Spring Football Bits: Prove to Me that You’re Divine

Spring Football Bits: Prove to Me that You’re Divine

Submitted by Seth on April 10th, 2018 at 4:33 PM

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you can’t throw a rock at Schembechler Hall without hitting someone talking up Bush and Dwumfour [Patrick Barron]

We got a lot of good stuff from over the weekend so let’s do another one of these. Depending on what’s leaking the rest of the week I may or may not get another out before the spring game, so I’ll try to make this one pretty comprehensive.

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Quarterback

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Do you know what people say you are? [Bryan Fuller]

What we want to hear: Hosanna, hey-sanna, sanna sanna ho, sanna hey, sanna ho, sanna!

What we’re hearing: Multiple practice observers believe Patterson is well ahead of the other two, and the gap between him and Peters/McCaffrey is about equal to the gap between those two right now and where they were last year.

First the scouting. Harbaugh on his podcast said Shea Patterson has the best release and that he really shines when going off-script. Insiders are spitting out super-foobally platitudes: He’s “a leader.” He “makes plays.” That jives with his seat-of-the-pants film at Ole Miss and the general “Tate Forcier Except Goes to Class” impression we got from that. The insiders are way more bullish. The “he’s a leader” thing got emphasized by all three of my “SOURCES”, with one saying he’s probably the best offensive juice guy Michigan’s had since Harbaugh got here.

Brandon Peters throws the best ball, which is again something we knew. The biggest mover is Dylan McCaffrey, last year’s scout team player of the year, who benefited the most from Herbert in the offseason, and who gets rave reviews about his pocket command.

As for eligibility, Brian discussed it depth earlier this afternoon. The short version is it’s no surprise that Ole Miss opposed these waivers because the only way to avoid significant sanctions is casting Ohio State* and beating the NCAA’s wisdom throw.

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What it means: The first episode of the Amazon thing was a good reminder that nobody outside of the quarterback room knows the real status of the quarterback battle, so this is guesswork based on lay observations. But nothing can be done to stop the shouting; if every tongue were stilled the noise would still continue—the rocks and stone themselves would start to sing. Unless the NCAA (and again, we’re talking about the NCAA, not some group of responsible, potty-trained adults) buys Ole Miss’s innocence act, Patterson is your presumptive starter. For now.

There’s another clue that this is where the coaches are leaning: one of the points insiders made about is Pep is putting more emphasis on scramble drills. We all noticed last year how, with the notable exception of Grant Perry, Michigan’s receivers would end up standing around after running their routes instead of working back to the QB. If there’s a greater emphasis for the QBs on checking down and improvisation, and a greater emphasis for the WRs on providing those outlets, that kinda sounds like they’re shaping the offense to Shea’s strengths.

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[After THE JUMP: My two offensive lines theory, did you hear about Dwumfour?]

Unverified Voracity Slaps Knee

Unverified Voracity Slaps Knee

Submitted by Brian on June 1st, 2016 at 12:46 PM

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Dan Murphy at Bo's grave. A memorial day thing:

The cemetery groundskeepers say that during most weeks there are a few maize and blue trinkets at the foot of Schembechler's grave, but traffic really picks up in football season. On a spring day this year, there were a pile of pennies, a few Canadian dollar coins, a bell, a blue foam football, a couple of rusty "Beat Ohio State" buttons and an egg keeping Bo company. No one is quite sure what the deal is with the egg, but the best guess is that Bo often liked to jab at his guys by calling them "ham-and-eggers" when they weren't being as productive as they should be.

Women's College World Series on deck. A dramatic comeback win in game two of softball's super-regional sends them to Oklahoma City, with #1 seed Florida watching on TV. Michigan gets the late game Thursday (9:30 PM) against LSU; Alabama and Oklahoma are the other half of their bracket. All games are on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Meanwhile Brendan Quinn profiles Carol Hutchins:

Carol came along in 1957 and immediately raised hell. In fifth grade, playing with matches, she set a field behind the family home on fire. Two fire engines arrived to douse the flames. The Lansing fire chief pulled young Hutchins aside to let her know: "You're lucky you didn't burn down the entire southside of Lansing."

When her father arrived home in his blue trooper uniform, Carol ran up and said, "I have to tell you something: I burnt down the field."

She was grounded.

Even more satellite kerfuffle. SEC meetings are happening so there are more opportunities to ask southern college coaches about the scourge of satellite camps. They still don't like them.  The reasons they offer are still a blend of hilarious and infuriating. Nick Saban is the latest, and he followed the script:

"I don't know how much it benefits anybody because all the people that say this is creating opportunities for kids, this is all about recruiting," Saban said. "That's what it's about. Anybody that tells you that. What's amazing to me is somebody didn't stand up and say here's going to be the unintended consequences of what you all are doing."

Again with the SEC's insistence that going around and scouting football players is—gasp—part of a recruiting strategy, again with the yammering about unintended consequences. This is a conference that managed to set off a firestorm of recriminations because their two-sentence rule change unintentionally screwed over small schools nationwide. Now they are complaining because something that was legal remaining legal will have unintended consequences.

A second talking point the SEC keeps hammering is about the influence of "third parties":

"All you're doing is allowing all these other people that we spend all of our time at the NCAA saying, you can't recruit through a third party. You can't be involved with third-party people and that's exactly what you're doing ...

Then hand met podium.

" ... creating all these third parties that are going to get involved with the prospects and all that. And who gets exposed on that? I go to a camp and I'm talking to some guy I don't know from Adam's house cat and he's representing some kid because he put the camp on, and then I'm in trouble for talking to this guy? And who even knows if the guy paid to go to the camp."

