Orange Bowl grading. The PFF takes will not surprise you:
Michigan’s offense was completely overmatched against the Seminoles’ dominant front-seven, and the Wolverines earned well below-average grades for team run blocking and team pass protection. All five offensive linemen, fullbacks Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi and tight ends Ian Bunting and Tyrone Wheatley all earned below-average run-blocking grades
Woooooof. It is a good thing that Drevno has a track record that allows him to deflect most of that to the previous regime, but even with that track record I can see a bunch of discontent popping up next year when he's (probably) starting a true freshman again. Why does every departing coach at Michigan have to leave a ticking timebomb on the OL? This is three straight:
- Lloyd Carr's last team dug Alex Mitchell out of retirement so he could get rolled like everyone else against OSU and gave Rich Rodriguez seven scholarship OL.
- Rich Rod had a recruiting class with one OL, who was medicaled after a year. The next one saw him bring in an OG who quit football a week into fall camp.
- Hoke at least tried, but his 6-OL class looks like it's petering out into zero starters and the numbers after that were far from sufficient.
All the evidence you need about Hoke's OL recruiting is the projected number of Hoke-era OL who will be starters in Harbaugh year three: one.
Anyway, the defense was terrific. So hooray.
Draft in or out: mostly out. NFL decisions for 2017 Michigan opponents are rolling in. Gentlemen who are headed for the draft:
- Florida: LB Alex Anzalone, DT Caleb Brantley, CB Teez Tabor, CB Quincy Wilson
- OSU: WR Noah Brown(?!), RB/WR Curtis Samuel, CB Gareon Conley, S Malik Hooker, LB Raekwon McMillan
- PSU: WR Chris Godwin, DE Garrett Sickels, LB Nyeem Wartman-White
- MSU: DT Malik McDowell, S Montae Nicholson
- Northwestern: LB Anthony Walker
- Wisconsin: LB TJ Watt, OT Ryan Ramcyzk
- Indiana: LB Marcus Oliver(?!), RB Devine Redding(!?!)
JT Barrett, Jason Cabinda, and Josey Jewell have announced returns. Michigan got good news from Mason Cole and Maurice Hurst and less good news from Jabrill Peppers; OSU is also expected to lose CB Marshon Lattimore.
Draft stock, meanwhile. Taco Charlton has cracked a couple of first-round mock drafts to pay attention to. PFF has him 29th:
Charlton was having a strong season then took his game to a new level down the stretch, grading as our No. 4 edge defender from Week 9 through the end of the season. He was strong against the run and disruptive as a pass-rusher, picking up eight sacks, 10 hits and 32 hurries on only 251 rushes, and his two-year production is among the best in the nation.
Meanwhile Todd McShay shot him all the way up to 13th:
Charlton finished the season on a tear, compiling 10 sacks in his final 10 games. He has always had the raw ability, but this season, he showed more consistency and refined technique. Charlton has the ability to be an edge defender in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme in the NFL.
He was 26th in late December. Peppers is still 8th to McShay; PFF has him a late first-rounder. Lewis is hanging around the middle of the first round, usually.
Coordinator lockdown. Michigan is going to lose coaches on a regular basis, because Harbaugh. They've set out to lock down their coordinators, though. Don Brown got a five year, $1.5 million deal that is certainly unprecedented for a Michigan assistant coach and may be unprecedented nationwide. I don't think I've ever heard of an assistant getting a five year deal.
Soon after, Tim Drevno got a five year, $1 million deal. Drevno might leave for a head coaching job at some point, but if it's not a P5 gig he'll be taking a paycut.
Rumors that Ty Wheatley might be a candidate at WMU seem to have petered out, FWIW.
Making football more like debate. Nate Silver did things approximately as nerdy as I did in high school, and they even had similar tournament formats:
The solution that debate tournaments devised is something called power-pairing. Power-pairing just means that teams with the same record are paired off against each other, so that a team that starts off the tournament 2-0 will face off against another 2-0 team, for instance. It usually works by drawing the first two rounds of a tournament at random,1 and after that, everything is power-paired.
This turns out to be a surprisingly elegant solution. It helps to make the matchups relatively even, which not only helps students to learn more but also usually tells you more in determining the best teams. Furthermore, the pairings are somewhat self-correcting. Suppose a good team happens to randomly draw very tough opponents in its first two rounds and gets off to an 0-2 start. They’ll receive some compensation by being paired with easier opponents the rest of the way out — an 0-2 team and then a 1-2 team, and so forth. As another bonus to this system, the best teams are put through the gantlet and really earn their keep. A team that finishes its tournament undefeated or with just one loss will have beaten a lot of very good teams along the way.
They also did this at quiz bowl tournaments. Silver proposes a radical reshaping of Big Ten play in which each team gets three rivalry games, a couple early-season games scheduled by the previous year's standings, and then four "flex" matchups based on current standings. He's honed it fairly well:
- You know whether you're home or away in the flex weeks.
- Three rivalry weeks is enough to satisfy anyone.
- The flex matchups make late season games more meaningful.
An example of the latter point:
In our simulated season, Penn State played (and defeated) Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois, a decent group of opponents whom they didn’t play in the actual regular season, but skipped games against mediocre Indiana, Purdue and Rutgers, whom they pointlessly faced in real life.
