Peppers at 10, which seems low.
ncaa: the lawsuits
APR check-in. We no longer have to do the thing with the books and the deep dive into what is required of Michigan to avoid penalties, so let's just jam the latest APR data into a UV bullet. Michigan's multi-year football APR is now a very shiny 989, which is seventh nationally and somehow only fourth in the Big Ten:
Again, a lot of credit for this has to go to Brady Hoke, who inherited a bad situation and made it very good. Also that's another thing James Franklin lags his peers in.
Every other Michigan sport did very well, with many batting 1000.
Just when the satellite camp thing can't get any weirder. UCLA AD Dan Guerrero "didn't vote the way he was supposed to" per Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott:
New twist in satellite camp ban. Pac-12 commish Larry Scott says their rep, Dan Guerrero, "did not vote the way he was supposed to vote."
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) April 20, 2016
That makes two conferences who are utterly baffled at their own dang vote, with the Sun Belt the other. If those conferences had voted the way the vast majority of their coaches had wanted, the camp ban fails 8-7.
Guerrero's attempt to justify his vote is as bizarre as you might expect:
“My assessment was that one of the two was going to pass, and we didn’t know which one,” Guerrero said. “I had to vote for 59 because if that failed and 60 passed, Pac-12 schools would have been at a disadvantage.”
59 is the total ban. 60 allowed camps in the same state or within 50 miles. The Pac-12 apparently has a rule that wouldn't allow them to take advantage of the latter. Guerrero seems oblivious to the fact that the Pac-12 can, you know, change its own rules. He was also oblivious to the fact that the ACC and SEC were going to press for a camp ban…
“Going into the meetings, it was the feeling of many members of the D1 Council that these proposals would be tabled at the request of the FOC, thereby rendering both of these proposals moot, and keeping the current rule relative to ‘satellite camps’ unchanged,” he wrote to his colleagues last week.
…despite the ACC and SEC publicly proclaiming they would do so for a solid year. People in charge of things are just in charge of them, man. I mean, this is the whole email Guerrero sent out:
“Prior to these meetings, I had extensive conversations with Pac-12 representatives in regard to the Conference’s position on a number of legislative proposals — the ‘satellite camp’ proposals included,” Guerrero wrote to his Pac-12 colleagues. “With an 0–11–1 vote cast by the Pac-12 Council, a vote to oppose [both] proposals was the charge with the ultimate goal to refer the legislation [back] to the Football Oversight Committee (FOC).
“Going into the meetings, it was the feeling of many members of the D1 Council that these proposals would be tabled at the request of the FOC, thereby rendering both of these proposals moot, and keeping the current rule relative to ‘satellite camps’ unchanged. In fact this was the preferred outcome by our Conference as indicated in the preparatory materials I received prior to the meeting.
“When this did not happen … I made the call to support [the ACC’s version], which was the preference of the two options.”
That is a pile of wordvomit that an eighth-grader should be embarrassed about. It's flabbergasting that an athletic director can barely express himself.
Overdue for some Sankey smarm no doubt. Yep:
“What’s caught me by surprise is the notion that there’s a lot of name-calling and finger-pointing,” he said. “It’s not a healthy byproduct of the legislative process.”
When you have no case on the merits, attack the tone of the people with a case. That is also a brutally awkward construction, but I guess these days the job of an NCAA muckety-muck is not to explain but to obscure. Speaking of…
Let's define what a bubble is first. Economist Andrew Zimbalist thinks the NCAA is currently in a bubble environment because they might have to play players:
Zimbalist says this kind of spending is not sustainable, and he thinks litigation of some stripe — courts deciding players can be paid beyond their scholarships, for instance — could cause the bubble to burst. Among the other potential wildcards are an ongoing lawsuit pertaining to athlete compensation limits that seeks hundreds of millions in damages, concussion lawsuits, or a change in the National Labor Relations Board’s position on college athletes unionizing.
“There are big-time things leading it to pop,” says Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College and author of Unpaid Professionals: Commercializationand Conflict in Big-Time College Sports. “It’s an unstable situation.”
This is a weird way to define a "bubble." If college athletics are in a bubble situation it's because of the changing landscape of cable. Their bubble is more or less ESPN's bubble, with ticket sales in an HD world a potential additional factor. Once people with no interest in sports can watch Naked and Afraid without having to give six bucks to ESPN, there might have to be some belt-tightening. Obviously, that doesn't appear to be kicking in just yet, or any time soon—CBS just extended its deal for the NCAA Tournament until 2032.
