"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Hello Kip. Harbaugh Twitter Summer continues unabated.
— Maurice Hurst Jr (@BigPappi73) July 21, 2015
This fall Gedeon answers press conference questions by saying things are getting pretty serious and stating that he loves technology. Bank on it.
Finally. #M00N makes Erase This Game. The Funchess butt fumble is not even mentioned. That's how #M00N #M00N was.
M00N is a sad game, and some of that tragedy comes from the advantage of hindsight. Winning didn't save Michigan's season or Brady Hoke's job, as they followed this with a home finale loss to Maryland. Losing didn't inspire Northwestern to a turnaround; even though they beat Notre Dame a week later, the Wildcats missed bowl eligibility by losing to a depleted Illinois team in their last game. That's the bad news.
The good news is every astronaut gets astronaut ice cream. Let's check out today's flavors.
I have been eating Cookies 'N Ennui for a long time now.
Okay. Former TE/DE Keith Heitzman is at Ohio for his final year of eligibility. The Dispatch has an article that's trying to rake up some muck on a standard practice in college:
Keith Heitzman understood that big changes were in order after Jim Harbaugh was hired to replace Brady Hoke as Michigan football coach just hours before the New Year.
What staggered Heitzman was that he might have been one of those changes. Every player going into his fifth year of eligibility, he was told, would have to audition for his job during spring practices.
Heitzman, degree in hand, opted out. That's fine for him and fine for Michigan.
The worst thing you can pin on Harbaugh is a lack of tact. We will put this evidence of Harbaugh's lack of tact in the extradimensional bag of holding. There it can mingle with its fellows and not fill the universe stem to stern.
For perspective, over the years I've read plenty of articles that reference Notre Dame's policy in this department. They come at it from the other direction, wondering not who might be departing but who might be coming back:
The future for the remaining 14 seniors on the roster, all of whom are eligible for a fifth year, is less certain. … At the most, half of them will return. Notre Dame’s 2015 recruiting class sits at 21 verbal commitments, which, if all 21 sign letters of intent in February, will give the Irish 78 scholarship players of the 85 the NCAA allows.
All of ND's seniors walk on senior day, even if they have another year of eligibility. That's how much of a non-story this is.
"It happens," said the jaded boat owner. SCUFFLE KERFUFFLE ON THE WATER
The Border Battle played a role in getting two people arrested and locked up at the Ottawa County Jail.
A Michigan-Ohio State football argument on the Jet Express allegedly prompted a fight that resulted in assault charges.
Witnesses say the rivalry argument turned physical between two couples with a woman pulling another woman’s hair and the two men throwing punches at each other.
1. The "Jet Express" is so well known in Ottawa County that there is no explanation of what it is. There is a picture of a boat.
I assume it's the boat. Ottawa County readers are boggling at my ignorance right now. The Jet Express is Ottawa County.
2. This was undoubtedly issued with a grim sigh.
"It happens,” says Todd Blumensaadt, owner of the Jet Express. “They get very passionate about their teams."
You see a lot of things when you own a boat. Most of them are stupid.
3. This man is either named "Larry Money" or "Larry Mahoney"—the article is uncertain—and has a hot take.
"Sports are good, but when it reaches that point, obviously it's way overboard."
Good point, Larry Money Mahoney. OR SHOULD I CALL YOU ADAM MONEY JACOBI?
4. Ace grabbed a "Money" Mahoney screenshot:
Is he Carl Monday's brother? That's not generally how names work but we've already established that Gary Money Mahoney is not beholden to your "rules" about nomenclature, man.
5. This reporter may have had to scrounge up quotes for this dumb story, wondering the whole time how she was ever going to pay off her Princeton J-school student loans, but at least she's not working for Gawker.
6. I may have spent too much time on this.
1977 pep rally. Featuring Bo! He guarantees a win! They burn an OSU player in effigy! They wear 70s clothes! The reporter's jacket!
Michigan won 14-6. Harbaugh was probably at the pep rally and knew Bo had zero basis for getting mad at him when he issued his guarantee.
Surprise. That CSG survey they did in the middle of the general admission fiasco makes the WSJ because it appears to be the first serious attempt to figure out what the kids actually want at football games. A company has just confirmed that with a much larger survey that somehow surprises the author:
The most recent support for this surprising result comes from a new survey by the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators and Oregon’s sports marketing center. It asked almost 24,000 students across the country to rank the factors that influenced their decision to attend games. By far the most important was a student’s interest in that sport. By far the least important was a stadium’s cellular reception or wireless capability.
The study is so counterintuitive that it seems like it must be an outlier—except that it is supported by similar polls in places where college football is massively popular.
At Michigan, when the student government asked undergraduates why they go to football games, what they found clashed with conventional wisdom: Michigan’s students simply didn’t care that much about mobile connectivity. In-game Wi-Fi wasn’t as essential as lower ticket prices or better seat locations. Among the seven possible improvements to the game-day experience, in fact, students ranked cell reception last.
