I thought that myself when I read that article that talked about a Data Scientist(tm)
bowl ticket scam
Volleyball final four tonight. 7 PM, ESPN 2.
Ace with the quick photoshop for the win:
You have the two triangles of hate plus Nebraska's desire to make one of them a parallelogram of hate plus everyone else in the other division. The balance is as fair as possible: M-OSU versus everybody. The straight East-West split is a lot less drivable and places the three teams with the most recruiting muscle in the same division.
They will release results for this on Monday at 6:30, FWIW, and then ignore everything so they can create the JUSTICE and BEATIFIC TOLERANCE divisions while introducing the league's new logo, which is a stained glass window of Jim Delany with a halo.
BONUS: "*Actual Division Names TBD"
Line of the week. From the MZone:
Thankfully, our pal Surrounded in Columbus is always good for a nugget or four from deep behind enemy lines. Today he sent the picture below with the following email:
Most people would be disappointed to be 12-0 & staying home. They're not most people.
No word yet on when Tressel Boned Us But We Still Hoisted Him on Our Shoulders Like Morons Lane is going up.
Ohio State hosts a "celebration of perfection against reason" Tuesday during which Galileo will be burned at the stake and the sun declared to revolve around the earth.
Tell me something I don't know. Maurice Clarett:
He was a hard worker in practice and in games. But off the field, he was living a completely different life. "I took golf, fishing, and softball as classes," Clarett says. "Away from class, anything you can think of I did in my 13 months at Ohio State." Drugs and women were two of the things. Cars were another—he owned three of them at a time, including a brand-new Cadillac and Lexus. "I was living the NFL life in college," he says. "I got paid more in college than I do now in the UFL.
Hey, guys who were interested in Marawatch: now is a high-leverage time for some private investigations of OSU.
Scorched-earth bombing of the week. From Patrick Hruby on the insane levels of subsidy thrown out to nonprofit entities like… the NFL.
In the eyes of the IRS, the National Football League is considered a nonprofit outfit. Just like the United Way. Read that again. The NFL -- a league that makes roughly $9 billion in revenue per season and will collected a guaranteed $27 billion in television money over the next decade -- enjoys the same tax breaks as, say, your local chamber of commerce, because both are classified as 501(c)6 organizations. Under federal law, 501(c)6 organizations -- essentially, business leagues -- are defined as associations of persons having some common business interest, the purpose of which is to promote such common interest and not to engage in a regular business of a kind ordinarily carried on for profit. Does that sound like the NFL to you?
It's been said before but the contrast between socialist NFL and the largely capitalist, competition-driven way European leagues are set up is kind of amazing. I envy soccer fans their league structure in which teams at the bottom are punished, not rewarded, and poor performers drop out of existence. Imagine a world in which the Lions are a fourth-division team and some other Michigan outfit is competing in the NFL. Mmmm. Justice.
Instead, William Clay Ford has been allowed to ruin pro football in Detroit for 50 years. Down with antitrust exemptions for sports.
Speaking of, OH MY GOD. This is from Bylaw Blog proprietor John Infante is… bizarre. Probably unworkable. It has a zero point zero percent chance of actually happening. And it was posted in February, at which point I missed it. But it's kind of amazing to think about:
The College Basketball Champions League (CBBCL) would be the premier college basketball competition. It would consist of the following stages:
- A qualifying stage of up to three rounds;
- A group stage over six weeks;
- A knockout stage of four rounds.
The CBBCL as currently configured would consist of 56–58 teams. All bids to the CBBCL would be automatic bids based on winning or finishing high in your conference. A rating or coefficient system would be used on the conference level, and would be based solely on a conference’s performance in the CBBCL.
Basically, throw over the current model in favor of a Euro soccer model, cups and all. Again, never never happen but thinking about it is pretty cool. No more Binghamton games for top teams as they compete in their conference and the Champions League, just wall-to-wall killer games.
Again, never happen in a million years but it's always fun to think of ways to make revenue by increasing the excitement level of the sport instead of just making fans more and more resentful. One way to do that is to add more silverware. Right now most American sports are structured so that there is one thing to strive for and that thing is determined by fairly random playoff at the end of a regular season.
The February NBA game is the quintessential example of the disease this leads to, and while I find complaints that no one cares about college basketball until the tournament to be unconvincing, people are thinking about goosing the rest of the year:
“Once the reforms to the college football postseason are complete, we have a responsibility to think long and hard about how we can improve the basketball regular season,” said Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pacific-12 Conference. “The game deserves it.”
Here's an idea: play every nonconference game at the same time on the same court. Yeah! /markhollis'd.
Here's a better idea: expand the preseason tourney exemption to move away from one-weekend events played on neutral courts to a mini-me version of a cup competition in which regular season champions from the previous year square off on randomly-drawn home courts until you get to a final four, which is at MSG or bid out. There are 33, so one play-in game, three weeks of Friday night games, and then a Final Four. Silverware that means something and packs out home floors. HOME FLOORS, people.
