a terrible blight on our fine country
neutral site games
I listen to Colin Cowherd for you. Jim Harbaugh tried out his best Jim Tomsula impression on Colin Cowherd's show this morning:
I dunno man. I wonder if Harbaugh, a high-functioning lunatic, has points at which his function isn't so high. There is a general antipathy for press conference questions… a lot of the time. There is a general antipathy for lazy questions… some of the time. The questions Cowherd fired off were typical Cowherd: somewhat off-putting but nothing that an average person would get his dander up at, and Harbaugh is immediately in I Don't Know mode.
There are ways I think you can rescue it when he gets in that mode. Number one is talking about his players. Harbaugh loves talking about guys he has coached. But I don't think Cowherd really did anything. Harbaugh just wasn't in the mood from the drop. Steve Lorenz accurately describes it as "troll on troll crime."
Happy first-ish day of work at your new Harbaugh-wranglin' job, Zach Eisendrath! It's a very good idea to have a specific person whose only job is to wrangle Harbaugh, but I worry about the men who try to bridge the gap between beast and overman. I await the day the relentlessly upbeat Eisendrath turns his twitter feed into the SID equivalent of Nihlist Arby's.
Draw the blinds. shut out the sun. Cry. The pile of meat has been on the table for weeks. Just eat it & go back to bed. Arbys: edible.
— Nihilist Arby's (@nihilist_arbys) July 1, 2015
I am surprised that I have not already been followed by thirty different "parody" accounts called Nihilist Harby's.
Colin should have read the operating manual though. When this Sacramento Bee story came out we all had a laugh about it and forgot. And then…
Your Harbaugh does not function like other head coaches. An innocuous query about the weather, for instance, could trigger a florid quote from Admiral William Halsey. And yet a routine question about a running back’s knee injury may cause your Harbaugh to wince, pause and grimace as if a malodorous scent has wafted into the room. Your Harbaugh’s default in this instance is: “We don’t really talk about that here” or “I can’t get inside his body” or “He’s working through something.” This is a design flaw our technicians in California have not yet worked out.
Your Harbaugh will be enormously affectionate one day and cold and distant the next. This is normal.
After Eisendrath starts wearing eyeliner and listening to My Chemical Romance 24 hours a day, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee has a job waiting for him. A job he should not take. Yes, even if he works for a print newspaper.
Brock Mealer wants to help other people walk. You won't know that you've missed Mike Barwis's gravel truck of a voice until about ten seconds into this:
Whyyyyyyyy. SBNation's Steven Godfrey has a piece on why there are so many neutral-site games and they continue to increase:
College football's neutral-site games are gaining in popularity because they make a lot of money for the companies and institutions involved.
But demand is even higher among schools suddenly looking to schedule tougher opponents. Consider it knee-jerk hysteria in the wake of Baylor's exclusion from the College Football Playoff, a move often explained as a product of weak non-conference scheduling.
"If you can break your $600,000 [deal for a game against] Akron to go cash $1.2 million from Allstate ... well, there's no catch any more," the agency rep said. "TCU not getting in [the Playoff despite being] at No. 3 the week before scared every athletic director shitless."
Now, you might be thinking to yourself "why would a neutral site game make more money than a home game?" There are three main reasons:
- You can get away with more sponsor stuff at a neutral site. The Blank And Blank Classic, etc.
- You can jack up ticket prices. When Michigan played Alabama at Jerryworld, the minimum price to get in the door was $125, with non-suite tickets ranging up to $245 face. It sold out because it was Michigan against Alabama. Neither school dropped their PSDs a cent.
- The neutral site (sometimes) controls the TV revenue. Most conferences have stipulations that TV revenue is shared, even nonconference TV revenue. This goes for "neutral site" games in the geographical footprint of the conference, but generally does not extend past that. That's why Washington State played Notre Dame in Texas several years back—ND wanted to control that revenue and could not do so in the Pac-12 footprint. That was not the case for Michigan-Alabama, however.
Now, even with all those advantages a neutral site game could only come up with 4.7 million for Michigan—less than they would have gotten for beating up on a cupcake. For a team like TCU, though, the financial equation is much different.
Michigan's got another one coming up because they had a terrible contract against Notre Dame and got left in the lurch; after 2017 against Florida they should never play a neutral site game again. In this, at least, Jim Delany is an aid:
In 2013, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany issued a memo requiring any Big Ten school playing off-campus games to be designated the home team in at least half of the matchups, and that half of the games take place in the Big Ten's footprint. The two-game series between LSU and Wisconsin in Houston and Green Bay is the example.
Never say Jim Delany didn't do one thing right in his whole life.
