America number one. Weird experience last night: watched a sporting event and had the team I wanted to win the game actually, you know, win it. This was the Orange Bowl, where Iowa beat Georgia Tech to give the league four wins over top 15 opponents, two BCS wins, and a winning bowl record. This will reduce the number of offseason Clay Travis columns that erroneously cite the SEC's big pile of money—the Big Ten's pile is essentially equivalent—as the reason they're fielding teams full of Terminators against the rest of college football's Hello Kitty dolls. There are now 26 scheduled instead of 180.
So thanks for that, Iowa. I'm glad that when From The Rumble Seat asked me for my best Iowa-related smack talk I demurred because the only thing I hate about Iowa is the fact that they lose to Iowa State more than they should. I hate Iowa State with a passion unknown to man.
Also, Ricky Stanzi takes up the banner J Leman first gloriously thrust upon the shores of the blogosphere:
America. #1. Big Ten. Love it or leave it. Photoshop wizards: can a brother get a Leman/Stanzi 2012 poster around here?
So… you're wise. Michigan legend and extremely old guy Red Simmons turned 100 a couple days ago, which means he's seen a considerable amount of things in his day. I wonder if he feels like Windle Poons, who was a 133 year-old magician in a couple of Discworld novels*. Poons felt like he had been old for the vast majority of his life, and that seemed unfair. This random biographical tidbit, even moreso than competing against Jesse Owens or helping Joe Louis get in shape, best sums up just how long Simmons has been around:
When his grades slipped, Simmons was given a second chance after track coach Lloyd Olds and dean of men James "Bingo" Brown - who was also the state boxing commissioner - asked the university's president to give Simmons a second chance.
During the meeting, Bingo—the dean of men!—chewed on a stogie and crankily took a phone call about some Italian kid with a bruised brain. In keeping with the traditions of the time, Bingo—man dean!—suggested the kid be sold for his meat.
There's also transcripts for the video-averse. Other Red, you are on notice:
On men’s hockey Coach Red Berenson’s recent birthday: Well, he’s just 70 or so, what the hell is that? [laughs] I always say, ‘Oh, to be 80 again!’
Braylongate II. So, yeah, Braylon Edwards did this on the Sunday Night Football introductions:
Everyone on the planet immediately interpreted this as a shot at Rich Rodriguez, including yrs truly. But Braylon says it isn't so:
"Last night during my pre-taped introduction, as a way of paying tribute to Coach Carr, I indentified myself as being from 'Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan,'" Edwards said. "I had no intention of showing any disrespect to Coach Rich Rodriguez.
"I love the University of Michigan and will always be loyal to its coaching staff past, present and future."
I believe him; when I had my usual segment on WTKA on Monday Ira Weintraub came in and mentioned that Stan Edwards had called the station up wishing to clarify that. A number of other players, including Tom Brady, have made comments far less ambiguous ("ugly") about the current state of the program and have not rushed to make sure people didn't misinterpret their comments.
Not that any of this matters at all. Rodriguez will either win or he won't. That's basically what Dhani Jones said on Jim Rome…
“Up to this point it really hasn’t been that good of a job at all,” Jones said. “But then you have to look at the perspective of how long it takes for a class to change over to be his class. There’s a lot of different things, but as a Michigan man you expect things to be changed in an instant. Sometimes you have to have a little bit more patience.
“Two years, my patience is running a bit thin. So next year it’s going to be really a qualifying or disqualifying year for his ability as a coach to get the program in the right direction. And I don’t think many people will stand for it if he doesn’t do a good job next year.”
That's one version of everyone's take, isn't it? Everyone basically says real improvement, yardage parity-ish, and something like eight wins from a 13 game schedule, give or take one based on context. He'll either do that or he won't. The rest is noise.
I really, really don't care about whether Rich Rodriguez should be fired or not. Short of a bomb from the NCAA, he'll get a shot to turn things around. So all this stuff about factions and statements from former players and everyone's opinion on the program is the verbal equivalent of Badger Badger Badger. It's mildly diverting noise containing zero information that's turned annoying from overexposure.
A light at the end of the ridiculous tunnel. This has sat in a tab for almost a month now but no one else has taken up this incredibly critical issue so here goes: when Michigan switched over to Coke something horrible happened. All the fountains at Yost and Crisler were replaced by little refrigerators with 20-ounce bottles in them that sell for four dollars each*. The list of things that I would do before paying four dollars for a bottle of Diet Coke includes "cut off own toes" and "attempt to survive ten minutes in a cage with Brandon Graham."
