I thought that myself when I read that article that talked about a Data Scientist(tm)
basketball recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich
WARNING: This post contains graphic depictions of Glenn Robinson III committing violent acts upon basketball rims for no apparent reason. If you suffer from jam-related heart problems, please high-five your nearest cardiologist before viewing.
It's the weekly, roundtabley feature where we ask MGoStaff things that MGoReaders are asking. This week's recruits:
Brian Cook, 5-star, Center, 6'4/190. Finds gifs very exciting.
Seth Fisher, 4-star, Wing/guard, 6'0/238. Pure shooter.
Ace Anbender, 5-star, PG, 6'0/180, Mr. Basketball in Michigan
Mathlete, 4-star, SG, 5'10/185, Kansas offer
Blue in South Bend, 5-star, PF, 6'0/190, McDonald's All-American, #2 player in Indiana
And the query:
We have no doubts that John Beilein can unearth diamonds, and now there's mounting evidence he can jump into Top 10 battles as well. Do you think basketball crutin' can maintain these trends long-term, or that once the glow of a Finals run wears off and other teams catch on to his tricks that Michigan is in danger of falling back to the pack?
BiSB: A couple of things happened that might give this Time of Peace and Good Harvests some staying power. The first is the recent set of facility upgrades. The practice facility is clearly a big thing, and Crisler has gone from a near-crippling liability to, at worst, a neutral factor. Second, and probably more important, is that Beilein showed the ability to coach a team filled with elite talent, and to use thoroughbreds properly. The knock on Beilein is always that he's a "system guy" who uses faux-Euro tweeners to run top-of-the-key weaves and launch 30 3's a game. Michigan was getting out and running, throwing 'oops all over the place, and generally looking like an athletic killing machine. They even used a big man effectively. As much as the Aneurysm of Leadership was the turning point in this whole thing, blue chip talent doesn't want to be Zack Novak. They want to be GRIII, and to play for a coach who can utilize them properly. That Michigan made the final was obviously huge, but the fact that Michigan got to show their high-flying wares on a national stage was equally important. Also, Trey Burke was Trey Burke, which Trey Burke.
(…except when Trey Burke was Spike Albrecht doing his Trey Burke impression.)
Seth: As long as we're not expecting them all to be Trey Burke I agree the tournament run and the GR3-ness of the current roster should see Michigan settle somewhere among the top of the conference. Basketball recruiting isn't like football: there are a few teams who compete for the one-and-dones, and a few teams like MSU and Duke who remain consistently competitive from a steady stream of future NBA benchmen who want college degrees, pocked by an annual five-star or two who want part of the winning that entails. The thing that makes Beilein's niche sustainable, I think, is that it plays to Michigan's strengths as a program. It's still system ball (just with better side attributes). The difference now is he has access to those All-Americans who would be perfect candidates for his system and Michigan's academics, but who were scared off by the appearance that it couldn't compete at the top levels.
Mathlete: I actually think the current cycles will be the most critical. Beilein built the program to where it is today without guys who were elite prospects when committing (aside from Mitch McGary's one season on the books) and he knows who he is. He is going to keep building with the guys he needs and knows how to piece together. Today his scouting can include players inside the Top 100 lists, which is nice. The current danger is can he successfully do what he has always done while managing a roster of early departures. In basketball losing one player early can really alter the make-up of a team. This year Michigan will be replacing two and possibly two or five next year if Chad Ford has his say. This is what you call a good kind of problem but it is a new one. I have no doubt Beilein has put a lot more thought into this than we have, but he hasn't been around this on an annual basis like a Calipari has. The next two or three seasons on the court and in the recruiting cycles will determine if Michigan is elite to stay or whether last season was the high point and the program returns to where they were 2-3 years ago, consistent tournament team but not consistently elite.
Ace: I think the staff can maintain or even improve on this level of recruiting for a number of reasons, first and foremost because John Beilein and Co. are so good at identifying talent early. It's easier to get five-stars when you identify them when they're three-stars (GRIII) or start recruiting them heavily before the basketball blue-bloods (a big factor in Michigan's standing with Devin Booker).
