"I love it that Ivy League coaches are coming to our camp and Big Ten coaches are coming to our camp. South Florida is coming. We've got about 70 schools that are coming to our camp."
free press jihad
For people complaining about spoilers, I have bad news: they fire the guy. But we won World War II, so we've got that going for us. Unless this is an alternate history and we're all Nazis, but only Michigan State fans believe that because Michigan State fans will believe anyone is a racist if it helps exonerate Will Gholston. Denard: totally racist.
Anyway, I show up briefly. A few reporters show up more extensively, and then there are the players—addressed as a group—and the new athletic director.
This guy's opinion: boy, does that hippie with the blog need a haircut. But his logic… so dashing.
Person Who Identifies Himself As Brian
(And you guys.)
So… right. There are some scattered MGoBlog references, mostly as a reading of the fan zeitgeist. "Never Forget" is referenced because "Never Forget" is always referenced all the time; The Horror is identified as The Horror, and so forth and so on. The blog's permanence relative to most message boards (and even newspapers, which put their stories behind a paywall after a while) seems to have made it the database of record when it comes to how the average fan felt at X point in time, even if the average fan here is not the average fan elsewhere. It's around. Since that's more than anything else can say, its opinion wins by default.
A couple people have asked for more detail about the point in the book where I show up in the flesh. This is after the WMU 2009 press conference, which was the first one post-Free Press story. I've had a couple days to consider the story and have come to the conclusion that it's a misleading, unethical hack job. I am steaming. I go to the press conference to liveblog it.
Afterwards—and in retrospect I can't believe this actually transpired—I go to the front of the room, where Snyder is, and repeatedly ask him if he knows what a countable hour is in an unfriendly fashion. He refuses to answer. The pattern is: I ask, he says he won't respond because I am a "competitor," I ask, he says the same thing, I incredulously ask if he will not defend his article, etc. etc. etc. This is actually broadcast (off-camera but audible) on the MGoBlue stream, which was not turned off after the presser.
I give up on Snyder and am in the process of storming out when I happen on Rosenberg in the little vestibule between the Junge proper and outside. I ask the same thing; Rosenberg responds that he does know what a countable hour is, so I start in on why that wasn't in the article and how realistic it is that a head coach at a major program had been more than doubling the NCAA's allotted maximums for years. He starts asking me my name over and over again, which I ignore in favor of further badgering. Craig Ross, watching this with a combination of bemusement and horror, eventually tells Rosenberg my name. I think this was because he wanted Rosenberg to start saying other things, but you'd have to ask him and he doesn't remember interjecting. So that's lost to history.
I had no idea this was going to be in the book until just before the thing went to print when Bacon emailed me with Rosenberg's version of the event and asked me if I had any corrections, which I did since he remembered me as some wild-eyed nut instead of a wild-eyed nut with very specific questions.
And <poof> like that, he's gone.
As for my bête noir… well now. Revelations about Rosenberg from the book:
- Countable hours was "in the story at some point" but "there were a lot of edits."
- He did not attend a single practice before writing the infamous story in which he declares it "sad" that Michigan is employing a guy to belittle its students. (I found this so implausible when I read it that I double-checked with Bacon about this; he dug up the email he had gotten from Rosenberg as proof.)
- He told multiple Michigan employees that he "hated Bill Martin" and "was going to get him run out of his job."
- He got teary when Michigan fans left nasty reviews of his book on Amazon.
Rosenberg has taken to twitter to call Bacon a "fan" and claim the book is "littered with errors," complaining that Bacon made "almost no attempt to talk to anybody who would contradict his subject's point of view."
How Rosenberg knows this is unknown. Bacon states in the book that he repeatedly tried to talk to Martin, Coleman, Carr, and Brandon but never got anywhere. Certainly Brandon's response to the book—a disingenuous "what book?" issued at the same time he's pressuring the M-Den not to carry it and Bacon has been exiled to Drew Sharp Row—indicates the sort of cooperation the AD is providing the guy.
Meanwhile, the height of irony:
When I asked Rosenberg if they had made any attempt to talk to players with different views, he replied, "Did we keep calling until we got guys to say, 'Hey, it's fine?' No, we didn't."
