#2 overall. That's the softball team's seed for the upcoming NCAA tournament:
Ann Arbor Regional – May 20-22 at Ann Arbor, Michigan
Notre Dame (41-11) vs. Miami (OH) (34-21)
Valparaiso (18-32) vs. No. 2 seed Michigan* (46-5)
Notre Dame should present the toughest test for Michigan. The two teams didn't play this year and there's very little in the way of common opponents; ND is ranked around 20th in the national polls and is thus a considerably tougher second-round opponent than you'd generally expect—it's the equivalent of a one-seed in the basketball tournament drawing a six-or seven-seed in round two.
MGoUser South Bend Wolverine has written excellent previews the past couple years and we pinged him; we hope to front-page it later this week.
Exit Rawak. Chrissi Rawak is leaving Michigan to become Delaware's AD. Rawak is a name those of you who have read Endzone probably remember. Rawak, Dave Brandon's second-in-command, features prominently both as a symbol of the change Brandon wrought and as a crutch increasingly forced to take on roles that she's not comfortable in. The book makes it clear that she was rather divisive, especially amongst the old hands forced out because of a lack of personal loyalty to Brandon.
I'm skeptical anyone Brandon could rely on so comprehensively was a good fit with my ideal Michigan athletic department, so the move is a win-win. Rawak gets an AD job with winged helmets to ease her transition, and a prominent Brandon apparatchik is no longer wondering what's wrong with a giant noodle ad in the Big House.
Ever aft… uh. Speaking of the Before Times, infamous Dave Brandon mansion "Ever After" is up for sale for a cool seven million dollars.
Not pictured is the other plaque by the gate, for obviou's reasons:
May its next resident be better at apostrophes and email.
I still can't get over the spectacular hubris of naming your home the thing that fairy tales say after the princess gets rescued by the dashing prince. If there was ever a better example of "be about it, don't talk about it" I can't think of one. The same hubris that caused "Ever After" is the one that caused "find a new team" and eventually resulted in the thing being put up for sale. It's nice to know that cosmic justice does strike, at least occasionally.
Relevant to our interests. Ian Boyd writes on how 4-3 defenses—that would be us—are adapting to the "smashmouth spread"—that would be OSU. MSU's defense features prominently, as they've increasingly found their safeties matched up one-on-one with receivers they cannot hang with. You may remember a number of Jake Rudock passes in last year's game that would have been touchdowns had they been accurate; Baylor and Oregon have also made a habit out of bombing it deep to slot types.
Michigan's changed so much over the past few years that it's hard to draw any conclusions from what they're doing. (Other than "don't do that against OSU again.") MSU's adapted, as teams constantly do; Boyd says that to cope with smashmouth spreads that run a lot of RPO these are the key components:
To make this style of man/zone combination work a defense has to have a few particular components. The first is a lockdown corner to play man coverage on the weakside. If the opposing team has an ace WR in that spot and love to throw him the ball on standard downs then this scheme is DOA without a corner that can match him.
The second is a pair of DEs that are fundamentally sound and good at responding to different blocks. If that DE can't consistently contain the ball inside on the weakside this scheme can get into trouble fast.
Finally, the strong safety should be a player worth featuring as a free hitter against the run game.
Michigan appears to check all these boxes, pending the resolution of the WDE spot, and looks set to be a 4-3 over team this fall.
The other thing you haven't considered. Steve Politi keeps banging the War On Rutgers drum because all of a sudden his articles are clicked when he does this. I keep banging on the War On Rutgers drum because it is deeply hilarious to me. Anyway, this episode:
Now that we have the seeds of a Rutgers-Michigan feud planted,
now that we have the New Jersey high school coaches lining up behind their state university in an eye-popping show of solidarity,
against Paramus Catholic with Rutgers as a proxy
now that we have a reason for the national college football media to pay attention to our state in early June,
we should probably point this out:
Satellite camps are a farce.
yes, but not for the reasons you think.
The rest of the article is the usual reiteration of Politi's worldview that Harbaugh is a Machiavellian manipulator of the media and "fake," whatever that means. Anyone who's laid eyes on Harbaugh knows that his personality is on full display, and at maximum volume, at all times. This insistence that the guy is anything other than genuine is the least convincing rival smack talk I have come across. Crazy, sure. Phony, no. That's the equivalent of accusing David Shaw of being excessively emotional.
One strikeout. A couple times this space has wondered why Michigan State was telling people they expected three sixth-year players back when none of them seemed to have any case. Here's the resolution to one of those cases:
Veteran defensive tackle Damon Knox will not play for the Spartans in 2016 and has decided instead to pursue a career in law enforcement, the school announced on Friday afternoon.
MSU didn't even submit paperwork for him; as of a few weeks ago they hadn't done so for either of the other two guys, LB Ed Davis and OL Brandon Clemons. This is a really weird situation: it seems like the relevant persons at MSU are unaware that a sixth year is much harder to get than a fifth year.
The spin here rankles a little. Knox didn't get a sixth year because he never had a case for one. It's not because he has a passion for The Law. but the aforementioned oddity means outlets who haven't been paying much attention write articles like this:
There’s something you don’t see every day.
Friday, Michigan State announced that defensive tackle Damon Knox will not be returning to the Spartans for a sixth season. The reason? The lineman has decided to pursue a career in the field of law enforcement.
Uh… no. That's not CFT's fault They're just aggregating a story. It is the fault of the universally credulous Spartan beat, which will get around to investigating Max Bullough's suspension any day now.
Etc.: Rutgers fans remind each other to thank Jim Delany for "the biggest gift the school had received since Colonel Rutgers donated the money to revive the college back in the 1820s," which is accurate.
People attempting to purchase Budweiser-taunting "Murica" beer disappointed to discover it doesn't exist. Hey man take a cue from InBev and just put the same beer in a different package. Just one incoming hockey recruit, Will Lockwood, mentioned amongst the top 100 prospects for the upcoming NHL draft in an extensive article. BU is cleaning up.
Again, I would like to apologize to dogs for my insensitive comments about their intelligence.
