This Week's Obsession: How Borges is Nuss?

This Week's Obsession: How Borges is Nuss?

Submitted by Seth on April 16th, 2014 at 10:15 AM

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Fuller

Question: Did you notice any appreciable difference in the Spring Game between the Borges offense and Nussmeier's? What are hoping to see by fall, and do you think they appeared to be heading in that direction?

Ace: Well...

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I might not be very useful in this roundtable.

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Brian: Well... it wasn't much different in person.

And the stuff they did show was the usual vanilla business that is designed to be as basic as possible, so I'm not sure there's a whole lot to glean. It looked a lot more compact than last year's offense, sure. All spring games look compact as the bells and whistles are stowed away for use on a two-point conversion in the bowl game after you're down one billion points.

Michigan did seem to have a dedication to the inside zone with a side of power, and the linemen seemed more focused on making sure the defensive tackle was good and beat up before trying to get to the second level. That led to a lot of runs that made it to the line of scrimmage (hooray!) and didn't get much further. And that's fine. You don't dig out of a hole as big as the one Michigan's in quickly. Michigan looks like it's going to be mostly an IZ team that mixes in power to keep opponents honest, and as long as they look like that through the nonconference season and don't start flipping people about all willy-nilly, that is the first step towards competence.

So that's what I think we'll see: a boring-ass offense that tries to keep errors to a minimum and punts a lot. People will complain about its predictability and simplicity and they'll be right. Michigan doesn't have much choice, unfortunately.

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Seth: It's impossible to compare Borges's Michigan offense to anything, because Michigan's offense wasn't anything under Borges for more than a few games. The three things I was looking for were 1) personnel, 2) a concept, and 3) how well those things could complement each other.

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If you flup this up, Doug, so help me Bo…

Personnel was heavy, which was discouraging. For one Michigan has little in the way of tight ends. I didn't see anything from A.J. Williams, who was behind Heitzman, or Khalid Hill, who was behind Houma, and that was discouraging for hope of TE production before Butt's back. Houma is a fullback who lined up at the U only to motion back to fullback.

The operating theory on the OC hire was that Nussmeier at Bama was forced to use heavier formations than he wanted, however that compromise came down to 65% of snaps with three or more receivers:

Team Big 2 WR 3 WR 4 WR
Bama (Sugar Bowl) 3% 31% 58% 7%
Michigan 2013 8% 54% 29% 9%
Mich 2011-'12 7% 41% 43% 9%
Mich 2008-'10 1% 7% 76% 15%

Eyeballing it, the spring game was closer to Michigan in 2013. If there was a difference it was more Ace as opposed to I-form, but that's less relevant because those second TEs were usually Houma and Kerridge, i.e. the fullbacks. There's a fear shared by every Michigan fan with a functional nervous system that the run-and-shoot-yourself-in-the-face offense under Borges was, despite protestations to the contrary, a mandate from the top. If Nussmeier compromises for Hoke more than he would for Saban, well, that would be insane. If that was all just a bunch of spring practice hooey, well, why are they spending spring practice on hooey when every countable hour is precious?

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Great scott Doc, this is too heavy. [Fuller]

On the upside, there was a concept. The running was mostly zone, with some power mixed in only because you need to pull somebody to sell play-action. The passing game was a slight departure from Borges, who used a lot of 5-step patterns last year. These were 7-step patterns with an outlet, matching what we saw from Nussmeier at Alabama. The difference here can be overstated; Borges used lots of longer routes with Denard but went to the quicker stuff in 2013 because he couldn't get protection to last longer than that.

How do I feel about that? Well it fits the receivers' abilities. There's no Gallon to turn every 7-yard cushion into an easy 5 yards, but there's Canteen and the Funchise and lots of leapy things who can reel in a desperation heave. I have serious doubts the offensive line can hold up that long, but that's why there's an outlet. On the play I drew up it was Funchess running what appeared to be an option route; with Alabama it was usually an RB.

Zone is good. It's what Funk knows, it's easier to teach to young linemen, and we've already established his charges' total inability to pull correctly. My guess is the tight ends are in there because the OTs need help, though any time you have Heitzman/Williams/Houma in there instead of Chesson that's a talent downgrade.

I think the great hope for an offense that can finish in the top half of the conference is Gardner. I think Nussmeier is building an offense that is simple for everybody but him.