I'm not sure where that notion came from, other than the sort of gentleman who talks about social engagement and uses hashtags# like coffee dad. And it's not like they even fixed mobile connectivity at Michigan despite thinking that was the most important thing they could do.
Gonna get paid. I don't think Jim Delany has much to do with it, but Lost Letterman points out that the Big Ten is likely to get paid when their contract—the last to get renegotiated for a long time—comes up:
Since launching FOX Sports 1 two summers ago, FOX has been waiting for its chance to put a huge monkey wrench in ESPN’s world dominance of sports. This is that chance.
The Big 10’s 10-year, $1 billion contract with ESPN and six-year, $72 million deal with CBS for select basketball games and six-year, $145 million pact for the Big 10 Championship Game all expire after the 2016-17 season and a new, gargantuan deal will be struck within the next 12 months.
The only two legitimate TV players for the conference’s Tier 1 football rights (best games) are Disney (ABC/ESPN) and FOX, as CBS already has the Tier 1 rights to the SEC and NBC is content airing Notre Dame home games.
The only thing we know for certain is that the Big 10 is about to get paid.
Delany will get the credit for being the camel herder who sat down on this particular patch of oil again, when literally anyone could sit in a room and watch FOX and ESPN go blow for blow. The Big Ten will use this money to hire more MAC coaches.
Best make your money now, though: ESPN is 20th(!) on the list of a la carte channels people would pay for. Barking Carnival has an excellent article on the coming cord cutting that touches on points I've made and continues with them.
Etc.: Michigan's schmancy new dorm. When I was in college the dorms were made out of mildew and we liked it. Predicting Michigan's win total with SCIENCE. Extremely early Utah preview from SBN's Ian Boyd. Someone has to make the tough decisions like "let's play a game in Dubai." Harbaugh antics.
"College basketball is facing a crisis. It’s time for an extreme makeover."
-Seth Davis, 3/2/2015
After a one-year surge in offense spurred by a sometimes-enforced focus on contact and the virtual elimination of off-ball charges, college basketball largely reverted to its old rules this year. The result: a fractional dip in scoring to new lows and sustained outcry from announcers and newspapermen alike.
Damn things like "division," full speed ahead:
Is college basketball in crisis?
Scoring is down. Pace is at an all-time low. Some teams are winning with defense, which is fine, but far too many others are surviving simply because — let's face it — they miss fewer shots.
Damn things like "bothering to look at even one stat," full speed ahead:
[Colorado head coach Tad] Boyle said several factors, including the way the game is officiated, has led to lower scoring. Teams also tend to do the same things offensively, which makes defending them easier. But for the most part Boyle boiled it down. "Better shooting, quite frankly, would really help," he said.
Seth Davis had a major SI piece decrying the decline:
The more things change, the more they ... get worse. College basketball is slower, more grinding, more physical and more, well, offensive than it has been in a long, long time. The 2014-15 season is shaping up to be the worst offensive season in modern history. Through Feb. 22, teams were averaging 67.1 points per game. That is the lowest average since 1952. The previous low for that span was set just two years ago. This more than reverses the gains that were made last season, after the rules committee made adjustments to clamp down on physical defense and make it harder to draw a charge. Thanks to lax enforcement by officials and a foolish decision to reverse the block/charge modification, scoring declined by 3.79 points per game. That is the steepest single-season drop on record.
As of late, the fretting has spread to the athletic director level, as those ADs look at their attendance figures. All of this looks at the state of the game today and shakes its head sadly at what we've lost.
And it's all nonsense.
College basketball has barely changed
The thing about college basketball is how little it's changed over the past 13 years. Kenpom has data back to 2002 showing an eerily static state of play, with a slight trend towards more efficiency.
Things that actually seem to have a trend are bolded:
|Possessions per game||64.8||67.3||67.3||69.5|
Shooting has remained shockingly static, as have all the individual components—despite the three point arc moving back slightly during this sample. Offensive efficiency has in fact increased even without the rules changes that a panicked committee instituted two years ago, implemented after a season (2013) in which offensive efficiency was a half-point worse per hundred possessions than it was in 2002.
Only a few things have actually changed: there are fewer turnovers and steals as teams take care of the ball better; there are fewer offensive rebounds as more teams adopt the Wisconsin/Michigan model of preventing transition opportunities at all costs. And there are fewer possessions.
That's it. Games are in fact getting shorter in terms of time spent doing the basketball. Free throw rates remain essentially constant as the denominator shrinks. There are fewer balls flung out of bounds, stopping the clock. Little that happens during the 40 minutes the clock is actually running has changed in 13 years. There are 7% fewer possessions. That is about it.