Being forced to reallocate revenues to athletes and away from coaches, administrators, and nine-digit palaces for nonrevenue sports is not a "bubble" unless you take an exceedingly narrow view of the stakeholders here. And, yes, for the vast majority of NCAA schools this discussion is irrelevant. For the ones for which it is relevant, their ever-increasing income is the opposite of a bubble. If this quote applies at all…
Zimbalist says athletics departments simply can’t keep spending so much. “Politically, it’s not sustainable,” he says. “Legally, it’s not sustainable. Economically, it’s not sustainable.”
…it's to the second tier who are a trying to keep up with the Joneses, which is an entirely different situation than most Power 5 schools find themselves in.
If you'd like a more erudite take, John Gasaway was also irritated by this article:
For starters the nominal news hook presented by the numbers — most athletic departments operate at what they are pleased to term deficits — would seem to be something of an awkward fit for our traditional stock of “bubble” iconography. Maybe it’s me, but I always assumed that tulip merchants in 1637, the South Sea Company in 1720, Webvan.com in 1999, and subprime lenders in 2006 instead showed astronomic operating surpluses. In fact I rather thought this was precisely the red flag in those cases.
Changing the distribution of a pie does not change the pie. I mean:
In 2011, the University of Michigan athletic department employed 253 people, according to state records. Four years later, in 2015, it was 334, up 32 percent.
During that period, the average salary grew 22.4 percent, to $89,851. Over a seven-year span, the number of athletic department employees making six figures went from 30 to 81. …
Michigan didn't add 32 percent more sports in those four years, or 32 percent more scholarship athletes, requiring 32 percent more staffing.
It just made about $30 million more dollars per year, from $122.7 million in 2011 to $152.5 million in 2015. Most of the increase came courtesy of the Big Ten Network.
Schools have a motivation to spend all the money they make so it looks like they don't have enough to pay their athletes. Dave Brandon's Michigan was the leading edge of a nationwide trend.
The reason this article comes out annually. USA Today has updated its database of income and expenses for D-I schools. Michigan is fourth behind Texas A&M (which had a huge donation surge for stadium renovations they're undertaking and will slide back into the pack next year), Texas, and OSU. They've still got that niggling 200k or so a year counted as a university subsidy that looks bad despite the obvious fact that they don't need to have their income supplemented.
But would you go back in time to kill Baby Anonymous NFL Scout? It's that time of year again where NFL types operating under a cloak of anonymity slam the character of various draft prospects. One article out of Wisconsin on the quarterback class has an absolute pile of "say that to my face" quotes. On Connor Cook:
"Let's put it this way: he's not Kirk Cousins," another scout said. "The person kills him. Selfish. He goes out too much. It's a tell-tale sign when your teammates don't like you, and I know they don't. He's good, but that position is more than physical attributes. It's also leadership. Is he going to lead your guys? I don't think so
On Christian Hackenberg:
"He hangs out more with managers than he does teammates. It tells me he likes to be king of the little people rather than king of the big people."
And the doozy on Cardale Jones:
"Strong arm. Big, big body. Not the brightest cookie in the world. I worry about him when he gets money in his pocket. I just don't know if it's all there mentally."
Anonymous NFL Scout is the wooooooorst.
Rugby tackling is spreading. Pete Carroll's push to get more teams tackling like the Seahawks do—with the shoulder first, wrapping up the legs—appears to be taking off:
Dozens of teams, both on the Power Five and Group of Five levels, now utilize the rugby style during practice, drawn to a change in approach after watching a video from Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll detailing the method. Boiled down, Carroll’s system — one he calls “Hawk Tackling” — offers a drastic change from tradition: rather than tackling with the head, defenders are taught to lead with their shoulders.
“It’s definitely a safer way to tackle,” said Rutgers defensive lineman Darius Hamilton. “With the rugby-style tackle, you want to kill the engine, which is basically wrapping the thighs, stopping the legs. So I definitely think this tackling system is more efficient, and it’s just going to take the matter of the more reps you can get of it because you can’t do something like that enough.”
