this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
big ten expansion
Or maybe "fail." Minnesota lost money selling beer.
The University of Minnesota lost almost $16,000 last year on alcohol sales at football games, despite selling more than $900,000 worth of beer and wine.
Proving that there's nothing too goddamn ridiculous to assert in public in a laughable attempt to save face, Minnesota responds!
University officials say it was never the intent that the school turn a profit on alcohol sales.
Jim Delany has taught you well, Minnesota.
Do you like pictures of oily men not wearing very much? Have I got some instagram for you, ladies and men hopeful Frank Clark is going to be superbad this year. Before and after winter conditioning, here's Devin Gardner and Frank Clark:
ANN ARBOR (AP) – FEMALE BLOG READERSHIP DROPS 96.5% AS COLD SHOWERS SKYROCKET. MEN GENERALLY HOPE FOR MORE PASS RUSH, WITH SCATTERED EXCEPTIONS.
I now believe Clark is at 277, sure.
Is oiling an extra benefit? Get Rosenberg on the case, yo.
I certainly hope this prediction is worthless since you seem to have something more pressing to do. Man with no more knowledge of basketball than random Rome caller picks Michigan to Elite Eight. Happens to be president, so people note it. Watch for upcoming Graham Couch column on how Obama is racist!
Obama chose Indiana, Ohio State and Louisville as his other Final Four teams [to go with Florida].
"I think (Aaron) Craft's defense is unbelievable," Obama said. "That makes a big difference."
OBAMA IS A RACIST
Grahm Graghm Graham Couch
Has anyone notice how racist Obama is?
Welcome to the jungle!
I kid, kid.
It's just that for a black man his skin tone isn't very dark and he seems to think Aaron Craft is good at basketball.
I think Aaron Craft isn't, because he's white.
That makes Obama racist.
I like pudding.
Graham Couch can be reached at email@example.com.
Old lady is a nut. Old Lady, please leave man-mountain alone.
"I had an old lady who saw me at Kroger with my dad, (she asked) 'Are you Taylor, that No. 77 fella?'" said Lewan, mimicking her voice. "I was like, 'Uh, yeah, I'm Taylor.'
'She goes, 'You're an idiot! Why would you do that? You're dumb.'
"I was like, 'I appreciate it. Thank you. Go blue.' I didn't know what to say."
That's what you get for going to Kroger, man. Mandatory scan-your-card grocery stores FTL, amirite?
Aw man but we're just a four seed. Jeff Goodman runs down the list of teams with the most NBA talent and starts in Ann Arbor:
Trey Burke (G, 6-0, 190): The sophomore is a National Player of the Year candidate and also could be the first point guard taken in the June draft. He can shoot it, distribute, and will be ideal at the next level in pick-and-roll situations. Most NBA executives have him going somewhere among the lottery selections.
Glenn Robinson III (F, 6-6, 210): The Big Dog's son still needs another year in college, but he's intriguing. He's long and athletic and has shown spurts in which he's looked phenomenal. He still needs to shoot it more consistently from the perimeter and also play hard all the time, but he'd likely be a first-rounder if he left after this season.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (G, 6-6, 205): Another ex-NBA player's kid, Hardaway Jr. has improved his decision-making. He has nice length for a wing player, but still needs to improve his ability to put the ball on the floor. Likely pegged somewhere in the second round.
Stauskas and McGary also mentioned. But hey, at least we're a four-seed instead of an eight like #2 NC State. Mark Gottfried may be a terrible coach, but I remember thinking that about Thad Matta a few years ago and… uh… no. I will reserve judgment this time around.
This may be why. Even when talking about dangerous mid-majors in the tourney, Luke Winn manages to rope you in with interesting Michigan-related stats. Like this one:
Michigan isn't just the least experienced team in the tourney, they're the least by a mile.
SDSU is included at #8. Winn says watch out for this business:
The Wolters Special is a left-hand hesitation dribble, followed by a drive left and a righty floater/runner.
That's alarmingly Burke-like.