I'll happily pay the same amount for a fountain drink, though. As a result I spend most of one intermission at Yost fighting through the crowds to the one place that will sell me one. This makes no sense but approximately 20% of the population is nodding fervently right now, which is distressing for the people who aren't reading this post and think they're having a stroke.
Anyway, the current regime might get thrust to one side in favor of a different corporation with an equally silly name:
…University of Michigan officials are selecting a concessionaire for that facility, plus Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena and venues for baseball, softball, soccer and track.
Incumbent V/Gladieux Enterprises of Toledo, Ohio, is competing for a long-term contract against Aramark, Sodexo and Boston Culinary Group, which submitted a bid before it announced its merger with Centerplate in November. …
Michigan expects to select a food provider by February, Winters said.
I emailed Bruce Madej if this meant a return of fountain drinks—this is life and death, people—and his reply was vague and noncommittal. I thought I detected a playful wink-wink nudge-nudge we'll-get-it-fixed but that could be wishful thinking on The Issue of Our Time.
BONUS! The main section of that article is about Notre Dame's new hockey rink and how the design is modeled after Yost.
*(I think they've unplugged it now but for the first few games they did this literally feet from the regular old Yost vending machine that offered the same product for $1.50.)
Increase the pain. At The Sporting Blog I make a case that the NCAA should shoot down USC's proposed basketball sanctions in favor of a tourney ban starting two years from now, a removal of transfer penalties for current players, and long-term scholarship reductions. (Mea culpa: the post exaggerates how bad Michigan was in their tourney-ban year.) Delaying penalties like that would be less harsh on players who did nothing wrong and harsher on the adults that lost control of the program, and who doesn't like that idea?
Etc.: GS riffs on the house divided meme in the aftermath of Braylongate II. There is a book that actually offers up "Five Very Good Reasons To Punch A Dolphin In The Mouth" that I assume BOX will immediately buy many copies of. Crisler is going to get some boring-sounding but necessary renovations before a (currently hypothetical but probable) second round of stuff you can actually perceive.
Sitebulletin. By "back" I meant loosely back, obviously. I am still not back in Ann Arbor and the resulting social obligations make the writing a difficult thing to carve out time for. I will be in a car for a big chunk of prime posting time tomorrow so Thursday will be the first day I'll have an opportunity to have a normal obsessive day.
In the meantime…
GLI tonight! And it's not on TV! The steady erosion of college hockey's profile in the metro Detroit area continued unabated. The only GLI game that will be on TV this year is the final. So you might as well go if you're in the area. Yost Built has ten things about RPI, Michigan's opening opponent. The Engineers—woot—are a .500 ECAC team that has a couple nice wins but has also lost six of its last eight. Michigan should be (slightly) favored.
Something unprecedented is going down today, by the way: Michigan is actually getting helped out by the World Junior Championships. For the first time since I've followed college hockey Michigan has its entire roster and plays a team that is missing someone, as RPI freshman Jerry D'Amigo is on the USA team. Pounding Michigan forward Chris Brown is not, and he seems peeved.
Michigan Tech has resumed being utterly terrible (3-14) after a few decent years, so State is the likely opponent should Michigan make the final. The News also has a preview.
It could happen. Seriously. Because you are an American in good standing who did not go to USC, you want to see the Trojans get the wrong end of the NCAA's jabbin' stick for the litany of transgressions ranging from Reggie Bush to OJ Mayo to Joe McKnight. The NCAA already folded its Mayo investigation into the Bush one and may have just caught a major break in that case:
A state appellate court affirmed Monday that an ongoing lawsuit against Reggie Bush (pictured above) does not have to go to confidential arbitration, opening the way for attorneys to question Bush and USC Coach Pete Carroll about whether the running back received improper benefits while playing for the Trojans.
Michigan got hammered on the Ed Martin stuff when the feds got involved because of Martin's gambling stuff; here Reggie Bush will be deposed about something he probably doesn't care much about. (Carroll will probably play dumb no matter the consequences.) May Bush become a Webber-level pariah to the six USC fans that still care about the Trojans when they go .500 after the NCAA finds a lack of institutional control.
Yes, yes, I know I shouldn't get your hopes up. Or mine.
New name. With Ben Cronin looking increasingly like a very large and slow butler to a creepy family and two center-type people graduating this year, Michigan find itself in serious need of an actual post player going forward. Blake McLimans and Evan Smotrcyz are true Beilein fours, 6'9"-6'10" wing forwards who are 1-3-1 nightmares and can play post defense on a power forward in a crunch. They are not centers. That leaves freshman Jordan Morgan, who's redshirting, as the only reasonable option next year if Cronin's questionable health does not improve.
