Bad things in East Lansing. This is going to be a bad week for Michigan State.
Tourney sel. chair Mark Hollis has canceled his 2-week CBB road trip due to obligations as Michigan St. AD that require him to be on campus.
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) February 13, 2017
Nothing definitive has been released yet save for MSU's statement that three players and one staffer are under investigation for sexual assault; people seem to be expecting something very bad. Bad enough that point and laugh rivalry stuff is inappropriate.
Solomon aftermath. Georgia fired its DL coach, Tracy Rocker, in the immediate aftermath of Signing Day. A Scout article asserted Rocker got in an argument with Aubrey Solomon's mom in an attempt to offer up an explanation, and recriminations ensued. Jeff Sentrell of Dawgnation* interviewed Sabrina Caldwell to get her side of things, and I have some bad news for Teddy Greenstein:
She said a big reason why Georgia didn’t sign her son centered on coaching decisions and not anything specific in their recruiting relationship.
Caldwell said they were affected by the scholarship that was no longer there for 4-star Texas RB and longtime UGA commit Toneil Carter.
Adding to the confusion: SEC All-Freshman kicker Rodrigo Blankenship was not extended a scholarship offer despite what he did to win games for the Bulldogs last season.
She said that was not her family’s fight but that it was a factor into how they perceived UGA.
“We were concerned with the scholarship issues of those not either receiving (them) or getting it pulled and again (this was) not our fight but it played a factor,” she said.
Michigan won that recruitment in part because it looked like the more stable and straightforward program a year after forcibly decommitting multiple kids late in the cycle. While there was something Michigan needed to get fixed (as I said at the time), fix it they did, and next year's Erik Swenson Is Thriving Despite Being Done Wrong article will have the same impact this year's did: nil.
Caldwell's comments caused some introspection at Georgia-focused Get The Picture. It sounds familiar to anyone who read "Pick Up The Damn Phone" last year:
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the amount of angst that cropped up in the comments following my post about Jeff Sentell’s interview with Aubrey Solomon’s mother. It’s hard to let go of a gauzy, romantic image that you’re invested in, and for many, the ideal of a football program that doesn’t stoop to making business decisions when it comes to roster management is a powerful one. (As powerful as the ideal that student-athletes are already more than fairly compensated for the privilege of playing. But I digress.)
Anyway, whatever else one might say about the Process, romantic it ain’t. Kirby is being paid to win. In his mind that includes pushing roster management aggressively. The issues with Carter and Blankenship arose because Smart was at the edge, numbers-wise, with the 2017 class before the four underclassmen stepped up to announce they were staying. That decision — and would any of us have preferred that they leave for the NFL? — meant that Smart had to do a lot of re-jiggering on the fly.
I’m not defending the way the Carter situation was handled. Smart botched that by not stepping up and telling the kid himself. But he’s being paid to put together the best roster he can and that’s what he’s trying to do.
For what it's worth, I believe that recruits' publicly stated reasons why they chose school X are almost always post-hoc backfilling after a decision has been made. Georgia wasn't the choice but Rodrigo Blankenship isn't the reason why.
Also: GTP mentions that 100% above-board Mark Richt often slogged through SEC seasons with 70-some scholarship players. That's the choice the current system gives you: nobly waste resources or push the envelope with the detrimental effects to the croots. That's a dumb system.
Michigan is navigating it better than they did last year, and Georgia will probably follow suit.
*[Despite the fact that it sounds like a dot blogspot, Dawgnation is an Atlanta Journal-Constitution-owned UGA site roughly equivalent to a single-team Land Of 10, which is also an AJC property. IE: they got the journalisms.]
The haves split from the other haves. Also spotted on GTP is this article from Jon Wilner detailing the coming revenue split even amongst the Power 5 conferences:
Fiscal year 2015 school distributions (all figures confirmed):
SEC: $32.7 million
Big Ten: $32.4 million
Pac-12: $25.1 million
Fiscal year 2016 school distributions
SEC: $40 million (confirmed)
Big Ten: $35 million (approximate)
Pac-12: $27 million (approximate)
That looks bad … that is bad … but it’s about to get much worse for the Pac-12.
Remember: The Big Ten’s new Tier 1 deal begins in 2017-18, and it’s also a whopper, averaging $440 million per year.
Which brings us to …
Fiscal year 2017-18 school distributions …
Big Ten: $45 million (estimate)
SEC: $43 million (estimate)
Pac-12: $31 million (estimate)
This is an even bigger gap than it looks because most SEC athletic departments run close to the bare minimum number of sports to qualify as D-I and Big Ten and Pac-12 schools carry up to 12 additional teams under that revenue umbrella.
