in town for free camps
Note: lately, I've been dumping a lot of things into UV that could rightly stand on their own as posts, and I'm going to try to split those things out in the future. Often I'll hold something for a day or two until the next edition and by that time every Michigan blog has already said their piece and I feel stupid. Also, much of the time I end up throwing a bunch of disparate stuff together -- that's kind of the point -- and it mucks up the categories. If you click "baseball" or something on the right sidebar you get posts with baseball, but often leetle pieces of baseball in a larger post.
So, anything that's news or news-y I'll post ASAP, and anything program-related and longer than a few lines will also get split out.
House. I should probably start plugging Michigan-relevant stuff I post on the Fanhouse since every couple days I get an email asking why I haven't covered X when there's a post up over there. So: Want Michigan tickets? Cut your legs off.
(It's already happening!)
On a more serious note, yes, it's a little annoying that handicapped fans get to cut in the season ticket line and get their PSLs waived, but those were probably conditions of the settlement and in the long run said settlement saved Michigan some coin, and a lot of seats.
The point. It's fashionable, and somewhat accurate, to bash Bill Simmons these days. But everything you need to know about why sports columnists are thrashing around in their death throes can be found in his post-Celtics victory column, and it's all about his dad. I am a little sick of Simmons' schtick, incredibly sick of Boston teams winning championships, and was sort of annoyed at parts of the column, but...
Dad bought a single season ticket for the Celtics for the 1973-74 season and carried me into the Garden for the next four years, sitting me on his lap and even letting me sleep on him during the famous triple-OT game against Phoenix in 1976. When I became too big to sit on his lap, he bought a second ticket even though we really didn't have any money at the time. And we've had those two tickets ever since. How do you repay someone for a lifelong experience like that? You don't. You can't.
...this and the discussion that follows it is about the strange thing fandom is, something only a lifelong fan could communicate. Often, I think, we start pulling for a team by proxy. I wanted Michigan to win when I was a child so my dad would be happy. When Michigan was trailing by 21 in the Water Buffalo Stampede Minnesota game, my girlfriend at the time wanted Michigan to do well so I wouldn't accidentally shove her off the couch again in rage. Now that I'm friends with the sort of Auburn fan who involuntarily screams things like "GO LESTER" on every run longer than three yards, I want Auburn to win.
At some point a switch flips and the rooting is no longer by proxy and now you're just sort of infected with this thing. And it makes you do and think very strange things about completely irrelevant external events, and coping and dealing with this weird little disease of passion requires a sort of support group.
In general, newspapers have chosen to strip the passion out of their sports section in favor of objectivity. They've been so successful at it that Bill Simmons -- a "blogger" according to sneerin' Rick Reilly -- is the most famous and influential sportswriter* in the country.
*(writer. Wilbon, Kornheiser, etc... TV.)
Man down. Alabama cornerback Lionel Mitchell, he of the severe back problems that sort of held him out of spring practice, -- brutal! -- is yet another medical scholarship recipient. Will Alabama make it? This is exciting!
Via MVictors, which helpfully picks out this sentence:
"If you can't make it intense, and make the environment an environment that elicits greatness, and get into that environment, coach, and make kids energetic about, and fired up about putting 500 pounds on their back and hittin' reps and running sprints until they throw up and pushing themselves to the absolute limits of their mental and physical capabilities then you're not doing anything, you've wasted your time with your science because they're not going to grow if they're not pushing themselves to those points..."
Dude, Faulkner just threw up in a bush.
Ohio State quarterback Antonio Henton has reportedly told his Buckeye teammates he's headed for GSU, an ESPN writer confirmed to the Statesboro Herald Wednesday. Georgia Southern's B-term for summer classes begins next week, and second-year GSU coach Chris Hatcher said he couldn't discuss transfers until then. Henton could not be reached for comment.
That leaves Ohio State with eh starter Todd Boeckman, Pryor, and thousand-year-old walk-on(? - I think) Joe Bauserman. They aren't much deeper than Michigan, though they are more experienced/hyped/diapered.
