"The face of the operation is Briatore (referred to exclusively in the film by his colleagues and angry, chanting detractors as "Flavio"), an anthropomorphic radish who spends most of his time at QPR plotting to fire all of the managers."
Site stuff. I fixed a few performance issues* and have convinced myself the site is noticeably snappier afterwards. At this point I've knocked out almost all of the low-hanging fruit and am down to things like "serve static content from a cookieless domain" that 1) WTF and 2) don't promise much more than a few percentage points here and there. So… yeah.
Moving on in annual Brian Beats On The Site stuff: I'm also working on—and at this point it's far enough along that I think I can announce it because it will happen—a searchable UFR database. If you want to see all the video I clipped in which Tate Forcier throws the ball on third down, that can happen. Etc. Content over the next few weeks might be a little sparse as I attempt to beat that into submission.
I am still planning a spring game UFR, which is about half done. I totally forgot about converting the file into something I can clip—which is a day-long process, basically—and then converted the wrong file entirely. I am not in midseason form.
Right and just forever. "We Are ND" was begging for this but I didn't realize it until someone put it on the youtubes:
Tying that in with Brady Quinn for Heisman and Jimmy Clausen For Heisman: perfect. Also reason to go back and revisit "we have not said one word about Michigan. We have not talked about their players; we have not talked about their coaches. We'll talk tomorrow." I miss Charlie Weis intensely already.
MGObama. Yes, I just did that. Obama descended upon commencement this weekend and many people were very excited. I wasn't except insofar as being the sort of university where the sitting president drops by to give a commencement speech might help with offensive linemen in the 2011 class. (Priorities, people.) Even so, I did watch the thing so I caught what I'm pretty sure was an MGoBlog reference in the student speaker's address:
As a nation, we have found that changes can bring us together, but they can also tear us apart. We can see our ambivalence in that change here on campus as well. After the horror of a certain football game played here a few years ago, many were thrilled when Michigan hired a coach who would bring a new energy and style of football to our school. But after two seasons, change has been slow [audience laughter] and full of growing pains. [more audience laughter] Today, we must re-examine our views toward change.
Gotta be, right? Alex Marston gets 100 mgopoints.
OHL Draft. It was mostly good news from the annual exercise in subterfuge that is the OHL draft. Michigan's two 2012 commits, Boo Nieves and Connor Carrick, both went in the late rounds to teams that don't have a reputation for attracting high-end talent not already headed for the OHL. Those are pure flier picks, and we should expect to see both at Michigan in a couple years.
Other players of interest:
- Matia Marcantuoni, who supposedly had a deal with Oshawa, fell to 18th after telling OHL teams he would not sign. Kitchener picked him, though, and Kitchener is one of those teams that games the draft all the time. Marcantuoni subsequently announced he would report. It would have been nice to grab the kid, but no one was banking on it.
- D Grant Webermin, who had been talking up Michigan, went to Windsor at the end of the first, and everyone expects he'll report. Webermin was ranked in the 70s by scouting services, so this was the opposite of a reach: guy will sign.
- Kitchener also took D Jacob Trouba in the third round. Trouba has already committed to the NTDP and the third round is late enough to suggest that Trouba—a universally acclaimed top-ten talent—will be a tough sign for Kitchener. I think at this point there's a substantial financial penalty if Trouba were to defect, and if he's going to be in the NTDP for a couple years why bother with the OHL after?
- G Dalton Izyk, a Nieves teammate and high profile 2012 goalie prospect, went in the 11th as well and should be headed to college.
In other hockey recruiting news, ISS's latest top 30 has Merrill just outside the top ten and features him as a "rising" prospect:
Jon Merrill, LD -- USA Under 18
Regarded as one of the best defenseman prospects coming out of the US this year, Merrill looks to have leapfrogged his competition and could be debated as being one of the top three best defensive prospects in the entire draft. Merrill was simply dominant in Belarus and his ability to play in all situations, including running the power play, certainly makes him all the more valuable. Merrill is explosive, gets the puck on net and creates lanes all over the ice. He is effective and reliable defensively and proves to be very difficult to win space against. Scouts are salivating at the chance to add Merrill to their rosters, as he is already a dominant player but still has a lot of room for improvement. This kid is for real.
His coach echoes the praise:
"Merrill was never under the radar. Everyone knows how good of a player Jon Merrill is," Kleinendorst said. "But he really stepped his game up. He probably helped himself more than anybody over there as far as what he did, how he played. He went out and controlled every moment, whether it was with the puck or without it. He saved his best hockey for Belarus, no question. It was almost like he was just waiting for that tournament to start. So what you got to see was what his true potential really was. He contributed as much as anybody."
