Submitted by Brian on June 11th, 2018 at 11:41 AM

Dives. Washtenaw County dive bars surveyed. Self-recommending header picture is above. Also:

It turned out that the day that worked best for us to embark on the trip was a random Tuesday at the end of May. “Are dive bars open on Tuesdays?” I texted my friend. “They are if they want to be considered BEST OF WASHTENAW COUNTY,” he responded.

The penguin is in Saline, FWIW.

I guess this is all but official? We've been waiting for an official confirmation, or at least more than one person reporting, on this for a while now:

As a result we haven't talked about a piece of news since we were waiting to post their respective Exits. /shakes fist at transfer gray areas

Assuming this turns out to be true—and given the way Harbaugh has talked about the RB and WR groups since spring it's almost certainly true—that's two highly ranked guys out the door. Crawford's departure is probably the result of a plunge down the depth chart that saw him omitted from any spring discussion; that plunge down the depth chart is not a surprise given his flatly terrible play in 2017.

Walker flashed promise as a Brandon Minor-esque rage back in limited carries last year and would be an unfortunate loss. He'd publicly struggled with the transition to Michigan but seemed to get things on track last year; it would be really disappointing if he couldn't manage it, and Michigan could help him enough to do so.

Neither departure is likely to have much impact on the field this year; Michigan returns its top two backs and every WR outside of Crawford. Walker's presumed absence could bite next year.

FWIW, I wouldn't start getting worried about O'Maury Samuels yet. Harbaugh's mention of Tru Wilson as the #3 guy on the depth chart was immediately followed by a Samuels mention and a reference to his hamstring holding him back this spring. Meeanwhile, the WRs:

"I feel like our wide receivers have come along," Harbaugh told reporters during the 'Best of the Midwest' event. "Coach Mac has done a great job coaching them. Tarik, Donovan have probably done the best job of anybody in spring practice. Nate Schoenle, Oliver Martin, Nico Collins also did extremely well. Nico was slowed a little bit by a shoulder. Was going for a ball when we were working with pads and hurt his shoulder. He fought through that. I think he's got some real good upside. Those four guys there probably had the best spring."

Those four guys are actually five guys and Crawford is not amongst them. The lines are not hard to read between.


Unverified Voracity Pissed Off People In Practice

Unverified Voracity Pissed Off People In Practice

Submitted by Brian on March 9th, 2018 at 1:39 PM


i can see it [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Jordan Poole annoyed everyone into being mean. That's Ace's take on the season, no doubt, and uh…

"It was just aggressive," Jordan Poole said last week in Ann Arbor, before the team left for the Big Ten Tournament in New York. "Guys were leaving with cuts, fights (were) breaking out. It was pretty high-intensity games in open gym. I think that's when we knew our identity was going to be tough." …

So what changed? Multiple players mentioned the freshmen as bringing a certain kind of mindset as soon as they arrived on campus.

Hibbitts singled out Poole. "He didn't want to get quote unquote 'bullied' or anything like that," Hibbitts said. "He held his own and wasn't backing down from anybody."

…it might not be wrong.

Figuring out Detroit. I have not been able to figure out how much flexibility the committee has to intervene in a situation like the one burgeoning in the Midwest this year, with Xavier, Purdue, Cincinnati, Michigan, and MSU all in as protected seeds. A ton of brackets have Xavier as the #1 in Detroit and Purdue #2 behind them. Joe Lunardi had a conference call recently in which he asserted that the committee was likely to slot teams in strictly by distance:

"If the Committee goes strictly by mileage, Xavier and then Purdue and/or Cincinnati will end up in Detroit ahead of one or both of (Michigan or Michigan State)," Lunardi said on a conference call Thursday. "And I said earlier, the Committee could wiggle. They could choose to put Xavier or Cincinnati in Pittsburgh, which is about a 20-mile difference to try and open up a Detroit slot. They just have not done that in the past. They go one team at a time, look at mileage — I call it drop and slot — and then move on to the next team on the list."

Lunardi also asserts that Michigan State will be ahead of Michigan on the seed list, which is an extremely frustrating situation to be in if it does in fact come to pass:

If they're on the same seed line you'd think that would be a situation where head to head would break a tie for Detroit placement. But I'd brace yourselves for Not Detroit.

One reason there's such a logjam. Jason Lisk took a look at protected seeds over the past decade:

…the breakdown of actual top seeds by geographic region (as generally defined by where the regional finals are held) is as follows:

West – 14%

Midwest – 36%

East – 27%

South – 23%

The East (if we consider the Carolinas as representing the southern edge of the East Region) and the South (if we include the South to go from Georgia and Florida in the East, to Texas and Oklahoma in the West, and Kentucky to the north) are pretty balanced in terms of the teams and hosting sites.

