Mike Spath points out that doing an interview for the official site is a pretty good indicator he'll be back.
…says Bill Hancock! But they're doing it anyway.
If Michigan can't host at Michigan Stadium this is the second-best option.
Stewart Mandel is the latest guy to throw his sources in the ring in re: what the exact specifics of the Four-Team Event shall be. His version of reality is this:
Multiple sources with direct knowledge of last week's discussions in South Florida have confirmed to SI.com that the new favored proposal for a four-team playoff within the bowl system would place the two semifinal games at the traditional anchor bowls of the No. 1 and 2 teams' conferences. For example, No. 1 Alabama of the SEC would host the No. 4 team in the Sugar Bowl, while No. 2 USC of the Pac-12 would host the No. 3 team in the Rose Bowl.
This would have blown up the traditional Rose Bowl in five of the last 14 years, six if you want to throw Nebraska's presence as the Big 12 North Division Co-Champion in the mix. That's nearly half the time and is the kind of thing that makes Jim Delany's fists open and close helplessly.
Home sites are still in the running, though:
That said, it's no certainty the conferences will opt for bowl-hosted semifinals. Contrary to some reports, on-campus sites remain "very much alive," according to two sources. One said the commissioners left the meetings split about "60-40" in favor of using bowl sites. They will present all remaining proposals to their respective conference presidents, athletic directors and coaches at league meetings in late May and early June to gauge their preferences before reconvening June 20 in Chicago.
There are five conferences who matter. You can guess the 40% opposed to the bowl sites right now. For a lot of reasons—amongst them a desire to maybe not have to fly across the country to see a bowl-type event and a belief that bowls are institutionalized stealing from unpaid student athletes—I'm with them.
Q: Can Jim Delany actually pull off the home sites plan? He stared down Comcast, won, and got the Big Ten their massive pile of money that no one save Michigan and Ohio State is bothering to use. ("Oh, hai, I'm Tim Beckman. You may remember me from that one screen Eric Page took for 70 yards on Tuesday night, and by 'one' I mean 'six.'")
Here's he's got one ally-type substance in the Pac-12, two conferences content to leave the status quo as is because it's generally beneficial (SEC, Big 12) to them… and then you've got the ACC and maybe Big East.
Does anyone care about the Big East? Unknown. If they did have a vote you'd think they lean towards home games. Home games would be nice in the event one of their teams ever makes it into the top two; perhaps more importantly for them, sucking four teams out of BCS bowls makes it likely even their oft-tattered champion is attractive enough most years.
As for the ACC, they're in an odd spot because two of the teams expected to be relevant here are in Florida. The other is Virginia Tech. The rest of the conference is flung up and down the eastern seaboard, and will be more so when Pitt and Syracuse join. Here, too, you'd think a majority of schools would prefer hypothetically getting a local game instead of being on foreign turf. The conference might not like the idea of seeing their banner teams travel north, but here too the benefits of sucking four teams out of the sexy bowls would seem to be a big draw. The ACC hadn't gotten a second BCS bid in forever before Virginia Tech was selected for the Sugar last year.
Q: Does Delany have the chutzpah to take his ball and go home? Or threaten to? Probably not. If the Big Ten and Pac 12 walk, things will go one of two ways: 1) Delany gets his way, or 2) the league is fffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuu after having balkanized itself out of a Four Team Event that kinda pretty much is the national title. The Rose Bowl is great, but I don't think the kids are going to be down with that particular sickness. With their hippin' and their hopping, they don't know what the jazz is all about. /shakes fist at lawn
Q: Does this actually make sense for college football? Well, at least they're bidding out the final. They aren't concerned about selling out since it'll quickly turn into a Final Four/Super Bowl type event where it just sells out and then scalpers take on the risks and rewards of properly pricing the thing. So then you've got either a guaranteed sellout in a stadium that averages 80k+ over the years or some version of the current system except that the #2 game matters a lot more and fans are staring down the prospect of back to back trips.
Inevitably the travel will suck money that otherwise could have been given to college football—ticket prices go up, more get sold—and put teams in a spot where they're spending massive amounts of money on the same sorts of scams bowls are currently running. So, no. The whole will suffer to maintain the location bias that the South currently enjoys.