Spike to Purdue. The Boilermakers will not have to play the final ten minutes of an NCAA tournament game without a point guard next year:
Excited to announce that I'll be playing my 5th year for Purdue University!! #BoilerUp
— Spike Albrecht (@SpikeAlbrecht) May 3, 2016
Purdue was horrendous—horrendous!—at that spot a year ago so that's a move that makes sense. Spike's health is still in considerable doubt, so it makes sense for Michigan to move on with Walton and Xavier Simpson; for Purdue a crack at anything resembling a PG is a true wonder.
Obvious obvious whaaaa? PFF has a mock draft for next year largely based on their numbers. It features Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers at 19 and 22, which is more or less expected. #23 is out of left field for me:
Minnesota Vikings: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
The third Michigan defender in the last five picks, Hurst fires off the ball and his +38.0 overall grade ranks third among returning interior defensive linemen despite playing only 418 snaps in 2015. Hurst shows the power to push the pocket and disrupt in the backfield, though he does need to do a better job of handling double teams and finishing plays.
I like Hurst a lot but he's 282 on the most recent roster and got beat up by inside zone teams to end the year; I have a hard time seeing him go in the first round unless he adds 20 pounds and has a monster year. I'd guess Glasgow and Wormley both go ahead of him even if he does forgo his final year of eligibility.
No Arizona State for Big Ten hockey. CHN reports that ASU is close to joining the NCHC. That's the most logical place for them since that conference contains all the teams somewhat near them; thankfully this also means that the Big Ten will not add another potential RPI anchor nowhere near any of its current members. ASU brings the NCHC to nine programs, which is an awkward number.
I wouldn't assume that the ASU move means the Big Ten is going to poach an NCHC member. As I noted when the Big Ten added Notre Dame, seven teams in a league is slightly odd but workable. Eight starts forcing compromises on you pretty fast. If the Big Ten can add a North Dakota that's worth it. Western Michigan maybe not so much.
Baseball is back to being good. Baseball is projected as a two seed in latest Baseball America bracketology. They're in #4 overall seed FSU's region, so they're towards the bottom of the two-seeds. However, they might be in line to get the annual bone the NCAA committee throws half the country. BA projects Minnesota as a regional host right now, but:
With the dearth of hosting candidates in the West, the door is open for either Minnesota or Michigan to land a hosting spot out of the Big Ten. Right now, we’ll give the edge to the Gophers. … Michigan, by comparison, has a much more RPI-friendly schedule with all four of its remaining series against top 100 teams—granted that one of those opponents, Ohio State, is barely in the top 100 at No. 99. If the standings stay in the order they are but Minnesota can’t keep its RPI strong enough, then it’s more likely neither would host than a second-place Michigan team gets a bid over a team it both lost to and finished behind, regardless of its own RPI.
This is how ludicrously unbalanced college baseball is: the SEC and ACC are projected to acquire 19 bids between them. That's 17 at-large bids. The rest of the field has 16. Here is my default thing where I suggest the Big Ten leaves the current structure and plays through August with wood bats, like God intended.
Man its on and popping pic.twitter.com/wUOy3AJo4V
— Coach Smith CGHS (@headbcg) April 29, 2016
Satellite camp fallout. Harbaugh likes the decision, surprise. So does almost everyone else. He's also willing to let bygones be bygones with The Georgia Coach, as UGA will join Michigan at a camp in a few weeks. The Georgia Coach is past it, too, man:
Smart’s comments generated a stinging tweet by Harbaugh: “If the Georgia coach is implying any intent on our part to break rules, he is barking up the wrong tree.”
Last week in Dallas, Smart was asked about the situation.
“That whole thing got so overblown,” Smart said. “Because he and I, he and staff members from his staff had communicated. That’s a big deal to the media, big deal to you guys. But in the coaching profession we’re a bit more lighthearted about it.”
The end result of this sturm und drang is a whole bunch of nothing, but it's nice that Michigan gets another year in which Harbaugh's football mania can be deployed without restriction. Also, ban proponents come out of this looking like big dumb idiots. Dan Wolken:
“What we're talking about is recruiting tours,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told reporters last year when the issue first started to bubble. “So, let's just be clear about what we're really talking about here.”
The strategy, of course, was transparent: To turn recruiting into a dirty word, as if somehow the entire enterprise in which these people operate doesn’t revolve around the pristine pursuit of attracting athletes to their school.
“They're not satellite camps,” LSU athletics director Joe Alleva sneered, according to the The Advocate of Baton Rouge. “They’re purely and simply recruiting camps.”
Thank you, Mr. Wolken. That has been the most infuriating part of this whole process: SEC folks acting like there's any subterfuge in what Harbaugh and company are doing. References to the "scholastic environment" were also in that bin since satellite camps promote contact between players and college coaches; they are in fact a counterweight to the AAU-ish explosion in 7-on-7. But I already yelled about all this in a fisk post a few weeks back.
Etc.: Todd McShay calls out Laremy Tunsil for telling the truth. Connor Cook probably fell in the draft because he was helpful to the elderly. Why the Lions drafted Rudock. (No, not because they can continue to have Harbaugh coach him.) Ian Boyd on POWER. The Cowherd-Whitlock PTI ripoff will be horrible but at least it spawned this twitter thread. Andy Staples on Tunsil.
Hello. Sorry about that involuntary vacation there. Dumping water on your laptop is not fun, especially when the backup you had on hand for just such an eventuality doesn't boot either. Then I was at Blogs With Balls yesterday, trying to look somewhat official.
I am back now, even if the change in keyboard styles makes me want to die. Nothing makes me angrier than trying to use a keyboard I'm not familiar with. It's like having a stroke, one that suddenly puts punctuation all over the place for no reason. Anyway.
Just another day in the life. Offseason is relative.
