this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Football season is upon us, and with the end of OT season it seems like about time to put This Week in the Twitterverse on the shelf for a while. We’ve got a few ideas as to its replacement, but I’m open to suggestions as well.
Also, you may notice that the name on the dog-tag has changed. Given the number of Brians/Bryans/Bhrayinz working around these parts nowadays, I figured it might reduce some confusion if I peeked half-way out of the name closet, especially since I haven’t been in South Bend for a couple of years. Don’t worry, I’m still a football-playing golden retriever writing based on the promise of delicious noms.
Now... ON TO THE TWITTERVERSE
I’m sure you all saw last week that Jared Wangler announced that he would become the 38th* Wangler to play football at Michigan. But one of the interesting things about it was that he announced it via Vine.
This is a very encouraging development. No frills, no long lingering build-up, no reach-for-this-hat-fake-grab-that-hat-SURPRISE-I’m-wearing-a-Florida-elbow-pad. Derrick Green’s principal talked for like 20 minutes. I think Cullen Christian’s announcement is still ongoing. Wangler took exactly six seconds. Done and done. This was the 12-minute wedding ceremony of football announcements.
In that vein, it’s only logical that more recruits should commit via various social media outlets. And I have a few suggestions, based on the school you’re planning to choose.
- Alabama - YouTube. In fact, 2014 WR commit Derek Kief already did so. So feel free to post your commitment, but be warned: it may be pulled down by the platform at any time based on the flimsiest of reasons, including the ambiguous "violation of the Terms of Service." You will have no recourse.
- Nebraska - Instagram Video. It’s like Vine, but it’s 15 seconds long, so you get an extra nine seconds of your life before Bo Pelini starts yelling at you about the size and color of your ears or whatever is pissing him off today.
- Ohio State - Regular Instagram. Buckeye players are kinda video-averse these days for some reason. Plus you can use cool filters like “black-and-white security footage.”
- MSU - iTunes. Rap game. Spartan fo life. Fo fo life.
- Penn State - Vine. But you can only use the first 4 seconds. It’s actually in the NCAA sanctions. Look it up.
- Notre Dame - Christian Mingle. "I found Touchdown Jesus's match for me..."
- Maryland - MySpace. Nothing screams "wait... people still do that? What are you thinking? No one will ever see you there" like MySpace.
- Northwestern - LinkedIn . Networking is a lifelong pursuit, people.
- Kentucky - Google Plus. A platform that, while tied into the biggest name in the game, is only a peripheral member of that association which is smirked at by the rest of the empire, still kinda sucks, and you know isn't going to succeed long-term? Sounds like Kentucky to me.
- Iowa - Manual Typewriter. Kirk Ferentz doesn’t approve of the internet. Or computers. Or the forward pass.
- Purdue - WebMD. "I've decided to play my four years at Purdue." / "TOP RESULTS: Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament." / "But my knee doesn't feel... oh, there it is."
- Ole Miss - PayPal. Oh, no reason. No reason at all.
*Estimate. Exact figures are unavailable.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Jay Bilas sees hypocrisy. Twitter is sees the future. Sparty doesn’t see what’s in front of him.]
Tate! The people have spoken and MGoUnderground has listened. The Tate shirt is available for purchase.
If you're interested in the details, Enjoy Life pretty much liveblogged his shirt purchase and washing. Everything is AWESOME. He cannot BELIEVE what a deal he got. CONSUME.
I really hope this is just random. If this sign is just random, it's funny. If it's an obscure sexual act—and these days punching BLANK almost always is—it's not:
There is, unfortunately, an Urban Dictionary entry for "Dolphin Punch" but there's only one and it seems obscure enough that unless it's this particularly house/frat that initiated the term they're literally talking about punching dolphins, which I approve of as a ridiculous fashion via which to express your disapproval. [Update: the house had a sign featuring a fist punching an incredulous dolphin, so it was literal. Good work, BOX.] Multiple emailers have mentioned that Drew Sharp—freshly returned to the local airwaves hoorah—spent a lot of time on WDFN the other day bemoaning this sign and others along the various frats and apartment buildings en route to the stadium. An emailer:
Drew Sharp was going on about how there were some "reprehensible" signs that he saw on the way to the game regarding Rosenberg. He said that he talked to unnamed "U-M officials", and was told that the Freep needs to understand that emotions get high when they write on a sensitive subject, and that their inaction was the first time that Sharp was embarrassed by his degree, blah, blah, blah, won't someone think of the children.