This site has railed against 14-team conferences and plead for dynamic scheduling since their inception. To me the uptick in meaningful games and much more meaningful result is worth disrupting the hallowed season-ending rivalry weekend, but I understand if that's a bridge too far for you. I'm in, though.
BONUS reminder: this is the best way to do Big Ten basketball scheduling:
19 game conference schedule.
PHASE 1: round robin.
PHASE 2: line is drawn between 7th and 8th teams in the league. Mini-leagues subsequently play round-robin.
That would be killer, man.
Oh man... oh man. Here's this!
I'm trying to think of a less appreciated Tennessee assistant football coach than Mike DeBord.
Still ... OK, I give up.
This is a guy named John Adams. He is a newspaper columnist engaging in such 1990s classics as "talking down to his readers" and "using points and yards per game," so he's a natural DeBord ally. Hell, he's still using 1990s offenses as benchmarks.
In fact, DeBord proved to be one of Jones' best hires. In his first season, he revived UT's running game, which averaged 223.7 yards per game, second in the SEC. This past season, the Vols averaged 36.4 points and 443.7 yards per game.
In 1997, with senior All-American Peyton Manning at quarterback and offensive guru David Cutcliffe calling the shots, the Vols averaged 34.3 points and 482.8 yards per game.
This will be news to Adams, Debord, and Baby Spice, but it's no longer 1997. Tennessee's offense finished 28th in S&P+, which is almost perfectly mediocre in a metric that adjusts for strength of schedule. There is a reason DeBord moved to Indiana and not up the P5 ladder.
Walker is still extant. Kareem Walker had a rough start but seems to have evened things out:
"I got a 3.0 this semester," Walker said with a smile. "At Michigan. That was like 'wow." That felt good. I worked hard for that.
"(Harbaugh) hasn't seen (the report card) yet, but I told him I about a grade I got (a while back). I had to leave practice one day for a paper and I ended up getting a B+ on that. I told him about that grade. He liked it."
There are going to be a ton of early enrollees and even so the most fascinating guy to hear about and see will probably be Walker. He was brought up unprompted by various people during bowl practices as a guy to watch, and he's a talented dude.
What went down at Minnesota. The abortive boycott after ten players were suspended in the wake of a sexual assault investigation looked terrible, and looked worse after the Title IX report was released. Tracy Claeys got fired in its wake. If you're wondering what those guys were thinking, the Pioneer Press has an extensive interview with DE Gaelin Elmore:
PP: But at any point, when Coyle comes in to explain the suspensions, did anyone think, well, he’s the AD, he knows what he’s doing?
GE: No, because his answers made it seem like he had no idea. And it was like, you’re the AD, you did this; how do you not know enough? That’s when a lot of guys were like, ‘This isn’t right.’ We had no idea. (The suspensions) came out of nowhere. If someone just has a conversation with us before (the suspensions) happen, says, “You know what? This is a Title IX, EOAA investigation, it’s really out of our hands; we’re going to suspend the guys until it’s clear,” we’d have been fine. Or even when it was released to the public, at least tell the public the kids were suspended based on the investigation that has been ongoing since Sept. 2. If that’s said, (the boycott) doesn’t happen. But none of that happened, and our team felt we had no other option.
Bad decisions with low information from the team and a Dave Brandon Classic mismanagement of the public relations from the Minnesota AD. I'm a bit surprised that PJ Fleck decided to jump into that business feet-first, but then again he is crazy.
Let's patch holes in this boat that's already on the bottom. What's worse than not enforcing any of your actual rules? Making up new ones to seem virtuous.
One of the buzz words from Tuesday's NCAA recruiting seminar is: IAWP. As part of recruiting reform, the NCAA has proposed during a two-year period before a recruit's anticipated enrollment and a two-year period after the recruit's enrollment, an institution shall not employ individuals associated with a prospect (IAWP) in a non-coaching staff position.
Harbaugh's done this three times, hiring Gwen Bush, Chris Partridge, and Devin Bush Sr. All three of these people are good, and qualified for, the jobs they now have. Meanwhile half the SEC signees are getting paid. What's the point of restricting possibly dubious transactions when you are utterly incapable of enforcing the rules already on the books? Ugh. Amateurism is the worst.
Speaking of, here is a NYT article surveying CFB players on how they spend their stipends:
When the full-cost-of-attendance stipends were approved two years ago, there was worry among some college administrators that athletes would waste the money on frivolous purchases. But Georgia running back Nick Chubb said he saves his money every month, and his teammate Jeb Blazevich said he was surprised to learn how many Bulldogs send the money home to their families as soon as they receive it.
“That blew me away,” said Blazevich, a tight end from Charlotte, N.C. “That’s the thing that got me to love this team so well, just seeing these guys’ heart and sending the stipend home. These guys are good guys, and they want to do well by their family.”
Paternalistic concerns about How The Youth Will Spend Their Money are the worst arguments in favor of the current system. If they waste it all they're no worse off than they are now.
Etc.: What do you have to do to get ejected from a Philly press box? You can find out here. Rumors that Michigan-Florida might get moved to Sunday are unlikely to amount to anything. Spencer on the title game and the Rose Bowl. Smart Football on that power read pitch both teams were running in the championship game.
