big ten network
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.
this does not seem functional for several reasons I will now elucidate
For a while there it looked like Harbaugh had taken the Big Ten Network guys' phones and given them the Tom Brady treatment, but Dave Revsine must have a backup, because he's providing a rare glimpse inside Blue October.
In past years this has been something more than a post-length manual retweet of one guy; Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith also gave their thoughts. So far this is the only thing we've gotten from them:
— Derek Shaw (@Derek_Shaw) August 19, 2015
[Graham] Glasgow also told me he is living with his grandmother for the semester. A good way to focus.
That is one way to make sure you don't trip up on your probation.
Following blockquotes are from Revsine's twitter feed unless otherwise noted. BTN will broadcast their react from Michigan practice at 6 PM.
Tom Dienhart had some general thoughts on twitter:
A very business-like practice at Michigan today. No music blared. A classroom environment with lots of teaching. Nobody walked or lingered.
Dressed in his uniform of a blue “M” cap, long-sleeve shirt and—what else?—khakis, Harbaugh spent most of time with QBs. Always instructing.
Staffers describe the Michigan camp as a “submarine.” It is all business with no distractions.
Glad to hear they got rid of the lingering. Hate lingering. Almost as bad as loitering. By the way, if you want to find lingerers and loiterers just check the replies to any Dienhart tweet.
Some non-position-specific stuff from Revsine:
Harbaugh is incredibly involved in the passing game at practice - gives a lot of feedback - very hands-on with that group
It's obvious they're really, really well coached. Practice was all business, drills were efficient, feedback was great
Much like in the past few years team has more talent than most B1G teams they play except for the 2 best.
As always starts w O/D lines no lack of talent in either area They've recruited well in both areas & r good enough
I would not be surprised if both QB played in opener against Utah. Game play sometimes is best way to decide
Defense very solid good depth & has good young players that will have time 2 develop. Off needs more dynamic skill
QB - Morris consistently took 1st snap in drills - but no idea if that means anything - it does at some places, it doesn't at others
QB - if I had to guess, I'd say both Morris and Rudock would play against Utah - not sure there's clear separation
It's tough to say - both had their moments. Morris has a great arm. Rudock doesn't make many mistakes. Tough call
Asked about Morris:
His arm - he can really spin it. Issue will obviously be TO's - have to be dramatically better there as a team
Dienhart was more decisive about the QB battle:
1. Jake Rudock figures to win the quarterback spot. The Iowa senior transfer is the one signal-caller who gives Michigan the best chance to win out of the gate. … Rudock threw the ball well today and worked with the top units along with junior lefty Shane Morris. Rudock is a savvy vet with lots of starting experience.
FWIW. I'm betting that the quarterback battle will legitimately go until the day before the Utah game and that Rudock wins it decisively.
Zach Gentry looked "tall"; a fan asking about him was advised that this was a two-man race.
Other obvious trouble spot LY was OL. I think that group will be vastly improved.They have always had talent there - evident again 2day
No real surprises on OL - looked like Cole, Braden, Glasgow, Kalis, Magnuson. Drevno singled Blake Bars out as having had good camp
Even if we're nervous about Braden at guard, I'd be more nervous about guys flipping everywhere like we've seen the last few years.
They are really well coached on the OL - constant constructive feedback. Would be shocked if they're not better
Easy call to make with 5-ish returning starters and Tim Drevno running the show.
Dienhart noted the second team line:
The second unit had junior Logan Tuley-Tillman at left tackle; junior David Dawson at left guard; junior Patrick Kugler at center; sophomore Juwann Bushell-Beatty at right guard; senior Blake Bars at right tackle.
That's as expected until you get to JBB at guard and Bars at tackle.
On the starter:
Hard to tell - I did notice Smith a few times. Guess would be by committee at 1st & see if someone emerges
RB - lots of good well-known options here - again, I think difference in OL will help immensely.
Big - man he has great size for a RB. Because of the structure of practice, I didn't come away w great feel for RBs
Dienhart gave Smith the slight edge; Ross Taylor-Douglass is apparently a tailback this week.
WIDE RECEIVER & TIGHT END
Revsine literally shouted out everyone on the roster who was practicing at TE.
TE could be a real area of strength - obviously we know about Jake Butt, but Poggi, Winovich, Williams (nice TD grab) all look solid
Did I mention Hill and Bunting? They're good too. Lot of interesting options there.
