good luck with that
Unverified Voracity Should Have Signed With Barca So They'd Pay For The HGH Shots It So Desperately Needs
SON OF A. 2011 forward recruit Lucas Lessio is now headed to the OHL, which sucks. I assume he's doing it because he doesn't want to move to the USHL's footprint or play in Junior B in his draft year. This is bad. Worse: Michigan's 2011 class is now Alex Guptill and they have to replace nine graduating seniors.
It's not quite as bad as it sounds since this year's team is going to be the deepest I've ever seen, but they are going to need four or five additional players and have scant time to add them in the accelerated world of college hockey recruiting. This might be what Red's three-year contract is about. We're having a JoePa problem.
At this point Michigan will be scouring the USHL for late-emerging and possibly older players to fill in the gap before the 2012 class, which does have a couple of high-end commits already, arrives.
LOL WUT. So here's Kenny Chesney hanging out with Desmond Howard and… um… some guy at Newsterbaan:
Unfortunately, this means two things: the creepy country dwarf is going to be involved with college football again this fall despite his epic fail last year, and Michigan is going to be involved with this fiasco. Whenever music gets involved with the Rich Rodriguez era terrible things happen.
Of all the lousy ways to save a buck. The general reaction to the AD's stealth decision to ban all water bottles, sealed or not, from Michigan Stadium…
WATER BOTTLE POLICY
All bottles (including all types of water bottles) are prohibited from being brought into the stadium. There are newly installed water fountains located throughout the concourse and complimentary cups of water are available at each concession stand that has soda dispensing ability.
…has met the same sort of reaction that Clark Griswold's boss got when he offered his employees the Jelly of the Month Club for Christmas bonuses, and I'm with the mob. Either the "complimentary cups of water" are soda-sized and the ban on bringing in bottles is an exercise in forcing people to wait in line pointlessly or they're little teeny cups that will be an unsuccessful attempt to make it seem like the ban is not the brainchild of some soulless MBA looking to maximize revenue efficiency.
I have a question in about this decision and am hoping the answers aren't unconvincing boilerplate about terrorism and people sneaking in drinks, but we'll see.
Vintage. 1966 is not a common year for footage to come from, but here's some stuff for the history mavens:
The point is probably that we're even discussing it. Genuinely Sarcastic launches a self-defeating argument about the amount of success Michigan and Michigan State have had in state. The numbers in summary:
Since 2008, the head to head scoreboard is Michigan 11, Michigan State 9.
Since 2008, Michigan has offered 38 in-state prospects, landing commitments from 16 of those 38 (42.1%).
MSU, on the other hand, has offered a staggering 73 players in-state. Of those 73, they've landed 38 (52.1%).
Same as it ever was except for some seriously pissed off you guys coaches at Renaissance and Southeastern, one of whom is now employed by Michigan State. That Michigan blogs are even putting the effort into State's recruiting, which remains as Motor City-tastic as ever* says all it needs to. Nothing's changed on MSU's side of the ledger—they mostly go .500 and hired a coach who went basically .500 before he arrived at State. It's Michigan that's concerned about their place in things.
*(Lawrence Thomas is a big get; to Rivals the rest of MSU's recruits are three stars, and not even high three stars: one player gets a 5.7 and the rest are 5.6 or worse, with three unranked players and a two-star. Michigan isn't burning up the charts yet but they are killing State, as they did last year and the year before, etc. Three of Michigan's four 5.6-or-worse guys (Sousa, Fisher, and Kellen Jones) are likely to move up.)
Scatterplots. If there's one thing Michigan State bloggers like more than bad recruiting it's not writing up a Worst Plays of the Decade list. But if there are two things, it's not writing up a Worst Plays of the Decade list and scatterplots. Here's a scatterplot of the Big Ten according to Football Outsiders' clunkily named F+ (they should call it deathbacker), which is basically an efficiency metric that adjusts for schedule strength, garbage time drives, and all the little details that can make PPG or YPG misleading. You will not be surprised:
Michigan's offense was slightly below average and their defense was… significantly less eye-rending than I'd have guessed. I expected them to be hanging out with Indiana and Illinois on the Island of Token Resistance. The guessas to why that happened: Michigan missed three of the five crappy teams in the league: themselves, Northwestern, and Minnesota. Their schedule difficulty was probably the toughest in the league, especially since Minnesota had by far the worst offense in the Big Ten.
