mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
The Michigan Difference. From the Iowa game:
I will take this radio host's opinion and trust it because that's what I want to do. Gene Smith just stopped by the local sports talk radio station and said the following things:
Gene "probably leaning to playing more conference games considering the amount of teams we are at"
And said this as well, paraphrased:
Gene was emphatic that preserving that game is job one. Good news as far as Im concerned.
And the guy doing the interview got this impression:
Get the feeling talking to Gene just now that OSU and Michigan in same division will be a likely endgame.
At least there's one guy maybe trying to do the thing that makes sense. Good job… Gene Smith? We have reached a strange place indeed.
Mitigating damage. We've heard this before only to have it beaten back by the need to squeeze every penny out, but if they don't expand the conference schedule now come on man:
After announcing the addition of Maryland to the league Monday, Big Ten commissioner said during a national teleconference that the league's conference football schedule could increase to nine games, and the league's basketball slate could jump up to as many as 20 contests for each team.
"I think more games is on the table," Delany said. "One of the reasons we stayed at 11 (members) and stayed at 12 is because we love to play each other more, not less."
My wacky idea for the basketball schedule is to play everybody once, draw a line in the middle, and then play six more with the top teams facing off and the bottom teams facing off. Never happen, but it would at least make the regular season title a nonrandom event based heavily on who you didn't play.
Meanwhile, a nine game conference schedule in football with the current protected rivalry setup would mean teams played opponents in the other division 33% of the time. Better than twice every twelve years; still less than is necessary to support any true rivalry with the opposite divisions.
Guaransheed! Mark Dantonio:
"When we win Saturday -- and I'll say when -- we'll be a 6-6 football team, not climbing out of the cellar as a 2-10 football team," Dantonio said.
Would you like to backtrack like whoah, though?
It sure sounded like a guarantee. So I asked Dantonio later on the Big Ten coaches' call whether he was, in fact, guaranteeing a victory.
"I don't guarantee anything," he said. "I'm saying that's the mindset we bring when we come."
Aw man just roll with it.
The hate. MVictors has created a grid of hate.
I assume that ending the losing streak has cooled off some of the Penn State hate; when I went in 2006 I would have classified that as orange. Also, Illinois should be red for them and green for us—when my wife, an Illinois undergrad not too up on sports, came to Michigan for her PhD she was under the impression that Michigan was Illinois's primary rival.
Meanwhile, fire up Rutgers and Maryland versions: all Big Ten teams totally indifferent towards them, Maryland and Rutgers getting continually more pissed off that Big Ten fans would like to see their universities vanish from the planet.
This is not about TV? Delany:
Delany said that, in his opinion, too much has been made about the move to add Rutgers as a pure cable television play. He emphasized how difficult it will be to integrate the Big Ten Network into the lucrative New York and New Jersey market.
"It's a difficult business," he said. "It's not always successful. You have to be good and lucky and hardworking at it. People treat it as if there's a no-risk assessment. There's always a risk. This initiative has risk. If it was so easy why didn't it happen a long time ago?"
Delany said the media has a perception that growing into cable homes in the East and mid-Atlantic regions is easy. He strongly disagrees with that notion.
"It's not that way," he said. "We went a year with the Big Ten Network without distributing in core areas. We decided we wanted to do that we did it and hung together. We'll have discussion with people."
Hmmm. I am not sure this is the best idea I have ever heard.
How will we spend the money? This is the saddest thing I've read about all of this, a post from On The Banks about what they'll do with all the money:
That being said, staff raises and respectable budget should be in order all around.
Yes. Get The Picture takes apart an annoying Andy Staples article:
This is Staples’ blessing of the situation:
None of us grew up with Ohio State-Maryland or Michigan-Rutgers. This is different, and different is always scary. But the Big Ten saw a chance to add value, and Maryland saw a chance to make more money in a time of economic uncertainty. This marriage may not square with your idea of which teams should or shouldn’t play in the Big Ten, but in this economy, none of us should be criticizing a school for making a sound fiscal choice.
It’s not that it’s scary. It’s that it’s boring. It’s like shopping for an insurance policy instead of a new car. We’re fans. We don’t give a rat’s ass about our schools making sound fiscal choices. (Just ask Tennessee fans about that right now.)
This is soul-numbing. And it’s been done in such an in-your-face way that it won’t even be worth making an effort to laugh the next time Delany has the stones to invoke tradition when he talks about the television programming he schedules, er… conference he leads.
