You know, I liked Justin Feagin. As a guy thousands of miles away from the man in question and limited to assembling things other people wrote about him, I had just more than zero to go on, but I liked him anyway. He played both ways at a tiny school and smiled big and innocent on signing day and said things that seemed different and bouncier than your average bouncy, meaningless quote from a guy on or around the greatest day of his life.
He said this about Terrelle Pryor's potential addition:
"What if he does go to Michigan? Shame on me if I sit back and think he's better than me. If he wants to play quarterback, we'll have to fight each other for the job. If I win the job, then I'll know I beat out the No. 1 quarterback in the nation."
And I wrote this:
this is one of the recruits in this class I'm baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason. If you're so inclined you can see Feagin doing squats until two in the morning in his quotes. … Feagin sounds like the kind of guy who will thrive under the pressure of the Rodriguez regime and is clearly a high caliber athlete.
This is going to be a pretty stupid statement, but I like the kid's quotes a lot.
Apparently, the ability to give a good quote to a local preps reporter is not highly correlated with success on the field or off. Not giving a good quote to the police when you don't have to might be more valuable. This is noted for the future.
I know what some of you are thinking. I thought it, too, albeit briefly, when the news first broke: An event like this would have never happened under Lloyd Carr's watch. And that's almost certainly true. Lloyd Carr was and is a uniquely gifted and genuine man whose priority has always been the peak mental and emotional acuity of the players under his watch, and I know I am not alone in expressing my gratitude for his immaculate representation of a university that likes to think of itself as superior to all others.
But this is not reality. An enraged Chitownblue, prompted by the idiotic diary that inaugurated the 200-words-or-more era, rounded up a dossier of 29 Michigan arrests of various sorts under Lloyd Carr. Lloyd recruited Kelly Baraka and Eugene Germany and Carson Butler and Chris Richards and Johnny Sears and Will Peterson and another, more internet famous felon chased from the team:
Even Lloyd, whom we would like to believe incapable of such an oversight, could only sit with folded hands as opposing fanbases across the country laughed at the dismissal of defensive tackle Larry Harrison, who was charged with four counts of sexual delinquency and suspected in 16 more. Harrison endangered fewer people than Feagin, certainly, but the fact remains that Rich Rodriguez does not stand alone among Michigan coaches who have seen a felonious embarrassment take place on his watch.
I'm not even sure Feagin endangered anyone. He admitted to getting into some trouble in high school, but the crime here—if he actually gets charged with one—is taking $600 from some burnout and promising to get him cocaine, then not getting him cocaine. The endangerment came when the burnout had his great arson idea. The offense clearly warrants dismissal, but as far as disgraceful acts committed by Michigan football players go it's somewhere between Germany running from the cops (and getting caught!) and Carson Butler's St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre*.
Meanwhile at Michigan State, a guy who put a Spartan hockey player in the hospital and was sentenced to six months in jail got an early release so he could make Michigan State's first practice. This is the way a sane person, in this case AnnArbor.com's Dave Birkett, reacts to the juxtaposition of these events:
…one coach took the proper actions with his troubled player and one coach took an unnecessary gamble for reasons I can’t explain. Sure, everyone deserves a second chance, but that second chance doesn’t have to be at the same school where you committed such a major offense.
So of course Michael Rosenberg's latest article is headlined "Win at all costs a poor formula for Rodriguez." This is because Rosenberg has completely lost his shit about Rodriguez, as detailed in this space before. Last summer Rosenberg threw together a pastiche of assumptions, omissions, and flatly incorrect statements and titled it "Embarrassing ordeal reveals ugly truths about U-M coach Rich Rodriguez"—the ordeal in this case being the lawsuit over Rodriguez's buyout—that permanently submarined his credibility about Rodriguez.
This one is no better. He cites Rodriguez's recruitment of Pat Lazear at West Virginia, who got ten days in jail and a suspended sentence for his role (driving) in an armed robbery (FWIW, the weapon was a BB gun), as evidence Rodriguez will take anyone not wearing an orange jumpsuit. He does not mention the Winston thing which hey pick out which quote here is about Lazear and which is about Winston…
"[Assistant Coach] and I have researched [Player's] entire situation over several months," [coach] said in a statement released by the school's athletic department. "We have talked to a number of people, and after a thorough review, I am reassured that [player] will be a successful student-athlete and a positive member of our university community. We are eager for him to join the [Mascot] family."
