and... i like them? I think I like them.
Mac Bennett's projected partner: also Mac Bennett
|Mac Bennett||Sr.||Mike Downing||Fr.|
|Kevin Clare||Sr.||Brennan Serville||Jr.|
|Mike Szuma||Jr.||Nolan De Jong||Fr.|
ALSO: Mike Chiasson (Jr), Spencer Hyman (Fr), Kevin Lohan (Fr)
THIS IS WHERE IT GETS STICKY. The simultaneous departures of Jon Merrill and Jacob Trouba leave Michigan's blue line in a spot that is icky at best. While they've got a couple of NHL draft picks incoming, there's a major difference between Trouba, a top ten pick who is going to make the Jets this year, and Mike Downing, a fourth-rounder who Billy Powers says is "a bit skin and bones" at the moment.
But let's start with the nice bit. MAC BENNETT returns for his final year in a winged helmet wearing the C. He toned his game down last year when he found himself paired with Trouba, eschewing the puck-rushing style he flashed his first two years so that he could be a more reliable defensive partner for a dynamic player. He still put up points at an encouraging rate until he was hewn down in the disastrous 5-1 loss to Bowling Green that seemed to be the last straw for Red. He returned a month later on the second pairing—Merrill's return bumped him—and performed ably down the stretch. Miraculously, his +/- was zero on the year. Despite all his talent, Trouba did not fare nearly as well in that (admittedly wonky) stat.
This year, Michigan needs him to be Trouba, and all-phases crusher who sucks up shift after shift. If Red is ever going to throw over his policy of relatively even time, this is the year. Bennett should be logging Jack Johnson-in-Columbus time, playing all three phases and attempting to shut down the opposition's best on a nightly basis. Powers provided some Fred Jackson-level reassurance when he talked to the Canadiens' official site:
“Mac Bennett will be a dominant college defenseman [this season]. We expect him to be the most dominant offensive and defensive defenseman in the Big Ten. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it,” added Powers. “Every night, there will be someone in the building who will say – ‘That No. 37 is special’.”
Powers also said he's an “elite skater with incredible explosion and incredible endurance"; that latter quality should be put to the test.
Expect a resurgence of the offensive flair Bennett showed his first couple years, because it's not coming from anywhere else on this defense corps and whoever ends up pairing Bennett will be shot if he so much as thinks about getting up ice.
Now, who partners with Bennett? Your options are all frightening on some level. The primary contenders:
- The aforementioned MIKE DOWNING, who has promise and offensive upside but saw his stock drop significantly in his final year of junior and needs to fill out.
- Senior KEVIN CLARE, who provides zero offense (0-2-2 last year, 12 shots), was –9 last year in just 19 games, and was scratched for the final 14 because of disciplinary issues.
- Junior BRENNAN SERVILLE, who seems like he should be more of an offensive defenseman of only because he tends to give you hives with his decisions but is as bereft as Clare is in the points department (1-2-3, 21 shots) and was scratched for 11 games himself last year. But I guess he was +3? Woo?
I'm going with Downing, mostly because I cringe at the idea of Clare or Serville on a top pairing and haven't seen the freshman yet, but I could also see the job going to Clare, since Downing has some offensive upside in his game:
"He carries the puck well out of the zone and makes good decisions on when to hang on to it or move it ahead. Sees the ice well in transition and has a pro pass. He is willing to mix it up, especially when defending down low. He is also very good at moving the puck on the power play. He has a good, hard shot that he gets through to the net, but can and will fake his shot and make a quick pass to the open man. He is not afraid to jump to an open hole on the offensive attack to create scoring chances. He will need to show all of this with more consistency for the next level."
Michigan may want to split those two guys in an effort to have a puck-mover on the ice for most of the game. Clare's just going to sit back, break up plays, and try to get the puck out of the zone, and if he's out there with a lesser guy that could result in spells of uncomfortable pressure.
As for Serville, I'm in full confirmation bias mode with him in which I magnify every mistake he makes. But I'm aware of it and I'm still nervous about having him in a major role. He was a draft pick a couple years back and defensemen take time, etc etc etc. I'll be pleasantly surprised if he makes a significant step forward.
[After THE JUMP: at least they've got a ton of third pairing guys?]
blog policy is to always have a picture
no this is not relevant
Commit watch. Seriously. For what it's worth, David Dawson says [protected] we're on commit watch, and then says "seriously." If that actually transpires it would have to be LaQuon Treadwell—Michigan doesn't have anyone else on the board who has been making noises about committing before official visits happen. Treadwell, meanwhile, flirted with pulling the trigger at the Opening and told various people Michigan had a big edge but also just announced he was going to visit Oklahoma State.
