this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
As expected, John Merrill has signed with the Devils:
Junior defenseman Jon Merrill has signed with the New Jersey Devils, voiding his final year of eligibility, TSN.com's Bob McKenzie is reporting this morning, and rookie blue liner Jacob Trouba might be next, though there is reason to believe he could return to Ann Arbor.
After a Lidstrom-like freshman year, Merrill was beset by personal issues and a broken vertebra this year. He never really recaptured the thrilling—subtly, anyway—puck possession game he displayed in year one, but after shaking off the rust this year he was a major part of Michigan's turnaround. His loss is pretty bad. Not that Michigan expected to get four years out of him anyway. If my apartment was on an Indian burial ground I'd probably be out, too.
Meanwhile, some guy on twitter hears Trouba will follow him. Spath is holding to his 60-40 stay prediction. Red's departure rage level remains at zero; he seems to think either guy is capable of playing in the big leagues next year.
Evan Allen update. Allen is regarded as something of an OHL flight risk after telling some guy on the internet he was keeping his options open earlier in the year. Some twitter chatter suggests he will indeed find his way to Yost:
Wearing #15 at Michigan next year, so excited to start a new chapter in my life in the fall with the maize and blue
Take it FWIW.
If the inevitable WTF departure is not Allen, something comical will befall someone else over the offseason. We should have a pool. I'm taking Zach Hyman, June 18th, vision quest ends with Hyman learning to fly and leaving for Tibet. I'm not good at pools.
Goodbye beard. Also the rest of Elliott Mealer at winter graduation:
Goodbye to you sir. Michigan suspends Hawthorne, Floyd, and Will Hagerup for the bowl game. A couple people told me this a couple days ago, and they both seemed to think Hagerup would not return. After a dramatically-timed suspension against Ohio State and another for the first four games of 2011, it would be surprising to find out Hagerup had a fourth strike.
But the AD didn't announce Hagerup was gone, so there's probably a last-ditch straight-and-narrow chance he can get back a la Stonum, except hopefully not a la Stonum. Michigan will be fine with Matt Wile for the bowl anyway.
Cornerback, on the other hand… yeah, Floyd spent the year tempting fate but the alternatives there are… uh. Moving Courtney Avery to the outside—probably to field corner since he's a lot smaller than Raymon Taylor—is probably your best one, and then your nickel guy is either Delonte Holowell or Terry Richardson. I'm still not sure that corner environment is any worse than Michigan's options at tailback, but at least the Norfleet-to-corner move makes some sense now. Hopefully it's temporary.
Hawthorne had been limited to special teams this year; his loss isn't impactful.
Now has more time for dancing. MGoVideo caught this oddly-timed dance festival just posted on youtube featuring Floyd:
I rate it an 0.8 Mike Cox.
And so it does not begin. Presenting Michigan's secret weapon in their recruitment of Derrick Green:
Dead period for football begins today and runs through January 3. No on- or off-campus contacts/evals permitted. Calls/email permissible.
Green plans on enrolling early; if he sticks to that plan he should be announcing at the Army game on January 5th, leaving virtually no time for anyone to catch up with announced leader Michigan. Does yoga, is huge.
This trend will probably stop soon. Will Leitch on the way the cable bundling model is going:
Not that many people are going through all the trouble to do this yet, but as cable fees keep going up, and more workarounds can be found (and we haven’t even gotten into pirated feeds), more people will cut the cord. We live in an information-wants-to-be-free age, and we’re still being held down by these media-company gatekeepers. In the real world it’s 2012; in the cable universe, it might as well be 1988. Eventually, this will have to change. It’s too insane and rigged-against-the-consumer for it not to. The problem, of course, is that, like so many capitalists before them, leagues and teams and sports networks are all assuming that it’ll always be like this, that these revenue will keep growing forever and ever, that this golden goose will always keep laying eggs. There are decades upon decades of Darwinian consumer trends that contradict that. In 30 years, we may have all unplugged our cable bundles and be paying a la carte. This is the nightmare situation, but I’m not the first person to suggest we’re living in a cable sports television bubble. Someday it’ll pop. Then, suddenly, we’ll look and think: Why in the world is Maryland in the Big Ten?
Rutgers is even more of an outlier but the point is a good one. At some point the rickety dam keeping all of these channels unnecessarily bundled is going to break, and then having teams that can't fill not-very-big stadiums is not going to be an asset.
