ncaa: the scandals
1. Brazen. Ole Miss's problem is that they made it blindingly obvious. People are dumb but they ain't stupid, and when a nobody with one year of college head coaching experience shows up in Oxford and acquires
- the #1 player in the country
- a five-star offensive tackle from Florida, and
- most egregiously, a five-star wide receiver from Chicago
it's just a matter of time before the walls cave in. Nobody in the history of Chicago has ever thought to themselves "Yes! Mississippi! Especially the bit where not having a plantation owner as a mascot is controversial!"
Meanwhile the players in question were barely trying to hide it.
Ole Miss was dumb and stupid and now they're going to be set on fire.
2. There are only two options for Hugh Freeze. Option A, which is by far the more likely, is that he was fully aware of what was going on from the drop and is a brazen liar. The alternative is that he is so impossibly naïve and delusional that he thought his very presence was sufficient to turn around the history of Ole Miss football. The Machiavellian interpretation is kinder, but this is a guy who compared Ole Miss's struggles to Jesus's trials on the cross so it certainly could be the latter.
3. The more pay-for-play scandals that happen the faster this edifice crumbles. If your main interest in the future of college athletics is dismantling amateurism that no longer makes anything resembling sense, the best case scenario here is that Ole Miss goes nuclear on the rest of the SEC and anyone else they have dirt on. This may be in process already:
Ole Miss, per multiple sources, possesses a recording, and has given the SEC a copy, of (Leo) Lewis’ mother asking Ole Miss for money and detailing incentives she received from other programs, including Mississippi State.
The fact that college football players get money and cars and whatnot is an open secret, but "entire SEC and half of ACC caught violating NCAA rules that everyone thinks are dumb" is the kind of thing that might finally bring the sham of amateurism—both its motivations and the NCAA's current ability to enforce it—down.
4. Dumb and stupid, for real. Ole Miss publicly challenged members of the public to provide evidence that they had violated NCAA rules. They had assistant coaches and associate athletic directors involved in direct cash payments to players and recruits. They ruined their credibility with the media by floating a bunch of outright lies that the more credulous people covering the team related uncritically:
Last year before signing day, Ole Miss leaked to several media members that the allegations weren’t serious, mostly not football. https://t.co/EVWyRGcHuj
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) February 23, 2017
(The same point from #2 stands for those who related it: they can either be hopelessly gullible or bought and paid for by their access.)
These days it takes a school standing up and begging to be punished for that to happen. Ole Miss volunteered. It might have been worth it, but don't be surprised when people dance on your corpse even if you got killed for something that should be legal.
5. Almost everyone does it. I have seen group texts between members of a previous Michigan recruiting class discussing the sudden shift of a player they thought they would get to a Southern school. "They bought his mom a house," per those texts. That revelation was followed by a variety of exclamations. Another recruit simply texted "money talks" when asked about his sudden change of heart.
I've talked to a bunch of people close to the program and heard some pretty astounding things, mostly about the dying days of previous regimes. These people were willing to tell me about players nearly getting in fistfights with coaches after the Gator Bowl that ended Rich Rodriguez's tenure. They've also asserted that Michigan recruits are consistently flabbergasted by the amount of money being thrown around to their compatriots, and that was one reason Brady Hoke's no visit policy could not stand: it was costing Michigan commits thousands of dollars.
Again, I don't think it's wrong that players take a life-changing amount of money in exchange for a valued skill that could cease to exist at any time. I don't think it's wrong that boosters gave him that money. The player in question has a shot at the NFL with some value already banked. He made the right choice.
I do think that everyone would be better off if the system was exposed for what it is and we could all be adults about it. Recruits currently have access to an unofficial and constrained pool of secret money that is far less than they would have if the doors were thrown open, and it's long past time to do so.
6. What grinds the ol' gears. You've got pinhead Pete Finebaum ranting in the national media about how Jim Harbaugh is doing something unethical by attempting to hire a decade-long NFL veteran coach because they may or may not get a 2019 quarterback out of it. Finebaum says nothing at all about the rampant under the table payments in the SEC.
You've got sanctimonious ass Hugh Freeze going on about how Jim Harbaugh is making him take time away from his family because Harbaugh wants to run some satellite camps. At the same time Freeze's program is overwhelming any satellite camp advantage that may exist by simply handing people checks.
If you're Harbaugh how do you not fire back?
Going to be a dodgy year on the OL. Steve Lorenz reports that Grant Newsome has a "minimal" chance of playing in 2017. That is not good. If that's the case you just about have to slide Ben Bredeson outside and run with something like Bredeson/Kugler/Cole/Onwenu/Somebody.
You'd think the leader to be Somebody would be redshirt sophomore-to-be Nolan Ulizio. Ulizio didn't look particularly good when he got in this fall; I've heard that he had mono and was down to 260 at one point. He bounced back during the fall but only to 280. He could surge forward once he gets to the right weight.
