Hey: tournaments. Softball making the postseason is a given, and even the CWS is kind of expected when they're having a good year. Baseball not so much, but they played themselves in off the bubble. So here we are with an unusually busy late May sports weekend.
Softball's opener is against Alabama on Thursday at 8 PM Eastern on ESPN2. Alabama's 47-13, the #6 overall seed, and one of five(!) SEC teams to make it. All eight national seeds made it to the CWS because softball is way more predictable than baseball. if they win that they will play on Friday at 10:30; if they lose they'll be in an elimination game on Saturday at 3:30.
Baseball kicks off its regional against two-seed Bradley at 2 on Friday. That game is only available on ESPN3; Louisville is the top seed and host. Let's find out about Bradley!
"We don't know anything about Bradley, so we are going in with a blindfold on," Cronenworth said.
Let's have a DB transfer key party. Just days after the Moncrief kerfuffle, Blake Countess announces he'll spend his final year at Auburn. Excellent pickup if you're going to play a lot of zone, but this is the important part.
Auburn will have a Duke, Prince, Queen, King, President and a Countess on the roster in 2015. http://t.co/aiTFaHhPn0
— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) May 26, 2015
So they've got that going for them.
The Big Ten floated the “year of readiness” plan mostly as a ploy to get people focused on discussing more academic and student-welfare issues, or what Glass called “less controversial and more doable” reforms.
Nationwide ran an ad during the Super Bowl that started a fierce conversation. The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance.
Unfortunately, Jim Delany isn't accountable to anyone. Jim Delany could walk around pooping big scarlet Rs on Big Ten fans and it wouldn't impact his job security. He could jump on the hood of a car and fire 17 scarlet Rs at unarmed passengers and get acquitted. Nationwide bro got future endeavored.
“Matt accomplished a great deal during his time at Nationwide and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors,” Nationwide spokesman Joe Case said.
No such luck for the Big Ten's partisans.
Camp Sanderson yoke up of the year. Can't be summer on a Michigan blog without a picture of a basketball player who has put on an impressive amount of muscle. Memorial Day has just passed, so:
— D.J. Wilson (@Lanky_Smoove) May 21, 2015
That is a big leap, one that should help him a lot as he gets drafted into playing some center this year.
“Once you start your senior year of high school, you should be able to sign at any time,” Johnson said. “The schools have their 85 scholarships, and you can sign no more than 25 in a year. When you sign your limit, you’re through. If you sign a kid and he doesn’t qualify, you lose it for that year. We put the onus back on the kids with better grades and better students, and we stop all the craziness of the hat shows, soft commits, decommits and all that.”
You can't stop a hat show, but he's right on about that. My blue sky version of that goes slightly farther:
- players can sign a non-binding LOI whenever they want
- this LOI commits the school to offering a slot in their class
- the kid can withdraw it at any time until Signing Day
- he can only visit the school he committed to, he has unlimited contact with that school, and other coaches can't call him
It's a bad idea to lock people into commitments before the coaching carousel stops moving in mid-January, but that system gives both schools and players incentives to be up front with each other. Johnson:
“If a kid said he was committed, you hand him the papers. If he didn’t sign, you knew he wasn’t committed. The same thing on the schools. If the kid went in, and they said, ‘You’ve got an offer,’ and the kid wants to sign, (he’d) call their bluff as well."
As GTP says, hard to argue with that logic.
A bit on Hibbitts. I wonder if Michigan went with preferred walk-on Brent Hibbitts over Max Bielfeldt with their last scholarship this year. Once they missed on Jaylen Brown it seemed like they had a spot to keep a guy who is drawing interest from Nebraska and Indiana. Bielfeldt told reporters he would like to stay but that wasn't happening. Illogical, captain.
But then Michigan gets a 6'8" stretch four with mid-major offers. If Michigan thinks they could develop Hibbitts into a player given some time—and their track record is impressive in that department—and they need a carrot, guaranteeing him a scholarship for his first year isn't a bad one.
