spoiler alert: i linked this
So the thing that everybody knew happened did happen.
Tunsil's Draft Presser via WBBM. "Was their an exchange between you and your coach for $$?" "I'd have to say, yeah." pic.twitter.com/TqYeOSjOfO
— Robby Donoho (@RobbyDonoho) April 29, 2016
As revelations go it's small time. Tunsil didn't get suspended for seven games for nothing.
Here is the best description of the admission. Tunsil went in front of the media almost as the Instagram stuff was posted and said these things in this order:
Then Tunsil was asked about the Instagram posts. He said he’d just found out about them, and reiterated that he’d made a mistake. Asked by reporter as to whether there’d been an exchange of money between Tunsil and a coach, he first responded, “I wouldn’t say that.” But when pressed a few moments later, he said, “Those messages?” almost as if he hadn’t understood the previous questions. “Those were true. Like I said, I made a mistake.”
Asked again if there had been an exchange of money, Tunsil then responded matter-of-factly, “I have to say yeah.” A further question about whether he’d met with the NCAA was being posed when Milam appeared from behind a curtain, cutting the session short. “He’s got no more comments. Thank you guys so much,” she said, tapping the offensive lineman on the shoulder, whisking him away and leaving media as baffled as Tunsil apparently had been.
Tunsil said it twice and was clearly referring to the Instagram posts since "those" is not a way you'd reference the bong hit. That's about as clear as it'll ever get.
Good for Tunsil, more or less. Dude got paid, got to the NFL as a mid-first-round pick, and got to do a gas mask bong in front of a Confederate flag. I guess that's empowering?
I don't have any issue with Tunsil's priorities. I assume 80% of college football players have taken hits off a novelty bong. I'm assuming his family is not particularly wealthy; it's a logical decision to get paid when you happen to be an incredible prospect in a field that has a professional career that lasts on average 2.6 years. Maybe don't film yourself doing a thing that you know the NFL is irrational about, but the only proper response to tut-tutters is to roll your eyes.
Meanwhile I can get behind following that up with an honest admission he got paid to go to a university with negligible football history and Confederate flags behind every bong. I'll only be vaguely irritated at Tunsil if he walks back those admissions. He doesn't owe anything to Ole Miss; a look inside the sausage factory can only speed up the day when people can give money to college football players over the table. There is a point at which the NCAA must admit that they have no ability to prevent people from getting paid and drops the whole charade.
It is an amazing bit of brainwashing. That's why I think some coach just needs to use protest-the-system defense. https://t.co/HmYhlGvgdl
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) April 29, 2016
And what a charade it is. Whenever I bring this up and advocate near-total deregulation of money headed to college football players there is a pushback from people who say
- but then people with money will have influence on football programs and
- but then college football players will have the money.
I look at these people and wonder why they think 1 isn't already true—even at programs trying to stay between the lines—and why 2 is a problem. The text message exchange is an attempt to get a bill paid for his mom. We have zero issue with 18 and 19 year olds getting paid in any other sport; paternalistic concerns they might do something harmlessly stupid with the money are nonsensical since then the players are merely back where they started.
Ole Miss got greedy. The reason that Ole Miss might actually take a fall here is because they got greedy. They had a story why they might acquire Robert Nkemdiche—his brother was already on the team. They had zero plausible story why they'd acquire Tunsil or Laquon Treadwell, out-of-state five stars with zero connection to a program that hadn't done anything since the 1960s. Tunsil in particular seems to have come with some serious family baggage that may explain why Ole Miss was able to outbid others:
Suspicion for the hacks quickly and naturally fell upon Tunsil’s stepfather, Lindsey Miller, with whom Tunsil has been engaged in a lengthy and nasty legal battle.
Last June, Tunsil was arrested on domestic-violence charges after a fight with Miller. Tunsil told police that his stepfather had pushed his mother, and he punched Miller to protect her, and pressed charges against Miller. Miller told police that Tunsil hit him at least six times, that the attack was unprovoked, and that the argument started over Tunsil having impermissible contact with agents. NCAA investigators interviewed Miller over his claims that he had proof of rules violations committed by Ole Miss.
A month later, Tunsil and Miller agreed to drop the charges against each other.
