At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
get yer snake oil it cures what ails ya
'House. Jimmy Johns delivers coke so fast you'll freak*, and 'Bama is one scholarship closer to cramming everyone in the phone booth. Just like Saban planned. (Thanks to the dozen or so emailers on this... more email than I've received on a single topic in blog history, I think.)
I think I should revise my position here: Saban's managed to sluff off most of his roster deadweight on medical scholarships of dubious merit and it looks like there will be no outright cuts. So this is not PURE EVIL, as previously theorized. It is still KIND OF EVIL, a highly unethical way to game the system that makes Alabama hope something like 20 Fulmer Cup points happens. As the JCCW says:
...I doubt Lionel Mitchell probably thinks very much of the crunch. I have zero clue how severe his back injury might be, but either a) it's hella severe, career-threatening, painful as anything, and still even 'Bama fans are writing things like "If I had to wager, I would bet there's nothing wrong with his back" and believing he was just too crappy to keep his scholarship; b) it's not that severe, but rather than wait and see if he could come back from it and contribute, his coach has told him his career's over anyway. Neither seems like a scenario that would make Lionel Mitchell happy.
Second: I certainly don't blame 'Bama fans for not wanting to put the 2 of Lewis's surprise academic disqualification--which even OTS said was "dumbfound[ing]," "never made sense," and left him with "no clue"--and the 2 of "'Bama needs scholarships" together.
Also at the FanHouse: if you have Time Warner you may be getting good news about the Big Ten Network soon.
(HT: Pete Holiday.)
Vic Sprouse might want to buy a disguise kit. The West Virginia Record describes itself as "West Virginia's legal journal" and one Vic Sprouse comes down on Rich Rodriguez's side in the ongoing spat:
Looking at the RichRod saga now through the prism of knowledge of the utter disaster that is the Garrison administration, it is apparent that they ran Rich off.
I believe Rich is telling the truth when he said the entire relationship changed when Garrison took over. His relationship with Pastilong changed. His relationship with Garrison changed. And, before you know it, Garrison was wanting to show he was the new Sheriff in town and he wasn't going to accept ANY ADDITIONAL demands of Rich Rodriguez.
What a shame.
Michigan lucked out because West Virginia is the sort of backwards place where the governor can appoint an unqualified unversity president the entire faculty thinks is a dolt, and that president and his athletic director can poison their relationship with one of the best coaches in the country. Rodriguez fell into our laps just when we were going to start scraping the bottom of the barrel.
First, one thing I can't take is just how often Rich refers to himself in the third person. That is such a bad habit, someone needs to break him of it, it's tough to listen to him say "Rich Rodriguez" over and over.
I don't have as much revenue as the Big Ten, so I can only read a couple sentences from this Sports Business Journal article:
The Big Ten Conference generated more than $177 million in revenue during its 2006-07 fiscal year, according to documents filed this month with the Internal Revenue Service.
Anyone got the full monty on this? I assume it has interesting Big Ten Network details.
Worst. Comic. Ever. Andy Staples has an entertaining piece on the constant race to stay one step ahead of the NCAA's recruiting regulations. The real meat, though, is an honest-to-god recruiting tool used by Oregon to land Jonathan Stewart, who you may remember from such runs as "Aaargh," "Aaaargh not again," "I want to die," and "How many points do they have now?" It's a comic book. The worst comic book ever made. This is perhaps my favorite stupid part of many stupid parts:
The comic's "plot" consists of a kindly old grandfather telling his towheaded little brat all about the legend of "Snoop," AKA Jonathan Stewart. That grandfather is... familiar.
Follow up. Lake The Posts landed an interview with the Northwestern sign-stealing guy that's worth a read. There's this on Payne's tendencies -- the Luther Van Dam bit:
As I broke down the film of Michigan's offense in '95 I thought there was a possible tendency with the center's non-snapping hand. I went back and checked every snap and sure enough the tendency was about 95% that when his hand was on the ground it was run and when he had it on his thigh it was pass. This was not signal stealing, this was just a tendency found way before the game was even played. But it was a GREAT help for our defense. (As a GA I was in the coaching booth for games and was not stealing signals.) This is not exactly unfair tactics on our part but more of an error on their part. Either they coached the center to do the hand thing or the kid was doing it himself and their coaches never noticed. Either way it was their own fault.
That speaks to a certain complacency, I think. I wonder how many other teams noticed?