"[Player] has done everything that he's been asked to do from a judicial and a team standpoint. He has paid the penalty for his actions -- publicly, legally and athletically -- and he worked hard to maintain his academic eligibility while doing so. We regret the entire incident, however at this time it is important that we support [Player] socially, academically and athletically. He still has a lot of work to do."
…functionally identical except in Michael Rosenberg's eyes. Lazear, by the way, is entering his third year at West Virginia on the Academic Honor Roll. He has not been in further trouble.
And then there's this on Willie Bueno's statement that he didn't know of any trouble with Feagin:
Should Rodriguez have known about Feagin's transgressions? Well, Bueno said Monday that he didn't know. But frankly that raises questions about Bueno, and it shows the importance of relationships for college coaches. They have to really know the communities where they recruit, and they must be sure that coaches and administrators are informed and honest with them.
Christ. Rodriguez talks with Willie Bueno, who says Feagin is a good kid without issues because he apparently believes it, and it's up to Rodriguez to "be sure" that this guy isn't lying to his face. Feagin mentioned a couple of issues in high school that "nothing came of"; as a juvenile he wouldn't have a record unless something extremely serious went down. Nothing did, so even if Rodriguez checked up on that supposed record it would come up clean. Rosenberg suggests that Rodriguez should assume every coach is a liar and undertake investigations of everyone so that a bad apple doesn't arrive. This is obviously infeasible. Hell, Lloyd Carr made that mistake at least 29 times in his career.
To date Rodriguez has dealt with two DUIs (Grady and Stonum) and one coke-deal-that-wasn't in a year and a half. [UPDATE: There was also the Cissoko-yells-at-cop incident, a disorderly conduct.] Michigan doesn't even register on the Fulmer Cup scoreboard (2008, 2009—if Feagin gets charged with something Michigan will get points above their current one), and Rodriguez racked up fewer points in his last two years at WVU than Carr did over the same timespan at Michigan. The numbers say Rodriguez's recent behavior record is better than Lloyd freakin' Carr's, and the guy who just got out of jail and walked on to a Michigan State practice field say that there's one strict program in-state but it's not run by the guy who's an Upstanding Football Coach. But because Rodriguez doesn't stare at you really hard and talk the right way, he's running a renegade program. Right. Rosenberg's just another Drew Sharp now.
Meanwhile, Justin Feagin's transferring somewhere where he'll give a good quote and smile and maybe this time he'll come through on those. But probably not. It's tough to defy your surroundings.
*(The listed in approximate order: Baraka (weed), Sears (weed + performance in The Horror), Germany (possibly joking cell phone theft coupled from dumb running from police), Butler(assault), Chris Richards (assault, B&Eing his own dorm room), Peterson(assault + theft), Harrison.)
While we're making it rain. Michigan checks in #4 in overall athletic department lucre. The top ten:
|2nd||Ohio State||$117,953,712||Big Ten|
|6th||Penn State||$91,570,233||Big Ten|
|10th||Oklahoma State||$88,554,438||Big 12|
Texas and Ohio State continue their runaway status as 1-2. Texas's spot at the top of the list is pretty obvious since, IIRC, the Big 12's television revenue is extremely unbalanced and Texas, as the flagship school not located in a tiny state where the only thing to buy is John Deere equipment, is the major beneficiary of the current system.
But I've always been curious where the Ohio State revenue gap comes from. The Big Ten splits all TV and bowl revenue right down the middle, so the only differences can come in stadium gates and sheer sport quantity. (For instance: I'm guessing the Michigan hockey team rakes in most of the difference between Michigan and Penn State by itself.) Ohio State does support a huge number of sports, but I don't think the crew teams or whatever at the tail end of OSU's athletic department bring in a million between them, let alone 18. And Ohio State's stadium is considerably smaller than Michigan Stadium.
OSU's visual cacophony of in-stadium advertising is no doubt part of the gap. The rest of it is probably luxury boxes and primo seating; I'll be interested to see what the numbers look like in two years when Michigan's suite spigot is turned on.
If you're curious as to the per-school average for BCS conferences:
- Big Ten: $76.4 million
- SEC: $71.1 million
- Big 12: $66.5 million
- Pac-10: $58.7 million
- ACC: $54.1 million
- Big East (football schools only): $45.5 million
Someone hide this from Clay Travis*: even when the SEC nuclear bomb contract goes into effect—which adds 60 million-ish per year—the Big Ten teams will still be ahead on total revenue. Not that this will stop the avalanche of OMG SEC FINANCIAL DOMINATION stories.
