NCAA: Man The Battle Library

NCAA: Man The Battle Library

Submitted by Brian on August 12th, 2011 at 2:47 PM


standard APR picture lead now with more apropos-ness

[sportswriter impression] This time, they're serious. [/sportswriter impression]

No, seriously, they appear to be serious. The NCAA announced (and then quickly approved) a massive increase in the APR's toothiness by requiring a 930 for a sport to participate in postseason play, whether it's the NCAA tournament or bowl games.

That's good for Michigan, which has only brushed up against penalties due to the unprecedented transferfest that took place upon Rodriguez's arrival. Once coaching transitions are out of the way they'll be well clear of 930 in every sport. Meanwhile, teams like Purdue, Ohio State, and Indiana have all seen their basketball programs suffer sanctions for falling beneath the 925 mark. They'll have to be more careful about one-and-dones and academic risks, i.e. recruit more like John Beilein.

As far as football goes, if you're worried about the Rodriguez anchor (an 897 2008 APR), don't be. The Bylaw Blog says the 2014-2015 APR will be the first point at which the new regulation will go into effect. At that point the anchor will have rolled off. The only yearly APR number to count then will be last year's score, an okay 946. Michigan's attrition during this coaching search has been less extensive and more likely to get waived (three medical scholarships and just the one academic implosion). This year's class has a lot of 3.8 GPAs and no immediately apparent academic risks—they'll be fine.

The Bylaw Blog also says it's critical to get rid of the one year lag in the APR. Michigan won't find out its 2010-11 number until next summer. I'd also suggest the thing has to be more transparent. Right now we just get a number; in the future they have to show how they got that number, because it's serious now. It's not going to fly with people if Kentucky basketball can boot seven guys off the team and not even have its APR flinch. Each APR report should come with

  1. The number of players who got through the year.
  2. The number of players who left the team
  3. The number of players who left who the school got a pass for and why

Right now trying to figure out your APR is fraught with difficulty; it needs to be more transparent, within FERPA reason.

Other retreat items

Stewart Mandel highlights these three things as areas the NCAA will look to overhaul in the near future:

Based on comments made this week, and Thursday's evidence that these things really can come to fruition, we should expect major changes in three other areas over the next six to nine months:

• An overhaul of the current enforcement process. Emmert and the presidents spoke universally of a desire to cut down on the many "nuisance rules" (free lunches, text-message limits, etc.) that take up an inordinate amount of compliance officers' time while beefing up penalties for deliberate, egregious rules violations. This will likely include expanding the classifications for infractions from the current and vague duo of "major" and "secondary."

• Allowing individual conferences, if they so choose, to implement full cost-of-attendance scholarships (as Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany first pushed for last spring) and/or multiyear scholarships. The obvious implication is that only the richest conferences could afford to do so, which in traditional NCAA parlance represents dreaded "competitive equity" issues. But the presidents seem to be lock-step with the commissioners in believing said imbalance already exists.

• Raising initial academic eligibility standards both for high school seniors and juco transfers. No specifics were offered, but they could be along the lines of SEC commissioner Mike Slive's proposal to increase incoming students' minimum core GPA from 2.0 to 2.5.

Kelvin Sampson and his quivering upper lip are listening to "Killing Me Softly" on repeat. It's time for more Selfish Homer Perspective!

  • Overhaul enforcement to cut down on nuisance rules + hamsandwiching real violators: Can we retroactively de-major our stretching/GA violations? No? Bollocks. Good for Michigan and its general lack of "deliberate, egregious rules violations."
  • Full cost of attendance: Not relevant in football and basketball since anyone Michigan is recruiting against will implement FCOA. I guess we won't lose QB recruits to Tulsa. Good to very good in smaller sports: some elite hockey programs are D-II and may not be able to afford a system-wide FCOA; 3-5k per year can't hurt when it comes to battling OHL teams; a lot of equivalency sports do recruit against MAC-type schools that happen to be very good in some smaller sports (Akron soccer, various baseball schools) and this is basically extra scholarships for them.
  • Raising initial standards. I will believe this one when I see it but clearly good for Michigan, which is attractive to high-academic kids and never takes JUCOs.

And now the Student Welfare Gadfly perspective:

  • Enforcement overhaul: Meh.
  • FCOA: obviously good as it actually funnels some of the insane buckets of cash to the kids making those—and apparently all the ones spending it, but I'd rather it goes there than a coach or administrator.
  • Initial standards: Tricky. Slive's proposal didn't prohibit kids who fell under the standards from attending, I believe, it just prevented them from playing. Kids in school taking up roster space having to learn is good; shuffling more of them off to dubious JUCOs is not so much.

Mandel is gobsmacked by how sensible everything sounds and how quickly they made a huge structural change with the APR stuff and it's hard to argue. The NCAA seems serious this time around. Seriously.

