"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
give the guy on the left some autocannons and the resemblance is uncanny
Mainstream media have begun to catch on to the scam Nick Saban is running down in Tuscaloosa. Via everyone in the world who emailed, twittered, or IMed it to me, the Wall Street Journal on a small section of Saban's insatiable desire for more spots in his recruiting class:
"I'm still kind of bitter," said former Alabama linebacker Chuck Kirschman, who took a medical scholarship last year. Mr. Kirschman said Mr. Saban encouraged him to accept the scholarship because of a back problem that he believes he could have played through. "It's a business," Mr. Kirschman said. "College football is all about politics. And this is a loophole in the system."
The WSJ does miss an opportunity to draw a stark contrast between the rate of medical scholarships at Alabama and elsewhere in the SEC, even though they dug up the numbers. I used the LOL for good and made a graph. Here it is:
Just a coincidence, surely.
This is actually the less odious bit of Saban's merry disembowelings since the kids he cuts via this method get to stay in school on scholarship (and don't hurt the APR), but it's still a way for him to skirt competitive equity. He gets to try out four extra kids a year and then dump them. The NCAA's in a tough spot since it's tough to discern between scam artists like Saban and legitimate cases like Antonio Bass, but suffice it to say this is a dangerous precedent to set. The NCAA has to close this loophole.
Help a blog out. So Blogs With Balls is trying to get in on the next South By Southwest and needs internet help. If you could register with SWSX and then thumb-up the BWB topic idea, this would go some small distance towards helping this happen. Do it to it.
Turner return broached, unlikely. In the aftermath of Justin Turner's decision to transfer there have been rumors about a potential decision to reverse that decision once his family talks him off the ledge:
[WTKA's Sam] Webb says Turner spoke to his mom about the decision but not to other members of the family, some based here in Michigan. They are coming up to talk to him and "see what was on his mind" including discussing "even up to and including whether or not he would entertain the thought of going back."
However, Webb thinks that outcome is unlikely. Even if Turner did decide to return his apparent lack of conditioning would probably make him useless this season.
It's a deke. Srsly. Michigan Hockey Net has been posting some old Michigan hockey clips of late; here's Brandon Kaleniecki breaking out the greatest deke in the history of hockey:
"He's got two and that was a weird one!"
And fin. Michigan goes in front of the infractions committee this weekend, at which point the final stories about practice (practice we're talking about practice) get written and attention returns to the stuff happening on the field. I have the vague hope some of the stories will have the perspective Bruce Feldman($), a guy who's travelled the country and seen the inside of dozens of programs, does:
If you've been to more than a handful of college campuses in the past decade or talked to any football coaches, you'd know that what the school was accused of are probably the most minor major violations you'll ever hear about.
Many folks cringe whenever they hear the excuse of "Well, everybody does it," but the reality here is this stuff goes on with top programs all over the country. Quite frankly, there's been much bigger offenders on these rules than what the NCAA has apparently caught in its net.
While it sucks that Michigan got dragged through this, nothing in the final report suggests anything except institutional incompetence and confusion about rules most people are confused about. My favorite evidence of the latter is the NCAA official site declaring the rules "nebulous," "difficult to understand," and "even harder to track."
Feldman is a guy who brings some authority when he says similar violations would be turned up just about anywhere; if he's right about that the main difference between Michigan and other schools is the attitude of the local paper.
Other numbers. Freshmen were omitted from this site's Fall Roster Overanalysis since they don't have a track record, but I did mean to link to Ace's focus on those freshmen. Most guys come in about where you'd expect except maybe the ever-expanding Richard Ash. At this rate, in two years we'll get to find out if having Norman Bombardini clog the middle is a good idea.
With Ace's post and a helpful reader sending a long a saved copy of the spring roster I can highlight a couple additional interesting weight changes:
- Stephen Hopkins is down from a Wisconsin-like 236 to a still-pretty-Wisconsin-like 227.
- Christian Pace put on 21(!) pounds since the spring roster came out. I don't think it's possible for all of that to be good weight but if he's already 280 he should be physically ready to play center in the Big Ten when Molk graduates.
