There Is No College Basketball Scoring Crisis

There Is No College Basketball Scoring Crisis Comment Count

Brian March 16th, 2015 at 12:28 PM

"College basketball is facing a crisis. It’s time for an extreme makeover."

-Seth Davis, 3/2/2015

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[Bryan Fuller]

After a one-year surge in offense spurred by a sometimes-enforced focus on contact and the virtual elimination of off-ball charges, college basketball largely reverted to its old rules this year. The result: a fractional dip in scoring to new lows and sustained outcry from announcers and newspapermen alike.

Damn things like "division," full speed ahead:

Is college basketball in crisis?

Scoring is down. Pace is at an all-time low. Some teams are winning with defense, which is fine, but far too many others are surviving simply because — let's face it — they miss fewer shots.

Damn things like "bothering to look at even one stat," full speed ahead:

[Colorado head coach Tad] Boyle said several factors, including the way the game is officiated, has led to lower scoring. Teams also tend to do the same things offensively, which makes defending them easier. But for the most part Boyle boiled it down. "Better shooting, quite frankly, would really help," he said.

Seth Davis had a major SI piece decrying the decline:

The more things change, the more they ... get worse. College basketball is slower, more grinding, more physical and more, well, offensive than it has been in a long, long time. The 2014-15 season is shaping up to be the worst offensive season in modern history. Through Feb. 22, teams were averaging 67.1 points per game. That is the lowest average since 1952. The previous low for that span was set just two years ago. This more than reverses the gains that were made last season, after the rules committee made adjustments to clamp down on physical defense and make it harder to draw a charge. Thanks to lax enforcement by officials and a foolish decision to reverse the block/charge modification, scoring declined by 3.79 points per game. That is the steepest single-season drop on record.

As of late, the fretting has spread to the athletic director level, as those ADs look at their attendance figures. All of this looks at the state of the game today and shakes its head sadly at what we've lost.

And it's all nonsense.

College basketball has barely changed

The thing about college basketball is how little it's changed over the past 13 years. Kenpom has data back to 2002 showing an eerily static state of play, with a slight trend towards more efficiency.

Things that actually seem to have a trend are bolded:

Stat 2015 2010 2005 2002
Offensive efficiency 102.1 100.8 101 100.9
Possessions per game 64.8 67.3 67.3 69.5
eFG% 49 48.8 49.3 49.1
TO% 19.1 20.4 21.3 21.5
OREB% 31.1 32.7 33.8 34.1
FTA/FGA 37.1 37.7 36.5 37.6
3PT% 34.3 34.2 34.6 34.5
2PT% 47.8 47.7 48 47.8
FT% 69.2 68.9 68.7 69
Block% 9.6 9.2 8.8 8.5
Steal 9.4 9.8 10.4 10.3
3P/FGA 34.2 32.6 33 32.1
A/FGM 53.1 53.5 55.7 55.2

Shooting has remained shockingly static, as have all the individual components—despite the three point arc moving back slightly during this sample. Offensive efficiency has in fact increased even without the rules changes that a panicked committee instituted two years ago, implemented after a season (2013) in which offensive efficiency was a half-point worse per hundred possessions than it was in 2002.

Only a few things have actually changed: there are fewer turnovers and steals as teams take care of the ball better; there are fewer offensive rebounds as more teams adopt the Wisconsin/Michigan model of preventing transition opportunities at all costs. And there are fewer possessions.

That's it. Games are in fact getting shorter in terms of time spent doing the basketball. Free throw rates remain essentially constant as the denominator shrinks. There are fewer balls flung out of bounds, stopping the clock. Little that happens during the 40 minutes the clock is actually running has changed in 13 years. There are 7% fewer possessions. That is about it.

This holds at all levels. Major conference stats from leagues that had approximately the same membership over the course of these 13 years (ie, not the Big East) show the same broad trends, albeit with the additional jitter inherent in a much smaller sample size. The ACC has plummeted from the country's second-fastest league to #23:

ACC 2015 2010 2005 2002
Offensive efficiency 104.2 100.4 104.9 106.3
Possessions per game 63.3 67.8 70.5 74.2
eFG% 49.1 47 50 51.9
TO% 16.9 20 20.2 20.2
OREB% 31.4 35 35.2 33.7
FTA/FGA 33.8 36.5 38.9 37.7

The Big Ten is less dramatic but similar:

Big Ten 2015 2010 2005 2002
Offensive efficiency 104 102.8 103.2 102.4
Possessions per game 62.3 62.3 62.8 65.1
eFG% 49.3 49.5 50.6 50.9
TO% 17.3 18.9 20.6 21.3
OREB% 30.2 30.8 32.3 32
FTA/FGA 33.4 33 34.4 37

The Big Ten has shown some degradation of shooting as fewer fouls are called and effective field goal percentage slips, but the large decrease in turnovers has offset that.

The Big Twelve has undergone a dip in efficiency…

Big Twelve 2015 2010 2005 2002
Offensive efficiency 102.2 103.9 104.7 105.6
Possessions per game 64.7 69.1 65.4 70.2
eFG% 48 49.4 50.5 50.2
TO% 19 19.2 20.4 19.2
OREB% 33.7 32.6 33.9 34.9
FTA/FGA 39 39.5 36.8 33.5

…but again, we are talking about a league losing approximately one basket per game. Hardly a crisis. The Big Twelve still shows the overall slowdown and hints at the reduction in TOs and OREBs as well.

College basketball is fine when college basketball is being played

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There is no college basketball scoring crisis. There is a college basketball actually-playing-basketball crisis.

It is not particularly surprising that athletic directors will leap at any explanation they can get their hands on to explain ever-slower games and declining attendance, even if that entails flogging a measly 7% decline in the number of shots as the end of basketball. It's not surprising because the alternative is finding the true culprits: the athletic directors themselves.

The athletic directors are the ones signing the contracts that see every timeout, and there are a million timeouts, followed by a commercial. They're the ones who implemented the ridiculous review system that stops play for minutes at a time to not give someone a flagrant foul or arbitrarily decide to overturn or not overturn an out of bounds call that was already pretty arbitrary.

They are the ones responsible for this:

Overall, the last 60 seconds of the 52 [most recent 2014 NCAA tourney] games combined have taken five hours, 44 minutes, and 51 seconds to complete. (That's including the five bonus final minutes from overtime games.) 5:44:51 is 605 percent longer than realtime; the average final minute took 5:57 to finish, with a median of 5:29.

That is insane.

Maybe people were inclined to put up with that when the alternatives were watching Hee-Haw or silently playing chess in a room with one very loud ticking clock. Not so much these days.

