Looking Internally In The Aftermath Of MSU

Looking Internally In The Aftermath Of MSU

Submitted by Brian on January 31st, 2018 at 2:12 PM

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i quit

In the wake of... all that at Michigan State I thought it might be apropos to survey Michigan's own house, looking for warning signs. In part this is because I think there is a major one. To me, there are four major components that lead to something as callous as Michigan State's athletic department: a commitment to secrecy, an incestuous power structure, leaders who don't care about anything but the bottom line, and the ability to subvert outside checks on your behavior.

Point by point:

Pattern of DGAF discipline because you only care about the bottom line

Brandon Graham : Glenn Winston :: Winston : EL citizens

Mark Dantonio established a long time ago that he more or less doesn't care if you, football player, do something bad. Delton Williams pulled a gun in a road rage incident and served jail time. He was immediately reinstated. MacGarrett Kings was arrested for "super drunk" DUI and got a zero game suspension. MacGarrett Kings was arrested for kicking a parking enforcement truck and resisting arrest, still got a zero game suspension. Glenn Winston broke a hockey player's jaw with a sucker punch, served six months in jail, and was immediately reinstated. LJ Scott was arrested seven times for driving on a suspended license without reaction. Auston Robertson was admitted as a recruit after multiple high school assaults, one sexual, and proceeded to commit a sexual assault while in college. He didn't so much leave the team as go on the lam.  Chris L Rucker was jailed for eight days during the 2010 season after a DUI violated his probation and played the weekend after his release.

And, of course, there was that probation. Rucker was on probation because even the Ingham County prosecutor's office—about which more in a second—couldn't make surveillance tape from a dorm brawl go away. That brawl was spearheaded by one Glenn Winston:

The fight took place during a potluck function sponsored by the Iota Phi Theta fraternity, hours after Michigan State's team banquet. Winston reportedly had been in an altercation the previous night at a party thrown by the same fraternity at an East Lansing nightspot. An unnamed Michigan State player was charged with public urination and possession of alcohol by a minor outside the Small Planet nightclub.

Dell's father told the Detroit Free Press that Winston informed his teammates about the altercation, and they agreed to follow him to the potluck the next night.

Winston was finally removed from the team, as well as one other of the twenty Michigan State players who decided it would be a good idea to rumble with the Jets.

It was only last year that the 16 sexual assaults Dantonio has overseen during his time at Michigan State were public enough, and the outside heat turned up enough, that Donnie Corley, Josh King, and Demetric Vance were probed, arrested, and booted. Even there Dantonio's hands were tied by the fact that their prison sentences are likely to extend past their eligibility.

Tom Izzo, meanwhile, kept Keith Appling, a man local police wanted to charge for rape, on the team for four years. He was not even suspended.

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i know what this press conference isn't about [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

So. There's that. Michigan does not show the same proclivities, mostly. We have no idea what John Beilein's discipline policy is like because—except for Mitch McGary testing positive for pot at the NCAA tournament—literally none of his players have ever been in trouble. Laval Lucas-Perry was dismissed for violating team rules but there appears to be no legal reason.

Under Harbaugh, the only thing approximating lax discipline has been Grant Perry's three-game suspension in the aftermath of an incident outside an East Lansing bar. That resulted in probation and a diversionary plea deal; it cost Perry a quarter of a season. Other incidents under Harbaugh have been met with summary execution. C'sonte York, Logan Tuley-Tillman, and Nate Johnson were all immediately booted for incidents that would have been met with zero game suspensions from Dantonio.

I mean this literally. York sucker punched a guy, which is the same offense Winston committed minus the broken jaw and six months in jail. Tuley-Tillman was convicted of taping consensual sex and sending it from her phone to his; his conviction was also diverted. Nate Johnson was sentenced to four days in jail and probation for a domestic violence incident. That number of days in jail doesn't even warrant a weekend suspension at MSU.

Pre-Harbaugh Michigan did have Brendan Gibbons. Gibbons was not charged as a freshman when his incident occurred, but he should have been booted anyway. "Woman you have sex with does rape kit immediately afterwards" isn't a convictable offense in the court of law but should be disqualifying for a Michigan athlete.

More disturbing is Taylor Lewan's behavior in the aftermath. For the record, Lewan denies that he said this:

The alleged victim also accused Lewan, a longtime teammate of Gibbons with the Wolverines, of then threatening her if she pursued charges -- "I'm going to rape her because, [Gibbons] didn't."

I don't believe him. I don't believe him because there is a UM police report on the incident with a specific and believable account of this interaction. Maybe the exact phrasing involved is incorrect but the overall thrust of the interaction is clear: an attempt to intimidate this woman. That should have gotten him suspended, but it's clear from the way the Gibbons situation played out that Brady Hoke was a neanderthal in this department.

That had to change. External indicators seem to indicate that it has. For what it's worth, the whisper network had outed Gibbons just as thoroughly as it had outed Keith Appling and Adriean Payne before ESPN finally put their names and acts into print, and I haven't heard anything similar since.

Subversion of local prosecutor's office

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lax MSU discipline did not help Keith Appling in the long run

The East Lansing police department recommended prosecution for Keith Appling and Adriean Payne after Payne essentially confessed in a police interview. No charges were brought for an astounding quid pro quo:

Schaner says campus police investigators told her that, because of Payne's police interview, they had a solid case to pursue. Once the case was forwarded from police to Ingham County prosecutors, Schaner was interviewed by an assistant prosecutor, Debra Rousseau Martinez. Schaner says Martinez told her she did not seem strong enough to stand up to questioning that would come as a result of making allegations against MSU basketball players.

No charges were filed in the case. The assistant prosecutor, Martinez, now works for Michigan State's Title IX office. She declined to comment on Schaner's case.

