Meram is scoring some sweet-ass goals of late
big ten expansion
It's was sunny and lovely out yesterday in Michigan. Sunday night's storm swept the humidity aside and deposited rain where it belongs: on my lawn. So why did it feel like that sun was a little darker, that sky a little hazier, this July a little less nice than the June that preceded it? Oh, right.
— Maryland Athletics (@umterps) June 30, 2014
It's official: our moms are forcing us to play with Scott Malkinson.
Why is this happening again? Well they're joining for the money: both schools have had relatively bad athletic departments who over-leveraged themselves in the big sport facility and coaching arms races, Rutgers less so than Maryland, but then Rutgers was about to wind up trapped in the sinking ship of the Big East/American. Maryland has massive debt from its building projects and the ACC ain't gonna pay them, so they were ready to whore themselves out to whichever conference came along, even if it meant an end to their relationship with Duke.
(No, Penn State fans don't care about either as rivals.)
The real question is why in the heck we'd want them. It's cable TV. Starting with the Big Ten, the big conferences have been getting in on the great scam of cable bundling. Cable providers have monopolies in their markets, and are second only to the military-industrial complex in political spending, all so they can force subscribers into all-or-nothing tiers of hundreds of channels to get one they want (and try to charge people extra to not get their internet slowed).
|Big Ten's Expansion Plan: rip off the cable companies after they rip off America. [Image credit: HuffPo]|
This works out very well for the cable giants but leaves them a particular vulnerability to any network with a sports license. Fiercely loyal college football fans will scream at their cable providers if they can't watch the game, and advertisers lust after sports because they're the last of the DVR-proof live events, so cable providers pay out the nose for the network with the game. Then they place that network on a relatively accessible tier that everybody in that market must pay for, and raise prices accordingly.
In this way, if there are just enough A&M fans in Dallas, every cable subscriber in Dallas will pay an extra $5/month to the SEC and its partner (ESPN). If there are just enough Missouri fans in St. Louis, if there just enough Maryland fans in D.C. metro area, if there are just enough Rutgers fans in New York City, etc. The Big Ten schools are gambling on there being enough Rutgers fans to scam $5/month from everyone in New York. So far they've already got New Jersey and Maryland.
The gamble for the schools is they think they'll sell out the stadiums no matter who's visiting, so who gives a damn if it's Maryland visiting instead of Wisconsin. The fans aren't going to see a dime of the Comcast deal (at least not at Michigan—most schools are a little less adversarial to their fans) and just have to decide to put up with the new faces, or not.
In the list of downsides, there are worse things that can happen than having Wisconsin disappear forever, or the invention of more derived, ugly trophies. So long as it ends with Ohio State and MSU is in there, it's a Michigan season, while any Notre Dame or Minnesota you can sprinkle in is appreciated. To put the loss in context I thought I'd look through Michigan's history with the conference with respect to the frequency we've faced various conference rivals.
A History of Western/Big Ten Conference Scheduling
Early years (1892-1906): Prior to the invention of the conference, Michigan already played some of its future rivals. They played Chicago twice in 1893 (both on the road), and even after joining the conference Michigan had an extra (non-conference) game against Chicago's med students.
|Hey, just 'cause we left you guys aren't supposed to be rivals. [Chicago vs. Minnesota in 1916.]|
There were seven teams in the original 1896 conference—Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Chicago—with Indiana and Iowa joining in 1899. Teams customarily only played games in October and November, and Michigan played anywhere from two to five conference opponents a year. The 1906 team (the last before leaving the conference for a time) played just one conference game (Illinois) among five games plus an alumni exhibition.
If there was any pattern to this, it's that Michigan and Chicago would play every year except 1899 and 1906. There were a few stretches of other rivals lasting not more than four years. The newcomers (Indiana 1900-'03, Iowa 1900-'02) apparently were guaranteed some starter games with Michigan. Wisconsin (1899, 1902-'05) was the next-most regular. Northwestern and Michigan only played twice before M left. Once we did, we played Minnesota twice but nobody else.