Sauce: weak. Les Miles defending the Elliott Porter oversigning fiasco:
He noted that Porter’s scholarship offer was still good, just postponed a semester. He said if somebody made the same offer to one of his sons, they would “certainly be disappointed that day, but recognize that, long-term, it’s not a bad thing.”
Miles said grayshirting can benefit players who could use time to allow their bodies to mature. “He might take his time to come in shape and to benefit his body and compete,” he said.
This is also called a "redshirt," except in that case you get to go to school like you were promised over a year ago. It's a simple choice between not signing that extra kid and taking the chance at going into 2010 with 83 or 84 scholarships or taking a kid who's been living in a dorm for a month and telling him GTFO.
Also note the headline on this thing "Miles defends grayshirt rule," as if there's some crazy NCAA mandate that requires him to dump Porter. The paper is attempting to move the responsibility for the thing from Miles to an NCAA bylaw. Since that bylaw is "you can only have 85 scholarships," fail.
(HT: Get the Picture.)
When Devine was 3 months old, his father died of complications from AIDS.
When Devine was 11, his mother died of AIDS.
Devine's maternal grandmother assumed custody, but he often clashed with her and he eventually moved out. He moved in with the parents of one of his friends.
Devine was a witness to a shooting late in 2004 in which one of his closest friends was killed by a shot to the chest.
Devine had two children in high school in North Fort Myers, Fla., a girl and a boy, born seven months apart to different mothers.
When Devine was a high school senior, many programs backed off because they thought he'd never get into school; WVU seemed a little sleazy when they went after him and got him on campus. Now he's a senior-to-be forgoing the NFL—where his stock is at maximum since he's not going to grow three inches this year—for a degree. Will that degree have the general aura of jockishness? Almost certainly. Is it a better outcome for him than travelling the wilderness as a JUCO? Also almost certainly. I wish the media narrative about poor kids on football teams getting into trouble was less about scolding "win at all costs" coaches and more about what kind of outcomes various programs were achieving with the marginal players they acquire.
In related news, Demar Dorsey still isn't on Louisville's roster.
Maybe holistic and stuff. I'm pretty sure that Doctor Saturday is just reading the media zeitgeist when he suggests that the only thing that can repair the Big Ten's image problem is a national title, but he highlights a fact that's been true at least since Jim Delany's spectacularly ill-advised open letter bashing the SEC:
The Buckeyes' coast-to-coast run at No. 1 in 2006 in calamity, along with their surprising return to the top in '07, the two losses that still loom over the conference like a giant monolith that periodically drawls "S-E-C! S-E-C!" and has no input to receive data such as "the Big Ten and SEC have split their two annual bowl tie-in games 10 to 10 over the last decade."
When you bring this up to someone wearing SEC pajamas, they invariably respond with "bowl games don't matter except those two Ohio State humiliations." The Big Ten has been a bit down of late since Michigan and Penn State can seem to be good at the same time and USC has managed to lose a game against a Pac-10 also-ran yearly, but reports of the conference's demise have long been greatly exaggerated.
Etc.: A Steve Sharik comment on defending four verts with a three-deep gets front-paged at Smart Football. Holding the Rope UFRs Wisconsin's offense against Miami. I was planning on ranking the ten teams of the aughts for Of The Decade but MATW beat me to it so just consider that post part of the series. I didn't see this but a couple of different places on the internet are reporting that on Hard Knocks last night a Jets coach told Donovan Warren "if you'd played like that last year Michigan would have won some damned games," which is funny but not true. Michael Buckner appears in yet another story about Michigan's infractions—is there no other man on the planet with a law degree who can speculate darkly about possible outcomes?
And my "Michigan football" youtube subscription turned up… 60 Seconds With Taylor Lautner. Who is apparently in "Twilight." When I was a kid our vampire shows were full of smokin' hot chicks, not moody boy-toys. /get off my misogynist lawn.
