Unverified Voracity Settles For Usher

Unverified Voracity Settles For Usher Comment Count

Brian August 17th, 2017 at 12:28 PM

What, you couldn't get Ginuwine? Swoons are in order!

No, you're only embedding this so you can use the "Jim Harbaugh's sick beats" tag.

A Michigan soccer blog. Early days for Michigan Soccer Now, but if you've been frustrated that we don't cover M soccer much since it overlaps with football, they're off to a promising start. Here's a roster overview for the upcoming season.

Get ready for a lot of Fox. I'm still a little leery of FOX broadcasting a bunch of Big Ten games because their coverage feels somehow wrong. I can't explain why. They've cut back on the robots and band shots but it doesn't feel that college-y, I guess?

It matters not, we will be watching it this fall:

Fox and FS1 will be the home of 24 – 27 football games, nine of which will be aired in primetime. Fox will air the football championship game every season.

You’ll see 39-47 men’s basketball games on Fox/FS1 with as many as ten aired on Fox.

Fox will have the first priority of games for much of the football season, although ESPN will get first pick in some weeks. It means you’ll see games like Ohio State-Michigan on Fox rather on ABC.

Michigan is going to be a first pick many weeks. If that means we get Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt or anybody and Spielman I'm totally cool with that. 

Metagame moves. Ian Boyd on "confuse and clobber," which is a pretty good name for Harbaugh's approach even if he's not talking about Michigan directly in this piece except when he's referencing Michigan's comical lack of preparation back during the Horror. The bit relevant to the modern day:

The main idea with this style of offense is to use a variety of formations, sweeps, and multiple ball carriers to obscure the fact that the offense is ultimately just blocking a few base run schemes and to provide easy constraints for the offense to punish the defense with. Rather than using the option, the spread, or the passing game to protect the base runs the offense uses confusion.

Maximizing a market inefficiency

It used to be that when people thought about prototypical football players they thought of guys like running backs and fullbacks. Elite, physical runners and big, burly blockers who lived for the contact of the game. But nowadays the game is increasingly dominated by QBs that can process and make decisions under fire and then deliver the ball down the field through the air to receivers who are processing and making decisions on the fly.

It’s not too terribly difficult for a program like Appalachian State or NC State to load up with multiple solid running backs, nor to find blocking fullbacks and tight ends. It’s even possible to find really good ones because they no longer have as much value at the bigger universities that are only looking for TEs that can run routes.

There could probably be some advantage gained by recruiting good tailbacks and then using something like the I-formation, which is no longer common at all, to feed them the ball. That and great defense is more or less how San Diego State has been winning the Mountain West the last few years. However, that’s not what these teams are doing. Instead they’re utilizing even more old school sets like the old Wing-T combined with modern shotgun, pistol, and spread-option tactics to feature multiple ballcarriers at the same time.

Michigan hasn't been going as far as the schools mentioned in this piece, but they've shown little bits and pieces. This was more prominent last year when the T-formation showed up against Maryland and the second ballcarrier was a fullback taking a trap 30 yards; last year the relative unsuitability of the fullbacks meant that on anything except a one yard dive there was only one potential ballcarrier.

I'll be interested to see if that changes this year. The current vibe is that Michigan's going to look like more of a passing spread, but the versatility of Evans and Isaac—while still currently hypothetical—gives them some options to have two potential ballcarriers on the field simultaneously without removing the possibility of having four efficient receivers in the pattern.

Somewhat boring anonymous coach quotes. SI surveys rivals about the top 25 teams and gets a rather tepid set of responses for Michigan. The most interesting bit is further confirmation that Don Brown will get after you:

They’re so aggressive on defense, whether they’re playing man coverage or in their zone packages and third-down stuff. Don Brown is the most aggressive defensive coordinator I’ve seen in a long time. That system has worked for him for 25 years and he keeps tweaking. Now he’s got a lot of high-level talent and depth. You can get some chunk plays against them because of all the man coverage, but you’ve got to finish drives. They’re stingy in the red zone.

This year will be an acid test for the secondary and Brown's approach. Also in things you already knew stated anonymously, Rashan Gary "will be an All-American."

That is good. John Beilein gets shots up. They are good shots:

That's good news! The bad news: they only got 23% their shots there, which was 346th nationally. They finished with the 7th-highest eFG%, though, so we'll let it slide.

