Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Update 5/14: Consistent and repeated pessimism at BP re: OH TE Kevin Koger has caused me to bump him up to blue. (There is also a poster who has to be a high school classmate of IL OL/DT Garrett Goebel ranting about woo OSU in that recruitment; don't know how seriously to take it.) Also downgraded PA OL Lucas Nix to red; seems the Pitt lean is for real. Moved Christian Wilson from LB to RB; he's been offered as a FB/H-back. Linked to articles on OH OL Zebrie Sanders, IL OL Graham Pocic, KS LB Arthur Brown, AZ OL Zach Schlink, GA DT Omar Hunter. Added AR WR Joe Adams.
Much rejiggering of DTs, much of it based on one of those GBW summary articles: MI DT Mike Martin has an offer and is widely presumed to be a lock; he's upgraded to blue. NV DT Lawrence Guy now has an offer and has Michigan in his top three; green. MS DT Cameron Wagner is downgraded to gray with the new offers out. KY DT Brandon Newman goes down to red; there has been much talk of him and Notre Dame.
Linked to articles on AZ RB Covaughn Deboskie (visit coming up), NJ S Will Hill (he speaks!), another on IL OL Graham Pocic, PA WR Jonathan Baldwin (amongst other PA recruits). Also here is another combine article. Removed OH LB Mike Zordich.
Linked to Jim Stefani's early Michigan top 25.
Editorial Opinion: Dios mio, man. There is much to get to.
Combines. Various scouting combines happened over the weekend, including a NIKE camp at Penn State. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has an article of interest on the camp. Items follow.
PA WR recruit Jonathan Baldwin may be a five star, which is much higher than I thought he'd be rated:
Aliquippa tight end Jonathan Baldwin, Jeannette quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Hale, all considered five-star recruits, according to Rivals.com, did not attend. ... "This is a rare year in Western Pa.," Farrell said. "The (top players) obviously are out there, then it's completely loaded. Arguably, you have the top quarterback (Pryor) in the country. Arguably you have the top linebacker in the country in Hale and, arguably, the top tight end in the country in Baldwin. From one area, it's really rare."
(Though the article and Farrell continually refer to Baldwin as a tight end, Michigan is recruiting him at wide receiver.)
Return specialist Cameron Saddler is going to try to drag the aforementioned Hale along wherever he goes:
Gateway running back Cameron Saddler had a busy offseason, after picking up 12 offers and looking for more. The speedy Saddler, who said he and Hale are a guaranteed package deal, worked out with the wide receivers because he is being recruited as a receiver/return specialist.
Saddler, who was one of eight Gateway players to showcase their skills for college coaches from around the country, said he's not affected by the attention.
"No, no, no, pressure don't do nothing but bust pipes," Saddler said. "There's no need to stress over pressure because it isn't going to do anything. It's about how you perform when you step on the field."
Those never work out, but it can't hurt that Michigan has offers out to both and a pretty glaring need at kick returner.
Defensive tackles. Though the position doesn't seem like a huge priority going into the year, Michigan didn't pick up any last year and will probably be looking for a couple. A good bet to be one of them is instater Mike Martin, who just received an offer. Short, fast, and immensely powerful, Martin seems like a replica of Terrance Taylor, albeit one who will end up less highly ranked when things are all said and done. Also, Michigan has an offer out to Nevadan Lawrence Guy and features in his top three. GA DT Omar Hunter broke his leg, unfortunately, and may see his senior year threatened.
"The best football is played in the South, and I want to check it out,'' Pocic said. ''I've heard the mentality of the fans in the SEC is different from the Big Ten and other conferences. I want to see for myself.''
In another article he drops this quote:
"I grew up watching Notre Dame," he said. "I loved watching them on TV because they were always on and they have great tradition. But just because they are a school that I used to watch doesn't mean that I'm going to go there. That's not going to affect my decision at all."
The Michigan positives:
Pocic's former teammate, (offensive center) Dave Molk, signed with Michigan in February. "He's going there and is really excited about them," he said. "I love their o-line tradition and the Big House is one of the biggest stadiums in the Big Ten."
Color me skeptical when a player we're recruiting says Michigan Stadium is "one of" the largest stadiums in the freakin' conference. Pocic gets a Nefarious Eduardo.