Instead of having a neutral site game with those ticket advantages, you should ask your fans if it's okay to have big prices for a big game, and when they say YES YES YES then do it.
YOU WERE. There was a time in the 90s when Ohio State would roll in to The Game with a shiny record and national championship aspirations and a 7-4 Michigan team would destroy them. It wasn't exactly halcyon since, uh, 7-4, but there was a grim satisfaction in dragging those bastards into the pit with us. This happened so often that I can't remember which of these games featured this exchange between myself and an Ohio State fan deep into the third quarter:
"You guys are pathetic! You're 7-4! We are national championship contenders!"
"You WERE national championship contenders."
Better that than the recent stuff, I guess. Anyway, ERASE THIS GAME—which still hasn't tackled #M00N—features the 1993 version of La Brea Tar Stadium, in which Tyrone Wheatley* did this:
And Ohio State did this:
- never crosses into the Michigan red zone
- goes two of twelve on third down
- averages two yards per carry compared to Michigan's five
- gets shut out by the Wolverines for the first time since 1976
- misses going to the Rose Bowl after Wisconsin beats Michigan State in Tokyo because the tiebreaker at the time eliminated the most recent Rose Bowl invitee
- seriously, that was a way the Big Ten decided who got to go to the Rose Bowl, and it's basically "aw heck you're due"
I would prefer that we keep this game, and possibly bronze it.
*[Whenever I watch Wheatley run these days I think that Brandon Minor was born 20 years too late to be a somewhat disappointing first round NFL draft pick.]
Etc.: Harbaugh throws out first pitch, talks to media personably afterwards. This is normal. An oral history of Barry Alvarez making Wisconsin into Wisconsin. You should probably read it. Harbaugh on the Tigers.
Scrimmage video. Fan-based, so wobbly.
Perverse incentives create perverse results. It is of course completely nuts for Michigan to play Florida in Dallas. The stadium is smaller, the fanbases are far away, and the pageantry of college football is largely replaced with sterile NFL lawyer spaceship accoutrements. But people do it because they get the money.
After Wisconsin scheduled LSU in a goofy neutral-and-neutral situation, Jim Delany issued a memo that the Cedar Times Gazette has unearthed:
Delany’s letter, which was obtained by The Gazette, highlighted the league’s support for neutral sites provided at least half of the series occur within the Big Ten footprint and under the league’s television agreements. Delany wrote an arrangement would be “disapproved” if a Big Ten game was not designated as the home squad in at least half the games or if it was a one-game event that took place outside the league’s television umbrella. …
“We applaud and very much appreciate your efforts in doing so, as this should create value for your teams and fans as well as for our television partners and, therefore, for all Conference members. But please keep in mind the above policies that are important to all of us as we share collectively in the revenue generated by our televised games."
I'm not sure what "disapproved" means here. Could be "we will not let you do this"; could be "we will raise our mighty eyebrow at you but take no other action."
In any case the memo indirectly indicates why neutral site games are popular: the two teams participating can split the TV money between themselves instead of between themselves and Indiana and Purdue and a bunch of other teams that are not in fact playing. When there's a Jerryworld game, ESPN and Jerryworld get the rights and then give home-team-sized slices to both participants. The Big Ten doesn't like that.
The Big Ten can pound sand. Scheduling real games would be so much easier if the teams in them actually saw the benefits without having to leave campus. There is zero reason that a Michigan-Florida home and home should be less lucrative than a neutral site game for the people involved.
Thankfully it sounds like Michigan's trip to Jerryworld in 2017 will be their last, by league decree. It's for the wrong reason, but these days that's all you can hope for.
Hatch things. Good Morning America had him on:
I am going to judge you on your word. Big Ten coaches given one word to describe their teams!
Illinois’ Tim Beckman: Family
"Can you help me find them? I'm not supposed to be out after 7 PM."
Indiana’s Kevin Wilson: Cusp
That's not an adjective. The Hoosiers are not seeming particularly cusp this morn.
Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz: Developmental
Neither is this unless it's followed by "-ly disabled," but I like that Ferentz managed to be even more boring than boring. He's probably in a band called White Toast and that's one of their songs.
Maryland’s Randy Edsall: Hungry
Boring, and not in a fun Ferentz way. Boring in a boring way. Randy Edsall is in a band and their one song is "this is not a band it is just a boring man telling you to eat your vegetables."
Michigan’s Brady Hoke: Together
…now that our first round left tackle is gone
Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio: Committed
…pass interference and still weren't found out
Minnesota’s Jerry Kill: Hungry
This would be boring except for this video of Jerry Kill eating a tiny burrito:
Nebraska’s Bo Pelini: Exciting
Accurate. Nebraska is not great but they are a cat explosion waiting to happen.
Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald: Focused
…until the fourth quarter.
Ohio State’s Urban Meyer: Fast
Accurate, in fact tells you something about desired composition of team, relatively un-boring.
Penn State’s James Franklin: Perseverance
Again with the non-adjectives.
Purdue’s Darrell Hazell: Hungry
Would be boring but in this case I think Darrell Hazell may be saying that his players are literally hungry because they can't figure out which hole to put the food in. "NOT THAT ONE," Darrell Hazell screams for the third time today, "THAT ONE ISN'T EVEN A PART OF YOUR BODY."
Rutgers’ Kyle Flood: Hungry
wait why is this guy even listed
Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen: Youthful
Well… yeah. Joe Namath ain't walking through that door.
Meanwhile, Spurrier said "decent" because hail Spurrier. Mark Richt said "wow" for some reason. I ain't saying that Dave Brandon goes around wearing Mark Richt's skin. But I ain't saying otherwise, neither.
Would you say that your decisions are film and evidence-based? Hoke:
"The evidence for making decisions is on the film," Hoke said Saturday night after the team's public scrimmage. "It's evidence-based. Based on film."
No word on the moisture status of his upper lip.
Another "students are gone" article. This one from USA Today is standard-issue. It never ceases to amaze that athletic directors can say this…
"I don't think it's a targeted demographic problem; I think it's more of a (high-definition) TV, living room, leather couch problem and we have to give the people a reason to come to our live product," Washington athletics director Scott Woodward said. "It is something we're going to have to address and deal with."
…and then marvel at the fact that it's tough to sell tickets that have spiraled upward relative to inflation, nearly tripling since 2000. Surely there is an athletic director out there who can figure out why they might be having attendance problems. Take 2, and then take this other 2, and somehow we have to reach 4.
The article has another pile of lukewarm solutions that aren't going to fix much of anything. One thing that could help: stop treating students like enemies. Michigan gets the vapors when a student says the word "sucks" and tries to drown it out; the ushers in the student section are constantly harassing anyone who does anything that looks even slightly like liability. You've got a choice here: loosen things up and accept the fact that you're going to have slightly higher insurance premiums, or continue to turn off your future customers with adversarial relationships between students and your main point of contact with them.
[Via Get The Picture.]
Etc.: MSU WR MacGarrett Kings doesn't even get standard-issue one game DUI suspension. Notre Dame previewed by Paul Myerberg. An overview of where the various NCAA lawsuits stand. The Kessler suit is The Big One. I'm in a sidebar of this ESPN story on the state of Michigan. NOPE.
MVictors interviews Dan Dierdorf. Genuinely Sarcastic comes back for a post about Michigan football that naturally includes a section on Stalingrad. Notre Dame scandal is always a good opportunity to rip Notre Dame.
Not the Onion. News headline:
MSU challenges officials to take control of game vs. Michigan
Are you man enough to call another 100 yards in personal fouls on Michigan State, refs?
Also, Tyler Hoover is supposed to return to the lineup at DT. Not sure how much impact that will have.
Also not the Onion. This is where the rivalry is at the moment:
Michigan prepping for a 'figurative fist fight' in physical tilt vs. Michigan State
More like LITERAL KNIFE FIGHT AMIRITE.
Also also not the Onion. We have a formidable secondary?
Michigan's formidable secondary 'looking to get after it' against MSU
I'm going to go away and hope this is true forever.
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW THINGS ARE CAUSED. Winner?
Former Michigan star Mike Hart's infamous comment sparked Michigan State's resurgence in series
Worst article is easy. Matt Charboneau's flufftastic puff piece on Gholston, which does the same thing all attempts to defend Gholston do: focus on the meaningless punch that brought a suspension while ignoring the Denard helmet twist and the Lewan arm bar. No one cares about hitting a guy in a helmet with your fist in the heat of whatever. It's unfortunate that the Big Ten focused on that instead of the truly dirty stuff.
He's just misunderstood, you see, and he has kid, so he must be an awesome dude. They don't just hand out kids to anyone. You have to be licensed.
Maybe he just went crazy that one time but if you're going to write an article about it at least have the honesty to detail the things that happened.
Uniformz? A photo of a chrome-tastic MSU helmet is floating around the internets and the rumor is they will be deployed Saturday:
Hopefully Michigan doesn't respond in kind as they did last year, if this is actually a thing that is being worn. I worry that someone somewhere is saying "we have to bridge the chrome gap!" and not being shot.
