well that's just, like, your opinion, man
academic progress rate
I'll miss you, Birds+Books APR image header, except I'll probably still use you
APR threat: downgraded. My annual fretting about the first-year Rich Rodriguez number has been a full-post kind of thing the last few years. This year it gets downgraded to a UV bullet because of this number: 984. That's Michigan's most recent one-year score, and it's shiny enough to get Michigan over the 930 Mendoza line even with that 897 anchor. Hurray for everyone.
Unless Michigan experiences another flurry of transfers—unlikely—the next few June days on which everyone reports APR scores because it's the middle of June will be opportunities to reflect on what a swell guy Brady Hoke is. Officially standing down on APR alert.
Michigan's other sports are all doing well, as per usual.
Playoff: almost officially happening. It seems like we've had articles about the inevitably of a four-team playoff for months now. At some point if the thing is so inevitable people would stop writing about it. No one's writing about players being required to wear helmets this fall. Anyway, it seems like there has finally been a meeting with an actual single endorsed plan. It is this (emphasis added):
While the B.C.S. commissioners did not announce the details of how they would pick the teams for the four-team playoff, a source with direct knowledge of the decision said the plan is for a selection committee to “more than likely” pick the four best teams.
There will be a preference given to conference champions in the selection, but how much is yet to be determined. Strength of schedule will also be strongly considered. There have yet to be any discussions about how the finances will be split among the teams.
The selection committee will subject a sport steeped in regional biases to a different type of controversy, although one that will likely die down a bit now that there will be semifinal and final games. The two semifinal games are expected to be played within the bowl system and the national championship will be bid on like the Super Bowl.
In a joint statement, the 11 conference commissioners and the Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said that they had reached a “consensus behind a four-team, seeded playoff, while recognizing that the presidents will certainly present their views, including a discussion of a Plus-One.”
That's lip service. Presidents are going to rubber stamp it. Pop champagne? It could be better but it's a huge improvement. Other than the Big Ten's self-defeating opposition to home playoff games leading them to perpetual road travels, I'm cool with it. FWIW, even without preferences for conference champions, the SEC would only have grabbed multiple bids three times.
As for where the first one will be, bet on Dallas.
Why not both? This is a revamped sports bar split into MSU and Michigan halves.
VERNON TWP. — Uncle Buck’s Northern Exposure is making a dramatic change in format — from a nearly topless dance club to big-screen sports bar.
In fact, it was an overload of drama, says owner Ken Canfield, that prompted the change, including a different name: Crossroads Sports Bar.
Missed opportunity there.
Hockey schedule: again with the front-loading. Michigan's released the hockey schedule, which again has an extremely light back end. Nine of Michigan's final 12 games are away from home (one is at the Joe) and there are just six home games (and the U18 game) in 2013. Not like they could do anything about that what with the conference going away next year. Price of leaving.
Michigan plays no road games in the slim nonconference portion of the schedule. They've got two against RIT, another one-off versus Bentley, the game at MSG against Cornell, and the outdoor GLI. They'll open against Tech and get WMU or MSU in the second game.
I hope this isn't an indication of where Michigan's nonconference schedule will go when they join the Big Ten. It probably isn't. Red has sought out tough competition as frequently as possible since the program got its footing, and with a whopping 14 games to play with—16 if M makes the trip to Alaska—they should have room for annual series against the big powers.
Context at Maize and Brew.
Should you flip your defense or not? Generally the answer is "not" these days because of spread hurry up stuff. You may remember Michigan doing this a bit early in the year, but that was a stop-gap measure:
Why to Flip
Flipping the defensive positions based on strength of the Offensive formation started as a way to keep teaching simple.
Rather than having to teach a Defensive End to play either lined up either inside a Tight End or outside shade on a Tackle, you could teach him to always align to the strength, meaning he spent all of his time on the Tight End.
The teaching got simpler, as players had to know less about the entire game, and more about their own little piece of tunnel vision. It became easy to know very little about the game while still being a very good and knowledgeable player about your own position.
No more, because if you flip your bits people will run hurry-up on your face and get you confused. Better to have a general understanding these days than a hyper-specific focus. That's a subtle way in which the game's generally increasing specialization is taking a step back.