[after the jump, we lose Chicago, gain worse]
HELLO LADIES (not like that). If you took in yesterday's softball double-header you got 14 innings of tension, home runs, and dugout gibbering capped by what has to be the nuttiest final inning I've seen in the sport: Michigan, down one, clubs back-to-back first-pitch homers off one of the best pitchers in the country to go up one, then puts someone on base for the final batter, who hits a rocket that…
…NOPE. Michigan had just blasted a ball over the centerfield fence that none of the outfielders bothered to move on, and this particular ball seemed harder-hit than that. It must have been on more of a line or really temporarily heavy or something. CF Lindsay Doyle was given an opportunity for the walk-off rob of a potential walk-off homer, which she took.
Even Carol Hutchins, an outpost of Red-like reserve in a sport that has a lot of jumping up and down, was momentarily baffled into GIF-worthiness.
You and me both. The catch was Sportcenter's #1 play, which is pretty remarkable on a day that had plenty of baseball and NBA action.
Michigan advances to their ninth super regional in ten years of the current format; they'll travel to Tallahassee to take on the #8 overall seed Florida State. FSU is hosting their first super ever at an impressive 53-6. The best two of three series kicks off Thursday at 7 on ESPN.
Victory. The Michigan money cannon remains undefeated:
EDSBS Bowl 2K14 closed at midnight last night, and the total for the week's fundraising is staggering and very much awesome: $33,250.85 raised for Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta, all from your contributions. …
University of Michigan $10,183.68
University of Georgia $4,024.20
Notre Dame $2,249.32
University of Alabama $1,977.55
Georgia Institute of Technology $1,969.72
Auburn University $1,716.40
Well done, gentlemen. I have excellent news: in honor of the cannon, RRISA is naming their conference room something Michigan themed. Orson has asked us for suggestions, so I throw it open to the MGoPeanutGallery. Please keep in mind that we are trying to retain people's goodwill, so something like "Leaders and Best (unlike all non grads)" would not be good.
[11:27 AM] Spencer Hall: If there's a huge Michigan painting, they'll put it up there
[11:27 AM] Spencer Hall: seriously
Anyone that wants to provide a candidate shoot me an email.
Stauskas time. Nik Stauskas didn't shoot at the NBA combine but that's not to say he didn't shoot at all in the past week. A few gents put on a workout beforehand, and Stauskas proved that he is the unstoppable workout freak($) that you may have seen on youtube:
None of them disappointed Monday. During early shooting drills, Stauskas had the lead early, hitting 47 of his first 50 attempts. At the end of the workout, it was McDermott who couldn't miss, beating everyone with 13 3-pointers in 35 seconds. … Each player takes roughly 100 3-point attempts during a workout. On most days, Stauskas and McDermott are shooting about 85 percent. That's really remarkable.
That is nuts.
Chad Ford also notes that Stauskas looked "terrific" in the various ballhandling drills at this workout and is… wait for it… also grab a beer… "making a play to be more than just a shooter." While Stauskas isn't likely to be an NBA PG unless his team wants him to gently escort opposing points to the basket, his ability to get his own shot and excellent P&R skills will see him be more than just a shooter. Ford has Stauskas #12 now and thought he was upwardly mobile even before he put up impressive combine numbers:
Michigan's Nik Stauskas and Creighton's Doug McDermott really shined, as well. Stauskas was especially impressive. He measured with a 35.5-inch max vert, a 10.79 lane agility score, a 2.92 shuttle run and a 3.27 sprint. Those were all very good numbers and should boost his draft stock.
