Well, dammit. McGary's out the door and in the end there wasn't even a decision to make:
The Michigan sophomore who turned down a prime opportunity to enter last year's NBA draft and paid a price has decided to declare for the 2014 draft, admitting that he failed an NCAA-administered drug test in March and faced a one-year suspension from college basketball.
The drug test he failed was for pot, which seems ludicrous. Since when does the NCAA even test for pot, let alone levy year-long suspensions? Especially of a player who didn't even play? The situation here is insane. If Michigan issues the test, they get to decide the punishment. If the NCAA does, it's pretty much a death penalty for your career:
By failing a test administered by the NCAA, rather than his school, McGary was subject to the draconian Bylaw 188.8.131.52.1, which calls for a player to be "ineligible for a minimum of one calendar year." A second offense, even for just marijuana, results in permanent banishment.
"If it had been a Michigan test, I would've been suspended three games and possibly thought about coming back," McGary said. "I don't have the greatest circumstances to leave right now [due to the injury]. I feel I'm ready, but this pushed it overboard.
"I don't think the penalty fits the crime. I think one year is overdoing it a little bit."
Michigan agreed, McGary said, and appealed the decision to the NCAA in early April. It was denied, however. Neither the university nor the NCAA would comment directly on the case or the appeal.
The NCAA is the worst organization in the world (that isn't FIFA). They just changed the penalty to a half-season—still ludicrously punitive for a substance that is heading towards legalization within a decade—and would still not relent, because think of the NCAA like a marching band full of assholes. Good on McGary for just talking about it. At least one party in this situation comes off like an adult.
Michigan's situation at the five is now pretty alarming. They've got true freshman Ricky Doyle and, now out of necessity, redshirt freshman Mark Donnal. Transfer Cole Huff now has a scholarship slot, though he would not be available next year.
This is my last post of the week, and I'll be taking next week off to do anything that doesn't involve sitting in front of a laptop. I just wanted to thank everyone for reading along through football and basketball season, and tease that I've got some fun content lined up for my return. (Think dunks. Lots and lots of dunks.) Have a great week, everyone.
Offer Bonanza! (Does Not Include QB)
Michigan's thrown out offers left and right over the last week, as Brandon has covered in detail in this mgoboard thread. In fact, they're going out so fast a couple more offers didn't make that list; since Tuesday, the coaches have extended offers to four-star VA OT Matthew Burrell, three-star GA OT Zach Giella, and five-star GA WR Preston Williams (Tennessee commit).
Burrell generated a lot of buzz when he visited for the Notre Dame game last season; he showed genuine interest, though we'll see how much that's changed given how long it took for U-M to decide to offer him. Giella's three-star ranking belies his impressive offer sheet, and he's currently got LSU as his leader with Ole Miss running second ($); just getting a visit from him would be an accomplishment. Williams, the top-ranked receiver in the class, is looking around at other schools but it's unclear if he'll take a visit to Michigan, per 247's Steve Lorenz.
While the Wolverines may be on the outside looking in for those three prospects, they're looking good for two recent offer recipients at wide receiver. IL four-star Miles Boykin is being recruited at both wide receiver and tight end due to his 6'3", 212-pound frame. Michigan sees him as a Funchess-type wideout, and per Tim Sullivan that's precisely how Boykin wants to play ($):
The 6-3, 212-pounder is open to both spots, but prefers to be out on the edge making plays in space. Fortunately, that's where Michigan would like to see him line up, should he choose to become a Wolverine.
"I'd rather play receiver, but if my body grows I can't really do anything about that so I'm open to playing tight end, too," Boykin said. "[Coach Mallory] said because of how difficult I am to cover, that's why they're offering me as a wide receiver, not a tight end."
Boykin visited Ann Arbor for the spring game-ish thing and told Tim he'd like to see Michigan again before a potential preseason decision. All of the major Midwest schools, among several others, are in on Boykin; Michigan looks to be among his top schools, and that return visit will obviously be key if he sticks to his current timeline.
Meanwhile, three-star FL WR Auden Tate told Scout's Amy Campbell that Michigan was his childhood favorite, and it's a "dream come true" to hold an offer from them—as you'd expect, this has the Wolverines in a very good spot ($):
Now that Michigan has offered, Tate says it’s easily his number one school. “They’re the top, I’m going to try to visit them soon,” he said.
Tate added an offer from his favorite’s rival, Ohio State, earlier this month. While he wasn’t as ecstatic about it as he was the Michigan offer, he was still very happy to add an offer from such a historic program.
Tate's offer sheet suggests he should eventually climb in the composite rankings, and he told Campbell he plans to make a decision "sometime after summer" once he's had the chance to visit his top schools, which also include the likes of Clemson, Miami, and South Carolina. While Michigan will have to sweat out those visits, they'll also get one of their own, and for now they're in a great position to land him.
One reported offer that's been refuted by multiple reporters, including Sam Webb($), is 2015 four-star dual-threat QB Deondre Francois. While Michigan watched him throw this week, no new QB offers have gone out recently, according to Webb.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Grant Newsome, Darian Roseboro, where Michigan stands for several top 2015 targets, and more.]
Familiar music. Michigan replay promo, 1983.
Via Wolverine Historian, of course. Also: the 1983 Washington State game.
JMFJ. Jack Johnson is a fascinating NHL player, because stats hate him. There's a thing called Corsi that is basically a shot attempt ratio* while you're on the ice that the hockey advanced stats guys like because it takes the randomness of goaltending out of the equation. Jack Johnson has been anomalously poor in this department. He's bad at Corsi. Very, very bad. It's to the point that a Google search for "Jack Johnson corsi" results in various bloggers calling him the worst player in the NHL:
Despite this, Johnson has been a heavy-minutes workhorse for the Blue Jackets since his arrival, leading the team in ice time for two and a half years now. The Jackets made the playoffs with a +15 goal differential with Johnson as their undisputed #1 D, thus spurring the flurry of articles that caused me to muse on Jack Johnson and Corsi. Por ejemplo:
"Jack has been very good down the stretch and these first three games," Richards said. "He plays like a man on the ice. He can log the big minutes. He played close to 40 minutes in the OT game in Game 2. And they're big, tough minutes. It's the opposition. He's playing against Crosby or Malkin most of the night. Penalty kill, he's one of the first guys over the boards and he plays power play."
