I did not make this headline up
I am left uncertain how to react. I would call for Matt's jersey to be retired, only we don't assign numbered uniforms in the blogosphere. I would put my meager talents as a songwriter to use in penning a Don McLeanesque paean, but, although the site is coming to an end, Buddy Holly will continue to cut albums, as it were, so such a dirge would be excessive.
SMQ himself erroneously headlines the departure announcement "SMQ Sells Out," probably because he and I and most of the leading vanguard of getting-towards-30 college football bloggers came of age in the Nirvana era, when "selling out" went from changing who you were for money to being paid, period. SMQ is not selling out by the former definition; we should welcome the latter.
I've got a pretty good idea where he's headed, a month or so ago I got pinged by an old associate in search of recommendations for a national, full-time college football blogger and feverishly recommended him. I assume that everyone else contacted responded in a similar fashion, and further assume he got the gig. I won't spoil the surprise, but rest assured that SMQ is going to a place where he will be compensated for his words and -- this is important -- be forced to post many more of them. He will not be turned into a drone that asks coaches how they feel about OSU's national title losses. This is a win-win.
Proposal. Tim Tebow went to Thailand, stole a baby, and did a Heisman pose in front of cameras, but he was evidently beat to it by this guy:
Seeing a civilian do this gave me an idea: all college football blogs that deign to have the sort of "about" page that contains a picture should find a baby and stiffarm the hell out of someone imaginary. Crocs optional. I am working on baby acquisition. Temporary baby acquisition.
We're hunting witches. Here's the Outside the Lines piece on Penn State's outburst of bad behavior in recent years:
Except for the "To Catch A Predator" tone of the voiceover, that seemed pretty fair: mention of the high graduation rates and acknowledgement of how many charges actually resulted in convictions, something that the list flying around the internet failed to do. (They should have ommitted Austin Scott's rape charges, as those never even made trial.)
The numbers are still high, though, and Paterno's combative, dismissive interactions with ESPN Chris Hansen were embarrassing. More embarassing: the interviews with the guys who live in the apartment where Anthony Scirrotto's posse rode rougshod over random engineering students, and the general reaction of the university ("clean up the stadium!") and local police force ("one guy gets a misdemeanor assault beef!") to what sounds like a situation that warranted far more.
Depth chartin'. I haven't seen this anywhere else, but Varsity Blue claims to have a copy of the first official depth chart. Interesting items[update: commenters point out this is just the same thing that was release immediately after spring. Oh well]:
- Starting SLB is listed as Austin Panter. SLB is Mouton or Evans, MLB Ezeh or Thompson.
- Strong safety is Harrison or Stewart.
- OL from left to right: Ortmann, McAvoy, Moosman, Zirbel, Schilling.
- Hemingway the other starter at outside receiver; Clemons listed as the starter in the slot (no freshmen yet: Jim Potempa is his backup.)
More detail over at VB.
Bill Martin (Ann Arbor, MI) steered his Great Lakes 70 Stripes to three first place finishes in three races in IRC Class 1 on Sunday to grab first place in the Rolex US-IRC National Championship. Martin wins the second annual championship trophy and much more, a specially engraved Rolex Steel and Platinum Yacht-Master timepiece.
'I've finally won a national championship,' Martin said when told of his win. 'My wife has a national championship in the Cal 25 Class seven years ago. We're finally even.'
Martin attributed his three bullets on the last day to excellent crew work and to Bruce Nelson, his tactician for the regatta. 'We had impeccable crew work throughout the regatta and especially in the three final races. Every sail selection was perfect. We hit every lay line perfectly. Bruce and the crew were spot on for the series.'
At least it was all worth it in the end, I guess: one Rolex and one Rich Rodriguez later, everyone's happy. Except West Virginia, obviously.
Okay, I did get two questions answered. One: I asked Illinois center Ryan McDonald about J Leman's American flag tie. Had he seen the picture? Yes. Does he just wear that thing? "Every time I see him with a tie it's in an American flag tie." But he apparently didn't wear it to the wedding. "If you're in a tux, you can't pull that off."
J Leman picture goes here.
The other: I did get my question about the number of tight ends on the roster off. Rodriguez responded "well, now that's not entirely true, we threw to Owen Schmitt quite a bit and sometimes he lined up at tight end," at which point I gave him an "aw, come on" kind of beaten-down puppy dog look and he went into a spiel about how at Michigan they have the sort of tight ends they've never had at West Virginia and how they're looking to use them. I asked further about what was the rationale for having them split into the slot when traditionally slot receivers in the spread are 5'8" electron guys.
Rodriguez: "You want to look for mismatches part of what we're experimenting with that with the tight ends. If they can prove to be a mismatch on the field we'll use them; if they can't, they won't."
This was not as revelatory as I hoped, but it wasn't about how he feels about leadership, man.
Clarification: The stuff about Michigan hating children by ducking out of Lamarr Woodley's golf this is a miscommunication and they'll be there next year.
Observation: Curtis Painter has an unbelievable amount of product in his hair.
Theme: Rich Rodriguez would like you to know he's not married to running 70% of the time. This came up at various times as people came in and out, most artfully asking if he was stupid enough to run Steven Threet 30 times a game but all polite like. Rodriguez: "We've been pigeonholed as a club that runs. We have to have enough flexibility to go a couple different ways. You see one spread and it's not like another spread. The spread you can go a lot of different ways."
Later, he was asked about recruiting and segued in to this bit: "We don't have to have Pat White. Pat's a special guy but you can get a guy who can move a little bit and be accurate, we'll go with that." There was a followup about that and Rodriguez made an interesting point: "We're practicing the same plays when Shawn King is the quarterback and Pat White, we just call them differently. In practice we don't focus on one or the other. In the game we were calling what's working."