Aw man but they're an eight seed. A tip of the hat to Robert Morris despite their fans' failure to chant "N-E-C" last night after they knocked off the NIT's top seed Kentucky in a first round game at the Colonial's 3500-seat arena. (Rupp has NCAA games this weekend so Kentucky did not bid to host.) Even with the missed opportunity, Robert Morris set the irritating meme about "perception" harming the NCAA fates of SEC bubble teams on fire.
What meme? This meme. Cuonzo Martin two days ago:
“I wish I knew,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. I would say a lack of respect more than anything. When you have a second-place team at this level (Kentucky and Alabama finished second in the SEC and will join UT in the NIT), it’s almost like a mid-major mentality in this league. When your second-place team doesn’t get in the NCAA tournament — this is a BCS league, it’s one of the best league’s [sic] in the country — that just shouldn’t happen.” …
“When you look at Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky,” he added, “those are NCAA tournament teams; they’re just not playing in the NCAA tournament.”
If the SEC had actually beaten anybody in the nonconference maybe we could talk here. Florida got a three-seed thanks in part to wins over Wisconsin, Marquette, and I guess Middle Tennessee. Missouri got in comfortably with wins over VCU and Illinois. The entire rest of the league had three (three) wins over teams that got an at-large bid to the tourney, those Arkansas over Oklahoma in the midst of a 1-4 slide against BCS teams (and at home, obviously), Alabama over Villanova on a neutral floor, and Tennessee beating Wichita State at home.
USA Today rounds up the internet aftermath, with obligatory wikipedia vandalism:
oh god someone get rid of that apostrophe
The ACC is also bitching about a lack of respect, Rodney Dangerfield-style. If that's the case, the ACC is suffering a lack of respect from every-damn-body on the internet. Of 120(!) brackets tracked by the Bracket Matrix, all of seven had Virginia in them.
It is not that hard to predict this stuff, as Andy Glockner points out in excellent article. It's no secret how to game the RPI: don't lose at home, play some road games, and if you have to play a really bad team make sure they're not D-I. Glockner points out an imbalance in the RPI's home-road adjustment I hadn't thought about:
Almost a decade ago, the NCAA made an adjustment to the RPI formula to try to incentivize teams to play more road games. Of course, they screwed up the math such that the new formula rewards “not losing at home” more than it does “winning on the road,” at least for what its primary purpose is: sorting teams that may make the NCAAs.
The formula adjustment for Factor I (your winning percentage) now credits you with 0.6 wins for a home win and 1.4 wins for a road victory. Likewise, you get 1.4 home losses for an actual home defeat and 0.6 losses for an away loss. That sounds like a reasonable plan until you realize that the target demographic — NCAA tournament-caliber teams — are all way above .500. As such, when you split two games (.500 overall), you want that impact to be as small as possible on your overall adjusted record, as determined by the RPI formula.
If you win at home and lose the away game, you would get an extra 0.6-0.6 added into your overall adjusted record. If you do it the other way, you get 1.4-1.4 added to your totals. If you are well above .500 overall, like all these NCAA caliber teams are, adding the 1.4-1.4 into the record drags you down more than the 0.6-0.6 does. In simple terms, losing home games (for 1.4 losses in your adjusted Factor I) is the worst thing you can do, and it’s way more harmful than adding 1.4 wins to the ledger is helpful.
He also mentions that the committee did to some extent see through the Mountain West's conference-wide Game of RPIs*, dropping New Mexico and their on-paper case for a one seed down to a three and giving the rest of the league seeds that portend a second-round exit.
Yeah, it is perception that the ACC is down and the SEC is worse than the Mountain West. An accurate one.
*[CRAPPY MATH IS COMING]
“This is the beginning,” said Gene Kimmelman, a former senior antitrust official at the Justice Department. “If the conflict between cable distributors and content owners persists and prices keep rising, there will be enormous market pressure to begin unbundling offerings, give consumers more choices and, from my perspective, ultimately let consumers control what they buy and how much they pay.”
Nobody! Except a lot of people. [HT: Get The Picture.]