Jim Harbaugh gives his version of Drake's album cover, gets RT'd by the First Lady
Anonymous NFL scout strikes again. The woooooorst:
This anonymous scout quote abt OSU's Eli Apple was, um, interesting:"The kid has no life skills. At all. Can't cook" https://t.co/03a8Tn3F6V
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) April 27, 2016
There's about a 90% chance that the dude anonymously slamming Apple's life skills spends most of his life in hotels, has been divorced four times, and hasn't cooked anything more complicated than cereal since the 1970s. Also, this random slam from a guy who doesn't even know Apple appears to be 100% false:
Eli has made me some fire fried chicken and mac and cheese. The source seems to be pretty unreliable
— EzekielElliott#⃣1⃣5⃣ (@EzekielElliott) April 27, 2016
The NFL draft starts tonight so our brief annual spate of anonymous, ludicrous slams of NFL prospects is just about over. Tune in next year, when someone accuses Jourdan Lewis of setting fire to his toaster.
Durkin on Harbaugh. None of this is actually a surprise; it is a confirmation about what life under Harbaugh is like:
CR: I'd imagine your early days at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh were a lot like the early ones at Bowling Green under Meyer. Is that accurate?
Durkin: It was absolute mayhem. It really was.
When I first got there, it was like, oh my gosh. Then you finally spend more time with Jim. The guy is really smart. Extremely smart. Everything is for a reason, but he loves chaos. That's just how he operates. He loves confrontation, chaos, conflict. He doesn't want it to be everyone comfortable, this is the schedule. He just loves throwing a wrench in the works.
So, when you first get there, it's like, what's going on? But it was great. To see someone impose their will, their confidence, their vision on a program, to totally change it—total 180. Stanford was known as a soft, academic, wine-sipping program. Now it's the total opposite. He definitely imposed his will on the place.
This was Bo's approach to the point where he would deliberately stoke fights between his coaches just to see what everyone really thought. Harbaugh runs through a lot of coaches; they generally move on up afterwards, often quickly, because life under Harbaugh is a pressure cooker.
Durkin also relates the one-on-one story we've heard a couple times before:
CR: Let's end with the story of you playing Harbaugh one-on-one at Stanford. What do you remember?
Durkin: It was a random day in the office. We were meeting, talking about something, and he was dribbling a basketball. We were talking about something—recruiting or something—and the conversation somehow got to, "Hey, let's go out and play."
So we went to play one-on-one. First to seven. Great. So we're playing. I went up for a layup or something, he fouled—I mean, hacked me. And I didn't call it. I didn't expect him to call foul. No, we're good. Check up.
Then it became, O.K., if that's not a foul, there are no fouls. So the game went on for—the reason it became epic—it was over an hour-long game. To seven. And people are up there watching. No one wanted to lose, and no one would call a foul. So it was, if the guy got a step on you, chuck him in the back, lose the ball. Nope, no foul. Good, your ball. So it went on. It was well over an hour. A game to seven.
CR: Who won?
Durkin: He won. I let him win in the end. Job security.
I've repeatedly stated that I was skeptical about how good of a DC Durkin actually was after Michigan tailed off against spread teams late, but he's the kind of guy who could be much better as a head coach than a coordinator*. He's already done some good things with Maryland's recruiting.
*[And he's just unproven there, not necessarily bad. Last year was his first truly running his own D after operating under Will Muschamp at Florida and he inherited a ton of talent from the previous guy. It's striking how close the parallels are between 2015 and 2006, which also saw a hotshot new coordinator inherit a bucket of talent, turn his unit into one of the nation's best, and then get annihilated by Ohio State while doing something seemingly nonsensical. With Durkin that was running a safety at 15 yards against a spread to run offense; with Ron English it was trying to cover an NFL first-round WR with Chris Graham.]
Maryland doesn't recruit good and stuff. Excellent data post from Capital News service detailing the futility of Maryland recruiting despite a healthy amount of local talent. It incidentally proves our Mississippi Is A Black Hole Nothing Escapes theory:
That will never cease being a mystery to me.
I do think there are some questionable assumptions the data invites you to take away here because their list of top talent-producing states has Delaware(?!) third and Hawaii fifth. This is correct on a per-capita basis, but why that's relevant to a college trying to fill a recruiting class is unclear. (Delaware is likely that high because of ECA, the controversial magnet school that Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson attended.)
Incoming Cain? MI SF Jamal Cain got his Michigan offer. Cain, a 2017 kid ranked as a three star by the world, got a bunch of Michigan predictions on his 247 page in the immediate aftermath. It doesn't sound like he'll drop immediately…
"His recruiting is rapidly growing," said Covington, a former player at Oakland, who added that Cain is likely to go through the recruiting process and not commit anywhere until before or duirng his senior year at Cornerstone Prep.
Cain is currently rated as the No. 190 overall played in the 2016 class in the 247 Sports Composite.
…but plans have a tendency to change. Endless Motor has an interview with Cain that is of interest:
EM: Can you tell us a a bit about the basketball presentation?
JC: Coach Beilein showed me film of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Zak Irvin, and said he wanted me to play a similar role at the shooting guard/small forward spots, and that I would be used in that way. Coach Beilein said I could really thrive in that role at UM.
In Trey-Burke-ish basketball recruiting news, Xavier SImpson surges into the top 50 in ESPN's final rankings after an outstanding senior season that saw him win the USA Today POY in the state.
So much for that. JT Compher signs with the Avs and CCM is gone lock, stock, and barrel. When Red returned one of the arguments made in favor of that decision was that CCM was more likely to return—at least portions of it—in Ann Arbor. That obviously did not work out.
With NHL departures now (probably) completed, this is what Michigan's looking at next year. I'm bumping Cutler Martin up to F:
That does not look like a tournament team unless Michigan is better than it's been on defense since Mel left. Michigan loses six of its top seven scorers and gets back only two forwards who were significantly above zero in +/-: Kile and Dancs.
Goodbye Idaho. If only EMU would follow. The Vandals are dropping down to I-AA after getting booted from the Sun Belt, which only admitted them in the first place so they could have a conference championship game. With no conference home and none pending, their only logical move was to drop down and play with the Montanas and North Dakota States of the world. Two things: this apparently won't even save them money…
The athletic department will save money having to fund fewer scholarships (63 as opposed to 85), but a source told CBS Sports that the program will lose money overall.