*(Who has a wikipedia page? WTF?)
Fire this woman immediately. Here's Pat Forde on something called "First Take." As it is on ESPN, it contains no information, but holy hotpants you might want to watch through the Michigan segment, which is right after the ND opener:
I quote this woman now. I quote her:
"They want to get the 'woof, woof' back at the Dawg Pound, back at the Wolverine house, the Big House."
LADY DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A DOG TO YOU?
SERIOUSLY. ARE YOU UNDER THE IMPRESSION THIS IS A DOG?
Hey, guess what sort of values we're talking about. Got it in zero. Good job. Mark Ortmann on the offensive line departures:
"They're leaving for all the wrong reasons," Ortmann said of the Wolverine quitters from the interior line. "They're making false accusations. I got along with Boren, (Grand Haven's Dann) O'Neill and Kurt. But I don't understand where they're coming from.
"The family values at Michigan are there. That's not a question in anyone's mind. So for them to come out and make those accusations is not fair to anyone."
I don't think did O'Neill said anything other than "I'm a better fit at Western," but take that you other guys. Take that.
I'll go meta for the final post on the topic here. Since it's not a topic that many people might care about, I'll include more after the jump.
I've been involved in pseudo-legitimate media for the better part of the past decade (wow, has it really been that long?), so I'm no neophyte when it comes to the matter of press conferences. I've seen good interviews and I've seen bad interviews, just like I've seen well-run and poorly-run events.
To be quite honest with you, the format of the Big Ten Media Days event has a lot of improving to do.
The fortune cookie of articles. Does it seem like this description of Shaun Alexander's recruitment should end with "…in bed"?
Alexander drove through a snowstorm to Michigan, where the school’s recruiting hostesses greeted him in their standard-issued khaki pants and golf shirts.
A week later, Alabama representatives picked him up in a private jet. On the way to Tuscaloosa, the pilot slid over and let Alexander fly. Once on campus he was greeted by a group of sundress-wearing co-eds named the ’Bama Belles. The young lady assigned to Alexander was the reigning Miss Alabama runner-up.
I'm pretty sure I know what that infamous golf shirt outfit looks like (right):
Michigan has since replaced those shapeless… items with something more appealing. Maybe they allow the hostesses to wear something other than cotton garbage bags these days.
Michigan would get the last laugh when Ryan Pfluger shanked an extra point in the first overtime of the 2000 Orange Bowl, and in 2004 the NCAA would significantly restrict the ability of schools like Alabama to fete their recruits Paris Hilton-style.
Show me your jets. There's been a lot of scuttlebutt about how Michael Shaw's injuries saw his abilities decrease in his intermittently-impressive freshman year, but I believe this is the first confirmation of such a thing from the man himself:
"I remember the Minnesota game, and nine times out of 10 that's a touchdown," Shaw said, referring to his 48-yard run, which led to his season-best 71-yard day. "I broke a long run and got dragged from behind. It was then that I was like, 'I'm really hurting. I've never not been able to run, not been able to explode.' " …
"I had significant playing time last year," Shaw said. "With those two guys (Minor and Brown) in front of me, it's up for grabs, and camp is a great platform for me to show I can still play and I'm ready. ... I'm about 90%. I'll be 100% by camp."
Yes. Remember that Mike Shaw is also made of dilithium. Last year he fumbled and disastrously tried to bounce it outside a few times each, but when he wasn't forcing facepalms out of the fanbase he was slashing into the secondary and picking up 20 or so yards a couple times per game.
Shaw's unlikely to wrest the starting job away from the two seniors unless both succumb to injuries. A good sophomore year would see Shaw remain healthy, rip off the occasional long run whilst spotting the two co-starters, and throw down the gauntlet for anyone who presumes to challenge him in 2010.
More for the great leap forward. The latest effort of Football Outsiders' college guru Bill Conolly tackles tailbacks and has a number of data points relevant to Michigan. The stat in question is "Points Over Expectation." The brief summary: it's a metric that rewards you for rushing for lots of yards over many carries. It's something midway between YPC and yardage. (You can get a longer explanation at the link above.)
The notes of interest:
- Sam McGuffie checked in with the seventh-worst POE number in the country last year.
