things go poorly
Swearing herein. Save the children.
Wednesday: at the Fanhouse I pick up an article from Tim Gayle and expound, once again, on the dodgy practice of oversigning, using Alabama's class as an exemplar of shady behavior. The past two days: everyone in the state who can write and has an internet connection responds.
Awww, that's not fair. I can't make a joke about Alabamans' inability to count or read when the Joe Cribbs Car Wash put up an excellent post about the situation. No, it appears the disease is restricted to Tide fans. Maybe that's why they have numbers on their helmets.
There are two separate issues here.
Issue #1. Alabama is unlikely to actually have the nation's top recruiting class because a large chunk of it isn't going to get to campus. This is an irritation I have with the guru rating services and not an issue with Alabama per se. The best example of this phenomenon was Auburn's class last year, thirty-strong and top-ten on signing day but reduced by a third by the time fall practice rolled around and decidedly not top-ten.
This is indisputable. We even looked up the numbers last year. SEC teams often sign guys with little or no chance to qualify, and their swollen classes end up looking better than they actually are. The average SEC team experiences an attrition rate double that of the average Big Ten team, but this is not accounted for.
Issue #2. Nick Saban has taken the concept of oversigning and stretched it unto its breaking point. This is a nasty, filthy practice only undertaken by a program that couldn't really give a crap about the idea of a mutual commitment between player and school.
Issue #1 is a personal quarrel with the recruiting sites and doesn't have anything to do with Alabama. Some of the angry hornets went "LOL" and contested that in unconvincing fashion; I'll let that drop. Issue #2 is what really riled, and I'll attempt to address some of the claims put forth by "coachbots," as the JCCW eloquently dubs them.
I don't see any substantive points in the posts at Third Saturday in Blogtober, the Capstone Report, or Tide Druid and won't address them directly. Since they're all chock full of personal insults and insights into my "obsession" with a guy who coached Michigan's third-biggest rival a decade ago, let me point out that each of the above-linked posts is a tribute to Alabama's fine educational system and its constant focus on things like grammar and knowing how to use spell check. Gentlemen, there are typos and there's you.
The voodoo math over at Roll Bama Roll, however, deserves a response:
Actually, this class really only included 30 signees, not 32. See, this is where, you know, actually following Alabama football closely -- as opposed to following it via the headlines and then heading off to your computer to piss and moan on your AOL blog -- really pays off. Two of our signees, wide receiver Chris Jackson and kicker Corey Smith, graduated high school early and actually enrolled this past January. Those two signees are thus back-counters, and are part of the 2007 recruiting class, not the 2008 class. As a result, just doing the basic math, our 2008 class effectively consists of 30 signees, not 32.
I love it when someone condescendingly makes a moronic "point." Yes, early enrollees are permitted to count against the previous class. No, that does not mean they are fairy players who don't take up a scholarship spot. The issue is Alabama loses fifteen seniors and brings in thirty-two players. This means 17 slots have to appear from nowhere. Early enrollment doesn't help that.
And that is even if you don't consider the fact that Wesley Neighbors may very well end up on a Bryant scholarship -- since he is most likely not going to play in his first two years on campus anyway -- and therefore he will not count against the scholarship limit this year. If that is indeed the case, as many expect, this class suddenly goes down to 29 players.
Anyone on scholarship and on the football team counts against the 85 limit.
Moreover, you act like Alabama and Miami are the only two programs to sign that many players, completely ignoring the fact that signing 30 or more players is a relatively common occurrence. This year alone, aside from the aforementioned two schools, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Minnesota, Ole Miss, and Kansas State also signed 30 or more players. In 2007, Tennessee, Auburn, and South Carolina all signed over 30 players, just to name a few. In other words, if you really think signing that many players is an aberration, you haven't been paying attention.
The fucking point is that fucking Alabama is going to kick kids off the fucking team for no fucking reason. The point is not that violating the NCAA's made-up limit is evil. The NCAA limit is there because the NCAA would like you to not kick kids off the fucking team, but for various reasons the rule's pretty easy to skate around. The issue is not 32 > 25. The issue is that 70 + 32 > 85.
There's more not easily blockquoted, but OTS contests the idea that many kids won't qualify by saying that "everyone has a very legitimate chance to qualify" and then immediately asserts three or four won't make it, then further asserts later that the estimate -- Tim Gayle's estimate, not mine -- that four to six guys won't qualify is "completely bogus" and "laughable."
Attention asshat: five players in this Alabama class will not be on the team this fall. That's that NCAA maximum thing. Maybe there's a grayshirt or two in there, but a about a sixth of the class is going to JUCO... whether they qualify or not. More kids qualifying only makes the oversigning dirtier.