Meanwhile the Ingham County DA for the large majority of the timeframe covered here was Stuart Dunnings III, who eventually went to jail for a bundle of charges including soliciting prostitutes and, more relevant for this post, subverting the justice system repeatedly when favored people were caught up in it. Just a couple of the litany of offenses:

In August 2012, charges were inexplicably dropped in a drug paraphernalia case. When an investigator interviewed the person who dropped the charges — likely an assistant prosecutor, whose identity was redacted from the report — the person told the detective she doesn’t know why she dismissed the case and “she would’ve documented if someone had contacted her requesting she dismiss the charges.”

In November 2013, a woman arrested on a domestic violence charge claimed to know Dunnings personally and said she should be released immediately, a jail staffer told investigators. Dunnings called the jail and said he wanted the woman released into his custody. Though “the staff thought it strange that the prosecutor was getting personally involved in this case,” investigators found at least eight women had been released from the jail in 2015 “at the request of the prosecutor or the prosecutor’s office.” The Sheriff’s Office oversees the jail.

If Dunnings was willing to spring prostitutes from jail because he knew them, a call from Izzo or Dantonio only has one outcome. The woman assaulted by Travis Walton, who picked up a bizarre littering charge instead of the original assault charge, states the obvious:

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If Grant Perry played for MSU he would have gotten a littering charge, because it's hard to tell whether the Ingham County prosectuor's office is more incompetent or corrupt. This is Dunnings's replacement:

“You put all of these together after what we now know and they look like flags, but at the time … (it) was inappropriate, but did it rise to the level of knowledge of a criminal activity? No,” said Whitmer, who was appointed to serve the last six months of Dunnings’ term. She noted in a Friday interview that she was not privy to the investigation during her review of the prosecutor’s office.

This is a dude in jail.

Wriggelsworth said Friday that it wasn’t until this investigation that his office had anything solid — or even wrote an official report.

But the prosecutor’s activities were so widely known, in fact, that an inmate laughed when he saw Dunnings being led down a hall in the county jail in cuffs in March.

“Everyone knows” Dunnings had been involved with prostitutes “for years,” the inmate said, according to the records. “Damn, the man finally got caught up.”

Either the dude in jail is the smartest guy in the building or the cover your ass attitude didn't end with Dunnings.

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This does not appear to be the case in Ann Arbor. Even if Nate Johnson and Logan Tuley-Tillman aren't the best examples because both had been booted from the team as soon as their offenses had become known, they were still charged appropriately. Going a bit further back in time, Will Campbell was charged with a felony for this extremely unwise hijink:

Michigan senior defensive tackle Will Campbell is facing one felony and one misdemeanor charge of malicious destruction of property stemming from an April 7 incident, according to court records. ...

According to Ann Arbor police, Campbell was arrested after attempting to slide across the hood of a vehicle at 2 a.m. on April 7 in the 600 block of Church Street. An officer in the area could hear the sheet metal on the hood of the car buckle under Campbell’s weight — he’s listed at 322 pounds — and arrested the senior, police stated.

Campbell was intoxicated, according to police.

He pled down to a misdemeanor and paid restitution, as is appropriate for a first-time offender. He was certainly not undercharged initially. Meanwhile the main accusation leveled at Michigan's Title IX department recently is that they railroaded Drew Sterrett, a non-athlete whose preposterous expulsion was rightfully overturned in court. It is unlikely to be a haven for disgraceful ex-prosecutors who shuffled rape charges under the table in order to do Joel Ferguson a solid.

The nature of these kinds of issues is that they get shuffled under the carpet for years until someone ferrets them out, so that's not definitive, and unfortunately...

Terrible FOIA Office

ESPN had to sue MSU multiple times to get unredacted versions of the documents they requested, and was infamously sued by MSU because of this conundrum:

MSU argues in a court filing that it has been put in an "impossible position" because Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon's office asked the university to withhold the records and ESPN asked for them to be released.

That's not at all how FOIA works, but ESPN had to take that case all the way to the state supreme court before they could proceed. MSU's FOIA office was in full thrall to their university-wide omerta policy. Any FOIA office that acts similarly should put its university under similar suspicion.

Requesting Jim Harbaugh's very boring expense reports took Deadspin "months of back and forth," and this Daily article still remains the gold standard for FOIA office comparisons. Michigan's office is WORSE THAN MSU's, which is the second worst in all the land:

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This is probably something that goes back to a state law that needs to be changed, but Michigan taking fuller advantage of it than the sexual assault enablers in East Lansing is unacceptable.

As someone with some experience with the FOIA office I can tell you that Michigan had a policy under Dave Brandon (and may still have it under Warde Manuel) where athletic department emails were purposefully and systematically deleted after a certain period of time to remove them from FOIA. This meant the infamous "find a new team" email returned no responses when people suspicious it was a fake asked for it. I meant that whenever I tried to get all emails from Dave Brandon over a month long period there were no matching results.

The FOIA office also always, always, always replies that they will not be able to get to your request in the five business days mandated by state law and will use the ten day extension, whereupon they use the full three weeks before responding.

This is a statewide problem and should be rectified by:

  • Making FOIA requests free short of purposefully vexing ones.
  • Making "deleted" emails subject to FOIA; there is absolutely no excuse for Michigan's behavior in this regard.
  • Establishing certain things as outside the bounds of FERPA, like names on police reports.

Michigan, meanwhile, should take these steps independently. Because right now their FOIA office looks a lot like one set up to shield sexual assault.

Incestuous power structure

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clowns

Lou Anna Simon had never worked anywhere other than Michigan State. The Michigan State board of trustees is a collection of blatantly unqualified mandarins that in other circumstances would qualify as hilarious. It contains:

  • An 83-year old former football coach whose tenure ended when years of steroid abuse in his program came to light. George Perles denied any knowledge of such a thing.
  • Joel Ferguson, whose own words are sufficiently damning. If you need more, racketeering charges and straight up admitting that he's buying off the mayor of East Lansing.
  • Mitch Lyons, former MSU football player, who publicly outed Auston Robertson's accuser Robertson as the Corley-Vance-King whistleblower and was recently charged with assault. Lyons at least was the first to flip on Simon.
  • Brian Breslin, who is the son of the guy their basketball arena is named after.
  • Brian Mosallam, another former MSU football player. Mosallam at least seems to realize they screwed up massively.

