Unverified Voracity Sticks Around

Unverified Voracity Sticks Around

Submitted by Brian on June 15th, 2017 at 12:28 PM

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Harbaugh goes to Washington. I would have enjoyed the look on his face if a senator asked him to stick to sports:

"Many of you are probably wondering why a football coach is speaking at an event like this. I may be a football coach, but I am an American first and foremost -- and all Americans should care about equal access to justice," Harbaugh said. "To me, it's not just about Michigan -- go blue -- it's about 'go red, white and blue.'

"The issue is about fairness, fundamental fairness. As I see it, if you have money, you have access to justice. If you don't have money, you have less access to justice. That's not the way it should work."

Harbaugh, who says he's always been a fan of lawyers -- from several of his personal friends to the famous "Judge Judy" -- said he became involved with LSC after attending a forum that showed him how many Americans are "left out" of the justice system due to their inability to afford proper legal representation.

Jim Harbaugh has to be the only guy on the planet who can say "I've always been a fan of lawyers" with seeming sincerity.

Bakich stays. Erik Bakich led Michigan to the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years and got 11 Wolverines drafted this offseason, a program record. This got him an interview at South Carolina and a job offer from Stanford. He turned the latter down:

I'm not a baseball guy but the impression I get is that this is somewhere between a surprise and a shock. Zach Shaw has a post at 24/7 with some details:

1) This can be considered a huge win for Michigan: As blunt as it sounds, I liken Michigan baseball to a BYU or Minnesota football. It has some history to it, but generally a fringe top-25 finish and semi-regular postseason play is probably the highest realistic expectation thanks to geography, scholarships and other factors. Anything above that should be seen as truly special.

In baseball, out-of-state recruiting is extremely tough at Michigan; thanks to the low scholarship limit (12.5 scholarships for a 33-man roster, per the NCAA) teams often use a half-scholarship option. But if a player from, for example, Georgia is offered a half-scholarship to Michigan (cost of attending would be about $23,000), it would much cheaper for him to walk-on at Georgia (about $12,000). ….

Factor in the fact that few elite players come from the state of Michigan, and the Wolverines are at a huge disadvantage. Somehow, Bakich bucked that trend, pulling in top-25 classes every year (depending on the site, of course, but even being in the ballpark is unprecedented territory) and consequently a top-25 team this past year. The team went from 22 wins pre-Bakich to 29, 32, 39, 36, 42 in his first five seasons.

Simply put, if you luck into a coach like that — let alone one that isn't even 40 years old — keeping him away from more established programs with more baseball success (and money) is an exception, not a rule.

The general reaction to the Kendall Rogers tweet asserting that Bakich turned down Stanford is "WTF?!" Suffice it to say that this is a weird one. But a good one. (Also Big Ten baseball should leave the NCAA and play through the summer with full rides for all, but I say that every time baseball comes up.)

Bombs away. Oh look, Don Brown:

The other teams on that list are desperately undermanned outfits blitzing out of desperation. Michigan is the only team that is actually good at D.

Prelude to an 18-team conference. The Big Ten is thinking about extending the conference schedule to 20 games. That barely dents the huge imbalanced schedule issues going to 14 imposed: you'd still play half the league once annually instead of twice. That might create enough room to protect rivalries like Indiana-Purdue and Michigan State-Common Human Decency, and therefore slightly juice TV revenues. There might be other reasons to do it but none that the front office gives a good goddang about.

The real solution is to add one game, not two, and play it Scottish Premiere League style:

Alternative: 19 game conference schedule.

PHASE 1: round robin.
PHASE 2: line is drawn between 7th and 8th teams in the league. Mini-leagues subsequently play round-robin. Rutgers is relegated to the Big East every year.

PROS: Absolutely fair. Winner is undisputed. Makes Big Ten title a huge important deal. Final six games for teams that make upper half would be knock-down drag out brutal free-for-all for league title. Would give top teams impregnable schedule strength. You could televise the schedule draw with Ronaldo and Messi in suits.