Money is a zero-sum game. It can only be used on the facilities treadmill and coach salary treadmill. It does nothing for the people the money actually comes from, especially when the richest conference in the country goes out and hires Jerry Kill and Danny Hope and Tim Beckman.
The overwhelming feeling of adding Rutgers and Maryland is boredom. No one is going to wake up the morning their team plays either of those schools and do anything but shrug, and as the expansion continues that will spread to other teams. Michigan State and Wisconsin have a nice thing going; now they don't meet for four years. In the future there won't even be a way for those nice things to get going, because oh God Rutgers is on the schedule again.
More on the dissolution of the bundle empire. Conveniently timed SBJ article:
Nobody thinks that the World Series or NBA Finals will be on YouTube any time soon. But top executives with MLB and the NBA said they’ve seen increased interest from digital media companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple in recent months.
“They are sniffing around,” said MLB’s Brosnan, who just negotiated media deals with ESPN, Fox and Turner. “Pay-TV services are never secure, but with TV Everywhere starting to gain some traction, pay TV is looking like it’s building a model that might have some traction and will be here to stay.”
Stern, whose NBA is in the fifth year of eight-year media rights deals with ESPN and Turner, said he anticipates a time when digital media companies place a bet on sports rights in the same way that Fox Sports invested in the NFL in 1994.
The problem for the BTN model is not going to be actual fans signing up to pay but increasing numbers of sports-indifferent cord-cutters who opt out of subsidizing sports fans and just Netflix/Hulu/whatever everything. The current model is going to be the newspaper business in short order here, wheezing out a decline.
The 60 Minutes thing. It is here:
And there is a bonus thing.
Etc.: Fake conversations with Jim Delany are about to become a cottage industry. Penn State loses Tim Frazier for the year, which just obliterates them. They were outscored 53-24 by Akron in the second half after Frazier went out. He'll be back next year. Weinreb bombs everything. The Iowa game from the Hawkeye perspective.
Nihilism factor EXTREME operative principle engage embed engage emb—
Oh my God. Make it stop. The Greg Paulus story has blossomed into the largest, most annoying complete non-story I've ever had the privilege to follow on the internet. I intended to fire and forget the post on his possible transfer with maybe an update along the lines of "hey, we might not have to play Nick Sheridan at any point this year, but then again he's actually played football sometime in the last four years so maybe he'll still be in front of Paulus."
No such luck. My feed reader over the past few days has been updated with a million breathless updates about The Man Who Will Compete With Sheridan. It's been heavily featured on Sportscenter, PTI, and every other show where people yammer about sports. And for what?
Again: we are talking about a person who is not obviously better than Sheridan and hasn't played football seriously in the last four years. People are digging up breathless scouting reports about what a freakin' incredible quarterback he is, but this isn't like LeBron James suddenly had an epiphany and decided he'd play football. Paulus is a 6'2" pocket passer who hasn't read a defense in four years. He doesn't fit the offense. He has no long term future. He will be at least six months behind Tate Forcier when he steps on campus.
Barring injury, what are the chances Paulus ever sees a meaningful snap at Michigan? There are none. What is the downside of allowing Paulus to walk-on and play at quarterback? There is none. You cannot bar injury, after all.
When Nick Sheridan went down with an injury, I'm sure Tate Forcier took on the mentality of a starting quarterback and began to take command of the huddle and build trust with the first team offense almost immediately. Now he has to look over and see a guy with a huge reputation and the immediate support of the Wolverine nation (as Mike said, they're already selling "Paulus for Heisman" shirts).
You too, gibbering Matt Hayes:
The guy who played point guard for Duke the past four seasons, who hadn't picked up a football in four years before, you know, getting his arm loose recently, could be the starting quarterback at Michigan this fall.
Maybe it's not really a red flag.
Maybe it's time to panic.
Hayes later name checks "walk-on" David Cone. Argh. Someone stop this man from having opinions. Offering Greg Paulus a walk-on spot is a perfectly sensible thing to do when you have three scholarship quarterbacks on campus and one of them is the Coner. It means nothing.
So why are we talking about this? Because Paulus was an annoying, bad point guard at Duke. This has no relevance to his football career except insofar as it's barred him from having one. But it's engaged the dread gears of the sports pundit noise machine because it's weird and everyone kind of hates Paulus for being a privileged white kid at Duke. And then people start talking about the noise itself and everything builds and I become very, very cross, and it all gets very meta and even dumber.
