that is nice bonus change
ncaa: the hypocrisy and how to fix it
My vote: the OTHER Big Chill at the Big House
We've been collecting unheralded diaries for several weeks. Let's herald them.
[TRUMPETS OF HERALDRY: bah dah dah dah dah dit daaaaaaaah!]
Michael Scarn asks the big question: if college sports are corrupt and we hate the guys who are running them, do we continue to go? I say go, and grumble. My thing about my dad was 5% inspired by this diary, because my response to it that I didn't write had about the same point: the complaints are valid but they're not the whole thing or even most of the thing. Most of the thing is kids from your college are playing on recently reattached ACLs and you're on a bench next to someone who will never forget being next to you on that bench on that day.
Money talks but it's not the only thing that does so. Write emails. Call into WTKA. Attach a strongly worded letter with your check explaining this is the last one they'll get. No matter how unreasonable they seem, keep giving them every chance to be reasonable.
Mich1993 has been going over the depth chart to see how the recovery's coming from Michigan's Notriguez-to-Rodriguez-to-Notriguez adventure. In Part I he went over the various position groups; CB, LB, and DE appear fine but safety and DT are "mild concerns." On offense the skill positions are strengths and the meaty parts look awfully uncooked. Part II compares it to the depth of 2013 and expected depth of 2015.
LSAClassof2000 put together a thing not nearly enough of you read that compares the SEC and Big Ten's volume of contribution to the NFL. Brian already linked the one where he showed Michigan was one of the top NFL producers in the '90s and now is Minnesota. The aggregate shows us falling behind.
We just passed Alabama who's going just as swiftly in the other direction. Hi Alabama. Tell Nebraska hello for us when you see him and we'll do the same to Auburn.
Guides to other sports. Since soccer is now Germany's sport everybody start calling soccer things German words:
Soccer is no longer "Football", it is now Fußball.
A Team is no longer a "Side", it is now a Mannschaft.
A Game is no longer a "Match", it is now a Spiel.
Reshp1 is watching the Tour de France, or as my agricultural consultancy business family members call(ed) it: "Le Tour de Corn" because they use it to gauge how European corn is growing this year.
Yes I do mean cycling is less interesting than watching corn grow.
I used to know a guy who rode his bicycle across part of the U.S. that included South Dakota, and who used the ride across South Dakota to write a song called "I Won't Cry When I Leave South Dakota." Look for sadeto's hit single "There's Nothing Between Lansing and Grand Rapids" in a month or so.
[jump for controversy on the board]
Oh, hey there. We have to stop meeting like this.
We don’t meet. We’re the same person. I just hit Ctrl-B and I’m you.
So I’m Tyler Durden, and you’re… Robert Paulson? No, that was Meat Loaf. Wait, Edward Norton didn’t have a name in that movie, did he? Huh. I guess I never realized that.
And neither of us knows Helena Bonham-Carter. But watching Michigan football these days is like punching yourself in the face in a parking lot, so I guess that works.
I’ll be over here making soap if you need anything
Anywho, the O’Bannon trial ended last Friday, and it’s time to poke the corpse with a stick for a while. Many people spent the weeks and months up to the trial saying that the NCAA was probably screwed. Many of those same people spent the three weeks of the trial declaring that the NCAA was DEFINITELY screwed (and mocking them at every turn). And then came the last day of the trial, in which the plaintiffs had a bad day and some people declared that the NCAA was only mostly dead. So, to clear things up, I’ll make the following nuanced legal prediction:
The NCAA remains deeply and profoundly screwed. I think.
We shall delve into the ways, and the likely outcomes, but if you don’t want to read beyond the impending blather and the jump and the more blather, you may enjoy this Fourth of July weekend comfortable in the knowledge that Mark Emmert will, in short order, have a sad.
So why did everyone say the NCAA might not have to go on the cart?
Well, the thing about anti-trust law…
[returns to rendering fat]
…is that it isn’t the remedy for all ills caused by gigantic douchey monoliths. The plaintiff (O’Bannon) has the burden of showing violations of antitrust law, not just terrible behavior; the NCAA could have burned the entire 1995 UCLA Bruins basketball at the stake and it wouldn’t be an antitrust violation. As sports law and antitrust guru Michael McCann put it, antitrust law is “about protecting competition in the marketplace for the benefit of consumers and marketplace participants.” O’Bannon has to point to a specific defined market that the NCAA is harming, and to identify who the buyers are and who the sellers are in the market, as well as the specific harm created to consumers or market participants. If you can’t figure out how that works when we’re talking about college sports, you’re in the company of at least one federal judge.