CONS: May cost league NCAA bids if the best team in the bottom half can't get any marquee wins in the last six games or the worst team in the top half just gets blitzed. Bottom half is just kind of sadly playing out the string. Uncertainty about final three home games may impact ticket sales negatively. Extremely distant possibility that the 8th best team 13 games in can climb all the way to the top.

In conclusion, anything that amps up the value of the regular season is good. Play For Stuff.

Or you could fix 2/9ths of the problem.

Rome costs. To the university, zero. To the anonymous donor, 800k. Manuel did a good job pre-empting complaints that this was a waste of money:

“It will be about $5,000 to $6,000 a person, so it was a great investment. It was just terrific. We pay them through an educational experience like Michigan does all the time. I don’t think about it in terms of paying our athletes but if people want to say we should give something to our students of value, I can’t think of a better way to invest in them for their lifetime and their experience.”

Manuel said the donor still does not want to be identified. Donors often make large contributions to athletics, and the donor can specify where the money should go or it’s used at the discretion of the department.

“We utilized the money he gave us,” Manuel said. “It was an unrestricted donation.”

Big time athletic programs spend a lot of money on diamond waterfalls and the like; this was much more educational and directly beneficial to players. Michigan shouldn't apologize for offering them whatever they can. They're not.

The loophole. You can't hire a football coach associated with a prospect, at least not if you want to recruit that high school for four years. (Two prior to the hire, two after.) But you can hire a dude's dad. I'm not trying to imply MSU did anything shady here because the dude in question is clearly qualified, but they signed Cody White this year; the year before they hired his dad as a staffer. Sheldon, the elder White, is coming off two decades for the Lions and is thus 100% qualified to join a trainwreck. It did jump out at me when MSU shook up its staff.

So. Actual football coaches cannot get entry level jobs because it might taint recruiting. But stuff like Ole Miss hiring Shea Patterson's brother or Tennessee hiring Trey Smith's sister(!) is still fine and dandy per NCAA rules. I'm not surprised, but I feel like I should be.

Etc.: Jordan Morgan back in the area after a 3-year Euroleague stint. This quiz is absurd but it only wants you to get five right. I got 9.5, because this is my job. I am angry at myself for knowing where Pop Evil hails from.

Harbaugh still not a fan of playing on Friday. VICE on amateurism. Spoiler: still a scam. Ian Boyd ranks college DCs; Don Brown comes in second to Brent Venables.

Unverified Voracity Finds Young Delano

Unverified Voracity Finds Young Delano

Submitted by Brian on May 4th, 2017 at 1:33 PM

This is good publicity. This is a very Michigan Difference sort of thing.

Two amazing things. One: every member of Cass Tech's 2013 secondary is currently in the NFL. Two: ESPN found a picture of Delano Hill in which he looks younger than 45.

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The two guys not pictured, DaQuan Pace and DeJuan Rogers, both went to MAC schools and signed as UDFAs so this is likely to be short-lived. Nonetheless that is extraordinary. Jermain Crowell, the DBs coach at Cass Tech at the time:

He planned to take all four of his NFL-bound protégés out to dinner to congratulate them Tuesday night.

"This might be the last check that I pick up," he said. "This might have to be the last one."

Yessir.

Bits and pieces of the schedule. Michigan's added some guarantee games in 2018 and 2019. They'll play WMU in 2018 and MTSU and Army in 2019. The Broncos are likely to be far enough removed from the PJ Fleck era to be a major threat, but they're likely to be on another level from a low-level MAC opponent.

It's even tougher to project to 2019. FWIW, MTSU has been about .500 the last four years. They were competitive with Vandy (a 17-13 loss) and Illinois (a 27-25 loss) last year; this year they were hammered by Vandy but beat (a very very bad) Mizzou. Army has been the service academy it's safe to schedule for about 20 years now but they got off the mat for an 8-5 2016 with third year coach Jeff Monken.