…So, I called in. I asked him and Matt Shepard where the signs were. Sharp hemmed and hawed, and it turned out that unsurprisingly, they were on private property (although one of them "might have been on campus"). They hung up on me before I could blast Sharp for what he is, but Jesus. No wonder the print media is dying- this isn't rocket science. Hell, even Shepard understood the First Amendment.
How is it that this man has a job that doesn't involve scrubbing something, but nothing too important?
While we're on the subject of, well, you know, Jay Bilas' latest insider piece argues along these lines:
If the allegations concerning Michigan are true, which would assume that the players making the allegations had a full understanding of what constituted countable and non-countable hours and what constituted voluntary and mandatory workouts, then Michigan is guilty of working too hard on football.
Which is nothing anyone hasn't heard—probably dozens of times—in the last two weeks. But Bilas has toned down the Amaker stuff after the Manny Harris elbow overreaction and remains one of the best analysts (alternatives: Vitale) in college basketball. Maybe Michigan fans can take him off the Enemies List?
And hey guess what now it's time to talk about Notre Dame. What the hell is Charlie Weis 1) talking about and 2) attempting to imply by this:
When Weis was looking at Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier, he said he couldn’t keep track of him because he said he bounced to four high schools in four years.
Forcier transferred from his original high school to Scripps Ranch after his freshman year, and then, you know, played at Scripps Ranch the next three years. Our source on this: Tate Forcier and his interview with Tom for Hail To The Victors 2009. Our hobo quarterback needs to grow a beard and get on the tracks, man, before all the other hobos laugh at him when he says he hasn't been to El Paso.
HOBO #1: You've got to go to El Paso.
FORCIER: I keep hearing that but I've never been. I mostly stick around Scripps Ranch High School because I'm the quarterback there.
HOBO #2: LOL wait till I tell Weis the exact opposite of this.
HOBO #1: Word. I remember our days at Our Lady. Remember what it was like to consider the vague possibility of touching a woman, even if she was the metaphorical embodiment of a religion and not actually, you know, a person?
HOBO #2: No.
HOBO #1: No, me neither.
FORCIER: Yeah… how about that. I'm going to take off, I have to go throw some ridiculously accurate passes. [leaves]
HOBO #1: 40 year mistake, that guy.
Hobo #1 revealed! It's Tommy Kilborn, sometime EDSBS guest columnist:
I certainly respect what the Nevada Wolfpack did, but they just couldn’t hope to keep up with the brilliant scheming by Charlie Weis and his offensive staff. The energy in the stadium was unreal! I saw several alums even stand during plays because they were so excited, though they did sit down quickly and courteously when the ushers came along to settle things down. You can’t blame them, ushers: Charlie Weis football in its full glory has that effect on people.
As always, Kilborn is a brilliant non-parody of Notre Dame fans. NDNation is going to look at you very sternly, Orson.
Speakin' of the hobo. Guy seems to have a good grasp of both train routes and defenses:
Mmmm talky QB porn. Also Rotel ad. I don't think I've ever even seen Rotel available in local supermarkets, but buy anyway. HOBO QB DIRECTS YOU TO.
Etc.: There is now a blog dedicated to Microsoft Paint as it relates to Michigan football. As you might expect, it is spectacular. Future expansion was part of the Michigan Stadium renovation plans. Mustaches for Michigan came off.
Bubblin'. Both results last night went Michigan's way, with Gonzaga stomping St Mary's and Siena beating Niagara; St Mary's is now a bubble compatriot of Michigan's and the MAAC is a one-bid league. Diverse alarums. Lundardi, for one, has the Gaels as the second team out—Creighton is first. Did I dismiss their chances too quickly? Eh… even with an M loss to Iowa Creighton can make up no ground and you'd think would get slotted in after M. Probably. Who knows?