Nebraska and Rutgers appear to be using that system. Will be interesting to see that in practice this year. Certainly hasn't hurt the Seahawks.
Alright then. Mike Spath reports that Michigan is going to have a lot of goalies next year:
Both Hayden Lavigne and Jack LaFontaine are expected to sign LOIs this week. @umichhockey will carry four goalies next year.
— Michael Spath (@Spath_Wolverine) April 20, 2016
Lavigne had a .914 in the USHL this year after a rough 2014-15; LaFontaine had a .921 in the NAHL. Michigan also has a commit from NTDP goalie Dylan St. Cyr next year, so things are about to be crowded even with Zach Nagelvoort graduating after 2016-17.
Michigan also added one of LaFontaine's teammates today:
Proud to announce my commitment to play D1 Hockey at the University of Michigan! Thank you everyone that have helped me #GoBlue
— Adam Winborg (@AdamWinborg) April 21, 2016
Winborg is a 21-year-old Swede who has been a PPG player in the NAHL for the last couple years. Guys with his profile are usually depth players; Michigan does need depth. Fellow Swede Gustaf Westlund is a 2017 player, not a 2016 player as I incorrectly assumed, so Michigan could use an extra forward on next year's team.
Etc.: gotta respect the hustle here. Hopefully the dude gets asylum, because anyone who gets out of South Sudan should. The O'Bannon case did establish the NCAA as a monopoly. The woooooorst. Michigan killing the charity bowl. No mercy.
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.
IT'S MADE OF PAPER UNKNOWN TO MANKIND. The Daily has a book that compiles all their Harbaugh stuff, Harbaugh-related stuff, and Harbaugh-tangential stuff from the past year. You can order it for $5 plus shipping, or skip the shipping and pick it up from the Student Publications building on Maynard. Proceeds help the Daily keep running so they can continue to pump out epic features. Someone's got to write COLUMNS that don't make you want to die.
If this is the start of the zombie apocalypse I'm going to be upset. Gotta give me at least five years of Harbaugh before the end of the world.
The Ross Academic Center is being quarantined pic.twitter.com/Cp0L7jFiAr
— Jason Rubinstein (@jrubinstein4) February 17, 2016
Apparently most of the swimming and diving team is sick and they're checking the pool for something that turns you into a flesh-eating, non-verbal lumbering horror. Sounds like they should check the press box, not the pool.
Also please not before the MONORAIL. True story: one of the first Every Three Weekly articles ever was about an outlandish plan to join Central Campus to North Campus with a monorail. (In it, Tom Goss projected it would make money thanks to monorailgoblue.com, because Michigan had just launched mgoblue.com. Also it was on paper. I am old.) Well, IT'S HAPPENING DOT MONORAIL:
Schlissel, city envision monorail to unite North and Central campuses
Tuesday, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel reintroduced the idea of creating a rapid transit system between Central and North Campuses, a project that has essentially been dormant since 2013.
Would I ride this just to ride it? Definitely. Let's put our town on the map.
Yes, thank you sane person. Man, has it been hard to keep the fisk in the garage after the latest and dumbest hot take explosion about Harbaugh. The main reason I haven't opened both barrels is indecision about whether I should go after Mitch Albom, Drew Sharp, or Tony Barnhart, all of whom put the literary equivalent of Skyline chili on the internet in response to Harbaugh's plan to visit IMG. Nothing has been as dumb as this, though:
I mean… I can't put it past a guy whose version of the "Art of the Deal" will be titled "Chasing Rutgers," but cumong man. Put down the Confederate flag bong and sober up.
I may break down pretty soon here and call someone horseface, but for now Andy Staples is keeping me sane:
The Power Five leagues, including Sankey's SEC, got autonomy legislation passed so they could loosen some restrictions that other Division I schools wanted to keep tight. The new attitude in major college sports was supposed to be this: If you want to do it, do it. If you don't, don't. That lasted until several millionaire coaches got mad at another millionaire coach trying to mitigate their competitive advantage.
I'm so so done with being Meatloaf The Football Program: I'll do anything to win but I won't do that. Staples does mention that Harbaugh getting up in his players' spring break might come up during the infinite lawsuits the NCAA is fighting, but since a bunch of spring sports already do that it's likely a moot point. And as I always point out, Michigan fans should be hoping amateurism dies swiftly and comprehensively for the same reason the Yankees don't want a salary cap. I don't think Harbaugh is consciously attempting to point out the hypocrisy, but I'd support him if he was.
