speculation is fun
As caught by—prepare yourselves for a username—MGoUser "Every Roh Has Its Thorn," Redshirt freshman-to-be Kaleb Ringer has put an "FSU" in his twitter handle and adorned his page with that bulldog hockey fans know and no one else does. Usually this means the guy in question has left the team, though in this case Ringer does still have some Michigan stuff around.
The handle change from "Ring_RingUM" to "Ring_RingFSU" is pretty indicative, though. Further supporting data: his brother is at Ferris and he tweeted "big brah I'm on my way" recently. That could mean anything, sure. This not so much:
I put my internet sleuth hat on. I declare he's outie, as the kids said like ten years ago. I have taken the hat off. I feel bereft.
Ringer sat out last year with an undisclosed injury that I've heard was a knee issue. If that robbed him of some of his athleticism he may have chosen to keep playing instead of taking a medical scholarship. Whichever it was, I'd heard that there was a possibility he wouldn't make it to year two a while ago.
The on-field impact should mainly be felt on special teams. Ringer wasn't going to be on the two deep at ILB with Morgan, Bolden, Ross, and Jenkins-Stone ahead of him and probably wouldn't have gotten many snaps this year.
This does bring Michigan down to 85 even if they bring back suspended punter Will Hagerup. Hagerup recently said something on Facebook that suggested he'd learned he would be reinstated; it wouldn't surprise me if the two events were related. IE: Hagerup got booted down to walk-on and now has to get in line. Just speculation, that.
Michigan currently has 15 scholarships for their next recruiting class, and with normal rates of attrition should get to 18-20. Ringer is the first member of the 2012 class to leave; it stands at 24. Here's Ringer's recruiting post if you'd like to reminisce.
Learn from the master. Not to be outdone by some twit in a hat, Nick Saban dropped the boom on two players on the eve of fall camp. One learned he'd "failed a physical" and is either going to be medially disqualified by Alabama's doctors and placed on a scammy hardship scholarship (someone should figure out how many kids have been placed on medical scholarships since Saban arrived; I'm willing to bet it's triple the rate of a sampling of representative schools) or transfer. The other was just straight up deferred because the wrong number of kids got eligible. The usual goes here.
Something unusual: it looks like we're at a turning point as far as media attention goes to this stuff. In the last week both SI's Andy Staples and CBS screedmaster Gregg Doyel have taken up the baton. If you've ever read a Doyel piece you can Mad Libs the nouns between the bombast but at least this time he's struck on something worthy of some portion of the usual outrage. The thrust of his piece is actually too kind since he focuses on exceeding the 25 player limit, which these days you can only do by three, instead of the disparity between some incoming recruiting classes and the number of scholarships available for them. Those can hit double-digits. In LSU's case, they had 27 signees and two early enrollees so they could have gotten everyone on campus if not for the 85 cap. I'll take any attention this issue gets but Doyel's got a lot of his facts wrong.
Meanwhile, Staples has been SI's main recruiting reporter for a few years now. He knows the field, and I'm not just saying that because he's on board with the idea that you shouldn't be able to sign a player unless you can show where the scholarship is coming from. A note on that—Staples says:
Yahoo!'s Matt Hinton and MGoBlog's Brian Cook, two people who have written thoughtfully on this subject in the past, had a brilliant suggestion so simple that even a heavy-handed bureaucracy should be able to bring it to fruition: Make a rule that requires schools to give an actual scholarship to every player they sign to a letter-of-intent.
Cook even suggested raising scholarship limits if necessary. I disagree. If a school has 22 slots on Feb. 2, 2011, it should sign 22 players. If three of those players don't qualify, that's the coach's fault for not recruiting more academically sound prospects. He can play the season with 82 players on scholarship and sign more next year.
I don't think I was clear enough when I suggested the same thing I always suggest. Two scenarios I think would be good for college football:
- LOIs are binding both ways for one year. If you sign a player and he does not qualify or you can't fulfill the promise made, you don't get to use that scholarship the next year.
- LOIs are actually binding for two years. If you lose a player like above, you can't use the scholarship for the next two recruiting classes. Since this one is more punitive I'd give schools the leeway of an extra scholarship or two.
Either one is fine by me; in scenario 1 I don't think you need more scholarships.
As this gets on the radar of more reporters, coaches across the country will have to start justifying departures from their program, and maybe in a year or two the noise will be enough to force the NCAA to take action. Coaches will caterwaul, but what are they going to do, quit?
(HT: Doc Sat.)
Captains. I forewent retweeting the RR tweet announcing your 2010 permanent captains because if I had it eight times in my feed chances are everyone else had it at least twice already. For those opposed to societal ADD, the guys are Steve Schilling and Mark Moundros. Moundros is representing the defense. The official site's much less horrible video page has reactions from Schilling and Moundros on the honor; Michigan will still pick two additional game captains throughout the season.