Miraculously, the other three people are not obviously beholden to the MSU athletic department—their actions only imply it. Their unanimous appointment of John Engler to replace Simon...

...is a ridiculous, we-learned-nothing slap in the face.

Michigan had one notable misstep here that you undoubtedly remember: appointing Dave Brandon athletic director despite his extreme narcissism and total lack of experience in athletic department administration. Outside of that Michigan looks outside itself for top end hires. Mark Schlissel came from Brown, Mary Sue Coleman from Iowa, Lee Bollinger from Dartmouth (though he was faculty at M for a long time prior). The most recent president to move up the ranks from inside the university was James Duderstadt in 1988. Critically, no Michigan alum has been president at the university since 1951. An Ohio State grad has been president more recently than that.

Amongst the board of regents many care about Michigan athletics but there's only one person clearly indebted to it: Ron Weiser, who was endorsed by "Sarah" Harbaugh prior to the most recent board of regents election. There are no former football players or coaches.

Unfortunately, Michigan does display some signs of dysfunction at high levels. "Supplemental" pay has been rising dramatically in recent years, in an apparent effort—again—to skirt FOIA laws:

As a public university, U-M is required by state law to disclose annual salary reports. In those reports, U-M discloses base salary. Yet faculty say base pay is only part of the story, and that in disclosing full-pay U-M will increase accountability.

A group of about a dozen faculty members published an open letter to regents in April, suggesting that faculty pay has been increasing modestly in the last decade, while administrator pay at the school has increased substantially, both through hikes in base salaries and through supplemental pay.

"It shows this disparity [in pay] is growing," Dario Gaggio, a history professor at U-M who co-authored the letter, said of the supplemental pay data. "The higher up you go in the hierarchy, the faster the compensations grow."

He added: "I think the whole system really is in need of a general review."

The University in general shows little to no resistance to the increasing disparities between rank and file pay and executive pay that plague every industry in the country but are especially grating in a non-profit, public-interest enterprise like a public university. And they go out of their way to disguise that. From such small mendacities greater things can spawn.

Michigan, in general, must become more open. Open about compensation, compliant with the spirit of FOIA, not the mere letter. After all:

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"A sign of high integrity is not [being] worried about being FOIA'd"

Unverified Voracity Remembers Cajun Brady Hoke

Unverified Voracity Remembers Cajun Brady Hoke

Submitted by Brian on June 20th, 2017 at 2:42 PM

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[Bryan Fuller]

Naturally. If Harbaugh can't do camps he's going to do something:

Jim Harbaugh takes on clerk role in Genesee Probate Court

This will result in lawyers dorkin' out:

Flint Attorney Rick Hetherington, who appeared on a child support motion, on the way out asked: "Excuse me judge, but for clarification, I was wondering ... who has it better than us?"

Before the judge could respond, Harbaugh replied,

"I know the answer to that...Nobody!"

There's a 50% chance that guy has a username.

On the Go Blue Guarantee. Michigan has declared that instate students with family incomes of less than 65k a year will no longer pay tuition. This is a good thing. Maybe it's less of a "whoah" moment than it first appears since Michigan was already paying the bulk of costs for students in this income bracket, but taking it to zero means something. It also drops out a bunch of paperwork:

"The 'Go Blue Guarantee' cuts through the complexities of financial aid to help us reach talented students from all communities in our state. I have always believed that talent is ubiquitous in our society, but opportunity most certainly is not. The 'Go Blue Guarantee' helps us ensure wider opportunity."

I have Read The Comments on this, unfortunately, and one of the most common attempted gotchas is weeping for the family making 66k. They're not exactly boned by this move:

Tuition slides up gradually as income increases. As it would in any non-insane system. Concerns about families making twice the state median having problems shouldering their burden should be mitigated by the existence of 529 plans, which allow folks who have money to invest—ie, 120k-per-year households—to grow that money tax-free. You have to have a plan, but you can afford to have one at that point.

As state appropriations have shrunk as a portion of Michigan's budget, Michigan has responded by continually increasing costs for the wealthy. They've also tried to up their appeal to that segment of the population. If anything it's worked too well; Michigan's ability to enroll lower-income students has fallen off a cliff. This will help. It is unlikely to have a huge impact since ability to meet admissions standards is highly correlated with family income.

There's not much of a sports angle here unless Michigan starts covering large chunks of living costs as well. Those are estimated at about 15k annually and are covered by an athletic scholarship elsewhere. Since the sort of families covered by the guarantee are also the ones for whom 15k is a huge deal, this does not get Michigan a bunch of free scholarships for instate kids. If Michigan manages to extend this to room and board, then you might see a notably improved class of walk-on. Until then hold your birdman dot gifs about gaming the system.

Athletic budget notes. Michigan continues to live in the black after late Brandon shenanigans, projecting a two million dollar surplus this year. Athletic department budgets being what they are, a tiny profit is all that will ever be allowed. This helps schools cry poor when amateurism is questioned. Michigan can't quite disguise why a good year for the AD is always a 1% profit margin, because the way they make this happen is a PR boon:

Included in the department's projections is an increase in transfers to the university from $3.825 million in FY17 to $7.875 million in FY18.

Does the athletic department need to double the amount of money they transfer back to the general fund? No. Does the general fund need a four million dollar drop in a swimming pool of funding? No.

Michigan's also setting aside four million dollars into its deferred maintenance fund. They need to do this for major renovations—they cannot soak taxpayers by issuing bonds like pro teams—but that is also money that exits that they expensed away with some handwaving. Michigan expects to make at least 14 million dollars profit in 17-18.

That's due in no small part to this:

Conference distributions are projected to increase to $51.1 million in FY18 from $36.3 million in FY17 due mostly to a new conference media rights agreement.

