"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Also I lost money on Stately Victor. So I chose a bad weekend to take a semi-vacation. Every time I hopped on my phone to see what was going down, Michigan was picking up a DE commit or Ohio State was seeing its troubles expand or Michigan State fans were having entertaining meltdowns or the OHL draft was somehow giving Michigan commitments instead of stealing them. You think it's just a random weekend in May and surely the only thing you're going to miss is nothing. Not so much. But if that's going to happen every time I'm out of pocket I'll be in the Yukon until August even if we pick up some suspensions along the way.
It all started with dozens of cars over a decade. The Dispatch reports Ohio State is looking into their players' tendency to buy cars from one guy with the usual level of signed memorabilia in his office and at least one very interesting sale:
Public records show that in 2009, a 2-year-old Chrysler 300 with less than 20,000 miles was titled to then-sophomore linebacker Thaddeus Gibson. Documents show the purchase price as $0.
Unfortunately for people wishing to see OSU bombed into the stone age, the Dispatch found that "nearly half" of the cars are on record as being sold for less than the Blue Book value, which is a way of saying it seems like there's a reasonable distribution of prices when that price isn't no dollars. That's unless the cars in question are all blinged out yo—the Dispatch only knows make and model.
However, in addition to all these sales this Kniffin guy also loaned Terrelle Pryor the cars he was driving when he was pulled over three times in loaners. It's extremely implausible that the NCAA won't be able to put together another finding of improper benefits. It was also implausible that Pryor could get away with the car hijinks and he did.
Ohio State compliance is putting up a brave face, but privately the prospect of Kniffin and his 130k in IRS debt facing down the law for misreporting sale prices for these cars has to be foreboding. If there's a choice between jail and confirming documents that would expand the scope of OSU's trouble to include a lack of institutional control, skeezy guy in undisclosed state will no doubt take the latter.
Still need that smoking gun to turn up, unless OSU's crack compliance storm troopers investigating car purchases and letting that Gibson thing slide is it. Ohio recruiting guru and OSU partisan Duane Long:
What about Pryor? I mean, every dealership owner is totally cool with letting me test drive their personal automobile for days on end across state lines. Especially when I was in college. Apparently that’s when I was most trustworthy. That story is believable right?
Now we find out it’s not just star players, it’s a bunch of players AND their families. Good Lord.
Don’t fret Buckeyes because this stuff was already cleared by OSU compliance. Whew!!! I knew they were on top of this. Sure they missed years of players cashing in on items that we would cherish our entire lives but are trivial to the players in exchange for tattoos and cash. But buying cars, they were all over it. Color me relieved, except for one thing. I saw a post asking one simple question, If all of this was cleared already then why the INTERNAL investigation? Hasn’t there already been one? Hasn’t it already been cleared? So what if the Dispatch thinks it’s a big deal. The answer to the Dispatch article is “It’s already been cleared”. Case closed. Story over. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead we muttered under our breath like Latoya Jackson’s mousy voice “we cleared this” and then contradicted the value of that entire “clearing” by announcing our internal investigation. That is ridiculous. Doing this internal investigation is a big announcement to the world “Yeah we didn’t really clear anything and we would hope you guys wouldn’t notice”.
It beggars belief that 50 different Buckeyes all got a legitimate deal with one particular salesman who has provably given Terrelle Pryor rides no one else would get. Maurice Wells' mom bought a car in Columbus. She lives in Maryland. So did Pryor's mother and brother, who live in Pennsylvania. The NCAA should be able to ask anyone with eligibility to prove they're making the payments the notes claim they are with permanent ineligibility the alternative. There's clearly enough circumstantial evidence to suggest what went down was rife with illegal benefits. If they don't they're making a mockery of their enforcement process at a school that's already done a better job of that than USC.
The car thing brings options approaching nuclear into play. Basketball players are involved and violations uncovered could stretch back a decade to when Maurice Clarett and Marco Cooper told ESPN they were given loaner cars and sweetheart deals. If the NCAA uncovers an ineffectual see-no-evil car accounting system in the wake of that very public accusation, pairing that with Tatgate makes for the worst NCAA violation in a long, long time.
BONUS: Texas fans are running a strong second to Michigan when it comes to e-outrage about this stuff. Burnt Orange Nation campaigns for a show-cause—their third post on the subject—and Barking Carnival opens up both barrels as well. A sniff of Switzer is a red cape to Longhorns.
Other possibility: Malletts be Mallettin'. Ryan Mallett's father dropped a dual bombshell as he tried to explain why his kid transferred away from Michgian, saying that Lloyd Carr told Mallett to transfer and Rodriguez didn't pursue Mallett as hard as he should have. The latter quote:
“Ryan’s the one who called (Rich Rod),” Jim Mallett continued. “He said, “Can I talk about the offense?’ And then he told me, ‘Daddy, (Rodriguez) never looked me in the eye.’ He never visited with the family, he didn’t talk to us. I never met the man. But hey, it wasn’t a fit. Let’s move on.”