Stonum. "Stonum is five months ahead of him because he got there five months ahead." Stonum's chances of playing are better because he enrolled early.
Zinger. Much was made about this "apostles" bit that Rodriguez has going on; at one point Rodriguez clarified the deal: "We've always had a group of leaders; we let the players pick. Sometimes it's as simple as picking pregame music. It's not like we're making major decisions. They're making suggestions."
Angelique Chengelis then got off a pretty good one: "there's only one Jesus Christ." Rodriguez, thankfully, did not claim that happiness for himself.
Thing that makes HULK SMASH: IF YOU START A QUESTION WITH "IT'S A CLICHE, BUT" DO NOT ASK THAT QUESTION.
This would be slightly interesting if I knew who Rodriguez was talking about: "He looks stronger. He's done a great job according to Mike and looks like he has as far as getting stronger across the board; he's got a terrific attitude."
Pick your favorite player. That's who he's talking about.
On recruiting: "We trust our own judgments... recruiting rankings are a little overblown but not always. Would I take a roster full of five star guys? I would, if they have the right attitude."
"I think we can go anywhere in the country. Our base areas: Michigan, surrounding states, also an emphasis in Florida. Fortunately for us we think we've got enough of a brand name to at least give us a shot. Some of it is system-oriented, but a lot of it is just the player and attitude all coaches want in athletes."
Observation: no one wants to talk to Purdue LB Anthony Heygood.
Boilerplate: "The thing i like about camp is that it's all football from morning to night. In the spring guys have classes and all that and they've got responsibilities and the like. We'll certainly know our guys better at the end of August. I will know our team a whole lot better after 30 days."
Minor HULK SMASH moment: At this point the Dis-paaatch guy actually asks the us against the world question, which is always "do you think the team is adopting an "us against the world" mentality?" Rodriguez says "no."
Weird: Players vote on captains before the last regular season game.
Opinion on something that's not that interesting. Rodriguez was asked about this movement towards national officiating crews instead of conference-affiliated ones: "National officiating crews are a good idea; just want the games to be consistently called. The attempt to go national is an attempt to be more consistent." He also said he hadn't noticed much of a difference between conferences in bowl games and such.
Joke about referees: "I used to yell at them a lot when I was younger, but then I figured out they aren't going to change the call so I stopped."
Carlos Brown gon' take some snaps, probably. Carlos Brown was brought up; Rodriguez dubbed him a "wildcard" because he missed so much of spring when he sliced his finger open. This led into a good question from someone who I couldn't identify: "how many guys will touch the ball at quarterback this year." Rodriguez repeated the question with an arched eyebrow, paused, and then exclaimed "good question! I set the over-under: 20"
Then he said this: "we've got to be creative, moreso now than we might have to in the future."
My take-home: hello, Wildcat.
Also, on Feagin: he has to "make his mark in the first two weeks" and will be "given everything he can handle mentally."
How do you feel about the Big Ten perception Ohio State blah? "If you want to change that perception, you've got to win."
Oops. The past few years there were a lot of schools visiting West Virginia, but not ones that he thought he'd play. Including... uh... Ohio State.
The last bit in this quote is reassuring for me, though: "There's no patents on schemes. We never give them everything. Like we never tell people why we call this play in a certain situation. They bring us stuff here, We try to get smarter every year, learn some things from people all the time."
Theme: The other side of "salty language." Talking points from Morgan Trent and Tim Jamison when asked about how Rodriguez was different from Carr. Trent: "he's a little more intense, a little more vocal. He wants it to be chaotic environment in practice so we're ready during the game." Jamison: "He brings a lot of energy, it's great for us. He's not going to pat you on the butt. He demands greatness of you. You need to get better every day. You need to get ready to compete."
Tim Jamison: "I don't think anyone else is going to leave. I think everyone else is ready, confident, and has brought into the program. We're just working out hard, watching TV, hearing about how bad Michigan is going to be. I'm not going to brag on what we're going to do, but we're excited to go into training camp."
Stock answer. Jamison on defending the spread better this year because Michigan has a spread: "As the year went on we got better at it but we can't help but get better at it this year."
What kind of football will people see out of Michigan? American football. Ha. Jamison: "You're going to see a team that's very conditioned, very physical, anxious. We're anxious to see what we're going to do as well."
Awww, Lloyd Carr. Jamison, laughing: "The Brown Jug is the only rivalry Carr broke down from start to finish. From the beginning to the end, every year."
7/25/2008 - Dienhart 1, MGoBlog 0 - Pwned
So I'm sitting in the "media workroom" here at Big Ten Media days after the two hour-period this morning when all the coaches and players sit at different tables and answer questions posted by print and radio media. Some guy in his late twenties with close-cropped hair sat at the next table, prompting the bearded old hand next to me to ask: "totally overwhelmed yet?"
"Not really," he responded.
"Just so much information" was the reply, and then the old hand lapsed into thoughtful silence.
These are the fruits of my labors, the sum total of information I have to bring to you based on my penetrating questions that I envisioned would stun the people I questioned into mute appreciation of my knowledge before offering clear, concise descriptions of exactly what I wanted to know:
"I'm not going to tell you."
"I'm not going to answer that question."
"We strive for balance."
Other people did manage to get off queries that were answered interestingly, but very few. For a prolonged period, I sat at the table Rich Rodriguez was condemned to and tried to get one of the above-mentioned Penetrating Questions in but was constantly cut off by two adversaries I began referring to in my head (and notes) as Enormous Forehead Guy and Smarmy Young Journo, who would leap in at the perfect moment with a question of incredible uselessness like "who do you think has more pressure on them, the players or the coaches?" and then nod sagely as Rodriguez spun out his answer. In this case: "it's equal" was followed by few meandering sentences that served to completely rebuke the very idea of the question in the politest way possible.
