I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
More yes, please. Given the current state of college football scheduling, where you have to have one real nonconference game and then you can schedule anything that will show up at your stadium down to the Albanian cricket circus, I've been in favor of expanding the conference schedule for years. So Adam Rittenberg's post on the possibility comes with some welcome quotes:
There are certainly pros and cons to increasing the number of league games, and Big Ten athletic directors expect to debate them in August during their next scheduled meeting in Chicago.
"Unless you’re really hot, fans are finding that some of the preseason games, they just don’t appreciate," Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said. "They’d rather see you play every Big Ten opponent. If you went to nine games, you’d be bringing in one more Big Ten opponent, which would make your season-ticket package more attractive."
By radically increasing the amount of money people are expected to play with PSLs and mandatory donations and whatnot, schools have increased the pressure to have home schedules actually worth buying. Burke's actually in favor of ten(!) conference games, which will never happen.
The article also quotes Barry Alvarez in support and we know that Michigan has been pushing for more conference games for a few years now, so there's at least some chance the league will add another game. Another bonus of the extra conference game: if the Big Ten does go away from pure geography and creates a division that's Michigan-OSU-Alamo Party*, additional conference games will reduce the impact of any disparity. It also makes cross-division protected games (which I don't like) less necessary since you'll be playing two-thirds of the opposite division instead of half.
*(Which seems to have something of a consensus building around it. TOC threw in the towel, and once the blogs are united nothing can stand against them. If Penn State had a vote that might be a problem, but lol Penn State suffrage.)
If NASCAR counts as a sport… then solar car competitions, where you actually build the thing yourself, is like a double sport. Also Michigan's solar car team is consistently awesome. They're running the American Solar Challenge right now and, though it's fuzzy if they're actually winning, they think they're doing well:
After being tight with Minnesota this morning and afternoon, they had to pull off the road for what is rumored to be battery problems. We don't know the current location of any other teams, but we believe we are at least 15 minutes ahead of everyone but Stanford.
That was yesterday. They learned last night that Minnesota is now 40 minutes back and Missouri S&T, which is apparently big in solar cars, is 10 minutes back. The previous stage saw Infinium finish almost an hour in front of their nearest challenger. We should totally try to get this thing in the Director's Cup.
Goodbye, almost everyone. One of the tangential discussions that's entered the public consciousness after the QC/stretching violations at Michigan is "dang, there are a lot of dudes getting paid to not coach football." The NCAA is within its rights to reel these guys in somewhat, but this seems drastic:
Back in April when the Athletics Personnel and Recruiting Cabinet began seriously discussing legislation to curb the growing football and basketball staffs, there were two big questions: exactly how many noncoaching staff members would the teams be allowed and how would the legislation deal with attempts to build new offices in the athletic department?
The cabinet gave an emphatic answer to the former question, with a somewhat weaker answer to the latter. Bowl Subdivision Football would be limited to just four noncoaching staff members, while men’s and women’s basketball would be reduced to just one. In the Football Championship Subdivision, the limit would be two.
That's not four grad assistants, it's four staff members, period. The Bylaw Blog suggests this would see athletic departments devolve the many other roles undertaken by specific sport-specific staff into department-wide organizations that avoid this new regulation. The money is always going to flow somewhere. At some point the NCAA should get serious about booting I-A teams that can't manage 20,000 paid attendance per game into I-AA. The real problem here is that teams like Michigan and Eastern Michigan are being addressed by the same sets of laws when they have zero resemblance to each other.
The elusive and wonderful. Six Zero's regular series profiling some of the characters who hang out around here has an exclusive look at youtube hero Wolverine Historian. Most surprising to me was WH's age:
Wangler to Carter. Hello Heisman. Bo singing the Victors. In your expert opinion, what is the single most iconic video clip of Michigan football?
There have been many, many memorable moments over the years. But I think Wangler to Carter from Homecoming 1979 is probably the most iconic video clip of Michigan football. I was born 4 months after that game was played so I obviously have no personal memories of it. But the video speaks for itself. One last play, Carter dancing into the end zone, the crowd going insane, Bo jumping up and down, Bob Ufer screaming, “Oh my GOD!!! Carter scored!!!” and Lee Corso having a stroke on the Indiana sideline.
Given the vast breadth of WH's tape collection, I would have ballparked his date of birth sometime around 1817. Instead he is younger than me.
Merrill watch. Not in the scary way. The first round of the NHL draft is tonight and should see defenseman Jon Merrill taken. There will also be a goalie taken, and this will be lame. But back to Merrill:
"I honestly want to get drafted, but it's not that big of a deal," Merrill said in a phone interview Tuesday. "It's tough not to hear about (mock drafts) or see things, but I really don't care that much about it.