The last couple years have also provided the perfect storm for Beilein to recruit at a level above his prior standard. Bryan mentioned the facilities and probably undersold them—having poked around the practice facility, I'd say Crisler Center is a critical recruiting tool. The Fab Five documentary came out, giving recruits reason to think Michigan basketball is cool for the first time since, well, before Tommy Amaker, anyway. Oh, and the basketball team made the title game on the strength of a three-star point guard developing into Trey MFing Burke, turning the supporting cast of talented freshmen into household names (even Spike!) and giving Beilein the ability to pitch national championship potential and have it really mean something.
We've already seen the interest from blue-chip prospects start to seriously pick up; look no further for evidence than 2015 five-star center Stephen Zimmerman, who hails from Las Vegas and appears to be showing the most interest in Michigan and Kentucky. That shows the momentum this program has right now. The key will be keeping Michigan at a level where they're competing for Big Ten titles and hitting the second weekend of the NCAA tournament (at least) with regularity. If they do that, these kind of players will keep poking around the program, and enough will sign to give the Wolverines more than enough talent when combined with Beilein's diamonds in the rough.
Brian: Basketball recruiting is far more volatile than football just because of the numbers involved. Take a look at Michigan State's current recruiting class: a couple of random three-stars they picked up late after Jabari Parker decided on Duke, along with everyone else they were recruiting. Or envision a world in which Mitch McGary goes to a more traditional power. So it's hard to judge when Michigan's barely been in a big-timer recruiting battle yet.
Instead they've made their hay on identifying prospects quickly and getting them to pull the trigger immediately, as GRIII and Walton and Irvin did. These days I don't think John Beilein can walk into a gym without the rest of the country perking their ears up. Since Beilein's going to wait to offer them and other schools aren't, we're in for a number of Devin Booker recruitments where Michigan has been laying groundwork for years but has to fend off guys who got wise a bit later.
The 2014 and 2015 classes will be the acid test. Lock down Booker and grab an elite 2015 big to go with some top 100 wings and it's on at the top of the league; settle for plan Bs and Michigan likely levels off as a contender a half-step behind Indiana, State, OSU, etc.
I think they will get enough of their top targets. Michigan's got stability, facilities, a sexy run to the title game, a fun offense, a reputation for talent development, a burgeoning list of NBA alumni, and a hell of a staff. They don't even start recruiting guys who might need a little help to qualify or want a little something on the side. What's missing? A couple more years of being in the national consciousness, and that's coming.
BiSB: I also think that, to an extent, football and basketball are feeding off each other. Lets not forget that the Commit-a-palooza last year happened during the Michigan/OSU basketball weekend, and IIRC most of the top basketball commits have been spotted at football games. Michigan has some very public swag these days (praise to the Swag Mattison), and there doesn't appear to be a slowdown in the near future.
Forest view, though: Michigan has brought in, what, six ESPN 100 guys in the last two classes? With a couple of five stars? And they are in the hunt for some even bigger names going forward? Beilein Über Ham on Wheat with Mayo.
Freerolling. Contest time: Draftstreet.com has put together an MGoBlog freeroll for their weekly fantasy game. They use salary-cap style drafting: you've got 100k to spend on 2 QBs, 3 RBs, 2 WRs, a TE, and two flex players with players priced by expected performance. This weekend Denard has a massive 17k pricetag, but you can get Fitzgerald Toussaint and his hopefully-more-than-two-carries for 4k. You get the idea.
A hundred bucks gets distributed amongst the top five finishers and I will hit the winner with a t-shirt of their choice as well. Sign up before noon Saturday to get eligible. I'll remind folks tomorrow.
you and me both, Mr. Beilein
Countdown: McGary. Mitch McGary says he's down to Michigan, Duke, and Florida and will be deciding within the week:
As for my recruitment, I’ve got some big news for you guys. T.J.’s not the only one committing next week. I’m planning to make my commitment next week sometime too.
Sam Webb says Michigan is still the leader, but he's not deploying the gut feeling. Let's go, McGary.
Did oversigning just die? Everyone's focused on the pittance schools are about to fork over to their players as schools move towards full cost of attendance. But this is a potentially huge change that was also just announced:
The Board also approved multi-year grants up to the full term of eligibility, though one-year grants will remain the minimum. A prescribed minimum award value should apply to all scholarships (percentage amount to be decided in the coming months), and institutions could increase the allotted aid during the period of the award.