This did not occur to the adversaries. I am communing with football, Enormous Forehead appeared to think. This is great stuff. SYJ looked on very seriously indeed, as if Rodriguez's answer to this purposeless question was a papal edict on an ethical matter of exceeding complexity. The force at which my eyes rolled back into my head threatened whiplash; fortunately everyone was fixated on Rodriguez and my lack of professionalism went unremarked upon. (And what better way to get away with it than post it on your blog? Mooohahaha!)
It was at this point my tolerance snapped. I'd like to say I stood and gave a thunderous edict that completely changed journalism forever. I didn't. Instead I typed this into my notes:
"who has more pressure, the players or the coaches?" I WANT TO DIE. I AM SITTING TWO FEET FROM RICH RODRIGUEZ AND CAN'T GET A QUESTION IN AND MORONS OF MORONLAND ARE MORONING MY TIME AWAY FUUUUUUCK
I was stressed! I felt much better, though.
It was at this point that Tom Dienhart, who I've considered a dolt ever since he penned a really awful column that chastized an imaginary avatar of Michigan fandom he dubbed "Boy Blue" or "Blue Boy" or something like that, [turns out it was "Big Blue Boy" -- even worse -ed] asked a simple question about how Scott Shafer came to the attention of Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez said "hey, Tom," shook Deinhart's hand, commented negatively upon his Spartan green Rivals.com polo, and spoke. Thus spake the pope (the following is a paraphrase, not a quote):
I first looked into Scott when he was at I was at West Virginia and we were playing Maryland; Shafer was at Northern Illinois when they beat Maryland and Alabama, which is a big accomplishment when you're Northern Illinois. It wasn't necessarily just the schemes but how hard and aggressive they played. Then I saw what he did at Stanford, beating USC. He's a good fit for what we want to do.
This is pretty interesting, and it led into an entertaining anecdote about Shafer talking to his wife Missy, who asked "you aren't going to be changing jobs again, are you?" (Shafer had, at this point, been at three schools in four years.) Shafer downplayed the idea, headed off to a coaching convention, and immediately got a phone call from Rich Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, I'm just sitting around fuming. My notes before the paraphrase above: "Scott Shafer. Dienhart just asks my question." I have been owned.
Why am I here? Have I gotten anything useful out of this at all, or would my time have been better spent in the Batcave (read: mother's basement) pounding out a preview of Minnesota or something? I have absolutely no better handle on how Michigan will do this year. I don't even have the barest smidge of news to bring you: the two pieces of actual news I've heard have been common knowledge on the internet for a month. I couldn't get anyone to say anything even remotely interesting. I'm pretty sure Travis Beckum thinks I have Down's Syndrome. A rousing success, this is not.
The one saving grace is going back to that Dienhart piece, though, which remains as putrescent as it was when I hammered it a couple years ago. It's really bad: shallow thinking, lame jokes, no justification for any of its premises. Theory: being a good beatwriter/interviewer-guy and being a good opinion merchant are not just unrelated skills but are somewhere near mutually exclusive. I spend my time combing the internet for any piece of novel information I can find, reviewing games and compiling stats, reasoning out things I think about football and compiling evidence to justify my beliefs.
Beatwriters try to eke out interesting responses from interview adversaries. They're believers in the holy grail of access, which necessitates thinking on an entirely different level. It's not real unless it comes from your access, so only things that people say are real. (And often they're deliberately not saying anything.) Take just about any newspaper article or radio piece or anything, really, reported in the objective style favored by the media these past 50 years:
- THING is controversial.
- "THING is great, I love thing" says person X.
- But group Y says THING has PROPERTY OR EFFECT that is negative.
- "I hate THING, think of the children" says person Z from Group Y.
- But person X of group W disagrees.
- "I disagree," says person X.
- Ain't it a funny old world?
This is just about the complete opposite of critical thinking. There is a skill in it; it is not my skill, and my skill is not theirs.
I did transcribe some stuff of debatable utility; that's coming up.
They didn't boot me. I even got a nice shiny pass and everything. I didn't get off any questions to Rich Rodriguez, because god knows he's got to answer stuff about West Virginia and Justin Boren sixty thousand times, but I did ask Joe Paterno what he thought about an early signing period, mostly because the poor guy was about to ninja-kick the next guy who prefaced a question about his potential retirement in some way that implied he would never, ever ask aboout his potential retirement.
I took notes both on Rich Rodriguez's 15 minutes and the INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING post-interview scrum afterwards.
Like this, only with dumb questions about West Virginia
ONLY SLIGHTLY STALE NEWS: Not that you expected any different, but Rodriguez confirmed that Slocum was off the team. Dispiritingly for would-be lionizers (guilty), he said that it was "academic and other reasons... he did not do the things he had to to remain on the team."
Also, someone wedged a question in about the academic status of the recruits and Rodriguez responded that everyone was good to go. I think this was already known, but confirmation can't hurt. Boubacar Cissoko was reputed to be the player at greatest risk.
Now, onto people asking about West Virginia and my increasing apoplexy.
RICH RODRIGUEZ is excited to be here. Great start. Hopes to meet some of y'all for the first time... little bit of drama for the last seven months he would like to clear up. Has great respect for players, coaches, and the league itself. He's excited to be here. He's been waiting all summer on his new "snake oil concoction" to provide him... uh. (Yeah, kinda wish he didn't say that. )
References the strength staff, getting guys into shape. Transition from a football standpoint is as seamless as he could have expected. Lot of young hungry players getting significant playing time. Pleased with the way the staff came together. Weird emphasis on "re-hired" instead of "retained"... maybe it's an anti-nepotism crusade. No one skates by on rep under Rodriguez, I guess. Thumbs up.
"Very young" on offense... lost some of the best players who've ever played offense at Michigan. One starter returning up front. Deeper on D, you know all this. Players embracing the challenges they've had. Has he said football yet? Don't think so. He just said "ball game" in a southern accent, so if he was going to he would have done it there.