- Brandon Minor had the 12th-best POE number, and is the tenth-best returning tailback.
- Javon Ringer ran a lot, but to little effect:
Ringer was fourth in the country in rushing yards last year, but where did he stack up in POE? A whopping 137th, between Ball State backup Cory Sykes and Colorado backup Demetrius Sumler. Ringer's 390 carries merited a POE of -0.3, meaning an average college running back would have put up exactly what he did in 390 carries. While there is certainly skill (or at least good genes) involved in managing 30 carries per game without breaking down, it is unlikely that the skills Ringer possesses will in any way translate to pro success
In football numbers always require interpretation. Mine: the difference between McGuffie and Minor is partially, maybe even mostly, due to the radical improvement of Michigan's offensive line as the season progressed. The vast bulk of Minor's carries came in the second, effective half of the season. McGuffie was stuck running behind some super-confused guys.
But, man, the size of that gap is epic. Minor was more effective by leaps and bounds. This may something anyone who watched the two could tell you anecdotally, but if last year's Michigan's running game was the 12th-most effective in the country when Minor got the ball that's an accomplishment nearing magnificence. I've been making the case here that we should expect the rushing offense to take a considerable step forward this year; these numbers support that, possibly even to an extent I haven't dared suggest.
On Ringer: I think most people who saw a lot of Ringer would disagree with Connolly's conclusion at least somewhat. Ringer's lack of per-carry production was a product of extreme overuse, predictable playcalling, and being backed by the "threat" of Brian Hoyer*. I've also heard from a couple of educated Michigan State fans that the reason last year's Michigan State team had about one run play—power off tackle—was the ineptness of the offensive line. That's all they could do. He was not put in a position where he could succeed, and he managed to get drafted despite Dantonio treating him like a pack mule. Ringer has talent—probably not NFL-level, but you could say that about a lot of tailbacks with much better POE numbers.
It'll be interesting to see whether the repertoire expands next year or if they're the new Rock, Rock, Rock of the Big Ten. I lean towards the latter. Dantonio may have herded the cats at State into something resembling a competent defense, but offensive creativity does not seem like a specialty.
*(Brandon Minor gets to deploy all these excuses as well since Michigan ran two-thirds of the time when he was the feature tailback, largely because the alternative was having Threet or Sheridan throw. And yet… the numbers. I'm going to go breathe into a paper bag for a while and then write "I will NOT predict 9-3" on a chalkboard 500 times.)
Ah, Doyel. I've previously called Gregg Doyel a junior-high version of Christopher Hitchens and that he remains, but goddamn if it isn't satisfying to read a Christopher Hitchens piece when his strident personal morality happens to intersect with yours. So, yeah, Doyel's latest is a rip job on the inane Meyer-to-ND meme personally started by professional provocateur Paul Finebaum, and I like it.
I want to highlight this bit:
Finebaum's source? He doesn't mention one. Because he doesn't have one. His source is either Spurrier's "rumor down there," or that vast empty space Finebaum calls his skull. …
the Meyer rumor won't leave. Newspapers in Gainesville, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla., have written about it, all in the past six days. Why? Because of Spurrier. And Finebaum.
This is pretty much the exact thing newspaper partisans get upset about when a baseless rumor flies about the blogosphere, reproducing willy-nilly despite a total lack of evidence or credibility. This is not a bug unique to the internet. Like everything else, it just happens much more slowly in newspapers.
In a way it's even more likely to result in untruthiness. Scratch the right sort of Notre Dame, Michigan State, or Ohio State fan and eventually he'll say something along the lines of "lol, Shredriguez" because last year a West Virginia newspaper published an embarrassingly credulous story about Rodriguez invading the Sacred Single Hardcopy Room and destroying all evidence that West Virginia even had a football program. The thing in question takes on a patina of reality due to the institutional momentum behind such a meme—it in a newspaper, it must be true—even if it's purest crap.
Etc.: Terrific UMHoops post on the three-point line move and Michigan's bombing ways.
I run mgoblog. I will bet you your entire year's salary that Rich Rodriguez does not get fired after this season. Since you believe it's "obvious" he will be fired, this is an opportunity for you to make a cool fifty bucks.
It's satisfyingly goading, and when the twit in question fails to respond it's a tacit admission that the assessment in the subject is correct.