A look at the Turnley/Harbaugh book. In the NYT:
Keith Washington [David Turnley]
Mr. Turnley said he was granted unprecedented access to the team: He went into locker rooms, he was present at workouts, practices, drills, and he attended every game, including on the road, all so he could capture images unlike those expected of sports and football photography.
“I’m not standing on the sideline,” said Mr. Turnley, who did not use long lenses. “I’m literally in the scrimmages. I’ve been known to be in the huddles and to lay prone in the middle of a play, because I want you to understand and feel what that’s like to be in the midst of that struggle.”
During practice, I imagine? I don't remember a photographer laying down under Graham Glasgow last year. I think I would have picked up on that.
Injuries both ways. Harbaugh said he was "very hopeful" Jourdan Lewis would return this weekend. He did dress against Colorado, so he must have been available in some capacity if there was an emergency. Taco Charlton seems to be dropping hints that he's good to go this weekend as well:
Ya'll ready... pic.twitter.com/JQAtdIUrVi
— Taco Charlton (@TheSupremeTaco) September 19, 2016
Mone is expected to be out this week with a possible return either next week or the week after. Per Sam Webb, Drake Johnson is exploring the possibility of a sixth year, which necessarily implies we won't see him in 2015. Three weeks in that's a relatively clean bill of health.
Unfortunately for Penn State but encouragingly for people who can add two and two together about Joe Paterno and the kind of people who would honor him, the Nittany Lions cannot say the same thing. Starting linebackers Brandon Bell and Jason Cabinda missed the Temple game. Nyeem Wartman-White left the game with an apparent knee injury and was spotted in a large brace afterwards. PSU just announced he's done for the year, for the second consecutive year.
WR Saeed Blacknall, CB Grant Haley, and DE Evan Schwan also missed the Temple game; as per usual there's no timetable for any of these guys to return. The only guy certainly out is Wartman-White; I wouldn't be surprised if PSU only gets one or two guys back.
Saquon Barkley also left for a period of time, but… uh…
…he looks fine.
This seems to bode unwell for the opposition. Baumgardner on a couple of stats that stick out:
Worst third down vs. Best third down
Penn State's the worst third down team in the Big Ten -- again. After converting just 27 percent of their third downs in 2015, the Nittany Lions have converted -- wait for it -- 27 percent of their third downs so far in 2016. Penn State wants to play with tempo, but it has trouble staying on the field -- as the Nittany Lions are averaging just 4.4 plays per possession. And that's not because they're hitting big plays, as each possession is netting an average of about 26 yards per drive.
Meanwhile, Michigan's defensive is No. 1 nationally on third down. The Wolverines have allowed opponents to convert just 10.5 percent of their third down attempts (4 of 38). Opponents are facing an average of 3rd and 9 against Michigan so far this season, which is rather difficult time and time again.
PSU's OL is just as much of a mess as it was last year, so expect a lot of players in the opposition backfield.
Idiot, diagnose thyself. If you're not aware of David Jones, think Central Pennsylvania's Drew Sharp. He wrote some standard-issue newspaper yammer about Harbaugh. It boils down do "this is just, like, my opinion, man," but holy crap this is some noteworthy lack of self-awareness:
The Wolverines will not win the Big Ten title while Harbaugh is coaching at Michigan. I don't even think they'll win the division.
How can I be so sure? I can't. In a world where being noticed is trumped only by the blatant seeking of full-on notoriety, you can never count out a guy who does it as well as Sharkface.
Jones is a professional troll, and yet. Also that sentence is a disaster barely worthy of a college freshman cramming a ten-page paper the night before.
Jones's theory is that Harbaugh will make MSU and OSU work harder to defeat Michigan. Seriously. The man manages to cash checks, so you have to respect the hustle. Or lack thereof, in this case.
Scary space emperor moment. Zoltan Mesko on a thing that happened to him at the Senior Bowl:
“It was a windy day, raining, a tough day to control the football and I was having a bad day; ended up falling flat on my face literally and figuratively,” he recalled. “Javier Arenas, from Alabama, was the returner and I shanked the ball a little bit inside, a 35-yard punt into the wind, and he catches it on the run and takes off to my left.
“I have him to the sideline, but one of my teammates is in pursuit as well and pushes me in the back. As Arenas steps out of bounds, my arms go out by my side, and from five feet up my head hits the turf hard. I drag my helmet into the rubber for about 3-4 yards. I looked like a rag doll.”
Mesko said he blacked out for “about two seconds” and couldn’t feel temperature the rest of the game. He never reported the concussion, in part because he didn’t want it to affect his NFL chances, despite experiencing headaches that night and the next morning.
Momentarily blacking out and then returning to a world without temperature must have been terrifying, and Mesko kept his issue a secret because of the prevailing culture at the time. Reminder: Zoltan Mesko is a punter, who mainly enters a football field to do something opponents are prohibited by rule from hitting during. And yet.
Mesko, now retired, has a startup that's trying to mitigate head impacts:
What Mesko and Rizzo came up with is an impact reduction device they call the EXO1 (it is patent pending). Their project now has a team of six Harvard MBA, medical and law students working on it in the form of a company called Impact Labs.
Good luck to him.