ESPN also praises him:
"I would just say [he's a] machine. He's a different bird, man. On and off the ice, he's just a thoroughbred and he's always in the gym," Columbus forward Cam Atkinson told ESPN.com Tuesday. "You can tell he's elevated his game tremendously in this playoff series and he's been one of our best players, if not our best player. It's great to see and hopefully he can keep playing the way he's been playing."
This has no doubt set Corsi-fiends on edge, which is a lot like David Berri holding up whatever metric he's regressed into his butt and declaring subject matter experts to be idiots. You'd think something as rough as relative shot attempts would bring with it the humility to look at why a player with a bad Corsi might still be good at hockey.
#CBJ with Jack Johnson on ice Corsi: -11 (2-13) with Johnson off ice Corsi: +7 (20-13) But, he does have a goal.
— Scott Cullen (@tsnscottcullen) April 22, 2014
*[It's shots on goal + missed shots + blocked shots for and against, expressed as a percentage. So a 50% Corsi means you're even and a 45% is pretty terrible.]
They may know what they're doing. Kam Chatman sees a significant ratings bump from another service, as Rivals flings him up the board to #25, one spot away from five-star status. Measuring in at 6'8" at that camo Jordan thing is kind of a big deal to these gents. All around him are coulda-beens, though: #22 James Blackmon, #26 Keita Bates-Diop, #29 Devin Booker.
On the other hand, DJ Wilson cracks the top 100 at #86 and grabs a fourth star, which isn't bad for a guy who seemed like the consolation prize's consolation prize when he committed over offers from Columbia and Gonzaga. They may know what they're doing, these guys.
Also they may acquire this other guy. It seems like Michigan's interest in Nevada transfer Cole Huff is genuine:
Huff met with Michigan assistant coach LaVall Jordan on Tuesday in Reno, Nev., and is now waiting for some scholarship dominoes to fall.
"The meeting was good," Huff told MLive. "It was nice of him to come out here and we had a good conversation. He talked about the opportunities they can offer, but really, when it comes to Michigan, you don't need a coach to talk to you too much because of all that tradition. It was just an added bonus to have coach Jordan come out here and give me the specifics."
Those specifics are: Michigan is waiting on Aubrey Dawkins, who has an offer and is following through on a promised visit to Dayton this weekend. If Dawkins takes the Michigan offer, they are out of room unless Mitch McGary declares for the draft. Yes, even though Austin Hatch etc., etc.
If Michigan does have room it doesn't sound like the "I want to play small forward" thing is going to be much of a barrier:
"It was more about how I was being used (in the system)," Huff said of his decision to transfer. "Nevada did a great job using me as a pick-and-pop player and putting me down low with my back to the basket, but that's not all of who I am. I think I can be used for more than that.”
Huff won't have to worry about playing with his back to the basket in Ann Arbor. Posting up is a foreign concept in a Beilein offense. Michigan has a couple of connections with Huff, one a team manager, the other his AAU coach, and it sounds like there is strong mutual interest. Huff would have to sit out next year and then would have two to play; as a 6'8" guy who hit 40% from three he is filed under DO WANT.
Huff won't have to wait long, as McGary will be in or out of the draft by the end of Sunday and it sounds like Dawkins is not going to extend the process much longer than it takes to visit Dayton. Via Sam Webb($):
"I knew I wasn’t going to commit on the visit. I already have a visit to Dayton (set up), so I knew that was going to happen too. I knew I wasn’t going to commit on the visit. I wanted to come back and talk to (my parents) and see what they thought and things like that.”
The rest of that article makes it sound like he wants to jump on the Michigan offer but has to fulfill a promise made to Dayton; that's just my speculation.
Schofield will be a middle-round selection. [Fuller]
Draft status (DON'T PANIC, NFL). Mel Kiper is bullish on Taylor Lewan, saying he could go as high as #2 overall and projecting him sixth to the Falcons. A couple of other grads are in line to get picked as well:
"Gallon ran better than I thought he would (at the combine), he made a lot of clutch catches, does a lot after the catch as a slot guy, to me he's worth a fifth round-type pick," Kiper said. "Schofield was a little underrated. He was solid pretty much all year at tackle, he could be a third- or fourth-round pick."
I'm happy that Schofield is going to get picked as he had a solid year that may have gotten overlooked what with the chaos around him. It's nice when the UFR process seems accurate about a player who doesn't have stats.
I'm less happy that Michigan had two NFL-worthy tackles last year and still looked like that, and is now trying to not look like that without them.
Ticket details. Take it FWIW, but an MGoUser asked the department how sales were going and got a number in response:
After I renewed my season tickets this year I contacted the Athletic Development Office and specifically asked what the renewal rates were compared to last year. Whether or not you view it as half full or half empty, the 8% difference from a year ago is down about 8,792 seats. Then there was the student renewal discussion which amounted to about another 1,200 - 1,500 seat renewal drop off. I know some of these will be picked up by new buyers but, I doubt they all go to new buyers. I think we will see the return of the ticket packs. Losing roughly 10,000 fans at the Big House is going to be very noticeable unless the AD gets creative. Having said that, I still think we see a sellout for most every game. I am hoping it is not as bad as it sounds.
An eight percent drop in one year is huge. How many will come back next year when the schedule has some actual attractions on it? This realignment went as poorly as possible for 1000 S. State Street.
Union vote tomorrow. Northwestern still telling their kids that a union will get them fired and strangle their grandma.
“Understand that by voting to have a union, you would be transferring your trust from those you know — me, your coaches and the administrators here — to what you don’t know — a third party who may or may not have the team’s best interests in mind,” Fitzgerald wrote to the team in an email.
"If you have a union that is comprised of you, you may not have your best interests in mind." That's some 1984 business up in there. I mean:
Players have heard warnings that the formation of a union would make it harder for them to land jobs after graduation; that Fitzgerald might leave; that alumni donations would dry up; that Northwestern’s planned $225 million athletic center could be scrapped.