The plaintiffs struggled to articulate these things at the weird closing argument Q&A the judge did, because it doesn’t really map to college football very well. But while it is understandable, if O’Bannon can’t explain how the NCAA is harming consumers in a specific market, the NCAA could skate.
[AFTER THE JUMP: NSFMBF]
HELLO LADIES (not like that). If you took in yesterday's softball double-header you got 14 innings of tension, home runs, and dugout gibbering capped by what has to be the nuttiest final inning I've seen in the sport: Michigan, down one, clubs back-to-back first-pitch homers off one of the best pitchers in the country to go up one, then puts someone on base for the final batter, who hits a rocket that…
…NOPE. Michigan had just blasted a ball over the centerfield fence that none of the outfielders bothered to move on, and this particular ball seemed harder-hit than that. It must have been on more of a line or really temporarily heavy or something. CF Lindsay Doyle was given an opportunity for the walk-off rob of a potential walk-off homer, which she took.
Even Carol Hutchins, an outpost of Red-like reserve in a sport that has a lot of jumping up and down, was momentarily baffled into GIF-worthiness.
You and me both. The catch was Sportcenter's #1 play, which is pretty remarkable on a day that had plenty of baseball and NBA action.
Michigan advances to their ninth super regional in ten years of the current format; they'll travel to Tallahassee to take on the #8 overall seed Florida State. FSU is hosting their first super ever at an impressive 53-6. The best two of three series kicks off Thursday at 7 on ESPN.
Victory. The Michigan money cannon remains undefeated:
EDSBS Bowl 2K14 closed at midnight last night, and the total for the week's fundraising is staggering and very much awesome: $33,250.85 raised for Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta, all from your contributions. …
University of Michigan $10,183.68
University of Georgia $4,024.20
Notre Dame $2,249.32
University of Alabama $1,977.55
Georgia Institute of Technology $1,969.72
Auburn University $1,716.40
Well done, gentlemen. I have excellent news: in honor of the cannon, RRISA is naming their conference room something Michigan themed. Orson has asked us for suggestions, so I throw it open to the MGoPeanutGallery. Please keep in mind that we are trying to retain people's goodwill, so something like "Leaders and Best (unlike all non grads)" would not be good.
[11:27 AM] Spencer Hall: If there's a huge Michigan painting, they'll put it up there
[11:27 AM] Spencer Hall: seriously
Anyone that wants to provide a candidate shoot me an email.
Stauskas time. Nik Stauskas didn't shoot at the NBA combine but that's not to say he didn't shoot at all in the past week. A few gents put on a workout beforehand, and Stauskas proved that he is the unstoppable workout freak($) that you may have seen on youtube:
None of them disappointed Monday. During early shooting drills, Stauskas had the lead early, hitting 47 of his first 50 attempts. At the end of the workout, it was McDermott who couldn't miss, beating everyone with 13 3-pointers in 35 seconds. … Each player takes roughly 100 3-point attempts during a workout. On most days, Stauskas and McDermott are shooting about 85 percent. That's really remarkable.
That is nuts.
Chad Ford also notes that Stauskas looked "terrific" in the various ballhandling drills at this workout and is… wait for it… also grab a beer… "making a play to be more than just a shooter." While Stauskas isn't likely to be an NBA PG unless his team wants him to gently escort opposing points to the basket, his ability to get his own shot and excellent P&R skills will see him be more than just a shooter. Ford has Stauskas #12 now and thought he was upwardly mobile even before he put up impressive combine numbers:
Michigan's Nik Stauskas and Creighton's Doug McDermott really shined, as well. Stauskas was especially impressive. He measured with a 35.5-inch max vert, a 10.79 lane agility score, a 2.92 shuttle run and a 3.27 sprint. Those were all very good numbers and should boost his draft stock.
I know you are thinking about what I am thinking: what about the Pistons? Detroit needs shooting, and they need someone who can run a pick and roll with Andre Drummond without resorting to miserable off-balance jumpers. DX's latest mock has them taking McDermott. While that makes sense, as currently constituted Detroit could use a guy who can play 1-3 with bad defense a lot more than a guy who can play 3-4 with bad defense. Also, McDermott seems constitutionally incapable of being an okay defender because he's such a tweener; a hypothetical NBA Stauskas coached by Stan Van Gundy could be all right down the road, especially if Caldwell-Pope can be the 3-and-D guy.