This set off another minor war between the Rodriguez and Carr factions vying to determine which of them was incrementally less of an asshat over the last three years. There is another possibility: this is just a self-serving remembrance from the sort of guy who promises "revenge" on Miami for not drafting his kid. For one, Rodriguez never looked Mallett in the eye because Mallett was in Arkansas, not Michigan—unusual behavior for a player planning on staying at Michigan. For two, Carr told Mallett to transfer plenty before he'd even retired. I believe Carr told Mallett to GTFO, but it wasn't because he was looking out for his player.
The team. The team:
Also the team.
Stonum suspension redux. Darryl Stonum has been suspended "indefinitely" for his second DUI, which is better than the rumor I got in my inbox that he had gotten the heave-ho but seemingly not much better. Stonum had a breakout 2010 and could have done so again as a focal point when Michigan went under center; now he could be out for anywhere from a couple games to the year. Michigan could hypothetically redshirt him, FWIW.
I wish I had something to offer about how serious the on-field repercussions would be but it sounds like that's up to Stonum's actions over the next few months. A second DUI is a serious offense.
We're going to need a bigger ark. Michigan picked up a pair of WDE commits over the weekend from Ohio's Pharaoh Brown and Michigan's Mario Ojemudia, bringing their 2012 class to ten guys all from Michigan and Ohio, all offensive linemen or front-seven defensive players. This would be Brady Hoke self-parody if every guy in the class didn't sport the offer list of a guy at least on the 3-4 star borderline, but they all do so it's just good stuff. Michigan has 17 slots right now and can push that to 19 by not offering a couple of guys fifth years; with a reasonable amount of attrition they'll be looking at a class of 22 or more.
They seem to lead for Matt Godin, Chris Wormley, Terry Richardson, Anthony Standifer, and Jordan Diamond. They'll probably grab two DTs from the Pipkins/O'Brien/Day/Johnson group, which brings them to around 17. The five remaining scholarships go to:
- Mystery QB
- Mystery RB, Preferably Blue Chip, Thx
- Hypothetically Qualified Aaron Burbridge or Mystery Outside WR
- Mystery OT Probably From California
- Mystery OT
If they end up whiffing on any of the guys counted in the class it will probably be Wormley, at which point Michigan will put the full court press on the touted SDEs who veritably litter Ohio this year and, given the way things seem to be going, get one.
Michigan's problems, such as they are: getting the second WR it seems they need, finding a true safety, and smushing MI TE Ron Thompson in. If they bloat this class up to 25 they can add Thompson, another safety, and another WR without squeezing out that fifth OL.
That's asking for six kids to leave the team before February. I can glance at the Depth Chart By Class and easily pick off six guys whose absence wouldn't be felt but that's somewhere between rude and skeezy. While Michigan won't put themselves in a situation where they sign a bunch of guys and then say "medical scholarships for everyone," the best interests of the program are now aligned with certain guys leaving it. That's uncomfortable.
Tell me something I don't know. Rivals initial top 100 is a bit light on Midwesterners and, as usual, over-represented by the Texas/California/Florida triumvirate. I'm working on a larger post about this but:
- From 2000-2006 Texas, Florida, and California supplied 35% of NFL draft picks. From 2007-2010 they supplied 34%.
- This year's Rivals 100 has 48 players from those three states.
- The Midwest (MN, IA, WI, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA) supplied 17% of NFL draft picks.
- This year's Rivals 100 has 15 players from those states.
I haven't looked at enough data to see what the issue is but my bet is consistent overrating of Big Three players at a the near-uniform expense of everyone else. Some of this is inevitable unless you expect the Rivals guys to figure out which half a Montanan is going to get drafted every year, but if you suck out the odd NFL player from the ignored Great Plains and New England states you should be overrating the rest fairly uniformly. That hasn't happened so far this year.
Caveat: it's possible that the good players in the big states get scouted sooner, leaving the rest of the nation to catch up. That would mean the final Rivals 100 would be less Big Three biased. I'm not sure yet, which is why there's a post in the works.
Etc.: Brandon Burlon's departure is official. Michigan's solar car hits the NYT. They're going to paint the imaginary no-charge circle on the floor. Beilein thinks that helps but I'm not sure since their defense is built around charges, not blocked shots. Hockey's endzone nets are stupid.
There's been some chatter about Terry Richardson's upcoming announcement being a twitter prank from Royce Jenkins-Stone but 247's Steve Wiltfong reports that Cass Tech coach Tom Wilcher says Richardson will "probably make his decision this week." With Ross and Jenkins-Stone in the boat, Michigan is the presumed favorite.