There is a stupid paragraph about medical scholarships intended to combat the idea that they're shady, something I never advanced and don't think.
And then there's this:
And "forcibly extracted"? What are we doing here, pulling teeth? It sounds like it, anyway, with terms like that. In reality, players are going to leave and we all know it. Many of the former staffs' previous signees, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, do not fit with the current scheme and may very well end up going elsewhere. I guess since you are a Michigan blowhard, we'll call this Ryan Mallett Syndrome so it will hit a little closer to home. Others will simply leave because they cannot handle the Fourth Quarter Program. Either way, no one is being "run off" or anything sinister of the sort.
There is a difference between what's likely to happen at Michigan after spring practice -- a few transfers from kids that no longer fit in the offense -- and what has to happen at Alabama. Michigan will be operating under the 85 scholarship limit this fall and has every incentive to keep
those players around. They will be leaving of their own volition. Alabama has every incentive to dump guys. They flat out have to. If a kid is struggling with his academic eligibility how motivated will Alabama be to help him? If a player commits a petty offense how eager will Alabama be to boot him? If Nick Saban knows that by August he has to say goodbye to six kids and it's July and he's only got four down, then what?
I'll tell you what: someone gets it right in the ass.
That's why oversigning* is scummy. Attrition is bad, but tolerable when it's clear a kid who's transferring away is doing so voluntarily. If Mallett transfers to Arkansas because he likes the offense better, fine. Without oversigning we know that if he stayed the scholarship would be there for him. When you have to cram 91 kids into 85 spots, the very real specter of a push hovers over every jumper.
Though all scholarships are technically one-year commitments, in practice players are guaranteed four years as long as they remain eligible and keep their noses clean. There is one legitimate way to remove a kid from your team without some sort of malfeasance on his part: fourth-year juniors are commonly not offered a fifth year unless they are contributors.
'Bama has a few of these, but some of them are already accounted for and others are obviously going to return. By situation:
- Ezekiel Knight, Will Oakley, and BJ Stabler are all mentioned as medical scholarship candidates by Gayle; the six scholarship gap is only a mere six because they've been removed from the calculations already.
- Rashad Johnson, Nick Walker, and Antoine Caldwell are starters and will be back.
- OL Cody Davis is a candidate.
- WR Jonathan Lowe has academic issues; he's a useful returner who would normally return.
I went over the roster closely; these appear to be the only redshirt juniors on scholarship. Potential non-shady departures not already accounted for are, at most, two.
So what's Saban's motivation here? He has somewhere between five and a dozen scholarships to free up (the latter will only happen if the NCAA repeals the limit next week and OTS's prediction that I'll "eat my words" about players failing to qualify comes true). Is he going to help Lowe stay eligible? Is he going to shuffle the deck so that guys who could be eligible this fall are not?
The JCCW sums up:
So unless six guys have a fantastic conversation with a representative from their local congregation of Latter-Day Saints and take off for a two-year mission in Estonia, Saban's going to have to, well, tell six guys they're now responsible for their own $12,000 a year if they would like to continue receiving a college education from the University of Alabama. Given that any player Saban chooses to cut is likely to also be the sort of player he can't find a use for on the field (given that if you are useful, he will find a way to get you on the field, by golly), those scholarships and the education attached possibly carry even greater importance to the players in question than most of the team.
(And should take heart that the "whoops, seeya!" given to four Auburn players isn't as bad as it looks, as three of the four are fourth-year juniors.)
Maybe oversigning by one or two is reasonable, but not in the quantity seen at Alabama.
Now, Saban is not alone in this. In the blog post by Bruce Feldman cited in the Fanhouse post, Feldman asserts that schools can make incoming kids ineligible if they want to. I know of at least one player this happened to: erstwhile Michigan defensive end Eugene Germany, who signed a letter of intent with USC but "didn't qualify." He did nothing the fall semester, then USC asked him to take some classes at a local JC. He declined, did nothing further, and enrolled at Michigan the next fall. Germany got jacked because USC ran out of spots.**
This is a widespread issue. Unfortunately, I do not have convenient summary articles for Miami or LSU or USC. Oversigning should be halted. You should not be able to sign a player to a letter of intent unless that player is qualified and you can demonstrate where his scholarship is coming from. No one should ever be locked into a commitment that doesn't go both ways.