Etc.: If you didn't get enough of the worst plays of the decade, The Wolverine Blog would like to bring your attention to the Post-Apocalyptic Oregon Game. I'm going to go listen to some Morrissey now. Pre-Snap Read, which is apparently the guy who did the season preview for the NYT last year doing the same thing independently, ranks Michigan a job-saving #37th and says the team is "ready to take the next step," by which he means "first step." Who is Zoltan Mesko? Baby don't hurt me, no more.
Agentzzz. Does the SEC's reaction to predatory agents seem, oh I don't know, slightly self-serving? On one level I don't actually disagree with the idea that maybe having a registered NFL agent represent a kid and possibly throw him some dollars isn't the worst way to bridge some of the gap between the amount of money players make for their schools and the amount of money they make for themselves. That would conveniently pay the players likely to be worth the most to their schools without actually acting as a drain on athletic department budgets.
But maybe the time to suggest something like this…
The SEC commissioner says the current rules "may be as much part of the problem as they are the solution."
…is before half the schools in your league are under investigation and likely to lose key players. Watching the local journalists scramble to think outside the bun when their precious local programs come under threat is annoying when no one has a troubling word to say about the NCAA and their pursuit of Reggie Bush. You had five years to cluck about agents before the knocking got local. Doing it now is pure hackery. I can only imagine what the Free Press would write if Michigan had anyone involved in this. Probably not "we need a whole new way of thinking about agents."
Meanwhile, hearing Nick Saban position himself as the great and good friend of college athlete's eligibility is the sort of spectacularly brazen thing that is totally expected from Nick Saban. Seriously:
"I have no respect for people who do that to young people, none," Saban said. "I mean, none. How would you feel if they did it to your child?"
Do what, exactly? Oversign the hell out of them and then either end their careers with dubious medical scholarships or spawn a "voluntary" transfer? No. Give them money they shouldn't have because the NCAA says so. All right then.
Stupidzzz. So some guy outed the author of the Bylaw Blog. As a result, the Bylaw Blog is going on hiatus as the man behind it tries to clear it with his athletic department, which is Loyola Marymount's. Hopefully they take a look at the content on the blog and see it as a positive for their profile, which it certainly is, and let Compliance Guy continue being exceptionally useful.
As for guy who outs exceptionally useful guy: congratulations. You dug up a piece of information of no value to anyone and possibly/probably cut off the only insight into the increasingly important world of compliance that anyone had. You have committed an act of anti-journalism. Here, the truth makes us all dumber. I hope someone runs your foot over with a lawnmower.
Also then afterwards these gentlemen stop by and bend metal threateningly. Via Rittenberg comes this little bit of Barwis hype. On Mike Martin:
Bench-presses 505 pounds, squats 700 pounds … Power cleans 430 pounds, hang cleans 475 pounds …Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds
Strength coach Mike Barwis says: "Mike is an absolute warrior. He has a never quit attitude and is a natural born leader. He is one of the most impressive physical specimens I have ever seen."
And on David Molk:
Bench-presses 490 pounds, squats 660 pounds … Power cleans 420 pounds, hang cleans 440 pounds … Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds
Strength coach Mike Barwis says: "Dave is an outstanding worker and a natural athlete. He is one of the most naturally explosive linemen I have ever trained."
Whatever Fred Jackson's got, it's catching.
Martin totally pwns Northwestern DT Corbin Bryant, who squats like my grandmother (a mere 600 pounds) and is essentially on par with OSU DL John Simon; no comparables were available for offensive linemen.
Clean. We leave the fresh for the rest of the conference. Dana O'Neil has a remarkable article in which she anonymously surveys D-I basketball coaches and comes out with quotes like "If the NCAA was serious, they'd hire someone who knew what they were doing, not these women out here trying to get a husband.''
"These women"—referred to elsewhere as "gestapettes"—are the NCAA enforcement people tasked with wandering around summer recruiting events attempting to make sure everything is on the up and up. If only Bobby Knight was still coaching we'd have a likely candidate for that Mad Men-era quote; as it is it could be anyone.
Anyway, here's a feather in the cap combined with a shot at Tommy Amaker:
Which league is the cleanest? The dirtiest?