Hooray for not worrying about this anymore. This site used to have annual posts dedicated to the Academic Progress Rate, because a late Carr falloff and disastrous transition to Rich Rodriguez had Michigan hovering near the Mendoza line. That 880 fell off a couple of years ago, and from there it's been about consolidating a spot at the top. Mission accomplished:

Oddly, I don't see Notre Dame on that list. Someone check ND Nation for fainting spells.

Excellent job all around here, and if you're scoring at home Michigan just had the most NFL draft picks, the third-highest APR in college football, and took a trip to Rome. Croots should be knocking the doors down. For real:

Michigan's coaching staff was just returning from an Italian dinner -- their final meal as a team in Rome -- in a 17th century Baroque mansion with marble door frames and elaborate chandeliers when their phones started to buzz again. A few thousand miles away, on the other side of the Atlantic, the New York Jets had just selected Jeremy Clark with the 197th pick of the NFL draft. He was the 11th Wolverine to have his name called in Philadelphia, a new school record.

In one particular way it's tough being a McCaffrey. Zing:

Hurst will go high. PFF has always been about Maurice Hurst and it looks like that is approaching consensus in the draft analyst community. Todd McShay:

Hurst has started just four games at Michigan, but I love what I've seen on tape so far. He was frequently Michigan's best defensive lineman during the games I studied. And remember: That group just had three D-linemen selected in the 2017 draft.

He's projected to go 16th next year. Don't expect much else: Michigan has just eight seniors. Mason Cole is likely to be drafted and Mike McCray could play himself into the middle rounds. Khalid Hill might be a draftable fullback. Unless there are some very surprising breakouts from juniors that would be it.

Good luck with that. Per Athlon, both in-state teams have to replace a ton this offseason:

East Division

Team Offense Defense
Indiana 5 9
Maryland 6 6
Michigan 5 1
Michigan State 2 3
Ohio State 8 7
Penn State 10 7
Rutgers 4 7

We all know about Michigan's massive turnover; Michigan State actually has fewer returning starters. And they went 3-9. Have fun, guys!

Usually this dude trolls Penn State fans. David Jones puts together a list of Big Ten schools by football revenue and this is either a brilliant way to get me to link very boring content or the worst take of all time:

Though Dave Brandon was unseated as athletic director in Oct. 2014, the revenue monster he built breathes without him. Michigan always was a conference heavyweight but it has recently become the unrivaled giant of money-making B1G football programs, the first in the league to approach the $100 million mark in gross revenue. The 2015-16 figure is a whopping 10-percent increase over 2014-15's $88.3M. Michigan's $60.6 net after expenses is easily the conference's largest.

/head explodes

Jones must have missed the collapse of Michigan's season ticket waiting list and ~75,000 fans at the dismal Maryland game. The part of Michigan's revenue surge that isn't TV money lifting all boats is directly attributable to one Jim Harbaugh, not the athletic director he didn't want to work for.

Etc.: Wagner, Wilson decisions will be at the deadline. That's May 24th. Quinn profiles David DeJulius. Michigan is looking for new lax coaches. Kyle Rowland on the scary, scary hours for Grant Newsome after his ACL tear. Rookie wage scale in the NFL is devastating for running backs. Excellent post on evaluating OL.

Rome Wrap: Defense

Rome Wrap: Defense

Submitted by Brian on May 2nd, 2017 at 2:24 PM

Obligatory Harbaugh item left out of yesterday's post

Obligatory Waffle House Nation take

I would have titled this article "Spurrier points out obvious thing," but I'm no good at headlines.

Defensive items

Status quo on the line, in which the starters are set in stone, Carlo Kemp is the only certain two-deep guy behind him, Mike Dwumfour is hurt, and nobody else draws serious mention. Baumgardner:

Michigan's going to have to get some really strong performances from its freshman defensive line class later this summer. Aubrey Solomon, Luiji Vilain, James Hudson, etc.

Because, right now, it still doesn't look like there's much consistency behind the top five of Rashan Gary, Maurice Hurst, Bryan Mone, Chase Winovich and Carlo Kemp.

Webb is hearing some of the same things we are about Dwumfour, at least:

Dwumfour has a great shot. They're calling him "a bigger Mo Hurst." The other payers rave about him too. But he was injured this spring and wasn't in on all the contact drills, so I'm not ready to call my shot there.

