ncaa: the hypocrisy and how to fix it
A note if you think you may have already read this post. You did. Your brain shut down because of the following section and won't let you remember it out of self defense. You should probably go read the Economist or something and come back later this afternoon.
what does any of this even mean [Bryan Fuller]
The nonsense doesn't stop. Ace covered much of this yesterday but since it just keeps coming, let's talk about satellite camps some more. Dennis Dodd wrote an article that was so nonsensical he took his twitter account private. In it he decries the hypocrisy of… I have no idea?
It's the reaction to closing that little loophole that smacks of hypocrisy. With satellite camps shutting down, the conversation suddenly became about depriving poor kids of opportunities.
This is in contrast to the conversation being about Harbaugh, I guess. This is because before Harbaugh was doing things, and now the NCAA is doing things. Thus the conversation shifts.
Proponents argued satellite camps provided “exposure.” I'm sorry, did that Internet that Harbaugh so expertly hijacked suddenly go down? Phone service, too?
This segues into a discussion of this new "Hudl" thing Dennis Dodd just discovered, which is so detailed that it even has… phone numbers. Therefore because Hudl there is no reason to have a camp. I'm not fisking this. This is not a fisk. I'm not
Here's the further hypocrisy: If satellite camps are truly about opportunities for recruits, it's about time to double down on that assertion.
Um, okay, and how would you do th
How about providing those same opportunities on the back end? Let college players participate in the NFL Combine without penalty. If they don't like their performance or draft projection, allow them to return to college and retain their eligibility.
AAAAAARGH WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING
THIS IS NOT A FISK
That jarring nonsequitur probably shut down many readers' brains and… just a second. Okay, I've prevented an infinite loop with the section at the top of this post. Anyway, in response to a satellite camp ban affecting high schoolers, Dennis Dodd suggests that the NCAA should loosen its rules for an entirely different cohort of people. He talks about the "hypocrisy" of people who don't like the ban without even gesturing towards a way in which their words and actions might conflict, and finally:
The whole satellite camp episode was a lot more about closing off Harbaugh than opening opportunities for all those deprived prospects.
This is 100% wrong. The clumsy total ban of satellite camps does significantly impact staffs and players around the country, leading to more unfortunate situations where a kid gets midway through his career only to discover that he's in the wrong place.
Gah. I'm going to do something more productive and argue with my plants.
Harbaugh don't stop can't stop. Dude is giving the commencement speech at Paramus. All I got for Michigan's commencement was some poet laureate.
There is a petition. While online petitions are of questionable efficacy, a big number on this one in what is essentially a PR battle might help something. Also it was started by Donovan Peoples-Jones's mother, which is interesting. We've heard a lot from current college athletes upset about the ban, but not so much from recruits. Even if this is indirect evidence it is evidence.
Mike Leach has no time for lyin'. Mike Leach is a gentleman and a pirate.
“The voting process, that’s a rabbled-up mystery too,” Leach said. “From what I understand, this is befuddling, and I do plan to find out because our conference voted to eliminate satellite camps, and yet the vast majority of schools in our conference were in favor of satellite camps.
“I can’t fathom how it’s possible we voted to eliminate it. I don’t know the details. Whether it’s smart, dumb or in the middle, it’s wrong. It’s wrong. If you’re some kid in south central LA who’s really worked hard at football and worked really hard for your grades, now all of a sudden you don’t have the opportunity to see as many schools as you would otherwise. That’s crazy.”
Leach said the vote will “further oppress low-income families.”
To be fair, the rule change was two sentences long. Hugh Freeze, he of the "you can't work because I don't want to work" quote, is also surprised about how words work in an Andy Staples article:
Monday morning, Freeze’s phone rang. On the other end was a coach wondering if he was no longer allowed to work the Ole Miss camp. The coach worked at an FBS school, and Freeze realized that coach would be banned by a rule passed Friday. … Freeze realized quickly that the ban had a serious consequence he hadn’t considered. In keeping Michigan coaches from working camps at high schools in Alabama, Florida and Georgia and Oklahoma State coaches from working camps at a Division III school in Texas, the schools also had banned Bowling Green coaches from working Ohio State’s camp and Arkansas State coaches from working the Ole Miss camp.
Freeze is clarifying his position into something even more selfish: you can work as long as you aren't competing with me.
“I would love to continue that,” Freeze said Monday. “I just don’t want satellite camps for the Power Five. I am for non-Power Five schools being able to attend and evaluate.”
This is so dumb it reminds me of the way college hockey works. We have a rule that 1) all athletes hate, 2) most of the Pac-12 hates despite the fact that they voted for this, 3) even people in support of it don't understand, and 4) turned the Sun Belt Commissioner into Perd Hapley. Staples again:
I’ve told you for a year that the satellite camp argument was one of the stupidest in the long and storied history of stupid NCAA rule arguments. It came to the stupidest logical conclusion Friday when a vote that should have been 11–4—because each Power Five conference vote counts double—against the ban came out 10–5 in favor of the ban.