If he lives up to that hype, Michigan shouldn't experience any dropoff on the blueline despite losing Summers and Kampfer. Still nothing on Moffatt, unfortunately.
Just one more year of this. Donovan Warren, of course, did not get drafted after putting his name in early. This requires damage control from the folks around him who thought entering early was a good idea:
“Every decision is a gamble,” said Warren’s godfather, Mark Carrier, who was hired as the Jets’ defensive line coach this offseason. “I don’t think he regretted it. Obviously, I think he wished things worked out a little bit different for him. But . . . the Michigan he went to wasn’t there anymore. For him to go back, was that going to be more of a burden?”
Maybe this is true. Maybe it is not true. I would just like to reach the point where that is no longer an excuse for anyone, where people leave the program and don't have an easy, program-bashing excuse as to why they didn't get drafted. At some point it's on you, right?
APR, now with slight teeth. The NCAA just officially enacted a few rules changes. Foremost among them is a move to a 68 team tournament, but there are changes of slight interest when it comes to college football academics:
- Endorsed a recommendation that will require football players to complete a minimum of nine credit hours during the fall semester to remain academically eligible for the following season. The board said studies show players who complete at least nine hours in the fall are more likely to be academically eligible in the spring. Players who fail to meet the requirement would have to sit out four games, but could reduce the penalty to two games if they complete 27 credit hours by the end of the next summer session.
- Endorsed a recommendation from the Committee on Academic Performance to eliminate waivers for penalties assessed to Football Bowl Subdivision schools that have players leave school after completing their eligibility and are not academically eligible. That's a problem for players who leave school to attend pre-NFL combine workouts. The board agreed that eliminating the waivers would be an incentive to improve retention and eligibility issues.
There are APR waivers for players who don't graduate after finishing their playing career? Yeesh. I've praised the APR for bringing some accountability to schools but there's still a long way to go. For example, the Bylaw Blog sort of fisked one of the annual "grraaaah NCAA" columns that fruit like morels every March. Point 1 from graaah MSM columnist:
Kentucky’s graduation rate scorecard for its black players for the last six years reads like this: 18, 17, 9, 17, 17, zero. Over the last 10 years, its black player graduation rate has never risen above 29 percent. Its overall graduation rate passed 50 percent only once, in 2001.
I thought this might be cherry-picking the federal graduation rate, which counts eligible transfers against you, but Kentucky's most recent graduation success rate is 31%. More like graduation FAIL rate, amirite? (BONUS: Kentucky's team GPA of just above two is a seven year low.)
Point 2 from Compliance Guy:
Kentucky’s most recent multiyear APR for men’s basketball is 979. That puts them within the top 10% of all Division I basketball programs and above the median for all Division I sports. So by the measure the NCAA uses to determine penalties, Kentucky basketball is not just getting by, rather it is thriving.
WTF? 979? Waivers are making a mockery of the APR. A 925 is supposed to represent a 60% graduation rate. Kentucky is barely clearing half that and they have a 979! While the thing isn't totally toothless—Indiana, Purdue, and Ohio State have all seen their basketball programs lose scholarships—any system that can produce that kind of divergence is broken. Hit that Bylaw Blog post for all the waivers that have been instituted; they make my persistent concern that Michigan might find itself in the redzone laughable.
Tangent: Notice that the two changes above are football programs getting tougher on themselves. Basketball couldn't care less, evidently. The Bylaw Blog gets ornery about that, too.
Etc.: Misopogon's Decimated D Diaries get a shout-out on ESPN. Remember the epic ESPN/SEC deal that would CHANGE COLLEGE SPORTS FOREVER? Yeah, it's basically just a TV deal, one that gives the SEC the same amount of money for the next 15 years, in which time the BTN will grow until it is the size of Cleveland. You don't need me to tell you that Jeff Defran is an idiot and WTKA should can his ass, but Bruce Madej will explain it to you if you want. Michigan will wear throwbacks at the Big Chill.
Yesss. Ace's burgeoning tradition of releasing exciting Spring Game footage of a hot new quarterback comes in two steps. Step 1: video. Step 2: video with Christopher Walken. This one even has the 97-yard touchdown inexplicably omitted from the first video:
The new Shazor. So… yeah, Donovan Warren did not get picked in the NFL draft this year, causing Maize 'n' Brew to dissect his decision. I'm all like "what the hell?" I don't think anyone thought Warren was going in the first round, but to fall out of the draft entirely is a Shazor-like collapse. It's actually worse. Shazor's fall was obvious in retrospect: the guy imploded over the second half of his junior season, failed drug tests, and got tagged with major character issues. All Warren did was run a couple of crappy 40s on gimpy ankles. I'm not sure if you can blame Warren when he was told he'd be a mid-round pick at worst. The advisory board did both Warren and Michigan a major disservice here.