Hokepoints Wins a Medal for Participation

Hokepoints Wins a Medal for Participation

Submitted by Seth on November 19th, 2013 at 8:53 AM

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Fuller didn't get a shot of Dileo that he put on Flickr, but he got this 6-yard catch by Butt on 2nd and 5, when Dileo was busy running off two defenders.

The primary complaint with Michigan's offense, rightly, has been with the blocking dudes' problems with blocking dudes. While gathering data on personnel changes throughout the Northwestern game I got an opportunity to look hard enough to have an idea where the UFR will lay blame for 9 points in regulation. Preview: Bosch didn't have a good game. However the freshman guards are a problem solved mostly by experience, i.e. we can't fix it this year.

But if Michigan is looking for an offensive boost it might find one by improving which parts they deploy among the five eligible receiver positions. Which personnel and how they're aligned come with various strengths. Generally the smaller and more spread out, the better to make space for you to operate; conversely the larger and tighter the better to block dudes. I put forth that our blocking dudes are currently pretty bad at blocking dudes, thus it's worth moving some of their snaps to 3rd and 4th receivers.

MANBALL isn't Borgesian

Here's Borges's offense being run at UCLA in 1998, a time when the spread offense was something that won games at Tulane:

Note the 3WR sets pop up plenty. I believe the goal here is to be multifarious, not just very large and good at something. He wants to be impossible to prepare for because at any moment you might put in your 4-4 personnel when you see him trotting out 3 tight ends, and then he'll spread them out and put a 6'6 monster on your tiniest cornerback. This is why they're recruiting Fifty Shades of Shea.

But That's a Long Way Away

Today, they have precious few developed parts to play these "skill" positions. The running backs can't block, either because they're really spread nutrinos (Toussaint, Hayes, Norfleet) or true freshmen (Green, Smith) who didn't need blocking lessons to run over high school fools. The fullbacks are a walk-on they've been developing for awhile but who still misses 1 in 5 blocking assignments, and a RS freshman they recruited out of Utah who needs work.

Off. Performance vs. NW'ern When Player is On Field
(Only normal downs counted)
Player Pos Snaps YPA Run%
Gallon WR 60 5.45 48%
Funchess WR 54 5.74 46%
Williams Y 41 5.46 54%
Green RB 40 5.45 53%
Butt TE/WR 39 4.69 49%
Kerridge FB/RB 23 4.52 43%
Dileo WR 10 9.00 20%
Smith RB 9 5.22 78%
Hayes RB 8 5.63 13%
Chesson WR 7 5.00 29%
Paskorz TE 6 5.33 67%
Houma FB/TE 4 4.50 100%
(Total) n/a 60 5.43 48%

From a Borgesian perspective, the tight ends are in even worse shape. Funchess became a receiver because despite all that size he's not much of a blocker. That leaves his classmate A.J. Williams at the top of the depth chart despite the fact that he's not been a very good blocker, and his threat as a passing target fizzles out about three yards downfield. They've got Jake Butt, who like Funchess is more of a receiver at this stage in his career. And just so they have another body there, positional vagaband Jordan Paskorz has been getting a few drives here and there; after him it's burning a redshirt and air.

It would make sense, then, for the receivers to pick up the slack. If you can't block a guy with Williams, you can get that same block by putting a receiver far away from the play, so long as you threaten to go out there if a defender doesn't follow. But there's another problem with the receivers: Gallon is great but tiny, Funchess is great but still raw. Chesson is coming along. Dileo is himself.

And…? The coaches seem to have put every other receiver on the shelf: they've played Jeremy Jackson a lot and gotten little returns. Joe Reynolds seems to be not an option. So every time they go 4-wide, effectively the whole depth chart is out there. Exhaust those guys and the passing game goes away. Or at least this is the best reason I can imagine.

I'm not sure it's a good reason. It seems to me that they're pretty effective the more they spread 'em out, because you're essentially replacing a mediocre-to-bad FB or TE with a slot receiver who is pretty good at that job.

Did You See Dileo's Number in that Chart?

I spent much of yesterday and all night last night charting the personnel moves during last Saturday's game to be able to pull those numbers. The whole thing is here:

There's no way I can go back and do the whole season, unless Brian has a secret code hidden in the UFRs or something. Anyway: 9 YPA when Dileo is out there, and 4.5 to 5.5 when he's not. Here's some other things I found in there.

[After the Jump: What We've Learned]

Hokepoints: Would Bill Walsh Draft This Team?

Hokepoints: Would Bill Walsh Draft This Team?