The problem is with the product. Fix the product. You might make less money right now, but with a better product you will be better off in the long run. Here's how you fix the product:

  • Coaches must sacrifice a digit to call a timeout. The timeout signal is now a head coach handing one of his freshly snipped fingers or toes to the referee. Until such time as the coach has too few fingers to manipulate the shears, he must snip the fingers off himself. Afterwards his wife or children must.

…what? "Too extreme," you say? "This is barbaric," you say? "I will not condone this sort of behavior in our society,"  you say?

Fine. Fine.

  • Severely reduce the number of timeouts. Ideally this is one, like hockey. More realistically you need to cut them down to three. Timeouts benefit nobody except megalomaniac coaches. They drastically lessen the immediacy of frantic finishes. By allowing teams in the lead to avoid five-second calls, tie-ups, and turnovers after getting trapped they reduce the chances of a trailing team coming back.
  • All remaining timeouts before the last five minutes take the place of media timeouts. The timeout-ten-seconds-of-play-timeout thing is an awful frustration in the middle of the game.
  • Media timeouts are every five minutes, not four.
  • If you want to shorten the shot clock to 30 seconds, okay I guess. I was previously opposed to this since it would lead to more ugly late clock shots from college basketball outfits without guys who are particularly good at isolation, but the stats over the 15 years suggest that basketball could withstand a slight dip in efficiency okay.

You'll give up some money initially, but increased competition for fewer spots will make up some of it—you're still the only live game in town these days—and increased ratings from being less positively insufferable to watch will support the rest. As a side benefit, people will be more inclined to watch your games when they consist largely of game instead of t-shirt cannon.

The game is the same. It is eerily the same. If there's a difference it's in the stuff in between the game.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Finds Yee Baby Yee

Unverified Voracity Finds Yee Baby Yee Comment Count

Brian March 3rd, 2015 at 1:02 PM

Yee baby yee. Jordan Morgan is playing overseas, and has found out that Hardaway and father are chicken spokespersons in Turkey.

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So things are going to go okay for THJ if he ever has to seek asylum in Turkey. People will recognize him and give him succor in the form of chicken for reasons they no longer remember. And then he doesn't have to be on the Knicks anymore!

Speaking of Euro basketball. Hello post incoming?

Depending on who you talk to and when, Wagner's either 6'9" or 6'10" and displays the advanced ball skills typical of euro bigs. He could be a 4 or 5, maybe even a 3 if Michigan rolls a natural 20. Meanwhile check this court out:

That court hosts seventy different sports. Several of them haven't even been invented yet. Also, they emphatically do not call technicals for hanging on the rim in whatever league he's playing.

Beilein visited Wagner in November and Michigan could use a flexible player who could fill in at either of the frontcourt spots. 

And let's check in with the German perspective:

In the first days of pre-season, the heads of coaches full of question marks. Which fragrance brands are the new ones such as the elderly respond? How fit all?

Google translate is getting really good these days.

Flippin. Dang son.

Countess for alumni cheerleader?

It lives. We've addressed Texas's Brandon problem occasionally in this space, usually when referring to the Longhorns' spectacularly tone-deaf, loathsome women's AD Christine Plonsky or branding-means-you-brand true believer Steve Patterson, the AD proper. Patterson has pissed off a lot of people in a manner similar to Michigan's dear departed, though I don't think he's firing off the emails just yet. Chip Brown has talked with the big ballers in Austin and comes back with quotes ominous for Patterson's future:

“It’s clear Steve Patterson is a numbers guy. Well, you can reach all your numbers and have it be a complete failure if you alienate important people along the way,” said one key UT donor who has been left cold by Patterson.

“It’s also how it’s done. This place is too important to too many people for athletics to be run like some cold, bottom-line pro franchise front office. I see a lot of John Mackovic in Patterson. Mackovic tried to tell us how to think and how it was going to be, alienated people, and at the first sight of trouble, he was gone.”

If Charlie Strong doesn't make it, Patterson will be quickly disposed of. Patterson's made the mistake of pissing off the men with money instead of the hoi polloi, who are less easily roused to rebellion.

I wonder why you're failing. I haven't talked much about the local media landscape in a while because we're clearly in the "…and then you win" segment of the process. Teams have their in-house organs, it's difficult to tell some of them from purportedly neutral guys at papers—Vincent Goodwill went from embarrassingly carrying water for Joe Dumars to literally working for the Bulls—and the bleeding has gone from layoffs everywhere to weird infosec campaigns to get guys to resign.

As a result of Goodwill's departure, barely-literate Terry Foster has been thrown back on the Pistons beat. He's taking the idea he should actually work for the paper that's been inexplicably paying him for decades hard:

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He is complaining about an NBA beat that several thousand people in this state would get a tattoo on their forehead for. Jeff Moss has broken a lot of media stories over the past few years and reports that Foster's getting six digits from the News. That's incredible: Foster's contribution there has been the occasional slapdash column his editors have to turn into English. For years.

And they can't just get rid of the guy for some reason. Even if Mitch Albom's contributions to the Free Press consist of Borscht belt jokes so lame his colleagues are calling him out on his terrible columns, at least you can argue that Captain Fun Death Times has a certain cachet with the demographic that still subscribes to a newspaper. Terry Foster? Who does Terry Foster appeal to? Maybe his family, if they haven't read his output in a decade.

A sane organization would have fired Terry Foster years ago.

Gibbons compare and contrast. Rasheed Sulaimon's dismissal from Duke stems from rape allegations that were never followed up on by the alleged victims or the university itself. A  basic timeline:

  • October 2013: student says in a "large group setting" at a diversity retreat that Sulaimon sexually assaulted her.
  • February 2014: at subsequent diversity retreat, a second student asserted the same thing.
  • March 2014: unnamed person affiliated with basketball program (manager? teammate?) brings this information to the team psychologist; from there it goes to the rest of the program.
  • January 2015: intern quits based on finding this out, gets lectured by the designated fireman Duke has, six days later Sulaimon is dismissed for vague failure to live up to program standards.

A couple people have emailed wondering about parallels here. There aren't many. Gibbons was the subject of a complaint that the university evaluated, deciding to expel him. Nobody even went so far as to pursue that remedy at Duke despite the anonymity offered by that process; Duke either put restrictions on Sulaimon that he failed to live up to or panicked and booted him after intern incident made them afraid they were about to have this hit the media. One doesn't reflect on the other.