Congratulations, Jim Delany. Your league wins in a landslide. Of the 20 coaches surveyed, 11 said the Big Ten was the cleanest in the country. Three others cited the land where time stood still, also known as the scholarship-less Ivy League. (Although even the Ancient Eight earned one disparaging nod: "The Ivy League,'' one coach said before pausing to add, "I mean the Ivy League a couple of years ago, before all of that stuff at Harvard.")
But coaches cited the Big Ten's perceived willingness to police itself and rosters that "made sense," in which players traditionally come from the footprint of the schools they choose to attend.
Tommy Amaker got dirty enough to mention when he left Michigan for Harvard. Michigan is bringing a fork to a gun fight in basketball recruiting.
Some nice things were said about Michigan State that we will elide before getting to the next shocker:
…the Southeastern Conference was perceived as the worst, with three coaches partnering the SEC with the Big East and another tossing in the Big 12 (one coach went league-by-league, counting up schools). All in all, the SEC was named by 14 of the coaches.
"Oh no, it's not just a myth,'' one coach said about the SEC. "It's the truth.''
Maybe we need to rethink the way we perceive rampant cheating in college basketball?
Etc.: The WLA quibbles with the Offense of the Decade, suggesting that Drew Henson's abbreviated season as the starter should have won at QB. The numbers (61.6% completion, 14.7 yards per completion, 9.1 yards per attempt, and an 18/4 TD/INT ratio) are pretty compelling; I left him off because he only played about 75% of the season but… yeah. It depends on how heavily you want to weight that.
They also suggest Askew instead of Dudley but I did not really consider Askew a fullback since he spent most of his time as the deep back in a single-RB formation, IIRC, and anyway if I was putting together a team I'd rather have Dudley for short yardage than an okay tailback who can block.
Relevant site information. The Sporting Blog is no more and has been sold to SB Nation. This is mostly a problem for me when I try to explain what I do to people over 50—before I could just say I write for "the AOL" or "the Sporting News" and that would create flickers of recognition. In other ways it is basically no change. I'll write non-Michigan stuff for SBN, keep the mothership going as it was before, and work on my patient explanations of how you can make a living writing on the internet.
Another thing that is tentatively moving to SBN: the BlogPoll. CBS never did anything with it, shoving it into a corner and studiously ignoring it. At SBN it will get the tech help it needs while still providing yours truly with the same cash flow—zero dollars—it always has.
This has been your meta update.
HYPE VIDEO. Hype video? Hype video.
Geeeeergugh. Darryl Stonum didn't do anything, but after you've picked up a DUI not doing anything becomes a reason to put you in jail. A hearing in which it was determined Stonum did very little of what the court asked him to do as part of his probation saw him spend three days in jail in early June.
Not a big deal in the scheme of things but it's another item on the Stonum dossier that argues against the guy ever living up to his copious recruiting hype. The others are the original DUI and his inability to adjust to deep balls. A large part of succeeding in college football is just doing what you're told to, and Stonum obviously didn't do that over the past year when it came to his DUI.
Old and busted. MCalibur put up a diary a bit back complaining about the NCAA's passer rating, which was calibrated in 1979 to render 100 as the performance of an average quarterback. He sets about recreating the formula based on modern averages, finding 139.2 is the new average and creating some interesting charts along the way that show both separation between three, four, and five star recruits and steady improvement as quarterbacks age:
Four-year starters with five stars are so rare (Henne is one of two in the study) that their numbers were left out.
Then MCalibur re-ranks the QBs with another version of QB rating that doesn't really move anyone around much.
Hondurans love Jonathan Bornstein. They love Michigan about as much when their English teacher is a fan:
Etc.: Holdin' the Rope writes on the Alabama Outback Bowl in 1997, the last game I failed to see live. I remember listening to it on the radio—we did not have cable—and feeling helpless as Michigan flailed its way to defeat. The other game I remember listening to was that Minnesota game in the mid-90s in which they outrushed Michigan by some comical amount and still lost. Different times. More Brock Mealer in the News.
Nova boards. Dave Brandon's been talking about new scoreboards for a few months now, which is great because obviously:
That's Auburn's board. It's wicked. We haven't had a timetable on them yet, but last night Brandon addressed the assembled stadium ushers and said… 2011. Which is next year. Presumably Michigan's version wouldn't put up ads every once in while when you were looking up for a replay, too.
