this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
blogger gentlemanly disagreement
Not really the devil, as I have met(!) Jason of 11 Warrior and had a cordial experience. Also he runs Drupal.
So Eleven Warriors took me up on my "someone argue OSU's sanctions shouldn't be as a bad as USC's" challenge, and even did so with a table. Let's take a look:
18 specific instances of violations by Reggie Bush or his family, including a house for his parents, a car (with new rims and a stereo), airfare, hotel stays, limo services, meals, car repairs, clothing, furniture and and appliances.
12 similar instances of violations out of basketball player OJ Mayo.
Running backs coach Todd McNair was found to have known or should have known of Bush's activity and was also cited for lying during the investigation.
Further violations by the women's tennis program and a failure of the athletic department's infrastructure when it came to oversight and policing.
Together, these findings led to a charge of Lack of Institutional Control.
An email trail that proved the head coach had knowledge of players forfeiting their eligibility, but did nothing to notify his superiors or compliance/enforcement staff.
UPDATED: Further, Tressel signed a statement attesting to the fact that he was unaware of any violations in the fall of 2010.
Additional athletes may have been involved in memorabilia-for-tattoos.
Potential improper benefits in the form of car deals for football players.
Terrelle Pryor allegedly received benefits in the form of free golf at a country club and is also alleged to have received $20,000-$40,000 in exchange for autographed memorabilia.
|FATE OF HEAD COACH||Bolted early for the NFL.||Forced the resignation of a beloved coach with otherwise excellent reputation amongst peers.|
|LEVEL OF COOPERATION||None||Ohio State has reported all findings to the NCAA on their own and has stayed in contact with the organization to assist with the investigation.|
|TAUNTING||Hired habitual scofflaw Lane Kiffin to replace Pete Carroll. AD Mike Garrett claimed the NCAA report was "nothing but a lot of envy".||None, unless you wanted to count the fumbled presser on March 8th. Which you shouldn't.|
Let's play the Feud!
USC's lack of institutional control charge was the major factor here and while Ohio State has not yet been hit with that allegation the Pac-10 has a primer on what does and does not qualify for a LOIC charge featuring a lot of components that should make OSU fans nervous.
Specifically called out is a head coach's responsibility:
A head coach fails to create and maintain an atmosphere for compliance within the program — the coach supervises or fails to monitor the activities of assistant coaches regarding compliance.
A head coach has special obligation to establish a spirit of compliance among the entire team, including assistant coaches, other staff and student-athletes. The head coach must generally observe the activities of assistant coaches and staff to determine if they are acting in compliance with NCAA rules. Too often, when assistant coaches are involved in a web of serious violations, head coaches profess ignorance, saying that they were too busy to know what was occurring and that they trusted their assistants. Such a
failure by head coaches to control their teams, alone or with the assistance of a staff member with compliance responsibilities, is a lack of institutional control.
This is not to imply that every violation by an assistant coach involves a lack of institutional control. If the head coach sets a proper tone of compliance and monitors the activities of all assistant coaches in the sport, the head coach cannot be charged with the secretive activities of an assistant bent on violating NCAA rules.
In this case Tressel can't even attempt to pass the buck since he is directly responsible.
Meanwhile, there have been multiple incidents that suggest institutional control is weak at best: the Plain-Dealer reports OSU was warned about Talbott in 2007 but still allowed players to leave tickets for him and remain on the sidelines as a photographer; a 2006 audit of OSU's car tracking found it inadequate, then found a third of the athletes were driving vehicles unknown to the department. They discovered this by checking cars at practice and examining university parking pass and ticket records. Ohio State stated it looked at Terrelle Pryor's three loaner tickets and decided a test drive to Pennsylvania did not constitute an extra benefit. As late as May Doug Archie, the director of compliance at OSU, responded to a question about why nine players had been issued citations in cars with dealer plates with "you'll have to ask the dealers"; even after the USC case established the need for "high profile compliance" of high profile players, Archie disavows any special attention to Pryor and other football players.
The Pac-10 document lays out a selection of "acts that are likely to demonstrate to a lack of institutional control," of which the head coach bit above is one. Ohio State appears to hit many of the others:
A person with compliance responsibilities fails to establish a proper system for compliance or fails to monitor the operations of a compliance system appropriately.
