at least it's not just us?
penn state awful thing
So there was a new Bacon book this year. We need to review this book. I'm going to do this with the expectation that you have either read it already or are going to. You should. It is a Bacon book. You are reading MGoBlog; either you are a person who appreciates Bacon or else a visiting Sparty looking for more trolling fodder, in which case help yourself to the board where I promise you there's plenty. Or better yet, read some Bacon—you're in the Big Ten; this concerns you too. And he says the Red Cedar is nice.
This is not a negative review, even though I have a tendency to focus on the "needs work" aspects—I'm the guy who walked out of The Return of the King after five years of unmitigated Peter Jackson man-crushing and complained that there were too many endings. So apologies to John U., who's higher in my esteem than Mr. Jackson and just about everyone whose quotes aren't emblazoned on a wall somewhere, for the plurality of minuses below.
More Bacon. Ever since Bo's Lasting Lessons, the chance to devour a new Bacon book has been somewhat of an event around these parts. As a Michigan fan it would be tough to follow the unparalleled access and insight into the Rich Rod program accomplished with Three and Out, specifically because that unvarnished snapshot was so starkly antithetical to Dave Brandon's meticulous staging of his Michigan show: You knew at the time that no true journalist would be allowed to see behind the bunting again, so it should only come as a mild disappointment that there is little about the Michigan program in this book that you didn't already know.
Fourth and Long: the Fight for the Soul of College Football is four unequal looks at four 2012 Big Ten programs, or four and a half if you count a mini-treatment that Michigan State and Mark Hollis receive as host of an Ohio State road game. In order of detail:
- Penn State from the point of view of its players, former players, coaches, and equipment managers as they find themselves taking the brunt of the Penn State Awful Thing, and the NCAA's and PSU brass's callow responses to it.
- Michigan from Bacon's own point of view of its fans, as those fans interact with Brandon's corporate-itude.
- Ohio State from the P.O.V. of Urban Meyer as he goes from win to win trying to get Zach Boren to like him, and
- Northwestern as the paragon of virtue.
Bacon set out, as is evident from the title and made clear throughout the book, to examine these four schools from different points of view (players, AD, head coach, and president, respectively), and use the findings to determine if any of the Big Ten's current models for college football are sustainable for college football in general. In it he consistently finds players and fans who "get it" while the people in control seek new and better ways to milk it.
But he could only use what he got from each school. With Ohio State the access was mostly restricted to Urban on game days. He brushes against tatgate but doesn't get into the cars or any other "everybody knows, nobody can prove" things—you have to appreciate that Bacon will never accuse somebody without proof (especially considering he's an avowed Michigan fan talking about Ohio State) but it's really hard to talk about college sports and the competitive problems therein without admitting there are relative bad guys. The Gee quote—"I hope he doesn't fire me!"—is in there in reference to the bloated role of college football head coach in America. The closest he comes to pointing out OSU's exceptionalism in this regard is when addressing the carrying off of Tressel after last year's Game:
"The Buckeyes do not run a renegade program, but they once again demonstrated they don't seem to care if their actions make others think they do."
This isn't a complaint; Bacon handled a sticky situation about as well as he could. With Northwestern he got some key interviews, particularly with Pat Fitzgerald, but no warts (this could be because they don't have any).
With Michigan Bacon was outside looking in, so he used some of the Bacon-usual suspects—Carty, the dueling barbershops, the public comments of James Duderstadt and Don Canham, Brian Cook of MGoBlog, etc. There's also an inside look at the Mud Bowl, and most interestingly, a candid interview with Michigan's band director about Send-the-Band-to-Dallas-gate. I was more intrigued by the comments made by Bill Martin on the corporatization of NCAA football, which I'll come back to. The whole Notre Dame saga is covered. Except for the band's comments most of this is old news to you.
The result is a book that's 52% about Penn State trying to survive 2012, with a bunch of stuff thrown in about some other schools and corporations to underscore a point made clear without leaving Happy Valley.
[After the jump: it's just, like, my opinion man.]
Important. Notre Dame is good at football.
"Sign that apparatus up to play football," says Football Coach. "Okay," says assistant football coach. "Now I am a player," says apparatus.
There is no waiting list. Michigan has finally burned out the fanbase to the point that you can get tickets just by ponying up the five hundred bucks it takes to get on the "interest list":
Michigan officials say that everyone on "interest list" who paid $500 got season tickets. No pay, not on list.