Learn from the master. Not to be outdone by some twit in a hat, Nick Saban dropped the boom on two players on the eve of fall camp. One learned he'd "failed a physical" and is either going to be medially disqualified by Alabama's doctors and placed on a scammy hardship scholarship (someone should figure out how many kids have been placed on medical scholarships since Saban arrived; I'm willing to bet it's triple the rate of a sampling of representative schools) or transfer. The other was just straight up deferred because the wrong number of kids got eligible. The usual goes here.
Something unusual: it looks like we're at a turning point as far as media attention goes to this stuff. In the last week both SI's Andy Staples and CBS screedmaster Gregg Doyel have taken up the baton. If you've ever read a Doyel piece you can Mad Libs the nouns between the bombast but at least this time he's struck on something worthy of some portion of the usual outrage. The thrust of his piece is actually too kind since he focuses on exceeding the 25 player limit, which these days you can only do by three, instead of the disparity between some incoming recruiting classes and the number of scholarships available for them. Those can hit double-digits. In LSU's case, they had 27 signees and two early enrollees so they could have gotten everyone on campus if not for the 85 cap. I'll take any attention this issue gets but Doyel's got a lot of his facts wrong.
Meanwhile, Staples has been SI's main recruiting reporter for a few years now. He knows the field, and I'm not just saying that because he's on board with the idea that you shouldn't be able to sign a player unless you can show where the scholarship is coming from. A note on that—Staples says:
Yahoo!'s Matt Hinton and MGoBlog's Brian Cook, two people who have written thoughtfully on this subject in the past, had a brilliant suggestion so simple that even a heavy-handed bureaucracy should be able to bring it to fruition: Make a rule that requires schools to give an actual scholarship to every player they sign to a letter-of-intent.
Cook even suggested raising scholarship limits if necessary. I disagree. If a school has 22 slots on Feb. 2, 2011, it should sign 22 players. If three of those players don't qualify, that's the coach's fault for not recruiting more academically sound prospects. He can play the season with 82 players on scholarship and sign more next year.
I don't think I was clear enough when I suggested the same thing I always suggest. Two scenarios I think would be good for college football:
- LOIs are binding both ways for one year. If you sign a player and he does not qualify or you can't fulfill the promise made, you don't get to use that scholarship the next year.
- LOIs are actually binding for two years. If you lose a player like above, you can't use the scholarship for the next two recruiting classes. Since this one is more punitive I'd give schools the leeway of an extra scholarship or two.
Either one is fine by me; in scenario 1 I don't think you need more scholarships.
As this gets on the radar of more reporters, coaches across the country will have to start justifying departures from their program, and maybe in a year or two the noise will be enough to force the NCAA to take action. Coaches will caterwaul, but what are they going to do, quit?
(HT: Doc Sat.)
Captains. I forewent retweeting the RR tweet announcing your 2010 permanent captains because if I had it eight times in my feed chances are everyone else had it at least twice already. For those opposed to societal ADD, the guys are Steve Schilling and Mark Moundros. Moundros is representing the defense. The official site's much less horrible video page has reactions from Schilling and Moundros on the honor; Michigan will still pick two additional game captains throughout the season.
This is undoubtedly overreacting to a tiny slice of information, but it's the day after the first fall football practice. If there's a national day of Overreacting To Tiny Slices of Information, it's today. So: guuuuh linebackers. Michigan's got a couple of fifth-year multi-year starters and they get squeezed out of the official captaincy by a walk-on who was a fullback until spring practice. This is the most circumstantial of evidence but since we have three years of direct evidence that the linebackers aren't very good, it does not make me feel awesome.
Who wants to bet that someone at a newspaper or in sports radio declares this a repudiation of Rodriguez? We should start a pool. I've got Jeff DeFran.
Elsewhere in grunting. This is not so good:
“We have quite a few guys in very good shape, a handful who are in OK shape and a small handful not ready to play Division I football,” he said.