The difference between Bacon's book—which contains a half-dozen quotes from Rosenberg as it attempts to show both sides of the story—and the Free Press piece is stark. The [REDACTED] has the balls to complain about Bacon's approach to journalism? After the NCAA called the original article exaggerated and misleading? After they took countable hours out of the story? /head explodes
That this guy still has a job is a black mark on the Free Press. That he's still allowed to show up at press conferences is inexplicable. That he has the chutzpah to criticize someone else's journalism is totally expected, because he's just that kind of guy.
Players of all varieties
The only enjoyable parts of the book are the moments when Michigan's players come into focus. I suspect that Bacon soft-pedaled some of the Tate stuff. He comes off as a fairly likeable, if pretty weird, kid. Denard and Devin and Mark Moundros and Ryan Van Bergen and Mike Martin all come off well.
At least we've got that after the last few years. Michigan's players are easy to root for. They don't put MIKE VICK on their eyeblack or fracture skulls or not pay for tattoos or give quotes about how "everybody murders" to the media. They leave all that stuff to the adults.
That feeling you got at the end of the Hoke press conference when Brandon was talking and you thought "Rodriguez was a dead man even before the bowl" is a feeling most of the players had. Bacon, too, which he made more explicit than he did in the book in an appearance on the Huge show yesterday.
Brandon's drawn-out firing process does seem like an unnecessary delay of an already-made decision. The impression Bacon got was the players thought Rodriguez was done, people around the program felt Brandon was hoping for a loss in the bowl game. So cut the cord already.
We don't get much else on the current AD.
The second-worst game ever. Wolverine Historian has digitized the 1995 Purdue game, which was played in miserable conditions and ended 5-0 to the Wolverines:
It's not 2008 Northwestern because the team didn't finish 3-9 and won that game, but it's probably the second-worst game of the last twenty years to attend. I didn't; I was playing Quiz Bowl in high school.
A man after Lloyd's own heart. Don't bother asking incoming freshman OL Jack Miller any uncomfortable questions. His presser-fu is unassailable:
"On the Buckeyes, they're a great program and they will be resilient. But we need to take this opportunity as a team to move forward and keep getting better."
Rich Rodriguez: call this man for pointers.
Heavens to Betsy. Maryland hit with violations essentially identical to those of Michigan:
Maryland self-reported the violations and recommended penalties — which the NCAA has accepted — that will include the loss of 2 ½ hours of the normal 20 hours a week maximum for practices and games. The penalties will be enforced during the 2011 season. Maryland officials confirmed details Friday in response to inquiries. …
"Specifically, 30 minutes of meeting sessions and 30 minutes of practice on Mondays and one hour of weightlifting on Wednesdays were not accurately reported," Maryland said in a May 5 letter to Chris Strobel, NCAA director of enforcement for secondary violations. "During the review it was apparent that the coaches and staff at the time believed those activities were voluntary in nature; however, when reviewed in detail, the institution determined the activities to be mandatory."
Yeah, you read that right: secondary violations. I'm not sure why these are secondary. It seems Michigan got hit with a major violation because its problems were persistent, not isolated, and that that was enough to trigger all the stuff Michigan dealt with the last two offseasons. Here Maryland did almost exactly the same thing and gets almost exactly the same punishment but doesn't get the black mark.
It's mostly important for semantics, but goddamn if the NCAA had hit Michigan with the exact penalties they did but only secondary violations that would have been epic win for the internet in Internet vs. Free Press. Maybe the sensational nature of the original article caused the NCAA investigation and prevented Michigan from self-reporting the results of the audit they'd already done.
Oregon stuff. So… yeah, that thing about the NCAA having to make an inference a fourth-grader could make and this being an important thing for them to do: nevermind all that. Unusually for a dude who received a big check for acting as a "street agent," Lyles has taken the opportunity presented by an NCAA investigation to launch a media blitz.
You know about the Yahoo article. That in and of itself isn't unusual. What's unusual is what happened the next day: instead of recanting after people threatened to burn him at the stake (or offered him dollars) Lyles said more stuff. He called up a local columnist who had called him "scum" and a "slimeball" and offered an extensive interview with quotes like this:
Lyles said he’s willing to fully cooperate with NCAA investigators. Said Lyles: “What did coach Kelly say to the NCAA? What did he say to the administration? That’s going to be a key piece of information for them. I keep things. I don’t throw things away. It bodes well in this circumstance.”