BONUS: Donovan Warren tweets like… um… like there's a cat on his keyboard.
(Side note: Greg Easterbrook fulminating about the advisory board:
This year, the advisory board told Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren he'd be a first-round choice, and told Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead he'd be no lower than a third.
Warren said in announcing his decision to turn pro Sunday that the committee gave him "a broad range, rounds 1 to 3."
"Rounds one to three" is way different than round one. Don't let those facts prevent you from getting your furrow on, yo. The actual facts are pretty damning in this case… why exaggerate?)
Exeunt Morris. Jamie Morris's departure from the athletic department hit the papers yesterday, drawing terse statements from the athletic department and no comment from the people who knew about this a week ago but decided not to tell you.
I don't want to air dirty laundry without cause, but Morris is being tossed around as THE MOLE or held up as a representation of Dave Brandon cleaning house against the Rodriguez resistance. So: Morris was dismissed as a result of some bad decisions about use of an athletic department car and a subsequent attempt to conceal those bad decisions. It doesn't have anything to do with Rodriguez.
If you think it's possible that someone could have skated for a similar offense under Martin (maybe) or Goss (definitely), this is an improvement. Personally, I'm waiting to hear exactly what happened with Michigan's CARA forms—and what happens to the people who failed to file them—before proclaiming the New Era of Accountability nigh.
Morris still plans to be on WTKA this fall with John U Bacon; his takes promise to get more interesting now that he's not employed by the AD.
Auburntron will be ours. Michigan's scoreboards are increasingly outdated in a world of advertising-plastered Godzilla-trons. I would like one Tron, sans advertising, please. Dave Brandon, what say you?
"The reality is those scoreboards are old. They're old technology and they're old."
This is a man who will bring crazy HD replay boards to Michigan stadium, all the better to see Armando Allen stepping out of bounds. The last thing on the hit list: video replay at Yost.
(Catch from mgouser Rush N Attack.)
Somewhat thunderous. We have a final number on the effect of Michigan's boxes on the noise level. Somewhat oddly, it comes from an article on the noise level at Beaver Stadium:
A similar reflected-sound effect was measured at the University of Michigan stadium by architecture professor Mojtaba Navvab. He found that the recent addition of skyboxes there created a wall that reflected sound from lower seats onto the field. That meant an increase of 4 to 5 decibels in on-field noise.
DBs are logarithmic (and base ten) so a 4-5 decibel increase is actually something close to triple(!) the volume. Sort of. A fruitless journey through wikipedia indicates that loudness is a fuzzy concept and an increase in sound pressure does not have a one to one correspondence with the perceived loudness. Until such point as we can blow out the opposing quarterback's eardrums on a critical third down, perception is where it's at. As best I can figure, the luxury box-spurred increase is significant but not game-changing.
Implosion continues apace. Both Detroit papers got hammered over the past six months, with the News falling 10.1 percent and the Free Press 13.3, both considerably in excess of national averages. The web numbers are even more slanted towards the News:
Web traffic has been strong as well. Unique traffic to detnews.com increased 26.4 percent to 4.3 million readers in March compared with a year earlier. Unique visitors to freep.com increased 2.2 percent to 4.7 million, Harshbarger said.
Losing 13 percent of your circulation and gaining two percent on the web is a nasty blow. Extracting a moral from the story is an exercise left to the reader.
(Side note for Mitch Albom: "Uniques" are a wildly varying metric, but in case you're curious Quantcast's guesstimate as to the number of people who visit the Free Press monthly is about 1.3 million. This blog is currently at 10% of that.)
Etc.: Michigan had 23 players in the NHL this year, more than any other college hockey team. College hockey players comprise a third of the league. (HT: Michigan Hockey Net.) Marques Slocum takes his Sprint/Nextel fandom to the Redskins. Fake John Calipari is very convincing. Space Emperor (of Space) gets some pub in Boston.
Programming note: I am headed out of town for the annual approximately week-long Christmas vacation. I'll check in periodically but posts are not likely unless there is major news. I return on the 30th. Update: Tim will be around until Wednesday.
Adios. Donovan Warren is out:
Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren has declared for the NFL draft.