All because the players want to negotiate about medical benefits and likeness rights. Andy Staples lays out a case that even if Northwestern's current players vote a union down, it doesn't really matter:
Also, if athletes are employees, some team at a private school somewhere will eventually vote to unionize. Not all coaches are as beloved as Fitzgerald. Not all schools treat their athletes as well as Northwestern does. Because of numbers, the chances are much greater that it will be a men's basketball team instead of a football team. On a basketball team, only seven of 13 scholarship players would have to agree to form a union. A galvanizing event such as the firing of a popular coach or the hiring of an unpopular one could easily tip the scales in favor of a union.
What matters is the NLRB's decision on appeal.
Etc.: Private Joe Paterno statue planned for downtown State College. Anyone want to see Spencer Hall vomit? AAAAAAAARGH. MLB cam is fascinating, vertigo-inducing. Talking with MAAR. How MAAR got to Michigan.
There are no more opponents to watch, and the Twitterverse is a sad, scary place these days. As such, I am a man without a column. Anyone with ideas should tell me what to write about. In the meantime, I shall snark upon whatever suits my fancy. Today, that topic is Microeconomics.
So, as you may have heard, season ticket sales are really, really not going well for the University of Michigan men’s American Football teamsquad. Now, some might see this as an opportunity for a hearty I-told-you-so. Or to remind certain people that you can shear a sheep many times, but skin him only once. Or to recite The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs in a somewhat condescending manner (I do a really good goose voice). But we try to be solution-oriented here at MGoBlog, and Aesop doesn’t know crap about marketing, so instead I’d like to offer a few suggestions for improving ticket sales:
Play Someone Interesting – This may seem counterintuitive, but some fans have suggested that the quality of the opponent bears some relationship to their willingness to pay to witness them in action. Now, I question the premise here, as those Twilight movies made a metric crap-ton of money despite that actress being the theatrical equivalent of a botox injection, but nevertheless the program might want to consider a few more intriguing foes:
- Kansas Jayhawks – Kansas is a power conference team, which makes them automatically a big name, and a chance to watch Michigan beat up on a Charlie Weis team is almost always worth the price of admission. Also, reminding people about the Trey Burke things doesn’t hurt either.
- Arizona Wildcats – A matchup against a former head coach? What is there to NOT like about this? Think of all the plotlines. The game practically markets itself.
Minnesota State Screaming Eagles – Not a traditional powerhouse, but they made a surprising national championship run a few years back. It would probably produce a win, too, as the Screaming Eagles are still in a transition phase after losing head coach Hayden Fox to the Orlando Breakers in a move that didn’t make a damn bit of sense to anyone.
But Jerry Van Dyke was still awesome.
- Harlem Globetrotters – Another tradition-heavy program, and bring the WOW Factor Michigan needs in an opponent. Again, this one should produce a win, as the Globetrotters style of play lacks discipline and they are limited by a 28-man roster, only two of whom are over 225 pounds.
- Appalachian State Mountaineers – How about a rematch that reminds people of one of the lowest moments in the history of the stadium you are trying to fill? Wait, never mind. That sounds terrible. Don’t do that. And whatever you do, don’t LEAD with that.
Move Michigan Stadium closer to the fans – Dave the Brandon recently opined that he wants to improve the “driveway to driveway” experience for fans. And I know my experience would be a lot better if my driveway was closer to the stadium.
Move the fans closer to Michigan Stadium – Related to the previous point, a fan relocation/resettlement program could get people closer to the stadium, and therefore make them more willing to buy tickets. But given real estate prices in the Ann Arbor area, moving an 87-year-old football stadium in every direction simultaneously might be the more feasible and cost-effective solution.
Everyone who attends home games should receive the following:
- App State – A hand-held memory-erasing device (a la Men In Black), or, if that technology isn’t developed in the next four months, a handful of forget-me-nows and a flask of moonshine.
Miami (Ohio) – A free iTunes download of a replay of Michigan beating someone good. Presumably those can be uploaded from 8mm tape somehow.
- Utah – A Joe Pesci bobblehead
- Minnesota – Smelling salts.
- Penn State – A copy of the award-winning documentary “27 for 27”
- Indiana – Three catches for 41 yards against the Indiana secondary
- Maryland – 38 pounds of pointy scrap iron.
Name a Starting Quarterback – Okay, this one is unrelated. It would just make us all a lot happier. It’s Gardner. We all know it’s Gardner. Just say it.
Cooler Game Monikers – "Under The Lights" was cool. So was the "Big Chill." And "Under The Lights II." And "Michigan vs. Notre Dame." No one gives a crap about Michigan vs. Miami (Ohio), but who wouldn’t want to attend the Battle of Bo? Or “App State 2: The Revengening”? Or the “Footprint Classic” against Maryland?
Hashtags – Like game monikers, everyone loves hashtags. Fortunately, Jim Delany had the foresight to bring in a couple of schools who really get this whole social media internet thing. There is much genius to be gleaned from #BlackoutSparty and #ChopMichigan.
Fan Involvement – Give season ticket holders the chance to win some cool prizes. For example, have a randomly selected student be a “Player for a Day.” They would basically be an honorary member of the team, and do everything the team does on game day. They would dress with the team, run out of the tunnel, warm up, and then play sixty snaps at left guard. Or they could bring Score-O to the football field; have a couple of adults try to throw a football through a hoop from 20 yards, and then have a young kid try from like 5 yards and then the kid plays sixty snaps at left guard. Or stage an alumni golf tournament where your handicap is 100 x how much your name is Steve Hutchinson, and the winner gets to play left guard.
|Tell me you wouldn’t pay a PSL for this.|
Better use of the Jumbotron – Michigan is overlooking a huge and largely untapped asset: the two giant-ass televisions in the stadium. At this point, between plays they are mostly wasting those screens with the occasional replay and a bunch of videos of players telling me to get up get up I can’t hear you get up. They could be showing other, probably better games. They could be showing reruns of The Big Bang Theory (surely the stadium must have TBS). They could hook them up to an old school Nintendo, and then let people play huge games of Contra; if no one uses any cheat codes, all 112,000 should be able to play a turn. The possibilities are endless.
