Unverified Voracity Mimics Dhani

Unverified Voracity Mimics Dhani

Submitted by Brian on February 3rd, 2011 at 1:45 PM


Kellen Jones M bowtie FTW.

Improving the not LOI. Compliance people complain to each other on twitter about people who abbreviate the "National Letter of Intent" as "LOI" instead of "NLI." Apparently there are other LOIs. You have been warned.

In any case they should be heavily reformed. Right now they're one-way binds with silly timing that have created a cottage industry of kids who attempt to reserve their spot by being "committed, but open." Paul Johnson's opinion of this is similar to Artur Boruc's about corn:

What I’d like to see happen, but I’m probably by myself: if you have 85 scholarships, and you can sign 25 a year or however many you have. When they commit, they sign the papers and you stop. It would stop all the verbal commitments and all the hats. The guys who weren’t ready wouldn’t commit. You’d call their bluff. They couldn’t make their reservation. We’ll talk to kids all the time, juniors right now, who are committing. We’ll say ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’

“Oh coach, I’m open.”

[HT: Get The Picture.]

I'm not really sure what the argument against early signing is. The way it's set up now everyone scrambles to get their class locked in on Signing Day, so someone like FL WR AJ King who has his scholarship pulled by Purdue is in a tough spot in his attempt to find a landing place. If he was signed, he'd be signed and hijinks both ways would be seriously reduced.

The Bylaw Blog has a few other suggestions, one of which I've made in this space before: the NCAA should implement a "no contact" agreement. That piece of paper would be non-binding but would allow the school specified by the player to contact the kid without restriction… and make it a violation for anyone else to. Official visits would also be off the table. That's a verbal commitment that actually exists and would help coaches figure out who's serious and who's just making a backup plan.

Heart-hurting. Remember that video of the Detroit Renaissance coach declaring Michigan's treatment of former Ren players "hurt his heart," thus explaining why Michigan couldn't get anyone out of there no matter what? Raise your hand if you're surprised that Ren's Lawrence Thomas recited the entire negative recruiting playbook:

"Why not Michigan? They had problems. There were some past experiences with other Renaissance players that I didn't like. Plus, Rich Rodriguez sent an assistant to our school to recruit me. He wouldn't even send the defensive coordinator, just an assistant. Then we'd hear that Rich Rod would be in Florida recruiting."

The Renaissance players were Andre Criswell, a last-second addition at FB who never saw the field and was kept on as a GA after leaving the team before his fifth year, and Carson Butler, the insane tight end who finally ran out of chances towards the end of Rodriguez's first year. Butler was treated so badly he stuck up for Rodriguez during the jihad. Michigan did as well by those kids as they could given the latter's hatred of nerds, be they in the wrong dorm room or playing for Notre Dame.

So… this was not a situation likely to produce a commitment even if Rodriguez showed up with every assistant he had, and one that would likely have continued under Hoke. Similarly, when Taiwan Jones complains about a lack of attention from Michigan during his visit to the UConn game he's complaining as a guy who had been a MSU commit for months already and who Michigan never even considered offering.

This continues the theme from these Blue Chip articles in the News since the beginning of time: Michigan commits asked about State say something short, polite and vague, State commits asked about Michigan rant about a lack of respect, and the guys towards the bottom of the list submit a tear-stained questionnaire because neither school thought they were good enough. This will happen next year, and the year after, and so on and so forth.

Adventures in re-evaluating wins. So… how about not losing to Iowa by twenty points? Yeah, got a whole new sheen on it today, that does.

I mention it by way of inserting this "Fran-graph" from BHGP:

fran15_medium Michigan's at the top and you can see the extreme focus on the rim or the three point line in Michigan's field goals. BHGP's Horace E Cow explains:

In men's basketball in the NCAA this year, players have made 34.5% of threes and 48.2% of twos.  The average value, then, of a three-point attempt is  3*.345 = 1.04, and the average of a two is 2*.482 = .964.  This fact has led many college (and pro) coaches to the reasonable conclusion that  three-point shots are better bets than two-point shots, and that their teams should take as many threes as possible (Todd Lickliter was one of these coaches, actually). 

Not all twos are worth less than threes, though: shots at the rim are usually made at a very high percentage (60-70%) and thus the average dunk or lay-up is worth 1.2-1.4 points, much more than the average three.  Putting  these two facts together (threes are better than most twos, but dunks are better than threes), coaches have developed what could be called a "hollowing-out" strategy on offense: threes and dunks are encouraged, anything in between in discouraged.

My first experience with this line of thinking was watching some Kentucky game back in the day when Pitino was coaching them and hearing the announcer go on about how Pitino loathed shots just inside the arc. Beilein's system is the logical extension of that thinking. Michigan's makes against Iowa: 14 threes, nine layups/dunks, and ten anything else.

If you can get it to work it's great, and it's not a strategy that seems to have a ceiling. One of this year's other proponents of the dunk-or-deep strategy is #1 and current opponent Ohio State. Because they have Jared Sullinger they aren't launching as many threes but both their 2PT% and 3PT% are off the charts—they're in the top ten in both nationally. They've got four guys who take a large volume of two-point shots, and two of them are shooting a Jordan-Morgan-like 59%. Ohio State's distribution isn't quite as extreme but it's essentially the same thing.