The most confusing thing in all of this is the persistent notion that the bowls have any leverage. Mandel:
An obvious hitch with the anchor-hosting proposal is that based on history, certain bowls would host semifinals far more often than others. For instance, had this concept been in place all along, the Sugar Bowl (SEC) would have hosted six straight semifinals from 2006-11, the Fiesta Bowl (Big 12) five of seven from 2003-09. The ACC, on the other hand, has not produced a No. 1 or 2 team in 12 years, meaning no semis for the Orange Bowl.
The Orange Bowl is upset. So? What is the Orange Bowl going to do, defect to lacrosse? No. They can only steal money from college football. They'll deal.
Q: Strength of schedule! That's not a question, or a thing that will happen. Maybe it will happen…
As for selecting the teams, the commissioners are a ways away from deciding whether to use a revised BCS formula, a selection committee or some combination of both. "The whole topic of selection and who would get in is something that we've really parked for now," said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. "We realize that's going to require a whole lot more debate and study." If they do employ a formula, sources said there's a near-universal desire to emphasize strength of schedule. One source said the commissioners also aren't keen on preseason polls, which could signal an end to using the USA Today Coaches' Poll.
…but as soon as this SOS component causes the system to pick someone other than the poll-anointed, it will be declared incorrect and dropped. See: the past.
Q: Will you take it? Yeah. Arguments that moving the line from two to four doesn't reduce controversy have always been ludicrous. Multiple undefeated top five teams have been given zero chance to win a national title in the BCS system. At the very least a four team playoff prevents the Auburn/TCU/Utah/Boise screwjob from ever happening again. Anything is better than what we've got now.
Mandel says he was never a fan of a playoff because it would make the NCAA an "NFL clone," which… 12 of the 32 NFL teams get in the playoffs. An equivalent NCAA playoff drawn from the five major conferences is 24 teams. Anything eight or below maintains almost all of the importance of the regular season to be okay.
Also, in the system Mandel details above the chances Hypothetical Host Big Ten team gets a virtual road game are low. Unless USC finishes in the exact spot to force a matchup, anyone going to that game will be flying. So it could be worse. Could be better. Could be worse.
Q: What happens if the Big 10 and Pac 12 are one-two? Or if there's a repeat of last year, when the top two teams are in the same conference? In the former situation I'd just run a Rose Bowl per normal. In situation two, I don't know, put it in Glendale or something. I'm vaguely hoping that Jerryworld pirates the Big 12 affiliation from Glendale and relegates the Fiesta Bowl to the status of the old Cotton Bowl.
And fin. Wolverine Historian's expanded versions of 1997 games have hit that year's Rose Bowl; this one is a three-parter and it's gooooood:
Odds. I've seen the line for Michigan's game against Western at anywhere between 8 and 13 points, but it appears it's settled at Michigan –12. This is good. Phil Steele's published a useful list of spreads and their correspondence to victory and a spread as big as that one is tough to overcome:
|Favorite of||# of GMS||Lost Outright||%|
|3 or less||1269||621||48.9%|
It would be nice to start the year off with one of those win things for a change.
Don't Messner with Texas. MVictors has posted an interview with Wolverine great Mark Messner; I celebrate by craft the worst bolded introductory phrase in the history of Unverified Voracity. The section Greg excerpts is mostly on Michigan State, Tony Mandarich, and steroids. It comes with some outstanding stories:
He did get me once and that’s when I realized that there was something strange going on with this man, because no man should ever do that. It was my junior year. We were watching film getting ready for Michigan State and I was like, “Look at this thing! He’s destroying people.” In that game I got out of position and he got underneath me. He picked me up off my feet and ran with me for fifteen yards with my feet just dangling. He threw me like a rag doll into the Michigan State bench.
More at the link.
Was anybody healthy? Anybody? This offseason's seen a bevy of injury revelations from Mike Shaw's sports hernia to Donovan Warren's bone chips to Jonas Mouton's shoulder. We already knew Brandon Minor had some wrist issues, but I don't think we knew they were this severe:
Minor underwent two surgeries in the offseason and gutted through 11 games last fall a virtual one-armed man. The pain was so intense he couldn't carry the ball in his right arm and couldn't lift weights.
“I could barely get 145 (pounds) up,” Minor said.
This might explain Minor's sparing use early in the year, and his tendency to put the ball on the turf. Place your bets for the next starter to reveal a crippling 2008 injury. I've got Obi Ezeh with the peg leg in the kitchen.