APR Bounces Back, Doom Probably Averted

APR Bounces Back, Doom Probably Averted

Submitted by Brian on May 24th, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Michigan's latest APR score (covering year two of Rodriguez) is a 946. This:

  1. is about on par with Michigan's recent average outside of the initial year of attrition, and
  2. is exactly one point better than what I guessed they'd need to stay above the 925 mark
  3. leaves their multiyear APR just above the Mendoza line at 928.

So no penalties. Even if Michigan had dropped below 925 they would have had to have a player leave ineligible to get hit, but… uh… Tate Forcier. So phew.

Next year they'll have to do better than 918—that's the score that drops off—to keep their head above water. That should be doable as long as the transition attrition isn't as bad as Rodriguez's, which it doesn't appear it will be.

FWIW, all of Michigan's other sports are fine. Most have a vastly better graduation rate than the university. Most impressive is basketball's 988.

Unverified Voracity Is Twitchy About 3-4

Unverified Voracity Is Twitchy About 3-4

Submitted by Brian on May 24th, 2011 at 11:47 AM


Internet: frighteningly comprehensive. Don't ask about Rule 54 here.

Update on a deceased fellow. I made some offhanded reference to Horace Prettyman, how ridiculous a name that was, and how it was obviously a few guys on the football team having a laugh a couple days ago, but a reader points out one Horace Greely Prettyman has his own extensively researched wikipedia article detailing a life full of accomplishments. Specifically, he scored the first-ever touchdown in Ann Arbor:

In 1883, Michigan resumed a schedule of intercollegiate football, and Prettyman played "forward" for the team. The team played its first ever home game at the Ann Arbor Fairgrounds in March 1883, a 40-5 win over the Detroit Independents. Prettyman scored the first touchdown at the Fairgrounds at the 14-minute mark of the "first inning" and went on to score a second touchdown before the end of the inning.

The team played its remaining games as part of an Eastern trip in November 1883. The trip consisted of four road games in eight days at Wesleyan and Yale in Connecticut, Harvard in Massachusetts, and Stevens Institute in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The trip cost $3,000 and was arranged "to both represent and advertise the college among the Eastern cities and universities."Prettyman was placed in charge of the trip, and The Michigan Argonaut praised his management: "All the boys are most hearty in their commendation of Prettyman's excellent management of the financial interests of the trip and his success is seen by the fact that every expense of the trip has been paid to the last cent."

If Prettyman hadn't died in 1945 there's a good chance he would have tracked me down—he was the local postmaster for a long time—and strangled me.

And as long as we're looking up very old photographs of football players, here's Yost with a killer mustache in 1896:


Mustache Wednesday? Come on, baby.

Er, well then. Yesterday's post on Full Cost Of Attendance—apparently this year's conference expansion— made a large assumption: the change would be localizable to certain athletes. Adam Rittenberg says this is wrong:

If the proposal is adopted at the NCAA level (more on this later), it would affect every athlete on a full scholarship. A women's soccer goalie would have the same scholarship structure as a quarterback. "What we're talking about is not limited to football and men's basketball," Hawley said. The proposal wouldn't impact athletes on partial scholarships.

Or is it? The only "headcount" sports—no dividing scholarships—are basketball, football, women's tennis, women's gymnastics, and women's volleyball. Schools that don't wish to put the world on FCOA could just offer partial scholarships in sports that aren't the above.

But that still increases the burden of FCOA considerably, especially at football schools that almost universally feature volleyball for Title IX purposes. Jim Delany Machiavelli Rating: incremented.

Happening? Happening. Mike Slive is on board with this, by the way. SEC + Big Ten equals probably happening.

Good advice for anyone. Nate Silver is an interesting guy, and here's a speech he gave to a bunch of prospective journalists about what they should do in This Environment. The Big Lead contrasts this with Rick Reilly's "don't write for free" speech. The former is useful, the latter clueless.

This is good advice for anyone:

Learn how to make an argument. This is something that came naturally
to me as a former high school debater. One of the things that distinguishes (quote unquote) "new journalism" from some of its more traditional forms is that the reader is really going to be looking for analysis, meaning, context, argument. Unless you come across some really fresh and proprietary information ‐‐ it's great to get a scoop, but it won't happen very often ‐‐ it's not enough just to present the information verbatim.

One of the flaws of political journalism, in fact, is that a lot of what amounts to spin is given authority by being reported at face value.

Instead, the reader is going to be asking you to develop a hypothesis, weigh the evidence, and come to some conclusion about it ‐‐ it's really very much analogous to the scientific method. Good journalism has always done this ‐‐ but now it needs to be done more explicitly.

If you don't know how to make an argument you spend a large amount of time putting together statistics on how many college athletes get arrested only to find yourself widely ridiculed for not even bothering to provide context. In the past you could just say something and the worst that would happen would be a nasty letter to the editor from a crotchety old guy; now your arguments have to be bulletproof (or at least, you know, try a little) lest you get eviscerated.

Silver also suggests journalists learn what to do with numbers, which is something I harp on consistently.