Dash. Wisconsin people say don't get your hopes up for Charter or Time Warner:
"I think they're going to be really, really lucky to get it done by football season," Prof. Barry Orton told The Capital Times. "It means they have to turn this around in a month and a half or so. That's tight. I would think we're safer to say (a deal will be done) probably by basketball season and maybe by the end of football season."
Yes, yes it does. NBC's extended their contract with Notre Dame another five years, and they're very proud of it:
"We are thrilled to continue this landmark partnership with Notre Dame," Ebersol said during a conference call. "Notre Dame defines who we at NBC Sports are: from the Olympics, to the U.S. Golf Open to Notre Dame."
From the Olympics... to golf... to Notre Dame football! NBC sports: the home of soft-focus quasi sporting events that only appeal to white people!
Meanwhile, the Rock Report writes from an alternative universe:
Who kills the magic at Notre ame? Often times it's the very network that supports it... NBC has been a good partner, but it is time ND started demanding more from NBC.
Past snark, the new NBC contract is lame for ND, the Big Ten, and college football in general. It guarantees seven home games and an eighth "neutral site" game that ND contr
ols the gate and TV for. If you fit that into a conference framework, ND has four home games and four road games like any Big Ten team was, then three nonconference home games and a "neutral site" game... if a Big Ten team tried that their nonconference schedule would be Wisconsin's. And with home-and-home slots given over to USC, Navy (-ish), Michigan, and three Big East teams, Notre Dame is going to have to push out traditional rivals like Purdue and Michigan State to make it work.
To ND fans' credit, they loathe this state of affairs as much or more than Michigan fans hate the idea of the MAC-MAC-Utah at best-ND nonconference schedule that seems to be Michigan's fate for the next thousand years. Again, I say: the NCAA can stop this if they care to. Force five true road games a year. Limit commercial time in broadcasts. Stop trying to squeeze every nickel out of a supposedly nonprofit enterprise.
Chances of this happening: zero.
Etc.: New IU blog Cannot Falter highlights some interesting chatter from the Knight commission on APRs and infractions; here's a theory as to why Mendenhall hates Zook. 20 questions on M from the OZone... IMO, not up to Gerdeman's usual standard. Recruting notes from UMHoops.
(What a good job I did of cutting this down.)
My sophomore year at Michigan was 1998, one of only two years during the long and glorious reign of John Cooper that featured an Ohio State victory in the Game. That one was in Columbus and so I watched in a crowded dorm room that quickly settled into a pissed little funk. A few doors down, we heard the wrong kind of shouts coming from another room. Someone was pulling for Ohio State. Loudly.
It's inevitable that a few poor souls who grew up fans of Ohio State want to be engineers or lawyers or American Studies PhDs (#1 in the country, baby! woo!) and common sense leads them to That School Up North even if their skin crawls at every block M they see. And surely there are a few Michigan fans who wish to learn the fine art of motor vehicle repair. They still carry the rivalry in their blood.
Thirty years of back and forth smack-talk. "1968 - ONE WE WON'T FORGET" meets "HOW ABOUT 1969?" Three different people mention that "Roses are Blue." One Ohio State fan scribbles scores from the Ten Year War down. And, of course, "FUCK MICHIGAN." You stay classy, etc.
This is the heart of rivalry, at once stupid and glorious.
*(Which is a totally fascinating book I demand some Ohio State blogger dissect thoroughly. Page 82 is titled "The Causes of Interceptions" and starts "Since the vogue nowadays is to think positively, some pedagogues no doubt will look askance at such an obviously negative approach as this." Woody Hayes may have been a linebacker-punching, hate-filled lunatic but the number of coaches who would deploy "pedagogue" as a snooty put-down in 2008 is between zero and Mike Leach, and you have to respect that.)
Brian (or whoever reads this email),
My name is Josh and I was one of the OSU students up in section 47 and the one who actually started the chant. Indeed, we were chanting Tres-sel and had no idea that what we were saying would be misheard as ass-hole. Only later when an employee, not an usher, came running up the steps to our section did we realize what had happened. He asked us what we chanted because they all thought we were chanting ass-hole on the court. Frankly, we were shocked. We quickly apologized and said we chanting Tres-sel and made it clear that we would never chant ass-hole.