FWIW, the coach who posted this noted that a number of guys are using field and boundary calls to set their defense instead of opponent alignment. (IE, you line up to the wide side or short side of the field no matter what the offense does.) FWIW, Mattison is one.
More uniform concepts. This time Notre Dame does it to themselves:
The second comment is an image of Chris Hall—life's winner—and his glorious Tom Hammond tie. Well done.
Etc.: UMHoops gives the 1,000-foot view on Michigan's five-man 2012 basketball recruiting class. Rothstein horning in on my season intro column by discussing Hoke's inadvertent marketing genius. Baumgardner has a series on key moments from last football season. I disagree with Baumgardner's take on the 49% TD against Iowa—he seems to think the issue there was whether Hemingway was in, but the real problem was the nose of the ball hitting the ground.
Freeroll part II. Late last year we had a Draftstreet freeroll for anyone interested in testing out their daily/weekly fantasy games, and they've given us the opportunity to run a basketball-focused one that kicks off Thursday. Purchase a starting five with a set salary cap [insert Ohio State joke here] and score more points than anyone else in the pool to win some money.
Enrollment is free and there's $150 up for grabs. Hit the link to sign up, or log in to your existing account.
App status update. I thought the apps were kind of a niche product that a couple twitter mentions and board threads would adequately handle, and in this I was massively wrong. That's good and bad news for me: it's good that we have that kind of engagement and bad because I've annoyed a bunch of people.
Anyway, our status:
- Android. The Android app works for reading. We are still working on getting logins going; hopefully that can happen within a week.
- IPhone. Pushing iPhone apps is a more involved process and we are a little behind here, but reads work on the development copy and a blocking issue with logins has been fixed. We should be able to get an update up within a week or two.
Again, this is my fault for not realizing the test server originally intended to be the place where these apps were developed was still pointing to the main database until it was too late. By that point I'd blown up the kludged-together existing infrastructure. I thought the best course of action was to quickly forge ahead with the new stuff instead of wasting time restoring a system I didn't want to keep around; unfortunately some login issues slowed us down. This is one of the downsides of being a totally independent entity, but the upsides are significant as well.
APR with teeth. Cynics everwhere are surprised by the NCAA's decision to uphold UConn basketball's 2013 postseason ban for crappy APR scores. Power conference basketball outfits have previously gotten hit with scholarship reductions—OSU, Purdue, and Indiana all suffered—but no one has gotten the nuclear bomb of a postseason ban.
High level players are likely to flee at the prospect of not getting to play in an NCAA tourney. With Jim Calhoun's health increasingly an issue, not keeping up with their books seems likely to bust UConn's program status down for years. The UConn Blog:
This would be devastating news for any program, but it is especially crippling for UConn. It will almost certainly encourage any NBA prospects on UConn's roster who had even the slightest doubt about staying to leave for the pros. Recruiting will certainly be hurt as well. Most importantly, Jim Calhoun, who is currently out on medical leave, would have to coach well into his 70s to get the program back to a position of strength. Realistically if he wants to hand off his program in anything close to its usually strong state it would probably require him coaching through the 2014 or maybe even 2015, at which point he'll be 71 or 72.
While that's painful for Huskies fans it does provide the NCAA ammunition for anyone who suggests they won't hurt a power program. Here they even retroactively applied new standards to existing scores, preferring punitive measures over perfect fairness.
The dates! Spring practice dates:
Michigan's spring camp begins March 17, according to a team spokesman, and culminates with a public scrimmage on April 14.
Goodnight, sweet prince. Mike Comrie is calling it a career:
TORONTO -- Mike Comrie, who twice scored at least 30 goals in a season, retired from the NHL on Monday after a third hip operation in five years.
The 31-year-old center announced his retirement two weeks after his latest hip procedure, saying in a statement he was no longer able to "manage the rigors of NHL play." Comrie was limited to 127 games over the last three seasons.
My first year at Yost was also Comrie's first and the magic he worked with the puck was a major reason I fell in love with both Michigan hockey and 5'8" puck wizards. Here's to Comrie lighting it up at an alumni game in the near future.
This is not 'Nam… let's make it more like 'Nam. The NCAA would like to slash out various bits of their rulebooks to pave the way for college town Taj Mahals:
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Bring back athlete-only dorms with unlimited food. Let coaches talk publicly about their recruits. Allow transfers in all sports to immediately play.
