Whoah… Texas. I'm on druuuugs.
Overtures!!! Everybody PANIC:
A source with ties to the Big Ten said that while most people’s attention has been trained on the conference stealing Missouri, the Big Ten has engaged in “preliminary exchanges” with a much bigger fish from the Big 12.
“There have been preliminary exchanges between the Big Ten and Texas,” the source told the Journal-World on Wednesday. “People will deny that, but it’s accurate.”
Accurate though it may be, "preliminary exchanges" are just folks in suits keeping doors open in case of disaster. Texas to the Big Ten will never ever happen. Reasons:
- The Texas legislature would have the mother of all hissy fits and threaten UT's state funding.
- Texas would go from its usual diet of nummy goo-goo bears plus the occasional big game to a nonconference schedule with mandatory games against A&M and Oklahoma, and that's if Texas isn't forced to play more in-state teams as part of an agreement with the legislature.
- Texas's baseball team, currently a national power, would be playing in the college baseball equivalent of Conference USA.
- Texas has the mojo to have it own damn channel if it wants and won't have to share jack with the other Big Ten teams.
Note that travel costs are omitted, because putting the Big Ten Network on Texas channels means even the crew teams can fly first class. It would be ridiculous. Jim Delany would buy a monocle.
That goes for this Pac-10 expansion, too. I don't buy that adding Colorado and Utah does anything for anyone except bust up the one conference that makes total sense.
Plot against America update. So I toss a link to a USA Today article arguing that adding another 31 teams to the NCAA tournament wouldn't even make much money on mgolicious and the artist formely known as Wonk duly shreds it:
The larger issue here centers on what constitutes “loose change” for the NCAA. Let’s accept that the difference between what a network will pay for a 96-team field and what they’ll lay out for a traditional 65-team version wouldn’t be all that much in percentage terms. Hiestand’s right: The new games would be the least attractive ones and, anyway, they’d represent just 17 percent of the programming “tonnage.” But if you’ve ever bought or sold a house, you’re intimately familiar with the paradox at work here. You negotiate a price and give a few thousand here or take a few thousand there. Then you step away and think: Sweet mother of Ben Bernanke, that right there’s the equivalent of a new car or three years of daycare for your kid, or 50 HDTV’s, etc.
So maybe it's some money up front that's meaningful. Meaningful spread over 340-some D-I teams? Eh… probably not. Meaningful to one organization in Indianapolis? Maybe.
Not that the idea is any less terrible today than it was a few days ago. The proposed expansion would, for all intents and purposes, absorb the entire NIT into the NCAA tournament. Last year's editions of Northwestern, Penn State, Notre Dame (18-14), Nebraska (18-12), Virginia Tech (18-14), and Washington State (17-15) would all have weaseled their way in. That's nine of the Big Ten's eleven teams in the tourney plus an ugly assortment of teams who beat no one and have no chance of winning the tournament. At some point you have to say no.
John Beilein's on the side of justice, FWIW:
"I don't understand right now," he said during his Big Ten teleconference. "The 64 (teams) – I could see adding a couple more 'play-in' games if you have to. But going to 96 may be a hard thing to do. I think it's pretty good right now."
Unsurprisingly, Bo Ryan likes evil and preposterous generalizations:
“To me, it’s foolish for those people who are saying it’s perfect the way it is,” Ryan said Monday. “Obviously, they’ve lived a very shallow life when it comes to looking at change and what change can do and how it can affect things. The history of expansion with the NCAA has been very successful."
Yeah, well, you now, that's just, like, your opinion, man. We have lived a shallow life in which we have never considered how change can affect things.
Yet another way in which college football is like figure skating. Remember some time back when the coaches threw a hissy that people were paying attention to their votes and threatened to take the final coaches' poll private? This was roundly condemned and eventually dropped, but the scars still linger.
If they try it again, opponents should point to what went down when figure skating attempted to beat the corruption out of their judges by making their scores anonymous*:
[Dartmouth economist Eric Zitzewitz] finds that the home-country bias gets even worse when anonymous judges can hide from a scrutinizing press and public, despite the barriers that anonymity may create for effective backroom deal-making. The home-judge advantage under the new system is about 20 percent higher than in the days of full disclosure.