We can't speak for other Ohio State fans just as you can't speak for other Michigan fans, but I would like to assure you that we would never dishonor Mr. Rodriguez or any other staff/faculty/student with that type of a chant (though some of the commenters on the article would not be quick to believe).
I hope you can understand that we were only trying to rekindle the spirit of our Rivalry, the best in college sports, not to trash talk your new coach. We hope that Mr. Rodriguez can throw more fire into the Rivalry and make our future games more enjoyable for both sides. Trust me, while a victory over you guys in football is awesome, the dominance that Tressel has had these past couple of years has really taken the edge off the Rivalry. I think my favorite game, as a Senior at OSU, was the game two years ago in the Big House. Our Rivalry needs more games like that. I am sick and tired of hearing how the SEC has better rivalry games than we do, and we are glad at least you were able to take care of an SEC team in your postseason, while of late we have been less than stellar...but we are improving.
On a funny side note, we had ushers up in the section threatening to throw us out. Obviously we weren't and we weren't jeering them. But they did say that you guys don't do anything like that at our stadium, which we were quick to remind him that there are students/fans that do worse to us. But, we never swore at them or did anything to offend them except remind them of our rights to free speech.
To conclude, I hope that this email clears up the confusion of what happened at the game yesterday, and so you at least know that there are indeed classy Buckeye fans that do want our Rivalry to be the best it has ever been. Congratulations for winning yesterday and we look forward to seeing you guys in the Big Ten Tournament and at the Shoe next year. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me back. I've always believed that we can be rivals on the field but work together off the field to better one another.
Go Bucks........and *cringe* Go Blue
I've gotten a couple other emails to this effect, though none quite so restrained, and must conclude that they're telling the truth and that they weren't chanting "asshole," for what that's worth. It's still rude to scream throughout someone's speech and the idea that the rivalry needs to be "rekindled" a year after a #1-#2 game is pretty laughable. I wouldn't have attempted to compare Michigan fans' dastardly tendency to invade Columbus and get harassed and physically threatened with their actions, either. But FWIW.
On the topic of Vijay's nonbinding LOI idea:
I see one problem with the NBLOI idea you discussed - Roundtree would still be at Purdue. It sounds like he never would have left unless he had known Michigan was interested. He couldn't have learned that under an NBLOI, because Rod couldn't talk to him.
Maybe, maybe not. In our hypothetical world where the NBLOI is an option, it's just an option. Roundtree might have "committed" to Purdue without signing the NBLOI. And even if he had, Michigan could communicate their interest through Roundtree's coach, and at that point Roundtree could ask for the NBLOI to be rescindent. Joe Tiller would then get to offer that Ball State kid.
If that sounds like it kind of defeats the purpose of the NBLOI... well, sort of. There still couldn't be direct contact if the player had signed and the kid couldn't go on a campus visit. Someone like Michael Shaw would either have not signed in the first place or signed, then repealed his NBLOI; either would be a clear signal to Penn State that Shaw's "commitment" was not particularly strong. Despite the tussle with BSD after Signing Day, I do sympathize Penn State and Purdue's positions here, especially Purdue's. (Penn State should have seen the Shaw thing coming, and indeed most PSU fans were fretting about a potential defection for a couple weeks before it actually happened; the Roundtree thing was much more sudden.) The NBLOI and the mechanisms would put some actual teeth behind the idea of a "commitment," would save coaches and players time, annoyance, and effort, and would create even more jobs in the ever-expanding NCAA bureaucracy. Everyone wins.
Hearing rumors about a damaging article that he [Carty and the AANews] is about to publish about athletic department violations...any comments on this?
I haven't heard anything specific that hasn't been batted around on message boards, but there's enough independent smoke out there that, yes, there's something nasty coming down the pipe from the Ann Arbor News. There appear to be two camps of panickers:
- Aieeee! Florida State!