APR bite. While football APR penalties have generally been restricted to the San Jose States of the world, small squad sizes and NBA departures have made the APR an actual toothy thing in college basketball. A couple years ago Indiana, Purdue, and Ohio State all got hit in the offseason. This year UConn feels the wrath:

The national champion Connecticut men's basketball program will lose two scholarships for the upcoming season as a result of a poor Academic Performance Rating from the NCAA. …

The rating puts the basketball program's four-year rating at 893, below the NCAA minimum score of 925. The score for the 2009-10 academic year is 826.

The NCAA's real minimum is 900 but it's interesting that UConn is failing where Kentucky is apparently succeeding. I wonder what they're doing differently in Lexington. The Huskies won't be getting off the mat any time soon, either: their score from last year is 844. Barring a miracle their APR is going to be under 900 for the next few years.

The full report is supposed to come out today; I'll get Michigan's scores up ASAP but probably not as quickly as the guy with the fastest trigger finger on the message board.

What's this oh those are my multiple defense hives welcome back hives I hate you I hate you I hate you aaaah. You may have noticed that Michigan has recruited a lot of linebackers. Farmington Hill Harrison's Mario Ojemudia, a high school defensive tackle who people are projecting as a WDE, wasn't supposed to be one of them but showed up at the recently completed Columbus Nike camp looking like a linebacker, and not one of those linebackers you can turn into a WDE. This may be the cause for another round of "are we moving to a 3-4" last featured in a mailbag here; this time it's a post at Maize N Brew detailing the various teams that moved to the 3-4 and how they mostly got a bunch better.

I don't think this is happening. As I mentioned in that mailbag post, moving to a 3-4 does not reduce your linebacker overage because a well-stocked spot—WDE—becomes a linebacker spot filled by—surprise—those WDEs. I think Mattison has explicitly stated he will run a 4-3 under at Michigan and only a 4-3 under even if I can't find the quote right now, and GOOD LORD LET'S JUST DO ONE THING FAIRLY WELL BEFORE WE START CHANGING AGAIN AAAAAAH—


Etc.: Yost Built profiles new defenseman Mike Chiasson, who does mean no Burlon next year. Unusually for Michigan, Chiasson is 20 now and will be one of those 24-year old seniors popular amongst teams that don't have a lot of NHL draft picks on their rosters. Chad Langlais was the most recent example at Michigan and that worked out well.

NCAA: Let's Ramp Up The APR Doom

NCAA: Let's Ramp Up The APR Doom

Submitted by Brian on May 16th, 2011 at 12:19 PM


this will soon be the literal truth, literally

This site has fretted about, then documented the bad things massive attrition under Rich Rodriguez did to Michigan's Academic Progress Rating. The APR is a complicated number that's supposed to equate a 60% graduation rate to 925. Once you drop below that the NCAA starts glaring at you. Michigan put up a 897 in 2010, a 940 in 2009, and a 918 in 2008 (Carr's last year). They need a 945 this year to keep their head above water; that 897 will be an anchor for the next three years.

Right now, dropping below 925 doesn't automatically start hurting you. Between 900 and 925 the only punishments are a one-for-one scholarship reduction for every player who leaves ineligible. This results in yearly complaints about the various schools that didn't meet the minimum but didn't get punished. It's confusing and a little limp-wristed.

That would change if random NCAA committee has its way:

Currently in the Academic Performance Program, teams face two penalty benchmarks – 925 for more immediate penalties and 900 for longer-term, more serious sanctions. The committee is proposing the penalty structure be consolidated, with a single benchmark set at a projected 50 percent GSR. [Ed: this is estimated to be 925-930.]

While the 50 percent GSR is considered a minimum standard, Harrison said the committee also recommends that the long-term goal be stated clearly for the membership to raise the expectations above a projected 50 percent GSR.

Eliminating that grace zone and a lot of the exemptions that go with it is probably a good idea in the wider view. Right now you get things like South Florida dropping under the 925 level, losing ground the next year without penalty (which totally happened but I can't find the relevant link—their numbers are the worst the BCS FWIW), or Kentucky basketball graduating half of the 60% minimum but still checking out A-OK. Right now the APR is weaker than it should be.

In the shorter view, Michigan David Letterman puts his finger under his collar to go "yeeargh" when he reads this proposed penalty for dropping under the 925-ish level that corresponds to a 50% GSR:

Level One: Public notice and a financial aid penalty of 10 percent from the four-year average of total aid awarded. If the team demonstrates improvement, the financial aid penalty would be reduced to 5 percent. For example, a Football Bowl Subdivision team that awards the full complement of scholarships would be penalized nine overall counters and three initial counters at the 10 percent level, while men’s and women’s basketball would be penalized two scholarships.

Hypothetically, not hitting a 925-ish APR results in scholarship penalties equivalent to the worst NCAA sanctions in twenty years. That's level one! If you get to level two you have to eat your own face. Albert Lin writes your obituary if you hit level three.