Monkey Rodeo – Obvious.
Ticket Prices – Maybe, and only if all of the above items fail, just MAYBE the Athletic Department should look at ticket prices, and whether it is a great business idea to double or triple ticket prices over the last decade, especially when the product on the field has gone to shit and the best games are shipped off to Dallas and you allowed the Big Ten to give you alternating years without either of your rivalry games at home and people can’t even bring a goddamn bottle of water into the stadium and the band has been largely replaced by BUILD ME UP BUTTERCUP and you just implemented and then rescinded a disastrous attempt at the FREEKING EASY concept that is General Admission seating and you implemented a “dynamic pricing” scheme that acts as a one-way ratchet on single game tickets and Athletic Department revenue is soaring as is the Athletic Department’s spending on the Athletic Department and you have otherwise done just about everything imaginable to milk every possible nickel out of our brand loyalty. Just a thought.
WiFi – Never mind, just get some free WiFi working in the stadium. That’ll fix it.
More fun with stats! CFBStats helpfully grabs every play off the NCAA's box scores and turns lines like "Devin Gardner pass complete to Jeremy Gallon for 14 yards" into downloadable data on receiver targeting. Here's where Gardner's passes went last year by down:
|Receiver||Target(%)||1st Dn||2nd Dn||3rd Dn|
|Total passes||395 (n/a)||142||144||105|
|Jeremy Gallon||137 (35%)||43%||28%||34%|
|Devin Funchess||92 (23%)||25%||18%||28%|
|Drew Dileo||30 (8%)||6%||5%||12%|
|Jake Butt||27 (7%)||3%||13%||4%|
|Jehu Chesson||24 (6%)||4%||8%||6%|
|Jeremy Jackson||10 (3%)||3%||3%||1%|
|Joe Reynolds||7 (2%)||2%||3%||-|
|A.J. Williams||2 (1%)||-||1%||-|
|Fitz Toussaint||20 (5%)||4%||8%||3%|
|Other backs||23 (6%)||6%||6%||6%|
There were four passes on 4th down: two that Funchess converted and two that Dileo didn't. For our purposes I'm going to count them with 3rd downs because they're functionally the same (i.e. not converting is a failure). When every preview this year says defenses will be focused on taking away Funchess, you can see why: most every other target from last year is graduated or not immediately available (Butt). The data also show whether each reception ended up in a 1st down:
|Receiver||1st/2nd Dn||Conv%||3rd/4th Dn||Conv%|
I don't know if the conversion rate for 1st and 2nd down will be that valuable except as a measure of team dink-and-dunk-iness. The numbers for conversion downs show tendency and success. Again, nothing surprising here. Gallon and Funchess remained equal targets, with Dileo the only other likely 3rd down destination.
Was it common for teams to be so focused on a few guys? Well those 3rd down targeting numbers are high. Gallon was the recipient of just over a third of Michigan's 3rd/4th down attempts; that's 7th in the nation at go-to-guyness. The rest:
|Receiver||School||Tm Att||Tgts||Conv %|
|Alex Amidon||Boston College||106||43 (41%)||42%|
|Jordan Matthews||Vanderbilt||104||39 (38%)||38%|
|Shaun Joplin||Bowling Green||114||41 (36%)||49%|
|Willie Snead||Ball State||131||47 (36%)||55%|
|Allen Robinson||Penn State||129||46 (36%)||43%|
|Ryan Grant||Tulane||133||46 (35%)||46%|
|Jeremy Gallon||Michigan||109||36 (33%)||42%|
|Ty Montgomery||Stanford||100||33 (33%)||55%|
|Titus Davis||Central Michigan||98||32 (33%)||56%|
|Quincy Enunwa||Nebraska||112||36 (32%)||33%|
Gallon was as important of a chain-mover for Michigan as A-Rob was to Penn State. What's weird is Michigan's 2nd guy was also really high on the list. Funchess (29% of 3rd/4th down targets, 39% conversion rate) also appears on the national leaderboard, at 19th, right behind Jared Abbrederis.
[After the jump: Michigan was the most obvious team in the country, finding Dileo-like objects, target types.]
I missed a lawsuit. This is how it's going for the NCAA these days: I managed to overlook a new lawsuit they're facing. Drumroll:
Former University of Minnesota football player Kendall Gregory-McGhee is suing the NCAA, SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 over capping scholarships below the actual cost of attendance listed by universities. The suit was filed in federal court in Northern California, the same location where a similar case was brought in March by former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston against the same parties.
I in fact missed the Alston lawsuit, as well. This is not the Jeffery Kessler lawsuit, but the court is deciding whether to roll all these things into one. Blood in the water, man.
The Alston and Gregory-McGhee suits are alleging that the NCAA is bad because it's capping scholarships below the full cost of attendance while Kessler wants to blow the whole thing up, so there is a case the cases will remain separate.
One thing that we'll know for sure in the near future: whether or not the NCAA has lawyer-cloning capabilities. Change is coming.
When it comes, certain people are going to become smarter overnight. One of the most common rhetorical gambits deployed in the service of the status quo is The Avalanche Of Supposedly Unanswerable Questions that will suffocate college sports once Pandora's Box is opened. They are hilarious when they come from a newspaper columnist, since the answers to most of them are "duh":
To understand just how erroneous and ill-serving Ohr’s ruling is, ask yourself some simple questions. If Kain Colter is an exploited laborer, then is a female tennis player at Stanford an exploited laborer, too? Is a lacrosse player at Virginia an exploited laborer? Is a rower at Harvard?
The NCAA is made up of 15,000 institutions and 20-odd sports. What’s the bargaining unit? Is it just football and basketball players who can unionize? Or all scholarship athletes? Can a freshman demand as much pay as a senior? Is there seniority? Can women demand equal pay — and if not, why not?
That's Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post, and those questions go on for another five paragraphs, all of them seemingly asked by a person who has been hiding in an East German bunker since 1989. Attn Ms. Jenkins: the green stuff can be exchanged for goods and services, and is acquired by participating in the economy.