Meanwhile in attempts to negative recruit based on the above. Michael Dwumfour opens up about his recruitment process, detailing an ill-fated Penn State trip:
The Penn State coaching staff knew the competition it was up against. According to Dwumfour, the Lions poked fun at Jim Harbaugh’s recruiting techniques.
That didn’t sit well.
“When I was at Penn State, I heard jokes about Harbaugh and stuff like that,” Dwumfour said. “In the back of my head, I’m thinking ‘What he’s doing is working, obviously. Instead of criticizing him, you might want to take some of his techniques to try and help yourself out and get some recruits.’”
The prospect of Penn State coaches making fun of Harbaugh's sleepovers boggles the mind, but I put nothing that is bogglingly dumb past James Franklin.
Status of Bush the elder. Devin Bush Sr was long rumored to be on the verge of a Michigan job, something that he was openly hoping for in an interview with Brandon Brown:
“For me, if I was to get an opportunity, because I would love to coach at the next level, I never wanted to put it out there because I didn’t want to move my kids while they were in high school. If you get into that world you could be moving every eight to ten months. Once my son graduated, now I would be open for an opportunity because I don’t have to worry about moving kids, it’s just my wife and I.”
That sounds like a guy who is waiting for the Ts to get crossed and Is dotted. And now that Michigan's down Greg Jackson they might look at him for that job as well; Bush's profile isn't that far away from Jackson's: former NFL safety, little high-level experience. Harbaugh grabbed Jackson when he was an assistant DBs coach with Wisconsin.
Who doesn't these days? Tom Brady's agent wants to blow up the NCAA, and he's likely correct about how the edifice comes tumbling down:
This is the promise of [Don] Yee's advocacy. He is a football insider with firsthand knowledge of how a business works and the credibility to make people listen. He is exhausted, he says, by talk without much action and has reached the point of arguing for revolution: Blow up the system. Start over. Build anew. "This generation of players has more tools at its disposal than any other to be heard and to organize," he says. "If they adopted a Twitter hashtag of #disruptthefinalfour for the NCAA tournament, they would at least start a discussion. And significant change typically happens through some discussion that is too large to ignore."
All it would take is two basketball teams deciding to delay a Final Four game and amateurism is all over but the shouting. They don't even have to refuse to play. All they have to do is agree to start the game 15 minutes late, and there will be no illusions as to where the power actually resides. Yee:
"Nothing will change for the players unless they take the responsibility of becoming something more than willing victims to this system," Yee says. "At some point, you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself, 'Who am I? What am I doing? What's going on, and what am I doing about it?' These players, they have all the power -- they simply don't realize it."
That is correct. Someone's going to be the NCAA's Curt Flood, and pretty soon. Related: Sonny Vaccaro talks to the NYT, says the same things Vaccaro usually does.
I guess he's a Walverine. Michigan fans have this odd conversation about whether it's okay to be a Michigan fan without having attended the school. They do this largely because MSU fans are livid that nobody who doesn't go to MSU gives a damn about the Spartans and project this anger all around them. Meanwhile 95% of Alabamans are either Auburn or Alabama fans, and… uh… let's just stipulate that more than 5% of Alabamans do not have a degree from either institution. (Ace, at home, just screamed "BAN BOOKLARNIN'" again.)
It is good to have Michigan fans scattered about with no other connection to the school. One of them just joined the recruiting class:
“Honestly I’ve been a Michigan fan since I was little,” [Dylan] McCaffrey said. “My grandma is a big Michigan fan. She has a house about 40 minutes away [from Ann Arbor], so I don’t know why, but I just ended up loving them. I could’ve always seen myself going there, and in the end I just went back to how I felt about Michigan as a kid.”
Another person who was a Michigan fan for no particular reason: Jabrill Peppers. Let all who want to root for winged helmets do so irrespective of their degrees, and let MSU fans stew about it.
More on "floor seats". Everyone hated it. Especially people who have televisions. ESPN trotted out some poor damn spokesperson, who immediately torpedoed any sympathy I might have for her with a statement so inane it bordered on Dave Brandon Hire:
ESPN was built on trying new things and taking risks, and tonight is just another example of that.
