon Edwards. The Free Press did not edit its story headlined "Braylon Edwards takes a shot at Rich Rodriguez." The Free Press did not, as Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News did, do a story featuring Braylon's statement. The Free Press did nothing, at least at first. Subsequently, after I had e-mailed Rosenberg, Mark Snyder, Paul Anger (Free Press Publisher) and Scott Bell (who authored the original story) the headline was changed to read "Braylon Edwards and Dhani Jones are down on Rich Rodriguez," with a little added quotation, qutie out-of-context, from a radio interview given by Dhani) still with no acknowledgement that Braylon had renounced the very presumption that the Free Press was trying to emphasize.
Then an interesting thing happened. Sometime after 9:00 p.m., I was a caller in to Pat Caputo's sports radio program. I recounted this sequence of events, and I read from Braylon's statement as reported in the Dtroit News, verbatim. I asked Pat and his listeners why the Free Press wouldn't do that basic reporting; why not at least do the same kind of reporting that the Detroit News did? I don't know if the Freep sportswriters listen to 97.1 WTKT, but at about 9:29 p.m., the Freep posted an item bylined to Steve Schader. It was one sentence, followed by two sentences of the Edwards clarification-statement.
Again, this is the question for the Free Press: If you are going to report on "factions," why not really report on those factions. Ask people for their statements on the record, or else don't publish them at all. (Alternatively, supply a bona fide reason for a grant of journalistic privilege; there are ethical guidelines for such privilege and anonymity usages, but the Free Press supplied no legitimate reasons in connection with the August investigation.) Most of all, examine the supposed "factions." Make those people explain themselves, or retract their claims. Much as with Braylon Edwards.
N.B.: I'm not politicking one way or another. My primary desire is to see Michigan improve as much as possible as fast as possible. I would *love* for this to be under Rich Rodriguez (I find the spread offense exciting and Gerg's hybrid defense, in theory, bad-ass) . Mainly, this was a chance for me to express a perspective/gripe from last year that's relevant to a number of recent posts proclaiming that an 8-4 record would secure Rich Rodriguez's future at UM. The team that earns an 8-4 record in 2010 might easily have gone 6-6 in 2009 or 2011.
At WMU all you have to do to go to a sporting event is to show your student ID and you get in for free, which is a nice money-saver for die-hard fans but doesn't give people a vested interest in being there. That may explain why in the 3rd period with the game tied at 2 a bunch of students left allowing us to move to the front row along the blue line. A lot of people just go to talk and hang out and then leave when they get bored, not caring about the game. I took the same friends to the Michigan-WMU football game this past season and they were impressed at how all the students paid for their tickets, stayed the whole game and paid attention. They liked the sense of community you get at Michigan, which seems to be a far cry from the Western Michigan experience.
The opposing fans were polite enough, the parking lot attendant gave me a lame "No Wolverines Allowed" line as I walked in, and one student said "What are you doing here?" but nothing too hostile. I guess I shouldn't complain about politeness from opposing fans, but it wasn't as wild as I expected after seeing the taunts we at U-M give to opposing fans (ugly parents, If you can't get in to college go to state) or the nasty things I've heard from MSU fans at games there. It was sort of disappointing actually.
Then there was the copying of Michigan's cheers. Whenever Michigan got a penalty they would start waving and then when the player entered the penalty box they would say "See ya bitch, you're a cheater!" My friends immediately turned to me and said 'what do you think of our chants?' I said they got that from Michigan, only ours was more elaborate. They said I'm just being arrogant. They were so proud of that chant. One person said "That chant got us banned from TV by the NCAA, it's the reason our games can't be televised." I said bullshit, Michigan fans say stuff way worse than that 10 times a game and they get on TV all the time, you're not on TV because you're Western (the truth) but that is their legend on campus. After Western scored they pointed at our goalie and said "Sieve Sieve Sieve It's all your fault..." After hearing that I was just offended, can't these kids come up with their own shit to say? That is word for word Michigan's chant. My friends just thought I was jealous of their schools creative genius (I think we took the word "Sieve" from an Eastern school, but we at least improved upon the chant with the "all your fault" part). The only thing I had never heard before was when they spelled out O-R-G-Y "What does that spell? Orgy! What does that mean? Teamwork Teamwork Teamwork" I thought that was alright but they probably got that from somewhere else too.