Not only is this amazing chutzpah from the League of Extraordinary Bagmen, this argument wants us to believe that allowing college coaches to go to camps and directly interact with players is going to increase the influence of middlemen. Because someone has to give those kids a ride…? I guess?

Harbaugh, as is his wont, ended the internet again with a tweet.

That is the other thing: Alabama is the worst possible cow to have moo about compliance issues. Saban has pushed the envelope for years himself. There's a bump rule named after him. When he was recruiting a couple of five-stars from Dr. Phillips in Orlando he coincidentally had Alabama's bowl practices at that high school, mirroring Michigan's trip to IMG this spring. His huge pile of medical hardships forced the conference to start reviewing all hardship requests. The program itself has been the target of investigation after investigation dating back to the Stone Age. Nobody in the state of Alabama has ever—everrrrrrrr—shown any indication that they give one tenth of a crap about compliance except insofar as sanctions are a drag on wins.

On the one hand, this is knee-slapping stuff. On the other, the construction of vapid arguments that a segment of partisans will lap up veers way too close to politics for comfort. Nonsense delivered in the cynical pursuit of power is best left to trivial things like the nuclear codes.

And all this over what? Over nothing.

“I think that’s probably the unique thing and I can say after observing Harbaugh last year, the vast majority of kids at this camp are probably not Division 1 football players or aren’t likely to make it there. But I thought every one of those kids got the same attention and the same direction from the Michigan coaching staff whether they really showed that potential or not.

"They all walked out of here thinking that was a pretty worthwhile camp and left an awfully nice taste in their mouth about the University of Michigan."

One of these things is not like the other. PFF has a reason for hope for each Big Ten team, many of which are items like "Cornerback Jalen Myrick may be a better player than 2015’s NFL departees" for Minnesota or "The aerial attack is intact" for… uh… Nebraska. Rutgers's reason for hope is a return specialist.

Michigan, on the other hand:

Michigan: The Wolverines could be fielding a historically great defense in 2016

That would be okay. In our ongoing quest to get a read on every player in the PFF database I believe this is the first time they've mentioned where Ryan Glasgow ended up in their system a year ago:

Returning on the defensive line are three of the top 16-graded interior players (Chris Wormley, Maurice Hurst and Glasgow), and DE Taco Charlton, who in 2015 had the highest pass rush productivity of all defensive ends coming back this year.

They've talked a ton about Wormley and Hurst already so I'm guessing Glasgow is their #16 interior DL from last year. At this point I think we've seen or deduced their opinion on every starter from last year save Jeremy Clark.

This is a bad idea. Signing Day is at the right time. It is after the yearly coaching carousel has concluded, giving players and coaches a month or two to find appropriate landing spots after the chaos of December. Allowing players to sign before that will inevitably lead to many more instances where player and school are a poor fit. And yet there seems to be a push to do that very thing:

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has long been an advocate for a rather radical change to the process of signing recruits to letters of intent –eliminating signing periods and instead allowing prospects to sign at any point when they’ve decided they’re ready to end the recruiting process.

Johnson said at the ACC meetings in early May that he thought that the option was gaining in popularity. He may have known what Division I football oversight committee chairman Bob Bowlsby acknowledged in an interview with the AJC last week – that the committee is looking into it.

“I think a case can be made for that,” Bowlsby said. He called it a “large departure from where we’ve been in the past. Maybe it’s time for consideration of that."

The reasons offered up here are somewhat compelling—being able to sign right away resolves questions about how "committable" an offer is and how solid a commitment is—but the downside outweighs them considerably. Whenever this comes up I suggest a more flexible model:

  • Commits can sign a non-binding LOI at any time before Signing Day
  • The school has to offer a full LOI when the time comes.
  • School and prospect have unlimited contact and can arrange an additional official visit.
  • Prospect cannot take an official to another school.
  • Other coaches cannot contact prospect.
  • Prospect can withdraw LOI at any time.

That goes a good distance towards resolving the issues Johnson's proposal resolves without locking players into situations that can change radically by the time they're on campus.

Etc.: Baseball was left out of the tournament after a late slide. MGoFish looks at what's next. Saban also proposed a commissioner, which is never happening. Verne Lundquist to step down as SEC game of the week guy after this year. CFB is losing their best announcers at a disappointing rate. Popular opinion is that Baylor won't get the Penn State treatment from the NCAA.

I Am Very Proud Not to Have Taken Unnecessary Shots at the South in this Dear Diary

I Am Very Proud Not to Have Taken Unnecessary Shots at the South in this Dear Diary

Submitted by Seth on April 29th, 2016 at 5:12 PM

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Left: Jim and Sam, who is smiling, because when is he not? Right: Little Demo, who is giving the look big demo used to give little defensive linemen

Last February I went to that Harbaugh & Harbaugh thing that inducted the brothers into the Pioneer HS Hall of Fame. As part of the charity auction they had each brother sign a Pioneer helmet. First they auctioned John’s helmet, but Jim Harbaugh outbid everyone. Jim sat down with his new John Harbaugh helmet, and signed the other side.

Then they auctioned the one Jim signed. A lot of people bid, including my friend Matt Demorest, but now it’s a competition: John outbid them all, signed his far more expensive helmet, and sat it back down in front of Sam Webb, instructing the auctioneer that he was donating it back to the cause.

So here’s the auctioneer, who can’t figure out what just happened even though the audience had tracked it well enough. On the other end of the table there’s Jim glaring like this is going to end in a wrestling match. In between them are Sam and Ira smiling like their teeth can keep them from bursting out laughing.

Jim leaps up and jams his helmet into the auctioneer’s hands: “I’m donating this back too.” The auctioneer’s like okay…throws out a number near what John Harbaugh just paid, and for a moment it’s silent before Demorest stands up with a massive finger in the air. His kid pumps his fist and goes “YES!” Sam loses it.