First, it's pretty obvious to me this is going to be Rich Rodriguez's last season as the head football coach at the University of Michigan.
The rest of it is a bunch of one-sentence paragraphs that end up with Rodriguez landing at Marshall. It's not coherent enough to bother fisking, but one of the sentences says the alumni "hasn't" warmed up to Rodriguez. (No, guy on the message board thread, that's not proper usage. Alumni is a plural noun—alumnus is the singular version—instead of a singular noun (like "flock") that describes a group.)
We'll see if he takes me up on the offer. I bet he doesn't.
Thank Jesus. Paul Maguire will blight your television screens far less often this fall:
Although not formally announced, ESPN's Mike Soltys confirmed Sunday that college football analyst Paul Maguire, 70, will have a "reduced role" this season. Rather than having a full slate of games, says Soltys, Maguire will work only "the occasional game and do some studio shows and radio."
As long as that "occasional game" is the Society of Eastern European Panhandling Midgets versus Regan Pornography Czar Ed Meese's Metacarpals, I'm okay with it. Anything less obscure and we have issues. Just keep him away from the otherwise excellent Nessler-Griese pairing. And all other ones involving the Big Ten.
Side note: Maguire is 70! That guy is hitting up the Just For Men like crazy.
Hype video. Haven't had one of these for a while, and this one is well-executed:
(So… yeah, the top recommended Youtube video I'm getting for this: "So Ronrey." Is this because I posted about soccer earlier?)
Wait… what? The Free Press on Tim Hardaway Jr's commitment, screencapped because they'll probably fix it now:
It appears someone let a spellchecker loose on that article with "replace all" checked, or something. I'm at a loss how "Smotrycz" can become "Metrics" and "ESPN" can become "SPUN," though the latter is a serendipitous slam at the Favre-Owens Network. Evan Metrics sounds like a superhero from Square One who goes around teaching people about kilograms and centiliters; I suggest people condemned to write Smotrycz for the next four and a half years band together and force him to officially change his name. We'll buy him a Zorro mask and a meter stick in exchange.
M-Boned. So, yeah, the athletic department has switched official providers of Michigan apparel from the locally-owned M-Den to the Jerry Jones-owned and spammy-sounding "eSports Partners." The reason is the same reason it always is: money. eSports Partners has guaranteed millions that the M-Den could not, though I strongly suggest that the Athletic Department keep its PIN numbers to itself. Be suspicious of any barristers, yo.
There can be no better reason to do it than someone else's reason not to. Outgoing Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen is not well-loved by his fan constituents, who have to turn to Fox Sports Atlantic to catch any Pac-10 game not involving USC. And I don't think we should be big fans, either. TSN's Dave Curtis has an exit interview of sorts:
Q: So what are the chances of a playoff down the road?
A: We get playoff proposals around the calendar, with many more coming in the late fall. There just isn't anything that would be good in our opinion. We would have to go to 16 teams. The political pressure for participation would be even more intense than in the BCS. You'd have to play the games until the championship on campuses, so you'd be playing games at Michigan and Ohio State, weather-wise, in late December or January. Most of the TV time periods that are attractive then are taken by the NFL. There are some many factors that people never consider.
Well, one: that's just, like, his opinion, man, that you'd "have to" go to 16 teams. Why would the political pressure for participation be more intense? And why couldn't you structure a playoff such that everyone worthy is included? This is common anti-playoff gambit: you can't have a good playoff that makes sense, you have to have a stupid one because of fuzzy reasons I will not justify. In it is an admission that a properly structured playoff would be awesome.
Two: the bolded section is one of the best aspects of a true playoff. Who hates it when NFL playoff games are rough and tumble affairs on the frozen tundra of Lambeau? Oh, that's right: no one.
Low places. Vegas has released a bunch of win over-unders. Your most relevant set:
Over 6 reg season wins -165
Under 6 reg season wins +135
Six seems low but you have to bet 165 to win 100, so it's not a great deal or anything. Still… if anyone wants to do the Forbidden Thing and wager on your own team, there you go.
Etc.: I've mentioned the hole Kiffin finds himself in re: QB recruiting before; Bleed Scarlet has a terrific overview of the situation, which after the commitment of Barry Brunetti to West Virginia comes down to hoping Jesse Scroggins does not pick USC as expected or grabbing a flier. The WLA reviews Rich Rodriguez. There are holes in Michigan's recruitin' bucket.