Warren told The Associated Press on Sunday he believes it’s the right time to take his game to the next level.
“I’m confident in my ability,” he said. “I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.”
There was a brief window in which it seemed that Warren would come back because Warren said words to the effect of "I'll probably come back," but at the Bust he said he was "heavily" favoring the NFL and after that it seemed like a matter of time. It was.
While Michigan fans aren't quite as attached to Warren as Tiger fans were to Curtis Granderson…
…the vast seeping hole full of pus and regret he leaves in the secondary has elicited a similar reaction. Justin Turner, now is the time to pupate.
About 14. The thing about 14 teams is at that point it's hardly a conference, it's two conferences with a scheduling agreement and a weird playoff at the end. Two divisions of seven have you face everyone in your division and then just two teams from the other division. We'd go from playing Penn State and everyone else in the other division 75% of the time (there are eight teams in the league that aren't protected rivals and we miss two of them every year) to playing them 29% of the time, and there's no way you can protect a rivalry game in the opposite division without making the situation even worse.
Unless you go to nine or even ten games there's just no way that makes any sense. So then you're trying to coordinate three new schools and take away at least one precious nonconference cupcake and argue which team goes in which division and trying to get eight of eleven votes to approve all this.
There is zero percent chance of this happening.
Syracuse thinks the Big Ten is great… for Boeheim to poop on. Jim Boeheim's opinion of the Big Ten was not glowing 20 years ago:
I guarantee, and you can write a story, Penn State basketball will never be successful in the Big Ten. I will give you my heart if they are. I’m talking ever. Just not going to happen.
The whole discussion came from talking about Miami coming to the Big East and how that saved us [Syracuse] from maybe having to go to the Big Ten. What I said was, there is no way Syracuse [football] could win in the Big Ten or the ACC. And I’m talking Syracuse. And now that Penn State is going, they would have an even lesser chance.
Wonk suggests that Boeheim won't be heading up the "Let's Join The Big Ten" committee any time soon, and that would just about preclude their entry into the conference. Playing Villanova and UConn and all those other schools in the Big East in basketball is more important than anything else. We can scratch them off the list of programs to assimilate.
Missouri, on the other hand, is ready to flirt. First, Missouri's governor—pictured with Willie Nelson—is all like "yeah, we should seriously look at it" about the Big Ten. Second, via The Sports Economist comes a fascinating, candid interview with Missouri's athletic director with some insight into just how much money the Big Ten is raking in:
Mizzou may get approximately $9 million in television revenue, all things being equal, and Texas would be about $12 million. Then Baylor would be around $7.5 million.
That gap is there, but more importantly, let’s take a look at Illinois. We’re not only competing against our league, we’re competing against Illinois. The question is, what is the difference between what Illinois is getting in revenue distribution from the league — that’s television, basically — and what Mizzou is getting? Ours is $9 million. Illinois’ is $21 million.
And maybe we should be giving Jim Delany more credit for the aspects of his job that do not involve speaking to the media. I'd like to cut this answer but it's all interesting so here you go:
Q: What was the sticking point for the Big 12 [creating its own network]?
A: It had to do with revenue distribution and fear of the unknown. The unknown being that a network had never been done with college athletics before. We had heard rumors about the Big Ten getting ready to do it. So various voices in the room were concerned that we were going into uncharted waters. We have this pretty good contract with ABC, ESPN and Fox, and why would we want to give up a sure thing for a speculative deal? By us backing away from that, the Big Ten went forward with that. It was fear of the unknown. We had the same presentation at the same time by CSTV. CSTV had talked to us at the same set of meetings about starting our own network based upon the theory of ESPN Classic. When ESPN Classic was started, everybody said, “Who’s going to watch this? Old video of teams that used to play, 24-7? How is this going to be successful?”
The same people that started ESPN Classic came to us as a league and wanted us to use a similar model to start our own network, based upon this pro forma that had been shown. And we couldn’t come to a consensus. It was pretty frustrating. So we stayed the course and continued the same direction we were, and what we found is we found today that the SEC contract is worth $205 million per year, the Big Ten contract is worth $190 million per year — and both of those leagues share equally — and the Big 12 Conference contract is worth $80 million per year and we don’t share equally. That is a significant gap.
Back to the topic at hand. Missouri prefers to stay where it is:
We need to keep making Mizzou stronger and stronger and making the Big 12 stronger and stronger. We need to keep saying — and we are — proud members of the Big 12 Conference. We’re fortunate to be associated. If you’re asking me personally, my preference would be to do everything you can to strengthen the Big 12. That’s what you’ve got to do.