His defense isn't totally unbelievable insofar as it doesn't seem like Lyles is a terrible guy. He's inserted himself as a middleman in a market created because of NCAA restrictions and got some football players to go to some colleges, for which he got paid. If not for NCAA regulations he'd just be a guy doing a job.
But those NCAA regulations do exist and Oregon paid 25k to a representative of their athletic interests who got to act outside said regulations, so they've got to suffer. How much will be fascinating. This isn't an extra benefits case so the USC benchmark doesn't apply.
Throwdown. YELLING IS WARRANTED
Tim Hardaway is fifth on the USA U19s in scoring; they're 5-1 in pool play after avenging a blowout loss to these same Lithuanians in a tourney tuneup. They just lost to Croatia today. Two more games until the quarterfinals.
This is what it sounds like when no one has any idea of anything. If this whole hockey superconference-insofar-as-you-can-call-an-eight-team-conference-that thing comes to fruition and some CCHA teams fold and everyone blames the Big Ten that's going to be annoying. Nebraska fans feel me on this after being blamed for the Big 12's dissolution when there was going to be a Pac-16.
But it might happen. North Dakota is the latest school sporting the initials ND to make noises about it:
UND is having formal discussions about pulling out of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and joining several other schools in creating a new power hockey league, multiple sources have told the Herald. … It is believed that eight teams are involved in the talks to some degree.
UNO, Miami, Notre Dame, and Western Michigan(!) are specifically mentioned in the article. Add UND, CC, DU, and Fortunate Minnesota Team Pretty Much Indistinguishable From The Ones Left Behind and that's an eight-team conference that has a lot of traditional or nouveau powers, no geographical sense at all, no home base, and some chance of keeping pace with the Big Ten.
You've also got flailing WCHA and CCHA remnants trying to figure out how to survive. The WCHA schools might be able to grab Air Force* for an eighth team; the shattered rump of the CCHA would probably grab a handful of Atlantic Hockey schools who want to offer maximum scholarships. The financial viability of the WCHA schools isn't much in question—most have just put a lot of money into infrastructure and hockey is king in Minnesota. The CCHA would be in some trouble, though.
If I was Michigan I'd be rattling my saber at anyone eyeing this new superconference, promising to play any local nonconference games against the teams who don't get raptured up into the Engelstad Conference.
Ugh—I just realized we have two more years of this before the Big Ten even exists.
*["Might" because the conventional wisdom in the hockey community is that priority #1 for AF is being in the same conference as Army and Atlantic Hockey's scholarship restrictions and general lack of behemoths makes them more competitive.]
Barnett shelved. TX TE Chris Barnett was one of Brady Hoke's biggest recruits in the brief window he had to acquire dudes before Signing Day, and he plays a position of desperate need now that Michigan's going all pro-style and stuff. Unfortunately, this does not sound like a guy who is going to be ready to play this fall:
I tore my ACL in early October, and I didn't have surgery for it until December, because like I said, me and my mom, we struggle. We don't have a whole bunch of money. So the injury thing wasn't to the point where I could go get surgery. But I've been working out really hard...I came up on the spring game, and I was 295 [lbs]. Right now, I'm 272. Coach wants me to be 280 -- no [not any] more than 280. But at the same time, I'm getting stronger. I'm crisp [while] running. My knee that I had surgery on still isn't 100%, so I go about 80/85%. But talking to Coach, I still have 2 months [before the season starts] to rehab with them
That sucks in four different ways. Hopefully he makes it back but December surgery plus generally being a freshman seems like a recipe for a redshirt.
Etc.: Bill Connolly reminisces about the 2000 Northwestern game (yes, the 54-51 one). Shorter Andy Staples: watch The Wire, college football coaches. OH DE commit Tom Strobel tells twitter he'll play strongside defensive end and hopes to get up to "at least 270"—if that's by the time he hits campus, whoah. Also, paging Matt Godin to aisle defensive tackle.
This Northwestern-ish blog is updated about every three months but has the most fantastic blog name ever: Bring Your Champions, They're Our Meat. Nik Stauskas is finally loose on the AAU circuit and is impressing with more than his three-ball.
How do you list a home with a waterfall and not include a picture of said waterfall? Boo, Edward Surovell retailers. Boo.
Because I am a modern person there is always time to catch up with twitter when the photographer doesn't need you, so on Saturday I periodically felt awful for Austin Hatch after his life endured a plot twist Lars Von Trier would have rejected as gratuitous. Words fail me in these instances; I'm not supposed to say the one thing everyone else says but here there's not another option.