Wheatley is probably on the shelf for a bit, so that's everybody. Apparently Hill is back at it?
I still think big-play explosiveness will be an issue for this team - no one totally jumps out on that front
Yeah. That contradicts this…
WR looks to be about what it was a year ago - issue will be whether a deep threat can emerge. Better OL play could obviously help there
…because last year they had one Devin Funchess, for all the good that did them. Remember when they just punted it to Funchess like six times a game because their offense was real bad and that was a good idea? I don't either.
The Grant Perry hype train continues unabated:
I'd be surprised if Grant Perry doesn't contribute some at WR. Tough to tell on Brian Cole - kind of up and down
Some nice options at wideout, with senior Jehu Chesson and senior Amara Darboh. Freshman Brian Cole was running with the second unit. I like the kid. Sophomore Maurice Ways also saw lots of action. Grant Perry was another freshman who was active.
Drake Harris was a "young guy who could help"; Peppers did not get snaps on offense, but as Revsine points out that's a thing they would likely keep under wraps when BTN visits.
DEFENSE & SPECIAL TEAMS
Relatively little here. On the DL:
Good group - rotated a lot of guys through. I think they'll once again have a very solid defense
On the secondary:
A lot of known commodities, obviously, on defense. Looks like Lyons will definitely help in secondary.
DE Taco Charlton was leading post-practice sprint drills among linemen. He is an impressive specimen.
Dienhart also provided looks at the two deep at linebacker…
The linebackers look good. One unit had senior James Ross; senior Desmond Morgan; senior Joe Bolden. Another had junior Ben Gedeon; sophomore Jared Wangler; senior Allen Gant.
One front lined up thusly today: Wormley at end; senior Ryan Glasgow at tackle; senior Willie Henry at tackle; Ojemudia at end. The other unit combo was Charlton at end; senior Tom Strobel; junior Maurice Hurst; senior Royce Jenkins-Stone, listed as a LB on the roster.
So Charlton is an SDE, which makes sense since all the other candidates to back up Wormley got moved to TE. Strobel lining up at nose(?!) would be a very, very strange thing. Would expect Godin to be the #4 DT without Mone. No mention of Marshall is odd.
Meanwhile, the secondary:
Stanford grad transfer Wayne Lyons could be a proverbial “cut-above.” The top unit today was Lewis and Clark on the edges with Peppers and Wilson at safety. The other unit had junior Channing Stribling and freshman Tyree Kinnel on the corners with junior Dymonte Thomas and Lyons at safety.
No Delano Hill or Watson mentioned; Clark pushing for the boundary spot will give me the heebie-jeebies until it doesn't.
Potential punt returners and some Peppers hype:
PR looks like it'll be Peppers and Chesson. Peppers looked great overall today and DJ Durkin said he's had an outstanding camp
PK remains up in the air - still doesn't look like an area of strength. Aussie P Blake O'Neill got off some boomers – impressive
This from Dienhart on the three PK options:
Three kickers took turns at the uprights: freshman Andrew David; sophomore Kyle Seychel; senior Kenneth Allen.
Cole and Clark impressed [Bryan Fuller]
Our annual attempt to glean useful things from the Big Ten's visit to fall camp is here. BTN analysts have a slight bias towards the positive, as Gerry DiNardo demonstrated before last season…
"When I saw them in the spring it was like a war at the line of scrimmage," BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo said. "It was what you imagine it looks like at Alabama and all the downhill teams."
…so take overall tenor with a grain of salt. As per usual, I've translated these from twitterese. This year only DiNardo and Dienhart are reporting; Howard Griffith is there but just hangin' out yo. Dienhart has an article and everything. If there's no link, it's from the article.
"Much like last year a team with more talent than most teams in the B1G. Recruiting rankings are accurate in most cases." –Dinardo
"Long hard physical practice—they got a ton of reps, often times splitting staff and team in half to get more reps." –Dinardo
Rep rep rep is good news, as when Michigan does show bits of practice the pace is often not inspiring. Anything that seems to be oriented towards making Michigan competent at speed is welcome.
"Like a lot of places offensive scheme is starting to be blend of more than one offensive philosophy." –Dinardo
As long as that's running a lot of inside zone from shotgun and under center, okay.