A change that drastic would have to come with a lot of warning. (I mean, right? /finger under collar) Presumably by then Michigan will have pulled its APR out of the danger zone, at which point they'd be cheering on any NCAA committee itching to rip the spine out of schools not as committed to graduating kids. So… a qualified hurrah with the stipulation this has to be one of those committee-type timelines where it takes forever to do anything.

Mailbag! Princeton!

Mailbag! Princeton!

Submitted by Brian on February 23rd, 2011 at 12:35 PM


You are one of the few people I know who defends RR. I do as well. Do you think RR should have been fired? Do you think, if he should have been fired, that it should have happened after OSU game? Do you agree with me that if he had a vote of confidence before the season that RR would have hauled in a top ten class? Do you think with a new DC they would have been better next year with RR then with BH? Do you think DB treated RR poorly as I do? Seems to me that DB wanted RR out even before the season. I am so tired of hearing about toughness, as if that is something that can be taught and as if RR wouldn't teach it if it could be.

Peter from Horsham, PA

There are half-dozen posts discussing this but to reiterate: I thought Rodriguez had done enough after the regular season to keep his job if he fired Greg Robinson, hired an actual defensive coordinator, and never ran the 3-3-5 again unless that DC was Jeff Casteel, then rumored to be open to a move. It was a close thing.

The bowl debacle moved the needle for me to "should fire," but this was under the assumption that Michigan would introduce Jim Harbaugh at a press conference held thirty seconds after the last shovelful of dirt hit Rodriguez's grave. If Harbaugh didn't exist I probably would have gritted my teeth and said we should give Rodriguez one last chance. As you say, even with everything Rodriguez had locked up two five-star guys and was probably going to bring in a recruiting class on the edge of the top ten. The offense was a yardage/advanced metric juggernaut that seemed likely to start turning that into more points as it aged, cut down on the turnovers, added a five-star at the glaring weak spot, and hopefully got some more help from defense and special teams. The other two units were bound to improve from amazing low points, etc.

All the bad stuff is still there but that setup seems more likely to produce wins in 2011 than having Denard Robinson take snaps from under center so he can hand off to someone not named Demetrius Hart.

Does it matter, though? There's a large section of Michigan fandom that would read the above sentence and screech like pterodactyl. The national perception of the program was sinking and while the team figured to get better I'm not sure it was going to get better enough—beat OSU—to make a dent in that. What happens if you go 8-4 next year and lose to OSU by ten? Rodriguez gets pilloried and fired. Hoke gets a bag of popcorn to watch Rodriguez get pilloried. At some point Rodriguez's baggage takes him to the bottom of the sea no matter who tied it to his legs.

[As to the dead man walking meme: I heard it plenty before the bowl game, including from people I know and would have a good read on it, but didn't believe it. Since Michigan got obliterated we don't know. If they'd lost by misfortune or won and Rodriguez still got fired it would be different. IME, Rodriguez was gone. This is just based off Brandon's performance in the press conference.]

I'll admit my knowledge of APR is not very good, but does oversigning not negatively affect a school's APR?  If kids are leaving the program/school does that not affect the APR?


So we've overloaded the language here and "oversigning" now stands for two different things:

  • signing more kids than you can enroll by going over the 25 cap, and
  • signing more kids than you can pay for by going over the 85 cap.

In the former case, signing a kid to a LOI and then shipping him off to JUCO when he doesn't qualify does not affect your APR. Not that it should since you haven't had the chance to educate the player.

In the latter case, the answer is yes… hypothetically. In practice the NCAA has provided boatloads of waivers [scroll down]. They're plentiful enough that Kentucky basketball maintained a 979(!) APR despite having a graduation success rate* of 31%. Hypothetically, a school on the 925 borderline is graduating 60% of its players.

What are these waivers? Well, medical hardships, for one.


Those don't count against you because the player is still in school. It makes sense that they wouldn't… until someone starts beating the rules into profane shapes. There are plenty others that are less obvious but no one really knows what they are.

This invites questions about how the hell Michigan failed to take advantage of any of these when players started leaving the program left and right and Michigan put up an ugly 870-something. I don't know but assume it's a combination of Rodriguez failing to understand the gap between WVU and Michigan academics—though he did seem to emphasize it—and the massive attrition that went so far beyond even Alabama's rampant axe that Michigan couldn't get close to the 85 number. I'm not entirely sure but I don't think walk-ons count, so when Michigan's running around with 70 scholarship players and one of them flunks out that hurts way more than Alabama sending a guy in good-for-Alabama standing to South Georgia.

*[as opposed to the federal rate, the GSR does not count transfers in good standing/early entries against you.]

File under Rich Rodriguez will have a job by then and will pursue this kid with a force unknown to mankind:

The AD at Southfield is one of my closest friends and assures me that he has a freshman football player with what is perhaps the greatest name ever.  I give you Lion King Conaway!