I'm betting false alarm, but hey there you go.
[UPDATE: Ace suggests that it may be a 2014 guy, which makes more sense.]
Zak Irvin exploding. There is some disagreement in the scouting community about just how good Zak Irvin is—Scout has him a three-star outside of their top 100 while the other two services rank him around #60. That gap may be getting wider as Scout has seemingly no inclination to change that opinion and ESPN guys are writing stuff like this($) after catching him at the Adidas Invitational:
He is starting to separate himself from everybody else and may be the best overall player at the adidas Invitational. He is an aggressive scorer with a high skill level and excellent athletic ability. He has terrific size for a small forward and consistently knocked down 3-pointers on the break or coming off screening action in the half-court set. He can also get all the way to rim with his drive or find an open teammate. Overall, Michigan landed itself a player who competes hard and can fill up the stat sheet.
That's high praise at a major event—the next guy that writeup mentions is five-star SG Isaac Hamilton.
On whether he has a top group:
“I don’t have an (order). It’s just all of them.”
On a time table for making a decision:
“I don’t [have a time table]. Me and my dad were thinking about talking about it when the summer’s over and first we’re going to cut down the schools, and see where we go from there.”
Michigan and Missouri are probably his top two with Michigan State lurking—a scheduled visit had to be re-scheduled due to Izzo unavailability.
Nine games again? With the Pac-12 agreement dead everyone's head goes back to what they were going to do in the first place:
"You know, if we hadn’t done the collaboration, we’d do nine," Delany said of the Big Ten's league slate. "If we do the collaboration, we’ll do eight. So, we’re able to attract a higher quality of game. We’re not expanding the number of games, we’ll still play 12.
"The question is, are you gonna play eight quality conference games and assure there’s a ninth quality game in the mix, one way or the other? ... The idea was to upgrade the quality of the schedules, either through nine or through the collaboration.”
I'm guessing everyone outside of the Purdue/Northwestern/Other Teams For Whom Bowl Eligibility Is A Big Deal athletic departments is in favor of expanding the conference schedule again, and even teams who frequently find themselves on the bowl eligibility bubble seem to be less desperate for their minor prestige these days. Unfortunately, I can't find it anymore but there was an article in which Northwestern said they were in favor of moving the bowl eligibility line to 7-5.
If you don't care about getting to your very-likely-unprofitable bowl game when you''re not that good, then it's just a matter of figuring out what's more likely to sell tickets: a Big Ten game or the #3 nonconference game you can scrounge up.
Downing rising. Recently named an "A" prospect by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau, 2013 D commit Michael Downing gets a full profile at College Hockey Perspective:
On his style of play:
”I am an offensive defensmen who loves to rush the puck and create scoring chances. At the same time, I know when to join a play and when not to join a play. My biggest key factor is that I’m very solid defensively and I would dive face first to block a shot because one goal could make a difference in a game. The most important part to my game is keeping the puck out of our net. I play exactly the same as Niklas Krownwall (of the Detroit Red Wings). I love to throw big hits. I’m solid defensively and I am a humble leader.”
Downing is a bit of an oddity in that he does not play for the NTDP team but has participated in a number of international tourneys that the NTDP forms the core of the team for. For what it's worth, OHL piracy seems a distant possibility…
On his commitment to play college hockey at Michigan:
“I committed to Michigan for several reasons. The two main reasons are that it’s every parents’ dream to see their kid play college hockey and, more importantly, in your home state. The other reason is that I’ve been in love with the school since I was four. When you know, you know, and I just fell in love. Playing at Yost (Ice Arena) is just a dream come true because there are so many historic moments there. I honestly just can’t wait to be a Wolverine.
…but I say that about everyone. If Connor Carrick can end up at Plymouth anyone can.
Etc.: TOC starts writing guest columns for the Free Press. I was intrigued to see Piston Powered-authored columns pop up in my news feed at the same thing. Filed under cost-saving measures.
BSD defends Penn State from the torrent of outrage. Trey Burke declares M a national title contender. Erik Bakich adds the state's Mr. Baseball to kick off his recruiting. Economists are bad at statistics, but the Felix Salmon thing doesn't really prove it. Maize and Blue Nation looks back at five years on the internet.
RIP Charles Drake. I was on the road when news of Charles Drake's untimely death hit the internet. Drake was one of a legion of mid-90s players brought in at running back who eventually found their way to the field at another position. If Ian Gold was the most prominent, Drake was second, moving to free safety after finding running back crowded.
Free safeties who aren't once-in-a-generation good are kind of like longsnappers in that you're usually not happy when their name is splashed across your television. In the safety's case it means they're chasing someone else. The lack of a visceral "oh, THAT play" emotion when his name comes up speaks well to his play. He was a low-event guy in an era when safeties often weren't. Condolences to his family and teammates.
