It's was sunny and lovely out yesterday in Michigan. Sunday night's storm swept the humidity aside and deposited rain where it belongs: on my lawn. So why did it feel like that sun was a little darker, that sky a little hazier, this July a little less nice than the June that preceded it? Oh, right.
— Maryland Athletics (@umterps) June 30, 2014
It's official: our moms are forcing us to play with Scott Malkinson.
Why is this happening again? Well they're joining for the money: both schools have had relatively bad athletic departments who over-leveraged themselves in the big sport facility and coaching arms races, Rutgers less so than Maryland, but then Rutgers was about to wind up trapped in the sinking ship of the Big East/American. Maryland has massive debt from its building projects and the ACC ain't gonna pay them, so they were ready to whore themselves out to whichever conference came along, even if it meant an end to their relationship with Duke.
(No, Penn State fans don't care about either as rivals.)
The real question is why in the heck we'd want them. It's cable TV. Starting with the Big Ten, the big conferences have been getting in on the great scam of cable bundling. Cable providers have monopolies in their markets, and are second only to the military-industrial complex in political spending, all so they can force subscribers into all-or-nothing tiers of hundreds of channels to get one they want (and try to charge people extra to not get their internet slowed).
|Big Ten's Expansion Plan: rip off the cable companies after they rip off America. [Image credit: HuffPo]|
This works out very well for the cable giants but leaves them a particular vulnerability to any network with a sports license. Fiercely loyal college football fans will scream at their cable providers if they can't watch the game, and advertisers lust after sports because they're the last of the DVR-proof live events, so cable providers pay out the nose for the network with the game. Then they place that network on a relatively accessible tier that everybody in that market must pay for, and raise prices accordingly.
In this way, if there are just enough A&M fans in Dallas, every cable subscriber in Dallas will pay an extra $5/month to the SEC and its partner (ESPN). If there are just enough Missouri fans in St. Louis, if there just enough Maryland fans in D.C. metro area, if there are just enough Rutgers fans in New York City, etc. The Big Ten schools are gambling on there being enough Rutgers fans to scam $5/month from everyone in New York. So far they've already got New Jersey and Maryland.
The gamble for the schools is they think they'll sell out the stadiums no matter who's visiting, so who gives a damn if it's Maryland visiting instead of Wisconsin. The fans aren't going to see a dime of the Comcast deal (at least not at Michigan—most schools are a little less adversarial to their fans) and just have to decide to put up with the new faces, or not.
In the list of downsides, there are worse things that can happen than having Wisconsin disappear forever, or the invention of more derived, ugly trophies. So long as it ends with Ohio State and MSU is in there, it's a Michigan season, while any Notre Dame or Minnesota you can sprinkle in is appreciated. To put the loss in context I thought I'd look through Michigan's history with the conference with respect to the frequency we've faced various conference rivals.
A History of Western/Big Ten Conference Scheduling
Early years (1892-1906): Prior to the invention of the conference, Michigan already played some of its future rivals. They played Chicago twice in 1893 (both on the road), and even after joining the conference Michigan had an extra (non-conference) game against Chicago's med students.
|Hey, just 'cause we left you guys aren't supposed to be rivals. [Chicago vs. Minnesota in 1916.]|
There were seven teams in the original 1896 conference—Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Chicago—with Indiana and Iowa joining in 1899. Teams customarily only played games in October and November, and Michigan played anywhere from two to five conference opponents a year. The 1906 team (the last before leaving the conference for a time) played just one conference game (Illinois) among five games plus an alumni exhibition.
If there was any pattern to this, it's that Michigan and Chicago would play every year except 1899 and 1906. There were a few stretches of other rivals lasting not more than four years. The newcomers (Indiana 1900-'03, Iowa 1900-'02) apparently were guaranteed some starter games with Michigan. Wisconsin (1899, 1902-'05) was the next-most regular. Northwestern and Michigan only played twice before M left. Once we did, we played Minnesota twice but nobody else.