The explanatory text below notes that "the mere compilation and distribution of
rules and regulations, along with written compliance procedures, is not sufficient if no one regularly checks on the actual operations of the system."
A person with compliance responsibilities does not take steps to alter the system of compliance when there are indications the system is not working.
OSU's extremely high rate of secondary violations does not help them: "if there are a number of violations, even if they all are minor, indicating that the compliance system is not operating effectively, the person(s) responsible cannot ignore the situation, but must take steps to correct the compliance system." They constitute a warning that should have been, but was not heeded. They were an indication increased vigilance was needed.
A director of athletics or any other individual with compliance responsibilities fails to investigate or direct an investigation of a possible significant violation of NCAA rules or fails to report a violation properly.
Even if Tressel does not count here—and I'm pretty sure he doesn't since the next bullet is the one about head coaches—a pattern of evidence OSU players were getting deals on cars was either uninvestigated or rubber-stamped by the department; similarly, Ohio State's 11-day investigation into the tattoo business was insultingly brief and turned up no extra players whatsoever, something that has been brought into question by multiple media reports. Those media reports may involve dubious dudes name Ellis but they also involve former players like Robert Rose, who admitted his own NCAA violations, and Ray Small.
In light of the other issues it seems clear the goal of OSU's tatgate investigation was to offer the appearance of compliance instead of the actual thing. An actually diligent compliance department would have turned up more issues than those specifically told them by the Feds.
In conclusion, the guy whose job it is to ask the dealers responded to a media inquiry about the dealers by saying "you'll have to ask the dealers." When—and it is when*—the NCAA determines an unusual, easily detectable pattern of behavior was permitted to happen for years after Maurice Clarett's burglary report should have put the athletic department on alert, the LOIC charge will be inevitable.
Not very bonus for OSU fans: they are up for repeat violator status because of Boban Savovic, and unlike in previous cases where schools were technically up for extra penalties under that statute, here the nature of the violations is extremely similar.
*[This is the part at which Jason objects to most, I think:
MGoBlog, unsurprisingly, is more certain of that happening than you might be
I am inclined to believe there is not a reasonable explanation for the loaner cars, it's true. If you look at the situation at OSU—a dealership littered with memorabilia that sold some 50 Buckeyes cars and has seen nine different players ticketed in cars featuring dealer plates, including one Terrelle Pryor getting three separate tickets when any normal human would have been blacklisted after the first—and think the NCAA can possibly find no extra benefits, well… we are on different planets and talking to each other is pointless.]
Saying OSU self-reported its violations when they did nothing about the tattoos until they were notified by federal investigators is stretching things a bit. They literally took no action until someone else had done all the work for them. OSU's internal compliance measures failed to pick up any hint of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, it was OSU's legal department that originally caught the Cicero emails—not compliance.
So while OSU may have reported its violations to the NCAA, they only did so after a federal investigation and the legal department's intervention; in the aftermath they gave themselves a hilariously weak punishment.
Fate Of Head Coach
The only difference between the fates of Pete Carroll and Jim Tressel was Carroll's foresight in his constant flirtations with the NFL. The NCAA will not give Ohio State credit for doing something they were going to have to do anyway once they put a show-cause on him.
Level Of Cooperation
USC did the same song and dance with the NCAA. Todd Dickey:
Since the allegations surfaced, USC has been working closely with the NCAA and the Pac-10 in an attempt to get to the truth.
Working in conjunction with the NCAA and the Pac-10 — we have already interviewed approximately 50 people and spent many hundreds of hours investigating these allegations. We have no idea how long this investigation will continue — and no one is more anxious to bring this process to a conclusion than we are — but we remain committed to getting to the truth.
USC has participated in every interview — except those few from which we were excluded. Our exclusion from these interviews mainly stemmed from demands from those making allegations against our student-athletes, insisting that no one from USC be present.
We have cooperated and worked together with the NCAA and Pac-10 every step of the way during this process and we intend to continue to do so.
Once you are in the hole, you can stop digging. Ohio State has stopped digging, but they are still in the hole. Way down in the hole. Not cooperating is asking to get SMU'ed; what Ohio State is doing now is the same thing USC did, the same thing any school does once in the crosshairs. It is not likely to see penalties reduced.
