this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
big ten expansion
Signed stuff by the bucket. Note for memorabilia-seekers: The From The Heart charity auction is up and going and has a ton of stuff for the man with an empty basement. As per usual, proceed go to charity.
Bombed, but not enough. USC has gotten a severe punishment, with two-year bowl ban and serious scholarship penalties. Woo! Question, though: how does the basketball program get off with nothing more than the self-imposed penalties they've already taken when the USC compliance department explicitly told Tim Floyd to drop OJ Mayo because there was a 100% chance he was on the take. I think they got the football punishments about right—they should have voided all of USCs LOIs and dumped transfer restrictions for the duration of the probation—but their basketball program should have gotten the same treatment.
“As I read the decision by the NCAA, all I could get out of all of this was … I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy, and they wish they all were Trojans,” Garrett said to cheers Thursday night at the San Francisco Airport Marriott.
Comparing and contrasting USC's response with Michigan's is too obvious to even undertake. The NCAA should retroactively give them the death penalty, and then do it again. How much do you think it would cost to hire a private investigator to go after USC full-time? Surely there are enough people in the country willing to chip in that we could get this done for five bucks each, right?
And don't get me started on women's tennis.
UPDATE: It is officially open season on USC juniors and seniors:
Juniors and seniors to-be on the USC Trojans' football team, hit with a two-year postseason ban among other punishments, will be allowed to transfer to other FBS programs without having to sit out a season, the NCAA clarified to ESPN on Friday.
"The second school would have to submit a waiver asking to waive the year in residence, but NCAA rules allow for this waiver to be granted if a student-athlete's first school has a postseason ban in their sport," NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an e-mail to ESPN's Joe Schad.
A glance at the roster reveals that four of USC's top five corners are eligible to GTFO. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'. We are down one corner, after all.
Izzout? After Tom Izzo spent 9.5 hours in Cleveland yesterday—far more time than anyone who is not Serious About Cleveland would spend—the tenor of the Izzo chatter in East Lansing is trending towards grim resignation. Jim Comparoni, the nut who runs Michigan State's Rivals site and in my experience has never once said anything remotely negative about anything related to State, says it is a "very bad sign" that Izzo's scheduled golf appearance has been canceled and that football coaches say it "doesn't look good." There may be a 4PM press conference coming up today. There may not.
At The Only Colors they're simultaneously convincing themselves that Izzo's statement is not bad news and evaluating the coaching tree for possible replacements. Insert your preferred Kubler-Ross interpretation here.
Don the tinfoil hats. If Dave Brandon is willing to bluntly state that he had nothing to do with Dorsey's failure to be admitted, I believe him:
"This is a decision that is owned by the admissions department, our admissions office," Brandon said. "It's always been owned by the admissions office. It is not unusual for a letter of intent to be signed with a prospective student-athlete where there's far more that needs to be done for the student-athlete to be admitted. It involves course work, it involves test scores, and a variety of criteria some of which is fact-based and where and how they went about improving their test scores."
You'd have to be foolhardy to make such a statement in a FOIA-laden environment, and Brandon doesn't seem foolhardy. As discussed yesterday, this had everything to do with grades.
Expansion-o-rama again. The to-date accurate Chip Brown has declared the interest level between Texas and A&M to be "NONE!!!!!!" which doesn't make a ton of sense given the very real benefits available to Texas and A&M if they were to join the CIC—financial benefits that dwarf the amount of money athletics makes, causing the Big Ten partisans in the expansion game to declare him a useful stooge for athletic directors wishing to get a message out, which kind of does make sense.
Meanwhile a report that OU is headed to the SEC has been quickly and widely repudiated. I guess we'll find out.
World Cup linkage. One: GOLAZO! More footie strategy at Zonal Marking, which has tackled the US side "good, but need tactical tweaks" the Slovenians, a typical hardworking, honest, boring 4-4-2, and the Algerians, who were mainly 3-5-2 but are apparently going 4-4-2 for the WC, possibly because of a run of poor recent results. The Algerian goaltender is described as "very, very dodgy," something that takes doing at the African Cup of Nations.
i like this picture because he's about to shoot a planet-destroying laser out of his mouth
Some horse-holding may be in order in case anyone is printing up huge quantities of Pac-16 t-shirts. These reports come from a television station and a guy in Indianapolis radio and are about conference expansion should therefore be taken with a grain of salt large enough to have moons, but they appear to be independently-sourced claims that Texas and Texas A&M may be heading Midwest instead of just West.
