big ten hockey
Spike to Purdue. The Boilermakers will not have to play the final ten minutes of an NCAA tournament game without a point guard next year:
Excited to announce that I'll be playing my 5th year for Purdue University!! #BoilerUp
— Spike Albrecht (@SpikeAlbrecht) May 3, 2016
Purdue was horrendous—horrendous!—at that spot a year ago so that's a move that makes sense. Spike's health is still in considerable doubt, so it makes sense for Michigan to move on with Walton and Xavier Simpson; for Purdue a crack at anything resembling a PG is a true wonder.
Obvious obvious whaaaa? PFF has a mock draft for next year largely based on their numbers. It features Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers at 19 and 22, which is more or less expected. #23 is out of left field for me:
Minnesota Vikings: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
The third Michigan defender in the last five picks, Hurst fires off the ball and his +38.0 overall grade ranks third among returning interior defensive linemen despite playing only 418 snaps in 2015. Hurst shows the power to push the pocket and disrupt in the backfield, though he does need to do a better job of handling double teams and finishing plays.
I like Hurst a lot but he's 282 on the most recent roster and got beat up by inside zone teams to end the year; I have a hard time seeing him go in the first round unless he adds 20 pounds and has a monster year. I'd guess Glasgow and Wormley both go ahead of him even if he does forgo his final year of eligibility.
No Arizona State for Big Ten hockey. CHN reports that ASU is close to joining the NCHC. That's the most logical place for them since that conference contains all the teams somewhat near them; thankfully this also means that the Big Ten will not add another potential RPI anchor nowhere near any of its current members. ASU brings the NCHC to nine programs, which is an awkward number.
I wouldn't assume that the ASU move means the Big Ten is going to poach an NCHC member. As I noted when the Big Ten added Notre Dame, seven teams in a league is slightly odd but workable. Eight starts forcing compromises on you pretty fast. If the Big Ten can add a North Dakota that's worth it. Western Michigan maybe not so much.
Baseball is back to being good. Baseball is projected as a two seed in latest Baseball America bracketology. They're in #4 overall seed FSU's region, so they're towards the bottom of the two-seeds. However, they might be in line to get the annual bone the NCAA committee throws half the country. BA projects Minnesota as a regional host right now, but:
With the dearth of hosting candidates in the West, the door is open for either Minnesota or Michigan to land a hosting spot out of the Big Ten. Right now, we’ll give the edge to the Gophers. … Michigan, by comparison, has a much more RPI-friendly schedule with all four of its remaining series against top 100 teams—granted that one of those opponents, Ohio State, is barely in the top 100 at No. 99. If the standings stay in the order they are but Minnesota can’t keep its RPI strong enough, then it’s more likely neither would host than a second-place Michigan team gets a bid over a team it both lost to and finished behind, regardless of its own RPI.
This is how ludicrously unbalanced college baseball is: the SEC and ACC are projected to acquire 19 bids between them. That's 17 at-large bids. The rest of the field has 16. Here is my default thing where I suggest the Big Ten leaves the current structure and plays through August with wood bats, like God intended.
Man its on and popping pic.twitter.com/wUOy3AJo4V
— Coach Smith CGHS (@headbcg) April 29, 2016
Satellite camp fallout. Harbaugh likes the decision, surprise. So does almost everyone else. He's also willing to let bygones be bygones with The Georgia Coach, as UGA will join Michigan at a camp in a few weeks. The Georgia Coach is past it, too, man:
Smart’s comments generated a stinging tweet by Harbaugh: “If the Georgia coach is implying any intent on our part to break rules, he is barking up the wrong tree.”
Last week in Dallas, Smart was asked about the situation.
“That whole thing got so overblown,” Smart said. “Because he and I, he and staff members from his staff had communicated. That’s a big deal to the media, big deal to you guys. But in the coaching profession we’re a bit more lighthearted about it.”
The end result of this sturm und drang is a whole bunch of nothing, but it's nice that Michigan gets another year in which Harbaugh's football mania can be deployed without restriction. Also, ban proponents come out of this looking like big dumb idiots. Dan Wolken:
“What we're talking about is recruiting tours,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told reporters last year when the issue first started to bubble. “So, let's just be clear about what we're really talking about here.”
The strategy, of course, was transparent: To turn recruiting into a dirty word, as if somehow the entire enterprise in which these people operate doesn’t revolve around the pristine pursuit of attracting athletes to their school.
“They're not satellite camps,” LSU athletics director Joe Alleva sneered, according to the The Advocate of Baton Rouge. “They’re purely and simply recruiting camps.”
Thank you, Mr. Wolken. That has been the most infuriating part of this whole process: SEC folks acting like there's any subterfuge in what Harbaugh and company are doing. References to the "scholastic environment" were also in that bin since satellite camps promote contact between players and college coaches; they are in fact a counterweight to the AAU-ish explosion in 7-on-7. But I already yelled about all this in a fisk post a few weeks back.
Etc.: Todd McShay calls out Laremy Tunsil for telling the truth. Connor Cook probably fell in the draft because he was helpful to the elderly. Why the Lions drafted Rudock. (No, not because they can continue to have Harbaugh coach him.) Ian Boyd on POWER. The Cowherd-Whitlock PTI ripoff will be horrible but at least it spawned this twitter thread. Andy Staples on Tunsil.
the world is a vampire [Bryan Fuller]
Exit Spike. This is not fair, to dredge up the sadness that I already went through once when Spike retired:
Michigan’s Spike Albrecht told ESPN he was granted his release today and plans to play next season elsewhere as a grad transfer.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 29, 2016
Bleah. Michigan has Xavier Simpson coming in and is already one over on scholarships after the Tyus Battle recruitment caused Beilein to break bad, so that was more or less inevitable. I would hope that Spike at least avoids Big Ten schools even if Michigan doesn't restrict that. (If they can restrict a grad transfer. It is not clear to me they can.) It'll be interesting to see if he lands at a major program or ends up at a mid-major because of the hips. It'll be fun to root for Spike if he's got 30% usage on a 14-seed. If he's at Indiana not so much.
