at least it's not just us?
What is Hoke pointing at?
Option 1: Dick Vitale with stitches on his nose. Deadspin rumors are often just that, but I have it from the guy who was walking ahead of Dickie V when this occurred that the account of announcer meeting glass before the Ohio State game is mostly true. Variations: it happened more like an hour and half (as opposed to just-) before the game, and it was the glass next to the door (not the glass door itself) that transferred Dickie's forward momentum into Dickie's face in much the same way that air wouldn't have. Tirico behind him stood stunned for a moment before he registered Vitale was possibly really hurt. Staff sat him down in a side room at Crisler and then released him to do the broadcast, which given the circumstances I admit is pretty boss. Usefulness of this knowledge to you is minimal unless you were among those particularly annoyed by the inanity of Vitale's color commentary, but it is important if you are to fully appreciate this epic comment by suspected MGoReader "snoop-a-loop":
University of Michigan Emergency Department
Patient: Vitale, Dick 73M
Chief Complaint: "I WALKED INTO A PANE OF LAMINATED SAFETY GLASS! THAT THING WAS SOME OF THE HARDEST GLASS EVER! THERE MUST HAVE BEEN A MALFUNCTIONING SENSOR! COMPLETE REJECTION BABY!"
Option 2: I think he just recognized something and is like "hey that totally reminds me of…
I'm giving Max an epic basketball Hoke point for this photo essay that matches the iconic Fab Five pics to the 2012-'13 team doing the similar things. Judging by how long it took me to match the four above I figure this took quite a while longer than it looks. 100 more points to whoever can find a Game…Blouses from 20 years ago. Closest I can find so far:
Companion piece is GOLBOGM's well-written look at each of the main players (by position) on this year's team up through the Indiana game. He also put together a rundown of the remaining schedules among Big Ten contenders, though it needs an update after last night. Profile says this guy's only had an account for 11 weeks but I've seen him popping up with great comments in various threads, so keep an eye out for the guy with the Hoke RAWR '97 avatar:
LSAClassOf2000 wrapped up Basketball History Week with a comparison of the current team vs. all those since the last national championship squad. Before going on a charting binge he posted a direct statistical comparison of averages which I must front-page:
|Rebounds / Game||35.6||36.4|
|Points Per Game||71.9||77.8|
|Off. Rebound %||31.80%||31.40%|
|Def. Rebound %||68.80%||74.60%|
The mean of 1989+Fisher+Ellerbe+Amaker+Beilein-to-2012 is not a stat (I'm building a new hoops database which I intend to break that up a bit better), but this is how we feel about the basketball team in a nutshell. Free throws and offensive rebounding are sore spots but on par with our typical teams. Where these guys differentiate themselves is they make their shots and win the board battles on defense. Defensive efficiency is down less than offensive efficiency has run off the charts, and the result is 1 more point for every four (total) possessions than we're used to.
I am highly unlikely to devour something unpleasant. These SEC schools with sudden and inexplicable five-star windfalls need to be stopped says AC1997; getting Ole Miss to pee in a cup is harder than it sounds, replies Zone Left. I co-sign the thing about how it's hard for anyone but a journalist with an agenda to uncover evidence—players don't rat, fellow students have no interest in Bartman'ing their own teams, and everybody at the program level has dirt on everybody else. I'll add it's even harder to get a laughably incompetent and profit-motivated NCAA to investigate without tripping over itself, or to sanction to a degree that it's any kind of deterrent.
In this regulatory environment Urban Meyer is technically right in calling out the rest of the conference for its miserly ways. "…I mean we're giving out cars and cash all over the country and you can't match a few grand to a five-star receiver in your backyard?"
Mathlete pointed out yesterday that it's just the top of Mississippi's class that's noticeably different from their historical hauls. I take it as more circumstantial evidence that something was fishy about the top guys, since a "Freeze is just a better recruiter" or "players think Ole Miss is on the up" explanation should have seen a more even distribution of success. There was no across-the-board greater interest in Ole Miss this year among 4-stars, which is the greatest indicator that a program is recruiting at a higher level. Rather they got the same 3-stars they always get, and to that added a ridiculous success rate among the elite of the elite. If this happened naturally I'll eat something unpleasant—let's make it
the sleeve of an MGoShirt if no evidence emerges in the next four years because I'm not sure I want to bet the entire digestive tract on how poorly Ole Miss can cover their tracks a lemon because there's already a tag for that. I'm guessing what happened is like in Blue Chips, where Ole Miss decided to leap into a game they figured everybody else was playing, and got burned by Superman III- slash Office Space-level over-success.