The slight difference between the programs is the ability to recruit Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas every damn year.

BONUS: Do you like slow? You'll love tonight's basketball game.

180 update. Media 180, Signing Day edition:

And I'm not even looking at the Free Press, which remains dead to me. I can only imagine the tiny drawings of angels.

I like the one that says there's more toughness now. That's definitely true. Being not tough was the problem, not the secondary being old enough to drive only if they all stood on each other's shoulders in a huge trenchcoat. Also that's the same guy who wrote about the "impossible expectations" driving Tate Forcier away. Pete Bigelow needs to make up his mind about toughness.

[Disclaimer section: Hoke did an okay job, but nothing that should push opinions either way. Not going into the year down eight kids is good. Losing Willingham to Central Florida(!?!?) is pretty wack, but being in a position to say that's wack is impressive since Michigan was nowhere with that kid before Mattison showed up. Losing Jake Fisher makes the tackle depth chart terrifying. I also don't understand telling Rivals 250 receiver Devin Lucien, a guy who was seriously looking at Stanford and silently committed to Rodriguez during The Process because he liked Michigan's academics, "defense or GTFO." Even if you don't want Hakeem Flowers, Michigan had room for another five players and has no receivers in this class.

Meanwhile, most of the guys picked up were of the low-hanging fruit variety: guys who were committed to Indiana or Minnesota or Vandy and didn't have a ton of other confirmed Big Ten options (Heitzman, Carter, Taylor, Bellomy) or guys who had been openly coveting Michigan offers (Poole, Rawls, Taylor again) but didn't get them until later. TX TE Chris Barnett is the exception.

This class is a wait-and-see sort of thing. We won't know if these late pickups were players RR and other Big Ten schools misevaluated or warm bodies for a while, and we won't know about Hoke's recruiting prowess until the 2012 commits start rolling in and he's competing against Ohio State. Not that Rodriguez won many battles against OSU.

On the other hand, a quarter of the class won't fail to show up or wash out by the end of spring like the last RR class so that's cool. Snatching Frank Clark away from MSU despite his existence in close proximity to Ted Ginn is promising. Also: kicker. Hoke uber alles.]

    Etc.: Thomas Rawls may be a member of the Jackson family. The awkward Hoke-Rodriguez video. Going back to the 4-3. Michigan finishes 21st in the Rivals rankings. Hoke's got 8 years before the deck stacks against him significantly. Don't play the Hoke "toughness" drinking game. Nutt greyshirt hijinks.

    Oversigning: It Moves

    Oversigning: It Moves

    Submitted by Brian on February 1st, 2011 at 12:17 PM


    quien es mas macho? always pick the man with the giant gold medallion.

    When Doctor Saturday heralded this offseason as oversigning's moment in the sun I thought that was true, but that a lot of sturm und drang would amount to nothing much. A couple Outside The Lines pieces by ESPN and articles demonstrating Alabama players' remarkable misfortune when it comes to medical scholarships would move chatter from disgruntled blogs to media flamethrowers and people in Alabama would not care at all and fin. I might be wrong. It looks like the media pressure has moved chatter from disgruntled blogs to disgruntled… SEC power brokers?

    "I don't think the rule we passed is going to solve the problem," Florida President Bernie Machen says. "There are still universities that will oversign and it's going to end up with a student athlete being left out. I think we either have to get the universities to be more serious about it, or the league and the NCAA are going to have to pass more stringent punishments for those who do oversign."

    Machen just published a letter on SI.com that calls grayshirting "morally reprehensible." Meanwhile, Georgia's new athletic director:

    McGarity also said that Georgia football will not allow oversigning -- a practice that some programs participate in and is garnering more attention by both media and regulating bodies. “We will not sign more than 85 scholarship football players,” he noted.

    That moved fast.

    Once people in positions of power in the SEC start grumbling about a practice, the chance for a meaningful change has come. (Point to Braves & Birds for saying "the programs that ought to be the most aggressive in condemning oversigning are Florida and Georgia" since they're the exceptions to the rule in the SEC. The sources here are not a coincidence.)

    That's especially true when the league just put in place some cosmetic modifications by capping letters of intent at 28. These didn't take. Journalists said "hey, wait a minute" when they multiply 28 by four and get a number that's well north of 85 but not well north of the number of kids most SEC schools have promised an education over the last relevant period. SEC schools averaged 27.6 signees from 2002-2010.

    More importantly, you now have an SEC athletic director who's bluntly stating the real issue* and saying his team won't partake, and an SEC president who is on the warpath. There's someone calling into Finebaum right now and saying BUT PAWWWWWL, BERNIE MACHEN'S JUST DOING THIS BECAUSE IT HELPS FLORIDA. Even if they're right, being in a position to rail because other rich people are doing shitty things to poor ones—and you're not—justifies itself. Florida's Machiavellian brilliance in is in not being Machievellian.

    So we seem to be at a point where kids complaining about getting booted off their not-for-profit educational institution's sporting team leads to action. The Bylaw Blog has migrated to the official NCAA site and provides some indication of what might be feasible to the current membership in a post on oversigning. The strictest version of his proposal:

    GIAs to Current SAs with Eligibility Remaining Next Year + Signed Scholarships by Prospects ≤ NCAA Limit

    In English this is:

    You can't sign a kid to a LOI or scholarship agreement unless you have room right now.