…and Idaho football costs about 20% as much as EMU's athletic deficit.
While the move enjoys some support in the community, Idaho will lose its FBS branding -- playing at the highest level of college football. Idaho students fund football to the tune of $127 per semester in their tuition payments.
Which is boggling if you think about it. EMU faculty and students just urged the university to drop football, to which the regents said "nah." Eastern's athletic department spending is completely insane:
The study point to an increase in the total full time equivalent athletic staff from 64 in 2006-07 to 85 in 2015-16, doubling staff salaries from $3.2 million to $6.4 million as the department saw 10 more coaching positions and more than 11 "athletic personnel" added during the same time period. During that same time period, the report indicates EMU's entire faculty increased by just 15.78 full-time equivalent personnel.
The arms race at the top of college athletics makes sense because the money's got to go somewhere. Eastern is setting money on fire—its students' money.
Rappists say nice things. I mean, I think they do. Migos on Harbaugh:
"He knows the music," Migos member Offset told TMZ. "He's a real cool playa. He's a playa, man, from the Himalayas."
#wellactually he goes to the Andes mountains, person who was clearly trying to rhyme things.
SBN on the Big Ten's rights situation. This is a point worth considering:
Will coaches freak out if their games aren’t on ESPN?
Yes, and so will administrators throughout the conference. Years ago, when the ACC flirted with leaving ESPN for Fox, some of the conference’s powerful basketball coaches were not shy about voicing their displeasure, believing that the lack of ESPN coverage would hurt their recruiting efforts. It’s too early to know how Big Ten coaches and athletic directors will react. But consider this: When school administrators asked at the recent league meetings if it’s possible for ESPN to get shut out, they were told, “Anything is possible.” One senior official at a Big Ten school said his peers “were scared to death” at the prospect of not having games on ESPN, which could eat into their recruiting.
ESPN's "lowball" offer for half the rights package was easy to pass over. It'll be harder for the Big Ten to extract maximum revenue from the second half without abandoning ESPN entirely, and that's a move everyone is wary of. Well, maybe. I've yet to see the Big Ten do anything other than maximize revenue.
Etc.: MLS to Detroit? If so you have to make them Detroit City and call them "The Rock." This is not negotiable. Profiles of Graham Glasgow and Jourdan Lewis. More on Glasgow's draft status. Jabrill Peppers already being talked about for next year's draft. A CFB commissioner is discussed; seems impractical. Baseball doing well. Holding The Rope on personnel shifts at ESPN.
APR check-in. We no longer have to do the thing with the books and the deep dive into what is required of Michigan to avoid penalties, so let's just jam the latest APR data into a UV bullet. Michigan's multi-year football APR is now a very shiny 989, which is seventh nationally and somehow only fourth in the Big Ten:
Again, a lot of credit for this has to go to Brady Hoke, who inherited a bad situation and made it very good. Also that's another thing James Franklin lags his peers in.
Every other Michigan sport did very well, with many batting 1000.
Just when the satellite camp thing can't get any weirder. UCLA AD Dan Guerrero "didn't vote the way he was supposed to" per Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott:
New twist in satellite camp ban. Pac-12 commish Larry Scott says their rep, Dan Guerrero, "did not vote the way he was supposed to vote."
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) April 20, 2016
That makes two conferences who are utterly baffled at their own dang vote, with the Sun Belt the other. If those conferences had voted the way the vast majority of their coaches had wanted, the camp ban fails 8-7.
Guerrero's attempt to justify his vote is as bizarre as you might expect:
“My assessment was that one of the two was going to pass, and we didn’t know which one,” Guerrero said. “I had to vote for 59 because if that failed and 60 passed, Pac-12 schools would have been at a disadvantage.”
59 is the total ban. 60 allowed camps in the same state or within 50 miles. The Pac-12 apparently has a rule that wouldn't allow them to take advantage of the latter. Guerrero seems oblivious to the fact that the Pac-12 can, you know, change its own rules. He was also oblivious to the fact that the ACC and SEC were going to press for a camp ban…
“Going into the meetings, it was the feeling of many members of the D1 Council that these proposals would be tabled at the request of the FOC, thereby rendering both of these proposals moot, and keeping the current rule relative to ‘satellite camps’ unchanged,” he wrote to his colleagues last week.
…despite the ACC and SEC publicly proclaiming they would do so for a solid year. People in charge of things are just in charge of them, man. I mean, this is the whole email Guerrero sent out:
“Prior to these meetings, I had extensive conversations with Pac-12 representatives in regard to the Conference’s position on a number of legislative proposals — the ‘satellite camp’ proposals included,” Guerrero wrote to his Pac-12 colleagues. “With an 0–11–1 vote cast by the Pac-12 Council, a vote to oppose [both] proposals was the charge with the ultimate goal to refer the legislation [back] to the Football Oversight Committee (FOC).
“Going into the meetings, it was the feeling of many members of the D1 Council that these proposals would be tabled at the request of the FOC, thereby rendering both of these proposals moot, and keeping the current rule relative to ‘satellite camps’ unchanged. In fact this was the preferred outcome by our Conference as indicated in the preparatory materials I received prior to the meeting.
“When this did not happen … I made the call to support [the ACC’s version], which was the preference of the two options.”
That is a pile of wordvomit that an eighth-grader should be embarrassed about. It's flabbergasting that an athletic director can barely express himself.
Overdue for some Sankey smarm no doubt. Yep:
“What’s caught me by surprise is the notion that there’s a lot of name-calling and finger-pointing,” he said. “It’s not a healthy byproduct of the legislative process.”
When you have no case on the merits, attack the tone of the people with a case. That is also a brutally awkward construction, but I guess these days the job of an NCAA muckety-muck is not to explain but to obscure. Speaking of…
Let's define what a bubble is first. Economist Andrew Zimbalist thinks the NCAA is currently in a bubble environment because they might have to play players:
Zimbalist says this kind of spending is not sustainable, and he thinks litigation of some stripe — courts deciding players can be paid beyond their scholarships, for instance — could cause the bubble to burst. Among the other potential wildcards are an ongoing lawsuit pertaining to athlete compensation limits that seeks hundreds of millions in damages, concussion lawsuits, or a change in the National Labor Relations Board’s position on college athletes unionizing.