Etc. Primer on Lacrosse opponents. Mock Rock videos—chatster points out that the native dance Sione Houma and the football team are doing is the Haka from New Zealand's Maori, but nobody knows where they got if form—perhaps Russell Crowe is hovering around the program again?
[Hit THE JUMP for the board stuff, and why I am suddenly a huge fan of Michigan's rowing team.]
Me-date. If you're thinking about tearing your ACL, let me give you some advice: skip it and have some ice cream instead. I'm limping around vaguely now and gingerly moving my leg back and forth so that it doesn't get stuck in one position forever*, taking serious painkillers, and falling asleep all the damn time.
That's the main problem. Large parts of the past week that I thought I'd be working have been spent either asleep or doing this:
no srs I'm awake
I thought I was fine when I posted that UV a day after the surgery and then was somewhere between asleep and falling asleep for the next two days straight. Add in two to three hours of gingerly moving the leg around per day and despite things getting better productivity is still low. Bear with me. In my stead Ace and Seth and the Mathlete have been putting in yeoman work.
I'm experimenting with a prescription-painkiller-free day as we speak and it hasn't been too bad. Productivity can only increase from here.
*[That thing your mom said about your face? Yeah, that's apparently true for knees.]
Something something bride before the mall /BOOM SINGIN' MATT MILLEN'D. The Great Dantonio's latest dig:
Up the road in East Lansing, however, Michigan State shrugs off talk about the Wolverines regaining their super power status under Brady Hoke. The Spartans are confident of their own standing and future prospects.
"We're laying in the weeds," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio says with a half smile. "We've beat Michigan the last four years. So where's the threat?"
This proves Dantonio is either A) the boss of this town and isn't afraid to let people know it or B) has passed the denial phase of his Kubler-Ross acceptance that the new boss is the same as the old boss and is settling into anger, with bargaining to come in a year or two. Hopefully this works out as well as The Hecklinski Incident—good name for a sci-fi novel there—did for him. The days where Michigan and Michigan State have anywhere near the same talent level are in the process of ending. Might take another year or two, but if I was MSU I'd make hay now.
How the sausage is made. ESPN has released three videos detailing their rankings process. Given the Mathlete's post earlier today, the fourth one will be entitled "…and then we all ignore all that and pile everyone from the SEC footprint into the top 50" but I appreciate the transparency. ESPN is planning on releasing a 2014 150 in… August. Yeesh.
ESPN says they have no regional dudes at all and farms out a particular set of position groups to scouts who do rankings for everyone at that spot, which does sound good. The Mathlete's methodology is suggestive but could have a systematic issue: since it relies extensively on all-conference teams and there's always an all-conference team even if you suck, ESPN cramming all those players from one region who go to one conference into the top end of their rankings would make them look worse even if they were right. The recent SEC-SEC-SEC business makes it at least plausible that ESPN is right. Adding another level of detail with NFL draft results would help sanity check that.
Poking around 2013 kids. Basketball is, that is. But apparently not Bo Ziegler, who told Inside The Hall that Michigan had not been much of a factor:
On other schools recruiting him hard:
“Pretty much the same schools that you heard about. Providence, Iowa State, Michigan State. Michigan was coming for a minute but I guess they’ve backed off. I’ll probably get a few more looks once we hit the AAU circuit.”
That is probably not a momentary oversight; Michigan has had a lot of time to think about this stuff. John Beilien, Y NO LIKE ZIEGLERS?
Instead, meet two new prospects:
- NJ combo guard Jaren Sina, a consensus four star who ranks in the bottom half of the top 100 everywhere. Sina committed to Alabama a while back before reconsidering. Beilein went out to watch him and the kid seems extremely interested. Pitt, Villanova, and Alabama are his biggest offers at the moment.
- NJ PF/SF Reggie Cameron. You know a guy is a Beilein recruit when he's listed at 6'7" and starts his lists of strengths off with "my jump shot." Other evaluations list him at 6'5" so it's up for debate as to whether he can be a stretch four to give Michigan that Smotrycz option or if he's pretty much a wing and wing only. Dave Telep called him a "hybrid 4-man"($) who plays small forward on offense and guards bigs on D; his stroke was praised. I hope Michigan's done with 6'5" power forwards, but maybe he grows some. Cameron is usually in the 100-150 range on recruiting sites.
Michigan could take both these guys as long as someone goes to the NBA next year, which is a near-certainty. Sina could provide minutes at the one and two, Cameron the three and maybe the four or two.