If we're counting Mike Garrett's ham-handed press conference, the "fumbled" presser on March 8th counts as well, as does Ohio State's excessively weak response to a serious every-coach-gets-fired 10.1 finding: a two game suspension.
Tressel later "resigned," something Gordon Gee insists was Tressel's own doing and not the university stepping forward to terminate the coach's contract. If he's smart—he's not—he will change that tune immediately, adopting a hang-dog Day of Great Shame rhetoric, and regretfully assert while Tressel was an excellent coach and leader of men he violated the principles the university lives by and had to be terminated.
And Then We Burn, But Not Together
Yeah, you guys are screwed.
This always happens when someone brings up the idea of paying the kids who make the money some more of the money: everyone points and says "Machiavelli!"
look away unless you want to see the guy on the left
feed the guy on the right with regurgitated worms
This may be true. I have a hard time believing the man who wrote the infamous SEC letter is a political mastermind, but yeah, okay, this looks like a thing that will benefit big schools at the expense of small schools.
Fine. Let's drop that point. No one has attempted to answer this, though: why do we care? This is the point Delany's making when he talks about orienting the NCAA towards student welfare instead of a level playing field. Some schools are going to lose. They are the schools throwing a bunch of money at D-I athletics for dubious gains and not doing too well by their students while doing it. This makes their life a bit harder. And… so?
Even guys like Big Ten Wonk are peeved, which surprises me:
…the conferences with the deepest pockets will be able to address the needs of “student welfare.” The rest — the majority — will not. …
If the Big Ten wants players in its revenue sports to have “full cost of attendance” scholarships, the league has the resources to make it happen. (They have the resources to make it happen even assuming the bottom-line figure would need to be doubled and shared with an equal number of non-revenue athletes in women’s sports to survive Title IX scrutiny.) But creating these new dollarships, while merely cementing existing imbalances in college football recruiting in place, would revolutionize college basketball recruiting overnight. The elite high school football player already chooses between programs that can afford full cost of attendance scholarships. Not so the top high school basketball talent. In a sport where TV exposure and NCAA bids are spread (relatively) far and wide, talent currently has far less incentive to travel in packs. That will change, dramatically, when major-conference programs can offer recruits a better financial package than what mid-majors are able to afford.
I disagree. Unless increasingly ludicrous Title IX restrictions mean that every revenue-generating athlete's full cost of attendance scholarship is matched by a similar outlay to any confused chemistry major who wanders onto the rowing team, the maximum reasonable cost to mid-majors is around $50,000 a year. To take a not-totally-random stab at a mid-major you might have heard of, this will increase VCU's basketball expenses by just under 4 percent. George Mason's will go up slightly over 4 percent. GMU can zero this out by cutting coach pay (approximately 460k) 12%.
Every mid-major that cares to compete will shrug and FCOA their athletes without blinking. Student activity fees already in the hundreds of dollars will go up a few dollars in response.
Meanwhile, the surprises Wonk lauds usually come from ignored late bloomers, not recruits actively picking mid-majors over big schools. Of the top 70 players in this year's Rivals 150, two are going outside the BCS. One, UCF commit Michel Chandler, is undoubtedly involved in some Funny Business. The other, Charleston recruit Adjehi Baru, is a native of Ivory Coast who went to Charleston because they offered the son of his legal guardian a scholarship. Non-BCS four-stars farther down the list are going to Gonzaga (75), Xavier(76), BYU(86), Harvard (88), Alcorn State(94), SMU (98), and WKU (105).
A total of nine of 106 four-stars going to non-BCS schools. Gonzaga, Xavier, and BYU will FCOA. Harvard is Harvard. There are hypothetically three four-stars this year who might be swayed by extra money at a BCS school, and smart money is on each of the three having issues that cooled interest from bigger schools. The existing imbalances in college football recruiting are at least as strong in basketball; nothing of importance will be lost by allowing schools that can afford it to slightly lighten the hypocrisy inherent in the system.