I can't say much more without running afoul of no polo, but I don't know what the hell a coach is supposed to do in that situation. The only group of people less qualified to adjudicate a sexual assault accusation than university bureaucrats is the coaching fraternity, and with no one pursuing any kind of sanction it seems impossible to boot a guy because some people said some things that no one evaluated.

Michigan's case was much more clear cut, with significant physical evidence addressed by a neutral (or at least an attempt at a neutral) evaluation, and then the subsequent PR incompetence.

It was always such. Analytics has won and is in its hot moment, which means a lot of people who don't know their ass from a properly-deployed regression are prominent. This is more prominent now but nothing new: witness David Berri, PRINCETON(!) economist and crazy person.

Except PRINCETON economist David Berri is not actually that, and apparently never was?

Berri graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a B.A. in economics in 1991, and earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. from Colorado State University. He taught economics at Coe College and California State University-Bakersfield before accepting a position at Southern Utah University in 2008.

No offense to any of those fine institutions, but if this was clear from the start maybe we don't have to deal with the scourge of this guy in the first place. All have the salutary property that anyone hailing from one of their institutions has to actually explain themselves instead of just saying "I'm from PRINCETON."

Etc.: Lawyers talk freshmen ineligibility. Lawyers talk NCAA cartel. FSU fans are not fans of people talkin' 'bout the Noles.

Comments

SEARCHBITS XII: GIL THORP IS A NUTTER

SEARCHBITS XII: GIL THORP IS A NUTTER Comment Count

Brian December 10th, 2014 at 1:18 PM

598561[1]cutcliffe_david025[1]

who are you going to believe, a black and white 1950s comic strip or common sense?

YOU HAVE BEEN OFFERED THE JOB. Michigan is talking to people now. One of those people was David Cutcliffe or his agent, which led wildly inaccurate NFL.com insider Gil "Thorp" Brandt to assert that he had been offered the job and turned it down. What actually happened: Michigan gauged his interest and he said no thanks*. Or nothing at all, but taking public statements from the people involved at face value is never advisable in a coaching search.

If Michigan did contact him, why would Cutcliffe say "no thanks"?  He's 60 and underwent triple-bypass surgery in 2005 that he thought might end his coaching career; Duke was described to me as a "surprise retirement job" for him. Anyone could call him and he would not leave Durham, where he has infinite job security and a level of commitment he can be comfortable with.

What does this say about Michigan's end? They're casting a wide net and poking anyone who looks like a quality college head coach so they have a list of interested people in the event they don't get Harbaugh. Asking after Cutcliffe is a good idea—he's a terrific coach. Or it means nothing at all in the event it didn't happen.

NEXT UP ON LET'S GO NUTS ABOUT A PHONE CALL. Michigan talked to Les Miles's agent yesterday, according to everyone except LSU. (See what I am saying about public statements?) This spawned a WHAT DOES IT MEAN thread on the board that was a little overheated—not that I expected anything else. It's clear that Miles is a guy Michigan should ask about if their policy is "let's talk to good head coaches," even if there remain conflicts between Miles and big chunks of the program alumni.

A call is a call. It means that Miles is not entirely off the list; it doesn't mean much more than that. It has spawned a lot of insiders chattering about how he might be #2 on the list, which would be a shock to me. If so, Hackett is an OG for real. There are a lot of "over my dead body" hurdles to clear there.

An alternate possibility: Hackett made a very public overture to Miles—every newspaper and site had it yesterday, and prominently—in an effort to spur Harbaugh to a decision. That doesn't necessarily mean Miles isn't a legit candidate. The nature of the contact when everything else is murky and disputed is a clear signal to Harbaugh, though.

*HERE IS HOW THIS WORKS. Search firms create a pool of candidates; when they do that they make sure that pool consists of people actually inclined to take the job. A reader who's been involved in these sorts of things details the process:

Anybody who’s been involved in either side of a job search conducted by a search firm knows that the search firm’s job is to create a pool of candidates.  As a potential candidate, you get a call (or, I guess if you are important enough, your agent gets it) from a staffer at the search firm. The person asks you whether you’d be interested in being a candidate. (Sometimes the first question is whether you know anybody who’d be interested and would be a good candidate.) 

You ask about the process - how many people are they contacting?  What’s the timeline?  In my world, to commit to the process, you actually have to do something like write a letter of interest and submit your C.V, and I don’t know if that’s true for coaches.  But you DO have to commit to expending time, energy, and the possibility of disappointment if you say “yes.” 

So from time to time I will get a call about an opening because I’m a plausible candidate, even if it is only to make sure that the firm has fulfilled its duty to create the pool. And in most cases, I’ll make an immediate decision that throwing my hat in the ring isn’t worth it, because the likelihood of getting the job just isn’t worth the physical and psychic costs.

The news story on Cutcliffe in particular struck home that way. He’s a plausible candidate to have in the pool. He’s got a good job. He’s not likely to make the final cut.  He says, “no, thanks, I’m not interested,” not because he wouldn’t like the idea of being the coach at Michigan (just as I wouldn’t mind being the dean at the XYZ Law School), but because he says or thinks, as I do, if Jim Hackett (or the equivalent provost in my case) really wants me, have him give me a call and we can cut to the chase, but I’m not willing just to fill out your NCAA 64 team bracket.”

There, I feel better.

Jeffrey

Michigan is obviously creating this pool in earnest now.

BUT WHAT ABOUT HARBAUGH? I don't think this means much about Harbaugh. It rules out wildly optimistic scenarios in which Harbaugh has already agreed to the job and is going to punch Jed York on the field Sunday before escaping in a block M emblazoned helicopter, giving the stadium an epic double bird while laughing maniacally on his way out.

Michigan is uncertain enough that they're giving themselves a fallback option, or fallback options. This fits with the general belief that Michigan has come after Harbaugh with a very strong offer and hopes he accepts it, but doesn't know.

I've heard conflicting things, but one thing that seems clear is that Harbaugh is 100% honest when he tells the media he is not focused on anything other than his current job. If the 49ers get eliminated from the playoffs things might start moving faster then. Right now Harbaugh is still maniacally focused on something other than where he'll be next year. Frustrating; also why he's a very good coach.

NFL OPENINGS NOT SO OPEN. Despite currently being 5-8 in his second year with the Bears, local opinion holds that Marc Trestman will be back next year. Harbaugh was of course a Bears QB for a long time and an open Chicago job was described as a "problem" a few weeks ago.

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how not to conduct a coaching search
an epic poem in iambic pentameter
by Jeremy Foley

"DISORGANIZED." Bruce Feldman called Michigan's search that while discussing Cutcliffe, and we've heard other media people echo that assertion. For one, I don't think that's knowable. For two, M has been laser-focused on Harbaugh; agree with that approach or not it is a clear goal Michigan is pursuing before exploring other options.