Meanwhile in the class of 2013, Rivals revamped its basketball rankings for that year. Irvin slid a little to #63; Walton and Donnal rose a little to #72 and #116. Irvin's down six spots, Walton up 15, Donnal up 8.
Ahem. Just going to leave this here.
It's in the store. Consume!
Whoah, whoa-oh oh oh oh. We own Penn State. The halycon era:
You know this already but I was asleep so my tab is still open. ND's Aaron Lynch, who you may remember being terrifying last year, is leaving ND. Bwahaha. Unfortunately, Brian Kelly recruited his balls off on the DL in that class so there's plenty of talent left behind. None of them were quite Lynch, who I remember coming in to the ND-MSU game and running around MSU OL like they were not there. Not having to face him the next three years is a lot like seeing Michael Floyd transfer after his freshman year. Which would have been cool.
Also old: this. Mary Sue Coleman said Michigan wouldn't be putting the Fab Five banners up, causing a twitter hissy from Jalen Rose I can't be bothered to go find again. No school is ever going to put up a banner for a game the NCAA made them vacate. That is a banner that says "congratulations: you technically weren't at the Final Four!"
Surely no one can be surprised by this. The only topic more tired than Fab Five banners is the #1 jersey, and no one's—oh hell, we're talking about this again. For the love of cripes, just offer it to LaQuon Treadwell and let's be done with this. The only thing this Braylon scholarship thing has done is made it so no one wears the number.
Etc.: Freshman RB TJ Yeldon goes ham at Alabama spring game (against the second team D). Denardfluff. I'll probably write more about this at a later juncture, but here's a Smart Football post on the future of the NFL being more shotgun high-tempo stuff. I don't mind a pro-style offense if it's actually a pro-style offense and not what a pro-style offense used to be in 1970. More Smart Football: the monster defense of old and its resurgence.
McGary. McGary DROP. MCGARY MAD. MCGARY SMASH. MCGARY SAY THINGS ABOUT HATERZ THAT IGNORE THE USEFUL SOCIETAL EFFECTS THAT RESULT FROM DISAPPROVING THINGS THAT ARE WACK. BUT THAT OKAY IF MCGARY SMASH.
BURKE ACK. Everyone's on alert after Sam Webb—previously confident—walked that back significantly last night on the premium Scout board. Rivals almost immediately provided a positive counterpoint but I think we all know who's had the better information over the last year or so. Dylan has "strong rumors on both sides of the coin." I'm stocking my bomb shelter.
Burke should hear an official word from the NBA advisory committee in two days. I haven't heard any analyst say he's a first rounder and the strong rumor I got said Burke wouldn't leave unless that's where he was projected; if that's the case we could get an announcement of a return shortly after. Once that date passes April 29th is the deadline. The April 10th date is meaningless.
This is wasting time I could be using buying canned goods.
This is cultural relevance. Via Matt Norlander and Jerry Hinnen, a curiosity left behind in the Kentucky locker room in the aftermath of their national championship:
It was probably inevitable that the end result of the Fab Five is the apotheosis of the one-and-done. Whether that's good or bad is in the eye of the beholder.
I WATCHED ALL-STAR HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL AND SURVIVED. It was a near thing, but I made it. Over the weekend I took in Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III playing in separate games of the ESPN something something classic something, and wondered why I was doing it. I can tell you these things:
- Mitch McGary is tall, but not as tall as some other guys.
- Glenn Robinson III can dunk very well…
- …but had a rough day at the free throw line.
Click through for McGary, who didn't look as good of a prospect in a barely-organized meaningless quasi-scrimmage that even the announcers regularly talked trash about. Hurrah for information.
Robinson looks like he'll be tough to keep off the court. After the game Dave Telep asserted that he and Sam Dekker were overlooked for the McDonald's game. It'll be interesting to see how the minutes shake out. Robinson says he's being looked at for the 2 and 3…
As far as next season goes, Robinson says he's currently putting in extra time on his 3-point shooting and his ball handling. He said the Michigan staff would like to use him as both a small forward and shooting guard next season, meaning he could be relied on to attack the rim off the dribble, distribute and score from deep.
…but I'm betting we see Michigan go with Robinson at the four for at least 15 minutes a game. That will depend on how Hardaway and Stauskas are playing and how comfortable Beilein is with a four who can't shoot threes.
Also a chic pick. Indiana is getting a lot of hype in everyone's way-too-early previews. Someone else getting hype: Michigan. Andy Katz:
The Wolverines will be in the top 10 if Trey Burke returns to school. He should. He would join freshman stud Mitch McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr., and a loaded class that also includes ESPNU 100 recruits Glenn Robinson Jr., and Nik Stauskas. The Wolverines have had a few defections, and that has disrupted a bit of their flow. But John Beilein has figured out the Big Ten, so Michigan will once again be in the mix.
