Slick. You have to give Dave Brandon this: when he says he's going to "create the future," he's not kidding. The future is very, very corporate, which means that while we have to deal with retro-futuristic horror gimmicks we also get a Crisler Arena that isn't a dank cave:
That's the key artist's rendering from the just-approved $52 million renovation of Crisler: a concourse that looks… like… nice. There's a bunch of other stills you can check out at UMHoops; the overall result should be an arena on par with the rest of the Big Ten. The program is already headed that way without recruits being able to talk into the swanky new digs.
While hiring Brady Hoke seemed questionable, it was nowhere near the level of bumbling required to give Brian Ellerbe the job or let the department fall into a situation where compliance reports simply weren't being generated. Hopefully that's part of the past even if Brandon continually refers to the Michigan athletic department as "I".
BONUS: MVictors caught a very naughty old Block M in one of the renderings.
Reverse lockout. I was trying to will Darius Morris back to campus next year and therefore thought his decision to go this year wasn't a good one. In retrospect that's obviously wrong. Morris's strong pre-draft workouts have him solidly in the first round and even if that wasn't the case now was the time to strike with a lottery-scaring lockout keeping a half-dozen kids obviously in front of him in school:
Even though many felt another year at Michigan would improve his stock, Morris took the leap when players such North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes and Ohio State forward/center Jared Sullinger decided to stay in school.
That upped Morris' stock.
"That definitely played a part in my decision," Morris said.
Morris could get a lot better and not see his stock increase in a post-lockout draft featuring 1.5 years of lottery picks.
Of course, Morris could be having strong pre-draft workouts and still have the option to come back if the NCAA hadn't done away with that to make coaches feel better, or something. If Morris's strong pre-draft workouts were in fact crappy pre-draft workouts that locked him into the second round, boy would we be shaking our fists at the sky even harder now.
Also. Not that anyone who needs to be told this is amongst the people who can be reasoned with, but:
Once Morris declared, though, he experienced some backlash from fans who felt Michigan was primed to take a huge leap in 2011-12. But, he felt he was prepared for the criticism. He saw it happen with former teammate Manny Harris, who left last year after his junior season.
"It didn't get to me, I experienced it all my life," Morris said. "You do think about it, when your biggest fans instantly turn on you. It comes with the territory with the Michigan fan base."
That's probably not the best reputation for the school to acquire. I'm talking to you, 14-year-olds on twitter.
1889! Doctor Saturday was wandering along the Bentley's pages looking for anything that could conceivably be a precedent for Michigan's throwback-type uniforms when he discovered the raw sex that is Michigan 1889:
The dude in the middle claims to be a Ben Boutwell but is obviously time-travelling Devandra Barnhart. Also the guy on the bottom right is supposedly named "Horace Prettyman," which come on.
Nine games. BHGP has an excellent post on the pros and cons of the move to a nine-game conference schedule. One objection:
It still wouldn't eliminate the bodybag games. For all the lip service that's been paid to the notion that adding a ninth conference game would eliminate the games against the likes of Bumblefuck Tech that everyone hates -- no one has yet been able to offer up any clear examples of just how they would make the new system work. They want nine conference games AND seven home games (which is a non-negotiable point, according to multiple sources) AND they want to reduce the number of cupcake opponents that (most) teams play from two to one.
One man's objection to that objection via The Sporting News:
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Big Ten’s best attempt yet at following the SEC: Of 48 possible nonconference games, the Big Ten has 14 games against BCS schools — only five of which are road games (10 total road games among the 48). And we’re not done yet.
Most teams play three bodybag games right now. The Big Ten averages of just over one BCS opponent per team. Are those going to go away if a nonconference game is removed? Maybe somewhat but probably not much. Several of the games are perennials, anyone aiming for a national title is going to have to have a reasonable nonconference opponent just for the look of things, and these days the financial advantages of body-bag games and lower-tier bowls are nonexistent for teams on the bottom of the totem pole. The overall number of games worth caring about will increase. Maybe not on a 1:1 ratio, but significantly.
Machiavellian. Jim Delany sort of offhandedly mentioned he'd like to give football and basketball players—maybe even more than that—scholarships that cover the full "cost of attendance," which apparently they don't at the moment. Eyebrow Mount Doom speaks:
"Forty years ago, you had a scholarship plus $15 a month laundry money," Delany said. "Today, you have the same scholarship, but not with the $15 laundry money.
"How do we get back more toward the collegiate model and a regulatory system that is based more on student-athlete welfare than it is on a level playing field, where everything is about a cost issue and whether or not everybody can afford to do everything everybody else can do?" Delany asked.
That's estimated to be another 2-5k per year per scholarship, which you can ballpark around 300k. That's chump change for big schools and a big problem for smaller ones. The usual hue and cry about a "level playing field" has been anticipated and argued with even though no one takes it seriously. (Right? I mean, find me a recruit who picked Conference USA over the SEC or the MAC over the Big Ten*.) This would no more upset the balance of power than having teams that pack 100k fans into a stadium play South Alabama.
Meanwhile, at big schools that's money that's going to coaches right now instead of guys putting their future health at risk (at least to some extent). They should totally do it, not because it's good for power conferences—it's exactly the same for power conferences—but because it's Justice(!).
*[Yes, I know some guys ended up at UCF or something. When the percentage of guys who end up at smaller conferences with legit options at a BCS conferences creeps over 1% then you can badger me. Imaginary pedant is so into pedantry.]
This is fun when it's not happening to you. Yes, it is.
Etc.: Mets Maize asks "is that my boner or yours?" about Brady Hoke's recruiting spree. Zach Hyman says he wants to stay four years, which everyone says. He was headed to Princeton, though, so maybe take that a bit more seriously than you would otherwise.