Hockey recruits ranked. ISS offers up a top 30 of incoming college hockey players. Michigan lands four on the list: #6 Luke Martin(D), #19 Nick Pastujov(F), #25 Jack LaFontaine(G), and #29 Will Lockwood(F). That's good, and the best haul in the Big Ten, but rather pales next to BU's ridiculous class featuring three of the top four and two more further down the list.
John Heisman was not to be trifled with. Spencer Hall found this item that explains that Cumberland College score:
An honorary Harbaugh.
Here is an interesting technique bit from the official site. I'm as baffled by this as you are reading that bolded sentence. Nonetheless, Mike Zordich and some of his charges describe "slide" technique as opposed to traditional back-pedaling:
"It's a little bit easier in the slide technique," said Stribling. "You open up, and since you are going back into coverage at an angle, your (belt) buckle is to the ball, and so you see the whole play develop. It's a great technique, and if you go back to a back pedal, that's easier. But we don't back pedal any more.
"The advantages are that if somebody runs a go route, you're already opened up to the quarterback. If somebody breaks down for a curl, you're already open."
Adjustments to receiver routes can be made quicker if the technique is done right.
"You have to make sure your feet are right," said Stribling. "You have to make sure you are low to the ground and not too high."
That article features some detail on Lewis's injury issues as well:
"He probably worked a little too hard in the summer," said Zordich. "That was probably a little too much torque on his body. Some of the issues he's had in the last couple weeks might have come from that. He had a hell of a camp, but then his back started tightening up and affected his hamstring and quad. He's fighting through these things."
BTN preview. BTN had their day at Michigan and came back with some video and some nonsense—on the television a person said that Michigan would be running a lot more man coverage, which is a literal impossibility. I'm not doing a recap post this year since specifics were thin; MGoVideo has the show up if you missed it.
The most interesting bit was Howard Griffith and then the rest of the crew advocating for Ben Bredeson to start immediately at left tackle because he is "elite":
Dave Revsine did have a couple of things of interest, including a Rashan Gary-Bredeson battle:
Nation's top recruit Rashan Gary in action pic.twitter.com/uo1EAHQQ6F
— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) August 15, 2016
Bredeson got some rep at the UA game as the only guy who could even sort of slow Gary down, and here he sort of slows Gary down. Given the roster tackle reps for Bredeson are an inevitability—he can play it even if it's not an ideal spot and options past the starters are extremely questionable. Sufficient tackle reps to convince onlookers that Bredeson should play now are a bit of a surprise.
A bit more from Revsine:
Ben Bredeson has had a good day - has held his own against some talented guys.
— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) August 15, 2016
Freshmen showing up during team drills. Gary with a sack, then Eddie McDoom with a TD grab - really turned on the jets
— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) August 15, 2016
And yes Gerry DiNardo said some nice things. I can never take them seriously:
"When I saw them in the spring it was like a war at the line of scrimmage. It was what you imagine it looks like at Alabama and all the downhill teams."
"How Michigan football returned to its smashmouth roots" was written before the 2013 season and remains the single least correct thing ever put on paper.
Let's infer things from this still shot. Via Chris Evans:
Two favorite things pic.twitter.com/NbFuIeDTaA
— Chris Evans (@Kidnplay_abc123) August 15, 2016
That appears to be ones versus ones. Items:
- David Dawson is at right guard. Kyle Kalis was spotted in a non-contact jersey earlier in fall camp so that's probably an injury issue rather than Dawson making a move past an established starter; he appears to be the top backup option at guard.
- Evans is in an H-back spot, not at tailback, His best fit on offense is as an OSU-style H-back in the vein of Jalin Marshall or last year's version Braxton Miller. While Michigan's offense doesn't have a dedicated spot like that, they did end up with a guy more or less in that role: Jabrill Peppers. With Evans impressing and Peppers around the offense figures to use a hybrid RB/WR guy on a lot of snaps, especially because you can do a lot worse than having De'Veon Smith block for you.
- Michigan is very spread out across the defensive line and features both Wormley and Gary at defensive end. Wormley is likely to split his snaps close to evenly between DT and DE; reports that Gary will start get another bit of weight to them.
- Pretty sure that's Peppers man up over a tight end I assume is Butt.
This is a good amount of data from a still shot.
It's a competition. All those #1 jerseys handed out? It's a competition like everything else:
“The one is not really given to me. Right now, I don’t really know what I’m wearing,” Crawford explained at Michigan’s Media Day. “I’m just wearing it right now, so we’ll see. There’s a couple players that want it. Whoever gets on the field first is going to get it.”
The hybrid space player breaks out. Excellent Andy Staples article on Jabrill Peppers and his ilk:
Since 2008, when the NCAA adopted the current clock rules and spawned an era of up-tempo offense, defensive coordinators have tried with little success to devise a system that can match up with an opponent who won't allow the defense time to substitute. The answer, it turns out, wasn't a scheme but a person. What those coordinators were seeking was a human Swiss Army knife, a player who can successfully operate on any of the defense's three levels and move effortlessly among them from play to play. With such a player on the field, a 4–3 base can morph into a 4–2–5 nickel without a single substitution or presnap move to tip off the quarterback. That 4–3 could also transform into (what appears to be) a blitzing 3–4 by walking the hybrid player to the line of scrimmage. Of course, the hybrid doesn't always have to blitz when he drops deep into the box (the area that encompasses the width of the offense's down linemen and extends about five yards beyond the line of scrimmage). He might bail and cover a receiver. Or he could come screaming off the edge faster than any defensive end or linebacker an offensive tackle has ever seen.
