in town for free camps
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.
Apologies. Most of this UV is old news; I've been having increasingly severe computer issues over the last few days that have taken up large blocks of my time. I think I'm going to have to send Laptop 1 in; Laptop 2 may or may not be dead, in which case posting would be sporadic whenever Laptop 1 is getting fixed. FYI.
Hey, Desmond said stuff! Last person on the internet to remark on Desmond's remarks on Kirk Herbstreit (a "seemingly intelligent" guy) and Justin Boren (a "complainer"). Oh snap to both. The full smackdown on Herbstreit:
[Herbstreit's report] was wrong on so many levels. As a former player, unless I spoke to that coach and he told me it was cool, I would never have done that because he was still coaching a team that's about to play in a (SEC) championship game. ... His team, the first thing they saw when they woke up was that report. It was not fair to him and not fair to the players.
And on Boren:
At first, I was like, 'Wow, he's talking about family values.' And sometimes you use key words, and I read that, and I was like, 'Damn, this thing is just blowing up.' So I came up here (to Michigan) and I watched them practice. I was in the weight room working out, and two players started talking to me, and in general conversation they said, 'This guy, Desmond, was a complainer. He complained about workouts, he complained about practices.' And this is what they told me: 'Really, we're better without him.' I said, 'Wow, that's a different side of the story I hadn't even thought of.' I knew they were training in a way they've never trained before.
So then he went to Ohio State, and I was like, 'Well, how loyal can this guy be? All the colleges available to him, and he goes to Ohio State?' I talked to Rich, and Rich told me he talked to him, and Rich said (Boren) never was really happy no matter what they did. And Rich said, 'Desmond, I've got to do things my way.'
Howard also referenced the "raggedy" search process, which is kind, IMO.
The reaction here is, of course, "go Desmond." Rodriguez's lack of a family atmosphere has been so horrible it's run off exactly one player -- Mitchell, Ciulla, and Mallett all decided to pack it in before Barwis workouts even started. The manner and destination of his departure indicates a serious lack of character, and Michigan's not likely to miss him.
Hey! Gregg Easterbrook's a dummy! Remember this?
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?
Easterbrook wrote this in a huffy section of his interminable TMQ in January without providing one shred of evidence this was the case. MGoBlog duly called him a loser.
Now, thanks to the magic of West Virginia's we want more money, guy campaign, there is rock-solid proof Easterbrook is full of it:
As part of the ongoing lawsuit filed by WVU to collect Rodriguez's $4 million buyout for leaving, the attorneys asked for all correspondence between Rodriguez, his representatives and Michigan regarding the position.
A representative of Rodriguez's contacted Michigan on Dec. 11, WVU attorney Jeffrey Wakefield said on Wednesday. The contact occurred three days before Rodriguez met with U-M president Mary Sue Coleman and athletic director Bill Martin in Toledo to interview for the position.
December 11th, ten days after the Pitt game, was the first contact between Rodriguez and Michigan. But why care about common sense or facts when you can leer at cheerleaders? As I wrote in January:
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.
Expecting an apology from TMQ in 3... 2... 1... never.
And it begins. Not the streak, but the Penn State-Michigan series:
Michigan would lose the next three before embarking on its current 650-year win streak, which started when Joe Paterno was only 6,000.
Quiz for the future. Clay Travis is a young, bearded man who writes for CBS Sportsline. His latest column tackles the Buzz Bissinger thing -- which I really meant to say something about but never got around to -- in a way I wish I had. It's one of those columns that crystallizes something you've been kicking around in your head for a long time but never managed to figure out how to say. Key section:
What none of this banal criticism recognizes is that sports blogs exist -- and find an audience -- as a natural reaction to the patently false athletic images sold by the professional sports leagues and the majority of the mainstream media who cover these athletes. We know that athletes aren't saints and that in real life, outside the locker room, they don't walk around spouting the same tired responses to the same tired questions night after night after night.
Yet, athletes have become so coached in their responses to the media that it's the rare individual who is willing to step outside of the clichÃ© and say something interesting or revelatory. I challenge you to read the write-up of any game and see any quote by any player that you haven't seen a thousand times before. We've all been down this path before. Welcome to the sportswriting matrix, where we're all in crypto-sleep waiting for something to change.
I felt strongly about three things in the whole Bissinger meltdown:
- It was completely disingenuous of Will Leitch to claim "they're just commenters" when Deadspin is a Gawker blog that specifically picks people out of the rabble to be approved commenters and cultivates an aura of snark-snark-snark that leads to things like "Salisbury is a penis" or whatever. It's one thing if your comments are largely unregulated. Deadspin's are carefully groomed.