    IE, "the Big Ten." Hockey fans might remember Brandon Burlon not signing when the rest of his class did because he was ticketed for a full scholarship Michigan did not have at that instant. (He signed later when Kevin Quick was booted after he stole a teammate's credit card.) In football this is the Big Ten's policy—they theoretically relaxed it by allowing oversigning up to 88, but explaining where you will get the money is onerous and public and it's uncertain if anyone's actually used the option yet.

    Even that's a little soft for my tastes, but it would be a massive step in the right direction. Today it seems like it's one coming in the not-too-distant future.

    *[The NCAA's 25-per-class limit serves as an unfortunate distraction here because people point out that's an arbitrary rule no one should care about, which is true. If you have 30 open spots it's not unethical to squeeze as many players in as possible, and people attack that strawman as if you're trying to clutch pearls but failing to because you're deranged. Even when that's not happening there's no particular reason for Get The Picture to focus on 25 as a magic number.]

    NCAA Hearing Mini-Recap

    NCAA Hearing Mini-Recap

    Submitted by Tim on August 14th, 2010 at 8:09 PM


    ENTHRALLING photo of a hotel hallway via Angelique Chengelis on Twitter.

    First, the official statement from Athletic Director Dave Brandon:

    Statement from Dave Brandon Regarding NCAA Hearing

    We feel that the committee gave us a full and fair hearing today. Our statements today were similar to those we provided the NCAA earlier this summer: We own the mistakes we have made, we fixed some process and communication problems that caused them, and we’re keeping a close eye on this so it doesn’t happen again.

    I’m proud of the extra effort everyone has been putting into compliance these past several months. Rich and his staff – in coordination with the compliance group – have been working together to keep us on the right track.

    We will await the committee’s decision and we will not speculate about the outcome – we must let the process play out. We won’t comment further on this matter until after we receive the committee’s decision.

    We’re going to get back to Michigan now for the start of what we expect will be a great football season.

    And now, a few relevant newsbits via the Twitter accounts of the various beat reporters who were there:


    Principal U-M figures are arriving in hearing room, including Rich Rodriguez... Others arriving: former GA Alex Herron, UM s/c coach Mike Barwis, Big Ten comm Jim Delany, UM asst AD Scott Draper, UM fac rep Percy Bates. about 9 hours ago via UberTwitter

    Brandon wouldn't specify timetable for hearing committee ruling, but said it was a wide range of dates 23 minutes ago via tweetdeck


    Fmr. Michigan grad assistant Alex Herron (who we think is him) left the meeting room at 9:15 a.m. Not sure if he is done for the day.
    about 7 hours ago via TweetDeck

    11:07. Alex Herron returns to the meeting room off semi-full elevator, buttoning up his tan suit as he walked.

    Alex Herron is out of the room and heads into the elevator and gone with Draper. Lunch break.
    about 5 hours ago


    Brandon on hearing: "It was a very fair and thorough hearing ... feel good about fact we were given that opp and the process will continue."
    22 minutes ago via web

    NCAA's final UM verdict? Brandon: "They gave us wide ranges of time. But that's not for me to announce."
    19 minutes ago via web

    Brandon: "We're going to go back (to UM), we're going to prepare for a great season were going to get focused on football"..et ncaa do work
    12 minutes ago via web

    And non-hearing news:


    U-M AD Dave Brandon sent the waiting media pizza and breadsticks -- Domino's, of course. Greatly appreciated.


    BigTen commish Jim Delany just chatted with the media about some conference issues. Said divisions should be decided within a month.

    Michigan AD Dave Brandon on U-M/#Alabama: "Maybe."

    Brandon talked with NotreDame AD Jack Swarbrick & said they are "excited about continuing the series and working on what form that takes."

    More on the NCAA hearing after the weekend.

    Unverified Voracity Runs On Sunlight

    Unverified Voracity Runs On Sunlight

    Submitted by Brian on June 25th, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    More yes, please. Given the current state of college football scheduling, where you have to have one real nonconference game and then you can schedule anything that will show up at your stadium down to the Albanian cricket circus, I've been in favor of expanding the conference schedule for years. So Adam Rittenberg's post on the possibility comes with some welcome quotes:

    There are certainly pros and cons to increasing the number of league games, and Big Ten athletic directors expect to debate them in August during their next scheduled meeting in Chicago.

    "Unless you’re really hot, fans are finding that some of the preseason games, they just don’t appreciate," Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said. "They’d rather see you play every Big Ten opponent. If you went to nine games, you’d be bringing in one more Big Ten opponent, which would make your season-ticket package more attractive."

    By radically increasing the amount of money people are expected to play with PSLs and mandatory donations and whatnot, schools have increased the pressure to have home schedules actually worth buying. Burke's actually in favor of ten(!) conference games, which will never happen.

    The article also quotes Barry Alvarez in support and we know that Michigan has been pushing for more conference games for a few years now, so there's at least some chance the league will add another game. Another bonus of the extra conference game: if the Big Ten does go away from pure geography and creates a division that's Michigan-OSU-Alamo Party*, additional conference games will reduce the impact of any disparity. It also makes cross-division protected games (which I don't like) less necessary since you'll be playing two-thirds of the opposite division instead of half.