Hugh Freeze's only asset as a coach is that he turns a blind eye to the most obvious bagmen in the country, and he will eventually be found out.
Yet another dumb thing. All other levels of football think satellite camps are fine. From an article on the impact to SMSB:
Despite the camp being held in Detroit, schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan programs will not have the opportunity to scout and interact with potential recruits in what could be considered each program's own backyard. However, Football Champions Subdivision, Division II and other coaches will still be able to be in attendance.
This really is a rule that some selfish coaches voted into existence because they didn't want to be jackhammers.
The great Hackenberg debate of 2016 is not much of a debate. PFF posted a draft evaluation of Christian Hackenberg, presumably because they don't have a draftable grade for him and people keep asking them about it. They explained themselves. Witheringly so:
This season his completion percentage when adjusted for drops, spikes, etc. was 64.0 percent, which was 120th in the nation. In 2014, he was 105th. Every accuracy number you look at sees Hackenberg struggle, and the tape shows the same thing.
Even when under no pressure at all this past season, he completed just 61.9 percent of his passes. That’s the same completion percentage Cardale Jones managed on all plays, not just pressure plays, and Jones is a player whose accuracy is seen as a negative.
Hackenberg’s completion percentage under no pressure at all of 61.9 percent would only have ranked 44th in the nation, if it was his real completion percentage.
This goes on and on for paragraphs, each piling more problems on Hackenberg as an NFL quarterback. While it is by no means a nice evaluation it is backed by a ton of numbers and game charting and more or less confirms what any neutral observer saw out of Hackenberg over the course of his career: brief moments of being John Elway amongst a sea of turfed screens and airmailed out routes. Michigan got a taste of that last year when Hackenberg put together a couple of pinpoint, NFL throws on a day where his other accomplishments were seeing Jabrill Peppers misplay a jump ball and piloting an offense that barely cracked 200 yards.
The PFF evaluation seemed pretty definitive to me, but Penn State folk kind of lost their minds about it. Black Shoe Diaries in particular:
At what point do I, as a Penn State alumnus and fan, step back and try to be even more subjective about the NFL draft stock of Christian Hackenberg?
Did you mean "objective"? Because it feels like you meant "objective," but then the rest of your piece makes me think that you actually meant "subjective" since it's all hand-waving at some pretty eye-popping stats. PSU fans seize on one error—the Allen Robinson catch at the end of regulation against M a couple years back is held up as a example of a bad decision without taking the game context into account—to dismiss the whole thing when it contains startling facts like "16% of Hackenberg screens are off target."
While I don't know exactly how PFF goes about their business, my grades and theirs for Michigan players generally line up*, and charting pass accuracy is probably the easiest thing I do. An outfit like PFF isn't going to be so far off with the above numbers that Hackenberg actually looks good. By a few hundred words into the piece it's clear that the dude is just swinging in the dark, and this…
Lack of Upside
…is waving a tiny punt flag in the face of a guy who actually put in the work. At least it led to one of the most entertainingly one-sided twitter fights in recent memory:
@PFF_Sam sure, feel free to cherrypick lowlights and use those to back up your contrarian conclusion, that's a thing normal people do
— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) April 11, 2016
This was said in response to a piece that dealt with every Christian Hackenberg throw over the past two years. He might get drafted but only because there are mugwumps running NFL teams. Hi, Jed York!
*[To the point that when they were pumping up the Michigan D and noted that only one major contributor wasn't grading out very positive I knew exactly who that was because I also had one major contributor not grading out very positive.]
Etc.: Basketball ticket sales not going well. Man hired to do job. Man has job, doesn't do it, and everyone thinks that's fine. Jimmy Vesey won the Hobey because the saps who vote for the thing bought his PR story about why he returned to college. Why does that even matter? I don't know, but it does.
Sound Mind Sound Body provided exposure for thousands of area players. [Rapai]
The NCAA ban on satellite camps—and coaching at camps away from campus, period—is an ill-considered, haphazard measure that serves the selfish interests of a select few millionaires while hurting the exact people the NCAA is supposed to serve: the student-athletes. That's been the near-universal reaction from current players, recruits, parents, and media members alike in the wake of the ruling.
Khalid Hill, Jourdan Lewis, and Moe Ways, all of whom participated in the Sound Mind Sound Body camp, spoke out against the ban on Twitter over the weekend. Hill had some particularly strong words for the NCAA:
All I got to say.... pic.twitter.com/HOVhsIJhw4
— Khalid Hill (@Thatboylid80) April 10, 2016
Of greater concern to, say, the SEC coaches who pushed for the legislation, current prospects and their parents are also outraged. Five-star Cass Tech senior Donovan Peoples-Jones wrote a note about how much SMSB helped him and other local prospects, many of whom didn't have the opportunity to attend on-campus camps, get noticed by college coaches:
— Donovan P. Jones (@dpeoplesjones) April 10, 2016
Recruits and coaches at Bob Jones and Prattville high schools in Alabama, two of the planned stops on Michigan's summer camp tour, also lamented the lost opportunity:
Bob Jones coach Kevin Rose anticipated the camp at his school would draw about 500 players.