- Further, Leitch does the entire sportsblogging community a disservice by being presented as The Voice of The Internet when his blog is only tenuously a sports blog at all. I think of Deadspin as a Gawker blog about sports, with all that entails, more than a sports blog run by Gawker. Next time, Will, say tha
nks but no thanks and let Orson or Alex Belth or anyone else do it.
- A much more convincing defense of the Matt Leinart pictures would have been that for the majority of young people, those pictures make Leinart more likable because they are not pre-packaged "they played hard" comments.
- (four... four things I felt strongly about!) I kind of agreed with Bissinger, if you can agree with spittle. The whole Big Daddy Balls-Kissing Suzy Kolber aesthetic is a nihilistic and depressing thing unrescued by the blind hope of fandom, and I'm kind of embarrassed those guys get as much play as they do. This is also pretty much Will Leitch's fault.
This is not to say I don't like Leitch, a good writer with his heart in the right place, I just don't like Deadspin so much now that it's gone from the Leitch show to sometimes Leitch but quite often a bunch of other dudes who seem fundamentally meaner than him.
So... yeah, it's kind of awesome and kind of awkward that Clay Travis is trying to put together a five-on-five charity Quiz Bowl challenge with myself and Orson and Leitch and a couple of the KSK guys versus five blog-bashers. I was captain of the Quiz Bowl team in high school, you know. That's strictly Al Bundy small potatoes, though: one of the HSR guys won College Jeopardy(!), if Travis is looking for a ringer.
It's not me. Cris Carter wants to beat some Michigan blogger up because said blogger called him an asshole; this is not me. This a comprehensive list of all the people I've called assholes in this space:
- Mike Boren (indirectly)
- That guy who blocked that field goal during The Horror.
- Charlie Weis, which, in retrospect, is totally obvious
- Bret Bielema
- John Pollack, the hero of Tienanmen Square
- Terry Foster
- The ref who gave TJ a ten minute misconduct during the 2007 North Dakota game
- The universe
- yrs truly
- Coach K
- Alonzo Mourning ("our greatest asshole," according to Fictional Hubie Brown)
- Jason Whitlock
- Chris Webber
Other than Mourning and maybe Bielema and Boren, I feel pretty safe. The rest of them are either little dudes or so vastly out of shape I could just run away. (Chris Webber is neither but has no knees.)
Sword located. A "where are they now" on former MLB Sam Sword:
Sam Sword, a city recreation supervisor who played football at the University of Michigan and in the NFL, said preregistration was slow early in the week but the number of participants nearly doubled when youngsters showed up with parents on the day of the meet.
Sword lives in Palm Coast, Florida, and appears to be overcoming the indignities of his Michigan education quite nicely.
(Via Big House Blog.)
Etc.: Good piece in Slate related to Travis' "these guys are packaged and shiny" theory; Michigan has a German for next year or maybe the year after but he's six ten and can shoot. If you've got a hundred bucks you can sign up for Barwis' strength clinic and go "eeeeee" the whole time, or at least until he punches you in the trachea.
I doubt most of this blog's readership gives a crap, and so this will be the last word. And that word is... basically, Alabama fans don't care.
If you get a scholarship offer to play football, you damn well better produce or someone else is going to take your place. Is that mean? Maybe, but I don't see you bitching about kids on academic scholarships that lose theirs because they don't keep their grades up. Produce and contribute, you'll be fine. Screw around and don't live up to your end of the bargain, tough, deal with it.
The fucking point is the NCAA allows non-renewal of grants-in-aid. There are specific rules for that. And you don't really know how many student athletes will be back next year. Additionally, your point the NCAA doesn't want you kicking kids off the team is a very large assumption. If that were so, the scholarships would be for longer than one academic year.
Pete Holiday on the Fanhouse, listing options when Alabama has 86 kids in August:
A non-contributing scholarship player who is not putting in the effort to become a contributing player turns into a walk-on. Scholarships are year-to-year. Nobody is guaranteed four or five years of scholarship. Cook draws an arbitrary line at fourth year juniors to try to advance his argument, but even he concedes that revoking scholarships is within the rules of the game.