"First pick or the last pick, you have the same opportunity to play in the NHL."
For the paranoid, there's no hint in of a Merrill defection anywhere in the article. The remainder of the draft will be more interesting as far as the composition of the team goes: CCHL forward Alex Guptill is eligible and has made some comments about deciding what he wants to do after he talks with the team who drafts him. He could spend a year in the USHL, possibly with fellow 2011 commit Lucas Lessio, or defect if the Kings or some other team run by paleolithic folk grabs him. He should go somewhere in the middle rounds.
The final word on SEC vs Big Ten. Sure, they may have won a zillion national titles but this is the Big Ten's position on vuvuzelas:
The Big Ten has specific policies that do not allow irritants or noisemakers, so vuvuzelas would not be allowed. Below is the specific language from our football game management manual.
This is the SEC's:
This instrument, no matter how irritating to some, will not be banned from SEC games this upcoming season, according to the SEC. The instrument of choice in South Africa, which may or may not catch on here in the states, can be brought into stadiums across the league.
Big Ten wins forever. Not that I imagine there will be a ton of vuvuzelas at SEC games. There will be three incidents where vuvuzelas are brought into the stadium, then gingerly extracted from parts of the anatomy plastic horns were not meant to tread, before everyone gets the idea.
Not technically World Cup content. This is about soccer but the larger point is excellent:
One of the hard things about forming an outlook on the World Cup is that when an event gets this much attention, the flow of commentary is so fast and broad that every possible angle is exhausted and trivial positions develop a kind of insubstantial politics. Conventional wisdom starts to seem like an ideology, and if you’re not careful, your own feelings about what happens will be dictated by where you want to stand in relation to that ideology rather than by what you actually think. There’s a pundit position, a cognoscenti backlash, an uber-cognoscenti counter-backlash, and so on till after midnight. Your heart and the stadium get farther and farther apart.
Case in point: two opinions that put you on roughly the same line of anti-pundit knowingness would be “the first round of games was actually great” and “Switzerland weren’t that exciting yesterday; Spain were just terrible.” Maybe you really feel those things, or have numbers to back them up. But in most cases, I’d guess that the attraction of these stances has a lot to do with the fact that they put some space between you and the thousand-mile pandemonium of cliches blasting out of the TV studios and the pages of your favorite newspaper. It’s not only that they make you sound like you know what you’re talking about, although there’s no discounting the lure of savvy disaffectedness. They also just turn down the volume.
That sort of contrarianism for the sake of saying something new is a constant temptation for anyone tasked with writing something people will find interesting. Sometimes it's right. Sometimes it's David Berri running a regression and declaring Dennis Rodman more valuable than Michael Jordan or that NBA coaches don't understand who their best players are. If you're trying to combat the conventional wisdom, you should regard it a tricky, wily foe that requires something more than a blunt-force blow.
Etc.: Citi dumps its Rose Bowl sponsorship.
Apologies to the locals: this is pure meta.
I attended the third(!) Blogs With Balls this weekend in Chicago, where I talked to a great number of people, had a great number of drinks, and was on a panel. The five minutes which seemed the most relevant to people I talked to and were the most-discussed on the twitters afterward consisted of an interrogation of the ethics panel launched by Orson Swindle that I, like a member of Flipmode Squizzod,—which is the squad—popped up in the midst of to deliver a verse. This post is just a document of what everyone said and will avoid any opining, though my opinion is kind of obvious because it's part of the transcript.
Video here, with the relevant section at about the 21 minute mark.
We fade in as the ethics panel opens it up to questions:
JASON MCINTYRE (The Big Lead): Let's start with everyone's favorite blog… let's go with Spencer Hall first.
SPENCER HALL (Every Day Should Be Saturday): I just want to be clear—I'm taking notes for future reference—it's okay to use whatever you want as long as you get pageviews, right, regardless of ethics? [Aside: this sounds like a ridiculous strawman, but it was essentially what Josh Zerkle, Alana G, and McIntyre had argued throughout the panel, with the academic from Minnesota mostly concerned with how funny rape was or was not (her vote: not) and Jonah Keri being way too nice.] We're all clear on that? Right, okay. Anyone horrified?
The other thing I wanted to do is I wanted to ask about sourcing. That wasn't really a question, that was just a statement. I just wanted to have it and I have the microphone.
What do you do to source a rumor? What is a source for you? Do you advance faster than the standard three source or trusted source [garbled] in the media. What do you do, and what have you done in the past? This is two part question so you have to come back to me, and then I'll give the mic to someone else.
JOSH ZERKLE (With Leather): I personally don't like breaking stories. It's not something that's part of our format; it's not something I'm really interested in doing. It sounds like work. I'm not big on doing the research and following up and calling people on the phone… I'm not a phone guy.