I'm not hearing any of the many complaints about Beilein's roster management here. Michigan had a plan, and that plan is a good plan. Spike's injury is an event you cannot anticipate, and once it happens you've got a choice between carrying a third point guard for a year and shoving some other dude off the roster. No offense intended to Spike but this was the way to go.
The upcoming Deal. The Big Ten's media rights are coming up for bid in the near future, probably for the last time ever in a cable bundle world. Andy Staples surveys the scene:
If this were 2013, when the cable bundle felt as if it would stay intact for much longer, ESPN could throw money at the Big Ten for two reasons: The rights are valuable, and an exclusive deal for the league's first-tier rights would essentially choke out Fox and ensure that all of the best college games aired on ESPN networks. Under that scenario, the amount of money would extend into the ludicrous, as Fox would counter with a huge amount because it needs those games to attract viewers. …
This mega-bidding war likely won't happen for two reasons. First, networks will be constrained by the economic factors described above. Second, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany may want to split up the rights. He has fought his battles with ESPN, but he also knows the Worldwide Leader can stop talking about a conference that doesn't appear on its air. Meanwhile, Fox owns 51% of the Big Ten Network, so it is a valuable partner. … The Big Ten will still probably double or even triple the previous deal and cement itself as the highest-grossing conference in college sports.
And thus the amateurism model will become even more untenable.
Staples wonders about how long this deal will be; the answer will probably depend on the channels. The Big Ten should take the longest possible deal since by the end of it there's a strong possibility it's a boat anchor for the broadcasters no longer being propped up by little old ladies who just want to watch NCIS.
Please remember this if they go in a submarine again. Baumgardner:
I've seen Michigan's football team practice for a total of 16 hours this spring. Five practices. I haven't been around for 50 years, but it's probably safe to say this month has featured more on-field practice access than those previous 50 years combined. This sort of stuff doesn't happen around here. It really never has.
I only got to see four of those and even so they are quite an antidote to the antics that surround the program. I mean, it's not like it's a surprise that Jim Harbaugh is a football coach who runs football practices, but there are folks who lose the forest for the twitter blasts. In reality those take up about a hundredth of one percent of Harbaugh's time and the football takes up the rest of it, with occasional forays to Peru or Paris mixed in.
Anyway, this period of media openness is likely to end abruptly on Friday; Harbaugh will fill in the rest of the offseason with fluff* and then maybe evaporate for a month. Even so this period of détente with the outside world has been pretty cool.
*[Fluff like 140 characters fired off at Gene Smith that this dude in Cleveland managed to spin into a novella.]
Seth Davis is making easily rebutted points again. Scam-hawking, stat-hating Seth Davis is one of the most unlikeable college basketball media members around so of course he's going to write a long thing about how the NCAA is terrific and amateurism is too:
Yes, the “system” (whatever that means these days) needs to be constantly upgraded to deliver more and more benefits to the student-athletes. But many people are unaware of the extent to which the NCAA has reformed itself over the last two years to do a better job taking care of the players. Thanks to a new governance structure that allows the Power Five conference schools to take the reins, players are now permitted to receive several thousand dollars in stipends in addition to their scholarships to allow them to cover the costs of attending school. There are basically no restrictions on how much food the schools can serve. For the second straight year, schools are permitted (but not required) to pay the travel expenses of players’ families so they can attend NCAA tournament games.
That all sounds great, but Get The Picture points something out:
…all those improvements he cites in his first paragraph there came not voluntarily from the NCAA, but in response to pressure the student-athletes brought in the courts and with the NLRB. And those kids aren’t so stupid as to avoid noticing that pressure gets results, even with a bunch as stubborn as the schools are. After all, learning lessons is what students do.
Power 5 autonomy is more or less a panicked response to the lawsuits and NLRB unionization threats designed to hand out an incremental improvement in situations so that revenue athletes don't realize Jim Delany makes how much? and try to get some of that lucre for themselves. Davis says athletes are "feted like kings" like that's a point in the NCAA's favor rather than clear evidence that there's too much money sloshing around in the system because the workers aren't paid.
Hockey exits. No surprises yet. Werenski is out the door already; Downing is likely to be so in the near future. I guess it's good that we haven't heard about Kyle Connor yet—come on expansion draft caution—but I'm not getting the ol' hopes up there.
Hockey changes. Brad Traviolia talked to CHN in the aftermath of the Notre Dame move. One item of note is that this championship tournament model is dead-dead-dead:
Traviolia: The only thing off the table, I think, is the status quo. ... An all-comers, neutral-site format is not the best option for us. We can do better. We're not really leaning one way. We're open to the whole gamut. Whether we do everything on campus, whether we do a hybrid of campus and neutral site, whether we want to stand alone, and whether we want to work with other conferences. I think we want to explore all options.
Well, at least that makes sense as long as they don't go for that goofy super-tournament thing in St. Paul. "Campus sites," he said over and over again until he died.