"Jumped out: Gardner, Norfleet, Charlton, Poggi, Speight, Cole, Ojemudia, Pipkins, Clark, Henry, Mone, Glasgow." –DiNardo
That's a pretty long list of guys to jump out at you. Speight's inclusion is a little weird since in another tweet he says that Morris and Speight are pretty even for the backup QB job. Mone is the only freshman mentioned. (Peppers had to miss this practice for class.)
[AFTER the JUMP: shortin' out and dyin', De'Veon Smith credit plea, naggers.]
Derrick Green is a large man.
As per the title. This year's batch of impressions is pretty interesting. As always, organized by topic and translated from the twitterese. Standard disclaimer: this is one practice that's not even in pads, so a lot of position groups are basically impossible to evaluate. In particular I'd take the OL stuff with a grain of salt.
Dienhart has a full article on the experience; it doesn't appear that Howard Griffith was there this year, and he gave an interesting glimpse into the depth chart:
Here is who was running with the “ones” on defense today: Line, Tom Strobel; Chris Wormley (who is a specimen); Quinton Washington; Frank Clark. Linebackers, Joe Bolden; James Ross; Secondary, Blake Countess; Thomas Gordon; Jarrod Wilson; Courtney Avery; Raymon Taylor.
So 1), that's a nickel package, 2) Dymonte Thomas wasn't at the top of the depth chart, 3) Strobel and Wormley were your Day X starters at SDE and three-tech, respectively, and 4) Bolden was ahead of Morgan. That's so many changes from expectation that I'm betting that rotation is more experiment than depth chart indicator.
Even so you do get an indicator of who is not being challenged for a starting spot at present: Clark, Washington, Ross, the safeties, and Countess. Anyway, more things:
Devin Gardner looked great - in total command of the offense. He needs to stay healthy more than any player in B1G - Morris struggled a bit. Morris has a live arm and runs well too - just seemed a step behind - late on a number of throws. Will be very, very good in time. –Dave Revsine [part 2]
As mentioned in Morris's recruiting profile, early struggles are expected.
Al Borges told me Devin Gardner loves to study film more than Denard Robinson did. Borges says Gardner is more athletic than Jason Campbell. –Dienhart
Was Denard a noted film guy? I don't recall that being part of the things people said about him except when he was being compared to Tate. The Campbell thing is obvious. Campbell could move around a little bit but was almost strictly a pocket passer. Rushing yards by year at Auburn: 72, 206, 1, 30.
Derrick Green was dressed but not taking reps, FWIW.
Borges also said he needs a "war daddy" at RB, given that the run game now features the TB rather than QB. Not clear he has one yet. –Revsine
Fitz Toussaint showed no effects from his injury. Great burst through the line. –Revsine
Wyatt Shallman also got a lot of carries as a TB. Unclear if that's because Green wasn't involved in the reps. –Revsine
Heyward got huge in the NFL—like, may have pushed 300 pounds—but in college he was 240-260 and quite good at running: 1800 yards and a Heisman finalists from Pitt as a junior and a departure to the first round of the NFL draft.
Darboh impressed in a major way.
Da'Mario Jones had a nice one-handed catch as well. Lots of good young WR talent. Darboh has taken a particularly large leap. –Revsine
WR Amara Darboh looks primed for a breakout. Big, fast and physical –Dienhart
Funchess is fantastic - serious match-up issue. They will use him well. –Revsine
Q: Who do you think will be the number one receiver for Gardner?
A: Gallon - but Darboh & Funchess right there. –Revsine
As mentioned, a grain of salt here. There were no warning flags from this visit last year.
Little bit of a battle going on at C. Always give the caveat of it was just 1 practice on 1 day - but Glasgow delivered first snap. –Revsine
I asked Brady Hoke about interior of o-line; he told me all spots are still open. Lots of bodies. I have to think Kalis will get one spot. –Dienhart
Lewan is a very clear leader. Most of his leadership 2day was keeping young guys focused and loose. I observed a good exhange with DeVeon Smith –Revsine
Q: Does the interior of the OL look more athletic? Will the Gs be able to pull efficiently? [ed: almost certainly an mgoreader, right?]
A: Yes - OL looked good. –Revsine
Taylor Lewan is really fun to be around - one of my favorite B1G interviews. He said Frank Clark reminds him of Clowney. As in Jadeveon. –Revsine
Fun to see Brady interact with DL (for me - not necessarily for DL) - really worked Ondre Pipkins hard. Clear they are counting on him. –Revsine
Q: Frank Clark warrant the off season hype?