You might be able to pay the players now instead of coming up with increasingly transparent ways of laundering the money.

Get hype for Gary. Peppers kind of talk about Mr. Gary from Don Brown:

Brown was asked Saturday after Michigan’s high school football camps how good Gary, a defensive end, can be.

“Best I’ve ever seen,” Brown said. “Best I’ve ever seen combining speed, strength, change of direction, and the mental curve. He’s unbelievable. The sky is the limit.

“The good thing is I think he understands that there’s a lot on his shoulders.”

It is rare to hear that kind of thing from a coach, and it portends good things.

Other minor roster notes from recent coach availabilities: Grant Perry won't play until his court issue is resolved and Grant Newsome is still expected to redshirt.

It's a contract. The NCPA, an NCAA union with the minor problem of not having any officially-designated employees to unionize, is doing what it can in the current regulatory environment. They've introduced a binding contract that they say is kosher with the NCAA that covers various aspects of the player-school relationship not covered by the LOI. Highlights:

According to the contract document obtained by CBS Sports, the CAP Agreement can be used instead of the National Letter of Intent or with the NLI. Either way, it would cover several areas the letter of intent doesn't. …

A school could be bound to an all-encompassing transfer release for a prospect before enrollment. The document asks if an institution "agrees"  or "does not agree" "to comply with any request for transfer" and "to not restrict the ability" of a player to transfer to any other school. …

A school could not "cancel, reduce or fail to renew financial aid … due to injury or athletic performance." …

A player could negotiate the cost of a remaining scholarship to complete a degree at some point in the future should he/she leave early for a professional draft.

These things rarely get off the ground, unfortunately. High level players are deciding between competing under-the-table offers that supersede the relatively minor concerns this contract can cover, especially in basketball.

(Also, since I just rolled my eyes at Dennis Dodd I should point out that this is a good and interesting piece he got first.)

Da Coach D. I forgot that LSU hired Cajun Brady Hoke after running Les Miles out of town, and have been momentarily boggled by this once again. LSU has all the money in the world, and they hired an interim coach whose previous experience was crashing and burning at Ole Miss. Anyway, Orgeron is using the NCAA's new camp rules to shut the rest of the country out of Louisiana. Michigan canceled a scheduled camp of their own, but that pales in comparison to the hoops Texas has been trying to jump through:

This marks the third announced camp in Louisiana that Texas was scheduled to take part in. And it’s the third camp that LSU has worked hard behind the scenes to prevent from happening. In a phone interview earlier on Tuesday, the local high school coach who initially helped facilitate the field for the Baton Rouge camp expressed pessimism about it happening. “We're in LSU's backyard,” said Mike Roach, the coach at Madison Prep in Baton Rouge and the father of Texas player Malcolm Roach. “Louisiana home cooking may have played a part in it.”​ Roach, who initially tried to help facilitate the camp, declined to go into details on what LSU may have done to attempt to prevent the camp from being held at Memorial Stadium. But his comments proved to be prescient.

After camps affiliated with Texas got canceled at Louisiana College and Southeastern Louisiana in the past few weeks, Mumme acknowledged on Tuesday afternoon there was still a chance LSU or political officials in the state would attempt to thwart Texas’s presence. “Oh yeah,” Mumme said. “But it’s only a day away now. I don’t think there’s a lot they can do. The only thing that can kill it is if it rains.”

He was wrong.

A silly waste of time on their part, and one that does nothing to help anyone. It sucks most of all for the mid-level kids who might catch on at Cornell or Belhaven or wherever if they can just get in front of some coaches; top-level guys don't need and rarely work out at these satellite camps.

But Orgeron's mostly notable for being unintelligible, so that fits.

Somebody did it for me. Many thanks to the Crimson Quarry, which donned its fisking hat in response to this:

This saves me a couple hours of brow-furrowed typing. For real:

[Politi:] Big Ten rival Michigan

[CQ]: Ahh of course, that famous Rutger rival Michigan, against whom the games are always close.

This is a thing a person said and was paid for.

I do have assorted comments about the Rutgers thing three years in that will not reference the Politi column:

  • The huge uptick in dough raked in by the league is approximately zero percent Rutgers's doing. Rutgers was useful to Delany as he attempted to expand the Big Ten Network's footprint. The 15-million-dollar uplift this year is because of the Big Ten's new national contracts with FOX and ESPN. The Michigan-OSU game, which is on FOX for the first time this year, is a bigger reason for the uplift than every game Rutgers plays in every sport.
  • Rutgers is probably worth it in this brief window when they don't get a a full share and cable cutting has not been epidemic, which is all Jim Delany cares about since he's old and will never have any legacy other than dollar bills.
  • We should kick Rutgers out the instant they're supposed to get a full share.

Matt Brown addresses the elephant in the room for fans: we get zilch from the Big Ten's constant dollar chasing. We get less than that.

Does the difference between $51 million in conference payouts and $43 million in conference payouts change the fan experience, or even the trajectory of football or basketball programs in a meaningful way? It’s very hard to argue it does, especially if you’re a fan of an already rich program, like say, Ohio State.

Nobody gets a bowl invitation because they got the biggest conference check. There is no trophy for it. It’s a meaningless thing to brag about.

But the addition of Rutgers does impact the fan experience and day to day performance of football and basketball programs. It means fewer games between traditional opponents for your favorite teams. It means an RPI anchor in basketball and baseball. It means an expensive road trip. And it means a lot of unwatchable games.

Again, we should kick 'em out in three years just for the fun of it.

Oh okay. Sympathy for John Calipari is still reading zero:

"They need more inventory for their own network so you just play more league games and then you have more inventory for your network to put on," Calipari said via teleconference Tuesday. "Hopefully in our case in this league (the Southeastern Conference) we stay where we are and if we don't, we'll make it work."

"What you do is, you take away some of those kind of games that have been good to us," Calipari said. "North Carolina, for example: If they go to 20 games we won't have any more series with North Carolina, so I'm not for it."