College football coaches already display serious biases when their votes are subject to scrutiny. It would only get worse if they weren't.
*(This seems insane but there is a plausible reason it might be a good idea: it prevents collusion amongst judges. Before there could be backroom deals where a couple countries conspire to rate each other's skaters higher. Now those deals can't be enforced.)
That is more like it. Fred Jackson gives us all hope that Fitzgerald Toussaint is in possession of all his limbs:
"He's as talented as anyone who walked in the door," said Jackson, who has coached Michigan career leading rusher Michael Hart, Chris Perry, Anthony Thomas and Tyrone Wheatley, to name a few.
Jackson said he had never before heard of a player breaking his shoulder blade. But before the injury, Jackson saw budding talent.
"He's got great feet, acceleration, strength, power," Jackson said. "I can compare him to somebody -- he's like a fast Chris Perry. He's going to be very good."
Fitzgerald Toussaint is like a Doak Walker winner who was a first round draft pick… except fast.
Etc.: Basketball recruiting remains dirtier than a dirt sandwich. What's with Ann Arbor as the epicenter of ice dancing? Russians. Obviously. What is the point of this new rule about head coaches in waiting? Manny Harris has never been that efficient in the Big Ten.
Annual exercise. This site, like all other sites, has a favored playoff proposal that it spent way too much time justifying a couple years ago and wouldn't like to revisit in depth but would like to remind you how much better it would be than the current broken system.
In short, it's a six-team playoff with home games in the first two rounds and the final at the Rose Bowl. There are no autobids. First round would be the weekend after the Championship games (ie, this weekend), the second round would be January 1st, and the final would be the 8th or whatever in the Rose Bowl. This year's edition:
1. Alabama vs. 4. TCU / 5. Boise State
2. Texas vs. 3. Cincinnati / 6. Florida
That is weirdly like two of the existing BCS games, but this time they actually, you know, get a shot at the big boys should they win.
A brief recap of why this is good:
- Byes and home games keep huge tension in the regular season. The SEC championship game didn't eliminate Florida but instead of a bye and a second-round home game, Florida gets to go to Cincinnati in a quarter-final.
- Slanting the playoff towards regular season results also makes it likely that the national title winner would always have the best resume at the end of the season. Even a two-loss team slipping in at the back end would probably get voted #1 independent of any crystal footballs after three straight wins against elite competition, two of them on the road.
- It doesn't require anyone to travel excessively.
- It doesn't affect the bowl system much. Only four teams are sucked out of the bowls.
- It's not the dumbest thing in the history of the world.
Yea, truly this is the way.
The most evil corporation in the history of world. …probably isn't this one I'm about to talk about. But they are irritating.
No one else probably remembers this, but when I saw the letters in this Sporting Blog post I was reminded of a previous fiasco:
Back in late October, SI broke the story of a fight for film going on between the NFL and XOS Technologies. As a quick refresher, XOS is in charge of digitizing film for eight conferences, including the SEC, Pac-10, Big 12, Mid-American, WAC and Sun Belt. Now XOS wants what is reportedly $20-$30 million for film the NFL used to receive for nothing.
You may remember XOS from such ill-fated public relations disasters as "The SEC Controls Your Mind"; they signed on to do all the digital stuff for the SEC this year and immediately issued a draconian policy that was RIAA-esque in its blinkered belief that you can control the internet. Now this same corporation is trying to extract money from the NFL for tapes of prospects, and the NFL is in a fight. I bet coaches who want to tout the NFL-readiness of their players just love this corporation.
You'll note the Big Ten is not afflicted; they've cast their lot with Fox and the Big Ten Network and should have no problems getting seniors and—more importantly for folks hoping Donovan Warren reconsiders—juniors scouted in a timely fashion.
