things go poorly
dave brandon creates the past
Check your spam folder? Faced with the prospect of a potentially contentious Signing Day presser, Michigan tried to defuse things by inviting select media to talk to Hoke, whereupon he could issue the standard claims that he isn't allowed to provide details. One group was notably absent.
Surprise! The Daily was not invited to Hoke's pow wow with reporters.
— Zach Helfand (@zhelfand) February 3, 2014
Not a huge surprise, that. But the guy who polished up some turds to net the football program its first-ever "major" violations is cool.
Meanwhile, the content. Michigan isn't actively trying to make themselves look bad here, but it's hard to tell. Hoke issued a statement denying any influence over the university's internal investigations, echoing a statement made by Mary Sue Coleman in response to a question no one is asking.
No one wants to know that. They want to know which of the following possibilities is true.
- No one in the OSCR or OIE bothered to tell Hoke that they had found Gibbons culpable in the 2009 incident on November 20th.
- Hoke was informed on November 20th that his kicker was getting expelled and played him against Iowa.
The lack of an answer there looks horrible, because #1 is more implausible than #2. As the Daily put it in an actually-quite-good unsigned editorial, "at best, this case indicates an unbelievable lack of communication between University units." Brady Hoke knows if you miss one damned class. A months-long rape investigation is on the radar.
They are hiding behind FERPA and, worse, "university policy"* when that law is probably not applicable and they certainly could answer generic questions about when the athletic department is notified that one of their players has an issue before the OSCR. The logical conclusion is that telling the truth would make Hoke and the department look bad.
Worse. I mean, they had Gibbons at the Bust ten days before he got expelled and got caught in a stupid lie trying to make his departure look better. They already look bad. The picture here is the athletic department not taking the OSCR seriously—not taking a finding of sexual assault seriously—even after they had determined to expel him. That is the assumption the data suggests, and no one will add more.
*[I wonder how the U would react if MGoBlog "policy" was to show up at pressers with the ol' jibbles out and about, repeating the last thing anyone said at maximum volume prefaced the world "no."
NO, WHY ARE YOU NAKED
NO, WHY ARE YOU REPEATING ME AT MAXIMUM VOLUME
NO, ARE YOU HAVING A STROKE
NO, ARREST THIS MAN
Saying you have a policy not to do something does not change whether or not you should do it.]
Also in looking bad. Bill Martin says he'd never heard that Gibbons was in trouble.
“An incident of that nature never came to my attention at all,” Martin said in a phone interview with The Michigan Daily.
Martin's tendency to be a space cadet makes that barely plausible for a moment, and then I remember that I knew something sketchy had happened with Brendan Gibbons in 2009. I didn't know much more than that, but apparently that still made me better informed than the athletic director.
One thing that does not seem that mysterious. The epic delay in Gibbons's case is a question raised by many; it seems obvious to me that the combination of the stricter University standard that was in fact implemented in August 2013 and the near-simultaneous wide attention brought by the Washtenaw Watchdogs article/rant made Gibbons's case tractable despite non-participation by the victim and put it at the front of everyone's mind. There is no conspiracy here, just massive stupidity.
Actual football things. At the media pow-wow, Hoke offered up some news bits, mostly bad things about injuries:
- Magnuson, Bryant, and Burzynski are out for spring. The former two had shoulder surgery; Burzynski is not a surprise since he tore his ACL midseason.
- Pipkins also out; also not a surprise with midseason ACL injury.
- Gardner will be "physically limited," no doubt with the world's worst case of turf toe.
The OL news is alarming. Magnuson is highly likely to be the opening-day starter at left tackle and did not play that spot last year. Bryant, meanwhile, has officially reached the point where it would be a shock if he was healthy enough to play consistently. He's a good example of where Michigan gets hurt by not oversigning: at a bunch of schools he would have been medicaled long ago and Michigan would have another shot at turning a recruit into a player.
Irvin. Here's Zak Irvin on The Journey:
Next up: Aaron Craft makes more pancakes!
Have-nots. New Miami (Not That Miami) head coach Chuck Martin took a virtual 200k paycut to take his new job:
Miami acquired Martin only after he agreed to forgo $650,000 at Notre Dame, a figure the Irish were willing to sweeten to coax him into staying. Martin, who received a five-year deal at Miami for $450,000 annually, said he wouldn’t have left “for just any MAC job” and was confident the infrastructure at Miami is sufficient to revitalize a program coming off a winless season.
That article has some stunning stats: in 2010 there were 37 assistants nationwide who made more than the average MAC head coach. In 2013 that number had shot up to 86. Bill Cubit got fired by WMU and ended up getting a raise to be Illinois's offensive coordinator. These days, a big time coordinator is looking at a major pay downgrade if he takes a low-level job.
Why? The Packers CEO claims that a successful unionization drive in college football would put "more pressure on the NFL to establish a developmental league." Uh… why, exactly? From the NFL's perspective the distribution of funds entering college football is irrelevant.
One very far off and potentially interesting impact it could have: if Northwestern wins and basketball does the same thing, that does create the possibility that the NCAA could affirmatively end one-and-done by collectively bargaining with their athletes.
Your shot: at least decent. Inside NU catches up with Elliot Gould, a former NLRB chairman, on Colter and company's shot at winning:
“The principle reason for that is their work — they have conditions of employment, they have compensation, they’re directed and supervised by the coaching staff — their work is not related to the educational enterprise,” he said.
