So this year I implemented a new policy: all donations not ticketed for site contributors or Phil Brabbs get tallied at the end of the year and then I go spend that money on improvements to the site. This year we've made some adjustments to the comment system:
- Comments have been re-themed to take up less space and hopefully cut down on the phenomenon where a series of replies ends up with comically thin content areas.
- Comments have been ajaxified: no need to reload the page to post a comment.
- The voting system has had a major hole closed: votes on items older than a week do not affect userpoints.
- Another system hole closed: it now costs a point to vote, whether it's up or down. This will prevent people from getting slightly over 20 points with a series of sock puppets and vote-spamming other people. Also, the ratio for posting new threads and diaries has been altered: it's now +1 for up, –1 for down. Comments remain +2 up, –1 down.
There are a couple bugs with the sidebar and placement of some of the new features that should get worked out in the next couple days.
UPDATE: The AJAX was not quite ready for prime time and has been temporarily pulled.
UPDATE II: A lot of users are issuing complaints, which I will address over the next few days. Bear with us.
Relevant site information. The Sporting Blog is no more and has been sold to SB Nation. This is mostly a problem for me when I try to explain what I do to people over 50—before I could just say I write for "the AOL" or "the Sporting News" and that would create flickers of recognition. In other ways it is basically no change. I'll write non-Michigan stuff for SBN, keep the mothership going as it was before, and work on my patient explanations of how you can make a living writing on the internet.
Another thing that is tentatively moving to SBN: the BlogPoll. CBS never did anything with it, shoving it into a corner and studiously ignoring it. At SBN it will get the tech help it needs while still providing yours truly with the same cash flow—zero dollars—it always has.
This has been your meta update.
HYPE VIDEO. Hype video? Hype video.
Geeeeergugh. Darryl Stonum didn't do anything, but after you've picked up a DUI not doing anything becomes a reason to put you in jail. A hearing in which it was determined Stonum did very little of what the court asked him to do as part of his probation saw him spend three days in jail in early June.
Not a big deal in the scheme of things but it's another item on the Stonum dossier that argues against the guy ever living up to his copious recruiting hype. The others are the original DUI and his inability to adjust to deep balls. A large part of succeeding in college football is just doing what you're told to, and Stonum obviously didn't do that over the past year when it came to his DUI.
Old and busted. MCalibur put up a diary a bit back complaining about the NCAA's passer rating, which was calibrated in 1979 to render 100 as the performance of an average quarterback. He sets about recreating the formula based on modern averages, finding 139.2 is the new average and creating some interesting charts along the way that show both separation between three, four, and five star recruits and steady improvement as quarterbacks age:
Four-year starters with five stars are so rare (Henne is one of two in the study) that their numbers were left out.
Then MCalibur re-ranks the QBs with another version of QB rating that doesn't really move anyone around much.
Hondurans love Jonathan Bornstein. They love Michigan about as much when their English teacher is a fan:
Etc.: Holdin' the Rope writes on the Alabama Outback Bowl in 1997, the last game I failed to see live. I remember listening to it on the radio—we did not have cable—and feeling helpless as Michigan flailed its way to defeat. The other game I remember listening to was that Minnesota game in the mid-90s in which they outrushed Michigan by some comical amount and still lost. Different times. More Brock Mealer in the News.
This has been happening for a couple weeks now and I've gotten enough email about it to provide a front-page explanation: points have started to expire, which they do after a year. This is not functionality I put in intentionally but I might keep it around since it seems to make sense. But that's what's happening. If you get a snarky email about losing super powers but haven't done anything to warrant it, that's what's going on.
A comment revamp is coming and I don't want to touch anything on the site until that's up and going, so please bear with us.
Site stuff. I fixed a few performance issues* and have convinced myself the site is noticeably snappier afterwards. At this point I've knocked out almost all of the low-hanging fruit and am down to things like "serve static content from a cookieless domain" that 1) WTF and 2) don't promise much more than a few percentage points here and there. So… yeah.
Moving on in annual Brian Beats On The Site stuff: I'm also working on—and at this point it's far enough along that I think I can announce it because it will happen—a searchable UFR database. If you want to see all the video I clipped in which Tate Forcier throws the ball on third down, that can happen. Etc. Content over the next few weeks might be a little sparse as I attempt to beat that into submission.
I am still planning a spring game UFR, which is about half done. I totally forgot about converting the file into something I can clip—which is a day-long process, basically—and then converted the wrong file entirely. I am not in midseason form.