- This is going to be embarrassing, but that's all.
I don't know which side to believe but lean towards the latter out of simple disbelief that anyone in the Michigan program would have the sort of underhanded dealings that the FSU people did.
If I had to guess, I would say that the big reveal is going to be something like the recent USC and Auburn quasi-scandals where kids finagled their way into easy classes and/or abused "independent study" with cooperative professors without the cooperation of the athletic department. In the Auburn case they had someone rat out a professor whose independent "study" classes were wholly fictional; here I've heard different versions of the severity involved. One skeptical take from a message board I frequent that jives with other things I've heard:
The gist of it is that Carty's jihad against the general studies program has led nowhere. It's a real program with lots of non-athletes (as well as athletes) in it. But lots and lots of FOIA requests led to something that is somewhat troubling (although not out of compliance).
It turns out that a bunch of athletes have enrolled in independent study courses over the summer. These are legitimate courses, but arranged one-on-one with faculty members. Turns out there were a bunch of them in Psychology and the Ed School over the past few years, many supervised by just a few faculty.
It appears that the work was actually done, and non-athletes did similar work. But it's not too difficult to portray this as a scandal, which it appears that Mr. Disingenuous is trying very hard to do. Not making a lot of progress, but this will be the basis of his bid for immortality and a ticket to a real newspaper.
Remember, there do not appear to be violations here. It's not an Auburn situation where kids got grades for no work.
If all they've got is "isn't it suspicious, hmmmmmmmm" but the kids have actually done the work required of them this will be a big dud, albeit an irritating one that will work its way into the "scUM" lore of PSU, MSU, OSU, and ND message boards.
There is the separate question "should athletes be taking independent study classes en masse," the answer to which is definitely "no." But that's life when you have players spending something like 40 hours a week year-round on their chosen sport.
2/17/2008 - Michigan 80, Ohio State 70 - NCAA bound, baby!
...is that we go like 4-1 the rest of the season, then sweep through Illinois, Michigan State, Indiana, and Purdue to grab a shock NCAA tournament bid. Being a sub-.500 team that actually kind of sucks, we're sent to the play-in game in Dayton. Seventeen thousand Michigan fans pack the arena to 150% of capacity as the Wolverines blow out Monmouth.
From there, it's pretty rote: one ho-hum victory after another and a second national championship banner. Michigan basketball fans go from abused to jaded and irritating faster than Bill Simmons. The end.
Or maybe not, but it's amazing what three consecutive wins will do for one's psyche, even if they're against utterly dire, mostly dire, and kind-of-dire competition. The last time we checked in on the basketball team around these parts the results ("I want to die," or words to that effect) fully warranted this blog's "emo" tag; nowadays you can visit your Michigan message board of choice and find multiple threads on how this team is so going to the tourney next year, which it almost definitely isn't.
While the bipolarity of fandom is a well-established phenomenon, bipolarity of basketball teams isn't. The last time Michigan played OSU they hung tough for most of the game until a crippling stretch late wherein they couldn't find a shot even close to "good"; the resulting drought lasted for a good chunk of the game's closing ten minutes and turned a narrow Michigan lead into yet another dispiriting loss. This time they continued scoring via turnover and steal and even the occasional drive to the hoop. A month ago against Minnesota they were so depressing it seemed Michigan would never, ever have a good team again; they have now won three straight.
Hell, midway through the first half against Iowa I got an IM from Black Heart Gold Pants impresario Oops Pow Surprise to the effect of "you have the worst basketball team in the known universe," which was true at that moment in time when the score was 22-7 and Michigan had 7 FGAs. I did not receive the corresponding "AAAAARGH AAAAAARGH AAAAAARGH" note during the 18-2 second half run that erased Michigan's deficit and staked them to a lead they would maintain for the rest of the game, but I sensed it in the cosmos so that was all right.