"Bigger Mo Hurst" is very much in the "Mike Hart, but fast!" vein of Fred Jackson hyperbole; I will take plain ol' Mo Hurst every day and twice on Saturday, thank you very much. Dwumfour was one of our key players going into spring, so for him to miss out on all the publicly available time is a major disappointment. At least the things we're hearing are still very good.

So. The two deep is going to feature a freshman nose tackle 99% likely to be named Aubrey Solomon and a freshman weakside end 99% likely to be named Luiji Vilain. If Michigan has to rely on them as much as they relied on Rashan Gary last year that's fine. Solomon is a five-star ready to chip in, and Vilain ended the year not far off from that status. Any injury to the starting line immediately puts Michigan in crisis mode.

This gap is the consequence of the collapse in Brady Hoke's recruiting after it became clear he was not Vince Lombardi and is the difference between Michigan right now and an elite program. It'll take another year or two before Michigan is stacked front-to-back with Harbaugh recruiting classes.

No changes or even much commentary on the linebackers. There's a top three; Webb asserted that he felt a final member of the two-deep would be arriving in fall with the rest of the freshman class. This is obviously not great news for the linebackers already on campus. They have sufficient numbers there that the backup situation will probably be fine; again this is a spot which will require another year or two before they have guys lined up three deep.

The slightly ominous noise you heard recently was Don Brown talking about the cornerbacks:

Michigan's defensive coordinator doesn't operate in coach-speak, the truth always seems to seep out -- whether he wants it to or not.

And when it came to the question of whether or not he's happy with where cornerback Lavert Hill is heading into Michigan's 15th and final practice of spring ball, he couldn't help but get real.

"No," Brown said Friday after Michigan's practice in Rome, a slight chuckle coming through in his voice.

Lavert Hill missed too much of the spring with minor injuries and the lack of talk about David Long is creeping towards worrying. (Long was one of a few players who did not make the Rome trip, FWIW.) Keith Washington following up that spring game with a major move in fall practice would be most welcome.

Meanwhile reports have Jordan Glasgow as Khaleke Hudson's backup at VIPER(!!!), which is sensible but a wee bit disappointing to your author after his strong performance in the spring game as a safety. He's second string at either position but at safety he is a potential dimeback* like Kinnel was a year ago. As the backup viper that's unlikely. Glasgow continued to impress observers in Rome, FWIW:

That is a diving INT on a crossing route, which you don't see every day. Webb noted that they're "thrilled" with Glasgow's emergence as the viper and that between those two guys they're set there. Furbush and Uche come in for mentions as well, which emphasizes the depth at that spot.

At safety the starters are locked in, and then like DL there are major question marks behind them. Michigan did get to see both freshman S as early enrollees, and the injury that held J'Marick Woods out of the spring game did not prevent him from practicing in Rome:

Safety is almost the last place I want to see a freshman heavily involved—QB is #1—so even if Woods and Jaylen Kelly-Powell are promising I'm hoping their deployment is restricted to blowouts. Webb says Michigan will be monitoring grad transfers for a potential backup S—again, if Glasgow can play S it really feels like he should play S.

At least it seems like the starters should be high quality. Tyree Kinnel put in good work in 100+ snaps a year ago and Don Brown is super enthused about Josh Metellus, a "savant".

*[MGoBlog convention is that Michigan is a 4-2-5 base defense so this is equivalent to a nickelback in a 4-3. IE, the dimeback comes in on passing downs.]

Solitary special teams note

The Quinn Nordin bomb was no fluke:

He booted a few in practice today that looked like they'd have been good from 60.

I have to think he's Michigan's kicker next season. That basically looks like a 99 percent certainty.

Distance is about 20% of a kicker's value so let's not get ahead ourselves. #CollegeKickers is always a possibility. But we can say that Nordin has A+ upside.