"I was really disappointed because, in my opinion, it's a lost opportunity for high school kids and high school coaches, especially that kid that's maybe not quite tall enough to make the measurables," Rose said. "We have a couple of guys that I think in a satellite camp setting could make a case for themselves, and obviously you're not going to drive to Ann Arbor or Michigan from Madison, Alabama. If they come to you, that's a great opportunity for kids and coaches. ... From our perspective, we feel like that was something very positive for high school football in north Alabama."
While the efficacy of change.org petitions is up for debate, it's very notable that one of the most-signed petitions calling for a reversal of the ban was started by Rozlyn Peoples, Donovan Peoples-Jones' mother. It's already surpassed 5000 signatures.
On Friday April 7th The SEC, ACC, PAC12, BIG12, Sunbelt and MWC conferences voted not to allow FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) coaches to work camps at sites away from their campuses. This new rule will restrict and reduce educational opportunities for high school students and their parents by lowering the opportunities for youth to showcase their athletic talents and earn a college scholarship. If college coaches are only allowed to work camps on their campus there will be far less scholarship offers to high school students in the summer of 2016. This will in turn have a disproportionate impact on parents in the class of 2017 because:
-1. The effective immediate date of the NCAA ruling means they will not be able to see multiple college coaches the summer prior to their last year of high school
-2. The conflicting institutional camp schedule makes it impossible for students to attend multiple camps
3. The majority of students and parents that this affects come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.
Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel penned an open letter to the NCAA asking for them to reverse course; they could do so before the end of the month:
On April 28, you will decide whether to approve a proposal passed late last week by the Division-I Council that bans FBS football coaches from conducting or working at camps and clinics outside of their program's regular facilities -- a.k.a. satellite camps. I realize that in most instances your role is primarily to rubber-stamp legislation, but in this instance, I'd urge you to rescind this ill-conceived measure.
It badly fails the one constituency your organization purports to protect -- the athletes themselves.
I wouldn't normally hold my breath for the NCAA to do something right, but the outcry in this instance has been remarkable. In one corner, you have the athletes (current, future, and former), their parents, high school coaches, media members, and a decent chunk of the NCAA's member institutions. In the other corner, you have this:
Freeze: "I’m selfish with my time,” he said. “I’m away from my family enough, and I just did not want to go." https://t.co/QPjNOK5QDf
— angelique (@chengelis) April 10, 2016
Hugh Freeze is paid $4.9 million per year to coach football in an area with enough talent that he has little need for satellite camps. He doesn't want to work harder for those $4.9 million, which is fine; that's his prerogative. What's not fine is he doesn't want anyone else to be allowed to provide these opportunities, which would probably cause him to have to work harder to avoid falling behind, and won't someone think of Hugh Freeze's children? Just, uh, while you do so, don't think about all those other children—the thousands trying to earn scholarships to attend college because their parents don't make $4.9 million per year.
At least he admits he's selfish, I guess.
The NCAA has banned satellite camps, because… [404 reason not found]. But it's done:
DI Council also approves rule requiring FBS camps and clinics be conducted on a school's campus or in regular facilities.
— NCAA (@NCAA) April 8, 2016
I have literally not seen a single peep in favor of this ruling anywhere public, from coaches to athletes to media members. A couple of reporters covering the SEC have related the private thoughts of coaches happy they can binge-watch Everybody Loves Raymond again, but ain't nobody coming out and waving the flag in favor of a rule change that literally only benefits people making 300k+.
This isn't going to have a major impact on Michigan, but it rankles because it is so transparently opposite the NCAA's claimed mission. If there's anyone who takes the NCAA's increasingly hilarious self-promotion seriously anymore, this should end that. It's a cartel of self-interested asshats operating under a veneer of virtue, because you can do astounding things as long as you have said veneer.
Meanwhile Jim Delany sits in a corner burbling about cable subscribers and counting his millions of dollars. What a country.
Additional thoughts will be introduced with an innovative bolded in-line title.
Q: SMSB? Over the past ten years, Sound Mind Sound Body has become a very large camp indeed, one featuring dozens of college coaches and four digits worth of athletes. Either the NCAA just bombed that camp hard or maybe there's a loophole. That loophole could be SMSB's charity nature. Coaches have been allowed there because they volunteer their time, IIRC, and the word choice in the ruling is specific:
SPORTS LAW HIVEMIND: Does the fact that this is "employed" and not "may not participate" mean what I think it does? pic.twitter.com/MpVJSaRRCX
— Bryan Mac (@Bry_Mac) April 8, 2016
If SMSB happens as planned then this is a non-ruling easily evaded. Michigan coaches can just go volunteer at the various SMSB-alikes that will proliferate like mushrooms after a rain.
If college coaches disappear then it's game over.
Ugh, work. This is simultaneously frustrating and very good for Michigan:
The SEC coaches I talked to were keeping their fingers crossed that satellite camps were outlawed. Just more work for everybody.