I know you are thinking about what I am thinking: what about the Pistons? Detroit needs shooting, and they need someone who can run a pick and roll with Andre Drummond without resorting to miserable off-balance jumpers. DX's latest mock has them taking McDermott. While that makes sense, as currently constituted Detroit could use a guy who can play 1-3 with bad defense a lot more than a guy who can play 3-4 with bad defense. Also, McDermott seems constitutionally incapable of being an okay defender because he's such a tweener; a hypothetical NBA Stauskas coached by Stan Van Gundy could be all right down the road, especially if Caldwell-Pope can be the 3-and-D guy.
If Detroit stays at eight I'd say there's a pretty good chance Stauskas ends up being the player who makes the most sense. Other than McDermott, guards/wings available at eight are likely to include Tyler Ennis, James Young, Rodney Hood, Gary Harris, and Zach LaVine. Only Hood and McDermott are in Stauskas's universe as a shooter, and Gary Harris being more 6'2" than 6'4" probably eliminates him.
Also in Michigan draftee news, DX's post-combine mock has Robinson and McGary as the last two picks of the first round.
All right, all right. Eighty-seven people have emailed or tweeted me about the latest indicator that things aren't going well on the season ticket front, so I am compelled to reproduce it:
The existence of such a thing isn't much of a surprise… except you'd think they'd translate "Added Value Opportunities" into English before releasing it to the world. The outstanding quality of the athletic department is how remarkably ham-handed they are at being marketers. This is supposedly Brandon's expertise and he's throwing powerpoint slides at the public.
The lord's work. Deadspin continues its excellent series demolishing bad arguments the NCAA tries to muster in its favor. The latest to meet the guillotine: competitive balance.
…my own research in 2011 showed that of the 1,000 top recruited athletes over a decade, 99.3 percent went to power conference schools. … the truth is that the current rules seem to lock in imbalance, and prevent would-be upstarts from building recruiting momentum.
That makes intuitive sense. A team can't put its money where its mouth is if it really really wants a guy that another school wants. When compensation is fixed* all choices are about things other than compensation.
And since it's currently impossible to make the system more unbalanced…
*[I guess it does technically move based on the value of a degree from school X. That is not going to be a huge consideration for many football players. See: every player ever citing academics as a reason he went to school Y, no matter what that school is. "I have chosen Wyoming School Of Finger Twiddling for its excellent academics," etc.]
Pyrrhic press conferences for 1000. When the press gets the temerity to ask a question that leads to this answer…
"No buyer's remorse at all," Delany said Wednesday after the Big Ten administrators' meetings. "When I go to Jersey, I go to New York, I go to support, not to judge."
…things are not going well in the PR realm. Jim Delany just described visiting his sister in rehab.
No surrender. O'Bannon plaintiffs have asked the court to ditch the individual damages in their lawsuit and, as a side effect, ditch the jury.
The plaintiffs' lead attorney, Michael Hausfeld, told ESPN that forgoing the effort to seek damages for the individuals who are named in the lawsuit streamlines the case, making it all about stopping the NCAA from continuing to prevent athletes from sharing in the media revenues they help generate. …
The filing by the plaintiffs aims to focus all of the attention on whether the NCAA's economic model should be changed. It's an attempt to avoid the messiness of sorting out who may have been harmed for past wrongs, and to what degree.
That would be the NCAA's worst nightmare, as judge Claudia Wilken is the person issuing statements like "I don't think amateurism is going to be a useful word here." It seems like the NCAA's best shot is to bamboozle a jury with the arguments Deadspin is currently blowing up.
As with any story about the O'Bannon lawsuit, we have a new opportunity to point and laugh at the NCAA's beleaguered lawyers.
The NCAA objected to the new move by Hausfeld to drop the damages claim. The association's lawyers wrote Wednesday night that they were "surprised and troubled by the Plaintiffs' last minute and abrupt decision to attempt to avoid having a jury decide" the case, calling it a "last ditch effort to change course in this litigation."
…Hausfeld dismissed the NCAA's argument.
"There's always been a damages claim and an injunctive claim," he said. "If they haven't been paying attention to the injunctive claim, it's inexplicable."