Will Hill is, according to some, the top prospect in the country and he's been extremely hard for recruiting sites to get ahold of. The local newspaper managed to track him down after a meeting with Reggie Bush. (Note for NCAA violation spelunkers:
"He didn't talk to me about USC," Hill said. "He just told me to go to the place that I feel the best. He wasn't going to sell me and I respected that."
) The article gives the first indication that the internet rumors of genuine Michigan interest are legit:
"I have to see if I like the school," Hill said. "I have to talk to other players at the school."
While Florida and Michigan remain high on Hill's list, he is also fielding offers from Florida State, USC, Notre Dame, Miami and Virginia, where former teammates Mike Brown (the 2005 Hudson Reporter Male Athlete of the Year) and
Rashawn Jackson are.
"It would be great to play with those two guys again and I have a lot of relatives in Virginia," Hill said.
That's vague but likely to be all we'll get for a bit on Hill.
Deboskie! Personal interest in getting this Deboskie kid is rising given the schools in hot pursuit, his combine performances, and his kickass name. There's another copious Scout article on him that has a bunch of rehashed material. Of note to Michigan fans is an upcoming visit for him:
"I am going to Stanford for their junior day on Saturday," said Covaughn. "I am going to Michigan in June. In July my father and I are going to fly to Georgia Tech. From there we are going to visit Clemson and South Carolina. After that we are going to Florida for their Friday Night Lights camp."
So there you go. With Deboskie intending to enroll early and get his decision over by summer's end, that list plus UCLA would appear to comprise the list of serious contenders.
In-state rankings. I'm not exactly sure how much credence to lend Jim Stefani's rankings, but they do seem to correspond pretty well to those given out by the big recruiting sites so his Michigan Top 25 is an interesting first look at the instate talent. Relevant section for Michigan fans:
1 Boubacar Cissoko [commit]
2 Dan O'Neill [commit]
3 Jonas Gray
4 Fred Smith
5 Nick Perry
6 Michael Martin
7 Tyler Hoover
8 Corey Johnson
9 Charles Burrell [MSU]
10 Kenny Demens
For those scoring at home, Michigan has commits from the top two, is bizarrely holding off offering #3 but should have a good shot if it decides to send one, and is the presumed leader for the next four, all of whom have offers. Last year's instate fiasco appears to be a one-year aberration.
So I had already crossed a national border before it occurred to me that the explanatory post never got put up. So here it is: I was in Canada enjoying some R&R, cut off from the internets, and thus the posting has not occurred. I'm back in full effect tomorrow. Now if you'll excuse me, there's an internet to catch up on.
ESPN just named Michigan the most underachieving basketball program of the past ten years. Say it with me: duh. ESPN's take:
it's unfathomable that a program with the overall brand of Michigan -- one that won the national title in 1989 and made return trips to the championship game in 1992 and '93 -- could have flatlined like this. Injuries definitely hurt the program in recent years, as did player indiscretions off the court, but given that BCS schools get around 25-26 at-large bids each season (in addition to six auto bids), all Michigan (or any BCA team) needs to do is finish in the top 40-45 percent of all BCS teams to get in.
The list was compiled by averaging out the ballots of five ESPN basketball experts. Four voted Michigan #1. Jay Bilas' ballot:
1. Arizona State
2. Oregon State
3. St. John's
4. Florida State
9. Kansas State
UCLA! UCLA! A team coming off back-to-back final fours and a title game apperance a year ago! A team that went to the Sweet 16 four other times and was in the tournament eight of the last ten years! Jay Bilas thinks that this team is more underachieving than Tommy Amaker's Michigan teams! Help! Think head brokelike!
(via Braves & Birds)
Big Ten fretwork. A helpful commenter pointed out an interesting thread on the Big Ten Network taking place at USCHO. There are conflicting accounts about how well channel availability is going. One guy claims to be an insider...
Had a meeting with Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman last night.
...and says things are going swimmingly...
You'll be surprised as to how widespread the network is going to be. Their affiliate sales are going really well, and MANY cable systems are picking up the channel. With over 4 million Big Ten alumni in the country, there is an actual demand for this channel.
though they're on the down low at the moment:
And to answer your questions...
1. None have announced, MANY have agreed. (Thank Fox for pre-existing distribution channels and relationships)
2. Most likely digital for the time being, with a possibility of Big Ten markets having it on basic. (for example, digital in New York City and basic in Lafayette, Indiana)
Unfortunately, someone called up the Big Ten Network and got cold water thrown on them:
I had a long talk with a person at the BTN yesterday. She even went as far as to get some more information and call me back.