Submitted by Seth on February 26th, 2013 at 8:32 AM

I'm trying out a new feature of mouse-over tags so readers who don't get some of our references can get caught up. Underlined text has a tag. If the tag is a link then you've found a link. I appreciate any feedback on its deployment.

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Left: Young Wolverines some of whom were recruited for power (Upchurch). Right: Power.

Chris Brown's recent article on Smart Football included a link to a 1997-vintage article by Bill Walsh (YTBW). Chris included it as a way of crediting Walsh for correctly predicting Tony Gonzalez would become a great NFL tight end. With Michigan transitioning further toward a Walsh-ian offense, I thought I'd appropriate the whole article to see how well Michigan's 2013 offensive roster matches Walsh-ian archetypes.

Before we jump in, you'll recognize a lot of what's said here from like every NFL draft report ever. Walsh's coaching tree perforated the league for years, and that meant the things he tended to look for in players became what most of the people making draft decisions were looking for. They've been repeated so often as to become memes, however I still think going back to the source can provide some insight into how Michigan's players and recruits are being evaluated.

This is all intended to help you do your own scouting when we publish things like Hello posts (lots of those coming up) and positional previews.

Quarterback

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Tom Brady prototype, Tom Brady, Tom Brady with legs? --Bryan Fuller

Walsh Says: 6'3, 210. Having a strong arm isn't as important as an "inventory" of passes, although decent arm strength is a necessity:

"Arm strength is somewhat misleading. Some players can throw 80 yards, but they aren't good passers. Good passing has to do with accuracy, timing, and throwing a ball with touch so it is catchable…

"Remember, the goal of passing a ball is to make sure it is caught ... by your intended receiver."

The most important characteristic for a quarterback is intuition/instincts. He has to be able to sense the rush, make the right decision quickly and get the ball "up and gone," and handle progressions and broken plays with grace as opposed to a sense of urgency.

"The single trait that separates great quarterbacks from good quarterbacks is the ability to make the great, spontaneous decision, especially at a crucial time."

Walsh wants his quarterback to be "courageous and intensely competitive." He also wants them mobile and defines it thus:

Mobility and an ability to avoid a pass rush are crucial. Some quarterbacks use this mobility within the pocket just enough so they are able to move and pass when they "feel" a rush. But overall quickness and agility can make a remarkable difference. As an example, there were some very quick boxers in Sugar Ray Leonard's era, but he was quicker than they were and because of that he became a great champ.

Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Tom Brady, obviously. Tate Forcier.

What to look for in a Scouting Report: High accuracy plus high YPA. "Makes things happen."

What you can learn on film: Doesn't make you nervous. Escapes from pressure then seems calm, not rushed. Sees something and reacts quickly. Receivers aren't making tough catches or breaking stride.

What could signal bust potential: First a warning on this part not to take it as "anyone who exhibits this trait will bust." What I'm saying is beware a guy ranked highly because this feature he possesses, which is a good thing to possess, may be overrated. Here it's arm strength—more an NFL problem than college since college QBs can learn systems and Navarre their way to great college careers with only one type of pass. Arm strength with no accuracy and a terrible delivery can turn into a great player if he's got an innate sense (think Stafford), but more often a coach will try to fix it and end up with a Dontrelle Willis.

How our guys compare: So far only Devin Gardner has seen substantial play against college defenses but we've gotten about a game's worth of Russell Bellomy too. Gardner's inventory has passes for finding Gallon 40 yards downfield, zips that only Dileo can get to, and even that Stafford-y thing he flipped to Dileo in the Outback Bowl. He has ideal size, and wins the mobility category over everybody not named Denard Robinson. If you give him a lane to pick up yards with his legs he will take it. And he MAKES PLAYS, those coming first to mind being where he runs around in the backfield defying sack attempts until something worthy of forward progress appears.

His weakness so far has been in that crucial "up and gone" aspect. His delivery has a long wind-up and that exacerbates a medium-to-mediocre diagnosis-reaction speed. Previous spring games when Devin looked really bad at this suggest it wasn't a few months as a receiver to blame, although that obviously didn't help. Gardner will live and die by his scrambling and ability to make linebackers freeze in coverage when he takes a step forward. He's not Tom Brady, but Gardner's package can equal a helluvah good college QB. An offseason as quarterback in a system designed to his strengths puts the ceiling high for 2013, and off the charts if there ends up being a 2014.