“There are big-time things leading it to pop,” says Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College and author of Unpaid Professionals: Commercializationand Conflict in Big-Time College Sports. “It’s an unstable situation.”
This is a weird way to define a "bubble." If college athletics are in a bubble situation it's because of the changing landscape of cable. Their bubble is more or less ESPN's bubble, with ticket sales in an HD world a potential additional factor. Once people with no interest in sports can watch Naked and Afraid without having to give six bucks to ESPN, there might have to be some belt-tightening. Obviously, that doesn't appear to be kicking in just yet, or any time soon—CBS just extended its deal for the NCAA Tournament until 2032.
Being forced to reallocate revenues to athletes and away from coaches, administrators, and nine-digit palaces for nonrevenue sports is not a "bubble" unless you take an exceedingly narrow view of the stakeholders here. And, yes, for the vast majority of NCAA schools this discussion is irrelevant. For the ones for which it is relevant, their ever-increasing income is the opposite of a bubble. If this quote applies at all…
Zimbalist says athletics departments simply can’t keep spending so much. “Politically, it’s not sustainable,” he says. “Legally, it’s not sustainable. Economically, it’s not sustainable.”
…it's to the second tier who are a trying to keep up with the Joneses, which is an entirely different situation than most Power 5 schools find themselves in.
If you'd like a more erudite take, John Gasaway was also irritated by this article:
For starters the nominal news hook presented by the numbers — most athletic departments operate at what they are pleased to term deficits — would seem to be something of an awkward fit for our traditional stock of “bubble” iconography. Maybe it’s me, but I always assumed that tulip merchants in 1637, the South Sea Company in 1720, Webvan.com in 1999, and subprime lenders in 2006 instead showed astronomic operating surpluses. In fact I rather thought this was precisely the red flag in those cases.
Changing the distribution of a pie does not change the pie. I mean:
In 2011, the University of Michigan athletic department employed 253 people, according to state records. Four years later, in 2015, it was 334, up 32 percent.
During that period, the average salary grew 22.4 percent, to $89,851. Over a seven-year span, the number of athletic department employees making six figures went from 30 to 81. …
Michigan didn't add 32 percent more sports in those four years, or 32 percent more scholarship athletes, requiring 32 percent more staffing.
It just made about $30 million more dollars per year, from $122.7 million in 2011 to $152.5 million in 2015. Most of the increase came courtesy of the Big Ten Network.
Schools have a motivation to spend all the money they make so it looks like they don't have enough to pay their athletes. Dave Brandon's Michigan was the leading edge of a nationwide trend.
The reason this article comes out annually. USA Today has updated its database of income and expenses for D-I schools. Michigan is fourth behind Texas A&M (which had a huge donation surge for stadium renovations they're undertaking and will slide back into the pack next year), Texas, and OSU. They've still got that niggling 200k or so a year counted as a university subsidy that looks bad despite the obvious fact that they don't need to have their income supplemented.
But would you go back in time to kill Baby Anonymous NFL Scout? It's that time of year again where NFL types operating under a cloak of anonymity slam the character of various draft prospects. One article out of Wisconsin on the quarterback class has an absolute pile of "say that to my face" quotes. On Connor Cook:
"Let's put it this way: he's not Kirk Cousins," another scout said. "The person kills him. Selfish. He goes out too much. It's a tell-tale sign when your teammates don't like you, and I know they don't. He's good, but that position is more than physical attributes. It's also leadership. Is he going to lead your guys? I don't think so
On Christian Hackenberg:
"He hangs out more with managers than he does teammates. It tells me he likes to be king of the little people rather than king of the big people."
And the doozy on Cardale Jones:
"Strong arm. Big, big body. Not the brightest cookie in the world. I worry about him when he gets money in his pocket. I just don't know if it's all there mentally."
Anonymous NFL Scout is the wooooooorst.
Rugby tackling is spreading. Pete Carroll's push to get more teams tackling like the Seahawks do—with the shoulder first, wrapping up the legs—appears to be taking off:
Dozens of teams, both on the Power Five and Group of Five levels, now utilize the rugby style during practice, drawn to a change in approach after watching a video from Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll detailing the method. Boiled down, Carroll’s system — one he calls “Hawk Tackling” — offers a drastic change from tradition: rather than tackling with the head, defenders are taught to lead with their shoulders.
“It’s definitely a safer way to tackle,” said Rutgers defensive lineman Darius Hamilton. “With the rugby-style tackle, you want to kill the engine, which is basically wrapping the thighs, stopping the legs. So I definitely think this tackling system is more efficient, and it’s just going to take the matter of the more reps you can get of it because you can’t do something like that enough.”
Nebraska and Rutgers appear to be using that system. Will be interesting to see that in practice this year. Certainly hasn't hurt the Seahawks.
Alright then. Mike Spath reports that Michigan is going to have a lot of goalies next year:
Both Hayden Lavigne and Jack LaFontaine are expected to sign LOIs this week. @umichhockey will carry four goalies next year.
— Michael Spath (@Spath_Wolverine) April 20, 2016
Lavigne had a .914 in the USHL this year after a rough 2014-15; LaFontaine had a .921 in the NAHL. Michigan also has a commit from NTDP goalie Dylan St. Cyr next year, so things are about to be crowded even with Zach Nagelvoort graduating after 2016-17.
Michigan also added one of LaFontaine's teammates today:
Proud to announce my commitment to play D1 Hockey at the University of Michigan! Thank you everyone that have helped me #GoBlue
— Adam Winborg (@AdamWinborg) April 21, 2016
Winborg is a 21-year-old Swede who has been a PPG player in the NAHL for the last couple years. Guys with his profile are usually depth players; Michigan does need depth. Fellow Swede Gustaf Westlund is a 2017 player, not a 2016 player as I incorrectly assumed, so Michigan could use an extra forward on next year's team.