This holds at all levels. Major conference stats from leagues that had approximately the same membership over the course of these 13 years (ie, not the Big East) show the same broad trends, albeit with the additional jitter inherent in a much smaller sample size. The ACC has plummeted from the country's second-fastest league to #23:
|Possessions per game||63.3||67.8||70.5||74.2|
The Big Ten is less dramatic but similar:
|Possessions per game||62.3||62.3||62.8||65.1|
The Big Ten has shown some degradation of shooting as fewer fouls are called and effective field goal percentage slips, but the large decrease in turnovers has offset that.
The Big Twelve has undergone a dip in efficiency…
|Possessions per game||64.7||69.1||65.4||70.2|
…but again, we are talking about a league losing approximately one basket per game. Hardly a crisis. The Big Twelve still shows the overall slowdown and hints at the reduction in TOs and OREBs as well.
College basketball is fine when college basketball is being played
There is no college basketball scoring crisis. There is a college basketball actually-playing-basketball crisis.
It is not particularly surprising that athletic directors will leap at any explanation they can get their hands on to explain ever-slower games and declining attendance, even if that entails flogging a measly 7% decline in the number of shots as the end of basketball. It's not surprising because the alternative is finding the true culprits: the athletic directors themselves.
The athletic directors are the ones signing the contracts that see every timeout, and there are a million timeouts, followed by a commercial. They're the ones who implemented the ridiculous review system that stops play for minutes at a time to not give someone a flagrant foul or arbitrarily decide to overturn or not overturn an out of bounds call that was already pretty arbitrary.
They are the ones responsible for this:
Overall, the last 60 seconds of the 52 [most recent 2014 NCAA tourney] games combined have taken five hours, 44 minutes, and 51 seconds to complete. (That's including the five bonus final minutes from overtime games.) 5:44:51 is 605 percent longer than realtime; the average final minute took 5:57 to finish, with a median of 5:29.
That is insane.
Maybe people were inclined to put up with that when the alternatives were watching Hee-Haw or silently playing chess in a room with one very loud ticking clock. Not so much these days.
The problem is with the product. Fix the product. You might make less money right now, but with a better product you will be better off in the long run. Here's how you fix the product:
- Coaches must sacrifice a digit to call a timeout. The timeout signal is now a head coach handing one of his freshly snipped fingers or toes to the referee. Until such time as the coach has too few fingers to manipulate the shears, he must snip the fingers off himself. Afterwards his wife or children must.
…what? "Too extreme," you say? "This is barbaric," you say? "I will not condone this sort of behavior in our society," you say?
- Severely reduce the number of timeouts. Ideally this is one, like hockey. More realistically you need to cut them down to three. Timeouts benefit nobody except megalomaniac coaches. They drastically lessen the immediacy of frantic finishes. By allowing teams in the lead to avoid five-second calls, tie-ups, and turnovers after getting trapped they reduce the chances of a trailing team coming back.
- All remaining timeouts before the last five minutes take the place of media timeouts. The timeout-ten-seconds-of-play-timeout thing is an awful frustration in the middle of the game.
- Media timeouts are every five minutes, not four.
- If you want to shorten the shot clock to 30 seconds, okay I guess. I was previously opposed to this since it would lead to more ugly late clock shots from college basketball outfits without guys who are particularly good at isolation, but the stats over the 15 years suggest that basketball could withstand a slight dip in efficiency okay.
You'll give up some money initially, but increased competition for fewer spots will make up some of it—you're still the only live game in town these days—and increased ratings from being less positively insufferable to watch will support the rest. As a side benefit, people will be more inclined to watch your games when they consist largely of game instead of t-shirt cannon.
The game is the same. It is eerily the same. If there's a difference it's in the stuff in between the game.
Yee baby yee. Jordan Morgan is playing overseas, and has found out that Hardaway and father are chicken spokespersons in Turkey.
So things are going to go okay for THJ if he ever has to seek asylum in Turkey. People will recognize him and give him succor in the form of chicken for reasons they no longer remember. And then he doesn't have to be on the Knicks anymore!
Speaking of Euro basketball. Hello post incoming?
Alba Berlin standout in #AdidasNGT Moritz Wagner, im told next year will go to NCAA. Michigan is no.1 option.
— Vedran Modrić (@vedranmo) March 1, 2015
Depending on who you talk to and when, Wagner's either 6'9" or 6'10" and displays the advanced ball skills typical of euro bigs. He could be a 4 or 5, maybe even a 3 if Michigan rolls a natural 20. Meanwhile check this court out:
That court hosts seventy different sports. Several of them haven't even been invented yet. Also, they emphatically do not call technicals for hanging on the rim in whatever league he's playing.
Beilein visited Wagner in November and Michigan could use a flexible player who could fill in at either of the frontcourt spots.
And let's check in with the German perspective:
In the first days of pre-season, the heads of coaches full of question marks. Which fragrance brands are the new ones such as the elderly respond? How fit all?