Not to be outdone is Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star:
3. Michigan: Trey Burke is the big key here. If he stays in school, Michigan is loaded considering what it has back and the addition of players like Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. If Burke leaves, I think Michigan slips a few notches here. Losing Douglass and Novak would be bigger if a guy like Burke doesn’t return.
CBS has Michigan #5. Yeesh. I know we're talking Big Expectations next year but a one-seed is not the peak of my personal expectations distribution.
Twosie, the story. The Daily tracks down the man who sold Taylor Lewan his tandem bike:
Hakken asks Lewan where the coeds are going to sit, as he rides around with his friends. Tandem bikes are, after all, romantic.
“No girls are going to ride my twosie,” Lewan says, incredulously, and Hakken laughs again. He's never heard anyone call a tandem that before, but he chooses not to correct Lewan, who makes it clear he’s serious about buying the bike.
It's a story for the ages. In 2055 the most prestigious college football award will be the Taylor Lewan's Twosie, given to the best pair of starting tackles in the country.
Flufftasm. Not Michigan Replay is all "BCS Sugar Bowl champions but that's in the past," and MGoVideo has restored the rightful music that is right:
Reader Matt Stone points out that there's a (smoked) bubble screen around 8:52. Either way that's good—Michigan couldn't defend it at all last year, and never ran it in an effort to loosen up defenses.
Check out the segment on Michigan replacing Molk and Martin if only to hear Ricky Barnum pronounce hungry "hawngry." #doyouspeakflorida.
Talking to Al. I watched about an hour of this at the Glazier Clinic I went to and could have happily done another four:
"He invited me into a room…"
"…the film room."
Ohhhh oh. Oh. Carry on. Michigan Replay should be an hour of this every week. Two.
Overcoming tragedy, he selected extra value meal #3. If Elliott Mealer does end up winning the left guard job, you can ink the inevitable Tom Rinaldi feature in double-underlined ink. I just wonder if he'd like to be Elliott Mealer at this point instead of Overcoming Tragedy Elliott Mealer. Example AA.com headline:
Elliott Mealer overcomes tragedy, becomes leading candidate for starting spot on Michigan's offensive line
Maybe Elliott Mealer wants to be Guy With Mountain Man Beard instead.
Meanwhile, Brock update:
He continues to work out with Barwis three times per week, commuting from Ohio to BarwisMethods in Plymouth, and can now take 23 steps without any kind of support -- canes included.
A weakness! A palpable weakness! Alabama is moving Australian JUCO transfer Jesse Williams from defensive end to nose tackle, where surely he'll be an exploitable liabilit—
Dammit. Why are we playing a team with an entire extra recruiting class to sift through again?
Etc.: If Derrick Nix misses one minute against a real opponent this year for getting arrested for pot I'll eat… well, I'll be surprised. Unless he's got a couple of secret strikes already this will blow over before fall.
M has acquired its Sugar Bowl bling. Point of order: Michigan fans aren't "misinterpreting" Advice Columnist Mark Hollis's Burke-directed tweet. We know it's harmless greeting-card advice. We are mocking Hollis for being a 12-year-old who likes Twilight.
Fab Five. Wolverine Historian continues to feature Fab Five games that officially may not exist anymore:
The inside scoop. Seth Davis did one of those ask-coaches-off-the-record articles that always feature a mix of insight and bitchiness and make for quality reading. The take on Michigan (emphasis mine):
Michigan: The Wolverines are dangerous because they shoot the ball so well and stay within their sets, but they can also lay an egg because they rely so much on threes. You almost have to play small with them because they force you to. If you have a big man, it's hard to guard them because everybody will step out and score. I don't think Tim Hardaway Jr. is a tough kid. He just wants to shoot jumpers. If you have a dominant person inside, you can go right at them because they're not real big. Hardaway has not had the kind of year we were all expecting, but he has an uncanny ability to make threes late even when he's not shooting well. Trey Burke is the best guard in our league, and Jordan Morgan is much better offensively than he was last year. They don't scare you defensively. They'll get after you and compete, but you can run your stuff and score on them.
The section on Ohio State also mentions that they're "probably kicking themselves a little for not taking Trey Burke," and the Wisconsin bit is all about how terrible and awful and disrespectful they are.
Maybe this whole standards thing isn't a huge deal. Remember when some guy said that unconfirmed thing about Brandon saying that Michigan wasn't going to compete with the SEC for things and stuff and would have standard like things and everyone was all like boo boo boo we want to recruit Manninghams even if they like smoking pot, like, forever and ever?