Consider your travel plans today. Not those travel plans. Joe Lunardi threw out an updated bracket because ten games into the season's as good a time as any. The bracket has Michigan a one seend(!), bringing forth a question and a statement.
The question: what does Joe Lunardi do nine months out of the year?
The statement: for the first time it looks like the NCAA tournament's decision to break everything into pods and try to get as many top seeds close to home will benefit Michigan, as they're slotted into Auburn Hills in this and any other bracket that bothers to list where people will be.
It will be hard for them to exit that territory since top four seeds usually get priority close to home and there aren't many teams projected to make the top four who would prefer to go to the Palace: MSU, obviously, and then Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and maybe Illinois. With Dayton as another outlet for any of those teams, three or four of them would have to pass Michigan to get that Palace spot. So, yeah.
If Michigan makes the Sweet 16, they'd probably get bumped out of Indianapolis unless they finish above the Hoosiers on the S-Curve. That might not be so bad since they're not playing the regional finals at the basketball arena, but rather the Colts' Stadium. While it will be funny to see Indiana basketball outdraw the Big Ten Championship game significantly, most of those seats are going to be terrible.
Aw man, the other travel plans make you feel baaaad. After hemming and hawing about going to the bowl game I finally did get a flight, and now I feel like a jerk for doing so:
8:54PM EST December 11. 2012 - No bowl game in college football pays more money to one person than the Outback Bowl in Tampa Bay.
His name is Jim McVay, the game's president and chief executive officer.
According to tax forms, the bowl paid McVay $753,946 in fiscal year 2010, $693,212 in 2009 and $808,032 in 2008. His pay has nearly doubled since 2002, when he earned $404,253. This year, his game matches Michigan (8-4) and South Carolina (10-2) on Jan. 1.
"He's done a fabulous job," says Mike Schulze, a spokesman for the game. "It's about being fairly compensated based on what the market dictates."
Dammit. This is why I don't go to bowl games. McVay made more than the CEO of the American Red Cross, which has revenues of $3.5 billion. The Outback Bowl brought in 10 million, of which they are paying this joker 7.5%. Also:
The median salary for the 15 bosses at the non-profit bowls reviewed by USA TODAY Sports is about three times higher than the $132,739 median for a nonprofit chief executive, according to a study of 3,786 mid-to-large charities in 2010 by Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog.
I mean seriously I feel bad for supporting this in any way.
Q for a non-Rose Bowl rookie: should I just scalp in Tampa? I assume that face value is for suckers, right?
Rutgers lollercoaster. The Big Ten is going to threaten cable companies in the newly expanded Big Ten footprint unless they cut the league the same deal the Midwest does, except this time this is their leverage:
The fact that Maryland and Rutgers are joining the Big Ten Conference doesn’t guarantee that their games will be on the Big Ten Network. In fact, several of their games may not be available locally at all — TV or broadband — when they kick off their Big Ten seasons in 2014.
Maryland and Rutgers face the possibility of having at least two football games and at least 15 basketball games go untelevised locally when they join the conference in a year and a half.
That’s because the Big Ten Conference is looking into a strategy that could keep all Maryland and Rutgers games — encompassing all sports — off of the Big Ten Network unless local distributors place the channel on an expanded basic tier. The Big Ten used that strategy successfully in Nebraska last year when the Cornhuskers joined the conference, and the conference is expected to use it again in 2014 when Maryland and Rutgers join.
I think that'll probably work in DC thanks to Maryland's lacrosse and basketball outfits but if it doesn't it is going to be delightful to see Comcast get into a fight because of the team that plays in the Comcast Center. I cannot wait for that standoff to go down.
I find it difficult to believe many—if any—New York area cable companies are going to look at the threat of not getting two Rutgers football games a year and cave; not having Rutgers basketball is probably a selling point. Here's to a decades-long ban on Rutgers content on the BTN.
Etc.: Get out while you can, Catholic schools! form a sensible 10-12 conference from Milwaukee to DC and watch people like it! Maryland gets money up front to leave the ACC. Chesson and Darboh called out as impressive players early in bowl practice, which yes please. Burke declares M elite. Hardaway's recent shooting is the closest thing Michigan has to a concern right now. Surprise Michigan still doesn't run zone.
I still can't believe it's called "The Journey," which should by rights be a Hallmark Channel series about entering puberty. But it's talking Michigan-Michigan State. Cazzie Russell gets his eyebrow on and Novak rains threes in Breslin:
The Aneurysm of Leadership is discussed.
It's the… uh… economy? This is unbelievable:
Once regularly an asylum for 1,200 Crazies, Section 17 at Cameron Indoor Stadium now rarely plays host to a student-only crowd.
Student attendance at men’s basketball games has fallen consistently over the last five years, even dropping after Duke won its fourth national championship in 2010. This season, approximately 650 undergraduates have attended each game, 150 fewer than during the 2008-09 season. As a result, Duke Athletics has begun to sell an increasing number of general admission tickets in the student section on a regular basis.