So… yeah, Michigan can give two more scholarships in 2010 if they want and with Casey Prather off the board and Trey Zeigler getting attention from schools like Duke it might be time to look at some new folk. One of them is Jon Horford, the younger brother of current Atlanta Hawk Al Horford. The elder Horford was briefly a Tommy Amaker commit before heading to Florida and becoming the third pick in the NBA draft. The internets were (and are still) rife with payoff rumors in the aftermath of that recruitment, but the younger Horford is a much less highly sought recruit.
He's been having an excellent senior year, though, and UMHoops says that he's maintaining a leader similar to the one his brother had earlier:
Regarding his recruitment, it appears that Jon still has one school on top ($): Michigan. Michigan seems ready to take a big man (Horford) as well as Zeigler in the class of 2010 if they both want to come. Looking at the roster composition right now, it’s hard to fault a decision like this.
Michigan may also pick up Jordan Dumars after he transfers from South Florida; presumably this would be as a walk-on since the elder Dumars may have a couple of nickels to rub together. Michigan isn't in a position to offer a scholarship to a kid like Dumars, who was a two-star recruit who barely cracked 10 PPG as a senior in high school.
Donation machine. Braylon Edwards may never shed the dropsies he had at Michigan but he does shed money in fantastic and productive ways:
The Wolverines' former star wide receiver and '04 team MVP is three years into a five-year funding plan that amounts to $500,000 in endowed scholarships at his alma mater -- $80,000 annually for the football program and a pair of $10,000 academic scholarships for bright and needy students from inner-city Detroit.
That article is all about athletic endowments and wanders away from Michigan after discussing Edwards's donation and the 130 athletic scholarships that are covered by the endowment. Only three other football players have provided enough in the way of donations to cover a scholarship: James Hall, Curtis Greer, and Jim Mandich. That list seems short. Surely Tom Brady can afford the scratch now, right?
Now the only thing is getting someone to wear the #1 so Edwards's scholarship can be tangibly used. Roy Roundtree?
Etc.: TSN asked the blog folks to post about their defining moments of the decade. Mine, unfortunately, is The Horror. I did make a totally awesome comparison to Lord of the Rings, though. Andy Staples digs deeper into the Trail photos for another excellent article. Dave Kindred writes unreasonably nice things about me. The WLA hates faulty recruiting math just as much as I do.
Programming note: I am headed out of town for the annual approximately week-long Christmas vacation. I'll check in periodically but posts are not likely unless there is major news. I return on the 30th. Update: Tim will be around until Wednesday.
Adios. Donovan Warren is out:
Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren has declared for the NFL draft.
Warren told The Associated Press on Sunday he believes it’s the right time to take his game to the next level.
“I’m confident in my ability,” he said. “I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.”
There was a brief window in which it seemed that Warren would come back because Warren said words to the effect of "I'll probably come back," but at the Bust he said he was "heavily" favoring the NFL and after that it seemed like a matter of time. It was.
While Michigan fans aren't quite as attached to Warren as Tiger fans were to Curtis Granderson…
…the vast seeping hole full of pus and regret he leaves in the secondary has elicited a similar reaction. Justin Turner, now is the time to pupate.
About 14. The thing about 14 teams is at that point it's hardly a conference, it's two conferences with a scheduling agreement and a weird playoff at the end. Two divisions of seven have you face everyone in your division and then just two teams from the other division. We'd go from playing Penn State and everyone else in the other division 75% of the time (there are eight teams in the league that aren't protected rivals and we miss two of them every year) to playing them 29% of the time, and there's no way you can protect a rivalry game in the opposite division without making the situation even worse.
Unless you go to nine or even ten games there's just no way that makes any sense. So then you're trying to coordinate three new schools and take away at least one precious nonconference cupcake and argue which team goes in which division and trying to get eight of eleven votes to approve all this.
There is zero percent chance of this happening.
Syracuse thinks the Big Ten is great… for Boeheim to poop on. Jim Boeheim's opinion of the Big Ten was not glowing 20 years ago:
I guarantee, and you can write a story, Penn State basketball will never be successful in the Big Ten. I will give you my heart if they are. I’m talking ever. Just not going to happen.
The whole discussion came from talking about Miami coming to the Big East and how that saved us [Syracuse] from maybe having to go to the Big Ten. What I said was, there is no way Syracuse [football] could win in the Big Ten or the ACC. And I’m talking Syracuse. And now that Penn State is going, they would have an even lesser chance.