A bountiful draft. The NFL's website names Michigan the team poised to send the most talent to the NFL draft:
Early rounds: EDGE Taco Charlton, CB Jourdan Lewis, S Jabrill Peppers, DE Chris Wormley
Middle rounds: TE Jake Butt (injury), WR Amara Darboh, OT Erik Magnuson, RB De'Veon Smith
Late rounds: OG Ben Braden, WR Jehu Chesson, LB Ben Gedeon, DT Ryan Glasgow, S Delano Hill, OG Kyle Kalis, CB Channing Stribling, S Dymonte Thomas
I'd be surprised if Braden and Kalis got picked but everyone else has a real shot of going off the board. Charlton appears to be surging up draft boards to the point where debatably silly things are being said about him:
Mel Kiper says on conference call that Michigan's Taco Charlton is the best pass-rushing defensive end in the draft.
— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) January 19, 2017
This is a draft with Myles Garrett in it, so that's a thing.
Harbaugh stories. Chase Goodbread collects them from Michigan players at the Shrine game:
"One time, he told us as a kid he got hit by a mail truck and was in a cast, and was still playing football with it. Then they had to rebreak it -- I can't remember if it was his foot or his arm -- because he kept playing on it and made it worse. I mean, who gets hit by a mail truck? It could only be you, coach Harbaugh." - DB Dymonte Thomas
Screaming works? 538 tracks penalties by which sideline they're thrown on and the results are not encouraging if you're the kind of person who believes people are in charge of things for a reason:
This is NFL data and so not directly applicable to college, but you'd think college refs would be even more susceptible to these sorts of things since they're drawn from a wider pool and are probably less capable on average than NFL refs.
So: the defense gets called for "aggressive" penalties ("unnecessary roughness, personal fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct, and horse-collar tackles" per the article) 30-40% more often when there are people complaining nearby.
Meanwhile the holding graph is very strange since the effect inverses once you approach the goal line. The only mechanism there is revenge(!) as side judges who are now far away from the screaming maniacs exact their price. Maybe it evens out for holding.
Not that anyone calls holding anymore. This was one of the main takeaways from the Film Room broadcast of the national title game: Alabama scores thanks to an edge block on which a defender is yanked to the ground; someone exclaims that is a hold; the assembled coaches all laugh about the fact that nobody calls holding any more.
Tracing Michigan's ground game issues. De'Veon Smith is performing impressively at the Shrine game practices:
One of the best players at the East-West Shrine this week has been Michigan running back De'Veon, Smith and he had a tremendous practice on Wednesday. ... Both his route and the blocking earned Smith some a lot of praise from the coaching staff. In the team scrimmage, he also broke off a few chunk runs, weaving his way through defenders with quickness, balance, and vision.
Scouting sources told WalterFootball.com that Smith could be the best offensive prospect on the East team, and he has had a tremendous week to help his draft stock.
East Day 3 practice - RB De'Veon Smith (Michigan) had a great day. Very good in pass pro, hands, physical, compact build.#shrinegame
— NFL Draft Blitz (@NFLDraftBlitz) January 18, 2017
It would be nice if Michigan's problems were because of Smith since he's out the door and Michigan has a number of guys who look like viable replacements; I don't think that's the case, and his rising draft stock concurs. Michigan has a major build job on the offensive line to undertake. Related: TTB has a breakdown of the guys who Michigan recruited and their destinies.
I guess this is fine. Football is set to get a slightly early signing period:
The Division I Football Oversight Committee is moving forward with a proposal that would open a 72-hour signing period for high school recruits in December. The timeframe would correspond with the current December signing time for junior college recruits.
But the committee isn’t recommending an early-signing time for recruits in June.
That "early" period is still after everyone's season, so most of the coaching changes will have already transpired. I didn't like the rumored June signing period since it was inane to lock guys in before they could take official visits and before the firing season.
While the June date didn't make it, an artifact of those earlier discussions may have wormed its way through anyway:
As part of the committee’s proposal, rules on official visits for recruits would also be modified. Recruits would be allowed to take official visits from April-June of their junior years, two months earlier than initially proposed.
That's good for Michigan, which will be able to get early-deciding kids on campus more easily now.
Midterm CSB rankings. Michigan-relevant players ranked by the NHL's central scouting board:
- F Josh Norris: #46
- D Luke Martin: #67
...and that's it. Mike Pastujov, who was hyped as a potential first-rounder, is not on the list. The cavalry is not coming next year.
Shooting a gun with no bullets in it. There is a Mississippi state senator who thinks he has a magic wand:
Mississippi Rep. Trey Lamar (R-Senatobia) has proposed a new House Bill that would surely benefit Ole Miss’ current recruiting woes: The National Collegiate Athletic Association Fairness in F.A.C.T Investigation Act of 2017.
Lamar, a former Rebels walk-on running back from the early 2000s, is pushing a bill giving the NCAA one year to complete its investigation once it notifies a school of possible rules violations, according to a report from WCBI News.
NCAA: "Or what?"