Traviolia also pointed out that the Big Ten was an 11-team league for 20 years, so folks shouldn't assume they're going to add an eighth team just to add an eighth team. TBH I'd rather have the enforced byes a 7 team league brings than the scheduling compromises an eight-team league imposes… unless the eighth team is a compelling one.
Maybe that hockey eligibility rule isn't so ridiculous. College hockey has always been open to older players, and for the most part that's been a good thing. A higher average age has improved the overall level of play to the point where the NCAA is 30% of the NHL* and kept smaller schools in the hunt for championships in a way they aren't in any other sport.
That said, things are getting kind of ridiculous:
…more than two-thirds of the 2015-16 freshman class reached its 20th birthday before playing a college game.
That is two years after high school. You get one year in all other sports. The Big Ten wants to make that the cap, not three, and while the way they've gone about it is offputting I don't think the move itself is particularly drastic or uncalled for. (A lot of these guys who pan out in a big way will sign "early" with NHL teams… at 22 or 23.)
*[It's not that the old guys are getting to the league, although some do. It's more that the NCAA is more attractive as a developmental route because it's tougher than it would otherwise be.]
Etc.: More RPO is coming, specifically at Penn State. No night game this year. People are way more upset about this than I thought they'd be. Exit Steve Racine, puck magnet. Drew Sharp heal thyself. Exiting hockey seniors advise patience for underclassmen making decisions. Defensive practice takes from Touch The Banner.
The Dodgers have a TV deal that is costing Time Warner nine digits a year because nobody wants to pay the exorbitant fees TW is trying to extract from other providers. An interesting article from a couple years ago about John Beilein and how his players perform in the NBA.
So this happened, and it's kind of a big deal if you like hockey:
— Big Ten Hockey (@B1GHockey) March 23, 2016
Assorted takes to follow.
Yes, it's a good idea
There's been a ton of bitching about this move on both sides, which I expect from NDNationers literally still upset about something that happened in 1910. I expected less of that from the Michigan side of things but our thread here is about 80% "f*** Notre Dame." I wish Bo had never said "to hell with Notre Dame." It is the crying Jordan of things Bo said.
I downvote all of you metaphorically. Michigan and Notre Dame should play. In hockey, in football, in whatever. Curling. Sure, curling. They have a strong AD and quality revenue programs, they are a historical rival, they are a geographic fit. Not playing them—not wanting to play them—is juvenile.
This goes double for hockey given the situation the Big Ten finds itself in. Simply put, the schedule is much better off with four games against the Irish than it is without those games. (Especially because those will be home-and-home weekends.) The league is much better off with Jeff Jackson in it than outside of it.
The downside is… what, exactly? Notre Dame will feel less pressure to join the Big Ten in all sports? If you think hockey factors into that decision one iota I have news for you.
No, don't add Arizona State
A seven team conference is a bit odd but is doable. The league schedule expands to 24 games, one team is on a bye they can fill with a nonconference series every week, it's fine. FWIW, Brad Traviola says an eighth team is not currently on the table:
Notre Dame makes seven, and Big Ten deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia said there are no current plans to expand to eight. Some Illinois and Nebraska fans wish their club team would upgrade to varsity, but such a move requires major funding and proper facilities.
Moving to eight gets tricky. Options:
- 28 game conference schedule. With 28 conference games your nonconference gets very restricted. Michigan and MSU are in the GLI every year and the cap is 34, leaving just four slots for new teams. This was the worst thing about the 12-team CCHA.
- 14 game conference schedule. Opposite problem, nowhere near enough.
- Two divisions of four, 20 game conference schedule. This was more or less the CCHA's solution after they went to 12. They rotated pairs of teams through groups of four so the schedule did change up.
- Play everyone three times, 21 game conference schedule. Logistically difficult. Some of the odd games could be taken care of in switch weekends like the old College Hockey Showcase. M would travel to Minnesota for Friday and head to Wisconsin on Saturday while MSU did the opposite, that sort of thing. The eighth team would probably have to be a geographic pair for Penn State, though, and there isn't one that makes sense. I mean, Robert Morris is in Pittsburgh but do we want to add Robert Morris?
All of these have costs in a way that adding team #7 does not, and so the hypothetical eighth team had better be worth it. A team in freakin' Arizona with zero history is not worth it, especially when the Big Ten does not need another RPI anchor. Arizona State doesn't have a name brand in any sport, let alone hockey.
Yes maybe add someone else
There are teams that would be worth it if they were amenable. Foremost is North Dakota, a fierce rival of Minnesota and Wisconsin who Michigan also has a ton of history with. North Dakota is an incredibly well-supported program that would bring a buzz to Yost every time they showed up.
As a Midwest-ish state flagship school, North Dakota fits the Big Ten reasonably well. Bringing them in would mitigate some of the Minnesota hate for the new arrangement. It would improve the overall quality of play. It avoids some of the optics problems with adding a school with a bunch of other D-I programs—North Dakota is D-II in everything else. [Update: this is no longer true.] If they want in the Big Ten would be dumb to say no.
Would they? I think they probably would. Despite being perennially one of college hockey's best teams, just four North Dakota games were on national TV this year. From the Big Ten's perspective you do get a small bump by adding North Dakota, the state, to the footprint. And as mentioned, UND-Minnesota was the fiercest rivalry in college hockey once Michigan State went into the crapper. (And probably before that.) NoDak is the easy #1 choice.
If the Artists Formerly Known As Sioux don't want to come, there are other programs that would be worth it:
- Miami. Quality program with a new rink. Hating on Enrico Blasi is great fun. Geographic fit makes three-game league configuration feasible.