Those are among the ideas being discussed as the NCAA tries to produce a slimmer and more efficient rulebook, according to documents obtained by The Birmingham News.
While I'm generally for athletes getting more freedom and money from the NCAA, I dislike the near-free-agency immediate transfers create. I'd love it if kids who got Sabaned could transfer immediately; for everyone else the one-year sit out seems appropriate. Even coaches who are taking advantage of the grad-year transfer rule like Izzo seem to think it's icky.
Everything else, whatever. The parade of secondary violations distracts from actually important matters. In a world where everyone has Facebook communication restrictions on phone calls and texting seem like laws prohibiting whipping your horse.
Nein, Doc Sat, nein. Hinton's suggestions for a four-team playoff:
- Keep the BCS ranking system.
- Put the semifinals at bowl sites.
- Bid out the championship game a la the Final Four/Super Bowl, etc.
- Restrict the field to conference champions (or Notre Dame)
He admits the first is likely to cause a spit-take; I think all but #3. It's unfortunate that many years the Rose Bowl will serve as a consolation prize for the second-place Big Ten team, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for the prospect of home sites with real atmosphere for semifinals both as a person who will watch on TV and one who would attend any time Michigan makes it, home or road.
this >>>>>>> bowl game
I've mentioned this before: I'm probably not going to Dallas this year because I can get a generic NFL stadium experience at many bowl games. If the game was in Tuscaloosa you could not stop me from going. If you shot me in the head, my zombie would rise up and hitchhike to Alabama. A playoff semifinal on the road in Austin or Baton Rouge or Tallahassee is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity far superior to any bowl game. And at home? Good god.
As far as conference champs only, I'm torn about that. Notre Dame remains a problem. If a one loss ND team gets in over a one-loss major conference team ranked higher than them because that team didn't win something ND doesn't even try to, that would be annoying. Given the state of college football it's a much lesser threat than, say, a team that didn't win its own division getting in ahead of an impressive one-loss conference champion.
Etc.: ESPN post asking you to vote on your most disliked Big Ten coach features Bielema, Dantonio, Hoke, and Meyer. If someone on that list seems out of place it's because three of them are likely to coach in a future Rose Bowl.
standard APR picture lead now with more apropos-ness
[sportswriter impression] This time, they're serious. [/sportswriter impression]
No, seriously, they appear to be serious. The NCAA announced (and then quickly approved) a massive increase in the APR's toothiness by requiring a 930 for a sport to participate in postseason play, whether it's the NCAA tournament or bowl games.
That's good for Michigan, which has only brushed up against penalties due to the unprecedented transferfest that took place upon Rodriguez's arrival. Once coaching transitions are out of the way they'll be well clear of 930 in every sport. Meanwhile, teams like Purdue, Ohio State, and Indiana have all seen their basketball programs suffer sanctions for falling beneath the 925 mark. They'll have to be more careful about one-and-dones and academic risks, i.e. recruit more like John Beilein.
As far as football goes, if you're worried about the Rodriguez anchor (an 897 2008 APR), don't be. The Bylaw Blog says the 2014-2015 APR will be the first point at which the new regulation will go into effect. At that point the anchor will have rolled off. The only yearly APR number to count then will be last year's score, an okay 946. Michigan's attrition during this coaching search has been less extensive and more likely to get waived (three medical scholarships and just the one academic implosion). This year's class has a lot of 3.8 GPAs and no immediately apparent academic risks—they'll be fine.
The Bylaw Blog also says it's critical to get rid of the one year lag in the APR. Michigan won't find out its 2010-11 number until next summer. I'd also suggest the thing has to be more transparent. Right now we just get a number; in the future they have to show how they got that number, because it's serious now. It's not going to fly with people if Kentucky basketball can boot seven guys off the team and not even have its APR flinch. Each APR report should come with
- The number of players who got through the year.
- The number of players who left the team
- The number of players who left who the school got a pass for and why
Right now trying to figure out your APR is fraught with difficulty; it needs to be more transparent, within FERPA reason.