So if you’re wondering where your money goes when you buy or refinance with Matt, yeah, he just blows it all on hats. Fortunately it doesn’t cost you much since Homesure Lending is a small shop without the usual overhead, and you’ll make that back in a few months of your less expensive mortgage. Good deal.

ON OTHER MEMORABILIA:

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User Jay Z bought a copy of this print, and was trying to figure out game; the readers figured out it’s 1989 Maryland. In the process it inspired two more threads: mine on your favorite memorabilia, and Wolverine Historian’s list of things the stadium used to have in 1989 that it doesn’t have now.

That list:

  1. Flagpoles
  2. Backflips off the front row
  3. Flinging toilet paper
  4. Marshmallows
  5. Drinking beer in the stands
  6. Packed student section

Go in there’s gifs and discussion.

On the bits of memorabilia, M Fanfare put you all to shame:

And finally, probably the most unusual piece of UM memorabilia I own, given to me by one of my groomsmen when I got married. It's from a book written by a UM geology professor right after World War I about why, in his opinion, the war broke out. But what makes it unique is who owned this particular copy. The author inscribed it to him.

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"To Fielding H. Yost, With the best regards of Wm H. Hobbs, Ann Arbor, Oct 3, 1922."

To those of you who bought bits of the old turf, that was all the doing of Bob Lipson, the guy who created and produced Michigan Replay.

[After the JUMP: I woke up at 5:30 this morning with a burning desire to write something on Tunsil, in case you want to hear me make the same case Brian already made today.]

Unverified Voracity Has Yet More Hot Takes To Deal With

Unverified Voracity Has Yet More Hot Takes To Deal With

Submitted by Brian on April 14th, 2016 at 1:14 PM

Just another day in the life.

lake-invaders_0One of our photographers wrote a book. You've probably seen Bill Rapai's hockey photos around these parts. If you like those you'll no doubt love his new book, which is about invasive species in the Great Lakes. For some reason it has a picture of an SEC coach reacting to Harbaugh's latest antics on the cover. Bill on the contents:

It’s called Lake Invaders: Invasive species and the battle for the future of the Great Lakes and it explains how these little beasties got here, the damage they are doing, how they might be controlled, and why you should care. (Yes, you should care.) There’s even a chapter on everybody’s favorite invasives, the Asian carps.

It's available on Amazon for anyone who's interested.

DRAKE JOHNSON GOT RUN OVER BY A FORKLIFT!? Yes. He is apparently fine afterwards, if 1) very bruised up and 2) understandably pissed off.

Do not run people over in forklifts, people. I shouldn't have to tell you this.

Tick tock the hot takes don't stop. All it took was for Jim Harbaugh to say some pointedly critical, but true, things for people to lose their minds about the dude. NJ.com columnist Steve Politi has been a reliable source of humor ever since that "Jim Harbaugh may be flashy, but Kyle Flood is real" column, and he is undeterred by being as wrong as humanly possible about that. His reaction to Man Invited To Give Speech may even top his earlier opus:

Steve Politi, a columnist for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com, said Paramus Catholic should be ashamed for having Harbaugh give the speech. …

"The big problem here is Paramus Catholic president Jim Vail who, in announcing his decision to give an out-of-state football coach a free infomercial at his school, called Harbaugh a great leader and educator. Come on, Harbaugh speaking to your students is as much a recruiting advantage for your football program as it is for Harbaugh at Michigan."

I love all these accusations that PEOPLE might be DOING THEIR JOBS WELL. While there's no doubt an element of publicity and recruiting on both ends, Jim Harbaugh is also a very interesting and successful person who might want to give people some guidance. And he's sure as hell going to be more interesting than whoever my high school graduation speaker was. I have no idea if there even was one. Chris Ash is openly envious, and he's real, so…

This undercurrent of "wait a second… wait just a minute here! I see what you're doing! You are trying to make your football team good!" is a never-ending source of entertaining spittle these days. Remember that Alabama dude who clutched his pearls and fell over because Michigan's satellite camp at Prattville was really about recruiting? This is just the latest episode. Here's Mike Florio accusing Harbaugh of the blazingly obvious:

If we’re going to pull back the curtain on why the SEC and ACC coaches wanted to keep Harbaugh out of their backyards, it’s only fair to pull back the curtain on why Harbaugh wants to frolic in them. Although Rosenberg does his best to defend the satellite camp process by baking the concept into the apple pie of American dream chasing, it’s obvious that the camps had become at least in part a pretext for recruiting the best players in a setting that, from the perspective of a high school kid, doesn’t feel like recruiting. It all leads to a more organic, authentic, and visceral bond.

That's the point! Also it is good! We have reached the point in this dumb conversation where people are accusing Jim Harbaugh of trying to have a real relationship with the people he recruits. I feel like I am going crazy here.

Yes, e-goons of the world, people have motives. When they pursue those motives within the rules and without negatively impacting anyone, pointing at them and screaming "YOU ARE PURSUING YOUR GOALS" is literally the dumbest argument possible.

I mean, yeah, get on Harbaugh for the various decommits last year. That's a legit criticism. This stuff is moron central.

Shots fired. I assume you've all seen the Harbombing of the satellite camp decision in SI. While Harbaugh talking to a dude who tried to sabotage the program with bogus allegations of NCAA violations is a frequent irritation, I'll take it as long as he's willing to say the things that are true in public:

Says Harbaugh: "You've got a guy sitting in a big house, making $5 million a year, saying he does not want to sacrifice his time. That is not a kindred spirit to me. What most of these coaches are saying is they don't want to work harder."