It is yet another level of hilarity when the people directly involved with the enterprise throw up their hands when it is suggested that any other system is even possible. When Mark Emmert is proposing a Supposedly Unanswerable Question…
"If I can hire someone to play football for me why would I hire an 18 year old? Why not someone who plays in the CFL?" Emmert on unions
— Mike & Mike (@MikeAndMike) April 18, 2014
…you don't just ruthlessly fisk someone who has a job at a newspaper for no discernible reason. You get to scream "THIS IS YOUR JOB." It is Mark Emmert's job to figure out how the NCAA is run, or at least to organize the fractious community under him that does so. He more than anyone else is in a position to say, "you know, certain aspects of the college sports experience are required to maintain its popularity and certain other aspects are not." Instead he sits and… well, "plays" dumb is the idiom that usually goes here. Recent statements suggest it is no act. Plays dumber, I guess.
Emmert is far from alone in this department. Poke an athletic director and he'll give you a question equal parts enraging and hilarious. Here's SMU's Guy Just In Charge Of Things For No Reason:
"Are you going to fire student-athletes? Is that really what we want?" Hart said. "I think we want the same things but I'm not sure this is the correct avenue."
Athletes get fired all the time already, but of course you know that, and SMU knows that, and the main thing holding even more athletes back from getting canned is not the existence of a union—one of the problems with unions is that in certain cases it becomes almost impossible to fire anyone—but the fact that anyone other than Alabama that turns their roster over that rampantly is going to be untenably young and get recruited against extensively.
But the answers to these easily answerable questions aren't really the point. The point is the sighted men asking them, pretending to be blind. There is a recent precedent for this.
hashed out faster than you can pass out at a Lars Von Trier movie
All this is reminiscent of when BCS flacks would attempt to grapple with the idea of a playoff. They would posit themselves as orangutans trying to jam a playoff banana into a college football square and grunt/holler about how it was ENTIRELY IMPOSSIBLE. When observers pointed out that literally every other level of college football featured a playoff, the orangutans would grunt/mutter that lower levels of football didn't involve as much effort, then point and exclaim "BUT WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL?!" before dropping a smoke bomb.
When they were still present after the smoke bomb dissipated, it turned out a playoff was something that could be hashed out in 45 minutes at lunch. How many teams? Uh, four. What locations? Uh, rotating bowl sites. Done. Now what? Let's try to make our logo as titillating to 13-year-old boys as possible. Sounds good, everybody, let's all congratulate ourselves with million-dollar bonuses! And bananas, because while we're not literally orangutans, bananas are terrific!
They did this almost the instant their system spat out an LSU-Alabama rematch that the nation rejected in the television rankings. As soon as it became clear that they could make more money, all problems and issues magically evaporated. Expect the same in the weeks following a judge's gavel sometime in the next few years.
A much-needed boost to Michigan's offensive line is apparently headed to the worst possible place:
Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay is expected to sign with Ohio State, per source. Buckeyes get new center for Braxton Miller
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) April 22, 2014
Well played, Urban.
Running around in a circle is a little over the top, but only a little. That Lindsay rejected his former OC and an almost certain starting spot is alarming, and now Michigan enters next year with zero senior scholarship OL.
I suppose that it is in fact internally consistent that you would be dumb enough to say the things you are saying and also dumb enough to keep saying things. NCAA president Mark Emmert has escaped his holding pen and is making the most of it before he is tasered back into serene acceptance of fifty-dollar cucumber sandwich lunches. He's making the most of it by getting into rap battles with strawmen in front of microphones… and losing.
#AskEmmert would have descended into farce if there was anywhere to descend to, with one particularly stupid argument about CFL players getting the most attention. Most recently, as part of an interview with Dan Patrick recently Emmert claimed that if he was on a football scholarship he wouldn't want anything on top of that:
He's just the kind of guy who doesn't need that much money, you see. He's barely aware that he made 1.7 million last year. Never asked for a raise in his life. Miracle of compound interest. Still drives the same 1978 Ford Pinto to and from the office. Weaves his own suits on a loom he built himself from plastic bags and floss. Has not eaten anything but multivitamins and rice since 1884.
Also from that interview:
Emmert just said athletes shouldn't be able to capitalize on their own likenesses because of "competitive fairness." Yes. He really did.
— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) April 21, 2014
Nonsense, obviously. As Andy Staples points out, it's lawyer nonsense—to escape anti-trust laws leagues have to demonstrate that their rules keep things balanced and thus increase the overall popularity of sport X and league X. So he has to make his nonsense arguments so the NCAA's lawyers can make their nonsense arguments that a judge will hopefully fart on.
The "people in charge of things are just in charge of them for no reason" tag is getting a workout these days. Speaking of, Texas's new AD is opening his mouth again.
Meanwhile. Michael Bird provides an excellent explanation of why the whole "you're getting a FREE EDUCATION" line of argument is flimsy: when you put people who wouldn't get into a school in it and give them a 40-50 hour a week job on top of that the free education is usually just an education in how to stay eligible to play. Like philosophy, the only thing you can do after is teach people how to do the thing you just did.
You've got a nice lack of union there. Wouldn't want anything to happen to it. While CAPA won their first round matchup with the NCAA at the regional NLRB level, they've only won the right to vote on union. First they've got to vote to form one. While that seems like it would be a slam dunk since Colter and company had to have overwhelming support to even take their case to the board, Northwestern is pushing back as hard as they can with all means at their disposal:
[Former NW player Kevin] Brown said he and others recently met with coach Pat Fitzgerald for two and a half hours to address some alumni concerns, such as the treatment of former quarterback Kain Colter and threats made to current players.
The former defensive back said former players have contacted current players, saying if they vote “yes” for the union on April 25 they will lose out on employment opportunities and other benefits of the football alumni network.
CBS has obtained a document from Northwestern itself with the usual scaremongering. If you vote for a union, you might miss out on your dying grandma's last hours, it says. Seriously.
Northwestern tells a player that the current benefit of going home for a family emergency might not be available after a majority vote because "that would be subject to negotiation with the union." "The union's agenda, which is set by the union leaders, may not take into account the specific things that are important to you as an individual," Northwestern states Fitzgerald later adds, "I don't think I have EVER denied or discouraged any player from taking the time they need for important personal matters."