For three, I fail to see why Michigan's search is being held up for ridicule when Nebraska just hired a 62-year-old who's under .500 in the last five years and Florida—Florida!—botched their search so badly that half of the media in a five-state radius descended on their negotiations. Those negotiations fetched a guy with three years of head coaching experience for a seven million dollar buyout. Michigan doesn't have a coach yet, sure. I'd rather have this search than either of those.

PLAN B. Still nothing resembling clarity. Scout's Jamie Newberg reports($) that Jim Mora, Dan Mullen, Bob Stoops, and Butch Jones have all said no thanks; 247's Clint Brewster reports that Mullen and… erk… Bret Bielema could be next options after Harbaugh. He also says Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell is not so much, after Sam named him a person of interest. Nobody knows!

Similarly, opinions on how realistic a Miles candidacy is are all over the place. Brewster says "some people directly tied to NFL and college agents" say it's his to lose(!); Rivals and Scout are far more circumspect—or at least were. Today the chatter is that he's moving up, potentially way up. In this case I place far more trust in the local guys than some agent chatter. But, man.

At least there's this: on GBW's new, insane rumor board Sam noted that Schiano's support comes from his agent and this guy who runs the search firm and his detractors include($) "anyone with coaching experience" still affiliated with M. So we can rule that out, I imagine.

Comments

UNVERIFIED VORACITY IS ALL CAPS

UNVERIFIED VORACITY IS ALL CAPS Comment Count

Brian July 28th, 2014 at 11:05 AM

FIRE EVERYONE! Naw man this ain't relevant to your interests. I but I mean cumong man.

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Cumong woman, I guess. Either way, y'all shouldn't have laid off the common sense editor a couple years back. "Picks Barbour" instead of "Selects Woman" would have fit and passed the "will people be irate on twitter about this?" test.

I WILL LAY A PATH OF DESTRUCTION ACROSS THE LAND. CBS Sports scouts Michigan's upcoming team for the next NFL draft, starting with one Devin Funchess:

He has excellent initial burst off the line to get vertical in a hurry with long, full strides, flashing flexible and easy movement skills rare for a player his size. Funchess tracks well with smooth body control to make natural adjustments on the ball, but has WAY too many drops on his resume and needs to improve his reliability and finishing ability through the catch point. The effort is there for him as a blocker, but his technique needs work as he's often caught off guard with his blocking assignments. Funchess is a mismatch nightmare against linebackers and smaller defensive backs and with improved consistency, he has all the makings of a future first round pick, reminiscent of a younger Jermichael Finley at Texas.

I'm not entirely sure the effort is there as a blocker after watching him opposite Jeremy Gallon, but he should be at least adequate as a wide option. The drops were a bit unfortunate but he's not in the Braylon category, at least not yet, and his ability to reach up and pluck things out of the air with one hand gives him a circus catch upside that few players have.

Also featured are Ryan ("possible top-50 draft pick"), Clark ("One of the more underrated pass rushers for the 2015 class"), Gardner("upper and lower body mechanics are a mess and he often releases while off-balance," thanks Mr. Borges and your hatred of QB coaches), and various others. Special nod to Raymon Taylor for being average at everything:

His size, speed and strength are all considered average, but he has the competitive mentality and awareness needed for the position.

The center of the bell curve, that Raymon Taylor.

OKAY YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION. Patrick Beilein is doing something his old man never did: becoming an assistant coach.

Patrick Beilein is leaving West Virginia Wesleyan to take a job on coach Quin Snyder's staff with the Utah Jazz, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

That is a 29-year-old NBA assistant coach whose dad is John Beilein, just kinda hanging out. At this point it would be an upset if LaVall Jordan didn't get the job when it is time for Beilein to hang it up, but things change and it's nice to have attractive options.

Meanwhile: wait, Quin Snyder is now an NBA coach? Specifically Trey Burke's NBA coach? When do I get a job?

WELL THAT SEEMS REASONABLE. THIS PROBABLY SHOULDN'T BE ALL CAPS. Michigan picked third the East in a poll of 29 media voters that somehow came up with 33 first place votes:

Big Ten East

1. Ohio State, 195 points (23 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State, 180 points (10)
3. Michigan, 136 points
4. Penn State, 105.5 points
5. Maryland, 84 points
6. Indiana, 78.5 points
7. Rutgers, 33 points

That is zero votes that have anything other than Rutgers dead last.

I AM TERRIBLY OLD AND HAVE CHOSEN POORLY. Defensman Kenny Johnson, who I remember wandering around Yost as, like, a zero-year-old, has committed to Michigan. Kenny is of course Jack Johnson's little brother. 

“It wasn’t very hard to make a choice, I’ve always wanted to go there since I was a little kid,” the ’98 birth-year defenseman said. “I went to every game of my brother’s, I was always running around the rink. I guess the hardest part was making the call and going to do it because I couldn’t believe it was real.”

I in fact remember a nine-or-ten year old Kenny wearing a "JMFJ" shirt at the Joe during Jack's sophomore year. I hoped he had no idea why he was wearing that shirt. Now he's KMFJ, which is an amazing abbreviation right there.

Kenny isn't the incredible prospect his brother was—he's more of a stay-at-home guy—but he's no slouch.

While we're talking about hockey recruiting, further evidence that recent commit Mike Pastujov is currently a big deal comes from the recent U15 select camp at which he was named the best forward:

1. Michael Pastujov (#11 Black) 6-0/186 Honeybaked U16 (Michigan) - A strong and powerful skater who committed to the Wolverines along with his brother Nick, a '98, less than a week after the camp ended. He's a flight risk to the OHL, but he's a strong skater who drives the net well. He made plays happen from all over the ice, really dishes the puck well to his linemates and he wins one-on-one battles. He's a complete package offensively.

When you're so far away from matriculating these evaluations are shaky, but there's no better place to start than from the top.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE A TRIP TO BIG RAPIDS. Hockey's released their schedule and it is bizarre. They go to Ferris State to open the season—like before the Canadian exhibition game—and then they have a brutal nonconference road schedule after that test: Lowell, BU, BC, two against Tech. They do get UNH at Yost for what should be an entertaining series.

Unfortunately they again do that bit where they have a ton of home games during the meat of the football schedule and then a massive gap when people really want to go to hockey games. Michigan will go 41 days between home games after a home series against Minnesota on January 10th. The TBA MSU games will be at Munn and the Joe, so the next time you'll have a ticket at Yost is February 21st.