Hugh Freeze responded to this with the time-tested retort of the smarmy gasbag: muh families.

"I'll never apologize for wanting to be a father and a husband," Freeze said when asked about vacation time. "I miss enough volleyball games (and other things), that is a priority for me. ... I think we work very hard, I don't think working hard is an issue. If you're asking me if I want to add more nights away from my wife and kids, I do not. That window is closing for me to be a husband and a father and I think the kids that play in our system need to see me in that role an awful lot."

When someone talks about being a family man in this way they are always attempting to shut down criticism by being holier than thou. See: Dave Brandon's "this hurts my family" talk on his last-ditch media spree after the Shane Morris incident. It also blows by a point: if you don't want to do them, don't do them. Nobody's making you. You are in fact making the demands.

Freeze then doubled down on the smarm by criticizing Harbaugh for being right, but in public:

Along with being recursively hypocritical, this is an admission that Harbaugh is correct but also mean. I like mean.

Elsewhere in shots fired. High school coaches are just as fired up about the ban:

"Realistically, I shouldn't have been surprised." said John Ford, the head coach at Roswell High School, which is located north of Atlanta. "The NCAA works in opposition to what benefits young kids and student athletes. They work to protect the few as opposed to protecting and promoting the many. The hypocrisy is pretty well known."  …

"I've been doing this for 15 years and I know it's really, really helpful for kids at these camps," [Toby] Foreman said. "It makes it extremely difficult, and I personally don't think the NCAA has kids interests at heart. You're almost punishing people for being proactive. Go out and recruit harder. Quit being lazy."

I wonder if the pushback on this is going to be sufficient to torpedo the rule change here. These days a lawsuit-stricken NCAA is very sensitive about public relations, and there are a ton of people on the warpath about this. It is really rare to see guys with skin in the game come out with these kind of statements, and the condemnation for the rule change has been near-universal. The only people sticking up for it are guys like Tony Barnhart who are more or less bought and paid for by the SEC and a less-than-lucid Dennis Dodd.

Tommy Tuberville, for one, thinks that the ban will not stand.

Elsewhere in how Freeze gets work done. Interesting little glimpse inside the sausage factory Freeze is running at Ole Miss from a doofus with money:

An Ocean Springs businessman claimed to have offered his guest house to unnamed college football players rent-free, only to later amend his story. But a source with knowledge of the situation said Scott Walker’s neighbors were told by the renters they paid for a two-night stay at his home last weekend.

Renting his home on a short-term basis would be a violation of local ordinances, and when first contacted by the Mississippi Press Walker said it was “four university players” who were “absolutely not paying” to stay in his guest house.

That raised red flags, because a booster (Walker is an Ole Miss grad and fan) offering free or reduced rent is a clear-cut NCAA violation.

Ole Miss cheats. Hardcore, all the time. That's how a nobody high school coach with one year at Arkansas State who arrives at a school with a fanbase that mostly still wants a plantation owner as their mascot and zero success in the past 50 years starts recruiting five-stars. I'm resigned to the fact that this will happen forever, and that the correct solution is to let people pay the players without repercussions.

But you run the cheatingest program in the country and you get sanctimonious about your free time? Harbaugh's just trying to level the playing field out a little bit here. Freeze can take his vacations and come back knowing that an Ole Miss offer has thousands of dollars behind it that a Michigan one doesn't.

That solution could be on the horizon. Via Get the Picture, this is a potentially huge move towards an Olympic model of amateurism:

Big East commissioner Val Ackerman told SI Now’s Maggie Gray on Friday that the NCAA is reconsidering allowing student athletes to sign endorsement deals.

Under the current rules, student athletes may not be paid for the use of their image or likeness or they would forfeit their amateur status and their collegiate eligibility could be affected. When Gray asked Ackerman why students shouldn’t be able to capitalize on the value they bring to their university, Ackerman responded that the NCAA is considering changing that rule.

“That’s one that’s actually under consideration I believe by the NCAA,” Ackerman said. “It’s actually a time right now where student athlete interests are being closely examined. I don’t have an answer for you on that one today but I will say that and a number of other topics are under review, and I think rightly by the NCAA and it’s very possible that over the course of the next year or two as these these ideas work their way through the legislative system you could see changes.”

In the next year or two! As always I will remind you that even if you don't like the idea of players getting paid directly by the university, opening up outside compensation is a very good thing when you command a money cannon like Michigan does.

Warde Manuel sticks up for his guy. Good to see that Manuel isn't shying away from the fight either:

“People say this is Jim Harbaugh, he wants to do it this way,” Manuel told the Free Press today. “No. This is a rule that has been allowable for a long time. With all due respect to … questions about not being able to recruit (during the NCAA quiet period), all that stuff was there before, and people did it. Now it’s no good? Some kind of way, it’s bad for the game? It’s crazy.”

That is direct and devoid of hand-waving CYA business speak, so bully for that.

Elsewhere in laziness. Iowa DE Drew Ott will not get a fifth year after a midseason injury. That's not much of a surprise since he played in six games a year ago and the NCAA does not budge on injury redshirts if you've played more than 30% of a season. The timing of the announcement, however, has irritated many since Ott cannot enter the NFL draft proper and will have to go the supplemental route. Why did this come so late? It's not on the NCAA:

In fairness to the NCAA, it does seem like the lengthiest delays in this entire ordeal were not their end -- it sounds like Ott's case wasn't even sent to the NCAA bodies that rule on this matter until late February.  His case was with Big Ten authorities until that point.  What took the Big Ten so long?  Good question -- and one that neither Ott nor Kirk Ferentz had an answer for during their press conference earlier today.  So perhaps our ire at the glacial pace of the decision-making in this situation should be directed at Jim Delany & Co. rather than the NCAA folks.