“It has nothing to do with the revenue. We just want it to be full,” Director of Marketing and Relations Mike Forman said. “If there were 1,200 students every game we would love it.”
I've given Michigan students crap for late/spotty attendance at football and hockey (basketball seems immune for some reason) but, like… Jebus. If Duke can't sell out their student tickets it is a nationwide epidemic.
The article goes on to describe a couple of reasons for the decline: the prevalence of online streaming (which seems ludicrous since I'm sure all Duke games are televised in Durham) and "the students' misconception of the time commitment involved." Apparently it's first-come, first-serve and you show up for a game sans ticket and hope to get in. That's a little nuts.
Even if Duke is too far at one end of the scale, Michigan could slide closer to them without incurring the same effect. Offer incentives for having your tickets scanned on time or early and revoke student ticket privileges for people who don't bother to show up.
Attacking the symptom. Bowls are out of control but this does not attack the matter at its heart:
There is "growing support" among conference commissioners, athletic directors and bowl officials to increase the difficulty of becoming bowl eligible by requiring teams to have seven victories, or a winning record, when the new BCS cycle begins in 2014, multiple sources have told CBSSports.com. The seven-win requirement would also mean a handful of bowls likely would be discontinued because there would not be enough eligible teams to fill all of the current 70 berths. In the past two years alone, 27 teams with 6-6 records were needed to fill all the bowl slots, meaning nearly 20 percent of the bowl field didn't have a winning record.
That would hack out about seven of the existing bowls, none of which would be missed in the slightest. It would still allow a dozen or more bowls that are net negatives to exist. The way to fix the current system is to get rid of ticket and hotel guarantees and let the bowls, not the schools, assume the risk of a crappy matchup.
Slicing out the bottom of the barrel is better than nothing, I guess. And at least athletic directors and presidents are getting wise to the scam:
"The 7-5 proposal is getting serious support," a non-BCS bowl official said. "They're telling a coach [that] 6-6 doesn't cut it, but then the coach gets a $50,000 or $100,000 bonus for a bowl game that none of the fan base wants to see. Athletic directors feel like they're pouring money down a hole and they're getting frustrated with it. The only people making out on 6-6 bowl games are the coaches."
…and the dudes in blazers, of course.
Burn. The Daily profiles Brian Wiseman by featuring his ridiculous peewee campaign:
You’ve probably heard about Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson’s phenomenal six-goal game with the St. Louis Blues in 1968. But what about the record-breaking season of one of his assistants, who averaged over five goals per game en route to a 413-goal campaign?
“They didn’t even keep those stats when I was a kid,” Berenson said.
Alex Guptill says no sale.
Wiseman can only say "keep scoring" at the moment, but don't find yourself in a drought, Alex.
I'll take f-bombs for 1000. David Molk is interviewed by Kyle Mienke:
He's certain of one thing, though: He has doubters. And he knows exactly where they can go.
"It's just, stuff like that pisses me off," Molk said, voice rising. "Any scout who denies me pisses me off. 'Oh, this is what you got. You’re not good enough.'
"Well, (to hell with) you, let me show you what I got."
For the record, I have never doubted Molk and move around constantly so my location cannot be pinned down. Also, Molk's Sugar Bowl injury was a severed tendon. Competition for center of the 2010s is now closed.
Here are the statistics for the percentage of minutes played by the bench (Bench Minutes/Total minutes) under John Beilein since 2005:
Year Bench % Rk 2012 22.3% 327 2011 19.3% 337 2010 22.1% 327 2009 35.6% 66 2008 31.6% 147 2007 24.7% 282 2006 20.0% n/a 2005 31.2% n/a Average 25.9%
Beilein has high expectations and he’s going to play who he trusts at any given time.
The last three years Michigan has been incredibly thin. I'm hoping that changes next year. Michigan's not going to shoot up into Arkansas territory but if they can get into the middle of the pack injuries get a lot less frightening and players having off nights can spend more of them on the bench.
Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges has spent much of the season with his name as candidates for other jobs. First was the head coaching position at New Mexico, which eventually went to Bob Davie. Then, it was a potential replacement for Charlie Weis as Florida's offensive coordinator. On Tuesday, Borges said he isn't interested.
"No," Borges said. "This is Michigan, [fergodsakes]. In the noble words of someone we all know and love.
En route. Six Zero has a treat for you in the new year.
Molk will headbutt you. This is a literal thing if you are Jack Miller.
After each of Michigan's coin tosses this year, senior center David Molk would march to the sideline and find freshman center Jack Miller for his pregame ritual: headbutting.
"I like Jack," Molk said earlier this season. "He doesn't like it. He always says it's OK if he knows it's coming. ... I'll just kind of run up to him and grab him, and slam my head into him."
