Jim McElwain, right. Used vacuum salesman, left.
Oh, man, this one's a doozy. I stopped calling people "horseface" around the time that Dennis Dodd toned it down sufficiently to blend in with the great mass of lukewarm take columnists. There has been a long hiatus from "look at this crazy thing Dennis Dodd wrote," then. That détente can last no longer after this:
"I think its an indictment upon society to be honest with you," he said during the SEC spring meetings here at the Hilton Sandestin.
Of course it is. The man who has won consecutive SEC East titles -- a family man with a couple of national championship rings -- suddenly found himself disproving a negative.
" … It effects family, it effects my employer because of something that is totally not true or has any basis," McElwain continued. "I will say this: At least it [looked like] me and not someone else in our program. I'll take [the hits]."
When Naked Shark Guy hit CFB twitter his vague resemblance to Jim McElwain was a covfefe: a short-lived, timeline-intensive twitter joke that burns itself out in a day or so. Nobody ever seriously thought that Naked Shark Guy was McElwain—his hair is too curly and his teeth insufficiently alarming. And yet here's this Dennis Dodd column that takes McElwain's strained protestations with the seriousness of a threat on the Queen's life:
McElwain, 55, is a stand-up guy like most coaches in his position. He's used to putting out fires, making snap decisions, taking blame when it is fair. But in the blink of moment, he became a social media victim.
The photo, of course, was not of McElwain. One report said had he had been "vindicated." Of what? Vindication is defined as, "clearing someone of blame or suspicion."
Except there was no blame to clear, no crime committed. The only connection was our brains seeing a resemblance and somehow believing McElwain was capable of such a pose.
Unfortunately, the default setting on the Twitterverse was that had to be Florida's coach. Right?
No, you complete ninny, no. Dodd manages to get so upset about people making jokes about someone who nobody thinks is humping a shark that he self-refutes:
What's the big deal jumping to conclusions about a shark, a boat and a coach?
Common human decency, for one thing. When it was determined the man on the shark was reportedly a former NYPD officer, one wag wrote, "We finally have proof of what appears to be McElwain's innocence."
What about assuming his innocence instead of what looked like a badly Photoshopped pic? Instead, that indicted society McElwain spoke of took it way too far.
The whole thing is a magnificent edifice of farts based on a deliberate misunderstanding of jokes on twitter. Spurred by McElwain, certainly. His reaction to the situation improves my opinion of Michigan's chances this fall—this is not the reaction of the sharpest knife in the drawer…
"Ultimately, what do you want me to say?" McElwain said. "It's not me. I felt bad for my family and the university because … really?
"Here I am getting some real bad personal attacks. How ridiculous is that?"
…but there is some water too silly to carry. Or at least there should be.
Follow Harbaugh around and he gives you news. Jim Harbaugh can be odd and standoffish at press conferences—or even entirely absent, as he was after the spring game—but if you travel a long distance to be where he is, he spits out newsbits like mad. Satellite camp season is an opportunity to do this, and sure enough we've got some extra insight into next year's team.
We've mentioned walk-on slot receiver Nate Schoenle as a potential contributor; Harbaugh offers up some additional information on him:
"Nate Schoenle -- he continues to grade out as the top guy right now," Harbaugh said. "The competition is really going to rage on."
Harbaugh further confirmed that Ben Mason was a fullback and Brad Hawkins was maybe probably definitely going to play defense. On Hawkins:
"Brad Hawkins could be a safety." …
"What's transpired though: Don Brown got to him," Harbaugh mused. "Don Brown said that he talked to Brad and Brad wanted to play safety. I accuse Don Brown of some recruiting going on there. We haven't investigated the whole thing yet. But I think it's a little of both."
The WR flood and relative dearth of safeties always made that move likely, especially after Michigan realized it wasn't going to cram its class full with other guys and circled back on Oliver Martin. It's official enough that we've moved him to safety on the Depth Chart By Class.
FWIW, Hawkins did play both ways in high school, making 53 tackles as a senior at Camden.
Finally, Harbaugh announced that Grant Perry had rejoined the team:
"He's back working out with the team," Harbaugh told reporters following a coaches' satellite camp at John Carroll University, according to the Detroit Free Press.
He has a court date July 17th. I'd imagine that will be some sort of plea or diversion.
Two conferences with a scheduling agreement. The current state of the 14-team, 8-game SEC:
To be fair to Alabama, Nick Saban appears to be the only coach in the league who actually wants to go to nine games. (Because playing Tennessee is basically the same as playing Chattanooga to Bama.) That is still mindblowing. The problem is extensive and has no solutions. Auburn's trying to find one by moving to the East, where Alabama would not be a perpetual roadblock to the championship game, and that causes more problems than it solves.