That is especially odd since Mario Ojemudia suffered a similarly ill-timed injury and found out he would not get an exception in December.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with MSU's attempt to get sixth years for three players, all of whom appear to have taken voluntary redshirts. MSU keeps telling people they'll be back but the NCAA is very strict about sixth years; going to be tough to come up with sufficient documentation about an injury when these guys have bios declaring they were scout team player of the week.

Etc.: FFS just fire Butch Jones already. Willie Henry getting talked up as a second rounder now. Cut off one of Harbaugh's heads and he grows two more.

Horsefaces Everywhere

Horsefaces Everywhere

Submitted by Brian on February 19th, 2016 at 1:36 PM

I broke. Now I fisk everything.

Michael Weinreb, writerist who does not mind bashing head against same wall

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Weinreb poops on Michigan in print approximately every six months with whatever logic is at hand. The latest is at Rolling Stone. Weinreb points out that Harbaugh is crazy, because that's a new insight, and then launches into his usual concern trolling act:

Not surprisingly, given that Harbaugh is an undeniably brilliant football coach, this strategy is working. The Wolverines lured the nation's No. 1 recruit, Rashan Gary, and one of the country's best recruiting classes. But there are two underlying questions to consider here:

Here we go.

The first is whether this can possibly be sustained, or whether Harbaugh will eventually burn himself out, as he did at Stanford and with the 49ers.

Anyone still parading this line out after the Jim Tomsula experience is either so braindead they're writing a 12,000 word article on Daniel Holtzclaw or simply dishonest. Harbaugh left Stanford for a job with the 49ers after a 12-1 season that completed the most stunning turnaround in recent NCAA history. Stanford did not want to lose him. They left everything more or less the same after he left.

Harbaugh left the 49ers after a year-long disinformation campaign by Jed York, who emphatically proved he was the problem over the past year. 49ers players fled San Francisco en masse after Harbaugh's departure. York hired a vastly unqualified yes-man who may literally have been Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force to run the team into the ground and fired him after just one year. Harbaugh's final 8-8 season was an injury-riddled mess; in his absence Colin Kaepernick evaporated and the team barely crossed midfield in most games. If you're still on Team York in 2016, you have issues.

What happens, say, if Michigan beats Ohio State and qualifies for the College Football Playoff next season and a top-tier NFL job looms on the horizon?

Like they did two years ago? Like they did this year? I don't think Harbaugh's guaranteed to retire in Ann Arbor but if he wasn't deeply interested in a run of significance at Michigan he wouldn't be here in the first place. Meanwhile this worry boils down to "what if Harbaugh is good at his job?" Heaven forfend.

What happens if Harbaugh doesn't get something he specifically demands from the Michigan administration?

This has already happened. It will continue to happen. Harbaugh may not have many filters but neither is he a literal child who will pout and leave the first time he's told there are limits, which, again, has happened repeatedly already. This is a guy who has turned around four separate football programs. One of them was under Jed York. He is used to not getting what he wants. Meanwhile find me an NFL team without an owner.

What happens if the academics in Ann Arbor began complaining about the bills coming due?

Michigan's athletic department is self-sufficient. Again, you'd have to be an idiot or deeply disingenuous to even bring this up.

And the second question surrounding Harbaugh is what all of this might mean for college football.

Nothing? Other than Michigan might be good?

Maybe, by essentially professionalizing the recruiting process, Harbaugh is dispensing with the pretense that college football is still an amateur sport.

This is the sentence that finally broke me. For one, the idea that Harbaugh is "professionalizing" the recruiting process makes zero sense. All he's done is recruit a little harder within the rules and his weirdness has made that viral. No part of that is professionalizing anything.

Meanwhile, the SEC and ACC are tossing six figures at recruits. Nobody cares about this. Michigan's athletic director publicly and repeatedly asserted that Rashan Gary turned down money to sign with Michigan, and the media reaction was absolutely nothing. Again, I am all for the professionalization of something that is already de facto professionalized, but pretending like it's Harbaugh shaking the NCAA's foundational concept is the work of an idiot, a liar, or a lying idiot. None of this has anything to do with money.

But here's the thing: If you read beyond the headline of Sankey's complaint, he has a legitimate point. A Pac-12 study last year revealed that athletes in the conference spent an average of 50 hours a week on their sport and were often "too exhausted to study effectively." I have no idea if Sankey and his member schools are serious about exploring this idea, but this is the sort of concept on which the Big Ten should be leading the way.

He does not have anything approximating a point. Michigan isn't adding time. They are moving it. They are in fact moving it away from finals, for as much as that matters. They are moving practice time to a point where there is no studying to do.

In reality, it doesn't matter either way. The players will put in the time, both in the Big Ten and SEC. A little money, a flight or two, doesn't matter. It'll help Michigan recruit, the players will get a bit of a tan, nobody will be negatively affected, end of story.

But Weinreb don't care. In six or nine or twelve months we'll get another of these. It's tradition. The man simply cannot be dissuaded no matter how bad these pieces look in retrospect. Remember this one?

I would worry that Harbaugh is doing this for the money (a reported $48 million over six years, which would make him the sport’s highest-paid coach) or out of some misguided sense of obligation to his alma mater, and that he is not prepared to play the game within the game by embracing the salesmanship of the job, the one key aspect college coaching demands that pro football doesn’t (see: Belichick, Bill).

"Worry" dispelled, worry about the opposite, rinse, repeat. Keep paternoing that chicken.

