Also I lost money on Stately Victor. So I chose a bad weekend to take a semi-vacation. Every time I hopped on my phone to see what was going down, Michigan was picking up a DE commit or Ohio State was seeing its troubles expand or Michigan State fans were having entertaining meltdowns or the OHL draft was somehow giving Michigan commitments instead of stealing them. You think it's just a random weekend in May and surely the only thing you're going to miss is nothing. Not so much. But if that's going to happen every time I'm out of pocket I'll be in the Yukon until August even if we pick up some suspensions along the way.
It all started with dozens of cars over a decade. The Dispatch reports Ohio State is looking into their players' tendency to buy cars from one guy with the usual level of signed memorabilia in his office and at least one very interesting sale:
Public records show that in 2009, a 2-year-old Chrysler 300 with less than 20,000 miles was titled to then-sophomore linebacker Thaddeus Gibson. Documents show the purchase price as $0.
Unfortunately for people wishing to see OSU bombed into the stone age, the Dispatch found that "nearly half" of the cars are on record as being sold for less than the Blue Book value, which is a way of saying it seems like there's a reasonable distribution of prices when that price isn't no dollars. That's unless the cars in question are all blinged out yo—the Dispatch only knows make and model.
However, in addition to all these sales this Kniffin guy also loaned Terrelle Pryor the cars he was driving when he was pulled over three times in loaners. It's extremely implausible that the NCAA won't be able to put together another finding of improper benefits. It was also implausible that Pryor could get away with the car hijinks and he did.
Ohio State compliance is putting up a brave face, but privately the prospect of Kniffin and his 130k in IRS debt facing down the law for misreporting sale prices for these cars has to be foreboding. If there's a choice between jail and confirming documents that would expand the scope of OSU's trouble to include a lack of institutional control, skeezy guy in undisclosed state will no doubt take the latter.
Still need that smoking gun to turn up, unless OSU's crack compliance storm troopers investigating car purchases and letting that Gibson thing slide is it. Ohio recruiting guru and OSU partisan Duane Long:
What about Pryor? I mean, every dealership owner is totally cool with letting me test drive their personal automobile for days on end across state lines. Especially when I was in college. Apparently that’s when I was most trustworthy. That story is believable right?
Now we find out it’s not just star players, it’s a bunch of players AND their families. Good Lord.
Don’t fret Buckeyes because this stuff was already cleared by OSU compliance. Whew!!! I knew they were on top of this. Sure they missed years of players cashing in on items that we would cherish our entire lives but are trivial to the players in exchange for tattoos and cash. But buying cars, they were all over it. Color me relieved, except for one thing. I saw a post asking one simple question, If all of this was cleared already then why the INTERNAL investigation? Hasn’t there already been one? Hasn’t it already been cleared? So what if the Dispatch thinks it’s a big deal. The answer to the Dispatch article is “It’s already been cleared”. Case closed. Story over. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead we muttered under our breath like Latoya Jackson’s mousy voice “we cleared this” and then contradicted the value of that entire “clearing” by announcing our internal investigation. That is ridiculous. Doing this internal investigation is a big announcement to the world “Yeah we didn’t really clear anything and we would hope you guys wouldn’t notice”.
It beggars belief that 50 different Buckeyes all got a legitimate deal with one particular salesman who has provably given Terrelle Pryor rides no one else would get. Maurice Wells' mom bought a car in Columbus. She lives in Maryland. So did Pryor's mother and brother, who live in Pennsylvania. The NCAA should be able to ask anyone with eligibility to prove they're making the payments the notes claim they are with permanent ineligibility the alternative. There's clearly enough circumstantial evidence to suggest what went down was rife with illegal benefits. If they don't they're making a mockery of their enforcement process at a school that's already done a better job of that than USC.
The car thing brings options approaching nuclear into play. Basketball players are involved and violations uncovered could stretch back a decade to when Maurice Clarett and Marco Cooper told ESPN they were given loaner cars and sweetheart deals. If the NCAA uncovers an ineffectual see-no-evil car accounting system in the wake of that very public accusation, pairing that with Tatgate makes for the worst NCAA violation in a long, long time.
BONUS: Texas fans are running a strong second to Michigan when it comes to e-outrage about this stuff. Burnt Orange Nation campaigns for a show-cause—their third post on the subject—and Barking Carnival opens up both barrels as well. A sniff of Switzer is a red cape to Longhorns.
Other possibility: Malletts be Mallettin'. Ryan Mallett's father dropped a dual bombshell as he tried to explain why his kid transferred away from Michgian, saying that Lloyd Carr told Mallett to transfer and Rodriguez didn't pursue Mallett as hard as he should have. The latter quote:
“Ryan’s the one who called (Rich Rod),” Jim Mallett continued. “He said, “Can I talk about the offense?’ And then he told me, ‘Daddy, (Rodriguez) never looked me in the eye.’ He never visited with the family, he didn’t talk to us. I never met the man. But hey, it wasn’t a fit. Let’s move on.”