Jabrill is good. Surprise. The Ringer talks to Jabrill Peppers about his weirdly insulting draft process:

He said that “88 percent” of teams hammered him for playing too many positions in his college career and not playing his eventual NFL position—safety—enough. (For his part, Peppers said he doesn’t regret where he played because his Wolverines won a lot of games during his tenure.) A typical conversation with teams during predraft meetings, Peppers told me, went like this: “They said, ‘You do everything. You’re here, you’re here, you’re here. We’re going to play you at one position. How can we be sure that you’re going to master this position?’”

You'd think they'd ask Harbaugh about that, and Harbaugh would have sworn up and down that Peppers would pick it all up. He had one year in Don Brown's system and played both safety and SAM. I mean, cumong man.

A couple corrections to the Florida suspensions. When I posted about the seven guys who will miss the Michigan game I said they wouldn't be impactful outside of Antonio Callaway. Florida's 24/7 site has some additional details. Kadeem Telfort was apparently in the two deep:

Telfort was one of the players that Florida was hoping it could rely on as a key backup at tackle after he enrolled early this spring. He had put together a decent start to fall camp and appeared to be the next guy up at tackle. …Florida's fine if it can stay healthy at tackle against Michigan. If not? Things get dicey very, very quickly.

And don't expect there to be much impact on UF's DE play:

The good news is defensive end is Florida's deepest position. CeCe Jefferson, Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga have been three standouts on the edge, while Antonneous Clayton has also shown promising signs of development.

The right tackle gets thrown into the fire against those dudes.

Quinn Hughes is going to be good. A friend has been taking in the USA WJC camp currently going on in Plymouth and reports back that Hughes already looks like a first-pairing defensemen for them. Michigan Hockey Now interviewed him:

The coaches have certainly noticed his skating abilities – “yeah, I think I’ve always been a pretty good skater” – and his comfort level in all three zones. The fact that he grew up playing forward certainly didn’t hurt.

“I was a forward until I was 13,” Hughes said. “Just because my dad was a D and everyone in my family was a D, so I just wanted to be a D. That’s why.” …

“I think everyone says bigger and stronger, that’s what everyone says, but just get better at everything,” Hughes said. “Even work on my academics – I’m going there as a student-athlete, so to work on my academics as well. I think just overall as a person, as a hockey player, just get better at everything I can.”

So did NHL.com:

Despite being one of the younger players for the U.S., he's had little problem keeping up with the pace. His effortless skating and poise with the puck has been obvious, and he's also played well defensively.

"Definitely the first couple shifts the first game you have to get into it," Hughes said. "By now everyone is pretty much caught up. I feel like I've played really good competition [last season] so it feels kind of the same thing." …

With the U.S. looking to replace No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins), Hughes could be in line to absorb some of his ice time.

"Offensively absolutely," U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. "Right now we don't have any concerns. The snapshot we have from this week, we're very excited."

He will instantly be the #1 PP QB and probably on the top pairing. Looking forward to it.

Etc.: John Niyo on Michigan's revamped staff. BHGP on the Deadspin SBN thing. Jane Coaston on Colin Kaepernick. Am I a bad person if support NJ.com's petulant FOIA of Michigan's roster? The Stephen A Smith tweets in repose. I did not realize this was an Onion article for about 15 seconds. Coach paranoia is fun.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Is About Media Day

Unverified Voracity Is About Media Day Comment Count

Brian July 27th, 2016 at 12:24 PM

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[Patrick Barron]

Media days takes. Harbaugh showed at a place and said things. In response the media writes somewhat overheated things in response, because Harbaugh. The Sporting News refers to Michigan's "magical, millennial, marketable machine" in an alliteration explosion that engulfed their office:

“Harbaugh to my knowledge has taken no classes in marketing, never mentions the word,” Bacon said. “Yet who has marketed Michigan better then he has in the last year and a half? Not everyone likes it, but as far as getting and the name and the flag up the flag pole … Harbaugh has spread the "M" all over America — and to American Samoa — for crying out loud.”

According to Michigan associate athletic director Kurt Svoboda, the university increased its season ticket sales in 2015 to 89,875, the highest total since 2012. Of those, 72,076 were non-student tickets, the highest total since 2009. Student ticket sales increased from 11,597 in 2014 to 17,899 in 2015. …

"You can say he's 52 going on 25 in some ways,” Bacon said. “He's got more energy than almost anybody. He's in a rap video. As a rapper he's an excellent football coach, but you know the kids love it."