    *(Which seems to have something of a consensus building around it. TOC threw in the towel, and once the blogs are united nothing can stand against them. If Penn State had a vote that might be a problem, but lol Penn State suffrage.)


    If NASCAR counts as a sport… then solar car competitions, where you actually build the thing yourself, is like a double sport. Also Michigan's solar car team is consistently awesome. They're running the American Solar Challenge right now and, though it's fuzzy if they're actually winning, they think they're doing well:

    After being tight with Minnesota this morning and afternoon, they had to pull off the road for what is rumored to be battery problems.  We don't know the current location of any other teams, but we believe we are at least 15 minutes ahead of everyone but Stanford.

    That was yesterday. They learned last night that Minnesota is now 40 minutes back and Missouri S&T, which is apparently big in solar cars, is 10 minutes back. The previous stage saw Infinium finish almost an hour in front of their nearest challenger. We should totally try to get this thing in the Director's Cup.

    Goodbye, almost everyone. One of the tangential discussions that's entered the public consciousness after the QC/stretching violations at Michigan is "dang, there are a lot of dudes getting paid to not coach football." The NCAA is within its rights to reel these guys in somewhat, but this seems drastic:

    Back in April when the Athletics Personnel and Recruiting Cabinet began seriously discussing legislation to curb the growing football and basketball staffs, there were two big questions: exactly how many noncoaching staff members would the teams be allowed and how would the legislation deal with attempts to build new offices in the athletic department?

    The cabinet gave an emphatic answer to the former question, with a somewhat weaker answer to the latter. Bowl Subdivision Football would be limited to just four noncoaching staff members, while men’s and women’s basketball would be reduced to just one. In the Football Championship Subdivision, the limit would be two.

    That's not four grad assistants, it's four staff members, period. The Bylaw Blog suggests this would see athletic departments devolve the many other roles undertaken by specific sport-specific staff into department-wide organizations that avoid this new regulation. The money is always going to flow somewhere. At some point the NCAA should get serious about booting I-A teams  that can't manage 20,000 paid attendance per game into I-AA. The real problem here is that teams like Michigan and Eastern Michigan are being addressed by the same sets of laws when they have zero resemblance to each other.

    The elusive and wonderful. Six Zero's regular series profiling some of the characters who hang out around here has an exclusive look at youtube hero Wolverine Historian. Most surprising to me was WH's age: 

    Wangler to Carter.  Hello Heisman.  Bo singing the Victors.  In your expert opinion, what is the single most iconic video clip of Michigan football?
          There have been many, many memorable moments over the years.  But I think Wangler to Carter from Homecoming 1979 is probably the most iconic video clip of Michigan football.  I was born 4 months after that game was played so I obviously have no personal memories of it.  But the video speaks for itself.  One last play, Carter dancing into the end zone, the crowd going insane, Bo jumping up and down, Bob Ufer screaming, “Oh my GOD!!!  Carter scored!!!” and Lee Corso having a stroke on the Indiana sideline.

    Given the vast breadth of WH's tape collection, I would have ballparked his date of birth sometime around 1817. Instead he is younger than me.

    Merrill watch. Not in the scary way. The first round of the NHL draft is tonight and should see defenseman Jon Merrill taken. There will also be a goalie taken, and this will be lame. But back to Merrill:

    "I honestly want to get drafted, but it's not that big of a deal," Merrill said in a phone interview Tuesday. "It's tough not to hear about (mock drafts) or see things, but I really don't care that much about it.

    "First pick or the last pick, you have the same opportunity to play in the NHL."

    For the paranoid, there's no hint in of a Merrill defection anywhere in the article. The remainder of the draft will be more interesting as far as the composition of the team goes: CCHL forward Alex Guptill is eligible and has made some comments about deciding what he wants to do after he talks with the team who drafts him. He could spend a year in the USHL, possibly with fellow 2011 commit Lucas Lessio, or defect if the Kings or some other team run by paleolithic folk grabs him. He should go somewhere in the middle rounds.

    The final word on SEC vs Big Ten. Sure, they may have won a zillion national titles but this is the Big Ten's position on vuvuzelas:

    The Big Ten has specific policies that do not allow irritants or noisemakers, so vuvuzelas would not be allowed. Below is the specific language from our football game management manual.

    This is the SEC's:

    This instrument, no matter how irritating to some, will not be banned from SEC games this upcoming season, according to the SEC. The instrument of choice in South Africa, which may or may not catch on here in the states, can be brought into stadiums across the league.

    Big Ten wins forever. Not that I imagine there will be a ton of vuvuzelas at SEC games. There will be three incidents where vuvuzelas are brought into the stadium, then gingerly extracted from parts of the anatomy plastic horns were not meant to tread, before everyone gets the idea.

    Not technically World Cup content. This is about soccer but the larger point is excellent:

    One of the hard things about forming an outlook on the World Cup is that when an event gets this much attention, the flow of commentary is so fast and broad that every possible angle is exhausted and trivial positions develop a kind of insubstantial politics. Conventional wisdom starts to seem like an ideology, and if you’re not careful, your own feelings about what happens will be dictated by where you want to stand in relation to that ideology rather than by what you actually think. There’s a pundit position, a cognoscenti backlash, an uber-cognoscenti counter-backlash, and so on till after midnight. Your heart and the stadium get farther and farther apart.