If Detroit stays at eight I'd say there's a pretty good chance Stauskas ends up being the player who makes the most sense. Other than McDermott, guards/wings available at eight are likely to include Tyler Ennis, James Young, Rodney Hood, Gary Harris, and Zach LaVine. Only Hood and McDermott are in Stauskas's universe as a shooter, and Gary Harris being more 6'2" than 6'4" probably eliminates him.
Also in Michigan draftee news, DX's post-combine mock has Robinson and McGary as the last two picks of the first round.
All right, all right. Eighty-seven people have emailed or tweeted me about the latest indicator that things aren't going well on the season ticket front, so I am compelled to reproduce it:
The existence of such a thing isn't much of a surprise… except you'd think they'd translate "Added Value Opportunities" into English before releasing it to the world. The outstanding quality of the athletic department is how remarkably ham-handed they are at being marketers. This is supposedly Brandon's expertise and he's throwing powerpoint slides at the public.
The lord's work. Deadspin continues its excellent series demolishing bad arguments the NCAA tries to muster in its favor. The latest to meet the guillotine: competitive balance.
…my own research in 2011 showed that of the 1,000 top recruited athletes over a decade, 99.3 percent went to power conference schools. … the truth is that the current rules seem to lock in imbalance, and prevent would-be upstarts from building recruiting momentum.
That makes intuitive sense. A team can't put its money where its mouth is if it really really wants a guy that another school wants. When compensation is fixed* all choices are about things other than compensation.
And since it's currently impossible to make the system more unbalanced…
*[I guess it does technically move based on the value of a degree from school X. That is not going to be a huge consideration for many football players. See: every player ever citing academics as a reason he went to school Y, no matter what that school is. "I have chosen Wyoming School Of Finger Twiddling for its excellent academics," etc.]
Pyrrhic press conferences for 1000. When the press gets the temerity to ask a question that leads to this answer…
"No buyer's remorse at all," Delany said Wednesday after the Big Ten administrators' meetings. "When I go to Jersey, I go to New York, I go to support, not to judge."
…things are not going well in the PR realm. Jim Delany just described visiting his sister in rehab.
No surrender. O'Bannon plaintiffs have asked the court to ditch the individual damages in their lawsuit and, as a side effect, ditch the jury.
The plaintiffs' lead attorney, Michael Hausfeld, told ESPN that forgoing the effort to seek damages for the individuals who are named in the lawsuit streamlines the case, making it all about stopping the NCAA from continuing to prevent athletes from sharing in the media revenues they help generate. …
The filing by the plaintiffs aims to focus all of the attention on whether the NCAA's economic model should be changed. It's an attempt to avoid the messiness of sorting out who may have been harmed for past wrongs, and to what degree.
That would be the NCAA's worst nightmare, as judge Claudia Wilken is the person issuing statements like "I don't think amateurism is going to be a useful word here." It seems like the NCAA's best shot is to bamboozle a jury with the arguments Deadspin is currently blowing up.
As with any story about the O'Bannon lawsuit, we have a new opportunity to point and laugh at the NCAA's beleaguered lawyers.
The NCAA objected to the new move by Hausfeld to drop the damages claim. The association's lawyers wrote Wednesday night that they were "surprised and troubled by the Plaintiffs' last minute and abrupt decision to attempt to avoid having a jury decide" the case, calling it a "last ditch effort to change course in this litigation."
…Hausfeld dismissed the NCAA's argument.
"There's always been a damages claim and an injunctive claim," he said. "If they haven't been paying attention to the injunctive claim, it's inexplicable."
Well, they are very busy these days.
It'll be a while. Brian Kelly said something about playing Michigan, so everyone gets asked about it again. Dave Brandon has had "zero talks" with Notre Dame about resuming the series. It would take a lot of pride-swallowing for Brandon to do such a thing. The chances of that seem… low.
The earliest Michigan and ND will talk about playing again will be after both places have new athletic directors, and even then they'll be scheduling ten years out. This year's game is the last for probably 20 years. Well done, college football.
Old mascots are always the best. If you could guarantee me that Michigan's hypothetical mascot would look like it was put together at the local insane asylum's arts and crafts night, I would be on board. Hellmascot part 4,210 is MSU, 1966:
No, no money for athletes. Somehow all of this manages to get sucked up despite MSU not adding sports:
"I think it was about 2000, our budget was right around $25 million and today it's $94 million," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said. "And it's real easy to take a quick look on where the allocation of those funds have gone, and so much of it — there is the coaching salary component that kind of stands out."
Wait, save that!