GREG PAULUS HAS WHAT PLANTS CRAVE. GREG PAULUS MAKES YOU WIN AT YELLING. GREIFNEFISSHSFIGHSING ISNEGH ISFIVN IWEWJNFIWN!!!
In such a cynical, sarcastic society, oftentimes looking for the negative on anybody or anything, if you're fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it.
"DECISION TIME! DO YOU GO FOR IT?"
"Go. Go. Go. Go. Go"
-Brennaman and Charles Rogers. On third and goal.
Ideally, football games are not opportunities to reflect on just why everyone under 35 has a protective shell of cynicism and sarcasm between the world and everyone's inner Beaver.* But this one was the BCS championship game on FOX, so it was either that or picture Thom Brennaman massaging lotion into Tebow's feet.
Anyway, the reason most of my generation raised outside the state of Utah and I are looking for the negative so often is people like Thom Brennaman, corporate robots who relentlessly praise anyone and anything they're directed to.
The annoying shilling doesn't stop at the commercial break's edge these days; in fact, that guy with the Boomhauer accent saying "that thur is purty dern cool" during one of the six hundred commercials for a pickup truck was probably the most genuine moment of the night. That guy actually believed tool boxes in the side of your pickup truck were purty dern cool, and he communicated that without sanctimony or idiocy. At no point did he turn to the camera and say that if you didn't think tool boxes on your pickup truck were purty dern cool then you are destined for the lake of fire.
If only we could say the same for FOX. I could write a bunch of stuff about what an embarrassment that whole thing was, but other people have taken care of this for me. Fanhouse:
Brennaman was so far over the top in his pro-Tebow hyperbole on Thursday that the game became darn-near unwatchable unless the volume was off.
Assumptions one should not make about this game: … 3) Fox puts on an incompetent broadcast. No. Incompetent doesn't cover how inept their clodfooted work on the BCS has been.
Awful Announcing, which must live for moments like this:
This is so bad, I really don't even have words to describe it.
According to Fox announcer Thom Brennaman—and if you don't agree with him, you must be some kind of deranged lunatic—Tim Tebow just may be the finest human being to ever live on this planet or any other.
Etc, etc, etc. The presentation was such a disaster that a lot of people have been complaining about how bad the game was when, really, it wasn't too bad. Julio Iglesias was nearly decapitated, and there was a critical fourth-down stand and a couple of miraculous interceptions and all in all it was a tense, well-played football game but for the context.
At some point, being directed to interpret everything as history in the making has a downside. Now we expect the Greatest Game Ever Played between the Greatest Players Ever Assembled every time out. And when that's not happening—which it wasn't—no one backs off. They just lie to your face.
So, yeah, I'm tired of all hype. I'm tired of having the "national championship" game between two teams virtually indistinguishable from a half dozen others on a random Thursday night in January on a network that never shows college football. I'm tired of how stupid it all is.
And I think I'm detecting a seismic shift in opinion out there. Bowl defenders outside of newspaper columnists who love them some junket are few and far between—and frankly, I'd rather have Stewart Mandel on the other side of any argument I'm having, thanks very much. Every year some coach and some president gets screwed and converts to the church of playoff. Last year, weirdly, it was Georgia. This year, obviously, it's USC and Utah and Texas. At some point things have to change, because last night felt more like a farce than a championship.
*(60s television version, not unwise quarterback version.)
Editor's note: Originally published in August, 2007.
Editor's note: The Notre Dame numbers were disputed by some ND readers; ND's site lists two majors for everyone or a major-minor pair or something; it was confusing and I just ticked down a bunch of majors; I wouldn't take the assertions of grouping below seriously. Suffice it to say that guys with 6th to 8th grade reading levels apparently average a 3.5 at ND; they're probably not taking astrophysics.
I'm sure you've all seen this by now: Pat Forde got ahold of Jim Harbaugh, who continues to cram his foot in his mouth so far that his testicles are grumbling about the new neighbors, about this whole academics thing. In the article Forde is shocked, shocked(!) to find out that shepherding is going on at Michigan. He strokes a beard he does not have thoughtfully and comes to conclusions that show deep concern for the welfare of student athletes. He credulously accepts this outrageous statement from Harbaugh...
"I learned from a great man named Bo Schembechler that you speak the truth as you know it. It may not be the popular thing, but you speak your mind. Everything I said is supported by fact, but the thing that has come back is the personal attack on me, not looking at the issue whatsoever." The most bothersome personal attack to Harbaugh came from Hart. Even more bothersome was the fact that nobody within the Michigan hierarchy has publicly reined in Hart for blasting a well-decorated alum.