Does this happen in the Big Ten? Not really. Though oversigning was sort-of approved, you have to explain where the scholarship is coming from:
When the Big Ten made the change in 2002, it instituted a policy where teams could oversign by no more than three players, and DiNardo said a detailed explanation behind the oversigning had to be submitted to the Big Ten. The SEC is among the conferences with no guidelines.
As a result, very few Big Ten teams even attempt to oversign, and none by the margins seen here. (Minnesota and Illinois have brought in large classes the last couple years but had been operating well short of the scholarship limit before that.)
This should be universal NCAA policy, and already is in some sports: Michigan hockey could not sign probable first-round pick Brandon Burlon to a letter of intent this fall because they could not demonstrate where the scholarship money would come from. Football should follow suit. Now.
*(just to be clear for any morons reading this, we're not talking about going over the NCAA limit here, we're talking about signing so many guys that you are forced to remove a number of players from the team to meet your obligations.)
**(Germany got tackled from behind by a cop after stealing some chick's phone and then had a series of team rules violations; he transferred to a JC and is now at Arizona State, but he could have gotten his malfease on at the same time the rest of his high school class entered school.)
Update: Don't read this. Read this. I am full of fail.
Swearin! Keep the kids away!
I'm still trying to figure out whether or not this Black Heart, Gold Pants post is entirely in jest or not, because the options here are either 1) it's really poorly phrased satire or 2) it's epically dumb. Neither of these things are expected from BHGP, even if the guy writing the piece is the one who flung Hawaii in the top ten of BHGP's blogpoll ballot for most of the year. How did that work out? About as well as Jake Christensen oh snap.
I think I've settled on 2 with a side of 1 when it comes to the accusations of islamo-fascism. If there are any islamo-facists in this kerfuffle, they're the jihadists from Morgantown. So, then, I have been Called Out and it is time to Throw Down because when you Mess With The MGoBlog You Get The Virtual Horns.
Step to it. Fisk style.
For the record, we were cautiously terrified of Rich Rodriguez to Michigan. But we made that calculation back when we thought Rodriguez was a football coach and not, well, a sleazebag.
I'm sure there will be plenty of awesome reasons to back up this "sleazebag" assertion.
First, RichRod bolts out of Morgantown in the dead of night like the bastard stepson of Art Modell.
(All these links point to MGoBlog posts, btw.) Yes, in West Virginia "the dead of night" is somewhere between 7 and 9 PM. The entire state, wreathed in a deadly black cloud of coal dust, gets three hours of sunlight a day and generally resembles Mordor. The departure was so secretive that fatwa-bearing jihadists who, judging from their message board posts, take three hours to read a road sign were there to chant O-H-I-O at him and take blurry pictures to post at Fatwa Central.
This accusation boils down to "took the Michigan job... and decided to go to Michigan to do so."
Then RichRod goes on Jim Rome (yeah, I know) and slams Ryan Mallett because the kid had the audacity to consider transferring out of a system that relies on a running quarterback and is actively pursuing Terrelle Pryor.
This is the "slam" of Ryan Mallett contained within that post:
"I believe he's going to transfer," Rodriguez said. "He has not told me specifically and he's told other folks in the program. I talked to him a couple times, again, before the bowl game and once after the bowl game and gave him our spiel. But, again, if he chooses to leave, he's going to make a choice that's best for him, and we'll be OK."
"I talked to him and all the quarterbacks about how our system can adapt to the quarterback because we've had throwing quarterbacks in this system that have had great careers and gone on to the NFL and all that," Rodriguez said. "But I did it a couple times (with Mallett.) I recruited him once, I recruited him twice and after the third call, I'm thinking okay, three calls is enough for me. It's a great institution and if somebody doesn't want to be here that's already here, you wish them well and move on."
"He's going to make a choice that's best for him!" "If somebody doesn't want to be here that's already here, you wish him well and move on!" What an asshole!
Obviously something is seriously wrong with Iowa. If this qualifies as a "slam," Hawkeye State will keel over dead upon reading this post. We should probably just eject the state and all its testosterone-free girl-men into space, where they can suffocate like the prancing nancies they are.
Those moves really just make you a dick.
Indeed. Going to the place where you are employed and wishing a departing player well: total 100% dickitude.
But we aren't done; apparently, on his way out of Morgantown, RichRod did his best Arthur Andersen impersonation: [long excerpt from the WVU article highlighted yesterday excised]
This is specious to say the least. Recruiting and summer camp notes? Financial records? Booster rolls? Training schedules and results? The training notes are especially intriguing, given Michigan's new S&C coach and his love of "bioenergetics":
"The science of bioenergetics is the basis of our conditioning program. It's all designed scientifically to meet the end needs of an athlete who plays in a given position under Rich Rodriguez."