Wonk suggests that Boeheim won't be heading up the "Let's Join The Big Ten" committee any time soon, and that would just about preclude their entry into the conference. Playing Villanova and UConn and all those other schools in the Big East in basketball is more important than anything else. We can scratch them off the list of programs to assimilate.
Missouri, on the other hand, is ready to flirt. First, Missouri's governor—pictured with Willie Nelson—is all like "yeah, we should seriously look at it" about the Big Ten. Second, via The Sports Economist comes a fascinating, candid interview with Missouri's athletic director with some insight into just how much money the Big Ten is raking in:
Mizzou may get approximately $9 million in television revenue, all things being equal, and Texas would be about $12 million. Then Baylor would be around $7.5 million.
That gap is there, but more importantly, let’s take a look at Illinois. We’re not only competing against our league, we’re competing against Illinois. The question is, what is the difference between what Illinois is getting in revenue distribution from the league — that’s television, basically — and what Mizzou is getting? Ours is $9 million. Illinois’ is $21 million.
And maybe we should be giving Jim Delany more credit for the aspects of his job that do not involve speaking to the media. I'd like to cut this answer but it's all interesting so here you go:
Q: What was the sticking point for the Big 12 [creating its own network]?
A: It had to do with revenue distribution and fear of the unknown. The unknown being that a network had never been done with college athletics before. We had heard rumors about the Big Ten getting ready to do it. So various voices in the room were concerned that we were going into uncharted waters. We have this pretty good contract with ABC, ESPN and Fox, and why would we want to give up a sure thing for a speculative deal? By us backing away from that, the Big Ten went forward with that. It was fear of the unknown. We had the same presentation at the same time by CSTV. CSTV had talked to us at the same set of meetings about starting our own network based upon the theory of ESPN Classic. When ESPN Classic was started, everybody said, “Who’s going to watch this? Old video of teams that used to play, 24-7? How is this going to be successful?”
The same people that started ESPN Classic came to us as a league and wanted us to use a similar model to start our own network, based upon this pro forma that had been shown. And we couldn’t come to a consensus. It was pretty frustrating. So we stayed the course and continued the same direction we were, and what we found is we found today that the SEC contract is worth $205 million per year, the Big Ten contract is worth $190 million per year — and both of those leagues share equally — and the Big 12 Conference contract is worth $80 million per year and we don’t share equally. That is a significant gap.
Back to the topic at hand. Missouri prefers to stay where it is:
We need to keep making Mizzou stronger and stronger and making the Big 12 stronger and stronger. We need to keep saying — and we are — proud members of the Big 12 Conference. We’re fortunate to be associated. If you’re asking me personally, my preference would be to do everything you can to strengthen the Big 12. That’s what you’ve got to do.
But given the whole "freakin' Illinois gets more than double what we do from the conference" thing, they'll listen. Given that and the Big Ten's academic attractiveness, which is something certain folk might not be taking totally seriously…
[Former Big 12 commissioner] Kevin Weiberg was quoted as saying this a few days ago in USA Today — he was commenting on the Big Ten — he said, “Rest assured, this will not be about athletics.” Everybody in our world thinks this is about athletics, but it’s not. Conference realignments are always based primarily on academics.
…but that doesn't mean people suggesting schools that have nothing to offer except academics haven't swung too far the other direction.
Anyway, read the whole thing if you're interested in the subject since it's one of the best interviews I've read recently.
Digression about those numbers above. Why isn't the Big Ten picking off successful Big 12 coaches? IE: why is Gary Pinkel still at Mizzou? Though I basically dismissed Braves & Birds' SEC fixation relative to expansion, he does have a point about Big Ten schools' hiring decisions. Minnesota fired its coach and hired a TE coach. Not even a real position coach! Illinois hired Ron Zook. Michigan State hired a .500 Big East coach with two years of head coaching experience. Purdue brought in Danny Hope, coach of Eastern Kentucky. EKU made the playoffs once in his five-year tenure, losing in the first round. There are a couple of coaches in the league who were elevated in trying circumstances—Fitzgerald and Lynch, but the guys before that were elevated internal hires or MAC coaches.
The one actual A-level hire* in the league the last decade or so was Rich Rodriguez—not exactly setting the world on fire—and the transitions that seemed like the best decisions other than that were Wisconsin grabbing Bret Bielema, who had been a superb defensive coordinator at Kansas State for almost a decade, as a coach in waiting, and Jim Tressel's hiring at Ohio State. (Tressel may have been a I-AA coach but he was a guy who'd won multiple national titles.) The overall picture is of the exact opposite sort of thing going on in the SEC.