Looks like Bacon just put himself on the list of Uptight White People for the 57th time.

Harbaugh's ability to be the center of attention at all times arises naturally from the fact that he's got no filter and genuinely doesn't care what people say about him. So he'll climb a tree or dab for a recruit or schedule a month-long whirlwind of satellite camps, mostly because he wants to do these things, to win at various things of little to no importance. The marketing aspect is a side effect. It's not quite an accident, but it's not the primary thing.

The primary thing:

To that point, Harbaugh said almost every practice is mapped out for the upcoming season, mapped out on his computer. Fall camp will include a lot more four-hour practices, another concept Butt said might be foreign in an age where less contact is encouraged. Butt even told former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy about those practices this summer.

McElroy’s response? “You lost me at the four-hour practices.”

Harbaugh goes harder and his guys are willing to do the same given his example. Along the way articles are written.

Also this. Harbaugh's just way more interesting than coaches primarily focused on escaping media appearances without saying anything that means anything. Literally. Brian Hamilton:

Around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, James Joseph Harbaugh took the stage and an otherwise lobotomized first day of Big Ten media day festivities got interesting. All he had to do was wear the baseball cap, really: Michigan’s coach later explained his accessorizing was the product of going five weeks without a haircut and his affinity for the skinny ‘M’ logo.

Brian Bennett:

He signed a fan's bicep with a Sharpie, then told the fan to come back for another try Tuesday because he didn't like the way his skin signature looked.

Of his appearance in a recent rap video, Harbaugh insisted that only "uptight white people" didn't like it. He even claimed to have written one of the song's lyrics ("Roughest team in the B-I-G!). At another point, Harbaugh used the word "meritocracy," briefly wondered if he had just invented it, then looked disappointed when he learned it already existed.

He is one of few college football coaches clearly operating his own twitter feed, because he's got something to say on it. Something like "I am Uncle Rico and The Georgia Coach is barking up the wrong tree."

Knock on wood. Harbaugh says Michigan is healthy headed into fall camp:

"There's nothing to report," Harbaugh said of player injuries. "We're pretty darn healthy. We came out of spring ball pretty darn healthy. We didn't get any of the long-term kind, six month injuries. There's always things that people are dealing with and working with. Our goal is to get the healthiest, most in-shape and strongest team we can on August 8th and then we'll take our shot."

Rumors about Chesson's availability have persisted through the offseason; he should be fine:

Asked specifically about All-Big Ten receiver Jehu Chesson, Harbaugh didn't give a definitive answer but did say he thinks he'll be good to go.

"Yes, I believe he will," Harbaugh said.

The only other player who had a long-term injury at the end of spring practice was Moe Ways, who has reportedly been running routes with the QBs for weeks now. Per Webb, Ryan Glasgow put up some impressive bench press numbers himself recently. Since his injury was to his pectoral that is plenty of evidence he's all the way back.

Recruiting is for gentlemen only. James Franklin's comments about negative recruiting from a while back are predictably a hot topic at Big Ten media days, but they're apparently based on an unrepresentative quote:

"All I said was that every kid that we're recruiting is also being recruited by Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame and that they don't have the same challenges that we have now," Franklin said. "Then, in a separate quote, I mentioned that right now we're (dealing) with negative recruiting. It was two separate quotes, though, over a 35-minute interview.

"I never said that any of those schools are the ones doing the negative recruiting against us. They're not. There is one other particular school, but I didn't name who that was."

"…although it is blindingly obvious to you and everyone who reads this quote that it is Pitt."

Negative recruiting hubbub is always pretty ridiculous since things as innocuous as pointing out your relatively friendly depth chart will be twisted into "School X is in ISIS" by the time someone mutters about it on the internet. This seems a bit more ridiculous than most.

The Bill C preview. Bill Connelly's big Michigan preview hit SBNation yesterday. Happily, Bill saw through Michigan's roster subterfuge and knows that they get back most of their offense.

S&P+ projects Michigan to win 9.6 games:

image

If that sounds pessimistic MSU was at 7.8 a few days ago. Combinatorial math is harsh when you add these things up: Michigan has just three games they're not 75%+ to win and yet they're tiny favorites to end up with double digit wins. 9.6 is pretty good in this context.