Bacon. He considers the PSL increase:
Former Michigan Athletic Director Don Canham sold the experience – and we bought it. Canham was a great marketer, but what impressed me most was what he would not do for money: solicit donors, put advertising on the uniforms or in the stadium, host night games, charge for tours – or ask for a raise. He had already made millions in business, and didn’t feel the need to squeeze more from his alma mater.
The current athletic department now aggressively seeks donors and corporate sponsors. It has brought advertising back to Crisler, in a big way, and has started sneaking advertising into the once-pristine Big House, too. They now charge to host corporate events, wedding receptions, and even school tours, which had been free since the Big House opened in 1927. Heck, until a few years ago, they didn’t even lock the gates during the week.
Michigan’s not alone, of course, and they will tell you it’s the cost of doing business – but what business, exactly? When current Athletic Director Dave Brandon said on “60 Minutes” that the “business model is broken” – what he failed to grasp was that it’s “broken” because it was never intended to be a business in the first place. After all, what business doesn’t have to pay shareholders, partners, owners, taxes, or the star attractions, the players and the band?
Raise your hand if you're sick of being told you can rent out the Big House for a wedding. That is everyone except the guy who emailed me pictures of his Michigan Stadium wedding over the summer in case I wanted to post them, which seemed like an awfully mean thing to do to a guy.
Brandon clearly sees the lack of advertising in the stadium as an annoyance, and has put it in anyway: just because the blaring thing trying to market something is a wedding or Michigan's facebook page doesn't mean it's not advertising. By pushing the boundaries wherever he can, Brandon indicates where he'd like to take the Big House experience if not faced with a potential fan revolt.
Bacon makes a great point: it's to the point that whenever you're putting down your money you feel like kind of an idiot for spending it. Thus the multiple "I bet I can scalp for cheap" projects on the internet and the regular stories about how you can get into most Michigan State games for two dollars or the Big Ten Championship for ten.
Speaking of: College Football Is This Other Thing post using Wall Street as the other thing is creepily accurate.
The Guys Running The Big Ten are Bain Capital
Step 1: Take over asset. Step 2: Exploit that asset with no regard for long-term consequences. Step 3: Laugh, buy a bigger summer house or a dressage horse or something.
In the Big Ten's case the dressage horse is a fancy building for a sport that brings in no revenue.
Yes please return. This will help the floundering hockey team:
Michigan coach Billy Powers on WTKA: "There's a good chance we could see (Merrill) immediately following the holidays."
I'm not holding out much hope for the GLI with Trouba at the World Juniors, and by the time Merrill makes it back Michigan's fate may already be sealed. Michigan is currently 36th in the RPI and would have to win 75% of their remaining games to get into the top 20, where a bid is vaguely possible. Either they rip off a streak for the ages starting right now or it's conference tourney or bust.
Etc.: can Rob Parker please stop existing now? On TV, I mean. He can remain in existence as long as he is not given a platform to express his thought-type-substances to the masses.
He fractured a vertebra against Windsor:
Michigan defenseman Jon Merrill suffered a slight neck fracture during the team's exhibition game with Windsor on Tuesday, and will miss approximately six weeks, according to NorthJersey.com's New Jersey Devils blog.
Merrill's NHL rights are held by the New Jersey Devils. The blog post was quoting Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, who said he spoke to Merrill.
Merrill was injured on a hit from behind into the boards during Tuesday's game.
“It’s nothing that needs surgery,” Lamoriello was quoted as saying. “It’s just needs time to heal. But I spoke to him today and he’s doing fine.”
That's not good, and means that all of the Serville/Clare/Chiasson group will skate until he's back.
Help Colt. Former Michigan kicker Jeff DelVerne has a four-year old kid with a brain tumor. They're having a golf scramble/lunch/silent auction on September 15th in Ottawa Lake. Click the flyer at right for a bigger version with details; RSVPs are requested by September 1st.
You can also provide direct help here.
Well what was the point of that then? As you may have spotted on the message board, Michigan has updated its roster for fall and changed a large number of the weights they just issued to the media in Chicago. For example, Willie Henry is now 314 pounds, up from 302, and seems all but certainly destined to be a nose tackle down the road. Other notable changes:
- Terry Richardson is +8 to 162, which is better but still too small to see the field.
- RJS is +7 to 213, which ditto.
- Mario Ojemudia is vaguely plausible at 231 (+8).
- Ben Braden is down 11 to 308.
- Chris Wormley is +11 to 279, i.e. one pound more than Craig Roh.
