TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
free press jihad
Come on, compliance, WTF:
University of Michigan football coaches failed to file the required monthly logs that track how much its players work out and practice, according to an internal audit released today.
The details: according to a university-released report—hey, look, a hyperlink to the primary source so the reader can click through and make his own judgment of the facts—as of May Michigan had not filed the internal paperwork (called CARA) that covers the countable hours for the 2008 season.
This is now fixed, but the report is unclear as to whether the reports have been retroactively submitted or not:
When detail on a concern identified in an audit needs to be provided to a department, a memorandum is sent so the issue can be addressed. In this instance, the audit and a memo went to the athletic department on July 24, 2009. The forms are now turned in on a timely basis. The audit does not identify where the system broke down and it did not identify any other areas of concern with respect to the football program.
The News tried to get a straight answer on that and got a "no comment." While this could be a legitimate inability to answer because of the investigation, it's probably an indication that the 2008 reports don't exist and can't be constructed retroactively for obvious reasons.
And the tail end of the Michigan report has a slightly defensive paragraph about what this all means (emphasis mine):
CARA forms were created by the U-M athletic compliance office and are one tool U-M uses to track athletic activities undertaken by student-athletes and ensure compliance to our own and NCAA rules and regulations. Other tools include regular monitoring and extensive educational programming for athletes, coaches and other personnel affiliated with the program.
It's not a response to anything. As the report makes clear, this was an issue that was internally flagged in May, months before the Free Press story, and officially addressed in June, weeks before that story.
In itself it doesn't mean much… The absence of these logs is not incriminating—they're an internal tool, not something the NCAA requires.
…but it opens the university up to punishment. Extant signed logs and forms, as people inside the program suggested were standard practice, would just about shut the door on anything except complaints from former players. If it's a bunch of he-said-she-said and since the NCAA isn't a court of law they could decide to hand down something. What is still entirely murky.
This does not look good if you're banking on your faith in compliance. If these logs existed they'd be a fantastic way to tell various folks to talk to the documentation. They don't, and whether that's an intentional omission on the part of a nefarious mastermind or mere incompetence on the part of a compliance department that didn't bother to inform the new guy that they had to do this paperwork it is a missed opportunity.
The last bit of the report at suggests that Michigan has some records disputing the allegations, but a compliance department truly on top of their crap would not have let these forms slide even for a year. If there is no paper trail indicating compliance outside of the CARA forms, someone needs to be fired and possibly branded with a scarlet NCAA.
I'm not sure if this is news or not, but it kind of sounds newsy. Sort of.
U-M Receives Notice of Inquiry from NCAA
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman today (Monday, Oct. 26) announced that the University has received a "Notice of Inquiry" from the NCAA, indicating it will continue its investigation of allegations made about the U-M's intercollegiate athletics football program. The investigation is being conducted in cooperation with the University.
Statement from U-M President Mary Sue Coleman
"As I said at the onset of this review, we place the highest importance on the well-being of our student-athletes and the integrity of our program. We continue to work with the NCAA to ensure that a thorough and objective investigation occurs."
Statement from U-M Director of Athletics Bill Martin
"We continue to cooperate with the NCAA on this matter, which is why we reached out to both the Big Ten and the NCAA as soon as we heard the allegations. We remain committed to following both the letter and the intent of the NCAA rules."
I don't think this means anything other than "there is an investigation," but I could be wrong. I'm sort of on the radio (LINDA!) at the moment so can't research if this is serious or not.
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Madness! Madness-type object that's not at midnight goes down tonight at 9PM in Crisler, with doors at 8 and a "barbecue" from 7-8 on the east lawn, which sounds like a good idea except it's mid-October. Dylan has a primer for you. In celebration of the basketball team's achievements and in an attempt to make money, allow me to present MGoBlog's sweet basketball shirt:
It is, as per usual, by Six Zero. I know what you're thinking, guy who took Spanish in high school, but you're wrong: "sofa" is irregular and takes a masculine article. I looked it up three times.