Evidence: an Outside the Lines bit from Mike Fish detailing the absurd lengths SEC teams have gone to with their coaching hires. Some of them border on the insane, most prominently the huge outlay Tennessee has made to hire an idiot:
Tennessee was so hot to rid itself of Phillip Fulmer after a 5-7 record in 2008 that it paid a $6 million buyout. This came a year after a 10-win season for which Fulmer had received a contract extension. Then, UT hustled to sign a deal with his successor, guaranteeing Kiffin $14.25 million through the 2014 season. Kiffin will be due $7.5 million if he is fired without cause.
That's actually not quite as outrageous as it's framed, as Fish loves to give overall numbers instead of yearly ones so they seem crazier. But at almost $3 million a year for a guy that definitely wasn't going to get that much from anywhere else—IIRC, Washington was the only other school interested—is an unnecessary outlay before you get to the unprecedented money given to the assistants:
The elder Kiffin is the highest-paid assistant in college sports, guaranteed $1.5 million this year. His $300,000 retention bonus alone, due after the season, isn't far from the interim president's annual salary.
Two other Tennessee football assistants, Ed Orgeron ($1.95 million) and Jim Chaney ($1.17 million), are guaranteed more than $3 million between them for the next three seasons.
Again this guy doesn't do us the service of dividing, but Orgeron is making over 600k per year. And yet if you look at the revenue numbers, Big Ten schools aren't far off the SEC folk.
There's a gap here. I'm not saying I'd like Big Ten teams to blow as much money on questionable hires as the SEC does, but surely they can make better stabs at winning coaches that Tim Brewster. Why is Brian Kelly at Notre Dame? Because half of the Big Ten passed him up.
*(Conventionally defined as a guy who's built a top ten-ish program himself, right?)
Bler recession bler. The Wiz digs up an article noting that schools are actually spending money to lobby congress in favor of the freaking BCS:
Politico reports that Purdue and Michigan have spent $515,000 and $415,000 respectively, to lobby this year against a bill that aims to cut federal money for colleges that participate in a Division I-A season without a playoff.
I tend to blame whichever congressman no doubt from Texas or Utah decided that screwing with federal funding for universities because of sports is a great idea more than either university; obviously a bill like that would be a disaster. It's one thing to goof around with an annoyance bill; this is on another level.
Delicious. If you're like me and still harbor bitterness towards former ESPN exec Mark Shapiro for things like "I'd Do Anything," Sports Media Watch's list of the ten worst sports shows of the decade is fantastic. Most of the shows on it were his idea, and most include brilliant quotes from Shapiro like so:
"Stephen A. is ringing a bell. People like him and dislike him, but they still watch him. These days, it’s hard to find a talent who strikes a chord that way" (SBD, 8/1/05). (On a related note, Shapiro reminisced about lobbying for Smith's hiring in '03: "There were 28 people in the room, and they were all vehement: ‘No way, never, never!’ I said, ‘We’ve gotta get this guy in here.'"
In fact, no one wanted to watch a shouty dwarf and Quite Frankly was an epic bomb.
Etc.: Despite rumors about seemingly every viable Michigan assistant coach out there (Corwin Brown, Vance Beford, and Scot Loeffler), Buffalo goes with Cincinnati offensive coordinator and presumptive future ND OC Jeff Quinn to replace Turner Gill. Quinn had been with Kelly forever, so this is good. Van Damme anger fairy. Vada Murray's latest update is excellent.
Quick reminder. If you haven't filled out Toby Hopp's survey about social media in the sports blogosphere, you should even if you never comment/diarize around these parts. It'll help me as I direct the future evolution of the site, and reward/punish the progenitor of the naked man banner, whichever you prefer.
Roundtree, one of about 10 players and staff members to volunteer at The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County’s toy shop for needy families Wednesday, said he hasn’t talked to Smith recently, but Smith missed a team meeting earlier this week and it’s “looking like” he’ll leave.
AA.com even linked it. I feel all legitimate. To restate the previous opinion: losing a highly-rated guy at a position of need is obviously bad. At least we have clarification now that Michigan will be able to bring in a recruit to replace him.
On the other hand. At the same event, Rodriguez cracked the door open for Boubacar Cissoko:
"I'm under the impression he's trying to work his way back," said Wilcher, who speaks to Cissoko a few times each month. "I know he's working hard at school."