Michigan won a close game but with Western being a CCHA bottom-feeder, it was a bit too close. I'll take the win, but it was a disappointing experience as the visitor. Walking out after the game I didn't get the feeling of pride I get when walking out of Munn Arena with Michigan gear on after we beat MSU. It was just kinda 'so what'. Hockey is supposed to be the biggest sport at WMU because they get to play in the same league as the big boys. I got the feeling that most of the students there really don't care about their school's sports, and most probably cheer for Michigan or MSU as their primary team anyway.
NOTE: I started posting this as a comment under Brian's post, but it grew too long, so I started a Diary, plus I wanted to get some good feedback on my plan suggestion.
Some great ideas Brian, but I DON'T think your plan would be all that much better than what we got now. I agree that the current BCS needs to be replaced with a playoff system and my playoff plan is detailed at the end of this post. But first, here are my reasons why Brian's plan won't make us any better off:
1)The elimination of the autobids by the conference champions is a BIG red flag. If you are not going to reward the regular season conference champions, then why even have conferences? I mean, under Brian's plan, we should just go to a 116- (or whatever number) team conference and just forget about these regional conference distraction thingys. This doesn't sound like a good idea to me. I know Brian didn't suggest that we disband the conferences, but what's the point in having them, if there is no tangible reward to winning one? And yes, the current system does offer a reward for the conference champions (well at least for the BCS conferences it does).
2) Teams will play REALLY weak-ass non-conference schedules (even more than they do now). Under Brian's plan, the goal for each team will be to have the best regular season record as possible, kind of similar to how it is now. But with one exception, not teams are GUARANTEED to get an autobid if they win their conference. So if they stumble in the non-conference once or maybe 2 times, they still got a shot a BCS game due to the conference tie-ins. Under Brian's plan, as previously noted, this tie-in is eliminated. So, teams will feel that there is no need to play any tough non-conference games anymore, and just pad their stats against NW Lafayette State U and the like to improve their chances. Heck, some teams are doing this already, even with the BCS bowl tie-ins (see UM). But this will increase more under Brian's plan and it also would not be a good thing.
3) A six team playoff chosen by a committee is a good idea, but they would never choose a team from a mid-major conference, as we all know. There would need to be some type of Notre Dame type rule put into place the would guarantee a spot for these teams (and also one for ALL independents, not just ND). Without this, we are just rewarding the BCS schools again and again, and this is what we wanted to eliminate by going to the playoff in the first place. The current system at least provides some type of reward for great mid-major schools. But if you only are picking 6 schools using a committee, the members are going to fight hard for the conference champions every year, and you are going to be leaving the mid-majors out most of the time.
Now here is what I propose:
A 8 team playoff that is includes 6 auto bids for the BCS conference champions and 2 at large spots. The BCS conferences have total control over how they choose their respective champions, be it championship games like the SEC or stupid "you haven't been in a while, I guess it's your turn" tie-breakers like the Big 10. However they choose it, whatever, just choose one team. This will put leave the EMPHASIS on the regular season, and we can still say that every game counts and all that stuff we like to say when we compare why college football is so much greater that college basketball.
As for the last 2 at large spots, we will use the BCS (yes I said BCS) rankings to determine these teams from the remaining 100 or so teams left in the field, but only if we put the strength of schedule component back into the formula (more on this later). If the BCS is good for anything, it can definitely rank some teams in a somewhat comprehensive and objective fashion (at least I think it can?). Whichever two teams that are ranked the highest in the BCS polls after the end of the conference championship games, AND are not already qualified for the playoff because they won their conference outright will get the nods. Now, there is one caveat. There are certain exceptions that would cause certain other schools to have playoff seeding priority over a team in the field. If a mid-major team who has won their conference or ANY independent school, not just ND, has a end of season BCS ranking in the top 10, they are guaranteed a spot in the playoff system over a team in the field. This means that if a Boise State or TCU or Notre Dame finishes the year in the top 10 in the BCS (which would probably mean they had an excellent season) they would get an automatic slot over a team from the Big 10 or the SEC that had a very good year, but just didn't win their conference. Well, I guess you better win that conference then, huh? Again, it is important that the emphasis remains on the conference season.
Now, as for the non-conference season, my plan would allow teams to schedule big time matchups at the beginning of the season, because they would be rewarded for doing so by the strength of schedule component in the BCS formulas. Teams would also not worry so much about losing a game early on because they know that if they win their conference, they get a ticket to the BIG PARTY (ok, doesn't sound as good as the Big Dance, I know)!
I've been contemplating and refining this system for about a year or so, and I would really like to submit a formal plan to all the conference presidents sometime after I get it just right. Please provide any feedback that you think would be helpful. Thanks for the long read.