Holdin' The Rope has a perspective piece worth your time.
In other sunny news. ESPN reports that this consulting firm Penn State has hired is "expected to be tough on" one Joe Paterno:
"Much of the focus will be on the culture of the football program, with findings that go back more than a decade," said a Penn State official briefed on the inquiry, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It's going to be very tough on Joe (Paterno)."
The long-awaited report, compiled by Freeh Group International Solutions, the consulting firm led by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, is the culmination of an eight-month investigation that examined whether university policies and culture were contributing factors to a lack of reports and action about abuse that occurred on campus. Investigators interviewed more than 400 people, including Penn State administrators, faculty members, trustees and former coaches, players and staff from Penn State's football team.
At this point it would be more of a surprise to find out that Paterno would come out of things looking okay. In retrospect that mid-aughts run of arrests that Paterno had little control over and seemed disinclined to care about seems symptomatic of the greater attitude that led to the decade-long Sandusky cover-up. History will not treat the "Grand Experiment" well.
Square hats and blasphemy. Jalen Rose, on the left, in his younger years:
Rose should show up in a Michigan-themed version something similar the next time he's on ESPN. I would pay a dollar for that.
Probably the final number. The number of current or former Michigan athletes who will be competing in the London Olympics: 18. And then there's Michael Phelps, who may not have actually attended Michigan but it something of an Ann Arbor institution if you've ever been in one of the diners he shoveled calories into himself at.
Points for sentiment. Not so much execution. From a reader, here is a tattoo:
This is not quite up to Lamarr Woodley standards.
The new guy. The News interviews Erik Bakich, Michigan's new baseball coach. There's not much that's not boilerplate, but I liked this:
When you're building a program based on pitching you need to have strong frontline pitching.
We'll see how it works out. Bakich has a thin track record but did relatively well at a tough place to win, is young, and has recruited well both as a head coach and an assistant. It's a reality check as to where Michigan's program stands.
Keith Jackson. The 1985 South Carolina game featured Jamie Morris hammering the Gamecocks and SC's "wide open, gambling offense" scoring three points:
Chesson hype: incremented. Sam Webb reports that Jehu Cheson ran a 4.4 40 at Michigan offseason workouts. If fast, will be intimidating.
CEASE PANIC. Our annual Cass Tech Commit Considers Taking Visits But Decides Not To After Panicking The Internet event has transpired:
Michigan football commit David Dawson turned some heads Friday when his plans to camp at Florida were revealed.
A day later, the trip is no more.
After speaking to Michigan coaches, the Detroit Cass Tech offensive lineman -- ranked by ESPN as the country's top guard -- no longer will attend the Gators' Friday Night Lights camp, according to GoBlueWolverine.com's Sam Webb.
Twitter warriors can stand down. Those inspirational quotes about loyalty can be re-directed to your significant others. I've found that condescending public tweets are what make a relationship go in this modern age of ours.
Extremely important abbreviation UPDATE! If you see "FINAO" on a football recruit's twitter, it stands for "failure is not an option." Thus sayeth Heiko in an act of investigative journalism unparalleled in the history of the site. You may all resume your day to day lives.
This is a man to have a drink with. Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson proposed a four-league, 33-team superconference combining CUSA, the Sun Belt, the WAC, and Mountain West. The slide on which this proposal was tendered was labeled "Makes Too Much Sense." Someone should get Karl Benson drunk and have him opine on the other conference commissioners.
Next year's defection worries. A couple of Michigan's 2013 hockey commits made the "A-list" of big time prospects the CSB puts out around this time every year. C JT Compher (expected) and D Michael Downing (maybe a bit of a surprise) are two of the five college-bound guys on that list. That generally means they're expected to go in the first couple rounds.
Big Ten hockey expansion: seeking 100 million or bust. New PSU coach Guy Gadowsky was interviewed by The Pipeline show and PSU hockey blog Thank You Terry transcribed interesting bits. From the non-PSU perspective, this is the most interesting bit:
Speaking of the Big Ten...
"I know for sure there’s been three other Big Ten schools that have contacted our administration and are very curious as to how [the transition to NCAA hockey] happened and what they needed to do. The reality is that the prerequisite to that is that you get a Mr. Pegula or Pegula family that’s going to give 100-odd million dollars. Those guys aren’t hanging off trees. So that’s the prerequisite and that’s hard to find. But I do think there’s a lot of interest – if they can get it done, I know there are Big Ten schools that would love to be a part of it."
Don't expect the Big Ten to get up to eight teams unless magic fairies with money bags descend on the right schools.