- Ricardo Miller is down to 226 from 234 last year.
Either Willie Henry's high school weights were massively outdated or he's put on a lot of weight he'll have to reshape over the next year or two. It's probably a combo. Meanwhile, the slight Chris Wormley redshirts just evaporated.
Who likes touchdowns? You do.
You: don't talk to anyone. As Heiko noted yesterday, the proverbial Fort is back and in full effect:
Michigan's athletic department has made a few changes regarding media access for the upcoming season:
- Players' family members cannot be interviewed without permission from the athletic department.
- Freshmen will be withheld from media day.
- Practice will be closed to all media.
When asked why these changes were being made, an athletic department spokesman said "are you stepping to the man?" and delivered a Degeneration X crotch chop in the general direction of the media.
This is probably good for the site since it relies less on that whole "talking to people" thing—gross—than traditional media, but as a fan I'm disappointed. Ohio State is taking the opposite tack, letting media into dang near anything. Eleven Warriors is bringing back observations like this…
Day Two of Urban Meyer's first fall camp at Ohio State may have been the best offensive practice since his arrival. Quarterback Braxton Miller delivered the goods and wide receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer finally looked like the skill position players Meyer offenses always covet.
Another bright spot has been the emergence of Meyer's first recruiting class. The two-deep is littered with freshmen with everything pointing to several playing Sept. 1.
…and Michigan media is going to recycle press conference quotes until there's a game. Ohio State even signed up for the ESPNU show that's essentially college Hard Knocks, a prospect that caused several Michigan athletic department staffers to expire from massive cerebral hemorrhages when they heard the news and made the mistake of thinking about having cameras at practice. I'm openly dreading this upcoming Mott practice thing since it's just going to be 90 minutes of punting drills again.
This is of course fine as long as Michigan wins football games, but it's just another way in which it feels like the program feels its fans are not part of the team.
CAMERAS AT PRACTICE /dozens die Doug Karsch and his weird hair wisp bring you the officially-sanctioned version of what went on inside said Fort:
Within, we find out that:
- Michigan is playing Alabama
- This is fall camp
- They have sleds
- The practice jerseys are even more ADIDAS
- I'm sorry, I forgot what I was saying.
Coming soon: no talking to former players either. But before that happens, TTB catches up with Troy Woolfolk:
The main difference between the coaching staffs is that Coach Hokestresses physicality. We would do drills that had nothing to do with football, but just to see the toughness in the player. We'd do this one drill where there was just this towel on a mat. And at the beginning there're two people holding it, and one person had to eventually take it from the other person. It gets really rough down there; people get bloody noses and stuff. It teaches you into becoming a man and how to hold yours. . . . [If Coach Hoke came to Michigan in 2008], we probably would have won a National Championship in 2011."
Jake Ryan is his pick for a breakout player this year.
Yes anonymous snark. Athlon Sports takes up the Sporting News baton by publishing anonyomous coaches' takes on their conferencemates. These are usually great. I mean:
“I hated to see the Zooker get let go last season, but you could see it coming."
My assumption remains that all of these come from Joe Tiller. Unfortunately, the Michigan one is really boring.
Gardner WR Gardner WR Gardner WRRRRR. Apparently I'm naming my Roomba "Gardner." Anyway, WR hype is collected by Nick Baumgardner:
"He's a great athlete, I feel like he could play anywhere and he could probably take my spot if he tried," Michigan senior safety Jordan Kovacs said. "He's a natural athlete, and if they play him at receiver, I'm sure he'll be pretty good.
"Wherever he plays, he's going to make big plays."
This is going to be a fascinating subplot. Here's hoping he's ridiculously good. That probably goes without saying.
Deathborg pairing is go. Michael Spath talks to Billy Powers about Jon Merrill's return and comes back with news about who his partner will be to start. It will be Trouba:
"We have some very nice pieces to work with this season, and if those two get together early, and it's a pair we really like, you could see them stick together for most of the year," Powers said. "It's not set in stone, but we like to have a veteran guy with a young guy and that's a pair you could really see emerging into something special."
If Merrill manages to maintain his form from his 6-10 games and avoids the slide that he suffered towards the end of the year, that will be a killer pairing. Now if Red would only ride it like it was an intergalactic space donkey. If that works out like you think it might, those guy should be 30 minutes a night players.
In other hockey news, new 2015 commit Brendan Warren makes me feel old by being born the year I graduated from high school. He's the usual: supposed NTDP lock who may or may not arrive the high end prospect he's expected to be.
