For a time he danced.
But he will not return.
As previously reported, Norfleet is gone-gone. Despite him telling his former teammates he'll miss them on Instagram and every insider-y thing saying it was already a foregone conclusion, some of us held out hope for as long as it took the coaches to say it was official. Michigan posting a fall roster without him on it was more confirmation. Tuskegee publishing a roster with him on it means it's time to give up the ghost.
Michigan enters fall camp with 2 or 3 open scholarships for this year, depending on whether you count the long snapper. Norfleet would not have affected next year's numbers.
I am sad.
Have a middle-schooler? I mean in a parenting way, not a hostage way. Don't take child hostages. I shouldn't have to tell my readers this but some of you probably tweet recruits, so you have to be told everything.
Anyway, Jordan Morgan's having a camp for seventh and eighth graders:
Details and registration at Morgan's website. Don't tweet at recruits or take child hostages.
Photo day, 1993. Featuring hirsute Eli Zaret.
Via Dr. Sap, naturally.
How are watchlists going, then? Like this.
Yes, but interesting since it's this guy. Disney CEO on the future of ESPN, which it owns:
“I think eventually ESPN becomes a business that is sold directly to the consumers,” Mr. Iger said.
ESPN, which is majority-owned by Disney, could use information from that direct consumer relationship to customize its product and enable more personalization, which will engage fans in a “much more effective way,” he said.
Mr. Iger cautioned that such an offering is not “right around the corner”; even five years down the line, he believes there won’t have been “significant change” in the pay TV business.
Except in scale, which will continue to contract as more and more people who don't care about sports figure out they couldn't get through their Netflix queue without turning into a TV hermit.
But you're a robot. Nick Saban on romance:
Lots of life lessons in the new Nick Saban biography. pic.twitter.com/l2MFUy07vm
— Ben Cohen (@bzcohen) July 27, 2015
I have no idea what to do with this. So I have given it to you, to boggle and gawk at.
Some confirmation. There was a report on the board a few days ago that Dennis Norfleet would be seeking a transfer to Tuskegee. We couldn't confirm it on any open social media channels, but it was a weird enough location that it seemed true. And it appears he's at least exploring the possibility:
A spokesman at Tuskegee University told MLive on Monday afternoon that the university received official permission to speak with Norfleet about a potential transfer to the school over the weekend.
I'll be here by the seaside waiting for a return that will never come.
Further adventures in Steve Patterson. They include being so cheap that one of your football assistant coaches ends up having a trial during football season, but this is the moment when Michael Scott goes to a customer and kills it:
Patterson says he believes he knew what [Jimmy] Sexton was up to. “I’ve known Jimmy for 30 years,” he says. “I told him if he wanted to come here and drink bourbon and eat barbecue and talk about Saban, that’d be fine. But I told him not to come here if he just wanted to get Saban an extension and a raise at Alabama, which I thought was his intention all along.
“Of course, Jimmy took great affront to that, which is fine. He was just doing his job. But that was the end of the conversation. I never talked to Saban and we never made an offer.”
Correct, Steve Patterson. It's especially impressive since the rest of the article is filled with star-struck Longhorns thinking "THIS IS TEXAS" and believing Jimmy Sexton's crap about how there's too much pressure to win at Alabama. People lost their damn minds when Sexton came around with his old song and dance.
Well done not screwing around with that and locking down Charlie Strong, Steve Patterson. Not well done: everything else.
This is a reason Hoosiers is good. I agree with Rodger Sherman that Famous Movie Hoosiers hasn't aged well, especially when the integrated team shows up, but I mean come on:
Gene Hackman plays the role of Norman Dale, the down-on-his-luck coach that we're supposed to be sympathetic towards. We find out that he used to coach in college, then was in the Navy. Then later, we find out that the reason he got fired from his college job is because... he hit a kid.
At the beginning of the movie, it's tough to find out why we should like Dale. He's not presented as funny or likable or charismatic or even nice.
Then, we find out that he punched one of his players, and he goes from a mediocre guy I don't care about to somebody I strongly dislike. Dale was an authority figure who used physical force against a person he was supposed to protect and nurture, which in my opinion is the least sympathetic type of person in the world.
I kind of think this should be a one-strike-and-you're-out deal. If you don't have the self-control to avoid hitting kids, you shouldn't be allowed to coach kids anymore, ever. I want this person to fail and think the people of Hickory are bad people for letting this person coach their children.
A lot of times, a character with obvious flaws redeems those flaws over the course of a movie. But Dale never conquers his anger issues, consistently putting his assistant coaches -- one of whom has a heart disease, one of whom is an alcoholic attempting to recover, both of which are types of people who shouldn't be subjected to unnecessary, sudden amounts of stress -- in charge.
Dale is presented as a jerk and remains a jerk all film long. Are we supposed to be proud that all he did was yell at the players and refs and didn't actually hit anybody?