Aigh. Formerly Anonymous ran across this interview with Richard Billingsley, which gives me another opportunity to rail against his hodge-podge of dreck that purports to be a computer rating system. It's not a surprise that a guy who's described his system like this…
Believe it or not, the system is designed after our own United States Constitution. But don't hold that against it! Although at times I feel this system is just about as complicated as our Federal Government, there is one huge difference..... this one works!
…"doesn't even have a degree," according to the article, and won't divulge his formulas for ranking teams. Because they're insane. Things Billingsley does in his rankings:
- Weight Billingsley's own arbitrary preseason human rankings.
- Partially consider a team's (arbitrary, information-free) rank at the time of a game, thus hugely overvaluing wins like Notre Dame's victory over #3 but soon to go 7-5 Michigan in '05.
- Heavily weight the most recent week.
- Add in arbitrary bonuses.
This is an organization that thought a propaganda website, widely-mocked twitter account, and Ari Fleischer were good ideas, so it's not a huge surprise that they've cast their lot with a guy who sounds like he owns a bunch of stuff from the Franklin Mint. It is further confirmation that the people in charge of college football are sort of clueless: they've cast their lot with an aging nut's secret blend of herbs and spices that hasn't been updated since 1970.
PREWB! This was discussed extensively on the radio but has gone uncommented on here: the latest Free Press bit on the Michigan State "fight" is further evidence that the paper is in the tank for the Spartans. It interviews two parents of suspended players but doesn't bother to talk to the very talkative victim, mention that the president of the fraternity in question would like to see the football players gone for good, or mention anything in Glenn Winston's past. It is strictly from the POV of State players' parents. Jon Chait has a fuller takedown of an organization that's descended into self-parody.
This quote from the "grand polaris" of Iota Phi Theta—what a title—is from the News…
"From what I understand, almost all of those guys, if not all of them that came in there, (threw) a punch," Price said of the eight who received suspensions. "They came in, (based) on their behavior, with the sole purpose of beating up or physically abusing an Iota."
…and is followed up by the term "assault," not "fight." The News also reports on Dantonio's response to the thing. Like the context left out of the Free Press Katrina story and provided by AnnArbor.com, you don't have to take a crazy biased blogger's word for it. You can observe the other news organizations covering the story and contrast them with the Free Press.
Etc.: Chengelis on the AD search. Harbaugh is not talking to Notre Dame. Bill Taylor discusses his company, which deals with substance abuse. Red is 70, and it's been suggested that Happy Birthday should be sung on Friday at Yost.
APR. The NCAA has released all the APR information for this year and Michigan's doing quite well, thanks. HOWEVA, I am a bit concerned Michigan's football numbers will dip over the next few years. The four-year rolling numbers:
That's a steady decline as the Carr years waned and attrition increased. The APR issues two points per student per year, one for being academically eligible and one for not leaving, and Michigan's suffered a lot of premature departures.
Boren, Mallett, Manningham, and Arrington are in those 2008 numbers, but many others aren't accounted for yet: Threet, Clemons, McGuffie, Babb, Horn, Chambers, and Kates all left the team after the 2008-09 school year started. I'm not sure if Slocum and Patilla, who left over the summer, are counted, and I don't know if Taylor Hill's extremely brief tenure as a Wolverine—a couple weeks at most—will be held against Michigan. And if I had to bet I'd put my money on Carson Butler coming up a few credits short of his bachelor's in Nerd Massacre Engineering. (Andre Criswell left the team but not the school, and I'd bet he's got a degree, so he shouldn't count.)
Upshot: the transition period is going to hurt Michigan's APR standing just because of the sheer quantity of transfers, and we can expect that 947 to dip considerably next year. I don't think it'll get into the range where Michigan is seriously flirting with sanctions… but I'm not 100% sure or anything.
Another team to watch is Tennessee, which has an APR a point higher than Michigan's and has just suffered ten Kiffin-induced departures.
Meanwhile, penalties are now in full effect and have clubbed basketball teams at OSU, Purdue, and Indiana with scholarship reductions. Indiana is obvious and OSU's addiction to one-and-dones makes them a logical candidate, but Purdue? I guess they just went through a transition period. Ohio State is probably going get to hit next year, too, with Anthony Crater's transfer and the departure of caveman BJ Mullens for the NBA draft.
