Bust items. Michigan's annual football bust was last night. The most important thing arising from it was either Harbaugh emphatically stating he was not leaving Michigan and that three "jive turkeys" were spreading rumors to damage the program...
Harbaugh says talk of him leaving is coming from "enemies," namely three coaches who he calls "jive turkeys"
— Adam Schnepp (@aeschnepp) December 14, 2016
...or this photobomb.
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) December 14, 2016
Better men than me will have to parse a winner between those two items. I mean.
I did a GIF search for jive turkey and was not disappointed pic.twitter.com/gEHQxeqekz
— Joe (@joefedewa) December 14, 2016
Split those hairs, if you will.
Other bits and pieces:
- John O'Korn's status is up in the air: you "may see him back here next year."
- Also in fifth year limbo: Wyatt Shallman, Patrick Kugler, David Dawson. We've been assuming Shallman gets a firm handshake since RB and FB are both full of guys and he hasn't been able to stay healthy. Michigan will probably need the OL depth Kugler and Dawson provide. It wouldn't be much of a surprise to see one or both start, but last year Michigan went into spring camp over 85 and without various exits the axe could have fallen on a guy like Matt Godin.
- Maurice Hurst was not present—some guys had class commitments—and Harbaugh urged people to @ him to encourage him to return. Hurst's publicly stated he is leaning towards a return. Obviously that decision is not made yet.
- Harbaugh further stumped for a sixth year for Jeremy Clark.
It is possible to take recruiting rankings too seriously. We take them seriously around here, but not this seriously:
FSU has the talent advantage in the game at every position except the offensive line.
That's a Tallahassee Democrat article titled "It's Experience versus Talent" in the Orange Bowl, which, uh
Because of the Michigan offensive line, the Michigan offense has a higher average recruiting ranking than the Seminoles despite the Seminoles having the edge at the skill positions and quarterback.
So not really. Also Michigan's defense has a walk-on at nose tackle... a walk-on who will be a mid-round draft pick. The moral of the article is that the recruiting rankings are close to a wash and Michigan is a bunch older, which helps explain why Michigan is a touchdown favorite.
Harbaugh's fourth down decisions analyzed. Long piece on Harbaugh's punt or go-for-it decision from Big House Analytics finds that somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of the time Harbaugh agrees with math dorks:
Ultimately, we have a 77.8% “success rate” here, if you will — out of Michigan’s 45 non-garbage-time punts and their nine non-garbage-time fourth-down conversion attempts, Harbaugh’s decision to punt or go was Romer-approved or at least defensible given the complexion of the game (in my opinion) 77.8% of the time. If you want to go by the book (meaning the punts I deemed as defensible but not Romer-approved counting against our success rate instead of for it), our score is 59.3%.
This analysis doesn't get into anything team specific, so Michigan's iffy running game and killer defense don't factor in. Both of those argue for a more conservative tack. Only a couple of Harbaugh's decisions stood out to me as poor: punting on fourth and five from the OSU 36 early was pretty bad. On the other hand, that set up a first half where OSU was constantly pinned back and Michigan eventually cracked their D for a TD. It was very Ten Year War, and you could see why people tended to play that way back in the day.
Meanwhile on that FSU OL. Sometime OL starter Wilson Bell was arrested for failure to appear after a hit-and-run on property. No word yet on whether that affects his availability for the bowl game. I'd guess that it doesn't since no announcement has been made yet.
Hitching your revenue model to the cable bundle was foolish. It's going to take some time, but not as much as some people thought it would. ESPN is already becoming a bit of a boat anchor for Disney:
ESPN was thrust into the spotlight in November when the ratings company Nielsen predicted the sports juggernaut would lose 621,000 cable subscribers that month. Nielsen estimated the sports network would lose another 555,000 subscribers in December.