TREY LAMAR: "Or I shall name a bill at you a second time!"
This is not how state government works, Trey Lamar. FWIW, various coaches at AFCA project that Ole Miss will find out their fate in 2-3 months, and that it will not be pretty. Or it will, because NCAA.
Etc.: Fired Alabama DL coach Bo Davis talks to AL.com, attempts to spin a tale about how his firing was for one violation of the bump rule, cumong man. Analyst Rick Finotti gets the head job at DIII John Carroll. Dumb, but important. The playoff is good. Willis Ward and the track captaincy. Recruiting rankings are getting better because of Hudl. Yost, 1946.
Rivalry bleah. I find myself completely unmoved by all the rivalry stuff this week, from OSU trying and failing to remove Ms from their campus to Markley spelling out "FUCK OSU". I don't care that Rivalry Game Is Personal For Player, whether it's Mike Weber or Mike McCray. Rivalry Game is personal for everyone on ever roster. Rivalry Game is personal for me. It is personal for everybody.
Does your rivalry item accelerate the pace of time? No? Not interested. Anyway, here's some stuff that does nothing to accelerate the pace of time.
Four minutes of Bo and Woody.
Ohio State things. JT Barrett had a typical JT Barrett bad weather game against MSU:
It was another classic game in this the “Year of the Running Quarterback” as Barrett posted a 55.9 passing grade but made up for it with a 92.6 effort on the ground. He was clearly affected by the wind, with passes floating all over the place and one throw that was dangerously close to a disastrous turnover, but the Buckeyes relied on him heavily to make good decisions in their run/pass option game and he came through with 122 yards on 20 carries. Even on a day where he finished 10-for-22 for 86 yards, Barrett showed that he can still provide enough value in the run game to keep Ohio State in games.
Under Barrett, OSU's passing game falls apart in crappy weather with a consistency that's undeniable at this point. This weekend's weather... partly cloudy, tiny percent chance of precipitation, 9 MPH winds. Subject to change five days out, but doesn't look like we'll be getting Bad Weather Barrett.
OSU made up for it by running for almost 300 yards against a makeshift MSU defensive line minus Malik McDowell. If Michigan cannot significantly outperform MSU, they will lose. You'd expect they would, but if you're in a believe-it-when-I-see-it state when it comes to Michigan shutting the OSU offense down, I don't blame you.
OSU had extreme issues protecting the passer against Penn State, giving up pressure on almost 50% of their dropbacks. Those issues were mitigated shortly thereafter, but one dollar says those are still lurking. Adjusted sack rates:
- Penn State: 21st
- Northwestern: 79th
- Nebraska: 42nd
- Maryland: 15th
- MSU: 121st
- Michigan: 1st
OSU's offense is 67th at preventing sacks. Their run stats are all terrific save for explosiveness—Barrett and Weber are not big play threats and Samuel doesn't get enough touches to make up for it—and that's what'll come down to. Passing downs should be a major advantage for Michigan... if they exist.
Time for a change? Ross Fulton notes something about the Michigan defense you may have noticed watching Mike McCray try to shut down huge swathes of space:
The Buckeyes’ best matchup is Samuel to the edge and as a receiver against Michigan’s linebackers and safeties. Brown often prefers to put Peppers to the formation strength.
So Meyer and his staff need to use alignment to target the edge away from Peppers – where the Wolverines are left dependent on the less athletic Will linebacker Mike McCray for edge support. And the Buckeyes need to provide Barrett sufficient time for Samuel to work option and out routes from the slot – or routes from the backfield – against man coverage.
I would not put it past Don Brown to make a change here. McCray was exposed in all that space against Lorenzo Harrison and would be again against Samuel; he can get better, but it's not a great matchup. I also wonder if Michigan is going to stick with cover one and a bunch of man coverage—OSU does see many people play man against them for obvious reasons.
Brown's been great so far this year but this is the game he was hired for. Much rides on his ability to stay one step ahead of Urban Meyer.
In one graph. Impossible to defend:
— Warren K. Zola (@WarrenKZola) November 17, 2016
Meanwhile even Power 5 schools raking in piles of cash are seeing a large proportion of their athletes on little to no scholarship money:
All of the colleges Allison was considering provide scholarship assistance up to the NCAA limit in the sports they sponsor. But a closer look at athletic-aid distribution at one of those institutions, North Carolina State University, shows how scarce the dollars are for many athletes.
More than 200 of NC State’s 558 athletes last year had 20 percent or less of their costs covered by athletic aid. Outside of football, basketball, and the four other sports that can [ed: I this is actually "must"] award full athletic scholarships, just 27 Wolfpack athletes were on a full ride.
Power 5 autonomy has not seen these gaps close. The money just keeps rolling in, and going somewhere. Not to the people who earn it, or even the people who are potentially incurring piles of debt to be athletes.