The Sport Where It Might Have An Impact
Hockey. This had not occurred to me until I read this bit on Bucky's Fifth Quarter:
With the Big Ten hockey conference on the horizon, a move like this could be a game changer in college hockey recruiting. In addition to noted advantages of grouping traditional powers Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State and Minnesota together with Ohio State and Penn State and the TV contract with the Big Ten Network, athletes receiving this additional bonus for being a Big Ten athlete would be a significant recruiting advantage. Keep an eye on this story as it develops.
A lot of hockey schools are pressed for money as it is. Since hockey is an "equivalency" sport—meaning that scholarships can be divided—the net result could be a situation in which bigger schools have a bigger pool of money to give the guys on the bottom two lines. Hockey has 18 scholarships, which is two too few to cover everyone on the ice if you figure two goalies would be scholarship-worthy at each school. Playing time is less of an issue in hockey, too, since almost everyone plays. There are a number of guys who might go from being scoring line players at small schools to checking line players at large ones.
And that's not all since hockey is in a constant war with junior in a way that basketball and football are not. The carrot of another 5-20k on top of that "actually getting a scholarship" business should help big schools lure prospects who might otherwise head to junior (which might push those other guys right back to the smaller schools). Michigan hockey fans should be all in favor of this.
John Gasaway—AKA Big Ten Wonk—likes crusades. His last one was to obliterate rebound margin and seems to be going well. Not many use plain rebounds as a metric anymore, which is good because it makes no sense at all to do so.
Gasaway's latest horde of European knights with fuzzy ideas about salvation is aimed at the tournament seeding process:
I’m on the record as thinking that the mere distribution of wins — with due consideration for opponent, time, and place — can yield sufficient information to draw a line across the top quintile of D-I and tell the teams above this line, “You’re in!” But trying to do something as precise as sequencing an entire tournament field on an S-curve armed only with wins is a little like playing the piano while wearing oven mitts. It can be done, but the music would sound better if we freed up our fingers.
A few years ago I had a back-and-forth with Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog about something similar: I was purveying a resume-based results-only college football poll at the same time he was publishing a top 25 from Vegas oddsmakers that claimed it was more accurate. Those are two diametrically opposed methods. The BlogPoll is descriptive: We have this data and this is our best guess at which teams have the most impressive resumes. Vegas is predictive: we have this data and this is our best guess as to who the best teams are.
So do you want your national title picked based on an assessment of the season or the team? I had a viscerally negative reaction to seeing things like LSU at #5 six weeks into the 2006 season when they'd lost to Auburn and LSU and beaten ULL, Tulane, Mississippi State, and Arizona. They proceeded to win the rest of their games. So Vegas was right, except if LSU was a little better and options at the top a little worse you can imagine a scenario where Vegas takes a team like LSU over some luckbox like 2002 Ohio State. Right or not, that ain't right.
The Vegas poll is answering a different question than I want the people deciding who should play for the national championship asking. If there are two major conference undefeated teams and a one-loss team that's so clearly better than the two undefeated teams but has an inexplicable turnover-filled loss in a driving sleet-storm that happened because their quarterback got injured, picking the obviously better team obliterates college football. It's not about some ineffable combination of NFL draft picks and victory margin, it's about wins. If that has embarrassingly dumbed down nonconference schedules at least it's provided a reason to play the games, and a reason to have your heart in your throat when the other team is driving for the win no matter what your MOV is.
No one is going to claim that loosening the dominion of wins over a sport that lets various .500 major conference teams compete for its title "obliterates" anything, but I'm still leery of a world where Michigan's overtime against Iowa is mostly important because it can push Michigan's Kenpom rating up a spot. Gasaway explicitly states he's fine with using wins for tourney selection but that only mitigates the problem; any solid at-large team sees that effect since they're just worried about seeding, not getting over the line.
It would be pretty dumb to have some guy from Wisconsin at the line shooting two to win against Ohio State and have those free throws hardly matter at all. Would it be fair? Yes. Would it result in better seedings for the occasional very good minor conference team that gets thrust into a tough first round matchup and can't show their stuff? Yes. But I think it would make the season much less vital. Sometimes a little unfairness is the lesser evil.