The cable bundle is going to dissolve. That is inevitable. I sure as hell wouldn't have cable if I didn't watch sports, and about 100% of people younger than me have the same opinion. Since sports is by far the most expensive thing in the cable bundle, grandmas who just want to watch HGTV will bolt and we'll be the only ones left. At that point you don't get to put your hand in New York's pocket just because you added Rutgers, and then Rutgers is a barnacle on the Big Ten.
Maybe they can just eject them like the Big East ejected Temple? That's the ticket?
Draft split. Todd McShay's first mock draft has Peppers 4th; he fell out of PFF's first round mock. I'd split the difference there: Peppers obviously has some things to work on, but no athlete as outrageous as he is will fall to the second round.
McShay also has Taco Charlton(24th) and Jourdan Lewis(28th) in his first round. Hopefully Charlton does go in the first round, because then I will be less peeved about his lack of a redshirt. Also he deserves it.
Also of note for Michigan fans: McShay has OSU CB Marshon Lattimore and UW OT Ryan Ramczyk in his first round. Both guys could return to school; Michigan would obviously prefer it if they did not.
Russell Wilson part 2? 247 reports that Wisconsin is looking like the landing spot for ND grad transfer QB Malik Zaire. Zaire has about 100 career attempts to his name over the last three years and brings Devin Gardner-esque athleticism. He's not a slam dunk, but he's looked better than Alex Hornibrook. Would give Wisconsin another element.
The life of an analyst. Fascinating article on the guys who get their foot in the door for Bill Belichick:
Daboll was well prepared. He had spent two years as a grad assistant at Michigan State under Saban, so could speak semi-comfortably about scheme, self-scout, all that. Then Scarnecchia asked him about salary.
What do you think you should make?
Daboll had researched this, too. He had made calls to colleagues, and had dug up salary surveys from the NFL Coaches Association. He believed the average annual salary was around $65,000. He also thought, having worked for Saban, that he was a tad better than average.
"So I say 70," Daboll recalled. "And Brad Seely leans over and says, 'Would you take 15?' I go, 'Yessir.'"
NFL teams lowballing QC types like they're newspapers out here. Article also has a bunch of details on what breaking into football coaching is actually like. It is a ton of yes/no game charting.
Etc.: Carol Hutchins wins the inaugural Pat Summitt award. Well deserved. Minnesota suspends ten(!) players indefinitely. They decline to say why because of "privacy restrictions relating to student educational data," which tells you why. [UPDATE: Nevermind. Very bad.]
Peppers and mom in NYC. Some Don Brown twist stuff. Will Lockwood will be out for some time thanks to an obvious boarding incident that went uncalled but still separated his shoulder. "Christmas camp." Sounds fun!
really should have used this for the bowl game post
That is a large spread. Michigan is favored by 6.5 against FSU. S&P+ has Michigan by 11.8 and with a 75% shot at victory. Other lines that are already up: Wisconsin –7.5 against WMU and PSU +7 against USC.
S&P+ lines for other Big Ten games:
- OSU-Clemson: OSU by 4.9.
- Wisconsin-WMU: Wisconsin by 8.
- Iowa-Florida: Iowa(!) by 4.6.
- USC-PSU: USC by 3.4.
- Nebraska-Tennessee: Nebraska by 1.1.
- Utah-Indiana: Utah by 1.9.
- Pitt-NW: Pitt by 5.1
- Washington State-Minnesota: WSU by 0.5.
- Maryland-BC: Maryland by 0.1.
- Michigan State-Dignity: Dignity by 35.
I thought a sure consequence of four Big Ten teams getting pulled up into NY6 bowls would be the rest of the conference getting set on fire, but S&P+—which was 56% against the spread this year—thinks almost everything is a tossup at worst. I did not know that the Big Ten would lose the Citrus (which is LSU-Louisville, yes please) if they got the Orange, but they rather sensibly do.
Good to see that the bowl revamp has added flexibility and created a bunch of good matchups.
Cole also plans to return. As of yesterday:
Center Mason Cole, speaking to reporters Sunday evening, suggested that he will return, though the junior was hesitant to commit to anything.