Yeah, that was in the long long ago when Michigan was striking out late in the 2012 class and hadn't secured a top five 2013 class like two weeks into that recruiting cycle. But, like, you know who we lost out to for a couple important guys? Stanford. This Stanford:
Haskins points out that just because a guy plays football doesn't necessarily mean he's physically tough. From a mental side, Shaw maintains the Cardinal's rigorous academic requirements forces the program to get determined people. "To be honest, it's built in for us," he says. "We can look [at] the physical toughness when you watch a kid play, but we're also finding out about that stick-to-it-iveness when we're asking them to re-take tests, take AP courses and make tough decisions to try and get admitted here. That shows dedication, toughness and perseverance."
That's from a long Bruce Feldman piece on Stanford's ridiculous-not-just-for-Stanford recruiting. The Cardinal is proving that you can avoid the flakes and still bring in monster classes. Michigan seems to be doing the same, and as long as Notre Dame isn't swooping in on the guys they want they seem like they'll be able to maintain that over the long haul.
First one, then the other. I've been pining for Urban Meyer's shovel option for a while now. You know, this thing:
It seems like a natural fit for Michigan for multiple reasons: it's just power blocking, which Hoke loves. It forces the defensive end to either cheat down on the pitch or potentially let Denard outside. If Denard makes a bad decision the potential for disaster is low—either he is running around for a small loss (or gain!) because he kept or he's throwing an incomplete pass. The main issue is finding a tight end who can run it, but if Michigan's throwing Hopkins on the field as an H-back sort he's got the chops to make that a viable option.
Once you've got that in the book, you could add bells and whistles like a quick cover-two beater on the edge to give that corner a problem he can't fix:
Michigan did run some run-plus-short-pass concepts like this last year…
…so this might be something to keep an eye on as Borges tries to get the most use out of Denard's legs in year two. Borges loves to add new stuff on the regular; it's 50-50 we see something like the above in 2012.
Speaking of Borges. He talks with Howard Griffith:
Money quote: "I don't want to have an offense with a name" because then people start running clinics on how to defend it.
Unintended consequences. The NCAA's recent adjustment of kickoff rules smacks of a public relations effort to assure people concerned about concussions that football is also concerned. The net impact of slightly changing 2% of a football game is going to be statistically zero when it comes to long term health outcomes, but it says to the world that the NCAA is Doing Something, so it passes.
It won't do much. It might not do anything since the NCAA made a change that seems counterproductive to its goals: it's changed kickoff touchbacks to the 25. This is supposed to encourage returners to take a knee. Instead it may encourage kicking teams to not put it in the endzone.
Florida State has one of the best kickoff specialists in the country, Dustin Hopkins. Last year his 29 touchbacks were a victory. This year some back of the envelope calculations by Tomahawk Nation suggest the Seminoles' optimal strategy on kickoffs from the 35 will be this:
LET'S RECAP - If FSU does indeed ask Hopkins to kick it just a little higher and a little shorter, we can realistically expect him to average the ball around the 2-3 yard line with a hangtime of around 4.6 seconds. This is enough time that the majority of the coverage team will be inside the 25 yard line, with the faster players being somewhere around the 20. One can expect first contact to be made somewhere inside the 15 yard line on average. If the return man dances or does not immediately run full speed after the catch, it could be even worse. It may be a common occurrence for many returns to fail to exceed the 10 yard line. That is epic.
85% of TN readers think that's the way to go. The NCAA probably just made kicking for a touchback a mistake. There's a good chance these new rules go the way of the Hated Clock Rules from about five years back.
Two options: idiot or fabulist. Good lord, Phil Birnbaum points out that the Berri study-type substance on NFL quarterback draft positions…
- Uses a regression to determine "expected" draft position instead of using, you know, draft position.
- Their regression on expected performance does show a correlation between draft position and performance, but it's not statistically significant, so they use that to say "there is no relationship between draft position and performance."
- Tom Brady alone accounts for 14% of the plays from quarterbacks drafted from 150-250.
David Berri is the worst statistician on the planet.
BONUS OHIO STATE SCHOLARSHIP SIGN UPDATE! With Jordan Whiting's transfer to Louisville the only scholarship business major on the team is a kicker.
Etc.: Another rat is poised to jump off Dooley's sinking ship. He's their recruiting coordinator and would be the seventh assistant to leave this offseason if he takes an equivalent position at Nebraska. Michigan NFL combine recap. Molk says things, people take offense, Molk seethes, repeat.
via the always brilliant Prevail and Ride. Warning: cartoon genitalia ahead.