That the head coach and pretty-much main character in the movie is a nearly unredeemed jerko is probably historically accurate. It is also a more accurate representation of life—people don't change much—than any of the Angels In The "Lidz" Store movies that Sherman apparently keeps in a constant rotation at SB Nation headquarters.
This impression only grows stronger because Sherman's next criticism is that there is no montage scene where all the players decide they're going to honor their dead grandmothers and/or General MacArthur. Hoosiers is not The Mighty Ducks. This is not a problem.
3. Which program will emerge as a potential Top 10 team?
Michigan. … John Beilein's team is a bit of an afterthought heading into next season. It won't stay that way for long. Walton, LeVert, Spike Albrecht, and Zak Irvin (77 made 3-point shots last season) give this team a savvy and experienced perimeter while both Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman got valuable minutes last season as freshman. Ricky Doyle, D.J. Wilson, and Mark Donnal should stabilize the post and if the Wolverines can get more out of the “stretch four” position they should be loaded for bear.
It should be a fun year for a lot of reasons. Probably not hockey-related ones.
Too soon. Toys R Us appears headed to bankruptcy, or at best a near miss:
Insurance companies are cutting back on their coverage of Toys “R” Us Inc. suppliers, bringing another headache to a retailer that has suffered more than two years of losses, people familiar with the matter said.
Coface SA and Euler Hermes Group, which sell credit insurance to vendors, are canceling some policies and declining to renew others, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn’t public. The carriers may still negotiate with some vendors to keep providing some coverage, one of the people said.
Losing coverage could raise concerns for toy suppliers as they weigh the risks of shipping to the retail chain, which scrapped plans for an initial public offering in 2013. Credit insurance protects suppliers in case a retailer fails to pay them for merchandise, as in the event of a bankruptcy.
Unfortunately this is too early to point the finger at Dave Brandon and scream "j'accuse!" It does seem like he was brought into an insoluble situation to take the fall, which is a nice karma thing.
Really. I'm typing this blind since my eyeballs have rolled so far back in my head that you can touch my optical nerve:
Don't touch my optical nerve, or take child hostages, or tweet recruits, or let Rutgers in the Big Ten.
Etc.: Wolverine Historian updates his A-Train tribute. Piesman Trophy is go. Bowl games don't spring teams to better seasons. Talking with John Wangler. Talking with Tyler Motte. BRING YOUR CHAMPIONS. Michigan-shaped biscuits? I'm listening. IS MY WIFE THOUGH?
Dennis Norfleet's murky situation has blown up into the first real PR crisis of the Harbaugh administration. Unfortunately for Michigan, it's one they're legally prohibited from saying much of anything about. FERPA restricts their ability to say much other than "he is on the team" or "he is off the team." Right now Michigan isn't saying either. They've gone with this:
A Michigan athletic department spokesman told The Detroit News that the situation was "an internal matter."
All right then.
Harvel added about Norfleet's situation: "If only one kid out of 120 is missing class, they must be the No. 1 program in the country (for football players' academic achievements)."
Harvel has repeatedly said things like "we're not going to let him be a victim," outed private conversations he had with Fred Jackson, publicly bemoaned his decision to switch away from a Cincinnati program on the verge of hiring Tommy Tuberville, and generally done everything in his power to make academic standards like "go to all your finals" seem nefarious. Usually when high school coaches blow up like this it's because their kid has seen his scholarship yanked for a dubious reason, or none at all.
It was Harvel who leaked the apparently erroneous information that Norfleet was gone, which turned the story from message board rumor* to something that every local news organization has dedicated big stories to. It was Harvel who went full steam ahead with the information that Norfleet was not doing things expected of him in the classroom. He is the #1 reason this is a thing. Because Norfleet is a "victim."
I mean, you know me. I just about challenged Brady Hoke to a fight about Norfleet's misuse during his tenure as head coach. But if Norfleet is no longer on the team because he missed several classes and did not attend at least one and possibly more finals, that is on one person: Dennis Norfleet.
And Jim Harbaugh cannot be concerned with just Norfleet here. It's his first semester as head coach and he's just going to let that slide? What kind of message does that send to the other 84 kids on scholarship? Is that likely to improve or degrade the overall academic performance of the program?
The answers to those rhetorical questions are obvious to everyone except Harvel. Privately resolving issues with the head coach—and there have been a number so far that have been so resolved—is more likely to create a positive outcome both in the short-term individual player level and for your relationship with a major school of interest to your players. But Harvel has decided that grandstanding without information that is, you know, correct is more important.
I hope Norfleet makes it back. His coach isn't helping.
*[Albeit one that was more credible than your garden-variety internet rando mutterings since it had the backing of John Borton, an editor at Rivals. It is not hard to trace the path here: Borton names Norfleet, Nick Baumgardner starts checking it out, hits upon the King coaches, and then the tempest takes over the teapot. This is why I don't report on potential transfers anymore. I would rather not spend a week with my head in an alligator's mouth, thanks.]