Back to St Mary's. Bracketology 101 on the Gaels:
We are sticking with the Gaels for at least one more day. We still like their OOC wins against fellow bubble teams Providence and San Diego State and their Bracketbuster win over Utah State. We also think there's a slight chance the committee takes a flier on them based on how they played early in the year before Mills got hurt and, potentially, based on how Mills looks against Eastern Washington on Friday. We bumped the Gaels down to a 13 seed in today's bracket, which means they are very, very thin ice. If there are any other mid-major bid stealers (Cleveland State tonight?) or if there are any other upsets in the big conference tournies, St. Mary's will be the first team to go.
Is Michigan ahead of St Mary's with an Iowa loss? Eh… probably, but the Mills thing makes them hugely variable.
As for today's viewing schedule, ESPN is so down on the Big East trio that it lists no relevant games even though Georgetown, ND and Cincinnati are in action. Aaaand Cinci just lost to Depaul, so maybe they're right to be skeptical.
There is one game with obviously huge implications: Butler and Cleveland State face off in the Horizon* League final at 9:00 PM. Butler is in either way and Cleveland State is looking to steal a second bid for the Horizon; you're very heavily in favor of the Bulldogs. Oakland also takes on North Dakota State with a Summit League bid on the line, if you want to get your granfalloon action on.
*Note! Not only does the "MidCon" conference not even exist anymore, Butler was never in it and is currently in the Horizon League. Mea culpa to the two annoyed emailers.
In the long annals of sports opinion, this might be the worst idea ever recorded:
If the goal is to have the very best teams playing for the national championship in a balanced national tournament, and to have an eye on providing a chance to the very best mid-major teams, expanding the field is not the answer. The answer lies in shifting the automatic bids to the best teams in the country.
That's Jay Bilas, and let's just leave aside all the Manny Harris elbow stuff and Tommy Amaker stuff as we attempt to wrap our heads around this fantastic idea: get rid of automatic bids. Bilas spends 1151 words on this idea, beginning with the premise that "more good teams play in Division I than ever before"—what does that even mean?—and arriving at the conclusion that the problem with Creighton or Penn State is the SWAC.
No, a thousand times no. One: the goal is not to have the "very best teams playing for the national championship in a balanced national tournament." If that was really the goal the tournament would be about eight teams and would have a round-robin format, or something. The NCAA tournament is a chaotic single-elimination mess and an obviously unfair system for determining a champion. But it is so damn fun that people reasonably overlook its flaws.
More than that, the autobids help lessen the flaws. A national championship tournament that includes this many teams is kind of a dumb idea. It will be apparent from the moment that the bracket is selected that 40 or 50 teams in it are obviously not the best teams in the country. A number of no- or little- hope bids actually makes it less of a dumb idea. One way to make a singe elimination tournament less unfair and stupid is to bias it in favor of the teams who did very well during the regular season. Including a bunch of conference champions who would otherwise not be in the field otherwise provides greater motivation to get a protected seed.
I mean, never ever has a 1 gone down to a 16, and a 15 over a 2 is really rare. But once you get into the 3, 4, 5 range you know some of those teams are getting lead pipes to the head. In the Bilas system you'd be replacing those no-hopers at the end of the field with, like, Penn State, and significantly reducing the reward for having a kickin' regular season.
So even if you are a heartless lawyer robot like Bilas—who says the argument against his position is a "sentimental one," which is another way of saying "I hate puppies and fun and sunshine"—the straggling autobids at the end of the field help make the bracket less of a mockery of the regular season and should be kept even if, you know…
…you'd watch Bucknell versus Kansas and think to yourself "goddammit why isn't a below .500 major conference team in this game?"
Bilas does frame his post by arguing that dumping autobids would get the best mid-majors in more—St Mary's and Creighton wouldn't be biting their fingernails to the nub if there were no autobids—but really, that's not the point. Really, really not the point.