To answer your question, it's something I try to stay away from. It's not really my bag; so many people do it better than me that I just try to stay away from it.
ALANA G (Yardbarker): Yardbarker really isn't in the business of making much original content except sponsored blog content and our athlete blogs. On behalf of bloggers in general, I think the three sources thing was a rule that came out of old journalism—they probably teach it in journalism school right?
JONAH KERI (Bloomberg, WSJ, many things): …And it might not be wrong.
ALANA: It's an arbitrary rule for what it is and if you want to have the kind of blog that just runs off one rumor that your cousin's person who works at the Q told you about Delonte [bangin' Lebron's mom] and you want to print that and you continually do stuff like that and you're able to make a successful blog out of that, then hey that works for you. And half your rumors are going to end up being false because you only rely on one source and in that case your credibility will be duly affected. Maybe if you're only half-credible you'll still get a lot of traffic because it's an interesting site. So I think it depends on… I think it will bear out in your credibility at the end of the day from your readers.
ZERKLE: Spencer, let me give you an example. This is something I found out about but never ran; I guess I can share it with everybody. [Laughter.] Not exactly breaking news here, but I was at a wedding in Cincinnati a couple years ago and I ran into a woman who had dated Shayne Graham, and she told me that every time Shayne Graham meets a woman he asks her if she's willing to sign a prenup.
KERI: The vast fortune of Shayne Graham! [Laughter]
ZERKLE: 970,000 dollars a year really goes quick. That by itself is really thin for a story, and I'm not going to be on the phone asking "did Shayne Graham ask you to sign a prenup?" It's more legwork and it's tough to put together a body of work, and then if you don't have enough to get a story… it's not a great use of my time, especially when I'm trying to do nine, ten posts a day.
ALANA: That would have been a funny nugget though, if you had just posted "hey, I have no idea if this is true, but my friend told me this story… could be totally false but I thought it was pretty funny, they might have made it up, but I thought it was funny." And then people have the comments, the jokes… that might not be your bag but…
ZERKLE: Yeah, but as I said I couldn't confirm it so I try to shy away from that stuff.
HALL: Yeah, but what would you [McIntyre] do? I mean, you break stuff. How do you verify a source?
MCINTYRE: Uh… it depends on the story.
HALL: Take the Mark Sanchez model story. [Laughter, including from McIntyre. Note: at this point Hall and McIntyre start talking over each other, so it gets a little confusing.] What did you do—
MCINTYRE: I did absolutely nothing. There are plenty of cases where I will do nothing and run with something and I'm wrong.
HALL: So you did nothing because…
MCINTYRE: I have made plenty of mistakes.
HALL: …I planted that rumor…
MCINTYRE: I wouldn't be shocked. I wouldn't be shocked.
HALL: …and you just ran it…
MCINTYRE: That's not… a few weeks earlier Deadspin had a story where—
HALL: That's true. On April First. On April Fool's Day. We just slipped that by the gate! We were like "maybe we can do this"!
MCINTYRE: Right. A few weeks earlier Deadspin ran a story about the Arizona State coach getting in a fight with Mohammed Ali and they basically got—
HALL: Right right right, but this is what you did. We're not talking about what Deadspin did.
MCINTYRE: But everybody makes mistakes on their blogs. Yes, that was a bad mistake. That's not even—
HALL: But it got you pageviews, right?
MCINTYRE: No it didn't. It didn't generate any pageviews.
HALL: It didn't? Then why did you post it?
MCINTYRE: It was the middle of a Tuesday. That's why I ran it.
HALL: That's why you ran it? Okay.
ALANA: But Spencer, people are still reading The Big Lead because they like the site and they think that it's worthwhile, and they know that Jason makes mistakes every once in a while.
BRIAN COOK (MGoBlog): I think the thing that Spencer seems irritated about and I'm honestly irritated about is that the ethics that are being presented by this panel are like "just do it." And that sucks for somebody like me who does break real news about Michigan sports and I have to contend with the idea that I'm a blog. And that's because of you. [McIntyre]
ADAM JACOBI (Black Heart Gold Pants): [claps feverishly]
EVERYONE ELSE: [crickets]
ALANA: Why do you have to be lumping yourself in with everybody else when you are doing stuff that's of a different quality or of a different…
HALL: [paraphrase, I was there but this is too quiet to make out.] But we're talking about advertisers here [referring to earlier panel] who don't see individual blogs.
ALANA: Right, but if you guys don't like what's happening with other blogs there's not much you can do to stop what I'm going to do on my blog. But you can promote what you're doing on your blog and better market to people what you're doing.
HALL: [inaudible, but given the response to this probably about the Sanchez thing again.]