[after the jump, we lose Chicago, gain worse]
Let's feel good! Here's a danged good college football hype video that features Michigan a surprising amount:
YEAH LET'S GET HYPED FOR THE OPENER AGAINST [record SCRATCHHHHHHHH]
Well, that didn't last long. A casino has set an over/under for Michigan football wins next year…
At the moment, 5Dimes has Michigan's over/under for wins in 2014 set at 7 1/2. Presently, the money line is set at -170 on the over of 7 1/2 wins, which means most bettors are going with at least eight wins for the Wolverines in 2014.
…ugh. Not hitting that number would mean losing all three rivalry games and two more from the pu-pu platter that is the rest of the schedule.
Let's feel good again! Jabrill Peppers ran a 100 meter dash in 10.52 seconds, a veritably Denardian high-school-meet destruction.
He wiped out fellow touted corner recruit Minkah Fitzpatrick by a half-second.
Well, that didn't last long. Peppers is still slower than a robot velociraptor. Ugh.
Now you're just rubbing it in. ESPN gentlemen are trying to make college football better, and two of them say Michigan has to stop sucking. Thanks. We agree. And then there's this:
From the day that Bo Schembechler died in 2006, on the eve of No. 2 Michigan's 42-39 loss at its archrival, No. 1 Ohio State, the Wolverines have a record of 50-41 (.549). That's an average of 7-6, pretty much the definition of mediocrity.
Thank you for coming, now go away. Florida's president was trying to say something about how he doesn't like the graduate transfer rule and ended up saying something about his latest incoming graduate transfer:
"If they really wanted to transfer somewhere else, they should sit out a year,” Machen said Friday at the SEC spring meetings. “Why didn't Horford stay at Michigan another year? Because he had a free pass." …
“Go to grad school at Michigan," Machen said. "They have some pretty good grad schools. … It’s really just a way for a school to fill a void at the very last minute, or a player going to get more playing time without having to sit out.”
Is that bad? I mean, it's bad for Michigan. But the guy's already got a degree, which is the tenuous reason transfers are discouraged by forcing kids to a sit out a year.
I do think it's unfortunate that guys are now transferring upwards with frequency; that would really grind your gears as a low-level coach who developed this player for four years only to see him depart. Now you've got a bizarre incentive to not have your players graduate before their eligibility expires.
At least there's a trend. Florida's done playing FCS games, albeit for the same reason Michigan is. More interestingly, Nick Saban is hoping to cut out the lesser schools entirely:
Nick Saban wants Power 5 conferences to play only games against other P5 schools. “Better for fans & for players"
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) May 27, 2014
It's better for Saban, too, as there will be fewer pretenders with shiny records to compete against for playoff spots. The difficulty there is that everyone needs their seven home games even if two of them are necessarily bad.
HELLO. South Carolina president Harris Pastides:
“I think we're holding the fort,” Pastides said. “If we allow this reform to fail, the obvious next step would be to give up amateurism.”
I'm pretty sure that was intended to be the rhetorical nuclear weapon that makes everyone gasp whilst Mark Emmert is fanned by the people near him, moaning "lawdy." But someone said it.
Incoming? USC transfer and former five-star Ty Isaac is on campus… uh, now. Isaac is seeking a hardship waiver to play immediately, which would make him a slightly awkward fit for Michigan for two reasons: 1) you need a waiver for your waiver if the school you pick is more than 100 miles from home and 2) that would put him in the same class as De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green.
So, if Isaac does get his waiver it's more likely he ends up at Northwestern or Illinois or Notre Dame, which was supposed to be restricted to him but may not be because of a paperwork error on USC's part. While Illinois and ND are technically outside of the 100-mile radius they're outside by a few miles and would probably get meta-waivers. Michigan would be a harder sell.
If Isaac doesn't end up getting a waiver then Michigan has an excellent shot—they finished second for Isaac. And they didn't bring in a tailback last year.