Wilcher said Rodriguez should be applauded for at least giving Cissoko an opportunity to potentially rejoin the team.
"I think the most important thing is that Rich Rodriguez has opened up the door to the thought of letting the kid entertain the thought of working his way back," said Wilcher, who played running back for Michigan from 1983-86. "That should be focused on -- how Rich Rodriguez is not going to turn his back, and at least lets you try to crawl back and prove you can get back by going through the proper procedures."
Michigan obviously needs help in the secondary even of the very short and somewhat toasty variety, and if he manages to limp through the rest of this year without getting in a hint of trouble there might be a rewarding comeback story in there. I've gotten a couple of independent, consistent reports that Cissoko's troubles weren't limited to missing class or practice, so he should have a long way to go. I still think he's a longshot to get back on the team and a longer shot to be a contributor, but I'd love to see the guy work through this and stick, if only for his own sake.
Also, Donovan Warren is at least keeping his options open when it comes to a return:
Michigan’s defensive backfield for next year is still in flux. Teammates have raved about freshman Justin Turner, but cornerback Donovan Warren could return after flirting with the NFL. Rodriguez told people last night that Warren is keeping in contact with the coaches while gathering information.
So I'm saying there's a chance.
Kiper == Gladwell. What do you do when Mel Kiper is seemingly wise by rating Zoltan Mesko and Brandon Graham the best available players at their positions but at the same time declaring this:
Redshirt junior guard Steve Schilling is the No. 4 performer in his class at the position, while redshirt junior Obi Ezeh is the No. 5 inside linebacker among those with a year of eligibility remaining.
This isn't even an old rating; Kiper published this list two days ago($). Has anyone ever made it in the NFL after being benched for a walk-on?
Word. A couple of Florida recruits saw a small sports blog dig up photos they posted on MySpace in eighth grade. In one the kid in question is holding a plastic gun and sixteen dollars. In another, he is wearing a bandana and throwing up an ooh scary gang sign. Naturally, this was picked up by the two big sports blogs that strive daily to become Perez Hilton, with Deadspin's Barry Petchesky opining like so:
"Not for nothing have they garnered the "University of Felons" nickname," Deadspin's Barry Petchesky wrote. "I'm not saying a top recruit posing with a gun and $16 is necessarily a crime, but it's not going to change any impressions."
Raise your hand if you thought you were hard in eighth grade. Thought so. SI's Andy Staples does something unusual and fantastic by getting in touch with the two kids to get their side of the story:
Trail said he's heard from plenty of people about the hand gesture in his picture. "That supposed gang sign I'm throwing up? That's where I stay. That's my neighborhood," he said. "I've thrown that up on the field a lot, and no one has said anything." …
Trail said he couldn't believe an adult would scour recruits' social networking pages looking for embarrassing photos. "If you really care about me that much to go on my MySpace to get a picture of me, point blank, get a life," Trail said.
Where is the right place to draw the line here? The City Boyz Inc. social media pictures were newsworthy because they were current photos of Hawkeyes who had just been arrested for credit card fraud doing unsanitary things with large amounts of money. At that point it's reasonable to say "hey, look at this picture of a guy with thousands of dollars in cash." Scouring the internet for pictures of a kid with sixteen dollars and a plastic gun… eh… not so good.
Since I do a lot of media bashing around here, let me praise Andy Staples: he's been consistently useful since his hiring at SI and is a guy I look forward to reading. With Luke Winn diving into Kenpom stats on a regular basis, SI has a great 1-2 punch in college sports.
Etc.: If you have ESPN insider, Bruce Feldman asked me to argue that Notre Dame should have taken a bowl bid this year. Apologies in advance: it's strictly above the belt. Steve Hutchinson and Jake Long make SI's All-Decade team.
The lamentation of your women.
via user chunkums
He loves it. The lamentation.
All American. I'm pleasantly surprised that both recruiting networks named Brandon Graham to their All-America teams after he was snubbed by the first of the infinite lists that came out—FWAA or something. Graham and Zoltan the Inconceivable also feature on the AP's second team, which is nice. Zoltan got the second team nod at Scout, too.
This Drew Butler kid who stole first team honors and the Ray Guy award… well… probably deserved it. Before you stone me to death—a fate I willingly accept for such heresy—please let me note that Butler averaged almost 49(!) yards a kick and Georgia led the country with a 42.8 yard net average.