ESPN was built on showing people athletics contests, not utterly failing to do so.
Austin Davis is looking rather different these days. Many people thought taking Davis was questionable at best when Michigan did, and it is going to be strange next year when Michigan has up to six post players on the roster (Doyle, Donnal, Wagner, Wilson, Davis, and Jon Teske). But Davis has done everything he can to prep himself:
“The big thing is I changed my diet around; I changed it pretty drastically,” he said. “And then I got on a new weight program.” …
A year ago, Davis was more of a plodder as he moved up and down the court. His teammates often had to wait for him to join them before they could run their offense.
That, more than anything, is why no major college offered him a scholarship — and U-M coach John Beilein made Davis aware of that fact.
“We had a directive,” said Eric Davis, Austin’s dad. “Coach Beilein really wanted to see him start moving better and running the court better.”
He has, and he now looks like a college post. Whether he'll still look like one in college is unknown; his 79% shooting percentage is indicative of both his talent and his competition level.
Who runs Big Ten hockey? The equivalent of Tom Anastos. Tom Anastos, hockey coach, not Tom Anastos, CCHA commissioner. Because Anastos was all right at the latter before being thrust into a role he had no frame of reference for. Ditto the folks running Big Ten hockey:
“Coming from a non-hockey background, it’s kind of hard for me to imagine a fan in the state of Minnesota who wouldn’t be excited to see a Michigan or a Michigan State come in to play,” he said. “I recognize and acknowledge that significant rivalries developed over the years in the previous leagues, and that’s fine."
Minnesota fans did not like this interview with Brad Traviolia, not one bit. I'm not much of a fan either. Nobody comes to the Big Ten hockey tournament because most fans are very far away from said tournament no matter where it is.
There is no possible solution to this problem. A neutral site Big Ten tournament is never going to draw. I have had season tickets for a decade now and I have no plans to ever go to a neutral site Big Ten Tournament, because that product sucks. It sucks being in a big empty building where hockey is going on. I am barely willing to put up with it for an NCAA tournament game. A Big Ten tourney where everyone makes it in doesn't even come close to moving the needle.
The only solution is to go to series on home ice, which four of the six schools should support since they have dedicated rinks. If Wisconsin or Ohio State don't want to host because of high school sports, they don't have to. Quit letting two schools that clearly don't care about hockey dictate to the 3.5 that do.
Hockey tourney status: don't collapse. Jim Dahl's excellent Pairwise projection site is reaching peak utility as hockey comes down the stretch here. Michigan is in barring a spectacular collapse:
Even 2-5 likely sees them sitting in a pretty secure at-large spot, though they'd definitely want to win a game in the Big Ten tournament. Three wins and they would be all but a lock going into that tourney unless results elsewhere conspired against them; 4-3 and they're 100% in.
A one seed would require Michigan to absolutely sprint down the stretch; even a 6-1 finish most likely sees them still a 2 going into the BTT.
I have no idea how good this goalie is. The Daily's Jason Rubinstein on Michigan's poor, bombarded goalie:
After three and a half years, Racine is playing the best hockey he ever has in a Michigan uniform. Berenson named him the team’s bona fide starter more than three months ago. For his last six games, he boasts a .931 save percentage, a career high for any stretch over five games that he has played.
And this past weekend, he was the only reason Michigan managed to escape Madison with five points, rather than three. In Saturday’s contest against Wisconsin, the Wolverines won in a shootout, despite surrendering four goals.
“You should’ve seen him at Wisconsin,” Berenson said. “He stood on his head, and we had no business winning the game based on the chances we gave up.
“That was his best game of the year.”
This has got to be the strangest year for hockey since I've been paying attention. They give up four goals to a very bad Wisconsin team only because their goalie stands on his head; they are on pace for a two-seed.
Etc.: Barry Alvarez apologizes for saying innocuous, accurate thing about UW hockey. Bob Miller on incoming goalie Jack LaFontaine. Jim Harbaugh adopts a kitten. PWO Anthony Kay profiled. Incoming hockeyist Nick Pastujov also profiled.
Well, of course. Mr. Harbaugh goes to Washington.
A software engineer named Nick Harris was visiting Washington, D.C. one morning in April when a stranger outside the Supreme Court asked him for directions to the White House. It was only a brief interaction, and yet Harris remembers it well.