None of what I heard was very good. I can't have a dish where I live -- her answer was go to a sports bar when you want to watch something! I have over $5000 invested in my TV system and I am supposed to go to a smoky sports bar
I have been told by TW of SC that they have no interest in putting the BTN on its service.
She told me that a non league football game might be on ESPN Game Plan, but it would have to be an away game for the BT team. She said that ABC will still do splint regional broadcasts and the BT game SHOULD be on ESPN or the Duce. However the Big 12 just got an agreement with ESPN to show football on Saturday nights. Same deal for basketball as it pertains to Full court.
... She inferred to me that TW really has no interest in the BTN unless it is in the BT "footprint"
TW = Time Warner. SC = ??? Southern California? South Carolina?
The initial thought in my head is that the guy who's meeting with the network president gets told a lot of cheerful things to keep morale up that may or may not be true. Given the struggles ESPNU, CSTV, and the NFL Network have had I can't imagine a regional sports network with little in the way of compelling programming (wooo Indiana-Minnesota!) demanding 50% more than the freakin' NFL is going to get anywhere. The only question is how viciously the network plays hardball and how badly out of market fans get jacked up. Michigan is unlikely to be affected since even their games against conference dregs usually end up somewhere on the ABC sports hydra; State, on the other hand...
Public opinion, if the internet is any indication, is quickly turning against the BTN. When it was announced I had a chat with Orson about it; in said chat Orson put on his Oliver Stone hat and envisioned the Big Ten cutting off national access to Big Ten sports in favor of a regional ghetto high in the 200s no one gets or watches. I haughtily dismissed his concerns as far fetched. No one would be that stupid, right? Well, we are talking about a conference whose commissioner thought it a good idea to call SEC teams unscrupulous puppy killers in public after his two premiere teams had just been waxed unmercifully. So, yeah. The Big Ten might be that stupid. All I know is that if I am wandering into a sports bar this year to watch anything other than hockey, the conference has gotten too big for its britches and Jim Delaney should be shot into the sun.
Three three three. Beilein must have had a press conference or something, because a week after the proposed change in the three point line became public knowledge the Ann Arbor News, Free Press, Detroit News, and Daily all have articles on it. The News breaks out a useful graphic:
I've been in favor of moving the line back for a long time. See this post from last February:
A quick glance at Big Ten Wonk's statistics reveals that over a third (34.3%) of all shots launched in the Big Ten are (high-variance, probably ill-chosen) threes. By comparison, fewer than 20% of shots in the NBA are three-pointers. No doubt there are a multitude of reasons for this--lack of dudes like Lebron or Kobe who can drive with impunity, the tendency of college teams to pack the lane--but foremost among them is the three point line, which is almost close enough to make any two-point shot a bad one. Let's leave the kiddie line in high schools and obsolete the term "NBA three." Please.
So I'm happy about the change, though I'm less happy than I would be if we hadn't just hired a coach who loves to shoot the three. Beilein was tacitly against the change when asked:
"I'm an if it's not broken, don't fix it type of guy," Beilein said. "But most of my contemporaries felt this was a good move, and it wasn't a battle that I needed to win. ... We can adapt -- there is no question about it."
Many of Beilein's drills already involve shooting from a variety of distances, so the likely change may not be a major disruption. He also insisted Wednesday that the perception that his team relies primarily on the three-pointer is overblown.
"Absolutely," he said. "We've had games where we didn't shoot that many threes and we drove the ball and back-doored and scored most of our baskets inside -- far more baskets inside the arc.
"We mix it up pretty much. We try and do what the best way to win would be."
Though I am so totally in love with him, this is spin. It's clear the college three-point line was broken. When over a third of your shots are threes, something's wrong. Also, though Beilein attempts to downplay the importance of the three in his offense, Kenpom calls him a liar. (Perhaps this is not fair to Kenpom. Fine: reality calls him a liar.)
The last two years approximately half of West Virginia's field goal attempts have been threes. Michigan will be hurt more than most other teams by the change; Beilein will either have to adapt his styl
e to take fewer or live with lower percentages. I think there's evidence he's willing to do the former. In discussions of the 1-3-1 zone he's implied strongly that he's not married to any one particular style of play. As a guy who's dragged himself up through the coaching ranks he's had to be flexible and innovative; one way to do this was to attack a failing in the rules by jacking up all sorts of threes. If that's less broken he'll exploit it less.