Etc.: John Calipari has goals man. Harbaugh regret in San Francisco. There are more quarterbacks now. Excellent outside zone primer from James Light. Highly recommend the first comment. Stauskas comes back for the summer. Dawkins and Donnal evaluated.
Kickstarter expiration imminent. Our Hail To The Victors kickstarter ends at 5 PM. If you have been procrastinating, you have run out of time. We'll have copies in the MGoStore for those who haven't been able to participate. Signed copies, Kickstarter-exclusive shirts, and the ability to get your name in the thing are only available until 5. Consume!
there was a lot of this last weekend [Bryan Fuller]
CROOOSH. Softball annihilated its regional over the weekend, coming up a single run short of mercy-ruling all three of its opponents. They draw #14 Georgia in the super regionals at Alumni Field in a Thursday/Friday series. Thursday's game is 9PM on ESPN2; Friday's is at 6 on ESPNU. South Bend Wolverine, who graciously previewed the regional for us, is planning on profiling Georgia on Wednesday.
Hiring the team mom. Andy Staples interviews Harbaugh about the Gwendolyn Bush hire:
Bush peppered the coach with the same kinds of questions she did when Harbaugh was recruiting Lyons to Stanford out of Fort Lauderdale’s Dillard High. The banter gave Harbaugh flashbacks to the lengthy questionnaire Bush asked all the coaches recruiting her son to complete in 2010. It also gave him an idea. No parent he’d dealt with had studied the recruiting process as thoroughly as Bush. “Some people don’t take the time to really learn the process,” Bush said. “They just let it happen.” Bush wouldn’t allow that for her son. Inspired by St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High tailback James White, who sent coaches brief surveys before committing to Wisconsin, Bush and Lyons designed a 50-question exam for coaches to complete before they could recruit Lyons.
Plus, Bush now also had the experience of a parent whose child had played high-level college football while completing a demanding degree program. As a bonus, she had worked in the Broward County school system in a variety of positions for 27 years. She had administrative experience. She would be perfect for Harbaugh’s version of the director of player development position. “With her credentials in the educational system, I thought she’d be a tremendous liaison to academics and also a voice for the moms,” Harbaugh said. “In the recruiting process, the mothers get very little airtime—even throughout the entire college experience.”
Wayne Lyons was headed to Michigan either way, and Harbaugh just took the opportunity provided by Bush getting back in touch to hire a person with that level of detail.
Seeya. The number of Indiana basketball players hitting the highways and byways of America, bindle over shoulder, swelled to five over the weekend with the dismissals of Devin Davis and Hanner Mosquera-Perea. The reason for their departure: Davis was cited for pot possession. Perea's offense was being in the room.
Kevin Trahan notes that the departure of these gentlemen on such a flimsy pretext likely means they were out the door no matter what:
…two Indiana players—Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson—failed multiple drug tests last fall, yet only received four-game suspensions that were more like two-game suspensions, given that two of the games were exhibition contests.
Why the Roger Goodell-like disciplinary inconsistency? It's hard not to wonder if Mosquera-Perea and Davis are less incorrigible embarrassments to Crean's team than a pair of inconvenient bench bodies, victims of scholarship oversigning. After all, Williams was a star for the Hoosiers and integral to their future success. Mosquera-Perea and Davis are not. Meanwhile, Crean needs an open scholarship as he looks to sign star high school big man Thon Maker—and surprise, two spots just become available.
Robinson got the ziggy earlier this offseason after demonstrating he can't shoot at all; Williams is still around, mean-mugging after he successfully makes tea.
Here's some perspective on this offseason's vigorous Creaning: for a football team to go through this much premature attrition they would have to lose 33 players. Tom Crean is the Houston Nutt of basketball. Giggity.
What about the other slot? A familiar name might fill it:
Michigan graduate transfer Max Bielfeldt, who won an appeal that will allow him to transfer within the Big Ten, will visit Indiana on Sunday according to a report from Jon Rothstein.
Bielfeldt confirmed his plans to visit in a text message to Inside the Hall on Saturday afternoon.
Inside the Hall optimistically lists Bielfeldt at 6'8" and most of the comments are along the lines of "he can't be worse than Perea." Which… okay, maybe.