This is undoubtedly overreacting to a tiny slice of information, but it's the day after the first fall football practice. If there's a national day of Overreacting To Tiny Slices of Information, it's today. So: guuuuh linebackers. Michigan's got a couple of fifth-year multi-year starters and they get squeezed out of the official captaincy by a walk-on who was a fullback until spring practice. This is the most circumstantial of evidence but since we have three years of direct evidence that the linebackers aren't very good, it does not make me feel awesome.
Who wants to bet that someone at a newspaper or in sports radio declares this a repudiation of Rodriguez? We should start a pool. I've got Jeff DeFran.
Elsewhere in grunting. This is not so good:
“We have quite a few guys in very good shape, a handful who are in OK shape and a small handful not ready to play Division I football,” he said.
Rodriguez specifically omitted freshmen from his crap list, so Richard Ash—listed at a flabby 320 on the fall roster—is not one of those guys. I'm afraid he might be making a pointed statement directed at Will Campbell, who is the biggest guy on the team at 333 (mark of the half-beast!). This would crush my dream of having a Sagesse/Campbell rotation at the nose free Mike Martin to wreak havoc as a 3-tech DT/5-tech 3-3-5 DE.
Graham is destroying. A steady stream of articles declaring Brandon Graham the next Dwight Freeney, except better, have hit the sidebar, and now here's some main column action:
"I look at him as another (Dwight) Freeney deal," said Cole, referring to the Colts' five-time Pro Bowler. "He's a great player and just keep watching because he's going to be pretty good."
Also Andy Reid dropped a quote that may lend some credence to both EEEE Barwis and a hopefully burgeoning EEEE Bruce Tall contingent:
"He's done very well with that," said Reid. "He's very strong in the lower body; he's very strong in the upper body, too. His lower body, he's got a nice anchor there and good core strength and understands how to use his hands and arms and plays with separation on the linemen."
If we see Roh and Van Bergen do this consistently this year, Tall will enter the pantheon of assistant coaches Michigan fans can't bitch about currently inhabited by Greg Frey, Calvin Magee, and maybe Rod Smith.
Etc.: Ron English says he doesn't want to recruit kids without father figures. Detroit head coach says "that's insane" because "what he's asking for, we don't have." This makes me terribly sad for Detroit. Chad Henne has one vote for Tate. Tom Dienhart's extensive season preview has just two M players (Molk and Schilling) on his all Big Ten first- and second-teams (Stonum is the second-team kick returner), but manages to slot Michigan fifth despite this.
So the NCAA is all calling people at West Virginia to see if Rich Rodriguez was illegally stretching lawyaz in Morgantown, too, and the people who do the sort of stentorian wailing that passed for insight in 1982 are doing what they do:
How Much More of This Man Can Michigan Take?
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem.
The second step is doing something about it.
THE FIRST STEP IS REALIZING YOU DON'T HAVE TO HIT ENTER AFTER EVERY PERIOD ARGH.
The second step is assessing whether this is likely to be a big deal. You'd have to be a complete Stacy to voluntarily put yourself on the chopping block merely to spite your ex-boyfriend, but… yeah…
That is a state full of Stacys.
What we know is that in September, WVU was nonchalant. A quote given by one of the WVU guys has been kicking around message boards and blogs as people attempt to relieve the panic, but that quote is old. A fuller excerpt:
Of course, WVU officials identified this as a concern back in September of 2009, when the UM-Rodriguez story first broke. Our Dave Hickman caught up with athletic director Ed Pastilong, who indicated then his big house was in order. He suggested he and then-compliance man Brad Cox almost babysat Rodriguez's practices, almost obsessed over record-keeping.
So when the news broke, they double-checked their records and smiled.
"We looked into it,'' Patrick Hairston, WVU's assistant for compliance, said. "We're very comfortable no NCAA rules were broken."
I can't help but wonder how comfortable that position is today. There certainly seemed to be a lot of squirming in the practice facility on Tuesday.
That last sentence is complete speculation. Nonetheless, the happy quote has no relation to the investigation-type activity that's going on now. Which is this:
The NCAA has met with individuals involved with the West Virginia football program to identify any potential rules violations. The university has fully cooperated with the NCAA during this process. West Virginia University and its department of intercollegiate athletics is committed to operating its athletics department in conformance with the legislation and policies of the NCAA and the Big East Conference.
That is all the new information we have. "We looked into it" is not new.
Okay, so that's no good and certain excitable people are running around screaming about the end of the world. Allow me a moment to defuse that: the NCAA had access to everyone in Michigan's program discussing events that happened while they were at Michigan. They also had a variety of disgruntled ex-Wolverines willing to exaggerate wildly because of a combination of ignorance (of admittedly arcane rules) and bitterness. What they came up with was less than earthshaking.