Well, they are very busy these days.
It'll be a while. Brian Kelly said something about playing Michigan, so everyone gets asked about it again. Dave Brandon has had "zero talks" with Notre Dame about resuming the series. It would take a lot of pride-swallowing for Brandon to do such a thing. The chances of that seem… low.
The earliest Michigan and ND will talk about playing again will be after both places have new athletic directors, and even then they'll be scheduling ten years out. This year's game is the last for probably 20 years. Well done, college football.
Old mascots are always the best. If you could guarantee me that Michigan's hypothetical mascot would look like it was put together at the local insane asylum's arts and crafts night, I would be on board. Hellmascot part 4,210 is MSU, 1966:
No, no money for athletes. Somehow all of this manages to get sucked up despite MSU not adding sports:
"I think it was about 2000, our budget was right around $25 million and today it's $94 million," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said. "And it's real easy to take a quick look on where the allocation of those funds have gone, and so much of it — there is the coaching salary component that kind of stands out."
Wait, save that!
"But there's a much larger chunk that has gone to escalation of scholarships and services provided."
All right. What might these things be?
"It used to be a coach and a trainer kind of handled everything. Well now there's somebody to teach you how to cook, there's somebody on some campuses that do the cooking, that show you how to shop."
They have to invent ways to burn this money. That is the situation. They are so far up their own butts that they think they should be taught to cook and shop like they're in finishing school with Betty Draper. How about you give them the money and they decide whether they should spend it on a guy teaching them how to shop* or, like, anything else.
Meanwhile, Michigan made a profit of 90 million dollars from 2007-08 to 12-13, an average profit of $15 million per year. That's going to be great when I get my dividend check.
*["So this green stuff I have… I hand it to the man behind the counter. You don't get any green stuff. But if you had some green stuff, you could give it to the man behind the counter"]
Etc.: I still can't believe Gordon F. Gee was paid like 12 times what an average university president makes. GRIII did well at the combine. No beer at Michigan, because I would do anything for money but I won't do that. Good on Mark Schissel for making Michigan's compensation structure more transparent. Maryland previewed. TJ Leaf has a top four and is visiting soon.
I'll miss you, terror books. Not really.
Aaand it falls off. I've been doing annual APR posts the past few years because Michigan was in a dodgy spot after the Carr/Rodriguez transfer year saddled Michigan with a horrendous 897. That plus an also-dismal 918 in Carr's last year put Michigan within shouting distance of penalties, which they avoided by putting up a series of nice numbers. Since Hoke's arrival Michigan has largely avoided academic risks, so it was just matter of time before that 897 fell off and Michigan shot up. It just did.
Drumroll… Michigan's football APR is now 975. The constituent scores:
- 2010: 942
- 2011: 984
- 2012: 981
- 2013: 985
Their 975 places them fourth in the Big Ten, behind Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Nebraska; if they continue on their current mid-980s rate they'd pass Nebraska but still remain third if everyone else is static.
So hooray. The main upshot of this is that OSU assistants can't send out APR lists in novelty fonts claiming "the stats don't lie" or make charts that aren't even sorted correctly because their players managed to get through Pokémon 401. (But not Sort Function In Excel 330.) OSU's APR is now worse than Michigan's.
Oh, and the NCAA will not do bad things. Meanwhile, at Southern University…
Oooooof. RT @JonSolomonCBS: All Southern University teams also have APR postseason bans due to unusable data. Ouch.
— Bill Connelly (@SBN_BillC) May 14, 2014
…several people just got fired with prejudice.
Reload and fire at will. EDSBS Bowl reaches day four with Michigan still staggeringly far out ahead of the pack with 5.4k to Auburn's 1.3k. Give us the significance of your donation in the comments.