Rome Wrap: Feelingsball, Offense

Rome Wrap: Feelingsball, Offense

Submitted by Brian on May 1st, 2017 at 1:34 PM

One of the nice things about Michigan dragging reporters a long distance is that Harbaugh has pity on them and opens practice. Last year the IMG trip saw three or four practices open to the public, and the just-concluded Rome trip finished with three as well. The first day in Rome was just shells and a walk-through since the team had downshifted from full-on padded practices after the spring game, but there's a fair amount of useful intel coming out of the latter two.

Feelingsball section

It would be hard for a trip to Rome to not look pretty cool for the croots; Michigan really hammered it home with all-access media coverage and an itinerary that ranged from seeing the sites to drinking out of public fountains...

...to paintball (in khakis, naturally)...

...to hanging with the Pope...

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...to coach-versus-coach gladiatorial contests:

It looked better than any vacation I've ever taken by an order of magnitude.

All of this was documented by Michigan's own social media team and a legion of reporters, with an embedded ESPN guy.

Quite a turnaround in public relations skills from the last regime, and all of it pushed by a guy who is also the football coach.

This no doubt had various SEC coaches seething in rage and there will be a proposal to ban or limit such things as soon as possible. Michigan chose wisely by going to the center of Western Civilization(tm) and meeting the freakin' Pope, but no educational argument is going to withstand the white-hot fury of a bunch of dudes who can't imagine why you'd ever go anywhere but Waffle House.

That would be sad, since this seemed like a life-enhancing experience in a way a week in central Florida is not.

Most of the players had never been overseas.

Senior fullback Khalid Hill, a Detroit native who attended East English Village, said his biggest takeaway from the trip was the learning experience.

“Coming over here, learning different things, seeing different things, it’s amazing,” Hill said. “It’s something you don’t usually get a chance to do. I can go back home and say, ‘Man, I’m a kid from Detroit that got a chance to come over here and play and practice.’

“Not too many kids from Detroit can say that, even kids from Michigan. To do that is amazing. I love the experience of my last spring ball.”

We'll see what happens, but when the NCAA's official site is promoting your trip...

ncaa

...you might have a shot. This is supposedly part of the NCAA's core mission.

Harbaugh’s motivation for the trip was to, as he has said on multiple occasions, put the student back in student-athlete. He has seen college football become a 12-month a year sport, and wanted the players to have some breathing room in May.

Many of the players are venturing off on backpacking trips for a few days before returning home, while others are leaving for three-week study-abroad programs.

Michigan plans to go to South Africa next year; let's hope they get to go.

Football section

Not enough data to go position by position but some additional practice buzz from folks who were in Rome mixed in with some standard insidery takes follow. There wasn't much on either line because of the nature of the practices, in which a lot of 7-on-7 was played while the linemen did drills.  7-on-7 is a lot more immediately comprehensible than line drills and thus understandably drew the bulk of attention from observers.

Nick Baumgardner's headliner was WR Tarik Black, who showed he can run a lot more than fade routes:

He caught a crossing route over the middle that was thrown high and behind him, with a defender on his hip, where it was simply all hands. The ball looked like a sure incompletion -- and in a live setting, maybe worse. But he was able to time his leap right, reach back and just glide through the catch. He has a unique ability to make difficult receptions look relatively easy.

For a first-year receiver, this seems rare. I've seen so many freshman receivers get into a camp -- whether it be in the spring or the fall -- and just look lost with their fundamentals. Black is not one of those guys.

Baumgardner threw in another Black mention in a subsequent article to emphasize his take, and Black also led Sam Webb's practice take roundup. Good news with a "right, still a freshman" twist:

Tarik Black looked impressive once again. At this point the coaches are really working him hard on route precision. Rounding off routes... standing up at the top of routes... things that he will improve upon in time. He's trying to learn the playbook while working on those things, so it's going to take some time. But he's too good right now to not see the field. He'll play. A lot.

Players ranked in Black's range are even less likely to be year one contributors than five-stars that hit at only a 33% rate (in year one), but enrolling early and impressing are big steps. One insider report has Black, not Donovan Peoples-Jones, starting next to Crawford if the season started today. It does not, and DPJ was limited for much of the spring with a series of minor injuries so he is a candidate to surge back into the lead. Black's prominence is worse news for Drake Harris and Moe Ways, neither of whom generated any spring buzz.