There are a couple issues of the sort that are inevitable if you have to write 128 of these over the course of the offseason. Connelly strangely tabs the departure of Mario Ojemudia as the beginning of the defense's late slide and worries over the least worrisome bit of the entire team:

Things fell apart for the line right around the time of Mario Ojemudia's injury. There was still play-making potential on the edge, but it seemed to be a tough blow for Michigan's tenuous depth. Ryan Glasgow going down was the knockout punch.

Depth might not be any better this year. When you were only comfortable with seven guys, and two are gone, improvement isn't guaranteed. But when you've got reinforcements like all-world freshman Rashan Gary, it's hard to worry too much.

Ojemudia went down early in the Maryland game, a shutout. The next week they shut out Northwestern, and then they gave up some points. Against MSU and Minnesota they were mostly secondary issues; Rutgers scored just 16 in Glasgow's last game. Ojemudia was playing well but Royce Jenkins-Stone wasn't a huge dropoff. Glasgow was for a ton of reasons.

Anyway. Bryan Mone hype understandably eludes Connelly's take here, as does the somewhat more questionable emergence of Winovich and Marshall.

Peppers scouted. By NFL.com:

He is fluid in his turn, and he has excellent recovery speed down the field. He is instinctive and aware in underneath coverage. He jumped a bubble screen for a near interception in the Minnesota game. He is outstanding as a run defender. He fights through blocks and is a very reliable tackler in space. He shows timing and burst as a blitzer.

Yep. Concerns include an awkwardness in off coverage and a certain grabbiness that he's gotten away with for the most part. It was clear at the beginning of the year that he had a lot of things to work on in coverage; the good news is that he improved a great deal over the course of the year and should continue to do so.

PFF talks Ohio State. Their offense is an enigma now with just a few starters returning and JT Barrett's downfield ability in question:

The passing game is much more of a question mark, as Barrett has not had nearly the same success through the air as he has on the ground. He earned an average passing grade last season after performing marginally better than that in 2014, and he struggled the most on intermediate throws: On passes thrown 10 to 19 yards downfield, Barrett was just 12 of 25 for 211 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, earning a negative grade in that area of the field.

On the other hand he was their #2 running QB last year behind Houston's Greg Ward. MSU shut down the OSU run game and they foundered, as they did for much of the season. (Remember the NIU game?) Michigan did not do anything of the sort and got ripped. Don Brown versus and Urban Meyer offense is going to be the most intriguing tactical matchup of the season.

Etc.: Tough talk about the ACC Network's ability to get carriage. Ann Arbor is the most educated city in the country by a mile. Ian Boyd on Minnesota's three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense. The Black Heart Gold Pants crew is on the move. Barton Simmons catches on to Harbaugh's crazy QB coaching record.

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Unverified Voracity Is Actually A Good Cook

Unverified Voracity Is Actually A Good Cook Comment Count

Brian April 28th, 2016 at 3:12 PM

Hello. Sorry about that involuntary vacation there. Dumping water on your laptop is not fun, especially when the backup you had on hand for just such an eventuality doesn't boot either. Then I was at Blogs With Balls yesterday, trying to look somewhat official.

I am back now, even if the change in keyboard styles makes me want to die. Nothing makes me angrier than trying to use a keyboard I'm not familiar with. It's like having a stroke, one that suddenly puts punctuation all over the place for no reason. Anyway.

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Just another day in the life. Offseason is relative.

Jim Harbaugh gives his version of Drake's album cover, gets RT'd by the First Lady

Anonymous NFL scout strikes again. The woooooorst:

There's about a 90% chance that the dude anonymously slamming Apple's life skills spends most of his life in hotels, has been divorced four times, and hasn't cooked anything more complicated than cereal since the 1970s. Also, this random slam from a guy who doesn't even know Apple appears to be 100% false:

The NFL draft starts tonight so our brief annual spate of anonymous, ludicrous slams of NFL prospects is just about over. Tune in next year, when someone accuses Jourdan Lewis of setting fire to his toaster.

Durkin on Harbaugh. None of this is actually a surprise; it is a confirmation about what life under Harbaugh is like:

CR: I'd imagine your early days at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh were a lot like the early ones at Bowling Green under Meyer. Is that accurate?

Durkin: It was absolute mayhem. It really was.

When I first got there, it was like, oh my gosh. Then you finally spend more time with Jim. The guy is really smart. Extremely smart. Everything is for a reason, but he loves chaos. That's just how he operates. He loves confrontation, chaos, conflict. He doesn't want it to be everyone comfortable, this is the schedule. He just loves throwing a wrench in the works.