I hope they're wearing helmets when this transpires but wouldn't bet my life on it. Also, JB Fitzgerald has spent his career at Michigan evangelizing the superiority of shoe polish over eyeblack.
All too easy. Michigan has hired another coach, so it's time for another round of Fisk The Creepy Lech, this time with an assist to some guy at Ball State whose butthurt is exceeded only by his knowledge of identity phenomenologies. Yes, it's time once again for Gregg Easterbrook to complain about literally every college coach who's taken another job:
TMQ Readers Know Too Much: I wrote that Kevin Sumlin has joined the ranks of weasel coaches who walk out on their promises the instant dollar bills are waved; then listed Nick Saban, Rich Rodriguez, Randy Edsall and Bobby Petrino as other prominent weasels.
Justin Bauserman of Indianapolis writes, "Brady Hoke belongs among the ranks of weasel coaches. First he walked out on his own alma mater, Ball State, without even coaching in the 2008 International Bowl after the team's terrific 12-1 season. His walkout essentially doomed his team to a loss in the bowl. Hoke broke his promises to Ball State in order to sign a lucrative five-year contract at San Diego State. When more money was waved by Michigan, Hoke walked out on his SDSU deal after just two seasons. How long before Michigan fans rue the day some NFL team offers him more, and he breaks his promises and bolts again?"
San Diego State must have been shocked when Hoke took the Michigan job. Hoke had gone to great lengths to conceal his ultimate goal.
When Weber interviewed Hoke for the SDSU job in late 2008, Weber said he asked Hoke, “How do you see this position at San Diego State fitting in with the arc of your career?”
“He said the end of that arc was head coach of the University of Michigan,” Weber said. “I don’t think I’d want a coach who didn’t have that kind of aspiration.”
Only his closest confidants had any idea of his ultimate destination.
I don’t pretend to know Brady Hoke very well, but I know that his father was a college teammate of Bo Schembechler at Miami University, and that the Wolverines’ crusty Patron Saint became a mentor during Hoke’s eight-year apprenticeship in Ann Arbor. I know how much the place means to him.
And he made sure that he was going to get paid tons of money.
Hoke has left San Diego State to coach football at Michigan, and his deliberations might not have spanned a nanosecond. He accepted the job before money was mentioned, and later said he would have walked to Ann Arbor as a condition of employment.
Easterbrook's complaints about coaches taking better jobs are always dumb, but going after Hoke is a new bar. In this department, anyway. The whole head-injuries-and-jews thing probably still takes the cake.
[Via the board.]
They're onto us. Arizona's Greg Byrne has adapted to the realities of the internet era:
Fly commercial. I know, who flies commercial with a private jet at his disposal? No way. These days, though, it's just too easy to track the tail numbers of private planes online. In this case, Byrne hopped on a flight that stopped in Denver (Couldn't get a nonstop? Really?) before heading to Detroit. In fact, Byrne was spotted in Denver, and news quickly hit Twitter that he was no doubt there to grab Colorado State's Steve Fairchild after his thrilling 3-9 season in Fort Collins.
By doing this and using Wire-style burners Byrne managed to keep his hire so secret that I'm still not sure who Arizona's head coach is.
General bowl-lol update. West Virginia is struggling to sell its 100 dollar Orange Bowl tickets because Stubhub has comparable seats for 19 bucks. WVU blogs note the bowl is spending some of the money it steals from the schools on a cruise for "40 FBS athletic directors and six conference executives."
The Orange Bowl is a nonprofit.
Elsewhere, Village Voice Media burns the whole system to the ground in an extensively-researched piece that ran in weeklies nationwide:
The ticket scheme alone leaves schools awash in red ink. Virginia Tech lost $400,000 on last year's trip to the Orange Bowl — despite getting $1.2 million from the ACC. Though Auburn claimed last season's BCS crown, financial records show it still lost $600,000 — even after a $2.2 million bailout from the Southeastern Conference.
Some bowls have also found a way to scam schools on hotels. Since the bowls usually arrange lodging, athletic directors assume their "friends" are negotiating the best group deals. But that's not always the case.
Under Junker's rule, the Fiesta Bowl required schools to purchase 3,750 room-nights at about $200 a pop. According to the contract, the schools had to pay whether they used them or not.
But what Junker wasn't telling his "friends" was that he'd arranged a side deal with the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. In exchange for funneling teams to Scottsdale resorts, the city's tourism arm agreed to kick the Fiesta Bowl $8.2 million over the 20-year pact, according to a contract discovered by the Arizona Republic.
The whole thing is recommended. It's a comprehensive rundown.
Calling Smotrycz’’s rebounding numbers a year ago “underwhelming” would be kind. They were disdainful for a player that stands 6-foot-9. The same Evan Smotrycz that rebounded like a guard a season ago is suddenly the second best defensive rebounder in the Big Ten.