Basketball WTFs. One of these events is weirder than the other:
- Northwestern hammers Texas 77-58 in a neutral site game. Barking Carnival runs down the good, bad, and ugly, with "everybody driving the ball," "everybody shooting free throws," and "everybody passing the ball" in the latter category.
- Illinois loses to Winthrop at home. Winthrop is one of those good-but-not-that good low major teams you should be scheduling to prop up your RPI, but you have to, you know, win those games to prop up your RPI.
Which is weirder? It's got to be Northwestern. Illinois has not been good under John Groce, who is Big Ten basketball's Darrell Hazell. Groce was hired after a brief MAC tenure ended well—you probably remember. He was hired on the strength of three games.
One of the reasons Big Ten basketball is rather good is that there's a much deeper pool of head coaches to poach. Indiana plucked Tom Crean after seven years at Marquette including five tourney appearances; Michigan grabbed John Beilein after five years at West Virginia. Maryland got Mark Turgeon after he took Texas A&M to the tourney four straight years. Thad Matta was at Xavier, coming off three consecutive Kenpom top-25 teams.
There are various head coaches who moved up from MAC-like leagues. Fran McCaffrey had three straight tourney bids at Siena, with his final two teams ranking #67 and #59 in Kenpom and has more or less worked out at Iowa. The rest are guys at Minnesota, Penn State, etc. Illinois should be hiring like Michigan and OSU, not Minnesota and Penn State.
Speaking of Illinois, here's a crazy Illinois stat. Via Illiniboard:
I’ve mentioned this stat 131 times but one more won’t hurt: in those eight years, in the Power Five conferences, every single school has had at least a Sweet 16 appearance in basketball or an eight-win football season (with a solid bowl game) except for two: Illinois and Wake Forest. Colorado WAS part of that group, but Colorado just won their ninth game on Saturday and is headed to a great bowl – perhaps even a New Years Six bowl. And, as someone reminded me on Twitter, if Wake beats Boston College this weekend (and they probably will), they’re a bowl win away from eight football wins.
I didn't think I was getting into what I ended up getting into when I started this here blog but the all-time I've Made A Terrible Mistake By Starting This Blog champion is Robert at Illiniboard. Keep him in your thoughts the next time you consider rooting against Illinois for Gary Moeller or something.
Administrative leave is not a good sign. Barney Farrar, the gentleman mentioned in Laremy Tunsil's text, is placed in the plane of Limbo:
OXFORD - Ole Miss has placed assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations, Barney Farrar, on administrative leave, according to a report from Rebelgrove.com.
The website reported Farrar did not accompany the football team to Texas A&M last weekend and that he's not expected to travel with the Rebels to Vanderbilt this weekend.
Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork declined to comment on the situation, as did a university spokesman. Attempts by The Clarion-Ledger to reach Farrar were unsuccessful.
Something less than good is coming down the pipe for Ole Miss.
Etc.: Nebraska and Minnesota seek to throw the $5 Bits of Broken Chair trophy down the memory hole. Michigan was the only Big Ten school to flat-out say no to Friday games. Remembering Bo. The program from his memorial service, including the Lloyd Carr speech. (Guess who's on the first page!) Rivalry Game Personal for Mark Donnal. Rivalry Game Personal for DJ Wilson. 2K classic keys. Ten Year War 2? Peppers profiled. Fake tickets are bad.
REMINDER A THING IS HAPPENING. I totally biffed this the first time by linking to last year's event. There is a Football Eve from Homesure this year:
First beer is on Matt, there will be a Q&A and… trivia? I think? We're asking people to RSVP because space is limited. Hit the link to do so.
Oh yes, this is going to get a lot of use. Via EDSBS:
The gif you now need in your life:
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) August 25, 2016
For life. Harbaugh on his future plans:
Speaking in a taped interview with SiriusXM Radio on Wednesday, Harbaugh was asked by a host if he can "legitimately" see himself coaching at Michigan "forever" -- meaning does he think he'll be at Michigan 20-25 years down the road.
Harbaugh's answer came quickly.
"Yeah I think that way," Harbaugh said. "I think, God willing and the creek don't rise, that'll happen. I love coaching, I love football and I love the University of Michigan."
Never say never and all that.
Yes, lots and lots of talent. CBS's Dane Brugler provides an extensive breakdown of Michigan's NFL draft prospects, of which there are many. Unlike ESPN he picks up on Ryan Glasgow as a thing:
Glasgow bursts off the snap and finishes each rep with the same fire. He has the grip strength to stack and dispose of single blockers, using push-pull technique to regain his momentum and penetrate the pocket. Glasgow lowers his head and attacks like a battering ram, but often loses sight of the ball and takes himself out of plays. Although his motor is always running, he is more of a one-speed athlete and lacks the closing burst to finish some plays in the backfield. Glasgow would benefit from improved discipline, but his hustle, mentality and strength are why he is a valuable member of Michigan's defensive line rotation. And also why several scouts grade him as a top-10 senior at his position.
The tenth DT in the 2016 draft was off the board at the beginning of the third round, albeit with a bunch of juniors in those spots. That feels about right. Mike Martin was a third round pick as well.