Etc.: But the kids love it! In other news, kids enjoy Laffy Taffy. Wetzel on O'Bannon and Delany. How did it take this long for someone to beat up Tim Doyle? No offense, Tim, it's just that you shouldn't have called Kendall Gill "that wasp that lays eggs in spiders and then the baby wasps eat the spider from the inside out" for ten years.
Of course Michigan State fans are buying up SDSU apparel. This is why you are Sparty. Delany-inspired "feelings collage." "An Open Letter From Jefferson Davis To Jim Delany." Don't recruit short fat guys.
Les and Bo standing around, 1989. I'm just posting this for the shorts, really. Seriously, it's almost entirely guys just standing around. In shorts. From 1989.
This thing I am the foremost practitioner of is banned! Of all people, it fell to Barry Alvarez—he of the cancelled Virginia Tech game nigh on the eve of the season—to reveal that the Big Ten is going to dump I-AA opponents posthaste:
“The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous,” Alvarez said on WIBA-AM. “It’s not very appealing…
“So we’ve made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools. It will not be FCS schools.”
I… actually, I don't care. It does restrict the availability of cupcake games, thereby driving up the costs to schedule MAC folks and the like, but not significantly. If you want to have a walkover, Eastern Michigan's just as piteous as Northern Iowa—significantly moreso, in fact.
This man either gets it or does not get it depending on whether you get it or do not get it. Indiana's athletic director:
“What they like to do is make opportunities available to wear different kinds of uniforms,” Glass told Inside the Hall, “and we’ve had multiple opportunities to wear alternative uniforms, and we’ve respectfully passed on that. … I would never say never, but I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be doing that.”
A number of college and pro teams are trying the new jerseys out. We’ve seen schools such as Michigan State and Ohio State wear alternate uniforms in recent weeks.
So why not Indiana?
“The IU men’s basketball uniform is iconic,” Glass said. “I have a poster on my wall that is kind of like a fake group photo of all the All Americans that we’ve had in basketball, and the jerseys, whether its from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or 2000s, pretty much look the same.”
Indiana fans say "thank God" in the comments, because they either get it or do not get it. Kids hate it and Indiana's program will crater on Wednesday as the Hoosiers mass defect to Bill Walton's new Hypercolor State team.
Even more rules changes, these of the on-field variety. It's February, which means something something flowers and the NCAA's annual set of rules changes. These are just proposals at the moment, so don't write your congressman yet.
The flashiest is jacking up the targeting flag. Now it comes with a free ejection, and if it's after halftime a suspension for next week. Also a free review:
To balance out the incidents where a player is unfairly penalized, officiating crews would be allowed to review the hit through video replay. Said the committee, the replay official "must have conclusive evidence that a player should not be ejected to overturn the call on the field."
Sounds a lot like the interminable and pointless elbowing reviews from basketball, except people do get hit with targeting flags at the moment. This will either lead to those calls disappearing again, or a parade of defensive backs making a split-second decision wrong heading to the locker room.
Others are minor cleanups aimed at giving referees an easier time:
- all blocks below the waist are legal if they're in front of a defender, illegal otherwise
- you can't spike the ball with one or two seconds left (presumably an attempt to prevent games where one coach disposes of his headset instantly and the other stages a hunger strike for his last second on the sideline)
- an extra official for Big 12 conference games
- Lane Kiffin and Boise State can't jerk people around by switching numbers or wearing blue on a blue field.
Nothing in those is going to have an impact on your viewing. I thought we'd hear something about repealing the helmet rule, too—seems like forcing a player without a helmet to stop playing is punishment enough. No dice on that one.
Good lord. Northwestern makes the case that their basketball outfit is cursed with low-effort sketchy photoshops and lots and lots of evidence:
Look, I'd do more unfortunate things for Northwestern basketball, butmore freakish unfortunate things happened to Northwestern basketball than happened to the players in that episode of the Simpsons where all the players get into freakish unfortunate accidents.
The Wildcats are now down JerShonn Cobb, Drew Crawford, Sanjay Lumpkin, Chier Ajou, Aaron Liberman, Alex Olah, and Jared Swopshire. A few of those guys are on redshirts and may be in the lineup if Carmody was inclined to waste their final year of eligibility on a team nowhere near the NCAA tourney; even so, that's Angry Blank Hating God territory and some.