    Case in point: two opinions that put you on roughly the same line of anti-pundit knowingness would be “the first round of games was actually great” and “Switzerland weren’t that exciting yesterday; Spain were just terrible.” Maybe you really feel those things, or have numbers to back them up. But in most cases, I’d guess that the attraction of these stances has a lot to do with the fact that they put some space between you and the thousand-mile pandemonium of cliches blasting out of the TV studios and the pages of your favorite newspaper. It’s not only that they make you sound like you know what you’re talking about, although there’s no discounting the lure of savvy disaffectedness. They also just turn down the volume.

    That sort of contrarianism for the sake of saying something new is a constant temptation for anyone tasked with writing something people will find interesting. Sometimes it's right. Sometimes it's David Berri running a regression and declaring Dennis Rodman more valuable than Michael Jordan or that NBA coaches don't understand who their best players are. If you're trying to  combat the conventional wisdom, you should regard it a tricky, wily foe that requires something more than a blunt-force blow.

    Etc.: Citi dumps its Rose Bowl sponsorship.

    Demar Dorsey Dramatics: Depressing

    Demar Dorsey Dramatics: Depressing

    Submitted by Brian on June 8th, 2010 at 1:34 PM


    bear-shotgun demar-dorsey-ua-game


    This story is still rapidly developing, but in a nutshell this is it:

    "Demar is an NCAA qualifier with a 2.5 or 2.6 GPA and an 18 score on the ACT," said [Boyd Anderson head coach Mark] James. "But he hasn't yet been granted at Michigan."

    In one swoop, ESPN's Corey Long clarifies the bizarre split between optimism and pessimism on the "controversial" recruit who could just save the Michigan secondary. The optimism was about his ability to qualify. The pessimism was about whether it would matter. Sam Webb's assertions on the radio that it would be interesting to see where Dorsey ends up if it's not Michigan suggested that the problem was something other than a test score, but James's coach would like to take the thunder out of that:

    "Right now I think the plan would be to re-open his recruitment and see what's out there," James said. "If he can't find something he likes he'll probably go to a juco for a year and try it again."

    James says the coaches "continue to work on it," and Dorsey gets to twist in the wind longer. At least he's used to it by now.

    There are two ways to be qualified. One is to be qualified. The other is to be Michael Oher or Derrick Rose, in which case you are "qualified" via a string of correspondence classes and/or a sketchy test score. Michigan takes qualified guys, but when scare quotes get involved Michigan tends to go the other way. Ask new Bearcat Adrian Witty. Is Dorsey qualified or "qualified"? We don't know until he enrolls somewhere, whether it's Michigan or Florida State or a JUCO. Available evidence suggests the latter, in which case it's better if Michigan doesn't enroll him. But still…

    This situation is the Draper/Labadie/compliance dysfunction all over again, with miscommunication between Rodriguez—who went to bat for Dorsey with a provost before signing day and got a signoff on him—and admissions replacing the lack of communication between the football administration and compliance. It's a different sclerotic artery, but the root cause is the same.

    Unfortunately—wait. No. Fortunately, in this case we don't have a meticulously documented report to the NCAA featuring 18 months worth of emails between the main parties, so it's hard to tell who's at fault. The proverbial reliable sources have reported that Rodriguez is recruiting with an eye towards NCAA minimums that most programs claim to be above until push comes to shove, while admissions is looking at a larger-than-usual number of players near the borderline and having a little freakout. We've finally gotten some clarification on exactly how Michigan hamstrings itself in recruiting: they'll take kids who scrape by the NCAA minimums (hello Marques Slocum) but only so many.

    So here we are, with a kid who said he'd come to Michigan having held up his end of the bargain only to get stiffarmed by some bureaucrats hell-bent on being a hooker who won't do that. If there was a time to shoot Dorsey down it was before he signed a letter of intent, kicked off a media firestorm, and got everyone all excited about having someone in the secondary approximately as fast as Denard Robinson. Saying "we didn't mean it" and kicking the guy to Florida State or a JUCO or somewhere else validates the firestorm, makes other high-caliber guys worried that they will be cast aside when admissions turns him down, and, most importantly, is totally unfair to Dorsey.

    Admissions should feel free to say "not again, except maybe a few kids," but after someone in the university greenlighted an offer you can't take it back because you made a mistake. If Dorsey is qualified sans scare quotes and doesn't end up at Michigan, everyone gets hurt for no benefit whatsoever. If he's legal in an extremely technical sense only, well… I'd prefer it if Michigan avoided another investigation, but I would like it even better if people in Michigan's athletic department had a clue what other people were doing.

    Names Named, Heads Should Roll

    Names Named, Heads Should Roll

    Submitted by Brian on May 26th, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    stocksMichigan's epic document dump provides a harrowing window into the world of TPS reports, staplers, and increasingly alarmed emails that is the University compliance environment. I started reading these things and I could not stop, delving deeply to 73-page Exhibits that are little more than compliance folk making heroic efforts not to bludgeon the football administration and hardly getting responses.

    A couple things are clear.