While we're on the basketball team, Big Ten Geeks has a two-part preview of the season that focuses on tempo-free stats. The first part shows what you already know: Beilein's second year was a huge leap forward from his first. They ask this question;
Note that leap goes only to 50th, not the 40th you'd expect from Michigan's tournament seeding or the 32nd-ish you'd expect from their advancement to the second round. I expect the team to improve this year, but I'll be marking improvement from 50th.
The Geeks then attempt to answer their question with an array of tempo-free charts comparing Michigan's first two season under Beilein to West Virginia's first three. It appears the offense can expect another step forward in eFG%, but is probably maxing out in 3FGA/FGA and minimizing TOs as much as humanly possible.
Note: a reader gave me the idea for this shirt but a search of the ever-expanding, world-encompassing inbox does not turn up who it is. If it's you, email me and claim your reward.
Bombshell! This is what passes for the biggest story in the Free Press's world:
That's right: "Mom popped hood so boy could get gun, kill" and Taylor Swift (!!!) get second billing to the Free Press FOIAing the University for grade records—the one thing actually covered by the FERPA law that athletic departments abuse willy-nilly—multiple times and Rodriguez saying this:
I have mentioned publicly several times that the football team last year achieved the highest average GPA ever, and I'd like to set the record straight on that statement. Last fall, in order to boost academic performance, I asked the Academic Success Program for the highest-ever team GPA and challenged the players to beat it. The ASP doesn't track team GPAs, so they provided me with an estimate based on their experience dealing with individual performance. They did not make it clear that the number was just an estimate and not an exact calculation
The bastard. In a TLA, LOL. This
is getting has long been comical.
Wolverines, for real. They're remaking Red Dawn, for some reason, but at least they're doing it with proper respect for wolverines:
For former Michigan players Sean Griffin, Charles Stewart, Darnell Hood and Brandent Englemon, playing high school football players -- for a team named the Wolverines, no less -- in the remake of the 1980's movie "Red Dawn," came, in some respects, almost naturally.
"It's just football," said Griffin, a 2008 U-M graduate and former long snapper.
It's not just football, it's a titanic struggle against communism in a dystopic alternate reality, Sean. Let's get with the program.
I once went to the world's worst staging of any play—they sang "Silent Night" at the end—just because Jamar Adams and Jake Long and Chad Henne were vaguely in it, so I guess I have to go see the remake of Red Dawn now. The dangerous precedents I set.
Happy fun time forever hurray! Rick Leach finally followed through on his promise to bring down the thunder on someone for not being all in for Rich Rodriguez. As you've no doubt already found out because I've been studiously avoiding the topic to the point where Doctor Saturday himself pinged me to inform me about this event, it was Lloyd Freakin' Carr:
This morning former U-M QB Rick Leach dialed up WTKA’s Michigan Insider with Sam Webb and Ira Weintraub to sound off about the report that Rodriguez backed off the claim that the team hit the highest GPA in team history. Leach painted it as another attempt by the media to discredit Rodriguez, paraphrasing: “turning a good story into a bad one.”
But then Leach took aim at former coach Lloyd Carr, asking folks to investigate where and with whom Carr sat at the Iowa game. … Per Leach, this act is effectively waving a “middle finger” at U-M.
I find this wonderful in all ways and love everything forever. Like everyone else who reads a lot of Michigan message boards, I've heard dark stories about Carr and Eastern regent James Stapleton—a guy who thought Brian Ellerbe's firing was racist!—and what some brilliant, anonymous person called the "shadow government" in Ypsilanti, all of the vague beyond the point of usefulness and extremely irritating. I've never found anyone worth citing, even if I maybe kind of believe certain aspects of it. Which I think I do. But I haven't heard anything worth publishing. When and if I do, I'll publish it.
Bracelet note. If you clicked the button on the top right to donate to Phil Brabbs and get yourself a cancer kicker bracelet, there is another step you have to execute: email email@example.com to tell them how many you'd like. Details here. Video blog from Brabbs and wife here.
You can see Hemingway two steps beyond his guy, loping down field. He pulls up, thus turning a potential deep completion into an easy interception. This guy's answer: no, it wasn't Hemingway's fault. If he'd kept going on his route he might have had a chance to break the play up but watch the video; watch how long the safety is just waiting for the ball to come directly to him:
Receiver or no, that is not a good throw. Especially with Odoms hand-wavingly wide open underneath.