Dave Brandon 2.0 has not been stopped yet. I feel for Texas fans with no light at the end of their terrible AD tunnel yet. Steve Patterson, the new Worst Athletic Director In America, on playing Texas A&M:
On playing the Aggies, Patterson said, "We're booked through '27. My phone's not ringing every day."
— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) May 17, 2015
On playing in Mexico City:
Texas AD Steve Patterson says UT could play a football game in Mexico City before 2020.
— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) May 17, 2015
Patterson is obsessed with the possibility people in Dubai or Mexico might buy a UT t-shirt because he is the kind of executive sociopath that is more concerned with putting a bullet point on a resume than actually figuring out what is a good idea.
Jerry Hinnen points out that playing at Azteca has historically been a nightmare for the USMNT due to the altitude, smog, and heat. Mexico plays all their games there specifically to discomfit visitors; Patterson wants to play a football game there in the vague hope it gives Texas recognition in a country that doesn't care even a little tiny bit about American football.
Etc.: Doug Skene and Mike Spath break down Rudock's game against Wisconsin. That is the next passing UFR on my list, and it projects to be an encouraging one. Get The Picture on the coming attendance dip. Angelique talks to Adidas. NoDak hockey coach Dave Hakstol hired by the Flyers in the same position.
AFC Ann Arbor beat Oakland United Sporting Real Dinamo Forest FC SC 4-0 to win their first-ever league game. Points to the rowdies for chanting "dos a cero" for the period of time that was a thing.
The most interesting man in the world, part XXXVI. Since Harbaugh's tweeting about the organic bananas Miguel grew today this seems like a good time to note that there's a 50-minute-long documentary on Harbaugh conquering South America on vimeo. I can't embed it, but, like
I hope to name something they do this fall "peruball."
Yet more complaints from the NFL. The spread is such a good offensive system that a collection of French six year olds could probably go 6-6 with it, according to Seahawks assistant Tom Cable:
“Unfortunately, I think we’re doing a huge disservice to offensive football players — other than a receiver — that come out of these spread systems,” Cable continued. “The runners aren’t as good. They aren’t taught how to run. The blockers aren’t as good. The quarterbacks aren’t as good. They don’t know how to read coverage and throw progressions. They have no idea.”
Nobody is taught anything. You show up in college and they're just all like "put that hat on, the one with the bars on it, I think the bars go in front, hooray we just had practice."
There is nothing funnier than NFL coaches having little stomp fits that their QBs can't take a three step drop when they are making the same transition college is, just slightly slower. As of 2011, 38% of NFL snaps were from the gun. That shot up to 58%(!) by 2014. The NFL is going to hit the theoretical maximum by the time Tom Cable gets done talking.
Harbaugh angle on the above. It'll be interesting to see what Harbaugh does given the above environment. It's a stretch to call his Stanford offense "pro style" for a lot of reasons. It was both far more spread-friendly and far more caveman than that term implies. Andrew Luck ran his share of zone read and the Cardinal had an affection for shotgun runs on third and not quite short (IE, 3 or 4). Meanwhile they'd happily roll out a goal line formation on first and ten from their own 30.
Harbaugh was similarly extreme in both directions as an NFL coach. His first two years in San Francisco his team used fewer wide receivers per play than any other team in the league. At the same time they were introducing Colin Kaepernick as a college-ish run threat.
So the spread is dominant because people who have never seen a football can run it. At the same time you can't poke an NFL coach without that guy giving the public perception of your weird-ass offense a recruiting boost. Harbs gonna Harbs without thinking about what other people will say, of course, but I wonder if the shape of what he does is going to look significantly different than it did at Stanford.
On baseball. We had a mailbag Q that asked how Big Ten had gotten rathergood at baseball that I couldn't answer particularly well, but our former baseball writer Formerly Anonymous had an excellent comment that tackles that topic:
RPI has changed drastically to emphasize road wins. It's helped the northern teams quite a bit. As an example, the Missouri Valley conference is one of the strongest conferences in RPI this year by playing tough teams in the non-conference on the road. The top 25 in RPI includes Dallas Baptist (who I've seen and know are good), Missouri State, Radford, and Bradley. What the hell is a Radford or a Bradley?