He's a top seven guy. Trey Burke finishes seventh in a CBS Sports poll that asked college coaches "if you could add any one player to your team for next season, who would it be?"
- Indiana sophomore Cody Zeller: 35 percent
- UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad: 12 percent
- Ohio State junior Aaron Craft: 9 percent
- Creighton junior Doug McDermott: 9 percent
- Murray State senior Isaiah Canaan: 7 percent
- Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel: 7 percent
- Michigan sophomore Trey Burke: 5 percent
Impressive company. I'm a little surprised to see Aaron Craft in third place, but I'm telling you guys who can affect the game without using possession are super valuable. That's another reason to get excited about Zak Irvin, who sounds like a lockdown perimeter defender.
BONUS: updated rankings have started to come out. Scout relents and moves Irvin into their top 100 at 62; Walton is 43 and Donnal 80. IIRC both of the latter guys are essentially static. MaxPreps has close to identical rankings of Walton (42) and Donnal (73) but Irvin is near five-star status for them at 26. Both ESPN and Rivals have repeatedly praised Walton and Irvin this summer, so bumps are expected when those services debut new rankings.
The "W" stands for "I put no effort into this, not even figuring out what W stands for." Apparently both teams in the Wisconsin-Nebraska game this fall are going to look like they're wearing crappy UTL knockoffs. Nebraska's uniforms were pretty meh but Wisconsin's are self-parodying:
I don't think that's electrical tape but it could be. Best UW take: "They're the uniform equivalent of scheduling Wofford."
Etc.: Jerald Robinson pleads to his minor destruction of property thing. UMHoops has scouting video of Derrick Walton's 16/13/7 performance in the Adidas 64 championship game. Slovenia! Has anyone noticed that the #6 team in the country according to the coaches' poll has 70 scholarship players? Also, 2012 USC as the overhyped 2008 Georgia team.
Johnny talked with me this morning and indicated he'll be coming back," Berenson said Monday. "He definitely had some dialogue with New Jersey. Jon realized he only played half of the season and he wants to be ready when he makes the move. He wants to be competing for an NHL job when he does. He doesn't want to be playing in the minors. I think it's the right thing for him.
That should end Michigan Hockey Summer, leaving them intact enough on defense despite the bizarre defection of Connor Carrick. A lineup of…
- Clare/Serville/Chiasson blender
…is pretty damn good. Chris Brown's absence will be felt, unfortunately.
I really wish you hadn't asked me about that thing, you know, that
I know let's talk about bunnies
I like bunnies they are fun
sometimes I call them funnies
But what will actually happen to Penn State? This space has talked at length about what should happen to Penn State, but what actually will is an open question. NCAA president Mark Emmert certainly made it sound like something is coming down the pipe in an interview with PBS, because, yeah, PBS!
"This is completely different than an impermissible benefits scandal like (what) happened at SMU, or anything else we've dealt with," Emmert told Smiley. "This is as systemic a cultural problem as it is a football problem. There have been people that said this wasn't a football scandal.
"Well, it was more than a football scandal, much more than a football scandal. It was that but much more. And we'll have to figure out exactly what the right penalties are. I don't know that past precedent makes particularly good sense in this case, because it's really an unprecedented problem."
He said that after refusing to dismiss the application of the death penalty out of hand. So… there will be some sort of action. Michael Buckner has been quoted…
"Even though there's no authority under the [NCAA manual], I could see President Emmert still proposing to do something," said Michael Buckner, a Florida-based attorney who specializes in sports law. "I could see some kind of sanctions, and Penn State would be hard-pressed to fight it. Imagine Penn State trying to argue that the NCAA doesn't have the authority in the realm of public pressure?"
…stuff is going down.
The Bylaw Blog points out that the NCAA is in a lose-lose situation here, what with New York Times columnists blasting it and demanding Penn State's head on a platter, an advocacy group for athletes has announced it would like Penn State players to be able to transfer without penalty—which everyone learned was automatic when postseason bans got handed down in the USC case—and people of Facebook are not sane.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE!
You will now think "ERMAHGERD" whenever Denard does a Denard thing this fall.
Michigan hockey summer: the funnest summer. I think we thought we were out of the woods after losing Chris Brown to Phoenix and Connor Carrick to a bout of insanity, but it seems like Merrill is not 100% to return based on this NHL.com article:
"I'm happy with the way my game has developed," Merrill said. "Everything they do at Michigan, I stand by, and have no complaints. If I go back to school, I can develop in a great university and if I leave, I'm in a great organization like New Jersey; so it's a win-win."