Inside vs outside zone. I've struggled to recognize the differences between inside and outside zone plays for a long time now, but Chris Brown (Not That Chris Brown) has illuminated it for me, and for you:
On outside zone plays, the "covered" offensive linemen (those with a defender lined up directly in front of them) will take a little bit more of a lateral first step and try to "reach" the defender -- that is, get their body in position to seal the defender from chasing the ball outside. The running back aims for a point outside the tight end, though he can cut it upfield wherever a seam appears.
Michigan hardly ever gets outside the tight end, or outside the tackle, because defensive ends are coached to get upfield and force the play back inside of them. When they do get outside the tackle it's usually a big gainer. A large number of Michigan's outside zone (or "stretch") plays end up going between the tackle and the center; the guard to that side of the field releases downfield to get a block on a linebacker.
Anyway, this causes people to start flowing fast to the sideline, at which point it's time to hit them with a counter. The simplest zone counter is to just execute the same play with a slightly different goal:
Once the defense begins flowing too fast to the sideline, Wilson will come back to the inside zone. The rules are the same -- covered and uncovered -- except this is more of a drive block as the aiming points are inside. The play often results in a cutback if the defense is flowing fast for the outside zone, but the difference between the outside zone is one of technique, not assignment.
So instead of trying to get around your guy with a reach block and sealing him, you just shove him down the line and have Minor cut behind you.
Here's an a-ha I just had. You know how Michigan was blocking the backside end much of the day? All those must have been inside zone plays. These days unblocked DEs tend to crash down on the backside, turning cutback lanes into minimal gains. Blocking that guy gives your moosebot tailback the opportunity to cut back on the inside zone without getting an unblocked DE in his face.
Etc.: Guess what Pryor's running now? The spread 'n' shred. Also this counter draw play OSU is running is something Michigan should put in the Robinson playbook. You can sign up to support Michigan Stadium's World Cup bid. There is a student protest today at City Hall to fight for State Street's right to party. The Beastie Boys would be proud. Correction: the Beastie Boys 20 years ago would be proud. The current Beastie Boys are very disappointed you're not thinking about Tibet.
YOU ARE ALL TINY, TINY PEOPLE. Emailer sends something titled of "MGoBlog's biggest fan" and I'm like oh boy here we go this will be sort of depressing and then I get this:
Send in the clowns. This quote didn't make it into the Free Press's article about how Michigan State certainly doesn't cheat or nothin':
Dantonio told his players Sunday the importance of a game like this and its meaning is why he prefers to recruit Midwestern players. They tend to appreciate a week like this more than others, he said.
"When you work 85, 90 hours a week to prepare for one single moment, you tend to remember those things," Dantonio said. "This will be no different.
"We'll come ready to play, I can assure you that."
You might say "that's because it didn't exist yet, Brian," to which I say "what is wrong with you and why are you smaller than a seven-week-old child? Be silent before I eat you."
Inverted veer option. Coming up later today I'll mention Indiana's adjustment to the thing I'm calling the "counter dive" that gashed Michigan's first three opponents; the opponent's response requires a response, which I'm sure we'll see this weekend. Smart Football has a terrific look at a different spread look that TCU used to good effect against Clemson, the "inverted veer option":
Instead of reading the backside end you read the guy right in front of your face and shoot it upfield when he hops out on the RB. Pretty cool. Further explanation at Smart Football. I wonder if Michigan might pull this, or something like it, out against Michigan State.
Even better, the insanely comprehensive Wolverine Historian has posted video of the actual play:
Etc.: Shouldn't Tebow sit against LSU and maybe a couple additional games? (Comes with—gasp—link to EDSBS.) Ohio State has a "Woody Hayes Chair in National Security Studies." Former Michigan great Joe O'Donnell has his high school's field named after him.
Word. Stuart Mandel points out something that's been bothering yrs truly:
I've yet to hear a logical explanation for why ESPN has chosen to relentlessly interweave snippets from sappy 15-year-old Dave Matthews songs like Ants Marching into its college football broadcasts. It's true that when I hear that familiar fiddle, I do think of college -- as in, people blasting Under the Table and Dreaming in my freshman dorm hall at 7:30 in the morning -- but not football.