Guys are buying in. End of opening statement
Columbus Dispatch asks about the drama over the seven months... was there one thing that rankled you? "After a while... it's like just stand in line." So many things that weren't true. The only one that really bothered was a question about family values -- they take the most pride in that. "There's no one who's going to have a closer, more familial bond than us."
USA Today lady asks about the lawsuit. Any regrets? He'll address it now so they don't have to address it for 13-14 years. He'd like to move on, in the past, disappointed in certain things. Still hewing to this "the truth will come out" stuff that I really wish he'd quit.
Is anyone going to ask about football? Screw this. I am. [note: I tried. I was going to ask "you have six tight ends on the roster and and offense that hasn't used the tight end in seven years. What do you do with all those guys?" but they didn't get around to me.]
USA Today references the Rosenberg article: "It's been said this embarrassing for the university and for you personally, how do you feel?" Blah. Etc. Rodriguez has already dismissed this USA Today lady has the gumption to follow up with another thrust. This is also batted aside in the same fashion anyone who's paid the slightest attention to Michigan in the last seven months can recite by heart.
Ooh, Daily Iowan asks about the S&C change. Diplomatic answer: "Any time there's a transition or a change, everyone wants to compare the difference; sometimes that's unfair. There's no one perfect way to do things. It's just a little different. Barwis is one of the best in the country, but I'm biased." "Pro players who didn't even know Mike now train with him diligently and bought in." "Our players have seen the change in their bodies."
Next question is about Pryor going elsewhere, transfer of "Ryan Mallette" and that's not a typo, that's how this guy said it. "Steve Threet has a lot of talent, Nick Sheridan did a great job, Justin Feagin... whenever you lose a recruit it's disappointing." One minute left. Not going to get a question off.
Oh MY GOD: Big Ten's bad rap on speed and athleticism question. "The perception is just that: perception. Great speed in our league." What a dillweed, last question was guaranteed to be answered with standard boilerplate.
No wait, there's one more question: Bucknuts.com asks about rivalry games and how he can turn around the Ohio State series. Is anyone going to ask anything that can possibly yield insight? Oooh zing: "I'm not the kind of coach who has a countdown to a particular game, just the next one." He immediately backs out of what looks like a Dantonio rip. "I've heard "just win the Ohio State game and we'll be happy." I don't believe that."
And one final one: what's Kevin Grady's status? Good job, GR Press guy. You get a ninja star. Suspended from the team, no longer working out with the team, still attending classes. He has to do certain things to get back on the team. There will be some playing time penalties, and he's on a strict watch.
POST INTERVIEW SCRUM TIME
Rodriguez has been surrounded and is being asked exclusively about WVU and lawsuit and snake oil and family values and Rodriguez is fending that stuff off, including highly skeptical questioning about the necessity of "salty" language from someone I can't see but is very probably a thousand years old. He does mention Slocum is off the team for academic and other reasons.
Walk-on program is building up. Everyone is qualified and through the clearinghouse. Barwis says players are really excited, gone from "how hard it is" to excited at his progress.
This bit's actually interesting: there's a handful of players they call "the apostles" who the players pick as their leaders for the class; Rodriguez meets with them regularly to communicate with them with other players. 20(!) guys, normally 10-12. Anyone can talk to Rodriguez but these guys are sort of quasi-captains and act as the voice of the player during regular meetings, the last one a BBQ at Rodriguez's house.
Thinks M outside the top 3 is "reality;" look at who we've lost." But you're waiting for it, aren't you? You know some sort of pithy statement abut how rankings are not important is coming. Rich Rodriguez is a coach. He has it in his blood. Here you go: "Last I checked where you ranked wasn't worth a first down."
Ignorant about the jersey number thing -- no #1 btw. "One thing we're not going to do is be fake." All the players who played for me 10 years or 15 years still come back. He knows most of these coaches already from "apparel contracts" and "retreats."
More image stuff. Rodriguez hauls out the "One guy left, 99 stayed" and then in the middle of another WVU question says, a little plaintively, "I just changed jobs." Then he's whisked away to do interviews for television, where he'll no doubt be asked all the same questions and die a little inside.
Meanwhile, I missed lunch.
Hopefully I'll get more interesting stuff tomorrow, when the players do table interviews. I hope to ask the Illinois guys about how awesome J Leman was.
I'm in Chicago. I'm going to go to the Big Ten Media Hootenanny and see if I get kicked out or stabbed or something. If I don't I hope to ask Joe Tiller "if there's a gentleman's agreement amongst Big Ten teams not to recruit each other's verbal commitments, how did Michigan State commit Garrett Bushong end up signing with Purdue?"
After his head explodes I'll try to get up a post in the afternoon.
For now, links and such.
Adieu. Michigan's put out the fall roster; Marques Slocum is not on it. There are no other unexpected departures.
No. I don't know the female t-shirt model's name. Or her phone number.
What? Speaking of Tiller, I ran across this article from a few days ago in a Wyoming paper on the Big Ten's most walrusy coach:
"But since I've announced my retirement, it's amazing to me how many people come up and thank me and say they're appreciative. I'm thinking, 'Where were they a year ago when the bloggers were nailing me for losing to Michigan in Ann Arbor?'"
No offense to the two burgeoning Purdue blogs Off The Tracks and Boiled Sports, but they were probably sitting around being totally unaware of the internet firestorm raging inside their computers, just like the great majority of Michigan fans assume you had heat stroke you said "great game from Tacopants today."
Is this a good deal? Alabama and Clemson are opening the season in Atlanta. Kudos to them; the trend of moving football games off campus is far less annoying than the one in which no one plays anyone. But I wonder if it's worth it:
Alabama and Clemson will reportedly earn nearly $2 million apiece for their season-opening matchup in Atlanta.