Meanwhile four straight weeks from Friday November 14th to December 5th feature Michigan hockey, and that's after another month-long break, one that features a bye week November 6th and 7th. The planning is not so good. This is the second straight year the second half of the home schedule has been really sparse.

The other thing of note is that there's a bunch of games with "possible" next to them as the Big Ten moves towards Sunday games in an effort to get more of them on the BTN. Hopefully they get that settled before tickets are issued. Moving a game time is one thing; moving entire days is not reasonable.

ENGULFED BY BLACKNESS. A sixth grade girl was at Michigan's football camp, which I guess is cute.

The Detroit News:

Ann Arbor hasn’t seen a burst of speed like this since Denard Robinson wore the Maize and Blue

Ha ha! That's not true.

[reminds self of last year's running game]

Blackness is everything.

[exits slowly]

[fades to nothing made of sadness]

[Death Cab For Cutie writes song about this experience]

lumberg[1]

ENTER THE LUMBERG. Man Dave Brandon I really don't want to talk about you constantly but then you're just like

Organizations that have a strong and healthy culture make sure the guiding principles and aspirational vision are integrated into everything that is done -- hiring decisions, communication, recognition, celebration, and the way they create positive energy.

and I'm just like why don't you speak English like a human does and then you're just like

To further our guiding principle of being a "great place to work," an important -- and descriptive -- Smile Committee was created. The committee's job is to draw on the skills and interests of a broad cross-section of the U-M Athletic Department to create activities of fun and importance.

and I'm just like oh that's because you ceased being a part of our species some time ago and you're now homo executivus. Which is fine and all that but I'm just saying that I would go watch RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE EXECUTIVES in a hot second.

"War or war-related activities integral to our aspirational vision… has or have, depending on which antecedent you prefer in the previous phrase, and by "has or have" I mean 'is occurring in a timeframe consistent with that commonly referred to as "now"'… been initiated after consulting with a diverse array of focus groups, consultants, and best-in-class operational specialists including but not limited to—"

/executive shot in face

That's Oscar stuff right there. Hollywood, get on it.

I mean.

To further our guiding principle of being a "great place to work"

I'M ON THE COMMITTEE FORMING COMMITTEE. Instead of just working with the student government, which did great work surveying students and getting the athletic department to change their seating policy to something they would actually enjoy—#MikeProppeforAD—the athletic department is assembling a student advisory committee. We'll see how that works out; I am skeptical it'll be anything nearly as useful as what the unconnected student government managed last year.

Michigan is also confident they'll get past the 100k attendance number, because they just make those up anyway.

"(Some numbers may) potentially be lower than normal in the past, sure," Lochmann said. "I know there's a lot of eyeballs talking about the 100,000 -- we're not going to go below 100,000."

There could be no one in the stadium except the teams and they would announce 102,309. Ask anyone who was at the '95 Purdue doom-weather game if there were 100k in attendance.

Etc.: Stephen A Smith is just in charge of saying things for no reason. Ray Rice's suspension is ridiculous. Terrell Pryor got five games for tatgate! Rice got two for knocking his wife unconscious. Okay.

In lighter news, Detnews really excited about Alex Cook's tweetin'. Bacon on fireworks fireworks. It's probably not a coincidence that right after fireworks fireworks, Brandon gave an interview to Wojo.

ATTENTION TENNESSEE BIGS: stay away from Rome.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Is Unprecedented

Unverified Voracity Is Unprecedented Comment Count

Brian June 24th, 2014 at 12:23 PM

They said it couldn't be done. As first reported by mgouser Canadian, hockey tickets are actually declining(!) in price this year:

Just got an email informing me that this seasons prices have been reduced. Endzone seats see a 15% drop, sideline 12% and centre ice 10%.
Also I noticed at the bottom of the email that season ticket holders will receive a 20% concession discount before the start of the game (for every home game). This is great news for myself as that's the only time i visit the concession stands (grabbing a bite to eat as I have to rush over right after work).

Wags immediately assert not to click on any links as this email must be written by a Nigerian prince, but no seriously I got it too:

image

I wonder when the last price drop in one of the big three sports happened. I certainly can't remember one, but you have to figure that basketball was walking back prices at some point during the dark period. Ticket demand for hockey must be very soft, what with two years out of the tournament and basketball going like gangbusters.

There's also an assortment of season ticket holder benefits. While none of them are particularly significant, it is a step in the right direction for a department that has basically laughed at the idea of loyalty since Brandon was installed.

Ty Wheatley tribute. Wolverine Historian releases a new version that's five minutes longer because why not:

A sizeable nerve hit. John U Bacon's article about Michigan's season ticket situation was so popular his server imploded under the pressure, and now Yahoo has asked him to consolidate and refine it for their site. I don't think the headline guy did him any favors by invoking "greed", but if you liked the original you'll find plenty to agree with in the sequel. It also gives me the opportunity to pull another money quote, so here goes:

Yes, advertising in the Big House does matter. Americans are bombarded by ads, about 5,000 a day. Michigan Stadium used to be a sanctuary from modern marketing, an urban version of a National Park. Now it's just another stop on the sales train.

Everything the ticket holders spend hundreds of dollars to wait for and pay for, they can get at home for next to nothing – including the ads -- plus better replays. They can only get the marching band at the Big House.

John might be attempting to set a record for "number of times single piece gets emailed to me," and I think he's just about caught that piece about Gibbons that every MSU/OSU troll in the world sent me.

Just when your life was running low on gravel trucks. Mike Barwis has a reality TV series coming up from the Funny or Die guys, who happen to be fanatical Michigan fans. Barwis is a natural for this, of course.

sam02[1]

Well done, Jim. Jim Delany took the stand as an NCAA witness. For the umpteenth time, an NCAA witness went over a bunch of stuff the judge said she wouldn't be considering like the impact on non-revenue sports. Delany also issued more College Is Good statements that make legal analysts rend their garments at their irrelevancy.

That was par for the course. Then Delany firebombed his side's cause:

Delany is tired of athletes being asked to spend all year on voluntary -- read: mandatory -- workouts. He'd like to see athletes get a chance to spend a semester abroad if they chose. He believes they are supposed to be students first. As he said all this, he admitted he remains very much in the minority among the policymakers in college sports on those issues. (Case in point: The schools have recently passed rules allowing football and basketball coaches to spend more time with their players in the offseason.)

That admission from Delany hacked several questions off his cross examination.