And that's a year with Ohio State, Nebraska, and a Notre Dame night game on the schedule! I wonder what will happen next year, when 1) the schedule sucks and 2) it starts off with a slap in the face I don't even want to go to.
"This game is as hot, if not hotter, than two years ago," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told The Detroit News. "There's enormous demand. Hopefully, that's because the fans who saw the first night game want to come back for more, and also because it's the last Michigan-Notre Dame game at Michigan Stadium for a long, long time makes it really special."
Congrats on your short-term achievement.
At least they're willing to show penalties and such now?
CTK. Schofield's up. Do not stand between him and ham:
Forgotten man? What? He's a three-year starter!
There is also Courtney Avery, who plans on going to law school. No mention of the safety move that he's apparently flirting with right now, which is no surprise. The "no mention" thing, not the hypothetical safety move. I chalk that up to experimentation, FWIW.
Here is a long thing. Here's the 1992 Michigan-Notre Dame game, all of it:
Should I not spoil it? Is that an insane thing to do for a 21-year-old game? I guess I'm not going to say anything about the outcome. (Except it involves a berserk alpaca and ten tons of rubber cement.)
Fourth And Long. We'll have a Michigan-relevant excerpt from the book on the site on the 23rd that will be of local interest, but the most compelling parts of Fourth And Long—John Bacon's new book—are easily the Penn State stuff:
Privately, the staff joked that the less the 84-year-old Paterno got involved, the better things usually went. When Paterno did weigh in, he often confused the situation, got players' names wrong or just yelled at them by their numbers.
Still, his assistants clung to certain symbols of the Paterno Way. "Shave your face, cut your hair," Mauti said, recalling the mantra. "If we weren't shaved for a practice, we would have to work out on Saturdays in the off-season. It got almost to the point where that's all that mattered."
Few programs in college football at the time could have claimed a richer tradition than Penn State's. It looked like Camelot—but only from the outside. Almost every Penn State senior I talked to last season repeated some version of the following: "We felt like we were protecting an image. And only we knew it."
Mike Mauti and Mike Zordich are never going to buy drinks in State College again. BONUS: There's a great story about Jay Paterno almost being eaten by the defensive line that I hope makes it out in the wild that's worth the price of admission by itself.
Oh, for Flansburgh's sake. It is 2013 and are we STILL having Lloyd Carr on lists like these?
Here are some notable Big Ten (and Nebraska) coaching force-outs ...
LLOYD CARR, Michigan (1995-2007)
Lloyd Carr retired by his own choice. The athletic director was surprised by this. That he was surprised was completely insane because everyone around the program new Carr was going to hang it up quite soon. I just… Lloyd Carr was not forced out. Repeat this one thousand times, Adam Rittenberg, and feel bad about yourself briefly.
Previewing basketball. ESPN does it for the conference at large:
Best case: The Wolverines were a dominant Louisville second half from winning the national title in 2012-13, and, while losing the national player of the year is never easy, the combination of Beilein's returning studs and his incoming talent could put Michigan right back where it was in April.
Worst case: There are questions, though. Can McGary produce over a whole season without Burke on the ball? Can Robinson evolve into a more perimeter-oriented, versatile scorer? Can Nik Stauskas be a multifaceted threat? Can Spike Albrecht and Zak Irvin keep all these gears in motion? Most of all -- can the Wolverines defend?
Not really, yes, yes, maybe? Meanwhile, Seth Greenberg puts Michigan and State 1-2 in his conference power rankings.
It remains to be seen whether Robinson can be as effective at the small forward position as he was last season at power forward, playing off Burke's penetration. If Robinson concentrates on being a basketball player as opposed to a position player, it will be in the best interest of the Wolverines.
He drops Indiana down to sixth(!), behind Iowa(!). Related: this will be the 65th straight season where I say "watch out for Iowa basketball, they look good" in November only for the Hawkeyes to top out as an NIT team.
I want this to happen just so I can see Jeff Meyer's face the next time he meets Tom Crean. Indiana decommit James Blackmon Jr. is planning a visit to Michigan, whereupon he'll presumably be offered. Why this is delicious:
Blackmon has been to Ann Arbor before, he was sitting next to Austin Hatch this March when Indiana played at Michigan. Blackmon was committed to Indiana at the time and the visit was thought to be at least part of the reason for the rift between Tom Crean and Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer after the game.