Quick calculation suggests that $4 million divided by 90k (the approximate capacity of Bryant-Denny) is about 44 bucks, and we know that on average SEC tickets go for well more than that. So why not just have a home-and-home?
Diaries. SpartanNation drops in and gives us a taste of what we have coming; it's ugly. Chrisgocomment provides some further perspective on Carr's career. And wolvrine32 lists Michigan Commandments that Rich Rodriguez is enjoined to follow.
I still believe Kirk Ferentz was someone's first choice to be Michigan's next head coach. We'll never know, but the preponderance of rumormongering from here and elsewhere is hard to deny absent any contradictory hypotheses.
From a neutral perspective, Ferentz was a weird first option. He was successful... three years ago. Because of that rapidly receding success he was paid six kazillion dollars a year. And he was way ethical if you ignore the spate of questionable characters he recruited over the past few years and the housing scam he ran with his son.
But by God, he looked like an honest man. Nice jaw. Appealing salt-and-pepper hair. Aura of calm politeness at all times. Super hot daughters and strapping lad sons. People began to question his performance, but most of the opinion directed at Iowa's extended run of Facebook terrorism was meta-criticism: "isn't it weird no one's giving Iowa heat"?
Ladies and gentlemen: heat. This Iowa stuff that's gone down? Heavy. In sum:
- Cedric Everson (remember him?) and Abe Satterfield allegedly have nonconsensual sex with another Iowa athlete.
- The university suspends and eventually boots Everson and Satterfield, but pressures the victim into handling it "in house," allows Everson to move in with his girlfriend(!) three doors down from the victim, and generally appears to have no inclination towards actually doing something until the victim files formal charges.
- Some recruit is chased by eight cops whilst naked, racking up Iowa's 634th arrest in the last three years.
The mother of the victim was so incensed she released a scathing letter originally sent to Iowa eight months after she originally sent it. This is the money quote:
"University of Iowa's character was non-existent. It is disappointing to say the very least," the alleged victim's mother said in a phone interview. "We were told the school will take care of it. We will keep it in house. We will be swift. We will be just, and you don't have to worry about it."
And this is the money quote about Kirk Ferentz, Michigan's probable first choice coach in November:
Speaking of dorm rooms, the alleged assault occurred in a "ghost room," registered to a third player but unoccupied. After the incident, according to affadavits obtained by the Press-Citizen, Ferentz ordered the player to reoccupy the room, and a different player moved into the room as well. The room was never secured, evidence was never gathered from it, and the incoming players cleaned all the mess from the alleged assault. [mess including a used condom and sheets with an "orangish-reddish" substance on them -ed]
When I read the Press-Citizen article the first time around I thought it was a case of university bureaucracy exhibiting spectacular stupidity, not malice. This is not. It certainly appears like the behavior of the athletic department -- keep it "in house" because Iowa's got a first class prison right next to the chem building, throw away the evidence contained in the ghost room, keep it vague in the media -- was mostly concerned with whether or not they could salvage the careers of two defensive backs.
Black Heart, Gold Pants has been calling for mass resignations, and I'm not quite there. But Kirk Ferentz is alleged to have instructed two football players to
destroy evidence in a rape case involving another football player occupy a room he knew was a crime scene. [Update: clarification; Ferentz probably didn't say "you go destroy that evidence"; he did tell someone to move into a room that he knew would be of police interest.] If that turns out to be true (since that information is based on affadavits given by the players who moved into the room, that's highly likely), Ferentz immediately sets up shop one level above Dave Bliss in coaching hell.
We've heard an awful lot about Rich Rodriguez's lack of character this offseason because he changed jobs, tried to reduce his buyout, and said some silly things about the truth coming out. This was despite a seven-year run without a hint of NCAA sanctions and repeated weak showings in the Fulmer Cup. Meanwhile, Iowa is imploding and it took the most serious allegations leveled at a college head coach since the Bliss incident for anyone to notice. If you hadn't listened to Kirk Ferentz and Rich Rodriguez, hadn't seen pictures of their wives, couldn't hear their accents, this would all be terribly mysterious.
But we have and it's not. The whispered accusation about Rodriguez -- he's a hillbilly -- is true. He shops at Costco and is only interested in Rudyard Kipling if he's 17 years old and benches 400 pounds. He makes goofy jokes at press conferences and occasionally says things you wish he hadn't. He does not inspire third-party confidence like Bo or even Lloyd did. He is not a titanic figure astride the globe, molding young men into little Academic All-American Adonises. He is resolutely, publicly human, full of venal sins. He is impossible to truly adore in the way college football fanbases wish to adore their proxy father figures. He punctures the "Michigan Man" myth every day. He, like Zaphod Beeblebrox, is just this guy, you know?
And, like, okay. I'm nearly 30. I have a father. I just want someone who will win football games and not utterly disgust me when the scales fall from my eyes and the preposterous lie is exposed for all to see. I prefer my heroes poor and uncertain of their future, anyway.
The rich history of Michigan stealing traditions may go even deeper than previously known. Michigan, of course, stole Cornell's hockey cheers and Princeton's winged helmets and West Virginia's coaches and, on three separate occasions, Notre Dame's dignity. And this is the first page of the 12th chapter of a 1960 book by Bear Bryant:
Insert Dave Letterman going "eeeeeh" and pulling on his collar here.
Not even I believe this. Ex-sign-gobblin' linebacker and current Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald pulls out the Playbook of Ultimate Boredom when quizzed by ESPN's Adam Rittenberg re: Rodriguez:
I see you have a magazine on your desk with Rich Rodriguez on the cover. How will his arrival at Michigan impact the league?