Should the Late Carr Malaise be re-evaluated in light of the fact that USC and Ohio State were cheating on epic scales?
The Horror, 2007 Oregon and 2005 Minnesota still happened, of course. But 2003 and 2006 might look very different to us if USC and OSU hadn’t been quite so stacked—in which case we might see 2005 and 2007 as off years rather than symptoms of a systematic decline.
Yours in Michigan Football Historiography,
Possibly? It's impossible to tell how much of an advantage Ohio State got with its Tats For Everyone program and USC got with its Look, Snoop Dogg(!) program, and the list of knocks against Lloyd Carr's career gets a lot shorter if you remove "could not beat USC or Jim Tressel" from the list.
Carr might be regarded on par with Bo today if he'd flipped some scores in USC Rose Bowls and 2006's Football Armageddon, during which Troy Smith torched Morgan Trent. Troy Smith got a wrist-slap for taking 500 bucks, but given what we know now it seems improbable that was all he did. If he was in the supplemental draft, Michigan plays for a national title with Jake Long and a bizarre dominance of Florida instead of still-drunk-from-last-night Alex Boone and a paralyzing fear of the SEC.
However, while Carr's career might have been truly legendary without Cheatypants Sweatervest and Pete Carroll tag-teaming the NCAA rule book, the degradation at the tail end of his career wouldn't have changed. No one did The Horror to Michigan except Michigan; no one else lost that bumper crop of instate talent and left the program with six offensive linemen and only one primadonna itching to leave between Michigan and total quarterback implosion; no one else provided Michigan zero plausible in-house options in a program that evidently needed one.
HOWEVA HOWEVA, a hypothetical win in one of those Rose Bowls or Football Armageddon might have avoided that fate because it would have caused Carr to retire earlier, avoiding a good chunk of the nastiness comprising the last four years. Sans cheating, Carr probably has two or three more wins that swing public opinion of him from solid B+ to Bo 2.0.
I was having a facebook conversation with a guy I played football with in high school. He played at a moderately successful IA school from a non-BCS conference, and made the comment that "this goes on at every big-time school." It's important to note that he is NOT any kind of an OSU fan, and that when he said "big-time" it was to note that it didn't happen at his school. Now if "this" means the ebay and the tattoos, I don't really care too much. But if "this" refers to raiding the equipment room and the improper benefits, than I'd like to step off my high horse.
I know he's not really in a position to know, and I know neither are you - but please speculate for me. When the Reggie Bush thing broke, everybody said "well that's how USC dominated." When the Cam Newton thing broke, it was "that's how the SEC dominates." Not it's Ohio, and people say the same thing. But at the same time - Rich Rodriguez did convince an awful lot of people from the south to come to Michigan. Most southerners I know bristle when they hear the word "Michigan" just because of the thought of cold. Maurice Clarett and Terrelle Pryor both took official visits to Michigan. Am I just being paranoid when I get nervous about Brady Hoke kicking butt at recruiting?
I say that we just had NCAA investigators pore over our program, brick by brick. I say that similar scandals to the tattoo scandal broke with AJ Green and at UNC without it implicating the institutions as a whole. But I can't help but be a little nervous - do we have anything to worry about? Do all the "big boys" do this kind of thing?
I think the eBay thing in general has started talk about reforming college sports scholarships and restrictions on activities. But if the shadier parts, of agents and boosters, is widespread - if all the major programs have their own Ed Martin - then can college sports as we know it continue to exist as we pretend it does?
Sorry for the long email - please tell me there are no monsters under the bed.
I can't flat out say "there are no monsters under the bed" after the Jihad. During that I repeatedly assured everyone that Michigan's compliance was Serious Business that would have all this stuff amply documented. Instead we got a lot of emails from Ann Vollano to Brad Labadie and zero in return. Things can break down; what we saw during the Jihad was a broken system that needed a revamp. It could have exposed Michigan to something serious if they had recruited a 6'6" sociopath instead of the world's nicest cheetah strapped to a jet engine and pushed out of a plane.
HOWEVA, in the aftermath a large number of people lost their jobs (or sought other opportunities or whatever other euphemism you would prefer—I like "succumbed to gumball addiction"). With Michigan on probation and Dave Brandon acting as new sheriff* things are on lockdown right now as they're ever going to be. When things are on lockdown the worst thing that happens is some kid does something wrong with some agent and gets suspended a la Marcus Ray or AJ Green. (I'm not so sure UNC is going to get off with just their suspensions, FWIW. Wasn't John Blake in some serious dirt?)