Quarterback is in a bit of a weird spot where... well, here's Sam describing the situation in an extensive board Q&A:

If you're asking me if what I've seen is further confirmation that Brandon is the most talented quarterback on the roster, my answer would be yes. No one is disputing that.  I don't think the quarterbacks themselves would dispute that.

Despite that everyone has Wilton Speight the clear leader for the job, as rising juniors who finished in a dead heat for second in the Big Ten in passer rating tend to be. A couple of turnovers he coughed up while playing with a busted collarbone and a big-time spring game from Brandon Peters have everyone and their mother clamoring for the backup. The many upward pointing arrows on various parts of Peters's profile don't mean he's a favorite, or even particularly likely, to wrest the job away this fall. If Speight struggles or get hurt, I don't expect last year's Indiana game.

As far as the projected starter goes, he was locked in on Friday for the second practice:

On Friday, though, he was dealing.

Once Michigan cranked up the intensity of practice and got a little bit more live, Speight seemed to settle right into a groove and made some really, really impressive throws.

He hit a 25-yard corner route to a receiver in stride -- inside an air-tight window -- on an absolutely beautiful throw.

Pep Hamilton thought so, too.

"That's what we gotta do," Hamilton belted, pumping his fist into the air and slapping Speight on the back after the throw.

From there, he was on the money the rest of the day.

This is both a reminder that the spring game is a weak indicator and a throwback to last year, when Speight had spurts where he looked like the best QB in the country... and spurts where he looked like Michigan's biggest problem. I may be thinking of several deep balls that landed about four yards too long one night in Iowa City.

My operative theory last year was that the Harbaugh-ized version of Speight is a very, very good QB but he reverted to previous bad habits too often. If that is the case and the guy who is spooky accurate goes from 40 of snaps to 70% this year Michigan will have a hell of a passing game. Don't write off Speight yet.

Finally in passing game notes: Ian Bunting is still the expected starter as an inline TE, with Tyrone Wheatley's blocking still inconsistent.

Interestingly, Zach Gentry was mentioned as the starting FLEX, which is probably good news. Nick Eubanks has looked impressive this spring, so Gentry potentially forcing his way onto the field says good things about his ability to deliver matchup problems to opposing defenses.  He's not far off Mike Gesicki, the Penn State tight end. Gesicki is the only football player in history worse at TE blocking than Devin Funchess, but 48 catches for 679 is outstanding receiving output.

Offensive line is status quo: Cole/Bredeson/Kugler/Onwenu/Runyan, with JBB held out of contact in Rome. Per Baumgardner, Bredeson did take some tackle snaps but his impression was that Michigan was relatively set with that line, give or take a freshman at right tackle. Per Webb there's good news and bad news here, with Cole "going toe to toe with Rashan Gary" and Ben Bredeson improving a great deal. On the downside, Mike Onwenu's weight is still an issue and Michigan is insisting he get down to 360.

I have a dollar on Andrew Stueber as the opening day RT, FWIW.

Unverified Voracity Is Rando Slander Turtleneck Doof

Unverified Voracity Is Rando Slander Turtleneck Doof

Submitted by Brian on April 25th, 2017 at 12:59 PM

When in Rome, kayak as the Romans did. Cesar Ruiz's displacement is an asset on the football field. In a kayak not so much.

This trip is probably the most Summer Of Harbaugh thing that's happened yet. Except for the shirtless touch football game at a camp he participated in. That's permanently #1.

I could use more Gus in my life. ESPN's college football announcing crew was decimated this year so I'm much more into this than I would have been previously:

...this season kicks off Fox Sports' six-year, $1.44 billion deal with the Big Ten Conference. Under the terms of the new pact, not only has Fox wrested the deed to the annual Ohio State-Michigan game from co-rights holder ESPN/ABC, but it will also broadcast the Big Ten football championship game in December. (And no, the change of broadcast venues doesn't suggest that the Buckeyes-Wolverines grudge match is going to move under the lights for a primetime airing any time soon -- tradition still demands a noon game.)

Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt might be the best extant CFB announce team and I'm totally down with those guys calling M-OSU. Hopefully FOX tones down the robots and goes with a more collegiate feel for their Big Ten games.

I am far less enthused about this, however:

“It’s still a concern,” Manuel said. “The only difference is, the Big Ten and television can assign us to a primetime game and it’s not our option. In November, we have the option if we choose to do so. I don’t anticipate that choice being made.” ...

“It comes out in terms of we agreed to it several years ago as a part of negotiating the new Big Ten television contract that we would allow up to two games at night,” Manuel said. “Last year for this (2016) football season, we had the option. Next year and moving forward the Big Ten can assign us and television in the Big Ten. In the month of September and October.” ...

“Jim (Harbaugh) and I have been in lockstep, saying our preference is in the afternoon and not in the evening,” Manuel said. “In this particular case, we have granted the ability for the Big Ten to assign two home games in the evening. That’s where it will go.”

I don't know if that's yet another Dave Brandon ace negotiation or an unfortunate side-effect of being part of the Big Ten during a period when it's being run by someone who cares about nothing other than stacking dollars. It kind of sounds like the former since Manuel says "we have granted the ability" to the Big Ten. Which is another going-away president from the worst AD in history. Also in "Dave Brandon's icy hand reaches out from the grave": he scheduled Air Force again. Never schedule Air Force.

Cord cutting leads to other forms of cutting. ESPN is about to have an on-air bloodletting:

ESPN will part ways with more than 40 people, all of them “talent,” a label that ESPN applies to radio hosts and writers (almost all of whom regularly do video or audio), not just traditional TV personalities. ESPN says it has 1,000 people in the category. Still, you can expect most of the people cut to be faces you’ve seen on TV. In some cases, ESPN may buy people out of existing long-term contracts—as Sports Illustrated points out, that is unusual.

Most of these folks are probably going to be peripheral folks with few names you'd be familiar with, but the story speculates about one potential exit that would be frown-inducing:

The New York Daily News has some speculation, including SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross, whose contract expires on July 1.

Nooooooooooo. Buccigross is probably the network's foremost college hockey proponent and things would not be the same without him. Here's hoping his skillset keeps him on the four-letter.

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who are you going to believe, your own lying eyes or this dipshit?

This week in bullshit. Danny Kanell brings his turtleneck to a fact party:

Kanell is way out of line here. Consider the environment he's living in at the time of the FSU game: various players have outright skipped bowl games and gotten praise for it in the media; neither Leonard Fournette nor Christian McCaffrey has seen his draft stock altered one iota by that decision. Even if Peppers wasn't going to play by his choice he could have just said "nope" privately and not dressed, as is common in football.

Instead he dressed and attempted to warm up, whereupon he looked like a guy who'd injured his hamstring. So unless he's a pathological liar who's simultaneously extremely convincing at faking muscle injuries, he was, you know, injured. Kanell is slandering Peppers without proof.  Probably because he's dumb as a brick.

Here's a guy in need of some firin', ESPN.

When third chances go wrong. If your program has a guy get in trouble, it had a guy get in trouble. It happens. If your program takes a guy with two arrests in his recent past you'd better do your homework, because if he gets in trouble again that is on you. This is on Mark Dantonio:

Robertson was arrested for criminal mischief* in 2015, then arrested shortly before Signing Day for inappropriately grabbing a female student at his high school. MSU issued a statement about the deep background they did on the guy in an attempt to justify the signing:

“Our decision to accept Auston Robertson’s signed National Letter of Intent and Big Ten Tender has been evaluated over the last three months while utilizing all resources available to us to thoroughly review his situation,” Dantonio said.

“Our relationship with Auston began last summer when he committed to Michigan State. When we accepted his verbal (commitment), we also made a commitment to him and his family. We elected not to sign him in early February, and since then he has been accepted into a pretrial diversionary program and must continue to satisfy those requirements. Given all the information available to us, we believe Auston should be provided with an opportunity to begin his education and playing career at Michigan State.”