This past Tuesday, two days before the draft, Miller filed a lawsuit against Tunsil, claiming Tunsil assaulted him and defamed his character. The suit alleges “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
If you're Alabama you can just move on to the next kid. (Or maybe not.) Ole Miss can't, and that may be their undoing. And it should be. While paying players is morally fine it is also against the rules.
Hi, Hugh Freeze. If there's ever been an example of a guy who just along for the ride it's Hugh "muh families" Freeze. Dude is an anonymous high school coach before a one-year apprenticeship at Arkansas State and then Ole Miss. Upon his arrival they start recruiting like they matter, and he bitches about having to work.
Gus Malzahn is a great comparison here. Malzahn also came from high school and also had a one year apprenticeship at Arkansas State before getting the Auburn job, but beforehand he was OC at Arkansas and Auburn and Tulsa and had excellent success at all those places, getting chased about because sometimes those places are insane. Malzhan got his job because he's a good football coach, and if Auburn's paying some guys to come that's only part of his success. Survey says they are, but not egregiously.
Freeze has nothing to his name other than the ability to not observe cash payments to high-profile recruits, and over the past year his program has seen one Nkemdiche fall out off a balcony whilst high, the other Nkemdiche leave the team and get hospitalized twice with "personal issues," and now the Tunsil thing. One of the appeals of the Ole Miss program appears to be a total lack of adult supervision. The NCAA changing official visit policies so that parents can come along will not be a help to them.
It's to the point where the NFL notices:
Multiple sources told The MMQB that Tunsil’s off-field behavior was becoming increasingly worrisome and reason for some teams to remove him from their draft boards altogether. Much of it had to do with the culture at Mississippi, sources say.
A Freeze implosion here would be richly deserved. Whether the NCAA has the ability to deliver it is very much in question, unfortunately.
Welp, Willie Henry is headed to the draft, and has set a record for longest screenshot of the Notes app in recorded history.
— Willie Henry (@WE_69) January 14, 2016
Henry was an under the radar recruit out of Cleveland Glenville who Brady Hoke picked up on late; his raw power wasn't matched by his technique until this year, when he put together a breakout year along with the rest of the defensive line. In honor of his tendency to hurl people away from him entertainingly he's got a "willie henry throws humans" tag; he played at an All Conference level and probably won't last past the third round. With remaining upside I wouldn't be surprised if someone grabbed him sooner. Any concerns that Michigan's NFL draft streak might end can cease, at least?
In Henry's absence Michigan is likely to move Maurice Hurst into the starting three-tech role; they still go 6-7 deep on the line with quality players. Henry's departure does hurt Michigan's chances of fielding a full-on Alabama-style line. It also opens up a scholarship; Michigan now has 19 spots available and counting.
Not bad for year one. Michigan finishes tenth in Matt Hinton's final rankings.
But for an all-time fluke you can swap M and MSU. Jim Harbaugh can coach a bit.
Embrace expectations in year two. Michigan will not start next year outside the polls. It may start it inside the top five, if post-season top X lists are any indicator:
- Stewart Mandel ranks Michigan 4th.
- PFF predicts Michigan will make the playoff, also ranking M 4th.
- Mark Schablach ranks Michigan… yep, 4th.
With a pile of starters returning and Jim freakin' Harbaugh as Michigan's coach, this is not a huge surprise. Michigan demolished Florida in the bowl game and that kind of thing tends to get you a big perception bump headed into next season. Half the time that's a mirage; Michigan will hope that theirs is legit.
The number one gentleman who needs to come through for Michigan to deliver. That would be one John O'Korn, likely starting quarterback. For months I've mentioned a steady drumbeat of chatter from inside the program that O'Korn was the best QB on the roster. Here's another manifestation of that from Ron Bellamy:
He said from his discussions with the Michigan coaches and the people in the program, John O'Korn "just lit up" the first team defense as the scout team QB everyday in practice. He said he was doing it against Lewis, Peppers, etc and the Michigan defensive coaches told him that O'Korn was going to be a flat out stud.
I'll try to stay calm and reasonable about these reports for the next eight months. And fail.
Let's go wherever, whenever. Harbaugh wants to have a week of spring practice in Florida. Specifically, at IMG, which has started a football program that attracts top recruits from around the country. A solid idea that will infuriate many: welcome to the offseason.