When in need of vague hand-waving that means nothing, call in the right man. Dave Brandon and Mark Hollis will testify for the NCAA in the Ed O'Bannon case. Hollis will claim that his deposition would better on an aircraft carrier on the moon; Brandon will tell the opposition lawyer that he "knows a little something about branding" 18 times. After each, the lawyer will calmly explain the question had nothing to do with branding.
Well then. Alabama tailback Derryck Henry took a photograph of himself in front of an expensive new car that he said was his, creating little "BAGMAN!" tornadoes across the internet. These are the natural order. This is a bit outside of it:
I'm a little dubious that title was on the table for White, a nondescript three-star recruit, but it could be one of those deals like the Clarett/Pryor thing where the dealership lets you "test drive" the car for months. In any case, yes some guy gave this dude a car or money or whatever and the NCAA will not do anything about it so our choices are to be uselessly smug or repeal all this crap that's not getting enforced anyway.
An odd fit, yes. Will Leitch makes a good point about replay in basketball: because of the nature of the game, sometimes there are things that are going to be both wrong and right at the same time. An event from late in the Clippers/Thunder game 6 blew up twitter, demonstrating the problem.
… it is clear that Barnes fouled Jackson; even more clear, perhaps, than that the ball was off Jackson last. At this point, the referees had a decision to make. Should they follow the rules of replay to the letter and award the ball to the Clippers? Or should they make the right call, which was to give the ball to the Thunder?
They gave the ball to the Thunder, which Leitch describes as "vigilante officiating." That stuff happens all the time on out of bounds situations. Fouls are committed but let go when the ball goes out of bounds and is awarded to the other team. Once you start reviewing those you upset the delicate balance there. Basketball replay is inherently goofy because of that.
At least those reviews sometimes amount to something, unlike college basketball's unceasingly tedious replays for flagrant fouls that never, ever come back with a flagrant.
I would be in favor. With Notre Dame due to become a fading memory and replacements ranging from yawn to moderately interesting, I would be down with Tom Fornelli's radical solution to college football breaking itself:
ACC, Big Ten and SEC could solve all their scheduling problems in one simple step. Ditch non-conference games, stay within your conference, continue to foster the regional rivalries that made this sport so popular to begin with, and then send your champion to the playoff to take on the winners of the other conferences.
This is more of a problem for the ACC and SEC, which have a number of annual rivalries that would be set on fire by this. The Big Ten has none of those now. ND-MSU, you say? Mark Hollis just admitted that their series with the Irish is "gone," save for occasional games in the future.
So, yeah, I'd be happier with Michigan dumping MAC games and playing a near-round-robin against the conference. It will never ever happen in a million billion years, I acknowledge. But it would be better.
Numbers. Bill Connelly's got a charting project going that returns numbers. With the disclaimer that not all games were charted and therefore things might be skewed by sampling bias (12 NW games are in versus two Wisconsin games, but then again there were only 2 A&M games versus ten for Tommy Tuberville's Cincinnati), here are some overall trends:
49% [of plays] took place without a huddle, 51% came with a huddle.
Without a huddle does not necessarily mean hurrying, of course. Lots of outfits don't huddle but will use chunks of the playclock for check-with-me. I'm actually surprised the no-huddle percentage isn't higher.
56% came from a shotgun formation, 26% with the quarterback under center, and 18% from the pistol.
Would be fascinated to see how this developed over the last ten years.
On pass plays, the defense rushed four defenders at the passer 61% of the time, five 19% of the time, three 11% of the time, six or more 8% of the time, and one or two just 0.3% of the time.
Michigan was not far away from this, FWIW.
On standard downs, 26% of pass attempts were marked as a play-action attempt of some kind. On passing downs, 11% were play-action.
Every single one of the passing down play action plays was Al Borges running a waggle from a big formation on second and eleven. Holy crap. I can't believe he did that with the running game he had. This joke isn't funny anymore.
Etc.: 2015 hockey commit Kyle Connor might be a big deal: THN ranks him 9th for next year's NHL draft. Stay away from killer robots (and the OHL), Kyle.