Blackmon is a Kentucky legacy with a Kentucky offer, so file under extreme long shot. He would fill the SG slot Michigan currently would like Devin Booker to fill, FWIW.
The worst case scenario. Actually this is Iowa we're talking about, so this should rightly be renamed "thing we expect to happen":
GAME 6, MICHIGAN STATE
Spartan coach Mark Dantonio refuses to bring his team to Iowa City, saying "I'm competitive, but I'm not insane." Offensive coordinator Greg Davis calls out Dantonio in a press conference, saying "Mark ... just ... looking out for ... players. Doesn't want our boys ... to hurt 'em ... too bad. Let's ... give him ... a hand."
The government has turned Minneapolis into a quarantine zone. Chicago residents have erected hasty barricades to separate themselves from the outer suburbs. IOWA WINS BY FORFEIT
Needs more alligators.
Also in worst case scenarios, the NCAA's in the Ed O'Bannon case is "severely damages Iowa State and no one else."
Etc.: ND game is at eight on ESPN, because ABC has NASCAR. What is wrong with you ABC? Christian Hackenberg pulls even with another first-year guy (a JUCO transfer) in the Penn State QB race. Gardner Heisman hype. DOES ADAM JACOBI THINK ANYTHING SHOULD PLAY FOOTBALL?
Illinois assistant gets a two-game ban for tryna murder him some officials after the end of the Miami-Illinois tourney game last year. Guy had a case, though. SI ranks M 18th, hates on their special teams without explanation.
Sponsor note. You may have spotted the MGoPatio button on the left sidebar, and wondered "what is that"? If you're a guy with corporate events to plan or you want to host a killer personal event, it's a good idea. As you can see, it's located in the shadow of the Big House itself, and is fancy. The two-level space is heated/air conditioned, features a full bath, has multiple HDTV flat-screens and sound systems. It has grills, coolers, tables & chairs, and will let you store stuff the night before. It will impress people you want to impress, sometimes even before it exists. Sports Illustrated reserved it for the MSU game before it was even completed.
Get started on impressing people by:
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The discounts expire next week, so reserve it fast. And invite me if you do book this thing. It sounds kind of awesome.
Four years. Phil Brabbs just celebrated four years of existence post-Multiple Myeloma. Here's to forty more.
New era: GTFO. UCF getting a single year of postseason ban for their lack of institution control was exhibit A, and now it seems like that the ever-expanding evidence that UNC football players were in fraudulent classes is not the NCAA's concern:
Going a step further, a report engineered by a faculty committee concluded -- though not yet fully endorsed by the university -- that academic counselors assigned to specific teams perhaps pushed athletes to those baloney classes.
And the NCAA apparently has no jurisdiction in this matter.
Which is why, dear folks in Indianapolis, people just don't get you sometimes.
It would seem to the layman that the intersection of athletics and academic dishonesty is exactly the right spot for the NCAA to step in.
Except, as of right now, there is no indication that the NCAA will revisit or re-examine the penalties it has already inflicted on UNC and its football team for violations related to improper benefits and academic misconduct involving a tutor.
This goes beyond clustering, but UNC is apparently not going to get anything tacked on to their now-standard single year of penance and slight hindrance in the future. Any hopes schools that egregiously break the rules would suffer consequences that would make them hesitate seems gone. Maybe when the new penalties come in, I guess.
Sirius bomb. SiriusXM was on campus a couple days ago and produced a bunch of podcasts for your delectation:
Rick Neuheisel asks some good questions, worth a listen.
Basketball preview things. Eamonn Brennan and Big Ten Wonk take to the pages of ESPN.com to say things about Big Ten basketball. Trey Burke (surprise!) is named Michigan's most important player. Brennan's worst case scenario is better than just about every team Michigan's fielded since the Fab Five:
Worst-case scenario: It's hard to see this team, which is indisputably more talented and almost certain to be more dynamic, somehow not being in Big Ten title contention by the end of next February. But if somehow the Wolverines are merely above average in 2012-13, it could be because they carry over last season's just-OK defensive effort (No. 60 in adjusted defensive efficiency). Or because they lack the breadth of reliable 3-point shooters (Evan Smotrycz transferred, while Zack Novak and Stu Douglass graduated) who have come to define coach John Beilein's two-guard front offense, which relies on 3-point shooting to stretch the floor. I think Beilein will make it work, and I think Michigan will be very tough to beat. But increased success is far from guaranteed.