Russell Bellomy (right-Upchurch) in his few appearances last year—mostly the 2nd half bellomy-upchurchagainst Nebraska—gave us a fairly strong indication of his abilities. He wins Walsh points by having a catchable ball, but there it ends. His apparent lack of arm strength severely limits the inventory, his agility isn't anything special vs. Big Ten defenders, and while you can forgive a freshman thrust into starting for this, he showed a lot of panic. I am skeptical that he can contribute on this level unless his arm strength improves as much as I expect his comfort will.

Shane Morris, now. Other than every scouting thing they can do with high schoolers, it's hard to say what he will turn out to be. The senior year performance and the thing that guy said in the Elite 11 about his primary read being taken away are marks against the Walsh archetype, but the size and arm and full inventory are there. He's too young to know if he will develop the rest.

Running Back

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Terrance Flagler, A-Train, Toussaint –Upchurch

Walsh Says: Needs to be big enough to take punishment and always fall forward, but "some smaller runners play big." He uses James Brooks but of course we've got our own exempli gratia. The 1B for backs is again, instincts, though he emphasizes getting "the first four yards within the scheme and then rely on instincts to take it beyond that."

Walsh puts a high value on durability, which maybe isn't as important in college where the hits are lighter and the roster is deeper. The other thing he harps on is instinct, mentioning he got burned on this with Terrance Flagler. This is the difference between Michael Shaw and Mike Hart.

After that he goes into bonus features. If he can block he doesn't have to come off the field in passing situations. He has to be able to catch a screen and the further down the field he can threaten as a receiver the more "dimensional" the offense becomes.

Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Anthony Thomas. Always falling forward, instinctual enough to be a kick returner before becoming the feature back.

What to look for in a Scouting Report: At least 185 lbs., thick and squat. Numbers don't tank against high-level competition.

What you can learn on film: Defenders look like bad tacklers (subtle movements by the RB make him tough to set up on). Falling forward, durability, operating in small spaces. Lots of D-I ticketed RBs will run sweeps all the time because their speed is just unfair against high school DEs. Watch the inside and zone running.

What could signal bust potential: Beware the big backs who wrack up huge high school yardage by running through terrible tacklers. It's hard to tell the guys who can subtly shift their bodies to make themselves difficult to bring down from the ones who just truck over a division full of future doctors and lawyers. One strong attribute can sometimes dominate a bad high school league, but D-I football requires several working together.

How our guys compare: Toussaint has shown the instincts and "plays big" at near the extreme for smallness. He looked on his way toward being a zone-style feature complement until having the unluckiest year in recent Michigan RB history. Justice Hayes is like Toussaint except he's yet to show those instincts. Dennis Norfleet has the playmaker thing down but there's a major difference in size between him and the other guys. Norfleet was listed at 5'7/161 last year, and Vincent Smith was put at 5'6/175. Hayes was 5'10/183 and Toussaint 5'10/202. Norfleet/Smith and Toussaint/Hayes are different tiers.

Among the plowshares, thick-trunked Thomas Rawls saw extensive action last year. The difference between him and Mark Ingram is Rawls seems to miss his hole a lot—that "first four yards" thing is a problem. I haven't seen enough of Drake Johnson yet to know if he brings anything different. None of the above (who are still on the roster) have yet to demonstrate they're any better than mediocre blockers.

Two incoming running backs come with the Walsh stamp of approval. Green is already 220 lbs. and his senior highlight reel shows him doing a lot of inside power running and finding his extra yards. Deveon Smith is already Toussaint-sized and seems to have that micro-instinctual quality that Hart had. No idea if either of these guys can block.

[The rest of the offense after you JUMP]

Dear Diary is Four Degrees from Kevin Bacon

Dear Diary is Four Degrees from Kevin Bacon

Submitted by Seth on February 1st, 2013 at 10:16 AM

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Wallpaper by jonvalk

Multiple well-researched recruiting retrospectives, everything you need to know about being Number 1, and so many memes explained. Buckle in sports fans because this was a week for user comment worthy of being ranked over Kansas. But first, the thing where I give money to i give money to yooooooouuueeee:

IN WHICH VOGRICH AIN'T SO POOR. You have until 11 a.m. tomorrow to register your fantasy team in our Saturday free pool. Winner gets $100, and there's another $200 split among the 2nd through 15th placers. Details are in the Diary. Really it's just you pick eight guys under a salary cap and see who can get the most rebounds, assists, and points. Wings get called guards, which I find appropriate and kind of interesting in a Beilein has changed the game kind of way. This time I tried rolling with a tempo formula and ended up with both parts of the Cody Zeller-Mitch McGary matchup.