He lasted barely a year before getting charged with criminal sexual conduct in East Lansing, a charge that is easily predicted by the nature of the battery he got diverted. The above statement should have read "We know this is a risk for the people who will be around Robertson. Sorry. (Not sorry.)" That risk seems to have resulted in something very bad indeed, given the fact that Robertson went on the lam for two days. Even more ominously, Mark Dantonio saw fit to remove him from MSU's team. Short of failing to meet academic eligibility requirements, when does that happen?

This isn't and shouldn't be a rivalry thing. Hopefully the fact that I bombed Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon for their useless lies about Brendan Gibbons demonstrates that 1) nobody is immune from this sort of thing and 2) I'm not just a message board dude with my rivalry lols. It should be about what looks like an institution that has serious issues with sexual assault, at multiple levels.

*[And "resisting law enforcement," a charge which I'm always extremely dubious about.]

Expected starter confirmation. Chris Evans on his spring game deployment:

"I wanted to play more  ... But they said 'nah, nah, nah, you're not going to play, you're not going to play.' I just respected that and just back to the drawing board (for spring practice) on Tuesday."

That is a leader in the clubhouse.

Red encomiums. John Bacon:

Berenson loved the game from the start. When he was a 6-year old kid in Regina, Saskatchewan, for Christmas his parents gave him new skates, new gloves and new shin pads. He was so excited, he called his best friend – at 6 a.m.

When his friend's mom answered, she asked, "Do you know what time it is?"

Berenson replied, "Yes -- but this is important!"

From CHN:

Berenson stepped down Monday after 33 years as Michigan's head coach. He was hired during a tumultuous time in the program's history, May 1984. It was the third time then-athletic director Don Canham had asked him to take over. He was an assistant coach in the NHL at the time. He finally accepted.

"I left a job making $85,000 a year to take a job making $40,000," Berenson said. "I thought, 'Did I get my MBA at Michigan to make a decision like this?' But it was the right thing to do. I loved Michigan and loved the experience I had."

MGoBlue has a thing that's more of a pretty-design item than a story but here is a picture:

9788358

And Hoover Street Rag:

Red Berenson did not invent Michigan hockey, that's Vic Heyliger and Al Renfrew.  But Red did save Michigan hockey, first with the Regina Regiment, then by coming home to Ann Arbor in 1984.  He was hired by Don Canham, and he, slowly but surely, brought Michigan back from the abyss.  He won 848 games in the NCAA, fourth most in college hockey, and starting in 1990-91 when Michigan posted a 34-win season and its made first trip to the NCAAs in 14 years, an event they would not miss for the next 22 seasons, Michigan began a streak of 8 straight 30-win seasons, with 6 Frozen Fours and 2 national titles, Michigan's eighth and ninth all time.  And in all of this, in the down seasons, after the Hunwick fueled miracle run in 2011, after Mel left, and we wondered when would this moment come.  Then came last year, when Michigan hockey was fun again and four NHL-caliber players were lighting the lamp and Michigan won the conference tournament, there was the notion of maybe the old magic had been recaptured, let Red have one more run this year and then hand the reins off after one more season.  But, wishing doesn't make it so, and Michigan Hockey Summer took its toll, as it is wont to do.

Woke Harbaugh continues. Harbaugh on Colin Kaepernick in Time:

Colin Kaepernick was alone in his early protests last year when he boldly and courageously confronted perceived inequalities in our social-justice system by refusing to stand for the national anthem. At times in our nation's history, we have been all too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust.

Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act. For we cannot pioneer and invent if we are fearful of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or—most important—harming our own personal interests.

That writing style is familiar from the opening video at home games. Feels like every word is capitalized, which is very Harbaugh.

Etc.: Some Peppers fluff. Tom Herman wants it nice and light. Fart man. John Borton reports that Brad Hawkins will play safety at Michigan, as expected. Graham Couch, man.