MSU scouting bits. Highly recommended are Ross Fulton's breakdowns of what Ohio State did against MSU. The MSU defense:
MICHIGAN STATE: LOADED FOR BEAR
As expected, Michigan State adopted an aggressive style that focused upon attacking Ohio State's inside zone read. Michigan State generally operated from their 40 over defense with their Will linebacker walked over the slot receiver.
The Spartan Will linebacker's role was not to cover the slot receiver, however. Instead, he was tasked with accounting for Braxton Miller on the zone read, allowing the defensive end to crash the zone play. In essence, the Spartans ran a constant scrape exchange.
In response, OSU shot their H-back outside the defensive end and hit the edge or used him to block the crashing DE and read the slot-oriented LB, or they used outside runs that used the aggression of that DE to open up the corner. Expect Michigan's inside zone to be a maintenance play that picks up a few yards, allowing other runs to bust for larger gains.
Tremendous also has a breakdown, one that focuses on the defensive tackles—who are not good, thus the Kittredge switch this week. Included are many amazing displays of Spartan DTs put on skates by the OSU OL. I'm with Mr. Larson: block Gholston, option someone else, screw rollouts, especially naked ones.
Fulton's item on the MSU offense vs the OSU defense is a little less relevant because Michigan is mostly a one-high cover three defense and OSU is transitioning to cover four. Hankins did clobberate the MSU run game as a three tech—Will Campbell pad level versus bad guard play come on down?
BONUS: Fulton breaks down what the hell happened to OSU's defense against Indiana.
OH BOY. Hopefully this is Brandon not ruling out anything when someone brings up the idea of a neutral site game in a Q&A and not actually wanting to continue college football's worst trend:
But he did say Wednesday that he remains open to all possibilities for the newly-created void on the Wolverines' schedule beginning in 2015.
Whether it's a home-and-home with a big-name opponent, or another possible neutral site game, similar to this year's Cowboys Classic against Alabama in Arlington, Texas.
"We're looking at both," Brandon said. "The key thing for us is to try and make sure we're playing in a venue that gives our fans access, and economically, provides us the best opportunity that justifies going on the road.
"We put 110 or 112,000 people every game in our venue, it's hard to go play in front of 35,000 people."
Ugh, ugh, ugh. A neutral site game gives fans less access than a home and home because it's a game in the middle of nowhere in a smaller stadium. No more neutral site games—we renovated the stadium for a reason, I assume, and not "so Slippery Rock can play there."
This isn't that hard: see MSU and OSU, currently loading up with quality nonconference home and homes not against opponents with 35k seat stadiums… because those don't exist in BCS conferences. Brandon must wake up at night tossing and turning at the agony of having to go to UConn next year. We get it. We also don't care. No more neutral sites.
Oh, man. Don't listen to them, Dylan Larkin.
While perusing my Twitter feed, I came across this tweet from U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team goalie Thatcher Demko and reply by Michigan commit Evan Allen:
“@thatcher_hockey: Larkin is Screetch” hahahha omg he IS screetch
via Michigan Hockey Net
Kids in high school still know who Screech is?
Mac Bennett stepping up. If Michigan can ever ice their full-strength defensive corps it will be a thing to behold($):
"Our guys liked his poise out there, his ability to handle and move the puck," said Trevor Timmins, Montreal's Director of Amateur Scouting. "He's a gifted skater. That's the one thing that he can rely on to get him to the NHL. He's not a big guy so he's had to add some size and strength, but he's in a great situation at Michigan, with some outstanding coaching, and we're seeing that development there.
"Similarly to Greg Pateryn last season, this season Mac is being leaned on to log a lot of ice time, and to play in all situations - be a leader on the team - and that provides Mac with greater confidence in his ability."
Wojo zings. Wojo zings:
This annual clash has turned into a nasty affair, which can happen when brothers scrap and egos fray. It wouldn't be this way if the Spartans had quietly gone about their business, winning two or three times a decade. But then Mark Dantonio showed up with his deep playbook of scowls, much deeper than his offense's playbook, and started ticking people off.
The Wolverines don't appreciate the Spartans' audacity to physically manhandle them. And the Spartans don't appreciate the Wolverines' continuing attempt to pretend their Ohio-based rival is more important.
Common Michigan State plea: "Heeyyyy, we're right heeeeere! Try to beat us! At least look at us!"
Penn State's "fourth down bravery" may have something to do with the fact they have the worst punting and kicking in the country. The Bylaw Blog advocates athletics majors. The new NHL CBA might be better for college programs than the old one. Still waiting on the massive imbalance in AHL eligibility to get sorted out. Genuinely Sarcastic back from the grave. DIAMOND STONE is visiting this weekend. He's a five-star 2015 basketball post.