Now, if Gasaway's just talking about alerting the committee to performance-aware metrics when they attempt to evaluate the case of Utah State, a team that's obliterating the WAC but has only played three games against teams with a Kenpom rating higher than 90(!)* and gone 1-2 against them, sure. The way in which the Aggies have acquired their record should be able to influence the committee to bump them a little bit. His endorsement of Bilas's tweet calling RPI a "joke" suggests he's more militant than that.
Once you start talking about tossing a 17-7, 7-7 Big Ten team probably headed for 19-9 and 9-9 (this is Illinois—their finish: @OSU, Iowa, @Purdue, Indiana) onto a line where a Sweet Sixteen bid would only be a mild surprise you lose me**. The Illini's strong nonconference performance should easily see them into the tournament but while I love Kenpom I'd take eighteen games of .500 basketball over his rating when evaluating seeds.
Maybe I've read him wrong.
*[Iowa, the worst team in the Big Ten, is 82nd.]
**[To be clear, I'm not picking on Illinois because Gasaway is an Illinois grad. It's just that they're the Big Ten team with the goofiest-looking Kenpom rating given their record. Playing Texas, UNC, Maryland, Missouri, and Gonzaga in the nonconference will do that.]
[Also, think of the advantage lost in NCAA pools if people were fairly seeded based on Kenpom type metrics. Horror!]
[note: this post and the BWS post were written before the Northwestern game.]
A hearty thanks to Burgeoning Wolverine Star for showing men of pessimism what pessimism really is in his post on Michigan basketball's immediate future. Whereas I'm content to downplay Michigan's chances at making the tourney this year, BWS wants you to know that Michigan isn't making the tourney next year, the year after, or ever again.
I kid. I think so, anyway. But the thing that struck me as true Keyser Soze-level pessimism was when BWS downplayed the possibility Hardaway will blow up by comparing him to Manny Harris:
Hardaway's measurables and stats are remarkably similar to Harris' throughout his career at Michigan:
PPG RPG APG FG% 3P% Harris 07-08 16.1 4.2 2.7 38.10% 31.80% Harris 08-09 16.9 6.8 4.4 41.50% 32.70% Harris 09-10 18.1 6 4.1 42.10% 30.80% Hardaway 10-11 12 3.8 1.5 37.50% 32.60%
Not that adding Manny Harris to this team wouldn't be beneficial, but Hardaway's production and body type--to say nothing of his predilection to take bad three pointers--are things Beilein has had to play with in the past. With any luck, Hardaway will avoid the general apathy and combativeness with the coaching staff that Harris showed toward the end of his career at Michigan, but regardless, seeing Hardaway turn into an unstoppable force is a little optimistic IMO.
The thing about Harris is that he didn't get much better, as the above chart suggests. None of those percentages have anything to do with frequency. Harris's usage rates as a sophomore and junior were almost identical, he took as many threes, as many twos, etc. The main difference between the two years was a considerable drop in assist rate that the team mirrored, dropping from third to 21st in percentage of shots assisted. Since the only losses from the team were two walk-on guards and the Grady buried behind them you can argue that Harris actually got worse between his sophomore and junior years. Also, Manny collapsed every Big Ten season as defenses collapsed on him.
BWS uses this as a cautionary tale about projecting Hardaway down the road, but I think that's backwards. Players improve as they age and they improve a lot when they are young. Manny not improving at the same time he was getting suspended, sitting on the bench for OT against Iowa, etc., says more about Harris specifically than Beilein's ability to deal with a Harris-type player.
Even if Beilein's inability to cajole Harris into learning how to use his off hand or not jack up strange three-pointers multiple times per game suggests Hardaway's fate, Harris still improved radically after his first season. There will be graphs. Meanwhile, Hardaway has a much better offensive efficiency mark than Harris as a freshman with nearly as much usage. He's almost reached Harris's sophomore and junior marks because of one glaring difference between the two players: turnover rate*. Harris was at 22% as a freshman and only got down to 16.5% as a junior; Hardaway is 14th nationally at 9.3%.
Now, there are lots of reasons for this that have nothing to do with the relative merits of the players. They can be summed up with the words "Darius Morris," who has a Harris-like 18.8 TO rate that no one's complaining about because he's fourth nationally in assist rate. Hardaway does not have to be the primary ballhandler. He doesn't provide the assists Harris did. He has a lower TO rate than anyone on the team, three-point specialists included, despite using more possessions than anyone except Morris. He should learn what shots are good and which are not as his career progresses, something Harris didn't want to or couldn't because he didn't have the butter—[strangling sounds] version of Darius Morris next to him or anyone who could shoot ever.