Some of the valuations are weird, for example McGary is $7, 476 while…

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Did I just put that there because MGoBlog is obsessed with boxscore bagels? Maybe.

IN WHICH WE BELIEVE EYEBALLING IS BETTER THAN MATH. On Tuesday Brian told Big Ten Geeks that if their metrics were coming up "Jordan Morgan is the Big Ten's best defender," the metric is probably wrong. Most people would see a battle of internet sports nerds of this magnitude and just nod on the sideline, but the brave Blue_MQT dove right into that, putting four countable defensive factors (field goal %, turnovers, rebounding and free-throw rate) against defensive efficiency to see which correlate the best. Then he shows pictures to demonstrate the stuff good defense is really made of, and why it doesn't appear in statistics. A million ugly Big Ten forwards with weird names agree.

IN WHICH BRAYLON GIVES OUR RANKING A SCHOLARSHIP. Every time Yeoman does something that takes a lot of work and ends up being super valuable to our interests, the author of this column must decide whether or not to deploy the obvious double-entendre. This week's impressive solo-farming effort yielded the tournament fates of the last 30 top-ranked teams in January. I make pie:

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Now keep telling yourself this. Relatedly: LSAClassof2000 charts AP votes for Michigan this year, creates a chart that seems to suggest there's a ranking zero. Blazefire imagines a 2013-'14 without Burke, Hardaway and GRIII; how about we lose only Vogrich, Akune, Bartelstein, McLimans, and Person and repeat as National Champs, did you think about that?? [me choking Blazefire.gif]. No, no, the chart, remember the chart. Anyone else's arm getting tired?

[After the Jump: the final word on the difference between a 4- and 5-star running back. And many memes explained.]

STUFF THAT HAPPENED

STUFF THAT HAPPENED

Submitted by Brian on August 1st, 2011 at 12:21 PM

First, now-ceremonial photo of some dude very far away rocking colors he probably knows not wot of:

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I was in… France. We had a free apartment to stay at and my mom turned in a bunch of airline miles, so it seemed like a one-time opportunity. It rained most of the time and the food was pretty disappointing but it sounds like everyone in the United States melted while we were gone so that's cool. Also if you ever get a chance go to a calanque, you should probably do it:

france trip 939

That is a real place, not the scene from Contact where the alien is all like "yo I'm your dad what up Jodie Foster."

The guy above was checking out a very serious bocce tournament we stumbled across in Marseille whilst trying to figure out how to get back to the bus. I'll probably throw up a trip report in the diaries if there is further interest, or even if there isn't.

Now presenting Things That Happened When I Was Going "Meh" At Escargot:

Football

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A large chunk of next year's attrition got resolved. Kellen Jones, Teric Jones, and Christian Pace are not on the fall roster and therefore not on the team. Kellen Jones reportedly got in some legal trouble that must be serious given the repercussions on his team status. Pace and Teric Jones got sent to St. Saban Memorial. Meanwhile, Terry Talbott is also expected to miss the season but it's unclear whether or not he has made the same journey. Rivals says Hoke confirmed he was medicaled($) in the hallway scrum following his media day time, so that's probably that for one Talbott. UPDATE: Misopogon reports that Ablauf also confirmed Talbott is done.

Three of the four are obviously not sketchy. Michigan needs linebackers and DTs like Mark Dantonio needs the collected Sophocles and Pace was the only(!) offensive lineman in his class. Teric Jones's departure is one you can question given his place on the depth chart, but since there's an entire football season between now and crunch time it's probably legit. In the Big Ten, sketchy medical scholarships are something to look for in January.

As for on-field impact, Teric found it impossible to contribute even in an offense suited to his scatback skills; his absence won't impact Michigan going forward. Pace removes one bullet from the chamber at center, but they'll still have Khoury and Miller once Molk graduates. That should be okay. Talbott's absence is bad. Now instead of a shaky three-star-ish redshirt freshman behind Will Campbell there are walk-ons and air and maybe Kenny Wilkins. Kellen Jones's absence will be felt keenly as well. My excellently-timed recruiting profile of him hyped him up as an immediate contributor and possible four-year starter due to his talent and the glaring hole at WLB. Now he's gone and WLB next year is the untested Mike Jones and two really small guys.

With those four off the roster the path to 26 is considerably less eyebrow-cocking. Michigan will have to shed another two or three players before signing day. A natural level of attrition should get Michigan to their projections without fuss.