Etc.: normally I am a Michael Rosenberg fan but I have to agree with BSD and their fisking of his BTN-Comcast column. Said column made no sense. Vijay's trying to figure out if ESPN's any better at ranking players. Autumn Thunder makes a triumphant return. More pictures of stuff, this the football practice facility.
I wonder how 'Bama is doing with the ol' recruiting class? Earlier this summer MGoBlog got in a poo-flinging contest with every Alabama fan with internet access about Nick Saban's massive oversigning. It ranged hence and forth and left deep scars in the land that will become the cyber-Great Lakes in several thousand years. And now, sadly, it's time to carve out cyber-Huron.
The situation, to recap:
- Fifteen scholarship seniors saw their eligibility expire this year; Saban signed 32 players.
- Two enrolled early, leaving Alabama with a maximum incoming class of 27.
- Depending on exactly what, when, and who you listen to, the Tide have to cut about six guys before fall. On April 17th, SMQB noted 64 returning players on the Tide roster and declared the number to be four, but he forgot about the two early enrollees; the number at that point was six.
- A reserve offensive lineman took a medical scholarship sometime after that.
- A couple days ago the seemingly plugged-in Bama Sports Report made it 63, leaving five guys to get the axe. (Link via Get The Picture.) At the end of their piece they note:
Considering that two players (Zeke Knight & Lionel Mitchell) missed the majority of the spring due to injuries, and one player (Prince Hall) is suspended indefinetly, the numbers appear to be very, very close to working themselves out.
Knight has had a scary time with heart murmurs and would be a legit absence, but Mitchell has had some minor back issues that didn't even prevent him from participating in practice. He spent the spring in a non-contact jersey, but he played. A medical scholarship for him would be dubious.
So... close to working itself out? No. Remove Knight from the equation and assume none of the recruits who aren't on campus yet ("schools also can make it so some player doesn't qualify if they don't need him to" -Bruce Feldman) make it in, and Alabama is two scholarships over. If they do reach the 25 maximum, they're four scholarships over.
Around these parts, being two to four players away from reaching the scholarship limit of 85 on June 13th is not close at all. Even if you give Alabama the benefit of the doubt and assume every one of the mountain of medical scholarships they've given out is totally legit*, it's mid-June and Alabama is in the precarious position of hoping that some their players don't make the grade or get into serious trouble.
My prediction: This will "work out," as the Bama Sports Report suggests. There are probably several Alabama players who are taking summer classes to remain eligible, and exactly enough will find out they didn't make it. Or someone will come down with "ow my thing hurts." Or Prince Hall won't live up to Nick Saban's strict standards. Which will be just terribly convenient, and the 'Bama-bots will crow and everyone who's heard of Occam's Razor will look at a recruiting class that needed an incredible twelve players to leave the team between its signing and fall practice and shake their heads.
As SMQB pointed out in his April post, Alabama and Clemson are the only schools in the country to have put themselves in this position, and Clemson fixed their issues by cutting Ray Ray McElrathbey. They got the public whipping they deserved for that, and it should be Alabama's turn.
Schools should never be allowed to do this again. Alabama is in a position where they are rooting for kids to leave the team, and that will necessarily bias their actions and judgments in favor of shipping a kid off to Alcorn State. The NCAA must implement a simple rule: no oversigning. You show where the scholarship is coming from or no LOI for you.
*(Not likely, IMO, since many of the medicals were given to backup linemen with vague injuries like "knee problems" or "ow my shoulder sorta hurts" or "ow my shoulder too"; these guys were probably told they were cut and to take the scholarship and deal. How many backup offensive linemen could you offer medical scholarships to? 80%?**)
**(It's worth noting that Michigan gave two of its offensive linemen medical scholarships this offseason. This 1) reinforces point about just how many linemen you could put on medical scholarship and 2) will probably be seized upon by some irate 'Bama fan. The difference: Michigan enters the year with 79 scholarship players and at no time would not have had room on the roster should they want to return.)
That's what I'm saying. Pierre Woods' final season in a Michigan uniform remains a mystery to everyone, including his current coach. Asked about the difference between third-round pick Shawn Crable, now a Patriot, and undrafted Pierre Woods, Bill Belicheck seemed as befuddled as us:
BB: Woods was one of the top players in the country as a sophomore. He didn't play as a senior. You'd have to ask Michigan why they didn't play him, or maybe they thought they had better players. I don't know. That's a question they'd have to answer. Athletically, he was an astounding player as a sophomore. I think he got some... the same thing as a junior and then he didn't play much as a senior.