So, when you first get there, it's like, what's going on? But it was great. To see someone impose their will, their confidence, their vision on a program, to totally change it—total 180. Stanford was known as a soft, academic, wine-sipping program. Now it's the total opposite. He definitely imposed his will on the place.

This was Bo's approach to the point where he would deliberately stoke fights between his coaches just to see what everyone really thought. Harbaugh runs through a lot of coaches; they generally move on up afterwards, often quickly, because life under Harbaugh is a pressure cooker.

Durkin also relates the one-on-one story we've heard a couple times before:

CR: Let's end with the story of you playing Harbaugh one-on-one at Stanford. What do you remember?

Durkin: It was a random day in the office. We were meeting, talking about something, and he was dribbling a basketball. We were talking about something—recruiting or something—and the conversation somehow got to, "Hey, let's go out and play."

So we went to play one-on-one. First to seven. Great. So we're playing. I went up for a layup or something, he fouled—I mean, hacked me. And I didn't call it. I didn't expect him to call foul. No, we're good. Check up.

Then it became, O.K., if that's not a foul, there are no fouls. So the game went on for—the reason it became epic—it was over an hour-long game. To seven. And people are up there watching. No one wanted to lose, and no one would call a foul. So it was, if the guy got a step on you, chuck him in the back, lose the ball. Nope, no foul. Good, your ball. So it went on. It was well over an hour. A game to seven.

CR: Who won?

Durkin: He won. I let him win in the end. Job security.

I've repeatedly stated that I was skeptical about how good of a DC Durkin actually was after Michigan tailed off against spread teams late, but he's the kind of guy who could be much better as a head coach than a coordinator*. He's already done some good things with Maryland's recruiting.

*[And he's just unproven there, not necessarily bad. Last year was his first truly running his own D after operating under Will Muschamp at Florida and he inherited a ton of talent from the previous guy. It's striking how close the parallels are between 2015 and 2006, which also saw a hotshot new coordinator inherit a bucket of talent, turn his unit into one of the nation's best, and then get annihilated by Ohio State while doing something seemingly nonsensical. With Durkin that was running a safety at 15 yards against a spread to run offense; with Ron English it was trying to cover an NFL first-round WR with Chris Graham.]

Maryland doesn't recruit good and stuff. Excellent data post from Capital News service detailing the futility of Maryland recruiting despite a healthy amount of local talent. It incidentally proves our Mississippi Is A Black Hole Nothing Escapes theory:

image

That will never cease being a mystery to me.

I do think there are some questionable assumptions the data invites you to take away here because their list of top talent-producing states has Delaware(?!) third and Hawaii fifth. This is correct on a per-capita basis, but why that's relevant to a college trying to fill a recruiting class is unclear. (Delaware is likely that high because of ECA, the controversial magnet school that Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson attended.)

Incoming Cain? MI SF Jamal Cain got his Michigan offer. Cain, a 2017 kid ranked as a three star by the world, got a bunch of Michigan predictions on his 247 page in the immediate aftermath. It doesn't sound like he'll drop immediately…

"His recruiting is rapidly growing," said Covington, a former player at Oakland, who added that Cain is likely to go through the recruiting process and not commit anywhere until before or duirng his senior year at Cornerstone Prep.

Cain is currently rated as the No. 190 overall played in the 2016 class in the 247 Sports Composite.

…but plans have a tendency to change. Endless Motor has an interview with Cain that is of interest:

EM: Can you tell us a a bit about the basketball presentation?

JC: Coach Beilein showed me film of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Zak Irvin, and said he wanted me to play a similar role at the shooting guard/small forward spots, and that I would be used in that way. Coach Beilein said I could really thrive in that role at UM.

In Trey-Burke-ish basketball recruiting news, Xavier SImpson surges into the top 50 in ESPN's final rankings after an outstanding senior season that saw him win the USA Today POY in the state.

So much for that. JT Compher signs with the Avs and CCM is gone lock, stock, and barrel. When Red returned one of the arguments made in favor of that decision was that CCM was more likely to return—at least portions of it—in Ann Arbor. That obviously did not work out.