    Brad Labadie should be fired. Now. I'll leave the decision as to whether he should be put in stocks on the Diag up to Brandon, but I vote yes. The vastly ineffectual management of Scott Draper should also see him go out the door. If either of these individuals had competently executed his job, there is a strong possibility this whole thing never happens.

    Brandon said yesterday that none of the seven people who got naughty notes put in their permanent record would see further repercussions. I strongly disagree with this decision.

    Here's why:

    You Can Take This Job Description And Shove It, Except You Can't Because It Doesn't Exist

    The CSO made several attempts to obtain written job descriptions for the quality control staff from Scott Draper and Brad Labadie during 2008 and 2009. A copy of the written correspondence related to these efforts is attached as Exhibit 15. Draper provided the first version of the job descriptions on August 28, 2009 after the University began its investigation following media inquiries. See Exhibits 3 and 4.

    Exhibit 15… good lord.

    April 2008

    Judy Van Horn asks Ann Vollano to get job descriptions for all sport-specific administrative staff. Her only sin here is saying "Let's strategize on how to implement."

    July 2008

    Van Horn emails Draper about a meeting that Draper may or may not have to attend about "compliance monitoring systems that are under Brad's purview":

    There have been some glitches with systems that Brad thought would work better under Rich but haven't as well as times where Brad has felt hounded by CSO staff and CSO staff have felt him to be nonresponsive. I think we need to touch base to make sure we can close out 2007-08 and have a workable plan and strong relationship moving into 2008-09.

    In this email Van Horn mentions the CSO is expanding monitoring of QC-type people, a "growing employment area" subject to "increasing NCAA scrutiny and controversy" and they are proactively attempting to get these agreements in place in order to avoid any troubles.

    Draper responds:

    If there is an issue with Brad, I need to know about it. If he was disrespectful or anything along those lines that is something I need to address. If it is not, then as his supervisor I should be made aware of it and handle it with Rich. … Please help me understand what is going on I am in the dark. If there is an issue I need to be made aware of it. Brad reports to me.

    August 2008

    Vollano sends a memo requesting job descriptions for all sport-specific staffers in an effort to ensure Michigan is "meeting NCAA coaching staff limit requirements," asking for a response no later than August 22nd.

    September 2008

    Vollano emails Draper, reminding him to turn in the form requested in August. Draper says he did it, asks Vollano to look for it again. Vollano says it is not present and the CSO has been "on high alert looking for it." Draper says he will re-do it and bring it in in the morning. Rich Rodriguez is CCed on this email. He does not receive further correspondence.

    October 2008

    Vollano emails Draper having received football's "limitations form" but still needs the job descriptions.

    December 2008



    I have left a couple of messages but I thought that maybe email would be easier. I want to remind you that I need job descriptions for all of your non-coaching-specific staff members, As you may recall, the "Designation of Coaching Category" form for the 2OO8·09 academic year was changed and to include space for each member of your non-coaching sport specific staff to sign. In addition, a copy of each sport specific staff person's job description was to be attached. I have your form but I do not have any job descriptions for any of the non-coaching sport specific staff. The job descriptions should include the title of the position and a description of duties. Once we have the job descriptions, we will have the staff members sign an agreement related to their role with your sport. The role of non-coaching, sport-specific staff continues to receive increased scrutiny from both the NCAA and Big Ten Conference staff. These agreements will ensure that we are meeting NCAA coaching staff limit requirements. Thanks for your attention in this matter. An Email would be sufficient if it is easier for you, Take care! Ann

    P.S. I have attached a copy of the form with all of the signatures and positions that you turned in. lf there are any people missing, please let me know. Thanks!

    Labadie responds that he "just listened to the voicemail from earlier where you said you are not taking it personally" and asks for the people who need job descriptions… that Vollano has already told him twice already on the memo.


    August 2009

    The 28th: Draper submits a job description for QC staffers. It is a hastily slapped-together piece of crap.
    The 29th: Free Press report published.
    The 30th: Draper submits another job description for QC staffers.

    You Say CARA, I Say "Shut Up, I'm Playing Halo"

    You know the CARA forms? Yeah… about them:

    The CSO made repeated requests for the CARA forms during 2008 and 2009. Most of these requests were made to Brad Labadie by email. See Exhibit 18. Scott Draper received a copy of several of the e-mail requests to Labadie. The CSO also notified Joe Parker, Senior Associate Athletics Director, Development/Corporate Relations, about the football CARA forms issues in early 2009. After the requests to Labadie produced no CARA forms from football, on May 19, 2009, the CSO office again informed Parker about the absence of CARA forms for football. Parker contacted Labadie and Draper about the issue the same day. Van Horn also notified University auditors of the issue, and the auditors found no CARA forms for football when they reviewed CSO records in April and May 2009. …

    CSO officials did not meet in-person with Rodriguez to notify him of football's failure to provide CARA forms until July 30, 2009. The University is satisfied Rodriguez was unaware of the problem until he received the auditor's memorandum dated July 24th, 2009.

    … The CSO was persistent in its efforts to gather CARA forms from football, including eventually seeking the assistance of the direct of athletics. The University believes, however, t he CSO should have met with Rodriguez to alert him to the CARA forms issue and seek his assistance much sooner than it did. The University believes that had the CSO done so, the CARA forms issue likely would have been addressed at a much earlier date.