So… yeah. There is a Caring Bridge site up for Hatch if you'd like to sign his guestbook. If you are the praying sort he's a great target. Michigan is reportedly working with the NCAA to provide whatever help they can. In the past the NCAA has allowed people like Ray Ray McElrathbey to get some help as he took care of his brother, so hopefully they'll allow a fund for Hatch. If that gets set up you will of course be informed.
This was inevitable. When Michigan took a grayshirt commitment from Kentucky safety Jeremy Clark it was inevitable an SEC partisan would take a swing at Michigan for doing so. The inevitable has transpired, so the inevitable defense must as well.
The whole grayshirting issue got dragged into the oversigning conversation because of Bernie Machen and Les Miles's "surprise, you have to move out of the dorm" hijinks with Elliot Porter. The former blasted grayshirting in a slightly confused editorial; the latter was a focus of the Outside The Lines piece that bombed LSU for its practices. It's never been a focus of the internet zealots except insofar as it's a symptom of the larger issue.
Clark knows what the deal is and still finds the grayshirt offer from Michigan preferable to his other options. There's nothing wrong with a mutually agreed-upon grayshirt whether its in the SEC or Big Ten.
Meanwhile in the land of excellent public relations. Ohio State wide receiver James Jackson has become Wayne State wide receiver James Jackson and isn't happy about it:
"They had an oversigning issue," Jackson said. "They had to free up a few scholarships, and coach (Jim) Tressel told me I probably wouldn't play and maybe Ohio State wasn't the place for me."
This quote could not be better designed for SEC fans tired of Oversigning.com, but it's a strange one. If that's the conversation he had and Gene Smith is telling the truth (yeah, yeah, I know) when he says this…
"Our policy is as James Jackson stated: As long as a student-athlete maintains his/her academic standing, behaves appropriately and handles his/her responsibilities, he or she will retain their scholarship. We have no proof of any conversation between he and former head coach Jim Tressel," he said in a statement to The Associated Press.
…then the rest of the article's focus on Jackson's misconception that he had a four-year scholarship is misplaced. What policy did Jackson state? It seems like an important quote related to Smith was omitted from the article.
From the context it seems like Jackson said he could have stayed if he was willing to give up playing time, but then why would he say this bit at the end:
"My main goal coming out of high school was to get a degree from a Division I program," said Jackson, who now attends Wayne State, a Division II school in Michigan. "If I had known they wouldn't keep me in school for four to five years, no matter what, I would have gone somewhere else."
If Tressel said he wasn't going to play and should think about a transfer but Ohio State was willing to sign the scholarship papers if he stuck around, that seems like a reasonable thing to do. The implication in the article is that they wouldn't. But it's never directly stated and it seems that even Jackson said something to the effect that they would have, except then he says they wouldn't. So… great job, Pat Eaton-Robb, you've confused the hell out of everyone.
Ohio State, meanwhile, has an outstanding alibi: from 2002 to 2010 they averaged 20 players per class, tied with Notre Dame for fifth-least amongst BCS schools and behind only the nerd factories at Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Stanford, and Northwestern. If they are having "oversigning issues" everyone is, system fundamentally broken, etc.
Future relevance. Brady Hoke has said Michigan is planning on taking 26 kids in this recruiting class, which is five or six or seven spots more than they currently have. They've only got a couple fifth year seniors they can reasonably give the Firm Handshake, so unless there is a cavalcade of medical issues and other convenient transfers there are going to be some tense conversations that go like this:
BRADY HOKE: So how do you like Michigan despite never playing and never having any prospect of playing and being way too short to ever play?
SLOT RECEIVER: I love it. Angelo's hollandaise sauce, man. I put it on everything. I took a bath in it last night.
BRADY HOKE: /closes Angelo's by fiat
SLOT RECEIVER: And I am very close to getting my degree in astrophysics.
BRADY HOKE: /turns off the stars
If you can't tell, I'm uneasy about this. The system is full of perverse incentives; if the big conferences are really keen on student welfare above all they should move to a system where the only cap is on the number of signees per year, Title IX be damned.
High five! There are three Big Ten teams who can be perfectly happy that former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson has parachuted into Madison to fill the radioactive hole at quarterback that was the only thing standing between the Badgers and breathless, top-five preseason hype. They are the ones who don't have to play Wisconsin this year. Michigan is one of them. (West divisionmates Iowa and Northwestern are the others.)