Brandon also mentioned another 5k seats. where is unclear. I keep pushing crazy orbital bleachers on top of the luxury boxes.
The money is made. Michigan's opening opponent this year is one of very few BCS teams to end up in the red a couple years ago:
…UConn was one of five BCS football programs that failed to make a profit during the 2008-09 academic year. UConn lost roughly $280,000 in football, according to the numbers. Only three BCS programs lost more — Syracuse, which lost $835,000, Wake Forest ($3.07 million) and Duke ($6.72 million). Rutgers, which spent $19.07 million on its football program, was the only other school to fail to make a profit, although the Big East school broke even.
So the only way to lose money is to be a basketball school with a flailing football program in a league that isn't on the end of the money hose yet (presumably Wake and Duke will get much closer to even with the ACC's new TV contract). And that doesn't take all of UConn's football revenue into account because some things are school-wide contracts that surely have their value increased by the presence of men in helmets. And UConn was profitable the three years before that. Keep that in mind the next time someone complains about all the money being thrown at football: with very few exceptions, schools in the top half of D-I have all they spend and more thrown back.
As for the rest, well… maybe the best way to force Eastern Michigan to drop its football program is to mandate balanced budgets lest scholarships be reduced by the amount you're in the red.
Recovered. The Loeffler ring saga has ended with a satisfactory conclusion from the perspective of one Scot Loeffler, but less so Arizona pawn shop owner Aaron Herdez, the guy trying to turn a profit on the thing on eBay. MVictors confirmed that police seized the ring with Herdez and got a few details on what went down:
On Loeffler: “He didn’t call it in stolen, he said he lost it and then he changed his mind.” “We don’t know what really happened.”
What is the status of the ring? “It’s not for sale and it’s already been seized [by the police]. If I want it back I’ll have to take it court.”
On how they came to own the ring: “Everything we get comes from customers that walk into the store.”
So there you go. Justice in action.
JUSTICE IN ACTION. The persnickety Indiana Excise Police continue their campaign to improve Michigan's head-to-head recruiting against Notre Dame by throwing a huge net over a house party that got out of hand and coming away with arrests for more than 20 ND athletes, including eight guys on the football team (and incoming freshman hockey player Scott Summerhays for the 10% who care about these things). Orson handles the case by channeling the ghost of Salvador Dali. Everyone's lives will go back to normal minus a couple hundred dollars starting today—not even the Matt James incident is going to result in meaningful suspensions for the Indiana equivalent of the MIP.
And now for the only reason I brought it up:
I consider it a civil rights issue
by BIG MAC (2010-07-18 12:21:18)
In reply to: ND alumni should set up a Legal Defense Fund posted by ACross
The fact is that the state of Indiana once boasted the biggest concentration of KKK members of anywhere in the country. Equally important is that the Indiana Klan focused as much or more of its hatred against Catholics. I believe that you are seeing the great grandsons of the Klansmen in action once again. Do they pull these cowardly Gestapo acts at Purdue and UI? If not, there should be a discrimination lawsuit filed with the Federal Government for this nonsense. A lawyer could certainly figure out the fine points of this better than I have stated them, but I think there is a case. Really.
ND Nation, of course. This is also the first hit for "I consider it a civil rights issue" on the Googles. America.
Do you wear pants, sir? In a column for Indiana's sports journalism school, Dave Kindred takes issue with Mitch Albom receiving the Red Smith award for lifetime achievement in
treacle journalism. Marvel at this bit of bloggery from Albom's typically windy acceptance speech:
I never spent much time in media hospitality suites because I saw the trap of comparing notes, trying to impress colleagues with who could write more viciously. I saw how quickly conversations degenerated into complaint sessions and where I lived, cynicism was the wrong approach. The reader of Detroit, the guys on the assembly lines, the grandfathers in Alpena, wished every day they could trade places with me. If I turned cynic, how would that serve them? So I often kept a distance. I spent more time at events than in the office, more time in my community than in press boxes or media parties, and this may have cost me over the years.
I essentially do the same thing, figuring The Grandfathers of Alpena would rather have the from a fan than another guy wearing the hat that says PRESS. If Albom spends most of his day in solid-gold pajamas (as we all surely suspect he does), our conversation about the Free Press Jihad, already hypocritical on his part, goes straight to performance art.