Penn State fan loses respect for NFL because Michael Sam got drafted. How Iowa makes NFL recruits. Man no one should listen to says playoff will stay at 4 teams. Iowa, preseason darling? Soccer announces a tough schedule. The next time someone tells you that athletic departments don't make a profit, remind them that the scholarship money counted as debt is fiction.
Michigan adds Jon Jansen to their broadcast team.
But have you thought about Tokyo? Assertions abound that the Big Ten might fling a conference tournament to DC:
Hearing the Big Ten Tournament will be moved out of Indianapolis and to Washington DC for at least one year. Disappointing. #iubb
— Justin Albers (@Justin_Albers) May 4, 2014
That would be convenient for Maryland fans and the expat lawyers Big Ten schools fling to major metropoli across the country. Not so much anyone else who cares about basketball—the only other schools within one BILLION miles of DC are Penn State and Rutgers. But we must #footprint and #footprint and #footprint until our #footprints are #footprinted across the land.
All right. The Big East and Big Ten have announced one of those challenge-like things, though this one is partial:
The Big Ten and the Big East on Monday will announce a new partnership, the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual series of eight games between the two conferences that will run through 2020.
All of these games will come in the first week of the season, a time generally reserved for Michigan versus Five Guys We Found On A Farm, Yes We're Pretty Sure They're People. Every Big Ten team will participate at least four times in the eight-year deal. (That leaves eight free slots over the eight years, FWIW.)
Thanks, I guess. Corn Nation points out a thing:
Q: How will the seeding committee determine which teams play in which semifinal?
A: In theory, priority will be given to placing the No. 1 seed in the bowl geographically closest to its campus. For instance, if Florida State is No. 1, it would play in the semifinal at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, which would send the No. 2 team to the Rose Bowl.
So the CoFoPoff acknowledges that being close to home is a nice thing. Wonderful. Let's envision a scenario where Purdue finishes the year #1 to the committee. They get slotted in…
Atlanta! Congratulations, Purdue.
Corn Nation's not too happy about that:
TRADITION! was the battle cry for Delany, the world "tradition" meaning "bullshit most of you will still buy" as any pretense that college football is about money has been swept away by more, more, more of it. TRADITION! - even though the Big Ten expanded with Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland throwing out decades of tradition - but Delany knowing that all those alums from Michigan and Ohio State and et al would buy into "tradition" because they've been eating that Rose Bowl bullshit so long that they don't realize what low-grade bullshit it is.
Hey man don't look at me I was advocating home sites just like everyone else from the #footprint that offered an opinion.
Draft projections. With the deadline passed, people get serious about their mock drafts. Results are good for Stauskas:
"Stauskas seems to be garnering more and more buzz of late," Ford wrote. "His abilities as a shooter with deep range and a quick release are unquestioned. It's his ability to also play a little point guard that has moved him into the lottery. This is the highest he has been ranked on our Big Board, and I don't think it's out of the question that he could go even higher when all is said and done. The Sixers, Nuggets, Wolves and Suns are all options in the lottery."
Robinson's hanging on to the end of the first round on Ford's draft but not DX; Chad Ford and DX don't have McGary in the first round. I have to believe that as it gets late in that first round some good team is going to think they could use a pile of rebounding and enthusiasm who's at least going to be a good player.
Good idea. I give it ten seconds to live. Penn State is going to visit Georgia State's camp en masse this summer:
New Penn State James Franklin and his entire staff will work as guest coaches for Trent MilesFootball Camp at Georgia State on June 10.
The radical arrangement appears to be a win-win for both programs: Penn State gets to personally evaluate high school players who would never travel to its camps in Pennsylvania, while Georgia State will get exposure to more high-profile recruits than normal.