“It was very odd,” he said. “Like, why am I running into Jim Harbaugh at the Supreme Court?”
Harbaugh met with five justices, coaching them on the finer points of fair use law.
Also of course. Mr. Harbaugh finds a friend.
Per his wife, Sarah, Jim Harbaugh recently caught a mouse ... while dining at a restaurant.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) July 31, 2015
That mouse is now the Seahawks' starting tight end.
The worst possible take. This guy covers Rutgers for a living so he knows real when he sees it. I mean, I guess?
It was a good show. But let's be clear: It was every bit a show. Harbaugh turned on the happy personality for the cameras, and he was so effective that it almost made you forget about the other Harbaugh. The one that Colin Cowherd had to hang up on during a radio interview. The one whose personality contributed to an implosion with the San Francisco 49ers.
The one a former player said might be "clinically insane."
That Harbaugh. Which Harbaugh is the real Harbaugh? I have no idea. I only know the guy, much like Flood, from what I've seen from afar.
But I do know this: The Kyle Flood who was talking with the Big Ten Network cameras rolling on Friday? He is the same Kyle Flood was was standing in the hallway a few minutes talking to me, and will be the same Kyle Flood if you run into him this weekend around Piscataway.
This, you should know, is by design. … putting on a show when the cameras are rolling? That's not Flood. He'll let the shiny new guy have the spotlight.
Observing Jim Harbaugh for a period longer than 20 seconds and coming away with the conclusion that any part of his personality is under control is… well, it's an opinion. It's an opinion like Kyle Flood's home state recruiting…
Rutgers is involved with just one of the uncommitted players
…but is definitely a thing someone thinks.
Dubstep ahoy. We have discussed it. We are still not sure if this is a joke.
We're leaning yes. But this is the place that hired Beck Man, so we can't be sure.
Not bad dot gif. Here is a small chart about dollars.
Louisville has really done a job making themselves a thing, I tell ya.
Note that USC and OSU aren't on these lists because they have differently styled deals in which they're given a floor and then get a royalty rate above that. OSU's 2012 deal is for a minimum of 9.7 million a year.
Nice guys. Man, there were a lot of quotes from Big Ten Media Days that set your teeth on edge about the state of the program under the previous administration. You don't want to read too much into them because every transition comes with talk about how now it's serious. But the results on the field are looking for an explanation, and some of it is in here:
"The practices in the spring were four hours," Ross said. "I remember a time where if practice ran a little longer than expected that we'd start sulking and complaining. Now, it's four hours and we're accustomed to it. We can work hard for as however long as needed, not "try to get it over" work. The seniors got everyone on path. In order to be successful we have to change what we've done in the past."
Previously, Michigan split their practice time between the field and film work and the like. Since stretchgate we're all experts on what a countable hour is, and a lot of that film stuff can be moved to non-countable if it's not with a coach. It's likely that Michigan was wasting countable hours under Hoke. That is not likely to be the case under Harbaugh.
In fact, he's encouraged everyone on the team to get jobs. Chesson:
"In my perspective and how I was raised, you have a certain responsibility to yourself to commit and to be a positive role model. What better way than to get a job and see how it feels to practice, go to school and then go cut fields and cut grass, come back and sleep and do it all the next day?" …
"I don't know a guy who doesn't have a job. When you're working, you're earning a wage. So many people in society don't have that opportunity. For us to do that is awesome."
People often compare college footballing to a full-time job that you have to go to college on top of; Harbaugh's like "and also you should have a part-time job."
Also with continued bizarre anti-mayonnaise stance. Andy Staples has a column on cord-cutting and the Big Ten's upcoming rights negotiations. He's referencing Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scot's contention that the Big Ten might get the short end now that ESPN is tightening its belt:
Scott is correct that rights fees won’t go up forever, but the Big Ten deal could be the last hurrah before networks get more cost-conscious because of cord-cutters. The Big Ten is going to get a massive deal because ESPN and Big Ten Network partner FOX need those rights to compete in the new marketplace. With deals for all of the other Power Five leagues, the NFL, NBA and MLB all locked down until at least 2020, the Big Ten’s deal next year is the biggest thing left. It might be the last one of these deals signed for a primarily bundled marketplace.