Rank Player Team Ht Wt Yr DR% 1 Jared Sullinger Ohio St. 6-9 280 So 33.3 2 Evan Smotrycz Michigan 6-9 235 So 23.4 3 Draymond Green Michigan St. 6-7 230 Sr 23 4 Meyers Leonard Illinois 7-1 245 So 22.9 5 Ryan Evans Wisconsin 6-6 210 Jr 21
*Removed Trevor Mbakwe (knee surgery) from the fifth slot.
You can try to discount that as an artifact of Michigan's style but I don't think the argument works. Michigan has played almost entirely man to man and has reaped benefits from Smotrycz's enormous rebound-pinchers. Opponents are only grabbing 27.6 percent of their misses. The national average is 32.6. Michigan is a good defensive rebounding team and Smotrycz is one of the primary reasons.
He's also shooting better than 50% from three. If he can just stay on the floor…
Etc.: If you're wondering why on Earth Michigan signed up for a home and home with Bradley, it was probably had something to do with Bradley hiring Beilein's son. Angry Iowa Running-Back-Hating God is never sated. OSU react roundup from Rittenberg. Coastal Carolina fired the dogs and cats guy (who was actually a fairly successful coach) to hire a billionaire. Boo, Coastal Carolina. Boo.
UFR will go up tomorrow. FYI.
It's raining wallpaper. As per usual. This one is from jonvalk:
This week in bowl parasitism. Bowl games are parasites on college football designed to bleed as much money from the system as they can get away with. Thanks to the interest levels provided by the teams—not the stadiums or locations—some of them do actually pump money into the system (although far less money than an NCAA controlled playoff would). The latest example of this:
The Fiesta Bowl has a deal with the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau that pays the bowl hundreds of thousands of tax dollars a year in return for requiring participating teams to stay in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley resorts.
The bowl says the agreement is strictly legal and good business for all parties involved.
But it may increase the cost for schools playing in the Fiesta Bowl and BCS Championship Game, because they are required to stay a certain number of nights at high-end hotels.
The bowl, according to records obtained by The Arizona Republic, received $491,340 from the Scottsdale CVB this past college-bowl season when the Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon and Auburn football programs stayed in Scottsdale-area resorts for the Fiesta Bowl and Bowl Championship Series title game, respectively.
Legal or not, that's a half-million dollars of overhead from the payment alone and however much more from the monopoly lock in the payment provides. We can ballpark how much this is from UConn's trip to the Fiesta last year:
UConn also has a hotel obligation — a total of 550 rooms at three different hotels ranging in price from $125-225 a night, not including tax, with blocks reserved for either three or seven nights.
Without the lock-in teams could put the band in six rooms at the Super Eight and save themselves a bucket of money. The Sugar does this as well. Their defense is "this is legal," which is true but beside the point.
If bowls are going to exist they should be worthwhile businesses without heaping unnecessary expenses on the participating teams. This is a relatively piddly expense relative to ticket guarantees that erase payouts and leave cash-strapped programs with a net deficit, but it just shows how much of a racket bowls are. Not that you needed to be told that when the Michigan-OSU game featured Rose Bowl reps when the combined chance of either team making it to Pasadena was zero percent.
Crose enough*! Andy Staples has an article about the Big 12's sudden, unsurprising opinion flip in re: an expanded playoff field. It promises change:
Monday, Big 12 athletic directors voted in a straw poll to get behind the idea of a plus-one format that would allow four teams to compete for the national title. Such a format would have allowed USC to play for the national title in 2003, Auburn to play for it in 2004, Texas to play for it in 2008 and Oklahoma State -- which finished behind No. 2 Alabama by the slimmest of margins in the BCS standings -- to play for the title this season. If the league's presidents choose to agree with their athletic directors, the Big 12's support would be a huge step forward. The Big 12 was one of several leagues that blocked SEC commissioner Mike Slive's 2008 proposal for a four-team, seeded tournament. The ACC was the only conference that supported the plan.
With Larry Scott now creating the future in earnest in the Pac-12, the major remaining obstacle to a playoff is one of these two men.
Left: Lando Mollari. Right: Jim Delany
Jim Delany still hates the Narn with all his heart.
“Our view is we’d like to stay where we are,” Delany told the Tribune. “We do believe in the slippery slope theory.”
You should have thought of that before you joined the BCS, dude. As soon as the dumbest playoff in history was instituted, outrage started piling up. As soon as the sanctity of the Rose Bowl was undermined, erosion got busy. The levees are about to break.
If conference leaders are smart, they'll design a plan that allows for the two semifinal games to be played on the home fields of the No. 1- and No. 2-seeded teams. If they wanted to appease the must-win-your-league crowd, they could require that a team must win its conference to host a semifinal. Home-site semifinals would eliminate concerns about fan bases traveling twice -- a non-starter -- and would help reinforce the importance of the regular season. Teams would go into the final week fighting for a home game in a sport where home-field advantage means a lot. Just imagine an LSU-Stanford semifinal at Tiger Stadium or an Alabama-Oklahoma State semifinal in Stillwater (using the must-win-conference rule). Also, to remove the negative consequences of a semifinal loss, the two losing teams would be placed into premium bowls, where they could take a well-deserved victory lap for a great season. This would appease bowl executives, who for some unknown reason strike fear into the hearts of the people who run the sport.