"Not right now," Cole said of thinking about the NFL. "I'm focused on this next game and getting the win. I'll take a look at everything, but as it stands now, I'm definitely leaning towards coming back."
Chris Wormley volunteered a return for Maurice Hurst as well. Both guys will be critical starters on next year's team should they follow through on those statements. (Hurst had previously said he'd be back.)
So we've got that going for us, part zillion. Per PFF Michigan is the best team left out of the playoff and one of the top four overall:
All four of the teams that will be in this year’s playoff rank in the top five of PFF’s cumulative grades for 2016. Alabama ranks first, Washington second, Ohio State fourth and Clemson fifth.
The No. 3 team in the country? The Michigan Wolverines. ...
In particular, when looking at a team that could match up best with top-seeded Alabama, the Wolverines appear to be one of the best candidates. They rank third in PFF’s run-defense grades, second in pass-rush and 12th in coverage – giving them a defense that could go toe-to-toe with Alabama’s and perhaps put enough pressure on Crimson Tide’s freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts (more on him in a bit) to spark an upset.
They seem to think that Clemson should be favored over OSU, with two bullets talking up Deshaun Watson and talking down OSU's pass protection. We've got that going for us, too.
Peppers stock. Also in PFF things, Jabrill Peppers took a tumble in their latest mock draft:
When targeted in coverage this season, he has yielded receptions on 20 of 26 targets and does not have a single pass defended when he is the primary defender (his lone interception against Ohio State was a case of him being in the right place at the right time off a pass tipped in front). He also lacks the size to consistently take on and shed blocks going forward, as the majority of his impact plays this year have come when he has been unblocked.
PFF has always had him in the 10-15 range right next to Lewis and not a top 5 pick, so this isn't a huge tumble. I'm still confused by those pass completion numbers. Namely where any of them came from. I'm sure Peppers has been targeted more than the two times I remember, but 26? I don't know where that comes from.
On the postseason. I've been saying this for ten years and will say it until they destroy the dream by going to 8 teams: a 6-team playoff is the best one available most of the time. Six teams emphasizes the regular season since there are home games and byes up for grabs; it keeps the field sufficiently constricted so that make-weights are extremely unlikely.
This year, I assume that the committee made some changes to the rankings to give the appearance of deliberative thought when there was none. That makes the six-team playoff deeply weird:
1. Alabama vs 4. Washington / 5. Penn State
2. Clemson vs 3. OSU / 6. Michigan
Clemson jumped OSU, and that did not matter. PSU jumped Michigan, and that did not matter. The former was a meaningless admonishment to win your conference; the latter was a meaningless admonishment to win your conference. If Clemson or Washington did not win their title games I wonder if they would have had the cojones to put PSU in over a team with the same record who beat it 49-10.
Anyway, in a six-team world I bet a dollar the committee finagles it such that there is not an immediate rematch of M/OSU—or leaves a third Big Ten team out entirely.
This is bunk. There is an enormous Bloomberg article on officiating out there that I keep seeing, because it purports to show that there is a class of "protected blue bloods" that get favorable calls. Oddly, it leads with Florida State getting hosed against Clemson—which one is the blue blood?—and then hits their thesis statement:
“This is an incestuous situation,” says Rhett Brymer, a business management professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He spent more than a year parsing almost 39,000 fouls called in games involving NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the 2012-2015 seasons. His research finds “ample evidence of biases among conference officials,” including “conference officials showing partiality towards teams with the highest potential to generate revenue for their conference.”
Refs are partial towards teams "with the highest potential to generate revenue." In other words, good teams. They throw fractionally fewer flags on those teams:
Brymer’s data suggest something more insidious. Across the 3,000-odd regular-season and bowl games he studied, a bit less than half of the fouls called were what he terms “discretionary”—holding, pass interference, unsportsmanlike conduct, and personal fouls like roughing the passer. Refs were on average 10 percent less likely to throw discretionary flags on teams that enjoy both strong playoff prospects and winning traditions. Brymer calls these teams “protected flagships.”