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) April 8, 2016
Harbaugh is still working harder than your coach. Your coaches who are making six- and seven-figure salaries on the backs of unpaid labor. They are going to sit in a circle and go "LOL remember that time we stopped Harbaugh from working" as Harbaugh invents new ways to torture his enemies.
Hooray lawsuits! This is now very relevant. Jack Swarbrick, ND AD and law-talking guy, on the legal defensibility of the ban:
“The NCAA does not have a very good track record of limiting, without losing an antitrust lawsuit, economic opportunities for coaches,” Swarbrick said Tuesday at the College Football Playoff meetings. “So they should be treading very lightly. The perception is these are school opportunities. A lot of these are coach opportunities purely. Imagine a rule that said, as was introduced years ago, coaches couldn't do national televised advertising because it created a recruiting advantage. … I wouldn't want to defend those lawsuits.”
A 1999 lawsuit resulting from an NCAA rule that limited assistant coach salaries to 16k a year(!) was victorious, leading to the free-for-all you see today. It'll be tough to win that lawsuit if it does come. So we've got that going for us when this hypothetical trial wraps up a decade from now.
[HT: Carl Paulus]
Disappointed to read satellite camp news-better solutions than a ban- will hurt PSA's & Group of 5 schools. pic.twitter.com/fhmEDnn2ve
— Pat Fitzgerald (@coachfitz51) April 8, 2016
This is not a surgical strike. Via Steve Wiltfong, non-Power 5 coaches are of course upset:
The new ruling basically says mid-major programs aren't allowed to participate in camps not held on campus. For instance, MAC schools flock to Big Ten camps as say an Ohio State camp generally only has a handful of kids good enough to play for the Buckeyes but several that could play for Ball State, Kent State, Toledo or Western Michigan.
Two MAC coaches told 247Sports they weren't sure how this rule affects them. One said "shocking."
Given that I wonder how the hell this legislation even passed. All Group of Five schools should be against it. The Big Ten should be against it. Big chunks of the Big 12, Pac 12, and ACC should be against it. Not only is it transparently against the interests of athletes, it's transparently against the interests of most of D-I.
Good lord, Harbaugh. Perhaps the greatest tragedy in all of this is that we didn't have to clone Sam Webb and almost kill both of 'em:
247Sports is told Michigan had 30 camps lined up, they were going to split groups and sometimes do two a day. Stops would have included North Florida, South Florida, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio, Maryland and Connecticut.
Jim Harbaugh is always himself at maximum volume. Gonna be some fun times in the near future, satellite camps or no.
the world is a vampire [Bryan Fuller]
Exit Spike. This is not fair, to dredge up the sadness that I already went through once when Spike retired:
Michigan’s Spike Albrecht told ESPN he was granted his release today and plans to play next season elsewhere as a grad transfer.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 29, 2016
Bleah. Michigan has Xavier Simpson coming in and is already one over on scholarships after the Tyus Battle recruitment caused Beilein to break bad, so that was more or less inevitable. I would hope that Spike at least avoids Big Ten schools even if Michigan doesn't restrict that. (If they can restrict a grad transfer. It is not clear to me they can.) It'll be interesting to see if he lands at a major program or ends up at a mid-major because of the hips. It'll be fun to root for Spike if he's got 30% usage on a 14-seed. If he's at Indiana not so much.
I'm not hearing any of the many complaints about Beilein's roster management here. Michigan had a plan, and that plan is a good plan. Spike's injury is an event you cannot anticipate, and once it happens you've got a choice between carrying a third point guard for a year and shoving some other dude off the roster. No offense intended to Spike but this was the way to go.
The upcoming Deal. The Big Ten's media rights are coming up for bid in the near future, probably for the last time ever in a cable bundle world. Andy Staples surveys the scene:
If this were 2013, when the cable bundle felt as if it would stay intact for much longer, ESPN could throw money at the Big Ten for two reasons: The rights are valuable, and an exclusive deal for the league's first-tier rights would essentially choke out Fox and ensure that all of the best college games aired on ESPN networks. Under that scenario, the amount of money would extend into the ludicrous, as Fox would counter with a huge amount because it needs those games to attract viewers. …
This mega-bidding war likely won't happen for two reasons. First, networks will be constrained by the economic factors described above. Second, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany may want to split up the rights. He has fought his battles with ESPN, but he also knows the Worldwide Leader can stop talking about a conference that doesn't appear on its air. Meanwhile, Fox owns 51% of the Big Ten Network, so it is a valuable partner. … The Big Ten will still probably double or even triple the previous deal and cement itself as the highest-grossing conference in college sports.
And thus the amateurism model will become even more untenable.
Staples wonders about how long this deal will be; the answer will probably depend on the channels. The Big Ten should take the longest possible deal since by the end of it there's a strong possibility it's a boat anchor for the broadcasters no longer being propped up by little old ladies who just want to watch NCIS.
Please remember this if they go in a submarine again. Baumgardner:
I've seen Michigan's football team practice for a total of 16 hours this spring. Five practices. I haven't been around for 50 years, but it's probably safe to say this month has featured more on-field practice access than those previous 50 years combined. This sort of stuff doesn't happen around here. It really never has.