Add that Nebraska and Maryland were two very solid adds in the last few years. The B1G has had several big wins over big name programs this year.
- Illinois has wins over Coastal Carolina, and series wins over Oklahoma State and South Florida.
- Ohio State has a signature victory over ACC leader Louisville in the midweek.
- Indiana took 2/3 from Stanford, split 2 with College of Charleston, swept Cal State Fullerton, and beat Louisville in the midweek.
- Nebraska split with Fullerton as well and swept Florida Gulf Coast.
All of those are pretty damn impressive wins.
The big kicker though is how down the Big12 is. They are looking at only having 2 tourney teams this year. Texas is way down leaving just TCU and Oklahoma State in the running. Tech has an outside shot, but its borderline. Part of that is losing Texas A&M and Mizzou (granted they added TCU after that loss). Baylor is down, Oklahoma is down. They just aren't up there at the moment.
There's some structural disadvantages yes, but the amount of money put into programs like Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, or anyone else in the B1G the last few years, the B1G is definitely showing some major improvements. We've been a 2-3 bid league for a while, we're taking advantage of a down Big12 to grab another, and our recent success in facilities/adding good teams has lead to some better recruiting.
For more in depth coverage, I suggest d1baseball.com. They've amassed every major college baseball writer I have read over the last 15 years into one site. Aaron Fitt (formerly of Baseball America), Eric Sorenson (ESPN/CBS), Kendall Rogers (Yahoo!), Mark Ethridge (SEBaseball), and Michael Baumann (Grantland) are just a few . "O.M.G., it's amazing" is probably the best way to describe it. They do regular features of different areas of the country along with national storylines.
For B1G fans, I'd suggest starting right here for a take from that site. There's also a season update from about a month ago and an early season/preseason article about how B1G has spent big on baseball.
Michigan can help out the league and their cause this weekend in an odd home series with #13 Oklahoma State that closes their season. Yesterday's game was a 12-2 hammering by the Cowboys, so Michigan probably has to win both tonight and tomorrow to give themselves even a faint chance of an at-large bid. The very idea a 14-10 Big Ten outfit would be on the fringe of the fringe of the bubble is a ton of progress.
Softballin'. Angelique Chengelis profiles Michigan catcher Lauren Sweet. The Wolverine softballists kick off their NCAA tournament tonight at 6 PM at Alumni Field. It's on ESPNU as well.
Etc.: In news that is, in retrospect, not surprising, Iowa and Tennessee drank every drop of liquor at their bowl game. Brendan Quinn joins the ranks of people who just don't want to hear about the Fab Five anymore. Bielfeldt to Nebrasketball? AFC Ann Arbor in the Daily. Haven't had a bread photoshop in a while. Point guard acquisition matrix. Against a 30-second shot clock.
Of local interest: there's a Barry Sanders charity raffle going on. You could play golf with him and discuss whether abruptly retiring from the Lions was a good idea or the best idea.
Hello Hibbitts. Brent Hibbitts did decide to sign on with Michigan as a preferred walk-on over various MAC and other mid-major offers. This is more notable than most other walk-on acquisitions because Hibbits has intriguing size—he's 6'8"—and had a high level of interest from D-I programs. His skill set also fits in with Michigan:
Hibbitts averaged 17.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game as a senior at Hudsonville last season, earning Associated Press Class A All-State honorable mention status and leading the Eagles to a district championship.
"He has a really nice skill set," Hudsonville coach Eric Elliott told MLive last Wednesday. "He can handle the ball, is a great passer with court vision and has a nice shooting touch. Interested schools see him as a stretch four. That's his ideal position."
There's a lot of competition at that spot presently, but give Hibbitts some time and there's a nonzero chance he's a contributor late in his career. I mean, we all know where the Stain Train started.
Weirder things have happened.
This is about to change. It already has with Dennis Norfleet's exit, in fact. It is a breakdown of attrition in the Big Ten:
That is spectacular on Michigan's part. The 2011 class rivaled 2010 in flameouts, and then virtually nobody left for three years. There's about to be a major uptick, but at least Michigan retained the bulk of their prospects before the inevitable attrition that comes with a coaching turnover.