With NHL departures now (probably) completed, this is what Michigan's looking at next year. I'm bumping Cutler Martin up to F:

Kile/Marody/Calderone
Dancs/Lockwood/Warren
Pastujov/Shuart/Allen
Sanchez/Winborg/Martin

On D:

De Jong/Boka
Cecconi/Piazza
L Martin/Luce

That does not look like a tournament team unless Michigan is better than it's been on defense since Mel left. Michigan loses six of its top seven scorers and gets back only two forwards who were significantly above zero in +/-: Kile and Dancs.

Goodbye Idaho. If only EMU would follow. The Vandals are dropping down to I-AA after getting booted from the Sun Belt, which only admitted them in the first place so they could have a conference championship game. With no conference home and none pending, their only logical move was to drop down and play with the Montanas and North Dakota States of the world. Two things: this apparently won't even save them money…

The athletic department will save money having to fund fewer scholarships (63 as opposed to 85), but a source told CBS Sports that the program will lose money overall.

…and Idaho football costs about 20% as much as EMU's athletic deficit.

While the move enjoys some support in the community, Idaho will lose its FBS branding -- playing at the highest level of college football. Idaho students fund football to the tune of $127 per semester in their tuition payments.

Which is boggling if you think about it. EMU faculty and students just urged the university to drop football, to which the regents said "nah." Eastern's athletic department spending is completely insane:

The study point to an increase in the total full time equivalent athletic staff from 64 in 2006-07 to 85 in 2015-16, doubling staff salaries from $3.2 million to $6.4 million as the department saw 10 more coaching positions and more than 11 "athletic personnel" added during the same time period. During that same time period, the report indicates EMU's entire faculty increased by just 15.78 full-time equivalent personnel.

The arms race at the top of college athletics makes sense because the money's got to go somewhere. Eastern is setting money on fire—its students' money.

Rappists say nice things. I mean, I think they do. Migos on Harbaugh:

"He knows the music," Migos member Offset told TMZ. "He's a real cool playa. He's a playa, man, from the Himalayas."

#wellactually he goes to the Andes mountains, person who was clearly trying to rhyme things.

SBN on the Big Ten's rights situation. This is a point worth considering:

Will coaches freak out if their games aren’t on ESPN?
Yes, and so will administrators throughout the conference. Years ago, when the ACC flirted with leaving ESPN for Fox, some of the conference’s powerful basketball coaches were not shy about voicing their displeasure, believing that the lack of ESPN coverage would hurt their recruiting efforts. It’s too early to know how Big Ten coaches and athletic directors will react. But consider this: When school administrators asked at the recent league meetings if it’s possible for ESPN to get shut out, they were told, “Anything is possible.” One senior official at a Big Ten school said his peers “were scared to death” at the prospect of not having games on ESPN, which could eat into their recruiting.

ESPN's "lowball" offer for half the rights package was easy to pass over. It'll be harder for the Big Ten to extract maximum revenue from the second half without abandoning ESPN entirely, and that's a move everyone is wary of. Well, maybe. I've yet to see the Big Ten do anything other than maximize revenue.

Etc.: MLS to Detroit? If so you have to make them Detroit City and call them "The Rock." This is not negotiable. Profiles of Graham Glasgow and Jourdan Lewis. More on Glasgow's draft status. Jabrill Peppers already being talked about for next year's draft. A CFB commissioner is discussed; seems impractical. Baseball doing well. Holding The Rope on personnel shifts at ESPN.

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Unverified Voracity Has Yet More Hot Takes To Deal With

Unverified Voracity Has Yet More Hot Takes To Deal With Comment Count

Brian 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.

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And Our Friends Are All Aboard

And Our Friends Are All Aboard Comment Count

Seth August 14th, 2015 at 10:39 AM

In the town where I was born
Lived a man who wore khakis
And he told us of his life
In the land of wine and cheese.

So we sailed, and left this son
While we wallowed in red and green.
And we lived in ennui
Till we found our wolverine.

Submarine_navy_1024x1024

[artwork by our own Six Zero]

As we live  a life of ease
Every one of us has all we need.
Sky of blue and floor of spleen.
Who's got it better than us? Nobody!

Comments

Unverified Voracity Says Goodbye Toks

Unverified Voracity Says Goodbye Toks Comment Count

Brian June 22nd, 2015 at 2:24 PM

Harbaugh of the day.

The man knows his rappists.