Ohio State is apparently trying to get involved, but they'd be in a similar situation with the waiver.
Etc.: Sherman built this system, now Sherman's going to burn it down. NCAA #2 is getting out of dodge. Congrats to Bruce Madej, who won a major award. Guess who's mad about harmless spicetweets from Alex Malzone.
A sign you may have broken things. ACC and Big Ten teams are considering playing nonconference games against… other ACC and Big Ten teams. IE, intraconference nonconference games.
Some Atlantic Coast Conference schools are considering scheduling future nonconference games against -- ironically -- other ACC schools, league athletic directors and coaches told ESPN.com.
This is because the ACC is even more totally borked than the Big Ten. They have crossover rivals and eight games so…
non-primary crossover rivals in the Atlantic and Coastal divisions may only play each other once in an 11-year span.
College football is so, so stupid.
As far as the Big Ten goes, it doesn't sound like anything is going to come of their mutterings:
… Penn State AD Joyner said some discussion about playing B1G opponents in non-con games. Former Mich AD Martin proposed this years ago.
— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) May 13, 2014
Martin was kind of a space cadet, and I think he "proposed" this one year when the Big Ten was still at 11 teams in an effort to have the Jug game played even when Minnesota rotated off the schedule. This is how far we've come: Martin was alarmed that Michigan would have Minnesota rotate off the schedule once a decade, and now ACC teams will see each other once a decade.
It may be time to go in the thinkin' tank and come up with another ludicrously complicated dynamic scheduling setup that provides something resembling satisfaction. Or I could just… not do that again.
Even if the infractions committee was a lazy committee, and the committee was most certainly was that, perhaps the laziest in the entire NCAA, which would place him high in the running nationwide…
A sign you have definitely broken things. The NCAA does not have a major violations case and has not had one in six months.
Last August, the NCAA trumpeted a new violation structure and additional committee members to review cases more quickly and efficiently.
How is that going?
So far, the NCAA has no Division I major violations cases on its public database since Fordham's baseball team was penalized last November. The nearly six-month stretch marks Division I's longest without a completed major case since an eight-month period in 1997 and '98.
Very, very quick and efficient, then. Add another reason to the enormous pile of reasons to deregulate kids getting money from wherever they want: they already are and the NCAA isn't even trying to do anything about it anymore. Even NCAA honchos admit it, and they won't admit anything.
“I think everybody would agree the NCAA enforcement procedures are broken,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “They haven't heard a case in eight months. Without the weight of perjury or the power of subpoena, it's a wonder they get to the bottom of anything."
Let's take all the money wasted on compliance people and spend it on anything else. Full cost of attendance scholarships. Non-revenue sports. Cotton candy machines. Whatever.
Excellent timing, at least. Caris LeVert had surgery on his foot to repair a stress fracture and will be out for a couple months. He should be back for Michigan's late summer training and make the Europe trip, so any effect on Michigan's season should be minimal.
Yup, definitely cursed. Rutgers picked up Minnesota transfer Phillip Nelson this offseason, just in time for Nelson to get into real bad trouble:
The unknown man then struck Kolstad, who witnesses say was knocked out before Nelson allegedly kicked Kolstad's head "like a soccer ball." Steph Stassen, who witnessed the incident, told the Star Tribune that Kolstad was "unconscious after the first punch" and didn't brace himself as he fell to the ground, hitting his head.
Rutgers dismissed the guy without saying anything horrendous, which qualifies as their best crisis communication in a decade.
Hair trigger. Michigan's axed men's tennis coach Bruce Berque after ten years, nine of which saw Michigan make the NCAA tournament. Berque was 66-25 in the Big Ten, and tennis has long been dominated by warm-weather schools. Firing the guy after one mediocre 6-5 Big Ten season that still saw Michigan make the tourney is very much on the Excellence Demander side of the scale.