Greg Sankey, malfunctioning corporate robot

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This is his feeble attempt to justify banning satellite camps:

“That had nothing to do with a particular program, just a concern of, wait, we have agreed to a recruiting structure,” he said.

We did, and it allows for coaches to act as guests for remote camps. You banned satellite camps amongst yourselves, but that's your business.

“… Are we going to allow the recruiting and the pressure on young people, the earlier recruiting, the bringing in boosters to practices to watch when you’re on these satellite camp tours?"

This is a non-sequitur, and particularly hilarious/infuriating coming from the SEC commissioner. Harbaugh shows up at camps. If players want to show up where Harbaugh is, they do so. If they don't want to go, they don't go.

Nothing about a satellite camp accelerates recruiting, and lol the SEC commissioner is talking about boosters. Greg Sankey is ON IT, guys. He'll get right to the bottom of this "booster" business, once and for all.

“Over and over I have sat in AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) meetings and heard football coaches say we don’t want football recruiting to go the way men’s basketball has gone, meaning, let’s try to anchor to the best we can our football recruiting in the scholastic environment. It’s around education, it’s around people who are supervised by administrators and school boards. That seems a healthy approach for recruiting, not going out to create other opportunities.”

…to be around football coaches in a camp environment that you have decided is perfectly fine as long as it is in a different geographical region. This is a complaint against 7-on-7 and Nike camps and Rivals camps and the like inartfully repurposed against Harbaugh.

Sankey is actually making an argument in favor of satellite camps, which bring NCAA compliance along with them and expose players directly to coaches without the intermediaries that infest basketball recruiting. This is the best argument he has against satellite camps: one in favor of them.

Mark Emmert, figurehead

...because he has lawsuits to deal with.

That's what "not prohibited" means. It means it is okay if you do it. I looked this up.

Maybe flatulent twit Mark Emmert should concentrate on enforcing the zillions of rules on the books currently that are being flouted more and more dramatically with every limp-wristed NCAA enforcement action.

Pat Narduzzi, personal foul enthusiast

SPRING-BREAK.JPEG-0f39c[1]

going pro in something other than beer bonging

Behold the dumbest "think of the children" ever:

If I was a high school player, and you’re telling me I couldn’t go to Cancun or Daytona on spring break, I’d be kind of like, ‘Are you serious?’

Think of the casual sex and drunken falling off of balconies. This is the fake-ass concern people opposed to Harbaugh have come up with: college football players are being denied a week of drinking at 9 AM. A Notre Dame recruit died over spring break in 2010. A few years later we're fighting for the sanctity of waking up in vomit that may or may not be yours.

You'll note that the ACC and SEC are trying to ban satellite camps, too, but they don't talk about that over and over again in public, because they don't have even a fake-ass pearl to clutch there. There is zero reason for satellite camps to be banned; doing that in fact hurts various kids trying to get noticed. Think of the children! Why won't anyone think of the children?

Horsefaces

All of these men are horseface. It has been decreed.

My Big Ten Realignment Proposal

My Big Ten Realignment Proposal

Submitted by Seth on July 27th, 2015 at 2:00 PM

college football realignment

One conference. Sixty-one teams. All the football.

Is realignment done? The Big XII is bouncing around the idea of making their conference even more mid-major than it stands now. Meanwhile the Big Ten's TV deals are all up very soon, so there's a chance to lock in oodles and oodles of money that won't come again. Why not go on one last expansion binge now to really set the market and ensure our conference's survival and fan interest in an uncertain future?

Here's my suggestion:

1. Rename. We're not 10 schools anymore, and this is confusing. I suggest the Big Ten rebrand as THE BIG SIX. The six shall refer to the six divisions, many of which have "Big" in their titles. Also since anything more than 11 teams is really a league not a conference, we'll call this the BIG SIX LEAGUE and the divisions can be called "conferences."

2. Expand. Here are the teams I'd add to the conference league, and how I'd break them up into divisions conferences of 10 or 11 teams based on shared geography, program culture, and history:

  • Midwest Conference ("The Big Ten"): Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota
     
  • Northeast Conference ("The Big East"): Penn State, Syracuse, Boston College, Pitt, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland
     
  • Atlantic Coast Conference ("The ACC"): Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, NC State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, South Carolina, Miami (YTM), Louisville
     
  • Southeast Conference ("The SEC")*: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Arkansas, Kentucky
     
  • The Plains Conference ("The Big XII"): Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas, Nebraska, Mizzou, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Colorado
     
  • Pacific Conference ("The Pac Ten"): Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Oregon, Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State
    *The SEC is the only 11-team conference to start

These divisions can have nicknames like "Big Ten" or "Big East." To ensure no more crazy realignment, every team must affirm a six-year commitment at the beginning of every season (i.e. there's a six-year waiting period if you want to leave). No conference can expand past 11; any joining school must get a 2/3rds majority of votes from the league, and unanimous support from its conference.

3. The Schedule. Every school plays all of its division opponents plus three from the other five conferences (scheduled as two-year home and homes), for 12 games total (since the SEC has 11 teams they play just two non-conference opponents). Six must be at home and six away, and no more than five conference games can be home. Cross-conference schools may contract with each other to schedule these in advance, with any holes filled in by the league two years prior.

Every team is allowed to schedule one pre-season exhibition (the Rich Rod plan), but it will not count toward that team's record for determining final postseason ranking. Every league game (not just division record) however will count toward winning your division. League play begins the week after Labor Day, and must conclude by the last Saturday of November.

4. Conference Championship Playoff. I would replace the conference championship game with a six-team conference playoff between the division winners.

The first round is played at the home of the higher-ranked (determined by committee) school in early December, with the two top teams getting a bye.

The second round is played Christmas Day at the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl, with the two winners of the first round versus two teams that earned byes (highest overall seed selects its venue).