Mr. Gasaway's bits are Insider'd Power Rankings($). Michigan checks in fourth behind the three teams you'd expect:
I may not be betting on a second consecutive Big Ten title for Michigan, but I love their chances to make it further in the NCAA tournament than they did last time around.
Hopefully that won't be hard. I think Gasaway is a little too down on Iowa, which adds a couple of touted freshmen to a solid core of White/Marble/Basabe and should find themselves breaking their NCAA tourney drought this year. He has them ninth; I'd put them sixth.
Oh, man. Fire Jerry Kill proposes more Penn State shirts produced by that awful "Smack" company responsible for the hur-hur-hur rivalry shirts favored by Larry the Cable Guy enthusiasts everywhere. This one may be based on actual threads from BWI:
I couldn't wear that ironically, but someone make this and I'll take a dozen:
Gendo is so getting sued by old Penn State lettermen.
BONUS: Gendo surveys the "#teamoutlaw" twitter phenomenon and comes up with ICP.
DOUBLE BONUS: are you in the market for some appalling comments about the various Penn State transfers? (The comments are in the comments.)
It was expensive while it lasted. Michigan announced a StubHub partnership last year to great fanfare; now, like the Pac 12-Big Ten scheduling accord, it appears we're never to speak of it again. Michigan's now showing up as a "past partner" on the hub:
Wonder what went wrong. I can't imagine the AD passing up a buck.
FWIW, the StubHub think always struck me as brilliantly nefarious. By giving you printed-out tickets that would invalidate the originally issued ones, they undermined all ticket markets that were not StubHub. If you bought a ticket you had no assurance it hadn't been sold already; if you sold a ticket you had no guarantee it wouldn't be resold twice and get you in hot water when someone complained and they traced it back to you, the person Michigan originally sold the ticket to. The only way to guarantee you got a valid ticket was to buy it off Stubhub. It was evil and brilliant and whoever came up with it got a promotion. Now: kaput. I wonder why.
"Zak was a hunter all summer long," Telep told AnnArbor.com via email Wednesday. "He looked fresh, hungry. He played to his size, looked like he improved his skill. Having said that, we've taken a flier on him.
"I don't think everyone would agree on him this high. We're rolling the dice and monitoring his senior year closely. Obviously we liked what we saw in the summer when compared to his peer group."
Derrick Walton made a smaller move from 40th to 32nd, but hopped over four point guards in the process. Mark Donnall slid but sticks in the top 100 at 97. Telep says Walton and Irvin are in the conversation to get in the McDonald's game.
That is all. Via EDSBS.
Orson on Wright Thompson on Meyer. Another part of the OSU PR offensive comes in an exclusive Wright Thompson sit-down with the Buckeyes' wooden but very, very successful head coach. Spencer Hall on that:
Wright Thompson got the full-access treatment to Urban Meyer, something he's never really granted anyone in a coaching situation, and pretty much nails the weirdass, ciphery personality of Meyer in his longform profile of him. One key point about Meyer is that he was never really likable as a head coach, so it's nice to see that Meyer doesn't even really seem to like himself a whole lot, and really never has.If that's a puff piece we disagree with your definition, but the last paragraph in particular is really, really interesting. <--arches eyebrows, invites literary discussion.
"He's gonna be different," Urban Meyer's wife says, and makes me preemptively sad for her.
Etc.: Michigan Stadium gets two and a half votes for "toughest place to play in the Big Ten." Beaver Stadium gets eight, so they'll be moving up in the 2016 version of this poll. Mark Mangino at OSU practice looks like just another OSU fan. Don't forget to tilt that head, though.
The Black and Blue producers tell the Willis Ward story in the News. The NCAA has to release financial documents to the Ed O'Bannon group. Maize and Go Blue looks at the freshmen numbers and their pasts. Part 1. Part 2.