While I don't think Hardaway is as good as Harris was as a freshman or will be as good as Harris was as a sophomore, he doesn't have to be in the context of this Michigan team to be more efficient than Harris could ever dream of being. Chart? Chart. Chartzzzz.
[These are adapted from the excellent Big Ten Geeks study from a couple years back that showed the general path of improvement as players age. Kenpom has not updated individual numbers from last night yet so these are a tiny bit out of date. Hardaway went 5 of 11—3 of 8 from three—was 4 of 4 from the line, and had four assists to two turnovers, so these are slightly pessimistic.]
Harris maintained an epic usage level his entire career; Hardaway has started off at nearly the same rate.
Due to the high usage both are below average. Harris was less efficient, likely because very few of his buckets were assisted. Hardaway should not expect to improve as much but should at least equal Harris next year; average is within reach.
Harris was slightly above average for the duration of his career but these numbers include a lot of stone-handed post players and are not targeted towards guards; I don't have any data but eyeballing it those numbers seem thoroughly mediocre.
Hardaway's numbers are remarkably good for anyone, even players who believe the ball is radioactive. He's the only freshman on the list until you get to #38, and the first frosh playing outside the Dakotas you find is #44 Jared Sullinger. The guys above him are folks like Wisconsin's Tim Jarmusz (9.5 usage rate), Illinois's Bill Cole(11.5), and… uh… Jordan Taylor (best point guard in the country unless you're an idiot).
His numbers are so good that we can expect him to regress next year, especially if he starts driving more aggressively. They're also too good to be a fluke given his usage.
Since Hardaway doesn't have to be the primary ballhandler he is crushing Harris and the average for freshmen. Improving shot selection, reducing usage, increasing assist rate, and general improvement should send this higher next year—higher than Harris ever achieved.
What would have happened to Manny Harris if he had an awesome point guard next to him? What about awesome point guard + conscience? What about awesome point guard + conscience + actually liking his head coach? These are the questions we're about to find out as we watch Tim Hardaway, Jr., go from maddening but efficient-for-a-freshman to something between a good second banana and a ninja.
SIDE NOTE: These numbers brought home another point: Darius Morris is a better player than Harris ever was, full stop. Literally the only thing Harris has on Morris is a few points of 3PT% and a slight edge in free throw rate**. Morris is shooting far better than Harris ever did from within the arc, assisting on damn near everything he's not scoring, and maintaining an acceptable TO rate.
Freshman, Minutes, And Improvement
To further dispute BWS, he mentions later that people are pointing towards the extreme youth of the team as a reason they will improve considerably:
The biggest source of hope is that Michigan's team is once again one of the youngest in the country. Much like in 2009, Michigan's team is at a serious disadvantage in terms of college experience. This was one of the biggest points of optimism for the 2010 season that ultimately saw the team flame out spectacularly and lose close games in agonizing fashion.
Even before the season it was clear Michigan was overrated at the #15(!) team in the country after finishing the year 50th in Kenpom. People expected them to get better and got worse, something I'd again argue was a chemistry problem largely brought on by Harris. That problem won't be around next year and even if it did the overall percentage of freshman minutes then was far lower than it is this year. In 2009 freshmen played 31% of Michigan's minutes. This year it's 44%.
What's more, the second and third highest usage guys on the team are freshmen who play at least 60% of minutes. In 2009 Douglass and Novak had low usage and Laval Lucas-Perry was a mid-year transfer who only played 33.% of Michigan's minutes. The percentage of possessions used by freshman this year is vastly higher. Two years ago: 26%. Now: 45%. That plus being on the same page should yield a significant improvement in 2011-12.
Yes, Mr. Gaerig, you are too pessimistic about basketball, but you already came to that conclusion yourself.
*[The percentage of possessions used that end in a turnover.]
**[Harris has an individual edge in rebounding but this year's team is much better in that category than they were the last couple years so how much of that is actually meaningful is in question unless you're David Berri. Also Morris doesn't play the three, Hardaway does.]