There is a less than insidious explanation: avoiding penalties is a skill. Flagship teams are more likely to have firebreathing truckzillas; Purdue is more likely to have a peasant wielding a pitchfork. In such situations the penalty scales are naturally out of balance; news that Purdue gets 14% fewer "discretionary" calls than OSU fails to move hte needle. That seems about right. This is immediately proposed by the NCAA's national coordinator for officiating and then largely ignored.
About 3/4ths of the way through the thing we get the big reveal:
While earning his Ph.D. at Texas A&M, he came to sympathize with Aggie fans who believed that all close calls favored the University of Texas. “I reached a breaking point,” Brymer says. Weary of fans whining about refs without empirical evidence, he decided to see if he could find any. “At least I’m bringing myself peace,” he says.
Yes, but think of all the bloggers you're forcing to write skeptical items in their link roundup pieces.
Prepare to be asked whether you went to Michigan. The Ringer's Kaite Baker got into Michigan football this year, which was fun until it wasn't.
Harbaugh isn’t for everyone, but to me, he’s like a combustible acquaintance: As long as you never get tooclose, you can sit back and just let the theatrics endlessly entertain you.
But it’s possible I’m getting too close. The past few weeks have been a rougher ride, a mere glimpse into the tumultuousness of a typical college football season. Winning the national championship seems like an impossibility: Just getting the chance to try requires a constantly evolving team of near-children remaining close to perfect over the course of a 12- or 13-game season. (NFL teams, meanwhile, can barely squeak past .500 and still win Super Bowls.) Even in a post-BCS world, the scope and sprawl of FBS football means that it will forever be hostage to subjective decisions by conflicted parties.
Having been kicked in all available places, Baker is probably hooked. Welcome! Here is your pillow to scream into.
Maybe he is Mark Ingram except fast. Thomas Rawls blew up:
He carried 15 times for 106 yards (7.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns as the offense exploded, scoring on eight of 11 possessions. In the first quarter, Rawls found a cutback lane and hurdled into the end zone for an 8-yard score. In the second, he showed his big-play ability by outrunning defenders for a 45-yard touchdown.
On the one hand, Fred Jackson recruited the guy. On the other, he got three carries as a junior and transferred. Mike Cox getting drafted and having a cup of coffee was one thing; Rawls turning into Marshawn Lynch 2.0 is quite another. He's the most successful Michigan NFL running back since at least Tim Biakabutuka and he'll pass the effective but constantly injured Biakabutuka in a year or two if he remains hale.
Etc.: Purdue has apparently hired WKU coach Jeff Brohm, which isn't the worst idea. Here's this Pat Forde article on how Jim Harbaugh fits right in there I forgot to link two weeks ago. ND Nation never stops winning even if the team does. Punt John Punt on the Wilson firing.
Here's this. Bobby Loesch made it and is a gentleman and a scholar.
It's time for America's greatest rivalry game. Michigan State. Rutgers. This game is the situation, and they play for America's greatest rivalry trophy.
— † Wolverine Devotee (@UMichWD) November 7, 2016
One of these teams will leave with a Big Ten win and The Situation. Noon. Probably on television. Check BeIN Sports 2. No? Does QVC have an overflow channel? Well, I'm sure you'll find it. They televise everything these days. I saw Magic: The Gathering once.
At least you've got your vomit-soaked sidewalks. Michigan State may be 2-7 and playing Rutgers to find out which Big Ten team is going winless in conference, but at least the city it's located in has a detailed bill it would like to present the university.
EAST LANSING — East Lansing has determined what it says Michigan State University is costing city residents.
Right down to the vomit removal.
Fire department calls, police overtime and downtown cleanup after student nightlife are among the issues that cost the city about $3.75 million last year, according to a recent study paid for by the city.