Via Sam Webb this morning:
Contrary to multiple published reports citing comments for Norfleet’s high school coach, Detroit King headman Dale Harvel, the senior kick/punt returner has not been dismissed from the football team….
“He has been suspended for the past three weeks,” the source said.
He may or may not make it back.
A Detroit King assistant did tweet out something about trying to get Norfleet to graduate. That seemed to imply that Norfleet could be up for a graduate transfer; it also implies that if there's any damage to his transcript it's not so far gone that he's doomed.
the last of the famous international playboys
This rumor had been floating around for a couple weeks now, picked up steam on Rivals this morning, and has now been confirmed by Nick Baumgardner:
ANN ARBOR -- Dennis Norfleet is no longer a part of Michigan's football team, according to his former high school coach.
Martin Luther King High School football coach Dale Harvel told MLive on Tuesday that Norfleet has been dismissed from Michigan's program by coach Jim Harbaugh.
"Evidently he was dismissed from the team, Dennis informed us he was no longer on the team," Harvel said Tuesday afternoon. "Something about a disciplinary thing between him and coach Harbaugh. Whether it was academics or something internal, I'm not sure. He just said they had a disagreement and he was let go."
I have heard it was academic. Not sure if that's a slackness that is now verboten under the new regime or a Norfleet morale issue leading to breakdowns elsewhere. [UPDATE: Steve Lorenz says he skipped "more than one final."]
The writing was on the wall as far as Norfleet's career went when he featured as a tiny cornerback in the spring game and was mercilessly picked on for the only offense of the day. With that secondary and that WR corps, the fact he was on defense was a death knell. He may have continued returning kicks and punts; even that job was going to be put under major threat by Jabrill Peppers.
This does get Michigan to 85 scholarships, give or take a walk-on. With a couple of medical hardships likely to be on the way, there should be room to add a fifth-year WR or two, as Mike Spath has suggested might happen.
I will now go sit by myself in a dark room and listen to the Smiths.
I say we call him "Quick Burst, Mo Hurts." Nobody is on board with me on this. [Fuller]
- The Question:
- Seth: After the spring game which player are you bullish on, and which are you hedging?
Ace: Brian and I did a segment on this during the podcast, so I'll keep this relatively brief. (That's called a teaser, folks.)
MAURICE HURST had arguably the best performance of anyone during the spring game, lining up at multiple spots and blowing up plays at all of them. His first step, which was his greatest strength coming out of high school, is still very quick after adding weight, and he looks very ready to see a significant role this fall.
Given that some practice reports had him as a potential starter, it's hard not to be a little disappointed in Logan Tuley-Tillman's showing, which featured three flags and a couple olés. He was a major project coming of high school, to the point that this year was the earliest he could feasibly see the field, so it's not a devastating blow that he doesn't look ready yet. He has so much upside, though, that it would've been really encouraging to see him push into that starting five.
Adam Schnepp: I was looking for a weakness. There had to be one; the practice reports had practically reached tall-tale status, but now I see why. It almost feels like I need to pick someone else because this is too easy, but I'm bullish on JABRILL PEPPERS. I know that we've been bullish on him since last August, but now it's like Raging Bull(ishness). Except not about boxing. Or self-destruction. I was really just going for the bull imagery here.
As a hybrid space player, Peppers is going to have to read run/pass and react immediately. On the Blue offense's first play Peppers peers into the backfield, reads the handoff from Morris, and comes off the edge to take out Shallman, limiting him to a one-yard gain.
While his run stopping was adequate for an HSP, I was more impressed with Peppers' coverage skills. He played almost exclusively with a seven-yard cushion and not only was able to jam guys who had already built up a head of steam but consistently re-routed them to the side he had a help defender. I can't find a good example of this on the video thanks to BTN's zoom-o-matic cameras, but Ace can confirm that if I tweeted the above as many times as I said it to him you'd all either unfollow me or think I accidentally set up a scheduled tweet.
I'm hedging on BRIAN COLE. It's important, however, to delineate "hedging" as separate from "disappointed with." It's hard to judge a receiver when they aren't targeted often, and doubly so as the offense's predilection for two- and three-wide sets often left Cole on the sideline. I expected him to compete for time with the known commodities; I did not expect him to have the same number of receptions and receiving yards as 5-9 walk-on fullback Joe Beneducci. I wouldn't rule him out as a contributor in the fall*, but I expected the ball to be thrown his way more often last Saturday.
*(I don't think any of the receivers have locked down a spot with the exception of maybe Darboh, who was lined up against a dude who'd been a corner for maybe four practices.)
[Jump for the defensive backs are gonna be good, even if the passing game makes them look so.]