(Harbaugh wants to do it over spring break, naturally, to assuage any academics concerns you might have.)
I might watch it on mute just to see. Harbaugh is going to the state of the union thanks to a couple of congresspersons:
"For me he's the best of what the country should be and is," Dingell told MLive Monday night, pointing to his track record of hard work and teamwork.
Dingell, a Democrat, represents the 12th Congressional District, which includes the University of Michigan. She and U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from West Michigan, together agreed to bring Harbaugh and his wife Sarah as guests to the State of the Union on Tuesday.
Each congressperson can invite one guest, so Amash invited Harbaugh and Dingell invited Sarah Harbaugh. Dingell said Amash's office approached hers about hosting the Harbaughs, and she'd have invited him in the first place if she knew he was interested.
Well done… people… in congress?
Seriously, do I have to watch the State of the Union now? I mean, any of these things could happen:
- President shouts out Michigan's football coach
- Harbaugh is invited to give speech
- Harbaugh is not invited to give speech, gives speech anyway
- Harbaugh wears cleats
- Harbaugh nails Joe Biden on a post route
- Harbaugh signs Declaration of Independence, is told that is unnecessary these days, says he has improved document all the same
- camera cuts to Harbaugh gobbling stadium foodstuffs not apparently on sale anywhere in the building
Gentry location. Zach Gentry could be a tight end. He could also be a quarterback. He did a little of the former in the bowl practices but he is not a tight end. Yet.
Gentry was one player who Harbaugh experimented with during bowl practices last month, moving the 6-foot-7, 230-pound true freshman from quarterback to tight end.
An athletic quarterback in high school, Gentry was asked by Harbaugh to give it a shot after the regular season ended. Gentry says he didn't hesitate.
"It was their (idea), but I've been flexible with it," Gentry said last week in Orlando. "Coach Harbaugh and (Jay Harbaugh) wanted to use my athleticism and see what happens. I've been doing it in practice, I think I've done a nice job with it.
"But I'm not sure, exactly, what's going on with my future (and what position I'll play)."
I imagine he'll compete in spring as a quarterback, because Michigan's got an open job. If he ends up clearly behind at least two other guys, tight end becomes a real long-term option. (As does a transfer, unfortunately.) If he's in the running, or even in the top three, you have let him stay at QB. The athleticism that makes him a good tight end prospect is something Harbaugh wants from his QBs—and last night Deshaun Watson made Alabama's defense look silly thanks in large part to his legs.
Rats, what is your opinion of this ship? Penn State lost DC John Shoop to Tennessee. Related: John Shoop ain't got no shame.
Less than two weeks after Bob Shoop told reporters he hoped Penn State would have him "forever and ever and ever," the Nittany Lions' defensive coordinator is leaving the program for the same position at Tennessee.
PSU nearly lost him last year to LSU, whereupon Shoop was given a three-year, near-seven-figure deal. This year Tennessee offers 1.15 million and he's gone. All this further confirms that we should just pay the f-ing players before people in college football start literally drowning in money.
Anyway, the bleeding was and is not over: a few days later Penn State loses OL coach Herb Hand to the same position at Auburn. Today linebacker Troy Reeder announced he's transferring to Delaware after starting 11 games as a redshirt freshman. (Geno Lewis also grad-transferred to Oklahoma but that looks like a garden-variety playing time transfer.)
This all seems less than ideal for James Franklin, who has escaped serious scrutiny so far as Penn State digs out from under NCAA sanctions. Hand was dealt a… nevermind. Hand was put in an enormously difficult spot by those sanctions, which forced him to start two converted defensive linemen at guard. Then he lost the one good lineman he had to the draft last year; getting out makes sense for him.
I just wonder how hot seats get if Penn State's offense struggles again next year and their defense takes a half-step back without most of that defensive line. I'm guessing pretty hot.
Meanwhile in Big Ten teams losing defensive coordinators to SEC teams. Wisconsin's Dave Aranda headed down to LSU, causing Barry Alvarez to grouse about funding.