It's hard to think of an act that would be more ill-suited to hype me up for college football than Dave Mathews Band. It is wussy music. Every commercial break should be filled with snippets from Pat Benetar's Heartbreaker:
You're the right kind of sinner, to release my inner fantasy
The invincible winner, and you know that you were born to be
INVINCIBLE WINNER! Anything that sounds poorly translated from the Japanese and would conflate Taylor Potts getting his brain scrambled by Sergio Kindle with sex given the context is an invincible winner indeed.
The Chesney has stopped, though, which means at least one person at ESPN isn't a lizard monster from the fourth dimension whose five senses replace hearing with evil. And thank God for that. Seriously, was that just an opening weekend thing or did ESPN see what they had wrought and repent?
Lines of note. Michigan is –18 against Indiana—vote of confidence. Illinois is –15 against Ohio State, Wisconsin –3 against Michigan State, Notre Dame –7 against Purdue (road game, implies that Michigan should be a 10 point favorite at home given the ND line pending changes in opinion on the two teams and since that's minus Mike Floyd it'll probably be more than ten, though that's obviously a long way off and this entire highly speculative aside is of debatable value), and Penn State a whopping –11 against Iowa, which uh?
This is strange. So Tim Staudt, who writes for the Lansing State Journal, took time out of his column to defend one Rich Rodriguez against the rampant Detroit media. For serious. His target is the recent News story that Friday's UV shrugged at:
Don't football coaches have a right to seek the best mortgage for their homes they can find? The News' argument is that Martin might not fire those coaches if he thinks it's in Michigan's best interests, because maybe they'll end up defaulting on their loans without employment. Another example of why some distrust the media.
That's strange enough. The stranger part: I don't agree with him. The News article was something worth publishing a story on, as it does represent a mild conflict of interest and apparently caught Bill Martin contradicting himself. It did not get splashed across the front page and turn into a national news story. The thing properly frames the importance of its content:
"In the scheme of conflicts of interest, this doesn't seem that major," Lowenstein said.
I guess you could interpret the article's attempt to justify its existence (noting that Martin's ability to make decisions about firing any of the coaches who have loans out could be compromised) negatively, but I didn't and neither should the fanbase at large. If Michigan fans complain about everything we just come off like whiners.
Also the moon landing is fake. Braylon Edwards, meanwhile, on said hunt for witch-type object:
Q. What’s your reaction to the allegations from former Michigan players that Coach Rich Rodriguez required players to work out more than N.C.A.A. rules permit during the off-season?A. I don’t believe that guys are working extra hours. Everybody works hard. For this to happen like this and get out, that’s not the case. I don’t believe it to be the case. I believe that this is an inside plot to get him fired. I went to Michigan. I’ve been to college and everybody works hard.
The only thing left to discover is which message board lunatic Braylon is.
Band stuff. Whenever I write about the band the comments turn into a war zone and people send me emails ranging from "word" to "I have lost all respect for you," and it generally seems not worth it. So I'll refrain from offering further opinions, but I will clarify some old ones and point you to some good work elsewhere.
The clarification: man, I don't know about bands. I don't know if piccolos are loud or quiet or if the band can or should increase the brass. I do know that a lot of different people who do know about bands say that there's no reason the band can't be louder, and I have been around plenty of bands that seem louder than Michigan's. So I don't think it's impossible. It's just about what you want to prioritize.
The other work: Hoover Street Rag pinged both Haithcock and Boerma. There's plenty of news in it, couple with denials that they've decreased emphasis on noise and some indications that the prevalence of piped-in music is beyond what the band was told would occur.
One thing I will note: I hate that "Thunderstruck" plays before the teams runs onto the field. Previously, the crowd chanted "let's go blue" as one of the drummers beat out a slow, menacing beat. I like that better than wishing Michigan Stadium's speaker system didn't suck.