"But there's a much larger chunk that has gone to escalation of scholarships and services provided."
All right. What might these things be?
"It used to be a coach and a trainer kind of handled everything. Well now there's somebody to teach you how to cook, there's somebody on some campuses that do the cooking, that show you how to shop."
They have to invent ways to burn this money. That is the situation. They are so far up their own butts that they think they should be taught to cook and shop like they're in finishing school with Betty Draper. How about you give them the money and they decide whether they should spend it on a guy teaching them how to shop* or, like, anything else.
Meanwhile, Michigan made a profit of 90 million dollars from 2007-08 to 12-13, an average profit of $15 million per year. That's going to be great when I get my dividend check.
*["So this green stuff I have… I hand it to the man behind the counter. You don't get any green stuff. But if you had some green stuff, you could give it to the man behind the counter"]
Etc.: I still can't believe Gordon F. Gee was paid like 12 times what an average university president makes. GRIII did well at the combine. No beer at Michigan, because I would do anything for money but I won't do that. Good on Mark Schissel for making Michigan's compensation structure more transparent. Maryland previewed. TJ Leaf has a top four and is visiting soon.
Harris had ten points on four shot equivalents in last year's matchup.
Open the floodgates. As you've probably heard, WVU transfer Eron Harris got his paperwork and immediately spoke to a gentleman of distinction:
West Virginia transfer Eron Harris has finally received his release. Told ESPN that Michigan's John Beilein has already contacted him today.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 7, 2014
That is quite interesting. Harris, a DO WANT shooter, is essentially a class of 2015 guy who will be super-ready to play with two years of eligibility. But after taking MAAR and Aubrey Dawkins, there's no question that grabbing him seriously impinges on Michigan's ability to promise 2015 kids like Jalen Brunson and Jalen Coleman playing time—and their ability to offer scholarships. (Maybe less so Brunson since he is more of a PG, but with Walton likely still around Michigan's pitch has to center around the two of them playing at the same time.)
Do you grab that guy? Since Michigan's having a hard time holding onto guards for more than a couple years, I would say yup. Harris is also less of a deterrent to the 2016 kids Michigan seems to be doing very well with since he'll be around a maximum of one year after their arrival.
In the flurry of articles following that tweet two things became clear. One, being closer to home is not as much of a priority as the right fit…
"The fit is more important that the location (of the school)," Harris said. "Eron is used to seeing his brothers and family more than he has the past couple years. But if he has to go to New York or California to find the right fit, then that's what he'll do."
…and two, Michigan's going to have to put on its prettiest dress and bat its eyes:
Within two hours of getting his release, Harris had already been contacted by Butler, Indiana and Purdue as well as Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Ohio State and UCLA.
Harris is a terrific get-your-own-shot shooter who would have an apprenticeship before seeing the floor. If he's fleeing Huggy Bear because of fit, Beilein is pretty much the opposite… and this quote all but begs you to read between the lines:
“It is going to be the place that I can be myself,” said Harris. “I want to be myself. I want to go out there and play basketball and love playing basketball. I am a competitor first, and I want to play instinctively. That is it. I want my coach to respect me and I will respect him."
The art of shade, man.
OPEN THE PRETZEL. One WI SG Brevin Pritzl, a shooting guard out of Wisconsin, blew up over the past couple of weeks of AAU tourneys. This has intrigued Michigan, who's bringing him in for a visit this weekend. An offer is probably not in the offing unless they're really serious about moving on from the dawdling Jalen Coleman, but he's a guy to keep an eye on down the road.
2016 priorities. MI PG Cassius Winston is a highly-rated gentleman in his own right, one who Michigan has a lot of interest in. He's waiting for an offer this summer, but not in June:
“I’m pretty sure, if I know correctly, that I’ll be offered by the end of the summer,” Winston said on Saturday at the Spiece Memorial Run-n-Slam.
To me that says Michigan is going to give Derryck Thornton the first crack before they expand their PG POV. That expresses a level of confidence that Michigan didn't have when they went after Derrick Walton; they offered the other instate PG, Monte Morris, at the same time.
In other Thornton news, current main competitor Arizona picked up their second 2015 commit from a highly-rated PG, which can't hurt.
Hibbity hooblah! It's NFL draft time, hooray. Taylor Lewan will go in the first 15 picks tonight; Jeremy Gallon and Michael Schofield are likely to follow in the next two days. Baumgardner profiles Gallon:
"We've had dozens of guys go off to college and (not make it)) that had circumstances a lot better than Jeremy's," said Rick Darlington, Gallon's former coach at Apopka High School. "He had to fight to get into college. Then he had to fight to stay in college. Then he had to fight to get on the field.