But given the whole "freakin' Illinois gets more than double what we do from the conference" thing, they'll listen. Given that and the Big Ten's academic attractiveness, which is something certain folk might not be taking totally seriously…
[Former Big 12 commissioner] Kevin Weiberg was quoted as saying this a few days ago in USA Today — he was commenting on the Big Ten — he said, “Rest assured, this will not be about athletics.” Everybody in our world thinks this is about athletics, but it’s not. Conference realignments are always based primarily on academics.
…but that doesn't mean people suggesting schools that have nothing to offer except academics haven't swung too far the other direction.
Anyway, read the whole thing if you're interested in the subject since it's one of the best interviews I've read recently.
Digression about those numbers above. Why isn't the Big Ten picking off successful Big 12 coaches? IE: why is Gary Pinkel still at Mizzou? Though I basically dismissed Braves & Birds' SEC fixation relative to expansion, he does have a point about Big Ten schools' hiring decisions. Minnesota fired its coach and hired a TE coach. Not even a real position coach! Illinois hired Ron Zook. Michigan State hired a .500 Big East coach with two years of head coaching experience. Purdue brought in Danny Hope, coach of Eastern Kentucky. EKU made the playoffs once in his five-year tenure, losing in the first round. There are a couple of coaches in the league who were elevated in trying circumstances—Fitzgerald and Lynch, but the guys before that were elevated internal hires or MAC coaches.
The one actual A-level hire* in the league the last decade or so was Rich Rodriguez—not exactly setting the world on fire—and the transitions that seemed like the best decisions other than that were Wisconsin grabbing Bret Bielema, who had been a superb defensive coordinator at Kansas State for almost a decade, as a coach in waiting, and Jim Tressel's hiring at Ohio State. (Tressel may have been a I-AA coach but he was a guy who'd won multiple national titles.) The overall picture is of the exact opposite sort of thing going on in the SEC.
Evidence: an Outside the Lines bit from Mike Fish detailing the absurd lengths SEC teams have gone to with their coaching hires. Some of them border on the insane, most prominently the huge outlay Tennessee has made to hire an idiot:
Tennessee was so hot to rid itself of Phillip Fulmer after a 5-7 record in 2008 that it paid a $6 million buyout. This came a year after a 10-win season for which Fulmer had received a contract extension. Then, UT hustled to sign a deal with his successor, guaranteeing Kiffin $14.25 million through the 2014 season. Kiffin will be due $7.5 million if he is fired without cause.
That's actually not quite as outrageous as it's framed, as Fish loves to give overall numbers instead of yearly ones so they seem crazier. But at almost $3 million a year for a guy that definitely wasn't going to get that much from anywhere else—IIRC, Washington was the only other school interested—is an unnecessary outlay before you get to the unprecedented money given to the assistants:
The elder Kiffin is the highest-paid assistant in college sports, guaranteed $1.5 million this year. His $300,000 retention bonus alone, due after the season, isn't far from the interim president's annual salary.
Two other Tennessee football assistants, Ed Orgeron ($1.95 million) and Jim Chaney ($1.17 million), are guaranteed more than $3 million between them for the next three seasons.
Again this guy doesn't do us the service of dividing, but Orgeron is making over 600k per year. And yet if you look at the revenue numbers, Big Ten schools aren't far off the SEC folk.
There's a gap here. I'm not saying I'd like Big Ten teams to blow as much money on questionable hires as the SEC does, but surely they can make better stabs at winning coaches that Tim Brewster. Why is Brian Kelly at Notre Dame? Because half of the Big Ten passed him up.
*(Conventionally defined as a guy who's built a top ten-ish program himself, right?)
Bler recession bler. The Wiz digs up an article noting that schools are actually spending money to lobby congress in favor of the freaking BCS:
Politico reports that Purdue and Michigan have spent $515,000 and $415,000 respectively, to lobby this year against a bill that aims to cut federal money for colleges that participate in a Division I-A season without a playoff.
I tend to blame whichever congressman no doubt from Texas or Utah decided that screwing with federal funding for universities because of sports is a great idea more than either university; obviously a bill like that would be a disaster. It's one thing to goof around with an annoyance bill; this is on another level.