This is Darren Rovell's fault, of course.
Bring on the bee people or whatever. Gerry DiNardo might know something about something. Not football, but moving because of football:
I don't think we'll ever play with a 14 team team conference, I think it'll be 16 (by 2014, when Maryland and Rutgers join). And I don't think they're going to go through all this conversation and all this realignment and do it again for just two more schools. Where are they going to come from? Hard to say, but I would guess the footprint would continue to grow southeast, so that would leave me to believe that would be the ACC. When you look at schools institutionally, they'll be schools similar to Maryland and Rutgers. They'll be an academic fit, which I think is important, and appear to be in areas where there's population, and I think those are the similar things that has driven expansion
The Big Ten Too is totally happening you guys. This is why the league is already talking about a ten-game conference schedule.
Nebraska hockey: not happening. Their athletic director just said "nope":
On his monthly appearance on the Husker Sports Network, Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst threw cold water on the idea of the athletic department starting up a division 1 ice hockey program. The only sport Nebraska has any intention of starting is the new sand volleyball program. That's cold water, not the ice that a hockey program would need. A lot of people had hopes that with Eichorst's background at Wisconsin and the Big Ten's expansion into hockey that the Huskers might join the ranks of the division 1 schools with hockey programs. But that doesn't appear to be in the cards at this time.
The vast deserts of Nebraska have long teemed with moppets who have done nothing but play volleyball, so they should be an instant national power in that. If Nebraska isn't inclined to add hockey, I'm not sure who would. I bet it would be a success at Iowa—triangle of hate, good USHL base—but it's tough to find the money, somehow.
Zone read: not dead yet. Michigan will keep it around next year:
"Are we just getting rid of all the zone-reading? No, we're not," Borges said. "We're going to keep some of that stuff in our offense because we have a mobile quarterback, and as long as we have a quarterback that can threaten the defense as a runner, we're going to have bits and pieces of that that we're going to keep.
"Are we going to run him 25 times? That's over. We're not doing that anymore. That was logical, with what we had (in Denard Robinson). but now we want the quarterback to be more of a passer-runner, than a runner-passer."
I hope the end point is somewhere between 25 times and Gardner's ground efforts last year, where on-purpose runs were limited to some goal line rollouts and the occasional draw. I'd like to see Gardner get 6-8 called runs a game to go with whatever he gets on scrambles.
Etc.: Jeff Bridges has a go-to shirt. I'm fine with Michigan not having a member of Andy Staples's all two-star team this time around. It might be a problem that the Big Ten has eight kids on the team. Brief preview of Michigan's 2013 by me at The Saturday Edge. Goodbye, Matt Painter. Kenpom profiled.
Crimson and Crodcast. I appear on CrimsonCast talking about the game. I'm not very audible early, unfortunately.
FRAN! I ALREADY TOLD YOU THE MORTGAGE RATE WILL ADJUST IN FIVE YEARS HOW HARD IS THIS TO UNDERSTAND
GET OUT OF MY BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANK
(Iowa beat Penn State too narrowly for McCaffery's taste.)
Glory grasped. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl champs, man.
It doesn't get any better than this you guys.
Statistical indications. Dylan's hookup with Synergy Sports makes me all jealous and stuff, because he can tell you that Indiana's not real good at defending the pick and roll:
The Hoosiers rank in just the16th percentile nationally while defending pick and roll ball handlers. Michigan happens to have one of the best ball screen offenses in the country including the two best ball screen scorers in the league. …
For comparison, Ohio State – who stifled Michigan’s ball screen offense – surrenders just .56 PPP to screen and roll ball handlers (89th percentile) and .82 PPP to roll men (77th percentile).
There's still something that seems strange with those number since it seems impossible that allowing 0.84 points a possession on anything is, like, bad, but the percentiles are the percentiles. When it comes to the pick and roll, Indiana finds themselves squarely between Northwestern and Penn State:
Not where you want to be. Also note that Michigan's the best team in the league at defending the pick and roll what with their hard hedging.