This is an end-around of NCAA rules that prohibit folks from having a camp outside their home state unless it's within 50 miles of campus and will probably get nerfed the next time someone comes around with the rule stick. Clever idea for now, though.
BONUS: That article contains a quote that NCAA lawyers trying to flog competitive balance in court are going to hate:
“We’re not going to recruit the same person, you know? There’s no way. The Sun Belt doesn’t recruit against Penn State. Let’s face it: I’m not competing for kids against Penn State, or Georgia and Alabama. I’m just not. Nor will we ever. It is what it is."
/NCAA lawyer hits self in face with already-empty bottle of whiskey
Coleman can get buckets
AAU business. The annual Spiece tournament is going on in Indianapolis, featuring a number of Michigan targets. The most prominent is IN SG Jalen Coleman, who is still in no hurry to come to a decision:
When asked for an updated list of schools, Coleman rattled off Indiana, Purdue, NC State, Providence, UCLA, Arizona, Michigan, Michigan State and noted that several other Big Ten schools are also involved.
He didn’t name a leader, a top group or even mention that any schools are recruiting him harder than others.
In actual news, IL PG Jalen Brunson has cut his list to eight; Michigan is one. Temple, Villanova, Kansas, UConn, Illinois, Michigan State, and Purdue. If one of those programs doesn't look like it belongs, Brunson's dad played at Temple. "But that doesn't explain Purdue," you exclaim, and I agree.
I don't know but probably not right now. Ross Fulton asks if Doug Nussmeier can fix Michigan's offense, detailing his history. It starts off with an involuntary moan from you:
Nusmmeier's primary plan to solve the situation is to bring a coherent offensive framework to Michigan.
Sounds like a plan, you guys.
We must destroy this buck in order to save it. Via Get The Picture, the NCAA has earmarked some funds for legal stuff this year:
For example, NCAA finances are as difficult to sort through as the numbers are high, and the figures can vary hugely with the bias of those reporting them. Most media outlets glibly equate “unionization” and “compensation” with professional salaries for NCAA athletes, but the association knows Huma isn’t pursuing any such thing. The only big number that concerns him is the $600-plus million announced as this year’s NCAA war chest for legal and legislative expenditures.
Six hundred million dollars available to defend amateurism. Meanwhile non-profits try to fill in the gaps left when dudes get spine injuries.
Etc.: Recruiting folks did rather well by this year's projected first round. Mmmm anti-SEC conspiracy theories. NCAA unionization gets a congressional hearing. I welcome the departure of teams that should not be in D-I from D-I. Eastern Michigan, looking at you. Michigan spends money on things. Lax got competitive this year.
As you may have heard, the Big Ten opened its new office in New York City recently, and the media got its first look on Wednesday.
What you may not have heard was that shortly before the media took their tour, the Big Ten coaches and a handful of administrators got a look inside. We have a transcript of their meeting.
[AFTER THE JUMP: the tour]
The Game 1974 via Bentley
With the new bowl lineup I thought I'd delve into the conference's history with the things this week. Chart of sane bowl names is here.
We whomped Stanford in 1901 so bad they canceled bowl games for a decade.
Rose or Bust.
For a time there was only the Rose Bowl. Then others began to pop up and the Big Ten wouldn't let teams go (Ohio State snuck over to Pasadena after the 1920 season but that was it). Then they said only one team may take a bid from the Rose Bowl.
It's been nearly 40 years and yet any Michigan fan over 50 still shakes with anger at it: In 1973 Michigan and Ohio State met in one of the more epic battles in that epic ten-year war. After Michigan missed three field goals in the 4th quarter the game—and thus the Big Ten title race—ended in a tie. In the process the Wolverines' starting quarterback Denny Franklin was busted up. Woody Hayes, never a particularly classy individual, made an uninformed remark to the media that he's sorry Franklin wouldn't be able to play in the bowl game. In part because they believed Michigan would be without Denny, the conference's athletic directors voted to send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl.