Muddling through. Elsewhere in non-revenue sports in which guys have gotten a quick hook, baseball finishes its regular season this weekend with an odd nonconference series against #22 Kansas.
A late surge saw Michigan win 4 of their last six conference games and slide into fifth place. That puts them in the Big Ten tourney and lets them avoid a potential second-round matchup with 19-2 Indiana, one of the super-rare Big Ten teams that appears to be a threat to reach Omaha. The Hoosiers are 35-12 overall and #9 in the most recent Baseball America poll.
That's a lot. Penn State drew 72k to its spring game, which is kind of amazing since State College is tiny and isolated. That's more than the combined attendance for Michigan(15k… generously) and Michigan State(35k). Penn State did a big old thing with autograph lines and such, and held it late. Here's the impact of holding your spring game at the beginning of April versus the end:
Still, the April 26 crowd on the sunny, 55-degree day, was believed to be an unofficial spring game record in East Lansing and ranked as the 13th-largest in the nation.
Michigan, meanwhile, drew 15,000 for its spring game amid 38-degree temperatures on April 5 in Ann Arbor.
Also punting drills.
More hearings. Some Democrats are prepping another hearing for the NCAA, one which seems like it will feature fewer twits waving iPads around because they just googled something:
"As colleges and universities generate growing revenue and publicity with each passing year for colleges and universities, the NCAA, and sponsors, the potential for exploitation and abuse of student-athletes has never been greater. In turn, the need for an organization dedicated to protecting student-athletes is more important than ever."
Referencing Northwestern scholarship football players' effort to unionize and a National Labor Relations Board regional director's determination that that athletes are employees who can unionize, the letter says "if the NCAA were accomplishing its mission of protecting student-athletes from exploitive practices those efforts would be unnecessary and likely unsuccessful."
Protecting athletes from exploitive practices? This is its mission? It may be its mission statement.
Etc.: McGary won't work out at the NBA combine, which is not good for him. Talking Michigan with NW blog Lake The Posts. Illinois suspends C Darius Paul for all of next year. Paul was probably going to get 15-20 minutes backing up Egwu. Happy trails to UMHoops beat guy Joe Stapleton. Clay Travis is a twit.
I suppose that it is in fact internally consistent that you would be dumb enough to say the things you are saying and also dumb enough to keep saying things. NCAA president Mark Emmert has escaped his holding pen and is making the most of it before he is tasered back into serene acceptance of fifty-dollar cucumber sandwich lunches. He's making the most of it by getting into rap battles with strawmen in front of microphones… and losing.
#AskEmmert would have descended into farce if there was anywhere to descend to, with one particularly stupid argument about CFL players getting the most attention. Most recently, as part of an interview with Dan Patrick recently Emmert claimed that if he was on a football scholarship he wouldn't want anything on top of that:
He's just the kind of guy who doesn't need that much money, you see. He's barely aware that he made 1.7 million last year. Never asked for a raise in his life. Miracle of compound interest. Still drives the same 1978 Ford Pinto to and from the office. Weaves his own suits on a loom he built himself from plastic bags and floss. Has not eaten anything but multivitamins and rice since 1884.
Also from that interview:
Emmert just said athletes shouldn't be able to capitalize on their own likenesses because of "competitive fairness." Yes. He really did.
— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) April 21, 2014
Nonsense, obviously. As Andy Staples points out, it's lawyer nonsense—to escape anti-trust laws leagues have to demonstrate that their rules keep things balanced and thus increase the overall popularity of sport X and league X. So he has to make his nonsense arguments so the NCAA's lawyers can make their nonsense arguments that a judge will hopefully fart on.
The "people in charge of things are just in charge of them for no reason" tag is getting a workout these days. Speaking of, Texas's new AD is opening his mouth again.