Will Campbell perpetual shirt malfunction. Tim Sullivan headed out to the Cass Tech alumni 7-on-7 game last weekend and got this shot of Will Campbell doing, well, this:
He's (relatively) thin. This will make him an excellent football player. Lewan:
"The most dramatic change I've seen in a body on our team is Will Campbell," said left tackle Taylor Lewan. "His body is transformed. He was a sloppy 350 and now he's a toned down 308 kind of guy. He looks real good. His conditioning shows it. You should see him run. He's like a gazelle. It's unreal. I think Will is going to do some special things this year."
Come on, baby.
Haters. I just don't know, man. People deploy "haters" to flip criticism to the critic but surely…
From Garry Gilliam™ twitter feed with the comment
"Just in case the haters thought otherwise"
…nope. There is nothing in this world bad enough to prevent "haters" from being deployed. Yeah, Penn State football player, it's jealousy at the root of all of this.
UNC stuff. A "special faculty committee" at North Carolina has called for "an independent commission of outside experts" to review the relationship between athletics and academics at the university. If this happens expect the outside experts to exhale a slow, sliding whistle at the car wreck:
The report, released Thursday, also states staffers in the school's Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes referred players to classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM). In May, the university outlined fraud and poor oversight in 54 AFAM classes between 2007 and 2011, including classes that met irregularly if at all.
That included a class last summer with 18 current football players and one former player.
"It seems likely that someone in the (AFAM) department called athletics counselors … to tell them that certain courses would be available," the report states, "it is less clear whether staff … actually contacted departments to ask about the availability of classes."
So there's that. There's playing Hakeem Nicks in 2008 when he was ineligible, and there was Butch Davis employing an assistant coach literally acting as a "street agent." UNC got a one-year bowl ban and some minor scholarship losses.
Why didn't UNC get hammered? They've subverted nearly as much to the drive of the football program as Penn State did, albeit with far less odious results. If the NCAA is ever going to get a handle on these things, plausible deniability needs to be tossed out the window.
Leave Jordan alone. It's bad enough that Roy Roundtree is 21 and Devin Gardner is 12 and I'm going to be confused but come on man let's not take a bomb to our roster:
In May, Michigan announced that Roundtree would wear the No. 21 jersey of "Michigan Football Legend" Desmond Howard next season. Shortly thereafter, the school announced it would be un-retiring and recirculating Ron Kramer's No. 87, Gerald Ford's No. 48 and Bennie Oosterbaan's No. 47 beginning this fall.
Who might those players be? Will they be announced this season? When will Hoke decide it all?
"Sometime," he said with a grin. "In the future.
Come on man let's not do this. Let's give the numbers to players who have not yet established themselves as starters. Let's do this: not doing this. Come on man.
This one not so close. In other non-WH games on youtube, here's almost all of the 1991 Florida State game. Advantages: Desmond Howard and Keith Jackson. Disadvantages: Michigan loses by 20. Tread carefully:
If that doesn't tempt, 100 random Michigan touchdowns may:
Angry Iowa running back hating God is having its Exodus moment. Or it just released "Blood on the Tracks" or something. What I am getting at is: wow, that got out of hand.
YOUR RUNNING BACKS. I WILL DESTROY THEM, IOWA.
Sophomore De'Andre Johnson got a ticket for "maintaining a disorderly house" because the cops didn't appreciate walking up a never-ending staircase* and then drove very fast away from police*, drawing the usual indefinite suspension. This is the fifth(!) tailback hewed down by AIRBHG this offseason alone, though incoming freshman Greg Garmon got away with a drug paraphernalia charge without a suspension.
Alabama coach Nick Saban’s support staff has expanded to nine “analysts.” That’s up from six in 2011, three in 2010 and none before then.
The money has to go somewhere.
We will fare less well on this list next year. Orson charts fun/good from the perspective of his Orsonbrain. The Big Ten:
This is because Denard. Next year… well, it'll probably be Gardner and if early returns are any indication that will be fun to the Orsonbrain as well because it will occasionally result in passes thrown ten yards past the line of scrimmage or thirty yards behind it. Our brains will probably not interpret this as "fun."
I think Northwestern gets a raw deal here since they are liable to do anything at any time no matter how big their lead is.
Goodbye, Bolden. Rob Bolden's inevitable, slow-motion transfer process seems to have come to a conclusion with an LSU visit and the notable omission of Bolden from the Penn State roster. How he'll improve LSU's football team is unclear. Tulane, maybe.