I only got to see four of those and even so they are quite an antidote to the antics that surround the program. I mean, it's not like it's a surprise that Jim Harbaugh is a football coach who runs football practices, but there are folks who lose the forest for the twitter blasts. In reality those take up about a hundredth of one percent of Harbaugh's time and the football takes up the rest of it, with occasional forays to Peru or Paris mixed in.
Anyway, this period of media openness is likely to end abruptly on Friday; Harbaugh will fill in the rest of the offseason with fluff* and then maybe evaporate for a month. Even so this period of détente with the outside world has been pretty cool.
*[Fluff like 140 characters fired off at Gene Smith that this dude in Cleveland managed to spin into a novella.]
Seth Davis is making easily rebutted points again. Scam-hawking, stat-hating Seth Davis is one of the most unlikeable college basketball media members around so of course he's going to write a long thing about how the NCAA is terrific and amateurism is too:
Yes, the “system” (whatever that means these days) needs to be constantly upgraded to deliver more and more benefits to the student-athletes. But many people are unaware of the extent to which the NCAA has reformed itself over the last two years to do a better job taking care of the players. Thanks to a new governance structure that allows the Power Five conference schools to take the reins, players are now permitted to receive several thousand dollars in stipends in addition to their scholarships to allow them to cover the costs of attending school. There are basically no restrictions on how much food the schools can serve. For the second straight year, schools are permitted (but not required) to pay the travel expenses of players’ families so they can attend NCAA tournament games.
That all sounds great, but Get The Picture points something out:
…all those improvements he cites in his first paragraph there came not voluntarily from the NCAA, but in response to pressure the student-athletes brought in the courts and with the NLRB. And those kids aren’t so stupid as to avoid noticing that pressure gets results, even with a bunch as stubborn as the schools are. After all, learning lessons is what students do.
Power 5 autonomy is more or less a panicked response to the lawsuits and NLRB unionization threats designed to hand out an incremental improvement in situations so that revenue athletes don't realize Jim Delany makes how much? and try to get some of that lucre for themselves. Davis says athletes are "feted like kings" like that's a point in the NCAA's favor rather than clear evidence that there's too much money sloshing around in the system because the workers aren't paid.
Hockey exits. No surprises yet. Werenski is out the door already; Downing is likely to be so in the near future. I guess it's good that we haven't heard about Kyle Connor yet—come on expansion draft caution—but I'm not getting the ol' hopes up there.
Hockey changes. Brad Traviolia talked to CHN in the aftermath of the Notre Dame move. One item of note is that this championship tournament model is dead-dead-dead:
Traviolia: The only thing off the table, I think, is the status quo. ... An all-comers, neutral-site format is not the best option for us. We can do better. We're not really leaning one way. We're open to the whole gamut. Whether we do everything on campus, whether we do a hybrid of campus and neutral site, whether we want to stand alone, and whether we want to work with other conferences. I think we want to explore all options.
Well, at least that makes sense as long as they don't go for that goofy super-tournament thing in St. Paul. "Campus sites," he said over and over again until he died.
Traviolia also pointed out that the Big Ten was an 11-team league for 20 years, so folks shouldn't assume they're going to add an eighth team just to add an eighth team. TBH I'd rather have the enforced byes a 7 team league brings than the scheduling compromises an eight-team league imposes… unless the eighth team is a compelling one.
Maybe that hockey eligibility rule isn't so ridiculous. College hockey has always been open to older players, and for the most part that's been a good thing. A higher average age has improved the overall level of play to the point where the NCAA is 30% of the NHL* and kept smaller schools in the hunt for championships in a way they aren't in any other sport.
That said, things are getting kind of ridiculous:
…more than two-thirds of the 2015-16 freshman class reached its 20th birthday before playing a college game.
That is two years after high school. You get one year in all other sports. The Big Ten wants to make that the cap, not three, and while the way they've gone about it is offputting I don't think the move itself is particularly drastic or uncalled for. (A lot of these guys who pan out in a big way will sign "early" with NHL teams… at 22 or 23.)
*[It's not that the old guys are getting to the league, although some do. It's more that the NCAA is more attractive as a developmental route because it's tougher than it would otherwise be.]
Etc.: More RPO is coming, specifically at Penn State. No night game this year. People are way more upset about this than I thought they'd be. Exit Steve Racine, puck magnet. Drew Sharp heal thyself. Exiting hockey seniors advise patience for underclassmen making decisions. Defensive practice takes from Touch The Banner.
The Dodgers have a TV deal that is costing Time Warner nine digits a year because nobody wants to pay the exorbitant fees TW is trying to extract from other providers. An interesting article from a couple years ago about John Beilein and how his players perform in the NBA.