Meanwhile. Michael Bird provides an excellent explanation of why the whole "you're getting a FREE EDUCATION" line of argument is flimsy: when you put people who wouldn't get into a school in it and give them a 40-50 hour a week job on top of that the free education is usually just an education in how to stay eligible to play. Like philosophy, the only thing you can do after is teach people how to do the thing you just did.
You've got a nice lack of union there. Wouldn't want anything to happen to it. While CAPA won their first round matchup with the NCAA at the regional NLRB level, they've only won the right to vote on union. First they've got to vote to form one. While that seems like it would be a slam dunk since Colter and company had to have overwhelming support to even take their case to the board, Northwestern is pushing back as hard as they can with all means at their disposal:
[Former NW player Kevin] Brown said he and others recently met with coach Pat Fitzgerald for two and a half hours to address some alumni concerns, such as the treatment of former quarterback Kain Colter and threats made to current players.
The former defensive back said former players have contacted current players, saying if they vote “yes” for the union on April 25 they will lose out on employment opportunities and other benefits of the football alumni network.
CBS has obtained a document from Northwestern itself with the usual scaremongering. If you vote for a union, you might miss out on your dying grandma's last hours, it says. Seriously.
Northwestern tells a player that the current benefit of going home for a family emergency might not be available after a majority vote because "that would be subject to negotiation with the union." "The union's agenda, which is set by the union leaders, may not take into account the specific things that are important to you as an individual," Northwestern states Fitzgerald later adds, "I don't think I have EVER denied or discouraged any player from taking the time they need for important personal matters."
Seems likely. Also likely:
Northwestern tells parents change will happen faster through NCAA reform than through unionizing, which could "take several years before the issue whether our players are employees entitled to unionize finally is resolved."
You desire changes, but let us make the changes without any input from you.
One thing's clear, anyway: Northwestern is terrified about CAPA.
Next year Michigan's promotional poster will read "WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON THE SCHEDULE AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH IOWA"
Michigan: Rutgers: NIGHT: explosions: invasion: New York: money. Speaking of people just in charge of things, Michigan's game at Rutgers will be at 7 PM. Mark your calendars. Mine says "Michigan versus nonstop pursuit of dollars."
Number based awards. Beilein is the best in the country after a timeout, which probably just means Michigan has a real good offense. Boston College was next, which just goes to show that anyone making a big deal about performance after timeouts probably shouldn't. Also: Michigan unsurprisingly had the best offensive tourney.
That doesn't seem good. Another guy heads for the lifeboats at Indiana, and this one is kind of a big deal:
Assistant men's basketball coach Kenny Johnson has accepted a job offer from Louisville, leaving Indiana one coach short of a full staff. Whether Tom Crean can find another assistant capable of the same impact Johnson made in just two years in Bloomington remains to be seen.
Who is this guy you probably haven't even heard of? Well…
Kenny Johnson was the lead man at IU for Noah Vonleh, Rob Johnson, Troy Williams, Stan Robinson & played role in James Blackmon recommitting
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 22, 2014
That is a lot of guys to bring in in two years, and now he will be attempting to get those guys to Louisville.
Dagnabit. Maryland was trying to get social momentum around a #hashtag promoting their November 15th night game against MSU…
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) April 22, 2014
…but someone caught on and Maryland deleted that tweet before I could replicate the image.
Why college kickers suck. According to Chris Kluwe, they don't get coached. Literally.
In my five years of college ball, and eight years in the NFL, I did not have a single special teams coach or head coach who had the faintest idea how it is that I did my job, and that is how it is EVERYWHERE. (I was lucky that early on in high school, I found a couple coaches who did know a thing or two so I could teach myself later).
Kluwe was a punter, but chances are that ignorance extends to the other kicky-footy guys around. I assume Dan Ferrigno is also in that boat and Matt Wile is going to sink or swim based on his own ability and what I assume are witheringly expensive visits to Chris Sailer and the like.
It's kind of weird that Michigan's going with that same setup at corner. Shhh, shhh, it looked good in the spring practice-like substance, I know.
