alternate headline: man does job
Programming note: I'm moving, which is going to seriously cut into posting time today and possibly the next couple days. It also was not accounted for in my estimates of what I could get done re: other Big Ten teams before the season. Monday the weeklong Michigan preview extravaganza starts; prepare thyselves.
I have the powerful desire to sex you on the puce shag carpet. One thousand cocktails to whoever gave Michael Phelps the sexbomb Spitz mustache he's sporting on the cover of Sports Illustrated. (It's Wednesday, Swindle, get to it.)
If you're not tingling, I don't want to know you.
Phelps, by the way, will be honored at the Wisconsin game. Insert hacky "can he play quarterback?" joke here.
Vote for Marques. Dude's never going to play for Michigan but he can make the Deadspin Hall of Fame. Vote or die. Slocum is currently just above the 75% cutoff line.
R. Lee Emery is wearing JoePa's skin. No, seriously.
The Big Ten Network needs to start running this during every commercial break instead of their current annoying university promo stuff.
All Hail Dan Feldman. When it comes to Michigan beat writing, the Daily's Dan Feldman is killing all comers. He was the guy who uncovered all sorts of useful information during the Women's Football Academy while the Free Press was concerned with Tae Bo. Just a couple days ago he clarified the George Morales situation that's had everyone confused since February; he wrote two other interesting articles on the same day and then dumped some useful bullets in a blog post. Excerpts:
- Redshirt freshman guard Mark Huyge was in crutches. With redshirt junior Corey Zirbel out with an injury, Huyge started last Tuesday’s walk-through at right guard. Redshirt junior David Moosman started the walk-through at center. He moved to right guard after a few plays, and redshirt freshman David Molk played center.
- J.B. Fitzgerald stood out to Jay Hopson as the best freshman linebacker.
- Freshman safety Brandon Smith, who Rodriguez said could see significant playing time, said the talk of moving to linebacker was just a rumor, and it was never seriously discussed.
It the starting line for Utah appears to be Ortmann-McAvoy-Molk-Moosman-Schilling, with Perry Dorrestein the first guy off the bench and Hold Me I Feel Like Dying the second. (He's foreign.)
Moose and squirrel? Actually, the second guy off the bench may be true freshman Rocko Khoury, who's been impressing at center:
“Rocko is working in there [at center] and he’s willing to put his face on somebody,” Frey said, when asked about redshirt freshman David Molk.
“He’s getting consistent with his snaps,” redshirt junior lineman David Moosman said. “When you’re as young as he is, and he hasn’t played center before, it can be tough making sure every snap is good. But he’s doing really well and becoming more consistent.
There is the possibility that Rocko will play next to Moosman at some point, at which point the band has to play "Rocky and Bullwinkle" after every play. There will be no discussion.
There are additional interesting quotes in that article, like this on the slot electrons:
Clemons, working out of the slot position, has spent a good amount of practice time with Martavious Odoms and Terrence Robinson and isn’t ashamed to admit they have something on him.
“They’re quicker than me. Faster? We can always line up and race,” Clemons said, laughing. “They’re real explosive and they’re tough guys too. You look at them and you think they’re undersized but they don’t play like they’re small. They play like their 6-2 even though they’re both 5-9. It’s exciting to watch them work because they work real hard. They’re very explosive, very quick and fast.”
We should place bets on which freshman skill player is has the most buzz after Utah. I'm going with Odoms.
So... what? The last post was a dump of the various things I've heard/experienced that influence my opinion. There are some other things -- a varsity-jacket clad cadre of large men in my Astro 111 course, my Anthro 101 course, Scott Matzka (hockey player, good shorthanded) posting stuff to the EECS 380 usenet group -- but it's just more of the same.
This is the equation we've set up in all varsity sports to some degree or another:
Large Group of Academically Underqualified Persons +
40-hour-per-week year-round commitment +
Grad rates at or above the University average =
Solve for X, and you get the kind of stuff detailed recently by the Ann Arbor News.
I mean, duh. The only group of people dumb enough to believe you can take star athletes whose uninspiring high school GPAs are almost entirely fraudulent already, give them a full time job, and then get those star athletes to graduate without hijinks are dickwad Notre Dame fans driven mad by their program's 15 years of total irrelevancy. And, apparently, some but not all Penn State fans.