Iowa is pretty salty about what's going on there BTW:
In all of the non-Iowa seasons in which a program lost 10 or more players -- 2011 Michigan, Ohio State and Rutgers -- a coach had left, with the new coach either cleaning house (Meyer, Hoke/Harbaugh) or failing to keep the last coach's guys (Flood). Iowa, of course, has no such impetus for big attrition.
That is especially galling when Wisconsin and Michigan State are quality redshirt-and-develop programs with recruiting approximately on Iowa's level. It seems impossible that Ferentz will get Iowa back to even B+ football before his buyout reaches plausibility.
DAYTON. ONLY DAYTON. I mean.
If Hibbitts had been offered by Dayton he would have gotten a full hello post, I think.
Overseas options hit hockey. I don't think this is going to be a trend since 18-year-olds can just go play in the NHL if they're that good, but uber-prospect Auston Matthews is at least considering the option of spending next year in Switzerland:
The Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League hold his junior rights after selecting him in the third round of the 2012 bantam draft. A report from Switzerland’s Blick News Service on Sunday said Matthews had signed a contract to play for the Zurich Lions in the Swiss A League.
He denied that report, but said he was keeping all options—including the A League—open. It was doubtful Matthews was going to sign on with Michigan, and more doubtful after the Copp stuff broke. It would have been fun to see him in college anyway.
HATIN' ASS MICHIGAN SPURRIER. The fruits of your labors, ladies and gentlemen:
Notre Dame players hit that "Play Like A Champion Today" sign, and dang if they don't look like a ten dollar sweatshirt you got in 1993.
Don't think Michigan fans should be torn up about the Notre Dame rivalry ending. If they want to play a religious school that goes .500 against USC, Boston College is free.
Rudy and The Lego Movie are basically the same story, except nobody pretends The Lego Movie is a documentary.
Bielfeldt is on the move. Any remaining hopes that Michigan might hang on to Max Bielfeldt are now gone, and it is definitely the coaching staff's choosing.
"I did tell the coaches that I did want to come back to Michigan," Bielfeldt said. "But at the end of the day things didn't work out and we both decided to move on."
Bielfedlt added, "I told (coaches) that I wanted to stay (and) Michigan was my first choice but as time went on I had to explore other options."
That is odd since it doesn't look like they are going to fill their 13th spot this year. I am more enthused about Ricky Doyle than most people but even I think Bielfeldt is a backup plan worth having when you have major questions about the guys behind him.
Etc.: Sierra Romero is ESPNW's softballist of the year. The Longhorn Network is a disaster. Jay Mariotti still has Jay Mariotti opinions. Rudock profiled. Remember this site calling the pursuit of Jim Harbaugh the "Harbaugh Hail Mary?" Here's a Harbaugh Hail Mary. On the shoe wars. Exposure U details.
I am the proud father of a ferret.... Give me name ideas for her! pic.twitter.com/aoYSBBMlOf
— Wyatt Shallman (@WyattShallman) May 11, 2015
- Ferret Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson
- Ferret Queen Elizabeth
- Ferret, James Ferret
- Ferret Canteen
I also have names that don't start with "ferret," but those run the risk of having your animal misidentified as a marmot.
- Sir Toothsalot
- Not A Marmot, Esq.
- Aussie Punter
I would suggest you leave your candidates in the comments but I'm completely certain that would be superfluous after the bravura performance above.
They're #3. Softball gets the soft-quivalent of a one-seed in the tourney. (They only seed 16 of the 64 teams because they regionalize the tournament to save money.) That means a home regional and, should they win that, a home super-regional. Michigan has a real shot at it:
— Zach Shaw (@_zachshaw) May 11, 2015
Michigan plays Oakland at 6 on Friday. It's on ESPNU for those out of the area. Cal and Pitt are the other teams headed to AA.
This is a very Michigan softball record. Congrats to Sierra Romero for setting the NCAA record for grand slams. She is a junior.