Anyway, Burke and Stauskas's proficiency with the P&R will hopefully force Indiana to do things they don't want to—like play zone—or lead to lots of that scoring stuff.
Dylan also brings up a salient point from last year: Crean put Christian Watford on Burke, like, a lot. Given the relative success Illinois had at holding Burke's numbers down by switching Nnanna Egwu onto him in the pick and roll we might see something similar, at least until Mitch McGary rebounding against Yogi Ferrell becomes a bit of an issue.
More indications of how this is probably going to go. Barry Alvarez is on record that he would like to see Wisconsin play Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska yearly in the Rhombus of Hate. Add that to the pile of evidence suggesting the Big Ten will tear up the Where Is Wisconsin and Why Is Wisconsin Here divisions for the conference's brief stop at 14 teams.
Speaking of The Big Ten, Too model:
“Based on the last three years I’ve been in this business, you’d be crazy not to think about it," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said. "But it’s hard to model anything because you don’t know what to model. The minute you get yourself convinced that you’re going to go from 14 to 16, for all you know you’re going to 18, and a lot of people think the ultimate landing place is 20. Who knows?"
I guess it's a better ideal than this bit.
Gene Smith's still pushing for ten conference games, BTW.
Frieder: still mad. Bill Frieder's been making the rounds this week and seems to have a little bit of bitterness left over from his matchups at Assembly Hall back in the day:
"The hostility of that crowd and everything else you have to go against at Indiana (is tough)," he said. "You usually won't get good officiating at Indiana, you usually get a bad call or something bad with the administration along the sideline. There's something to do with the shot clock or the clock not starting on time.
"You'll have everything going against you, so you'll have to play extremely well to win the game. ... When you play Indiana at Indiana and they're a top five team, you're going to be the underdog, no matter where you're ranked."
If the second half goes anything like Illinois's against MSU last night I won't stop twitching for weeks.
Etc.: MSU guard Travis Trice apparently fine after nasty hit to head last night. More on the "catfishing" story, which I stopped caring about a lot faster than everyone else. Everyone's in a tizzy about whether in fact the term was used. Indiana-Michigan previews from Inside the Hall and the Crimson Quarry. Also UMHoops.
GRIII: "I see what you did there." Sobocop: "I THOUGHT THIS GUY WAS JUST A SHOOTER"
One shooting metric to rule them all.
I was reading through your post from today about the game last night (solid effort, can't wait for Saturday!) and I came across the part where you summarized Trey's statline, part of which was that he had 18 points on 11 shots. Is there a place that tracks "points-per-shot" (Kenpom maybe?), and do you think this is a worthwhile metric when tracking offensive efficiency of an individual player? I know the tempo-free stats usually look at eFG% as a major indicator of offensive prowess, but was wondering if points/shot would something akin to this for an individual player.
Thanks for your thoughts!
I just use points per shot as a quick-and-dirty evaluation method when I'm putting together a post because it gets the job done when we're running sanity checks on opinions from our eyeballs. As an out-and-out metric it falls short since it doesn't put free throws in the divisor properly—going 0-2 at the line doesn't hurt you. If you're reaching for an actual stat you can do better.
For a catch-all stat that encapsulates how many points a player acquires per shot attempt, I like True Shooting Percentage, which rolls FTAs into eFG% and spits out a number that's easy to interpret. Trey Burke is at 59%, which means that he is scoring at a rate equal to a hypothetical player who takes nothing but two-pointers and hits 59% of them. Easy.
For Michigan, there's little difference between eFG% and TS%—Burke is 175th in one, 189th in the other, etc—because they so rarely get to the line. Teams at the other end of that scale can see players with much larger differences. Iowa demonstrates this amply. Roy Devyn Marble's eFG% is 46% and his TS% is 53%—a major difference. FTA-generating machine Aaron White is around 200th in eFG% and around 100th in TS%. From an individual perspective, the latter is a more accurate picture of what happens when Aaron White tries to score.