A: Hard to say - they weren't in full pads. Teammates were raving, though. –Revsine
If there is a more impressive true freshman DE in the nation than Taco Charlton, I want to see him. Can't wait to see him in a year. –Dienhart
Chris Kiffin, the brother of Lane and Ole Miss defensive line coach/booster payment organizer, upheld the family honor by responding to this tweet with "Lol."
Nothing of note. Linebacker is another spot where no-pads means evaluation is hard, if not impossible. Bolden nominally running with the ones is interesting, but unless he's made a lot of progress at hitting people I don't think he's going to displace Morgan. Spell him for a few drives a game, sure. Start, no.
Mattison mentioned that Thomas Gordon has really emerged as a leader in the absence of Kovacs. –Revsine
Defensive team can really run. I would say the validity of recruiting rankings was alive and well in AA today. –DiNardo
One of the most interesting things about the Chicago panel with myself, Sam Webb, and DiNardo was how DiNardo dismissed the usual coachspeak muttering about recruiting rankings. Instead he emphasized their importance and how the Big Ten's lag in that department was reflected on the field.
I love this coaching staff. There is a ton of teaching that goes on at their practices - giving constructive feedback after nearly ever rep. –Revsine
Assistant coaches do as good a job as anyone teaching technique. No music constantly playing helps staff teach. –DiNardo
Once again got to watch one the the best D Line drills in college football. –DiNardo
I don't think he's referring to this one, but he might be?
Greg Mattison is really pleased with his defensive depth. Said there are several positions where he feels good going three deep. –Revsine
Um… WDE, SDE, CB(ish), maybe if you look at ILBs jointly.
Much like Ohio State, many of Michigan's freshmen look physically ready to play right now. Taco Charlton would be Exhibit A. Other true freshmen that stood out - De'Veon Smith, Dymonte Thomas, and Jourdan Lewis. Thomas had a nice diving pick, Lewis good PBU in the endzone. –Revsine. [Part 2]
I asked Hoke after practice which true freshmen who weren’t here in the spring who could impact. He mentioned Delano Hill and Jourdan Lewis in the secondary; Patrick Kugler on the o-line; Maurice Hurst on the d-line; Mike McCray at linebacker, among others. –Dienhart.
A little surprised it wasn't all-lifting, all-running Ben Gedeon that got a mention there instead of McCray. Also, Hurst is a bit of a surprise given how his weight has fluctuated (at least on paper): if he's really 270 instead of 302 I find it hard to believe he's going to push through to see playing time.
Q: The way UM/OSU have recruited, are you seeing a separation in talent?
A: Need to see everyone - but trending that way. –Revsine
On my signal, unleash charity. EDSBS's annual fundraiser for Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta is up. Michigan has won this thing back-to-back, crushing all comers, and I'm pretty sure if we win a third straight year we get the right of first refusal on any 7'3" Spiderman shot-blocking centers they might accidentally produce.
Orson suggests commemorating a past football game with your donation. I'm going SUMMER OF TATE!
I blame the Big Ten Network for this. And wheel routes, of course. The donation page can be reached directly here. Michigan State is currently leading.
Hagerup gets the Stonum treatment. Michigan has announced that Will Hagerup is reinstated and will be suspended for the entire 2013 season. He'll have one more year of eligibility in 2014 if he can survive the double secret probation period, which of course Stonum could not.
Q: would Michigan announce anything if their own players didn't spill the beans on social media? The timing of all these reports seems to be: "wait for someone on a message board to notice, announce once it starts getting wider attention."
If Hagerup is still on scholarship that would take Michigan's next recruiting class down one.
Kovacs doing his Kovacs thing. The NFL equivalent of a walk-on is the undrafted free agent, and Kovacs is doing his Kovacs things with the Dolphins. But first, awesome lead!
Jordan Kovacs is the rarest kind of three-time all-Big Ten player. The kind that is nearly $100,000 in debt.
That might be a first, actually. Kovacs came in for a profile on the Dolphins' site with this quote in it:
"Those within the Dolphins organization tell me that Kovacs has a legitimate shot," MiamiDolphins.com's Andy Cohen wrote, "that you aren’t as productive as he was at Michigan without having a chance at the next level."