"You look at him now, and it's easy to say he was a great college player in the end. But it was never as easy for him as it was for others. He always had to struggle ... it didn't come easy."
Gallon had to take three classes after his graduation just to get to Ann Arbor, which I know is something that was a problem with admissions. Not in Gallon's specific case, necessarily, but in the sheer numbers of guys Rodriguez recruited that needed serious help. Michigan would not look at Gallon today even if he was 6'4" because hypothetical rising senior Gallon's grades would make them move on.
On the one hand, some guys come through and become Jeremy Gallon. On the other, attrition watch.
In other news, Hoke defends Taylor Lewan again.
I didn't expect anything different, but wow. Various NCAA personages are appearing in front of a congressional committee today to talk about unionization. There is a lot of ludicrous stonewalling like the Stanford AD refusing to state how much his coaches make when you can google it in five seconds—the answer is three million dollars—but nothing quite so faceplam inducing as congressmen taking up irrelevant talking points that have already been eviscerated and left for dead while waving his iPad around:
Congressman Roe: "I just pulled up on my iPad (holds up iPad) that most schools lose money." …
— Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan) May 8, 2014
Congressman Roe then resumed playing Candy Crush Saga before a brief nap, so he missed this riposte:
— Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan) May 8, 2014
People in congress are just in congress for no reason.
Anger bit. Jim Delany talked to USA Today for two extensive pieces, one of which makes me involuntarily shake my fist at nothing in particular when Delany has the balls to make this assertion:
Q: Eight games vs. nine is a hot topic right now. What was the driving force behind the Big Ten going to nine conference games?
A: For us, it's a combination of things. One is the Playoff. Another thing is we're going to get larger (as a conference), we're going to play each other more. We want to be a conference.
Well, you were, Jim. And then somebody had to chase money in a nonsensical way, thanks to the faulty assumption that the current setup wherein sports leagues can involuntarily tax non-fans is going to last in an era of streaming.
This is not a "conference":
What I really like is that every athlete in the Big Ten who plays football will play every opponent inside the four-year period. That's what I like.
That is more of a conference than the SEC's setup where crossover teams without protected rivalries see each other once every six years, but Michigan hasn't played Wisconsin in four years. They may as well be in the Big 12. Going forward they will play the other division less than half the time.
I feel that this has to be intentional trolling. I mean I just…
Michigan's new "historic traditions" football page features an Adidas uniform they wore once. http://t.co/8nwffdIzZi
— Ben Mathis-Lilley (@BenMathisLilley) May 6, 2014
There is subset of MBAs who have their own opposite-day dialect of the English language.
Simplify : offense :: aggressive : defense. "Seven ways that Lane Kiffin will change Alabama's offense" unfortunately doesn't include "make it squintier" but does include this familiar refrain:
3. Playbook simplified
One change won't be too obvious from the seats or living rooms. After playing with in an offense known for complicated terminology, players see a difference in Kiffin's style.
"Some coaches and quarterbacks over-analyze things at times," receiver Amari Cooper said. "Sometimes it can be pitch and catch, let the play-makers make plays."
Cooper, the leading receiver each of the past two years, also likes the in-game adjustments he saw from game film.
"Coach Kiffin calls plays based on matchups and what he sees," Cooper said. "Like I said before, it's a simple offense. If he sees they are in man-to-man coverage and I have a hitch route, it converts if he's close to me, we are going to throw a little fade route and make something out of it."
I really need Al Borges to get hired somewhere so there can be an article about how he's going to simplify offense X.
That article includes obvious balderdash like "finding the playmakers" as if that's a huge overlooked priority for an outfit that saw AJ McCarron throw for 9.1 yards a pop with a 28:7 TD:INT ratio and rushed for 5.8 yards a carry without even removing sacks. But it also gives you some insight into what Nussmeier does:
2. Fullback added
Alabama's been primarily a one-back running team during the Saban era. They used an H-back to help clear the way, but it sounds like the Tide will be using a more traditional fullback in 2014.
Michigan's picked up a one-back offensive coordinator just in time for their four-man fullback crop to ripen. To H-back you go, gentlemen.
Etc.: NFL.com scouting reports are creepy. Remember when John Beilein was not a golden colossus? Why Nick Saban hates the hurry up. Former MI SF AJ Turner is now prepping in NH and might be a guy to keep an eye on if Coleman doesn't work out.