In the past month we've seen Michigan's schedule go from relatively friendly to large, face-licking dog: Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor exited Ohio State, leaving the Buckeyes without a coach or experienced/not awful option at QB. Michigan State and Nebraska now have to face a souped-up version of the Badgers. If six things go right and Denard can fuse with Al Borges there's a possibility Michigan could get smoked by Wilson in the Big Ten Championship game.
In old news. Michigan has just about blown through its practice time penalties from the jihad:
"We're very close to the end," Brandon said. "We've done a really good job and picked up a lot of hours. We're well ahead of pace, and we're very close to being done."
Presumably they'll get through the remainder by the Western game, and then be in the clear.
Etc.: Chengelis not a fan of mascots. Andy Staples likes the graduate transfer rule. Former Florida linebacker Channing Crowder is all like "I was Terrelle Pryor except not subject to a federal investigation." Michigan State was really bad on passing downs last year. Golf course will allow groups to park for an extra fee, just like everyone said they should last year. Doctor Saturday features Brady Hoke in their "mandate for change" series and is pitch-perfect.
Michigan's athletic department again has an inexplicable, meaninglessly small amount of university support. I wonder what that is.
apropos image via MNB Nation
The media explosion in the aftermath of Tressel's folly has been nigh overwhelming. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who writes about college football who hasn't put finger to keyboard in the aftermath. Even Inside The Hall, an Indiana basketball blog, decided to transcribe Bob Knight's clueless defense of Tressel so they could shake their heads at it. It's kind of a big deal.
Well played, douchebag. Mark Schablach manages to piss off both OSU and Michigan fans in the same piece by laying into Tressel ("might be even worse than other coaches corrupting college athletics") in a fashion irrational even to this Michigan fan at the same time he conflates Michigan's stretching-and-confusion with what seems like a serious, games-will-be-vacated offense (At least Michigan "had fired their cheating coach").
And now… THE COMFY CHAIR! SBN OSU blog Along The Oletangy headlines a two game suspension against MAC teams "Jim Tressel Forced To Take Tough Medicine." Michigan suffered more concrete penalties for the Jihad—at least they lost some practice time. Of course, the NCAA probably isn't going to say "good job, here's an extra year of probation" when they get around to their own discipline.
Only in Ohio. The blacked-out name of the lawyer who tipped Tressel off in April has been revealed: Chris Cicero, a former OSU walk-on. I wonder if he's going to get hammered for trying to help the program. Also:
In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended his law license for one year because of misconduct. The lawyer led others to believe he was having sex with then-Judge Deborah P. O'Neill, who had appointed Cicero to defend a client in a criminal case.
Our old friend. Remember Michael Buckner, the Florida lawyer who seemed to show up in every piece about Michigan's misappropriate stretching and GA sketch? He's back:
"Just looking at it, it may seem a little light, especially in light of the fact Tressel didn't report it to the university within a reasonable period of time," said Michael Buckner, who heads a law firm that helps schools deal with the NCAA.
OUTRAGE. "Disingenuous Tressel Is Wizard At Spinning Empty Words"—a Yahoo piece from something called "The Postgame." They're right about the spinning empty words bit.
OUTRAGE. "No trouble spotting hypocrisy in college sports"—this one is just awful:
And now, our latest offering from a septic tank of a system that's unlikely to be flushed out in our lifetime.
OUT—NEVERMIND, MILQUETOAST. "Tressel report appears damaging"
OUT—ACTUALLY, A REASONABLE QUESTION "Tressel docked, but what does it take for a coach to get fired?"
Retrospective reaffirmation. Mets Maize has one Michigan-related takeaway from Michigan's recent turn under the lights:
Dave Brandon, like any good athletic director should do, showed tremendous leadership by taking the reins and guiding Michigan through a 6-month investigative gauntlet. He answered questions like a political ninja, hired a third-party independent firm to couple with an internal investigation, and reported back to the committee of infractions with a comprehensive review and self-imposed penalties in line with the violations and precedent. This was for stretching. The NCAA ended up adding 1 measly probation year and agreed to take away some of the most damaging charges--something unheard of in terms of appeal.