Michigan coach Red Berenson, who left Michigan after his junior year to play with the Montreal Canadiens, has traditionally encouraged players to remain in school rather than signing minor-league contracts. The Devils don't seem to be pressing Merrill on the issue.
"It's undecided right now," Lamoriello said. "He's here for the week and we'll sit down at the end of the week."
It does sound like all parties are leaning towards Merrill's return, but Michigan hockey + summer == doom.
Berenson exit imminent. Not like, imminent-imminent, but Red said he's probably not going to have another contract after this one:
“I mean let’s face it, I’ll be 76 when this contract is over. So I would say it’s the last contract,” Berenson said. “In theory, you would say this will be the last contract. I would be surprised if there would be another one after this.”
…“The way I look at it, I’m not picking a goal or a situation to retire. The thing I’m looking at is what’s good for our program, are we moving forward, are we competitive, are we living up to the expectations of Michigan and are we one of the dominant players in college hockey?” Berenson said.
When Red does retire I think it's time to put his name on the building. Something, anyway.
"More?" An Alabama legend called out Auburn for its dirty recruiting tactics after GA LB Rueben Foster ostentatiously flipped from 'Bama to AU recently. He might want to pick his words better:
“Because Reuben was paid more (by Auburn) than Alabama was willing to pay him. We got boosters out there that weren’t willing to pay Reuben Foster and boosters willing to pay him in Auburn.”
Where rebounds go. An analytics company has found out and put together a cool flash application so you can see where rebounds go off NBA shots.
Morals of the story:
- They mostly go long.
- Boy, people try a lot of layups.
- Offensive rebounds are far more common on those layup attempts than anything else.
- Long twos are horrible, horrible shots: there are a couple zones beyond the arc near the corners. Threes from the corners go in at a 36.6% rate. Step inside the line and it's a 37.6 rate for one less point. The differences are greater from what I'll call the Aarghaway zone but still very slim: long twos around the top of the key go in at just under 39%; threes from the top going at around 33%. These are NBA numbers and can't be directly transported to the college game but since the main difference is that a chunk of the long two space in the NBA is worth three in college I'd guess those shooting percentages are even more compressed.
Long twos are horrible! Long twos are hoooooorrrrrrible! Long twos with 25 seconds on the shot clock are grounds for a civil lawsuit based on pain and suffering!
I dislike long twos.
And nevermind all that also. Nevermind all the thats. Raising the bowl eligibility threshold to 7-5 has seemed like a thing that would happen for a while now, but now the Big Ten is backing off of that, too:
Delany said he has “heard from friends in different parts of the country, some of the major conferences, that they are in favor of (keeping it at) six. I suggested that maybe there’s middle ground. If a program hasn’t been to a bowl in five years … it’s an exciting thing.”
As long as the bowls at the bottom are prevented from acting as parasites on college football, whatever. The existence of the Illinois-UCLA Fight Hunger Bowl is at worst an opportunity to launch zingers… as long as those two schools aren't forking over 500k for tickets they know they can't sell.
Additional doo-dad. It must be fun being a Big Ten athletic director these days. Every year the conference is like "whoops, forgot to give you these three million dollars," the Rose Bowl is suddenly worth triple what it was, the Big Ten Network is steadily increasing in value, and maybe the guy before you built a giant cash factory on top of the football stadium. MSU doesn't even have the last item in that list (or at least hasn't added it recently) and they've been dumping money into football. An ESPN article recently boggled at the money Indiana is flat-out burning in a futile attempt to keep up with the meekest and most humble of the Joneses by way of noting that everyone in college football is building everything.
One of many results at Michigan:
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon is putting forward a proposal to the school's Board of Regents on Thursday asking for $2.8 million for an "informational marquee" that can be viewed from Stadium Boulevard. The plan is to use "visual and audio technology" for information on upcoming events and welcoming guests to the facilities.
I'm a little leery about audio being included in this thing but whatever. It'll be a big billboard type thing on Stadium that will announce things. It costs money, and it is being done because it can be.
Etc.: Red signs three-year extension, as expected. Syracuse fans are sad about leaving the Big East. CHN on the Kitchener nuisance lawsuit. M seems to lead for 2015 IN G Chandler White. Obviously a long way out there. Scouting the Adidas Invitational. Zak Irvin scouting video.