Sure thing, Victor Conte.
Bold words from a fan of a team that pumped Robert Gallery so full of testosterone you could shove him into Roger Clemens' ass. (They probably extracted it from the general public; this explains the fainting belles that comprise the rest of the state's purported male population.) And yes, it's "specious" if, in fact, the allegations are entirely true and not 90% made up by lunatic jihadists from the Black Lands. Which they so obviously are, you daiquiri-sipping pansy. Sure, there are no computers and no copies of these critical files. Sure, there's no backup system whatsoever. Sure, completely awesome head coach Bill Stewart who totally deserves the head coaching job has no idea how to "log up". Sure, all these ludicrously implausible things put forth by insane rednecks are obviously true.
While the rest of the football world gave a collective "Whawhawhaaaa?", MGoBlog,* not exactly a rock of journalistic integrity, spent most of the day on other Rich Rodriguez matters.
For the record, those links have between them 459 words of non-quote content, an average of 115 each. MGoBlog more than doubled that.
As for the shredding, Brian is curious but hardly worried:
Why would Rodriguez shred all this stuff?...Michigan fans: because he knew crazy WVU officials/FOIA-toting fans would go over the documents with a fine-toothed comb and attempt to nail him on every piddling recruiting violation like "called five minutes late."
Yeah, or he wanted to destroy all evidence of a continuing scheme under which Rodriguez would take booster (read: Arab oil) money, funnel those funds through tax-free municipal bonds, then send the now-clean cash to trainer Brian McNamee so WVU players could spend their offseasons getting "the Roger Clemens treatment."
You prick. You ballet-dancing, View-watching, Sara Jessica Parker-adoring skirt. I have been mostly joking in this post, but this is a complete misrepresentation of that portion of my post. Here it is in full:
Why would Rodriguez shred all this stuff? (Ohio State fans: because he's a dirty cheater covering his tracks. West Virginia fans: because his one goal in life is to destroy us. Michigan fans: because he knew crazy WVU officials/FOIA-toting fans would go over the documents with a fine-toothed comb and attempt to nail him on every piddling recruiting violation like "called five minutes late.")
What is obviously being communicated: different fanbases will leap to different conclusions because of their inhere
nt biases. What the snipped version communicates: MGoBlog is hopelessly biased.
We ... had the audacity to ... dick ... Arthur Andersen.
Whoops! Bad snippage. My bad. Although this obviously proves Black Heart, Gold Pants is gay for Arthur Andersen.
The kicker, IMO, is that the post is titled "You Can't Spell "Myopic" Without "Michigan Wolverine Football... Yup"; this aggression will not stand coming from a fan of a program who's coach makes six quintillion dollars a year but still places his kid -- already on football scholarship! -- in federally-subsidized low-income housing. Oh, and:
Ten percent of Ferentz's team was arrested for Serious Business this year, and the Hawkeyes have suffered a 44% attrition rate (hey, what do you know: a link that actually points to a post that says what you imply it says) since 2002. Myopic? Myopic? Look in the mirror. You'll see tears and smeared mascara, but only very vaguely because you have astigmatism all up in your ass.
Who's the dick now, dicks?
Mealer. I have been remiss in not mentioning the tragedy that befell Elliot Mealer and his family over Christmas. Mealer's father and girlfriend died in a car accident and his brother is unlikely to walk again; Mealer escaped without serious physical damage, but... yeah. Brock, Elliot's brother, has been moved to UM's hospital. The Diag swiped a post from GBW's premium boards and I'll swipe it from there:
Elliott has a torn rotator cuff. He is obviously done playing hoops this season. Brock (his brother who is currently paralyzed from the accident) has been moved to the UM Hospital. What he needs and the family needs at this time is encouragement and support. If you are so inclined, I believe it would be a huge boost for you to let him know you are rooting for him. Please send cards, letters to
1500 East Medical Center Drive
Patient Unit 6 A
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
When you address the envelope write in the lower left hand corner of the envelope: Brock Mealer
As always, please continue to pray. When a member of our Michigan family or a family member of the Michigan family is down and out, I hope we can all come together and do what we can to help. the family needs as much support at this time as it can get. Thank you.
The lure. Our new QB coach gave up quite a bit to follow Rodriguez:
Not only did Smith decide to leave home, but he reportedly gave up a significant promotion at West Virginia. Smith would not comment on any jobs offered to him by new WVU coach Bill Stewart, but the Charleston Gazette reported - and I was told by another source - that he was in line to become the Mountaineers' offensive coordinator. With WVU's spread offense, that's like being handed the keys to a Stealth Fighter. Not to mention the fact that being a coordinator at a Top 10 program is a stepping-stone to a head-coaching job.