This is a semi-accurate recollection. Woods (68 tackles, 13 TFL, 7 sacks) was possibly the best player on Michigan's defense and an All Big Ten performer his sophomore year. But whatever off-field issues he had started then and his playing time was severely curtailed as a junior, only playing in nine games and seeing his stats dip to 22 tackles and 2 TFLs with no sacks. It was more of the same as a senior, only more maddening: just nine games played and 24 tackles but 9 TFLs and 2.5 sacks; when injuries to Woodley and Biggs left Michigan no other choice but to play Woods extensively against Iowa he had 4 tackles, 2 TFL, a sack, and a pass breakup along with a ton of other pressure. No reasonable observer could have thought Woods wasn't worth starting, if not on the defensive line -- where Pat Massey was busy moonwalking as Alan Branch played out of position at DE -- then at linebacker where Michigan's starters on the outside were the horrible sophomore versions of Chris Graham, Prescott Burgess, and Shawn Crable.
We don't know exactly what his problems were. Carr probably stretched his boundaries to the limit to keep him on the team and, in that, did him a big favor. But if he's on the team, and he's better than the other people who are on the team, what was the point of not starting him?
Belicheck went on to compare the situation to that of Tom Brady, but this is more of the same inaccurate legend-making that had him "not even a starter" in college. Brady had just under 80% of Michigan's passing attempts his senior year and while it's true Michigan played Henson from time to time, 30 of Henson's 90 attempts came in blowouts against Rice, Purdue, and Northwestern and another 28(!), oddly, came in a narrow road win over Syracuse in which Brady only had 10 attempts. I don't remember that at all; all I remember from that game was Michigan playing a frustrating, disjointed game and CBS providing the worst camerawork I've ever seen. Anyway, outside of that Syracuse game Henson had about 30 meaningful attempts. Which is kinda weird, sure.
!!!!! A lot of weird stuff went down at the draft this weekend. I'm not so arrogant to assume I know better than NFL people unless we're talking about Matt Ryan, but of the Michigan draftees only three didn't surprise me with their placement: Long, Henne, and Crable. I guess Manningham's slide is understandable with his status as this year's Wonderlic booby prize and obvious fondness for weed.
But things I just don't understand:
- Arrington going so low. Rangy, sure handed, and seemingly fast enough, I thought he was a little less proven than Avant and would be a third or fourth round pick when he declared; it quickly became clear that this was overrating him.
- Ditto Hart. He ran slow, as anyone on the planet could have told you would happen. Injury issues, etc; still thought he was a third-fourth round sort.
- Jamar Adams is undrafted. Ryan "Yards After" Mundy goes in the sixth round. Barwis be praised.
The Mundy thing is what really gets me. He was so bad that -- in my speculative opinion -- Michigan cut him loose after his fourth year in the program, which is unprecedented for a kid who's seen extensive time as a starter. Mundy squeezes himself into a rapidly-closing loophole and manages to transfer to West Virginia without penalty, where he becomes a decent starter on a good defense and is drafted. To play in the NFL. You know, the professional football thingy. If you could have bet on that last year, what would the odds have been?
Our dearest friend. A former NFL scout on new Arizona Cardinal FA Anthony Morelli:
"He has all the tools you look for in a QB; an athletic body, very strong throwing arm and far better movement then I had expected, but is acutely undercoached and unprepared for the job of being a professional QB."
"Acutely undercoached"... does anything sum up Penn State better than those two words?
Gentlemen. Hey, guess what?
Melvin Fellows had been the most prominent Ohio high school football player in the Class of 2009 to escape the grasp of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, but with a phone call over his lunch break today, Fellows changed all that.
The Garfield Heights defensive end informed Tressel that he was switching his oral commitment from Illinois to the Buckeyes, delivering a blow to the Illini and bringing OSU's growing class to 12 pledges.
Joe Tiller's full of crap.
Also full of crap, the Columbus Dispatch, which claimed Lloyd Carr facilitated Justin Boren's transfer to OSU:
"That's a lie," Carr said through school spokesman Bruce Madej.
DIED, by balloon-puncturing quote after a short period of general crotchetiness and incomprehensibility: "Wizard Hat and Snake Oil," meme, aged approximately two months.
Roy Roundtree in the Dayton Daily News:
"You know what?" Roundtree said. "It was my decision."
Last December, Melvin Fellows orally committed to play football for Illinois, declared his decision final and said, "This is the end of the process for me."
According to a vague, unwritten Big Ten code of conduct, at that point Fellows was off limits to other league coaches. That's how it is supposed to work, at least -- once a kid commits, back off.