The championship is played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on January 1. The third place game is played at the Fiesta Bowl. Any school eliminated from the Final Four is free to play in any bowl game against any opponent (in or out of the league), regardless of final record.

5. Make Appropriate Hand Gestures Toward NCAA. The league shall declare its own rules superior to any made by the NCAA, and choose to ignore any NCAA rule. The league will make its own rules, specifically regarding appropriate compensation for its athletes (for example lifetime medical benefits, performance bonuses, league-approved player agents, and pay), and recruiting rules. Member schools will no longer be directly responsible to NCAA enforcement. The commissioner of this league shall be selected by the athletes, and will hold veto power.

6. What I did there. You see it. Good.

Hokepoints Counts de Mone

Hokepoints Counts de Mone

Submitted by Seth on February 18th, 2014 at 10:53 AM

demone

'de-moh-NAY!' s'il vous plait.

The NCAA has published its 2013 data submitted by member institutions for the purposes of Title IX compliance. You can download the spreadsheets from ope.ed.gov.

Politics refresher: Title IX is a gray area topic since it is political but affects college sports which this blog is about. This is a feel thing: it is logical to point out that a male wrestler's experience will be more similar to that of any female basketball player than Derrick Walton's, it is politics to label that "reverse discrimination."

Quinze, seize you: Generally BCS teams spent between 37% (Stanford) and 77% (Oklahoma State) less on the women's sports than the men's. Michigan spent about $7.00 on the fellas for every $3.00 on the gals, a ratio near the top. BCS schools, private schools (who didn't used to have to comply) and Southern schools tended to higher disparities; among the 15 lowest women-to-men expenditure ratios all but three (Minnesota, ND and Pitt) were in the Confederacy. The Dept. of Education doesn't regulate an annual expenditure ratio between men's and women's sports, but they look at them as part of the nebulous compliance system.

Avg Expenditures by Conference
          (in millions) 2012-13
Conf Men Women Ratio
WAC $4.8 $3.7 78%
Big East $11.3 $7.0 62%
MAC $11.3 $6.0 53%
MtnWest $13.7 $6.7 49%
Sun Belt $8.5 $4.0 48%
Conf USA $12.6 $5.8 46%
Big Ten $38.8 $16.7 43%
Pac 12 $32.0 $13.7 43%
American $25.0 $10.0 40%
Big XII $33.0 $13.1 39%
SEC $39.5 $14.7 37%
ACC $34.6 $12.5 36%

Building Lies. Weirdly, expenses appear more normal than the revenues, which get downright weird. A few examples (for reference, Michigan's men's hockey team reported revenues of $3.2 million, the 4th-most in that sport):

  • Stanford's women's basketball team, which was a 1 seed that lost in the Elite 8, reported $16.5 million. The next-highest is Baylor's ($5.9 million), Vandy ($5.6 M), Tennessee ($4.9 M) and UConn ($4.7M)
  • Clemson's women's diving reported revenues of $406k. Only two other schools reported any revenue for that.
  • TCU said they made $3.4 million from horseback riding and $416k from women's rifling.
  • Southern's women's soccer team, which didn't make the tournament field, reported $3.1 million in revenue, which is more than their football team and almost as much as all of their men's sports combined.
  • Robert Morris's women's hockey team reported more revenue ($1.1 M) than its men's team ($997k).
  • Michigan's men's lacrosse team led the country in revenue: $2.4 million
  • Wisconsin's women's ice hockey reported $7.6 million; their men's team reported just under $12 million (double what next-highest, Minnesota, made).
    crisler
    Michigan's the rare school that doesn't pretend its opulent escalator entrance was built for the women's gymnastics team. [MGoBlue.com]

Wisconsin's hockey numbers might be a clue as to how these schools are getting their numbers. The Badgers recently built a practice facility adjacent to the the Kohl Center with donated funds; the women's team plays their game there. Stanford got a massive donation' last year from its version of Ross and built a multi-sport athletic facility with his name on it. Michigan appears to have funneled some of their Big House improvement through lacrosse.

It appears what's happening is when a donation is put toward a building project the schools tend to split that between whichever teams use it. End result: teams that funded major construction projects ended up with the highest ratios of $$ spent on women versus men.

Biggest liars? There's no way to figure out the accounting for these things but it's obvious some programs play with the books more than others. TCU is pretending they built a $3.4 million storage shed for saddles and bridles that the football team just happens to use as an indoor practice facility. They also upgraded the ROTC rifling range, which they attributed to the women's team. They're a private school that to be a women's college and is still 57% female [ED-S: apologies—you have no idea how many people I've repeated that factoid to over the years]  that spent the last decade trying to become a BCS program, which explains the fiscal acrobatics.

[After the jump, comparing expenses to recruiting and performance]

Hokepoints Goes National

Hokepoints Goes National

Submitted by Seth on February 11th, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Last week I started playing with Lemming's recruiting information to see how national recruiting had changed over the last few decades. Too late for that article I realized I could actually take this study back more than a century using lists of historical lettermen published by various teams in their annual media guides. Using the same regional breakdown I tried to get data for the same six I used in the old decimated defense series—Michigan, MSU, Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Alabama—but only three had accessible info.

These are based on letterwinners, not entire rosters, so scholarship freshmen on the scout team aren't counted. It still gives us a picture:

since1900

Vestibulum ut maior

First the goofy things. The breaks in Alabama's lines are 1919 and 1943, when the Tide didn't field teams because too many players were fighting World Wars I and II, respectively. That big spike for Bama right before WWII is because they were used as an officers training base just prior to the war. Michigan got this same temporary—by 1943 those officers had shipped overseas—bump, but not as many registered since most came from the Midwest (e.g. Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch from Wisconsin).