The plaintiffs have spent the entire trial trying to prove that in today's NCAA, players are athletes first and students second. The NCAA's attorneys and most of its witnesses have insisted that isn't the case. They say the athletes are students who just happen to play sports. They say allowing football and men's basketball players to sell their name, image and likeness rights would drive a wedge between the athletes and the student body. The plaintiffs contend the wedge was driven long ago and extra money in the pockets of the athletes won't change that. Delany helped them make that case Friday by explaining the reforms he'd like to see that actually would make the players feel more like regular students and then by explaining that they'd get steamrolled if they came up for a vote.

People are just in charge of things, etc.

I only have one problem with Andy Staples's article:

Outside of the Big Ten, Delany is massively unpopular. He continually stood in the way of a college football playoff. He essentially claimed an SEC team beat a Big Ten team for a football national title because the SEC team was faster and dumber. He created a cash cow of a cable network while still banging the drum for amateurism.

He is massively unpopular to Big Ten fans as well after adding Rutgers and Maryland.

Meanwhile, in Emmertland. Staples covers Emmert's testimony:

Emmert discussed the "commercial pressures" to use athletes in a variety of ways. "One has to make sure, in an amateur context, that it doesn't go to a place where the student-athletes are in fact being used as nothing more than shills for a product," Emmert said.

187469351AT00132_ACC_Champi

Staples got a little snarky. I understand. It's hard not to be. As I've noted before, taking the NCAA's model and trying to justify it in a courtroom leads to progressively increasing levels of cognitive dissonance that end with you going ACK and snarking.

Oh no, what would that be like. Upside to the NCAA enforcement department ceasing to exist, from the NCAA's perspective:

Dinosaur hit by Google meteor. It must have been grand to be a sportswriter in the days when the collective memory of your readers was about six months long, tops, an you could just recycle your bits ad nauseum in between three-martini lunches. Unfortunately, these days you can just plug "out of touch sportswriter name" and "topic" and verily, thou art exposed.

So when Dan Shaughnessy wrote a "but I don't want to like soccer" piece that seemed 25 years old, it was quickly discovered that the reason it seemed 25 years old is that it actually was. Deadspin:

Hands are what separate man from beast

June 22, 2014

Soccer takes away our hands. This makes the game incredibly skillful and exhausting, but also robs fans of much of the beauty of sport. Hands and opposable thumbs separate us from creatures of the wild.

June 17, 1994

And what's with the hands? How good can any game be when you can't use your hands? Hands are what separate us from the animal kingdom.

July 5, 1990

Finally, there is the hands problem. Hands and thumbs, that's what separates us from the beasts of the jungle.

I'm terrified that I repeat myself too much when I go on about how punting is evil or the NCAA should keel over and die posthaste, because I came of age shaking my head at dudes like Shaugnessy and Rick Reilly who phoned in the same four columns for 20 years.

I used to be really mad at these guys because they were wasting the greatest job in the world. Nowadays it's more contempt than anger. Y'all are still doing this in 2014?

Hockey scouting. Over The Boards collects a bunch of scouting on college-hockey bound gentlemen, touching on a number of Michigan recruits. Zach Werenski, who may be on campus this fall:

He’s deliberate and doesn’t put himself in situations to fail. He doesn’t pick his battles, he just battles smart. His natural abilities, what he’s worked on, continuing to improve, I think the debate is what part of what he does is going to persist to the pro level, but his being well-rounded I don’t think makes him undefined like some toolsy kids that can’t figure out where they put their skills in the toolbox and when to pull them out, you know? He knows what he can do and plays to it: situational awareness.

2016 D Griffin Luce:

“Luce is arguably the best ’98 defenseman in the country. He has great size at 6’3, 200 and plays with an edge, throwing his body around in the corners and in-front of the net in his own end and is a presence on the offensive blueline. Luce moves very well for his size and age and handles the puck effortlessly with hard, crisp, tape to tape passes up ice. He can run the powerplay and with his reach and hockey IQ is an ideal penalty killer as his head is always on swivel and getting his stick out to take away passing lanes."

Luce is projected as a potential first-rounder. 2015 F Kyle Connor gets a brief mention as a kid who has really come on this year. That is understating it a bit. Connor was second in the USHL in scoring this year, highly unusual for a kid his age, and is one of three 2015-ish recruits at the WJC evaluation camp this year. I know Yost Built has been fretting about whether he'll follow through on his commitment, so hopefully this reassures somewhat:

“Growing up, that was my dream school,” said Connor. “I’m a Michigan football fan and Michigan everything, even my parents are big Michigan fans. When I heard they offered me the scholarship it was a no brainer.”

Saginaw drafted him in the 14th round, and they're not known for swooping in on college commits.

I will also take this opportunity to note that UNO has a kid named "Luc Snuggerud" coming in this year. That has to go high up on the list of most hockey names.

Etc.: EMU to install a gray field, start calling Rynearson "the Factory." "Why isn't EMU I-AA?" you ask, because that's what you always ask about EMU.

USC announces that all revenue sport scholarships will be guaranteed for four years. A collection of early Big Ten odds. Texas's AD is so Brandon, still.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Swings Really Hard At Tee Ball

Unverified Voracity Swings Really Hard At Tee Ball Comment Count

Brian April 29th, 2014 at 2:41 PM

I think it's really happening. Mike Babcock-to-Michigan rumors have just been turned up to 11:

That is quite a statement: "eh, if I don't continue to coach one of the most storied franchises in the NHL I'll just go be Red's assistant." If Michigan sticks to the plan that would be a one-year apprenticeship before the job came open.

Oh really. Paging Captain Renault: Mitch McGary's drug test won't impact his draft stock.

"No, not really, because you know what, probably 70 percent of the league does that (smokes marijuana)," the scout told MLive, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

But what about the spirit of sport, NBA? What about the spirit of sport?

"Appropriate." Matt Hayes walks up to the unionization issue on a tee and takes a Casey-like swing:

So if we’re going to do this; if we’re going to call athletes employees (or whatever you want to call them) and expand benefits and increase their ability to market and make money off themselves, the consequences for violating rules must be swift and appropriate.

Gone are the days where Troy Smith can take $500 from a booster, sit out a bowl game, get reinstated and two years later finish his career by winning the Heisman Trophy.

If you take $500 from a booster now, you lose eligibility. Permanently.

Hayes, prone on the ground, cartoon birds circling his head. The tee, untouched.

The average Troy Smith is still going to get the money, but will not be punished. Ramping up penalties for infractions that 99% of offenders will not get caught for is like throwing people in jail for speeding.