People complaining that Michigan's approach to their NCAA violations invited more bad press and ended up resulting in stiffer penalties than pretending there was nothing to see here are going to get empiricism in their face over the next six months. I've given Brandon a lot of stick for The Process and the results therein but the whole Identity is a Ceiling thing isn't all downside; he was still pimp throughout the whole process and saved Michigan the OUTRAGE you see above.
Can you imagine anyone associated with the Michigan athletic department saying "I hope he doesn't fire me" when talking about a football coach, joking or not? Bo could have been sitting there* and that wouldn't have happened.
This all banks on the NCAA crafting a punishment that fits the crime here, but I think that's likely given the existence of paper, both the emails sent to Tressel and the forms he signed and the transcripts of the December investigation. The NCAA has way more linking Tressel to a serious offense than they ever had on USC—though that was a more serious offense still—and OSU's pathetic wrist-slap will not help them avoid the penalties they have coming.
*[In a hypothetical world where Bo wouldn't have immediately suspended and possibly killed all six players.]
MORE OUTRAGE. "Lame defense affirms winning is the only thing that matters for Jim Tressel, Ohio State." I mean, right?
SEXY OUTRAGE. "Ohio State mess latest example of college athletics gone wild"
PROTIP: do NOT start looking for humorous "gone wild" pictures by typing in "bears gone wild."
ENTIRELY PREDICTABLE OUTRAGE. Doyel. /wanking motion
OUTRAGE WITH SURPRISING VERBIAGE. Never thought I'd see this word in an H1 on AnnArbor.com: "Ohio State coach Jim Tressel: A fraud, manipulator and image whore." That's actually from the Drew Sharp of Central PA, David Jones, but dang.
METAOUTRAGE. That's Ray Ratto writing a column about the columns that are outraged about Ohio State and their handling of this.
The Free Press Jihad ended with Bruce Feldman quoting people saying it's a "joke," Kirk Herbstreit declaring it a "joke," and the final NCAA word declaring the original lurid descriptions were overblown. The OSU reaction was such that people were writing columns about said reaction the day of. Boring, honest, NCAA-is-serious-business press conferences are so obviously the way to go.
Let's win this NCAA violation contest. "Document" on three.
Old school. Wolverine Historian's putting out a bunch of old Michigan Replay episodes. Here's 1989 Illinois:
The music was not yet in place, unfortunately.
Dolla dolla bill ya'll. Greg Mattison's compensation package isn't public yet but Brandon pops up in an article about pro assistants moving back to college and he's quoted thusly:
Michigan AD Dave Brandon says he's "reasonably sure" Mattison's deal "will surpass anything we've done in the past" for a football assistant.
Step one in Pay That Man His Money has been accomplished, with Beyonce or equivalent hopefully on deck.
Remain calm. Do not be alarmed. Mike DeBord has moved to the Bears, where he is the TE coach, and this guy from the local Tribune made ominous noises on twitter a few days ago:
League source told me #Bears TE coach Mike DeBord's name had been linked to Michigan, where he coached in 2 separate stints.
There's a long way from being "linked" to Michigan and actually employed there, especially when Michigan has assembled its full complement of offensive assistants and still needs two guys on defense. DeBord's never coached anything but OL and TE and Michigan's already got those spots filled.
File under Hoke positives. Hoke's making the rounds on the high school coach rubber chicken circuit and picking up quotes like this:
"Having been here at this conference before, and seeing the previous coaches, you can definitely feel there's a leadership vibe there (with Hoke) that will relate to the hard-working people of Michigan, and I think that message of wanting the Michigan kid is a big thing for the coaches."
Hoke apparently returned his M-issue Blackberry and asked for a phone with one big button on it. People are eating this up. Also:
I thought Rodriguez was a very good coach, an offensive genius. I think it will be different where Brady will recruit Michigan harder and not just go to Florida and California (like Rodriguez), so I think he and Dantonio will have a good battle for a lot of our good kids in Michigan.
Except Our Helmets Have Wings points out that Rodriguez's classes were more Midwest-oriented than his predecessor's. A slight downgrade in numbers from Michigan (due in large part to "it hurts my heart" guy at Renaissance, now fired, and "guy who lives with Gholston" guy at Southeastern, now employed at Michigan State) was offset by Michigan hitting Ohio hard. That probably wasn't a positive—Michigan was not going head to head with OSU for many of those guys. Under Carr their national net brought in better classes than Rodriguez's boatload of okay Ohio recruits.