Google translate is getting really good these days.
Flippin. Dang son.
— Blake Countess (@TheeCount2) February 27, 2015
Countess for alumni cheerleader?
It lives. We've addressed Texas's Brandon problem occasionally in this space, usually when referring to the Longhorns' spectacularly tone-deaf, loathsome women's AD Christine Plonsky or branding-means-you-brand true believer Steve Patterson, the AD proper. Patterson has pissed off a lot of people in a manner similar to Michigan's dear departed, though I don't think he's firing off the emails just yet. Chip Brown has talked with the big ballers in Austin and comes back with quotes ominous for Patterson's future:
“It’s clear Steve Patterson is a numbers guy. Well, you can reach all your numbers and have it be a complete failure if you alienate important people along the way,” said one key UT donor who has been left cold by Patterson.
“It’s also how it’s done. This place is too important to too many people for athletics to be run like some cold, bottom-line pro franchise front office. I see a lot of John Mackovic in Patterson. Mackovic tried to tell us how to think and how it was going to be, alienated people, and at the first sight of trouble, he was gone.”
If Charlie Strong doesn't make it, Patterson will be quickly disposed of. Patterson's made the mistake of pissing off the men with money instead of the hoi polloi, who are less easily roused to rebellion.
I wonder why you're failing. I haven't talked much about the local media landscape in a while because we're clearly in the "…and then you win" segment of the process. Teams have their in-house organs, it's difficult to tell some of them from purportedly neutral guys at papers—Vincent Goodwill went from embarrassingly carrying water for Joe Dumars to literally working for the Bulls—and the bleeding has gone from layoffs everywhere to weird infosec campaigns to get guys to resign.
As a result of Goodwill's departure, barely-literate Terry Foster has been thrown back on the Pistons beat. He's taking the idea he should actually work for the paper that's been inexplicably paying him for decades hard:
He is complaining about an NBA beat that several thousand people in this state would get a tattoo on their forehead for. Jeff Moss has broken a lot of media stories over the past few years and reports that Foster's getting six digits from the News. That's incredible: Foster's contribution there has been the occasional slapdash column his editors have to turn into English. For years.
And they can't just get rid of the guy for some reason. Even if Mitch Albom's contributions to the Free Press consist of Borscht belt jokes so lame his colleagues are calling him out on his terrible columns, at least you can argue that Captain Fun Death Times has a certain cachet with the demographic that still subscribes to a newspaper. Terry Foster? Who does Terry Foster appeal to? Maybe his family, if they haven't read his output in a decade.
A sane organization would have fired Terry Foster years ago.
Gibbons compare and contrast. Rasheed Sulaimon's dismissal from Duke stems from rape allegations that were never followed up on by the alleged victims or the university itself. A basic timeline:
- October 2013: student says in a "large group setting" at a diversity retreat that Sulaimon sexually assaulted her.
- February 2014: at subsequent diversity retreat, a second student asserted the same thing.
- March 2014: unnamed person affiliated with basketball program (manager? teammate?) brings this information to the team psychologist; from there it goes to the rest of the program.
- January 2015: intern quits based on finding this out, gets lectured by the designated fireman Duke has, six days later Sulaimon is dismissed for vague failure to live up to program standards.
A couple people have emailed wondering about parallels here. There aren't many. Gibbons was the subject of a complaint that the university evaluated, deciding to expel him. Nobody even went so far as to pursue that remedy at Duke despite the anonymity offered by that process; Duke either put restrictions on Sulaimon that he failed to live up to or panicked and booted him after intern incident made them afraid they were about to have this hit the media. One doesn't reflect on the other.
I can't say much more without running afoul of no polo, but I don't know what the hell a coach is supposed to do in that situation. The only group of people less qualified to adjudicate a sexual assault accusation than university bureaucrats is the coaching fraternity, and with no one pursuing any kind of sanction it seems impossible to boot a guy because some people said some things that no one evaluated.
Michigan's case was much more clear cut, with significant physical evidence addressed by a neutral (or at least an attempt at a neutral) evaluation, and then the subsequent PR incompetence.
It was always such. Analytics has won and is in its hot moment, which means a lot of people who don't know their ass from a properly-deployed regression are prominent. This is more prominent now but nothing new: witness David Berri, PRINCETON(!) economist and crazy person.
Except PRINCETON economist David Berri is not actually that, and apparently never was?
Berri graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a B.A. in economics in 1991, and earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. from Colorado State University. He taught economics at Coe College and California State University-Bakersfield before accepting a position at Southern Utah University in 2008.
No offense to any of those fine institutions, but if this was clear from the start maybe we don't have to deal with the scourge of this guy in the first place. All have the salutary property that anyone hailing from one of their institutions has to actually explain themselves instead of just saying "I'm from PRINCETON."