The rest of that article is a preview of what I'm going to say about a bunch of Michigan players in the season preview, down to a Manningham-Chesson comparison and questions about De'Veon Smith's ability to see things:
Smith makes it a chore on defenders to finish him off as linebackers have to him cleanly and finish or he refuses to go down. His vision and run instincts tend to run hot/cold, leading to questionable decisions, and with his lack of explosive traits, Smith needs to be more decisive and trust what he sees. He tends to leave you wanting more due to his marginal burst and instincts, but there is a place at the next level for Smith due to his power, ball skills and upside as a blocker.
Brugler's higher on Erik Magnuson than I am and doesn't mention Darboh or anyone in the secondary other than Lewis—though the latter might be because there were so many people to get to ahead of those gents—in a report that is otherwise extensive and right on point with both strengths and weaknesses. Read the whole thing.
This Peppers thing isn't even slightly weird. Peppers as SAM is part of a trend that is sweeping football at all levels, including the NFL. The Ringer has a piece on the continued evolution of NFL linebackers into 220 pound safety types:
NFL coaches say the change in thinking about linebackers started five or six years ago. Spread offenses were dominating college football, and the task for defensive coaches at that level was to find linebackers who could cover and tackle in the space created by this new, wide-open approach. “We started looking for guys who played skill positions or safety, and those were guys we actually looked to see if we could turn into linebackers,” says Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who served as a graduate assistant at North Carolina from 2007 to 2009.
Michigan was not doing this; they were running Jake Ryan out as a SAM. They continued to suffer against spread teams; Don Brown is really the first guy in the history of Michigan football with any positive track record against spread rushing offenses.
The article above focuses on Deone Bucannon of the Cardinals, who's actually a more extreme manifestation of the tiny linebacker trend than Peppers since he plays on a team with Tyrann Mathieu—he's not a "star" or walkout linebacker or nickelback, Bucannon is actually a 210 pound inside linebacker. This is actually a situation where the NFL is more spread than college. Michigan is unlikely to follow suit with safety-sized ILBs because of the nature of their opposition. The NFL is a passing league; Ohio State is a running team.
PFF ABT. Pro Football Focus's All Big Ten team has a number of Michigan guys on it, as you might imagine:
- First team: Jehu Chesson, Maurice Hurst, Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis
- Second team: Jake Butt, Mason Cole, Erik Magnuson, Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley, Delano Hill
That's a lot of guys. PFF projects almost half of Michigan's starters as ABT players. We already knew that Hurst was a fave-rave of PFFs and that they like George Kittle of Iowa better than Butt because of his blocking ability. The most interesting item there is the inclusion of Delano Hill as a second team safety. That would be very nice if it came to pass.
PFF on JT Barrett. Barrett is the single-most important opposition player on Michigan's schedule, the last tentpole from the last couple years of Ohio State teams. He had a weird 2015, seeing his passing production dip radically. Which guy is it? PFF:
Intermediate and deep accuracy have been consistent issues for Barrett both seasons. On throws longer than 10 yards in the air in 2014, Barrett completed just 44 of 111 attempts, and in 2015, he was 20 of 45.
Barrett’s passes traveling 10+ yards in the air during 2014 season
Barrett’s passes traveling 10+ yards in the air during 2015 season
Keeping in mind the fact that he was throwing to the likes of Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Devin Smith, Braxton Miller, Jeff Heuerman, and Nick Vannett, all of them currently playing in the NFL, it’s difficult to expect his consistency to improve on deeper passes with newer, less experienced receivers and tight ends.
Barrett's not great against pressure, either, but OSU's system sometimes makes that hard to apply. He's an outstanding runner and there's always the chance of a leap forward, but he's a guy who has some limitations that Don Brown might be able to exploit.
Good luck with that. Per Pat Forde, the NCAA is expanding its Ole Miss probe:
NCAA Enforcement representatives have visited Auburn and Mississippi State, and perhaps at least one more SEC Western Division school, this summer to speak with players who were recruited by Ole Miss. The players were granted immunity from potential NCAA sanctions in exchange for truthful accounts of their recruitment, sources said.
If these guys are all telling the same story about 500 dollar handshakes on visits that could get really ugly for Ole Miss. They're already facing down a suite of Level 1 violations. I'm beginning to believe this could be an actual hammering, the first since USC that didn't involve… you know what at Penn State.
Hinton rates everything. Matt Hinton has done his usual preseason data-jam, evaluating every D-I school on their recent performance, crootin, experience, and projected competency. 17 categories go in the blender, and this is what comes out for the top 40:
Nebraska is relatively high; MSU relatively low. PSU, Iowa, and Wisconsin are all in the 8-4, 7-5 range. This will no doubt enrage highly enrageable Iowa fans.