Everything you ever didn't want to know about the pairwise. Western College Hockey has an overview of college hockey's rigid and kind of crappy selection system, and I winced when I read this sentence:
Proponents of this system argue there is no cliff because the system is designed to only be looked at once, at the end of the season, and thus, there are no fluctuations, but regardless, teams still gain a disproportionate benefit if a team they beat ends up 25th rather than 26th.
Only one person argues something that stupid: a poster on USCHO named "ScoobyDoo" who has some five-digit-and-rising post count and who descends on any thread about how the pairwise is deeply flawed—which it is—and expounds dumbly like that.
By the way: Michigan returns to action this weekend against Western Michigan. Outside of that series you are rooting against Notre Dame and Alaska. Here's the TUC cliff in action: Alaska is currently the 25th and last team to be counted as a TUC. If Alaska loses its series against Ohio State, they're extremely likely to drop out of consideration; with them will go ND's 2-0 and M's 1-1 record against the Nanooks. Both of those are very good for Michigan, as if that happens ND will be vulnerable at the Joe.
Wheat, wheat, chaff. The last couple days have been very good for Michigan's tourney chances:
South Florida 70, Cinci 59
St. John's 59, Georgetown 56
Wake Forest 65, Maryland 63
North Carolina 86, Va Tech 78
Georgia 90, Kentucky 85
Mississippi State 80, Florida 71
Georgia Tech 78, Miami 68
The only bubble results to have gone against Michigan were in their own conference, with Ohio State narrowly escaping a late barrage of Iowa three attempts, Northwestern getting back on the bubble by winning at Purdue, and Minnesota possibly solidifying a bid by taking down Wisconsin. (New Mexico beating Utah is also Not Good, I guess.)
Some of those losses are horrible and those teams have basically eliminated themselves. Kentucky now has the #78 RPI and the #68 SOS; Miami is 6-9 in the ACC and 17-11 overall. This probably doesn't change the do-or-die nature of the Minnesota game, but it does significantly smooth the rails should Michigan pull off the mild upset.
Pendulum reverse. I don't know what's with Jay Bilas. Maybe he's been bludgeoned into saying nice things about Michigan by ESPN higher-ups. Maybe he values a win over Duke more than everyone else in the universe. Or maybe he's on a manic swing right now, because now whenever you get him on TV talking about the bubble he brings up Michigan as obviously in no matter what happens against Minnesota.
The only problem with this: it is almost certainly wrong.
Allow myself to introduce myself. Leon Hall, now of the Cincinnati Bengals, got a painting commissioned. Naturally, it's dedicated to how awesome Leon Hall is. The painter put up a time-lapse video of its construction and decided to set it to the least appropriate music ever (it's SFW, just all about how awesome Ohio is*):
Whilst fast forwarding I couldn't help but think of Bill Simmons' column on NBA finances and how broke-ass all these NBA stars are. Leon, my man, couldn't you think of more socially productive uses for that money?
Um, well, okay. Varsity Blue's odd new series profiling each of the Michigan commits who didn't end up signing provides a jumping-off point for a final review of how Michigan's class was impacted.
|Kevin Newsome||Tate Forcier|
|Shavodrick Beaver||Denard Robinson|
|Bryce McNeal||Je'Ron Stokes|
|DeWayne Peace||Adrian Witty?|
|Will Campbell||Will Campbell|
|Anthony Fera||Brendan Gibbons|
The dastardly defectors are at right. There is one obvious push: Will Campbell's quasi-defection. McNeal and Stokes are also about equal in the eyes of the recruiting services. At quarterback, Newsome, Beaver, Forcier, and Robinson all exist outside of top 100 lists but in that 100-250 range; pick your preferences there. Some people don't think Robinson is a quarterback, but that goes for Newsome, too. That's basically a push.