— Purdue University (@LifeAtPurdue) March 3, 2016
WELL NOW I CAN'T CLOSE MY EYES AND RELAX EVER AGAIN ARE YOU HAPPY PURDUE
you probably are
damn you purdue
More work for Chief Enunciator Ace Anbender. Michigan's hired former Hawaii and Cleveland Browns coach Tony Tuioti as Chris Partridge's replacement. Michigan seems to be consciously trying to have one guy who is super-connected with every fertile recruiting ground they can find. While Hawaii might not be a likely spot for recruits, Tuioti is Polynesian. Polynesia is kind of a location you can get recruits, sometimes ukelele-playing recruits with massive manes of awesome hair who can play fullback and tailback. These are good recruits to get.
Greg Sankey has lost in the court of public opinion. He'll probably win in the court that matters, but it's nice to see that the portions of the media not completely dependent on the SEC for food and shelter* aren't buying what Sankey's selling one bit. Dan Wetzel:
College players can't negotiate the time off that NFLers have – organized team activities for the pros don't begin until late April and often not until late May. That's four or five months off for most players. Somehow the sport thrives. In college you get less than two – which doesn't even count crack-of-dawn "voluntary" weight training sessions just a week or so after a bowl game.
No one seems too concerned about that.
To focus solely on the issue of a handful of off-campus spring practices by one school, however, is to engage in absurd selectivity. The idea that players need spring break to themselves is a nice concept, but not some irrefutable argument.
Many players, just like most regular college students, can't afford to go away for spring break, no matter what the old movies claim. The majority of cash strapped "normal" students probably use the time to work.
A breeze floated in off the Gulf of Mexico a few miles west. The temperature had just dropped into the 60s following the sun’s plunge into the pink horizon. As darkness fell and palm trees swayed, Michigan tight end Jake Butt discussed getting his spring break ripped away by his taskmaster coach.
“We don’t have to worry about classes now. All we can focus on is football, and then we’re out on the beach relaxing. It’s unbelievable,” Butt said Tuesday. “Not everyone on our team is going to be able to take a spring break to get away. We’re away. We’re down here in Florida. Beautiful territory. Sun shining. Not too hot. Nice breeze. Eating great food with our brothers. I don’t have anything negative to say about it.”
What, you thought he was going to complain?
Are college sports power brokers actually concerned that Michigan's football players will be working on out patterns instead of holding down the business end of beer bongs? I doubt it. To the contrary, I think their supposed reservations are basically a tell—you know, the subtle tip-off a bad gambler does when he's bluffing—that lets the rest of us know just what actually matters in major college sports.
Hint: it isn't making sure football players have a relaxing Spring Break.
Bob Wojnowski caught up with a local high school coach who had a couple of insightful quotes:
“Because I also coached in college for years, I realize the value of what these kids are experiencing,” Gerber said. “Most of these kids aren’t gonna afford a spring break. And if you watch the tempo and demeanor of the practice, it’s purposeful, but they’re not bludgeoning them. It’s a learning environment. This has been very well thought out.”
I has occurred to me that the local media probably doesn't mind a working vacation in early March.
*[Or, like Michael Weinreb, have a contract with the devil requiring a concern troll about Michigan every six months.]
Hello: Jerry Kill? Per Sid Hartman, Jerry Kill might end up with a job in Ann Arbor if he wants it:
This week Kill spent time with his close friend, TCU coach Gary Patterson, and could wind up on his staff. Kill has always been close to Jack Harbaugh, father of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, and rumors around the Big Ten are that a job on the Wolverines staff is his if he wants it.
With Michigan's full assistant roster complete that would be one of those analyst positions that's come open as those gents move up the ladder. Everybody loves Kill and he has an impressive track record of dragging maximum performance out of iffy recruits, so that would be an excellent move.
A Fanhouse oral history. The Comeback has an enormous oral history of Fanhouse which is an excellent insight into how the first corporate sports blog rose and fall. I was a part of it from the beginning and faded away towards the end; only one of my completely fire takes made it in the story:
Brian Cook, college football blogger, FanHouse: I think hiring Mariotti was the most tone-deaf ridiculous thing they could have possibly done. Because he was just a blowhard, right? One of the things Spencer Hall says about SB Nation is [it's] the [internet's] the only sports appreciation machine. We weren’t lecturing from the top of a mountain like a lot of newspaper people tend to do. We were just fans being fans. And when you bring in the guys that do talk at you from the top of the mountain, do the Mariotti stuff, it’s completely antithetical [to] what the whole point of the enterprise was.
Fanhouse was an important bridge for me personally, as it allowed me to focus on MGoBlog without digging into savings. But this here site remained my focus because it wasn't tough to predict that AOL would not be in the content game long term. As a #content factory Fanhouse produced almost exclusively disposable content. Meanwhile it was difficult for it to have any specific voice when so many different people were contributing to it. The structure of the compensation—pay per post with a monthly on top of it—lent itself to lots of posts that took little time. The results were what you might expect.