“The reason they can go up higher (in the SEC) is they’re not supporting as many sports,” Alvarez said. “It’s a difference in philosophy. The Big Ten is known for being more broad-based in its sports offerings. We are committed to supporting a broad-based athletic program. People may dismiss that, but it’s a real thing. They can sink more of their money into football."
At Get The Picture, a commenter points out the differences between Wisconsin and Georgia aren't significant:
What they have that we don’t: 3 rowing teams, wrestling, 2 hockey teams and men’s soccer.
What we have they they don’t (w/o looking to confirm): baseball, equestrian and gymnastics.
LSU is similar. They sponsor gymnastics, beach volleyball, and baseball; Wisconsin does not. Wisconsin sponsors hockey for both genders, wrestling, men's soccer, and rowing. Men's hockey makes money. Wisconsin's added expense for extra teams is more or less rowing—which mostly exists to be a cheap Title IX makeweight. Alvarez is full of it.
At least he's not alone?
…look at where some of the many other Big Ten coordinator hires came from this offseason: Louisiana-Lafayette (Minnesota, offense), Fordham (Penn State, offense), internally (Purdue and Illinois, offense), Northern Illinois (Rutgers, defense), Arkansas State (Maryland, offense) and even a coach who was out of football for a year (Purdue, defense). Maybe those moves will work out brilliantly, but they hardly bring the sizzle that Tennessee and LSU acquired.
On the other hand, Mike Debord.
Meanwhile in literally drowning in money. Hoo boy this makes me furious:
Jim Delany wrecked the Big Ten by adding two makeweight east coast programs that make no sense, destroyed the basketball schedule, made it so Michigan plays half the league once in a decade, and gets rewarded for it because some dillweed in the league office figured out a way to exploit the dying cable monopoly for short-term gain. I mean, I guess that's how things go in a business, but then they turn around and try to justify amateurism.
Meanwhile, the bubble creaks ominously:
Old Dominion and the other 13 Conference USA schools will have to make do with about $500,000 less in television revenue next season.
League TV revenue is likely to fall by about half when new contracts with Fox Sports and the CBS Sports Network take effect on July 1, according to sources at three schools familiar with C-USA’s TV contract negotiations.
The Big Ten is up in a few years. They've got a lot more pull than CUSA, but this might not be the best time for a contract negotiation.
In other news, I now have massive respect for Dane Brugler. CBS analyst Dane Brugler tells Michael Spath that Jake Butt had a shot to be the top tight end in the draft and a second round pick if he came out and picks out—yep—DESMOND MORGAN as Michigan's top eligible player:
:…he was all over the field,” Brugler said. “He was a blitzer, a guy that could play in the middle but play in space. He has lateral range, played sideline to sideline, quick reactions, strings runs out to the perimeter.
“Morgan is a physical player, aggressive but also at the same time, smart. I think he has the best shot to go a bit higher than his teammates. As long as the medicals check out.”
Thank you, Dane Brugler. You and I can ride on the Desmond Morgan bandwagon all the way to the, er, fifth round. Saddle up.
Don Brown defensive resources I haven't had the time to look at yet but will revisit when I do. Ditto Ian Boyd on running your slot receiver down the gut of the MSU defense or Smart Football touching on the same topic.
Attrition incoming. Harbaugh minced no words in the press conference after the Citrus Bowl:
Harbaugh said 10-11 guys won't be back but "for the rest of the guys, like De'Veon and me, onward"
— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) January 1, 2016
Michigan no doubt has a very good idea of who those guys are already and is recruiting to match. Rivals has a rundown of the general situation that lists a number of names, most of them obvious.
Potential fifth years who have not seen the field much are not likely to return. That's a group that includes Terry Richardson, Blake Bars, Tom Strobel and maybe Allen Gant. Drake Johnson was a maybe due to playing time, something I'd also heard, but now looks set to come back. Matt Godin is mentioned as a possibility, but that seems far-fetched since he saw a ton of snaps this year. He's not a great fit as a DT, but move him to a plugger DE spot and he can be useful taking on tight ends on the like.
Rivals also suggests that a current offensive line starter might move on, which sounds absolutely ridiculous. Even if a guy might get beat out that guy would almost certainly be your #6, and asking that guy to transfer is not something any program is likely to do. File that under "motivational ploy" or "drunken telephone".