So strong was the allure of Rodriguez and Michigan that Smith turned down Stewart, whom he admires.
Erroneous caps sic. No go and secureth the services of one Terrelle Pryor, my son.
See Rod Draw. Rich Rodriguez on WVU's spread running game:
Do you have any evidence, sir? Gregg Easterbrook doesn't care that he got temporarily fired from the WWL for anti-Semitic remarks. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," he says, and then he says "let me cast that first mutha":
A preseason favorite for the BCS title, West Virginia was poised to qualify for the BCS Championship Game, needing only to beat 28-point underdog Pittsburgh in its final game, at home yet. The Mountaineers lost. We now know that in the days leading up to this huge upset, West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez was negotiating for the Michigan job -- that is, was furiously engaged in stabbing his school in the back. The West Virginia team played very poorly in a game staged as the coach was working behind the scenes to shaft the school. Strange coincidence? As soon as Rodriguez the Weasel was out the door, the Mountaineers looked great in the Fiesta Bowl under emergency coach Bill Stewart, who turned out to have some appealing qualities: a charming smile and not being a liar. After the Fiesta Bowl performance, we know West Virginia might have been national champion, had Rodriguez not betrayed those who trusted him. University of Michigan, you hired a coach who, given the choice between honor and money, did not hesitate for one instant to choose money. And the reason you think he will behave differently for you is ... ?
What a dick. It's one thing to express the opinion that Rodriguez's sudden change from "I will be here for a billion years" after the 'Bama thing to "bye" is not particularly confidence-inspiring. (Though it is kind of odd that the general anger and disgust from WVU fans and axe-grinders seems ratcheted up a notch because he turned 'Bama down a year ago; would he get this much heat if he had gone to Tuscaloosa? Absolutely not.) It's another entirely to make baseless accusations in an attempt to paint Rodriguez as purest villain.
There is not a single shred of evidence that Rich Rodriguez was conversing with Michigan before the Pitt game. At no time did anyone inside or outside the program mention his name as a possibility until the Sporting News reported on December 14th that Rodriguez and Michigan were meeting in Toledo. That's almost two weeks after the Pitt game, which was December 1st. I do not remember a nationwide ban on phone calls in early December.
Scenario A: Rodriguez -- who doesn't care even a little bit about maybe winning a national title -- and Michigan secretly begin talks before the Pitt game. No insider gets wind of this and no one reports it during a period of time in which Michigan's athletic department was leaking like a sieve. He then spends every waking hour thinking about the Michigan job, thereby sabotaging WVU's preparations.
Scenario B: Michigan contacts Rodriguez in the thirteen days between the Pitt loss and the first meeting using a "telephone."
Scenario A is so unlikely that it would be dismissed by anyone except Easterbrook, who's the kind of pundit who will cram any available evidence into his extant theories no matter how square the peg and round the hole. See the next paragraph, which blames June Jones' SMU departure for Hawaii's crappy performance in the Sugar Bowl when everyone who was paying even a little attention knew it was because Hawaii was the sort of team that scrapes by Louisiana Tech by one point. Also see the above paragraph, which neglects entirely to mention that the main reason West Virginia won the Fiesta Bowl, Pat White, was on the sidelines for the Pitt game. Attention, Gregg Easterbrook: there is this thing called "gray." It is between "black" and "white." The actions of many people from writers to football coaches fall in this category.
The irony of calling coaches "liars" and "weasels" in a set of grafs full of unsupported accusations and obvious misrepresentations evidently escapes Easterbrook. He should probably stick to what he's good at: being creepy about cheerleaders.
Death to HIT. S&C aficionados will delight in the yard sale of suddenly outdated weightlifting equipment on Sunday. Noon to 3PM! Oosterban! Maybe Joe Paterno will be there looking for deals!
Etc.: CFB Weekly was kind enough to have me on their podcast; another open letter from Martin re: BTN; Pryor visiting M Feb. 1... with Charlie Batch(!); Kind of lamely breathless article on Steven Threet in the Fr
The argument that Michigan is a weird place, relatively speaking, that does things differently than most athletic departments is one that you can get a lot of traction with since it has the benefit of being true. There's no other major program in the country that would have a serious undercurrent of panic in its fanbase at the prospect of a man who went 12-34 in the MAC ascending to the head job. In other places, guys who win one of four games at non-BCS schools and are immediately followed by another guy who is so successful he springboards to a better job within three years are put in charge of special teams and forgotten about. But Michigan treasures loyalty, continuity, and propriety above all. So when Jim Carty says this...