Etc.: NLRB reverses an earlier decision that was relevant to the Northwestern unionization push. A reason to hate every Big Ten school. Just because someone else is getting paid to abuse our national namespace doesn't mean you have to participate. Herky The Hawkeye is too angry for one Iowa professor. Hank Aaron will honorarily captainize a game this fall.
Again. Congrats to softball, which won their umpteenth consecutive regional. Their super-regional against Missouri is this upcoming weekend. Wolverine Devotee has assembled the relevant information:
2 Michigan will host 15 Missouri in the NCAA Ann Arbor Super Regional next weekend on May 28-29.
- Game 1- Saturday, May 28 (3pm/ESPN)
- Game 2- Sunday, May 29 (Noon/ESPN)
- Game 3 (if nec.)- Sunday, May 29 (3pm/ESPN)
Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 8:30am for season ticket holders and to the general public on Tuesday at 8:30am.
You will not get tickets if you don’t already have them.
Awww yeah. Jane takes the 1986 Hawaii game and adores it:
10. When people tell you they want to see "Schembechler-style" football they mean they want to see a football game that looks sort of like the Battle of Verdun. Typically, the people telling you this will have a carefully-guarded recipe for seven-layer dip. I have no problem with any of this.
11. 27-10 is the score of a game in which one team is much better than the other team but doesn't really want anyone to know it. Like, you score 3 touchdowns but then, "whoa, let's not get cocky."
12. 27-10 is kind of the most Michigan score of all.
Expectations. Many people are expecting a good season from Michigan this year but this might be a tad much:
— Johnny Detroit (@Johnny_Detroit) May 23, 2016
7 to 1 are the second best odds on the board behind Alabama at 6 to 1. This is not a power poll, many of which have Michigan around #5. Like this one from PFF:
It’s all about the defense at Michigan, as they’re poised to be one of the nation’s best. They return the nation’s top-graded cornerback in Jourdan Lewis as well as two of the top three graded interior defensive linemen in Chris Wormley and Maurice Hurst. It will be on the offense to find a way to score points, but the majority of the offense returns and the results of their wide-open quarterback race – led by Wilton Speight – will determine just how far this Michigan team will go.
That’s a power poll. The betting lines aren’t. Those take Michigan’s iffy schedule into account. They’re also a collection of sucker bets that has less predictive power than a weekly line that sharps mostly control. (It also emphasizes how incredibly unlikely Leicester City was: you can bet on Navy or Air Force to win the national title at 1000 to 1. Leicester was infamously 5000 to 1.) But the expectations: they are out there.
About that defense. PFF details why they expect Michigan to have one of the best ones in the country again:
2. Their pass rush should be excellent…
As good as Henry was for Michigan last season, he was only the fourth-most efficient rusher on the Wolverines’ defense. Chris Wormley and Maurice Hurst formed the most efficient interior pass-rushing duo in the nation, with Wormley ranking first among defensive tackles in pass-rush productivity (45 total QB pressures, including seven sacks) and Hurst ranking third (30, including three). Hurst only saw 418 snaps last season, so the ability of both he and Wormley to stay productive and on the field will be critical to the Wolverines’ defensive success.
On the edge, Taco Charlton ranked sixth among 4-3 defensive ends in pass-rush productivity, generating 41 total pressures including six sacks.
Charlton did that in relatively scanty playing time as for much of the season he was splitting SDE snaps with Wormley. Only in the last few games did he end up starting at WDE. He could break out in a huge way with incremental improvement and a clear starting role.
PFF also offered up a couple of glimpses into their database that I don’t think we’d seen before, since usually the only hard numbers we get are from the top end. On Michigan’s departures:
The Wolverines only had one player drafted at all – defensive lineman Willie Henry, who went to the Ravens in the fourth round. That’s not to say they don’t have to replace some very productive players. Henry was PFF’s No. 34 interior lineman, LBs Desmond Morgan and Royce Jenkins-Stone both produced at a high level (linebacker in general is a bit of a question-mark position for Michigan), and SS Jarrod Wilson ranked No. 29 at his position after grading well in both run and pass defense.
I didn’t think RJS was that productive—not bad, but not great, either. And Wilson’s ranking is very boring, as is appropriate. A couple departures are omitted, one due to injury early in the year, the other… not due to injury.
Why does there have to be a seamy underbelly? Waco police and Baylor have conspired to keep a series of serious crimes by Baylor players out of the public eye. One of many:
In one case from 2011, an assault at an off-campus event in Waco ended with three football players being charged and Baylor and Waco police discussing the incident. Waco police, according to documents, took extraordinary steps to keep it from the public view "given the potential high-profile nature of the incident." According to a police report obtained by Outside the Lines, Waco's investigating officer asked a commander that "the case be pulled from the computer system so that only persons who had a reason to inquire about the report would be able to access it." The report was placed in a locked office.
This is bigger than the football program. The Title IX “Dear Colleague” letter that we became familiar with when Brendan Gibbons was belatedly expelled from the university is very much in effect at Baylor despite its private status, and there are a pile of accusations that the university has been operating like it’s still 1950 in this department. That could lead to serious repercussions for Baylor as a whole.