Michigan got a fullback. Tim profiled Sione Houma, who is it. I hate giving scholarships to fullbacks because the difference between a walk-on fullback and a scholarship fullback is usually indistinguishable. Michigan's best in the last 15 years was walk-on Kevin Dudley. If they really take one DT it's going to be weird, doubly so with the uncertain status of Talbott.

Michigan got Chris Wormley. A foregone conclusion, that, but it's another head to head win for Hoke against the Bobcats. SDE is set in a major way and someone—possibly two someones—are moving to three-tech as soon as they hit campus.

San Diego State got a little less scary. Two of their receivers are out for the year with knee injuries, including presumed #1 Dominique Sandifer. Their new leading guy is the equivalent of Kovacs—walk-on made good. Ryan Lindley's good but he might not have anyone to throw to.

Something vaguely ominous happened with Devin Gardner's redshirt. Brady Hoke has been unusually wishy-washy about what Devin Gardner's eligibility status is after he saw a few snaps here and there as the designated Guy Who Replaces Denard For Three Plays Guy during the nonconference schedule. This is unusual. In the past the NCAA has just issued a ruling and been done with it.

The eligibility status of Alabama receiver Darius Hanks—still on the team and everything after five years!—may provide some insight into why:

… Hanks appeared in one game as a true freshman in 2007, hauling in one pass for six yards in a 52-6 win over Western Carolina. Accordingly, his fifth season required a waiver from the NCAA, which apparently attached the two-game breather to offset Hanks' contribution to that hard-earned victory four years ago.

Gardner appeared in three of Michigan's first four games. Against UConn and ND his box score totaled one rush for –4 yards but against BGSU he had 6 rushes for 25 yards and went 7 of 10 for 85 yards and a TD in the air. If I'm Dave Brandon I'm making the first couple of games of 2015 walkovers. Which Dave Brandon is going to do anyway because…

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Dave Brandon does not Get It. This is awful:

"I don't believe we can or should go on the road for nonconference games when we can put 113,000 people in our stadium.  It's, financially, the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do for our fans, in terms of their ticket packages. And we're going to alternate with Notre Dame, so we're going to have one game on the road every other year. So the rest of those games, I would like to have at Michigan Stadium."

Kiss ever seeing an interesting non-ND nonconference opponent goodbye. This is another symptom of the AD's descent into full-blown corporate ninnydom: we get to play Alabama in Dallas because it makes incrementally more money than having an exciting home game. Brandon fails to understand that the point of an athletic department is not to accumulate the biggest Scrooge McDuck vault. (See also: renting the Big House for your special event, though that's far less offensive since I don't have to buy a 70 dollar ticket to the Jones-Wilson wedding. Unless I do. Do I?) Even if it was, the marginal difference between one home game against a real opponent and two body-bag games from schools charging a million each is not that much. People will suck up the difference on the ticket cost: a Clemson ticket that costs $80 will make people happier than an EMU one that costs $70.

At least we won't have to endure three pointless games against non-BCS opponents yearly for too long. Schools have been told to clear the decks in 2017. Presumably that's when the Big Ten will go to nine conference games. That's is not as cool as actually seeing teams from other conferences but better than our yearly battle for county pride.

Ohio State didn't get anything extra handed them by the NCAA. Time for a homer check. Matt Hinton:

Is it really possible for the people in charge to have that little interest in enforcing their own rules, as long as the paperwork is in order? …

The Ohio State and USC cases are similar in the sense that they both involve a star accepting a lot of money from shady characters on the fringes of the program, but the the case against OSU is on a different level. Where USC's violations (as chronicled by the NCAA's final verdict) involved a single player, Ohio State's involve at least six. Where USC consistently disputed that anyone affiliated with the program knew what was going on with Bush — as well as the sketchy evidence the NCAA used to reach that conclusion — the paper trail leading from Jim Tressel's hard drive is an indisputable smoking gun. Which he intentionally concealed as the offending players led the Buckeyes to another conference championship. Ohio State's star player(s) and its head coach did the crime, and no one denies it. Tressel's silence after being tipped to the investigation is the definition of a program failing to cooperate. He's the head coach: He is the program.

Get The Picture:

At this point, any athletic director with half a brain is going to set up a firewall between himself and the head coach.  Oh, sure, there will be any number of compliance people who will be sent around wagging fingers at coaches about following regulations.  But there will also be plenty of blind eyes turned to what those coaches are doing when the compliance folks aren’t in the room with them.  So when the shit inevitably hits the fan, those ADs and the presidents they work for can blink their eyes vapidly at the NCAA investigators, claim they had no idea what was going on and swear they’ll get rid of the rogue bad apple.  And it’ll work.