PF: It will be a huge change for Michigan football. I've gotten to be around Rich a couple times and I'm very impressed with him as a person. I'm very impressed with his demeanor and his humility. A coach that who's been a head coach since a young age, has been very successful in his time as a head coach. The success that he had at West Virginia is incredible. To bring that mind-set and what they do to Michigan, it's going to be a great challenge for all of us. I'm not looking forward to competing against him. He's had great success. It's just going to take him a little bit of time, like it takes everybody when you go to a new university, to get all his pieces into place. But I'm sure he's got an acceleration plan to get that ready this fall.
Emphasis mine. Product Rodriguez's humility does not appear in my list of TOP 500 RICH RODRIGUEZ ASSETS. (All assets omitted are "Mike Barwis.")
1. Approx. 15 years experience as collegiate head coach
2. Modern, ass-kicking offensive system
3. "Coal spoon" mentality
4. Tendency to hire people based on qualifications, not friendship
5. Mike Barwis
11. Brandon Graham
23. Donovan Warren
56. "Lion King" joke he tells during press conferences.
110. Access to lifetime supply of hairspray.
124. Tight buns, according to my grandmother.*
234. $2 million dollar West Virginia home he will never ever sell
298. General lack of proximity to Mike Debord
343. Still-beating heart of West Virginia cheerleader
412. Pact with devil
499. Crack team of a lawyers who say things like "OMG he's a slave"
500. Agent Mike Brown.
*(Sadly, not really.)
Wisconsin 1999. Via the prolific Wolverine Historian:
"Rivalry" of a sort. Fanblogs compiled the top 15 most lopsided series (minimum: 50 games) and Michigan is on the good side of four:
15) Michigan-Purdue, 53 games, .770
14) Michigan-Iowa, 54 games, .778
11) Michigan-Wisconsin, 61 games, .795
4) Michigan-Indiana, 59 games, .847
#1 is Oklahoma-Iowa State, which Oklahoma is winning at a 92% clip; the only other Big Ten matchup in the list is #9 Ohio State-Northwestern.
Another 3:30 start. I hate 3:30 starts. You can't see the end of the noon games or (obviously) any of the 3:30 games or the start of the later games and in general I feel like I've missed a whole day of football whenever that goes down. So, like, bleah to Stadium & Main's clever breakdown of the possibilities for the Michigan-Michigan State game that leads inevitably to this:
Maybe there's an super-small chance that if both Michigan and MSU absolutely stink, the game will be given a Noon start on BTN, ESPN, or ESPN2, but that would mean no Big Ten 3:30 game on ABC - and I don't think that's ever happened, or is even allowed to happen since it probably violates the Big Ten's contract with ABC/ESPN.
And thus the conclusion that M-MSU will be 3:30 on ABC.
I think we can swing a few grand for edumahcation. If anyone ever tells you your plan to funnel more money to kids playing college football by extending their scholarships by a year or two is "too expensive" or something like that, please do me a favor and laugh in their face:
In just the last three years, assistant coaching salaries in the Big 12 have risen by almost 37 percent.
At OSU, that figure is a Big 12-high 65 percent, and would've been even higher had former Cowboy offensive coordinator Larry Fedora - who was making $393,000 - not left to be head coach at Southern Mississippi.
Once a bottom dweller in assistant coaches' pay, OSU, at $2.13 million, is now second in the Big 12, trailing only Texas' $2.38 million payroll.
The money goes somewhere, and increasingly it goes into palatial facilities and rich coaches.
That's what she said. A guy on MGoBoard points out that walk-on defensive back Jermaine Jackson is from Alaska, and he's not someone you want to mess with in the Eskimo stick pull:
University of Michigan defensive back Jermaine Jackson, a Bartlett High School graduate, won the Eskimo stick pull in an intense battle of leverage and strength against Matthew Evans.
In the event, two athletes sit facing each other with their feet together and knees bent and try to pull a short stick away from each other. Evans had a longer reach and a weight advantage, but he needed to defeat Jackson twice in best-of-three rounds. He took the first round, but Jackson won the second.
"What I was thinking was grip, all grip," Jackson said. "I was losing my grip in the first round."
Good news for Jackson: "Hold the rope" is one of Rodriguez's mysterious catchphrases ("spot the ball" is the other).
Odd demographics. This is probably not the exact right place to mention this, but if you live around MIS there's a charity raffle going on with this sweet hog as a prize:
Updated with information and stuff!
A defensive end has signed up. His name is awesome: Dequinta Jones. It is so awesome that a google search for just his first name pops up stuff about him. (When you are a blogger prone to google-stalking these things become disproportionately important; I vaguely hope Mike Jones changes his name to "Frobozz Tamoshanter" before he commits to Michigan, if indeed he does so.)
Update: Okay, this one's pretty weird. Jones hasn't visited Michigan and the last time he touched base with a recruiting site he claimed that Alabama and Cal led with a decision pending on Signing Day. He wasn't even on the recruiting board. Then out of the blue he picks Michigan. He is from Louisiana, the national epicenter of wacky recruitments. All these things indicate a potentially shaky situation. But, like... what the hell. He's committed. On with the show.
Jones is a three-star to everyone. Tiger Rag's "Midsummer Top 40" published just a few weeks ago weirdly claims no offers and interestingly claims he'll end up inside:
27. DeQuinta Jones DT (6'2,265, 4.8) Bastrop HS - Jones is explosive off of the line of scrimmage and is a quarterback's nightmare. Jones moves along the defensive line for his high school team fulfilling different positions, but with some added weight he will likely be more of an inside guy at the next level. Jones is currently flying under the radar as he awaits his first offer, but like many other talented prospects offers should appear flowingly throughout his senior season. During the spring, Jones took in visits at LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
"Dandy Don" has him a bit higher at #19, saying he is a "little under-sized but has great speed and outstanding work habits." He appears to have fallen in the estimation of the gurus after starting out a member of the Rivals 250; clearly that's no longer the case. He's actually moved steadily down, falling from #187 in the first Rivals 250 to #218 above to entirely out and just a three-star. I know I've said this a few times already this year, but he might have some upward mobility left with his late-ish flurry of offers and Michigan commit. 50-50 he ends up a four star and back in at the tail end of the Rivals 250.