Via GTP, Chip Brown is reporting that Art Briles may be safe despite the fact that his teams seem to have a ton of bad behavior going on:
Multiple sources connected to Baylor told HornsDigest.com football coach Art Briles has a better chance of keeping his job after the school’s rape scandal than BU president and chancellor Ken Starr.
The sources said Starr will probably be reassigned to a position in BU’s law school as a result of the failed leadership displayed after multiple rape claims made by female Baylor students against five BU football players all but went ignored…
Briles, who has taken an irrelevant football program to two Big 12 titles in the last three years (including a bunch of new athletics facilities), is sometimes referred to by Baylor brass as “Moses.”
Brown titles this piece “Starr—Not Briles—Will Be BU’s Fall Guy,” which is wrong. A fall guy is someone who takes the hit for something that wasn’t his fault. Scott Shafer was a fall guy for Rich Rodriguez. Here, Ken Starr is certainly responsible for massive failures and should be booted. You could make an argument either way for Briles, but it’s indisputable that Title IX stuff is above his paygrade. (Uh… figuratively.)
"If you don't (release the findings), it's going to look like you're hiding something given all of these allegations that are now out there," he said. "There's just been so much of it. All of that (Shawn) Oakman stuff. Now this."
And this is a salient point:
"These guys kept playing?" the coach said. "The message you're sending is, 'This isn't a big deal.'" … "This is a guy (Briles) who prides himself in being a players' coach and coaching his team like a high school team. It's really hard to believe that he didn't know about any of this stuff."
Michigan would still have Logan Tuley-Tillman on the roster if they acted like Baylor evidently has. The goings-on in Waco make Michigan’s participation in Baylor’s camp a dubious proposition. We’ll see if it continues as scheduled—Sam Webb mentioned there was some discussion of it but they still planned to go forward with it.
Still, this is more a story about Waco police corruption at the behest of Baylor’s administration more than it is a football coach. Someone’s head has to roll and unusually it look like the—or at least a—correct one will. Whether or not Baylor actually changes as a result is very much in question.
Praise to a sensible thing. More details on Big Ten hockey’s revamped playoff format have emerged, and they are equally devoid of neutral sites:
The tournament would be played over the course of three weekends and feature three best-of-three quarterfinal round series, two single-game semifinals, and one championship game. All games will be hosted on campus of the highest seed.
I assume they meant “higher” seed, not “highest” seed, FWIW. While I’d prefer best two-of-three to continue throughout the tournament, that change is close enough to what I’ve been advocating since Big Ten hockey started existing that I’ll take it. It’s more hockey, and a much much better environment for it. I assume the single game semis and finals are for TV purposes—the league can say we have these three games at this time and televise it without having to worry about if-necessary games. There would seem to be no other reason to have the above format.
While the story linked above seems to assume that the Big Ten will stay at 7, the format will obviously accommodate an eighth team without much disruption. Arizona State’s announcement they will join the NCHC means that particular bad idea is off the table, so the options are 1) swing for the North Dakota fences, 2) wait for a Big Ten school to add hockey or 3) take Miami, I guess.
BTW the comments here are 90% Minnesota fans bitching about Big Ten hockey…
Wow, it's been 24 hours since I thanked the Big 10 for ruining college hockey. Thanks Big Ten!!!!
…and one North Dakota fan trolling. My favorite is the guy that imagines Minnesota has leverage:
Cleaning up this mess is Coyle's first priority as AD. We need to force ourselves out of this debacle and back into regionalized hockey as soon as possible. He needs to play hardball like Alvarez played hardball in forcing Minnesota to accept this terrible idea.
They’re gonna make Minnesota hockey great again by playing hardball. That’s the ticket.
Etc.: Manuel on scheduling. Manuel on Harbaugh. Ian Boyd on how teams protect their matchup nightmare TE when he’s not a killer blocker. Relevant to our interests. Conference distribution numbers show the SEC and Big Ten on par, at least temporarily. Billy Donlon, defensive coordinator.
it’s back [Bryan Fuller]
Single digits. Via the twitters,various numbers for incoming freshman are now known. The most significant development for Michigan numerologists: Crawford and EMB are both getting the #1. This is good; the number had gotten too bound up in its history to actually get used most of the time. I’m willing to give it to a guy who isn’t AC yet just to get it out of mothballs. Issuing it to a defender too is an interesting twist, especially a linebacker.
Other numbers: Devin Asiasi and Lavert Hill are both #2—no pressure, Lavert—and Rashan Gary will retain his #3 from high school—no pressure, #3.
[UPDATE: Seth relates that some of these numbers are just sticky notes, not plates, and that those are not official. Never mind some of this, then.]
Goodbye, ESPN. The last guy left in Bristol who can call college football is Joe Tessitore. All games this fall will be called by him or the army of Pam Ward clones currently being decanted in the basement:
- Mike Tirico left for NBC,which caused the accursed NFL to yoink Sean McDonough for Monday Night Football.