Not only is paying the players the correct thing to do from a moral, ethical, and free market standpoint; it is a Very Good Thing for the Big Ten as it tries to be good at football. And there can be absolutely no argument that the money is there. As of 2011 the Big Ten's payout was 23 million. By 2018 there will be 22 million dollars a year that did not exist just a few years ago. Half of that is sufficient to pay the revenue sports athletes 100k a year.
In bubble news. (Not that bubble.) Disney CEO and therefore ESPN CEO Bill Iger:
Disney CEO Bob Iger thinks there are too many ads on TV, and he's exploring whether Disney's ESPN and ABC channels should reduce the amount of commercials.
“In general there is probably too much commercial interruption in television,” Iger said during Disney's quarterly earnings call Tuesday, especially when TV is competing with new digital upstarts like Netflix, some of whom don't have ads at all.
Iger said Disney would evaluate the amount of ads aired within programs for its ESPN and ABC TV channels, though he did not say that any cuts to the so-called ad load were looming.
My eyes pop out of my head when my mother voluntarily turns on cable TV programming with ads in it. (It's always HGTV, and they're always building tiny houses for some damn reason.) Live sports has long been the last bulwark against that kind of thing because there are no alternatives, but my God last year was brutal. The number of three-and-outs both preceded and followed by commercial breaks seemed to go up exponentially. At some point you have to balance out the money you're making now with the money your losing down the road by making your product worse, and it's especially grating when the people actually comprising the product are not even compensated.
In bubble news. (That bubble.) Michigan's moved out of the last four in on Lunardi's bracketology. They are one spot behind... Michigan State? The hell?
I mostly look at Kenpom so that's jarring. There MSU is 54th; Michigan 31st. Metrics that are not margin aware, like RPI, have that ranking inversed. MSU is #41 in RPI; Michigan is 61st. MSU's main accomplishment in the eyes of RPI is to have lost to a bunch of good teams.
Insert general scheduling lament here.
The little details. Good rostering continues:
— Matt Baldeck (@MattBaldeck) February 10, 2017
Michigan picks up another longsnapper, Matt Baldeck. Baldeck is making the Threet transfer: enrolling early and then transferring after his first semester. As a walk-on. Who was at Ole Miss.
Etc.: Freddy Canteen transfers to ND, which will be interesting. I expected him to land at a smaller school. Indiana takes from Quinn and Holdin' The Rope. More croot profiles: Brad Robbins, JaRaymond Hall. Not a banner year in the Big Ten.
Herbert's commitment video lives on, at least.
Scout's Corey Bender reports that four-star FL OT Kai-Leon Herbert has decommitted from Michigan:
— Corey Bender (@Corey_Bender) January 22, 2017
Since committing to Michigan in July, Herbert has taken multiple visits to both Miami (YTM) and Florida; he took an official to Miami this weekend and will OV to Florida next weekend. His recruitment should come down to one of those two in-state schools. Herbert's departure probably ends any (very outside) chance M had with teammate and four-star OG TJ Slaton.
Herbert's decommitment leaves Michigan with 26 commits in the 2017 class and five on the offensive line. Four of those linemen—Chuck Filiaga, JaRaymond Hall, Joel Honigford, and Andrew Stueber—could potentially play tackle, and M may need one of them to step into the lineup as soon as this upcoming season. Michigan continues to pursue three-star VA OT Mekhi Becton, whose Crystal Ball is trending in the direction of Virginia Tech. The rest of the linemen on the board are long-shots at best, so if the coaches aren't content with five OL in the class, some new names could emerge.
MA RB AJ Dillon has flipped to Boston College, a school with some jive turkeys doing their edits.
— AJ Dillon (@ajdillon7) December 14, 2016
Watching an offensive player agree to play at Boston College is always a sad thing, but per Sam Webb they sold him on the opportunity to definitely play running back and Michigan said they said "90%" with a chance of linebacker. Meanwhile NM RB O'Maury Samuels's visit was postponed for an SAT retake, so his recruitment is obviously in some question.
Michigan is of course trying to reel in CA RB Najee Harris, the #1 recruit in the country. If they get him, this is a non-event. If they don't... eh, Michigan has Ty Isaac, Chris Evans, Karan Higdon, Kareem Walker, and Kingston Davis plus whoever they do end up bringing in this year. Dillon is an excellent athlete who is a coup for BC; Michigan looks like they'll be fine at RB for the next couple years either way.
Exit: Chase Lasater
I'm a little late getting to this after the bye week, but fullback Chase Lasater is no longer a member of the class. Lasatar announced his decommitment on his Twitter account, which is now set to private. He said he and his family "feel it is best" to reopen his recruitment and that Michigan remains one of his top schools; he thanked Jim Harbaugh and Bam Richards for recruiting him.