Overall, Michigan is a unique situation. Don't underestimate how much that will matter.
It's a place where the next coach will not only need top-tier football coaching and recruiting skills, but a background that shows he can navigate an elite academic institution. It's also a place where hundreds of former players are actively involved with supporting the program. Those players, and Carr, will have a voice at the table.
...he's right. Mike Debord does have a shot at the job despite his unpalatable resume.
Too bad he's talking about Les Miles, who does not and, even if he does, should not. "Michigan is a unique situation" is not an argument for your most successful collegiate coaching alumnus, a guy who is currently at major SEC program that just got done hosing Notre Dame. Miles is the obvious 1A candidate based on his resume. Most places would snap him up without blinking. But Michigan is a unique situation and Miles is, um, unique too.
First of all, the guy has a verbal diarrhea that fits in at Michigan about as well as John L Smith controlled his emotions. This very week Miles said a bunch of intemperate things about the Pac 10 on a radio show that stand in marked contrast to Carr's reticence to do anything that could be construed as campaigning during the Michigan-Florida election window last December. A few months ago he told an alumni gathering that LSU has "a new rival in fucking Alabama," which is not only a sentence that can change directions radically based on punctuation ("we have a new rival in fucking: Alabama!") but the sort of public utterance that would cause the Michigan establishment to get woozy and collapse, Southern Belle style, into Mary Sue Coleman's arms. All it took for Gary Moeller to get fired was one bad night at a restaurant. Les Miles has bad nights twice a year.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. When Mike Gundy replaced Les Miles as coach he instituted, um, something other than anarchy:
"Several players said the day [new OK State Coach] Gundy replaced Les Miles as head coach he established guidelines that players attend class, be on time for team meetings, adhere to workout routines, represent the program well and play hard."
Nine kids thought these were ridiculous guidelines and left the team. And though CoachRatings.com is anything but scientific, the difference between Carr and Miles is illuminating. Carr scores a 9 of 10 and is described as a "mentor/role model" or "well respected" by eight of ten rankers; the other two went with "assertive." Miles scores a 4.4, the worst of any coach on the site save Rich Brooks and 0.5 points lower than John Mackovic, a man who had a full-scale revolt on his hands at Arizona. Five of eight players described Miles as "corrupt." Corrupt. Not mean or stupid or smelly. Corrupt.
So, yeah, it's pretty ironic that Carty links a Motown Sports Revival post and bashes it for being unrealistic. (Especially because the MSR post is explicitly presented as one man's wish list.) Rich Rodriguez has "never worked with the sort of academic restrictions he would have at Michigan," but the Okie State-LSU doubleheader qualifies Miles. Anyone with a "passing knowledge" of Bobby Petrino's background and personality knows he's not a fit for the Michigan job, but a guy who can't go two months without embarrassing himself and his school is AOK.
Lloyd Carr may not be in a position to designate his successor a la Bo, but if he says "over my dead body," that guy is out. I have a better chance of being Michigan's next head coach than Les Miles does. But it is a "unique situation," according to Carty, and Miles' "unique qualifications" make him a strong candidate. There are things that are wrong at 90 degrees to right -- orthogonal wrong -- and then there are things that obviously dropped in from a mirror universe. This is the latter. Stick to selling delcious sandwiches, Subway Jim.
5/31/2006 - Pistons 107-109 Cavaliers - Down 3-2, ECF
We've been here before. Last year, when Dwyane Wade was suffered to run free:
I only just resisted titling this post "Is Flip Saunders An Idiot?" because it seems clear that a man who is paid more money than most of us will ever see in our lifetimes can't be all 'tard, but... there's a strong chance Flip Saunders is an idiot in some sense. If you did a Family Feud-style survey with the question "Who Is Going To Defend Dwyane Wade in the conference finals?" survey would say:
- What are you talking about? You want a mango? I am from France. (37)
- Um... I don't know his name, but probably the guy who looks like a heavily abused Stretch Armstrong doll? (34)
- Tayshaun Prince, you idiot. (31)
The third opinion would be given to you by anyone with even a smattering of NBA knowledge all the way up to, say, Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant, players of Wade's bionic shooting guard ilk who have run up against Stretch and who -- if not exactly stopped -- have been decently contained. Tayshaun is popularly regarded as the Kobe-Lebron-McGrady-Wade stopper, one of the few players in the league with both the size and the quickness to stop the NBA's unstoppable. Only an idiot or an expert would do anything other than stick Tayshaun on Wade and forget about it.