I say just leave the vomit—it's not like anyone can tell that you cleaned it up. And the RCMB agrees!
I remember back in the late 80s when I transferred to MSU. I went to WMU for a year and then transferred. K'zoo was a complete dump. Nothing to do. Other than Lafayette Square, it wasn't happening. I couldn't wait to leave K'zoo and I also couldn't wait to leave GR after the summer was over to get back to East Lansing for the fall terms to begin. Now? K'zoo and GR are so much better than East Lansing. And even they aren't the greatest. But it tells you just how far East Lansing has fallen.
I moved back to Lansing from 2009 to 2013. I could not wait to move away from there again in 2013. It was a mistake to move back to Lansing. Lansing is dismal but almost better than East Lansing now. East Lansing is a complete shell of itself. Just terrible. It lacked any of the vitality it once held. It was is of depressing to see.
That's part of a wildly entertaining five-page thread full of Spartans dumping venom on East Lansing's taxes, generic chain restaurants, city leadership, vacant storefronts, and DUI conviction rate. (That latter might not be East Lansing's fault, guys.) Highly recommended. The Spartans' profession appears to be self-owning.
A bountiful cornucopia in Ann Arbor. NFL scouts have noticed that Michigan appears to be somewhat good this year. ESPN asks which Big Ten players have seen their NFL stock go up and literally every observer starts with something along these lines:
Everybody at Michigan. (laughs) I’ll tell you what, Harbaugh, he just brings out the best in all his players. Shoot, every one of those guys has elevated their draft stock.
Amara Darboh, Mason Cole, Channing Stribling, Jabrill Peppers, Ben Gedeon, Delano Hill, De'Veon Smith, Chris Wormley, and Jake Butt all come in for praise. I'm slightly dubious about Cole's NFL potential given the struggles he's had against 3-4 nose tackles this year but hey man whatever. Michigan is set to have a dozen guys drafted, and you'd better believe that'll perk up recruits' ears. That goes double when scouts are praising Harbaugh's development as the direct cause of said draftees.
Best part of this: no Maurice Hurst. Let's keep that on the low for another year, yes please.
An eye for detail. Dan Murphy on the Harbauffense and the idea that it's a stodgy pro-style attack:
The Wolverines' beefy, pro-style offense snapped the ball 34 times in the first half and averaged 11.8 yards per play. They did it with a litany of creative wrinkles cloaked in the feel-good nostalgia of two-tight end sets and fullback dives. They are like a phonograph that can stream your iTunes through Bluetooth.
Stodgy is what Michigan will see this weekend in Iowa City. Michigan's got a new thing every week.
Don Brown, football dude. This is a week old but I must have missed it. The WaPo on Don Brown:
Yes, Brown and Michigan: “It’s a perfect place for him,” said Compton, whose father was Brown’s high school coach and Brown’s wife’s high school biology teacher. “He looks good in the colors. It’s perfect. Perfect! He likes that weather. It’s a natural fit for him.”
In that passage lies another thing about Brown, 61: Three former players go beyond the normal, fond recollections of former players. They effuse, and say old teammates do likewise. Somehow, this seems like big toughness mixed with big, big love. ...
Ihedigbo said: “That demeanor. That presence. He truly cares about you. It’s one of those things where you feel like you’re in it together. It’s not just trying to get the most out of you.”
Michigan has exceeded even the towering expectations placed on them by optimistic folks (hi!) preseason, and looks set for a showdown against Ohio State that could change the shape of the Big Ten for years to come. Still cannot get over what a great hire Brown was.
Old-school playcalling. Great Dr. Sap piece on the evolution of playcalling:
In the 1970’s, Bo would talk on the phone with Hanlon who was upstairs in the press box. After asking, “What do you want, Jerry?” Bo sent in the plays with offensive guards that rotated in and out of the game. It looked and sounded like this:
In the 1980’s, rotating wide receivers became the method of communication. The clip below can be summed up thusly, “Oh geez, Mo, let me handle this! AC, you tell Wangs to throw you the damn ball! Now THAT is how you do it, Gary!”