Calipari cancelled the UK-Indiana rivalry because Indiana refused to play at a neutral site. He can pound rocks.

Some hockey recruiting stuff. Bob MacKenzie's annual poll of NHL scouts and GMs in the run-up to the draft is out. Incoming freshman Josh Norris is a late first round pick at #23; rising sophomore Luke Martin is #69, nicely slotted into the early third round. Michigan also picked up its first new commit of the Pearson era when Phillipe Lapointe jumped on board a couple days ago. Phillipe is former Red Wing Martin Lapointe's son

Etc.: Muckalt hire official. Hooray for (potential) (slight) changes in municipal bonds that would (hypothetically) make it tougher for billionaires to get public money for stadiums. All hail the double team.  Second string OSU TE out for season.

Oklahoma State's mascot is stranger than fiction. As college and NFL OL play diverges, busts become more common. Should be sent to all linemen considering M. Paris, London, and Normandy Beach on the docket next year. Obamas invited to be honorary captains. DJ made a good decision.

Mary Stewart, The Michigan Difference

Mary Stewart, The Michigan Difference

Submitted by Ace on July 10th, 2015 at 3:01 PM

Mike Hart sidled through the narrow wooden door frame of Room 1310. As I sat at the front desk trying not to make any sudden, embarrassing movements, he made a beeline for Mary Stewart's office, like so many others who passed through Event Services at the Michigan Union.

Moments later, I sheepishly tried to hide my glee and the lingering sting from Hart's handshake as Mary introduced us and told him about my blog, playing me up like a big-shot writer instead of some underclassman with a blogspot page read by dozens. Hart left for practice after a quick chat. When he did, Mary put forth a standing offer: if I needed anything from Mike, just ask her.

It was the summer of 2007. I was heading into my sophomore year at Michigan and my second working as a receptionist in the Events Services office. Hart had just made the cover of Sports Illustrated. To me, we lived in two different planes of existence, even if we occupied the same campus. To Mary, we were equals, two more people she'd help in whatever way she could.

My brother's birthday and that of one of my closest friends fall on the same day in November. They're both big Michigan fans and huge fans of Hart, so as the date approached I purchased a couple souvenir footballs from the store in the Union basement; I wrote my brother's and friend's names on a piece of scrap paper and put the package in Mary's office; she promised she'd have Hart inscribe a message to each the next time he dropped by.

At my next shift, Mary called me into her office. She had the footballs with Hart's signature, but she also had a question for me. Mike had received two jumbo-sized posterboard copies of his SI cover, she said, and he didn't know what to do with the second—would I, perhaps, want it? I didn't know what to say. I'm pretty sure I managed to garble through a "yes, please" and several "thank you"s before floating back to my desk. The next week, she handed me the poster, personalized to me from Mike. I smuggled it back to my apartment like a priceless piece of stolen artwork.

To this day, that cover is framed in my home office.

Today, Mary retires after 42 years working at Michigan, and mine was but one of hundreds, if not thousands of lives she affected in her relentlessly positive, caring, supportive way during her time here; if you don't believe me, just read the many testimonials in Rod Beard's profile of Mary at the Detroit News. (Read that regardless, please.) In my three years at the Union, Mary was my unofficial counselor, a role she served for so many students over the years, including a long list of athletes.

When I needed someone to talk to about anything, I headed straight for the extra chair in her office, if it weren't already occupied by one of her many visitors. When my brother, whom she'd never met, needed some extra money one summer, she hooked him up with a job at the Art Fair. My mother heard so much about her that she insisted on coming in to work with me one day to meet her; she still asks about Mary, and vice versa. She took me to a football luncheon so I could meet Rich Rodriguez and have him sign my hat. Even after I was fired from that job for calling in sick too many times, I still dropped by Room 1310, and every time I did I felt like I needed to come back more often.

During my first year or so at the Union, I watched in wonder as football players past and present walked by my desk and sat down at hers. The hat with Rodriguez's signature stayed in her office, collecting a hodgepodge of signatures: Jamar Adams, Ryan Mundy, Zia Combs, Chris Perry.

Before too long, though, my wonder focused less on the players than Mary herself. For a while, I wondered how she managed to do her job of coordinating events in the Union—a day didn't go by without at least a couple visitors—until I realized that many of the connections she made came from going above and beyond the call of duty to help out student groups, especially those for black students. If you passed through Mary's office, she became a part of your life, and there was no better testament to that than her office walls, so filled with pictures and letters from those she'd touched that one felt only the love that bound them all together prevented the walls from collapse.

Simply by coming into contact with Mary, I'm a kinder, more thoughtful person, and I know I'm not alone in feeling that way. What she brought to the University, the way she connected with people with no more common ground than the school they attended, is why I feel such a powerful bond with Michigan and the athletic department in a way I'll never feel about the Lions, Red Wings, Pistons, or Tigers.

When someone asks me about The Michigan Difference, I say Mary Stewart is The Michigan Difference. While Michigan will miss Mary dearly, her legacy will live on; in honor of her four decades of incredible work, two alums have created the Mary Stewart Scholarship Fund. I can't think of a better tribute.

Thank you so much for being you, Mary, and congratulations on your retirement. I promise I'll be in touch soon.

Unverified Voracity Is Putting Hockey In Arizona

Unverified Voracity Is Putting Hockey In Arizona

Submitted by Brian on November 19th, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Does anyone ever check anything? No? Okay. This exists.

Michigan needs to have a twitter feed in which they ask everyone if this thing they're about to do is a bad idea.

Speaking of things that exist without being checked that should not exist. Oh man the takes coming out of the Free Press after Frank Clark's dismissal are super super hot:

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The Free Press must have a logic puzzle as part of their hiring process. Anyone who figures it out fails.