BC's Matt Milano, FSU's Derwin James, and Duke's Jeremy Cash are also this variety of hyper athletic linebacker/mean-ass safety. Read the whole thing for a picture of what Peppers's role will be this year.
Doctor Blitz. The Ringer's Jack McCluskey on Don Brown:
BC sent so many defenders into the backfield that it produced four players with at least 14.5 tackles for loss (no other team had more than two). Yet the Eagles failed to land a single player in the top 20 in that stat — they didn’t have transcendent talents like Clemson’s Shaq Lawson (25.5 TFL, 12.5 sacks) or Penn State’s Carl Nassib (19.5 TFL, 15.5 sacks) inflating their numbers. Their best pass rusher, Matt Milano, led the team with 17.5 TFLs (tied for no. 21 nationally) and just 6.5 sacks (tied for no. 72 nationally).
And though the Eagles had been vulnerable to giving up big plays on the back end in Brown’s first few seasons in Chestnut Hill, by Year 3 they got the personnel and the scheme to the point where they were solid on both ends. In 2013, Brown’s first year helming the defense, BC gave up 47 passing plays of more than 20 yards (tied for no. 97 nationally); in his last year, it gave up just 29 (tied for no. 10).
Someone is also using CFBStats.com, and well. That stat about 20 yard pass plays is clear evidence that Brown's reputation as an attack guy is warranted, and extends even to situations where his teams are getting burned on the back end as a result. Michigan probably won't have an issue as severe as BC 2013, but the Boring Old Jarrod Wilson days are probably behind us, for good and bad.
Hype hype hype hype. Michigan's gotten a lot of it this summer and there is naturally a tendency to check on this since Michigan hasn't been a truly elite team in a long time. (The Sugar Bowl was fun, sure, but if we're being honest that team was crazy lucky.) Dan Murphy analyzes the situation an article; he also gets a telling quote from Jake Butt:
“We were struggling with toughness our first few years,” Butt said about his underclassmen days under the former coaching staff. “Down the stretch of games when our backs were against the wall we struggled and we lost a lot of games. Coach Harbaugh identified this, and he made the changes necessary and it worked for us last year. I think it will continue to pay off for us going forward.”
Brady Hoke talked a lot about toughness but he wasn't having four-hour practices.
Injuries across the league. Michigan hasn't been hit yet, knock on wood. Others have not been so fortunate:
- Northwestern lost projected starting cornerback Keith Watkins II for the year.
- Indiana slot receiver J-Shun Harris is two thirds of the way to the Drake Johnson hat trick after tearing his second ACL in two years. Try to get the forklift incident out of the way quickly, I say.
- OSU DE Darius Slade tore his achilles and is out for the year; OL Malcolm Pridgeon is out three months with a knee issue. Neither guy was expected to start; both were likely on the two-deep. Let's get a newspaper commenter's take on the situation: "I BELEIVE THE BUCKS WILL BE VERY GOOD THEY ARE UNDER THE RADAR BECAUSE OF THE POTENIAL."
- All hell broke loose on the Iowa internets due to rumors of a CJ Beathard injury that remain unconfirmed. He was spotted in a knee brace.
Thing I don't care about anymore. Harbaugh blazing people on twitter was fun over the summer, but it's more or less football season now. Now we talk about football. I do not care about Harbaugh ending an interview early because Mark Snyder has the social grace of an autistic llama on PCP, or moistly goateed Jim Rome turning that into #content, or Harbaugh spending ten seconds of his life googling "Jim Rome Jim Everett".
It does not matter. Rich Rodriguez was nicer to the media than any Michigan coach ever has been or will be and they stabbed him in the back at every opportunity. The media read Goodnight Gorilla to Brady Hoke every night and Michigan fans still abandoned the stadium in droves rather than watch his offense-type substance. I don't think it's a negative. I don't think Ty Duffy's right when he says it's a positive:
Harbaugh has spent two years playing the pied piper and dropping the occasional crumb on social media. Every media member is talking about him. Every major college football coach is answering questions about him. He’s been forced to reveal nothing. He doesn’t demand media members go along with it. He knows they will.
Everyone is talking about Michigan. Harbaugh has kept everyone’s attention deflected away from Michigan’s quarterback battle, from Jabrill Peppers being poised for a breakout year, and from Rashan Gary arriving on campus as the No. 1 overall recruit.
Harbaugh has been “handling” the media, masterfully, since he arrived in Ann Arbor. The implication is that “the media” are going to turn on Harbaugh and somehow this fact will have some grave karmic implications for him. Spoiler: it won’t.
It's nothing. It is noise made by people who don't really understand what they're watching. Andy Staples doesn't care. He can write a thing about hybrid space players. Mark Snyder has nothing other than press conferences to live on because he's never cared to learn one thing about the sport he covers even after 20-some years.
Here's the thing: a large number of people like open contempt for sports press since so often they're contemptible.
This is not a problem for most fans because given the chance they'd stuff most of the media in a broom closet.
Anyway. This admittedly longish section is the last I'll mention it unless something really amazingly tone deaf happens.