Far from backing off, though, Ohio State came after him hard. Just weeks after his Illinois commitment, the Buckeyes offered Fellows a scholarship. And on Saturday, the big defensive end from Garfield Heights will stand on the Ohio Stadium sidelines, watching the Buckeyes' spring game instead of the Illini's game, as he had originally planned.
"Almost all the schools still recruited me after I committed," Moore said. "If I didn't call them back, most of them stopped eventually. Some coaches started recruiting me a lot harder, like Tennessee, Miami and Duke. Sometimes you think, 'Why even commit?' "
Which, like... of course. Roy Roundtree is perfectly capable of making sound decisions like "not going to Purdue." He has free will. Every coach in the Big Ten has, at one time or another, attempted to poach some other Big Ten school's "commitment." And with commitments coming earlier and earlier the decommitment becomes more prominent: over 600 last year. Rodriguez's recruiting practices are unremarkable.
Roy Roundtree didn't switch from Purdue because Rich Rodriguez pulled some sort of trick move, he did it because he wanted to. Forcing him to stick to his Purdue commitment would have helped out Purdue somewhat, but at the expense of the kid, whose welfare is far more important in the grand scheme of things than that of a couple million-dollar sports programs.
Aaaand we're done here.
Recruiting summaries start tomorrow.
Braylon's going to shoot you. No. Seriously.
Don't make Shegos joke... don't make Shegos joke... check.
Gentleman Joe. Joe Tiller's just pissed because he can't move snake oil:
According to coach Brady Hoke, [Ball State commitment] Briggs Orsbon was offered a scholarship by Purdue Wednesday morning after Michigan stole WR Roy Roundtree from Purdue. However, Orsbon had already sent in his LOI.
Oh, so ethical, Joe.
Meathead, strike! I neglected to put Bret Bielema on the list of Big Ten coaches who had gone "avast!" and pirated recruits away from conference foes. Also, helpful readers pointed out Zook's fevered recruitment of cornerback Boubacar Cissoko before and after Carr's retirement and his boarding of the SS Hawkeye to plunder RB Jason Ford. This brings the total count of Big Ten coaches who know nothing of any "gentleman's agreement" in the Big Ten to nine, and essentially ten since Indiana temporarily picked off Jerimy Finch from Michigan.
Congratulations, Lake The Posts: if anyone picks off a Northwestern recruit your indignation can be righteous. Everyone else should probably check themselves.
What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. It's frickin' amazing the sort of rationalizations people will go through when it comes to Most Favored Team. For an example, see this morning's post where I'm like "we can still get Pryor!" Also:
We've seen how University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema doesn't take no for an answer in recruiting by the way he's convinced prospects who had committed to other schools to change their mind and play for the Badgers.
That persistence apparently also works when it comes to assistant coaches.
Herein Bielema's "persistence" in continuing to recruit committed players is framed as a positive character trait! This is the same paper -- based in Wisconsin, natch -- that published the thousand-year-old man's silly thing about how Rodriguez is going to get run out of the conference on a rail because of his swashbuckling ways.
It's a coach's responsibility to do right by the kids he recruits; opposing coaches can go swing.
Re-rebuttal. Black Shoe Diaries' response to this blog's Friday post on the recruiting ethics, or lack thereof, at Penn State already got smoked in its own comments by an alert Michigan fan:
The small lie: "While his former team was playing in their bowl game he was sneaking into the office to shred documents."
The truth: While Rodriguez was discarding documents, it was a workday about a week before Christmas, and he was cleaning out his office in full view of an office full of people, none of whom found anything unusual in what he was doing.
If you tell a small lie like like that to bolster your story, what else might be false?
An excellent question. Ironic, then, that BSD's post is titled "Success With Honor." It individually debunks each of the questionable recruiting hijinks cited here earlier, none of which I think is particularly compelling. It amounts to empty public relations, something JoePa specializes in.
The prime Shaw complaint:
I can't hold it against a kid for changing his mind, but I can hold it against him for the manner in which he does so. All indications were that Mike Shaw was going to Penn State right up until signing day.
Even after he made an official trip to Michigan the Penn State insiders didn't seem worried.
"I am visiting another school" is an indication the kid's verbal is less than solid. Heck, Penn State should have known for a solid month that Shaw's verbal was shaky, as he announced($) he would visit Tennessee and Michigan on January second. Solid verbals do not visit other campuses. The Penn State "insiders" lack of worry is the only data point to offset the fact that Shaw made an official to another school that had a scholarship offer out to him and then immediately went off the grid, refusing to speak to anyone from reporters to coaches.