And file under testimonial:

I’m a junior in high school, and I recently got my first semester grades. A while back in my Government class, I got an extra point on a study guide because I wrote “which, duh.” In my notes (I was talking about how being liberal/conservative affects voting dem/rep, and I guess my teacher thought it was funny), which is something that I picked up from reading mgoblog. I finished that class with a 93%, which is just barely an A, and I finished the semester with a 4.0. So, reading mgoblog may have been what pushed me from an A- to an A, giving me a 4.0.

Know that if I get into Princeton, I’m giving at least some of the credit to you and mgoblog.

Just don't send a bill.

Academic Progress Rate Out, Ugly As Expected

Academic Progress Rate Out, Ugly As Expected

Submitted by Brian on June 9th, 2010 at 2:56 PM

apr-books apr-birds

Michigan's 2010 APR is out, and all sports that aren't football are well clear of the 925 penalty mark. Football is down to 936 thanks to the 897 they put up last year, something this site repeatedly fretted about before getting the raw numbers and concluding it would take a San Jose State level of failure to get in trouble this year.

That 897 is ugly, considerably uglier than even my revised estimate was, but Michigan avoids falling below the 925 mark that would see them suffer "contemporaneous penalties"—eye-for-an-eye scholarship losses that prohibit you from replacing students who leave ineligible. Since the just-released numbers cover 2008-09 and Kurt Wermers (and possibly others) left ineligible, Michigan would have gotten hit.

Next year is when Michigan might feel some pain and the corresponding Super Fun Headlines that go along with it. The fancy 979 from 2006 drops off the calculation and Michigan will have to deal with the 918 put up in Lloyd Carr's last year, the 940 from Rodriguez's first, and the transfer-saddled 897 just posted. To avoid falling under the 925 mark they'll have to put up a 945 next year.

How bad is that 897? It depends on what the breakdown is. Michigan spent the last couple years witheringly short of scholarship players, which magnified the impact of each transfer. The NCAA keeps separate numbers for eligibility and retention, but unfortunately the site which has those numbers has not yet been updated with the latest numbers. If Michigan has a terrible retention rate and a good eligibility rate, the problem is solely the flood of Carr-to-Rodriguez transfers. If the eligibility rate is poor, that would not be good.

That would not be due to Rodriguez's recruiting. Since the numbers are from last year, the only RR recruits on the team were the scattered late adds to the 2008 class and the 2009 freshmen. Of those players, only Justin Feagin and Taylor Hill have left, and Hill might not even count since he left the team so quickly he probably beat the drop/add deadline. Feagin played last year at Texas Southern.

Not that tomorrow's newspaper articles will mention anything but the 897.

Unverified Voracity Welcomes Back The Yakety Sax

Unverified Voracity Welcomes Back The Yakety Sax

Submitted by Brian on May 3rd, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Site stuff. I fixed a few performance issues* and have convinced myself the site is noticeably snappier afterwards. At this point I've knocked out almost all of the low-hanging fruit and am down to things like "serve static content from a cookieless domain" that 1) WTF and 2) don't promise much more than a few percentage points here and there. So… yeah.

Moving on in annual Brian Beats On The Site stuff: I'm also working on—and at this point it's far enough along that I think I can announce it because it will happen—a searchable UFR database. If you want to see all the video I clipped in which Tate Forcier throws the ball on third down, that can happen. Etc. Content over the next few weeks might be a little sparse as I attempt to beat that into submission.

I am still planning a spring game UFR, which is about half done. I totally forgot about converting the file into something I can clip—which is a day-long process, basically—and then converted the wrong file entirely. I am not in midseason form.

*(Certain javascript files were not getting aggregated and none were gzipped, amongst other things.)

Right and just forever. "We Are ND" was begging for this but I didn't realize it until someone put it on the youtubes:

Tying that in with Brady Quinn for Heisman and Jimmy Clausen For Heisman: perfect. Also reason to go back and revisit "we have not said one word about Michigan. We have not talked about their players; we have not talked about their coaches. We'll talk tomorrow." I miss Charlie Weis intensely already.

MGObama. Yes, I just did that. Obama descended upon commencement this weekend and many people were very excited. I wasn't except insofar as being the sort of university where the sitting president drops by to give a commencement speech might help with offensive linemen in the 2011 class. (Priorities, people.) Even so, I did watch the thing so I caught what I'm pretty sure was an MGoBlog reference in the student speaker's address:

As a nation, we have found that changes can bring us together, but they can also tear us apart. We can see our ambivalence in that change here on campus as well. After the horror of a certain football game played here a few years ago, many were thrilled when Michigan hired a coach who would bring a new energy and style of football to our school. But after two seasons, change has been slow [audience laughter] and full of growing pains. [more audience laughter] Today, we must re-examine our views toward change.

Gotta be, right? Alex Marston gets 100 mgopoints.