I mean, who cares? Who cares that Troy Smith now has 500 dollars? Level playing field, you say?

BO1kmseCMAAu7kL[1]

Indeed.

Meanwhile:

Gone are the days of second, third and fourth chances as it relates to— take your pick— arrests (and convictions), academic failure, failed drug tests (performance enhancing or recreational), or any behavior that harms a university’s reputation.

Let me just direct you to the quote above about Mitch McGary. Or, you know, society. The society in which those first time arrests and convictions generally result in probation or diversion so that people can have a second chance. If people were held to the standards Matt Hayes is advocating for newly professional-ish college athletes, unemployment would run around 50% and include Matt Hayes.

Let's goooooo. The News profiles now-critical Mark Donnal, collecting the various encouraging quotes about him that have been dropping in the past couple months:

“He’s definitely displayed a couple of specific skill sets,” Alexander said. “Mark is a tremendous passer, both in traffic and on the perimeter. His shooting range makes him a capable and reliable pick-and-pop jump shooter on the perimeter.

“He has a great face-up game in the post. The thing he discovered through added strength is the ability to rebound the ball in traffic.”

With sufficient three-point range to drag posts out to the perimeter, Michigan's post guys are liable to find shotblockers absent when they get by their guys. It'll be interesting to see what happens Walton and LeVert's shooting percentage at the rim when Donnal is out there providing Beilein his first shooting five since his arrival in Ann Arbor. I'm more concerned about his defense and rebounding—by the end there, Jordan Morgan was in beast mode.

Bacari is at least making the right noises about where he's headed:

“The thing that really excites me as his position coach is that nasty edge that he brings to the table, as well.”

He also has an interesting quote about how at Michigan "you are who you can guard," and the offense takes care of itself. Donnal will start at the five—out of necessity now—and has some ability to move out to the four as he "continues to improve his conditioning and lateral quickness." Given the composition of Michigan's roster the next couple years it doesn't seem like he'll be spending much, if any, time at the 4.

How much thing X irritates coaches, officially. Michigan's defensive grading system seems a little out of whack to me:

proxy[1]

Like… forcing a fumble—hit the ballcarrier with enough force to make him drop the ball—is way harder than recovering one—get lucky, fall down. And what counts as a "missed tackle"? Missed tackles come in all shapes and sizes: you can let someone outside of you for a huge gain, which is super super bad, or you can not quite get a guy down but delay him enough that the cavalry rallies to stop him a yard after you would have. I'm guessing that latter probably counts as a tackle and the former gets a CRITICAL ERROR added to it.

Even so, it seems like "missed assignment" is the worst of all possible things. Missed assignments are touchdowns waiting to happen. When I do the UFRs some guy doing something that doesn't make any sense gets a serious downgrade and most of the coach types who have commented seem to agree with that assessment.

But being a coach is always a compromise between what you actually think in your head and what you think is the best way to get 85 guys doing a complicated thing well. See: the entire concept of "coachspeak." Or "Devin Gardner might start."

Just don't advertise it during games. Michigan Stadium is now open for prom:

Michigan Stadium is getting ready for prom season as part of a push to use the home of Wolverines football for more events during the offseason.

About 230 students from Durand High School, about 45 miles northwest of Ann Arbor, will take the field May 10 — the first time the Big House has hosted a prom, The Ann Arbor News reported (http://bit.ly/1mQvHXn ). And Dexter High School's prom is there May 17.

Hooray incremental revenue, as long as incremental revenue is not flogged at my ears during the games. See also: weddings, facebook, twitter, nonrevenue sports.

Everywhere, all the time. Ramzy on Ohio State's version of creating the future is worth your time:

Ohio State does not belong to you. You just happen to work there at this moment - you're stewards for a rich inheritance you're passing along to someone else that no one will ever cash. That's what Ohio State is. You did not build this brand. You can only damage or improve it.

And you should find as many ways as possible to give it away for free. Businesses do this all the time because it gives them a great return and it's terrific exposure for future buyers. Future buyers. This is where we talk about the children who don't have wealthy parents or opportunities to embark on a wallet-crushing fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium.

Also in this genre is a post from Get The Picture, a Georgia blog:

It’s not like money is a problem in Athens.  It’s just that there seems to be little thought to spending it in a way that makes the fan base content.  I think back to the shameful way North Campus was treated before Michael Adams had his hissy fit and essentially shut down the tailgate experience; much of that could have been resolved with better security, more restroom facilities and a reasonable amount of attention paid to trash removal.  None of that is exactly back-breaking from a financial standpoint for a school with Georgia’s resources.  It’s just that no one in a position to improve things could be bothered with it.  And that’s a story you could repeat in many other ways.

Instead, we’re offered enhanced wi-fi, ever more intrusive piped in music and goofy sideshows like yesterday’s mascot abomination as a solution.  But I don’t weigh the prospect of live attendance on the basis of my short-term attention span.  The home experience is about greater comfort and convenience.  I don’t wait to go to the kitchen for a drink, my bathroom smells nice and I can always find a place to park.  This is the lesson I’m afraid McGarity and his AD peers are missing.  I want what I got yesterday – a feeling that the money I’m shelling out is somehow being spent to benefit my experience in a way that gives me what I have at home, while making me feel glad I came.

I also recommend the comments, this one in particular:

UGA AA for so long thought that buying a ticket was the only way to gt a good view. Then 27 inch crt color television gave ay to 60′ HD home theaters and the Butts-Mehre suits haven’t yet figured out how to compete without creating something to sell.

Georgia fans are basically the Michigan fans of the SEC and they're experiencing the same things, albeit with less of a swoon with their football program. The comparison they're making here is to the Masters, which is a fantastic example of an organization successfully creating a culture of otherness that makes it in fact special. While that comes with costs—see women and minority membership—they're holding onto their fanbase because they make it feel good to be a fan. I can't say I remember the last thing Michigan did that was a step in that direction.

That reminds me of a thing I think I failed to relate when it happened: before the Nebraska game this year I was walking to my family's tailgate. As I neared the stadium the jumbotron was showing me the previous week's game… against Michigan State. Devin Gardner got annihilated and intercepted and I was like "feels bad, man."

It was the previous week's Not Michigan Replay, it turned out, and I just thought to myself "is there literally no one in the athletic department with the common sense to not show Michigan fans highlights of a game in which they rushed for –48 yards?" People are just in charge of things for no reason.