"Mike Hart is just repeating their messages," Harbaugh said. "When I was a player, there would have been nobody saying anything like what Mike Hart said about me. We would have been too afraid of the consequences. That wouldn't have happened while Bo was there. I'm glad as the head coach of Stanford I don't have to deal with those repercussions."
...without stopping even to mention that the very person Harbaugh's throwing under the bus is that "great man" and to say that Mike Hart wouldn't have said the things he did if Bo was around when his weak response to Jamie Morris claiming the same thing of him was "that's not the point." It's awful and self-contradictory and the work of a man just trying to get some Serious Issues brownie points. (Braves & Birds eloquently presents these arguments, btw.)
Harbaugh is right about one thing: if Bo was around, Hart wouldn't have said those things. But that's because Bo would have said them after turning Harbaugh's larynx into goo with the power of his mind. And yet he persists:
"Everything I said," Harbaugh told me this week, "is supported by fact."
No, Jim, it isn't. You're full of crap.
One of the things that makes (most) college football fans deeply uncomfortable is the increasing implausibility of calling the athletes they revere "student-athletes" in an era when enormous men whose applications would have been laughed out of the admissions office had they been sized like normal humans spend 40+ hours a week on football virtually year-round, taking classes like "History of Rock and Roll," or "AIDS Awareness" or "Golf," to use several unfairly OSU-exclusive examples, solely because said classes will allow them to participate in their chosen sport with a minimum of what can only be said to be extracurricular fuss.
It's this inversion of "extracurricular" that bothers people. Whereas once manly men who are men occasionally deigned to travel around the country beating other manly man men's heads in whilst catching up on their Proust, today a bunch of lunkheads with no business in college are exploited for their cheap labor and then cast aside without any hope of employment because their educations were a sham. Yea, truly we have made our collegiate athletics programs dens of iniquity, striving for the unholy dollar at the expense of these men's future.
I don't swear much on this blog, but I have one word for this. It follows in its own paragraph for MAXIMUM EMPHASIS.
Oh, that felt nice. I'm going to continue. Fucking ridiculous, facile, idiotic bullshit, the exact kind of balderdash fronted by people who willingly fail to notice that the American university experience has changed so radically that 20% of my high school's graduating class, including several people I would be surprised to find out could change a light bulb, ended up at Michigan because it serves their hopelessly outdated and idealistic view of the world.
I find the lazy, stupid athlete stereotype irritating, and always have. Is intelligence a simple vector that you have or do not? I have always been very, very "smart" and felt that I got far too much credit for an aptitude for standardized tests and memorization when I knew that the guys truly marked for success didn't have truculent attitudes towards people that were slightly different from them. There is a certain sort of social aptitude that I lack that, a particular sort of empathy and intelligence far more important in the world than the ability to sort out the Pythagorean theorem in no time flat, but how do you measure that? I'll tell you: find my salary and that of class president Tom O'Neill, a man the entire world liked, in ten years and get back to me. I'll lose. So who's to say that Mario Manningham isn't "smart"? I've watched him perfectly set up cornerbacks time and again, burning them deep when they know what's coming. Even if Manningham couldn't spell his own name -- something I am not asserting is true, for the record -- he would still be a particular sort of genius.
I mean, Jim Harbaugh has to be some sort of verbal moron but he's still in the 99.9th percentile when it comes to being a quarterback. In one particular aspect of his life, Jim Harbaugh is indisputably brilliant. We shouldn't look down on him just because there are six-year-olds with a better sense of what an appropriate public discourse is.
This is my point: the sort of people who end up successfully completing four or five years in a major collegiate athletic program are probably marked for success even if their major is the easiest available. There is academic research that backs this up. Via Malcolm Gladwell:
In the 2001 book "The Game of Life," James L. Shulman and William Bowen (a former president of Princeton) conducted an enormous statistical analysis on an issue that has become one of the most contentious in admissions: the special preferences given to recruited athletes at selective universities.