Other retreat items
Stewart Mandel highlights these three things as areas the NCAA will look to overhaul in the near future:
Based on comments made this week, and Thursday's evidence that these things really can come to fruition, we should expect major changes in three other areas over the next six to nine months:
• An overhaul of the current enforcement process. Emmert and the presidents spoke universally of a desire to cut down on the many "nuisance rules" (free lunches, text-message limits, etc.) that take up an inordinate amount of compliance officers' time while beefing up penalties for deliberate, egregious rules violations. This will likely include expanding the classifications for infractions from the current and vague duo of "major" and "secondary."
• Allowing individual conferences, if they so choose, to implement full cost-of-attendance scholarships (as Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany first pushed for last spring) and/or multiyear scholarships. The obvious implication is that only the richest conferences could afford to do so, which in traditional NCAA parlance represents dreaded "competitive equity" issues. But the presidents seem to be lock-step with the commissioners in believing said imbalance already exists.
• Raising initial academic eligibility standards both for high school seniors and juco transfers. No specifics were offered, but they could be along the lines of SEC commissioner Mike Slive's proposal to increase incoming students' minimum core GPA from 2.0 to 2.5.
Kelvin Sampson and his quivering upper lip are listening to "Killing Me Softly" on repeat. It's time for more Selfish Homer Perspective!
- Overhaul enforcement to cut down on nuisance rules + hamsandwiching real violators: Can we retroactively de-major our stretching/GA violations? No? Bollocks. Good for Michigan and its general lack of "deliberate, egregious rules violations."
- Full cost of attendance: Not relevant in football and basketball since anyone Michigan is recruiting against will implement FCOA. I guess we won't lose QB recruits to Tulsa. Good to very good in smaller sports: some elite hockey programs are D-II and may not be able to afford a system-wide FCOA; 3-5k per year can't hurt when it comes to battling OHL teams; a lot of equivalency sports do recruit against MAC-type schools that happen to be very good in some smaller sports (Akron soccer, various baseball schools) and this is basically extra scholarships for them.
- Raising initial standards. I will believe this one when I see it but clearly good for Michigan, which is attractive to high-academic kids and never takes JUCOs.
And now the Student Welfare Gadfly perspective:
- Enforcement overhaul: Meh.
- FCOA: obviously good as it actually funnels some of the insane buckets of cash to the kids making those—and apparently all the ones spending it, but I'd rather it goes there than a coach or administrator.
- Initial standards: Tricky. Slive's proposal didn't prohibit kids who fell under the standards from attending, I believe, it just prevented them from playing. Kids in school taking up roster space having to learn is good; shuffling more of them off to dubious JUCOs is not so much.
Mandel is gobsmacked by how sensible everything sounds and how quickly they made a huge structural change with the APR stuff and it's hard to argue. The NCAA seems serious this time around. Seriously.
Michigan's latest APR score (covering year two of Rodriguez) is a 946. This:
- is about on par with Michigan's recent average outside of the initial year of attrition, and
- is exactly one point better than what I guessed they'd need to stay above the 925 mark
- leaves their multiyear APR just above the Mendoza line at 928.
So no penalties. Even if Michigan had dropped below 925 they would have had to have a player leave ineligible to get hit, but… uh… Tate Forcier. So phew.
Next year they'll have to do better than 918—that's the score that drops off—to keep their head above water. That should be doable as long as the transition attrition isn't as bad as Rodriguez's, which it doesn't appear it will be.
FWIW, all of Michigan's other sports are fine. Most have a vastly better graduation rate than the university. Most impressive is basketball's 988.
Internet: frighteningly comprehensive. Don't ask about Rule 54 here.
Update on a deceased fellow. I made some offhanded reference to Horace Prettyman, how ridiculous a name that was, and how it was obviously a few guys on the football team having a laugh a couple days ago, but a reader points out one Horace Greely Prettyman has his own extensively researched wikipedia article detailing a life full of accomplishments. Specifically, he scored the first-ever touchdown in Ann Arbor:
In 1883, Michigan resumed a schedule of intercollegiate football, and Prettyman played "forward" for the team. The team played its first ever home game at the Ann Arbor Fairgrounds in March 1883, a 40-5 win over the Detroit Independents. Prettyman scored the first touchdown at the Fairgrounds at the 14-minute mark of the "first inning" and went on to score a second touchdown before the end of the inning.