This is kind of about sports. I've actually read this Daniel Kanheman book about the way brains work, and liked it. It has lots of things like this in it:
Professor Kahneman discussed an intriguing finding that people score higher on a test if the questions are hard to read. The particular test used in the study is the CRT or cognitive reflection task invented by Shane Frederick of Yale. The CRT itself is interesting, but what Professor Kahneman wrote was amazing to me,
“90% of the students who saw the CRT in normal font made at least one mistake in the test, but the proportion dropped to 35% when the font was barely legible. You read this correctly: performance was better with the bad font.”
I thought this was so cool. The idea is simple, powerful, and easy to grasp. An oyster makes a pearl by reacting to the irritation of a grain of sand. Body builders become huge by lifting more weight. Can we kick our brains into a higher gear, by making the problem harder?
Then he checked it.
The dot at the top is every study combined. The effect does not exist. Why do I bring this up instead of coming up with more ferret names? (MC Furo. There's another one.) Several reasons.
- I get irritated at sports stats that actively try to be interesting. Whenever a team goes up by score X and they have an interesting record, the sports people will tell you DETROIT is SIXTY BILLION AND ZERO when they LEAD BY A GOAL on TUESDAYS SINCE 120 AD. There are so many teams and so many events that somebody's got a stat like that. So they cherry-pick the outlier. You never see all the completely un-fascinating stats.
- You should be suspicious of anything that's cool and intuitive. These are just as likely to be accurate as anything that gets published. (When your sample size is 40: not likely.) They are way more likely to be picked up and passed around by frizzy-haired Explainer Laureate types. So many holy-crap stats evaporate when you try to replicate them… and those are exactly the things you're likely to hear of.
- Stats that sound crazy unlikely are almost certainly not checked. This study. Or a report from the CDC that autism has gone up 30% in the last two years that I looked up during an argument about how prevalent that was. That same article uncritically relates that the autism rates in New Jersey are four times higher than they are in Alabama. I read that and immediately think "all these numbers are horseshit." People in charge of numbers are just in charge of them. Etc.
There was a sports in there.
Sir you got some jay in your walk. Michigan reported some minor boo-boos to the NCAA since Harbaugh's hire. These include Mike Zordich accidentally mentioning Wayne Lyons at a press conference and this doozy:
Separately, on March 18, Jim Harbaugh sent an autographed team helmet and jersey to an auction organized by a former high school classmate of his to benefit suicide prevention and awareness. The donation was not reviewed beforehand by Michigan's compliance office, and the items that were auctioned ended up being used to assist a scholarship fund in the name of a student who had committed suicide, something Harbaugh was not aware of, according to U-M's self-reported violation. …
Per NCAA rules, programs/coaches may not personally donate items to benefit high school scholarship funds.
I mean, I get the potential issue there—welcome to St. Thomas Aquinas's NICK SABAN TOE AUCTION—but you gotta be kidding me.
On grad transfers. Stewart Mandel hits on the goofiest part of the NCAA's PR campaign against grad transfers:
In short, it's patently absurd for officials who claim to have athletes' best interests in mind to be threatening one of the most athlete-friendly rules in their book, not to mention one that specifically incentivizes players to graduate. No, most of them don't go on to complete their master's degrees, but that doesn't mean they don't better themselves.
The rule gives guys who may otherwise be dubious about getting that degree a major reason to do so. You have to decide whether that's helping your achieve your goals or not. If you actually want players to graduate it is.
Jim Delany 0, always 0. Mere days after he stuck up for satellite camps whilst running down a number of activities both worthy of attention (oversigning) and not (recruits decommitting), this happens:
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Someone was going to give Jamel Dean a shot. In stepped Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.
Dean, the former Ohio State cornerback who was medically disqualified by the Buckeyes before ever playing a game in Columbus, announced on Friday that he will be enrolling at Auburn with the intention of playing football for the Tigers.
That's just the way things go these days. Annual signing limits, please.
Etc.: Arguments against the end of intentional fouling are not real good. Michigan is courting 6'8" Brent Hibbits as a preferred walk-on. Hibbits has a number of MAC-level offers. Wagner doing things at the U19 level. Steve Shields joins Michigan as a volunteer assistant. My goalie buddy who follows these things very closely thinks that's a big help.