In any case, the highly-touted in-state QB recruiting class is down to Devin Gardner's one or two years at the helm at Michigan. Joe Boisture discovered he wasn't actually good at football and lasted less than a year at MSU, Bolden lost his job to a walk-on, and Gardner's been stuck behind Denard.
Um. Nebraska's going to wear alternate uniforms for their game against Wisconsin that look slightly familiar, and not just because they give off the faint air of Rollerball.
this is just a picture. don't click on it.
Ad some shoulder stripes and that's Michigan's outfit from last year's ND game. Hopefully Adidas was too busy making jerseys that don't have to be switched out at halftime to innovate this summer.
Derrick Walton doing this work business. He led his AAU team to a championship in Vegas last weekend, garnering MVP honors in the process:
Walton is aggressively moving up the 2013 recruiting ranks, and continued to impress coaches and recruiting gurus with his performance this week in Las Vegas. Before the game, Dave Telep, ESPN.com’s top recruiting analyst, tweeted that Walton is being considered as a McDonald’s All-American after his strong performance.
TELEP: Sprinkle that Derrick Walton name in for McDonalds consideration.
The Mustangs, who boast four Division 1-bound players, cruised through the tournament going 9-0, outscoring opponents by 17 points per game in super pool play.
Walton had 16 points, 13 assists, and one turnover in the final.
Media days stuff. ESPN has a transcript of his speech. Denard:
Etc.: USA water polo goalie Betsey Armstrong will become a Michigan assistant this fall. Advice: try not to get kicked by her. Not that she's in the habit of kicking random passersby. Annual MVictors JDRF donation drive is live. GRITTY GRIT GIRT. SOCKS. WOLVERINE CONSERVATION THROUGH CITIZEN SCIENCE FUNDRAISING.
Programming note/briefly. No Friday Recruitin' today since Ace is in Chicago covering Big Ten media days. Here's an abbreviated version:
Ohio State dropped VA RB Derrick Green, who is either the top back in his class (Rivals) or like #5 or so and a guy you can line up in the I-form—mixed feelings ho—and pound away with. So he's changed his plans to spend more time at Michigan instead of hitting up OSU's Friday Night Lights camp. With Clemson also out of the picture since they filled up at running back, Green is now looking like far more of a possibility than he was just a couple weeks ago.
IL WR LaQuon Treadwell: still visiting Oklahoma State. Still probably thinking about officials. Trieu: "I still think Michigan is very much in the lead with him."
FL S Leon McQuay's dad clarified that the younger McQuay had not dropped Michigan but confirmed that Florida State had replaced M in his top three.
No one else exists.
Bo talks Joe. WH posts the Big Ten Ticket segment from before the '98 PSU game:
Hey, kids! Get on my lawn! Jump up and down and smoke the pot! Have a woodstock! Northwestern just debuted new uniforms that are unique and awesome:
These aren't alternates, either, they're the thing they're going to wear all the time now. I'm not sure about the brickwork frippery on the numbers when you get real close but if you can't see it at all in the above shots it's probably not too bad.
Why do I like these when Michigan's parade of changes are annoying at best and horrifying at worst?
This is a new overall identity for Northwestern, one in which the "Northwestern stripe" is being reclaimed for all their sports. It is not a one-off flibbertyjibber that only confuses things.
It is a One Big Idea jersey minus the fooferrah that made Remember Bo's parody of the direction Michigan is headed in the thing I front-paged hardest last year. I front-paged that so hard. Michigan keeps adding block Ms all over the place and patches and numbers and all this stuff when they have already acquired the One Big Idea—the winged helmet.
They are unique across college football and give you the start of a tradition. I feel like I should have a ridiculous carnival noun in here.
Anyway. Steve Spurrier needs to be involved with this.
mgotrivia: named primary Rock Band band "OBC and the Click Clacks"
BONUS: Man, Under Armor likes misters.
Meanwhile, more detail on our bit. The Alabama jerseys in a 30 second video:
Those gloves will come in handy if any of those guys ever have a test on what the lyrics to the fight song are.
I know you're literally coming off the worst scandal in the history of college athletics, but doesn't this seem extreme? Penn State is considering something drastic:
An issue that generated just as much buzz Thursday was the possibility that coach Bill O'Brien plans to change Penn State's traditional, basic blue and white uniforms. The coach mentioned that possibility during a conference call with players' parents Wednesday night, according to the Reading Eagle.