Aside from the fifth year guys, space will come from a couple places. One are Michigan's specialists. We currently count them against the cap but their situation is probably more fluid than that since I assume a couple of them are on "you get the first available slot in fall" kind of deals. Those slots are near-certain to open up by fall; I don't know if Michigan has to account for them on Signing Day.
Then there are plain old transfers. Derrick Green disappeared in the second half of the season and didn't make the bowl trip; I have heard that he is very likely to transfer. You have to figure that players passed by freshmen are going to be inclined to look around. There are few WR/DB types that applies to, and then at least one quarterback is going to look at the guys around him and say NOOOPE. It sounds like Harbaugh is already aware of who those guys are.
Ty Isaac doesn't seem like one of them. With virtually zero playing time after a couple of mid-year fumbles Isaac would be a guy to keep an eye on even though he's already lost a year of eligibility by departing USC. But Isaac says he's going to stay and scrap:
"I didn't play as well as I needed to, and I obviously had some things come up," Isaac said last week in Orlando. "But I still feel the same way. Anything the coaches want me to do I'll do, and I want to do.
"It didn't go my way, but the team overall's had a successful year and I'm happy to be a part of that."
I'd heard that he was very prominent in practices late, but that clearly did not translate into enough trust to put him on the field. He'll work on rebuilding that this offseason.
Early entries. It's departure season, as the deadline to declare for the NFL draft is the 15th. Michigan seems to be getting everyone other than maybe Willie Henry back; others have not been so fortunate:
- Penn State: QB Christian Hackenberg and DT Austin Johnson have declared. Neither is much of a surprise.
- Indiana: RB Jordan Howard declared, and Michigan fans quietly high-fived. So did DT Darius Latham, who was their most talented defender.
- Nebraska: DT Maliek Collins declared. Michigan doesn't play Nebraska next year.
- Maryland: DE Yannick Ngakoue declared.
- Rutgers: LB Steve Longa is gone, but Seth will still draft him anyway next year.
- Ohio State: DE Joey Bosa, RB Ezekiel Elliott, S Tyvis Powell, QB Cardale Jones, WR Michael Thomas, CB Eli Apple and LB Darron Lee have all declared. S Vonn Bell is widely expected to go as well.
Iowa is getting CB Desmond King back, so that's good for them. Everyone else of note is out.
Ratings! I don't care about ratings. A lot of people seem very mad that the playoff semifinals dropped a third of their viewership after moving to New Year's Eve. I don't care that much about other people setting money on fire, but yeah it was bad:
Per Sports Business Journal's Jon Ourand, overnight numbers for the Oklahoma-Clemson Orange Bowl and Alabama-Michigan State Cotton Bowl were 9.7 and 9.9, respectively (about 15.6 million viewers for the Orange Bowl and about 18.6 million for the Cotton, per Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch).
Last year's Rose and Sugar semis got 15.5 and 15.3 (about 28 million viewers apiece, per The Washington Post).
That's more than a third fewer viewers for the sport's biggest games of the year.
Two games that didn't exactly come down to the wire—MSU-Alabama was particularly uncompetitive—didn't help. The idea that college football would change the country's New Year's Eve paradigm was massive hubris, but this is an organization that kept Bill Hancock as their main mouthpiece even after they'd decided everything that came out of his mouth for a decade was complete bollocks. Hubris should be expected.
Let's see what Bill Hancock has to say now, I bet it's reasonable and logic—
"That decline, frankly, is not much of a surprise and it's modest."
Hancock's business card reads "will lie but seem respectable for money."
Wisconsin down one Dave Aranda. LSU hires him away for a reported 1.3 million a year. That is bad for Wisconsin, which seems to be clearly handicapped by their administration at this point. Gary Andersen fled to one of the worst jobs in the Pac-12 rather than stick around; Bo Ryan retired midseason to spite people who would not give the job to his primary assistant; they lose their DC and Barry Alvarez cries poverty afterward.
I'm sure they'll maintain competitiveness but it feels like their golden age is coming to an end here.