Etc.: Lloyd Carr talks with the News-Herald of Southgate, "the voice of Downriver." In two parts. Not much in the way of shocking reveals but a considerable score for that paper. The 925 APR line used to be a 60% graduation rate, but with all the exemptions it's down to about 50. This UNC thing is looking serious, and now Florida is getting some heat. The Bylaw Blog on the former.
Open house fluff. If you couldn't make it here are moving pictures that describe the goings-on:
There's also the version of Tim's post yesterday at all media outlets. MVictors has the best one because it has a picture of a fire hydrant wearing a hat. The Daily, meanwhile, provides a noise increase estimate that's more reasonable than the doubling that was initially proposed:
A 30-percent noise increase on the field level was also promised, which will be tested by a sound engineer early in the season.
I'm not sure why they couldn't have tested that last season when the structures were up.
If you just can't get enough, AnnArbor.com has a slideshow and a couple stories that have the same content in a slightly different package. The latter does have this entertaining quote about the 3k+ club seats:
"I came in here, and I was like, 'Wow,'" Neumann said during Wednesday's public open house. "Then they told me how much it cost, and I was like, 'Wow.' "
FWIW, nary a crab was to be found in the articles. With newspapers typically straining to get "both sides of the story" that's one more indicator that the Save the Big House folks are slightly out of touch. Speaking of…
I am so glad I already have a lolcfn tag. Outrage(!) spans the internets today after CFN's Pete Fiutak talked up Matt James as a promising incoming recruit. Matt James is no longer alive after falling from a hotel balcony during spring break festivities, so this is a very bad idea.
I can only say that I'm not surprised at all. Way back in the day I took a swing at finding all the errors in that year's edition of the Michigan preview and came up with a solid two dozen, and while I can't find that post from before time began here's something they wrote just last year about the relative strength of the Michigan defense:
The real strength will be at safety where some superstar prospects will combine with some established playmakers. That means veteran safety Steve Brown can be part linebacker and part safety in the new system.
That was ridiculous even before the season, when this blog proposed it as "the most incorrect statement ever uttered by a college football preview ever"; now it stands as monument to the magnificent pointlessness of human cognition. Also they declared Obi Ezeh's the team's second best player.
It was just a matter of time before they incorrectly identified someone who is not alive as someone who is. In CFN House, it's always lupus and the patient dies because it's not lupus.
Other things that are not true about Notre Dame. Via Orson, here's a breathless bit of frippery on Brian Kelly:
"Coach Kelly and the entire Notre Dame staff has been very aggressive in recruiting," said Mike Frank, the publisher of IrishSportsDaily.com. "They are getting the offers quickly out the door. They are organized and they grind it and work very hard. This staff is much more aggressive than the previous one."
This is not true at all. Legend has it that Corwin Brown once camped out in front of Martez Wilson's door after being booted from the interior, refusing to leave until Wilson agreed to sign with the Irish. It didn't work—never in the long history of that move has it been successful—but by God it was aggressive. Seriously, the one thing Weis did well was recruit. At least give him that.
Charles Woodson Called “A Hero” In Aftermath Of House Fire
…suggests Woodson just became hero yesterday. Pete Fiutak probably wrote it.
Anyway, Woodson and his business partner were just doing what any average Michigan fan might have done on a lazy Friday night: watch highlight videos of Charles Woodson and doze off. As per usual, doing this saved lives:
“The Charles Woodson 1997 highlight tape saved our lives, because that’s what kept us up so late,” said Ruiz. “Seriously, we were up late watching that tape, and that’s what made us stay up so late to find that smoke in the beginning. Otherwise we probably would have been passed out. I don’t know.”
They made a movie of the Todd Howard version of this, by the way.
Old Man Yells At Cloud. John Pollack's got one convert: Chicago columnist Rick Telander. His crotchety old man column complains about the amount of money spent on the renovations, says "you can't go 5-7" and "sure as heck can't go 3-9" if you're going to do that, and then pulls out more evidence for this blog's theory that everything written about sports in a Chicago newspaper is false:
In that 2008 season, Michigan got crushed at home, 33-10, by Toledo.
That's not a typo—crushed—and is only 20 points off on a game that happened two years ago. A bonus Fiutak follows:
Is it a coincidence that Brad Labadie, Michigan's director of football operations, just resigned?
Don't think so.