One day people will wake up and realize that doofs in yellow jackets getting paid is not in the best interests of the sport. Think Of The Children.
As Witherspoon jumps out to hedge, Trey Burke puts on the brakes and changes direction with a between the legs dribble. All within a split of a second. This makes the play right here. The change of direction gives him another screen but also has his defender back up and lose attachment.
All Trey has to do now is get to the outside of Barton’s left leg and he will get in the lane.
It's Picture Pages for basketball. All we've got now is a superior use of the crop tool.
So exactly right. There was a point a few years ago when I railed almost weekly against the relentless stenography that mainstream coverage had degenerated into. It was the bubble screen of 2007. I dropped six months after that hobby-horse expired, but when an ESPN vet like Tim Keown lays into the modern press conference I cannot resist a very long blockquote:
The death of the interview has spawned a generation raised on generalities and clichés. Caution is a lesson [Titans QB Matt] Hasselbeck has learned many times, most recently after the Titans beat the Colts on Oct. 30, when he was asked -- or told, he can't remember the phrasing -- to compare current teammate Chris Johnson with former Seahawks teammate Shaun Alexander. In Hasselbeck's view, it was a question with "a negative vibe" -- his pet peeve.
What followed was an instructive look into the void left in the interview's wake. Hasselbeck, attempting to answer the question honestly, said he did see similarities: two great running backs who followed MVP-caliber seasons with "normal" years. He was attempting to make the point that both players were victims of unfair expectations, because nobody can be expected to perform at an MVP level every season. "It's hard to be elite every year," he said.
Predictably, he was seen as "ripping" Johnson and "throwing him under the bus." … The question was legitimate. Johnson, a former offensive player of the year and recent signee of a huge contract, had been booed at home in much the same way former MVP Alexander was when his production dropped off after he signed a huge contract. The answer, as far as it went, was legitimate as well. What was missing was context, and before Hasselbeck could massage his message, he was hit with a new question and the group conversation -- such as it was -- moved on.
"If I were Chris Johnson, I would have wondered, 'Why is my quarterback saying this about me?'" Hasselbeck says. "Everyone knows how the Shaun Alexander story ended in Seattle, so it looked like I was ripping Chris Johnson." The subsequent coverage centered on Hasselbeck's "unflattering" comparison between the two running backs. "I was asked a negative question, and instead of being a jerk I gave an honest answer," he says.
His solution? Be boring. "It's a headline-driven world, and what I said provided a headline," he says. "That's why I'm guarded, cautious. I don't want to accidentally give bulletin-board material. If someone asks me about a player, I say, 'He's a great player.' If they ask me about a coach, I say, 'He's a great coach.' "
The problem is finding which section to blockquote since all of it is deadly accurate. It starts "BEHOLD THE DECOMPOSED REMAINS of the sports interview" and is probably 3000 words long. It's worth the read.
The local spin comes in two parts. Part one: boy is it nice to have a coach with his banalities down pat. Rich Rodriguez may have gotten unfairly pilloried for his "get a life" statement, which was ripped out of context like Hasselbeck's statement was, but he was a magnet for that kind of stuff. Hoke hasn't had a misstep yet; he's settled into a comfort zone where the media is his lapdog, and that won't change. If things start going poorly the media will be defending Hoke and scorning fans until it's over.
Part two: Michigan's suddenly better about this than most schools with their coordinator pressers and the relatively straight answers given in there, especially from Mattison.
Etc.: Gobbler Country profiles Michigan, which is us. More on this later, but Chris Brown's long-ago profile of the Hokie D is remarkably useful since it's about how they've adapted to the spread. UMHoops talks Oakland with a Summit League blogger.
No, sir, I have no problems with tunnel screens anymore, sir. This is Al Borges's terrifying father:
That is a 79-year old in the photo. Gordon Borges is now 84 years old and is thinking about crushing your head like a grape. All criticisms about the offense are withdrawn.
“You removed the chart Dooley, so gloves are off!”
This book is right in their wheelhouse. Bacon points out in painful detail all the obstacles that RichRod faced (and yes, a few he created) along the way. They cheered each time Bacs mentioned “The Horror” or their homebase, mgoblog. Would have liked to seen more detail on the internal politics of RR’s handling of (or lack thereof) the defensive coordinators.
This is a bit of revenge on those responsible for setting the course for the Michigan offense to head back to the Stone Ages and.. [oh, wait a second..they stopped reading this --Bri’Onte Dunn just updated his Facebook page.]
Dammit, Dooley, no he didn't.