Etc.: Ace will no doubt cover LaQuon Treadwell's not-quite-itchy-enough trigger finger extensively in Tuesday Recruitin', but what you need to know now is he didn't commit and now plans to do so on a "random day($)," probably by rolling a d100 until it comes up 1. Yes, highly touted receivers have d100s. Loads of them.
Alex Anzalone has decided to avoid creeper-associated universities and will go to Notre Dame. Beilein is not calling recruits at midnight. Burke and Hardaway are among the 20 players at the Lebron Skills Academy.
I guess I can't be mad at the Dispatch any more. Because we're doing it to ourselves:
If it motivates the players, great. I never want to see it again.
That's one way to put it. How are things on the Michigan State offensive line? Deep. Peachy. Deeply peachy:
Spartans depth sparks offensive line competition
This is their depth:
Converted defensive tackle Dan France has emerged as the leading candidate at left tackle, but the battle at center and right tackle are far from decided.
Redshirt freshman Travis Jackson and junior Blake Treadwell, another converted defensive tackle, are running neck-and-neck at center, while redshirt freshman Skyler Burkland and junior college transfer Fou Fonoti are fighting for the top spot at right tackle.
Er. France was flipped from OT to DT last year despite being 6'6" and now returns to be the starting left tackle. That is a hell of a position switch starter. This was his status in January:
"But in the bowl practice, I was struggling," he said. "I didn’t know the (blocking) techniques and footwork. I never had done pass blocking before. I mean, I sort of did (at tight end) in high school, but I didn’t have any technique or really know what I was doing."
Kirk Cousins might be under siege this year. Let's hope so, because if someone were to bold Michigan's secondary it wouldn't be much prettier.
Hey, here's a Michigan football coach talking. I wonder if he's going to talk about "violence," "toughness," "being physical," and "being consistent":
No, he mostly talked about cheese. Cheese and Will Campbell's pad level.
Of course not. Some news organization I can't be bothered to look up—oh this article says it's the Seattle Times—posted the shocking news there was a Pac-10/Big 10 "consensus" in favor of a plus one game. This was shocking for a little while until it was debunked. Or at least sort of debunked. Check out Jim Delany's reply to that:
"To describe the ADs as supportive, I would call that erroneous," Delany said.
Masterful weaseling right there. This on further expansion, at least, is a straightforward declaration they're not interested:
"No, we're about as comfortable as we can be with where we are," Delany said. "We've said we will continue to monitor the landscape, but we have closed down active expansion. Every period you look at it, but we don't expect anything the SEC does to affect us."
I'm increasingly irritated at the media reports predicting Superconferenceageddon without bothering to figure out whether adding teams like Pitt and Missouri helps or hurts the bottom line. The burden of proof is on people predicting unwieldy, tradition-hurting behemoths but all we get is "this is totally happening because it's an arms race!"
Yes, yes, TV markets blah blah. At times like these I think about Lloyd Carr in his last couple years sighing disgustedly whenever the subject of money came up in press conferences. He believed placing it above all other goals was destructive, he's looking prophetic at the moment.
Zing. I was just hoping Jerry Hinnen would drop some more twitter bombs on the SEC so I could post them up, and then he did:
Gotten the feeling that if Scott and Delany jumped off a bridge, SEC fans would gripe that Slive should have been the one jumping first. "We can't afford to react. You have to be proactive when it comes to bridge-jumping!"
Adding Nebraska had a purpose. Adding A&M to the SEC just dilutes it.
Downing disagreement. Retweets coming from Michigan Hockey Net and Yost Built over the course of the recent Five Nations tournament were rapturous about 2013 D commit (and team captain) Michael Downing. Examples from tourney observer @twharry:
The difference between Downing and DeAngelo is vast. I had no idea Downing was this good. He plays like a vet.
Michael Downing is having another very strong two-way game. Comparing him to Merrill may be unfairly lofty, but they are strikingly similar.
Breakaway going the other way. DeAngelo was way out of position. Luckily Downing was there to cover and Demko made the stop.
FWIW, talked to an ex-teammate of Downing today from CC - said he's the real deal, nat. skill set but little rough around the edges at times
When one of my friends checked out the Friday game he compared Downing to Nick Lidstrom. Apparently the US team was so confident in his positioning they would often send the other defenseman up the ice to pressure the Swiss. A local diary praised his game as well.
So of course a couple scouting reports are mixed at best, contradict the above, and contradict each other. WCH:
Michael Downing has had a very good summer--including locking down a scholarship to Michigan--which has helped turn him into one of the top defensive prospects in the US for his age group. He appears to have loads of potential with a big frame and nice skating, but still has a pretty long ways to go when it comes to decision-making and handling the puck. The pace of play here looked a little faster than what he was used to, which took him out of his comfort zone and forced him to make some bad turnovers. Not many players have things completely figured out by age 16 though, and with a little more experience, he has a chance to develop into a very nice player.