They know. They don't care. This is the fundamental disagreement. These Alabama bloggers universally declare that "THERE IS NO PROBLEM!" but if there is a problem, then well that's just life isn't it? They've given up on arguing against the idea that the Alabama roster is going to be a precarious place because of Alabama's massive oversigning and are now arguing that cutting a kid halfway through his collegiate career is okay. The rest of it... ad hominem of truly impressive length that doesn't address the fundamental point. It's telling that so many of 'Bama fans words on this topic have been about me and a couple of throwaway lines, and not about the actual matter at hand.
The best argument Alabama fans have is that there's a chance the roster crunch resolves itself without anything untoward happening to anyone on the current roster and that we should wait to see what happens before declaring Saban in the wrong. If you think having a chance at not doing something untoward is sufficient... well. Suffice it to say I don't.
A line at fourth year juniors is not "arbitrary." College degrees are designed to be acquired in four years. There is a major difference between cutting a kid who is about to get his degree and forcing a kid who is in the middle of his college career off of scholarship and possibly to another school.
'Bama either has a scam going or Michigan should institute the "Everyone Scholarship." The 'Bama bloggers are making much of this hypothetical "Bear Bryant scholarship" and how it will allow one of the incoming players in the class to not count against the 85 limit. If that's true it's a scam the NCAA should shut down. Think about it: it's a scholarship for walk-ons. Uh... remind me of the definition of a walk-on again?
In order for a National Letter of Intent it be considered valid, it must be accompanied by an athletics financial aid award letter, which lists the terms and conditions of the award, including the amount and duration of the financial aid. The athletics financial aid offer must be signed by both the student and his or her parent or legal guardian. Simply put, there must be an athletics scholarship for a National Letter of Intent to be valid.
This Wesley Neighbors guy signed a letter of intent with Alabama over offers from Georgia Tech and Vandy, so he should count against the 85 limit from the day he steps on campus.
This so peripheral to the argument at hand, though: even if the NCAA lets an actual football prospect with other SEC and ACC offers spend two years at Alabama without counting against the 85 limit, Alabama's still 5 scholarships over without a reasonable way to remove any more than one or two more players from the team legitimately.
Nick Saban isn't alone in this. You might be able to make a case that Saban has even less time for NCAA regulations, ethics, and the like than most coaches if you were really trying hard or an Auburn fan. Personally, I don't care and believe that even if Saban is the winner it's by a nose over everyone except Jim Grobe. I only wrote the thing on Saban because of the Gayle article that drew a picture of severe oversigning even when you take most of the reasonable departures into account. This is a general hobby-horse of mine.
Any anger you've seen about this thing is a reaction to the ludicrous excess and, frankly, overwhelming stupidity of most of the responses. I apologize that my temper has obscured my point if you really get worked up about the rhetorical deployment of profanity.
There should probably be some sort of Baby Godwin Award. IE: the instant you put up a picture of a crying baby, you lose the argument.
Put your face where your mouth is. Lord knows this blog isn't above calling someone "horseface." A well-executed ad hominem is funny. But it's poor form to taunt someone's appearance without providing the target an opportunity to respond in kind.
One down! At this rate they'll be done by April:
Alabama freshman defensive lineman Jeremy Elder has been arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree robbery.
Elder was arrested Sunday and remained jailed Monday morning on $120,000 bond.
RBR says that "this is one of the reasons you oversign in the first place"; not even I think Nick Saban plans for six kids to commit armed robbery by fall.
The final point in a pithy a form as I can muster: Schools should never put themselves in a position where they are actively hoping to remove someone from the roster.
There is also an interview of me over at Alabama Gameday for those wishing for even more kerfuffle; I don't remember some of those commas and believe they were erroneously inserted in the editing process but the gist of the thing is correct. Also, MATW has my back.
Fin. No more.
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.)
Recruiting summaries start tomorrow.
Braylon's going to shoot you. No. Seriously.
Don't make Shegos joke... don't make Shegos joke... check.
Gentleman Joe. Joe Tiller's just pissed because he can't move snake oil:
According to coach Brady Hoke, [Ball State commitment] Briggs Orsbon was offered a scholarship by Purdue Wednesday morning after Michigan stole WR Roy Roundtree from Purdue. However, Orsbon had already sent in his LOI.
Oh, so ethical, Joe.
Meathead, strike! I neglected to put Bret Bielema on the list of Big Ten coaches who had gone "avast!" and pirated recruits away from conference foes. Also, helpful readers pointed out Zook's fevered recruitment of cornerback Boubacar Cissoko before and after Carr's retirement and his boarding of the SS Hawkeye to plunder RB Jason Ford. This brings the total count of Big Ten coaches who know nothing of any "gentleman's agreement" in the Big Ten to nine, and essentially ten since Indiana temporarily picked off Jerimy Finch from Michigan.