The Ann Arbor News knows this, of course, and knows that a similar examination of any program in the country would turn an equal or greater level of academic offense. So the editor puts on his I Are Serious Cat face and rumbles about "perception" and "reality" and how Michigan believes that it is better than everyone and isn't this troubling, isn't it? And we get sidebars about how poor Brent Petway couldn't get into the music school when he discovered its existence... two years into his time on campus. Thanks a million, AANews.
This was going to be a big long article about the place of the athlete in the modern university; in it I would link the piece I wrote last summer when Jim Harbaugh was shooting his mouth off about the general studies program and the like, but when I re-read it I realized I didn't have to or want to change it, so I'm going to bump it to the front page here in a few minutes.
The executive summary:
- Athletes work harder than just about anyone at a university.
- There is a giant sports entertainment industry in this country.
- There are many not so bright people at the U getting undergraduate degrees in deliberately unchallenging majors; the intent of research 1 universities is to shovel a ton of students through cheaply and use their tuition to build particle accelerators.
- We should stop pretending that something as hugely important to so many people as sports are can't be a valid field of study.
To this, I'd to add... This is the powerpoint summary of Michael Oher's life:
- Born in inner-city Memphis to a single mother with several other children by another father; will eventually be one of ten siblings all living under one roof.
- 0-7: lives with mother, a drug addict who is nice enough but provides zero in the way of guidance or support and disappears for ten days at a time when money is available.
- One day when he's 7: Social Services gets wise and comes to yank the kids into foster care. The boys run, but are eventually tracked down.
- 8-10: alternately lives in foster home run by ludicrously fat woman named Velma who keeps kids in line by sitting them and spends time on the streets when the Velma-home is too much for him. Momentarily hospitalized for psychological evaluation; escapes. During this period of time goes to school mostly because they have free food. Exists as a sort of child hobo.
- 10-15: reunites with mother in hopelessly dystopian, lawless inner-city Memphis project. Does not go to school, ever. Decides he would like to be Michael Jordan. Becomes freakin' enormous. Technically spends a year at high school, ish.
- 16: Driven to Briarcrest Christian Academy by local do-gooder "Big Tony" in the hopes that he and Big Tony's son can attend the school because they're athletes. Oher, at this point, is itinerant, sleeping on whatever floor or couch seems most accessible that night.
- 16-18: Virtually, then actually adopted by Sean Tuohy, a now-wealthy former Ole Miss point guard, given home to exist in. Expensively tutored nonstop for three straight years.
- College: "Dean's List" at Ole Miss, all SEC.
When Oher dipped his toe into the NFL draft waters this January he found he would be a late first round or second round pick and, thus, a millionaire. Envisioning Oher's life without academic fraud is left as an unpleasant exercise to the reader.
Who is served by academic ineligiblity and drop-out players? Not the school, not the player, and not the NFL. There must be some level of academic effort; most of these kids will not become pro players and will have to find jobs. Most of them also have little business being in college proper, which is not surprising since they were selected for other reasons.
College football has conspired with the NFL to become the sole feeder system for an immensely lucrative industry. College football itself makes millions from the efforts of undercompensated individuals who would otherwise never attend college. It therefore has many responsibilities to those individuals, who it has trapped in a hypocritical system. One of these responsibilities is to, within reason, ease their academic passage so that they can attempt to use their standout skill to make a living. Michigan is doing this, and though I described the Watson and Riley one-month, four credits B+ as a "scam," it's a upright scam. The whole system is a scam that declares by fiat that this incredibly taxing mental and physical effort is worthy of no credit while Astro 111 -- which, Ann Arbor News, I am delighted to report that I spent approximately one hour a week on outside of class -- is.
This is Theron Wilson now; I stumbled across his MySpace page and a few other things when I was trying to remember the details of his life.
I have no real idea how he's doing. He played overseas for a few years after the UPS stint. He's got a suit. He details a lot of failed business ventures and frustrations in the real estate market and appears to be attempting to enlist the reader in some sort of get-rich-online scheme of dubious value. He says he's in marketing, says he's got a college degree, says he's got a kid. I think he's doing ok.
Did college do him good? I kinda suspect he struggled through EMU with a lot of easy classes and maybe a smattering of academic fraud -- non qualifier, remember -- and got a degree of some sort. Was it helpful? Where would he be if the skids were not greased? At some point do you stop hanging on, and where do you go then?
Data. Data. Data. Data.
Data: This is a scam. There are a great number of things detailed in the Ann Arbor News article that are questionable and few that are anything more, but this is a scam:
Hagen set up independent study courses for two Michigan football players with just more than a month remaining in a semester. Rueben Riley and Gabe Watson dropped other classes and enrolled in an independent study course with Hagen on March 18, 2005.