And the United States of Hockey:
Michael Downing - Canton, Mich. — The big defenseman served as the captain for this U.S. outfit. He’s pushing 6-foot-3, but has some good mobility and offensive instincts. Despite the size, however, Downing was getting out muscled and hit hard by smaller players. The more muscle he can tack on, the better in the coming years. He’ll also need to do a better job in his own end, but he appeared to improve defensively as the tournament went on. Despite the defensive deficiencies, I really liked his offensive game. If he can develop defensively, he could be a. pretty solid blueliner down the road. Draft eligible in 2013
Another Burns tweet did mention Downing needs to fill out quite a bit, so at least there's some consistency there. Downing maintains he's 110% committed to Michigan and is not a goalie, so he'll probably show up. I'm actually drawing a blank on the last Michigan D commit to skip out for the OHL before he hit campus. Seems like it's a F/G thing.
The Blip …is what I called the 2008 Wisconsin game in last year's Plays of the Decade feature. It was a briefly intoxicating lie about how good that team could be that presaged the less brief but no less deceitful starts the next two years; as such it's both an emblem and an enormous outlier.
Holdin' the Rope takes us way back when:
I sat and wondered how we could spring a comeback from so much flailing incompetence. I had faith, but it was that kind of belief that eats at itself if exposed to the light.. It's propped up by rubber bands and paper clips and a little bit of measured delusion and naivete.
Somehow, Michigan pulled itself together and willed themselves through a halfway decent touchdown drive in the third quarter, capped by Kevin Koger's first touchdown reception. A promise of a bright future. Michigan went down the field on the arm of Steven Threet, the legs of Sam McGuffie and Kevin Grady, and the hands of Martavious Odoms and Greg Mathews. Greg's last name only had one "t," but people managed to always get it wrong, and they probably still do. This wasn't Henson, Terrell, Walker, and A-Train. It wasn't Henne, Manningham, Arrington, and Hart. It wasn't Navarre, Braylon, Avant.
Etc.: Notre Dame is taking its sweet time figuring out where its hockey team is going to hang out. MGoMix is going with songs 1-5 and 6-10. Trailer for the Willis Ward movie is good. Shakin' the Southland's DrB talks 3-4, 4-3 under, and multiple fronts. Money quote:
In the one-gap 3-4, you have a blend of the 4-3 and the older two-gap system. You can take a guy that is a ‘tweener’ and put him at DE or OLB. You can take heavy interior linemen that are skilled at pass rushing, and put them at DE positions even if they don’t run 4.6-4.7 in the 40. The fact that it is a one-gap system and easier to teach means they can rush the passer without regard for the linebackers and put what talent they do have to good use.
I do not advocate the one-gap 3-4 over the 4-3, each has its uses. I do prefer the one-gap over the 2-gap version because it disguises the bubbles in the front better, and is simpler to teach. I'm all for adding fronts that simply teach guys new places to stand without actually changing everything they're doing. In most cases, the fronts are exactly the same, but with different personnel.
First, now-ceremonial photo of some dude very far away rocking colors he probably knows not wot of:
I was in… France. We had a free apartment to stay at and my mom turned in a bunch of airline miles, so it seemed like a one-time opportunity. It rained most of the time and the food was pretty disappointing but it sounds like everyone in the United States melted while we were gone so that's cool. Also if you ever get a chance go to a calanque, you should probably do it:
That is a real place, not the scene from Contact where the alien is all like "yo I'm your dad what up Jodie Foster."
The guy above was checking out a very serious bocce tournament we stumbled across in Marseille whilst trying to figure out how to get back to the bus. I'll probably throw up a trip report in the diaries if there is further interest, or even if there isn't.
Now presenting Things That Happened When I Was Going "Meh" At Escargot:
A large chunk of next year's attrition got resolved. Kellen Jones, Teric Jones, and Christian Pace are not on the fall roster and therefore not on the team. Kellen Jones reportedly got in some legal trouble that must be serious given the repercussions on his team status. Pace and Teric Jones got sent to St. Saban Memorial. Meanwhile, Terry Talbott is also expected to miss the season but it's unclear whether or not he has made the same journey. Rivals says Hoke confirmed he was medicaled($) in the hallway scrum following his media day time, so that's probably that for one Talbott. UPDATE: Misopogon reports that Ablauf also confirmed Talbott is done.
Three of the four are obviously not sketchy. Michigan needs linebackers and DTs like Mark Dantonio needs the collected Sophocles and Pace was the only(!) offensive lineman in his class. Teric Jones's departure is one you can question given his place on the depth chart, but since there's an entire football season between now and crunch time it's probably legit. In the Big Ten, sketchy medical scholarships are something to look for in January.