I know JoePa is old and addled (and JayPa is young and addled) but this is not a solid verbal even to applesauce eaters, and Penn State should have been making other plans. Hell, Penn State ended up three commits short of a full class and had a crying need for RBs and WRs, they should have been looking for kids anyway. Applesauce is delicious, though.
The main point: Black Shoe Diaries has no goddamn idea what went on in the Shaw recruitment, because no one did. Shaw didn't say anything to the media for the last month of his recruitment. We do know that Penn State was directly informed on January second that Shaw's verbal was not secure (yes, even if he said "I'm 100% to Penn State" or whatever empty boilerplate he provided). If Shaw announced his decommit in a dickish fashion (which he did, for the record), that reflects on Shaw, not Rodriguez. Michigan called the kid and asked if he would like to be recruited. He obviously said yes, and found a place he'd rather go to school.
Suggestion: deal, because this guy...
The best idea. I referenced this in my Fanhouse post on the wizard hat thing, and now Vijay has fleshed out what may be the best idea ever for an early signing period. The issue at hand through the lens of the Roundtree commitment:
this is exactly why we shouldn't have an early signing period. Roundtree described a Michigan offer as a dream come true. He said he always wanted to play for Michigan. He got the offer, he gets his chance, and that's a happy ending for Roundtree. If he committed to Purdue, changed his mind and then decided to play for Michigan, it's the original commitment to Purdue that was a mistake, not his change of destination. Put Michigan's and Purdue's views aside, what Roundtree wants is to be at Michigan.
An early signing period does not prevent kids from making mistakes, it locks them into their mistakes. Instituting an early signing period to prevent kids from changing their minds is like keeping families together by outlawing divorce.
Word. Vijay's s
olution is an early signing period, as many coaches are advocating these days, but with a twist:
Allow recruits to sing a non-binding LOI any time from, say, July 1st leading into the senior year. Once they file the letter, their scholarship to that school is secure, and in return for that guarantee, the recruit agrees to have no contact with coaches or recruiters from other schools and not to make any official visits to other campuses. It also has the benefit of preventing other coaches from calling recruits who filed these papers (contacting them would be a violation). But, if a kid were to change his mind, he could simply file paperwork to rescind the NBLOI, at which point it's like he never filed one, and recruiting is back on.
He explains the advantages of such a system in further detail at IBFC; I am 100% sold. The NBLOI solves most issues with persistent recruitment of kids without restricting their ability to change their minds. The only change I would make is to forgo the idea of an early signing period entirely and just allow any recruit to sign a NBLOI after, say, June.
Explication. Kevin Quick was dismissed from the hockey team suddenly; we now have an explanation:
Sources said the defenseman stole a credit card, used it as a personal piggy bank and spent thousands of dollars.
I read somewhere -- where, I don't remember -- that his roommate, Carl "Bork" Hagelin, was pretty upset about the situation, so it was probably his credit card. (Via Kukla's Corner.)
Quick's dismissal, though unfortunate, isn't that damaging as long as the rest of Michigan's defensemen remain healthy. Michigan planned on bringing in potential first-round pick Brandon Burlon from the St. Mike's program that's provided Andrew Cogliano and Louie Caporusso in recent years, but didn't have any money available and thus couldn't sign Burlon to a LOI. Now they've got a slot for him even if Mark Mitera decides to return for his senior year. If Mitera leaves Michigan will bring in near-walkon Greg Pateryn, who's had an excellent year in the USHL and finds himself ranked 162nd in the CSB rankings. Either way Michigan should be seven-deep again on D in 2008, a welcome change from poor JJ Swistak and Danny Fardig taking shifts.
Yost Built has your Saturday recap, a frustrating 5-5 tie against the Redhawks. Michigan fans are paranoid about the refereeing when linesmen aren't setting up 2-on-1s by tripping Mark Mitera.
The three-point weekend still moved Michigan into first place in the CCHA, RPI, and Pairwise with three weeks left in the regular season. Michigan has a one-point edge in the standings but is going to have to finish with a blaze of wins if they expect to hold on:
- Idiotically, the first tiebreaker is league wins instead of head-to-head.
- Both teams have two games against mediocre Ferris State left and two games against one of the CCHA's three terrible teams (10th place Lake State in M's case, 11th place Ohio State in Miami's), but...
- Michigan's other two games are against Michigan State. Miami's are against last-place Western.
It's hard to see Miami dropping more than a point or two the rest of the year. Michigan may have to sweep State in a Munn-Joe weekend to lock down a banner.