The current restrictions and processes for reducing or canceling aid will be maintained and only non-athletically related conditions for reduction or cancellation will be permitted in aid agreements. Student-athletes will continue to have a hearing opportunity for any reduction or cancellation of aid.
IE: you can now offer scholarships of up to four years and you cannot cancel that scholarship for "athletically related conditions." Someone tweeted that "this might be used as a recruiting tool" to Andy Staples… which… horror!
That doesn't eliminate St. Saban Memorial Hospital but it does give schools that intend to keep their players around a leg up on the axemen of the world. B+.
Also there is this, something I've advocated:
Presidents also voted to allow institutions to provide financial aid to former student-athletes who remain at or return to the institution to complete their degrees after they have exhausted their eligibility.
That's long overdue. I wonder what the details of that are… could that be used to get a master's degree in something potentially useful after the kid has found out he's not a pro and has the time to get something other than a General Kinesiology degree.
Other changes include bumping JUCO eligibility requirements up a bit, moving the APR cutoff to 930 effective in 2014 and banning teams below that threshold from postseason play.
No mention of that infuriating scholarship cut proposal. Hopefully that's dead and in a ditch. If so, bravo for the NCAA. That package of changes is a huge move to the good, and it came about in about six months.
Radio. This morning's WTKA appearance in two parts: part one, and part two. That is how parts work. I defend Carr from a guy who really dislikes Carr, talk even more about Three and Out, have a really interesting conversation with Craig Ross (who knows Carr fairly well) about the man himself, listen to a very strange call from New York that connects college football to the global financial catastrophe, and bomb the Free Press. Oh, and we talk about Purdue and Craig's irrational hatred of "Horseface" Danny Hope.
Seriously, people, you need to listen to Chuck at the beginning of part two. You will not regret it.
Exclusive. Angelique, of course, lands one with Hoke. The no headset thing is for realz:
Q. I get asked a lot if you're like Bo Schembechler or Lloyd Carr. You're not. So who are you?
A. I don't know. It doesn't matter to me what people want me to be. I'm going to be who I am. I can remember when I took the Ball State job, talking to Bo, and he had two things he told me. One, he told me to move over to the offense, and I asked him, 'Coach, why? My expertise is on the defensive side of the ball,' and he said, 'Well, you control the game offensively.' I told him with great respect I would think about it. But I've always been able to hire great coordinators, guys who understand what we want to do. And the other thing Bo said was, 'Be yourself.' So I just try and be myself.
Q. Which is?
A. A D-line coach.
Q. But you're not anymore.
A. Yeah, but I am.
Q. What does that mean?
A. Pretty simple.
Q. You're pretty simple or the concept is pretty simple?
A. I'm pretty simple as long as I think about the kids because that's why we get to do what we get to do. It's for the kids, and it will always start there.
I love that. No headset uber alles.
Dirt sandwich. Michael Beasley is suing guys:
The Washington Post reports that Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley is suing his former agent and his former AAU coach for conspiring to create a situation in which they could represent him once he became a professional player. The lawsuit alleges that the agent, Joel Bell, and the coach, Curtis Malone, first sank their teeth into Beasley when he was 14 years old.
The lawsuit comes less than a year after Bell sued Beasley for wrongful termination and breach-of-contract.
Beasley's allegations in this countersuit are lengthy and complicated.
To boil it down: The Post reports that Beasley and his mother allege that Bell helped cover the costs of Beasley's participation in a high-profile AAU team, including transportation, lodging, other family expenses and $2,500 in cash. The lawsuit also reportedly alleges that in return for that help the agent and coach took steps to ensure that Beasley would sign with Bell once he turned pro after one season at Kansas State, including paying for his mother's rent and car payment after she moved to Kansas to be near Beasley.
The NCAA's next massive reform should be providing some framework for agents to work with players to get some of this stuff above the table for the benefit of everyone. If agents have some access, bad actors can lose that access. Agent prohibition is working about as well as actual Prohibition.