As for on-field impact, Teric found it impossible to contribute even in an offense suited to his scatback skills; his absence won't impact Michigan going forward. Pace removes one bullet from the chamber at center, but they'll still have Khoury and Miller once Molk graduates. That should be okay. Talbott's absence is bad. Now instead of a shaky three-star-ish redshirt freshman behind Will Campbell there are walk-ons and air and maybe Kenny Wilkins. Kellen Jones's absence will be felt keenly as well. My excellently-timed recruiting profile of him hyped him up as an immediate contributor and possible four-year starter due to his talent and the glaring hole at WLB. Now he's gone and WLB next year is the untested Mike Jones and two really small guys.
With those four off the roster the path to 26 is considerably less eyebrow-cocking. Michigan will have to shed another two or three players before signing day. A natural level of attrition should get Michigan to their projections without fuss.
Michigan got a fullback. Tim profiled Sione Houma, who is it. I hate giving scholarships to fullbacks because the difference between a walk-on fullback and a scholarship fullback is usually indistinguishable. Michigan's best in the last 15 years was walk-on Kevin Dudley. If they really take one DT it's going to be weird, doubly so with the uncertain status of Talbott.
Michigan got Chris Wormley. A foregone conclusion, that, but it's another head to head win for Hoke against the Bobcats. SDE is set in a major way and someone—possibly two someones—are moving to three-tech as soon as they hit campus.
San Diego State got a little less scary. Two of their receivers are out for the year with knee injuries, including presumed #1 Dominique Sandifer. Their new leading guy is the equivalent of Kovacs—walk-on made good. Ryan Lindley's good but he might not have anyone to throw to.
Something vaguely ominous happened with Devin Gardner's redshirt. Brady Hoke has been unusually wishy-washy about what Devin Gardner's eligibility status is after he saw a few snaps here and there as the designated Guy Who Replaces Denard For Three Plays Guy during the nonconference schedule. This is unusual. In the past the NCAA has just issued a ruling and been done with it.
The eligibility status of Alabama receiver Darius Hanks—still on the team and everything after five years!—may provide some insight into why:
… Hanks appeared in one game as a true freshman in 2007, hauling in one pass for six yards in a 52-6 win over Western Carolina. Accordingly, his fifth season required a waiver from the NCAA, which apparently attached the two-game breather to offset Hanks' contribution to that hard-earned victory four years ago.
Gardner appeared in three of Michigan's first four games. Against UConn and ND his box score totaled one rush for –4 yards but against BGSU he had 6 rushes for 25 yards and went 7 of 10 for 85 yards and a TD in the air. If I'm Dave Brandon I'm making the first couple of games of 2015 walkovers. Which Dave Brandon is going to do anyway because…
Dave Brandon does not Get It. This is awful:
"I don't believe we can or should go on the road for nonconference games when we can put 113,000 people in our stadium. It's, financially, the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do for our fans, in terms of their ticket packages. And we're going to alternate with Notre Dame, so we're going to have one game on the road every other year. So the rest of those games, I would like to have at Michigan Stadium."
Kiss ever seeing an interesting non-ND nonconference opponent goodbye. This is another symptom of the AD's descent into full-blown corporate ninnydom: we get to play Alabama in Dallas because it makes incrementally more money than having an exciting home game. Brandon fails to understand that the point of an athletic department is not to accumulate the biggest Scrooge McDuck vault. (See also: renting the Big House for your special event, though that's far less offensive since I don't have to buy a 70 dollar ticket to the Jones-Wilson wedding. Unless I do. Do I?) Even if it was, the marginal difference between one home game against a real opponent and two body-bag games from schools charging a million each is not that much. People will suck up the difference on the ticket cost: a Clemson ticket that costs $80 will make people happier than an EMU one that costs $70.
At least we won't have to endure three pointless games against non-BCS opponents yearly for too long. Schools have been told to clear the decks in 2017. Presumably that's when the Big Ten will go to nine conference games. That's is not as cool as actually seeing teams from other conferences but better than our yearly battle for county pride.
Ohio State didn't get anything extra handed them by the NCAA. Time for a homer check. Matt Hinton:
Is it really possible for the people in charge to have that little interest in enforcing their own rules, as long as the paperwork is in order? …
The Ohio State and USC cases are similar in the sense that they both involve a star accepting a lot of money from shady characters on the fringes of the program, but the the case against OSU is on a different level. Where USC's violations (as chronicled by the NCAA's final verdict) involved a single player, Ohio State's involve at least six. Where USC consistently disputed that anyone affiliated with the program knew what was going on with Bush — as well as the sketchy evidence the NCAA used to reach that conclusion — the paper trail leading from Jim Tressel's hard drive is an indisputable smoking gun. Which he intentionally concealed as the offending players led the Buckeyes to another conference championship. Ohio State's star player(s) and its head coach did the crime, and no one denies it. Tressel's silence after being tipped to the investigation is the definition of a program failing to cooperate. He's the head coach: He is the program.