Practice observers are united in stating he is small but impressive nonetheless. One:
Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs was the main guy who caught my attention. At first I noticed he's the runt of the litter, standing all of 5-foot-10, 205 pounds. Most NFL safeties are three inches taller, and maybe 10 pounds heavier.
"Then I noticed Kovacs has a knack for being around the ball," Kelly continued, "and plays with a feisty spirit. He pulled down one of the Friday session's two interceptions and was consistently around the ball. What does that mean? No clue at this point, but flashing is a good thing."
Former Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs, an undrafted rookie free agent signee, knows how to make an impression. He was a walk-on at Michigan and rose to prominence and had something of a cult following in Ann Arbor. He knows the way to draw attention and that's hit. He did plenty of that, taking some liberties at times in the defensive backfield. He also had an interception. So he's got my attention, at least.
Spiece means all of the scouting reports. There was an immense AAU tournament in Fort Wayne over the weekend that has resulted in an unusually large scouting dump even for the internet. Trevon Bluiett had a great weekend on both ends, filling it up and giving five-star Kevon Looney the business on defense:
Dylan on Bluiett:
We’ve been keeping tabs on Bluiett for a long time now so his offensive exploits don’t come as a big surprise. Bluiett can score the ball against just about anyone. He has a great jumpshot, can use his 6-foot-6 frame to get to the rim and even has a nice mid-range game. But it’s always encouraging when a guy that you’ve been following for a long time shows off something new. We already touched on Bluiett’s defensive exploits against Kevon Looney but his performance was very impressive – mostly because we haven’t seen that out of him. Five threes on the other end didn’t hurt, although this still wasn’t Bluiett’s best offensive game of the tournament, that would have been his 28 point outburst against Team Thad.
He told Rivals($) that Michigan and Butler are recruiting him "most vigorously" at the moment. Everyone who's ventured an opinion thinks Butler has a tentative lead, and time is running down. Bluiett wants to decide before his senior year begins.
UMHoops also put together a scouting reel on Looney. Which… wow. He doesn't have the quickness to drive on guys a lot shorter than him, but he's a 6'9" kid who blocks everything, runs the floor, has three point range, and is aggressive. I say, he might be a good player.
Scout also has extensive, uh, scouting($). Vince Edwards had a little bit of a rough outing as his teammate and OSU commit Jae'Sean Tate went to the basket over and over; everyone's now filing Looney as an "elite face-up power forward."
Oh. ESPN's Paul Biancardi puts Zak Irvin on his class of 2013 "dream team," describing him as an "alpha dog($)":
Every team needs some alpha dogs, and Irvin fits that category. He provides the luxury of having a big-time scorer who can stroke it from deep with excellent size or beat his defender off the bounce, pull up and nail it from the midrange. That scoring versatility is priceless. He also has high-level athleticism, and his frame is strong enough that he can take a hit and finish at the rim. Irvin is a competitor who can play the game up tempo or in the half court. Bottom line, he is a bucket getter who can put up big numbers.
Sports in which you attempt to throw a ball past a person with a stick. Softball clinched their sixth straight Big Ten title over the weekend with a narrow 2-1 win over Northwestern, then celebrated by clubbing the Wildcats into a fine paste 16-1 in a game I attended. I was just talking up how Sierra Romero was pretty good when she put one over the fence; later in the game they walked her with a base full. The next day, Northwestern walked her at every opportunity, plunking her the first time. Also she's the shortstop. She might be good.
Softball is the top seed for the Big Ten tourney, which is in… Nebraska. Does that make more or less sense than having the hockey tournament at neutral sites? Advanced math necessary to tell. In any case, it's a big tourney for Michigan, which currently sits on the edge of the top-eight spot that would not only guarantee them a regional but also a home super-regional should they advance.
The softball tourney is a twelve-team single elimination thing; Michigan's Friday opener won't be televised but their hypothetical semi would be at 3 Saturday and the final is 1 Sunday, both on BTN.
Meanwhile, the baseball team is fighting for the last spot in the six-team Big Ten tournament, taking two of three from Iowa over the weekend. They've got six conference games left, a home series against Purdue and a trip to Lincoln. Purdue is about as good as Iowa—not good—and Nebraska is just okay; Michigan has to keep ahead of Illinois for the last spot. They've got a game on the Illini.