To be fair, Beilein does have a point about the sorts of threes his team takes: many aren't exactly toes on the line. He has his kids practice from the NBA line and in the game many of the shots from the outside are from the outside, a foot or three behind the existing line. The Daily:
Beilein said he didn't think the new line would make much of a difference anyway, even when first implemented. He said many players already shoot from the new distance, and some even shoot better from farther out because they have a better follow through on those shots.
Beilein already uses the NBA 3-point line in practices to help ensure his players don't get locked into shooting from only a few spots. And he said he would gradually adjust to using the new distance, but won't worry about it until after next season.
Bottom line: expect a negative effect but I don't think it will be pronounced.
Orson's first foray into adapting lolcats to CFB was met with 1337 commenter derision...
i like how, for some reason, sports fans are always the last to pick up on internet memes.
Comment by bup bup bup â€” May 10, 2007 @ 8:35 am
...but we soldier on anyway. And, like, there were some seriously exploitable pictures from the last year once the idea was placed in the head. So, yeah. Here goes.
No like seriously, do not want.
You can build your own lolwhatever here. Painful Troy Smith captioned pictures in 3... 2... 1...
I have no indication that there's mutual interest here, but LSU recruit DJ Wright has just been released from his LOI:
Wright, a 6-foot-7 perimeter player from Sault St. Marie in Ontario, Canada, reconsidered his choice when LSU assistant coach Nikita Johnson left LSU for the associate head coaching job at Louisiana Tech. Johnson developed a close relationship with Wright while recruiting him. ...
Wright, who was part of a six-player LSU class rated No. 4 in the nation by Hoopscoop Online, averaged 29 points and 12 rebounds last season at Toronto Academy Prep School. He would have brought outside scoring potential to LSU, which lacked in that area last season.
He seems an excellent fit for Beilein's system, since he is long at 6'7" (a good fit for his hands-up zones) and a killer 3-point shooter. Improbable excerpt from a Rivals article($) when he committed:
Wright who is of Jamaican and native American descent averaged close to 23 points per game last season along with 12.5 rebounds, four blocked shots and four steals per game. His shooting percentage from three-point range was an outstanding 65-percent. [!!!!!! -ed]
"He is a small forward and combo forward. He can play the three, play some spot minutes at the four, because he is only 6-7, 225," Russell said. "He is one the best mid-range jump-shooters in the country but he can also really shoot the three."
65 percent from 3? What? Must be the exchange rate or a really small sample size. Rivals rated him the #137 player in the '07 class, so he's no star, and the whole Canada thing conjures forth images of the unproductive Jevohn Shepherd, but he's local and the sort of player Beilein fills his teams with. Might be worth keeping an eye on.
So, yeah, should probably address this bad publicity from Jim Harbaugh:
"Michigan is a good school and I got a good education there, but the athletic department has ways to get borderline guys in and, when they're in, they steer them to courses in sports communications. They're adulated when they're playing, but when they get out, the people who adulated them won't hire them."
As you might expect, this has sent the sort of Notre Dame fans who are always looking to dump on Michigan into a veritable tizzy. Also in a tizzy: various insulted Michigan fans who declare that this forever bars Harbaugh from the sainted halls of Fort Schembechler. He's sold us out! Tizzy tizzy tizzy! (This is probably an overreaction to the reaction, but "tizzy" is a fun word.)
There are many vectors of personal opinion here that don't lend themselves well to one flowing column thing, so let's do some section headers:
Harbaugh basically speaks the truth. Michigan does get anyone who meets NCAA minimums admitted and has a tendency to funnel them into easy classes and majors. (His assertion they can't get jobs after they graduate is unsupportable, though.) I don't have a problem with this. It seems odd to expect people who are in the top percentile in one field to also be competent in another. Hey, concert-level violinist! Do this calculus! This goes double and triple when the persons in question are usually black and, more to the point, poor and thus blessed with largely dysfunctional school systems. Most of these kids have already been hard done by educationally and now they are expected to join a major university, swing a full-time job on the side, and be students that require no shepherding? While we're having a fantasy, I would like Scarlett Johannson to ride in on a unicorn wearing nothing but lingerie made of bacon. Mmmmm. Scarlett Johannson bacon lingerie.