There are too many teams fighting for protected slots and too many regionals in an area with no top-end teams. Lisk runs down the bracketing procedure if you just go by distance, and it boots both MSU and Michigan from Detroit:

#1 Virginia goes to Charlotte

#2 Villanova goes to Pittsburgh

#3 Xavier goes to Detroit (Cincinnati is 263 miles to Detroit, 273 to Nashville and 288 to Pittsburgh)

#4 Kansas goes to Wichita

#5 Duke takes the 2nd Charlotte spot

#6 Purdue takes 2nd Detroit spot

#7 Cincinnati takes Nashville

#8 North Carolina takes 2nd Pittsburgh spot (slightly closer than Nashville but still a 7+ hour drive, so now that option is closed to Michigan and Michigan State

#9 Michigan takes 2nd Nashville spot (ahead of either SEC contender)

#10 Auburn then has to go to Dallas 700 miles away

#11 Michigan State then goes to 2nd Wichita spot 900 miles away

#12 Tennessee takes 2nd Dallas spot 840 miles away, foreclosing Texas Tech and Wichita State from being relatively close enough for fans

This is a worst case scenario for locations and assumes Michigan is the top 3 (which they are on Torvik but aren't on the Bracket Matrix). It vastly preferable to MSU getting an undeserved slot over a Michigan team that beat it by double-digits twice. But it's still pretty doofy.

NIT is a four letter word. Jaaron Simmons was taken aback recently.

"We've got to keep winning games so we keep playing in the postseason," Beilein told his team. "NIT, NCAA."

Beilein and Simmons made eye contact. Simmons laughed.

"What are you laughing at?" Beilein asked, a smile creeping on his face.

"Coach," Simmons said, "I ain't come here to play in the NIT."

Also of note: Simmons is still calling Zavier Simpson "X." Can we still call him X? Amongst all the letters X is the coolest.

Livers should be good. Via the Daily:

And while instant reactions seemed grim, it seems the injury is not as bad as it may have initially seemed. Livers came back to the bench midway through the second half, though he did not play the final 19 minutes of the championship bout.

“I could (have gone back in),” Livers said. “Duncan (Robinson) was just playing good.”

After the game, Livers vowed to be ready for the NCAA Tournament. Aided by the extra week off, he will, at minimum, have 10 days to regain his health in preparation for the Tournament.

That kind of injury could have been anything from a rolled ankle to a Dread High Ankle Sprain. Looks like it's the former.

Report reports that reports are good. A couple months ago, Illinois announced it would undertake a feasibility study for hockey, sponsored by various agencies that want to promote hockey. The unsurprising conclusion:

Ice hockey would 'flourish' at University of Illinois, study shows

A study on the feasibility of an NCAA men’s ice hockey team at the University of Illinois reached a clear conclusion: Go for it.

The study that launched in June found the interest level and talent in the state would help a hockey program thrive at Illinois.

The university has not decided if it will add a team but is seeking information on funding from campus and community stakeholders. Athletic director Josh Whitman told reporters Thursday that implementing a varsity program would require raising “north of $50 million” and called it “probably one of the more ambitious projects.”

That is the laziest possible takeaway from a shoddy "study" riddled with typos, unjustified assumptions, and self-contradictory assertions. But if you only read the front page, yeah, that's what it says. Not what it shows. Frustrated Illinois fan Steve The Illinois Fan actually read the thing and brings up various issues with the report in a Medium post.

Penn State was the best-case scenario for a startup program: huge fanbase, limited basketball tradition, massive program benefactor. They've created a program that generates 1.7 million in ticket sales annually… and it's still only a break-even proposition when you include the women's hockey boat anchor that Title IX lashed to it.

Illinois has zero of these advantages, and frankly it's hard to see them being anything but a basement dweller if they did start a program.

Iowa and Nebraska remain the Big Ten schools at which hockey makes the most sense. Both schools are smack dab in the middle of the USHL. Both have (or will probably have) private rinks of the appropriate size literally across the street from campus, obviating the need for a massive startup donation. Both have large local fanbases and basketball programs that don't often reach the NCAA tournament.

People In Charge Of Things Are Just In Charge Of Them, Part Lots. Pittsburgh's athletic director let Jamie Dixon return to his alma mater TCU without a fight, hired a search firm headed by his old boss, who also happened to be the old boss of flailing Vandy head coach Kevin Stallings. Stallings had managed one NCAA bit in the previous four years, that an 11 seed at 19-13. Pitt immediately cratered; Stallings was booted after just two years.

