RIP Charles Drake. I was on the road when news of Charles Drake's untimely death hit the internet. Drake was one of a legion of mid-90s players brought in at running back who eventually found their way to the field at another position. If Ian Gold was the most prominent, Drake was second, moving to free safety after finding running back crowded.
Free safeties who aren't once-in-a-generation good are kind of like longsnappers in that you're usually not happy when their name is splashed across your television. In the safety's case it means they're chasing someone else. The lack of a visceral "oh, THAT play" emotion when his name comes up speaks well to his play. He was a low-event guy in an era when safeties often weren't. Condolences to his family and teammates.
Holdin' The Rope has a perspective piece worth your time.
In other sunny news. ESPN reports that this consulting firm Penn State has hired is "expected to be tough on" one Joe Paterno:
"Much of the focus will be on the culture of the football program, with findings that go back more than a decade," said a Penn State official briefed on the inquiry, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It's going to be very tough on Joe (Paterno)."
The long-awaited report, compiled by Freeh Group International Solutions, the consulting firm led by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, is the culmination of an eight-month investigation that examined whether university policies and culture were contributing factors to a lack of reports and action about abuse that occurred on campus. Investigators interviewed more than 400 people, including Penn State administrators, faculty members, trustees and former coaches, players and staff from Penn State's football team.
At this point it would be more of a surprise to find out that Paterno would come out of things looking okay. In retrospect that mid-aughts run of arrests that Paterno had little control over and seemed disinclined to care about seems symptomatic of the greater attitude that led to the decade-long Sandusky cover-up. History will not treat the "Grand Experiment" well.
Square hats and blasphemy. Jalen Rose, on the left, in his younger years:
Rose should show up in a Michigan-themed version something similar the next time he's on ESPN. I would pay a dollar for that.
Probably the final number. The number of current or former Michigan athletes who will be competing in the London Olympics: 18. And then there's Michael Phelps, who may not have actually attended Michigan but it something of an Ann Arbor institution if you've ever been in one of the diners he shoveled calories into himself at.
Points for sentiment. Not so much execution. From a reader, here is a tattoo:
This is not quite up to Lamarr Woodley standards.
The new guy. The News interviews Erik Bakich, Michigan's new baseball coach. There's not much that's not boilerplate, but I liked this:
When you're building a program based on pitching you need to have strong frontline pitching.
We'll see how it works out. Bakich has a thin track record but did relatively well at a tough place to win, is young, and has recruited well both as a head coach and an assistant. It's a reality check as to where Michigan's program stands.
Keith Jackson. The 1985 South Carolina game featured Jamie Morris hammering the Gamecocks and SC's "wide open, gambling offense" scoring three points:
Chesson hype: incremented. Sam Webb reports that Jehu Cheson ran a 4.4 40 at Michigan offseason workouts. If fast, will be intimidating.
CEASE PANIC. Our annual Cass Tech Commit Considers Taking Visits But Decides Not To After Panicking The Internet event has transpired:
Michigan football commit David Dawson turned some heads Friday when his plans to camp at Florida were revealed.
A day later, the trip is no more.
After speaking to Michigan coaches, the Detroit Cass Tech offensive lineman -- ranked by ESPN as the country's top guard -- no longer will attend the Gators' Friday Night Lights camp, according to GoBlueWolverine.com's Sam Webb.
Twitter warriors can stand down. Those inspirational quotes about loyalty can be re-directed to your significant others. I've found that condescending public tweets are what make a relationship go in this modern age of ours.
Extremely important abbreviation UPDATE! If you see "FINAO" on a football recruit's twitter, it stands for "failure is not an option." Thus sayeth Heiko in an act of investigative journalism unparalleled in the history of the site. You may all resume your day to day lives.
This is a man to have a drink with. Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson proposed a four-league, 33-team superconference combining CUSA, the Sun Belt, the WAC, and Mountain West. The slide on which this proposal was tendered was labeled "Makes Too Much Sense." Someone should get Karl Benson drunk and have him opine on the other conference commissioners.
Next year's defection worries. A couple of Michigan's 2013 hockey commits made the "A-list" of big time prospects the CSB puts out around this time every year. C JT Compher (expected) and D Michael Downing (maybe a bit of a surprise) are two of the five college-bound guys on that list. That generally means they're expected to go in the first couple rounds.
Big Ten hockey expansion: seeking 100 million or bust. New PSU coach Guy Gadowsky was interviewed by The Pipeline show and PSU hockey blog Thank You Terry transcribed interesting bits. From the non-PSU perspective, this is the most interesting bit:
Speaking of the Big Ten...