With Michigan going after LSU fullback commit Tory Carter, who has an official visit scheduled, it would be a surprise if Lasater ended up back in the class.
The coaching staff didn't take it easy during the bye week, instead heading out for a long list of recruiting visits headlined by Jim Harbaugh's stop in Antioch to see the #1 recruit in the country, CA RB Najee Harris. Scout's Josh Henschke has a full, free rundown of who the coaches saw.
Notably, a few new offers went out, including one that spurred a new Crystal Ball prediction. That came after Michigan offered three-star TN DT Rutger Reitmaier, who's committed to Oregon, a program you may recall hiring a defensive coordinator with a very strong track record of unearthing excellent defensive linemen. Reitmaier has some impressive junior film (see above) and Oregon commits are ripe for picking these days. This offer looks like a reflection of both Reitmaier's ability and M's waning hopes of bringing Aubrey Solomon back into the fold; Sam Webb was in Lee County during the bye and came away saying M's chances at Solomon are "essentially nil."
Harbaugh also offered top-100 Las Vegas Bishop Gorman S Bubba Bolden, and Sam Webb says that despite the late timing of the offer, Michigan could have a shot:
Michigan offered four-star safety Bubba Bolden from Bishop Gorman. Despite the relative lateness of that offer, the interest definitely appears to be mutual. Bolden has two open visit dates and has expressed a desire to give Michigan one of them. No firm date has been established but a trip to Ann Arbor now appears to be a distinct possibility.
The coaches also offered four-star AZ S Isaiah Pola-Mao, who currently has Washington on top of his list. The multiple new safety offers could be a result of commit J'Marick Woods, who recently had high praise for his Arkansas official visit, taking a look around; I highly doubt it's a product of losing confidence in their ability to land Jaylen Kelly-Powell.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Ed-Ace: Recruitnik extraordinaire, regular podcast guest, and noted darts enthusiast Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247, aka The Artist Formerly Known As Aquaman, is back with his weekly recruiting mailbag. If you aren't subscribed to 247 and want to read more from Steve and the gang, they're running a buy one month, get two months free promotion.
pkatz asks: Seems to be a lot of flux in our OL recruiting - where do we stand now on elite tackle recruits in 2017?
I feel like Michigan is not so much in a "flux" situation as they are in a "wait and see" mode on the offensive line in 2017. The only thing I would call a flux is the number they would take, which is something that could literally change by the hour.
They have the four verbal commitments currently, and depending on who they reel in it will likely be six or seven to finish out. The names they're pursuing have remained pretty much the same (no order): Aaron Banks, Isaiah Wilson, Henry Bainivalu (could be guard or tackle), Cesar Ruiz (interior), TJ Slaton (most likely interior), Alex Leatherwood, Walker Little, Chuck Filiaga, Austin Deculus, Jedrick Wills, Toryque Bateman and I'm sure a couple of others.
Michigan's best shots are the guys they currently lead for on the Crystal Ball: Ruiz, Wilson and Slaton. They are in the thick of it for Bainivalu, and have a puncher's chance at flipping Leatherwood and Deculus. Wills and Filiaga are future official visitors that qualify as longshots. Bateman is a wait-and-see type prospect who will probably officially visit after the season.
Basically it comes down to the fact that the remaining names they're in on are elite talents that can afford to wait out the process. Given the need for bodies up front and a potential opportunity to play early, they should finish out very strong across the board on the OL provided they keep winning games.
[Hit THE JUMP for Steve's takes on decommits, M-OSU recruiting battles, and several quick-hitters.]
Goodbye: Antwuan Johnson and Carter Dunaway
While early commitments are more like declaring a current leader these days, I had some hope four-star 2018 OH LB Antwuan Johnson would stick based on his comments after Leonard Taylor's decommitment. Nope.
I look forward to getting back into this recruiting process pic.twitter.com/j8tdxIbcwS
— Antwuan Johnson (@Antwuan21) September 9, 2016
Johnson gave the reason for his decommitment to Maize n Brew's Evan Petzold:
— Evan Petzold (@EvanPetzold) September 9, 2016
Johnson set up a long slate of visits before the season; this looks like another case of a player committing as more of a placeholder than anything else. Michigan is now down to one commit in the 2018 class, Georgia safety Otis Reese. It's far too early in the cycle to get worked up about this stuff.
And, when I was just about done with this post, this broke:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) September 9, 2016
Dunaway's rankings haven't budged from low-three-star despite being a long-time Michigan commit. The only reason this comes as even a slight surprise is his dad played for Bo.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]