Rabble rabble rabble, and so it goes.
The usual array of losers. Generic complaint about college football scheduling that sees Michigan named the bravest Big Ten team because it's the one team taking on two BCS schools if we don't count Iowa State, which we shouldn't. Standard whining about faking your way to bowl eligibility by taking on Akron and three schools Akron would kill, as Indiana will attempt to do this fall. Hopeful muttering about rising prices for tomato cans spurring some actual scheduling from Big Ten teams, delivered more in hope than expectation. Continued calls for Eastern Michigan to drop its football program entirely.
Etc.: Ace follows up on his Bo team picture slideshows with one showing the team MVPs from 1926 on. Penn State fans survey their schedule and unanimously (though tentatively) pick Michigan as a potential landmine. I'll take it. An analysis of Nebraska's dominating front, which switched between over and under, last year.
Correction. The recruiting profile of Richard Ash brought up Jason Kates because he's the canonical recent example of a guy whose weight problems prevented him from becoming a player. In that post, I mentioned that Rivals had 'won' that evaluation since they issued two stars to Scout's four. I got that backwards. It was Scout that was skeptical and thus won.
The underbelly of disaster(!). Tim is taking in the official media bit of the tour (lunch!) and is tweeting brooding photos of empty stuff. Full post coming up later today; for those who can't wait UM Tailgate got in way early and already has the first of what will be dozens of galleries posted today. Swanky:
Meanwhile, Michigan has released this year's box-engorged seating capacity: 109,901, which puts it back in its rightful place as the largest in the country. Wikipedia was updated in nanoseconds:
Michigan Stadium's capacity will drop next year when the seats and aisles are widened but should still check in #1.
Beam me up. I can't control when I get the weird photoshops of recently graduated players, but here's this:
His people are Patriots. Thanks to Corey Ray.
Also in graphic stuff, TRSaunders expands his library of MS Paint crazy photo stuff with Cam Gordon.
Raid your own stadium. Tickets for the Big Chill are all but officially sold out as Michigan holds back the last few blocks for incoming freshmen. Unless you head to Michigan State's ticket department, that is. Buy away. Plot in the message board thread.
In graphic form. A poster named BlueMonster threw this chart up on Rivals. It speaks for itself:
Steele can be wobbly on certain things but not wobbly enough to get Michigan out of the overall cellar when they're so far behind the nearest competitor, especially since Steele's evaluation of Michigan's starters is significantly more veteran than the actual lineup will be.
Interesting to note that UConn, which had a rep as a very veteran outfit, comes in towards the bottom of the list. Penn State, meanwhile, checked in next to Michigan at just below average on the Steele experience ranking but is well up the rankings here. Everything else looks to be about what you'd expect, with that Notre Dame game looming large as an opportunity to start off in a non-flailing fashion.
Expansion of the other variety. Everyone else has an opinion, so I should too: the NCAA has announced that the four play-in games will be contested in two groups: everyone who used to be a 16 seed plays for two spots and the last four at-large teams will play for the other two. So everyone gets slid down one more notch and the three teams that are added have to play for a spot with the team that would have been the last at-large in a 65-team tournament.
I was against any sort of expansion from the start and still think 68 is goofy, but if they're going to do it this is the best way. The 16 seeds are invariably weak opponents and bidding another one goodbye is not going to make anyone shed a tear. While the occasional interesting team finds itself a 15 seed, usually the worst 15 seed is no threat against the best 2. Meanwhile, having the last few at-large bids face off against each other will reduce the "what about X" complaining every year because X will have an opportunity to play Y, settling the argument on the court. More of those third place Mountain West or A-10 teams will get the opportunity to prove themselves better than Clemson or Minnesota.
The Artist Formerly Known As Big Ten Wonk dislikes this, calling it "dumb":
I realize many pundits are fine with this today, but wait until they see it in action with actual team names inserted into these brackets. Inevitably a five-seed will lose to a 12 that emerged from a play-in game and we’ll hear all the usual talk about the “advantage” and “momentum” the 12 had from playing already. And as for talk of 10-seeds being in play-in games, mark me down as absolutely terrified. I’m already on the record as thinking that tournament seeding has far too little to do with reality. (And note that today’s decision only raises the stakes that will be riding on a team’s seed.)