Congratulations, Lake The Posts: if anyone picks off a Northwestern recruit your indignation can be righteous. Everyone else should probably check themselves.
What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. It's frickin' amazing the sort of rationalizations people will go through when it comes to Most Favored Team. For an example, see this morning's post where I'm like "we can still get Pryor!" Also:
We've seen how University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema doesn't take no for an answer in recruiting by the way he's convinced prospects who had committed to other schools to change their mind and play for the Badgers.
That persistence apparently also works when it comes to assistant coaches.
Herein Bielema's "persistence" in continuing to recruit committed players is framed as a positive character trait! This is the same paper -- based in Wisconsin, natch -- that published the thousand-year-old man's silly thing about how Rodriguez is going to get run out of the conference on a rail because of his swashbuckling ways.
It's a coach's responsibility to do right by the kids he recruits; opposing coaches can go swing.
Re-rebuttal. Black Shoe Diaries' response to this blog's Friday post on the recruiting ethics, or lack thereof, at Penn State already got smoked in its own comments by an alert Michigan fan:
The small lie: "While his former team was playing in their bowl game he was sneaking into the office to shred documents."
The truth: While Rodriguez was discarding documents, it was a workday about a week before Christmas, and he was cleaning out his office in full view of an office full of people, none of whom found anything unusual in what he was doing.
If you tell a small lie like like that to bolster your story, what else might be false?
An excellent question. Ironic, then, that BSD's post is titled "Success With Honor." It individually debunks each of the questionable recruiting hijinks cited here earlier, none of which I think is particularly compelling. It amounts to empty public relations, something JoePa specializes in.
The prime Shaw complaint:
I can't hold it against a kid for changing his mind, but I can hold it against him for the manner in which he does so. All indications were that Mike Shaw was going to Penn State right up until signing day.
Even after he made an official trip to Michigan the Penn State insiders didn't seem worried.
"I am visiting another school" is an indication the kid's verbal is less than solid. Heck, Penn State should have known for a solid month that Shaw's verbal was shaky, as he announced($) he would visit Tennessee and Michigan on January second. Solid verbals do not visit other campuses. The Penn State "insiders" lack of worry is the only data point to offset the fact that Shaw made an official to another school that had a scholarship offer out to him and then immediately went off the grid, refusing to speak to anyone from reporters to coaches.
I know JoePa is old and addled (and JayPa is young and addled) but this is not a solid verbal even to applesauce eaters, and Penn State should have been making other plans. Hell, Penn State ended up three commits short of a full class and had a crying need for RBs and WRs, they should have been looking for kids anyway. Applesauce is delicious, though.
The main point: Black Shoe Diaries has no goddamn idea what went on in the Shaw recruitment, because no one did. Shaw didn't say anything to the media for the last month of his recruitment. We do know that Penn State was directly informed on January second that Shaw's verbal was not secure (yes, even if he said "I'm 100% to Penn State" or whatever empty boilerplate he provided). If Shaw announced his decommit in a dickish fashion (which he did, for the record), that reflects on Shaw, not Rodriguez. Michigan called the kid and asked if he would like to be recruited. He obviously said yes, and found a place he'd rather go to school.
Suggestion: deal, because this guy...
The best idea. I referenced this in my Fanhouse post on the wizard hat thing, and now Vijay has fleshed out what may be the best idea ever for an early signing period. The issue at hand through the lens of the Roundtree commitment:
this is exactly why we shouldn't have an early signing period. Roundtree described a Michigan offer as a dream come true. He said he always wanted to play for Michigan. He got the offer, he gets his chance, and that's a happy ending for Roundtree. If he committed to Purdue, changed his mind and then decided to play for Michigan, it's the original commitment to Purdue that was a mistake, not his change of destination. Put Michigan's and Purdue's views aside, what Roundtree wants is to be at Michigan.
An early signing period does not prevent kids from making mistakes, it locks them into their mistakes. Instituting an early signing period to prevent kids from changing their minds is like keeping families together by outlawing divorce.