If this was a business it would be the kind of business that is not a business for very long. Dan Wetzel ties mega conference realignment into a college football playoff, or lack thereof, and hits home on the absurdity of the bowl system in one tight paragraph:
College football defies all business logic by outsourcing its most profitable product to third-party bowl games. The Bowl Championship Series not only fails to capitalize on the enormous potential of a multi-week tournament, it sucks hundreds of millions of dollars out of college pockets in an effort to preserve the tradition of $700,000 bowl director salaries and the majesty of the TaxSlayer.com Bowl.
That is a real thing now, that bowl name. It boggles the mind that an organization so relentlessly focused on every nickel signs away millions of dollars a year in the name of traditions not even I believe in anymore. College football actually does more than lose potential profit to nerds in yellow blazers, it sets money on fire by allowing bowls to impose ticket guarantees they know will never be fulfilled. The NCAA could do something about this (they okay bowl games) but chooses not to. Why is a mystery.
I disagree with Wetzel when he says extra revenue from a playoff could have forestalled or eliminated the current wackiness. Wins are a zero-sum game, so there is no such thing as enough money. It's all about how much money you have relative to the other guys. As long as Texas is Texas this still happens.
[ed: I meant to post this last week but it slipped through the cracks. Might as well publish it as further confirmation of MANBALL is +EV.]
I like it. Until Brady Hoke gives me reason to believe he is a football coach I am going to pretend he is playing XBox and does not know it and will therefore accidentally make correct decisions other football coaches will not. I will take press conference statements as rock-hard evidence of this fact. So:
You looked a little mad when the team went over to the student section after the Eastern Game. How come? “I wanted to score a touchdown at the end instead of a field goal.”
WOOO TEMPLE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS 2015
I like it, too. To emphasize how often coaches get things like this wrong, here's Ramzy on Luke Fickell:
Braxton Miller then rushed for ten yards to get to the Colorado one-yard line. There were six seconds left on the clock and Ohio State had a timeout to spare. The Buckeyes were ahead 17-7, playing at home, dominant in the trenches and had time for one more play from one yard out with the ability to still stop the clock if the attempt was unsuccessful.
Fickell was presented with a classic step-on-their-throats opportunity and chose to kick a field goal, to a chorus of boos. The chorus was correct: One more shot at a touchdown was the right call. The rookie head coach was caught over-thinking yet again, while covering for the position he's trying to earn permanently.
This was not a situation where 'just taking the three points' should have been a delicious, dangling carrot. A fade or a sneak could be easily be run in under five seconds, still leaving time for a field goal with that timeout in Fickell's pocket (a disturbing trend that began in the waning moments of the Miami game). Even if the end zone shot failed, Ohio State still could have stopped the clock and attempted a field goal as time expired.
Five seconds is a little hairy when it comes to getting that second snap but he's probably right if it's from the one. Michigan's game-ending ND fade was run from the 16 and took six seconds. Given OSU's mauling interior line it was likely to be moot anyway.
BTW, Ramzy seems very much opposed to Fickell's retention at the end of the year. I'm torn: OSU elevating an unproven guy who's never really been a coordinator (Fickell was listed as "co-DC" for the past six years but with Jim Heacock around that seems more ceremonial than functional) and makes goofy gameday decisions is an excellent situation, but dumping Fickell after the season helps Michigan's recruiting momentum since presumably it will come with a poor record.
Hat collection. Brady has one.
On a shelf in his office at the University of Michigan, Brady Hoke keeps a display of various baseball caps.
There’s a Pittsburgh Penguins hat, a few White Sox caps, plus a couple from the Detroit Tigers.
“That’s my collection to this point,” said Hoke, Michigan’s head football coach.
He didn’t buy these hats, though. And they weren’t given to him as gifts. Instead, he took them from his players because they broke his rule.
“Those are hats from players that don’t wear Michigan hats in here,” he said.
"Brady Hoke gets it" tag… engaged.
Now kill some of them with fire. The NCAA was sued by the Aloha Bowl when the bowl game tried to sell itself to some people in Seattle only for the NCAA to block them. This happened way back in 2003 and is only getting resolved now. The NCAA won. Money quote:
“We will vigorously defend the NCAA’s efforts to act in the best interest of student-athletes and the collegiate model of sports, as we did in this case,” he added. “The jury found that saying no to the Seattle Bowl was the right thing. We look forward to moving on from this case and continuing to assist the postseason bowl system so it can operate ethically and appropriately.”
Thing the NCAA can do:
The NCAA does not run postseason football bowl games in Division I but licenses them to ensure they meet a variety of requirements to ultimately provide a meaningful experience for student-athletes and institutions. These criteria relate to attendance, conference commitments, revenue and other details.
Thing the NCAA does not do: prohibit ticket guarantees that transfer money from universities to warm-weather cities with guys in colored blazers. IE: Stop setting student fees on fire.