Can complaints about this thing being a paper tiger stop now? That's one traditional power and two teams that were in the NCAA tournament last year getting hit with the meanstick. Yes, small schools get punished more heavily but that's because they don't have the resources to support the high-risk players they're recruiting. They should concentrate on kids they can graduate. Myles Brand:
"The truth of the matter," Brand said, "is that if you're going to participate in high-level intercollegiate athletics, you have to provide for academic opportunities for the students. And that's not inexpensive."
Word. Anything that diverts more money, Lebowski, to the people actually on the field instead of the people on the periphery is good.
One downer is the ability to absorb penalties into your year of suck. Indiana lost two scholarships but got the NCAA to agree to these hijinks:
IU anticipated the two-scholarship penalty announced today and took it last season. Purdue did the same with a one-scholarship penalty.
Michigan did something similar under Amaker: hit with a one-scholarship reduction for four years, they crammed three of those into the first year and got out of the last two. Schools shouldn't be allowed to take their penalty whenever it's convenient for them; they should have to take it at a uniform time, convenient or no. Allowing IU to put their two-scholarship penalty towards a year when they already knew they'd be terrible is no punishment at all; the same goes for Michigan conveniently backdating their penalties into a year where they were three scholarships short anyway.
One inexplicable horrible thing though. The good doctor highlights the strangest APR case of the year:
The worst APR score in the country belonged to South Florida, which was also below par in basketball and baseball, but the Bulls avoided scholarship penalties in football by applying for a waiver ... which they received for the second straight season despite an eight-point drop (909, down from 917) from a score that was already eight points below the mandated 925 last year.
WTF? How can a team get a waiver one year, fail to improve their score, and get another waiver? I have an email in to the NCAA's website; we'll see if they respond.
Clarification. A few UV's back I asked whether Pryor was actually booted from OSU's spring game for talking trash. I didn't think he did but wasn't 100% sure; since then several emailers have confirmed that answer is "no."
Sherman-Williams will be crushed. I'm sure I've bitched endlessly about the horrific charging calls that floppy white guys get all the time in college—unless it's Zach Novak, for some reason. It turns out I'm not crazy and the NCAA wants to do something about kids showing up directly under the basket with the opponent already in the air… sort of:
The recommendation on play under the basket won't call for a restricted-area arc painted in the lane as the NBA has, but it prohibits a secondary defender from establishing position in the area from the front of the rim to the front of the backboard. A defender must establish position outside that area to draw a charge or player-control foul.
This sounds frustrating in practice, albeit less frustrating than the current setup. Basketball refereeing suffers from a lack of clarity already and, when possible, rules should be adjusted to be black and white. That goes double for college. An NBA-style no charge circle is black and white. This is pretty vague.
Also, one of the guys quoted in the story is named Dick Hack. He's chair of the men's committee and athletics director at New York-Maritime and sounds like he either leapt out of noir novel or Idiocracy. Various cocktails to you, sir.
Then we'll build this awesome hotel. The coaches poll took a look at the criticisms leveled at it and is considering two bold steps:
- Not releasing the votes in the final poll.
- Keeping the identities of the voters secret.
Wait… what? Is Kim Jong-Il in charge of this thing? These are bold steps in exactly the wrong direction. Over The Pylon's already pulled out the flamethrower so I'll just quote them:
So for the coaches poll to have any "credibility" to begin with, we, as fans, are asked to assume that coaches will be informed, participatory, and non-biased. And the only way to ensure that's happening is to ensure that the public can see exactly how these non-biased informed voters are voting. More transparency is the answer.
Context provides heavy sarcasm on "non-biased" and "informed," BTW. The BCS should step in and declare those moves unacceptable if the coaches' poll wants to remain part of the BCS formula. The only thing worse than having biased voters participate in the critically important selection process is having secret biased voters.
Etc.: Sam Keller's suing EA and the NCAA for copying the likenesses of players without paying them. I hope he wins as long as the solution is to pay the players a little bit and not randomization, but if he wins I bet they go with randomization. I don't have a strong opinion on this Daniel Hood thing—he was convicted of rape at 14 and now a Tennessee football recruit—but lean towards think it's okay.