Hey, what's that: bird, plane, basketball program? Michigan's going to have a Midnight Madness event for the first time… ever? Probably ever. John Beilein probably isn't going rappel from the rafters riding a horse and a motorcycle, but it should be cool anyway. Details:
To kick off the 2009-10 season, both the men's and women's basketball teams will be participating in Michigan Madness on Friday, Oct. 16, the first day of practice allowed by the NCAA. Crisler Arena doors will open at 8 p.m. and admission is free.
The official basketball program will begin at 9 p.m. with player introductions. A skills competition and scrimmages will follow, allowing students and fans to get a first glimpse of the season's upcoming teams.
That's right: Michigan's midnight madness is at 9PM. Which okay. I don't know if we're at the point where we can expect anyone to show up well past their bedtime.
If you spin any faster you might drill straight into the magma. It's getting tough out there for BCS schools looking for suitable tomato cans to whack, as Michigan's home-and-home with UConn demonstrates. Heck, UConn has Tennessee lined up for a home and home, too. Further evidence:
Billed as the Celebrate the State Football Series, Michigan State will play 12 games against the directional Michigan schools during the next 10 years.
The agreement includes road contests against each MAC team, beginning in 2012 with a trip to Central Michigan. The Spartans have never visited Central Michigan or Western Michigan and last played a MAC team on the road in 1899.
Ouch. I guess if you have to line up road games (three of them!) against MAC schools it's nice to be able to turn it into yet more meaningless PR about owning the state. I mean… even if you successfully own the state, then what? Then you have a team that goes 7-5 on average instead of Michigan State's historical long-term 6-6. Woo! Michigan isn't Florida.
Etc.: Those who hate key jinglers are going to double hate towels. Michigan Stadium makes the next cut in the USA's World Cup bid. (Note to guy who posted this on the messageboard: AAAARGH it's on topic. It's about Michigan Stadium.) And this is apropos of little but there's a team named "Trollhattan" in the second level of Swedish soccer. There's a terribly funny joke about the internet in there somewhere.
Heismans past. College Football Live is going state-by-state and, I don't know, talking to people or something. It's the privilege of the internet that I don't have to watch College Football Live and find out about their latest programming initiative. Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard were the featured people when it came to Michigan. Here is their talking:
Reports from people who watched this say it seemed designed to blow a blood vessel in Mark Dantonio's head, BTW.
I do not know how alarmed you should be, but it appears the amount of alarm should, sadly, be nonzero. Incoming mega-recruit Justin Turner did not walk at his graduation because of what appears to be an inability to pass some statewide Ohio standardized test. Here's a really dumb thread on a Massillon message board about it. It's uncertain whether this would prevent him from enrolling at Michigan, as from other reports he's comfortably qualified, and it's also uncertain how an apparently-qualified person could not pass a test on which the questions were probably like so:
water : wet :: water :
C. noodly appendage
D. I hate Michigan
Unless, that is, he picked A when the right answer was D. Apparently there are further opportunities to take this thing and get it done, if it's an actual barrier to his entry. FWIW, Varsity Blue says Sam Webb says* this is a minor thing unlikely to be an issue:
Webb was not particularly pessimistic about Turner’s ability to still get into school, as he’s a pretty good student who’s already met the NCAA Clearinghouse’s requirements for eligibility, except the no high school diploma thing. There are alternative methods to diploma eligbility, and given Turner’s academic reputation, most don’t foresee him having difficulty there.
It's out there, but I wouldn't get too exercised about it. I'm more concerned about Fitzgerald Toussaint's status.
*(There's been significant backlash against GBMW on this, and while I agree they could use some serious writing lessons, I don't see how reporting something obvious like "Justin Turner didn't walk at graduation" is a big deal. Both premium sites had moderators address the issue before GBMW did and, while they like to hide behind the idea that what's behind the paywall is super secret just-between-us stuff, any information there is instantly transmitted to free message boards across the internet and thereby into the fan consciousness. Also: kid didn't walk at graduation; this is not a secret.)