What happened to the clueless team from earlier in the year? Well, with Harvard spiraling its way towards last place in the Ivy League we can safely assert that it takes more than a couple months to organize a system at maximum entropy, and it takes more than a couple months to turn the smartest basketball team in the land into a confused gooey mess. The progress Michigan was decidedly not making from the Amaker era -- at points during the first Ohio State game the offense was indistinguishable from the random, purposeless ball movement of yore -- has all come in a rush.
So for now the future is bright. Check back in two weeks.
- Rushing the court? Seriously? Whoever started that should be given a swift kick in the appropriate place. I realize this is a beaten-down program, but Ohio State isn't ranked and is (now) likely headed for the NIT. It would have been much better to stay in place and deliver a "drive home safely" chant at the OSU retards occupying the upper reaches of Crisler.
- Speaking of, there was again an organized opponent student section, which, like... WTF. The athletic department has got to put a limit on the number of seats anyone can buy and spread these people out. They did provide a moment of terrific irony by chanting "asshole" at Rich Rodriguez during halftime. Buckeye fans will never change. I have a feeling we're on the downswing of the Well Behaved Buckeye Fan pendulum after the relentless focus OSU had on not being cavemen last year. As soon at that relaxes the slide begins; their pathological antipathy for Michigan is so deep-rooted it can go no other way.
- I say this every time I mention Thad Matta, but I don't think much of his ability to do anything except recruit. What was that 2-2-1 press? Kelvin Grady can't do that much yet but his handle has always been the best part of his game; OSU didn't execute a single effective trap off the 2-2-1 and gave up a lot of open looks because of it. And it was immediately apparent that the only Wolverine with even the vaguest hope of checking Koufous was Udoh, so why did OSU settle for a bevy of perimeter shots during the three-or-four minute window in the second half in which Udoh was on the bench? Zach Gibson comes in the game and Koufous sets up for a three-pointer. Uh... okay.
- Since 75% of college basketball is recruiting, it doesn't really matter.
- The Gibson conundrum -- he can't defend anyone and is the only backup post -- means that incoming C Ben Cronin is going to be key next year. He's 7'1" and ponderous, according to the gurus, but it's hard to ignore a stat line with 17 blocks on it even if this team photo indicates this isn't exactly downtown Philadelphia:
There's one guy on the team Cronin isn't a foot taller than. (Picture during Cronin's sophomore year, so he's probably less spindly now.)
- Michigan had four turnovers at halftime and nine for the game. I... uh. Is that legal? I don't remember.
- Eleven Warriors recap.
- Anthony Wright's emergence into a guy who can shoot and maybe be useful for 20 minutes a game is a huge boost to the program going forward. I don't think anyone was counting on him to do anything except be mini-Ba; now he's obviously the best SF on the roster. Faint praise, perhaps, but since the State game he's shooting 39.3% from three. Though can't really do much else at this point -- in that stretch of six games he has 28 three-point attempts and eight two-pointers, though he's made six of them -- no other SF on the team can do anything. Wright turning into a useful piece is like adding another Stuart Douglass to the recruiting class.
- Anyone looking for more extensive basketball coverage should check out UMHoops.com, a promising new blog with a self-explanatory name.
This is the first year I've really followed recruiting much, so maybe this is an old issue. But, what is the deal with Charlie Batch serving as a "recruiting mentor" to Pryor? Granted, it seems like a great idea - had anyone beyond a few local DIIIs had any interest in me in high school, I'll bet such a mentor would have been a godsend. That said, is it legal? Is he a sort of "agent"? I'd be suspicious if I were the NCAA, unless of course this was something approved fifteen years ago that I've never heard of.
Batch's involvement with Pryor is totally on the up-and-up. This comes up in hockey all the time, as most of the top prospects have "family advisors" that are basically agents without the contracts. As long as the prospect doesn't sign with the agent in question (or take eligibility-crushing gifts/payments from him, cough cough Reggie Bush cough), the NCAA can't really do anything. Each recruit is allowed to bring one other person with him on an official visit and get that person's airfare/other stuff paid for; Batch is occupying that slot for Pryor.