Etc.: gotta respect the hustle here. Hopefully the dude gets asylum, because anyone who gets out of South Sudan should. The O'Bannon case did establish the NCAA as a monopoly. The woooooorst. Michigan killing the charity bowl. No mercy.
last year we made Spencer get a Brady Hoke tattoo
I feel superfluous. EDSBS's annual charity drive is going on and this is the moment in time when I point the money cannon…
— NewAmericanPathways (@newampaths) April 18, 2016
…who pointed the money cannon already? I was all set to point the thing, maybe give it a burnish, polish sort of thing, calibrate it, stencil a shirtless Harbaugh on it, you know, prep it. I see someone has already done all of that. Well… fine. I'm going to point it anyway: you can give here to further increase Michigan's dominance in this event. Meanwhile at the bottom:
Trump University $10.02
Michigan State $10.00
No nevermind no. We've been mentioning it obliquely more or less since Harbaugh was hired, and now seems like the time to just say it since they've once again caused a panic about a potential transfer: The Wolverine is utterly unreliable at this point. Their most recent "Inside The Fort" asserted that an unnamed quarterback easily deduced to be Brandon Peters was homesick and a transfer candidate. This contradicts both information that 247's Isaiah Hole got from Peters's dad at the spring game, and this morning on WTKA Sam Webb shot that down emphatically:
Any rumors you might have heard about Brandon Peters thinking about transferring have been 10000% refuted by sources to @SamWebb77
— The Michigan Insider (@michiganinsider) April 19, 2016
This is more or less our agreed-upon breaking point as a staff. They're putting out supposedly insider stuff that is balderdash way too frequently. Earlier this spring Rivals asserted that Michigan was going to straight-up cut returning starter and fifth year senior Kyle Kalis, which was and remains ludicrous for a dozen reasons. They claimed that Ian Bunting was doing terribly in practice and was headed towards being a bust; they backtracked on that immediately since various coaching staff members started effusing about him. That in fact directly contradicted what we were hearing from other reporters, who were talking to Michigan coaches.
Tim and Brandon are of course MGoBlog alums and do yeoman work holding things together over there but this is happening way too often to let is pass without mention. I know who Scout and 247 talk to: football coaches, players, and the families of the latter. I don't know who Rivals talks to but it's not them. I'm not saying that they're wrong all the time, but I wouldn't take anything bizarre that they say at face value until confirmed by someone else.
What does it take to get booted from a Dantonio team? MSU has lost DE Montez Sweat and DT Craig Evans to "personal issues." Those must be weighty indeed for the two to depart from a team that has repeatedly driven guys from jail to practice, especially since Evans looked very good last year as a rotation player. If MSU doesn't get a sixth year for Damon Knox their defensive line could be a lot weaker than it's been recently.
Why MSU thinks they'll get sixth years for Knox, LB Ed Davis, and OL Brandon Clemons is unknown. The article above says they haven't even applied yet…
Knox is one of three MSU players who has yet to submit his appeal to the NCAA to gain another year of eligibility via medical waiver. Knox, along with offensive lineman Brandon Clemons and linebacker Ed Davis, is still gathering the information to send in.
…but that almost has to be incorrect, right? These things shouldn't take that long, and if there's doubt—and there is serious doubt—MSU is doing those players a disservice by preventing them from entering the draft.
About that doubt: the NCAA is very strict with sixth years* and it certainly appears that all of those players took voluntary redshirts. Knox's bio notes that he was scout team player of the week before the OSU and Iowa games in 2011; those were the 5th and 10th games of the season so it beggars belief that he wasn't healthy enough to play. Ditto Davis, who got the same honor before the 4th and 9th games the same year. Clemons doesn't have sufficient evidence to disqualify him from a sixth year literally in his MSU bio but is an OL who redshirted because all OL redshirt.
*[If you are healthy enough to play for a few games that counts as a voluntary redshirt. The NCAA shoots down a ton of kids. A fifth year is way easier.]
Do it. Do it now. Sorry, A Lion Eye, but you gotta do it now:
Please god no. What the hell are we doing? NO. no. NOO. pic.twitter.com/1ryotvuO6x
— Robert (@ALionEye) April 15, 2016
How to repeal the camp ban posthaste. NCAA executive Oliver Luck says that the membership will "revisit" the satellite camp ban. Tom Van Haaren details what needs to happen:
One of the options Harbaugh and Manuel have is trying to get a 66.7 percent of the majority of 128 FBS programs to request that the ruling be rescinded within a 60-day override period. Since the original vote only received 66.6 percent approval, well below the required 85 percent, the programs that disagree with the ruling can still get the ban relinquished.
The original vote to ban the camps was done by conference representatives, whereas a reversal would require individual votes from programs. Getting roughly 85 programs to request the repeal might be difficult, but there are a growing number of coaches speaking out against the ban.
I'm not sure it will be that difficult if reports from the Pac-12 and the Sun Belt are accurate. Reports from both conferences hold that the coaches are almost unanimously opposed to the ban. The Sun Belt thing is wild. They sent Texas State's AD to vote in favor of the ban. Here's Texas State's football coach:
"... the Sun Belt and the MAC to be able to go to Texas and Ohio State camps and see those kids." (2/2)
— Keff Ciardello (@Keff_C) April 14, 2016
The Sun Belt is of course the conference whose commissioner answered questions about why on earth the Sun Belt would shoot themselves in the foot with his best Perd Hapley impression. Nobody knows why this dude voted the way he did.
Except one man. One pirate man. Mike Leach continues on the path of the righteous:
"I can't help but wonder if there was some manipulation with this thing, because that doesn't make any sense," Leach said. "I don't know what ivory tower or what cliff these people flew to vote, but this is something out of 'James Bond,' where they got together and voted and plotted taking control of the world. Wherever it was, some lair in the mountains with ice and machinery, a cold Dr. Evil environment where these guys voted on this thing then, at the end, they all put their hands together and did a really weird laugh, because soon they'll be conquering the world."