The arbitrariness of stickers. An old Bo lineman writes MVictors about Michigan's helmet stickers and the extremely precise way in which they were handed out:
It’s funny as an offensive lineman you were never quite sure why you got one. A good block, a good game, a good play. It was easy for the specialty folks, touchdowns, TFL, sacks, fumble recovery, interceptions, 100+ yard games, etc. They never told us specifically why we received one. You just seemed to get more of them when you won. I still have my helmet from my freshman year where I earned I think 6 or 7 of them. I only played on the kick-off return team then and I was never told what I did to receive them.
A real throwback uniform would have to include stickers, but they'd have to wait until Denard graduates unless we fit him with a comically oversized Turd Ferguson helmet.
Etc.: Just Cover on the state of MSU's offensive line, which is shamblicious. Rant about spin on Craig Roh crying story if RR still in charge implied but mercifully omitted. Michigan's last 2012 opponent is UMass, who will be in the MAC by then. Kiffin assistant paid for Seastrunk's airfare on an unofficial visit to Tennessee—wonder how that fallout hits repeat violators UT and USC.
If I had known they were handing out muppets that look like you at BWB for winning the USMAP awards I would have created a voting robot to win.
The other major outrage type thing going on. That would be the bowl system's ticket guarantees that turn bowls from a guaranteed profit to a guaranteed deficit for many. The Wizard of Odds put together a lot of numbers about what's going on with that. Unfortunately he quoted perpetually silly Andrew Zimbalist saying something about a cartel, but whatever. Numbers:
Supporters of the 35-game bowl system argue that the postseason turns a profit. Technically, this is correct, but only because of the BCS, which this season distributed a reported $174.07 million from its five games. Of that amount, 83.4 percent went to the automatic qualifier conferences — the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific 10 and Southeastern conferences.
The 30 non-BCS bowl games are, at best, a break-even venture. Without the ticket guarantee, it is likely that half the bowls would not exist.
The Fiesta Bowl's massive chunk of unsold seats is actually economically justifiable since the BCS bowls are a net input into the system. That's not the case when you're UCF, and you're eating nearly a million dollars in unsold Liberty Bowl tickets.
This isn't a playoff argument. The bowl system can continue, but the NCAA is currently transferring money from college students (student fees make up a large portion of the revenue for programs that typically go to rinky-dink bowls) to this guy:
Not literally that guy, but versions of that guy in a different blazer. It's a neat trick to transfer the risk your bowl will be a dud from the organizers to the schools, though.
File Under The Gets It Files, Part XI. You know who Amani Toomer hates? Everybody. If he was going to have a sitcom it would be titled "Amani Toomer Hates Everybody." Amani Toomer does not like anyone. He hadn't been back to Ann Arbor in 15 years. He came back for one of the thousands of Hoke Hand-holding Socials and…
“It was good to be back, good to see some players and people, and I saw coach (Gary) Moeller, which was special,” Toomer said. “I just really felt like a part of the whole Michigan family, more so than I did in the past couple of years.
“I feel more connected than I did before, so that’s always a good step forward.”
Amani Toomer likes Gary Moeller! And Brady Hoke!
This is the point at which I make a very silly assertion about this proving how excellent of a recruiter Brady Hoke is, which may be silly but is also 1000% true.
Requirement. I will join the horde, as required by law. This is Jalen Rose's General Lee:
Readers are advised not to attempt a reconciliation between Rose's comments about Duke and what appears to be a massive Dukes of Hazzard fandom. Smoke will come out of your ears.
Readers are advised to bid on the car, though, which is being auctioned off to help fund Rose's charter school in Detroit. Buy it now for 100 grand. Do it now.
Hockey in the boat. As you can see on the sidebar, Michigan hockey officially announced its recruiting class today. The official site's article has stats and a quote from Berenson on each of the signees; Michigan Hockey Net also points out that two guys weren't listed. That's not because they've decommited but because they're preferred walk-ons. Those two are D Mike Szuma and F Andrew Sinelli. Sinelli not counting as a scholarship guy (except when there are extras, which there usually are since someone always leaves the team) helps explain where they're going to get the room to sign these guys the next few years.
Meta but wow. I can't recall how I got to this article from The Daily (not that Daily: the Rupert Murdoch one) on Lloyd Carr being a nice dude who's in the Hall of Fame hurrah. In thirty seconds the generic newspaperese will fade from my brain, but I'll always remember the time I went to that site to read an article that was a half-meg 768x3072 image and marveled at how random the selection process for executives is. I know it's an iPad app and all but raising a giant middle finger to Google is maybe not the best policy.
How do you short this enterprise?
Etc.: Michigan is two-thirds of the way through its practice reduction. Must have been fairly significant if they could stack it like that. Insert joke about how it all came out of the defense here. Jim Tressel's lawyer, Gene Marsh, was Michigan's lawyer. This time around he's banking on Tressel's body language saving the day. That's the ticket. Ramzy at 11 Warriors appears more enthusiastic about Brady Hoke than most Michigan fans. Also he is also unforgiving of past MGoBlog statements that are now ridiculous. Optimism from Holding The Rope.