Of course... the Batch thing is pretty weird in another way. Pryor has two parents, neither of whom he lives with, and the ol' live-in godparent. None of these people are going on Pryor's trips with him -- though now it seems that the only trip Pryor will go on with Batch is the M one, so "trips" is something of a misnomer.
Speaking of that Pryor guy...
Let me get this out of the way upfront - I am a die-hard OSU fan. Also, let me make it clear I am not writing to say 'ZOMG ED MARTIN.' In fact, for the purposes of this email, let's assume Pryor did take a Corvette/gifts/money from an OSU booster.
I am writing more about your presentation of the situation. You have sources, you stand by them, and are right more often than not. Thinking about the Lloyd Carr situation, you were famously referred to as 'not exactly a rock of journalistic credibility', when in fact, that's exactly what you were. You called it before anyone else that I know of. And wrote a long post about how you were right, and did the right thing. (It's not a rumor.)
My point is this; you of all people should know that blogs struggle to be taken seriously in this day and age as a real news source, yet people like us do use them as a source for news. When you write something like the Carr article, backed up with sources and stick to your guns, you give blogs credibility.
When you write something like the Pryor piece...you fall back into what the New York Times and every other major outlet sees when they see the word 'blog'. Innuendo about Pryor - which could be far more damaging to his career than your leaking Carr's retirement was to his - is out of line. Have sources (and for God's sake, not a Scout article). Back it up. Be the 'rock of journalistic credibilty' that you claim to want to be. OR be a blog like Perez Hilton.
But you can't have it both ways.
Thank you for a great site, and wherever pryor goes, I wish him the best. Especially when he's tooling around Columbus in a sweet '99 Corvette that I'm not sure he can even fit in. (kidding - I have no inside sources...)
Perez Hilton? Ouch.
Ben has some salient points, and many OSU fans have emailed to suggest that the infamous Sarniak meeting could have been to warn him off some potential eligibility-compromising behavior and not an opportunity to sit around twirling their mustaches and laugh evilly about their diabolical plot to abduct poor innocent Terrelle Pryor. There's nothing here approaching proof of anything except questionable choice in tuxedos.
Am I a bitter Michigan fan spinning fantasies about OSU to make myself feel better when Pryor commits to OSU? Well, yeah, sorta. Except for the "fantasies" part. OSU fans will no doubt disagree but from this perspective it looks like there are three iron-clad cases of Ohio State boosters flouting NCAA regulations in just the last few years. As any hacky features writer knows, three is a trend.
It's terribly frustrating to see that trend get established and for OSU to catch nothing from the NCAA, especially when Michigan's basketball program was pretty much obliterated for the same see-no-evil approach to people outside the program providing extra benefits.
As far as Pryor goes... well, there is a lot of evidently weird stuff going on. The quotes from his coach are unusual. Bringing Batch in is weird. His living situation is weird. His relationship with Sarniak is weird. Sarniak's brief cameo in that Scout article is weird. And the rumors flying around are crazy. It's worth commenting on, isn't it? I guess you can be upset that I'm implicating OSU in potential wrongdoing, but I hope I've made clear that it's only one guy's opinion and that guy has no pretense of being a neutral party. Thus the trim colors, you know.
One more extremely useful item:
Brian,The Corvette in the picture you posted is at best a 2004 model (C5). All of the 2005 and later models (C6) have a sleeker body design and standard headlights (the older models had the flip-up lights). So if I am TP, unless I am into "vintage" Corvettes from 2004, I would be offended by someone giving/loaning me a Corvette--as a bribe or not--that was not a current model or a classic from the 60's. FWIW, a used 2004 Corvette with a soft top (as it appears) would probably Blue Book for about $35,000, slightly less than $60,000 you'd have to drop for a brand new 2008 convertible.Regards,Erik
He's offended! He's coming to Michigan! Word.
Given that we have about 7-9 unused scholarships right now, what's your opinion on how to use them? Let's assume we only fill 3-4 of them with guys that Michigan normally recruits. Would you sign some lower level talent to fill the spots or save those spots for next year?