Seems likely. Also likely:
Northwestern tells parents change will happen faster through NCAA reform than through unionizing, which could "take several years before the issue whether our players are employees entitled to unionize finally is resolved."
You desire changes, but let us make the changes without any input from you.
One thing's clear, anyway: Northwestern is terrified about CAPA.
Next year Michigan's promotional poster will read "WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON THE SCHEDULE AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH IOWA"
Michigan: Rutgers: NIGHT: explosions: invasion: New York: money. Speaking of people just in charge of things, Michigan's game at Rutgers will be at 7 PM. Mark your calendars. Mine says "Michigan versus nonstop pursuit of dollars."
Number based awards. Beilein is the best in the country after a timeout, which probably just means Michigan has a real good offense. Boston College was next, which just goes to show that anyone making a big deal about performance after timeouts probably shouldn't. Also: Michigan unsurprisingly had the best offensive tourney.
That doesn't seem good. Another guy heads for the lifeboats at Indiana, and this one is kind of a big deal:
Assistant men's basketball coach Kenny Johnson has accepted a job offer from Louisville, leaving Indiana one coach short of a full staff. Whether Tom Crean can find another assistant capable of the same impact Johnson made in just two years in Bloomington remains to be seen.
Who is this guy you probably haven't even heard of? Well…
Kenny Johnson was the lead man at IU for Noah Vonleh, Rob Johnson, Troy Williams, Stan Robinson & played role in James Blackmon recommitting
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 22, 2014
That is a lot of guys to bring in in two years, and now he will be attempting to get those guys to Louisville.
Dagnabit. Maryland was trying to get social momentum around a #hashtag promoting their November 15th night game against MSU…
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) April 22, 2014
…but someone caught on and Maryland deleted that tweet before I could replicate the image.
Why college kickers suck. According to Chris Kluwe, they don't get coached. Literally.
In my five years of college ball, and eight years in the NFL, I did not have a single special teams coach or head coach who had the faintest idea how it is that I did my job, and that is how it is EVERYWHERE. (I was lucky that early on in high school, I found a couple coaches who did know a thing or two so I could teach myself later).
Kluwe was a punter, but chances are that ignorance extends to the other kicky-footy guys around. I assume Dan Ferrigno is also in that boat and Matt Wile is going to sink or swim based on his own ability and what I assume are witheringly expensive visits to Chris Sailer and the like.
It's kind of weird that Michigan's going with that same setup at corner. Shhh, shhh, it looked good in the spring practice-like substance, I know.
Western Civilization died yesterday. I will miss it.
Just saw someone on Facebook congratulate someone else by saying "Ur whole lifestyle is coming together as a brand. Good work bro."
— Roar of the Tigers (@RoarTigers) April 22, 2014
Do you now. Great Leader on Great Leader:
"I have a little experience with branding," Brandon said.
"In the world of branding, you build what's called brand equity. If you look at the Big Ten Conference, you've got brand equity that's been built over decades and decades. The Big Ten means something."
I love the image of Dave Brandon explaining the concept of the Big Ten meaning something other than the number of team in the conference like he is talking to a room full of five-year-olds. As he does this he's standing next to Jim Delany, and they're talking about the fact that they've just added Rutgers and Maryland.
Brandon saying "I have a little experience with branding" is like Walter White saying "I have a little experience with supporting my family."
Etc.: I do not regularly watch Craig Ferguson but I appreciate his bizzaro-world take on late night when I have occasion to. Jordan Morgan's throwing out the first pitch at tomorrow's Tiger's game. Kenpom is now trying to estimate weights, which sounds like an episode of Kenpom The Sitcom. This week: Kenpom comes up with a new zany stat!
It's been three years, time for more Izzo to the NBA rumors. Minnesota joins the Pistons amongst the ranks of NBA teams who will throw Izzo's name out but not hire him.
You probably shouldn't call Derrick Green fat. Or anything other than "sir." Jane on Jameis Winston and the total lack of investigation in re: the rape charges filed against him.
File under: I'll believe it when I see it.
Brian is out of town until tomorrow and I'm desperately trying to finish up my HTTV obligations before taking some much-needed time off, so posting will be light today.
Big Ten Recruiting, SEC-Style
After replacing Bill O'Brien with Vanderbilt's James Franklin, Penn State's become a most unlikely source of SEC-style recruiting insanity. That refers both to their ability to haul in top recruits—the Nittany Lions rank second in the 2015 247 Composite rankings—and their general approach to promoting the program. Let's check in on OL coach Herb Hand and various other members of the PSU coaching staff to see how their Easter weekend went:
— Herb Hand (@CoachHand) April 19, 2014
If you've seen something like this before, it's highly recommended that you stop mixing hallucinogens with your morning bowl of Trix. If you continue to see such images, seek immediate professional counseling.
Big Ten Recruiting, B1G-Style
Iowa assistant Eric Johnson was a member of Kirk Ferentz's original Hawkeye staff in 1999 as a grad assistant, and since 2003 he's been the program's recruiting coordinator. Until yesterday, that is, when Marc Morehouse reported that Johnson left the program to "pursue opportunties outside of football." After 15 years, that must've been one heck of an opportuni--
— Eric Johnson (@HawkeyeCoachEJ) April 19, 2014
In the most Big Ten thing to ever Big Ten in the Big Ten, a Big Ten recruiting coordinator chose opening a franchise of a Wisconsin-based fast food joint specializing in butterburgers and frozen custard over a major college football coaching job.
Thanks for keeping up appearances, Iowa.
The Wolverines hosted a few top targets over the weekend, including four-star CT TE Chris Clark, who'd been high on Michigan before committing, then subsequently decomitting, from North Carolina. He spoke highly of his time spent with Jake Butt, the coaching staff, and the M-PACT program when he recapped his visit to 247's Steve Lorenz ($). After capping off his weekend with a visit to Ohio State, Clark told 247's Bill Kurelic his recruitment could very well become a classic Michigan-OSU battle ($):
“Honestly, it’s starting to feel a little like Ohio State and Michigan,” Clark said. “Both are right there. I like both schools a lot. I don’t know if I’ll visit Auburn now. Those two schools (Ohio State and Michigan) are definitely the best schools I’ve been to so far.