Now, if you’re talking about a team seeded as high as a 10, there’s a good chance that said team is way better than the selection committee could have realized. To require a team that good to win an extra game while every year the 64th-best team in the field is guaranteed a comparatively easy six-win path is antithetical to what’s made the NCAA tournament the best postseason spectacle in major American team sports. We’ve trusted the tournament’s outcomes precisely to the extent that the courts have been neutral, the brackets have been balanced, and the opportunities have been equal.
I think that's an anticipation about talking heads doing the thing where they have a fierce disagreement over a petty issue because of Stephen A Smith and not an actual argument that this will be a factor, but even so I must dissent from Gasaway's dissent. A case where the second to last at large spot is actually a 10 seed will be exceedingly rare. The equivalent would be the last at large in the current tourney being a 10, which I'm pretty sure has never happened. Meanwhile, the 64th-best team has earned something (the auto-bid) the last teams in have not. It's not entirely fair but if it keeps a bunch of small teams from getting shuffled to "TruTV" in favor of major conference mediocrities, I'm in favor of it. Seeds are mostly guesses and a small conference team that won its championship and avoided the play-in has proven itself better than a subset of college basketball; major conference teams that finish seventh have not done this.
The committee did the best possible job given they had to assemble a 68-team tournament and include a cable channel no one's even heard of.
Leader for real. Now that the World Cup is over it can be said: ESPN has shed its Mark Shapiro skin and has returned to something that people can both love and hate instead of just the latter. Not once during the 2010 tournament did I pine for the Univision that I had in HD in 2006 but not 2010, and this is despite the fact that Univision is such terrific fun that I would occasionally flip on replays of games I'd already watched just to hear someone's head explode because of Diego Forlan. Also, 30 for 30 is an unqualified success, the sort of original programming that ESPN always should have done instead of "I'd Do Anything" or literally everything else Shapiro ever came up with. (His latest trick: running Six Flags into the ground.)
Everything from the play by play to the studio crew was fantastic—even Alexi Lalas was genuinely fun when he ribbed the English. My only complaint was the time spent showing replays when action was going on, and that wasn't even ESPN's fault since FIFA controls the feed. There has never been a greater turnaround between consecutive broadcasts of a single event. Last year we were stuck with Dave O'Brien and Marcelo Balboa.
Why can't they do this for other sports? Well, if you took ESPN's top four college football announce teams (PBP: Musberger, McDonough, Franklin, ?) they would probably come close to the four excellent teams put together for the World Cup. When you get to #8 it's Pam Ward, and by #12 it's that awful Rod Gilmore/Trevor Matich color pairing that had a combined IQ approximately the equal of tapioca pudding that went 12-20 in 15 years as as boxer. Plus ESPN had the pick of any English announcers they wanted. If you could put together an All-Star roster of college football from ESPN, CBS, Fox, and, uh, NBC… well… you'd get Verne Lundquist. Never mind.
Initial NCAA impressions. If you're like me and have gotten tired of EA's consistently lame NCAA franchise, I suggest you check out GameShark folks Bill Abner and Todd Brakke's "Nut and Feisty Weasel," where they'll be posting their annual stream of consciousness reviews of the latest edition. These are always unvarnished and far more useful than any review ever is.
The first impression, as always, is promising. This is something that I don't know if an NCAA game has ever managed before:
John Clay had 88 yards on 20 carries. He was hard as hell to tackle. Michigan? I shut that team down with impunity. I had a chance late to get the ball back against Wisky and they marched 30 yards to nail the coffin shut.
Against UM my DE Cam Heyward was UNBLOCKABLE. He was KILLING whoever the Michigan RT is. 3 sacks, multiple pressures, etc. In years past this would raise a quick red flag. This is a potential pattern that could really kill the game because before--something like this simply meant...the AI blocking sucks.
Against Wisky? Heyward was as non factor. And believe me...I tried.
Abner is an OSU fan, unfortunately. Let's hope the game's projection for Mark Huyge is pessimistic.
Etc.: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia get the 2013 and 2014 Frozen Fours. Fine by me; at least Pittsburgh is drivable. Boston fans are complaining about the FF's long absence from their neck of the woods—by 2014 it will be a decade—and I would have some sympathy if the Detroit FF was the first time in forever that the perpetually-screwed CCHA had gotten to host one. Rivals ranks Michigan a job-saving #41.