But it doesn't matter. What matters is what high school coaches think, and they think Brady Hoke is the bee's knees. Michigan had already established a lead for three of the top five players in the state (Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson of Cass and James Ross of OLSM), seems to be in the top two with Dan O'Brien, and should acquire Chris Wormley out of Toledo. Bring those in and that meme is established in the same way Rodriguez Ignores Michigan got started. This is fierce pragmatist talk here: by throwing Rodriguez overboard now the next guy gets a PR boon.
Let the reassurance wash over you. Here's an interview with Mattison:
If you are saying "oh thank God" after watching that you are not alone.
Quarterback future indicated. Rutgers QB Tom Savage is transferring, but the school isn't allowing him to be released to… um… anywhere he wants to go:
…former high school All-American quarterback Tom Savage, who is transferring from Rutgers, has been denied permission to speak to Miami and is appealing the decision, his father said Sunday.
Savage Sr. said his son learned Saturday that Rutgers will not allow him to speak with UM, UF, FSU or Michigan. Rutgers did not give him a reason.
There's no reason to bar him from talking to any of those schools since none of them are future Rutgers opponents*. When PSU did the same thing to Robert Bolden they managed to patch up their differences, but Savage's dad is looking for a lawyer. That's not a marriage that can be saved, so refusing to allow Savage to talk to other schools just seems spiteful.
It's likely moot given Michigan's QB situation—Savage isn't likely to transfer into a spot where he won't start in two years and has to fight with Devin Gardner after that. But it does provide an indication of where QB recruiting is going. Savage is a prototypical pocket statue. They're going after a "dual threat" sort out of Texas, but a dual threat sort who has 400 yards rushing and is currently committed to Purdue. I hope we get him solely for the irony.
*[Miami is, but in 2018. Savage will be long gone by then.]
Michigan director of football operations Scott Draper has resigned. School spokesman Dave Ablauf said Saturday that Draper stepped down to accept another position.
With Brad Labadie and Judy Van Horn already out the door, Ann Vollano is the last one standing. She must feel like she's 80 minutes into a Final Destination movie. Sidenote: if you're wondering which side carries more blame, Van Horn got a similar job at South Carolina. Labadie and presumably Draper won't sniff an athletic department again.
Etc.: Back in Tom Harmon's day the threat of a transfer loomed… a transfer to Tulane. Long profile on Brock Mealer from David Mayo avoids stating any of David Mayo's opinions and is therefore readable.
Sponsorship note! This is going to be ironic given the crabbing a bit later about excessively corporate bits, but we've landed a sponsorship from a new book titled "For Michigan Fans Only" that will run over about the next two weeks. Check it out, see if you're interested, buy a copy or three, and discharge any lingering guilt you may have about not supporting the site.
Podcasting. I put in an appearance on The Michigan Man podcast to talk about the Purdue game, and talked some more new media stuff with Dan Levy of Press Coverage. And yes, we taped a podcast this week that should be up today or tomorrow. It is the angriest podcast.
Defense: we had it. Wolverine Historian's tribute to the mauling '85 defense:
Football with defense now seems like a bizarre anomaly that requires changes to your gameplanning.
Footie V. Congratulations to the men's soccer team, which won its first Big Ten title in 11 years of existence by stomping Penn State 4-1. MGoBlue has video highlights. Soony Saad's goal was a bit of a gift but Meram's two were sweet, and he would have had a hat trick but for a Penn State player pulling a Suarez. The BTN mics picked up the defender incredulously exclaiming "are you KIDDING ME, sir" after the guy had bashed away a certain goal with his forearm—even Rasheed Wallace thinks that's a stretch. BTW, Saad is now the nation's leading scorer with 18 goals.
The NCAA soccer tournament is a 48-team affair where 16 teams are seeded and receive byes; Michigan is the #10 seed and will play the winner of South Florida-Central Florida on Sunday at 2. The game is in Ann Arbor, so pack the place out. If they advance the third round will be at South Carolina or at home if SC is upset by the Coastal Carolina/Duke winner.
From national award winner thing to person at South Carolina. Your unbreakable faith in David Brandon's pimp hand has been further strengthened by the departure of compliance head Judy Van Horn for a job at South Carolina that seems identical to the one she's departing.