The ultimate Pandora's Box question. Oh, man. As scaremongering anti-union/reform questions go, this is the best/worst:

Could boosters treat recruiting like the Wild West?

oh no what would that look like

Etc.: Why the O'Bannon case is a duel to the death. At least everyone hates the way the McGary thing went down. More evidence that Michigan's upper reaches are inappropriately secretive. Jordan Morgan report card. Talking with Ricky Doyle. The Big Ten basketball powerhouse.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Breathes Relief

Unverified Voracity Breathes Relief Comment Count

Brian July 8th, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Minor crisis averted. Butler went with the other guy, not Lavall Jordan. Why is unclear—comfort level I guess since Jordan hasn't been at Butler in a while. And I don't care. Guy who molded Darius Morris and Trey Burke and is going to be a head coach someday soon is still at Michigan. Keep these guys together a couple more years and this thing is established big-time. After that happens I'd actually be in favor of some current assistants heading out to establish themselves an obvious pick when Beilein retires.

Meanwhile, the critical 2014 recruiting class (in which Michigan is actually slugging out high-profile recruitments instead of acquiring stars like Burke, GRIII, and Zak Irvin who were either under the radar or snatched so quickly no one else could get involved) may get a bump from the turnover in Indy.

Butler was widely assumed to be the leader for Indianapolis SF Trevon Bluiett, a top-50-ish player who's been tearing up the AAU circuit this summer. Scout's Brian Snow recently told GBW that he'd be "beyond shocked" if Bluiett didn't end up at Michigan or Butler, and there were a couple of different reports that the Bulldogs had been dropped. Immediately refuted reports

Scout.com, Rivals.com and the Indianapolis Star all reported that Bluiett had not dropped Butler from his list, contrary to reports.

Scout's Sam Webb, citing Bluiett's father -- Reynardo -- said his son had yet to speak with Miller, claiming Butler was still a player for his son.

…but I'd rather be the team that reports are not being refuted about.

I want one. The Michigan version is… uh… Bo punching out a tree? Fielding Yost riding roughshod over the Vatican? Whatever it is, Brady Hoke should get on the phone with Kliff Kingsbury and get an equivalent in Schembechler Hall:

large[1]

BUT DOES IT COME IN VELVET

Now I'm envisioning a whole lineup of offensive murals, Pawnee City Hall style. The possibilities. The possibilities.

(Yes, that's Texas trying to Man Up Crab in the background.)

CAP HIM NOW. Messi's doing some sort of thing where he goes around playing charity matches. The most recent was in Chicago, had a Northwestern alum—their all-time leading scorer—on the other team, and, well:

That guy works in finance now. IE: he is not a professional. He's probably just happy he's not playing with a howling wind coming directly off Lake Michigan.

For health and other such items. Taboos now != taboos then.

HashCutDuo[1]

NUKE URBAN MEYER. I'm a little unclear what's going on with this Aaron Hernandez thing but from what I can make out, Hernandez arrived at Florida straight from an ESPN laboratory in their hometown of Bristol, massive and unformed. After three years at Florida he was a combination of Dexter and Jeffery Dahmer, because Urban Meyer. Therefore Urban Meyer is basically Skynet creating the Terminator and should be bombed from space?

I think I have this straight. It fuzzy, though, because my brain keeps trying to drown itself when it tackles sentences like these:

At Florida, Meyer was the best in the business at winning.

At all costs.

Sadly, though, Aaron Hernandez now stands alongside Tim Tebow as a symbol of his UF program.

At Florida, Tebow was not only a great Gator.

He was Urban Meyer's greatest fumi-Gator.

Can the FCC force Mike Bianchi to change his twitter handle from @BianchiWrites to something that is not a flat-out lie? No? What about the elusive and abstract concept of justice?

If you want a fisk of this abomination, it has been fisked.

On the two for one. Kenpom looks at an array of statistics and concludes that yes, a two-for-one is generally the right move, but I should probably stop shouting "two for one!" at the end of the first half:

The two-for-one is a complicated issue, and it generally doesn’t provide as much benefit as one might think. Like the fouling-up-3 conundrum, if the strategy is executed perfectly, a large benefit is likely. But players aren’t robots, and all of the imperfect acts that can disrupt the strategy eat away at the potential benefit. Assuming the average gain is a fifth of a point, that’s worth slightly less than one percent in terms of win probability at the end of a half. A coach implementing this strategy will win one extra game out of 100 - and that’s out of 100 games where a two-for-one opportunity exists!

I will try to remember to never bring this up again as something that is important. Contrast that effect with the assertion Romer made about going for it on fourth down: you'd win an extra game every other year. Much larger effect there.

Never played the game. As you might imagine, I'm rather sensitive to assertions that you have to have Been In The Arena to comment on sports. This doesn't happen much these days, but a few months I checked my twitter mentions to find a dozen-tweet-long conversation between two BITA meatheads taunting me for not being an athlete and laughing at my assertion that Jordan Kovacs was a better safety than Ernest Shazor. I'm not sure what part of Being In The Arena makes you incapable of watching things and coming to obvious conclusions…

REMEMBER WHEN THIS ISH HAPPENED ALL THE TIME

…but this isn't rocket science, it's just paying attention systematically. Being In The Arena doesn't mean you do that. I mean. Matt Millen.

So yes I found Bill Barnwell's takedown of the player-generated NFL 100 list, which purports to be a ranking of the best guys in the game, delightful:

Only nerds and losers care about statistics, right? If anyone should know about the impact that the league's mauling guards and run-stuffing nose tackles have on the game, it's the guys who play alongside them in the trenches. You win from the lines out!

And yet, somehow, despite there being about three times as many offensive linemen on NFL rosters as there are running backs, there are 12 running backs against just six offensive linemen in the Top 100 Players list. Put it this way: 37.5 percent of the starting running backs in football are considered to be one of the top 100 players in football. That's better than one out of every three. Only 3.75 percent of the starting offensive linemen in football are considered to be one of the top 100 players in football.

That is just one of many, many problems that arise when you ask people unprepared to do something to do it. The Been In The Arena argument is 90% a request to take your thoughtless blather uncritically. NOPE

Etc.: Excellent Bryan Curtis piece on former Michigan baseballer Mike Cervenak, who is in his 15th year(!) in the minors with Toledo. Michigan voted the best uniforms in the Big Ten, which duh. Presumably this is a ranking of the actual uniforms, not the ghost unis from the bowl game. Burke in Utah, is betting favorite to be Rookie of the Year.

Meanwhile in Joe Dumars, signs power forward who can't shoot to play small forward, duplicating strengths, ignoring weaknesses, and setting the Pistons up as—at best—an easy first-round victim. DBB's Mike Payne brings a flamethrower; do not get him mad at you.

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