Mone ready to go. Bryan Mone tells Scout he's completely recovered from his injury and raring to go:
"I used (the injury) as motivation to be honest with you," Mone said. "Just motivation. Watching the guys practice and play got me excited to work out and not only that but in the classroom, too... I feel pretty good body-wise. I was at 330 when I got hurt, I'm at 309 now. My expectations are just to get better with my technique football-wise."
He also says "everybody is coming back," which predated reports about Willie Henry exploring his options but is still an enouraging sign for how he thinks that decision will go.
Partridge on departing. DJ Durkin made a run at Chris Partridge after he was hired at Maryland, but Partridge decided to stay. It sounds like that's not a short-term decision:
“My future is whatever Jim Harbaugh thinks my future is,” said Partridge, with his mother, Bonnie, and father, Rick, nearby. “My number will be called and I know that, and for now I’m trying to be the best in the country in whatever role my team needs me, whatever I’m asked to do. My loyalty is with Jim Harbaugh — who I consider the best coach in the country — and my heart is with the University of Michigan. I’m just part of a team trying to do my part to help us win Big Ten and national championships.”
Partridge coached linebackers in the bowl game and is probably in line for a full assistant spot in the relatively near future, possibly when Mattison retires.
Etc.: Get The Picture on the epidemic of QB transfers. Harbaugh gonna Harbaugh. Citrus Bowl widely watched despite blowout. Holdin' The Rope on said blowout. Things that predict future shooting performance. Jake Rudock on his final year. The evolution of Michigan football.
Fitz Toussaint will start for the Steelers in the playoffs. /throws dart at Fred Jackson picture
Early entry tea leaves. In a welcome change, Michigan has a number of underclassmen good enough to consider entering the NFL draft. This, unfortunately, brings with it the possibility that some of these folks will actually enter said draft. A brief rundown:
- Jake Butt said he would definitely come back if he wasn't projected to go in the top three rounds. Mel Kiper has him the second tight end available and NFL Draft Scout just posted a mock in which he is a third rounder, which seems low. Butt told reporters that "it's 50/50" yesterday. More encouragingly, he listed many reasons for a return and a desire to talk to Harbaugh about what he should do. [UPDATE: Butt tweeted he'd be back.]
- After a confusing interval in which Chris Wormley deflected questions about not returning for a fifth year, he apparently told reporters he would "definitely" be back.
- Jourdan Lewis offered up another tweet indicating he would return next year. He is doing his homework. QED. And another after some radio person urged him to go—said radio person, Mike Sullivan, is the producer of Michigan's IMG pregame show. Excellent career move, Mike.
- Willie Henry has not been heard from on this front. He is currently under the radar to NFL draft sites but if he wants to go he will get drafted at some point. There have been some rumblings that he would look to go if he met a certain threshold in his draft projections.
Michigan has several other draft-eligible players with remaining eligibility but none seem like serious threats to leave. The O/U on departures is set at 1.
In other Jourdan Lewis news. He is a first-team All-American to USA Today, which I now like better than the Thorpe committee until the next time I have to evaluate my relative preference for things based on my pre-existing opinions.
We are hungry for things. Michigan sold out its bowl allotment in hours.
Our bowl tickets allotment is officially sold out. Thank YOU, fans, for doing your part! Can’t wait to see you down in Orlando! #GoBlue
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) December 8, 2015
This is why they always get the top spot they could possibly get picked for. Michigan also implemented a system where fans could reserve bowl tickets for specific games and not others earlier this year, so they probably had a big head start on moving through those tickets. Even so… dang. I didn't know that was even a possibility any more.
Let's check in on Rutgers. The New York Times notices that Rutgers exists for a brief moment:
With the coach went the university’s athletic director, who never entirely recovered from suspicions that Rutgers had failed to vet her hiring two years ago. That was to replace the previous athletic director, who was fired along with the basketball coach after a video, looped repeatedly on national television, backed up allegations that the coach verbally and physically abused players — and that Rutgers had known about it.
And the bad news may not be over: The university is investigating whether the athletic department ignored its own policy requiring the dismissal of players who fail drug tests, as one told prosecutors after his arrest.
What a good organization to admit to the Big Ten. Rutgers doesn't get a full cut until 2021, which will be just in time for the league to kick them out in a world where the cable bundle has evaporated into countless disparate streams. Is there another article about that now?