It's not the fault of the university that by in large the average football player is not a very good student. All they can do is help their players along as best they can. There's an enormous gray area here; the APR numbers and the anecdotal things I hear lead me to believe that Michigan is doing its best in an imperfect world. And I'm fine with that. Michigan doesn't have to be the last beacon of integrity in a world gone mad (they let kids move out of the dorms!) because I didn't go to a cult masquerading as a university.
Harbaugh is still the same guy who guaranteed victory over Ohio State. Maybe if this was an isolated outburst it would feel more insulting, but not two months ago Harbaugh got in a media slapfight with Pete Carroll when Harbaugh asserted Carroll would be in the NFL next year. When Carroll fired back, Harbaugh didn't back down. This marks the second controversial thing he's said in the past few months, and given his history we can expect more uncensored, potentially unconsidered comments from him in the future.
Whether this is a positive or negative is a matter of personal taste. Bay-Area media are probably high-fiving each other. Stanford's program is happy whenever anyone is reminded of their existence. And certain Michigan fans would treasure the "swagger" the rootin'-est, tootin'-est coach on either side of the Pecos River would bring. Personally, I prefer a coach more inclined to Spurrier-esque zingers than incendiary comments but either is preferable to Carr's style of mostly boredom.
This affects Harbaugh's chances for the job in no way. The presumption Carr is retiring after the season is universal and Harbaugh just can't be a candidate after one year at Stanford. Anything multiplied by zero is zero.
He's #1? Jake Long is the #1 overall prospect for the '08 draft at NFL Draft Countdown.
Meanwhile, ESPN's initial list($) has Jake Long the #4 overall prospect and Chad Henne #9. Mike Hart is the #3 RB, Adam Kraus the #4 OG, and Jamar Adams the #3 safety. (Only seniors are listed.) Next year is going to be a weird one for the team: they should have a tremendous amount of experience but over half of the nine scholarship seniors they lose are rated amongst the best at their position in college.
The Houston Chronicle also has a list out, one that features Mike Hart as a first round pick. This is something I've seen a few different places, but as much as I love Mike Hart (lots), I don't think there's any way he goes higher than the second or third round. Dude just isn't fast enough.
Help possibly not coming? Given incoming goalie recruit Bryan Hogan's weak year in the USHL I don't know if anyone is looking at him as a surefire Sauer replacement, but Chris Heisenberg notes that, weirdly, he went relatively early in the OHL draft:
One other point of interest is Erie's selection of Lincoln USHL goalie Bryan Hogan in the fifth round. What makes it interesting is that he is an '88 in a '90 and '91 draft. Those picks mean the team has a special reason for taking the unique pick. Last year Matt Martello was a similar pick, and while he stuck out his commitment to LSSU, there was smoke, and later he ended up in Kitchener.
That is early to take a flyer on a player you can only have for a year or two, especially when he wasn't exactly tearing up the OHL. But would it make any sense for a marginal NHL prospect like Hogan to pass up the opportunity to start at Michigan for a brief (one year, I believe, since 20 is the age limit) OHL term followed by... um... what exactly do they do with old OHL players? Is there a furnace somewhere?
Yerk. I am not sure if this news is newsy enough to mention given the hideous pun in the headline, but former Penn State head coach Jerry Dunn has accepted an offer to be Beilein's lead assistant. Dunn held the position under Beilein at West Virginia. Mark Synder at the Free Press chooses to report this like so: "Beilein's staff nearly 'Dunn'." Aaaaargh, my brain.
This completes Beilein's staff. Mike Jackson was rehired shortly after Beilein took the job; WVU director of basketball operations John Mahoney moves over to fill the third spot.
Nate Fenno has an interview with Beilein.
Nein nacht. The Free Press also notes that Michigan is increasingly left out of night game mania. They've never played one at home and with a road schedule featuring NW, Illinois, and Michigan State there are few appealing options for road games. (Michigan's contest in November against Wisconsin looks like an appealing option, but let's review: Wisconsin. November. No thank you.) This causes grumbles from TV execs and may hamper Michigan's PR efforts. So... why not have a night game every once in a while? I understand the desire to maintain Michigan's midday tradition, but when night has fallen on Michigan Stadium in recent years the results have been spectacular: Michigan's 27-24 win over Penn State in their first OT game ever, the epic Braylonfest against Michigan State, and Mario Manningham's literally last second touchdown that provided the only bright spot during the Year of Infinite Pain. All of these events have been enhanced by the unusual spectacle of the lights and the dusk.