At West Virginia they'll be attempting to determine what happened in 2007 and before with no leverage on players who have already seen their eligibility expire and probably like Rodriguez just fine. The exact details of a practice week three or four or five years ago are not likely to be fresh in their minds, anyway. This will come down to records. If West Virginia does not have records, that's a problem for West Virginia. If they have records that show a pattern of misbehavior that's gone unreported for years, that is a problem for both Rodriguez and West Virginia. If the pattern of misbehavior remains "slightly exceeded NCAA practice regulations," it won't change anything.
Would West Virginia actually have records that show years of unreported NCAA violations? Doubtful. They did hire Bill Stewart because he was a nice man who didn't trip Noel Devine so that is a possibility, but a screwup that vast has to be considered improbable.
Preliminary assessment: file this with Braylon Edwards #1 Jersey Fiasco in the pile of fiascoes that have no tangible impact but will be cited in all cases to fire Rodriguez by people who are bad at making arguments. Show tangible progress towards being a football team and this is just another scrap of noise.
Of Course This Is The New Policy
A rain on your wedding day note follows. The Bylaw Blog suggests this is a new thing:
This isn’t standard due diligence though because to my knowledge, this is unprecedented. The most likely comparison will be Kelvin Sampson, but that case was much different in that Oklahoma was already under investigation and going to appear before the Committee on Infractions when Sampson left for Indiana.
This is the opposite: a violation at the second school causes an investigation at the previous institution. Now knowing what to look for, it makes it much easier for investigators to see if the violations stretched back to previous programs in a coach’s career.
Hopefully this a move toward building cases against the individuals involved rather than the school.
It seems like John Calipari's great escape after a second Final Four appearance was vacated under his watch is the equivalent of Houston Nutt's 37-member Ole Miss class of a year ago: the straw that breaks the shame-camel's back and forces a re-evaluation of priorities. The NCAA is now trying harder to pin stuff on people, not just universities. And Rodriguez is the first guy subject to an "unprecedented" background check. Of course he is.
FWIW, The Bylaw Blog seems skeptical anything can come of this since Rodriguez, unlike Sampson, has been clean to date and there was no hint of any issues when he was hired at Michigan. In the seemingly unlikely scenario where this amounts to something serious, the end result would be a sanction against Rodriguez that could force Michigan to dump him but nothing else that impacts the school.
Here is a picture of a ninja assassin fairy:
I think it's about equally likely that Rodriguez is done in by one of these as this look at West Virginia's books. I'm going to resume panicking about the spur and bandit positions, because I like my panic to be sensibly directed.
Next year Manny Harris will either be a senior or in the NBA, and we all kind of hope it's the NBA because that will mean he played at a high level and blew up the idea that John Beilein can't develop players for a career at the highest level. Michigan will then have zero Manny Harrises on the roster unless one of two high-profile wing recruits Chooses Wisely. One is local guy Trey Ziegler, the son of CMU's basketball coach, but his decision is a long way off. He'll decide in the spring.
The other is Tennessee's Casey Prather, who plans to make a decision in the next couple weeks. Prather's taken trips to Clemson, Florida, and Michigan. He also lives next door to Vandy and has been on a ton of unofficials there. Those teams represent his final four. In the past week, these things have happened:
- Sam Webb said Michigan was "the team to beat" on WTKA a few days ago. This is not the same as a strong, strong, strong gut feeling but Sam is not a guy who says things like that lightly.
- Webb wrote an article for the Detroit News that briefly touches on 2011 commitment Carlton Brundidge and then goes into serious detail about Prather's recruitment. Money quote amongst a bevy of potential selections:
"(Rating Michigan's recruitment of Prather) on a scale of 1- 10, I would say a 12," said Jackson North Side coach Tony Brown. "I've seen more Michigan coaches at games. Michigan has been there through thick and thin. I can't say that every other school, in my opinion, showed. The head coach, he flew down to Fayette-Ware when we were in the district tournament. I was impressed then because Fayette-Ware is in the middle of nowhere. When I came out of the locker room, I looked up and there was Coach B. He was just displaying that proud M symbol on his sweats."
- Prather decided against a Vanderbilt official visit.
- Clemson cancelled a scheduled in-home visit and did not reschedule.
- John Beilein made his in-home.
- Prather's AAU coach posted this to twitter:
Potentially I could have two guys play in Big Ten Country but are living in SEC Land...Parity at its best, I love it!
And whats funny about that is, both guys are known for putting up good offensive numbers but Big Ten is known for grind'em out games that are won on the defensive end. Not that Hollins and Prather won't guard your butt but they're both so skilled offensively.
None of this is definitive, of course, but the tea leaves suggest that it's either Florida or Michigan. There's been some Florida chatter but look at the News article. It's packed with quotes from coaches and Prather's father. Webb's close to the situation, and the article he wrote up came from the same conversation that caused him to call Michigan the team to beat—with precious little time to beat them—on the radio. And Prather's AAU coach didn't quite say Prather was in the bag… but… yeah… quite. I'm thinking the "Beilein cannot recruit" meme will be lying in tatters soon.