The team played its remaining games as part of an Eastern trip in November 1883. The trip consisted of four road games in eight days at Wesleyan and Yale in Connecticut, Harvard in Massachusetts, and Stevens Institute in Hoboken, New Jersey.
The trip cost $3,000 and was arranged "to both represent and advertise the college among the Eastern cities and universities."Prettyman was placed in charge of the trip, and The Michigan Argonaut praised his management: "All the boys are most hearty in their commendation of Prettyman's excellent management of the financial interests of the trip and his success is seen by the fact that every expense of the trip has been paid to the last cent."
If Prettyman hadn't died in 1945 there's a good chance he would have tracked me down—he was the local postmaster for a long time—and strangled me.
And as long as we're looking up very old photographs of football players, here's Yost with a killer mustache in 1896:
Mustache Wednesday? Come on, baby.
Er, well then. Yesterday's post on Full Cost Of Attendance—apparently this year's conference expansion— made a large assumption: the change would be localizable to certain athletes. Adam Rittenberg says this is wrong:
If the proposal is adopted at the NCAA level (more on this later), it would affect every athlete on a full scholarship. A women's soccer goalie would have the same scholarship structure as a quarterback. "What we're talking about is not limited to football and men's basketball," Hawley said. The proposal wouldn't impact athletes on partial scholarships.
Or is it? The only "headcount" sports—no dividing scholarships—are basketball, football, women's tennis, women's gymnastics, and women's volleyball. Schools that don't wish to put the world on FCOA could just offer partial scholarships in sports that aren't the above.
But that still increases the burden of FCOA considerably, especially at football schools that almost universally feature volleyball for Title IX purposes. Jim Delany Machiavelli Rating: incremented.
Happening? Happening. Mike Slive is on board with this, by the way. SEC + Big Ten equals probably happening.
Good advice for anyone. Nate Silver is an interesting guy, and here's a speech he gave to a bunch of prospective journalists about what they should do in This Environment. The Big Lead contrasts this with Rick Reilly's "don't write for free" speech. The former is useful, the latter clueless.
This is good advice for anyone:
Learn how to make an argument. This is something that came naturally
to me as a former high school debater. One of the things that distinguishes (quote unquote) "new journalism" from some of its more traditional forms is that the reader is really going to be looking for analysis, meaning, context, argument. Unless you come across some really fresh and proprietary information ‐‐ it's great to get a scoop, but it won't happen very often ‐‐ it's not enough just to present the information verbatim.
One of the flaws of political journalism, in fact, is that a lot of what amounts to spin is given authority by being reported at face value.
Instead, the reader is going to be asking you to develop a hypothesis, weigh the evidence, and come to some conclusion about it ‐‐ it's really very much analogous to the scientific method. Good journalism has always done this ‐‐ but now it needs to be done more explicitly.
If you don't know how to make an argument you spend a large amount of time putting together statistics on how many college athletes get arrested only to find yourself widely ridiculed for not even bothering to provide context. In the past you could just say something and the worst that would happen would be a nasty letter to the editor from a crotchety old guy; now your arguments have to be bulletproof (or at least, you know, try a little) lest you get eviscerated.
Silver also suggests journalists learn what to do with numbers, which is something I harp on consistently.
APR bite. While football APR penalties have generally been restricted to the San Jose States of the world, small squad sizes and NBA departures have made the APR an actual toothy thing in college basketball. A couple years ago Indiana, Purdue, and Ohio State all got hit in the offseason. This year UConn feels the wrath:
The national champion Connecticut men's basketball program will lose two scholarships for the upcoming season as a result of a poor Academic Performance Rating from the NCAA. …
The rating puts the basketball program's four-year rating at 893, below the NCAA minimum score of 925. The score for the 2009-10 academic year is 826.
The NCAA's real minimum is 900 but it's interesting that UConn is failing where Kentucky is apparently succeeding. I wonder what they're doing differently in Lexington. The Huskies won't be getting off the mat any time soon, either: their score from last year is 844. Barring a miracle their APR is going to be under 900 for the next few years.
The full report is supposed to come out today; I'll get Michigan's scores up ASAP but probably not as quickly as the guy with the fastest trigger finger on the message board.