OHL Draft. It was mostly good news from the annual exercise in subterfuge that is the OHL draft. Michigan's two 2012 commits, Boo Nieves and Connor Carrick, both went in the late rounds to teams that don't have a reputation for attracting high-end talent not already headed for the OHL. Those are pure flier picks, and we should expect to see both at Michigan in a couple years.

Other players of interest:

  • Matia Marcantuoni, who supposedly had a deal with Oshawa, fell to 18th after telling OHL teams he would not sign. Kitchener picked him, though, and Kitchener is one of those teams that games the draft all the time. Marcantuoni subsequently announced he would report. It would have been nice to grab the kid, but no one was banking on it.
  • D Grant Webermin, who had been talking up Michigan, went to Windsor at the end of the first, and everyone expects he'll report. Webermin was ranked in the 70s by scouting services, so this was the opposite of a reach: guy will sign.
  • Kitchener also took D Jacob Trouba in the third round. Trouba has already committed to the NTDP and the third round is late enough to suggest that Trouba—a universally acclaimed top-ten talent—will be a tough sign for Kitchener. I think at this point there's a substantial financial penalty if Trouba were to defect, and if he's going to be in the NTDP for a couple years why bother with the OHL after?
  • G Dalton Izyk, a Nieves teammate and high profile 2012 goalie prospect, went in the 11th as well and should be headed to college.

Similar takes at Michigan Hockey Net and WCH.

In other hockey recruiting news, ISS's latest top 30 has Merrill just outside the top ten and features him as a "rising" prospect:

Jon Merrill, LD -- USA Under 18
Regarded as one of the best defenseman prospects coming out of the US this year, Merrill looks to have leapfrogged his competition and could be debated as being one of the top three best defensive prospects in the entire draft. Merrill was simply dominant in Belarus and his ability to play in all situations, including running the power play, certainly makes him all the more valuable. Merrill is explosive, gets the puck on net and creates lanes all over the ice. He is effective and reliable defensively and proves to be very difficult to win space against. Scouts are salivating at the chance to add Merrill to their rosters, as he is already a dominant player but still has a lot of room for improvement. This kid is for real.

His coach echoes the praise:

"Merrill was never under the radar. Everyone knows how good of a player Jon Merrill is," Kleinendorst said. "But he really stepped his game up. He probably helped himself more than anybody over there as far as what he did, how he played. He went out and controlled every moment, whether it was with the puck or without it. He saved his best hockey for Belarus, no question. It was almost like he was just waiting for that tournament to start. So what you got to see was what his true potential really was. He contributed as much as anybody."

If he lives up to that hype, Michigan shouldn't experience any dropoff on the blueline despite losing Summers and Kampfer. Still nothing on Moffatt, unfortunately.

Just one more year of this. Donovan Warren, of course, did not get drafted after putting his name in early. This requires damage control from the folks around him who thought entering early was a good idea:

“Every decision is a gamble,” said Warren’s godfather, Mark Carrier, who was hired as the Jets’ defensive line coach this offseason. “I don’t think he regretted it. Obviously, I think he wished things worked out a little bit different for him. But . . . the Michigan he went to wasn’t there anymore. For him to go back, was that going to be more of a burden?”

Maybe this is true. Maybe it is not true. I would just like to reach the point where that is no longer an excuse for anyone, where people leave the program and don't have an easy, program-bashing excuse as to why they didn't get drafted. At some point it's on you, right?

(HT: M-Wolverine.)

APR, now with slight teeth. The NCAA just officially enacted a few rules changes. Foremost among them is a move to a 68 team tournament, but there are changes of slight interest when it comes to college football academics:

  • Endorsed a recommendation that will require football players to complete a minimum of nine credit hours during the fall semester to remain academically eligible for the following season. The board said studies show players who complete at least nine hours in the fall are more likely to be academically eligible in the spring. Players who fail to meet the requirement would have to sit out four games, but could reduce the penalty to two games if they complete 27 credit hours by the end of the next summer session.
  • Endorsed a recommendation from the Committee on Academic Performance to eliminate waivers for penalties assessed to Football Bowl Subdivision schools that have players leave school after completing their eligibility and are not academically eligible. That's a problem for players who leave school to attend pre-NFL combine workouts. The board agreed that eliminating the waivers would be an incentive to improve retention and eligibility issues.

There are APR waivers for players who don't graduate after finishing their playing career? Yeesh. I've praised the APR for bringing some accountability to schools but there's still a long way to go. For example, the Bylaw Blog sort of fisked one of the annual "grraaaah NCAA" columns that fruit like morels every March. Point 1 from graaah MSM columnist:

Kentucky’s graduation rate scorecard for its black players for the last six years reads like this: 18, 17, 9, 17, 17, zero. Over the last 10 years, its black player graduation rate has never risen above 29 percent. Its overall graduation rate passed 50 percent only once, in 2001.

I thought this might be cherry-picking the federal graduation rate, which counts eligible transfers against you, but Kentucky's most recent graduation success rate is 31%. More like graduation FAIL rate, amirite? (BONUS: Kentucky's team GPA of just above two is a seven year low.)