This, by the way, this is a great example of the pointless moralizing I was talking about. Seidel doesn't give damn about whether Michigan officially dismissed Clark on Sunday or Monday, he's just complaining to show off how impressively ethical he is. Barry Petchesky just had an excellent piece on how the NFL is using Adrian Peterson to repair The Brand:

3. This is a pure PR play on the part of the NFL, and it's almost too cynical to be believed. The league had been reeling from widespread criticism of its eagerness to co-opt the legal process and its inability to sensitively or sensibly handle morality. Peterson—a black-and-white villain—was a blessing. Maybe a bad man, maybe a man who did bad things, he's a relatively uncomplicated figure, and the NFL was thrilled to have someone to position itself against. The NFL clambered over Peterson to regain the moral high ground it never actually deserved, and is using that platform to shout out, "We are strongly against the beating of children." This is the safest and most defensible position in the world. What we're seeing is the return of the soldiers-and-puppies-and-Pinktober NFL, barely months after the Ray Rice fiasco exposed that as a thin facade. There has been no meaningful change. The league is still beyond reproach, because it cares about the children.

Seidel roundly condemns domestic violence to create the appearance he's a rad dude; the only person served by his column is himself.

Fan appreciation day. At least they're trying. Michigan's announced a bunch of minor fan perks for the Maryland game, including some concession concessions and apparel discounts for season ticket holders. They're also allowing field access. That access is slated to start 30-45 minutes after a 3:30 game that looks likely to feature freezing rain—ain't nobody staying for that.

We've got photos of other stuff. We've been branching out our photos into non-revenue sports. Here's a SOON shot from volleyball's outing against Minnesota:

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[Bill Rapai]

Rapai also shot a WBB game; Marc-Gregor Campredon shot men's and women's soccer.

As always, mgoblog photos are Creative Commons licensed so you can use them. Just credit the photographer and link back.

Exit Will Muschamp. Florida axed him yesterday, and man the parallels here are eerie: Muschamp had a weird, horseshoe-flavored 11-2 year (his second; Hoke's first) before seemingly excellent recruiting collapsed in a pile of offensive ineptitude too intense to be believed. QBs in Gainesville and Ann Arbor disintegrated into quivering interception machines before our eyes; the defenses generally stood tall despite extremely adverse conditions; both teams mutated football never-before-seen piles of suck, despair, and hilarity.

Today they had a press conference in which Muschamp handled himself ably and everyone swore up and down he was the best dude. Earlier this year Spencer and I had an IM conversation about swapping coaches, and it turns out that's beside the point: Muschamp and Hoke are the same dude.

Spencer eulogizes:

3. There is no limit to the variations of failure here. Muschamp was blown out at home on Homecoming by Mizzou, 42-13, and sniped by a late field goal, completing a 30-27 home collapse against LSU. Alabama could have scored 60 on the Gators, but got bored and politely declined the option in a 42-21 road humiliation. When Florida lined up for a late punt against South Carolina after the Gamecocks had already blocked a game-clinching field goal, the kick was blocked before the ball was ever snapped. Don't ever tell anyone you can't block a ball with your mind; Florida did it, and then handed it to South Carolina with a smile. The confidence in delivering losses was the only constant Florida had left, something it got down to some time after the worst loss in program history: a home defeat by Georgia Southern in 2013.

Did you forget that happened, the low point of lows for an entire era? He did that. Will Muschamp's signature loss of signature losses is him misspelling the word "fart" in spray paint across "The Birth of Venus."  It's an atrocity almost admirable in its accidental, perfect malice. For the record, I think Will would spell it "p-h-a-r-t," because that's the funniest possible misspelling of the word.

With reports that Dan Mullen won't be of interest, my main regret about Florida pulling the trigger early is that Spencer got the jump on the one-sentence summation of the last four years:

11. In conclusion: RIP, Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football. In the end, you were too dumb to live and too ugly to mourn.

May Spencer find his Christmas tree stocked with Air Raid coaches, and may Will Muschamp migrate northwards to be Jim Harbaugh's DC.

Now everything will be fixed forever. The NCAA has taken the first and most important step towards being an organization that creates good in this world:

Long national nightmare, etc.

Hockey stuff. I haven't said too much about the hockey team yet; I don't usually during football season because of time constraints and just the fact that I'm not that good at figuring out hockey even now and need some time to get my head around. I'm not much closer after Michigan's meh sweep of American International. Center Ice:

The problems started when the defensive pairings were changed again. The blueline predictably looked disjointed, pinching at the wrong times, getting caught out of position and allowing the Yellow Jackets to get countless odd man rushes on Zach Nagelvoort.

Michigan suffocated AIC by pressuring in the offensive zone for the majority of both games, but when the Yellow Jackets countered they easily found quality scoring chances. When the defense had their way on Saturday cutting down mistakes, Nagelvoort wasn't able to keep the puck out of the net and the Yellow Jackets were able to not just stay in the game, but put Michigan on the ropes early.

AIC is usually so bad that anyone within shouting distance of the tournament sees wins against them excised from their RPI because counting those games would actually lower it. These games were essentially exhibitions against a team much worse than the U18s, and Michigan duly dominated attack time and SOG.

I don't take much positive from it, though. On Friday AIC had three separate 3-on-1s and a half-dozen other odd-man rushes besides; on Saturday they played Michigan almost even through two periods. I'm at a loss to explain Michigan's play. They have piles of talent, certainly enough to scrape through if their back end was making moderate mistakes occasionally instead of enormous ones frequently. That's not the case, and then the offense has lacked incisiveness against anyone better than AIC since… since TJ Hensick left? It's been a long time since Michigan's had a guy like him.

So I don't know. Michigan is really behind the eight ball here, already, playing in a crappy conference with a 2-5 record in games that will actually matter when it's time to find tourney participants. Would Red hang on for that last year when Tech is 10-0(!) and headed for their best season since the 1980s, thus paving the way for Pearson to come back? I don't know, but that's what I'm thinking about now… not getting back to the tourney this year.

At least they're finally fixing the ice infrastructure? Yost's ice has been iffy for years.