ESPN, however, is not particularly impressed, providing a 77. His evaluation is littered with words like "adequate"; in summary:
Has the ability to develop into a solid college defender that can at worst could be a good swing guy.
They, too, bring up the defensive tackle thing.
Unfortunately, that's about all on Jones: he's a DE/DT prospect that is sitting on the 3/4 borderline. Given Michigan's needs, a good pickup but not a thrilling one.
And now, a word. Earlier this year there was a mailbag in which a reader asked which of the premium sites was the better one to subscribe to. At the time I hadn't had much direct experience with Scout, but I related the general opinions of a trusted group of internet friends. I've now added some direct experience to my portfolio of Scout knowledge.
Sometime yesterday both sites came out and said "we can't confirm this yet, but we're getting indications that Dequinta Jones has committed to Michigan." Rivals got Jones on the phone and got these direct quotes from him:
"I talked to Coach (Jay) Hopson and he asked me if I was ready to be a Wolverine and I said 'Yes sir,'" Jones told Rivals.com national analyst Barton Simmons Monday afternoon. "Coach Rodriguez was in his office and heard the celebration down the hall and came out to see what it was all about and found out I committed."
Point for Rivals if you care which recruiting site posted information about a commitment nanoseconds before the other. No one who's sane should, but this is internet recruiting we're talking about here.
Scout did not take this well. They've got a story up with quotes from Jones' parents saying that Jones hasn't committed anywhere and that he was "on the farm." Okay, fine, whatever, different information. But Tom Beaver has posted this in at least three separate places:
Let's hope this didn't get messed up by the gun-jumping.
This garners responses like this:
TOS ["The other site" -ed] at their best. Way to do the due diligence Sam/Tom. That's why I come here for the real news.
To recap: Rivals has a direct quote from a kid saying he has committed to Michigan and that Jay Hopson and Rich Rodriguez know. They run a story reporting this. Tom Beaver laces his premium message board with innuendo about "gun-jumping" and lets his message board minions leap to the desired conclusion. Given the situation outlined above -- weird, no-visit Louisiana commit out of nowhere -- there's at least a small chance this commitment doesn't make it to February, at which point Beaver will tut-tut those jerks at Rivals who had the audacity to run a direct quote.
Lord knows I've had issues with a couple of the more sanctimonious Rivals writers, but Beaver routinely pulls stunts like this whenever he's beaten to a story. It's dishonest and drives me crazy. If you're looking to sign up for one site or the other, keep it in mind.
Two further news items in the ongoing coverage of Alabama's oversigning escapades:
- Destin Hood was a second round pick of the Nationals and has signed an MLB contract. This doesn't affect Alabama's numbers. They were already at the 25-player maximum (actually 27 with two early enrollees) without Hood, who was always expected to play baseball.
- Ezekial Knight has a name that always looks misspelled. He has also been shot down by Alabama's doctors after surgery to repair a heart murmur didn't totally fix the issue. Is this legit? On the one hand, Knight was a starting linebacker in 2007 and 'Bama is now critically short at the position. On the other:
"They didn't clear him to play at Alabama for some reason," said Randy Boyd, his former coach at Randolph County High. "He thinks he can play, and being young ande ambitious, he's going to try and get cleared at a smaller school."
"From what he tells me, they tell him that he can't play, but they can't give him a reason why. They just tell him he just doesn't need to play. One or two smaller schools have told him if he gets cleared by the doctors, and the physical has been passed, they are going to let him play."
Of all the medical disqualifications handed out by Alabama, Knight's is the least questionable. He was a starting linebacker who had a heart murmur and lingering complications from surgery; if he were to keel over during practice or a game after the warning signs he's received it would have been a permanent black mark on Alabama's program. Also, he would be dead.
In any normal situation, no one would even cock an eyebrow at the departure, but this is the thing: once you put yourself in the spot Alabama is in you stop trying to retain kids at all costs and start trying to eject them. I probably should have put a question mark in the "Cut" headline -- "Cut?" -- because we don't really know what happened with Tarence Farmer. I think it's incredibly doubtful that a redshirt freshman wide receiver/defensive back would transfer in mid-July instead of, say, after spring practice or not at all. But it could have been a voluntary transfer after Saban pulled him aside and said "kid, you're never going to play here and you should transfer" or been rude to him or cold to him or indifferent to him. There are ways of encouraging kids to leave your program.
The thing that's often lost here is how lucky(?) Alabama is to only have one scholarship to go. Jeremy Elder commited armed robbery for 28 bucks. Jimmy Johns delivered coke so fast you'll freak. An incredibly large number of kids came down with medicalscholarship-itis. Farmer had a mysterious mid-July transfer he doesn't want to talk about. And they're still a scholarship over.
It doesn't really matter whether Farmer was explicitly or implicitly told he should no longer be at Alabama. Schools should not be in the business of encouraging attrition from guys who aren't likely to contribute on the field, or they should just give up on the idea they're a non-profit organization in the business of promoting capital-S "student-athletes". You are operating in dubious waters when the result of Tarence Farmer's transfer is not the loss of a potentially useful player but his replacement by a higher-rated one.
I've said it before and will say it again: you should not be able to sign a player to a LOI unless you can show the NCAA where the scholarship is coming from. Extend the signing period past the end of spring practice, require a uniform "returning roster" date, and permit only enough LOIs to fill that gap. No more of these last-second medical hardships or midsummer transfers. No more pushing kids out of the boat. Punish attrition.