Which is all well and good for Jim Delany, who will flit off into retirement before that contract comes close to ending. Those of us still around in an unbundled world are going to be looking at a ridiculous 14-team conference that was foisted upon us in the pursuit of short term dollars.
Also, Staples continues slamming mayonnaise even in the context of a BLT. Apparently he hates tomatoes, too. Poor bastard.
This again. Michigan's basketball nonconference schedule:
That is Xavier and garbage at home. All six non-Xavier D-I opponents were 200+ in Kenpom last year. Football has seemed to figure out that giving people reasonable opponents is something that helps preserve the covenant between fans and the program. Hockey (which announced a schedule like this one minus Xavier) and basketball have not figured this out.
These are slightly different problems. Hockey needs any legitimate opponents to spark interest and help their strength of schedule in the dire Big Ten. Basketball has a respectable schedule, but they fill out the holes with the absolute dregs of D-I. This is bad for both fans and the team. The NCAA uses nonconference schedule strength as a metric, and they calculate it crappily, so taking on the truly awful teams hurts you disproportionately.
There are going to be a couple of duds every year—that game just before Christmas is always going to be against a team starting a 6'2" center—but upgrading some of those opponents from the Delaware State level to the Bradley level is preferable to the current situation.
This year is Breaston year. Next year is Denard year. Part of the NCAA's increasingly desperate attempt to keep the status quo:
The Nebraska athletic department is joining lots of other schools in limiting the numbers on the jerseys fans can buy. For this year, only No. 1 and No. 15 — as in 2015 — will be sold at the Huskers Authentic team store. Next year, it’ll be 1 and 16.
Licensees selling jerseys are limited to the same numbers, and nobody gets a grandfather clause.
And the change isn’t just for football, but for all sports that have jersey replicas for sale.
Michigan has not announced a similar restriction but they're probably thinking about it. So instead of fans buying the things they want and the players getting a portion of that, nothing for anyone.
Take it from Tyrone. PSA, 1993.
Via Dr. Sap.
Etc.: This week in Steve Patterson: ShaggyBevo has to change its name due to legal sabre-rattling. In lieu of actually writing a Gold Cup react I'll just endorse this one. The Broken Bits Of Chair trophy lives. Media day interview from the official site. The turkey is a prisoner. For now. Brady and his phone. ESPN asked Ian Darke to call college football. He said no because he knows his limitations, but I kind of want to see what that's like.
Mike Riley and Jim Harbaugh go back.
[Scheduling note: Brian is out today and tomorrow, I (Seth) am finishing up HTTV. There will be a softball and baseball post later this afternoon]
The Bill C preview. Bill Connelly's annual preview series now goes 128 programs deep; he hit Michigan on Friday. The long term:
Harbaugh is a weird dude who says baffling, Les Milesian things -- that they both played for Bo Schembechler probably isn't a coincidence -- and might be getting weirder with age. And no one is guaranteed success when taking on a new job. If previous history correlated with future success, the last two Michigan hires would have worked out.
But Harbaugh is as close to a sure thing as you can hire. In just 11 years, he has raised the standard at every stop. He hires hungry assistants, builds an ultra-competitive environment, and then wins. He has coaching in his bloodstream, and he's been successful just about everywhere.
The short term is far more uncertain. But you probably know this. You also know the thing that leaps off the page on this chart, but my god to see it quantified:
Adjusted pace. Good lord.
There is some good news. The numbers reflect the massive improvement in line play that I kept promising everyone existed no matter how implausible it seemed given the play of the offense overall:
The line started with just 34 career starts but improved to 50th in Adj. Line Yards and 72nd in Adj. Sack Rate. Considering the level of recruiting, this isn't great, but you can only improve so much in one year.
Both of those were deep into triple digits a year ago, and Michigan returns everyone except Jack Miller to that line instead of losing two NFL draft picks at tackle. I will always wonder how much of the crater was on Darrell Funk and how much was on Rodriguez's recruiting and Al Borges's mad scientist meddling.
Connelly notes that the schedule sets up to be highly swingy. They've only got two teams that project to be very good—OSU and MSU—and relatively few cupcakes. All but one of the good-to-middling teams comes to Ann Arbor, as well. With some luck Michigan could win an encouraging number of games… but there's not much slack in there.