The four factors everyone uses separate free throws from eFG%, so when you look at those as a unit you do see the impact of FTs. If you wanted to you could cram those factors down into a TS% factor and the other two factors into a Possession Advantage factor, but looking at four bar graphs seems to be okay for people.
Announcer meme overuse.
The announcers constantly having to tell us that Stauskas is more than just a shooter reminds me of last year's over used statement (story?), that Trey Burke played with Sullinger in HS. Seriously, they told us that every freaking game. So my question is, which one is worse?
I'm going to have to go with Burke. First, that was mentioned every game, whereas the Stauskas thing only gets mentioned in games where he has a take to the hole, which only happens MOST games. Second, at least the Stauskas thing is mentioned in context, as in, he just proved he was more than just a shooter which prompted the comment. The Burke/Sullinger mention was almost exclusively brought up out of the blue, and had nothing to do with anything happening in the game. It was as if the announcing team made note to make sure they mentioned it at a certain minute marker in the game because nothing plausibly could have brought it to mind otherwise.
P.S. If it had kept going, Dan Dakich's mention of that thing about Spike's dad would easily have been the worst. Luckily, he only told us that Spike's dad was the former best biddy basketball player in the world during Michigan's first four games.
These are different classes of announcing crutch. The Burke thing—which is still happening—is the equivalent of Tom Zbikowski Is A Boxer, a biographical detail that will be crammed in every game to hook casual viewers. The Stauskas thing is a generally applicable sentiment that can be applied to anyone who takes a lot of threes but has decided to venture within the line.
Neither really bothers me. "Not just a shooter" means Stauskas has just thrown something down or looped in for a layup, and I am probably typing something about blouses or pancakes into twitter. I have good feelings associated with its utterance. The Burke thing is just background noise.
So, no one is more sick of conference expansion talk as I am. I'm 100% with you that it's bent our tradition over a dumpster and I agree it's foolish to base major long-term decisions on a dying profit model.
Here's the thing though, does the fact that the current profit model is dying really matter. I mean, we're moving (slowly) to a system where you pay only for the channels you want instead of being extorted for a bunch of channels you'd never watch. So, under this new business model, although it may be less overall money than under the old system, wouldn't they still get more subscribers to be B1G network if they add more schools? There's not a single UNC fan who would pay $5 a month or whatever for the B1G network, but if they were added them, you'd get more subscribers than you would normally. I mean there's the chance that you weaken the brand that you lose more subscribers than you gain, but I don't think that's a serious concern.
TL; DR - It's about the money, and won't expansion bring more regardless of whether the old model is dying or not?
Expansion brings more money but it also brings more mouths to feed. From the perspective of a school in the league it only makes sense to add a team that is at least on par with you in terms of being able to bring fans and eyeballs. Penn State and Nebraska brought those numbers; Rutgers and Maryland likely do not.
The Big Ten can expand to acquire more subscribers but in a world where cable is a niche product to enjoy live sports, the amount of money you're getting is proportional to the number of fans shelling out. Right now it's proportional to population, which makes Rutgers seem like a good idea. Later maybe not so much.
People think things that make them feel better.
Brian, I have this constant argument with a Spartan at work...He says that Michigan's recruiting rankings are always high because when Michigan lands a recruit, the recruit gets a bump in ranking. According to him, this is because a large number of Michigan fans pay recruiting sites for memberships so the sites keep Michigan fans happy by giving them a higher ranking than other schools with lower memberships. He also says that MSU's coaches are just better at recruiting than the sites so that is why they do better than their rankings. Any thoughts on how to prove / disprove his theory?
It will not matter since from the sounds of this conversation your co-worker thinks Mike Valenti is a gentleman scholar and will find some other way to wheedle himself positive feelings until such time as his team is crushed under the boot of history.
HOWEVA, you could just point out that literally every four-star member of Michigan's recruiting class fell in the most recent Rivals update except Jourdan Lewis, who hopped up sixteen spots. This is pretty much inevitable: unless you're moving up, you're moving down as more and more players are discovered. This dude will wave his face around in a disturbing fashion and ignore this data.