Expansion bits. Various notes and errata on possible expansion:
- Sentiment is running strongly against a move to the Big Ten at Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician with 56% opposed to a move versus just 19% in favor. In the comments the most commonly cited reason is John Boeheim, who is credited with assembling the Big East with his bare hands and would instantly quit if he had to play in a different sandbox.
- BHGP points out that the BFD with the CIC is post-grad Research I stuff, not necessarily undergraduate education, which Big Ten schools are supposed to look at as a necessary evil.
- Missouri's chancellor said MU would "listen" to the Big Ten should it come calling, so they will at least flirt with a Big 12 departure.
The useful comment thread from the Grid of Judgment has these additional bits of information:
- Pitt's got a monster endowment: $2.334 billion, according to unnecessarily precise poster Don. That's more than anyone in the league except Northwestern and Michigan.
- Multiple posters suggest that Nebraska is seriously pissed off you guys about Texas's reign as supreme unquestioned ruler of the Big 12 and could really give a crap about the rest of the league save for Colorado. Oklahoma already rotates off their schedule.
- Rutgers is apparently a mediocre school on the decline, which explains why there are so many kids from Jersey at Michigan.
And any thread on expansion comes with an increasingly preposterous series of candidate schools that make sense in no way whatsoever: Texas A&M, TCU, Toronto, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Auburn, Rice—seriously, someone suggested Rice—etc.
Virginia Tech seems plausible at first blush but after UVA fought tooth and nail to get them into the ACC lest the governor get out his pimp hand a jump to the Big Ten seems wildly improbable. They would probably be more willing to jump than any other ACC team since they could give a crap about basketball and don't have longstanding rivalries with anyone in the league. Last time I brought this up I mentioned Boston College as a crazy off-board option, and I guess they remain one. They bring a huge market with them but one that is slightly busy with other things, and they don't fit the Big Ten's huge public research university model. They would get tripped up by the Research One thing.
Pitt still looks like the strongest candidate by far. For people wondering about money, remember that Pitt can be slightly less marketable than the Big Ten average—which I don't think they are given their currently monstrous basketball program—and still be a major asset because of the championship game and increased profitability from the Big Ten Network.
As far as divisions go, there's no way to make them work geographically without turning into a version of the Big 12 on steroids by chucking Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State into the same division. You also can't keep all the rivalries together if Pitt is indeed the pick. You try to split this into six team divisions:
Can't be done without murdering one traditional rivalry or the entire point of putting Pitt in the conference. Missouri is much easier, since you just throw them in with Illinois and Northwestern and put them in the Michigan pod.
I'd prefer an expanded status quo with a ninth conference game, guaranteed rivalry pairs, and a couple byes but apparently you have to have two divisions to have a title game, which is inane but true.
Heismens of all varieties. So the actual Heisman went to a good running back on an undefeated team instead of, you know, the best player in the country. Or even the best running back. A lot of this can be ascribed to the Heisman's bloated list of voters and their lack of accountability. I mean, seriously, here's a guy with a Heisman vote whose ballot read Ingram, Tebow, McCoy:
I never saw Gerhart play an entire game (we work all day Saturday and Saturday night) and only saw a few minutes of Suh’s game against Texas. I refused to vote for somebody based on highlights.
I'm impressed that this guy managed to spin his ignorance into a principled stance against voting "based on highlights" instead of taking a principled stand against voting based on the three football games he saw this year.
So hurrah for the Sports Blog Heisman coming out approximately correct by handing Toby Gerhart the trophy over Ndamukong Suh by one point. Here's guessing that everyone who voted saw Gerhart and Suh for at least one game. Not that bloggers are perfect. A few years ago when Rakes of Mallow was running its now-defunct version of the same thing, the winner was Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, which ugh.
Of course. Here's Fielding Yost curling in a silly hat:
Etc.: Corwin Brown is out at Notre Dame. If there is an opening on the coaching staff, could he fill it? He doesn't coach LBs, unfortunately, but has slayed on the recruiting trail. Wonk asks "What Happened to Michigan?"
Well, damn. BREAKING NEWS(!!!): Brian Kelly is indeed the guy at Notre Dame. Notre Dame fans of the insane variety are hilariously opposed to the move on the grounds that Kelly isn't Bob Stoops, Bill Belichick, or one of the ND Nation moderators; everyone else is terrified that Notre Dame has now acquired a coach with a track record of doing anything at all.
This is probably going to go poorly. Kelly is the most competent coach Notre Dame has hired since Holtz and at the very least should turn Weis's excellent recruiting classes into a genuinely good team in short order. Smart Football says so.