Right and just forever. "We Are ND" was begging for this but I didn't realize it until someone put it on the youtubes:
Tying that in with Brady Quinn for Heisman and Jimmy Clausen For Heisman: perfect. Also reason to go back and revisit "we have not said one word about Michigan. We have not talked about their players; we have not talked about their coaches. We'll talk tomorrow." I miss Charlie Weis intensely already.
MGObama. Yes, I just did that. Obama descended upon commencement this weekend and many people were very excited. I wasn't except insofar as being the sort of university where the sitting president drops by to give a commencement speech might help with offensive linemen in the 2011 class. (Priorities, people.) Even so, I did watch the thing so I caught what I'm pretty sure was an MGoBlog reference in the student speaker's address:
As a nation, we have found that changes can bring us together, but they can also tear us apart. We can see our ambivalence in that change here on campus as well. After the horror of a certain football game played here a few years ago, many were thrilled when Michigan hired a coach who would bring a new energy and style of football to our school. But after two seasons, change has been slow [audience laughter] and full of growing pains. [more audience laughter] Today, we must re-examine our views toward change.
Gotta be, right? Alex Marston gets 100 mgopoints.
OHL Draft. It was mostly good news from the annual exercise in subterfuge that is the OHL draft. Michigan's two 2012 commits, Boo Nieves and Connor Carrick, both went in the late rounds to teams that don't have a reputation for attracting high-end talent not already headed for the OHL. Those are pure flier picks, and we should expect to see both at Michigan in a couple years.
Other players of interest:
- Matia Marcantuoni, who supposedly had a deal with Oshawa, fell to 18th after telling OHL teams he would not sign. Kitchener picked him, though, and Kitchener is one of those teams that games the draft all the time. Marcantuoni subsequently announced he would report. It would have been nice to grab the kid, but no one was banking on it.
- D Grant Webermin, who had been talking up Michigan, went to Windsor at the end of the first, and everyone expects he'll report. Webermin was ranked in the 70s by scouting services, so this was the opposite of a reach: guy will sign.
- Kitchener also took D Jacob Trouba in the third round. Trouba has already committed to the NTDP and the third round is late enough to suggest that Trouba—a universally acclaimed top-ten talent—will be a tough sign for Kitchener. I think at this point there's a substantial financial penalty if Trouba were to defect, and if he's going to be in the NTDP for a couple years why bother with the OHL after?
- G Dalton Izyk, a Nieves teammate and high profile 2012 goalie prospect, went in the 11th as well and should be headed to college.
In other hockey recruiting news, ISS's latest top 30 has Merrill just outside the top ten and features him as a "rising" prospect:
Jon Merrill, LD -- USA Under 18
Regarded as one of the best defenseman prospects coming out of the US this year, Merrill looks to have leapfrogged his competition and could be debated as being one of the top three best defensive prospects in the entire draft. Merrill was simply dominant in Belarus and his ability to play in all situations, including running the power play, certainly makes him all the more valuable. Merrill is explosive, gets the puck on net and creates lanes all over the ice. He is effective and reliable defensively and proves to be very difficult to win space against. Scouts are salivating at the chance to add Merrill to their rosters, as he is already a dominant player but still has a lot of room for improvement. This kid is for real.
His coach echoes the praise:
"Merrill was never under the radar. Everyone knows how good of a player Jon Merrill is," Kleinendorst said. "But he really stepped his game up. He probably helped himself more than anybody over there as far as what he did, how he played. He went out and controlled every moment, whether it was with the puck or without it. He saved his best hockey for Belarus, no question. It was almost like he was just waiting for that tournament to start. So what you got to see was what his true potential really was. He contributed as much as anybody."
If he lives up to that hype, Michigan shouldn't experience any dropoff on the blueline despite losing Summers and Kampfer. Still nothing on Moffatt, unfortunately.
Just one more year of this. Donovan Warren, of course, did not get drafted after putting his name in early. This requires damage control from the folks around him who thought entering early was a good idea:
“Every decision is a gamble,” said Warren’s godfather, Mark Carrier, who was hired as the Jets’ defensive line coach this offseason. “I don’t think he regretted it. Obviously, I think he wished things worked out a little bit different for him. But . . . the Michigan he went to wasn’t there anymore. For him to go back, was that going to be more of a burden?”
Maybe this is true. Maybe it is not true. I would just like to reach the point where that is no longer an excuse for anyone, where people leave the program and don't have an easy, program-bashing excuse as to why they didn't get drafted. At some point it's on you, right?