After a few delay of game penalties in critical situations, a change needed to be made.
Rotating guards bringing the playcall in! That is absolutely insane from a modern perspective. Also don't miss the Bo smirk at the end of the first video. Probably thinking about this going down in the huddle:
BRANDSTATTER: and he says to get your ass in there
BRANDSTATTER: CUT IT IN, he says
RB: in what
BRANDSTATTER: man... just get your ass in there
RB: i will take this under advisement
Etc.: Mike MacIntyre talks to SBN about how Colorado is good now. Marc Tracy on Harbaugh's Heisman push for Jabrill Peppers. A first look at Iowa isn't pretty. More Peppers gushing from NFL scouts. Ibi Watson exists. MSU had a lot of injuries so they lost to Illinois and their third string QB and three of their top four WRs out. Joe Kerridge will make his NFL debut this week.
Lot of talent, lot of talent. CBS draft analyst Dane Brugler:
I've been watching #Michigan tape all morning and I'm not even halfway through the roster. Should have double-digit draft picks next spring.
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) August 22, 2016
Per NFL scouts, Butt and Charlton(!) could be high first round picks:
I asked 6 NFL scouts for their top senior NFL prospect:
DL Jonathan Allen (2 votes), TE Jake Butt (2), DL Taco Charlton, CB Desmond King.
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) August 23, 2016
Juniors will pile in, of course, but if that holds to draft day both those guys would go in the top 15. I can't imagine it would—QBs and various other players at positions the NFL drafts higher than TE will emerge—but I be like dang anyway.
Todd McShay has Michigan third on his list of teams with the most NFL talent, and while having no idea what happened in the draft last year…
Last year, QB Jake Rudock (sixth round) was the lone Wolverine selected
…is not a great look for a draft analyst, ESPN currently projects seven players to be off the board by the end of the third round:
- #31 Jake Butt: "Has very good natural combination of size and speed to create mismatches. Adept at playing in-line (Y), flexed out (F) and split out wide. Very fluid for his size. … Gets overmatched physically at the point of attack by bigger defensive linemen."
- #33 Jabrill Peppers: "Good cover skills for a safety. Has lots of experience playing man-coverage both in the slot and on perimeter. At his best in man-coverage. Lacks elite fluidity in hips, but has quick feet and good burst. … Willing but could also be more aggressive at times. [ed: ?!?!?]"
- #39 Jourdan Lewis: "was in the hip pocket of Michigan State WR Aaron Burbridge (6th round pick, 49ers) hip pocket the entire 2015 game (stats are deceiving). Displays excellent body control and balance. Shows good deep speed on tape."
- #46 Jehu Chesson: "Very good speed for size and can threaten vertically. Gets from 0-to-60 miles per hour in a hurry. Has length and tracking ability to create matchup problems for average-to-smaller cornerbacks on 50-50 balls…. Excellent effort as a blocker. … Love watching this guy play the game."
- #56 Chris Wormley: "Excellent size and good overall strength. Shows snap in his hands and flashes ability to press offensive linemen into their backfield. … Tied for team-lead with 6.5 sacks in 2015 but 4.5 of those sacks came versus marginal offensive lines (Oregon State, Penn State and Rutgers) and his sack versus Michigan State was a protection breakdown."
- #69 Taco Charlton: "Power-based bass rusher that does a good job of using his long arms and explosive power to get into offensive linemen's pads, and then grinds through contact. … Good but not elite first-step quickness. Solid lateral agility and redirect skills for size."
- #77 Mason Cole: "Better suited for pass pro inside. … Takes good angles and has very good range. At his best as a run blocker when on the move. Has the feet to consistently win battle for initial positioning. Lacks heavy hands and is erratic with hand placement."
In addition, De'Veon Smith and Kyle Kalis(!) are ranked as fifth-rounders. Smith has no scouting and Kalis's ("Good angles. Knows assignments. Solid job locating assignments in space.") appears to be about a different person.