Sucking a kid into an independent study with a month to go in the semester and then lobbing four B+ credits at Gabe Watson for writing a single twelve page paper that probably says "FEED ME SO HUNGRY WANT PORK CHOP" on at least six of those pages is something close to academic fraud. The university protests "this isn't Auburn" at one juncture in the article, but on the academic integrity continuum that extends from Vanderbilt on one end to Auburn on the other, that's a lot closer to Auburn.
Michigan is systematically funneling kids at risk of losing their eligibility into independent study courses of questionable content, and will in extreme cases fob some credits at players for four weeks of work in a 15 week semester. The Ann Arbor News establishes that.
Data: Mr. Bancroft, one of my history teachers in high school, was an odd bird, an elderly bald man with wild eyes and tattered ideals prone to grandiose pronouncements and strong opinions. A small but hopefully telling indicator: most people just called him "Bancroft," even his students. Though he was naturally drawn to athletes, when the Quiz Bowl team â€“ yrs truly a member, natch â€“ needed a damn fool to drive us to Washington DC and be our chaperon so we could go about .500, eke into the single-elimination rounds, and get crushed by that goddamn Virginia magnet school, he volunteered. He was a nice guy.
When you are in a van for ten hours you naturally get to talking about various topics, and the subject of Theron Wilson came up during various debates. I don't remember why. But I do remember what Mr. Bancroft said.
Theron was a black kid from Detroit that Bancroft somehow had stumbled across â€“ how was never explained â€“ and kinda sorta taken in for a couple years. Theron was six foot eight. He was also a prop 48, ineligible to play as a freshman. He was the center on the inexplicably great Eastern Michigan teams featuring Earl Boykins. When the Eagles beat Duke in 1996, he had five blocks. A few months later he was selected in the draft, but the wrong draft: Theron was the La Crosse Bobcats' third round selection in the 1996 CBA draft.
A year later, we drove to Washington DC to play the white and Asian kids of Thomas Jefferson, that damn Virginia magnet school, and Theron Smith was driving a UPS truck. "I don't know," said Bancroft. "He's just hanging on."
Data: Michael Oher, star of Michael Lewis' The Blind Side. For the purposes of our conversation, the heart of the book has to do with Michael Oher's schooling, or lack thereof. For a variety of tragic (and probably sadly common) reasons, Oher mostly attends school when he feels like taking advantage of the free lunches provided. From ten to fifteen, Oher lives a virtually feral existence in a little slice of Somalia mysteriously transported into downtown Memphis. He decides he will be Michael Jordan, and he does not go to school, ever. After a quasi-year at a downtown Memphis quasi-high school, Oher is taken out to Briarcrest Academy, a Christian school in the white section of Memphis by a guy named "Big Tony"; Briarcrest hems and haws and decides that the Christian thing to do is have an enormous black guy play on the basketball team.
Oher eventually falls in with a Briarcrest supporter named Sean Tuohy, a former Ole Miss point guard turned rich white guy. The Tuohy family ends up adopting him, and Oher ends up commiting to Ole Miss February of his senior year of high school. Despite three years of nonstop private tutoring, Oher needs a telescope to see the grade point and test score combination the NCAA requires.
At this point, Tuohy spends a lot of money and time tracking down ways to fraud â€“ there's really no other way to put, it â€“ Michael Oher into Ole Miss, striking upon two separate gold mines: a friendly psychiatric clinic that gets Oher declared "learning disabled" mostly because he has an average IQ but hasn't learned anything yet, which allows Oher unlimited, guided, untimed attempts at standardized tests, and a series of "courses" BYU should be ashamed they offer: ten-day remote equivalency courses during which he has to read about famous personages and answer five questions about them. Each set of five questions cleared allows Oher to replace a semester of F with one of A.
Oher qualifies, and starts his freshman year at Ole Miss.
Michael Oher is a very large learning disabled man with approximately three years of actual schooling and a fraudulent academic transcript and Michael Lewis writes this about him in his afterword:
IN THE SEASON AFTER this book's publication Michael Oher started every game as Ole Miss's left tackle. The Ole miss football team was so consistently inept it was hard to believe anyone on it could be any good, but Michael's play landed him on the All-SEC second team, while his grade point average (3.75) landed him, for a semester, on the University of Mississippi Dean's list. (He was honored at halftime during one Ole Miss basketball game for his schoolwork.