Athletes, Shulman and Bowen demonstrate, have a large and growing advantage in admission over everyone else. At the same time, they have markedly lower G.P.A.s and S.A.T. scores than their peers. Over the past twenty years, their class rankings have steadily dropped, and they tend to segregate themselves in an "athletic culture" different from the culture of the rest of the college. Shulman and Bowen think the preference given to athletes by the Ivy League is shameful. Halfway through the book, however, Shulman and Bowen present what they call a “surprising” finding. Male athletes, despite their lower S.A.T. scores and grades, and despite the fact that many of them are members of minorities and come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds than other students, turn out to earn a lot more than their peers. Apparently, athletes are far more likely to go into the high-paying financial-services sector, where they succeed because of their personality and psychological makeup. In what can only be described as a textbook example of burying the lead, Bowen and Shulman write:
One of these characteristics can be thought of as drive—a strong desire to succeed and unswerving determination to reach a goal, whether it be winning the next game or closing a sale. Similarly, athletes tend to be more energetic than the average person, which translates into an ability to work hard over long periods of time—to meet, for example, the workload demands placed on young people by an investment bank in the throes of analyzing a transaction. In addition, athletes are more likely than others to be highly competitive, gregarious and confident of their ability to work well in groups (on teams).
Shulman and Bowen would like to argue that the attitudes of selective colleges toward athletes are a perversion of the ideals of American élite education, but that's because they misrepresent the actual ideals of American élite education. The Ivy League is perfectly happy to accept, among others, the kind of student who makes a lot of money after graduation. As the old saying goes, the definition of a well-rounded Yale graduate is someone who can roll all the way from New Haven to Wall Street.
(You must listen to a man who is smart enough to spell "elite" with an accent mark.)
The greatest asset Michigan football players have is their status as Michigan football players. This is true when they are being guided through college and afterwards. The values imparted by the ruthlessly competitive but outgoing and collegial environment surrounding a big time football program are far more useful in one's effort to find a well-paying career than any honors humanities degree you care to name. And the primary role the modern university is to take money from undergraduates in exchange for the ability to get a well-paid job.
So, no, Jim Harbaugh isn't wrong when he says Michigan takes football players who would otherwise not be accepted and shepherds them through majors that are not particularly challenging. No one denies this, but there is a difference between not denying an obvious, universal, and (most importantly) non-harmful tactic that helps a disproportionately minority and poor group of people into the middle class and not denying that Michigan is selling these kids out because they don't care.
One of the frequently useful posters on Michigan message boards summarized a retrospective on the 1997 national championship team that appeared in The Wolverine's season preview magazine. It's not comprehensive but it does provide a significant indication that Harbaugh's assertion that "the people that adulated them won't hire them" is completely off base:
The Wolverine 2007 preview magazine did an article on the ten year anniversary of the 1997 co-national championship team. They profiled some of the players, and here's some of the results:
Zach Adami (C) - I looked at mgoblue.com to find his major, but they didn't have a profile for him. Adami is a trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, trading options on the Eurodollar. He's aslo a partner in a small company, Redrock Capital Management, with former U-M linebacker Dave Dobress and several others.
Jeff Backus (OT) - General Studies major per mgoblue.com and starting O-lineman on the Detroit Lions.
Kraig Baker (PK) - Sports Management and Communications. He's an account executive for Management Recruiters International, based in Chicago. He's also worked for a manufacturing company in Indiana, managed a restaurant in Virginia Beach and played some Arena Football.
Dave Brandt (OL) - School of Education - majored in Elementary Education. Played 3 years in the NFL. Says he's a stay at home dad.
Kevin Bryant (WR) - General Studies. He owns his own company, KB Solutions of Detroit, which privdes a variety of electrical services.
Mark Campbell (TE) - Movement Science. In his ninth season in the NFL.
Clint Copenhaver (LB) - Sports Management and Communications. Sales representative for sporting goods giant Mizuno--covers state of Michigan for the company.
Scott Driesbach (QB) - Physical Education. Playing football with the Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League.
Juaquin Feazell (LB) - Psychology. Works as a medical malpriatice attorney in Georgia for the firm Hall, Booth, Smith & Slover. Received his law degree at Georgia State ans has been practicing law for four years.
Jay Feely (PK) - Physical Education. NFL with the Falcons, Giants and Dolphins.
Chris Floyd (FB) - Mgoblue.com doesn't have a profile for him. Floyd played in the NFL for three season. He then worked for six years with Michigan's S&C staff. Now teaches at Westside Christian Academy and works with Farrell Sports Concepts.
Steve Frazier (C) - General Studies. He's a commercial airlines pilot for American Eagle Airlines.
Ian Gold (LB) - Political Science. Seven years in NFL with Denver and Tampa Bay.
Brian Griese (QB) - Griese majored in Environmental Policy--I believe he got permission to design his degree from LS&A. Tenth year in NFL.
James Hall (DE) - Sports Management & Communications. Played with the NFL since college--Lions & St. Louis.