- Whichever Minnesota program the Gophers want. St. Cloud, UMD, whatever. Good programs that will be good in the future. Mitigates Gopher hatred of new league. Geographic fit.
- Western or Ferris. Neither team is going to knock your socks off with their on-ice performance but they are a geographic fit and old CCHA rivals.
Let's Play Hockey suggested Miami along with Arizona State, UConn, and UNO. Only Miami should be a viable contender amongst those schools. UConn has most of the baggage ASU does and is already in Hockey East. The only reason they would join the Big Ten is in the faint hope that would be a prelude to joining in all sports, and see Notre-Dame-to-the-Big-Ten-in-all-sports above for my take on that. UNO is a good program vaguely in the footprint but it's not much better or worse than a lot of schools a lot closer.
Notre Dame keeping its NBC contract is good
This is not the right take at all:
Keeping the TV contract is what actually surprises me the most about Notre Dame to B1G in hockey. B1G flinched. https://t.co/cQ4i3ifJwG
— Matt Wellens (@mattwellens) March 22, 2016
This isn't basketball or football. The BTN cannot televise all of its hockey. Other channels pick up games for the rest of the league all the time; there is no reason not to allow Notre Dame to do the same. Meanwhile now I know two road games will definitely be on a channel I get. From a fan's perspective anything that gets a game on TV is good; the NBC contract takes pressure off the Big Ten Network's limited programming space.
Now we can definitely do the State Championship thing
Trophies are good [Patrick Barron]
Notre Dame now becomes an obvious choice to fill out the field for the Michigan hockey championship I've been advocating since the dissolution of the CCHA. There are seven hockey programs in Michigan spread across three conferences now; they should play each other, and they should give someone a trophy for it.
Add Notre Dame in now and divide the eight teams into groups of four that switch annually. Michigan and MSU are never in the same group. Two WCHA teams are in each group. Hypothetical groups:
|Group A||Group B|
|Ferris State||Michigan Tech|
|Northern Michigan||Notre Dame|
Each team plays the others twice. Teams in the same conference have an early-season conference series that counts towards the standings without adding additional nonconference commitments. The top two in each group advance to the GLI. The bottom two play a consolation round at the Joe either a couple days before or at the same time. Hand out a big ass trophy to the winner.
This is a:
- Six-game commitment for the WCHA teams, ND, and one of M/MSU.
- Eight-game commitment for M/MSU every other year and WMU.
Michigan, MSU, and MTU have already committed two of those games with their annual participation in the GLI. With a 24 game conference schedule Michigan would have 2-4 dates to play with annually and could still go out to Boston, play a tomato can, that sort of thing.
It is doable, and it would make the GLI a bigger event. It would provide a semblance of the old CCHA and amp up early season nonconference games. It's more or less adding an FA Cup to the college hockey schedule. The state of Minnesota would probably follow suit in short order.
Maybe things can start making sense now
ND to the Big Ten makes sense. Could this be a new era of not shooting yourself in the foot in college hockey? Please Tiny Jesus make it so:
No regional sites have been selected past 2017. And, according to Kristin Fasbender, the NCAA’s director of championships and alliances, the committee and the college hockey body as a whole will explore whether a new structure to the regional portion of the tournament, which could include playing games at campus sites, is a more viable option.
“I think there is continued conversation about [changing the regionals],” said Fasbender. “The committee keeps talking about what [the tournament] looks like when we go forward.
“We’re in a year here where at our four regional sites, none of our host institutions are in them. So I think we’ll continue to have this conversation as we get into the championship in Tampa and at the coaches’ association meetings in April and the [NCAA Division I men's ice hockey] committee meetings in June and trying to talk more about what we want to continue to look at globally for the whole tournament as we go forward.”
It's long past time to move to campus sites. North Dakota earned the opportunity to host a regional. Instead they're in Cincinnati, playing in front of nobody. But I'm a broken record about neutral site college hockey.
Don't overlook this sick Rutgers burn
Red on the move:
“Expansion is brought up every time the Big Ten is mentioned so (the move) is a good step in the right direction,” Berenson said. “It makes sense geographically. It’s not like we’re going out to play Rutgers or something. We’re playing a team that is in the Big Ten footprint.”
Oh snap, Delany.
IT'S MADE OF PAPER UNKNOWN TO MANKIND. The Daily has a book that compiles all their Harbaugh stuff, Harbaugh-related stuff, and Harbaugh-tangential stuff from the past year. You can order it for $5 plus shipping, or skip the shipping and pick it up from the Student Publications building on Maynard. Proceeds help the Daily keep running so they can continue to pump out epic features. Someone's got to write COLUMNS that don't make you want to die.
If this is the start of the zombie apocalypse I'm going to be upset. Gotta give me at least five years of Harbaugh before the end of the world.
The Ross Academic Center is being quarantined pic.twitter.com/Cp0L7jFiAr
— Jason Rubinstein (@jrubinstein4) February 17, 2016
Apparently most of the swimming and diving team is sick and they're checking the pool for something that turns you into a flesh-eating, non-verbal lumbering horror. Sounds like they should check the press box, not the pool.
Also please not before the MONORAIL. True story: one of the first Every Three Weekly articles ever was about an outlandish plan to join Central Campus to North Campus with a monorail. (In it, Tom Goss projected it would make money thanks to monorailgoblue.com, because Michigan had just launched mgoblue.com. Also it was on paper. I am old.) Well, IT'S HAPPENING DOT MONORAIL:
Schlissel, city envision monorail to unite North and Central campuses
Tuesday, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel reintroduced the idea of creating a rapid transit system between Central and North Campuses, a project that has essentially been dormant since 2013.