Mattison on missed tackles. Bruce Feldman talks with Mattison, and Mattison says the same boatload of interesting things he usually does:
"I don't want to talk about anything that was done before. I know what we believe in defensively. You have to keep it inside and in front. There is never, ever an option of not going hard to the football. And the key words are 'to the football' and where the football is going to be. If you see the ball breaks outside and a big lineman is chasing, he's never gonna catch it: 'Don't chase it, cut it off! Go where it's gonna be!' We practice that every single day all the time. Every single practice play if that lineman is not running at an angle where he can go make the play, he is going to hear about it. And if he does it too much, he won't be in there. Our guys have bought into that. They truly understand now that that's how you're supposed to play when you wear the winged helmet on defense."
GERG version of this: murph murph murph murph murph.
This, however, is pure luck:
It wouldn't seem like a stretch to think all of the preaching about taking proper pursuit angles, running to the football and gang tackling is the reason why Michigan is tied for tops in the country with 14 fumbles recovered. That also comes out of just 16 loose fumbles. Other teams around the Wolverines in that category high in the NCAA rankings actually have a much lower percentage of fumbles recovered. (Last year, the Wolverines were 87th in fumble recoveries with just seven, which came from 12 free footballs.)
14 of 16 fumble recoveries is insane, and fumble recovery rates are the most random things in football. I don't think they can be attributed to coaching even a little tiny bit.
State turdstorm UPDATE! Yesterday Eleven Warriors graciously posted that Maurice Clarett might be a troubled weirdo who tried to take down Ohio State after he got the boot, but at least he's a trying troubled weirdo and he's not all bad. This is a level of understanding I do not have with Tractor Traylor even after the guy died tragically.
11W's reward for this understanding is to have Ray Small go MoCo:
"We have apartments, car notes," he said. "So you got things like that and you look around and you're like, ‘Well I got (four) of them, I can sell one or two and get some money to pay this rent."
The wheeling and dealing didn't stop with rings. The best deals came from car dealerships, Small said.
"It was definitely the deals on the cars. I don't see why it's a big deal," said Small, who identified Jack Maxton Chevrolet as the players' main resource.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on May 7 that OSU was investigating more than 50 transactions between OSU athletes and their families and Jack Maxton Chevrolet or Auto Direct.
Representatives for Jack Maxton Chevrolet did not return repeated requests for comment.
NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from benefiting from the sale of their merchandise. Small said he wasn't the only one.
"They have a lot (of dirt) on everybody," Small said, "cause everybody was doing it."
Man… Ray Small. That guy was in trouble from day one at OSU, threw regular public hissy-fits about it, and he wasn't even that good at football. If I was an Ohio State fan he would be in my circle of the damned. Their term for this rapidly expanding category that includes Kirk Herbstreit and (to the truly deranged) Chris Spielman is "Fake Buckeye."
You can add Mark "Club Trillion" Titus to that list after he posted there was definitely something "shady" going on with football players' cars, then followed it up with a rebuttal saying that he shouldn't get death threats because that's mean. Titus claims the shadiness was to the point where most students knew or should have known what was going on.
Meanwhile, the local news station is investigating the Gibson thing and while that transaction continues to get more complicated it's not getting proportionally more explicable:
10 Investigates [sic] found that Gibson had a trade-in. He traded in a 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo that BMV records showed he bought for $15,400 just seven months earlier.
But the dealership may have given him only $1,000 toward the trade-in, [instead] dropping the sales price of the car he was buying by a substantial amount.
10 Investigates [sic] has learned that's what Kniffin has told investigators with the BMV.
The trade-in business materializes as predicted; an explanation for how Thad Gibson scraped together enough money to buy two cars worth a total of 30k in less than a year is yet to be explained. Along The Oletangy responds to the investigation apparently clearing the transactions:
In any case, it doesn't matter what the BMV finds when they analyze Jack Maxton Chevrolet's tax forms as long as no special treatment was given to Ohio State football players.
It's obvious plenty of special treatment was provided, but where is the smoking gun?
Position paper on demolition of Ohio State program and whether it is good or bad. If Ohio State was going to fall apart by Notre Daming themselves with a series of coaching hires ranging from questionable to insane, that would be a thing to be conflicted about in the same way certain Ohio State fans are bored with a terrible Michigan team they're just going to blow out.