    The next section details what Rodriguez's part was in this. The U did not believe Rodriguez knew about the specific CARA procedures; RR states that he was not briefed until the summer of '09, but the matter was on multiple rules education agendas. Van Horn stated she and RR "agreed that Labadie and Draper would continue to be the administrators responsible for football compliance issues."

    As you'd expect, the compliance issues are sheltered from the coaches as much as possible since they have more important things to be doing. The U is "satisfied Rodriguez did not know that the football program had failed to submit its CARA forms for more than 18 months."

    Let's go to Exhibit 18, then. It's 73 pages.

    January 2008

    "Compliance assistant" Rachel Strassner sends a general email asking for telephone recruiting logs, off campus contacts, and CARA forms for December '07—before Rodriguez was hired. On the 31st, Strassner specifically emails Labadie asking for CARA forms from October, November, and December of '07, telephone logs for December, and a bunch of other stuff. Again: before Rodriguez is hired.

    February 2008

    Monthly reminder from Strassner. On the sixth, Strassner emails Labadie again requesting missing docs: one week of CARA forms from November, recruiting logs from Mike Debord, December telephone logs from all coaches, and October contact logs from most of the coaches. On the 12th she emails again asking for the missing CARA week, a number of contact logs, and everyone's telephone logs. On the 20th she's still missing the single CARA week and believes one other week has an overage.

    March 2008

    Reminder ping. Strassner now sending emails with the subject line "Compliance Documents – STILL MISSING". The November 18th week that has been outstanding for months is still outstanding, as are contact logs and telephone logs. Questions about possible overages have not been answered.

    A week later, Strassner sends an email to Michael Parrish, cc-ing Labadie and asking for CARA forms for January and February, February telephone logs, and February contact logs. Vollano replies to this, noting the university's auditor will be in on Thursday and "Auditors like to find things missing so they can put them in their reports." A week later, both Vollano and Strassner request the missing logs again. A week later, the email mentions the auditor "is in the process of reviewing football's records"; it does appear that the rogue November CARA form has been submitted along with most of the missing Carr-era documentation and the contact/eval logs from the first couple months of the Rodriguez regime.

    April 2008

    Ping. Strassner now trying "Compliance Forms Missing – DELINQUENT." We have our first Labadie sighting as he emails that Carr and Rodriguez didn't make calls in certain months and that the CARA forms are "being completed." Quiet month after this.

    May 2008

    Ping. Apparently everything except the CARA forms has been submitted because Strassner's gone down to DEFCON 3: "CARA Forms – Delinquent" and all the telephone/contact log mentions have been dropped. Unfortunately, as time passes the CARA forms keep building up. Labadie has not submitted CARA forms since January 6th. At the end of the month Strassner asks again. Also, CSO still needs Fred Jackson's telephone log from December.

    June 2008

    Draper is now getting CCed on "Football CARA forms MISSING"; Strassner has taken the desperate, futile step of using the little doohickey that makes your emails "high" importance. CARA forms and the rogue Jackson telephone log have not been submitted. Getting slightly snippy: "Please let me know when I can expect these."

    July 2008

    This is the point where Brad feels "hounded by CSO staff" and CSO staff feels he could be a tetch "nonresponsive." The department stops asking about the 2008 CARA logs here so it seems like they were submitted at this point.

    August 2008

    Michigan sends a memo to all coaches and admin staff reminding them about CARA forms for 2008-09.

    September 2008

    Strassner has either moved on from a student job or an internship or thrown herself off U Towers, leaving one Roy Shavers Jr the thankless task of attempting to get CARA forms from Labadie. He takes up the monthly pings. The U reduces the submission frequency from weekly to monthly. It is the CSO's hope that this will simplify the process by "avoiding the need to ask you at the end of each year to account for past weeks of your team's countable athletically related activities."

    October 2008

    Just a ping.

    November 2008

    Ping, and then Shavers emails Labadie to remind him he needs to turn in CARA forms for August and October.

    January 2009

    Ping, ping. The U has pinged Joseph Parker at this point and he now (Jan 8) asks Draper, Labadie, and Parrish to get the CARA forms completed, mentioning that "we need to put a process in place to ensure this information is delivered to the CSO staff in a timely manner." Bill Martin is CCed. Labadie responds that he will get CARA "cleaned up" at upcoming meetings/workouts.

    Twelve days later, Parker emails Labadie again asking about CARA.

    March 2009

    Ping, ping. Parker emails on the fifth noting that "as a follow-up to our conversation yesterday, compliance has not received any CARA Forms for football for 2008-09." Draper replies that Brad is acquiring the "last remaining signature[s]" from the seniors.

    April 2009

    Ping. On April 3rd Vollano asks "any idea when we can get the CARA forms?" Incredibly, she then adds "I do not want to bug you about it but as an FYI, the university auditors are going to start their audit of CARA" instead of "if you do not give me the forms I will chop your head off."

    On the eighth Shavers emails Vollano noting that they are missing all CARA logs and the telephone logs from November, December, January, and March. Vollano pings Parrish.

    May 2009

    Ping. On May 7th Vollano emails Labadie with a last-ditch plea: "I just wanted to let you know that the auditors are here doing CARA. They have an empty folder for football. Any chance you bring them over?"  Double incredibly, she ends the email "Thanks for your help" instead of "I hate you so much."