Spencer's take on it is correct:
Spencer Hall, college football blogger, FanHouse, now editorial director of SB Nation:FanHouse was pretty good, but I don’t get sentimental over it. And honestly I don’t remember, I couldn’t name a thing that was written on FanHouse 10 years later. I could not name one piece that neither I nor anyone else wrote on FanHouse. I think it was a happy accident that I don’t want people to sanctify, which I would pretty much say about anything. I’d just like you to remember it accurately. It gave a lot of really cool people their first high-profile chance. I think in terms of mistakes, a lot of mistakes that the people running FanHouse made led to good things down the road.
Fanhouse was an early adopter and as such doomed to the same fate early adopters usually meet. It was housed in a large corporation that didn't really know how do to anything except its declining legacy business. It had some smart people in upper management; they were smart enough to know that they should get out while the getting was good. Those who remained thought Jay Mariotti was a good idea, and the story writes itself from there.
Fetch Tony Barnhart's fainting couch. If the man with Greg Sankey's hand up his back thinks it's "inappropriate" to issue barbs at another conference's commissioner there's no way he'll manage to stay upright after this:
Suggestion to my Rocky Top colleague, rather than lunch in Florida you might spend your time and focus attending to your present team.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) March 3, 2016
Tennessee is of course facing a Title IX lawsuit focused on Butch Jones's program, one that featured an explosive affidavit from a former player in which he asserted that Jones called him a "traitor" for helping a victimized woman.
Get The Picture deconstructed an earlier Barnhart article if you're still fisk-inclined.
Graham Glasgow on Harbaugh. Ain't no time for feelings around these parts any more:
"He's treated everyone in our program essentially, not like a child, but he treated them like an adult -- like, as a man," Glasgow said. "And every talk he had with you would be man-to-man. He was brutally honest about everything."
This is probably the least surprising quote about Harbaugh I've ever heard. It is interesting that it seems like a departure from Hoke.
This is a good interview. The Daily catches up with an outraged Joe Cecconi:
TMD: Who is messier, you or Cooper?
Cecconi: Cooper. I always clean up. His side of the room is disgusting. He’s got all his guitars and his amps and all that crap everywhere.
TMD: Is it annoying living with somebody who makes so much noise making music?
Cecconi: He actually goes downstairs, to be honest. Sometimes he’ll give me a performance, and I’ll be tired and it helps me fall asleep, so it’s good.
TMD: Why weren’t you featured in his recent song?
Cecconi: I don’t know. I got to talk to him about that. I’m not too happy.
Tension in the locker room.
Etc.: Eliminating pro-rel in soccer would be terrible for everyone except the elite few, but some Brandon figure named Charlie Stillitano thinks it's a great idea. All five of Michigan's current 2019 hockey recruits have been invited to the NTDP evaluation camp. Kirby Smart spent more on plane travel than Harbaugh did. Jim Harbaugh's son might accidentally get elected to student government.
A man who knew how to live.
RIP Terry Pratchett. British author Terry Pratchett died on Thursday at 66, eight years after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.
Occasionally, people ask me about how to be a successful writer. This is kind of like asking a football player about his rad interception after the game—I don't really know, it just happened. But no one likes that answer. So my second-best guess is that I read many different things over a long period of time, and written various things for public consumption all along. Eventually I'd cribbed my style from so many different people that the pastiche seems like something its own. Voila: writer with Voice.
Pratchett was the first and most painfully obvious theft of the Big Four. (The others: Bloom County author Berke Breathed, David Foster Wallace, and SI's Paul Zimmerman.) He had not yet made a successful transition to this side of the Atlantic, but I had a friend in high school whose aunt was in British publishing. She passed Pratchett along to him, and he doled the books out to me one at a time. I lost one once and was terrified that I would not be entrusted with additional precious objects. But my friend kept giving them to me. For a time afterwards my prose was littered with jaunty footnotes and anthropomorphizations of natural forces. A pale imitation of the real thing.
I kept some of that, toning it down, and as I was reading the internet's obituary of the man I found this, in his own words:
There is a term that readers have been known to apply to fantasy that is sometimes an unquestioning echo of better work gone before, with a static society, conveniently ugly “bad” races, magic that works like electricity, and horses that work like cars. It’s EFP, or Extruded Fantasy Product. It can be recognized by the fact that you can’t tell it apart from all the other EFP.
Do not write it, and try not to read it. Read widely outside the genre. Read about the Old West (a fantasy in itself) or Georgian London or how Nelson’s navy was victualled or the history of alchemy or clock making or the mail coach system. Read with the mind-set of a carpenter looking at trees.
This is what I've done. I barely read sports books. I get a lot of them in the mail, or at least I used to before people cottoned onto the fact that a review was not likely to be forthcoming. I read fiction, right now mostly science fiction, and I think it serves the site well.
Pratchett was endlessly creative and subversive, often taking hallowed but trope-laden fantasy novels apart then reassembling them into a half-parodic, half-genuine whole far better than the source material. He found a platform, then found that he'd rather make his own characters than repackage the frustrating ones he found elsewhere. He was excellent at this as well. He always maintained a healthy fear of hollow marketing—Pratchett elves are twisted creatures who live in a neighboring dimension that project an aura of glamour that iron disrupts. His most prominent and probably favorite character was DEATH, yes with the bones and the scythe and everything. He was simultaneously very weird and very kind and very upset, and I'll miss him.