Would I ride this just to ride it? Definitely. Let's put our town on the map.
Yes, thank you sane person. Man, has it been hard to keep the fisk in the garage after the latest and dumbest hot take explosion about Harbaugh. The main reason I haven't opened both barrels is indecision about whether I should go after Mitch Albom, Drew Sharp, or Tony Barnhart, all of whom put the literary equivalent of Skyline chili on the internet in response to Harbaugh's plan to visit IMG. Nothing has been as dumb as this, though:
I mean… I can't put it past a guy whose version of the "Art of the Deal" will be titled "Chasing Rutgers," but cumong man. Put down the Confederate flag bong and sober up.
I may break down pretty soon here and call someone horseface, but for now Andy Staples is keeping me sane:
The Power Five leagues, including Sankey's SEC, got autonomy legislation passed so they could loosen some restrictions that other Division I schools wanted to keep tight. The new attitude in major college sports was supposed to be this: If you want to do it, do it. If you don't, don't. That lasted until several millionaire coaches got mad at another millionaire coach trying to mitigate their competitive advantage.
I'm so so done with being Meatloaf The Football Program: I'll do anything to win but I won't do that. Staples does mention that Harbaugh getting up in his players' spring break might come up during the infinite lawsuits the NCAA is fighting, but since a bunch of spring sports already do that it's likely a moot point. And as I always point out, Michigan fans should be hoping amateurism dies swiftly and comprehensively for the same reason the Yankees don't want a salary cap. I don't think Harbaugh is consciously attempting to point out the hypocrisy, but I'd support him if he was.
Meanwhile in attempts to negative recruit based on the above. Michael Dwumfour opens up about his recruitment process, detailing an ill-fated Penn State trip:
The Penn State coaching staff knew the competition it was up against. According to Dwumfour, the Lions poked fun at Jim Harbaugh’s recruiting techniques.
That didn’t sit well.
“When I was at Penn State, I heard jokes about Harbaugh and stuff like that,” Dwumfour said. “In the back of my head, I’m thinking ‘What he’s doing is working, obviously. Instead of criticizing him, you might want to take some of his techniques to try and help yourself out and get some recruits.’”
The prospect of Penn State coaches making fun of Harbaugh's sleepovers boggles the mind, but I put nothing that is bogglingly dumb past James Franklin.
Status of Bush the elder. Devin Bush Sr was long rumored to be on the verge of a Michigan job, something that he was openly hoping for in an interview with Brandon Brown:
“For me, if I was to get an opportunity, because I would love to coach at the next level, I never wanted to put it out there because I didn’t want to move my kids while they were in high school. If you get into that world you could be moving every eight to ten months. Once my son graduated, now I would be open for an opportunity because I don’t have to worry about moving kids, it’s just my wife and I.”
That sounds like a guy who is waiting for the Ts to get crossed and Is dotted. And now that Michigan's down Greg Jackson they might look at him for that job as well; Bush's profile isn't that far away from Jackson's: former NFL safety, little high-level experience. Harbaugh grabbed Jackson when he was an assistant DBs coach with Wisconsin.
Who doesn't these days? Tom Brady's agent wants to blow up the NCAA, and he's likely correct about how the edifice comes tumbling down:
This is the promise of [Don] Yee's advocacy. He is a football insider with firsthand knowledge of how a business works and the credibility to make people listen. He is exhausted, he says, by talk without much action and has reached the point of arguing for revolution: Blow up the system. Start over. Build anew. "This generation of players has more tools at its disposal than any other to be heard and to organize," he says. "If they adopted a Twitter hashtag of #disruptthefinalfour for the NCAA tournament, they would at least start a discussion. And significant change typically happens through some discussion that is too large to ignore."
All it would take is two basketball teams deciding to delay a Final Four game and amateurism is all over but the shouting. They don't even have to refuse to play. All they have to do is agree to start the game 15 minutes late, and there will be no illusions as to where the power actually resides. Yee:
"Nothing will change for the players unless they take the responsibility of becoming something more than willing victims to this system," Yee says. "At some point, you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself, 'Who am I? What am I doing? What's going on, and what am I doing about it?' These players, they have all the power -- they simply don't realize it."
That is correct. Someone's going to be the NCAA's Curt Flood, and pretty soon. Related: Sonny Vaccaro talks to the NYT, says the same things Vaccaro usually does.
I guess he's a Walverine. Michigan fans have this odd conversation about whether it's okay to be a Michigan fan without having attended the school. They do this largely because MSU fans are livid that nobody who doesn't go to MSU gives a damn about the Spartans and project this anger all around them. Meanwhile 95% of Alabamans are either Auburn or Alabama fans, and… uh… let's just stipulate that more than 5% of Alabamans do not have a degree from either institution. (Ace, at home, just screamed "BAN BOOKLARNIN'" again.)
It is good to have Michigan fans scattered about with no other connection to the school. One of them just joined the recruiting class:
“Honestly I’ve been a Michigan fan since I was little,” [Dylan] McCaffrey said. “My grandma is a big Michigan fan. She has a house about 40 minutes away [from Ann Arbor], so I don’t know why, but I just ended up loving them. I could’ve always seen myself going there, and in the end I just went back to how I felt about Michigan as a kid.”
Another person who was a Michigan fan for no particular reason: Jabrill Peppers. Let all who want to root for winged helmets do so irrespective of their degrees, and let MSU fans stew about it.