— Max Olson (@max_olson) May 26, 2016
everyone some people. Others get tiny American flags. First Ken Starr, and today Art Briles. For Baylor to fire the best coach in their history by several light years, the reports that have already come to light are probably the tip of the iceberg. They're bad. They're very bad. But programs will go to extraordinary lengths to keep coaches as good as Briles around, so expect a bombshell. Like, another one. If "football team brings down university president" isn't enough for you.
Oh and here it is:
Key findings of the Pepper Hamilton report, according to Baylor: pic.twitter.com/BBKkE1ach9
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) May 26, 2016
That'll do it. Last time I mentioned Baylor I said you could "go either way" on Briles, which wasn't particularly clear: I meant whether he should lose his job, not whether he was implicated in this or came off well. Moot point now, and obviously there's no way to read Art Briles as anything other than despicable.
I wonder if the NCAA will get involved here. This is a million times worse than anything Ole Miss has done. Giving people money is generally helpful to them. Enabling sexual assault is… not. This should be the very definition of lack of institutional control; Baylor is systematically overlooking felonies to make their football team better. This is Paterno-level stuff here.
Pause. … Yeah, I mean that. Baylor created more rape in the world. This is probably worse, at least in terms of the actions taken by the football staff, than the Paterno thing since it appears people actively got involved in direct violation of title IX.
Like whatever man. This is my opinion on the #1 jersey:
I'm placing "Braylon Edwards on the #1 jersey" in the Never Talk About This Again bin. It's right next to the Fab Five.
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) May 25, 2016
I offered this opinion because like clockwork someone asked Edwards about #1 because someone had the temerity to issue it.
No offense to the Fab Five or Braylon Edwards, but I have massive fatigue about these topics. I don't want to hear about how Jalen Rose asked Sandy to the dance but Chris Webber already did that and now one of them is mad at the other and they haven't talked for 15 years. And I don't want to hear about Braylon Edwards's quest to take the One Jersey to Mount Doom and his inevitable opinion that anyone who hasn't taken the One Jersey to Mount Doom shouldn't get to wear it. I know how he feels about this. We can take it as read. I know that Jalen and Chris are in the world's longest performance of Mean Girls. I would rather hear about anything else.
Well maybe not anything else. It turns out that firing Jason Whitlock is necessary but not sufficient to have a successful venture. The first piece that's been social media'd into my lap from The Undefeated is this article on how black people don't do analytics from Michael Wilbon. Wilbon talks about how stats are dumb about as frequently as I talk about how people are just in charge of things, but usually he doesn't bring damn near 20% of the American populace with him. At least he included someone bombing his dumb ass in his own column:
“So many front offices are staffed by guys like me, who didn’t play the game, who didn’t come in through the coaching ranks … Don’t tell me that there are no black people who are good at math. There are black people who expert at qualitative analysis,” Elhassan said. “I worry that it becomes a way to exclude. Don’t tell me there aren’t any black people on Wall Street who are passionate about basketball. These people exist. Wall Streeters, people with qualitative analysis backgrounds. I know them. I went to school with them. I just don’t believe that one ethnicity is more predisposed to this than another. You realize, of course, that this is the new gateway into the game … into sports?”
I'll let Elhassan speak to the wider implications of Wilbon's piece. I just want to focus on Wilbon's inability to grasp what he's even saying. This paragraph is a perfect encapsulation of Wilbon's worldview:
My friend and ESPN colleague J.A. Adande relayed a conversation he had a couple of seasons ago with Stephen Curry when the then-future MVP was transitioning from shooting guard to point guard. Curry told Adande one of the biggest differences he noticed immediately was playing the point took him away from the corners of the court, where he felt most comfortable taking 3-pointers. Curry didn’t cite any numbers, just his comfort level shooting from the corners relative to the top of the arc. Only later, after the shift, did we learn how much better Curry was from the corners. One stat, according to ESPN Stats & Information, assigned Curry some number in excess of 100 for his 3-point sniping from the corners. This tells you just how bogus the exercise is if the “percentage” reports to be greater than 100.
Step by step:
1. Curry says playing PG takes him away from the corners, where he thinks he shoots better.
2. Statistic created by ESPN confirms this.
3. Wilbon agrees that this is true.
4. Wilbon dismisses the stat because it is over 100.
5. Wilbon thinks this means ESPN believes Curry hits more than all of his shots from the corner.
That is the most ignorant thing ESPN has put in the world for years and yes I am including First Take. Wilbon doesn't bother linking to or explaining what this metric is, because he's a columnist and that means he can put a piece on the internet that references something else on the internet without telling you what that is. But I bet one dollar that this metric, as many are, is calibrated such that a league average player gets 100.
In the very next paragraph Wilbon whines that efficiency metrics are per 100 possessions instead of per 48 minutes. If black people really were the monolith Wilbon suggests they are, they would do well to assemble and vote him out of the race. Ditto SAS, who apparently got on the same bandwagon in a Sportscenter clip you literally could not pay me to watch.
Etc.: David Schilling blasts the Wilbon article in a witheringly entertaining piece. Saddi Washington profiled. Samoans happy to get a visit from Harbaugh. Ross Fulton on OSU's defense in 2016. Josh Rosen on UCLA's endorsement deal. Hockey gets a commit from Jake Slaker, who had 42 points in 57 USHL games this year. Also team captain. 19.