No amount of wishing upon a star at the Disney offices in Burbank or the ESPN offices in Bristol, Connecticut, can hold back the forces of consumer choice that the Internet has unleashed. As a cable industry executive put it to Sports Business Daily recently, “The cost of goods is going up and sales are going down…that’s not a good trend.”
Every participant in the sports economy—franchise owners, athletes, programming networks, cable companies, and even the fans themselves—have benefitted from this broadband version of the hide-the-ball trick. That big fat $100 average household cable bill that everyone pays has served as a siphoning conduit of cash forcibly flowing from fan and uninterested non-fan alike.
The brazen economics of modern sports are being revealed and dismantled by the Internet, and the coming fumble-pile of desperate industry participants should make for some great viewing. That’ll be bad news for $30 million-a-year over-the-hill third basemen, the greater fools who pay them, and the unknowingly subsidized superfans who love them.
This is probably a good joke. I don't understand econ jargon, but those of you who do may enjoy this tweet.
(Ryan marrying our Econ stats teacher) Priest: Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife? Ryan: I fail to reject
— Graham Glasgow (@gglasgow61) December 8, 2015
I hope this was a good tweet.
I was going to put this in the mailbag but it took so long to read this that I had to go have a lie down. A reader asked for an opinion on a very long meditation on "access" going the way of the passenger pigeon by John Herrmann of the Awl.
If you're unfamiliar with Herrmann, I mostly come across him when he writes exhaustingly nihilist pieces about the changes the internet is forcing on content providers. (He recognizes this: "The Content Wars is an occasional column intended to keep a majority of Content coverage in one easily avoidable place.") They are full of bloopers from robotics competitions repurposed into depressing metaphor gifs. Each accurately diagnoses something going on and collapses, like the robots, into a pile of loathing at the end. This one is no exception.
But, yes, access. It's difficult to find the summarizing quote to pull in a piece that's seemingly UFR length. I guess here's this bit on sports:
A world in which the NFL doesn’t need TV would be a world in which the NFL really doesn’t need a traditional outside press corps. To that end, perhaps, ACE is a new media company created by the NFL Players’ Association that hopes to succeed by “leveraging… exclusive group player rights and access to more than 1,800 active players to produce compelling sports-lifestyle content focused on athletes.” This month, a player for the Jets is suggesting to reporters, apropos of not very much, that reporters have too much access to players in the NFL, which is arguably the most restrictive league in professional sports. Also this month, when Kobe Bryant announced his retirement, he didn’t give an exclusive to a reporter who had covered him for years, or to Sports Illustrated, or to anyone. He published it as a personal post on the Player’s Tribune, a first-person platform for athletes founded by Derek Jeter and open to all major sports. (NASCAR? Sure!) The rest of the sports media, again, wrote its stories anyway.
A lot of the handwringing over loss of access strikes me as ludicrous. What's being removed is not really access but "access," that fiction in which a person of interest pretends to give something so a writer can pretend to critically evaluate the thing the person of interest said. When Rasheed Wallace blew that fiction up a lot of people got really mad:
And I guess if your job consists of surrounding the things that other people said with some sentences to link them together that would be a… actually, wait. "Both teams played hard" makes your job easy. Getting mad at that is not about whether your ability to do your job has been compromised, it's getting mad at Rasheed Wallace for yanking away the curtain on the City Animals presser you've been having for decades.
Back when MGoBlog stuck its toe into the access pool it felt like a trap. It still feels like a trap, because if someone gives you something they can take it away. Relying on access is like relying on Twitter's API—you can make the best third-party client in the world but Twitter's going to pick a winner and then you're going to die if you're not that winner. Then Twitter's going to buy that winner because if they're picking a winner, Twitter seems like a pretty good one.
So we have access, but we don't rely on it. Of late Adam's gotten some one on one time at media availabilities and used it to get some interesting stuff. We'd miss it if it was gone. But it wouldn't kill us.
If you are in business with someone who can kill you with no repercussions to themselves, you are on death row. Some people figure this out and go become lawyers. Some don't.
Michigan, and colleges in general, are less likely to cut people off like the NFL is definitely, definitely going to do in the near future. They are (mostly) public institutions with a point of view on press freedoms (sort of) subject to FOIA. But that doesn't change the fundamental law content in the internet age: be the quote, not the quoter.