The Big Ten going to 14 was immensely dumb but at least they didn't compound that error by continuing to have eight-game conference seasons with protected crossover games.
Real Housecoaches Of Destin. Meanwhile in the SEC, everyone is livid with the new, very boring recruiting rules, and they've got laughably flimsy reasons why!
Bielema said it wasn’t smart to host official visits during the spring of a prospect’s junior year, which is arguably the most important one academically.
They've got an astounding lack of perspective!
"I think it's reckless, really," Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said.
They haven't yet muzzled their commissioner!
"I just fail to see how those things are the right decisions for football overall," Sankey said. "Those are the things that I'm not sure we got right."
They have even more flimsy reasons!
"December is a pretty busy time in the world of college football from a hiring standpoint," Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said. "And you're now going to introduce that in the middle of young people making decisions? Plus you're pushing up the evaluation process, which I can't see how that's good for the young person or for the team."
Would Bret Bielema allow a recruit to visit Arkansas unofficially during the new official window? Dozens do annually. Do SEC coaches offer and accept commitments from kids two or three years out from this December signing window? Dozens annually. Does Greg Sankey interpret "football overall" as "the SEC"? Absolutely.
It's nice to see Waffle House Nation splutter about rule changes they don't like instead of rules Jim Harbaugh isn't breaking for a change.
Last one out of East Lansing please conclude the investigation. MSU has lost another couple members of the secondary:
Sophomore safety Kenney Lyke told ESPN on Saturday that he planned to transfer to Mississippi Delta Community College in hopes of eventually landing at an SEC school in the future. A day earlier, Michigan State confirmed that redshirt sophomore Kaleel Gaines was also leaving the program.
Rumor has it that several more folks are on their way out. There are the three players under sexual assault investigation and a couple more potential academic casualties. There's a real possibility MSU goes into this year with 75 scholarship players, the last eight or so freshman who MSU picked off from the likes of Temple in their late scramble to fill their class. Prospects for a bounce-back are dim.
Zaire incoming. The SEC did tweak their transfer rule so that former ND QB Malik Zaire could land at UF; he duly announced that was his destination shortly after. This is of interest to Georgia blog Get The Picture for obvious reasons, so Mr. Blutarsky took a look at Zaire's relatively brief on-field history:
He was spectacular in that Texas game, no doubt, finishing with a passer rating over 250. It was all downhill from there, though, as he only threw one more pass in all of 2016 than he did against the Longhorns, on his way to posting a 106.73 passer rating as the back up.
He does bring something to the position that Florida’s lacked under McElwain: mobility. …
if Zaire is supposed to usher in a new era, there isn’t a lot of time to restructure the offense to tailor it to his strengths, or, alternatively, for Zaire to learn Nussmeier’s system. None of which is to say it’s not useful to sign an experienced quarterback. Before Zaire’s arrival, Florida was looking at a choice of Luke Del Rio, himself a transfer, recovering from an injury that caused him to miss half the regular season, and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks, who had a nice spring game, and… did I mention he had a nice spring game?
This would terrify me if it was ten years ago, when Michigan was still deep in their total inability to defend a mobile quarterback. It's still unsettling: first game with ten new starters, one returning starter is not a great space player. Don Brown has shifted Michigan to a 4-2-5 featuring a bullet LB in Devin Bush, though. Hopefully those issues will be mitigated even when Michigan's defense isn't the overwhelming unit they were a year ago.
I'll take it. Chris Dilks profiles Joshua Norris, NHL draft hopeful, and comes out with an encouraging comp:
As a player comparison, Norris reminds me a lot of JT Compher. Both are super-competitive two-way centers. Compher was ranked right around the same range for the NHL Draft(he ended up going 35th overall in 2012) after putting up similar numbers with the NTDP. Compher blew up offensively in his junior season at Michigan, thanks in part to some great linemates, but still projects as more of a solid role player at the NHL level. The same is likely true for Norris. He projects as a nice player at the NHL level, especially if he can remain at the center position, but one that probably tops out as a second or third line player, rather than a true star.
Adding a Compher-alike to any team would improve it, and Michigan more than most after last year's disaster. FWIW, Norris just competed at the NHL draft combine and killed it:
I don't think the combine is a big deal for draft position but that should at least indicate that Norris is ready to make an immediate impact.
Etc.: NCAA rules kill Sound Mind, Sound Body. Signs you may be in the middle of a Florida football season.