Buryin'. If there's one lead guaranteed to be buried it's "here's this important rule change," which is inevitably preceded by 300 words about some director of officials who's very sorry about everything but has to ask you to go to hell. And it is so after the Big Ten meetings produced a couple notable changes:
A new rule states that once [rugby] punters are outside the pocket, the defense will not be penalized for running into them or roughing them. The rugby-style punters previously had the advantage of waiting until the last minute to choose whether to punt, run or pass and still draw penalties on the defense. "The defensive team never knew what to do because they didn't want to rough them," Carollo said.
This seems fraught with logistical issues. How is this mystical ability of a punter different from that of a quarterback? Can a punter now roll out, pull up to pass, chuck the ball, and get leveled way late?
Offensive linemen also will be allowed to move up to three yards down the field without being penalized.
I'm somewhat confused here; this sentence follows the previous paragraph immediately and either means 1) a slight change to punting rules or 2) a significant relaxing of prohibitions against linemen downfield. I'm betting it's 1.
Rose Bowlin'. The Rose Bowl is obligated to take a scrub team in the event that 1) A Big Ten or Pac-10 team is yanked into the NC game and 2) a scrub team ends up automatically qualified by finishing in the top 12. That's a somewhat unlikely confluence of events there, and even if it happens it will only happen once:
"It's only going to happen once if it happens at all," Hancock said.
And that's just a totally redundant blockquote but that's life. Totally redundant blockquotes.
Anyway: this places the change even more squarely into the realm of don't-sue-us CYA. The likely effect, if there even is one, is to replace the second-place Pac-10 team with a Utah or a Boise or whatever, which would be a wash in hypothetical opponent strength.
I don't get it, either. Earlier this year I touched on the ongoing Kiffin fiasco, and resolved that this could so either way, with the two ways being "John L Smith" and "Steve Spurrier." A couple months, a couple more inane secondary violations/diarrhea of the mouth incidents, and I've been pushed over the edge: I just think Kiffin is an idiot. I wasn't going to say anything until Get The Picture eloquently summarized the nagging problem I had with the recent spate of MSM articles which had "no, srsly, Lane Kiffin knows what he's doing" as their idiotically contrarian thesis:
If this is such a great approach to resurrecting a national powerhouse, how come the first guy to think of it is a 33-year old whose prior stop as a head coach was a miserable failure?
I just don't buy Kiffin's latest posture. Claiming "no, seriously guys, I meant to do it" is the last refuge of a guy caught with his hand in the idiot jar. True cleverness—see OBC—is apparent. Even if this supposed gambit works in the short run, in the long run Tennessee is going to be seriously hampered by their head coach's lack of intelligence. When the biggest accomplishment you can point to is locking down your hot wife, you have issues.
Oregon State's going to be pissed. So the SEC put an end to this ridiculous oversigning business after Houston Nutt pushed it past its logical extreme, adopting the same policy the Big Ten has by limiting LOIs to 28. They're going to attempt to make this a national policy, and the initial returns are good:
One Big 12 assistant who asked to remain anonymous said he hopes this will push the NCAA to make it a rule throughout Division I football. … "Generally when the SEC makes a push for changes in recruiting, things happen on the NCAA level. So there are a lot of us who believe that this will eventually become something everybody will have to follow, and I think that's a good thing."
Etc.: Daily continues murdering Detroit papers, this time landing an extensive interview with Toney Clemons. Oregon's rushing attack—which you may remember cowering from—in coachy detail. NCAA 10… worth buying? Michigan had "no chance" in '97 according to Corso. Patrick Lucas-Perry is rapidly developing into a major target.
I'm still catching up after spending large chunks of the weekend away from precious internet access, so forgive if some of this is old.
Back like it never happened. So, yeah, Michigan might not be through with Gradys yet:
As Grady continues to evaluate his options, one of them is playing for the Michigan football team. He has spoken with the U-M staff regarding the opportunity. Grady, a 5-foot-10 standout running back/receiver in high school at East Grand Rapids, is considering a number of basketball and football options.
While the Free Press article above indicates Grady is still evaluating his options, a previously reliable source indicates this is a done deal and Grady will not be transferring.
As we've all learned from the Greg Paulus fiasco, players don't use up eligibility in any sport they're not actually playing and have a five-year period before they're ineligible, so Grady would be the functional equivalent of a redshirt sophomore if he was to join the team: three years to play three.
Grady's quick as hell and was a legitimate football prospect coming out of high school, so he could be of some use. No one has put a stranglehold on the slot position and the starting tailback job will be wide open next fall. Also maybe he can catch punts.