You'll note the omission of Amara Darboh and Maurice Hurst from these rankings. Both those guys will be draftable by the end of the year. I'd be another member or two of the secondary get there as well.
Drake Johnson is the guy you should hit with a forklift. I mean, if it's absolutely necessary. Please don't run Drake Johnson over. Or anyone, really. Do not run people over with forklifts. Yes, fine, Hitler. In that unusual case where a zombie nazi is threatening children or whatever, go ahead. Even in that situation, are we really calling a reanimated corpse "people"? I think that's not people.
Sorry, no politics.
"The world could be falling apart, and doomsday could be happening, and I'd be like, oh, look, there's a nice flower on the ground," he says.
If it were anyone other than Johnson, such positivity would feel contrived and feigned. But then Johnson waves his arms, talking with his hands like a grand raconteur, and says something like, "There's always something good in every situation," and, dammit, you've got to believe him.
If I was Drake Johnson I would get business cards with "Grand Raconteur" on them posthaste, while looking very carefully for lurking forklifts.
Around the league. Things happening in opponent camps:
- Penn State seems set to replace Carl Nassib with a couple of older guys who had 1.5 sacks between them a year ago. You'd think that would be a dropoff, but Nassib came out of nowhere a year ago.
- PSU is considering starting true freshman Michael Menet, a five star guard type.
- Rutgers QB Chris Laviano "edged" a grad transfer brought in to compete with him. I mostly mention this because I had no idea this went down last year: "Laviano will have a chance to win over Rutgers fans who had no love for him last season when he went five straight games without a touchdown pass and lost his cool by blasting them on social media after interpreting boos meant for then-coach Kyle Flood at his own show of toughness in the middle of a career-best game."
- MSU has five "co-starters" on the DL. One of them is a 275-pound DT who grad-transferred from Nebraska, a second is a redshirt freshman, and a third is a senior DE with eight career tackles. If that doesn't presage a major dropoff despite the presence of Malik McDowell I'm going to throw a shoe.
- Per Urban Meyer, H-back Curtis Samuel is OSU's "number one playmaker on offense." Mike Weber is "close" to being named the starting RB; after Brionte Dunn was booted his competition is "nah" and "???." Malik Hooker and Damon Webb are leading to start at safety; sounds like Webb is still a little combustible.
- OSU may start true freshman Michael Jordan at guard. Jordan was a well regarded recruit but not so well regarded that you shouldn't expect Michigan to wreck that dude.
Spike to Purdue. The Boilermakers will not have to play the final ten minutes of an NCAA tournament game without a point guard next year:
Excited to announce that I'll be playing my 5th year for Purdue University!! #BoilerUp
— Spike Albrecht (@SpikeAlbrecht) May 3, 2016
Purdue was horrendous—horrendous!—at that spot a year ago so that's a move that makes sense. Spike's health is still in considerable doubt, so it makes sense for Michigan to move on with Walton and Xavier Simpson; for Purdue a crack at anything resembling a PG is a true wonder.
Obvious obvious whaaaa? PFF has a mock draft for next year largely based on their numbers. It features Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers at 19 and 22, which is more or less expected. #23 is out of left field for me:
Minnesota Vikings: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
The third Michigan defender in the last five picks, Hurst fires off the ball and his +38.0 overall grade ranks third among returning interior defensive linemen despite playing only 418 snaps in 2015. Hurst shows the power to push the pocket and disrupt in the backfield, though he does need to do a better job of handling double teams and finishing plays.
I like Hurst a lot but he's 282 on the most recent roster and got beat up by inside zone teams to end the year; I have a hard time seeing him go in the first round unless he adds 20 pounds and has a monster year. I'd guess Glasgow and Wormley both go ahead of him even if he does forgo his final year of eligibility.