I love Mike Leach and hope nothing but good things happen to him forever. Mike Leach may have no connection at all to the university, but he is the best thing about Penn State.
You keep using that word. Rutgers got a commitment from NJ RB/slot Bo Melton a few days ago. Melton had a Michigan offer of some variety and of course you know all about New Jersey and Michigan recruiting, so it's unsurprising that Harbaugh is living rent-free in the collective Rutgers head:
Just one problem with "I don't follow, I lead": Melton is a Rutgers legacy. How you doin'? (Also whoever put this together left out the A in "garden.")
Clemson Dan. Sooooooo Sam Webb played me this voice mail a few months back, and it is creepy as hell:
“If you’re coming down here, you gotta do just like the KKK and be serious about your football. Clemson and the KKK, the two things we love the most,” the caller said.
The target of the voice mail, which came at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 28, was Paramus Catholic star Rashan Gary. It was made the day before the defensive lineman took an official visit to Clemson.
The man who left the message identified himself twice during the 58-second voice mail only as “Clemson Dan.”
Clemson fans and apparently coaches claimed this was a false flag operation, and they might be right. But what if it's a DOUBLE false flag? Did you think about that? Yeah. Anyway, all Clemson fans are in the KKK. That's my takeaway.
Etc.: No, Penn State. No. NCAA will now pay for parents to attend official visits. Graham Glasgow projected as a third-rounder. Cardale Jones was not at OSU to play school, but mostly because he (correctly) didn't care about it. Man talking about Harbaugh sick of people talking about Harbaugh.
Just another day in the life.
Jim Harbaugh got drenched with water onstage at Migos. pic.twitter.com/WnX0p0rJSA
— Rachel Premack (@rrpre) April 14, 2016
One of our photographers wrote a book. You've probably seen Bill Rapai's hockey photos around these parts. If you like those you'll no doubt love his new book, which is about invasive species in the Great Lakes. For some reason it has a picture of an SEC coach reacting to Harbaugh's latest antics on the cover. Bill on the contents:
It’s called Lake Invaders: Invasive species and the battle for the future of the Great Lakes and it explains how these little beasties got here, the damage they are doing, how they might be controlled, and why you should care. (Yes, you should care.) There’s even a chapter on everybody’s favorite invasives, the Asian carps.
It's available on Amazon for anyone who's interested.
DRAKE JOHNSON GOT RUN OVER BY A FORKLIFT!? Yes. He is apparently fine afterwards, if 1) very bruised up and 2) understandably pissed off.
Harbaugh says Drake Johnson's injury is short-term, one to three weeks. Said it's a miracle right up there with Easter.
— Adam Schnepp (@aeschnepp) April 14, 2016
Do not run people over in forklifts, people. I shouldn't have to tell you this.
Tick tock the hot takes don't stop. All it took was for Jim Harbaugh to say some pointedly critical, but true, things for people to lose their minds about the dude. NJ.com columnist Steve Politi has been a reliable source of humor ever since that "Jim Harbaugh may be flashy, but Kyle Flood is real" column, and he is undeterred by being as wrong as humanly possible about that. His reaction to Man Invited To Give Speech may even top his earlier opus:
Steve Politi, a columnist for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com, said Paramus Catholic should be ashamed for having Harbaugh give the speech. …
"The big problem here is Paramus Catholic president Jim Vail who, in announcing his decision to give an out-of-state football coach a free infomercial at his school, called Harbaugh a great leader and educator. Come on, Harbaugh speaking to your students is as much a recruiting advantage for your football program as it is for Harbaugh at Michigan."
I love all these accusations that PEOPLE might be DOING THEIR JOBS WELL. While there's no doubt an element of publicity and recruiting on both ends, Jim Harbaugh is also a very interesting and successful person who might want to give people some guidance. And he's sure as hell going to be more interesting than whoever my high school graduation speaker was. I have no idea if there even was one. Chris Ash is openly envious, and he's real, so…
This undercurrent of "wait a second… wait just a minute here! I see what you're doing! You are trying to make your football team good!" is a never-ending source of entertaining spittle these days. Remember that Alabama dude who clutched his pearls and fell over because Michigan's satellite camp at Prattville was really about recruiting? This is just the latest episode. Here's Mike Florio accusing Harbaugh of the blazingly obvious:
If we’re going to pull back the curtain on why the SEC and ACC coaches wanted to keep Harbaugh out of their backyards, it’s only fair to pull back the curtain on why Harbaugh wants to frolic in them. Although Rosenberg does his best to defend the satellite camp process by baking the concept into the apple pie of American dream chasing, it’s obvious that the camps had become at least in part a pretext for recruiting the best players in a setting that, from the perspective of a high school kid, doesn’t feel like recruiting. It all leads to a more organic, authentic, and visceral bond.
That's the point! Also it is good! We have reached the point in this dumb conversation where people are accusing Jim Harbaugh of trying to have a real relationship with the people he recruits. I feel like I am going crazy here.
Yes, e-goons of the world, people have motives. When they pursue those motives within the rules and without negatively impacting anyone, pointing at them and screaming "YOU ARE PURSUING YOUR GOALS" is literally the dumbest argument possible.
I mean, yeah, get on Harbaugh for the various decommits last year. That's a legit criticism. This stuff is moron central.
Shots fired. I assume you've all seen the Harbombing of the satellite camp decision in SI. While Harbaugh talking to a dude who tried to sabotage the program with bogus allegations of NCAA violations is a frequent irritation, I'll take it as long as he's willing to say the things that are true in public:
Says Harbaugh: "You've got a guy sitting in a big house, making $5 million a year, saying he does not want to sacrifice his time. That is not a kindred spirit to me. What most of these coaches are saying is they don't want to work harder."
Hugh Freeze responded to this with the time-tested retort of the smarmy gasbag: muh families.