Etc.: A list of all the weird and unfortunate things that happened while Cody Kessler was at USC is a very long list. Chad Catt looked pretty good in the second half of the Saturday Wisconsin game. Doyle is sweaty.
It's happening. Hail To The Victors is fully funded with two weeks left to go. I credit Harbaugh more than anything else. Thanks all the same; we will still be taking pre-orders through Kickstarter through the 18th.
Hail to the king. Oh nothing just Harbaugh hanging out with the first lady and Ciara.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) May 1, 2015
Soon he will start appearing in historically significant photos and no one will remember that he was not, in fact, present.
Also sick beatz yo
— Coach Erik Campbell (@ErikCampbell) May 1, 2015
Seriously. I want to know what a Jim Harbaugh stadium playlist sounds like. Other than silence and the sound of manliness.
Hutch points with the best of 'em [Paul Sherman]
Hail to the queens. Softball locks down its eighth-straight Big Ten title:
On Sunday, No. 3 Michigan softball won the conference's top spot outright, beating Penn State 9-2 to improve to 48-6. It was the program's eighth-straight championship and 19th all-time.
Christner hit a walk-off, RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning to score Sierra Romero from second and end the game via the run-rule. Christner finished the day 2-for-2 with three RBI, and 8-for-9 in the series.
They will host the Big Ten championship and should get a home regional.
It could be happening? Michigan rattles its defection sabers in an interesting direction:
Michigan's process of figuring out whether or not it'll stick with Adidas or sign with a new apparel provider is ongoing. And this week, Michigan athletic department officials saw a pitch from Under Armour at its headquarters in Baltimore, a university spokesman confirmed.
A meeting is just a meeting and could be held for reasons other than "we are seriously considering Under Armour." I wouldn't read anything in particular into that. It is a move that implies Michigan is seriously considering a change despite having a contract that gives them Most Favored Nation status.
As for UA's pull, they just signed Wisconsin and their Notre Dame contract is rumored to be very big:
Under Armour has proven it can pay big money, too, though, as the supplier reportedly signed Notre Dame to a 10-year, $90 million contract in 2014. Though Notre Dame has never publicly confirmed those figures.
If money is the only factor it won't be Nike, which tops out at about half that. And if we're talking about Adidas versus UA my preference is for the latter.
Congrats draftees. Devin Funchess and Frank Clark went in the second round; Jake Ryan went in the fourth. Seems about right for Funchess and Ryan. Clark's spot is interesting for multiple reasons.
He got booted for a domestic violence charge, then failed to follow the contrition playbook in the aftermath. If you thought this might make the NFL wary you may have also had hopes the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was going to be interesting. Nope.
The other interesting bit: that Clark got drafted in the second round, period. He was always a pretty good player who flashed high-level talent; he was not the kind of consistent threat I'd think is mandatory for anyone to be drafted as a DE in the first two rounds. I mean, Alan Branch went in the second round. I didn't think Clark was anywhere near his level in college. The Seahawks evidently did.
It sounds like they did do their homework. Nick Baumgardner has an extensive article on Clark's draft spot:
He said Michigan's staff and personnel were "shocked" by the arrest, and maintained that the team got enough information from U-M's staff to allow the team to feel confident in taking a chance on Clark in the second round. He also explained how there were a number of teams who were prepared to take Clark on Friday night, possibly early in the third round.
"It was a process," he said. "I was there two days after it happened. Our area (scout) went through there twice. Our regional scout went through there twice. We spent several days there. The easy thing to do was to dismiss this. But, over time and I don't want to get into specifics of it, things became clearer and clearer in the evaluation process.
"We brought him out here, he met with our sports psychologist. But to be there at the time, to see the secretary's reaction ... it was, like 'wow.' ... You get a really, really good feel for the individual (in doing that)."
As I said before, Clark's got an opportunity for a second chance that not a lot of people get. I hope he makes the most of it.
Etc.: MLive has video from a recent AAU tournament featuring commit Austin Davis and target Brian Bowen. Gardner pre-draft interview. He landed with Tom Brady, which is not a bad place to land. The NCAA's mission is disavowed by the NCAA.