This is a different thing entirely since it suggests the fence Tressel legendarily put up around Ohio's borders is one based on massive NCAA noncompliance. Meanwhile, thanks in part to this (and in part to Michigan imploding) they've gone 9-1 and turned the Big Ten into their personal playground. If the NCAA finds proof of this massive noncompliance and OSU gets bombed into the stone age and is no longer any good, there's no conflict there. It's an unadulterated good. Michigan has been hypersensitive about this stuff since the Ed Martin Day Of Great Shame, and it's obvious their main rival hasn't. Putting that on even footing will help put the rivalry there if it doesn't swing it all the way back to the Cooper days, which fine by me.
Hot under the collar, part II. ESPN's Mike Fish, you may remember from the above-referenced Maurice Clarett bombing, has a new article. This is the header image:
Africa basketball charity, AAU player headed to Indiana, Tom Crean, Indiana AAU coach. This can't be good. Not pictured: involuntary adoption. Hooray Beilein.
Hey let's rehash this again. MZone noticed that I hadn't mentioned Lloyd Carr's election to the College Football Hall of Fame and asks why I hate Lloyd Carr, complete with requisite psychoanalysis and link to me being mad in the immediate aftermath of the Hoke hire when everyone was mad, something I've obviously backed away from in multiple column-length pieces since.
To defend myself: I don't take the CFHOF seriously. It just elected Deion Sanders. When Tom Curtis was elected it warranted about two sentences. For better or worse, I am totally uninterested in the charity work of rich people. I've also said my bit about Carr as Michigan's coach over and over again. Contrary to two-bit psychoanalysis it was not negative, or at least it was far less negative than many.
And I am pissed off at the hostility to change that's obvious every time any former Carr player says something about anything. We've got a program of Joe Morgans. I'm worried how that will manifest itself on the field. It's not hard to draw a contrast between what's gone down the last three years and what would have gone down if Bo was still around. Bo would have been on the warpath; he probably would have dropped by to scream at Rodriguez some. The impression we've gotten from every one of Carr's former players is that there is exactly one person responsible for Michigan's decline—Rich Rodriguez—and not only is that incorrect (Horror, DeBord, Tressel vs Carr) but it's detrimental to Michigan's future. If we got back to the days where every bowl opponent laughs at how predictable we are that will not be good.
(I don't think that's happening because Borges is a real live offensive coordinator and not a broken robot that only calls zone left. Hoke uber alles.)
Eyerolling reorg. Adam Wodon on the inevitable hockey realignment coming sounds like anyone talking about anything last year when talking about conference realignment:
It all starts with Notre Dame. (Well, it all started with Penn State and the Big Ten, but that's already happened.) Think about it — you're Notre Dame's president. Your sports teams all play in the Big East, or, in the case of football, is the most storied program in college sports. You fire up CHN's iPhone app one morning to check the hockey standings, and what do you see? You see Notre Dame competing against some MAC and D-II schools. You recoil. This is not what Notre Dame does. This is not what Notre Dame is.
That is not a knock on the other schools, it's just reality. There is no way that Notre Dame is staying put. That means that the CCHA is certain to lose its remaining powerhouse (from an institutional, NCAA-wide standpoint), and fall further to seven teams. That means the CCHA is in trouble, as a whole.
Maybe Wodon's got some inside chatter on this that he's refusing to mention in an effort to make his column as annoyingly speculative as possible, but this is the impetus for an elaborate reorganization scenario that sees Notre Dame move to Hockey East because they'd rather play Merrimack (seriously) than Ferris State.
Notre Dame is choosing between some games against BC and then a bunch of schools no one at Notre Dame has heard of plus flying for literally every road game and staying in the CCHA. While ND has money, are they going to spend it on that for no real benefit? And will Hockey East expand to an eleven teams just for the dubious benefits of having ND in the conference? Travel costs matter in hockey, the longest season in the NCAA, and no one is going to make enough money on an ND move to justify the increased costs even if "this is not what Notre Dame does." Yeesh.