“I want to get back to Ohio State and Michigan with my mom,” Clark said. “My mom has to see both schools (before I decide). I’ll probably visit both in June.”
Caveats about here, however. Clark committed to UNC in a surprise move last month, only to have that commitment last a week before he opened his recruitment back up. He seems like the type of kid who gets blown away by a lot of his visits—this isn't a knock on Clark, just a reason why his recruitment is difficult to predict.
That said, Auburn is the only other visit Clark has set right now—one he's considering canceling after seeing U-M and OSU—and he did see Notre Dame at the end of March, so there's reason to believe his current top two will stick. The tentative plans for return trips to both schools are big here. Proceed with caution, but leave room for optimism.
Four-star VA DE Clelin Ferrell also left Ann Arbor impressed enough to want to see it again, per Lorenz ($):
"I want to come back (to Michigan)," he said. "It will either be sometime this summer or for an official visit. I haven't fully decided where I want to take my official visits yet, but there's a good chance that Michigan will be one of them. I just want to take some more unofficial visits to get a better idea of the types of schools I want to consider and will go from there."
Ferrell is working on narrowing down from a list of 11 schools, so his process should take more time than Clark's.
I haven't seen a full article yet, but 247's latest Inside Michigan Recruiting post($) includes a one-word visit reaction from the top tackle seriously considering U-M, VA four-star Grant Newsome: "awesome."
Newsome spent all weekend on campus with his father, so expect to hear more on him soon. His recruitment could come down to Michigan and Penn State; in this case, fellow tackle Sterling Jenkins's heavy interest in PSU could actually help the Wolverines.
Recently anointed five-star 2016 WI OT Ben Bredeson took the trip with his mom, who was very impressed with the M-PACT academic presentation, and told Lorenz that Michigan should be in it for the long haul ($):
"Michigan has it all, and I've been able to see that now," Bredeson noted. "Their academics are great, the athletics are amazing and the people within the program are all really good people too. Michigan is definitely going to be a strong consideration for me throughout the process."
Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Wisconsin have all offered in the last couple months, and interest in Bredeson won't stop there. While it should be a battle for his services, it's a good sign that he's taken two unofficials to Michigan in a three-week span.
Two New Offers
According to multiple outlets, Michigan offered a pair of top-100 2016 receivers in the last week, Tampa (FL) Catholic's Nate Craig and Sicklerville (NJ) Timber Creek's Cameron Chambers.
Michigan is on the outside looking in for Craig, as he named Auburn his leader among a top five that didn't include the Wolverines just a couple days ago, per 247's Keith Niebuhr ($). He held his U-M offer by that point, so they're a longshot at the moment.
Chambers is more focused on Midwest schools, namely Ohio State, and it looks like Michigan could get into the running with him—he certainly looks like a more likely option than Craig.
The Wolverine's Brandon Hunter checks in with 2016 MI OL Thiyo Lukusa, who came close to committing to Michigan in February but has decided to take his time ($):
Many expected Lukusa to become Michigan's second commitment in the 2016 class, but didn't pull the trigger when he visited Ann Arbor in February. Still, Michigan is in excellent shape with the talented young lineman, though he no longer claims any school as his favorite. A commitment from him may come later on in his process, as he plans to visit more schools and participate in summer camps.
"All the schools are cool for now," Lukusa said. "I haven't seen enough from anyone to say they are my favorite yet."
Lukusa mentioned that Michigan has been the school in closest contact with him; while he may not claim a favorite, U-M is still in very good shape.
The NCAA has stopped accepting coursework from 24 "nontraditional" high schools run by a company called K12 Inc. While Eastern Christian Academy, the football-focused school with online courses that produced Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, isn't among the listed programs, it's difficult not to wonder how long it'll take before the NCAA starts taking a hard look at them, too.
Alabama, being Alabama, hauled in four blue-chip recruits last weekend. Among them was five-star NJ CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, who held a Michigan offer; happy trails to him.
Possesses excellent dunkface (via PennLive)
First reported by Sam Webb and confirmed by multiple sources, 2014 Allentown (PA) Central Catholic G Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman committed to Michigan while on his official visit this afternoon.
Abdur-Rahkman picked up heavy interest from the Wolverines as they prepared for the potential losses of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III; once those two declared for the NBA Draft, MAAR's recruitment hit the fast track. He becomes the fifth member of Michigan's 2014 class, joining Kam Chatman, Ricky Doyle, Austin Hatch, and DJ Wilson.
|3*, NR SG||NR SG||2*, 64, #101 SG||NR SG||NR SG|
As one would expect from a prospect picked up as a late-cycle contingency plan, MAAR flew under the radar of most of the recruiting services, with only ESPN even bothering give him a complete ranking—and they don't even list his weight. The other sites are in relative agreeance regarding his measurables; all list him at 180 pounds, with Rivals and 247 pegging him at 6'4" and Scout shaving off an inch.
Unsurprisingly, scouting reports on a largely overlooked prospect are hard to come by—there's not a single scouting-related article on him on Rivals, Scout, or 247. ESPN's evaluation was last updated in June 2013, so while it gives us a starting point, it doesn't include any progress MAAR made during his senior season [emphasis mine]:
He's extremely versatile with the size and length to offer minutes at any of the three perimeter positions, and is a match-up problem virtually anywhere on the court because he's capable of making plays for himself and others over top of smaller guards and has the speed, quickness, and handle to go by most bigger wings. He's equally versatile defensively where his size, length, and ability to cover the court might even be bigger weapons.
He's a dribble drive player on the offensive end, and not yet a consistent outside shooter. That flaw in his offensive repertoire is likely to be exposed much more at the next level when the game slows down and he's not able to get out in the open floor with the same frequency. Even at that, he's going to be much more effective in an up-tempo system at the next level.
He has a very intriguing combination of size, length, quickness, and smooth handle but he's going to have to continue to get more skilled on the perimeter in order for his game to translate as well to the college level.