Medical interns who are students have been allowed to unionize because they work very long hours outside of typical instruction. For athletes, that goes a step further, in that they are required to participate in their sports to remain on scholarship, even though those outside duties are far less educational than the duties of medical interns.
“Athletes are separate from the educational institution,” Gould said. “They’re supervised by coaches, not faculty involved in the educational enterprise.”
Gould was a Clinton appointee who would be inclined to see it in the kids' favor, sure, but he is also talking sense.
Last fall, Michigan introduced the "Michigan Football Legends" as an alternative to retiring uniform numbers, honoring Desmond Howard before the Under The Lights game with a patch that now adorns the #21 jersey. As one of three Heisman Trophy winners to don the Maize and Blue, Howard was more than deserving of such an honor, and I'd wager that one Charles Woodson is due for a patch of his own in the near future.
I'm a fan of this, and hope that the families of players whose jerseys are currently retired—the Wistert brothers (#11), Bennie Oosterbaan (#47), Gerald Ford (#48), Ron Kramer (#87), and Tom Harmon (#98)—eventually decide it's better to see those jerseys once again placed in the rotation, their accomplishments recognized in a way the fans actually see every week during the fall*. If that happens, however, we'll quickly face the issue of diluting the honor; if all the retired jerseys become "Legends" and you add Woodson to the mix, all of a sudden you have seven jerseys with patches before getting to guys like Anthony Carter, Bennie Friedman, and (eventually) Jake Long.
Where do you draw the line? On one hand, there are a multitude of players who could merit such an honor; it isn't difficult to make the case for such players as Dan Dierdorf, Mark Messner, Braylon Edwards, Mike Hart, Willie Heston (though he didn't wear a jersey number, making it rather implausible that he'll be celebrated in this fashion), Bob Chappuis... the list goes on. On the other hand, the awarding of a Legend jersey loses some of its luster if half of the starting 22 is rocking a patch every year. The way I see it, there are two ways to handle this issue.
The first is simple and obvious: only give out Legend status to a very select few. Edwards and Hart, for example, were remarkable to watch on the field, made their mark on the record books, were wildly popular amongst fans, and in Braylon's case had an indelible signature moment ('04 MSU). Still, I don't think either merits inclusion among the pantheon of Michigan legends, even if the focus is solely on on-field accomplishments; this would be an honor reserved for truly once-in-a-generation athletes. Edwards is probably closer than Hart in this regard, but the shadow of three-time All-American Anthony Carter looms large. If we're going by this method, I'd give out Legend jerseys for the retired numbers, Howard, Woodson, AC, Chappuis, and Friedman. That's it, at least for now.
The second option, which I find preferable, is to be a little more generous with the Legend distinction, but be relatively selective when it comes to handing out those jerseys. While I realize this brings about the same problem as retired uniforms—if nobody merits a Legend jersey, you start running out of numbers in a hurry—there's also an easy solution for that: keep using the honored numbers, but only affix the Legend patch for a player who plays the same position as the legendary player in question. Raymon Taylor wore #21 last year even after the Notre Dame game, but the defensive back's jersey was patchless. With Roy Roundtree wearing Howard's number this year, however, Taylor switched over to #6 in the spring. [EDIT: Taylor actually switched before the SDSU game last year, but the point remains—this can be done.]
Using this method, you have a real drawing point for players from each position group—we saw this week with Leon McQuay III how much of a recruiting pitch these jerseys can potentially be—and also get the chance to recognize even more of Michigan's rich football history. It isn't hard to find a player worth remembering at each position group:
QB: Bennie Friedman (#27)
RB: Tom Harmon (#98), Bob Chappuis (#49)
WR: Desmond Howard (#21), Anthony Carter (#1)
TE: Bennie Oosterbaan (#47)
OT: Dan Dierdorf (#72) or Jake Long (#77) (I'd probably lean towards Long)
OG: Steve Hutchinson (#76)
C: Gerald Ford (#48) (Not sure if coaches would want a lineman wearing a number that low, but I'd love to see it)
DT: The Wistert brothers (#11)
DE: Ron Kramer (#87) (Fudged a little, but Kramer played just about everything)
LB: Ron Simpkins (#40)
DB: Charles Woodson (#2)
Again, not all of these would be given out every year, especially since you might be hard-pressed to find a quarterback who wants to wear #27 or a running back ready to rock a number most commonly found on the defensive line. I really enjoy seeing college players wear numbers that don't traditionally fit their position, however, so I'd love to see some of these, especially a star defensive tackle wearing #11.
Honoring Carter could also help Michigan finally free the #1 jersey from the grasp of Edwards. I realize Edwards funds a scholarship, which makes this a tricky situtation, but I'd hope he would understand the historical impact of Carter and his status as the patriarch of the #1 jersey tradition for Michigan receivers. Or, now that I'm done laughing, Michigan just does it anyway because it's the right thing to do.
This may be spreading the Legend concept a little thin this early in its existence—what happens, say, when we're far enough past the careers of Denard, Woodley, and the next generation of Wolverines?—but it does a great job of acknowledging players of every era, a point I find important for such a historically-driven endeavor. Now, has anybody asked Denard how he feels about wearing #27?
*I doubt your average Michigan fan knows about the Wisterts, which is criminal when you realize that three brothers all were All-American tackles at the same school. That's just ridiculous, and we should be reminded of this fact every time a Wolverine trots out onto the field wearing #11.