Speaking of hockey. Arizona State(?!) announces they will add a D-I program. Like Penn State, they make the leap from ACHA power. ASU is a weird  program to make the leap; there are no West Coast programs. The three Colorado outfits are the only schools even vaguely close. Even so I'd guess the NCHC snaps them up. Arizona State brings a bigger athletic profile than most of their members.

This is one of the benefits of the Big Ten's formation, by the way. That reorganized the western programs into three conferences instead of two. After CHA folded, programs  that were considering hockey had a dubious future as an independent. Now there are spots for another dozen teams, as long as some of them are in the Big Ten.

Buffalo might be next, with Penn State benefactor and new Bills owner Terry Pegula potentially fronting the capital.

You used to know how to do this. Michigan scheduled a home hockey game for a football Saturday. That game is at 3:30. The hockey game is at 7:30. Remind me why I have season tickets again? Is it because I'm dumb? It feels like that's the reason.

Michigan never used to do this. Instead they would have the occasional Sunday matinee. New athletic director please save us. And stop running the ARE YOU FAN ENOUGH commercial for the hockey game the previous athletic director yanked out of our season ticket packages.

Etc.: Ray Taylor's baby has impeccable timing. Approximately 3k unsold seats for Maryland. Michigan catches another personnel break as freshman Maryland WR Juwann Winifree is suspended for Saturday. Old photos. Justin Meram gets a call-up to the Iraq national team. Dilly bar details.

Unverified Voracity Announces Decisions

Unverified Voracity Announces Decisions

Submitted by Brian on April 15th, 2014 at 12:08 PM

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Maize and Blue Nation

The day has (mostly) come. Expect a post at about 3:35 today, as Michigan has called a press conference featuring Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III at 3:30 wherein they will either announce their NBA draft futures or talk about their favorite things to put on hamburgers. Here's hoping it's the latter.

I don't think there's a huge amount of suspense with either of those two guys. Michigan is bringing in Muhammed Ali Abdur-Rahkman for an official this weekend, and now there are multiple reports that Robinson has signed with an agent or hasn't signed but is entering the draft anyway.

The suspense is with Mitch McGary, who is not announcing:

McGary's father, Tim McGary, told MLive on Monday night that his son has no intentions to partake in the press conference and is still undecided on whether he return to U-M or not.

"He's still back and forth on it," Tim McGary said.

So he's not gone; neither is he necessarily back. He has until the 27th to make that decision; the NCAA's deadline is an entirely artificial one.

The fact that he's still debating things is obviously good. It is not as good as McGary being ready to announce a return would be; it is still good. Scout's Brian Snow has reported a shift of opinion($) in the Indiana recruiting circles he pings regularly that is positive for Michigan, so there's that. Sam Webb confirmed, insofar as it is possible to confirm an opinion on a decision that clearly hasn't been made yet.

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Abdur-Rahkman, 40 in white
ha no but man wouldn't that be something
he's the guy with the ball
not that I had to tell you that

Meanwhile, MAAR. If Michigan does settle on Abdur-Rahkman as a spring take I'll be satisfied; Beilein and company have proved they can ID a diamond in the rough and, like… MAAR for four years. Misspelled Smiths tie in acronym: yes please.

MAAR currently has a slate of mid-major offers after a senior season in which he averaged nearly 24 points a game for Central Catholic. Joe Stapleton's article linked above indicates the seriousness of Michigan's interest—Beilein calls him "at least three times a week"*—despite the fact that he is not just a shooter because he's not, in fact, a shooter:

Abdur-Rahkman would be a slight departure from the prototypical Michigan recruit in that he isn’t known for his shooting. In fact, the graduating senior said that while his shot has improved, he made his living getting to the rim and playing great man-to-man defense.

A defensive stopper type would be welcome, and shooting can develop. If Michigan was to offer it doesn't seem like it'll take a whole lot of thought from MAAR:

“(Michigan is) definitely the top school.”

Abdur-Rahkman also deviates from the Beilein model in that he's old for his class. In fact, he is literally as old as you can be and still play high school basketball in Pennsylvania:

Abdur-Rahkman turned 16 on Sept. 1 at the start of his freshman year, which means, of course, he turned 19 on Sept. 1 of this past year. The cutoff date for meeting the PIAA's age requirement is Sept. 1, meaning that had Muhammad been born on Aug. 31, he would have had to be part of the 2013 graduating class.

He'll be 20 by the time he arrives on campus. Good for immediate readiness, bad for upside. Kind of like grabbing a hockey player after a couple years of JUCO.

*[They deregulated phone calls in men's basketball, if that sounds like a violation to you. Kelvin Sampson sighs heavily at home about this.]

WELP. Here's this draft evaluation of Taylor Lewan from SBNation that discusses Taylor Lewan, who is of interest to us as a Michigan alum who is likely to go in the top half of the first round of the draft.

What a shitty offense

Uh… what?

So I wanted to focus this breakdown on Taylor Lewan, not the severe annoyance I had with the way Michigan used him. But since it was the one thing that stood out to me the most while watching Lewan play, I am going to go ahead and address it right off the bat.

Oh.

Now look, I don't profess to be some kind of expert on offenses, but some things about football I just feel like should be common sense. For instance, if you have a superior blocker at left tackle, most of your help from tight ends and running backs, whether it be run blocking or pass blocking, should go to the other four guys. It should also allow you to design plays built around his athleticism to help get your skill position players free out in space. Stuff like smoke screens (WR takes one step forward then one step back to catch the ball while his blockers lead up in front of him) or really any kind of screens, counter plays (where you pull the offensive guard and tackle from one side of the center to the other side of the center) and any number of sweep plays (runs designed to get wide outside of the offensive tackle).

I didn't see much of that in the five games that I watched. Furthermore, why in the HELL did Michigan keep a tight end to Lewan's side so damn much? He obviously didn't need the help. The quarterback was right handed anyway (with bootlegs you like for the tight end to be lined up to the side of the quarterback's throwing hand), and they could have potentially had a wide receiver there instead of a tight end. It would've increased the chances of success on passing downs as well as run downs if you get the opposing defenses spread themselves out. But is that what Michigan did?