APR, now with slight teeth. The NCAA just officially enacted a few rules changes. Foremost among them is a move to a 68 team tournament, but there are changes of slight interest when it comes to college football academics:
- Endorsed a recommendation that will require football players to complete a minimum of nine credit hours during the fall semester to remain academically eligible for the following season. The board said studies show players who complete at least nine hours in the fall are more likely to be academically eligible in the spring. Players who fail to meet the requirement would have to sit out four games, but could reduce the penalty to two games if they complete 27 credit hours by the end of the next summer session.
- Endorsed a recommendation from the Committee on Academic Performance to eliminate waivers for penalties assessed to Football Bowl Subdivision schools that have players leave school after completing their eligibility and are not academically eligible. That's a problem for players who leave school to attend pre-NFL combine workouts. The board agreed that eliminating the waivers would be an incentive to improve retention and eligibility issues.
There are APR waivers for players who don't graduate after finishing their playing career? Yeesh. I've praised the APR for bringing some accountability to schools but there's still a long way to go. For example, the Bylaw Blog sort of fisked one of the annual "grraaaah NCAA" columns that fruit like morels every March. Point 1 from graaah MSM columnist:
Kentucky’s graduation rate scorecard for its black players for the last six years reads like this: 18, 17, 9, 17, 17, zero. Over the last 10 years, its black player graduation rate has never risen above 29 percent. Its overall graduation rate passed 50 percent only once, in 2001.
I thought this might be cherry-picking the federal graduation rate, which counts eligible transfers against you, but Kentucky's most recent graduation success rate is 31%. More like graduation FAIL rate, amirite? (BONUS: Kentucky's team GPA of just above two is a seven year low.)
Point 2 from Compliance Guy:
Kentucky’s most recent multiyear APR for men’s basketball is 979. That puts them within the top 10% of all Division I basketball programs and above the median for all Division I sports. So by the measure the NCAA uses to determine penalties, Kentucky basketball is not just getting by, rather it is thriving.
WTF? 979? Waivers are making a mockery of the APR. A 925 is supposed to represent a 60% graduation rate. Kentucky is barely clearing half that and they have a 979! While the thing isn't totally toothless—Indiana, Purdue, and Ohio State have all seen their basketball programs lose scholarships—any system that can produce that kind of divergence is broken. Hit that Bylaw Blog post for all the waivers that have been instituted; they make my persistent concern that Michigan might find itself in the redzone laughable.
Tangent: Notice that the two changes above are football programs getting tougher on themselves. Basketball couldn't care less, evidently. The Bylaw Blog gets ornery about that, too.
Etc.: Misopogon's Decimated D Diaries get a shout-out on ESPN. Remember the epic ESPN/SEC deal that would CHANGE COLLEGE SPORTS FOREVER? Yeah, it's basically just a TV deal, one that gives the SEC the same amount of money for the next 15 years, in which time the BTN will grow until it is the size of Cleveland. You don't need me to tell you that Jeff Defran is an idiot and WTKA should can his ass, but Bruce Madej will explain it to you if you want. Michigan will wear throwbacks at the Big Chill.
Site updates. I've updated the Depth Chart By Class and added a new angle on the roster: the Unofficial Two-Deep. Folks with more than 500 points—"trusted users"—should be able to edit both these pages to reflect changes in them, though I'm getting the weird caching issues with the DCBC. Working on that.
Please no funny stuff, because then I will be sad.
A pair of items to read. Run, don't walk to USA Today's profile of Deshawn Sims that reads like a Wire script:
DeShawn Sims graduates Saturday from the University of Michigan. His mother, sister, grandmother and aunt will be there to see him get his degree and hear President Obama speak.
His father and brothers will not be there. The men in his family are in prison or dead.
"The men are gone," Sims says. "I'm the last man."
As soon as you are done there stop immediately and run the opposite direction to Maize 'n' Brew's interview with Zoltan Mesko:
MnB: Do they ever stick you on the tackling squads or any other kind of full contact drills for special teams?
Z: You know... I think I've done two tackling drills in my whole career at Michigan. The first made the Carr staff realize this was pointless. The other made the Rodriguez staff realize that was pointless as well.
For extreme Justin Turner worriers, of which I count myself a tentative member, there is also this:
There are a lot of young guys that have the potential to be something unbelievable. Justin Turner, for instance. I only see bits and pieces of practice, because I'll do my own thing indoors with the other special teamers, but when I do watch practices, Justin Turner was like white-on-rice with the receivers. He's still learning, but if he was on the receiver, it was like he knew what the receiver was doing next.