My guess is that if you can target a position of need (LB, OL, S) you take a flyer on some guys and see if Rodriguez and Barwis can turn them into something. How would YOU handle this recruiting class in the final two weeks? I'm particularly interested in QB. I REALLY hope we sign someone other than Pryor and don't bank our entire QB situation on Threat and the hope of Pryor. We should do whatever we can to lock up one of these two FL quarterbacks or get a JUCO or something. I'm worried that there isn't enough talk out there about us targeting other QB.
If the staff can find a guy who they believe has a chance to contribute, they should take him. Brandent Englemon was a two-star afterthought Michigan yoinked from Kentucky on signing day who turned into a solid player and multi-year starter. You don't bank scholarships just to bank them.
But does Rodriguez have guys in mind who would jump at the late offer? I don't know. He and the staff are beating the bushes for uncommitted guys who he thinks can help out, turning up two-star running backs from Mississippi and small-school quarterbacks in Florida. I expect we'll find a few more names emerge in this last week before signing day, but a 25-man class looks unlikely. That's fine. 23 or 24 and an open scholarship isn't going to kill Michigan.
One odd item: if the chances of getting to 25 are so remote, what is the deal with Michigan's lukewarm pursuit of commit Christian Wilson? Even if he's not an ideal fit with the spread he's a four star athlete who at least has a shot at being a Big Ten level performer. He has a better than zero percent chance of being a contributor; if he decommits Michigan is likely to replace him with nobody. Weird.
Re: QBs. As noted, Michigan is pursuing BJ Daniels and Justin Feagin from Florida and seems in good position for both. Both have a couple of meh schools as their other finalists a
nd then big flashing offers from a Michigan program with a gaping void at QB. There is no way one doesn't take a shot at it.
I don't know what will happen with Pryor, and neither do either of Michgian's QB targets, but the situation with both is this: Michigan can take silent commitments from them with the understanding they might choose to sign elsewhere should Pryor commit, and the silent commits can rest assured the likes of Memphis and Syracuse and USF and Rutgers are not going to turn them down for a lack of room on signing day. I kind of expect both to end up at Michigan if Pryor does not. The temptation of the job is just too great.
The last mailbag had a bit on Scott Shafer's run defense and the possible distorting effects of lots of sacks. A reader points out one stellar performance that can't be put on the pass rush:
Quick note from a WMU alum about the impact of sack yardage on Western's 06 rush defense. I think you are correct in noting that WMUs pass rush was a significant element in their final NCAA ranking. I would note that Western turned in a few games where you could infer that Shafer schemed well against the run. The best example being their win over Northern Illinois.Holding Garrett Wolfe to 25 yards on 18 carries isn't a small feat.
No, especially since that was the year he was a fringe Heisman candidate. Wolfe led the country with 1,928 rushing yards.
OSU fans are, as you might expect, displeased with the Pryor items over the last couple days:
Leading the charge in trying to unravel something is MGoBlog, which is really a shame, because Brian has spent the better part of the past two weeks railing against the "jihad" WVU has launched against Rodriguez.
Two major differences: I am not a member of the Michigan athletic department with a credulous reporter in hand, and I am not making obviously false statements like "it's like nothing ever existed." I am making a fairly logical leap from "OSU fans are basically Alabamans" and "OSU coaches are having dinner with a guy who lets Pryor borrow his Corvette" to "something fishy is going on." Point the second has been covered over the past couple days and has been confirmed by Jeanette locals, OSU's Scout site, and Scout guru Bob Lichtenfels.
Point the first: Basically Alabama. Ohio State boosters are awesome. Local dealerships are exceptionally generous with their test-drive programs:
Clarett sat out the 2003 season after he was charged with misdemeanor falsification for filing a police report claiming that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment was stolen from a car he borrowed from a local dealership. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Ohio State suspended Clarett for misleading investigators, and for receiving special benefits worth thousands of dollars from a family friend.
"Family friend" indeed. A poor kid from Youngstown in his first year in Columbus just happens to have a close personal friend who owns a car dealership.