I missed a lawsuit. This is how it's going for the NCAA these days: I managed to overlook a new lawsuit they're facing. Drumroll:
Former University of Minnesota football player Kendall Gregory-McGhee is suing the NCAA, SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 over capping scholarships below the actual cost of attendance listed by universities. The suit was filed in federal court in Northern California, the same location where a similar case was brought in March by former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston against the same parties.
I in fact missed the Alston lawsuit, as well. This is not the Jeffery Kessler lawsuit, but the court is deciding whether to roll all these things into one. Blood in the water, man.
The Alston and Gregory-McGhee suits are alleging that the NCAA is bad because it's capping scholarships below the full cost of attendance while Kessler wants to blow the whole thing up, so there is a case the cases will remain separate.
One thing that we'll know for sure in the near future: whether or not the NCAA has lawyer-cloning capabilities. Change is coming.
When it comes, certain people are going to become smarter overnight. One of the most common rhetorical gambits deployed in the service of the status quo is The Avalanche Of Supposedly Unanswerable Questions that will suffocate college sports once Pandora's Box is opened. They are hilarious when they come from a newspaper columnist, since the answers to most of them are "duh":
To understand just how erroneous and ill-serving Ohr’s ruling is, ask yourself some simple questions. If Kain Colter is an exploited laborer, then is a female tennis player at Stanford an exploited laborer, too? Is a lacrosse player at Virginia an exploited laborer? Is a rower at Harvard?
The NCAA is made up of 15,000 institutions and 20-odd sports. What’s the bargaining unit? Is it just football and basketball players who can unionize? Or all scholarship athletes? Can a freshman demand as much pay as a senior? Is there seniority? Can women demand equal pay — and if not, why not?
That's Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post, and those questions go on for another five paragraphs, all of them seemingly asked by a person who has been hiding in an East German bunker since 1989. Attn Ms. Jenkins: the green stuff can be exchanged for goods and services, and is acquired by participating in the economy.
It is yet another level of hilarity when the people directly involved with the enterprise throw up their hands when it is suggested that any other system is even possible. When Mark Emmert is proposing a Supposedly Unanswerable Question…
"If I can hire someone to play football for me why would I hire an 18 year old? Why not someone who plays in the CFL?" Emmert on unions
— Mike & Mike (@MikeAndMike) April 18, 2014
…you don't just ruthlessly fisk someone who has a job at a newspaper for no discernible reason. You get to scream "THIS IS YOUR JOB." It is Mark Emmert's job to figure out how the NCAA is run, or at least to organize the fractious community under him that does so. He more than anyone else is in a position to say, "you know, certain aspects of the college sports experience are required to maintain its popularity and certain other aspects are not." Instead he sits and… well, "plays" dumb is the idiom that usually goes here. Recent statements suggest it is no act. Plays dumber, I guess.
Emmert is far from alone in this department. Poke an athletic director and he'll give you a question equal parts enraging and hilarious. Here's SMU's Guy Just In Charge Of Things For No Reason:
"Are you going to fire student-athletes? Is that really what we want?" Hart said. "I think we want the same things but I'm not sure this is the correct avenue."
Athletes get fired all the time already, but of course you know that, and SMU knows that, and the main thing holding even more athletes back from getting canned is not the existence of a union—one of the problems with unions is that in certain cases it becomes almost impossible to fire anyone—but the fact that anyone other than Alabama that turns their roster over that rampantly is going to be untenably young and get recruited against extensively.
But the answers to these easily answerable questions aren't really the point. The point is the sighted men asking them, pretending to be blind. There is a recent precedent for this.
hashed out faster than you can pass out at a Lars Von Trier movie
All this is reminiscent of when BCS flacks would attempt to grapple with the idea of a playoff. They would posit themselves as orangutans trying to jam a playoff banana into a college football square and grunt/holler about how it was ENTIRELY IMPOSSIBLE. When observers pointed out that literally every other level of college football featured a playoff, the orangutans would grunt/mutter that lower levels of football didn't involve as much effort, then point and exclaim "BUT WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL?!" before dropping a smoke bomb.
When they were still present after the smoke bomb dissipated, it turned out a playoff was something that could be hashed out in 45 minutes at lunch. How many teams? Uh, four. What locations? Uh, rotating bowl sites. Done. Now what? Let's try to make our logo as titillating to 13-year-old boys as possible. Sounds good, everybody, let's all congratulate ourselves with million-dollar bonuses! And bananas, because while we're not literally orangutans, bananas are terrific!