Georgia's AD is jealous of "Third Down For What." Larkin at the World Championships. Everett Golson has been barred from transferring to "a number of Big Ten schools." I guarantee you one of them is M.
The extra slot. Max Bielfeldt could return next year if Michigan was so inclined. It does not sound like they are rushing to make this happen, though. Bielfeldt:
"I don't even know," the 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward said. "I've just been looking to see what else is out there. If this (situation did come up), I knew I'd have to take it for what it is. If I end up making a decision here in the next week or so and nothing pops up Michigan-wise, then I'll move on.
"(I haven't talked with Beilein about it) since the scholarship opened up."
It might be hard to kiss and make up here with Bielfeldt fielding serious interest from multiple Big 12 schools.
Harbaugh profilin'. Bruce Feldman on the man in khaki:
Most coaches will say they are much better at their jobs than they were a decade ago thanks to experience, but Harbaugh isn't most coaches. "I don't know that I am (a better coach)," he said. "Even though you've proved something before, that's the very nature of football playing or coaching. You could have proved something 1,000 times before. You could prove it again, but now that's all that matters.
"It's irrelevant no matter how many times you prove something. This is the only time that matters."
Well worth a read.
That this is a hard decision is a bad thing. Dylan Larkin is playing at the World Championships for the USA, an impressive accomplishment for any college player. He is still considering signing with the Wings. That would be far from unprecedented, except for the fact that his pro team doesn't seem to be pressing for it at all:
Should Larkin sign with Detroit, he would most likely spend the season in the AHL with Grand Rapids, a team that has consistently been successful recently under the stewardship of coach Jeff Blashill. …
From what I’ve been told, the Red Wings would be happy with Larkin’s decision either way. If he returns to Michigan, he gets to play that big role on a young team (the team had a dearth of juniors this season, so there will only be a handful of seniors next year) and he can learn from mistakes now rather than in a couple years when he’s in the NHL.
If Larkin signs when the Wings are saying "you will play in the AHL"—something they no doubt mean given the guys they've left in Grand Rapids well after they've ripened—that is a devastating commentary on the current state of the program.
Unfortunately, I don't think I would be at all surprised by that. Mike Spath is without question the most plugged-in hockey reporter Michigan has, and when Andrew Copp left he talked to various people in the program and came back with this:
A motivation for Andrew Copp to leave? Apparently his dad didn't like that Copp wasn't the leading scorer the past two seasons and blamed this on Michigan's failure to develop him to be the first-line center he was destined to be.
This is what society has become. Every parent thinks their kid is the next Crosby. Winnipeg apparently told the family he could one day lead their team in points. I like Andrew a lot but that is a crock.
There is only one person who would say this to Spath: Red Berenson. Spath probably should have kept that one under his hat, because it drew a response from Copp's father in which he made it clear that assertions about his character were way off base. A small portion:
Michael it is disappointing that as you have gotten to know Andrew over the last 3 years you should have a gut feeling about how he is as a person. Much has been made about it in the press and by the coaches over the years. Andrew is a very mature young man with character, conviction, and morals. I can tell you that Andrew made the decision to leave completely on his own. We do not parent like micro-managers, we have always raised our two boys to be independent and we support the decisions that they do make. Andrew consulted with our family during the process but never once asked our opinion on what he should do with his life nor did we give it, that is HIS decision. To be honest I don’t know what I would have said, I would have loved to see him play his senior year, see him a couple times a week and every Sunday for family dinner. As a parent you hope you provide your kids with the life skills to make difficult decisions and I am proud of how Andrew has navigated this process.
Red has always been lovably cantankerous about his players leaving before their time. This goes several steps beyond that. Copp was not mentioned at the post-season banquet. When bitterness gets that prominent it starts to seem like a reason for the team's recent underperformance.
Red is going to be back next year, and then he is likely to retire. I'm not particularly optimistic about that final year. That Copp would leave probably doesn't say much about Copp.