- McDonough’s broadcast partner Chris Spielman left for FOX, where he, too, will call f-ing NFL games.
- There are plenty of rumors that Brad Nessler is leaving for CBS, which seem to be backed by the fact that Tessitore got promoted to Saturday nights.
- Brent Musberger is still in SEC Network purgatory.
Tessitore is fine, and Fowler is fine. It sucks to lose McDonough, Spielman, and Nessler, all of whom are great.
Not that it matters so much to the Big Ten. They must have had a teleconference, because various reporters are now quoting ADs and Delany about the second half of the Big Ten’s rights package. Is the following real or posturing for a better deal from suddenly-miserly ESPN?
“No one has amnesia about the relationship we have had with ESPN. John Skipper and that group, they have been a wonderful partner. But we’re at a different place and I think they’re at a different place in 2016 than we were in the last round (of negotiations). That doesn’t mean we can’t get to the altar together and get married again. But we’re at the dating stage right now. And that’s a process.”
Whenever this comes up you hear that coaches are loathe to not have a relationship with the gorilla in the sports media ecosystem…
“I believe the Big Ten schools are, at a certain point, going to demand from their leadership, ‘We have to be on ESPN, for recruiting and for publicity. We can’t give that partnership up, it’s too valuable for us in in terms of our conference competing against other conferences for high school players,’” Deitsch said on his podcast. “I’m going to bet, in the end, there’s a deal there.”
…but I’ll believe a college athletics conglomerate is willing to leave money on the table when I see it.
Departing ESPN wholesale for (probably) FOX would be interesting. Right now the Big Ten gets a ton of viewership—would that move tank it? Or would the prospect of having an army of Pam Ward clones do every game at ESPN do so?
On that Tunsil lawsuit. Tunsil’s stepfather is on the stepfather is on the warpath:
Miller met with an NCAA investigator in July and told him about other possible improprieties he had witnessed dating back to Tunsil’s high school recruitment, when Tunsil turned down Nick Saban at Alabama and Mark Richt at Georgia to sign with Hugh Freeze at Mississippi.
Miller claims Tunsil’s academic records were altered. He said Polingo used to receive Western Union deliveries of money from Barney Farrar, Ole Miss assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations. An apparent reference to Farrar was made in the year-old text messages on draft night; when Tunsil asked the Ole Miss administrator for money, he responds, “See Barney next week.” Farrar has denied giving money to or being asked for money by Tunsil, Ole Miss is investigating and Farese predicts it will turn out to be “much ado about nothing.”
Some of that has already been accounted for in the allegations the NCAA has investigated. This lawsuit promises to uncover further things, because it looks like Ole Miss got caught giving him a bunch of different piddly stuff:
The NCAA said Tunsil was not initially honest but that five rules violations were confirmed: Tunsil improperly used three loaner cars without paying during a six-month period; received two nights’ lodging at a local home; accepted a free airline ticket; used a rental car for one day for free, and received an interest-free four-month loan to make a $3,000 down payment on a used car.
That’s not a one time thing, that is five different incidents of giving the guy cash, directly or not, and looks like the tip of the iceberg. What are the chances that this pattern is not repeated with other players? What are the chances that these are the only five things Tunsil was provided? Zero and zero.
Old school items. Via Dr. Sap:
I don’t know why people suspected Caris was soft. He has a broken foot:
LeVert revealed here this week that his injury -- the nature of which was kept under wraps during the season -- is a Jones fracture to the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. The injury, he said, is similar to the one he suffered earlier in his career.
He hoped the fracture would heal on its own, but when that process was slow-going, he opted instead to have surgery after the season by Dr. Martin O'Malley.
LeVert was still on crutches this week in Chicago, and said he will need to wear a boot on his left foot for another four weeks. That means he won't be doing any predraft workouts with teams.
The idea that Levert would try to avoid playing time this year was always goofy. Nobody wants to enter the NBA draft after two years mostly lost to injury. Even if he was only thinking of his draft stock, he would have played if at all possible. But rabblers gonna rabble.
Inevitable comparison. Beilein is going to go there with Xavier Simpson. He’s going with Trey Burke:
"I do," Michigan coach John Beilein was saying recently, asked if he sees significant comparisons between the two, other than they're both from Ohio.
"I see the dog in him, and I mean that in a positive. He goes out there and guards people and plays and he's a high competitor.
"This guy might be a guy that comes in the door with those competitive instincts."
A step towards sanity. The Big Ten will start using campus sites for hockey playoffs once ND joins, with a single week of best two-of-three games before a single elimination final four at an as of yet undisclosed location that I hope is the league winner’s home ice. The winner gets a bye, you see, and it would be weird if their reward was not playing any games at home.
John Gasaway compiles a list of the top shooting performances in the Kenpom era that surprisingly does not include a Stauskas or Burke team; it does include last year’s MSU game, with Michigan on the “whoops” side.