As you can see, I did not escape titling this post with something raw, possibly unfair, but JESUS CHRIST SO VERY TRUE IN ALL WAYS EVERY WAY ALL WAYS FOREVER AAAAAARGH.
The world is Lebron agog this day and not without reason, but can we get some condemnation up in here? Flip Saunders displayed the same sort of miraculous ignorance football coaches do when they screw up game-ending clock situations during nearly the entirety of Lebronfest. He was complicit in Birth of a Superstar, inexplicably refusing to double for much of the fourth quarter and overtimes. When he did bring a double, Lebron would pass out of it and the Cavs, being the non-Bron Cavs, would turn the ball over. There are mice that can figure out that when there are two buttons, one of which dispenses a shock and the other a tasty treat, you press the treat button. If there was any justice, Saunders' incompetence would be just as legendary as Lebron's performance.
Consider this: on the last Cleveland possession, Ilgauskas, Gooden, and Daniel Gibson had fouled out. Larry Hughes' foot had held him out the entire second half. On the floor with Lebron were Donyell Marshall, Anderson Varejao, Sasha Pavlovic, and Eric Snow (or Damon Jones? I forget, does it matter?). Saunders' brilliant idea: put a point guard on the guy who had scored the last 23 points and give him no help whatsoever. This was also his brilliant idea -- except it was Tayshaun Prince left alone -- on the final two Cavs possessions of regulation, both of which ended in thunderous Lebron dunks.
I mean... what can you say? I decided to repress the sputtering rage by sleeping on it and then writing about the game, but here it is. Sputtering Rage says "hi, honey, I'm home," takes off its hat, talks about what a hard day he had -- lot of work in Detroit today, lot of work -- and settles in for a nice long rest that is 75-80% likely to start in the next few days and last for the summer. It's back, and I can only delete so many sentences that contain elaborate punishments for Saunders and his Charlie Weis-like ability to get far too clever for his own good. A sampler:
- Forced to eat own organs.
- Locked into party chit-chat with tools who came up with Heineken ad campaign that runs incessantly all hours of the night and day on TNT.
- Elaborate scenario staged wherein he is drugged, and carefully made up to look and sound like Bill Walton -- sort of "The Hot Chick" except "The Worst Person On The Planet" -- until on the verge of self-immolation, say, 10-15 minutes
- Forced to watch his favorite basketball team coached by Flip Saunders.
It is inexplicable how this guy and his lip-chewing inability to do anything right in the playoffs is a respected NBA coach. Don't even get me started on Rasheed's substitution pattern.
Dammit, too late: what the #&$! was with Rasheed's substitution pattern? During the first eight minutes of the game he had played great defense and was 3/4 from the floor. He was in rhythm, on a roll. Chris Webber picks up a second foul with eight minutes gone, Saunders yanks both starters and leaves Rasheed on the bench until there are four minutes left in the half. He rested his best post player, a guy who was in rhythm, for an entire quarter when his second best post player had been ejected at the end of the first. Then the Pistons start going well and Rasheed gets yanked six minutes into the second half. Inexplicable. After the first removal, Rasheed would hit one shot the rest of the night. There isn't a basketball fan on the planet who would do something that stupid.
So, yeah, Lebron was pretty freakin' impressive. Yes. He's kind of good at the basketball. But even Lebron has trouble dealing with traps and doubles and can be dealt with unless you are too busy chewing your lip to think.
Last year, when it finally clattered to a halt:
Riley watched the tape, devised a plan, and obliterated the Piston offense. There was not much of a riposte from Saunders other than to look on grimly.
The Heat were a soft team when they struggled through the opening portion of the season, but Pat Riley is a hard man. The Pistons were a hard team under Carlisle and Brown, but Flip Saunders is a soft man. And thus goes a series.
Since I can only burble aggravated nonsense this morning, I guess that has to stand.
FLABMOJAN! GRUNDLEFLOX THE AXERAOJ. ZING ZING ZING!
Aussie Aussie Aussie! I think the most momentous thing that happened when I was gone was this bizarre thing you've probably already seen:
GAZING up at a huge locker-room poster of John Sattler, Lloyd Carr shakes his head as he's told the story of a 1972 grand final so fierce the bloody Souths captain was chaired off with a ripped Rabbitohs badge and a broken jaw.
You are probably wondering what the hell language this is. Well, it's Australian. Now you are probably wondering what the hell Lloyd Carr is doing in Australia. Well:
But this week Carr has done just that [envision the pad-free violence of Aussie Rules], after spending seven days with Souths at the invitation of co-owner Russell Crowe.