Dollar dollar bill y'all. The Big Ten's distribution to its schools pops up over a million dollars to $25.7 million. The BTN is now putting out $7.6 million a year. Makes you wonder how they used to manage with just 15 million a year. Probably ate roof tiles, sat in a hot tub filled with dirt, used old batteries to decorate.
The irony of this bullet. The only good thing about the new flood of articles (YES IT'S A TWO-ARTICLE FLOOD GAWD) about Chris Webber is they're the ones spurred by the dissociation period imposed on him by the NCAA ending. So they should be the last, by God. Has anyone else ever been a subjection of this much discussion 20 years after he left his college team?
Canadian Football. Your names. I don't know what to do. There's a new Ottawa CFL team that just drafted a backup Iowa lineman in the first round because the CFL draft is only for Canadians. In any case, I bring this to your attention mostly because that team is considering the following names:
Wiki says they're choosing between the RedBlacks, the Nationals, the Raftsmen, the Voyageurs, or the Rush. Of course a Canadian team would consider "Rush" an appropriate nickname. Whatever they end up going with, they're always going to be The Fightin' Tom Sawyers to me. But I digress.
Canada. I think "RedBlacks" is actually the goofiest what with its connotations of a distant rollerball future where all things are named according to the colors that comprise them because the gubberment has confiscated nouns.
Knobwatch. When Bret Bielema isn't fighting with Wisconsin fans on twitter—seriously—he's dialing up the doublespeak to its maximum:
Will put out a release shortly with a list of a few current student athletes that will explore new opportunities. Transition is a process.
— Bret Bielema (@BretBielema) May 6, 2013
Coincidentally, "Transition is a process" is also what the noun-confiscating dystopian gubberment says when it takes your nouns.
One of those guys is a postgrad quarterback everyone will want Michigan to look at who will instead go somewhere he can play.
Barwis talking about Mealer. Via the latest TEDx event at M:
Etc.: Is the body of this article titled "Why B1G has no November night games" just "IT'S COLD"? It should be. Ringer departure official if you missed it yesterday. FWIW, I heard he'd had microfracture surgery a la Greg Oden. Where the O'Bannon case stands and is going in the near future. Ben McLemore stuff just makes me want agents to be cool wit the NCAA. Burke's got a shot at going #1.
In retrospect, I bet this is false. But if it's not... A tweet claiming that the six Big Ten hockey programs will receive a two million dollar bonus from the BTN made the rounds, spurring many questions—including mine—about whether this would make a Nebraska or Iowa jump on the sport. Corn Nation has a take from Lincoln assuming that's true, but it also includes a couple facts that make me think the initial tweet is bollocks:
If this number is to be believed, it's a game changer for the rest of the schools in the Big Ten as well as the rest of college hockey. In 2010, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan were the top three schools in revenue generated by hockey with numbers ranging from $4.1 million for Michigan to $6.6 million for Minnesota. In comparison, Nebraska-Omaha ranked eighth with $2.8 million in total revenue.
Minnesota has a relatively lucrative deal with Fox Sports in which all their games are televised and is at the maximum end of college hockey TV revenues, and they're still at 6.6 total revenue. It doesn't seem realistic that the BTN is going to fork over that much to the hockey schools. That tweet has gone unconfirmed by anyone else, meanwhile.
The best argument in favor of it is that it's a sop to the pissed-off Gophers, but Minnesota's been a net drain in football for 50 years. What are they going to do, leave?
If it is true, that does help expansion quite a bit. According to Kristi Dosh, Michigan State spent 1.7 million on their hockey program in 2009-2010. If anyone's significantly above that it's probably not by much. Title IX means a hockey program has to come with an equivalent womens' sport, so a hypothetical BTN stipend doesn't quite make hockey break-even annually, but add in a reasonable amount of other revenue and it might. Startup costs are still an issue, but if that's a one-time hump to get over I could see certain athletic directors go for it.
#onlyincompetentgermans. Adidas is in hot water with various colleges for an Indonesian labor dispute that has already caused various universities to terminate their (much smaller, likely nonexclusive, not athletic apparel) contracts with the place Germans stash their dim bulbs. Mary Sue Coleman comes in to rattle a saber or two:
Not all of these schools have their athletics apparel contract with adidas. Some only have licensing agreements for merchandise sold in campus bookstores and through other retailers. However, a growing number of universities who have exclusive all-sport contracts with adidas, such as Wisconsin and Michigan, began to give ultimatums and threaten contract termination over the past month.