High level sources in multiple conferences have told KCTV5 that Texas and Texas A&M are looking to move to the Big Ten Conference and have petitioned for membership, while the University of Oklahoma is planning on petitioning the Southeastern Conference to become a member of its conference.
Texas Tech can pound sand, according to KCTV.
Kent Sterling, the Indiana radio guy does have an extensive newsy background, FWIW, but his site's report is way fuzzier and it's posted by Pauly Balst, whose bio reads "Pauly Balst has a very solid reputation and track record in speculative journalism and for-profit amatuer [sic] athletics." This is not reassuring. Anyway:
College Station, Texas, based sources close to Texas A&M confirm the scenario of Texas A&M, Texas and Nebraska joining the Big 10, bringing the total to 14. … Sources also confirmed the rift with Texas Tech and Baylor is that “UT and A&M have joined together in this decision”. By adding this trio, UT does not “go to war alone in a new conference” when ongoing issues arise.
"Confirm the scenario"? What does that mean? That could be talking. It could be a D&D meeting. I'm not putting a ton of stock into that, but it's out there.
Meanwhile, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is sounding less imperial:
“I’d say that (having an 11-team conference) is a possibility,” Scott said.
He also said that no assurances and that no invitations have been issued to any other Big 12 schools, including Texas and Texas A&M, whose athletic directors met on Thursday in Austin to discuss their future.
“There are several different scenarios,” Scot siad. “There is no defined timetable” for further Pac-10 expansion.
Colorado snapping up the Pac-10 invite and thereby bouncing Baylor may have given the Big Ten the wedge it needs to crowbar Tech off the Texas schools everyone wants, in which case thanks Baylor.
This post's information value will self-destruct in ten seconds.
(HT: Aaron and Damon Lewis.)
At the same time Izzo is either going to Cleveland or not going to Cleveland (GO TO CLEVELAND, FOR GOD'S SAKE) another misinformation-rife story has either happened or not happened. This one is almost universally in the "happened" category, though, and there is actual FOIAed evidence of it:
Resolution regarding UNL athletic conference alignment.
If you want a meticulously-linked summary of the current state of affairs, Doctor Saturday has you covered. Suffice it to say that the evidence in the media is at the point that it should overwhelm the understandable skepticism given the many false alarms to date.
The Big 12 is "dead" according to expansion savant Chip Brown, with Nebraska's defection the fatal blow and the original Pac-16 (Colorado, no Baylor) the next step. Colorado's move to the Pac-something is the next domino, with Matt Hayes and the local paper both declaring the move a fait accompli:
The University of Colorado will announce at an 11 a.m. Friday press conference that the school will leave the Big 12 and join the Pac-10.
Multiple sources confirmed the deal to the Camera early Thursday, and league officials are scheduled to be in Boulder on Friday for the announcement.
The Big 12 is set to explode soon after, though the remaining members are gathering in Austin to see if they can work something out. Also Texas A&M has been talking with the SEC, because crazy needs to happen everywhere.
Big Ten Endgame
The Big Ten seems to have been undone by the "solidarity pledge" taken by Texas (woo!), A&M (all right), and Tech (guh) despite the widely-held opinion amongst Texas fans that UT would prefer the Big Ten and the CIC over the Pac-10 and nothing. If we're entering a world of 16-team super conferences that are logistically stupid, the Pac-10 has just eaten the Texas power pellet and will start chasing the Big Ten all over the map, all because they are willing to swallow things like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
If the Big 12 South minus Baylor does move to the Pac Something, where does that leave the Big Ten? Outmaneuvered, mostly. Letting Texas escape to another conference is a major blow. They'll be battering down Notre Dame's door by threatening to pick off enough Big East schools to destabilize ND's home for basketball and non-revenue sports. They could pick over the scattered remnants of the Big 12 to see if they want a Missouri, though the current environment suggests they won't.
The view from admissions. There is virtually nothing that can convince me that not taking Demar Dorsey is a good idea as long as the university makes a good-faith effort to educate him once he arrives. What you do with the poor black kid after he shows up is what reflects the character of the institution. Admissions obviously feels differently, and the feeling that Michigan is about to embark on a Notre Dame-like wander in the wilderness only gets stronger today.