More on "floor seats". Everyone hated it. Especially people who have televisions. ESPN trotted out some poor damn spokesperson, who immediately torpedoed any sympathy I might have for her with a statement so inane it bordered on Dave Brandon Hire:
ESPN was built on trying new things and taking risks, and tonight is just another example of that.
ESPN was built on showing people athletics contests, not utterly failing to do so.
Austin Davis is looking rather different these days. Many people thought taking Davis was questionable at best when Michigan did, and it is going to be strange next year when Michigan has up to six post players on the roster (Doyle, Donnal, Wagner, Wilson, Davis, and Jon Teske). But Davis has done everything he can to prep himself:
“The big thing is I changed my diet around; I changed it pretty drastically,” he said. “And then I got on a new weight program.” …
A year ago, Davis was more of a plodder as he moved up and down the court. His teammates often had to wait for him to join them before they could run their offense.
That, more than anything, is why no major college offered him a scholarship — and U-M coach John Beilein made Davis aware of that fact.
“We had a directive,” said Eric Davis, Austin’s dad. “Coach Beilein really wanted to see him start moving better and running the court better.”
He has, and he now looks like a college post. Whether he'll still look like one in college is unknown; his 79% shooting percentage is indicative of both his talent and his competition level.
Who runs Big Ten hockey? The equivalent of Tom Anastos. Tom Anastos, hockey coach, not Tom Anastos, CCHA commissioner. Because Anastos was all right at the latter before being thrust into a role he had no frame of reference for. Ditto the folks running Big Ten hockey:
“Coming from a non-hockey background, it’s kind of hard for me to imagine a fan in the state of Minnesota who wouldn’t be excited to see a Michigan or a Michigan State come in to play,” he said. “I recognize and acknowledge that significant rivalries developed over the years in the previous leagues, and that’s fine."
Minnesota fans did not like this interview with Brad Traviolia, not one bit. I'm not much of a fan either. Nobody comes to the Big Ten hockey tournament because most fans are very far away from said tournament no matter where it is.
There is no possible solution to this problem. A neutral site Big Ten tournament is never going to draw. I have had season tickets for a decade now and I have no plans to ever go to a neutral site Big Ten Tournament, because that product sucks. It sucks being in a big empty building where hockey is going on. I am barely willing to put up with it for an NCAA tournament game. A Big Ten tourney where everyone makes it in doesn't even come close to moving the needle.
The only solution is to go to series on home ice, which four of the six schools should support since they have dedicated rinks. If Wisconsin or Ohio State don't want to host because of high school sports, they don't have to. Quit letting two schools that clearly don't care about hockey dictate to the 3.5 that do.
Hockey tourney status: don't collapse. Jim Dahl's excellent Pairwise projection site is reaching peak utility as hockey comes down the stretch here. Michigan is in barring a spectacular collapse:
Even 2-5 likely sees them sitting in a pretty secure at-large spot, though they'd definitely want to win a game in the Big Ten tournament. Three wins and they would be all but a lock going into that tourney unless results elsewhere conspired against them; 4-3 and they're 100% in.
A one seed would require Michigan to absolutely sprint down the stretch; even a 6-1 finish most likely sees them still a 2 going into the BTT.
I have no idea how good this goalie is. The Daily's Jason Rubinstein on Michigan's poor, bombarded goalie:
After three and a half years, Racine is playing the best hockey he ever has in a Michigan uniform. Berenson named him the team’s bona fide starter more than three months ago. For his last six games, he boasts a .931 save percentage, a career high for any stretch over five games that he has played.
And this past weekend, he was the only reason Michigan managed to escape Madison with five points, rather than three. In Saturday’s contest against Wisconsin, the Wolverines won in a shootout, despite surrendering four goals.
“You should’ve seen him at Wisconsin,” Berenson said. “He stood on his head, and we had no business winning the game based on the chances we gave up.
“That was his best game of the year.”
This has got to be the strangest year for hockey since I've been paying attention. They give up four goals to a very bad Wisconsin team only because their goalie stands on his head; they are on pace for a two-seed.
Etc.: Barry Alvarez apologizes for saying innocuous, accurate thing about UW hockey. Bob Miller on incoming goalie Jack LaFontaine. Jim Harbaugh adopts a kitten. PWO Anthony Kay profiled. Incoming hockeyist Nick Pastujov also profiled.
In Michigan sports that weren't that, Michigan kicked off its hockey season with a shaky sweep of Mercyhurst. The Lakers were .500 in Atlantic Hockey last year and lost five of their top six scorers to graduation. They looked like they were in for a rough year; Michigan dominated attack time and shots. They did not so much dominate on the scoreboard, with one-goal wins Friday and Saturday. (Michigan got an empty-netter Friday.)
Hockey takes in addition to Adam's Goal By Goal:
- Not seeing much difference in the team this year. A lot of individual talent, a lot of breakdowns. Michigan gave up a ton of odd-man rush goals and turned the puck over at or near the blueline far too much. Actual zone entry plays were rare; instead Michigan just tried to gain the zone with individual skill. They'll win their share of games, but I didn't see much that would indicate a turnaround from the last few frustrating years.
- Example of the above. On Sunday Alex Kile was on a 3-on-2 on which he had two guys open and trailing; he chose to try to beat a defenseman around the corner and blasted the goalie for an interference penalty.
- Werenski is up and down and frustrating. He stands out as a super talented even with a bunch of other NHL draft picks on the team. I expect his wrister to pick out a corner every time he gets an opportunity with it. But he was the D caught up ice on Mercyhurst's 2-on-1 goal Sunday and there were several other questionable defensive plays besides. He was iffy on D last year and should by rights be a freshman right now; I don't think that's a reason for long term concern but I was hoping he'd show a little better.