As to your larger point, no, I don't think This Happens Everywhere. That Texas walk-on's story demonstrates there are places that are serious about compliance. Here's beloved MGoStoryteller CRex with a local example:
As someone who once helped a football player fix his car, Michigan compliance was so far up my ass there was a blue lot in my lower colon and I almost got my own blue bus stop. The player bought the tie rods and I did the labor since I knew how and had the tools. He paid me for my time in beer and pizza. Compliance jumped all over this and figured out the hourly rate for a mechanic was greater than the cost of the beer and pizza, thus he still owed me money. I attempted to lowball my time estimate for doing the job, they talked to a real mechanic and got the official time estimate for tie rod replacement. They were also unimpressed by the fact I helped all my friends fix their cars in exchange for beer and pizza. So they basically stood over him while he wrote me a check for what they demanded the difference was. They also made him pay my uncle who let us use the lift in his garage.
I tossed the check aside and figured "I might cash this if he gets drafted, maybe". Someone though noticed the money never came out of his account and started calling me about cashing the damn check. This was old school Carr era though.
The next time I worked on his car I sarcastically sent them an invoice (six page writeup for helping him replace two brake pads) "for their records", they crosschecked all my time estimates and sent me back an approval letter and a genuine thank you for the paper...
While it's impossible to prevent local restaurants from giving players extra chicken wings or free cover, there is a level of shadiness that can be effectively regulated. A debate about whether amateurism is ethical is outside the scope of my brain right now because I'm so happy I'm not wearing pants.
*[While it's obvious I'm ambivalent about Brandon these days what with the whole creeping advertisements, night game uniformz, and failure to put Special K's head on a pike two minutes after taking the job, the way he handled the NCAA investigation both during and after is a huge, huge positive. Our athletic director may suffer a curly fries mascot in Michigan Stadium and refer to the department as "I" but…
…it could be so much worse.
Also, video replay in Yost.]
How does Tresselgate (and rumors of systemic NCAA violations) compare to the Fab Five fiasco in terms of sheer magnitude, and in terms of discredit they bring to the university in question?
They're pretty similar. In both you have guys taking extra benefits from guys who may or may not technically be boosters, and in both the violations stretch over some years with multiple players. (With way fewer players on scholarship, four basketball players is approximately equal to the 28 Buckeyes SI say are trading stuff for tats.)
The major differences:
- Tressel lied to the NCAA multiple times; Fisher didn't.
- Michigan fired Fisher immediately and without regret, then went into their Day Of Great Shame routine. Ohio State tried to convince everyone this was worthy of a two game suspension.
- Ohio State had plenty of warning in the public eye from the Clarett accusations and the Smith handshake. Michigan had never brushed up against similar allegations.
I'm guessing Tatgate will be worse from an NCAA standpoint. In the end, Michigan got one year of postseason ban and a one scholarship penalty for four years. If Ohio State gets off with the equivalent they'll be skipping and everyone will be outraged. From a program standpoint, it won't be as bad because Ohio State isn't going to hire Brian Ellerbe. From a shame standpoint, probably worse since at least Michigan didn't go around pretending everything was cool.
You'll know this by the third word but this is a guest post from Johnny of RBUAS, who just popped up and was like "I've got this thing." Here it is.
He came from the internet, just like the rest of them. He was in California in barren gymnasiums, making no-look passes from half court with the audacity of someone who thought he’d be the best one there back when the bus was still idling in the parking lot waiting to depart, even though sometimes he wasn’t.
He was at Michigan last year when it was bad and was supposed to be good and when it wasn’t his team because it wasn’t really anyone’s team. And this year when he stewarded a sinking raft that became a submarine lurking just below the water’s surface.
And he was there in Charlotte with eight seconds left, clapping for the ball with enough intensity to turn carbon to diamonds between his hands. Not out of routine or even because it could be no one else but because he knew exactly where he was going and that he needed to get on with it. He needed only the ball and a chance and pursued it with the sort of maniacal focus that ends with you pulling your head inside your shirt completely when you miss because it is dark in there and calm, or at least calmer than the disorienting, vertiginous return to a reality you thought you had transcended in those brilliant moments.
It was a miss that leaves with it a haunting memory; seconds that play on a loop until you fall asleep and then you see them in your dreams. But sometimes they manifest themselves in the type of theatrical vindication accompanied by a montage and a soaring, orchestral soundtrack or at least a bodacious new haircut. I think, at least.
It's technically over but let's call this an interlude.