Rodriguez said Monday morning that he wasn't sure if Butler would face further disciplinary action, since the Big East officials working the game did not specify, in writing, the reason for the ejection. Later in the day, though, a Michigan sports information official spoke was told by the Big Ten that Butler was flagged for a flagrant foul, and will not face an automatic suspension. If Butler had been ejected for fighting, he would have been suspended from the first half of the team's next game.
The math here: ejection for fighting = 1/2 of next game. Ejection for flagrant foul = no suspension. Act that should have drawn a flag—not an ejection—but didn't = 1 game.
Look, no one's defending Mouton here. Rodriguez changed his opinion after his initial take:
“It’s not a football act,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not what we’re about. And it hurts the team when you do that, and Jonas understood that. He understood it hurt the team and that you could be penalized.”
No one's claiming he's somehow ennobled the game. But these sorts of things happen in the game all the time and it's idiotic to single out Mouton for punishment when far more dangerous acts have escaped punishment, especially when the only reason people are talking about it is because a coach outside the conference is running down the professionalism of your officials. It's even more bush league to do it on Friday at 4 PM. Jim Delany's talent for terrible PR is unmatched.
More on injuries. The words that came out of Rodriguez's mouth about the injury situation:
“We’ve got a few guys banged up, but I think most of them should be okay,” said Rodriguez. “[Freshman quarterback]Tate [Forcier] bruised his ribs, got the air knocked out of him. The biggest concern is David Molk. He said his foot was bothering him, and it must have been early in the game … first half, whatever. But now it may be even more serious. We’ll know a little more if he broke it or whatever as we go along. That would be a big loss.”
Moosman is expected back this week, said Rodriguez, and would be the next in line at center if Molk couldn’t go, with redshirt freshman Rocko Khoury behind him.
Good that Moosman will be available; hopefully he can just get a half and some new blood can take the rest. Sounds like another light week for Minor, too.
And a tip of the hat to Rodriguez for throwing Tate out there one more time to handoff, thus reassuring 107,000 some people that they didn't need to find a luxury box to jump off of.
Treat it like Muppets. I tried this last year and got nowhere, but I'm with the Daily's Andy Reid on the "It's Great to Be A Michigan Wolverine" cheer:
My family has had season tickets to Michigan football games since I was two years old, and despite the myriad games I have attended, I’ve only heard that chant a select handful of times. Not coincidentally, all of those games are among the best I’ve ever seen.
Iconic Michigan games that deserve an extra bit of special celebration — 1997 Ohio State, 2004 Michigan State, 2005 Penn State.
And that’s the way it should be.
I was pretty surprised when I heard the chant surface during the post-game celebration after Saturday's 45-17 shellacking of Eastern Michigan. Sure, it’s cool when the Wolverines head over to the student section after each win. But the crowd should sing the fight song, chant “Let’s Go Blue” or something — instead of busting out the big guns for nothing.
Word. That chant first existed in the fan consciousness after the '97 Ohio State game and should be held in reserve for actually stirring events, not four-touchdown wins over MAC teams. Also, get off my lawn.
Etc.: Andy Staples has an article on the steep costs of unofficial visits and how officials should be moved up, which I'd be fine with since Michigan is increasingly recruiting kids from far away. Dior Mathis' mom is quoted. Daily continues what's apparently a series of profiles akin to the massive Pahokee piece. This latest is on Trotwood, Ohio, the home of Roy Roundtree, Mike Shaw, and Brandon Moore. Throw the English-Rodriguez postgame handshake onto the Weis-Miles/Carr-Belotti memorial Pile of Awkward, Probably Misleading Handshake Photos. Michigan State has thrown tickets to the Michigan game(!) open to the public. Right now they require you to buy a ticket to another State game; on Wednesday they'll be totally open.
Tate! The people have spoken and MGoUnderground has listened. The Tate shirt is available for purchase.
If you're interested in the details, Enjoy Life pretty much liveblogged his shirt purchase and washing. Everything is AWESOME. He cannot BELIEVE what a deal he got. CONSUME.