Delicious. If you're like me and still harbor bitterness towards former ESPN exec Mark Shapiro for things like "I'd Do Anything," Sports Media Watch's list of the ten worst sports shows of the decade is fantastic. Most of the shows on it were his idea, and most include brilliant quotes from Shapiro like so:
"Stephen A. is ringing a bell. People like him and dislike him, but they still watch him. These days, it’s hard to find a talent who strikes a chord that way" (SBD, 8/1/05). (On a related note, Shapiro reminisced about lobbying for Smith's hiring in '03: "There were 28 people in the room, and they were all vehement: ‘No way, never, never!’ I said, ‘We’ve gotta get this guy in here.'"
In fact, no one wanted to watch a shouty dwarf and Quite Frankly was an epic bomb.
Etc.: Despite rumors about seemingly every viable Michigan assistant coach out there (Corwin Brown, Vance Beford, and Scot Loeffler), Buffalo goes with Cincinnati offensive coordinator and presumptive future ND OC Jeff Quinn to replace Turner Gill. Quinn had been with Kelly forever, so this is good. Van Damme anger fairy. Vada Murray's latest update is excellent.
Quick reminder. If you haven't filled out Toby Hopp's survey about social media in the sports blogosphere, you should even if you never comment/diarize around these parts. It'll help me as I direct the future evolution of the site, and reward/punish the progenitor of the naked man banner, whichever you prefer.
Roundtree, one of about 10 players and staff members to volunteer at The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County’s toy shop for needy families Wednesday, said he hasn’t talked to Smith recently, but Smith missed a team meeting earlier this week and it’s “looking like” he’ll leave.
AA.com even linked it. I feel all legitimate. To restate the previous opinion: losing a highly-rated guy at a position of need is obviously bad. At least we have clarification now that Michigan will be able to bring in a recruit to replace him.
On the other hand. At the same event, Rodriguez cracked the door open for Boubacar Cissoko:
"I'm under the impression he's trying to work his way back," said Wilcher, who speaks to Cissoko a few times each month. "I know he's working hard at school."
Wilcher said Rodriguez should be applauded for at least giving Cissoko an opportunity to potentially rejoin the team.
"I think the most important thing is that Rich Rodriguez has opened up the door to the thought of letting the kid entertain the thought of working his way back," said Wilcher, who played running back for Michigan from 1983-86. "That should be focused on -- how Rich Rodriguez is not going to turn his back, and at least lets you try to crawl back and prove you can get back by going through the proper procedures."
Michigan obviously needs help in the secondary even of the very short and somewhat toasty variety, and if he manages to limp through the rest of this year without getting in a hint of trouble there might be a rewarding comeback story in there. I've gotten a couple of independent, consistent reports that Cissoko's troubles weren't limited to missing class or practice, so he should have a long way to go. I still think he's a longshot to get back on the team and a longer shot to be a contributor, but I'd love to see the guy work through this and stick, if only for his own sake.
Also, Donovan Warren is at least keeping his options open when it comes to a return:
Michigan’s defensive backfield for next year is still in flux. Teammates have raved about freshman Justin Turner, but cornerback Donovan Warren could return after flirting with the NFL. Rodriguez told people last night that Warren is keeping in contact with the coaches while gathering information.
So I'm saying there's a chance.
Kiper == Gladwell. What do you do when Mel Kiper is seemingly wise by rating Zoltan Mesko and Brandon Graham the best available players at their positions but at the same time declaring this:
Redshirt junior guard Steve Schilling is the No. 4 performer in his class at the position, while redshirt junior Obi Ezeh is the No. 5 inside linebacker among those with a year of eligibility remaining.
This isn't even an old rating; Kiper published this list two days ago($). Has anyone ever made it in the NFL after being benched for a walk-on?
Word. A couple of Florida recruits saw a small sports blog dig up photos they posted on MySpace in eighth grade. In one the kid in question is holding a plastic gun and sixteen dollars. In another, he is wearing a bandana and throwing up an ooh scary gang sign. Naturally, this was picked up by the two big sports blogs that strive daily to become Perez Hilton, with Deadspin's Barry Petchesky opining like so:
"Not for nothing have they garnered the "University of Felons" nickname," Deadspin's Barry Petchesky wrote. "I'm not saying a top recruit posing with a gun and $16 is necessarily a crime, but it's not going to change any impressions."
Raise your hand if you thought you were hard in eighth grade. Thought so. SI's Andy Staples does something unusual and fantastic by getting in touch with the two kids to get their side of the story:
Trail said he's heard from plenty of people about the hand gesture in his picture. "That supposed gang sign I'm throwing up? That's where I stay. That's my neighborhood," he said. "I've thrown that up on the field a lot, and no one has said anything." …
Trail said he couldn't believe an adult would scour recruits' social networking pages looking for embarrassing photos. "If you really care about me that much to go on my MySpace to get a picture of me, point blank, get a life," Trail said.