Van Horn only appears in the infamous CARA documents occasionally, mostly to gently spar with Draper. Whatever her offenses were they weren't public, and I plead not enough data if you're asking whether or not she should have been gently shown the door. I will say that I am enjoying the public announcements that Person Has Acquired Job You Don't Care About because they remind me of that scene in The Wire where deposed mayor Royce whispers sweet nothings to Clay Davis about staying in line or getting nothing. Don't go against the family.
Horrified Kafkaesque potato-man interlude.
In other Brandon. The Crain's Detroit Business article on Brandon has been kicked around on the message board already but a couple opinion type objects follow on from this:
As part of dealing with the infractions, Brandon plans to operate the athletics program much like he did the corporations he ran for more than two decades, Ann Arbor-based Domino's Pizza Inc. and Livonia-based coupon marketer Valassis Communications Inc.
That includes creating a business plan and bolstering the image. The athletic department is conducting a national search for its first chief marketing officer, and Brandon is looking at where money should be spent on promotion.
"The first thing you need to do is resource properly against the areas that are very important. This is a department that's been under-resourced in terms of marketing muscle and expertise," he said, noting that just three people worked on marketing for UM athletics. The new CMO will add more staff.
"(We will) craft the message a little better in the media in terms of who we are, what's going on here and why it ought to be attractive to people," he said.
I guess that's fine and after the NCAA business it seems like a thorough reshaping of the athletic department is in order, but I'm a bit leery of the direction things have gone so far on the marketing front. I'm not buying a Big Chill shirt because it's got an Arby's logo on it. I'm extremely disappointed that David Brandon's pimp hand has so far spared Special K and his awful, generic gameday music.
The whole point of college athletics these days is a lack of the generic corporate moneygrab that makes professional games sterile experiences—have you been to a Wings game in the last ten years? Part of marketing the program is being actually different. Eroding the wall between Michigan's fusty, old-timey feel and your average AHL game brings a short-term Pavlovian response but hurts the development of long-term obsessives that allow Michigan to avoid two for one Subway promotions even when they're not doing that well.
This is a statement I don't like:
"My job as the quote-unquote CEO of Michigan athletics is to make sure that (the profit and loss statement) is healthy, that we're doing a good job of growing our revenues, that we're managing our costs," he said. "It operates very much like every business I've ever been associated with from the standpoint of what we do and what we need to do to be successful."
His job as the quote unquote CEO of Michigan athletics has zero to do with money. Money is a vehicle via which to graduate students and acquire wins, and in some cases I think the athletic department is sliding too much towards money. I thought the same thing under Martin, FWIW.
Hockey bits. A fuller exploration of what's going on with the hockey team will have to wait until football's over but, man, it's looking like a slightly less nerve-wracking version of last year. Michigan has avoided the ugly .500 start and is sitting at 6-3-3, but they're a last-second goal against Ferris State from splitting every weekend they've had this year save a sweep of Bowling Green. Michigan lost to a terrible version of BG last year so this is some progress. It's a far cry from the rampage they went on at the end of last season.
Making things a bit worse was how the Notre Dame series went down. Michigan was run out of the building Friday in a depressing game where they were outshot badly. This never happens. On Saturday they got down and then got a flood of freaky goals:
Michigan Hockey Net chalked the win up to puck luck and it's hard to disagree when Michigan's last three were some variety of bizarre. Langlais's invisible hockey player job is possibly the weirdest goal I've ever seen.
A lot of people have been muttering about a repeat of last year and it's not hard to see the similarities. Michigan does not have a lot of skill in the forward corps and has to rely on bombs and deflections too much. Only Hagelin brings a consistent look-at-that-guy presence on every shift. The goaltending is okay but not great, and the team seems to lack a shut down defenseman in the mold of a Mitera or a Komisarek.
At least they haven't lost to an awful team yet, and it looks like their schedule has been tough out of the gate—ND and Alaska are 1st and 4th in the league right now and Ferris is okay; even BG is 5-7 overall. UNH is 5-1-3. That Mercyhurst tie is going to rankle all year, though.
Cheese it! The cops! Penn State fans are still convinced that an epic refereeing conspiracy exists to prop up Michigan, and after watching this I'm convinced:
/commits seppuku because of the dishonor
Etc.: The Mathlete has us 50-50 to get to an eighth win before the bowl. Quite a coinflip coming up. Mets Maize on the Purdue game. John Clay might miss the Michigan game, but it won't matter since Wisconsin has two other fine backs.