O'Brien has had discussions with Nike about changing the uniforms, which he has said repeatedly that he would not do since taking the PSU job in January.
"I reserve the right to change my mind," O'Brien said Thursday when asked what led to his decision.
Neither O'Brien nor the Penn State players would give any indication as to what the uniform changes might include, but there has been widespread speculation that it would be names on the jerseys.
The fans are already lying on the ground after a thorough kicking so I guess now's the time to do this. I suggest taking everyone's mind off the terrible things that happened by changing the school's mascot to a rainbow unicorn.
Try to be sad now! Pretty hard, right?
Also in lack of sadness. PSU adds an unrated 2012 LB named Brennan Franklin who had been ticketed for Eastern Arizona Junior College. Had "interest" from Toledo. Franklin on his commitment: "If I went to New Mexico or New Mexico State or Indiana, they wouldn’t be going to a bowl game anyway."
Oy. I'm not happy about this at all. I can only imagine what it's like to be a Penn State fan. What's the Michigan equivalent of this? Bo helped plan 9/11 and the Rodriguez era lasts 15 years. I would not wish the equivalent on my worst enemy*.
*[False. I would wish it on many people, but only bad ones. Like the people who came up with the Buffalo Wild Wings commercials.]
Boooooooooo. Boooooooo. Booooooooo. PEOPLE ARE JERKS AND STUFF:
Don't expect to see a nine-game Big Ten schedule any time soon.
Commissioner Jim Delany said at Big Ten media days Thursday that league schools are "of a unanimous mind to stay at eight games" in the conference schedule.
Guh. The Pac-12 is already there, the Big 12 and ACC are going to nine, and it's only the teams with the sappiest saps sticking with four nonconference games: the Big Ten and the SEC. And maybe the Big East, but no one bothers mentioning them any more.
This is especially bad for Michigan since its primary foes for the division title play Indiana, Penn State, and Purdue on an annual basis while Michigan gets Ohio State. Anything that softened that disparity helps. Hopefully it won't matter much if Hoke keeps the recruiting train going like he is, but the least the league could have done was make the conference record of your crossover opponents the first tiebreaker. If two teams finish tied at 7-1 and one of them took on OSU and UW while the other didn't, head to head can get bent.
Rebranded. Fan day is now Youth Day, for whatever reason. It's August 12th at 2. Anyone over 19 trying to enter the stadium will be chased through a cornfield by a giant red-eyed monster and eaten.
Yes. Michael Weinreb should take over PR for the Paterno family, because he's able to express the tricky concepts about moving forward as a Penn State fan in a way that sounds right:
There is no way to make up for what has been lost. All we can do is start over again. If it takes Penn State fielding a team full of walk-ons and castaways in the years to come, if it takes losses to Temple and to the dregs of the Mid-American Conference to reinforce the horror of what took place, then I will accept that. What I want now is for my alma mater to become what we’d always imagined it to be, an agent of change in a sport that desperately seeks it. If failure equals success, the punishment will be justified.
I don't know about you, but next year's game in Happy Valley has become a must-attend for me. Not to gloat, just to see what it's like and maybe stare at a place a statue used to stand and think about what is or is not pretty much the same band of RV-possessing friendly people I experienced in 2006.
And so it came to pass that Wisconsin fans bought all the tickets. The Big Ten has added this "TeamTix" system in which you gamble ten bucks on your team making the title game and then can buy a face value ticket if your team gets there. Which may be a hideously overpriced one if it's, say, Michigan State-Wisconsin. Events with Michigan in them may be another matter but I'd probably want to see how the secondary market shapes up this year. You might be able to get a suite for ten bucks.
Can you talk about the progression in his game, especially within the last few months?
“He’s gotten tremendously better. He works hard every day, getting his shots up, working on his step back, working on how to finish in the mid-range because he knows that he’s going to run into 7-footers, and 6-foot-9 and so forth, so we try to make sure he’s got a little floater coming and a higher arching jump shot. So he knows what’s to come.”
Taken by the will of the wisp. Will Campbell gets probation, has to pay fines and court costs and restitution, etc. The judge gets it, man:
Judge Chris Easthope said he believed Campbell didn’t have any kind of malicious intent and was rather “caught up in the moment.”
Chris Easthope has been there, man. On the hood of a car at two AM.