For Larkin's part, here's Larkin:
"Not 100 percent," Larkin told The Windsor Star when asked if he's made a decision. "I'm still in between and weighing the options. I wanted to wait until after the tournament to make a decision.
"I'll probably take some time. I mean, I'm not in a rush. The seasons are over. There's really no rush. I really feel like there's not a wrong choice or a bad option. Either way I'm still going to be playing hockey and doing what I love.
"We'll see what's best for me."
I have a bad feel. NCAA muckety-mucks are complaining about the graduate transfer rule, because obviously. They do not have great reasons to do so:
"I don't think it fits the core values of intercollegiate athletics," said Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson.
When asked for specifics on the conflict with core values, Benson said, "It just doesn't feel right."
The core values of intercollegiate athletics are what exactly? If it's about getting an education, these players have already acquired bachelors' degrees. If it's about a level playing field, that ship sailed, sunk, and turned into barnacles a long time ago. If it's about catering to coaches' whims… we should probably have more timeouts in basketball.
Pat Forde says that if the NCAA is actually concerned about their core values they'd look at the scourge of recruits reclassifying. It's not clear that such a thing is at all common—most kids who reclassify are in fact forgoing a prep year, not accelerating. And the ones who do always have the option of, like, not doing so. It's hard to see what the harm is there. Forde's attempt to conjure one is unconvincing:
A senior year of high school is among the priceless commodities in life. I hope giving that away in part because some coach needs you now is a good decision for Thornton. It certainly seems to be one more example of the coach controlling the athlete more than vice versa.
High school is nice and all but if you told me I could go to prom or start at point guard for Duke I think I might take the latter. Thornton could still pick any school he wants as a class of 2016 player; that Duke presented him with an option he found attractive is not a problem.
Then there are the academic questions. By all accounts, Thornton is a bright young man and he may have been planning his class load with this accelerated graduation in mind. But will he be ready – early – for the classroom challenge at Duke? It's not exactly like going to UNLV.
It is. It is exactly like going to UNLV because every school has easy classes for people not interested in requirement X. I was in some at Michigan. Forde probably doesn't know that college hockey was well ahead of the curve here, with three top-ten NHL picks (Zach Werenski, Noah Hanifin, and Hobey winner Jack Eichel) arriving after accelerating their studies. It seems likely that both Werenski and Hanifin will be back at their respective schools next year, which they could only do if they were coping academically.
Increased flexibility for players is generally a good thing. Let them accelerate cake and graduate transfer cake.
Don't mind if I schadenfreude, thanks. EDSBS's ERASE THIS GAME series strikes upon the USF-Notre Dame game that caused Brian Kelly to turn into Yosemite Sam. Notre Dame's next game was this one:
If you could get in the college football hall of fame for making fanbases other than your own happy, Rees would be a holy lock.
Now when is #M00N happening EDSBS? For pants' sake.
Scouting centers. Brendan Quinn on Austin Davis and Jon Teske:
Davis: While quiet in-person, he's not shy on the floor.
Davis is aggressive with the ball, while remaining steady and methodical, refusing to rush. He knows how to work offensively on the low blocks, utilizing good hands and a soft touch. Most importantly, Davis looks to score the ball. Points to just come to him -- he shows himself well on post-ups and gets his own points.
Teske: The shot-blocking ability is abundantly apparent. Teske is a natural with instinctual patience and timing. He's does well to go up and block shots in the air instead of lunging to get shots at the point of release. That defensive prowess translates to his movements and awareness on that end of the floor. Teske seems to anticipate without guessing, and looks to make defensive plays without leaving himself susceptible to mistakes.
Interesting that MLive is getting more into the scouting/video stuff for recruits. Davis got a bump to four stars on 247, BTW. It looks like there is going to be a severe difference of opinion between the sites on him. Brian Snow has made it clear that Scout is not going to follow suit.
Etc.: Tyus Battle will visit officially tomorrow; Duke has taken a big lead in the Crystal Ball, and this one doesn't seem like guesswork. Remember when a playoff was going to kill the bowls? Speaking of coach catering. On 2016 combo guard Bruce Brown.