So, a proposal: play Penn State and only Penn State at night when they visit. TV executives are happier. The Penn State game acquires a bit of extra shine. And I think fans would enjoy the occasional change of pace. Yesno?
Etc.: Eric Lacy provides more on Trapani; sounds like the visit went well. (Someone tell him not to cut and paste articles from Word if he wants to get rid of the weird characters.) WCH on the CHL versus NCAA (yes, it's that time of year again).
Update 5/7: Linked to Scout header indicating IL OL Graham Pocic has an offer. (This means the gray icon has been replaced with a yellow.) Linked to AJC article on GA DT Omar Hunter, blog post on AZ RB Covaughn Deboskie. Noted assertion on BP that OH RB Darius Ashley has officially snagged a Michigan offer (FWIW. Seems solid to me). Added PA RB Cameron Saddler, TX LB Joseph Ibiloye, NV DT Lawrence Guy, AZ CB Marc Anthony. Removed MD OL Lane Clelland(ND). Linked to articles on MD RB Josh Haden, PA TE Hubie Graham (#2), PA WR Jonathan Baldwin.
Editorial Opinion: Not an enormous amount of news, but an interesting week when it comes to running back offers. Buckeye Planet is reporting an offer to Ohioan Darius Ashley. BP isn't a rock solid source but usually the guys reporting these things are close to the players in question so it's likely. Pennsylvanian Cameron Saddler also picked up an offer after a strong combine performance, though he probably isn't being looked at as an every-down back. (He's tiny, more of a scatback/slot/returner type. As a recruit he's reminiscent of one-time 2007 commit Marquise Maze, who eventually decommitted and went to Alabama or Tennessee or something.) Meanwhile, Jonas Gray still waits despite being an instate kid who just won an overall camp MVP at what I believe is the same combine. So... yeah. Two potential reasons:
- the staff is very confident on either McGuffie or Deboskie (as the above-linked post notes, Deboskie is shooting up the charts and is probably one of the best backs available this year)
- the staff doesn't believe that Gray is a good fit for the zone running game.
Hopefully it's the former and not the latter, as the latter seems kind of presumptuous. (Will we still be running the zone even when our personnel isn't suited to it? The expectation is for the position.... bleah!)
Further evidence that Michigan has started recruiting a certain type of back comes in the form of a reported offer to MD RB Josh Haden. He's presumed a Florida lean (his brother is a cornerback there) but has nice things to say about Michigan:
Although his brother is a Gator, Haden says he always liked Michigan growing up. "I like that they are a running school and I used to like them a lot as a kid," Haden said. "I don't really know a lot about them except for what I see on TV. I'm gonna visit them this summer."
Haden, like Ashley and Saddler (and Mike Hart), is a 5'7"-5'9" lightning bolt of a guy. McGuffie is slightly larger but much the same sort of back. Deboskie is the only offeree at this point who breaks 6'.
Other than that, added a bunch of guys who claim offers but I don't know much about yet, linked another article on Jonathan Baldwin that's encouraging...
Growing up, Baldwin admits that Michigan was his favorite team. "I used to watch them all the time," he said. "They have a nice program and I've been there a few times and love their facilities. Everything looks brand new."
...but not really encouraging. He does name a top four of Pitt, Michigan, ND, and USC. One tidbit of note: his current basketball offers are Marquette, Florida State, and Buffalo. I would think the lingering threat he plays basketball in college is a minor one.
Lo and behold: the academic progress rates are here. This year marks the first that the NCAA has put teeth behind the numbers, docking 11 I-A football programs a total of 41 scholarships. The most prominent offenders: Arizona (four) and Hawaii (one). The most obvious: Florida International, which will lose a whopping nine scholarships. (Never fear, single living FIU fan: your school can't find enough guys willing to fill out a football roster anyway. Docking FIU scholarships 76 through 85 is like removing the spoiler from a Dodge Shadow.) Is this good? Is this bad? Respected and esteemed internet colleagues seem to be taking a cynical tack. SMQB:
The NCAA released its third annual report on "Academic Progress Rate" Wednesday, hitting eleven mostly smaller Bowl Subdivision schools with scholarship penalties for failing to meet no doubt draconian, bureaucratically skewed benchmarks.