The inconsistent jump-shooting is a concern for any guard coming in to play for John Beilein, though MAAR's drive-oriented game at the very least gives U-M a different type of player to put out there, especially if he lives up to his reputation as a defensive stopper.
The most recent, thorough analysis of Michigan's latest addition comes from UMHoops, which posted a scouting report on MAAR this week, as well as the video embedded later in this post. The whole thing is obviously worth your time; Dylan praises his transition game and passing ability, sees room for improvement in his shooting and ballhandling, and comes away with this conclusion:
Abdur-Rahkman might not be the traditional Beilein wing, but he would bring a lot of things to Michigan’s backcourt that are currently lacking. He looks like a natural fit to play the two-guard spot, but down the line he could potentially slide to the three or the one. Michigan’s inability to contain dribble penetration last season was no secret and Abdur-Rahkman might be able to shore up some of those concerns – especially down the line. He’s already physically mature (he’ll turn 20 in September) which means he could be ready to play at a college level, but also that he’s been able to bully younger players at the high school level.
That last bit means MAAR is probably closer to his ceiling than your average incoming freshman, which can be a benefit in the short-term but does add some concern for how much he'll improve over the long haul.
Sam Webb asked Abdur-Rahkman for a self-evaluation this week, and he had no issue noting the areas of his game that need improvement ($):
I’m more of a facilitator, get in the lane, drive and kick, find the big guys inside. I can play defense. I’m a good defender – perimeter. I can shoot a little bit…I need to get better. Dribbling better, but need to get better. Midrange is pretty good.
Despite his scoring acumen, note that MAAR calls himself a facilitator first and foremost.
Coach/teammate evaluations are difficult to trust entirely for obvious reasons, but do at provide insight into how a prospect handles himself in the locker room, and Abdur-Rahkman comes in for high praise in that regard:
“He is a complete player,” [Central Catholic head coach] Dennis Csencsits said. “Not only does he lead us in scoring but he leads us in assist, he is a very good rebounder so he is a really well-rounded player, very smart, very savvy basketball player.”
Although he continues to excel on the court, Abdur-Rahkman’s teammate says the “friendly and outgoing” star has been their mentor.
“Muhammad has helped me become a better leader and a better teammate,” sophomore point guard Zay Jennings said. “Just learning some basketball [techniques] that he does, overall, he is just a good teacher and a good leader.”
As you'll see, MAAR was a scoring machine in high school, but the stats, film, and quotes show that he's an unselfish player, as well.
About those stats—they're quite impressive:
Barring a major surprise, Abdur-Rahkman will be named to the Pennsylvania all-state team next week [Ed: he was], making him the first player in Lehigh Valley history to be an all-state selection four times.
He also was a unanimous choice as The Morning Call's player of the year for the second consecutive year.
The 6-foot-4 swingman was the driving force behind one of the greatest seasons in Lehigh Valley basketball annals.
With Abdur-Rahkman averaging 23.6 points, 4.1 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game, Central Catholic became the first area boys team to win its first 29 games, sweeping the Lehigh Valley Conference and District 11 3A titles en route.
The dream season ended with a 60-50 loss to eventual state champion Neumann-Goretti, but few will ever forget this Central Catholic team or the talents of Abdur-Rahkman.
He finished with 2,136 points — the most in CCHS history and the sixth most in District 11 annals.
That article contains more background on MAAR and focuses, once again, on his humble demeanor and unselfish play. This quote from Abdur-Rahkman sums it up:
"The numbers don't mean much to me," he said. "I'm just glad we won four district titles. That was our goal. We put in a lot of hard work and we just got better each year. One day it will all hit me what we've accomplished but right now, hard work is what I want to be remembered for."
Before picking up the Michigan offer on his visit, Abdur-Rahkman held offers from Bucknell, Delaware, Drexel, George Mason, Lehigh, Robert Morris, and VCU, according to ESPN.
The UMHoops scouting video is a must-watch:
Brian posted his impressions on it earlier this week:
MAAR's shot selection here would be terrible except he's in high school and the shots he's getting off are probably better than wide open looks from a number of his teammates. And he puts down a lot of his terrible, terrible shots. It's the open ones, whether it's at the free throw line or generally, that seem to need work. As UMHoops notes, one of the games here features five threes from MAAR, which is a major outlier for a guy who hit 1.9 a game.
We could see some improvement in MAAR's shooting once the onus for creating most of the team's offense no longer falls on him.
Also, a four-second assessment of his athleticism reveals that...
...yup, he's athletic.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Abdur-Rahkman needs to develop on the offensive end, but he still might see the floor next season—his physical maturity should help him there. While the worries about Michigan's depth for 2014-15 have focused on the frontcourt, Jon Horford's transfer and the NBA losses have created a ripple effect that leaves the backcourt a little thin, especially at the two. While Caris LeVert will play the vast majority of those minutes, Zak Irvin—the presumed starting three—may have to play more minutes at the four than the two, especially if Mitch McGary decides to go pro.
That leaves MAAR as the only backup guard aside from Spike Albrecht and Austin Hatch, and it's unlikely Hatch is going to be ready to play after returning to the court this past season. I doubt Beilein used a scholarship on a 20-year-old freshman at a position in need of depth without plans to utilize him immediately; even with the iffy jump shot, MAAR should carve out a niche role as a defensive specialist who can get out and lead the break. How he's utilized from there will depend largely on the development of his offensive repertoire.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has one remaining open scholarship for next season. I'd be surprised if they took another recruit in the class. It's more likely they'll look to add a transfer if the right player shows interest, and if that doesn't happen they can pocket the scholarship for 2015-16, which currently has just one open spot—though that figure could grow given the distinct possibility Mitch McGary and Caris LeVert are NBA-bound by that time.
EDIT: Or I'm totally wrong, as Sam Webb just tweeted out the latest offer news:
#Michigan has offered 2014 New Hampton (N.H.) Prep guard Aubrey Dawkins
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) April 19, 2014
This can mean a few things: the transfer front isn't looking so good, Beilein expects further attrition, or the coaches just really like Dawkins. We'll see.