Where is the right place to draw the line here? The City Boyz Inc. social media pictures were newsworthy because they were current photos of Hawkeyes who had just been arrested for credit card fraud doing unsanitary things with large amounts of money. At that point it's reasonable to say "hey, look at this picture of a guy with thousands of dollars in cash." Scouring the internet for pictures of a kid with sixteen dollars and a plastic gun… eh… not so good.
Since I do a lot of media bashing around here, let me praise Andy Staples: he's been consistently useful since his hiring at SI and is a guy I look forward to reading. With Luke Winn diving into Kenpom stats on a regular basis, SI has a great 1-2 punch in college sports.
Etc.: If you have ESPN insider, Bruce Feldman asked me to argue that Notre Dame should have taken a bowl bid this year. Apologies in advance: it's strictly above the belt. Steve Hutchinson and Jake Long make SI's All-Decade team.
The delightful news keeps coming:
Warren, a third-year junior who led Michigan with 4 interceptions this year, has filed paperwork to ask the NFL's underclass advisory committee for his draft status.
He said Thursday their input will play into his decision, but turning pro is "just something that I believe it's just for me."
"I'm definitely, I'd have to say heavily, I like the chances of me coming out," Warren said at Michigan's annual football bust.
BONUS: Vincent Smith's ACL was torn against Ohio State. He'll miss spring practice and may be touchy going into the fall according to someone close to the situation.
No, you don't get a pony. This Notre Dame coaching search is going to go exactly like the last three: everyone is going to get all hyped up about a wide variety of downright laughable names and they'll settle for someone not coaching at a power program. Unfortunately, the guy they "settle" for might be Brian Kelly—who ND Nation is hilariously opposed to—since there are exactly zero other major jobs opening up this year and Kelly has no buyout.
But, still, come on people:
Will Bob Stoops be Notre Dame's next head coach?
No. Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times, I will bet you any amount of money that he will not.
On Nov. 15, the Sun-Times first reported Stoops' interest in the job that will be vacated when Charlie Weis is fired after the Irish's regular-season finale today at Stanford.
The South Bend Tribune, citing a ''university source,'' reported Friday that Stoops is the first choice of ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick.
That goes for you, too, David Haugh of the Tribune. Stoops can be ND's first choice all they want. They won't get him. Is Notre Dame going to pay Weis's huge buyout and somehow raise Stoops's already enormous salary beyond Oklahoma's ability to match it? I mean, look at this contract Stoops just signed:
Football coach Bob Stoops had his contract extended through the 2015 season and will make $3.675 million this coming season. His new contract includes an annual raise of $250,000, a $700,000 stay bonus each July and an additional one-time $800,000 bonus in 2011. If Stoops remains through all seven years, he will make more than $4 million a year in the final five years of the contract and make nearly $5 million in the the 2011 season.
Stoops is second only to Pete Carroll in total compensation and has a six-year contract that makes him virtually impossible to fire. And is Stoops going to be more successful at Notre Dame than he is at a place he's already turned into a national power? You'd have to be a lunatic hung up on the idea that Notre Dame being good 20 years ago is somehow relevant.
Stoops, for the record, has no past connection to Notre Dame, has never described it as his "dream job" and has no apparent reason to leave the lucrative juggernaut he's built in Norman for a gig that's eventually swallowed up three straight coaches with winning records and January bowl games on their resumés.
By my count, Stoops has only publicly denied his interest in ND twice so far -- only eight or nine denials short of Urban Meyer's tally, meaning Stoops will remain in the mix for no good reason for at least another week before Cincinnati's Brian Kelly emerges as the clear frontrunner.
Stoops taking less money—not necessarily a cut, but you have to believe Oklahoma will have the wherewithal to match or better any ND offer—to move from a national power to a program that hasn't contended for a title in over 15 years would be, to say the least, unprecedented.
Teams farther to the right are more effective passing the ball. Teams towards the top pass more. The line is a simple linear regression. The graph takes sacks into account, but not interceptions. This makes Michigan's reticence to throw as much as you might expect given the yardage spread more understandable. I wonder what this would have looked like with David Molk available all year?
Inking David. Here's David Terrell talking about his tattoos:
They hate you! Donovan Warren sort of announced he'd return for his senior season but will apply to the draft, and new cornerback commitment Cullen Christian has a mildly stomach-churning take on that:
Christian said junior Donovan Warren, Michigan's best corner and his host during his official visit last week, spoke of exploring his NFL options this offseason.