Miraculously, that AD had already gotten out ahead of the posse:

So Pittsburgh (presumably) paid six figures so the search firm could recommend an old buddy, and the hire has now produced a disaster in two years. Barnes, by the way, moved on to Oregon State in December of 2016, and spent only 18 months as the athletic director in Pittsburgh. It was a costly tenure, and one for which the school now gets to pay the final bill while Barnes is thousands of miles away.

Once you get to a certain level of rich, other people at that level will crony your ass so that no level of incompetence is too high. See Dave Brandon.

Etc.: Football hires Ron Prince as an analyst. New York doesn't care about you. Steve Kerr also thinks amateurism is stupid.

College Hockey Expansion, Again

College Hockey Expansion, Again

Submitted by Brian on June 27th, 2017 at 12:23 PM


if you will it, dude, it is no dream

A few days ago the NHL held a press conference with the Illinois AD. If your reaction to this is "WTF", yup. Illinois fans seem equally confused given their struggles in the two major sports over the past decade:

And yet. What gives? This is an odd side effect of the most recent NHL CBA negotiations:

Last Friday, the NHL held a press conference hours before the start of the NHL Draft announcing that the league would be providing money for five schools to conduct “feasibility studies” into starting Division I NCAA men’s and women’s hockey programs, and named the University of Illinois as the first school to receive that funding(the other four schools have not been chosen yet).

The NHL’s contribution will come out of their “industry growth fund,” an initiative proposed by the NHLPA in the 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations as a revenue-sharing program that, in the PA’s own words, was “designed to make long-term improvements in the revenue-generating potential of low-grossing clubs”.

Though NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners were somewhat reluctantly dragged into the idea in CBA negotiations, and the end result was about $60 million per year to the fund.

The idea behind these studies is that more college hockey fans—and more folks who play hockey in their youth at college hockey rinks—will become NHL fans. FWIW, the bottom ten clubs in revenue are Edmonton, Nashville, Buffalo, Colorado, the Islanders, Winnipeg, Arizona, Florida, Columbus, and Carolina. College hockey can't help the two Canadian teams or the Islanders much. Canadian teams are in Canada; the only two D-I schools on Long Island are Hofstra and Stony Brook, neither of which has money to throw around on hockey. Meanwhile the rest of the teams are either way out of range for college hockey's current landscape or already sporting local college outfits. As a way to grow NHL revenue, this is… optimistic.

But it exists. If this fund is really sixty million a year and college hockey has access to even 30% of that (about 30% of NHL players are NCAA alums) to help start up new programs that's a Pegula donation every five years. If they're getting the bulk because every town in Canada with a stoplight already has a junior team, that's a lot of money. Q: what has this fund been supporting since 2013, when it was created? A: It certainly hasn't been propping up college hockey teams. This could be a lot of talk without any action behind it, as college hockey expansion usually is.

But it's June. Let's go.

So who are the other four schools? A potential hockey program needs some combination of the following things:

  1. A rink. It should seat between four and eight thousand, probably. Maybe it could go up to ten. It should definitely not be 18k. If you have this, hooray. If you don't, you need a huge upfront investment to get your program off the ground. A lot of midsized cities already have rinks in a reasonable college hockey range, FWIW.
  2. A conference. This is easier in the west after the Big Ten's entry. The east currently has one spot for a team.
  3. A fanbase. Penn State has a huge fanbase that likes sports. It also has a crappy basketball team. Result: constant sellouts. A new program should either be at a PSU-type school with a huge fanbase or in a larger city without much, if any, extant hockey.
  4. Money. Men's hockey in the right place can be a break-even endeavor or even reasonably profitable. The women's team that comes along with it will be a boat anchor. This is one of the worst aspects of Title IX: there are many potentially self-sustaining hockey programs that could exist but don't because of the mandatory accompanying women's team.

Given these constraints, two seem obvious. Most programs have a rink issue, or a money issue, or a fanbase issue. Nebraska and Iowa don't.


Nebraska has a 4200 seat USHL rink across the street from campus and its recently-built basketball stadium has ice-making capabilities and a 13k capacity for hockey; Iowa City neighbor Coralville is installing a 73 million dollar multipurpose arena and ice rink that will seat 6200 less than a mile from Carver-Hawkeye. Both of those schools just got a 15 million dollar bump in conference distributions and probably need to gesture towards using some of that money on scholarships. Both have club teams that draw in the four digits already. Both are in the heart of USHL country and will probably find recruiting easier than you might expect.