At this point, any athletic director with half a brain is going to set up a firewall between himself and the head coach. Oh, sure, there will be any number of compliance people who will be sent around wagging fingers at coaches about following regulations. But there will also be plenty of blind eyes turned to what those coaches are doing when the compliance folks aren’t in the room with them. So when the shit inevitably hits the fan, those ADs and the presidents they work for can blink their eyes vapidly at the NCAA investigators, claim they had no idea what was going on and swear they’ll get rid of the rogue bad apple. And it’ll work.
Nice system you got there, NCAA.
Mark Emmert, you have lost our confidence in your ability to do the job.
The next time you speak, we won't be able to take you seriously thanks to news that Ohio State would not face additional charges of failure to monitor or lack of institutional control in the school's infraction case.
'It's all about what the NCAA can prove, not what we've read' is the company line. Well, you had a chance to prove things but you said you weren't going to try.
It’s pathetic, really. The rats see a ship sailing to probation, and it’s every dirty, cheating program for itself.
Ohio State got out first, and now North Carolina sees the opening. Soon enough, Oregon will too.
Here’s the best part of this growing, sordid tale: The NCAA is standing with open arms on the other side.
Want to blame someone for North Carolina’s utterly bizarre firing of coach Butch Davis, who was never mentioned once in the program’s lengthy NCAA Notice of Allegations? Blame Ohio State.
Better yet, blame the NCAA – and more specifically, president Mark Emmert.
Meanwhile Mandel, the guy who was predicting this would happen, hasn't taken up a position on whether it's good or bad. I haven't found anyone who doesn't have a framed Andy Katzenmoyer jersey who thinks this is anything other than total horseshit. Homer check tenuously passed.
Meanwhile, OSU confirms that Terrelle Pryor was ineligible for the entirety of last year and bans him from contact with the program without explaining why. Where is the extra violation that gets Pryor that treatment while the other five players remain on the team, associated with the program. Is the NCAA interested in this? Apparently not.
There is a recent precedent for a team not getting failure to monitor or LOIC (which come on) and still getting hammered: Alabama got 21 scholarships docked and a two-year bowl ban for various boosters paying dudes to go to Alabama. If Ohio State gets something similar, fine. The NCAA's two-eyes-for-an-eye policy could see at least 12 scholarships obliterated and two years of bowl ban even without LOIC if the committee is like "hey, your head coach lying to keep a half-dozen players eligible and hoodwinking us to let them play in a bowl game… that's bad."
loldantonio. Mark Dantonio called Jim Tressel a "tragic hero."
Then Jim Brandstatter was all like "loldantonio" and Dantonio was all like "paraphrase of insanely misused Teddy Roosevelt quote about being in the arena," because that's what people who say stupid things do when they are criticized for saying stupid things.
The Big Ten Network made itself into a feed. Press release:
BTN2Go features a live feed of all BTN linear network programming, including more than 40 football games, over 100 men’s basketball games and hundreds of other live events, as well as Extra Football Game Channels, on-demand programming and archived content.
BTN2Go will be offered exclusively through BTN’s participating cable, satellite and telco distribution partners as an authenticated digital service to subscribers who already receive BTN as part of their video subscription.
If the authenticated bit lets you watch the BTN if you're in Alabama despite the locals not giving a damn, that's great as long as it works better than the streaming service did a year ago when I tried it for an hockey game. If it's ESPN3 quality, lovely.
Desmond Howard had a good idea. Via Get The Picture:
“But if you want to play the education game, then check this out. If they get my likeness for life, then they should be committed to my education for life. So if Mark Ingram 20 years from now, when they’re still selling his jerseys in Tuscaloosa, says ‘You know what? I want to get my Ph.D.’ Guess who should pay for that? They should be committed to his education for life. They’re still selling his jerseys.”
If a school is still profiting off a guy who had a few years in the NFL and now has some messed up knees and maybe wants a more saleable degree, he should be able to get it.
Wolverine Historian posted a bunch of games. Bo becomes the winningest coach in school history with a victory in The Game:
John Gibson defects to the OHL, Michigan picks up Michael Downing. Let's not mince words: dropping a college commitment less than a month before classes start is a dick move. I get that he'll get more games next year because he probably won't be splitting time, but exactly no information has changed since he committed and signed a LOI. Blah blah blah about "doing what's best for me" is what they say on Jerry Springer, too.