Nice system you got there, NCAA.

Bryan Fisher:

Mark Emmert, you have lost our confidence in your ability to do the job.

The next time you speak, we won't be able to take you seriously thanks to news that Ohio State would not face additional charges of failure to monitor or lack of institutional control in the school's infraction case.

'It's all about what the NCAA can prove, not what we've read' is the company line. Well, you had a chance to prove things but you said you weren't going to try.

Matt Hayes:

It’s pathetic, really. The rats see a ship sailing to probation, and it’s every dirty, cheating program for itself.

Ohio State got out first, and now North Carolina sees the opening. Soon enough, Oregon will too.

Here’s the best part of this growing, sordid tale: The NCAA is standing with open arms on the other side.

Want to blame someone for North Carolina’s utterly bizarre firing of coach Butch Davis, who was never mentioned once in the program’s lengthy NCAA Notice of Allegations? Blame Ohio State.

Better yet, blame the NCAA – and more specifically, president Mark Emmert.

Meanwhile Mandel, the guy who was predicting this would happen, hasn't taken up a position on whether it's good or bad. I haven't found anyone who doesn't have a framed Andy Katzenmoyer jersey who thinks this is anything other than total horseshit. Homer check tenuously passed.

Meanwhile, OSU confirms that Terrelle Pryor was ineligible for the entirety of last year and bans him from contact with the program without explaining why. Where is the extra violation that gets Pryor that treatment while the other five players remain on the team, associated with the program. Is the NCAA interested in this? Apparently not.

There is a recent precedent for a team not getting failure to monitor or LOIC (which come on) and still getting hammered: Alabama got 21 scholarships docked and a two-year bowl ban for various boosters paying dudes to go to Alabama. If Ohio State gets something similar, fine. The NCAA's two-eyes-for-an-eye policy could see at least 12 scholarships obliterated and two years of bowl ban even without LOIC if the committee is like "hey, your head coach lying to keep a half-dozen players eligible and hoodwinking us to let them play in a bowl game… that's bad."

loldantonio. Mark Dantonio called Jim Tressel a "tragic hero."

aaaaand eyyyyyeeeeeeeyyyeeeeeiiiiiii will always loveeeee yoooouuu

Then Jim Brandstatter was all like "loldantonio" and Dantonio was all like "paraphrase of insanely misused Teddy Roosevelt quote about being in the arena," because that's what people who say stupid things do when they are criticized for saying stupid things.

The Big Ten Network made itself into a feed. Press release:

BTN2Go features a live feed of all BTN linear network programming, including more than 40 football games, over 100 men’s basketball games and hundreds of other live events, as well as Extra Football Game Channels, on-demand programming and archived content.

BTN2Go will be offered exclusively through BTN’s participating cable, satellite and telco distribution partners as an authenticated digital service to subscribers who already receive BTN as part of their video subscription.

If the authenticated bit lets you watch the BTN if you're in Alabama despite the locals not giving a damn, that's great as long as it works better than the streaming service did a year ago when I tried it for an hockey game. If it's ESPN3 quality, lovely. 

Desmond Howard had a good idea. Via Get The Picture:

“But if you want to play the education game, then check this out. If they get my likeness for life, then they should be committed to my education for life. So if Mark Ingram 20 years from now, when they’re still selling his jerseys in Tuscaloosa, says ‘You know what? I want to get my Ph.D.’ Guess who should pay for that? They should be committed to his education for life. They’re still selling his jerseys.”

If a school is still profiting off a guy who had a few years in the NFL and now has some messed up knees and maybe wants a more saleable degree, he should be able to get it.

Wolverine Historian posted a bunch of games. Bo becomes the winningest coach in school history with a victory in The Game:

Also available are 2000 Indiana (58-0), 2003 Illinois (56-14), and 1993 Minnesota (58-7). Bring your nostalgic bloodlust.

Hockey

John Gibson defects to the OHL, Michigan picks up Michael Downing. Let's not mince words: dropping a college commitment less than a month before classes start is a dick move. I get that he'll get more games next year because he probably won't be splitting time, but exactly no information has changed since he committed and signed a LOI. Blah blah blah about "doing what's best for me" is what they say on Jerry Springer, too.

Michigan now has zero backup to Hunwick and is in a desperate search for his replacement next year. At least whoever they pick up—they likely need two goalies—won't have a midget dynamo blocking their path.