Not coincidentally, that’s when things took a turn for the better for the former PT Kizone workers. Last week, just days after adidas participated in a conference call with Michigan and neared the end of Michigan’s 45-day cure period, adidas announced a settlement. The agreement is confidential, but a press release from the former PT Kizone workers states, “the former workers will receive a substantial sum from adidas.”
All of this is over a little over two million dollars in severance pay, so this is both possibly unethical (Adidas claims they were clear of this factory six months before it shut) and bogglingly dumb. When Michigan's contract expires, things will be fascinating.
The straight face test. Dave Brandon was against a playoff and then he was okay with the playoff because he didn't consider it a playoff—the naming of the thing must have been a dark day on 1000SSS—and now he's making his paleo arguments again. He's hanging out with BFF Follow Ur Heart Hollis again:
"(Hollis is) right, we’re not going to end any controversy (with the new playoff format), we’re going to create more.
"It’s not going to settle anything (more) about who’s the national champion. There’s going to be a lot of judgment involved with four teams involved."
This is straight false. Taking thing to their logical extreme, the number of people who talk about NCAA tourney snubs the day after the brackets are announced is zero. That won't be the case here because of the restricted field, but abominations like giving an undefeated SEC champ no shot at a title are a thing of the past. When CRex took an extensive look at this last January, in the 14-year BCS sample he came up with "2" as the right number four time. The vast majority of the time the BCS is arbitrarily picking between equal-ish teams we have no data on. Four teams puts another layer of games between random guessing and the title, and cannot be more controversial.
Brandon does have some points about how he doesn't believe four will stick—though it will for at least a decade—and that asking college players to play more and more football is not so ethical. I've got a solution for that, mmm.
The straight face test part 2. Gerry DiNardo is putting on his tinfoil hat, and saying not smart things. I know, different day, same stuff.
"The other thing that concerns me is how much of the Ohio State-Michigan game motivated this, so they could continue to play at the end of the year, and (so) they have to be in the same division,'' DiNardo said. "Because it's possible, by way of example, this year, you'd have to say both of those are two of the favorites in their respective divisions, which means they could play back-to-back weeks (regular season, and Big Ten championship game), which isn't good for the Big Ten or college football.''
DiNardo had suggestions for other ways the Big Ten could have worked around the issues.
"You could see yourself dividing it North and South, still have a geographical boundary, and separate Ohio State and Michigan and play that game early in the year,'' DiNardo said. "As I often say, when I say play Ohio State and Michigan, I think divisional games should be played in the second or third week, when I say that, I run the risk of losing my job. There's other possibilities."
DiNardo is actively campaigning for the Big Ten to make the same mistake the ACC did with Miami and FSU, and his "solution" doesn't even work. Go ahead, divide this North-South:
Assuming M, MSU, Wisconsin, and Minnesota are in the North and that Iowa goes with the triangle of hate, your options are splitting Nebraska from its natural hate partners and putting them in a division with Rutgers, Maryland, and Penn State half a continent away, or making the "South" OSU, PSU, and hot garbage. When the team that is the biggest threat to OSU is under crippling NCAA sanctions for the next decade, your divisional alignment sucks.
I'm arguing with a guy who failed spectacularly despite being surrounded by piles of talent and is arguing against the greatest rivalry in college sports. Next up, I talk to a rock about why it shouldn't bother with gravity.
Silver lining. Michigan State is an ESPN poll's pick for biggest loser in the realignment:
Michigan State: Placing the Spartans in the East kept the Big Ten from needing a protected crossover for their annual game with Michigan, but it also greatly increases the number of obstacles between Michigan State and the Rose Bowl. The Spartans now have to deal with Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State in their own division every year, whereas the West would have presented a clearer path to Indianapolis and kept a budding rivalry with Wisconsin going.
Mwahaha. Also a candidate were the Jug and Illibuck trophies. Yes, the Jug is cool, but the series between those two teams is so lopsided losing that as annual event is no big deal. Meanwhile that is the worst road trip in the Big Ten for local M fans: either drive around the lake or suck up the exorbitant flight between Delta hubs. Rutgers is farther away as the crow flies but flights to New York are always dirt cheap. I'll take fewer games with Minnesota.