The following year Michigan did make their game-winning field goal, but the officials missed it and there was no replay, and Ohio State again went to Pasadena. Since the Big Ten wouldn't let its teams attend any other bowl, both times a more deserving Michigan had to stay home. Overall Franklin and the Wolverines managed to go three years (1972-'74) without a bowl game despite going 30-2-1 over that span.
The whole concept was as mind-blowingly ridiculous as it seems, and the following year the conference finally got rid of the rule that had become outdated due to...
The conference deigned to allow its teams to go to bowls again only after WWII, and then it was "you can only go to the Rose Bowl if they invite you." Once the Big Ten released its members it sparked a new round of bowl expansion (click to inbigmatate):
Note the Y axis is "Bowl Teams" not games—divide by two to get # of games. Some oddities: Michigan wasn't in the Big Ten from 1907 to 1916, not that it made any difference. Having one yellow dot in the bowl picture looks ridiculous. Michigan State went to an Orange Bowl before joining the conference. Penn State and Nebraska obviously went to plenty of bowls before they joined. Ohio State turned down its Rose Bowl bids in 1960 and '61 because of academics(!); Minnesota went in their stead.
Since the bowl field expanded, the Big Ten's tie-ins have gone through a series of confusing shifts, order only recently having been brought into the process. Owing to its TV draw and instant draw the bowls have typically taken Michigan almost as soon as they're allowed to. As a result when you look at the conference's bowl history you can see Michigan tends to go early even in its rough years.
This is ordered by selection (starting from the left). Historically Michigan has been selected higher than its standing in the conference, the more so the lower down we get. For example in 1984 Michigan received an at-large Holiday Bowl bid—effectively the conference's third selector after the Rose and then the
Cotton Peach took Purdue as an at-large—despite finishing behind Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and tied with Michigan State, whom we lost to that year. Since then there have been progressively more stringent so-Michigan-State-won't-cry rules placed by the conference on the bowls for which teams they can select. Before it was they have to be within 1 or 2 losses of each other. Under the new system there's a tier:
The New Lineup and the Golden Vagina:
1. Teams selected by the playoff committee go to the Golden Vagina Playoff.
2. If the champion is still around they go to the Rose Bowl (vs Pac-12 or at-large), or the Orange Bowl (vs SEC or at-large) in years the Rose are the playoff hosts (2014 and every three years after).
3. BCS bowls can extend an at-large bid.
4. Citrus Bowl (SEC), Outback Bowl (SEC) and Holiday Bowl (Pac-12). Those bowls will unofficially switch off who gets first pick but really the conference will be sitting there negotiating who gets which school with the goal of rewarding better teams and changing things up a bit. Said Delany:
"Someone will obviously select first, but they may or may not get the team they want because that team may have been in that region two years in a row. We're trying to make sure there’s freshness. It's hard when a team goes to say Florida five times in six years to get them really excited."
5. Gator or Music City (SEC), San Francisco (Pac-12), and Pinstripe (ACC). The first two switch off with that bid.
6. Heart of Dallas or Ft. Worth Armed Forces Bowl (Big 12), Motor City Bowl (TBA)
The only way the Big Ten champ will play the Pac 12 champ is if both are seeded as such in the playoff, or both miss the playoff. I am guessing it will not happen very often. The tier system is a rather eloquent method of handling the problem of Michigan State's blubbering over bowls falling over themselves to avoid them. See? You're on the same tier. Everyone on the same tier is the same.
The new system does have its problems:
- Not all of the payouts on each tier are equivalent right now—that seems like it can be negotiated.
- In a scenario where Michigan State beats Michigan in the regular season, thus winning the tiebreaker to get into the Big Ten Championship Game, and MSU subsequently loses that game and is no longer BCS eligible because they're ranked too low now, and Michigan is still ranked high enough for a BCS bid and gets one, Michigan State will still cry.
- In any given scenario, Michigan State will find a reason to cry.