No Arizona State for Big Ten hockey. CHN reports that ASU is close to joining the NCHC. That's the most logical place for them since that conference contains all the teams somewhat near them; thankfully this also means that the Big Ten will not add another potential RPI anchor nowhere near any of its current members. ASU brings the NCHC to nine programs, which is an awkward number.
I wouldn't assume that the ASU move means the Big Ten is going to poach an NCHC member. As I noted when the Big Ten added Notre Dame, seven teams in a league is slightly odd but workable. Eight starts forcing compromises on you pretty fast. If the Big Ten can add a North Dakota that's worth it. Western Michigan maybe not so much.
Baseball is back to being good. Baseball is projected as a two seed in latest Baseball America bracketology. They're in #4 overall seed FSU's region, so they're towards the bottom of the two-seeds. However, they might be in line to get the annual bone the NCAA committee throws half the country. BA projects Minnesota as a regional host right now, but:
With the dearth of hosting candidates in the West, the door is open for either Minnesota or Michigan to land a hosting spot out of the Big Ten. Right now, we’ll give the edge to the Gophers. … Michigan, by comparison, has a much more RPI-friendly schedule with all four of its remaining series against top 100 teams—granted that one of those opponents, Ohio State, is barely in the top 100 at No. 99. If the standings stay in the order they are but Minnesota can’t keep its RPI strong enough, then it’s more likely neither would host than a second-place Michigan team gets a bid over a team it both lost to and finished behind, regardless of its own RPI.
This is how ludicrously unbalanced college baseball is: the SEC and ACC are projected to acquire 19 bids between them. That's 17 at-large bids. The rest of the field has 16. Here is my default thing where I suggest the Big Ten leaves the current structure and plays through August with wood bats, like God intended.
Man its on and popping pic.twitter.com/wUOy3AJo4V
— Coach Smith CGHS (@headbcg) April 29, 2016
Satellite camp fallout. Harbaugh likes the decision, surprise. So does almost everyone else. He's also willing to let bygones be bygones with The Georgia Coach, as UGA will join Michigan at a camp in a few weeks. The Georgia Coach is past it, too, man:
Smart’s comments generated a stinging tweet by Harbaugh: “If the Georgia coach is implying any intent on our part to break rules, he is barking up the wrong tree.”
Last week in Dallas, Smart was asked about the situation.
“That whole thing got so overblown,” Smart said. “Because he and I, he and staff members from his staff had communicated. That’s a big deal to the media, big deal to you guys. But in the coaching profession we’re a bit more lighthearted about it.”
The end result of this sturm und drang is a whole bunch of nothing, but it's nice that Michigan gets another year in which Harbaugh's football mania can be deployed without restriction. Also, ban proponents come out of this looking like big dumb idiots. Dan Wolken:
“What we're talking about is recruiting tours,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told reporters last year when the issue first started to bubble. “So, let's just be clear about what we're really talking about here.”
The strategy, of course, was transparent: To turn recruiting into a dirty word, as if somehow the entire enterprise in which these people operate doesn’t revolve around the pristine pursuit of attracting athletes to their school.
“They're not satellite camps,” LSU athletics director Joe Alleva sneered, according to the The Advocate of Baton Rouge. “They’re purely and simply recruiting camps.”
Thank you, Mr. Wolken. That has been the most infuriating part of this whole process: SEC folks acting like there's any subterfuge in what Harbaugh and company are doing. References to the "scholastic environment" were also in that bin since satellite camps promote contact between players and college coaches; they are in fact a counterweight to the AAU-ish explosion in 7-on-7. But I already yelled about all this in a fisk post a few weeks back.
Etc.: Todd McShay calls out Laremy Tunsil for telling the truth. Connor Cook probably fell in the draft because he was helpful to the elderly. Why the Lions drafted Rudock. (No, not because they can continue to have Harbaugh coach him.) Ian Boyd on POWER. The Cowherd-Whitlock PTI ripoff will be horrible but at least it spawned this twitter thread. Andy Staples on Tunsil.
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.