From reader Shane Styles, the gym at Minnesota's Rochester Community and Technical College:
Those who stay will in fact be runners-up at the JUCO division III golf national championships, Joel Swisher. Also don't ever set foot in Michigan because you will spontaneously combust due to ambient coach-rage.
Old school. Wolverine Historian's putting out a bunch of old Michigan Replay episodes. Here's 1989 Illinois:
The music was not yet in place, unfortunately.
Dolla dolla bill ya'll. Greg Mattison's compensation package isn't public yet but Brandon pops up in an article about pro assistants moving back to college and he's quoted thusly:
Michigan AD Dave Brandon says he's "reasonably sure" Mattison's deal "will surpass anything we've done in the past" for a football assistant.
Step one in Pay That Man His Money has been accomplished, with Beyonce or equivalent hopefully on deck.
Remain calm. Do not be alarmed. Mike DeBord has moved to the Bears, where he is the TE coach, and this guy from the local Tribune made ominous noises on twitter a few days ago:
League source told me #Bears TE coach Mike DeBord's name had been linked to Michigan, where he coached in 2 separate stints.
There's a long way from being "linked" to Michigan and actually employed there, especially when Michigan has assembled its full complement of offensive assistants and still needs two guys on defense. DeBord's never coached anything but OL and TE and Michigan's already got those spots filled.
File under Hoke positives. Hoke's making the rounds on the high school coach rubber chicken circuit and picking up quotes like this:
"Having been here at this conference before, and seeing the previous coaches, you can definitely feel there's a leadership vibe there (with Hoke) that will relate to the hard-working people of Michigan, and I think that message of wanting the Michigan kid is a big thing for the coaches."
Hoke apparently returned his M-issue Blackberry and asked for a phone with one big button on it. People are eating this up. Also:
I thought Rodriguez was a very good coach, an offensive genius. I think it will be different where Brady will recruit Michigan harder and not just go to Florida and California (like Rodriguez), so I think he and Dantonio will have a good battle for a lot of our good kids in Michigan.
Except Our Helmets Have Wings points out that Rodriguez's classes were more Midwest-oriented than his predecessor's. A slight downgrade in numbers from Michigan (due in large part to "it hurts my heart" guy at Renaissance, now fired, and "guy who lives with Gholston" guy at Southeastern, now employed at Michigan State) was offset by Michigan hitting Ohio hard. That probably wasn't a positive—Michigan was not going head to head with OSU for many of those guys. Under Carr their national net brought in better classes than Rodriguez's boatload of okay Ohio recruits.
But it doesn't matter. What matters is what high school coaches think, and they think Brady Hoke is the bee's knees. Michigan had already established a lead for three of the top five players in the state (Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson of Cass and James Ross of OLSM), seems to be in the top two with Dan O'Brien, and should acquire Chris Wormley out of Toledo. Bring those in and that meme is established in the same way Rodriguez Ignores Michigan got started. This is fierce pragmatist talk here: by throwing Rodriguez overboard now the next guy gets a PR boon.
Let the reassurance wash over you. Here's an interview with Mattison:
If you are saying "oh thank God" after watching that you are not alone.
Quarterback future indicated. Rutgers QB Tom Savage is transferring, but the school isn't allowing him to be released to… um… anywhere he wants to go:
…former high school All-American quarterback Tom Savage, who is transferring from Rutgers, has been denied permission to speak to Miami and is appealing the decision, his father said Sunday.
Savage Sr. said his son learned Saturday that Rutgers will not allow him to speak with UM, UF, FSU or Michigan. Rutgers did not give him a reason.
There's no reason to bar him from talking to any of those schools since none of them are future Rutgers opponents*. When PSU did the same thing to Robert Bolden they managed to patch up their differences, but Savage's dad is looking for a lawyer. That's not a marriage that can be saved, so refusing to allow Savage to talk to other schools just seems spiteful.
It's likely moot given Michigan's QB situation—Savage isn't likely to transfer into a spot where he won't start in two years and has to fight with Devin Gardner after that. But it does provide an indication of where QB recruiting is going. Savage is a prototypical pocket statue. They're going after a "dual threat" sort out of Texas, but a dual threat sort who has 400 yards rushing and is currently committed to Purdue. I hope we get him solely for the irony.
*[Miami is, but in 2018. Savage will be long gone by then.]
Michigan director of football operations Scott Draper has resigned. School spokesman Dave Ablauf said Saturday that Draper stepped down to accept another position.
With Brad Labadie and Judy Van Horn already out the door, Ann Vollano is the last one standing. She must feel like she's 80 minutes into a Final Destination movie. Sidenote: if you're wondering which side carries more blame, Van Horn got a similar job at South Carolina. Labadie and presumably Draper won't sniff an athletic department again.
Etc.: Back in Tom Harmon's day the threat of a transfer loomed… a transfer to Tulane. Long profile on Brock Mealer from David Mayo avoids stating any of David Mayo's opinions and is therefore readable.