ZERKLE: Was there any kind of follow-up to that? I mean, you're calling him out now but did you personally write anything after the fact saying "yeah I totally fooled the shit out of McIntyre." I mean, did you call that at all.
ZERKLE: Well, that might have been something to do, if you were concerned about the credibility.
NICOLE LAVOI (U of Minnesota): That's not ethical either.
HALL: What do you think I'm doing now?
ZERKLE: Well, it's two and a half months after the fact. So… good job, I guess.
HALL: This is in front of an audience.
SARAH SPAIN (ESPN 1000 Chicago, WGN, various other things): So is the answer basically that if your decision is to be a blog that isn't as ethical and does the funny stuff and that misses every once in a while, that's you're decision? That if your decision is to be a reputable blog that stands behind its sources and writes from a perspective that is all fact, then that is your decision? And the better man wins?
ALANA: Well, yeah. There's newspapers like the New York Times that are very reputable and very rarely make mistakes, and there are newspapers like the National Enquirer that tell you people are getting abducted by UFOs. And so those are two different markets I think by now, and the market has borne out that these have different levels of reputation, of credibility, and readers and advertisers know that.
KERI: I'm going to disagree with you on that. The New York Times is notorious for running stories with anonymous sources. And they're interviewing "high level government operatives" about whatever, the War In Iraq and they're saying "oh yeah, well, you know, there are Al Qaeda and so we're going to go to war and blah blah blah." We were basically led into something that was not justified because of anonymous sources. There are all kinds of mainstream media outlets—the biggest of the big, Washington Post, New York Times—I mean, I've written for a bunch of them and they make the same mistakes that bloggers do. Everybody lacks credibility.
ALANA: What I'm saying is that with blogs—I understand you guys' [Spencer/yrs truly] frustration because right now we are all blocked in together and people at Proctor and Gamble don't necessarily know who Deadspin is versus the Big Lead versus whatever, MGoBlog, so you know right now it seems like we're all being lumped together and you guys are feeling hurt by things that other blogs are doing. But if we do our jobs right it will all eventually bear out so that everyone has their own reputation, just like the National Enquirer has a different reputation from the Washington Post.
At this point the mic has worked its way across the room to yet another of the infuriatingly-thick-on-the-ground Ohio State fans, this one from Cleveland Frowns, and the throwdown ends.
I am out today, though Tim will drop a post or two in my absence and that Mathlete Diary will hit the front page if you're too lazy to click through. I have a Very Serious Professional Reason for this: I will be at Blogs With Balls in Chicago this weekend. There are tickets; if you are interested in getting a beer your best bet is crashing one of the official parties, which I do not endorse at all and shame you for even thinking of.
Via the miracle of technology, this is going to be streamed live(!) by Justin TV, including my panel, which is the first after lunch and will probably go on at like 1 or 1:30 or something. Orson is moderating, so it will be alcoholically entertaining. I cannot vouch for the other panels' sheer quantity of drunken magnificence, but Orson brings the wood.
Our panel is entitled "Democratizing Sports Media: How Blogging Players, Fans & Leagues Are Changing the Game," but these things tend to wander a bit from the chosen topic and various other things will probably pop up. I plan on pimping the Mathlete, Misopogon, MCalibur, Jamiemac, Six Zero, Tom, FA, Tim, and others as an example of how a popular blog sits on top of this vast community that can do amazing things if given space in which their effort can be appreciated.
As long as we're meta-ing it up in here, here's my Ignite talk from earlier in the year (click the first bookmark to go directly to my five minutes):
And here's this article by the Stack Overflow guy about what motivates people, how money isn't always helpful, and what makes communities go. If your model is hoping people do things for small amounts of money you're probably not going to be very successful and if you are it will be depressing. If your model is organizing it such that people will do things for free, you could be very successful and it will probably be pretty nice. The whole reason this site moved to Drupal is that I would get emails on a regular basis saying "hey here's my new blog!" and they'd post a couple times and then they'd go dead because it's hard out there for a blog. So: put 'em around here and you'll probably get a couple thousand views and a couple dozen comments and you'll be motivated to continue. Along the way we might get a definitive accounting of how much attrition Michigan has suffered relative to its peers or a post on fourth downs that gets linked a dozen places.
My plan for the site has been focused on making it as convenient, attractive, and easy to use as possible*—so no pagination, full feeds, content in and pipe that will take it, jumps only when they're warranted by a desire to cut down on clutter, increasingly high hurdles to clear for user-generated content, post-Illinois caterwauling lockdown. Doing so has increased the audience to the point where "Democratizing" sports media means that this place sits on top of grass roots instead of being a single shoot.
I'm back Monday.
*(With the single exception of the ads that provide enough revenue for the thing to be a job, which is kind of a requirement.)