#$*#! I didn't carry a 3.75. I knew I should have spent my middle school years roving around inner city projects trying not to get shot.
Data: erstwhile Michigan running back Max Martin, a native Michigander who moved to Alabama for the last few years of his high school career, got in trouble a lot, and it started early. When Michigan checked up on Martin's progress for the first time, they found that Martin hadn't gone to any of his classes. He told the curious coaches that he didn't know he had to go; none the kids he knew at SEC schools had to.
After a couple seasons of fumbling and off-field transgressions, Martin transferred to Alabama. Their coaches' character check was this: "is he in trouble with the law?" At that moment, he was not.
Martin lasted one semester in Tuscaloosa.
Data: I have a friend who is getting her PhD in a humanities field and, as such, spends much time being the best GSI any of her students will ever come across. She is deeply conflicted about the presence and purpose of athletes in her classes and across the university in general, and has presented the following pieces of information in our discussion on the subject.
- When she was the GSI for a large lecture class, two football players three times her size were amongst her students. She was momentarily terrified of having authority issues, envisioning a future wherein the large recalcitrant men set a defiant example for the rest of the class, until she started talking and the two enormous guys were the first in the class to begin dutifully transcribing notes. Both were sweethearts, she says, and passed the class legitimately.
- The professor running this class has a reputation for checking up on the progress of athletes in his classes and pullin
g those who are struggling into... yep... independent study classes.
- Multiple times during the semester, athletic department representatives would drop by the class to make sure the enormous men were where their class schedules promised they would be.
Another semester, she was teaching freshman comp and had a men's swimmer fresh from high school, who struggled badly. At one point he tearfully confessed that he was overwhelmed. Practice was hard. School was hard. Travel was hard. Everything was hard, so hard, and he couldn't just quit one or the other and what was he going to do?
Data. Football takes lots of time:
Division I-A football players reported spending an average of 44.8 hours per week on their sport. That doesn't include the hours involved in taking care of their academic responsibilities.
Any school other than Duke or Vandy or Stanford will take any player who meets NCAA minimums that, on a non-athlete application, would be laughed out of the admissions office, and Duke and Vandy and Stanford (and the Ivy leagues) all bend their admissions standards severely. The NCAA has instituted punishments for schools that do not keep their players in school and on track for a degree.
Orson Swindle: The BHGP post was completely in jest
Though, as always, that's an impressive shotgunning there.
i considered that, i really did
Orson Swindle: They're completely f***ing around.
Brian: aw f***
are you sure?
Orson Swindle: Pretty sure.
But their response could be worth waiting for.
Brian: aw, goddammit
I, uh, well... yeah. Hawkeye State emailed me something one line and to the effect of "you knew I was joking, right?"
Aw... goddammit. I didn't, actually, except for the Ayatollah bit. I did consider it, as mentioned in the header, but eventually fell on the side of "real" because everything else I have seen multiple times on various blogs and message boards. Even though everything in it was really stupid it seemed plausible. I should have known better, as rampant stupidity is most certainly not a part of BHGP's usual repertoire.
I am the stupidest.
Does this count as a camp commit? Instate offensive lineman Rocko Khoury has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming ASAP.
Yes, I am terribly excited to deploy "naughty moose" once more.
Totally Uninformative Update: Google has nothing. ESPN is very down on him, giving him a 70 -- lowest score I've seen a M recruit get in three years of Scouts, Inc. coverage -- and a lukewarm review. The upshot($):
Khoury is a solid prospect with some upside. He needs to keep developing physically and as a player. We think he could be a kid that would benefit from a red-shirt year.
(Like, um, virtually every lineman ever.) Scout and Rivals both have him at four stars, though The Wolverine's Josh Helmholdt is higher on him than most. Khoury picked up offers from the instate MAC schools and Michigan State after making some camp stops, then spent a day at the Michigan camp, picking up an offer immediately. Though he's been measured at 6'6", Michigan is reportedly looking at him as an interior line recruit.
Michigan now has four offensive linemen in the class and will be looking for one or two more, probably two. I would expect a tackle and an interior lineman. With Graham Pocic off the board and Zebrie Sanders kind of a longshot there aren't many big names left that have indicated Michigan is in a strong position. I'm not sure whether Michigan thinks Kevin Zeitler, the kid from Wisconsin who just picked up an offer, is a tackle or guard, but he seems very high on Michigan and is a good bet to end up in the class. The probable sixth member of the OL class is anyone's guess.