Nothing to see here. I really wish this wasn't cause to play officer Barbrady, but even if this is Terrelle Pryor (and it very probably is)…
The football player received a special, discounted hotel rate and free food while visiting Ohio State.
On Aug. 21, OSU declared the athlete ineligible and filed a violation report with the NCAA. He never missed a game, though. He paid back $158 for his extra benefits, and the NCAA restored his eligibility. He was a freshman at Ohio State last year. He was recruited by quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels.
…it's a minor NCAA violation that's been handled already. This, though fun, is also pointless to get excited about:
Since 2000, Ohio State has reported to the NCAA more than 375 violations -- the most of any of the 69 Football Bowl Subdivision schools that provided documents to The Dispatch through public-records requests. Most infractions were minor -- a coach called a recruit too many times, for example. Others, however, left athletes benched, fined or at least embarrassed.
If the NCAA hasn't deigned to slap Lane Kiffin's wrist, this won't bring any additional scrutiny. Especially since the list of violations is full of stuff like "player mentions ice cream shop where she worked" and—seriously—"hockey players sneak into Nickelback concert."
But the larger point in the Dispatch report is a good one: many schools now use any means possible to avoid or make useless FOIA requests by citing a federal law designed to prevent the public disclosure of student grades. An example:
We asked the eight Ohio schools eligible for the Bowl Championship Series for the list of people who flew on university airplanes to away football games. These records are used by the NCAA to determine whether boosters (people who give money to the university and whose actions are scrutinized) fly with the team.
Kent State University sent the entire list, with no names removed. Three schools blackened out the names of students. Four removed the names of students and some nonstudents.
Others just make it ridiculously costly. This includes Michigan, which asked for $850 to fulfill the Dispatch's FOIA request. Only Maryland's hilarious demand for over $35,000 beat that.
Urgh? Odd that Tony Barnhart is the guy to report on this change in the BCS selection process:
In past contracts if the Rose Bowl lost one of its traditional partners, the Big Ten or Pac-10 champ, to the BCS championship game, it could simply fill with another Big Ten or Pac-10 team that qualified. That’s how a 9-3 Illinois team got to Pasadena two years ago.
But in the new contract, I’m told, there is an interesting clause: The first time in the deal that the Rose loses one of its champions to the BCS title game, that opening will be automatically filled by a Coalition (non-BCS conference) team if one has qualified.
Barnhart interprets this as an attempt to not get sued, and okay maybe it is but why does the Rose Bowl get stuck with an automatic mid-major slot instead of losing its special ability to pick a totally undeserving Big Ten team? That seems like swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction.
After getting over the initial revulsion at the thought of Boise State in the Rose Bowl, though, I'm not too put out: better that than a barely-qualified* Big Ten team like Illinois leaping into the BCS, embarrassing itself, and giving the rest of the conference harder matchups in their bowl games. At least some part of the Big Ten's recent bowl struggles is due to the conference almost always getting a second team into the BCS whether it deserves it or not.
*(Literally: IIRC, there was great worry that year because Illinois needed an extremely friendly set of final-week results to even get itself into the top 14 of the BCS rankings.)
Ends to excellent season. The men's golf team made a late surge to squeeze into the top eight at the national championships, then won their first round of match play before losing a "heartbreaker" to Texas A&M in the semifinal. Michigan's top player, the spectacularly-named Lion Kim, is but a sophomore, so future success is a possibility.
Softball, meanwhile, won against Alabama but lost 1-0 against Florida and 7-5 against Georgia to exit the WCWS around 5th or 6th place. At least they're not Ohio State's baseball team, which managed to lose 24-8 and 37-6 this weekend. Even stranger: in between those two games they won twice.
Etc.: Hockey recruits do well at the NHL draft combine.
More at the Fanhouse. Long story short: 71% of coaches went for Florida. We need a miracle.
Update: it's official per the LA Times. It's over. I'm pissed. More Monday with a very special edition of "On Notice" and probably some BCS related bitching too angry to make much sense. Then we move on: USC in the Rose Bowl. Let's win this time, yes?
Update II: Whoah, go away for a couple hours and come back to epic stupidity. Comment moderation is on.
Well, you know, in case it's close or whatever. Feel free to comment on anything else going on today, too.