On ignorance. Due to a personal obligation or two I missed most of this weekend's action, and since the only thing I did catch was the Friday night hockey game wherein Michigan was Bowling Green first CCHA win in seven attempts I rather wish I had missed the whole thing.
So I can't offer much other than a "WTF?" about said hockey game, which was just horrible to watch. No matter what happens the rest of the way out, Michigan is going to look back at this game and that 2-1 loss against Western ruefully. Yost Built has a recap of the Saturday game.
Meanwhile, the basketball team had a two point lead when I checked in with the internet and then proceeded to score once more before the game was totally out of hand, dropping M to 3-3 in the league and reviving panicked talk about the NIT. The Ace of Sports and UMHoops have a glimpse at what went down.
Also, I'm about to be in a car for an extended period of time so this and the TomVH interview I'll frontpage shortly are the sum of the day's content. On and popping, as the kids say, tomorrow, with Tuesday Recruitin' and all that jazz.
Return of the mack. The advent of the season had many, many deleterious effects on morale around these parts. One of the more underrated ones the discontinuation of articles about Mike Barwis making you vomit and then turning you into Teen Wolf. I guess the media decided to focus on things like "humiliating losses" and "the second worst season in eighty years" instead, because they hate Michigan.
It's now the offseason, though. What better time for a reprise?
One thing they’re not used to … Barwis Beach, a new sand pit in Oosterbaan Field House. They like it now, said Barwis, adding they won’t when they find out throwing up in sand is just as unpleasant as vomiting on a hard surface.
“It’s utilized for speed and explosive training,” said Barwis. “Forces dissipate more on sand than they do on a hard surface, a rigorous surface, so by doing explosive drills in there with extension we can make sure we really get triple extension from the ankle to the knee and hip to allow for the body to be its most effective running position. Doing acceleration drills in sand will allow them to do more things they can’t do on hard surfaces.”
Vomit, Teen Wolf, extremely reassuring mumbo-jumbo about explosive triple extension acceleration: it's good to have you back, Barwis Porn. I missed you.
Tangentially related. Rodriguez was invited to speak at the high school coaching convention and spent a lot of time attempting to explain that he's not Satan McRecruitsOnlyFlorida. The Battle Creek Enquirer has a brief story on and some video of the event—no embed possible, sorry—if you're interested.
This is the tangent: at the end of it, Rodriguez has finished his speech and is answering a couple questions from a reporter as someone else speaks to the coaches in the background. Someone very loud. Someone very distracting. Someone who sounds like he's gargling gravel. So I'm listening to this and getting sort of annoyed that it's hard to hear Rodriguez when I have an epiphany: holy pants, that's Barwis.
Meetings of doom(!). The NCAA's having one of their many annual meetings in which various ways to shorten football games without enraging the public are discussed. Other topics of interest this year include academics:
Two committees are looking into potentially startling remedies — a fifth year of playing eligibility, a non-playing "year of readiness" for junior college transfers and others with academic deficiencies, scheduling constraints in basketball — and will brief the Division I board of directors during the four-day gathering that ends Saturday.
Another, more radical measure being weighed by the football academic enhancement panel headed by Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione: earmarking a portion of revenues from non-conference "guarantee games" to cover summer school costs, add academic staff or provide other academic support. "We're certainly not trying to make institutional decisions," Castiglione says. "But we think people have to move away from the excuse of not having the necessary academic resources.
…and what to do with the coaches poll, including this horrible idea:
As for possibly going back to having every vote anonymous, Teaff said professional pollsters have told the AFCA there will be a more honest vote if the balloting is done without being attached to a name, as the final December vote is that helps determine the teams who play in the BCS title game. He said coaches might feel pressure to cover themselves with their conference teams.
The only thing worse than having a group of people suffused with naked self-interest vote on who should be in the national championship game is having that group of people do so anonymously. The coaches poll shouldn't be allowed to participate in the selection process unless it's willing to publicize their ballots, period. If that causes coaches to cover themselves with conference mates, the issue is not the open ballot, it's having vast conflicts of interest in your pollsters.