They did this almost the instant their system spat out an LSU-Alabama rematch that the nation rejected in the television rankings. As soon as it became clear that they could make more money, all problems and issues magically evaporated. Expect the same in the weeks following a judge's gavel sometime in the next few years.
YOU'RE GONNA HAVE A BAD TIME
You asked today “how Borges is Nuss?” I think equally appropriate is “how Gibson is Funk?” It seems to me that their respective backgrounds, personal ties to the HC and seeming invulnerability in the face of terrible performances on the field are quite similar. And, my fear is that loyalty to Funk – like RR to Gibson before him – will ultimately lead the HC’s demise.
Do you agree?
I am about to conjure forth a firestorm of controversy and despair. Be warned.
Gibson's miserableness is likely overstated. Back when everyone was like "this secondary is the worst secondary in the world" I went back and looked at WVU's passing D performances under Rodriguez and found that they were decent. Tony Gibson coached Ryan Mundy well enough to get him drafted by the NFL—something that did not seem in the cards when he was at Michigan. Tony Gibson is… possibly not a complete twit.
/rain of blood
/skies turn black
/rabbit graveyard sees rabbit corpses assemble itself into evil zombie rabbit voltron
He is obviously not great, as secondaries he has been around since tend to be disaster zones. But the things that made him look like a twit at Michigan are some of the same things afflicting Funk: his coordinator doesn't know what he's doing week to week and therefore his players don't know what they're doing, everyone is confused and miserable.
Then someone shoots the glass in your underwater research lab. When the structure is so broken there's only so much you can tell about which part of the rubble was marginally less sound than other parts of the rubble.
You are right that we can take a look at heuristics in an attempt to find out if there are reasons other than perceived competence that Funk is around. Funk does not appear to meet Good Ol' Boys standards. Whereas Gibson came up with Rodriguez all the way from Glenville State, Funk has bounced from coaching staff to coaching staff on his way up the ranks. Hoke hired him from Colorado State just before his last year at Ball State, whereupon the Cardinals rushed for nearly five yards a carry. San Diego State went from 115th(!) in yards per carry to 28th in the two years Funk was there. And he did rather well to start at Michigan before the full weight of Rodriguez's recruiting came to bear.
Funk's track record with Hoke is pretty good, and he is not a guy who has been around forever-forever. I'm not sure we're going to get much clarity about whether he's a good coach this year given the issues with personnel, but it's put up or shut up time no matter what.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts on using an opt-in system for student tickets. In my opinion, this would solve several problems. First, it would immediately reduce the number of empty seats by identifying non-attending students and allowing the University to resell their tickets. Second, it would condense the student section which--in the opinion of a recent alum (2006-2013)--would improve the stadium experience for students and, in turn, encourage more students to show up.
Under the system I envision, you would pay a fixed amount (approximating the price of season tickets) which gives you the right to opt-in to each individual home game for no additional fee. During the week leading up to each game you have the ability to "claim" your ticket online, up until some cut-off period. For example, maybe you have until 12:00am the night before the game.
If you don't claim the ticket by then, you cannot attend (I have mixed feelings about whether you should get some sort of small refund. maybe $5). Any unclaimed tickets would then be assigned the upper-most seats in the student section and then be resold by the university the morning of the game. The students would have to be alerted, somehow, as to which rows of the student section have been resold and are no longer part of the general admission section.
There would also have to be some penalty for students who claim their ticket but are no-shows. For instance, if on two separate occasions you claim your ticket and don't show up, you lose your right to claim tickets for the rest of the season. Obviously the University would have to start tracking student attendence (maybe by putting the tickets on the MCards like in bball), but I dont imagine that would be difficult.
This is what Michigan did for basketball this year except presumably Michigan will not be overbooking the student section by 50%.
I'm opposed. A claim system does allow the university to sell seats that would otherwise be empty; it's a pain for people, though, and as part of my withdrawal from the field of the War On Students I'm in favor of making the process of going to games as easy as possible for everyone but especially the fickle next generation.
The question then becomes: how do you reward loyalty without annoying overhead? Michigan's revised student section policy is a major step forward:
By 2015, seat reservations will be based entirely on loyalty. Attendance points will be accumulated the following ways: each game attended is three points and arriving 30 minutes prior to kickoff earns an additional three points per game, for a total of six points per game.
Groups of up to 100 students can reserve seats together.
Groups get the average priority of everyone in them. That's simple and effective; it does not put any onus on the students except to show up early, and it was obviously concocted by the student government because I mean seriously the guys in suits have been trying to fix it and came up with HAIL and the world's worst GA policy. (I hope that my repeated rants on the subject had some influence there, but probably not.)