In happier news, Michigan's somewhat glaring hole on D going forward is smaller thanks to Downing's commitment for 2013. Downing was the third pick and first defenseman in the USHL Futures Draft. He's coming off a strong showing at the U16 Festival. OHL defection risk currently seems low: he's from CC, has an older brother already in the USHL, and was drafted in the flyer area of the OHL draft (8th round) by Sarnia, a team not known for picking up off college-bound folk.

People discussed ways to prevent "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry" events. Gibson's very very late decision spurred a round of "what can we do" from Yost Built and The United States of Hockey. Yost Built wonders about making a hockey LOI binding in the same way an NTDP commitment is. Someone will have to ping The Bylaw Blog for confirmation but that would redefine the LOI in such a comprehensive fashion it wouldn't be a LOI anymore. It's currently a non-legal agreement enforced by a non-NCAA organization of schools interested in reducing chaos.

The United States of Hockey discusses whether or not it's a good idea to allow CHL players to play NCAA. He says no, and he's right. CHL teams have no incentive to keep athletes NCAA eligible even now; removing that restriction would provide an incentive to actually discourage players from keeping up with their books. The number of players headed the other way would be few. Meanwhile, the USHL has established itself a high quality league designed to get kids to college. This would hurt it as some players choose the CHL over it.

It's a moot point anyway: the NCAA just relaxed regulations on foreign players playing with pros. Hockey specifically requested and acquired an exemption.

So there's not much the NCAA can do. The one thing I'd suggest is prohibiting American 16 and 17 year olds from playing CHL hockey in Canada. As we learned during the Max Domi song and dance, Hockey Canada currently prohibits Canadians from leaving the country to play junior. Domi's dad would have had to "move to" Indiana to get his kid eligible for the USHL, a major hurdle for anyone who didn't have a long NHL career.

USA hockey should adopt the same policy, limiting American high-schoolers who want to play in the CHL to the small number of American teams in the WHL and OHL*.

*[The Q just shut down their only American team, the ridiculously-named Lewiston MAINEacs.]

Other Items

Austin Hatch is still in a coma a month after the plane crash. At least that's what his local paper says. Depressing.

Zak Irvin picked Michigan. Covered yesterday, but dang if Beilein's recruiting hasn't been on a steady upward trajectory since his first class. It's got to plateau soon, but that plateau looks like a Sweet 16 team.

Also, UMHoops has uncovered the first grainy videos of the camera-shy Irvin.

People covered ADs golfing like it was news. I don't care if it's July. A story about an athletic director playing golf against another athletic director is time that could have been spent on something more socially productive like spitting off a balcony. I'm not linking to any of this stuff. Sports editors across the state: you have suffered the mother of all eye-rollings.

Baseball made its RPI more Northern friendly. By acknowledging that—surprise!—having to spent the first month or two of the season on the road is a significant handicap, Big Ten teams that are actually kind of good will stand a better shot of making the tournament. They also eliminated some bonuses/penalties for teams at the extreme ends of the the range.

Getting those kind of good B10 teams remains a chore. As long as this is true…

Some schools are able to play 35-40 of their 56 allowable games at home, while other teams, due to factors such as weather, may play only 20 home games.

…the playing field will never be anywhere close to level, but good luck trying to change that.

In related news, Jonathan Bornstein moves to Honduras. Bob Bradley was fired and replaced by Jurgen Klinsmann as the head of the USMNT. I get people's reservations about Klinsmann's reputation, which is largely based on one World Cup with Germany and a flameout with Bayern Munich, but if there's one thing the US needs now it's a holistic look at how they develop talent and how it can be improved. The talent gap with Mexico won't be huge for the rest of this WC cycle, but it's hard to see the US not taking a back seat once the Dempsey/Donovan/Dolo/Boca generation ages out after Brazil. There are 100x fewer Uruguayans than Americans, man: there's no reason the US shouldn't be able to produce a few world class players.

Also! PSU QB Paul Jones is academically ineligible, leaving the QB competition there just Bolden and McGloin. The Big Ten further proved that putting their athletic directors in charge of naming anything just leads to a successories poster. BTN revenues increase 21(!) percent over last year. A Michigan undergrad built the largest solar array in the state. Basketball agreed to a home and home with Arkansas. Doctor Saturday predicts 7-5 again, but adding up the "likely win/tossup/likely loss" bits seems to point to 8-4. Gameday likely for the ND game.