If Mack Brown or any other coach is serious about killing the BCS as quickly as possible he'll take the opportunity provided by the final ballot of the year and, for example, vote Texas #1 and not vote for Oklahoma at all. Coaches poll = dead. BCS = some wack computer rankings and a bunch of ancient men who don't even watch football.
As for the academic stuff: the fifth year of eligibility is academic reform? We have a situation now where a lot of schools are shuffling marginal players onto medical scholarships or encouraging them to transfer or outright cutting them (in Ray Ray McElrathbey's case) so they can cram more guys aboard the SS Sketchy; adding a fifth year of eligibility will only exacerbate this trend.
If you want real academic reform, remove the motivation to ever have a kid leave the program: once a player is signed or enrolled, his scholarship counts against your total for four years even if he fails out or transfers or shoots up a Dairy Queen or is lost to injury. Naturally, you'll have to increase the number of scholarships available to account for average attrition. This will never happen, obviously, but I'd encourage any portion of it: a two or three year commitment from a school for signing a LOI would be a step in the right direction, too.
Missed one. I mentioned the midterm Central Scouting rankings from the NHL last week, hitting on the whole of the 2009 class but missing one of Michigan's 2010 recruits: Mac Bennett. Bennett is a defenseman from Rhode Island ranked #63—third or fourth round—by Central Scouting. Also his hockey coach might have literary ambitions:
"I first saw Mac as an eighth grader competing in a bantam tournament at the Berkshire School and you could tell right away that he was the smartest player on the ice," White told NHL.com. "He had terrific vision, could pass the puck very well and made very good decisions. He's a tough kid in the sense that he never shies away. He's not afraid to go into the corner with anybody; he's comfortable in dark places."
That's part of an extensive article on Bennett from NHL.com. Michigan beat out Boston College for Bennett's services and he should be a fixture on the blueline upon arrival.
Cowherd: still stupid. Not that anyone needed confirmation of this, but to set the record straight on the Great Cowherd Douchebaggery of 2007:
Earlier this week Colin Cowherd was talking about the necessary separation of communication between fans and folks like owners and the media. The ESPN radio host discussed his own experience and loosely mentions the incident years back between he and the now defunct M Zone. He tells his listeners, “that guy, at the M Zone, is the reason you guys can send me emails all day and I can’t send them back.”
This is a warped version of reality. When you are an ESPN "personality" and you respond to a curt but basically correct email with this:
WE WERE SENT IT....WE HAD NO IDEA..BUT THE INCESSANT WHINING...MEANS I WON'T GIVE YOU CREDIT NOW..GET OVER IT
The reason you can't send emails to your readers is because you're a douchebag.
Etc.: This Bill James essay is 20 years old but remarkably prescient about "insiders" and "outsiders." MVictors has an interview with Pete Tiernan of bracketscience.com. Rumeal Robinson is not a fan of Steve Fisher. College hockey realignment seems to be coming, but UNO won't be a part of it.
This is not about Florida. It is not about Florida. Comments will not be about Florida. There is no Florida. There is only Zuul.
Visitors, Michigan is not your football program. One thing this Recent Event Not Involving Florida has done is reveal the deep-seated weirdness of Michigan in relation to the rest of the world. Anyone who sat through WVU and Rutgers' three overtimes to catch Lloyd Carr's rare appearance on SportsCenter probably wondered why he bothered at all. His entire segment consisted of a brief appeal to not punish Michigan for finishing its schedule before Thanksgiving followed by "I don't want to campaign" repeated ad nauseum until the helpless anchor bid Carr adieu. His only other public statement before the fateful Event came on Michigan Replay, when Carr said this:
I just think that based on some of the comments the Florida coach has made in the last two weeks, he has been campaigning strenuously for a berth in the championship game and making some statements about Michigan that I think were inappropriate. That certainly is going to stir a controversy, and who knows what that's going to lead to.