Tommy Hendricks (S) - General Studies. NFL through 2004.
Jeff Holtry (LB) - No major listed on the roster. Worked at Abbott Labs in Ann Arbor. Now serves as an orthopedic equipment representative for Stryker Corporation.
Chris Howard (RB) - No major listed on mgoblue roster. Just says he spent a few seasons in the NFL.
Steve Hutchinson (OL) - General Studies. NFL pro-bowler for two teams.
Jon Jansen (OL) - Physical Education major. NFL career with Washington Redskins.
Diaollo Johnson (S) - Sports Management and Communications. Works in real estate in Detroit.
Dhani Jones (LB) - It just says he was in the Residential College. Has played in NFL through 2006.
Marcus Knight (WR) - Computer Science. Plays with Columbus Destroyers in Arena Football League.
Eric Mayes (LB) - Earned his master's degree in educational technology in 2000. Completed PhD program in educational physicology at Howard University. Serves as an adjucnt professor at Howard and is Dean of Students at an elementary school in Washington, DC.
DeWayne Patmon (S) - Sports Management and Communications. Played two years in NFL. Lives in San Diego and has done a bit of acting.
Marcus Ray (S) - General Studies. Social worker in Columbus, Ohio school system. Will be moving to Ann Arbor to become graduate assistant for Wolverines. Coached football for several seasons at Ohio Dominican.
Rob Renes (DL) - Secondary Education major. Brief career in NFL due to injury. Teaches at middle school in Muskegon and is finishing master's degree in educational leadership at Western Michigan this summer. Looking to be a school principal or athletic director.
Russell Shaw (WR) - No link to profile on roster. He's currently playing in the Arena Football League.
Aaron Shea (TE) - Sports Management and Communications. He's played in the NFL since college.
Chris Singletary (LB) - Sports Management and Communications. Currently Michigan's recruiting coordinator. He spent seven years at International Management Group.
Glen Steele (DL) - No profile listed on roster. NFL career. Currently graduate assistant at Michigan.
Tai Streets (WR) - Sports Management and Communications. Long career in NFL, now teacher and coach back in Illinois (high school, I assume).
Rob Swett (LB) - No profile listed on roster. Owns his own home building company in Austin, Texas. Here's a quote from him: "My career at Michigan, and that year, helped define part of who I am. The success I've had in my life can be attributed to that season and learning what it takes to be a winner."
Sam Sword (LB) - Sports Management and Communications. Spent some time coaching. He lives in Florida and works in the city's recreation and parks department.
Daydrion Taylor (S) - Doesn't list his major, but does say he was in Kiniesology. Returned to Texas and is teaching high school, coaching track and the secondary on the football team.
Anthony Thomas (RB) - Sports Management and Communications. NFL career with Bears and Bills.
Jerame Tuman (TE) - Movement Science. Still in NFL.
Jason Vinson (P) - Biology. Pharmacist at hospital in Memphis, TN and professor at University of Tennessee pharmacy school.
Andre Weathers (CB) - Industrial Engineering. Plsyed pro football for a few year. Currently working as an industrial engineer and coaches defensive backs at Flint Central High School.
James Whitley (CB) - Sports Management & Communications. 3 seasons in the NFL. Doesn't say what he's doing now.
Josh Williams (DT) - Psychology. Just finished his NFL career. Currently involved in building and developing homes.
Eric Wilson (DT) - Sports Management and Communications. He's played football in Florida and Canada with the CFL. Owns a succesful cigar lounge in FL.
Charles Woodson (CB) - Sports Management and Communications. Still playing in NFL.
Chris Ziemann (OL) - Sports Management & Communications. Had a short career in NFL. Works in sales for Cintas in Florida.
Note a distinct lack of homeless crack addicts. (Again... not definitive, but far more evidence than Harbaugh has ever marshaled for his preposterous assertions. Hell, I have more evidence that Harbaugh is not a nice person at all than he has evidence Michigan abandons its ex-players.)
"I see how it's done now at Stanford, and I see no reason to believe it can't be the same there."