Next year might be meh since his one option at quarterback is going to miss spring practice and large chunks of summer conditioning with an ACL tear, but expecting an implosion similar to the Michigan one is foolhardy: for one he'll have a five-star quarterback throwing to Michael Floyd and plenty of talent on defense if he can get a defensive coordinator to manage it. Something thematically similar to Michigan's 2004 Rose Bowl season might go down. Michigan had to get clutch drives from a freshman quarterback and an onside kick to get to 9-4 that year. A Gator Bowl or something with incredible expectations in 2011 seems the most likely outcome.
This makes the next two years against Notre Dame pivotal for Rich Rodriguez. If Michigan loses to Notre Dame next year against Kelly when he's finally got a quarterback experience edge over someone, anyone, it'll look like a rough year and possibly the end of everything.
There are some minor plusses in the hire: I assume Kelly won't keep Corwin Brown around, which should help Michigan recruit against ND. Also for whatever reason Weis just killed Michigan head-to-head and Kelly can't possibly do better. I've heard conflicting things about what high school coaches in the state think about him, FWIW. I imagine that's something you could say about any coach.
We are so terrible. The basketball… it is not good anymore. I don't really know why, but holy crap:
- Michigan’s defensive rebounding percentage of 60.7% ranks last among all Division 1 major conference teams.
- Michigan’s three point percentage of 28.3% is better than only two major conference teams (Oregon St. and UCLA) yet only two major conference teams (Iowa and Northwestern) shoot more threes than Michigan (3FGA/FGA).
- Michigan is allowing opponents to shoot 52.2% on 2 point field goal attempts, the worst percentage allowed by any major conference program.
Dylan has a few more numbers that look more like Indiana last year than a team with any tourney aspirations. They add up to "ugh."
This season is even worse than what went down in football. Everyone knew this wasn't the #15 team in the country but it shouldn't be a team that will be lucky to make the NIT. (No, seriously. You have to get to .500 and Michigan is going to come out of the nonconference 6-6 unless they beat UConn or Kansas, so then they have to go 9-9 in the Big Ten despite showing no ability to hang with mediocre teams from mid-major-ish conferences.) This is stunning underachievement. And what happens next year when Manny is gone and the only big guys on the roster are Ben Cronin, who may or may not still be broken, Blake McLimans, and Jordan Morgan? Morgan and McLimans are redshirting; Cronin almost literally can't jump.
I know I shouldn't be surprised about anything nasty happening to Michigan sports these days, but seriously… what the hell. There can be no place underachieving expectations across the board like Michigan is these days.
PREWB! Also BREAKING(!!!) is that nine MSU players got tagged with multiple misdemeanor charges based on the video evidence of the frat beat-down. Three more kids ended up suspended, including the other Chris Rucker on the team. Don't recruit guys named Chris Rucker no matter what their middle initial is.
I only mention was seems like a formality because the crack MSU reporters at the Free Press immediately came out with an article arguing that most of the charges would get dropped as various members of the team agree to testify against the ex-members of the team.
Meanwhile, the News gets clarification from Winston's initial victim on what, exactly, happened…
Montgomery, a student at Schoolcraft College, was hanging with friends near the Michigan State campus on Oct. 19, 2008, when Winston approached him and MSU hockey player A.J. Sturges and dropped them both, each with one punch, police said. Montgomery's fractured jaw was wired for six weeks, and Sturges' skull was fractured. …
"I was attacked for no reason. I was not in a fight. I was with a friend, and Glenn Winston came and hit me for no reason at all."
…in a story that has the fantastic lead "Ian Montgomery has an intimate familiarity with Glenn Winston's fist." They also reveal that Jenrette's mysterious redshirt was because of a robbery that happened August 1st of 2008, literally days before Jenrette arrived on Michigan State's campus. Jenrette was already sporting a 2005 offense. Michael Rosenberg's column awaits him.
Again, this is not really about Dantonio, whose public image has taken a hit but will recover in time as long as these things don't keep happening, but the rampant bias at the Free Press that would be funnier every day if it wasn't having a material impact on the local/national perception of Michigan.
Etc.: WVU fans, prompted by bubble pipe professor Matt Zemek's assertion that he'd rather have "integrity and humanity" in the form of Bill Stewart instead of whatever Rodriguez is, debate whether they'd rather have their current coach or our current coach. Opinion is split. CATS 4 GOLD. Sun-Times asserts that Harbaugh actually met with ND officials; tomorrow they announce that Bob Stoops is back in the picture!