Just another day in the life.
Jim Harbaugh got drenched with water onstage at Migos. pic.twitter.com/WnX0p0rJSA
— Rachel Premack (@rrpre) April 14, 2016
One of our photographers wrote a book. You've probably seen Bill Rapai's hockey photos around these parts. If you like those you'll no doubt love his new book, which is about invasive species in the Great Lakes. For some reason it has a picture of an SEC coach reacting to Harbaugh's latest antics on the cover. Bill on the contents:
It’s called Lake Invaders: Invasive species and the battle for the future of the Great Lakes and it explains how these little beasties got here, the damage they are doing, how they might be controlled, and why you should care. (Yes, you should care.) There’s even a chapter on everybody’s favorite invasives, the Asian carps.
It's available on Amazon for anyone who's interested.
DRAKE JOHNSON GOT RUN OVER BY A FORKLIFT!? Yes. He is apparently fine afterwards, if 1) very bruised up and 2) understandably pissed off.
Harbaugh says Drake Johnson's injury is short-term, one to three weeks. Said it's a miracle right up there with Easter.
— Adam Schnepp (@aeschnepp) April 14, 2016
Do not run people over in forklifts, people. I shouldn't have to tell you this.
Tick tock the hot takes don't stop. All it took was for Jim Harbaugh to say some pointedly critical, but true, things for people to lose their minds about the dude. NJ.com columnist Steve Politi has been a reliable source of humor ever since that "Jim Harbaugh may be flashy, but Kyle Flood is real" column, and he is undeterred by being as wrong as humanly possible about that. His reaction to Man Invited To Give Speech may even top his earlier opus:
Steve Politi, a columnist for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com, said Paramus Catholic should be ashamed for having Harbaugh give the speech. …
"The big problem here is Paramus Catholic president Jim Vail who, in announcing his decision to give an out-of-state football coach a free infomercial at his school, called Harbaugh a great leader and educator. Come on, Harbaugh speaking to your students is as much a recruiting advantage for your football program as it is for Harbaugh at Michigan."
I love all these accusations that PEOPLE might be DOING THEIR JOBS WELL. While there's no doubt an element of publicity and recruiting on both ends, Jim Harbaugh is also a very interesting and successful person who might want to give people some guidance. And he's sure as hell going to be more interesting than whoever my high school graduation speaker was. I have no idea if there even was one. Chris Ash is openly envious, and he's real, so…
This undercurrent of "wait a second… wait just a minute here! I see what you're doing! You are trying to make your football team good!" is a never-ending source of entertaining spittle these days. Remember that Alabama dude who clutched his pearls and fell over because Michigan's satellite camp at Prattville was really about recruiting? This is just the latest episode. Here's Mike Florio accusing Harbaugh of the blazingly obvious:
If we’re going to pull back the curtain on why the SEC and ACC coaches wanted to keep Harbaugh out of their backyards, it’s only fair to pull back the curtain on why Harbaugh wants to frolic in them. Although Rosenberg does his best to defend the satellite camp process by baking the concept into the apple pie of American dream chasing, it’s obvious that the camps had become at least in part a pretext for recruiting the best players in a setting that, from the perspective of a high school kid, doesn’t feel like recruiting. It all leads to a more organic, authentic, and visceral bond.
That's the point! Also it is good! We have reached the point in this dumb conversation where people are accusing Jim Harbaugh of trying to have a real relationship with the people he recruits. I feel like I am going crazy here.
Yes, e-goons of the world, people have motives. When they pursue those motives within the rules and without negatively impacting anyone, pointing at them and screaming "YOU ARE PURSUING YOUR GOALS" is literally the dumbest argument possible.
I mean, yeah, get on Harbaugh for the various decommits last year. That's a legit criticism. This stuff is moron central.
Shots fired. I assume you've all seen the Harbombing of the satellite camp decision in SI. While Harbaugh talking to a dude who tried to sabotage the program with bogus allegations of NCAA violations is a frequent irritation, I'll take it as long as he's willing to say the things that are true in public:
Says Harbaugh: "You've got a guy sitting in a big house, making $5 million a year, saying he does not want to sacrifice his time. That is not a kindred spirit to me. What most of these coaches are saying is they don't want to work harder."
Hugh Freeze responded to this with the time-tested retort of the smarmy gasbag: muh families.
"I'll never apologize for wanting to be a father and a husband," Freeze said when asked about vacation time. "I miss enough volleyball games (and other things), that is a priority for me. ... I think we work very hard, I don't think working hard is an issue. If you're asking me if I want to add more nights away from my wife and kids, I do not. That window is closing for me to be a husband and a father and I think the kids that play in our system need to see me in that role an awful lot."
When someone talks about being a family man in this way they are always attempting to shut down criticism by being holier than thou. See: Dave Brandon's "this hurts my family" talk on his last-ditch media spree after the Shane Morris incident. It also blows by a point: if you don't want to do them, don't do them. Nobody's making you. You are in fact making the demands.
Freeze then doubled down on the smarm by criticizing Harbaugh for being right, but in public:
Freeze on Harbaugh: "We're probably not a kindred spirit in terms of making comments about other coaches in public forums like he has done."
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 13, 2016
Along with being recursively hypocritical, this is an admission that Harbaugh is correct but also mean. I like mean.