A recommendation. I've had these tabs open in my browser for a while now because I don't want to just toss them off in a UV, but I don't seem to be getting around to the meaty post about them they deserve. So: if you want excellent annotated posts about football, head to James Light Football. He covers all kinds of things from college and pro levels, and he frequently strikes upon Michigan itself. He was at the coaches clinic and has a series of posts detailing things Jedd Fisch, John Baxter…
Why do we play so many starters on special teams? What is a starter? Only the 5 offensive lineman and quarterback are starters. The rest is personnel driven. We don’t have starters, we have football players. You don’t play a position on this team, you play a role. What down is so insignificant that you can afford to have less than your best players?
…and DJ Durkin. Durkin's priorities say a lot about the state of what worries a modern defensive coordinator:
First thing Durkin and his staff do when playing a team is identify these three things. Tempo, Run/Pass Conflicts (RPO’s), Who’s their QB?
(RPOs have mostly been known as "packaged plays" around here.) Michigan under Hoke threatened in none of these categories.
Another point guard option. Michigan is focused on in-state PG Cassius Winston for their (currently) final slot in the 2016 class. They are not laser-focused, however, as Winston has given little indication what direction he might be leaning. They're keeping an eye on other options, though. One of them is Bruce Brown, a composite top 50 player who is listed as a shooting guard by most services. Michigan doesn't see it like that:
On Michigan: “Michigan they want me to run the one. And me and Tyus Battle in the backcourt, that sounds good. He’s solid.”
Indiana is also recruiting him as a point guard; St. John's, North Carolina, and Texas are other names in his recruitment. Brown is currently at a prep school in Vermont but I think he grew up in Boston.
Where are they now: not currently on fire. Quinton Washington seems to have a cool job except for the parts where he catches on fire due to proximity to other fires.
That is "Will Power," who is apparently a real person and not a character in a freshman's screenplay.
Hello again: Moritz Wagner. It feels like we've welcomed Mortiz Wagner to the program a half-dozen times, but here's another one since Michigan signed him and officially announced him. There was a bit of an uncomfortable delay in there that conjured images of Robin Benzing—who did not qualify—but now that's all behind us and we can focus on what we've won:
"Moe is a long and versatile player," Michigan coach John Beilein said in the release. "He has a great understanding of the game with a tremendous upside. As a product of Germany, he has always played against men five to even 10 years older than him, which has only helped his growth as a player.
"As he continues in his development, Moe's skill and athleticism will allow him to eventually play multiple positions for us. He just turned 18 years old, so we are excited about his potential. Moe's engaging personality and passion for the game will make him a very valuable asset to our team now and in the years to come."
Interesting: Michigan listed him at a full 6'10" and they tend to be pretty accurate with roster numbers. Even Trey Burke, who everyone assumed was being handed an inch or two, measured out at just about what Michigan listed him at when he entered the draft. (Spike is likely an exception to this roster fidelity.)
Unless Wagner is a super prospect, he has an uphill path to playing time this year if Zak Irvin can handle the defense and rebounding aspects of the 4. John Beilein loves shooting and he's got a couple of prime wing options in Duncan Robinson and Aubrey Dawkins; if one of the forward-sized fours is going to wrest significant playing time away from those guys he's going to have to be really good.
Claiming poverty. Andy Staples on the "schools don't make a profit" argument put forth when people want to defend the NCAA's version of amateurism:
Athletic directors will claim their programs don’t make money, but that’s also a lie at most Power Five schools. They would make money if they weren’t giving their coaches huge raises and putting gold-plated waterfalls in their locker rooms. Do not confuse an inability to manage money with a lack of money, and don’t believe people who just got $10 million more when they say they can’t pay for the programs they were already funding with $10 million less.
At this point I think everyone understands this except the people charging hundreds of dollars an hour to not understand. October is the inconveniently-timed next potential NCAA-in-court bombshell, as the Jeffery Kessler case—that's the one that explicitly wants to blow the whole system up—will have its class certification hearing.
That lawsuit could put sufficient pressure on the NCAA to make certifying and negotiating with a union look like the best course of action.
Etc.: John Gasaway on deceased former NCAA head Walter Byers, and how he is often misunderstood.
State hockey loses Josh Jacobs to the OHL. That's a different league from guys signing OHL contracts. How long before MSU gets serious and replaces Tom Anastos with a hockey coach?