Also, Harbaugh interviewed during the 1992 Northwestern game:

Battle stuff. Tyus Battle has not committed to Syracuse as of this instant. There's been no news from his visit as the Battles go radio silent:

"Ty and I are not making any comments until we figure things out," Gary Battle wrote in a text message.

Insider chatter holds that Battle will also visit UConn and that distance is apparently a problem. Publicly stated reasons are rarely the actual reasons, so take that with a grain of salt.

Michigan is not sitting on its hands. Four-star OH SG Jarron Cumberland, #62 on the 247 composite, is on campus right now. He will likely get an offer, and may drop immediately. Steve Lorenz put in a Crystal Ball for Cumberland at 8 AM today. (Josh Langford is off the board after he committed to—sigh—Michigan State.) Michigan clearly does not think this Battle decommit is a momentary dalliance.

At least he's still in the vaguely-affiliated other Big Ten conference. Potential name of the year running back Toks Akinribade has committed to Iowa. Michigan wasn't in the market for another tailback after taking Kingston Davis and Matt Falcon (and athletes Chris Evans and Kiante Enis), I know, but shades of LEVITICUS PAYNE here and it still hurts.

There is another, though.

More Steve Patterson stuff. Texas blog Barking Carnival is terrific, so I wanted to check in on what they were saying about the Chip Brown article on Longhorn AD Steve Patterson. Sound familiar?

Aloof and petty aren't a good combination.

The I’m smarter than everyone in the room vibe only works when you demonstrably are.

His decision-making is being driven by considerations that appear to be more about self-elevation (my running joke is that he badly wants to land a TED Talk) rather than balancing the considerations (or illusions) that make college fans unique from pro fans. I have zero interest in attending a Texas football game in person any time soon and it has little to do with the product. I sat patiently through some real dogshit in the 80s and 90s.

The current game day environment demonstrably sucks. At least for anyone with my disposition. It’s counterfeit. It’s false. And the season ticket holders we’re losing are some of the very best fans who are just tired of seeing their love of their school being exploited at every turn. Patterson wants to replace them with corporates and local transplants. Good luck with that, buddy.

Bottom line: he’s creating a situation where he will sink or swim entirely on his hires. He doesn’t have any good will banked.

That's a comment from Scipio Tex, one of the main authors at BC and one of the most incisive writers on the college football internet.

It is both sad and reassuring that Michigan isn't the only school having these problems as the old guard of school-oriented athletic directors gets invaded by a wave of spreadsheet people. (FWIW, Hackett doesn't fall in that category for me: a guy who is CEO at the same place for 20 years is not just looking to make a spreadsheet look nice and cash out.) If and when Hackett decides to go back into retirement, it's imperative that Michigan actually taps the network of high-profile athletic department employees they've seeded across the country.

Not so much, Boilers. 1985 Purdue-Michigan was a slaughter:

Apparel contract decision soon. Hackett:

"We're on our target to make our decision this summer and look for an answer soon," Hackett told gathered media after Thursday's regularly scheduled Regents meeting, adding, "We're still in the middle of that discussion."

Most rumblings indicate that Adidas is in a bad spot and is unlikely to retain the contract. Sam Webb has plenty of details($) at Scout; the upshot is that it's likely to be Nike. I had a mild preference for Under Armour, but it seems like most of the athletes have a strong one for the swoosh so whatever. The gap between the offers—reported to be significant—has apparently come down somewhat, so may as well "spend" some of the oodles of cash you bring in on making people happy.

My main reservation with going back to Nike is their tendency towards uniformz. They've been at least as demanding in that department as Adidas, and they also run the play where a bunch of their schools all have the same dubious design element at the same time. I do think a strong AD can push back against those kind of things—see Indiana basketball, Penn State, Alabama, Texas, etc.—and hopefully we've got one of those now.

A potential replacement. I haven't seen anything about this officially, but Chris Dilks is pretty plugged in and he notes that Michigan hockey does have an option to fill the holes in the roster created by early NHL departures:

[Cooper] Marody was on the edge between returning to Sioux Falls for another season of junior hockey and enrolling at the University of Michigan, but with Dylan Larkin deciding to sign with the Detroit Red Wings and opening up a spot on Michigan's roster, it looks like Marody will be playing for the Wolverines next season.

Marody had a 22-36-58 line in 52 games and should go off the board in the third or fourth round of the draft. He won't be Larkin; he should be a solid player as a freshman.