Point 2 from Compliance Guy:

Kentucky’s most recent multiyear APR for men’s basketball is 979. That puts them within the top 10% of all Division I basketball programs and above the median for all Division I sports. So by the measure the NCAA uses to determine penalties, Kentucky basketball is not just getting by, rather it is thriving.

WTF? 979? Waivers are making a mockery of the APR. A 925 is supposed to represent a 60% graduation rate. Kentucky is barely clearing half that and they have a 979! While the thing isn't totally toothless—Indiana, Purdue, and Ohio State have all seen their basketball programs lose scholarships—any system that can produce that kind of divergence is broken. Hit that Bylaw Blog post for all the waivers that have been instituted; they make my persistent concern that Michigan might find itself in the redzone laughable.

Tangent: Notice that the two changes above are football programs getting tougher on themselves. Basketball couldn't care less, evidently. The Bylaw Blog gets ornery about that, too.

Etc.: Misopogon's Decimated D Diaries get a shout-out on ESPN. Remember the epic ESPN/SEC deal that would CHANGE COLLEGE SPORTS FOREVER? Yeah, it's basically just a TV deal, one that gives the SEC the same amount of money for the next 15 years, in which time the BTN will grow until it is the size of Cleveland. You don't need me to tell you that Jeff Defran is an idiot and WTKA should can his ass, but Bruce Madej will explain it to you if you want. Michigan will wear throwbacks at the Big Chill.

APR: Schools Potentially In Trouble Next Year

APR: Schools Potentially In Trouble Next Year

Submitted by Brian on March 31st, 2010 at 1:06 PM

A glimpse into the future: here's a table of schools that would fall under the 925 line if we just look at the last three years of data. These schools could be subject to contemporaneous penalties if they lose a kid because he is ineligible unless they improve this year.

Columns are mostly self explanatory. APR XX = single-year APR. SS XX = squad size for a particular year. 09 APR so far is a combination of the APR scores weighted by the squad sizes, so UAB's 756 counts more than their 931 because the 756 saw 97 players and the 931 just 80. I think I might be slightly off on the weightings here because squad size may not directly correspond with points available, but these should be close.

The last column is the score the school needs to break to get out of the contemporaneous penalties zone. Obviously, the top four teams are not going to climb out in one year. BCS teams have been bolded.

School Conf. APR APR 08 SS 08 APR 07 SS 07 APR 06 SS 06 09 APR
UAB CUSA 875 931 80 756 97 908 93 860 1119
Florida International Sun Belt 904 965 81 891 77 822 90 890 1030
San Jose State University WAC 888 952 78 876 82 853 86 892 1024
Louisiana-Monroe Sun Belt 906 886 87 934 87 869 86 896 1011
Washington State University Pac-10 918 922 84 874 88 921 90 906 983
University of Mississippi SEC 910 891 85 945 76 890 85 907 978
University of Idaho WAC 905 938 77 880 87 911 90 909 974
New Mexico State University WAC 905 900 95 920 87 913 89 911 968
University at Buffalo MAC 908 921 80 933 81 884 86 912 964
University of Minnesota Big Ten 915 887 89 935 88 924 86 915 955
University of Colorado Big 12 929 935 90 893 90 918 94 915 954
University of North Texas Sun Belt 911 914 87 917 87 924 85 918 945
University of South Florida Big East 909 938 85 937 85 879 79 919 943
Temple University MAC 891 960 90 893 91 910 88 921 937
Florida Atlantic University Sun Belt 913 935 85 918 77 911 85 921 936
University of Arkansas SEC 927 918 91 937 91 910 96 921 936
SDSU MWC 914 943 87 894 87 929 87 922 934
University of Akron MAC 926 948 90 906 90 912 89 922 934
Florida State University ACC 932 871 91 960 83 938 94 922 934
Bowling Green MAC 920 912 91 931 95 923 91 922 934
UNLV MWC 929 960 84 922 95 889 95 922 933

Ole Miss is the most relevant team in the danger zone, and it looks doubtful they will be able to avoid a small penalty or two. Florida State's ugly 871 will be an anchor for a few years but if they bounce back with numbers similar to their record to date it won't be a serious problem. And Tim Brewster's gift to whoever replaces him in two years is going to be that 887.

APR By Conference, 2009

APR By Conference, 2009

Submitted by Brian on March 30th, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Data ho. Current four-year rates for eligibility and retention plus squad sizes and overall APRs for all of I-A, organized by conference. This was always hard to get out of the PDFs and prevented wide-scale comparisons without enormous amounts of grunt work.