I think it was sometime in 2006 but all that matters is that it was years after everything happened that they said didn’t happen. Chris Webber was on The Best Damn Sports Show talking to John Salley and some men with spectacularly gelled hair who had never played basketball professionally. And then Jalen Rose appeared on screen via satellite.
Jalen and Chris existed then as they do now: in an impenetrable nebula with other wealthy people who build bowling alleys in Welsh castles and fill the moats with virgin blood and ride around on hover boards sipping Pterodactyl bone marrow straight from fossils. They were exactly where they told each other they would be.
They were there and I knew that they were there because I could see their bodies, and yet they were still mostly back in Jalen’s Dodge Shadow in jackets that were too big; half baffled that they’d made it, half amused that it had been so easy.
Chris said these things:
“Jay had old, beat up shoes, with holes in ‘em, that he would sit around cleaning with a toothbrush and white shoe polish.”
“You’d get a pizza card every day for five days … but me and Jalen would eat the same pizza, save (the cards), so the next week we could get like 15 pizzas.”
“When we were down to UCLA by 20 at halftime, Jalen came in, and Juwan said something, I might have cried, coach Fisher ain’t say nothing, and we walked right back out on the court.”
“Jalen had a green Dodge Shadow that had no back seat because all it had was speakers in the back, that one of his boys hooked up that probably was going to catch the whole car on fire, and all we would listen to was Scarface.”
“It was the best time of my life.”
When they were in that car they were in orbit, in a way, twisting the world in their palms like a tiny stone they’d found floating on their way to another galaxy. They were there and I think, sort of, they always have been.
Jalen told Bill Simmons, “When media members came into the locker room and they hear that kind of music, they’re looking at us like we’re from another planet.”
In some ways they were. Grotesquely fascinating and, in their most thrilling moments, frighteningly unstoppable. Five kids synchronize to create a monster the country struggles to interpret, let alone fathom. They can only stand and watch and listen to the noise and feel the ground shake beneath them. They were a marauding death squad worthy of a theme song and an action figure, shooting apples off each other’s heads once the curtain was drawn.
And so you can pull the banners down; burn them in an open field while orphans sing hymns around the flame. It happened. Something was there and it sort of isn’t anymore but mostly it is, like getting a tattoo of her name removed after she left you and then really left you. Bubbly, mangled flesh where a life once was. It’s gone except that you never forget the times you opened the door and she was there, just standing there, looking at you, waiting for you to let her in.
Brian’s frustration with Webber is not at all irrational. But I never knew them as something that grew, or simply emerged, and then broke everyone’s heart. I know them only filtered through the tumult and deification. Part of why I’m so capable of appreciating the Fab Five is specifically because I’m so detached. I know them through VHS recordings, retrospectives, and ultimately a reputation not so much for capturing the zeitgeist but for chewing it up and spitting it out unmistakably altered. They existed, somehow, and so that is enough for me. They are a geological force, a museum exhibit, an alien cadaver cryogenically frozen in a remote military base to be studied and dissected. It won nothing except everything that actually matters.
It is like someone saying, “So tell me what it was like when you got electricity.” This is what I know because it has always been. Long ago it was dark when the sun went down and now I plug two metal prongs into a wall and can watch infomercials on a colorful rectangle. Only rather than a lab coat they were wearing black socks and an air of magnetic irreverence. I know only what they became.
This is not that team; it is not any team and I have no idea what it will be and for that reason I love it. It is not peculiar or compellingly flawed or even one of Beilein’s self-effacing, limitation embracing West Virginia teams. It is just a thing that is constantly turning into another thing and we see it happen in Jon Horford moving through the lane in what seems like a single step and in laser-precise backdoor bounce passes. In Tim Hardaway Jr. launching three pointers undaunted by distance or obstruction, knowing only of a force that overcomes his entire body and having no desire to suppress it, and a confidence that builds like a tidal wave in the distance and leaves in its wake snapped umbrellas and a 900-win coach’s emasculated smile after barely managing to make it out of there alive.
It is a team at once starkly pragmatic and gleefully ambitious, a kid posing in the mirror in its dad’s fatigues from Vietnam when no one’s home. It is proud and quietly defiant; it is something where things shouldn’t be. If the Fab Five was a seismic force capable of shifting the earth on its axis, this is a plant growing from the fractured pavement.
They came from the internet, obscure aside from their lineage and some of them, for a time, with hair like members of 60’s British rock bands. They are here now and they will be here and I am watching it happen.
Johnny used to write stuff like this at RBUAS before everything became too depressing. He met Lloyd Carr once because Carr liked what he wrote.