As for the thing about MSU's coaches, yeah, recruiting ratings are not infallible and there will be teams that deviate above and below when touted guys bust and low-rated ones break out. MSU's gotten massive outperformance from its defense recently, and maybe they can sustain that in the same way Wisconsin can sustain its running game.
They'll be trudging uphill when it comes to Michigan and Ohio State. State fans love to point out Michigan's class rankings versus their performance over the last half-decade and say "see, nothing there." Taken over larger samples, though, recruiting does correlate with success. Michigan's fade was largely a lack of retention and coaching ranging from lackadaisical to awful. If MSU fans are counting on those two items to sustain them going forward they're in for a rude surprise.
In recent days there's been enough new talkin' about the reshaped Big Ten that it seems like this is a deliberate trial balloon being floated. Penn State's AD:
Penn State athletic director David Joyner expects the addition of Rutgers and Maryland will lead the Big Ten toward a "geography-based" realignment.
In an interview posted on Penn State's website, Joyner said that the conference is leaning toward re-grouping its 12 teams based more on geography. As a result, Rutgers and Maryland could join a division with Penn State.
"We will likely be a little bit more attentive to geographic alignment," Brandon said. "If Michigan and Ohio State being in the same division turns out to be what's in the best interest of the conference, that would be great."
…Iowa AD Gary Barta…
"I do think we have a chance to have a little bit more of a geographic look to it, which I think is great," Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said. "It's great for fans, it's great for student-athletes, it considers travel, rivalries. With us, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Nebraska, those just make great sense.
and Northwestern AD Jim Phillips:
"Maybe it was competitive balance last time," Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips told ESPN.com. "Maybe geography wins the day this time. … It wasn't the most important [factor in 2010], but we should look at it this time because we are spread farther than we ever have been."
Previously, Gene Smith had asserted he wants a Michigan-OSU division, balance be damned. With this many athletic directors more or less openly saying geography will be a factor and downplaying the competitive balance angle it would be a shock if anything like the current alignment is maintained when Maryland and Rutgers are—oh God I'd forgotten—admitted the year after next. That's not the way PR works.
Presumably this would heal the current Michigan-OSU rift, thus ending the possibility that the Game gets moved to midseason and allowing Michigan fans to watch Ohio State games like God intended: hoping they lose, without reservations.
I still prefer the Eye Of Sauron alignment since over the long term it should provide more balanced Big Ten Championship games, but since they're just going to add more teams there is no long term.
The long term is unattractive. Things get hairy if you tack on two random ACC schools to get to 16 and still want to execute divisions based on geography. In that case whichever school from Indiana or Illinois that gets lumped in with the east would flip over to the other division and Michigan would play most of their traditional rivals once a decade or so.
Mitigating That Bit
one of two ways to play ten conference games
Nine conference games is on the table again. Prepare thy palm, reader, as this quote will no doubt cause you to put face to same:
"As the conference expands, it would be unfortunate if a student-athlete came to the University of Michigan, played in the Big Ten Conference for four years and never even got to play or compete against one of the schools in the conference," Brandon said.
I can think of a way the Big Ten could have avoided this problem.
In any case, Brandon says the Big Ten should "at least" move to nine; Smith says he "would like to go to nine or ten," and then everyone says they need seven home games or their department will implode. "Leveraging assets" is spoken. Ten seems unlikely, as it either prohibits you from playing anyone interesting in the nonconference or brings you down to six home games and forces you to fire every nonrevenue coach. Or something. Possibly just pay them somewhat less.
I'm not sure replacing games against good teams with Maryland and Rutgers is a good thing, but when the alternative is almost never playing Iowa or Wisconsin you have to do what you have to do.
The only way ten games seems feasible is if the NCAA institutes the I-AA-game-as-preseason-contest idea that Rich Rodriguez mentioned a couple times. That would act as your seventh home game without putting too much wear and tear on the kids—the guys who actually play during the year would be lifted after a couple drives. Then you can do what you want with your two nonconference games without having to set the soccer stadium on fire for the insurance money.
The Last Word
I fear this speculation is meaningless as whatever path makes the most sense to all parties concerned will be immediately discarded by B1G leadership in favor of something noboby likes or understands.