Update 7/21: Linked to articles on MS S Dennis Thames, FL LB Brandin Hawthorne, MD RB Tavon Austin, GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore, TX S Rex Burkhead, NJ DE Anthony LaLota, various pieces on SC DE Chris Bonds. And more fun Newsome stuff, plus rumor-mongering of a bogus variety.
Re-added SC RB David Sims.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting Board lives here.
Everybody thought IN OL Zach Martin was going to visit Michigan, then decide, but instead he committed to Notre Dame. This has been an unfortunately common occurrence over the last few years. Geniunely Sarcastic has the details; suffice it to say the scoreboard since 2006 is ND 9, Michigan 1. This overstates things since it doesn't include the likes of Dann O'Neill or Ricky Barnum, who are widely regarded to be players at least equal to the ten players fought over here, but it's a concern.
GS goes for the soothing balm of Dan Mozes, the two-star West Virginia center who became a four-year starter, All-American, and Rimington winner. I'm more circumspect. All-Americans and Rimington Award winners are picked by the media, who know f-all about offensive linemen, and when you've got a four year starter on a team that runs for 300 yards a game he's going to get fawned over whether he deserves it or not. See: Matt Lentz, All Big Ten 2005. Mozes went undrafted by the NFL and was cut in training camp by the Vikings. In all probability he was massively overhyped.
What does suit as balm: Weis' remarkable ability to turn a line not far off Michigan's last year in terms of recruiting hype and returning experience into the worst unit in the country and possibly the worst unit of the decade.
Other stuff: NJ DE Anthony LaLota is listing a number of schools that are all excellent academically, including Michigan. However, he's visited five of his leaders and has a trip planned to a sixth (Penn State) this weekend. Michigan not so much:
"I haven't had a chance to visit Michigan yet and I don't know too much about the new coaches," he said. "I'm really looking forward to getting to know them better. I think they'll do great and I really expect them to have a great season."
If he visits, then we might have a shot; for now we're just hanging on.
MS S Dennis Thames, nephew of Detroit Tiger Marcus Thames, had a lot of positive things to say about Michigan after his visit...
"It was like a dream come true," Thames said of his time at Michigan. "Everything I'm looking for in a college, Michigan had it. Education-wise, everything up there is professional. They know what they're doing. If football doesn't work, they make sure you get your education."
Based on what Thames witnessed in the weight room, he believes the Wolverines know what they're doing when it comes to training, as well.
"Mike Barwis -- that's an awesome dude," he said about Michigan's new strength and conditioning coordinator. "I'd say about 25 pro football players were there. He was helping them work out. It was awesome. He took me through some drills showing me how they do it up there."
... but he's backed off the assertion he made whilst in the Tigers locker room that Michigan leads:
As for his college choice, Thames said, "I will say Michigan is in my top three with Mississippi State and Auburn."
Mississippi State, bizarrely as ever, remains the biggest threat.
FL LB Brandin Hawthorne has five finalists and plans on " committing" August 30th; Michigan is regarded the favorite. Cause of scare quotes:
ESPN 150 Watch Lister Brandin Hawthorne will choose between South Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee and Louisville during an Aug. 30th game against Olive Branch (Miss.) to be televised on ESPN, affiliate Web site InsideTheU.com reports.
Hawthorne will then take official visits to all those schools except South Florida and will travel to Iowa State instead.
Last season, the 6-foot-1, 181-pounder racked up more than 80 tackles, 28 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
And by "commit" we mean "announces early leader." And by "five finalists" we mean "six finalists."
GA LB Devekeyan (or "Dede") Lattimore says Michigan is a slight leader:
"I love the tradition at Michigan and they have some good new coaches that are really going to be changing things up," he said. "I like coach Rich Rodriguez and it really impressed me that he was one of the few head coaches (and UCF) that offered me himself. That meant a lot."
Lattimore is a three star with one other big offer, that from Clemson.
And, finally, what would a recruiting post be without more discussion of VA QB Kevin Newsome's status? It would be shorter. Anyway, Josh Helmholdt put up an innocuous story on the Free Press site headlined something like "Michigan's quarterback issues are temporary" that one of the OMG HITS editors at the Free Press changed to "If Kevin Newsome bolts, Michigan has a contingency plan." This set off a completely predictable mini-sitewar between Scout and Rivals with Scout touting Sam Webb's recent conversation(?) with the Newsomes and claiming 1) Newsome was totally solid and 2) if Newsome did end up decommiting it was Helmholdt's fault for writing that article. Helmholdt, for his part, has been writing articles that can be retitled "If Kevin Newsome bolts..." and include references to Jason Forcier and Eugene Smith. Read between the lines.
My contribution: a man named "Crotch Bat." A reader sends along this thread from Something Awful's "Sports Argument Stadium" in which a VT fan/insider(?) says thusly:
What I'm hearing is that Kevin Newsome is all but gone from Michigan and that scenario will play out sooner rather than later. Look for VT and PSU to be in the thick of it for him.
Again, don't shoot the messenger but like I said, none of this stuff is going away and I hear new stuff more and more.
Reasons to give this more credence than you would to your average random internet rumor? Well, there is the claim of deep insider info and the generalized respect shown this guy, who's been posting at SA since 2003. The emailer comments:
I tend to believe him because in the few years I've been reading that forum, he has always been there and is consistently a knowledgeable, intelligent poster.
A reason to disregard: even if he's got the info he claims it's coming from the VT side of things and may be biased or just incorrect. Also: "Crotch Bat." Also also: there was another Rivals even this weekend that was attended by both Bryce McNeal and Newsome; McNeal, at least, didn't detect any floppiness. As always, I throw up my hands and say "hell if I know."
Etc.: TX S Rex Burkhead doesn't mention Michigan here; longshot.