Orson dubs the cruelest abbreviation the "Annual Pipsqueak Reaming" and then gets his own ream on:
This post is therefore sponsored by the burgeoning field of NCAA compliance and the American Union of NCAA Compliance Officers. Through an increasingly incoherent and flexible policy, the NCAA's done little more than subsidize the growth of an industry devoted solely to countering its own policies, and one that will likely require the services of that most pricey and ornery of professionals: the attorney. Schools unable to afford representation will gradually be razed out of sport, since the market will clip the weaker competition (HBCUs and San Jose States of the world) out of business.
In the future, the best defense in college football won't be wearing a mouth guard and eyeblack. They'll be carrying a valise and a J.D. from a top 25 law school, and their playbook will be much, much more complicated than that of its opposition for one very good reason: the other team faxed them the game plan before kickoff.
Dang! Orson also references Miami Hawk Talk, which has been all over the APR since its inception. Even though Miami of Ohio has one of the best APR records in the country, they are not pleased:
The NCAA released its third annual round of academic progress rate ("APR") reports yesterday and the upshot is simple: While 40% of college football programs missed the alleged 925 "cut-off" standard, the NCAA waved its magic wand (called the "squad size" adjustment) and opted to sanction only one BCS-conference football program. That was Arizona, if you were curious. Without getting into all the gory details of the squad size adjustment, we simply note again this spring that the explanation that a sport with an 85-man roster needs slack for "small sample size" strikes us as complete bullshit.
(MHT also claims to not have the "earnest indignation" of MGoBlog. I'm trying to figure out if that's an compliment or an insult.) This is a misinterpretation of the squad size adjustment's intent. It's designed to build in some slack for teams with smaller rosters that can be heavily affected by a single departure. In essence, the NCAA agrees that the idea an 85-man roster doesn't need said slack. As the NCAA backgrounder notes:
Elimination of the squad-size adjustment will begin with the 2007-08 APR reports for any team with an aggregate cohort of 30 or more student-athletes.
The reason it's being applied now is because the NCAA only has three years of data:
While the NCAA is working toward a rolling four-year APR for each team, the adjustment will prevent some teams from being unfairly assessed a penalty in the short term.
There would be serious complaint from most schools that they weren't given time to get up to speed with the new regulations. This is a completely reasonable step to take, isn't it? Most of the accusations being leveled at the NCAA right now are criticisms of things they haven't even done yet. If next year comes and the squad size adjustment does not evaporate or if it does and the NCAA weasels its way out of hitting Michigan State because they have an improvement plan, then give them both barrels. When the NCAA announced the APR they said it would advisory its first couple years, then in the third year they would start phasing in penalties for extremely low performers and in its forth year it would be fully enforced. They have not deviated from this yet and deserve a tiny bit of faith.
Many assert that this all comes down to money, and maybe it does. But the spectacle of college football fans and media coming down on the NCAA only punishing small schools because the big ones have the resources to dump money into making their athletes graduate is a bizarre one. The APR is forcing schools to spend millions of dollars getting its athletes in the classroom and eligible. This is a good thing. This is its purpose. Some schools don't have the money and resources to do this; they should not be playing D-IA football.
The main complaint registered by APR opponents is that it affects the small schools too much, but they are the bad guys here. They wish to acquire the prestige and notoriety of the big time schools and to do so they will 1) spend copious amounts of money better deployed on actually educating their students, 2) bring in academic nonentities that were passed over by schools who don't have to scrape the bottom of the barrel, and 3) fail those guys out with no remorse, all for the aggrandizement of the geniuses who think FAU and FIU should have football teams #6 and #7 in the state of Florida. (Historically black schools and Katrina-affected schools, commonly cited as victims, are being granted waivers and such; if they aren't then they should be, granted.) The schools at the top of the food chain are financially solvent, academically responsible relative to the bottom feeders, and have the resources to provide their athletes with academic support.
Those who can't hack it shouldn't be playing. Personally, anything the NCAA can do to nuke FIU and their ilk out of I-A is a good thing. Florida International in no way deserves a Division I football team, but because they want to blow a bunch of money to have one they do. Every game the Panthers play detracts from college football. Hell, the entire Sun Belt fits in this category. Each pitiful Buffalo or FIU or Temple in the D-IA ranks is four or five opportunities for real football teams to avoid playing each other. They're miserable on and off the field. They're a blight on the game. No one will mourn their passing or even notice that they're gone. I-A football is not a right.