- Nieves is still Nieves. Perimeter player. Not expecting a breakout year. He's centering the "top line" mostly for morale reasons, I think—Compher's line is the actual top line.
- I don't have a feel for Connor yet. Sometimes takes me a while to figure out what I think of a player. Connor is currently in that boat.
- The third line is pretty dang good. It was Calderone, Marody, and Warren. All of them are high effort, physical guys. Calderone had some trouble receiving passes, but other than that those guys dominated their opposite number. Michigan is going to get production out of them against opponents' bottom six.
- Depth: questionable. Michigan skated seven defensemen on Sunday and elected to double-shift centers on the fourth line. I'm fine with this—one of my complaints over the last few years is that Michigan didn't seem to play its stars enough—but if there are injuries Michigan could be really thin at F.
This will be another season flirting with the tourney cutoff. Michigan's awful schedule hurts them significantly here. The Big Ten appears to be a tire fire again. These days RPI overcorrects for home games and Michigan loaded their schedule with them. And their nonconference schedule is mostly crap. I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan is the non-tourney team with the best record in April.
More Big Ten tire fire details. Alarmingly for the league and Michigan's schedule strength, Minnesota is 0-3 and has scored just one goal. Everyone expected the Gophers to take a step back after graduating huge chunks of their team; that much of a retreat is going to be yet another anchor for a league that is already carrying several around.
Meanwhile Wisconsin is coming off a BU/BC weekend in which they were outscored 10-1, OSU has been swept by Miami and BGSU, and Michigan State was just swept by Denver (total goals 7-2). Big Ten teams aren't just losing, they're getting crushed.
Penn State(!) is the only team with anything approximating an encouraging start after a competitive split with Notre Dame. Everything else points to a repeat of last year minus a good Minnesota team. Maybe the Big Ten could spend some of their filthy lucre on hiring non-incompetent hockey coaches next year? Could we try that maybe? MSU and Wisconsin allowing Tom Anastos and Mike Eaves to return is bad for everybody.
Yost things. They have walked back a lot of the in-game commercials this year, so that's nice. IIRC the only thing still around is Find The Object Under The Corporate Logo. That's down from just under a dozen per game last year.
The folks in charge are still a bit off, though. Hockey Special K has limited opportunities to do his thing because of the nature of hockey but he's still jamming in a goal horn—completely unnecessary w/ the bad—and then playing pump-up music before the puck drop. Why Special K insists on playing 5 seconds of music before every kickoff/puck drop is always going to be a mystery.
Also the concession prices remain completely out of whack. When it's more expensive than Joe Louis I'm going to avoid buying things out of principle. I can't imagine the tiny incremental profit increase is worth the psychic damage to hockey fans who are already pretty beat up. I almost dropped my tickets this year because I could probably TiqIq the entire schedule for half of what my seats cost. Like, I decided not to and then two weeks after the deadline I relented.
Yost is not priced at all sensibly, especially when it comes to students. They're down to two sections and an overflow in the endzone, which is super depressing. I know we want the hockey program to break even but surely the atmosphere in the building is more important than X thousand dollars.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG
Please publish this anonymously because my fiancé didn't even want me to take this picture.
We're getting married at the Union this summer. Harbaugh is crazy, but not crazy enough to show up, right? Do we need to worry about a hora with enthusiasm unknown to mankind?
Thanks, and love the blog,
First: that's what we did when we got married. Did you get the Pendleton Room for the reception? It has a painting of Yost in it. That's what sold me (that and the fact it was the only appropriately-sized room in town).
Anyway. To your question.
You have committed a grave mistake. Harbaugh has just asked a 2016 recruit to prom, and they are still slightly disorganized after coming in from the NFL and scrambling to fill their 2015 class. The chances are high that they assume you are a recruit, or somehow connected to an important recruit, and show up in force at your wedding. There they will demand your brand new wife run 40s in heels. Your mother will be badgered into voluntary summer workouts. Both will leave arm-in-arm with JayBaugh.
Your only consolation is that the younger Harbaugh will not have an arm to cradle the Lombardi Trophy that he carries with him everywhere, but can you confide in the Lombardi Trophy? Can you snuggle next to it for warmth on cold nights? Will it make you breakfast? No, no, and no. Your future is a bleak one, sitting across from a cold metallic unfeeling brick, trying to make small talk over endless breadsticks and salad. The Lombardi Trophy's only reaction will be to reflect a hideously distorted version of yourself back to your eyes.
Sounds like hell, anonymous. A hell you willingly signed up for when you taunted fate. We will remember you alongside our most foolish archetypes.
Brian- I realize I'm probably not the only one to think this but if Rudock does come and Speight seems serviceable as a backup will they try and redshirt Morris if they think he's a viable option down the road?
I know there's gentry, Malzone and O'Korn as well but possibly this would give them another QB option.
It is possible. Mid-career redshirts are rare but there's no rule against it, and if Speight is as good or better there's no reason to not give yourself the option.
That might be in Morris's best interest either way. He enrolled early, so it wouldn't be too hard for him to get a degree after this year a la Gardner, and then he'd have two to play somewhere if it didn't work out here. And if a guy a class behind you beats you out for the #2 spot, it's probably not going to work out.
I was wondering if you could explain or if you even knew about any future BIG hockey expansion? I've started following BIG hockey and just wondered why Nebraska, Rutgers, and other schools do not have hockey programs if the BIG dishes our tens of millions of dollars each year. I am a hockey NOOB and just thought the BIG could be a legitimate conference if more teams (and even OSU) put any effort into making hockey decent. Thanks.