Western Civilization died yesterday. I will miss it.
Just saw someone on Facebook congratulate someone else by saying "Ur whole lifestyle is coming together as a brand. Good work bro."
— Roar of the Tigers (@RoarTigers) April 22, 2014
Do you now. Great Leader on Great Leader:
"I have a little experience with branding," Brandon said.
"In the world of branding, you build what's called brand equity. If you look at the Big Ten Conference, you've got brand equity that's been built over decades and decades. The Big Ten means something."
I love the image of Dave Brandon explaining the concept of the Big Ten meaning something other than the number of team in the conference like he is talking to a room full of five-year-olds. As he does this he's standing next to Jim Delany, and they're talking about the fact that they've just added Rutgers and Maryland.
Brandon saying "I have a little experience with branding" is like Walter White saying "I have a little experience with supporting my family."
Etc.: I do not regularly watch Craig Ferguson but I appreciate his bizzaro-world take on late night when I have occasion to. Jordan Morgan's throwing out the first pitch at tomorrow's Tiger's game. Kenpom is now trying to estimate weights, which sounds like an episode of Kenpom The Sitcom. This week: Kenpom comes up with a new zany stat!
It's been three years, time for more Izzo to the NBA rumors. Minnesota joins the Pistons amongst the ranks of NBA teams who will throw Izzo's name out but not hire him.
You probably shouldn't call Derrick Green fat. Or anything other than "sir." Jane on Jameis Winston and the total lack of investigation in re: the rape charges filed against him.
File under: I'll believe it when I see it.
Just about all of the luster has gone out of the idea of playing a football game in Dallas after Michigan got pounded by Alabama to not make any money, to the point where actually getting the band there required Dave Brandon to squeeze half of the cost of that out of donors.
So guess what, guys!
Gators will open 2017 season against Michigan in Arlington, Texas. Game scheduled for Sept. 2
— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) December 19, 2013
I'd say this further proves that Dave Brandon charged his family for Thanksgiving dinner, but like playing a canned version of the Victors against the #1 basketball team in the country, money isn't actually a good explanation. These games are kind of inexplicable when OSU and MSU are locking down quality home and homes.
This leaves… I don't actually know. With dynamic pricing shoving marquee prices into the stratosphere and Michigan charging extra for premium opponents, a home and home is at least a financial push compared to these one-off neutral site games, and then you have a nice thing to show your season ticket holders instead of a six-game home schedule featuring Cincinnati and Air Force as your nonconference draws. If Florida won't agree to it, maybe someone else would.
The only thing I've got is that this gives Dave Brandon a chance to hang around his idol some more.
FWIW, this completes the unerring accuracy of that list the BTN leaked a few months ago.
WE'RE SORT OF PLAYING NOTRE DAME GUYS!
That leaked PDF immediately preceding the UCLA series announcement was dead on so far, as Michigan has just announced that three other items from that thing are accurate:
Michigan will host Central Florida at the Big House on Sept. 10, 2016, in what will be the first meeting between the two institutions on the gridiron. The Ball State game, originally slated for Sept. 24, 2016, will be played at a future date yet to be determined. Michigan will play three straight home games to open the 2016 season, bookending the Hawaii (Sept. 3) and Colorado (Sept. 17) games around the match-up with Central Florida. The Wolverines will have an open date before starting the nine-game Big Ten Conference schedule.
In 2017, the Air Force Academy will make its third trip to Ann Arbor for a Sept. 16 game.
4/4, that PDF, so we're waiting on the announcement that Michigan will play Florida on the moon. Nonconference schedules 2016-2018 are now, unconfirmed games in italics:
2016: Hawaii, UCF, Colorado
2017: Florida[?!?!?!], Cincinnati, Air Force
2018: Arkansas, TBA, SMU
Insert usual complaint about neutral site games: it would be much more awesome to play in the Swamp and get a return date TBA than show up in Atlanta for a "neutral site" matchup.