Conference Comparison

Conference APR Eligibility Rate Retention Rate Squad Size
ACC 951.4 947.0 950.3 351.3
Big Ten 947.5 932.9 947.4 354.7
SEC 947.3 942.8 938.6 357.4
Pac 10 946.4 935.8 945.0 357.2
Big East 944.5 938.8 942.8 357.6
Mountain West 944.3 929.0 944.8 358.0
Big 12 940.5 927.3 936.0 360.7
CUSA 940.4 929.3 940.8 359.8
MAC 928.8 908.0 937.7 349.2
WAC 928.6 907.7 930.2 349.0
Sun Belt 922.6 895.8 938.8 348.0

The ACC is your APR champion by a healthy margin; the rest of the BCS is virtually indistinguishable from another (and the Mountain West) save for the Big 12, which lags. The MAC, WAC, and Sun Belt bring up the rear, with the Sun Belt's appalling eligibility rate standing as yet another reason that conference is a blight on I-A.

Individual conference numbers after the jump.

APR, Raw And Wriggling

APR, Raw And Wriggling

Submitted by Brian on March 30th, 2010 at 2:01 PM

apr-books gollum-book

So I was planning on putting up a post at the usual time and then I fell down the rabbit hole at the NCAA's new APR data-dump site, which happens to be a joint project with Michigan itself. After pounding at their online interface for a while, screaming "why?" the whole time, I just downloaded the whole dataset and set about doing stuff in Open Office's Excel clone.

First, a clear explanation of how the numbers are calculated from the site's Codebook:

A team’s APR cohort for a given year is composed of student-athletes who receive financial aid based on athletic ability; if a team does not offer athletics aid, then the cohort consists of  those student-athletes who are listed on the varsity roster on the first day of competition.  Each student-athlete in the APR cohort has the ability to earn two points for each regular academic term of full-time enrollment.   One point is awarded if the student-athlete is academically eligible to compete in the following regular academic term.   The other point is awarded if the student-athlete is retained by the institution (i.e., returns to school as a full-time student) in the next regular academic term.   Student-athletes who graduate are given both the eligibility and retention points for the term.  Squads can also earn a delayed graduation point if a student-athlete who left the institution without graduating returns to the institution and graduates.

At the start of each academic year, each Division I team's APR is calculated by adding all points earned by student-athletes in the team's cohorts in each of the previous four years, dividing that total by the number of possible points the student-athletes could have earned and multiplying by 1,000.  Thus, an APR of 950 means that the student-athletes in the cohort earned 95 percent of the eligibility and retention points that they could have earned. 

This answers a few questions I had before: walk-ons don't count, but walk-ons who pick up scholarships do. They even include a handy football example:

Example of APR Calculation for a Men’s Football Team (n=85 at start of year)

Semester 1 (Fall) Points Earned

75 student-athletes eligible and retained to next term (or graduate in that term)
75*(2 of 2) = 150 of 150
3 student-athletes are retained to next term but are academically  ineligible
3*(1 of 2) = 3 of 6
5 student-athletes leave the university while academically eligible
5*(1 of 2) = 5 of 10
2 student-athletes leave the university while academically  ineligible
2*(0 of 2) = 0 of 4

Semester Total 158 of 170 (929 APR)

There are also separate rates for eligibility and retention provided as part of the data set that only consider the appropriate halves of the equation. For example, the retention rate above is 78/85 or 918.

Also: it is super hard to get serious penalties. The 925 Mendoza line everyone has been throwing around is indeed the cutoff above which a player leaving ineligible does not hurt you, but falling below that line does not immediately bring penalties with it. It only hurts you if 1) you are below 925 and 2) you have a player leave ineligible. The punishment is an inability to use that player's scholarship the next year. You have to get below 900 before the NCAA comes in with a stick looking for trouble. Only three schools (Temple, San Jose State, and UAB) fell below that line.

Nevermind The Panic

A drumroll for Michigan's exact numbers:

Year APR Eligibility Rate Retention Rate Squad Size
2008 940 912 936 85
2007 918 889 930 94(!?!)
2006 979 965 970 96
2005 949 953 940 92
2004 954 955 954 99

A couple oddities are immediately apparent:

  • Michigan's 2008 APR is higher than either of their individual breakout scores, which should be mathematically impossible. This also happens in 2006.
  • Squad sizes somehow range from 85—the theoretical maximum—to 99. Early departures from mid-year graduates and transfers could bring the numbers up somewhat if the second semester has a bunch of new faces, be they freshmen or walk-ons, but those numbers seem abnormally high.
  • Lloyd Carr's last year: guh. Remember that picture where Mike Hart is staring down five Buckeyes? "889" is that in numerical form.

Also, the NCAA official numbers confirm my back-of-envelope doodling: despite the flood of transfers over the last few years, Michigan is nowhere near even the "contemporaneous penalties" cutoff line. It would take a 2009 APR of 863 or worse to get into trouble. This is actually four points more buffer than this site's previous estimate.

863 is spectacularly low. Only four teams have managed that over the past three years: SJSU, UAB, Temple, and Florida State(!). Those are three mid-major schools who specialize in the marginally eligible and a school that endured a massive institutional cheating scandal. Michigan is not in either situation. We can officially stop worrying about this. Not that you would have been worrying about it without my prompting.