814 East U
The Big Ten shouldn't have to have more teams putting in effort to make hockey decent. Michigan and Minnesota are two of the sport's glamour programs, constantly stocked with NHL talent and near-perennial NCAA tournament participants. The have 15 national titles between them. Wisconsin has been more up and down recently but has six titles to their name. Michigan State was a national power until they hired Rick Comley and Tom Anastos back-to-back.
That's four of the six teams in the league clearly capable of being powers. Minnesota and Wisconsin are annually towards the top of the attendance leaderboard, and Michigan still more or less sells out Yost every year. Then you have Penn State, which is new but has an attractive rink and sold-out experience to offer kids. It's really only Ohio State—which plays in their inappropriately cavernous basketball arena to indifferent, sparse fans—that has an uphill battle towards respectability.
In fact, the second-most prominent complaint about the Big Ten's formation* was that it would spell the end of college hockey's charming mix of big time and small time competitors. Instead the Big Ten is in the same spot Atlantic Hockey is: vaguely hoping for a second bid one day. This is not how it was supposed to be.
But anyway that's not your question. There are two main hurdles to adding a hockey program: the arena and Title IX.
With limited exceptions, the correct size for a hockey arena is mid-four digits. Trying to shoehorn hockey into a basketball arena results in a tepid crowd and is a major drag on your program; also many arenas weren't built with a conversion like that in mind. Penn State's program was kickstarted by a 100 million dollar donation from Terry Pegula, the new Sabers owner. Similar seed money is just about required to boost any extant club hockey team to the varsity level.
Title IX adds a big hunk of expenses to your program. Hockey is popular enough that it can turn a small profit in the right situation. Penn State was 150k in the black in just its second year of existence; Michigan's program is also a net positive. If that was the end of it, all you'd have to do is pony up for the right arena and be done with it, but Title IX mandates you add a women's team of some variety. That team will have a revenue of approximately zero. It will not have zero expenses. With the BTN influx most schools could probably afford that expense, but it is something to consider.
One man's ranking of B10 schools by likelihood they would add hockey at some point:
- Iowa. Iowa is the epicenter of the USHL, the NCAA's primary feeder league. Iowa is financially stable and their fans have a demonstrated passion. Wrestling may be a small issue since it competes for attention.
- Nebraska. Iowa, except further west. Lincoln in fact already has a USHL team that plays in an arena of about 4k that has had good attendance. Nebraska's new basketball arena does have the capacity to put down ice, which has gone through a test drive. There has been sporadic chatter about adding a program that the AD has thus far shut down.
- Northwestern. Would need a large gift to create an arena. If that does happen it then makes a lot of sense, as there is a lot of local talent and high academic schools have proven their competitiveness over the years.
- Illinois. In the middle of nowhere, which is good for attendance. A basketball school, though, which raises questions about whether hockey will get requisite attention. One of the reasons Penn State has been so successful is that their fans are desperate for something other than pain after football season ceases. MSU has struggled with attention and attendance even when they were very good because basketball takes up so much headspace.
- Purdue. Neither Indiana team seems particularly likely to add hockey what with the state obsession with basketball.
- Indiana. See Purdue.
- Maryland. Financial basket case that slashed a ton of sports and only joined the Big Ten to mitigate the damage they'd done themselves.
- Rutgers. See Maryland, minus a fanbase.
You could see Iowa and Nebraska in the next ten years; anything after Illinois is highly unlikely.
*[#1 was the disruption of the Minnesota-centric WCHA and Michigan-centric CCHA, losses that are keenly felt by many long-time college hockey fans. I myself miss the old days more than I thought I would.]
Tom Osborne is watching your punting
I went to the Sloan Sports Analytics conference last month and the college football panel was by far the most memorable. About six minutes in, Rachel Nichols asked a member of the playoff selection committee (Oliver Luck) what metrics were most important in helping to separate the top four teams from the rest. Here is the brunt of his answer transcribed:
“It’s difficult to say that there were any bits of data that everybody on the committee shared and agreed [upon] because that was really left up to [each of] us. I can tell you [that] Tom Osborne: great football coach, nobody is going to question Tom Osborne’s integrity, or his intelligence, or his football knowledge [and] he loved the kicking game . . . [H]e would spend a lot of time looking at all the data on the kicking game for all these teams in question. Others would look at other data."
My friend and I (almost) had to leave the room we started laughing so hard. Don’t let anyone tell you that adopting the spread punt is overblown. THAT'S HOW THEY CHOOSE BETWEEN PLAYOFF TEAMS.
P.S.—Here is the link to the video (question starts at 06:40). You can watch it by starting a free trial and then cancel right after. I was hoping they’d upload it to the conference page by now but I couldn't wait any longer to share. Also, not nearly as worried about Penn State after listening to James Franklin spout nonsense for an hour.
I'm not entirely sure, Travis. "Go look at punting stats" sounds like a quintessential "go away" job.
The committee has Tom Osborne. Osborne spends most of his time rattling on about the Spanish-American War and declares every team after 1960 ineligible for the playoff. The committee says "Tom, you are a legend and we respect you immensely, and as you've said a thousand times in the last hour, punting is the most important part of the game. So have we got a project for you." Tom goes off and collates punting stats; committee swiftly chooses teams that don't punt.
This was titled "mailbag question" despite not being one.
I hate Wisconsin basketball.
I feel that sincerity, Erik.