What's this oh those are my multiple defense hives welcome back hives I hate you I hate you I hate you aaaah. You may have noticed that Michigan has recruited a lot of linebackers. Farmington Hill Harrison's Mario Ojemudia, a high school defensive tackle who people are projecting as a WDE, wasn't supposed to be one of them but showed up at the recently completed Columbus Nike camp looking like a linebacker, and not one of those linebackers you can turn into a WDE. This may be the cause for another round of "are we moving to a 3-4" last featured in a mailbag here; this time it's a post at Maize N Brew detailing the various teams that moved to the 3-4 and how they mostly got a bunch better.
I don't think this is happening. As I mentioned in that mailbag post, moving to a 3-4 does not reduce your linebacker overage because a well-stocked spot—WDE—becomes a linebacker spot filled by—surprise—those WDEs. I think Mattison has explicitly stated he will run a 4-3 under at Michigan and only a 4-3 under even if I can't find the quote right now, and GOOD LORD LET'S JUST DO ONE THING FAIRLY WELL BEFORE WE START CHANGING AGAIN AAAAAAH—
Etc.: Yost Built profiles new defenseman Mike Chiasson, who does mean no Burlon next year. Unusually for Michigan, Chiasson is 20 now and will be one of those 24-year old seniors popular amongst teams that don't have a lot of NHL draft picks on their rosters. Chad Langlais was the most recent example at Michigan and that worked out well.
this will soon be the literal truth, literally
This site has fretted about, then documented the bad things massive attrition under Rich Rodriguez did to Michigan's Academic Progress Rating. The APR is a complicated number that's supposed to equate a 60% graduation rate to 925. Once you drop below that the NCAA starts glaring at you. Michigan put up a 897 in 2010, a 940 in 2009, and a 918 in 2008 (Carr's last year). They need a 945 this year to keep their head above water; that 897 will be an anchor for the next three years.
Right now, dropping below 925 doesn't automatically start hurting you. Between 900 and 925 the only punishments are a one-for-one scholarship reduction for every player who leaves ineligible. This results in yearly complaints about the various schools that didn't meet the minimum but didn't get punished. It's confusing and a little limp-wristed.
That would change if random NCAA committee has its way:
Currently in the Academic Performance Program, teams face two penalty benchmarks – 925 for more immediate penalties and 900 for longer-term, more serious sanctions. The committee is proposing the penalty structure be consolidated, with a single benchmark set at a projected 50 percent GSR. [Ed: this is estimated to be 925-930.]
While the 50 percent GSR is considered a minimum standard, Harrison said the committee also recommends that the long-term goal be stated clearly for the membership to raise the expectations above a projected 50 percent GSR.
Eliminating that grace zone and a lot of the exemptions that go with it is probably a good idea in the wider view. Right now you get things like South Florida dropping under the 925 level, losing ground the next year without penalty (which totally happened but I can't find the relevant link—their numbers are the worst the BCS FWIW), or Kentucky basketball graduating half of the 60% minimum but still checking out A-OK. Right now the APR is weaker than it should be.
In the shorter view, Michigan David Letterman puts his finger under his collar to go "yeeargh" when he reads this proposed penalty for dropping under the 925-ish level that corresponds to a 50% GSR:
Level One: Public notice and a financial aid penalty of 10 percent from the four-year average of total aid awarded. If the team demonstrates improvement, the financial aid penalty would be reduced to 5 percent. For example, a Football Bowl Subdivision team that awards the full complement of scholarships would be penalized nine overall counters and three initial counters at the 10 percent level, while men’s and women’s basketball would be penalized two scholarships.
Hypothetically, not hitting a 925-ish APR results in scholarship penalties equivalent to the worst NCAA sanctions in twenty years. That's level one! If you get to level two you have to eat your own face. Albert Lin writes your obituary if you hit level three.
A change that drastic would have to come with a lot of warning. (I mean, right? /finger under collar) Presumably by then Michigan will have pulled its APR out of the danger zone, at which point they'd be cheering on any NCAA committee itching to rip the spine out of schools not as committed to graduating kids. So… a qualified hurrah with the stipulation this has to be one of those committee-type timelines where it takes forever to do anything.