Then you have the strange cases of DeWayne Peace and Jordan Barnes. Neither is anything more than a replacement-level recruit for Michigan, so the loss there is not so much in the talent of the player lost but the scholarship that will go to waste this year. That's a small cost, but one that it appeared Michigan was willing to take when it dropped out of contact with Barnes, who eventually ended up at Oklahoma State, and told Peace they wanted him to play corner—something Peace had told the coaches he didn't want to do. That VB article highlights one of the blunter quotes I've heard from a coach on signing day: "sometimes a kid does you a favor when he decommits." Barnes and Peace would fit into that category.
Kicker Anthony Fera was replaced by Brendan Gibbons, and that's likely to be a small downgrade. Fera was rated higher by the recruiting services and was Michigan's first choice. Gibbons is a few slots lower. Given how erratic kicker rankings are—which says more about kickers than the rankings—it's not a big deal.
So we've dismissed or replaced everyone on the list until we get to the last two: defensive tackles DeQuinta Jones and Pearlie Graves, signing-day decommits Michigan did not have time to replace. Signing just one defensive tackle this year is a major bummer, and there had been rumors swirling around the two for months before they finally pulled the trigger. Michigan was caught with its pants down there. (Larry Harrison jokes in the comments will be downgraded for low SOS.)
Hockey at the Big House: Michigan State is in; the Wings are out.
Etc.: Mike Valenti could be joining Rob Parker in the soup kitchen line soon. He should have MADE PLAYS instead of RUNNING HIS MOUTH IN HURRICANE KATRINA. The Big House Blog recaps and rates Michigan's nine announced preferred walk-ons.
Ball transfer with 19 minutes left in a close contest:
"Something must be done about Michigan basketball … [Beilein] must get control of his program."
Flying elbow with under a minute left in a twelve-point game:
"There was nothing wrong with Hansbrough going after that rebound. There was nothing wrong with him trying to score, or with Henderson fouling him. The problem was it was an excessive foul. The rule as written has nothing to do with intent. I don't think Henderson intended to hurt him, but that's not the issue. It was a foul that was too hard. It doesn't make either of them bad kids."
It's been brought up again and again since Tommy Amaker was deservedly fired: Jay Bilas has completely lost his head about Michigan and shouldn't talk about them, ever. Two years ago ESPN ranked the most underachieving programs from 1997 to 2007, and Michigan was #1 with a bullet. Bilas left them off his ballot entirely. A month earlier he attempted to paint the Michigan basketball program as a decrepit wasteland completely demolished by sanctions then ten years old. Midway through Beilein's first season Bilas laid into some harmless comment by Beilein in a manner so stupid it drew a fisk from Jim Carty, who at that time was not a blogger but a sportswriter. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski picked it up, too:
The more Bilas shills for Amaker, the more people in basketball laugh at him. Unlike Amaker, Beilein never had the ultimate coaching godfather to pick up the phone and get him a job.
“C’mon Jay, that is terrible,” an NBA scout who watched Amaker’s team regularly in the Big Ten emailed me this week after reading Bilas’ blog rant. “Almost laughable, really.”
Even when Bilas is attempting to defend his ridiculous comments about Michigan in the wake of the Harris ejection he fabricates:
"I respect his right to protect his kid and stand up for him, and I respect that, but that doesn't mean I have to buy it. I don't buy it. I saw (the play) 100 times. That's not a basketball play. That's not the way the game is played. How many games are played every day, high school, college or pro, and players execute rip-through moves, and how many noses are broken?"
This is in reference to Beilein describing it as a basketball play. Bilas leaves something out, though:
Players and coaches from both sides said afterward they thought it simply was a "basketball play." Kramer said he didn't consider it a "dirty" play.
Both Painter and Kramer said they saw nothing dirty in the play. Again: Bilas is suggesting that Harris intentionally clocked Kramer in the face because he was frustrated with 19 minutes left in a game Michigan was leading. But Gerald Henderson didn't intend to hurt Tyler Hansborough when he gave him a flying ninja elbow in garbage time. One of these things is "not a basketball play". The other doesn't consider itself a basketball play, it considers itself a leader.
Every time Bilas opens his mouth about Michigan he flushes more of his credibility down the toilet.
Etc.: Carty goes to town on Bilas on WTKA.