Word. Vijay's s
olution is an early signing period, as many coaches are advocating these days, but with a twist:
Allow recruits to sing a non-binding LOI any time from, say, July 1st leading into the senior year. Once they file the letter, their scholarship to that school is secure, and in return for that guarantee, the recruit agrees to have no contact with coaches or recruiters from other schools and not to make any official visits to other campuses. It also has the benefit of preventing other coaches from calling recruits who filed these papers (contacting them would be a violation). But, if a kid were to change his mind, he could simply file paperwork to rescind the NBLOI, at which point it's like he never filed one, and recruiting is back on.
He explains the advantages of such a system in further detail at IBFC; I am 100% sold. The NBLOI solves most issues with persistent recruitment of kids without restricting their ability to change their minds. The only change I would make is to forgo the idea of an early signing period entirely and just allow any recruit to sign a NBLOI after, say, June.
Explication. Kevin Quick was dismissed from the hockey team suddenly; we now have an explanation:
Sources said the defenseman stole a credit card, used it as a personal piggy bank and spent thousands of dollars.
I read somewhere -- where, I don't remember -- that his roommate, Carl "Bork" Hagelin, was pretty upset about the situation, so it was probably his credit card. (Via Kukla's Corner.)
Quick's dismissal, though unfortunate, isn't that damaging as long as the rest of Michigan's defensemen remain healthy. Michigan planned on bringing in potential first-round pick Brandon Burlon from the St. Mike's program that's provided Andrew Cogliano and Louie Caporusso in recent years, but didn't have any money available and thus couldn't sign Burlon to a LOI. Now they've got a slot for him even if Mark Mitera decides to return for his senior year. If Mitera leaves Michigan will bring in near-walkon Greg Pateryn, who's had an excellent year in the USHL and finds himself ranked 162nd in the CSB rankings. Either way Michigan should be seven-deep again on D in 2008, a welcome change from poor JJ Swistak and Danny Fardig taking shifts.
Yost Built has your Saturday recap, a frustrating 5-5 tie against the Redhawks. Michigan fans are paranoid about the refereeing when linesmen aren't setting up 2-on-1s by tripping Mark Mitera.
The three-point weekend still moved Michigan into first place in the CCHA, RPI, and Pairwise with three weeks left in the regular season. Michigan has a one-point edge in the standings but is going to have to finish with a blaze of wins if they expect to hold on:
- Idiotically, the first tiebreaker is league wins instead of head-to-head.
- Both teams have two games against mediocre Ferris State left and two games against one of the CCHA's three terrible teams (10th place Lake State in M's case, 11th place Ohio State in Miami's), but...
- Michigan's other two games are against Michigan State. Miami's are against last-place Western.
It's hard to see Miami dropping more than a point or two the rest of the year. Michigan may have to sweep State in a Munn-Joe weekend to lock down a banner.
Yeesh. A further blast of sour grapes from Penn State fans:
Now Penn State has been known to take a defection or two in their day, but to my knowledge Penn State has never heavily recruited a kid after he verballed to another Big Ten school. Maybe they call them up and ask them if they're sure about their decision, but they don't visit the kid and harass him over the phone every week. It's up to the recruit to contact them first. I'm probably sounding Holier Than Thou, but from what I've read and what I've heard I honestly believe that's how Penn State does business.
1) Except this year, when they were going after an Illinois commit. 2) Why is it any more or less ethical to do it to Maryland or Notre Dame? Morality doesn't stop at the conference boundaries. 3) You have no idea how the Shaw recruitment played out. He picked Michigan; chances are he wanted to hear from them.
Even more off-kilter:
what you get when you implant in-bred trash from the backwards state of West Virginia into what used to be a honor thy opponent but beat their asses when you play them conference, you get an astounding 4 de-commits running to Michigan. Stealing recruits from your own conference members was something of the Big 12 or SEC, apparently Rich Rod sees no problem in going after recruits that had an understanding with their originally schools. Wolverine fans might laugh and say "Whats the big deal, coaches chase recruits all the time before LOI day."
Yes, like your coach.
And you know what's awesome that I forgot? In 2003, Purdue stole TE Garrett Bushong away from Michigan State. Add in Tim Brewster's persistent recruitment of OSU commit Willie Mobley and I present a list of coaches who have gone after other Big Ten schools' verbal commitments:
- Rich Rodriguez
- Joe Paterno
- Mike Brewster
- Mark Dantonio
- Jim Tressel
- Kirk Ferentz
- Joe Tiller
The only ones not on the list are Pat Fitzgerald, Bill Lynch, and Ron Zook. I'm 100% sure Zook has gone after other Big Ten team's verbal commitments because Ron Zook lives to recruit; the other two have probably tried and failed.