Etc.: Gasaway on shot clock overreactions. Maize and Blue Nation on how nice it is that Harbaugh is around. More budget stuff. Hyman to Toronto after forcing a trade away from the Panthers. Toronto's doing a lot of smart stuff lately. Tickets are moving like hotcakes. Mitch McGary is SNAKE GOD. Daily alum Ryan Kartje on satellite camps.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Has One For The Other Index Finger

Unverified Voracity Has One For The Other Index Finger Comment Count

Brian May 4th, 2015 at 12:29 PM

It's happening. Hail To The Victors is fully funded with two weeks left to go. I credit Harbaugh more than anything else. Thanks all the same; we will still be taking pre-orders through Kickstarter through the 18th.

Hail to the king. Oh nothing just Harbaugh hanging out with the first lady and Ciara.

Soon he will start appearing in historically significant photos and no one will remember that he was not, in fact, present.

Also sick beatz yo

#Harbaugh4SpecialK

Seriously. I want to know what a Jim Harbaugh stadium playlist sounds like. Other than silence and the sound of manliness.

16370773904_4f5ef28959_z

Hutch points with the best of 'em [Paul Sherman]

Hail to the queens. Softball locks down its eighth-straight Big Ten title:

On Sunday, No. 3 Michigan softball won the conference's top spot outright, beating Penn State 9-2 to improve to 48-6. It was the program's eighth-straight championship and 19th all-time.

Christner hit a walk-off, RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning to score Sierra Romero from second and end the game via the run-rule. Christner finished the day 2-for-2 with three RBI, and 8-for-9 in the series.

They will host the Big Ten championship and should get a home regional.

It could be happening? Michigan rattles its defection sabers in an interesting direction:

Michigan's process of figuring out whether or not it'll stick with Adidas or sign with a new apparel provider is ongoing. And this week, Michigan athletic department officials saw a pitch from Under Armour at its headquarters in Baltimore, a university spokesman confirmed.

A meeting is just a meeting and could be held for reasons other than "we are seriously considering Under Armour." I wouldn't read anything in particular into that. It is a move that implies Michigan is seriously considering a change despite having a contract that gives them Most Favored Nation status.

As for UA's pull, they just signed Wisconsin and their Notre Dame contract is rumored to be very big:

Under Armour has proven it can pay big money, too, though, as the supplier reportedly signed Notre Dame to a 10-year, $90 million contract in 2014. Though Notre Dame has never publicly confirmed those figures.

If money is the only factor it won't be Nike, which tops out at about half that. And if we're talking about Adidas versus UA my preference is for the latter.

Congrats draftees. Devin Funchess and Frank Clark went in the second round; Jake Ryan went in the fourth. Seems about right for Funchess and Ryan. Clark's spot is interesting for multiple reasons.

He got booted for a domestic violence charge, then failed to follow the contrition playbook in the aftermath. If you thought this might make the NFL wary you may have also had hopes the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was going to be interesting. Nope.

The other interesting bit: that Clark got drafted in the second round, period. He was always a pretty good player who flashed high-level talent; he was not the kind of consistent threat I'd think is mandatory for anyone to be drafted as a DE in the first two rounds. I mean, Alan Branch went in the second round. I didn't think Clark was anywhere near his level in college. The Seahawks evidently did.

It sounds like they did do their homework. Nick Baumgardner has an extensive article on Clark's draft spot:

He said Michigan's staff and personnel were "shocked" by the arrest, and maintained that the team got enough information from U-M's staff to allow the team to feel confident in taking a chance on Clark in the second round. He also explained how there were a number of teams who were prepared to take Clark on Friday night, possibly early in the third round.

"It was a process," he said. "I was there two days after it happened. Our area (scout) went through there twice. Our regional scout went through there twice. We spent several days there. The easy thing to do was to dismiss this. But, over time and I don't want to get into specifics of it, things became clearer and clearer in the evaluation process.

"We brought him out here, he met with our sports psychologist. But to be there at the time, to see the secretary's reaction ... it was, like 'wow.' ... You get a really, really good feel for the individual (in doing that)."

As I said before, Clark's got an opportunity for a second chance that not a lot of people get. I hope he makes the most of it.

Etc.: MLive has video from a recent AAU tournament featuring commit Austin Davis and target Brian Bowen. Gardner pre-draft interview. He landed with Tom Brady, which is not a bad place to land. The NCAA's mission is disavowed by the NCAA.

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