Darius Morris and Jack Johnson
The Bylaw Blog has developed a recurring theme of late: by placing greater restrictions on the folk it has control over it cedes territory to people it doesn't. A prime example is when the NCAA banned college coaches from attending AAU events. AAU events didn't stop collecting players or happening, and coaches got more distant from the players they were trying to recruit. This provides greater influence for middlemen, and in college basketball these days lots of middlemen want to get paid, yo.
Here's another example, one year after ACC coaches successfully lobbied the NCAA to move the draft withdrawal date up 40 days:
A year later, here we are again. The ACC's coaches drafted a new proposal, one that moves the early-entry deadline all the way up to the day before the beginning of the spring signing period. In 2011, that date -- April 12 -- would have passed us by weeks ago. It would have given underclassman prospects exactly eight days after the national title game to decide whether they wanted to go pro or stay in school for another year. It would have -- I mean, it will; I'm still having trouble with the idea that this is actually happening -- forced players with millions of dollars on the line to make life-altering decisions in the matter of a few days with minimal information on which to make them.
Why move the date? April 10th is the day before basketball's late signing period. Now coaches will know how many spots they have open when that period opens. Except they wont. Bylaw Blog:
In attempting to control the draft process, college coaches have lost all control of the draft process to the NBA. Instead of an NCAA deadline of May 8, the new deadline is not April 10, but still April 24, the NBA's deadline.
The NBA's shown no interest in helping college basketball, so the chances the change actually has any positive effect are slim. The net effect is to prevent a bunch of players from declaring and returning to school. But at least there's an alternate universe in which college coaches are happier.
Why not revamp? I've been bothering the Bylaw Blog about this on twitter, and now I'm going to bother you: you could sidestep all these issues by dumping the current NBA draft structure and replacing it with something closer to the MLB/hockey model. In those sports everyone is automatically put into the draft and thus retains their eligibility. In baseball there is a narrow window in which you have to sign or the team loses rights to the player; hockey teams retain rights to the player until they graduate.
The Bylaw Blog keeps shooting down these proposals like so:
Short draft, limited roster spots, lack of minor league make MLB model less workable for basketball. NBA should adopt MLS approach*.
That was the same reasoning given to me when I bothered him about hockey, but I think he's conflating the two models. The MLB model does encourage a bunch of players to sign way before they're ready to enter the major leagues and implementing it in basketball could see a bunch of college stars toiling away in the D-League, something no one wants. (If the NBA had any designs on making people care about the D-League they wouldn't have started forcing players to go to college.)
The hockey model doesn't necessarily have this issue. Since teams retain rights they can leave kids in school until they determine whether or not they want to sign them. Players do tend to sign before they are NHL-ready but that's because there is a ready-made minor league with a higher level of play that acts as an intermediary between the NHL and the league. There isn't in basketball and the D-league is never going to be one, so teams would almost want to keep their players in college until they thought they were ready.
If I woke up tomorrow and was David Stern this is what I'd do:
- Change the draft so that every recruit who signs a LOI is automatically entered.
- Extend the draft to three rounds.
- Rookie contracts are at least one year longer than the amount of eligibility you're giving up. (IE, straight out of high school: five years, junior: two years, senior: one year, but in that case you don't have the sign the guy so this is essentially zero years.) That roster spot cannot be reclaimed by cutting the player; contracts are not 100% guaranteed but have some floor (probably the league minimum) that is.
- Allow unsigned, drafted players to play in the summer league.
And then if I woke up the next day as the president of the NCAA I'd:
- Fume at my lack of power.
But if I woke up the next day as an NCAA president who could force choke anyone who disagreed with me I'd:
- Allow pro teams to pay for their players to attend rookie camps and assorted "should we sign you" activities.
In the specific case of someone near and dear to us who seems to be making an odd decision because of the current NBA draft structure, Darius Morris would have been in the draft out of high school and after his freshman year, but would have been passed over each time. This year he'd be taken at some point, could work out with his team a bit as long as he paid his own way (about which don't get me started, see fuming above), and then it would be up to the team and Morris to decide whether or not he was ready to make the leap. If the NBA team signed Morris immediately they'd be committing to having him on the roster for the next three years, so they'd have to think about it.