Second the obvious things. Notre Dame's claim to be a "national" program is defended by the data. From the 1920s through the '70s their teams were fielded from between 30% and 60% by players from outside of the Great Lakes States (plus Iowa). Since the '80s about 65% is the new normal. Michigan and Alabama tracked pretty similarly as major state schools who kept to their home regions up until Bo arrived. Beginning in 1969 Michigan began a trend upward that finally settled over 30% of players from outside their region. Alabama remained a predominantly regional program until Nick Saban arrived.

I zoomed in on the years since 1964 so we can better appreciate how coaching changes affected the programs:

since1964

Tangere facere magnum

Ewww don't touch me. I trust you know who Michigan's and Alabama's coaches were in 1964. The late '60s were the last time Michigan was as regional as Alabama. That now seems in danger of happening again. Last year Michigan dipped to 25.67% and Bama peaked at 25.33%.

Michigan graduated five players from outside the Midwest (Dileo, Gallon, Gibbons, Lewan, and Qwash), and two more (Ash and Furman) aren't returning for fifth years, but they brought in nine this year (Peppers, JBB, Winovich, Pallante, Watson, Speight, Mone, Cole and Canteen) so I expect their total to climb a little for 2014. It's too hard to say what Bama's number will be since they still need to cut 10 or 11 players before fall.

Championships win defense. Carr's 1997 championship, Parseghian's 1966 one, and Saban's 2009 title were all followed by steep increases in national recruiting; of the 14 titles in that chart two (Holtz's in 1988 and Stallings's in 1992) were accompanied by drops in the % of roster made up of extra-regional players. Michigan's historical peak is 2000, three years after their only TV-era national championship and one year after their Orange Bowl victory. The great Hoke classes of the last two years were very local.

[After the jump, I test another culprit]

Hokepoints Doesn't See a Regional Trend

Hokepoints Doesn't See a Regional Trend

Submitted by Seth on February 4th, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Yesterday Ace posted a link to the full Lemming recruiting rankings from 1990 to 2004. Just perusing the list is pretty interesting, since accessible recruiting data on a national scale otherwise only goes back as far as the Rivals and Scout databases. Since nobody likes to make their information easy to get at, it'll take some time for this all to be processed.

But for a first stab I did find something I can pull relatively easily from both Lemming's sheets and modern data: where players come from, and where they went. Lemming only had data on where recruits were from going back to 1999. Since it was easiest to grab a Top 400 from 247, I took theirs too, but they run out of rankings before 2008 so there's a gap. It won't matter for this. I broke the nation into regions that quasi-match the traditional conference footprints:

Regions

And here's the % of high school recruits that each contributed to Lemming's (on the left) and 247's (on the right) lists:

Lemming

Who's been telling you that demographics are responsible for the SEC's rise? It's not there. The Big Ten's traditional footprint was providing 15% of the nation's talent in 1999 and the SEC was around 35%; today it's almost the exact same.

[After the jump: regional retention]

Dear Diary for Better or Worse

Dear Diary for Better or Worse

Submitted by Seth on December 6th, 2013 at 11:07 AM

One Play. I got really into this piece by Brhino where he went over Michigan football seasons going back to the "Year of Infinite Pain" (i.e. 2005) to point out games where one play may have meant the difference. Interesting way to reassess how we view the seasons. For example this year's team was a couple things going right away from 11-1 and a BCS bid (MSU would have still have won the Bo Division, with BCS eligibility riding on that), and a couple of things going wrong away from 4-8. I chart:

range

Bicking makes it cligger.

Quibble: I may be stretching "one play" too far, but Football Armageddon had that late hit out of bounds by Crable on 3rd and 15. OSU scored on that drive to go up 10. Who knows if Michigan can drive the ball the same as they did on the next possession. NFL win probability calculator says OSU was 79% to win if Crable doesn't make that hit, and 91% after the call. Fan brain says Michigan would have drove for the victory, beaten essentially the same Florida team they played the following year, and cured cancer.

Trend Lines. If you're into seeing how the rest of the Big Ten progressed on offense as this season did, dnak followed up last week's Michigan chart with some for the rest of the field. MSU is a young offense slowly growing up, Michigan's is one coached by insane people.

michiganmsu

Hypothesis: UConn was just a bad game and the coaches over-responded to it, putting themselves behind the 8-ball the rest of the season. I submit as a different model Penn State, which had more than a few personnel shortages but big talent in places and stuck with their scheme all year, seeing noticeable progression but no spikes until the last game.

Goals! The Corsi Charts have been shelved for the moment so MGoBlueline can do those goal analysis things I like much better anyway:

UMOSU5-1_zpse52c772b

Compher wins the faceoff, which is huge. Even more important, however, is that DeBlois is able to tie his man up. This allows a clean tap across from Compher to Guptill…

The OSU weekend's tallies at the link.

Charity. Tomorrow is Adopt-a-Shelter and both sites still could use some volunteers. K.o.k.Law had a tailgate at the house next door to MGoPatio, the cause being to fix up the house of an 11-year-old with a terrible illness.

Weeklies. Turnover Analysis talked about the Countess interception, which had a negative result of half a point. I still would have taken it; I think Furman stood there amazed for a second while OSU's receivers recovered, and if he hadn't he was in the exact right spot to make a key block. Turnover margin has been steadily climbing to the good since UConn, though the offense going into a shell to make that happen might have negated the good that's done. Inside the Box Score. Best and Worst talks about Ben Gedeon. LSA's usual stuff.

Etc. All-B1G team. Wallpaper with hoops schedule.

[Jump to learn an important lesson about swearing.]