HEEEEEELLLLLL NOOOOOOOO

This very long blockquote is not the end of former NFL DE Stephen White's evisceration of last year's Michigan offense, despite it being a very long blockquote. I expect that White will be getting some very stern comments from the folks around here who fought the rearguard action for Team Borges with such heroic ferocity last season when I made statements like "this is stupid," "this makes no sense," and "it is bad when your tailbacks run 27 times for 27 yards."

Michigan protected Taylor Lewan with a tight end so often that it made it hard for this draft evaluator to, you know, evaluate Taylor Lewan. Meanwhile, the interior of the line was a highway to Devin Gardner's ribs. And the kicker is: the tight ends couldn't even block. Michigan was tossing away its main advantage on the line—dang good tackles—because of their philosophy about manballin' it. That's alarming, because that seems like it comes from the top. It's all well and good to be Stanford or Alabama if you can be that, but when you're on your way to dead last TFLs… probably not.

We'll see. Rubber hits the road in September.

Oh, good. Putting Chad Lindsay on 27 tickets turns out to be premature, as the Alabama transfer is getting his woo on. After his visit to Michigan he hit up Louisville and Oklahoma; this week he's headed to Cal and… Ohio State. Oh goody.

OSU lost four seniors off last year's line and can pitch Lindsay playing time, and you know there's nothing in the world Urban would like more than grabbing Lindsay away from Michigan even if he ends up sitting on the bench the whole year. Especially if he ends up sitting on the bench the whole year.

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Get out of there while you still can, Chad.

This will help you feel better about the previous section. Someone's really into Amir Williams saying coach be all over his di—

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For pants sake, lady, can you see a camera without reflexively extending your tongue and squinting? I submit that you cannot.

Mascot of the week. The El Paso Chihuahuas' Chico has been hanging with Eight Ball the Tiger:

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Mascots should be as frightening as possible. I approve.

YUP. It's almost like arguments against a college football playoff weren't particularly good ones.

Our worthless suit overlords think so little of us they kept the guy who was issuing these proclamations around to issue the exact opposite proclamations.

The Michigan Difference. Michigan PhD grad makes joke about Darren Rovell on twitter.

Darren Rovell, being Darren Rovell, reports this comment to some guy at Michigan. Michigan's "informal response":

1) "Wait, so who is this guy? Is @darrenrovell actually famous?"

2) "What did he think we were going to do? Take away your diploma?"

/sings fight song, waves tiny block M flag

I am always very careful about how I mis-state the word rapper. Ace informs me that this gentleman with Devin Gardner is noted rappist "Two Chains," but I say balderdash, I say!

image

COUNT THE CHAINS, "TWO CHAINS." His real name is Excessive Watches IV. He goes home and takes off all of that, sits down with a Forbes, and looks exactly like Carlton. Fact. E-fact. Also his rap song just cannot compete with the Charleston.

This has been Brian pretends he's more out of touch than he is to forestall accusations of being out of touch theater. Thank you.

Thanks, bro. Horford opens up about his decision to leave to MLive; it turns out his zen does not extend to the rest of his family:

"(Transferring) is something that my family has been trying to persuade me to do for four years," Horford said. "So I guess naturally it's always been inevitable -- when people are telling you something all the time."

I get the feeling that Horford's support system regards Horford's abilities with… uh… enthusiasm not necessarily in line with reality. The reason his playing time dropped late in the season is that he wasn't playing well. I mean… when Morgan went out I was always like WHEN CAN WE GET MORGAN BACK IN. Play better and you get more time. Or wait for Morgan to graduate and go get it like he did.

Please please please let me get what I want (fewer timeouts) this time. Timeouts are a scourge upon basketball, not only turning 60 seconds of clock time into a writhing eternity of nothingness but also reducing the chaos factor that a trailing team attempts to insert into the game late. On four seconds trying to inbound the ball? Timeout. Trapped in the corner? Timeout. Want to get your defense set? Timeout. Timeouts are used to prevent turnovers, keep the leading team in the lead, and let over-coaching guys in suits maintain as much control as possible. They result in two and a half hour  games that mean you have to stream the first ten minutes of  your game on ESPN3. They are miserable and should be almost entirely removed.

They won't be, but at least the misery of them is a thing that has reached the people who can do something about it:

Everyone agreed that one of the biggest detractions of the current game is the eternity it takes to end a close one. That is largely due to the number of timeouts granted to each team, both officially (five per team per game) and unofficially (coaches are given a minute to substitute when a player fouls out). Replay reviews are viewed as a necessary evil in the quest for the right calls, but they also add to the length of an endgame situation. Coaches cherish their control of the game and thus will be loath to surrender timeouts, but fans everywhere would embrace fewer stoppages in play – especially late in a game. The NCAA said it will begin tracking the length of games next year, as it does in football.

"Length is becoming a concern," said David Worlock, NCAA associate director of men's basketball.

You're going to begin tracking games? And you don't think there's anything wrong with the current replay setup? Argh. But yes, please, shoot timeouts into the sun. One per team per game.

Also:

An elimination of live-ball timeouts, or at least limiting those calls to players instead of coaches. This would be a move toward FIBA international rules, which allow no live-ball timeouts.

Yes.

But no:

Reducing the shot clock to either 30 or 24 seconds. Brey said he is in favor, and there seems to be fairly wide support for a reduction of some kind – although there also is a concern about college hoops becoming an NBA copycat league. (Interestingly, Byrd said his Belmont team occasionally uses a 12-second shot clock in practice to force tempo and enhance conditioning.)

With zone defenses viable and the skill level generally reduced, shortening the shot clock just results in more ugly shots. 45 to 35 was necessary, but in college 35 is fine.

Etc.: Sam Mikulak in repose. PSU-M is at 7 PM on ESPN or ESPN 2. Frighentingly quick MAAR scouting video from UMHoops.