"I'll never apologize for wanting to be a father and a husband," Freeze said when asked about vacation time. "I miss enough volleyball games (and other things), that is a priority for me. ... I think we work very hard, I don't think working hard is an issue. If you're asking me if I want to add more nights away from my wife and kids, I do not. That window is closing for me to be a husband and a father and I think the kids that play in our system need to see me in that role an awful lot."
When someone talks about being a family man in this way they are always attempting to shut down criticism by being holier than thou. See: Dave Brandon's "this hurts my family" talk on his last-ditch media spree after the Shane Morris incident. It also blows by a point: if you don't want to do them, don't do them. Nobody's making you. You are in fact making the demands.
Freeze then doubled down on the smarm by criticizing Harbaugh for being right, but in public:
Freeze on Harbaugh: "We're probably not a kindred spirit in terms of making comments about other coaches in public forums like he has done."
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 13, 2016
Along with being recursively hypocritical, this is an admission that Harbaugh is correct but also mean. I like mean.
Elsewhere in shots fired. High school coaches are just as fired up about the ban:
"Realistically, I shouldn't have been surprised." said John Ford, the head coach at Roswell High School, which is located north of Atlanta. "The NCAA works in opposition to what benefits young kids and student athletes. They work to protect the few as opposed to protecting and promoting the many. The hypocrisy is pretty well known." …
"I've been doing this for 15 years and I know it's really, really helpful for kids at these camps," [Toby] Foreman said. "It makes it extremely difficult, and I personally don't think the NCAA has kids interests at heart. You're almost punishing people for being proactive. Go out and recruit harder. Quit being lazy."
I wonder if the pushback on this is going to be sufficient to torpedo the rule change here. These days a lawsuit-stricken NCAA is very sensitive about public relations, and there are a ton of people on the warpath about this. It is really rare to see guys with skin in the game come out with these kind of statements, and the condemnation for the rule change has been near-universal. The only people sticking up for it are guys like Tony Barnhart who are more or less bought and paid for by the SEC and a less-than-lucid Dennis Dodd.
Tommy Tuberville, for one, thinks that the ban will not stand.
Elsewhere in how Freeze gets work done. Interesting little glimpse inside the sausage factory Freeze is running at Ole Miss from a doofus with money:
An Ocean Springs businessman claimed to have offered his guest house to unnamed college football players rent-free, only to later amend his story. But a source with knowledge of the situation said Scott Walker’s neighbors were told by the renters they paid for a two-night stay at his home last weekend.
Renting his home on a short-term basis would be a violation of local ordinances, and when first contacted by the Mississippi Press Walker said it was “four university players” who were “absolutely not paying” to stay in his guest house.
That raised red flags, because a booster (Walker is an Ole Miss grad and fan) offering free or reduced rent is a clear-cut NCAA violation.
Ole Miss cheats. Hardcore, all the time. That's how a nobody high school coach with one year at Arkansas State who arrives at a school with a fanbase that mostly still wants a plantation owner as their mascot and zero success in the past 50 years starts recruiting five-stars. I'm resigned to the fact that this will happen forever, and that the correct solution is to let people pay the players without repercussions.
But you run the cheatingest program in the country and you get sanctimonious about your free time? Harbaugh's just trying to level the playing field out a little bit here. Freeze can take his vacations and come back knowing that an Ole Miss offer has thousands of dollars behind it that a Michigan one doesn't.
That solution could be on the horizon. Via Get the Picture, this is a potentially huge move towards an Olympic model of amateurism:
Big East commissioner Val Ackerman told SI Now’s Maggie Gray on Friday that the NCAA is reconsidering allowing student athletes to sign endorsement deals.
Under the current rules, student athletes may not be paid for the use of their image or likeness or they would forfeit their amateur status and their collegiate eligibility could be affected. When Gray asked Ackerman why students shouldn’t be able to capitalize on the value they bring to their university, Ackerman responded that the NCAA is considering changing that rule.
“That’s one that’s actually under consideration I believe by the NCAA,” Ackerman said. “It’s actually a time right now where student athlete interests are being closely examined. I don’t have an answer for you on that one today but I will say that and a number of other topics are under review, and I think rightly by the NCAA and it’s very possible that over the course of the next year or two as these these ideas work their way through the legislative system you could see changes.”
In the next year or two! As always I will remind you that even if you don't like the idea of players getting paid directly by the university, opening up outside compensation is a very good thing when you command a money cannon like Michigan does.
Warde Manuel sticks up for his guy. Good to see that Manuel isn't shying away from the fight either:
“People say this is Jim Harbaugh, he wants to do it this way,” Manuel told the Free Press today. “No. This is a rule that has been allowable for a long time. With all due respect to … questions about not being able to recruit (during the NCAA quiet period), all that stuff was there before, and people did it. Now it’s no good? Some kind of way, it’s bad for the game? It’s crazy.”
That is direct and devoid of hand-waving CYA business speak, so bully for that.
Elsewhere in laziness. Iowa DE Drew Ott will not get a fifth year after a midseason injury. That's not much of a surprise since he played in six games a year ago and the NCAA does not budge on injury redshirts if you've played more than 30% of a season. The timing of the announcement, however, has irritated many since Ott cannot enter the NFL draft proper and will have to go the supplemental route. Why did this come so late? It's not on the NCAA:
In fairness to the NCAA, it does seem like the lengthiest delays in this entire ordeal were not their end -- it sounds like Ott's case wasn't even sent to the NCAA bodies that rule on this matter until late February. His case was with Big Ten authorities until that point. What took the Big Ten so long? Good question -- and one that neither Ott nor Kirk Ferentz had an answer for during their press conference earlier today. So perhaps our ire at the glacial pace of the decision-making in this situation should be directed at Jim Delany & Co. rather than the NCAA folks.
That is especially odd since Mario Ojemudia suffered a similarly ill-timed injury and found out he would not get an exception in December.
It'll be interesting to see what happens with MSU's attempt to get sixth years for three players, all of whom appear to have taken voluntary redshirts. MSU keeps telling people they'll be back but the NCAA is very strict about sixth years; going to be tough to come up with sufficient documentation about an injury when these guys have bios declaring they were scout team player of the week.