"I know for sure there’s been three other Big Ten schools that have contacted our administration and are very curious as to how [the transition to NCAA hockey] happened and what they needed to do. The reality is that the prerequisite to that is that you get a Mr. Pegula or Pegula family that’s going to give 100-odd million dollars. Those guys aren’t hanging off trees. So that’s the prerequisite and that’s hard to find. But I do think there’s a lot of interest – if they can get it done, I know there are Big Ten schools that would love to be a part of it."
Don't expect the Big Ten to get up to eight teams unless magic fairies with money bags descend on the right schools.
Etc.: Ace will no doubt cover LaQuon Treadwell's not-quite-itchy-enough trigger finger extensively in Tuesday Recruitin', but what you need to know now is he didn't commit and now plans to do so on a "random day($)," probably by rolling a d100 until it comes up 1. Yes, highly touted receivers have d100s. Loads of them.
Alex Anzalone has decided to avoid creeper-associated universities and will go to Notre Dame. Beilein is not calling recruits at midnight. Burke and Hardaway are among the 20 players at the Lebron Skills Academy.
Kent State and Stony Brook celebrate CWS berths
The Big Ten's consistent rabble about college baseball's current format—a rabbling I also rabble rabble—looks a little less rabbly today now that not one but two Northern teams from who-dat conferences have made the College World Series: Kent State and Stony Brook. Kent State got a walk-off bloop single in game three to down Oregon; Stony Brook took out LSU.
Kent State won a regional featuring all-destroying Big Ten dual champ Purdue, taking out SEC #2 seed Kentucky twice along the way. Five of their six games have been one-run affairs of which they've won four. Baseball is very random—so random that it's remarkable a Big Ten team hasn't made it to the CWS on the strength of crazy bounces in the past 28 years.
Theory: the NCAA's introduction of "dead bats" in the past couple years has reduced scoring and made it more difficult for better teams to overwhelm their opponents by dumping home run after home run into the bleachers. Last year was the first year of the new bat regulations:
Auburn, which led the nation last season with 130 home runs, had hit just 32 as of May 8. Just up the road, Georgia Tech and its 122 home runs the year before have taken a nosedive down to 31.
On the whole, home runs have been cut nearly in half. Down 43.7 percent overall, the bandboxes that were making more noise than the House of Blues have fallen eerily silent. [ED: This article takes an odd, overwritten stance against bats that double as rocket launchers.]
The results are fewer games with ludicrous football scores and a lot more randomness in the national tournament. Maybe. Small sample size and all, but when bad pitches are 43.7 more likely to die in an outfielder's glove you get away with a lot more. College baseball is a lot less ruthless now.
If Michigan could get good at baseball again, maybe the national tournament would be less of an insurmountable hill to climb. About that…
You're looking at Michigan's vacant baseball job and these two teams in the CWS and wondering about poaching one of these dudes, KSU's Scott Stricklin (right) looks like a strong, strong candidate.
In eight years at Kent State he's won the MAC four times, won the MAC tourney five times, turned the Golden Flashes into the #3 overall seed last year, has reached two super-regionals and made the CWS this year. At 40 he'd be poised for a long run at Michigan. He came to KSU after a stint at an assistant at Georgia Tech, where he was the recruiting coordinator for a class ranked #1 by the relevant services. He's spent most of the last decade at a school in the same footprint as Michigan and must know the local landscape like the back of his hand. He seems to have all the bases covered. [HIKM]
Potential snags include Stricklin's status as a Kent State alum and possibly having to ward off interest from southern schools. It may be harder to get him than you might expect. Even so this seems like a spot in which using some of Michigan's giant pot of incrementally extracted money would actually pay off. Baseball coaches at MAC schools are not making enough money to turn up their noses at tripling their salary.
As for Stony Brook's coach, Matt Senk has been at Stony Brook for 22(!) years, the first decade of which was spent in D-III. Since moving to America East in 2002 they've had a losing record once, and since 2006 they've finished third or better every year with three NCAA bids. In 2011 they were 42-12 and 22-2 in conference but lost in the tournament and didn't get a bid; this year they are 54-13 (21-3) and scraped their way to the CWS as a four seed.
I'd rather have Stricklin since it's harder to tell if Stony Brook is just a big fish in America East that got fortunate; Stricklin had done better in conference and turned a MAC team into a national seed. While the Seawolves have been dominant in their conference that conference is weak enough to send a 42-12 team to the golf course. Senk's also a bit older. Forty-four isn't ancient, but it is another vote in favor of Stricklin… if Michigan can get him.
[SIDE NOTE: how great are Kent's old-timey uniforms?
Hello. I'm Ty Cobb, minus the racism.]