Etc.: Brian Phillips on rhythmic gymnastics. Anthony Zettel stays put. Jordan Morgan expectations. Gasaway on the Emmert penalty shotgun. He's in favor. Suspended Wolverines' are called team cancers by teammates. Alabama's NT benches 600 pounds. Yay.
Leave it to the NCAA to get the Penn State sanctions right, yet still find a way to screw it up.
The debate surrounding the—wait for it—unprecedented penalties handed down to the PSU football program has largely hinged on whether or not the NCAA had any jurisdiction at all over this issue, one that at face value went so far beyond football that it seemed inappropriate and insensitive to make it a football issue.* Criminal matters should be handled by criminal courts, so what basis does the governing body of college sports have to essentially decimate PSU football?
Yesterday, Mark Emmert decided to justify his swift and forceful actions by indicting the very culture that funnels billions into the pockets on his organization:
"The fundamental message here, the gut-check message is, do we have the right balance in our culture?" he said. "Do we have, first and foremost, the academic values of integrity and honesty and responsibility as the drivers of our university? Or are we in a position where hero worship and winning at all costs has subordinated those core values?"
In doing so, Emmert opened up the NCAA to—very fair—criticism about the sheer hypocrisy of the above statement, and that criticism extends to the penalties themselves**. Slamming "hero worship" when the NCAA extravagantly profits from—to take one small example—NCAA Football video games that advertise "a deeper game for a deeper devotion," is remarkably tone-deaf. The NCAA doesn't make their money from "academic values", but from fanatics (it's called March Madness, for chrissakes) who sanctify figures like JoePa and Coach K and Woody and Bo and the athletes upon whose backs this empire is built. The NCAA asking us to suddenly find perspective is like TMZ chastising their readers for caring too much about the lives of people they don't actually know; it's a nice sentiment coming from precisely the wrong source.
What I find more remarkable, however, is that the NCAA had the proper basis to levy these sanctions sitting right in front of them, and instead they took the hypocrisy route. It's simple: Penn State gained a massive, long-term competitive advantage by keeping Sandusky's heinous crimes quiet.
Why did Joe Paterno, when confronted with clear-cut evidence of Sandusky's sexual abuse of Victim 2, decide against alerting the Department of Child Welfare? It wasn't to cover for a friend; it's been well-documented that Paterno and Sandusky weren't exactly close off the field. No, this was a football decision, one that kept up Paterno and Penn State's untarnished image while avoiding a scandal that—even if Paterno did the right thing and reported Sandusky—would bring an enormous amount of negative attention to the program and potentially threaten Paterno's job status.
In March of 2002, when Mike McQueary reported what he had seen in the Penn State locker room to Paterno, Penn State was coming off back-to-back five-win seasons. Paterno was 75 years old, reaching the point where questions abound about his ability to run a successful football program, if he could retire with dignity before PSU would be forced to push him out the door. I can't claim to know the motivation behind the cover-up, but the timing of the 2002 allegations could not have been worse for Paterno from a football perspective.
Instead of facing the situation head-on, Paterno and Penn State kept quiet, and Penn State's program turned around; from 2002-2011, the Nittany Lions went 83-43 with two shared conference titles and two BCS bowl appearances. I have a hard time imagining that Penn State would have compiled such a lofty record while dealing with sexual abuse charges against their former defensive coordinator. I'm guessing JoePa thought much the same.
When looking at the issue from that perspective, the NCAA had little choice but to bring the hammer down on a Penn State program that gained an enormous, decade-long competitive advantage by covering up crimes of a most despicable nature. The scope of the penalties, which almost certainly doom PSU to a decade or more at the bottom of the college football barrel, are just given the severity of the crimes committed*** and their on-field consequences. While I commend the NCAA and Mark Emmert for coming through with these penalties, I have no earthly idea why they decided to base them on hypocrisy when there was such an obvious and justifiable alternative.
*The other point of contention was the potentially disconcerting precedent set by Emmert. To that, I'll say this: when do you expect something remotely close to the PSU situation to arise again? And, if we're unfortunate enough that something similar does occur, would it not merit the same level of action? I don't believe Emmert will exercise this executive power even for cheating as severe as Miami's or UNC's.
**Spencer Hall and Drew Magary, most notably, fell on the "scathing" end of the spectrum.
*** I'm referring to the cover-up, not Sandusky.