Yes, please, with salsa. The interview continues on at epic length.
I say intent, you say "I'm sorry I didn't hear you come again whoops you're at JUCO." A couple days ago I posted something on the Sporting Blog about high-end college basketball players increasingly forgoing the letter of intent. I think this is a good idea for players, who are giving up all their leverage in exchange for little. I thought "little" was one year of scholarship, but even that morsel turns out to be a wild exaggeration of the benefits:
The problem with the NLI is that even for critics of varying degrees, as all three of these writers are, the benefits to a player of signing an NLI are overstated:
- Signing an NLI does not guarantee a spot on the team. Nothing does. A coach can cut a player at any time.
- Signing an NLI does not guarantee a scholarship for a year. Signing the athletic grant-in-aid agreement (i.e. the scholarship itself) binds the school to the player, without binding the player to the school.
- Signing an NLI does not allow the school to start promoting you. Any written commitment to attend will.
The only benefit to prospects signing an NLI with a school is that it prevents other coaches from harassing the prospect and permits the coaches that signed the prospect to have unlimited contact with them, including by text message.
So there's virtually no reason to ever sign a letter of intent. BHGP argues that the cessation of hostilities from other coaches is a powerful incentive, but I imagine that saying "no, stop contacting me" will shut even the most persistent coach up lest his persistent annoyance damage his rep for little gain. The Bylaw Blog, which is the source of the above clarification, points out that the NLI is essentially never enforced in the event of a coaching change (see: Alex Legion) and that this makes a trend towards signing only the grant-in-aid moot. This is mostly true. The stigma from holding a guy against his will is in most cases not worth the player. But there are instances in which a player is forced into a situation he's not a fan of: Iowa signee Ben Brust has been released from his LOI but as a result of his signing he cannot receive athletic aid from a Big Ten school. Also, it's widely suspected that Michael Beasley was not released when the Hugginsbot bolted for West Virginia—which is probably why Demarcus Cousins wanted that clause in his LOI that allowed him to be released in the event of a coaching change.
We'll see one-and-dones, who are committing to a coach, pull the Knight trick more often than not starting now. You never know when your coach is going to have to get out of Dodge before the law rolls in.
The weirdest draft in the world. …is the OHL draft, where talent often has little to do with how high a player goes because of the omnipresent threat that your draft pick might not report if they've got a college option. It is this week, and with Michigan commits and targets peppering first round mock drafts it promises to be of interest. To pick a couple representative mock drafts at random:
- #3-ish F Matia Marcantuoni. Marcantuoni is supposed to be the top overall pick in the drat but is widely rumored to have a deal with Oshawa under the table. The Wolverine has repeatedly said he will go to Michigan if he goes the college route. That looks doubtful.
- #13-ish F Boo Nieves. (commit) The linked site says he's "likely" to play in the OHL next year but I doubt that intel given the extremely pro-college stance Nieves has maintained (there's "no question" he's going to college). A possible complication: Nieves did not get picked for the NTDP, which surprised many. With the USHL as strong as it is these days that shouldn't matter much, but if Nieves does go in the first round it's time to start fretting. Other sources leave him out as a "wildcard."
- D Jacob Trouba. Trouba is a high end talent that would go in the first round if he had not committed to the NTDP. Michigan and Notre Dame are leading for him, with Michigan believed to have an edge.
- D Connor Carrick (commit). Carrick was on a bunch of lists as a mid-first rounder earlier but does not appear in the latest mocks because his Michigan commitment is supposed to be solid. He is also committed to the NTDP.
- G Dalton Izyk. Izyk doesn't appear either despite his status as one of the best available 2012 goaltenders; he is a Nieves teammate and someone Michigan will be pursuing heavily. His parents are reportedly adamantly pro-college.
Bonus hockey recruiting: The Hockey News has a profile of Stefan Matteau, the son of Stephane Matteau. Matteau has accepted a spot on the NTDP and is presumed to be on his way to college. There is mutual interest there. Cedar Rapids F and 2011 recruit Derek Deblois gets scouted; I'll have a fuller profile of Deblois and the incoming recruits later in the summer.
Etc.: Some TV station announced that Missouri to the Big Ten was a "done deal." It is not. Ironically, the twit who started the Pitt-to-Big-Ten panic by lending credibility to a Bleacher Report article has the gall to write a sarcastic piece about the "new journalism" of echo-chamber sources. Six Zero has started a series of mgouser profiles with the local recruiting demigod.