Incidentally, portraying Harbaugh as some sort of noble crusader is preposterous. If he had such deep concern for the fates of Michigan student-athletes, why is it only now, when he is attempting to frame Stanford as a city on a hill for D-I athletes, that his concerns come forth? Besides, Harbaugh's full of shit. Yost Built has a terrific survey of the declared majors on Stanford's football team, which look mighty suspicious:
Science Technology & Society: 9
Management Science & Engineering: 7
Poly Sci: 5
Public Policy: 4
Computer Sci: 2
Intl Relations: 1
Yost Built points out that 15.5% of declared football majors are in communications versus 1% of the university at large and this "STS" thing is even better:
So now about that random degree that almost nobody in the school majors in, but a disproportionate amount of football players do....at Michigan it's General Studies. At Stanford, I believe it's called Science Technology & Society. According to the Stanford STS website, there are 58 STS majors in the school. 58. That works out to .9% of the 6,400 undergrads. Want to know how many football players major in it? 9. Or 15.5% of the entire major (which dwarfs the Michigan team making up roughly 10% of General Studies).
I can add a little something to Yost Built's post. A peek at STS shows that it's an interdisciplinary field that requires a certain small set of base requirements, and then this:
# Technical Literacy: A specified computer science course and a four-course sequence in a field of science, engineering, or mathematical sciences in which a B.A. major obtains basic knowledge of some concepts, principles and methods of science, engineering, or mathematics. Faculty in various technical disciplines are available to advise and sign off on this major component.
# Thematic Concentration: A sequence of courses through which a B.A. major acquires more in-depth knowledge of and progressive competence in a particular STS issue, problem, or area of personal interest. The following Thematic Concentrations are pre-certified (students can also design their own concentration):
3. History and Philosophy
4. Information and Society
5. Public Policy
6. Social Change
7. Work and Organizations
Faculty in various disciplines are available to advise and sign off on this major component.
Emphasis mine, because it emphasizes that this is a design-your-own-major thing that is just ripe for exploitation. Hey... you know what that sounds like? General Studies! Mouthy football coach unaware of the consequences of his speech, heal thyself. Stanford shovels its football players into majors just like everyone else, and the most popular degree on the team is a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
There is no difference between Michigan and anyone else on this issue. Penn State and Notre Dame both have reputations for being very serious about their academics for football programs that aspire to something higher than being Rice, but even these two schools cluster kids like mad. A survey of Penn State's majors lifted from Anison on the Wolverine.com's message boards:
Total = 86
Declared Majors = 40
Kinesiology = 10
Parks Recreation & Tourism Mgmt = 10
Labor & Industrial Relations = 4
Crime, Law and Justice = 3
Finance = 3
Economics = 2
Mechanical Engin = 2
Marketing = 2
Rehabilitation Svcs = 1
Psychology = 1
Environment Systems Engin = 1
Letters, Arts & Sciences = 1
Management = 1
Advertising & PR = 1
Half of PSU declared majors are in Kinesiology or Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Management. I went over to Notre Dame's website and surveyed their announced majors:
Film, Television, And Theater: 5
Mechanical Engineering: 3
One each: American Studies, Math, Poli Sci, Bio, Psych.
The Math, Bio, Poli Sci, and American culture majors, along with two of the MEs and two of the History majors, are walk-ons. Bolded majors are in the Mendoza School of business; 14 others are enrolled in that school but have not declared majors. With freshmen all enrolled in "first year studies," this means that about half the team is in the Mendoza School of business. To be fair, Mendoza is a large school that comprises about 18% of the undergraduate population at Notre Dame, but a randomly selected football player is three times more likely to be enrolled in Mendoza than a non-football player. There's also ND football players' inexplicable love of sociology to grapple with, and even amongst obvious joke majors "Film, Television and Theater" stands out as a particularly embarrassing thing to have on a degree. All told, there are four declared majors at ND that are not one of these three things. Maybe Michigan's big problem is that it didn't name "General Studies" the "Rocket Science, Law-Talkin', And Doctor-Bein'" degree.
And you know what? On average, these players from Penn State and Notre Dame and Michigan and Stanford will have happy, successful lives -- remember the Gladwell -- largely thanks to the socialization and opportunity football gave them. Forcing guys whose skills lie in something other than the narrow concept of intelligence that gets you through scan-tron tests and essays through the same doors as those selected for those skills will inevitably cause many more of them to flunk out and lose that opportunity to have a better life, all in the service of maintaining the worthless fiction that football players are students first.
What Harbaugh proposes harms everyone but himself; sadly, it's become obvious we can expect no better from this man.
... not that it ever was.
Someone was getting screwed yesterday. If Michigan went, Florida was getting screwed. Every other year the BCS claims another fanbase as its virgin sacrifice on the altar of "#1" versus "#2," and you're damn skippy those are airquotes delivered with maximum sarcasm. It just so happens that this year it's us.