"I honestly think that Donovan's going to try to mess around and go to the league," Christian said. "He told me personally he might mess around."
"Mess around" is an odd way to put it, but the upshot: Warren's senior season will hang in the balance until the draft deadline passes. If he gets a second-day grade, he's probably back.
How it went down. Jimmah's black eye, revealed:
Harbaugh. Well… yeah… hopefully this won't be relevant. If Michigan's in the market for a coach in the next few years, though, the #1 topic will be Jim Harbaugh and his stupid, stupid mouth. For what it's worth, Harbaugh's father:
“I think he’s very, very happy at Stanford and Stanford is where he wants it to be,” Jack Harbaugh said. “But I would say this that still Michigan is the place that he loves, the place that for him was his foundation. It’s where, the five years he spent there, his education there at Michigan and his associations with Bo and the other coaches on the staff, that’s the place that he will always call home.”
I'm willing to forgive and forget, should it come to that.
Showcase seeya. Last weekend's College Hockey Showcase is the last one that Michigan will host. Next year's edition will be the last, period. However, this is not the end of Michigan's series against Minnesota and Wisconsin. In fact, there appears to be some sort of official(?) Big Ten conference-type substance on the horizon, as was suggested by Lake State's coach before the season started:
"We have one more year after this and that's it,'' MSU coach Rick Comley said. "I think it's run it's course. Wisconsin did not want to extend the Showcase. They want to get Ohio State involved and they prefer a Big Ten Conference.'' …
"My preference would be to play (Minnesota and Wisconsin) twice (each season),'' said Comley, who is not in favor of a Big Ten league at this point. "I think we could declare a Big Ten champion. It would require a reduced number of CCHA games, which I'm in favor of.''
If that comes about, good. The Showcase has always been a missed opportunity. I've hardly ever attended it because of Thanksgiving, and having virtually no student section for two of the biggest games of the year always struck me as dumb. More games against Minnesota and Wisconsin at less inconvenient times = win. Moving OSU-Michigan to the Saturday after Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a personal disaster.
The most logical way to make an unofficial Big Ten conference would be to drop WCHA/CCHA conference schedules down to 22/20 games—enough to play everyone twice—and use the extra six games for the Big Ten. Michigan would play 20 games in the (hypothetically 11-team) CCHA, 10 against Big Ten opponents (MSU/OSU games would be either Big Ten or CCHA, not both), the GLI, and get two random nonconference games. That would be it except in years in which Michigan goes to Alaska, when they'd have an opportunity to play another two games. Maybe that's too steep a cost in nonconference scheduling. The other option is to not play Michigan State or Ohio State four times and just count those games in both sets of standings, but that would cut out two games against State every year, something that no one wants.
Gladwell bits. So last week I referenced Malcolm Gladwell's disappointing ad hominem directed at a critic of his recent book and, by proxy, a few well-meaning bloggers. Along the way I mentioned David Berri, the doctor of economics who's the best argument going for meathead anti-statheads who want to dismiss the whole enterprise of refining the statistics meathead anti-statheads use constantly.
I bring it up again because—surprise—a bunch of serious sport statisticians have taken a look at Berri's latest work and found it full of holes. By age 24, QB playing time is largely based on performance. Though there is some preference for highly-drafted quarterbacks, it's small relative to performance. I'll let Pro Football Reference provide the requisite sarcasm:
What is clear to me, though, is that performance matters. A lot. I know this is a shocking finding in a performance driven business like the NFL.
Also a shocking finding: David Berri has vastly overstated his case in an effort to get attention. This is catnip for someone like Gladwell who loves pointing out "Outliers" or "The Tipping Point." Sports statistics would be far better off if Berri took an interest in misrepresenting crocheting, and if Gladwell would accept the idea that sometimes people paid huge amounts of money to determine something aren't totally wrong.
(HT: Football Outsiders.)
Etc.: I like Clay Travis, really I do, but his take on the Rodriguez situation—the thesis is Michigan should manipulate the NCAA investigation so that it results in major sanctions, allowing them to fire Rodriguez—is literally the dumbest thing I have ever read about Michigan. Gregg Doyel just wrote something! Drew Sharp exists! This is a meaningful statement! I leave the destruction to Braves & Birds.
In Belichick-related stuffs: John Harbaugh went for a fourth and five with his team trailing that both announcers thought was a must-punt situation, got it, and won the game. Sometimes the right call works out, eh?
Doctor Saturday surveys the latest ham-handed attempt by the BCS to convince you that the BCS isn't stupid. It is amazing how tone-deaf public relations firms are.