This set off another minor war between the Rodriguez and Carr factions vying to determine which of them was incrementally less of an asshat over the last three years. There is another possibility: this is just a self-serving remembrance from the sort of guy who promises "revenge" on Miami for not drafting his kid. For one, Rodriguez never looked Mallett in the eye because Mallett was in Arkansas, not Michigan—unusual behavior for a player planning on staying at Michigan. For two, Carr told Mallett to transfer plenty before he'd even retired. I believe Carr told Mallett to GTFO, but it wasn't because he was looking out for his player.
The team. The team:
Also the team.
Stonum suspension redux. Darryl Stonum has been suspended "indefinitely" for his second DUI, which is better than the rumor I got in my inbox that he had gotten the heave-ho but seemingly not much better. Stonum had a breakout 2010 and could have done so again as a focal point when Michigan went under center; now he could be out for anywhere from a couple games to the year. Michigan could hypothetically redshirt him, FWIW.
I wish I had something to offer about how serious the on-field repercussions would be but it sounds like that's up to Stonum's actions over the next few months. A second DUI is a serious offense.
We're going to need a bigger ark. Michigan picked up a pair of WDE commits over the weekend from Ohio's Pharaoh Brown and Michigan's Mario Ojemudia, bringing their 2012 class to ten guys all from Michigan and Ohio, all offensive linemen or front-seven defensive players. This would be Brady Hoke self-parody if every guy in the class didn't sport the offer list of a guy at least on the 3-4 star borderline, but they all do so it's just good stuff. Michigan has 17 slots right now and can push that to 19 by not offering a couple of guys fifth years; with a reasonable amount of attrition they'll be looking at a class of 22 or more.
They seem to lead for Matt Godin, Chris Wormley, Terry Richardson, Anthony Standifer, and Jordan Diamond. They'll probably grab two DTs from the Pipkins/O'Brien/Day/Johnson group, which brings them to around 17. The five remaining scholarships go to:
- Mystery QB
- Mystery RB, Preferably Blue Chip, Thx
- Hypothetically Qualified Aaron Burbridge or Mystery Outside WR
- Mystery OT Probably From California
- Mystery OT
If they end up whiffing on any of the guys counted in the class it will probably be Wormley, at which point Michigan will put the full court press on the touted SDEs who veritably litter Ohio this year and, given the way things seem to be going, get one.
Michigan's problems, such as they are: getting the second WR it seems they need, finding a true safety, and smushing MI TE Ron Thompson in. If they bloat this class up to 25 they can add Thompson, another safety, and another WR without squeezing out that fifth OL.
That's asking for six kids to leave the team before February. I can glance at the Depth Chart By Class and easily pick off six guys whose absence wouldn't be felt but that's somewhere between rude and skeezy. While Michigan won't put themselves in a situation where they sign a bunch of guys and then say "medical scholarships for everyone," the best interests of the program are now aligned with certain guys leaving it. That's uncomfortable.
Tell me something I don't know. Rivals initial top 100 is a bit light on Midwesterners and, as usual, over-represented by the Texas/California/Florida triumvirate. I'm working on a larger post about this but:
- From 2000-2006 Texas, Florida, and California supplied 35% of NFL draft picks. From 2007-2010 they supplied 34%.
- This year's Rivals 100 has 48 players from those three states.
- The Midwest (MN, IA, WI, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA) supplied 17% of NFL draft picks.
- This year's Rivals 100 has 15 players from those states.
I haven't looked at enough data to see what the issue is but my bet is consistent overrating of Big Three players at a the near-uniform expense of everyone else. Some of this is inevitable unless you expect the Rivals guys to figure out which half a Montanan is going to get drafted every year, but if you suck out the odd NFL player from the ignored Great Plains and New England states you should be overrating the rest fairly uniformly. That hasn't happened so far this year.
Caveat: it's possible that the good players in the big states get scouted sooner, leaving the rest of the nation to catch up. That would mean the final Rivals 100 would be less Big Three biased. I'm not sure yet, which is why there's a post in the works.
Etc.: Brandon Burlon's departure is official. Michigan's solar car hits the NYT. They're going to paint the imaginary no-charge circle on the floor. Beilein thinks that helps but I'm not sure since their defense is built around charges, not blocked shots. Hockey's endzone nets are stupid.
There's been some chatter about Terry Richardson's upcoming announcement being a twitter prank from Royce Jenkins-Stone but 247's Steve Wiltfong reports that Cass Tech coach Tom Wilcher says Richardson will "probably make his decision this week." With Ross and Jenkins-Stone in the boat, Michigan is the presumed favorite.