Rodriguez specifically omitted freshmen from his crap list, so Richard Ash—listed at a flabby 320 on the fall roster—is not one of those guys. I'm afraid he might be making a pointed statement directed at Will Campbell, who is the biggest guy on the team at 333 (mark of the half-beast!). This would crush my dream of having a Sagesse/Campbell rotation at the nose free Mike Martin to wreak havoc as a 3-tech DT/5-tech 3-3-5 DE.
Graham is destroying. A steady stream of articles declaring Brandon Graham the next Dwight Freeney, except better, have hit the sidebar, and now here's some main column action:
"I look at him as another (Dwight) Freeney deal," said Cole, referring to the Colts' five-time Pro Bowler. "He's a great player and just keep watching because he's going to be pretty good."
Also Andy Reid dropped a quote that may lend some credence to both EEEE Barwis and a hopefully burgeoning EEEE Bruce Tall contingent:
"He's done very well with that," said Reid. "He's very strong in the lower body; he's very strong in the upper body, too. His lower body, he's got a nice anchor there and good core strength and understands how to use his hands and arms and plays with separation on the linemen."
If we see Roh and Van Bergen do this consistently this year, Tall will enter the pantheon of assistant coaches Michigan fans can't bitch about currently inhabited by Greg Frey, Calvin Magee, and maybe Rod Smith.
Etc.: Ron English says he doesn't want to recruit kids without father figures. Detroit head coach says "that's insane" because "what he's asking for, we don't have." This makes me terribly sad for Detroit. Chad Henne has one vote for Tate. Tom Dienhart's extensive season preview has just two M players (Molk and Schilling) on his all Big Ten first- and second-teams (Stonum is the second-team kick returner), but manages to slot Michigan fifth despite this.
The hire of David Brandon as Michigan's AD already put a stake through the heart of any dim chance Les Miles had at the head coaching job in Ann Arbor, but if it hadn't this should disqualify him($):
"I got called to coach Miles' office. I had no idea it was coming," Elliott Porter said of his being asked by LSU to 'grayshirt' this season and re-enroll next year. "He just told me that they didn't have room for me. I moved out of my dorm today and I am now back home trying to figure everything out. It's been a rough 24 hours." …
"I have to win a waiver, but it shouldn't be a problem," Porter said. "It's unfair how they told me at the last minute." …
"I want to be somewhere that I am wanted," Porter said. "I understand how things are going at LSU, and they didn't have room. To me what happened today wasn't fair. But it's how things go. It's a business. And I fully understand that now."
That's a Rivals article from the Tennessee site; Porter is thinking about signing with UT. Meanwhile, LSU is lying its ass off about the situation:
"Coach made every attempt to get him to stay but the young man wanted to leave," LSU media relations director Michael Bonnette said.
…every attempt except for actually giving him the scholarship promised six months ago. As an aside, one of the Google News hits for Porter is an irrelevant piece from New Zealand serendipitously titled "Slave labor system rotten to the core."
While that's a little over the top—those excitable Kiwis—this is a clear-cut case of a school signing too many kids and jerking one unlucky one around when too many qualify. Porter had a frickin' dorm room and is still trying to find a new place to land on August 4th. As Oversigning.com points out, college football is explicitly not a business. This is supposedly the reason the kids are amateurs, and anyone who gets the impression it is a business might take a huge amount of money from shady characters or enjoy a party in South Beach someone else is paying for. By allowing coaches to take chances like this the NCAA is degrading respect for its other rules.
More importantly, they're treating athletes like meat. By putting himself in a situation where there was a possibility he'd have to cut a kid in August, Miles has established that his job is more important than his word or the players he recruits. I'm not one of those guys who thinks Michigan's head coach has to be raised from birth by helmeted ascetics to learn the Chi Of The Iso in the Hidden Temple of Hardass, but that's a bridge too far for me. I'll be at the head of the mob if he ever gets hired by Michigan, which he won't so whatever.
Also, the usual: the NCAA needs to make LOIs binding for the school, too, for at least one year and preferably two. They can increase the scholarship limit slightly if necessary to compensate. No school should ever benefit from signing a kid to a LOI they do not honor.