I had planned on slapping up a column today boldly titled "FLORIDA GOT SCREWED." This would have been preferable to the above title for many reasons, the foremost among them being that since it isn't it's Michigan fans who are quietly swearing oaths of revenge against poll voters. But it would also have removed the waft of sour grapes from this post and allowed me to be really frickin' righteous. Alas.
I spent a good portion of the day jumping from from Tradesports to the coaches poll to the computer rankings, pounding refresh. When the coaches poll came out I slapped some stuff up, updated it a few times with more detail, and then clicked over to Tradesports. Naturally, Michigan had collapsed and Florida had surged. What stood out, though, was Ohio State's price, which shot up in concert with Florida's.
The market was telling Ohio State to breathe easier because the coaches had decided that the number three team in the nation was number two. Over the course of yesterday, OSU shot up from a 64% chance to win against either Michigan or Florida to a 73% chance against just Florida. If you think a win premium was built into Michigan shares, the market was 50-50 on who would get picked, so a reasonable assumption is that the market felt Ohio State was around 55% to beat Michigan.
That's what draws my ire. It seemed clear to everyone from sea to shining sea that there was a choice between the best team and the matchup that least highlighted the staggering absurdity of the BCS. The vast majority went with the latter. Some people are at least forthright enough to admit it:
George Lapides, a Memphis sports radio talk host, said he believed Florida would lose to Michigan if the teams were to play. But he jumped the Gators from No. 4 to No. 2, past the Wolverines, after Florida beat Arkansas.
"I liked the idea of a conference champion playing a conference champion," he said. "I think that's more appealing than a rematch. I think you try to pick something as appealing as possible."
God... this is what it's come down to? We're having sports talk radio hosts choose who plays in the national championship game? Sports radio is a medium built around saying and doing dumb things for attention. If there's a profession less suited for the careful consideration I would like to think is the main attribute of a good poll voter, I can't think of one.
Uh, nevermind. I forgot about football coaches. Here's Jim Walden. He's the guy who voted Florida number one, and his reasons for doing so are subtle and reasonable:
"If you look at the Big Ten conference, it is a joke," Walden said in a telephone interview late last night. He added: "I voted my heart and I voted my strength of what I believe in. In my opinion, Florida is the No. 1 team in the nation."
If I stumbled across that sentiment on a Rivals message board, I would dismiss that guy as one of the board idiots. This guy has a vote that determines who goes to the national championship game. (Wikipedia temporarily has this nugget of joy on Walden:
Then there's former MSU coach George Perles:
"They lost one game to the best team in the country," Perles said in a telephone interview from his home in East Lansing, Mich. "And No. 2, because they're from the state of Michigan, and I just so happen to live here."
I did not realize that geographical proximity was supposed to be a factor.
It's Pat Hill, the D-I coach voted Most Likely To Be Mistaken For A Janitor, who comes off the best:
"It was hard," Hill said in a telephone interview. "I think Michigan had their shot at Ohio State. They didn't get it done."
...for a given value of "best," anyway.
Bowl advocates constantly tell us that the entire regular season is a playoff. If that's so, it's the world's dumbest, one where teams either can lose or can't, either must schedule tough teams or don't have to, either have a history of good teams or don't. It's a "playoff" where over half the time some team with as much or more of a claim is cast aside, leaving their fans and coaches to gnash their teeth and, if they're from the charmingly insecure and paranoid south, bring it up for years whenever their team hits 6-0.
There's no conspiracy here save that of stupidity. The BCS is a Lovecraftian monster with parts swiped from any system that was handy. A playoff beak here; bowl tentacles there. It is a playoff, a two team playoff, which is no playoff at all. It has ruined college football's most hallowed traditions, kicked a half-dozen teams directly in the nuts, and given us mostly grief. The people who run the BCS are, bluntly, idiots. The Harris poll has talk radio hosts in it and guys who vote Boise #2. Richard Billingsley's formula is a disjointed mess. The rest of the computers are crippled by an inability to consider the same factors humans do. The coaches -- glorified gym teachers all -- are hopelessly biased. Only Jim Tressel, who abstained after looking at the absurdity of picking one of two teams and seeing it spun as an insult to his opponent either way, seems sane to me.
And somehow people who oppose a playoff will tell me that watching a bunch of idiots decide that my 11-1 team doesn't deserve to go to the national championship game because there's a much worse 12-1 team that had the good fortune to play in a conference without Ohio State is a beautiful thing that adds to the unique charm of college fooball. To them, I only say that I wish you would die in a hideous and painful fashion because a bunch of gym teachers held a vote.