If you're interested in trying him out, I recommend Good Omens, a book he wrote with Neil Gaiman, Guards! Guards!, and Small Gods.
YES OKAY. I did think to myself "by dang, Dave Brandon was selling Extruded Michigan Product" when I read that.
Leach + Ufer. Via Dr. Sap:
Enter the 30 second shot clock. The NIT is experimenting with that and an NBA-size restricted circle, both of which are changes I can get behind as a COLLEGE BASKETBALL CRISIS skeptic. Kenpom notes that the Vegas over/unders for opening-round NIT games differ from his numbers by…
Predicted total score of Tuesday’s NIT gamesMe Market Ala/Ill 126 136 GW/Pitt 125 136 NCC/Miami 117 129 UTEP/Murray 144 151 Mont/TAMU 125 134 UCD/Stan 140 148 Iona/URI 144 152
The difference here is an average of seven percent. Apply that to the average scoring this season of 66.85 points per game and you’d get 71.5. That’s over a point higher than last season when the scoring average was propped up by an increase in free throws early in the season. And it’s higher than any season since 1996.
…seven percent, which in fact precisely offsets the drop in possessions from 2002 (the first year for which Kenpom has data) to 2015. Kenpom also points out that the drop from 45 seconds to 35 resulted in just a two percent increase in pace.
If this year's NIT doesn't show a large negative impact on efficiency, I would expect the 30 second clock to become standard in the near future.
Miller says adios. Already covered by Ace when it happened; Miller releases his own reasoning on twitter. It sounds like he was just done with football. This kind of thing happens when you have a transition, and if Miller didn't have much of an NFL career in the wings (he didn't) it makes sense to just go be in the world… if the alternative you most closely associate with continuing is the last two years of Michigan football followed by a jarring change.
I don't think this is a major issue since Michigan finally has a lot of depth that is not any variety of freshman. It is an indication that the team spirit was worn down extensively over the past couple years. It's one thing to walk away from an NFL job—it's a job. It's another, or at least should be another, to do so when you could be a senior at Michigan. Hopefully Harbaugh can restore that difference.
But it could be a problem because… Graham Glasgow violated the terms of his probation and is suspended as a result. The nature of his violation is worrying:
Michigan offensive lineman Graham Glasgow has been suspended from the program, according to a UM spokesman, after testing .086 on a Breathalyzer given on Sunday and violating his probation.
Testing barely over the legal limit to drive is not a big deal if you are not driving… except this test was done at ten in the morning. That is a red flag.
If Glasgow comes through this okay and gets a handle on things, the OL can sustain Miller's departure by sliding him back to center and inserting Erik Magnuson with little loss of efficacy. If Glasgow flames out, then things start to look a bit thin.
Harbaugh is hands on. Knuckle placement.
Hearing about it is one thing.
But seeing your head coach lying on the ground during practice to demonstrate the proper center-quarterback exchange technique?
Well, things get real at that point.
"He's really hands on with everything," the Michigan junior running back said with a smile Thursday. "When I first saw him (on the ground like that), I was like 'why is he doing this?' But I asked the centers the next day if that helped them and they said it did, they said that was the first time anyone had showed them something like that.
"So, I enjoyed it."
"…and barely avoided bursting into laughter like Derrick. RIP Derrick."
More people. Erik Campbell returns to staff as a… guy… who does… things. Probably works with film, breaks down opponent tendencies, that sort of thing. Michigan also added Cleveland St. Ed's head coach Jim Finotti as their Ops guy.
Obligatory. John Oliver on the NCAA:
It's a racket. Related: here's Andy Schwarz on Purdue's "internal services" sleight of hand. Long story short, Purdue takes profit from the athletic department and pretends it's an expense they are paying for. In this way it appears like the Boilermakers are not in the black, helping the NCAA cry poverty.
Finally. Bill Raftery, at 73, gets to call the Final Four. Raftery manages to bring the enthusiasm Dick Vitale does without being a braying nonsense merchant; he is one of the chosen few media people who can be utterly himself without getting in trouble for it and still be awesome. (Another: Scott Van Pelt.)
On long practices. Joe Bolden:
“I would say it’s probably the longest I’ve ever been on the football field, other than a game with a rain delay like Utah last year,” said senior linebacker Joe Bolden. “To me it flies by. If you tell a high school or college kid that they’re going to have a four-hour practice in pads they’ll think you’re a bit crazy. But at the same time, you don’t think about it when you’re out there. Your body can take a lot more than you think it can. If he wants to practice six hours, and it’s (within the practice time cap), then we’ll practice six hours.”
This man was not one of the Big Four influences. A nation realizes that those rabid anti-Rosenberg Michigan fans were probably right all along.
— cuppycup (@cuppycup) March 17, 2015
Etc.: Engineering your bracket. MGoGirl basketball post mortem. Jordan Morgan has a foundation now. John Harbaugh talking to the team. Enter another Glasgow. A comprehensive look at when to foul late in basketball games.