Elsewhere in shots fired. High school coaches are just as fired up about the ban:
"Realistically, I shouldn't have been surprised." said John Ford, the head coach at Roswell High School, which is located north of Atlanta. "The NCAA works in opposition to what benefits young kids and student athletes. They work to protect the few as opposed to protecting and promoting the many. The hypocrisy is pretty well known." …
"I've been doing this for 15 years and I know it's really, really helpful for kids at these camps," [Toby] Foreman said. "It makes it extremely difficult, and I personally don't think the NCAA has kids interests at heart. You're almost punishing people for being proactive. Go out and recruit harder. Quit being lazy."
I wonder if the pushback on this is going to be sufficient to torpedo the rule change here. These days a lawsuit-stricken NCAA is very sensitive about public relations, and there are a ton of people on the warpath about this. It is really rare to see guys with skin in the game come out with these kind of statements, and the condemnation for the rule change has been near-universal. The only people sticking up for it are guys like Tony Barnhart who are more or less bought and paid for by the SEC and a less-than-lucid Dennis Dodd.
Tommy Tuberville, for one, thinks that the ban will not stand.
Elsewhere in how Freeze gets work done. Interesting little glimpse inside the sausage factory Freeze is running at Ole Miss from a doofus with money:
An Ocean Springs businessman claimed to have offered his guest house to unnamed college football players rent-free, only to later amend his story. But a source with knowledge of the situation said Scott Walker’s neighbors were told by the renters they paid for a two-night stay at his home last weekend.
Renting his home on a short-term basis would be a violation of local ordinances, and when first contacted by the Mississippi Press Walker said it was “four university players” who were “absolutely not paying” to stay in his guest house.
That raised red flags, because a booster (Walker is an Ole Miss grad and fan) offering free or reduced rent is a clear-cut NCAA violation.
Ole Miss cheats. Hardcore, all the time. That's how a nobody high school coach with one year at Arkansas State who arrives at a school with a fanbase that mostly still wants a plantation owner as their mascot and zero success in the past 50 years starts recruiting five-stars. I'm resigned to the fact that this will happen forever, and that the correct solution is to let people pay the players without repercussions.
But you run the cheatingest program in the country and you get sanctimonious about your free time? Harbaugh's just trying to level the playing field out a little bit here. Freeze can take his vacations and come back knowing that an Ole Miss offer has thousands of dollars behind it that a Michigan one doesn't.
That solution could be on the horizon. Via Get the Picture, this is a potentially huge move towards an Olympic model of amateurism:
Big East commissioner Val Ackerman told SI Now’s Maggie Gray on Friday that the NCAA is reconsidering allowing student athletes to sign endorsement deals.
Under the current rules, student athletes may not be paid for the use of their image or likeness or they would forfeit their amateur status and their collegiate eligibility could be affected. When Gray asked Ackerman why students shouldn’t be able to capitalize on the value they bring to their university, Ackerman responded that the NCAA is considering changing that rule.
“That’s one that’s actually under consideration I believe by the NCAA,” Ackerman said. “It’s actually a time right now where student athlete interests are being closely examined. I don’t have an answer for you on that one today but I will say that and a number of other topics are under review, and I think rightly by the NCAA and it’s very possible that over the course of the next year or two as these these ideas work their way through the legislative system you could see changes.”
In the next year or two! As always I will remind you that even if you don't like the idea of players getting paid directly by the university, opening up outside compensation is a very good thing when you command a money cannon like Michigan does.
Warde Manuel sticks up for his guy. Good to see that Manuel isn't shying away from the fight either:
“People say this is Jim Harbaugh, he wants to do it this way,” Manuel told the Free Press today. “No. This is a rule that has been allowable for a long time. With all due respect to … questions about not being able to recruit (during the NCAA quiet period), all that stuff was there before, and people did it. Now it’s no good? Some kind of way, it’s bad for the game? It’s crazy.”
That is direct and devoid of hand-waving CYA business speak, so bully for that.
Elsewhere in laziness. Iowa DE Drew Ott will not get a fifth year after a midseason injury. That's not much of a surprise since he played in six games a year ago and the NCAA does not budge on injury redshirts if you've played more than 30% of a season. The timing of the announcement, however, has irritated many since Ott cannot enter the NFL draft proper and will have to go the supplemental route. Why did this come so late? It's not on the NCAA:
In fairness to the NCAA, it does seem like the lengthiest delays in this entire ordeal were not their end -- it sounds like Ott's case wasn't even sent to the NCAA bodies that rule on this matter until late February. His case was with Big Ten authorities until that point. What took the Big Ten so long? Good question -- and one that neither Ott nor Kirk Ferentz had an answer for during their press conference earlier today. So perhaps our ire at the glacial pace of the decision-making in this situation should be directed at Jim Delany & Co. rather than the NCAA folks.
That is especially odd since Mario Ojemudia suffered a similarly ill-timed injury and found out he would not get an exception in December.
It'll be interesting to see what happens with MSU's attempt to get sixth years for three players, all of whom appear to have taken voluntary redshirts. MSU keeps telling people they'll be back but the NCAA is very strict about sixth years; going to be tough to come up with sufficient documentation about an injury when these guys have bios declaring they were scout team player of the week.