You can find super-awesome jobs:
During his sophomore season, after he claimed the starting quarterback job and beat Michigan â€” a feat that cinches your celebrity in Columbus â€” he walked into a local health-care provider looking for a summer job and came out carrying an envelope with $500 in it. The cash was given to him by an Ohio State season-ticket holder named Robert Q. Baker, who bragged to co-workers that he owned Smith.
You can find a place to live:
Salyers claims the Roslovics reneged on a verbal agreement, allegedly orchestrated by then Ohio State assistant coach Paul Biancardi, to pay her $1,000 a month plus reimburse expenses if she would provide for Savovic during his time at Ohio State. In depositions, Salyers describes how over a four-year period she became a surrogate mother to Savovic, giving him food, shelter, clothing, transportation, spending money and other expenses.
(It should be noted, given the OSU denials later in that article, that Savovic was later declared ineligible and OSU was forced to vacate the games he played.)
There's a pattern of behavior here even if you don't include the documentation of widespread academic fraud in the New York Times, the Maurice Clarett ESPN the Magazine story, and the $3000 AJ Hawk just happened to have lying around. (I know Hawk looks like a caveman, but he's probably heard of a bank.) It involves Ohio State fans with lots of money ignoring NCAA regulations. Sure, all these things could be a completely innocent athletic department beset on all sides by those who would destroy it without cause. Occam's razor says otherwise.
(No doubt this assertion will draw "OMG Ed Martin" responses from the yokel crowd. 1) Ed Martin is not a pattern, he's a dead guy. 2) Martin was a Detroit numbers-runner looking to ingratiate himself with local basketball talent and maybe launder a few hundred grand or so, not a super-enthusiastic booster. Until Martin was provided gratis Final Four tickets he had no connection with the program. You are comparing one outlier with no real interest in Michigan's athletic program except as the most conveniently local source of potential NBA players to a pattern of malfeasance; you are stupid.)
Ohio State fans saying "I'm shocked, shocked!" when the pristine reputation of their athletic department is brought into question is somewhere between comical and infuriating. Please. Just because you've managed to rationalize it away doesn't mean everyone else has to.
Does it matter in the long run? Likely no. The NCAA has all the investigative might of Inspector Clouseau. The appearance of funny stuff will remain but an appearance.
The bigger issue here is Pryor's eligibility. Michigan fans remember the glorious three-month period when Kevin Gaines wasn't a psychopath, Jamal Crawford was eligible, and Michigan basketball looked like it was on the upswing under Brian Ellerbe of all people, and cringe. This is what happened to young Jamal:
Jamal Crawford is a rookie with the Chicago Bulls and making a lot of money. But Crawford still wishes he was playing basketball at Michigan.
"I miss college a lot," he said. "I live in a college area now because I like to be around college kids."
Crawford felt trapped last year when he decided to leave Michigan following his freshman season.
He already had served an eight-game suspension for one mistake -- sending the NBA a letter that said he intended to enter the 1999 draft before he enrolled in college. He had missed six other games and was ordered to repay $15,000 in benefits to a Seattle businessman, whom he had lived with for three years during high school. The NCAA later said he could give $11,300 to the charity of his choice. If he didn't pay, Crawford would lose his eligibility.
The infinite kindness of the NCAA: instead of paying the Seattle businessman 15 grand you don't have, you can give Jerry's Kids 11 grand you don't have. Crawford entered the draft, blew up at a pre-draft camp, and was picked 8th overall as Michigan fans clutched their head between their knees in a futile attempt to keep it from exploding.
Crawford was a nice kid with a lack of foresight who got offered stuff and, as most people would, accepted. Pryor's been offered stuff and has evidently accepted. How much stuff and how much of a paper trail there is will determine if the NCAA comes knocking.
It would be just like Angry Michigan Safety Hating God to allow Pryor to commit to Michigan, start six games his freshman year, and then have the NCAA pull a Crawford; this is kind of what I expect to happen because recent experience has taught me that this is what I should expect.