Our Helmets Have Wings, a recruiting-focused M blog, snagged an interview with a former admissions employee. Unless something has changed, this is purely about academics:
Q: Did the Admissions Office examine potential students who had legal troubles differently than other students?
A: Like all applicants, potential incoming athletes with legal troubles are required to disclose most types of possible run-ins with the law. This is not only for the purposes of safety on campus, but also to help the university maintain its tradition of selecting students of a particular academic AND moral caliber for admission. That being said, varsity athletes, ESPECIALLY potential scholarship recipients present special cases that are most definitely looked at differently than normal applicants, but in this realm and in regards to academics. Again, the behavioral issues tend to fall to the discretion of the athletic department. If they say the athlete is a good ship, or at least one that can be and will be during his time at UM, the admissions office will defer to that decision regarding said athletic applicant. I do not know, personally, of any decision that was contested by the admissions office when the athletic dept. approved.
If this is about "LifeSkills," the AD should have known about it since Dorsey enrolled there in October. I'm not entirely sure but I don't think that means he stopped going to Boyd Anderson; he probably did the LifeSkills curriculum in addition to his senior year classes at Boyd, using the alternative school credits to replace poor grades from his sophomore and junior years.
Given the nature of the problem here the university can stonewall any FOIA requests by referencing FERPA, a federal student privacy law. We will never know exactly what went down, but if Dorsey ends up at Tennessee or USC or another BCS school we'll have plain evidence that Michigan's is operating with a self-inflicted disadvantage, and negative recruiters will have a field day. There is literally no way the recruitment of a kid who never even enrolled at Michigan could have been more damaging. Now any happy ending to the media firestorm has to happen somewhere else. Thanks, admissions.
Bills update. Poster Raback Omaba reports that Jon Bills's surgery to repair broken vertebrae went well and the "prognosis for a full recovery remains high." He can move his extremities. Bills is obviously done with football, but hopefully he'll make a full recovery.
Hello: Nebraska? Multiple Big 12 ADs suggest Nebraska will be in the Big Ten by Friday. I would care a lot more about this if this Dorsey thing hadn't happened. At least their basketball team will suck.
Ethics follow-up. I posted a transcript of the tense interaction at the end of the ethics panel a couple days ago, and yesterday appeared on Dan Levy's On The DL podcast to elaborate on the opinion I'd shouted in the middle of everything. Again, totally meta, but something that's important.
World Cup content. If you're one of the many people who's been frustrated with the lack of a quality USMNT blog, I think you (and I) may have a new favorite place for the next month. It's Stars and Gripes, a just-launched Nats blog with an inclination towards strategy and a soccer version of Picture Pages:
Rooney makes his run, Johnson puts in a perfect ball, and Rooney puts in his second.
The constant switching from side to side often leaves the middle of the pitch exposed, where Lampard and Barry can move from the back and put themselves in dangerous spots just outside the box.
Anyone willing to draw a big circle with an arrow on a still of the England-Andorra game is a champion. Read it all.
If you're the sort of soccer fan who doesn't know why everyone wants to drop Jonathan Bornstein out of the team plane (with a parachute; we're not monsters), War Blog Eagle has an excellent primer for you.
An actual number. Almost a month ago, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch deployed the FOIA to finally provide the real hard numbers on how much Big Ten schools are pulling in from TV. Somehow, no one noticed. Here's an attempt to do so. The numbers:
|School year||BTN||Other TV||Total TV||Total*|
* Includes money from TV, bowl games, NCAA Tournament.
These are less extraordinary than the rapturous articles about Super Genius/Villain Jim Delany have claimed, but they still greatly outstrip everyone save the SEC, which they meaningfully outstrip. Meanwhile, the SEC is locked into an ESPN contract worth 12.5 million per team per year for 15 years and the Big Ten will see BTN revenue grow yearly.
Another note: SNL Kagan analyst Derek Baine says the BTN is getting 88 cents per subscriber in the footprint, which is about a dime short of what they were asking for and more than triple what the Comcast guy told me they valued the BTN at during the year-long standoff between the two. Cable companies did not win.
(Apologies to whoever linked this; unfortunately I've lost it. If you think it's you ask me for a HT.)