In this specific case and a lot of others the player would be far less likely to make a bad decision because he'd be talking directly with the team who held his rights. Similarly, NBA teams who draft a college player only to find out he needs more seasoning than they thought could save the roster spot and cash for someone else as they wait to see which of their prospects develop. Everyone would have more information via which to make better decisions.
Unfortunately, this seems diametrically opposed to the way things are going. Like Brionte Dunn and showing up on campus, I'll start getting my hopes up when people talking sense about how basketball recruiting goes down pass a legislative proposal and no sooner.
*[The MLS approach is to sign the player and then find a home for him, which doesn't seem workable because the NBA is not a single entity, unlike MLS. MLS is competing with leagues around the world for players, so there's a point to negotiating a contract with a league. The NBA isn't competing against anyone for anyone other than Josh Childress, so I'm not sure what the advantage of their structure is for basketball.]
Agentzzz. Does the SEC's reaction to predatory agents seem, oh I don't know, slightly self-serving? On one level I don't actually disagree with the idea that maybe having a registered NFL agent represent a kid and possibly throw him some dollars isn't the worst way to bridge some of the gap between the amount of money players make for their schools and the amount of money they make for themselves. That would conveniently pay the players likely to be worth the most to their schools without actually acting as a drain on athletic department budgets.
But maybe the time to suggest something like this…
The SEC commissioner says the current rules "may be as much part of the problem as they are the solution."
…is before half the schools in your league are under investigation and likely to lose key players. Watching the local journalists scramble to think outside the bun when their precious local programs come under threat is annoying when no one has a troubling word to say about the NCAA and their pursuit of Reggie Bush. You had five years to cluck about agents before the knocking got local. Doing it now is pure hackery. I can only imagine what the Free Press would write if Michigan had anyone involved in this. Probably not "we need a whole new way of thinking about agents."
Meanwhile, hearing Nick Saban position himself as the great and good friend of college athlete's eligibility is the sort of spectacularly brazen thing that is totally expected from Nick Saban. Seriously:
"I have no respect for people who do that to young people, none," Saban said. "I mean, none. How would you feel if they did it to your child?"
Do what, exactly? Oversign the hell out of them and then either end their careers with dubious medical scholarships or spawn a "voluntary" transfer? No. Give them money they shouldn't have because the NCAA says so. All right then.
Stupidzzz. So some guy outed the author of the Bylaw Blog. As a result, the Bylaw Blog is going on hiatus as the man behind it tries to clear it with his athletic department, which is Loyola Marymount's. Hopefully they take a look at the content on the blog and see it as a positive for their profile, which it certainly is, and let Compliance Guy continue being exceptionally useful.
As for guy who outs exceptionally useful guy: congratulations. You dug up a piece of information of no value to anyone and possibly/probably cut off the only insight into the increasingly important world of compliance that anyone had. You have committed an act of anti-journalism. Here, the truth makes us all dumber. I hope someone runs your foot over with a lawnmower.
Also then afterwards these gentlemen stop by and bend metal threateningly. Via Rittenberg comes this little bit of Barwis hype. On Mike Martin:
Bench-presses 505 pounds, squats 700 pounds … Power cleans 430 pounds, hang cleans 475 pounds …Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds
Strength coach Mike Barwis says: "Mike is an absolute warrior. He has a never quit attitude and is a natural born leader. He is one of the most impressive physical specimens I have ever seen."
And on David Molk:
Bench-presses 490 pounds, squats 660 pounds … Power cleans 420 pounds, hang cleans 440 pounds … Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds
Strength coach Mike Barwis says: "Dave is an outstanding worker and a natural athlete. He is one of the most naturally explosive linemen I have ever trained."
Whatever Fred Jackson's got, it's catching.
Martin totally pwns Northwestern DT Corbin Bryant, who squats like my grandmother (a mere 600 pounds) and is essentially on par with OSU DL John Simon; no comparables were available for offensive linemen.
Clean. We leave the fresh for the rest of the conference. Dana O'Neil has a remarkable article in which she anonymously surveys D-I basketball coaches and comes out with quotes like "If the NCAA was serious, they'd hire someone who knew what they were doing, not these women out here trying to get a husband.''