Both of these schools have been obvious D-I hockey additions for long enough that athletic directors have issued denials. Nebraska's status of 2013:

On his monthly appearance on the Husker Sports Network, Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst threw cold water on the idea of the athletic department starting up a division 1 ice hockey program. The only sport Nebraska has any intention of starting is the new sand volleyball program.

Wooooof. Iowa's Gary Barta:

“I grew up in Minnesota,” Barta said. “I played hockey, I love hockey. I really do. We had a terrific year, things are getting better. But until all of our sports are at a level where I want them, it would dilute if we added sports. If we add men’s hockey, we’re going to add women’s hockey, so really you’re talking about adding two sports, so there’s a lot involved.

“So, at this point, we’re not talking about adding any sports.”

Barta might get fired in a minute here after Iowa lost multiple discrimination lawsuits due to his actions, but it's unlikely he's replaced with a big-ideas kind of gent. Is there a spare Ferentz kid out there?

The other two are anyone's guess. If we're looking at this from the NHL's perspective, big fanbases—or potentially big ones—are of the most interest, especially if there's an NHL team somewhat nearby that might pick up the pro affiliation of new hockey fans.  One man's list of potentially interesting schools:

  • Tennessee: huge fanbase and the Preds just became a major thing so maybe you could scrounge up 6k people who wanted to go to Vol hockey games? SEC finances help here; SEC tendency to run a minimal number of sports and funnel it all into football does not help. Extant seven-thousand seat Knoxville Civic Coliseum is just a mile from campus.
  • Cincinnati: Not a "big" school in football terms; is in a big city. Hockey converts there might latch on to the Blue Jackets or Blackhawks. Recent huge success of USL soccer outfit FC Cincinnati, which has better attendance than some MLS teams, could indicate an underserved fandom. Xavier is another potential contender. Unfortunately, the Cinci hockey rink is ludicrously large at 18k and 4 miles from both campuses.
  • Syracuse: has been rumored as a potential D-I hockey school for ages. Is in the midst of a ton of extant hockey schools, and the departure of Notre Dame to the Big Ten leaves Hockey East at 11 schools. They're a bus league that really really wants to have an even number of teams so they'll accept a new member in the near future. That could be an upstart or an ECAC team, in which case the ECAC would want to expand. Has a local arena of the appropriate size their women's program already uses.
  • Iowa State: Any Big 12 school is unlikely to embark on a major project in the near future since their league is almost certain to implode as soon as their TV contract expires. Iowa State is in the most tenuous position of all these teams. So they're deeply unlikely to add costs. They have a very very serious club program that draws and could hypothetically play at Hilton.
  • Pitt: Unlikely for the same reason they're not in the Big Ten: the Penguins don't need help and they don't extend any footprints. Geographical sense doesn't always make sense. Also Pittsburgh is the kind of city with a 20k arena, not a 7k arena.
  • Northwestern: adjacent to Chicago, so they've got that going for them. Big Ten, so they've got even more money coming out their ears. Steady football and basketball situations; basketball arena about to be completely renovated, so hockey could be their next major project. The kind of school that has folks that can drop a Pegula donation. Blackhawks don't need the help, though.
  • Illinois: Northwestern, except run by people who make bad decision after bad decision. So… maybe they'd go for it? No rink, minimal football revenue, Big Ten money cannon, close to St. Louis.  Just told CHN it would take a hundred-million dollar donation two months ago!
  • Colorado: shares a state with three extant programs and doesn't do so hot in basketball. Finances iffy. Not sure Boulder and environs are going to bring in big crowds.
    • Utah: see Colorado, except their basketball program is pretty good. No other hockey in the state and a lot of snow might be a good match?
      • Arizona: natural rivals with ASU and might not have rink issues since there's a 6700 seat arena in town that is currently home to an AHL team and the club team. They're kind of a big deal in basketball, is the thing.
        • Stanford: good god they've got a lot of money?

        Four of the eight Big Ten schools without hockey have been mentioned. The four remaining are Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue, and Indiana. The former two only joined the league to stave off financial disaster, still aren't getting full shares, and will be playing catchup for a decade or more before they even think about adding a new team. The latter two are basketball-mad and have football teams that don't exactly throw off scads of bonus cash. All are extremely unlikely even if the Indiana club team has some fire emoji uniforms:

        This may be splitting hairs. All of of these additions are unlikely unless it starts raining Pegulas, halleluja.