The press, desperate for any word out of Carr's mouth, slapped up story after story on that single phrase "I think [his comments] were inappropriate," delivered with all the ferocity of a euthanized koala bear to Jim Brandstatter on Michigan Replay.
Oddly, this has spurred a lot of passion. Stewart Mandel's bizarre response:
I wasn't particularly thrilled with either coach's approach, and I think the whole exchange marked a particularly ugly moment for the BCS. ... [Stuff criticizing Meyer snipped]
All that said, I thought Carr's response to Meyer went completely overboard. Never once during the final two weeks of the season did Meyer say anything derogatory about the Wolverines. He never even said his team was better than Carr's. All he said was that Michigan had its shot at Ohio State and that he felt his team had earned the right to get its shot at the Buckeyes. So don't give me this "Carr took the high road" nonsense.
It's not like this is a great shock or anything, but Mandel's plain wrong. In the immediate aftermath of the Ohio State game, Meyer is the one who went overboard:
"If they do that (rematch), there should be a playoff system next year," Meyer said. "And I do think those are great teams, because I tried to watch every snap, but I believe as we move on, we need a playoff series. I think if that (rematch) happens, I think it's over. All the presidents would need to get together immediately and put in a playoff system - like, now. I didn't think it was possible to do with all the stadiums and selling tickets, but I believe there's enough firepower out there now to get that done."
Should the Wolverines upset the Buckeyes in a rematch, Meyer would not consider Michigan the champions.
"Absolutely (there would be no national champion)," he said. "If I'm Ohio State, I go get a bunch of rings and say, 'We won the national championship.' That's not right."
Aside from the strong implication that Meyer's been watching too many Larry The Cable Guy specials, that's a blindingly stupid statement and undoubtedly what Carr was referencing as "inappropriate." I hate deploying the word "whine," which -- along with "drinking the Kool-Aid," "thrown under the bus," and "special" -- is one of the four leading indicators that the person you're dealing with is a bonafide moron, but goddamn, son, that's a whine right there. It probably warranted some mild opprobrium on a regional, little-watched coaches show. As a Michigan fan it ticks me off a bit, and I'm glad Carr called him on it. Mandel's assertion that Carr went "overboard" and thus forfeited the high road which you're goddamn right he took -- that road was less "high" than "orbital" -- further proves that whenever you ask a Northwestern graduate about Michigan, they lose their capacity for rational thought. (Something like "I could have gone there, not suffer miserably for four years, and come out with a degree just as prestigious" does not sit well.)
Exhibit B is PTI's Michael Wilbon, also a product of Northwestern, who called Carr a "Neanderthal" in the aftermath of the Recent Event, then said he'd acquired all the negative personality aspects of Bo without any of the positives. And there's the litmus test. Either you see Carr and by extension the entire Michigan program as a throwback to the bad old days... or a throwback to the good old days. You exhort Carr to emulate Mamet characters or exalt Lloyd as the dumpy guy from the Mac commercials (in one of the weirdest analogies I've seen work in a while).
In short, you believe in what the ads call The Michigan Difference or you don't. If you don't, that's fine, but then at some point we're going to do our version of the Nebraska thing and ditch it. What's Nebraska now that they chucked Frank Solich and the triple option? Just another mediocre North division team that loses the Big 12 championship game. They ditched it, and I bet in their heart of hearts they regret it.
In the end, I don't really care about narrow aisleways or too-small seats or cold metal bleachers. I don't care about the infinitesimal chance that if Lloyd Carr had spent the last two weeks on a media blitz that we would be in the national championship game. I don't care that Michigan's never going to have a recruiting run like USC or go on some five-year streak where losses flash across the sky with the infrequency and populace-terrifying inexplicability of comets. Or rather, I do care about all these things but I regard them as a necessary cost of doing business, because I believe that Michigan does stand for something that other athletic programs do not. And whatever that thing is, it is deeply intertwined with Lloyd's refusal to do anything resembling campaigning.
What I care about is that when you enter Michigan Stadium all it advertises is itself, and what I pity is the kind of person who would walk in and think about all the revenue they could make if they would just stop being cavemen.