Michigan now has zero backup to Hunwick and is in a desperate search for his replacement next year. At least whoever they pick up—they likely need two goalies—won't have a midget dynamo blocking their path.
In happier news, Michigan's somewhat glaring hole on D going forward is smaller thanks to Downing's commitment for 2013. Downing was the third pick and first defenseman in the USHL Futures Draft. He's coming off a strong showing at the U16 Festival. OHL defection risk currently seems low: he's from CC, has an older brother already in the USHL, and was drafted in the flyer area of the OHL draft (8th round) by Sarnia, a team not known for picking up off college-bound folk.
People discussed ways to prevent "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry" events. Gibson's very very late decision spurred a round of "what can we do" from Yost Built and The United States of Hockey. Yost Built wonders about making a hockey LOI binding in the same way an NTDP commitment is. Someone will have to ping The Bylaw Blog for confirmation but that would redefine the LOI in such a comprehensive fashion it wouldn't be a LOI anymore. It's currently a non-legal agreement enforced by a non-NCAA organization of schools interested in reducing chaos.
The United States of Hockey discusses whether or not it's a good idea to allow CHL players to play NCAA. He says no, and he's right. CHL teams have no incentive to keep athletes NCAA eligible even now; removing that restriction would provide an incentive to actually discourage players from keeping up with their books. The number of players headed the other way would be few. Meanwhile, the USHL has established itself a high quality league designed to get kids to college. This would hurt it as some players choose the CHL over it.
It's a moot point anyway: the NCAA just relaxed regulations on foreign players playing with pros. Hockey specifically requested and acquired an exemption.
So there's not much the NCAA can do. The one thing I'd suggest is prohibiting American 16 and 17 year olds from playing CHL hockey in Canada. As we learned during the Max Domi song and dance, Hockey Canada currently prohibits Canadians from leaving the country to play junior. Domi's dad would have had to "move to" Indiana to get his kid eligible for the USHL, a major hurdle for anyone who didn't have a long NHL career.
USA hockey should adopt the same policy, limiting American high-schoolers who want to play in the CHL to the small number of American teams in the WHL and OHL*.
*[The Q just shut down their only American team, the ridiculously-named Lewiston MAINEacs.]
Austin Hatch is still in a coma a month after the plane crash. At least that's what his local paper says. Depressing.
Zak Irvin picked Michigan. Covered yesterday, but dang if Beilein's recruiting hasn't been on a steady upward trajectory since his first class. It's got to plateau soon, but that plateau looks like a Sweet 16 team.
Also, UMHoops has uncovered the first grainy videos of the camera-shy Irvin.
People covered ADs golfing like it was news. I don't care if it's July. A story about an athletic director playing golf against another athletic director is time that could have been spent on something more socially productive like spitting off a balcony. I'm not linking to any of this stuff. Sports editors across the state: you have suffered the mother of all eye-rollings.
Baseball made its RPI more Northern friendly. By acknowledging that—surprise!—having to spent the first month or two of the season on the road is a significant handicap, Big Ten teams that are actually kind of good will stand a better shot of making the tournament. They also eliminated some bonuses/penalties for teams at the extreme ends of the the range.
Getting those kind of good B10 teams remains a chore. As long as this is true…
Some schools are able to play 35-40 of their 56 allowable games at home, while other teams, due to factors such as weather, may play only 20 home games.
…the playing field will never be anywhere close to level, but good luck trying to change that.
In related news, Jonathan Bornstein moves to Honduras. Bob Bradley was fired and replaced by Jurgen Klinsmann as the head of the USMNT. I get people's reservations about Klinsmann's reputation, which is largely based on one World Cup with Germany and a flameout with Bayern Munich, but if there's one thing the US needs now it's a holistic look at how they develop talent and how it can be improved. The talent gap with Mexico won't be huge for the rest of this WC cycle, but it's hard to see the US not taking a back seat once the Dempsey/Donovan/Dolo/Boca generation ages out after Brazil. There are 100x fewer Uruguayans than Americans, man: there's no reason the US shouldn't be able to produce a few world class players.
Also! PSU QB Paul Jones is academically ineligible, leaving the QB competition there just Bolden and McGloin. The Big Ten further proved that putting their athletic directors in charge of naming anything just leads to a successories poster. BTN revenues increase 21(!) percent over last year. A Michigan undergrad built the largest solar array in the state. Basketball agreed to a home and home with Arkansas. Doctor Saturday predicts 7-5 again, but adding up the "likely win/tossup/likely loss" bits seems to point to 8-4. Gameday likely for the ND game.