And now you're probably just wondering "what the hell?"
The man who brought you "Fightin' Round The World"...
... and Lloyd Carr are so happy together, Turtles style. No doubt this stems from Carr's deployment of Cinderella Man as a motivational tactic last year but... still. Weird.
And when even I have to get a small chuckle out of their gushing description of Carr...
Most Australians have probably never heard of Lloyd Carr. Not unless you are a fan of American college football.
There, in the wildly popular arena of US college sports, Carr is nothing short of a living legend.
As head coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines since 1995, Carr is the "winningest" college football coach in the States and as big a name as they come.
Think Wayne Bennett in Brisbane. Then multiply by 20.
...certain other fanbases must have fallen out of their chairs. We're bigger than Wayne Bennett in Brisbane, bitches!
The Ann Arbor News has a take, as well.
Masbach. A little while ago this space had a brief blurb on the strange existence of former Michigan quarterback Scott Driesbach, who is now 30 and playing QB and LB(!) for Columbus in the Arena League. Now the Dispatch has an (unnecessarily hectoring at times) article on the star-crossed Michigan alum.
Also, the Boston Globe has an article on another player struck down by Mildly Peeved Dispenser of Extreme Fates to Michigan Quarterbacks God: Matt Gutierrez, now in possession of a two-year, 655k contract from the Patroits. Inevitable Tom Brady comparisons... go!
Recruiting aside: I removed PA LB Andrew Sweat from the board when he dropped Michigan out of his top five. It turns out we're not quite dead:
"I really like Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame. And also Penn State and maybe LSU or Florida."
But we pretty much are:
Sweat went on to say that when he narrows the schools down to three, Ohio State will be a finalist, "Ohio State will be one of them. Ohio State and Notre Dame are one and two-equal right now. Then most likely I'll pick either Michigan or Penn State." From our sources, it will surprising if Jim Tressel and Ohio State don't land Sweat.
I'm not putting him back on the board, but be advised. Also of note from that post is this unsubstantiated nugget on totally shirtless PA LB Shayne Hale:
The other top linebacker prospect in the WPIAL is Shayne Hale from Gateway. PSI believes that he's a Michigan lean right now.
Hale hasn't given any indication he's leaning either way strongly elsewhere and I have no idea how much credence to give this blog, so take that FWIW.
Co-sign. Neal Pollack eviscerates ABC's NBA coverage and God almighty I agree. Everything from the consistently foo-foo theme music, which has gone from the Black Eyed Peas, Robb Thomas, Tom Petty, Pussycat Dolls -- can you find another collection of four "bands" in which the Black Eyed Peas are clearly in possession of the most street cred? -- to the awful announcing tandems to the standard ESPN-ization of the studio guys (before game five of Pistons-Bulls, Jon Barry, a man who is not SAS, said that Utah had "no chance" to take a 3-1 lead against Golden State and repeated it again with all the terrified conviction of a man reading a prepared statement provided by an Iranian mullah; you could almost see the black-hooded producer standing off camera and holding a gun to his child's head, Jack Bauer-style) to the infuriating -- INFURIATING -- tracking camera that makes it impossible to see a third of the floor, professional basketball on ABC is the worst production in all of sports. There is nothing positive about it. It actively detracts from the game in a way that single-camera indoor soccer or minor league hockey produced by Comcast Local do not have the resources to match. Whereas I'll watch just about any playoff game on TNT, unless the Pistons are involved anything on ABC is out of the question.
The camera is what really gets to me. I've spent 20 years watching basketball from the center court camera and I have never, ever thought "boy, I wish this camera was mounted on some sort of trolley and placed too close to the floor for anyone to see what was going on in the opposite corner." Everyone hates this thing. I do. Neal Pollack does. Bill Simmons (and Eric from Michigan) do:
â€¢ From Eric in Michigan: "Why did the NBA hire the director of 'The Blair Witch Project' to shoot the playoffs? It's nauseating to have the camera in constant motion."
Couldn't agree more. Trying to follow the action in Saturday's Spurs-Suns game made me feel like I had just dropped peyote with Tony Soprano. Did I miss the meeting where everyone decided, "Hey, the midcourt camera for NBA games just isn't cutting it anymore, our fans like it and they're used to it ... instead, let's use a really weird camera angle that makes them sick!"
Lord knows Salon sports guy King Kaufman has railed against it from the start. And as far as I know, no one has ever expressed any thing other than hate for the thing, real impassioned violent hate. I know whoever directs these things would like to be Roman Polanski or whatever, but know your role and show us the damn game. Practice your Coen Brothers shots on your own time.