Mmmm. Wavery. Michigan's 2011 class is a bit thin so far, with just two forwards coming in in a year when Michigan willl require at least another player at F, D, and G. Lucas Lessio made an appearance at the Oshawa Generals' camp, but is expected to keep his commitment to Michigan. And now the other guy in the class, Ontario forward Alex Guptill, sounds like he's not a lock either:
Already committed to play for the University of Michigan in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) either this year or in 2011, Guptill said his immediate future, including where he might play come winter, will become more clear at the end of June.
“It is all up to — if a (NHL) team takes me — what their stance is and then Michigan’s,” Guptill said. “It will go from there.”
IE: hope the Kings stay away. Guptill and Lessio were both drafted by the USHL's Waterloo Blackhawks and the Blackhawks believe they'll have them next year.
There is some good news: Guptill was the recipient of the Ontario Hockey Association's "Top Prospect Award," something that's been bestowed on former Wolverines Mike Cammalleri and Andrew Cogliano plus an array of other NHL players like Jeff Carter and Rob Schremp. The OHA covers Ontario's Junior A and B leagues.
Etc.: The Daily puts out another huge article, this on the evolution of Yost from an empty, silent place to the raucous place it is today. I'm pretty sure this "shimmy down" tackling technique is the same that GERG is employing in practice. The idea is to focus on the approach more than anything else because most players can get a guy down if they're in the right spot. This may sound boring, but the words "they want to get pecker to pecker with the guy" appear.
Blogs With Balls picked a surprisingly inconvenient time to happen. A weekend in early June should be the most boring, torpid time of the year for a college football (/basketball/hockey/baseball) blog, but over the weekend Michigan dealt with a scary injury to one of their players, an assistant coach departing, and all hell breaking loose when it comes to college football expansion.
I dumped about a thousand words worth of up-to-date speculation, opinion, and head-shaking at The Sporting Blog, but here's an addendum directed at Michigan's place in all this:
Is this good or bad?
Probably good? I owe Frank The Tank an apology for considering his Texas Death Star scenarios a law-addled fever dream: guy was on the money. Now that the fate of the Big 12 is seriously in play, Texas can shake loose and the Big Ten can swoop in and claim the Longhorns and associated Big 12 teams to create a superconference worthy of the name. I still think 16 team conferences are stupid pretty much without exception, but a 16 team superconference formed by adding a few Big East schools and Big 12 North refugees goes beyond that into the realm of depressing.
The Pac-10's main advantage when it comes to wooing Austin is also its main disadvantage: the Pac-10 does not have a CIC-type organization and is (evidently) not as hung up on the possibility of admitting the Oklahoma teams. In short, they do not have a "Tech problem." The Big Ten has a Tech problem because the wide-ranging institutional cooperation on the academic side has seen Penn State and Texas go from approximately equal centers of research to Penn State peering down at Texas from atop a $200 million dollar pile of Big Ten money.
Is Notre Dame seriously in play?
Eh… probably not. Big 12 disintegration leaves the Big East intact and removes much of ND's motivation to join a conference.
Do you have a wild guess to how this works out?
Absolutely not, but I think Texas prefers the Big 10 to the Pac 10 and it will be a fight between UT and the Texas legislature's insistence on tying Baylor and Tech around the Longhorns' necks. If Texas wins that fight the end result is probably the addition of Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, A&M, and then a wildcard team the league would prefer was Notre Dame but probably won't be.
I wonder how the triumvirate of hate schools (Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota) look at this. They'd probably be put in the Big 12 division (otherwise you have to break them up) and would have their worlds more rearranged than anyone else.
I am about to head out to Chicago so of course this is breaking today: ninjas have descended upon the Big 12 meetings and are busy abducting various members of the Big 12. The Columbus Dispatch continues to use the FOIA for interesting things by getting this email from Gordon Gee that seems to confirm that all the lurid fantasies Big Ten fans have issued about Texas, Texas A&M, and all the other crazy proposals are true:
"I did speak with Bill Powers at Texas, who would welcome a call to say they have a 'Tech' problem," Gee wrote in an e-mail that was among several obtained by The Dispatch through a public-records request for documents and correspondence related to Big Ten expansion proposals.
Meanwhile, the Big 12 is cancelling press conferences, Iowa State is expressing its strong commitment to the Big Twelve, and everything else is going crazy. Now I get in a car. Yay for timing. BWB thing then out.