It's a step forward. Others can be taken. The new priority system does not solve one of the main reasons the student section ends up looking empty: it is extremely difficult to flip tickets. The university decided it wanted full price for a student ticket not used by a student way back in the day and put a cumbersome validation process in place; if that was ditched most of those tickets not being used would get sold and deployed.
This brings back the unpleasant specter of the dudes I knew in college who bought tickets just to put them on eBay. I don't think that's going to be nearly the problem it was when student tickets cost $295 for the privilege of watching Penn State and nobody else. If Michigan's not capturing full value there they have to be close. Michigan should let tickets be sold normally while still scanning M-Cards for priority, and if you don't go to at least three games you no longer get to buy tickets.
Ugh. Capturing full value. I'm going to go take a shower now.
What's your solution to the Bag Man?
I put up a post on this on Bag Man Day that was immediately stepped on by the Horford transfer; I wanted to expound on some questions I got in the mailbag and picked this guy's email from about a half dozen.
Part of college football's draw is amateurism; kids playing for education not money. Obviously this is all smoke and mirrors anymore, but it's hard to let go of that aspect of it (if for nothing other than nostalgia's sake). I have a passing interest in the NFL as compared to college football. There's just a sense of cynicism when everything is commercialized and athletes are getting paid big money to play a kid's game while the "rest of us" slave at work for crumbs. Here are some questions you may be able to give your opinion on assuming some sort of compensation is awarded to student athletes.
Shouldn't we just make college football a D-League or create one for those who want to skip college?
Is the draw amateurism or the fact that these guys are students like the other students? Amateurism proponents are quick to mention the Insane Dollar Value of their scholarship. Some even go so far as to include all the world-class training and such in their effort to portray the college athlete as already well-compensated. If they're successful in their arguments, don't they just defeat themselves? They're already being compensated. Now we're just discussing the price.
Might as well go all in and not try to walk some line between amateurism and professionalism right?
Walking a fine line is dumb but neither should we upset the entire apple cart if we can at all help it. College has a lot of good effects for players even if they're not getting engineering degrees, and with most of them headed for brief pro careers at best the current model does a lot of good for a lot of people. We've done a half-dozen events with Carr-era players, and man they make you glad that college football is the way it is instead of being minor league baseball or the CHL.
Why stop at a fixed stipend? Should there be some kind of salary cap? If there is a stipend or other form of compensation, won't there still be bag men to get top recruits extra money to attend certain universities?
A stipend is only one way to approach it. The Olympic model is another. If the NCAA was to say "we won't pay you, but we don't mind if you get paid for your likeness" that sidesteps Title IX issues and mitigates bag-man issues. The difference between ten grand and zero dollars is a lot more compelling than 40 grand and 50 grand. While it'll still have some influence, other factors actually become more prominent.
I mean isn't this really just bidding wars for free agents that we see in pro sports?
Even if this is a negative, and I'm not sure it is, it is already happening.
Should all the athletes get the same wage and who decides the pay scale? Wouldn't there then be problems with different "salaries?"
We seem to have figured this out for everyone else in America. I don't understand why this is a particular issue for athletes.
Do "student athletes" also get a scholarship?
Yes. I mean, it's a perk that costs the university almost nothing and has great symbolic value.
Is competitive balance a casualty? Poorer and smaller schools certainly won't be able to afford top recruits, and maybe not even the stipend, so do we just have the same handful of teams who can actually afford to be competitive and get national exposure, eliminate the "Cinderellas" and certain universities' football programs altogether?
Unless you can find a kid who chose the MAC over the Big Ten right now this is just the status quo.
I guess I just don't see a fix to an already broken system. There's a ton of money to be made and everybody wants a cut. Paying the athletes, which I'm not totally against and there are legitimate arguments for, isn't going to solve the problem entirely because the NCAA doesn't have any teeth to enforce their rules. Athletes will get a stipend but then there will still be bag men steering athletes to certain schools. In essence, they'll be getting paid twice.
There isn't a fix, other than dropping the Victorian-era approach to amateurism. Probably the most ludicrous regulation of all is that athletes can't sign with agents and maintain their eligibility. An agent! Someone who's job is to be an advocate and aid for your career, and you can't even say "you will be my agent" even without getting money and the NCAA yanks your eligibility. It's ridiculous.
Simply, the NCAA needs to look at the rules and decide which of them are even vaguely enforceable, then dump the rest.