"These women"—referred to elsewhere as "gestapettes"—are the NCAA enforcement people tasked with wandering around summer recruiting events attempting to make sure everything is on the up and up. If only Bobby Knight was still coaching we'd have a likely candidate for that Mad Men-era quote; as it is it could be anyone.
Anyway, here's a feather in the cap combined with a shot at Tommy Amaker:
Which league is the cleanest? The dirtiest?
Congratulations, Jim Delany. Your league wins in a landslide. Of the 20 coaches surveyed, 11 said the Big Ten was the cleanest in the country. Three others cited the land where time stood still, also known as the scholarship-less Ivy League. (Although even the Ancient Eight earned one disparaging nod: "The Ivy League,'' one coach said before pausing to add, "I mean the Ivy League a couple of years ago, before all of that stuff at Harvard.")
But coaches cited the Big Ten's perceived willingness to police itself and rosters that "made sense," in which players traditionally come from the footprint of the schools they choose to attend.
Tommy Amaker got dirty enough to mention when he left Michigan for Harvard. Michigan is bringing a fork to a gun fight in basketball recruiting.
Some nice things were said about Michigan State that we will elide before getting to the next shocker:
…the Southeastern Conference was perceived as the worst, with three coaches partnering the SEC with the Big East and another tossing in the Big 12 (one coach went league-by-league, counting up schools). All in all, the SEC was named by 14 of the coaches.
"Oh no, it's not just a myth,'' one coach said about the SEC. "It's the truth.''
Maybe we need to rethink the way we perceive rampant cheating in college basketball?
Etc.: The WLA quibbles with the Offense of the Decade, suggesting that Drew Henson's abbreviated season as the starter should have won at QB. The numbers (61.6% completion, 14.7 yards per completion, 9.1 yards per attempt, and an 18/4 TD/INT ratio) are pretty compelling; I left him off because he only played about 75% of the season but… yeah. It depends on how heavily you want to weight that.
They also suggest Askew instead of Dudley but I did not really consider Askew a fullback since he spent most of his time as the deep back in a single-RB formation, IIRC, and anyway if I was putting together a team I'd rather have Dudley for short yardage than an okay tailback who can block.
Never trust a man with a ridiculous unibrow.
Basketball recrutniks will remember one Patrick Beverly, the late-rising Chicago wing that Amaker had seemingly locked down before a late trip to Arkansas suddenly flipped the kid. Beverly would go on to be a freshman All-American in 2006-2007. After a strong sophomore year he was ineligible as a junior and left Arkansas; he currently plays in the Greek league. If Beverly had signed up with Amaker there's a strong possibility he's still around today.
Anyway, afterwards there were more than the usual grumblings about dolla dolla bills y'all, many of them from moderator types on Rivals who usually shoot those things down. There wasn't any proof, though, and these things get old and people forget them.
[Oklahoma] acknowledged Wednesday that it was investigating phone calls made by former basketball assistant Oronde Taliaferro to determine whether he had committed any NCAA violations. In a statement, the school indicated that Taliaferro had made calls to a Merrill Lynch representative in Florida and the content of those calls was under review.
Oklahoma claims Taliaferro did not break NCAA rules by simply making the calls. The school's investigation started after a TMZ.com report that former player Keith "Tiny" Gallon had received a wire transfer from a Merrill Lynch representative. …
Taliaferro resigned in April after three seasons on coach Jeff Capel's staff, and the school said he wanted to "focus on other employment opportunities." Warren and Gallon have both entered their names in the NBA draft. …
The Tulsa World and The Oklahoman reported Wednesday that the school released documents showing that Taliaferro exchanged at least 41 phone calls and 25 text messages with Hausinger between May 2009 and March 2010.
Getting that cheddar, yo. Also of note: when Beverley exited Arkansas he outed a massive team-wide cheating scandal before someone got him to recant. Chances Beverly's change of heart were because of the majesty of Fayetteville: minimal. Also see new Golden Knight Isaiah Sykes. Here's to the NCAA hammering Oklahoma and taking a hard look at Arkansas.
Excellent work by the local papers in both these situations, by the way. #*&$ing stretching is the end of the world over here.