I really hope this is just random. If this sign is just random, it's funny. If it's an obscure sexual act—and these days punching BLANK almost always is—it's not:
There is, unfortunately, an Urban Dictionary entry for "Dolphin Punch" but there's only one and it seems obscure enough that unless it's this particularly house/frat that initiated the term they're literally talking about punching dolphins, which I approve of as a ridiculous fashion via which to express your disapproval. [Update: the house had a sign featuring a fist punching an incredulous dolphin, so it was literal. Good work, BOX.] Multiple emailers have mentioned that Drew Sharp—freshly returned to the local airwaves hoorah—spent a lot of time on WDFN the other day bemoaning this sign and others along the various frats and apartment buildings en route to the stadium. An emailer:
Drew Sharp was going on about how there were some "reprehensible" signs that he saw on the way to the game regarding Rosenberg. He said that he talked to unnamed "U-M officials", and was told that the Freep needs to understand that emotions get high when they write on a sensitive subject, and that their inaction was the first time that Sharp was embarrassed by his degree, blah, blah, blah, won't someone think of the children.
…So, I called in. I asked him and Matt Shepard where the signs were. Sharp hemmed and hawed, and it turned out that unsurprisingly, they were on private property (although one of them "might have been on campus"). They hung up on me before I could blast Sharp for what he is, but Jesus. No wonder the print media is dying- this isn't rocket science. Hell, even Shepard understood the First Amendment.
How is it that this man has a job that doesn't involve scrubbing something, but nothing too important?
While we're on the subject of, well, you know, Jay Bilas' latest insider piece argues along these lines:
If the allegations concerning Michigan are true, which would assume that the players making the allegations had a full understanding of what constituted countable and non-countable hours and what constituted voluntary and mandatory workouts, then Michigan is guilty of working too hard on football.
Which is nothing anyone hasn't heard—probably dozens of times—in the last two weeks. But Bilas has toned down the Amaker stuff after the Manny Harris elbow overreaction and remains one of the best analysts (alternatives: Vitale) in college basketball. Maybe Michigan fans can take him off the Enemies List?
And hey guess what now it's time to talk about Notre Dame. What the hell is Charlie Weis 1) talking about and 2) attempting to imply by this:
When Weis was looking at Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier, he said he couldn’t keep track of him because he said he bounced to four high schools in four years.
Forcier transferred from his original high school to Scripps Ranch after his freshman year, and then, you know, played at Scripps Ranch the next three years. Our source on this: Tate Forcier and his interview with Tom for Hail To The Victors 2009. Our hobo quarterback needs to grow a beard and get on the tracks, man, before all the other hobos laugh at him when he says he hasn't been to El Paso.
HOBO #1: You've got to go to El Paso.
FORCIER: I keep hearing that but I've never been. I mostly stick around Scripps Ranch High School because I'm the quarterback there.
HOBO #2: LOL wait till I tell Weis the exact opposite of this.
HOBO #1: Word. I remember our days at Our Lady. Remember what it was like to consider the vague possibility of touching a woman, even if she was the metaphorical embodiment of a religion and not actually, you know, a person?
HOBO #2: No.
HOBO #1: No, me neither.
FORCIER: Yeah… how about that. I'm going to take off, I have to go throw some ridiculously accurate passes. [leaves]
HOBO #1: 40 year mistake, that guy.
Hobo #1 revealed! It's Tommy Kilborn, sometime EDSBS guest columnist:
I certainly respect what the Nevada Wolfpack did, but they just couldn’t hope to keep up with the brilliant scheming by Charlie Weis and his offensive staff. The energy in the stadium was unreal! I saw several alums even stand during plays because they were so excited, though they did sit down quickly and courteously when the ushers came along to settle things down. You can’t blame them, ushers: Charlie Weis football in its full glory has that effect on people.
As always, Kilborn is a brilliant non-parody of Notre Dame fans. NDNation is going to look at you very sternly, Orson.
Speakin' of the hobo. Guy seems to have a good grasp of both train routes and defenses:
Mmmm talky QB porn. Also Rotel ad. I don't think I've ever even seen Rotel available in local supermarkets, but buy anyway. HOBO QB DIRECTS YOU TO.
Etc.: There is now a blog dedicated to Microsoft Paint as it relates to Michigan football. As you might expect, it is spectacular. Future expansion was part of the Michigan Stadium renovation plans. Mustaches for Michigan came off.