    Labadie actually responds here: "Figured out what the voicemail was about. Sorry I've been out this morning and I just got the auto reply that you are out later today." Vollano replies the next day asking for the forms ASAP so the auditors can review them, nothing that their report goes to "Bill, the President and Regents."

    Two weeks later, Parker emails that Vollano has been requesting the documents for "several months" and asks if they can submit the CARA forms by tomorrow. Labadie replies "Yep. Had them finished yesterday at workouts and they should have been delivered today."

    Poor, sweet Ann G.Vollano the next day:


    For this, she has been officially censured. Poor, poor Ann G. Vollano.


    August 2009

    Van Horn and Draper set up a meeting. Unclear why, but "CARA forms" is on the agenda. A week later, Michigan sends out the annual CARA memo. A meeting agenda with Martin on August 18th summarizes the "formal communication" regarding the 2008-09 CARA Form fiasco, noting that "at the time of audit during may 2009, no football CARA forms from the 2008-09 academic year had been submitted to the CSO," that "all other varsity sports" had submitted the forms, and that an "inordinate amount of communication occurred between CSO, football administrative staff and sport administrators regarding football CARA forms."

    A section later it notes that "having student-athletes provide written verification of the time they spend in CARA activities protects the head coach and institution from unfounded allegations."

    August 28th: CSO finally receives CARA forms for winter and fall of 2008. They are signed by Rodriguez, but not student-athletes.
    August 29th: Free Press report.
    August 30th: Vollano emails Labadie a special individual ping stating they need the August 2009 CARA forms. Labadie replies in 21 minutes. Subsequent CARA reports are submitted monthly with student-athlete signatures.


    You'll note a few things other than a torrent of email from poor, sweet athletic department compliance personnel virtually begging Labadie for CARA forms: the documentation problems started before Rodriguez even arrived, that Labadie had been "hopeful" the bookkeeping processes would be better under Rodriguez, and not even the freaking auditors being in the office looking at an empty folder could get a response other than "ohhhhh, that's what that voicemail meant." The main document also states that Labadie was the responsible party for the warm-up and stretching time that put Michigan over on Mondays during 2009, although Labadie said that this opinion was based on conversations with Barwis. Why the person in charge of football compliance administration thinks he should talk to Barwis instead of compliance is unknown.

    Most importantly, either Labadie lied to Draper when he said he was just getting the "last signatures" from the seniors for the 2008-09 forms or Draper lied to CSO. The main document states the CARA forms, hastily submitted the day before the Free Press report, have no student signatures. Draper, for his part, made zero effort to check up on his employee despite his apparent desire to play Tropico at work all day. He had no idea there was anything going on for months, and complained to compliance that he needed to know what was going on with the person who reports directly to him.

    The worst part of all of this is how comprehensive, intelligent, and concerned the compliance side of all this was. CSO constantly badgered Draper and Labadie for the missing documents and was in the process of putting together a system that would hopefully have clarified what the QC assistants could and could not do. They anticipated potential problems with the QC staffers! Judy Van Horn just won a prestigious award and it's not hard to see why: Michigan's compliance department was machine-like in its precision. Its primary flaw was being far too polite to the unresponsive Draper and Labadie—not once did Strassner threaten to mail Labadie's pets to Albania, or shave his head in his sleep, or put him in a bun and leave him on Justin Boren's doorstep. If they had been cut-throat about it and immediately raised holy hell with Martin, Rodriguez, and others this may not have occurred.

    Maybe there are things yet unrevealed by 100 pages of emails. Maybe there were behind-the-scenes reasons Labadie could not put the documents together. However, if there were the proper thing to do was to express this. Labadie didn't even get them in when threatened by an audit; it took  the freakin' Freep report to get the sloppy, unsigned CARA forms in—the ones that Labadie claimed he was just getting the last signatures on five months earlier. The main document specifically states that when Rodriguez took over it was decided to leave the CARA process exactly the way it was under Carr, and Labadie still completely failed to file reports for a whole year when the system had been in place for several years and was apparently not an insurmountable task for anyone else in the department. Rodriguez's response makes it explicitly clear that no one informed him the already-prepared job descriptions for QC people had not been submitted and that the lack of CARA form submissions was also unknown. Why was it unknown?

    Labadie told the enforcement staff that he did not tell Rodriguez that he had failed to submit CARA forms because he did not want Rodriguez to look unfavorably upon him.

    There is no possible excuse for the massive breach in protocol here and the missing CARA forms and QC assistant job descriptions are the primary reasons Michigan is reporting major violations instead of a selection of secondary ones. Everyone involved with Michigan football compliance administration has failed massively and should be fired. Now.

    Unverified Voracity Is Terrified Of Everything

    Unverified Voracity Is Terrified Of Everything

    Submitted by Brian on May 21st, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    About that banner contest: obviously, it has not come off. This is because I am working on Hail To The Victors 2010, a process that should be complete in a couple weeks, at which point we will kick festivities off. If you wanted to submit a banner the door is still open.

    Also in sitebulletins: there's a wiki page up designed to be an inclusive list of whatever the community thinks is worth keeping around in an easily-accessible form. Trusted users (>500 points) can edit it. It's available under the "Useful Stuff" tab.

    Olympic Mascot Horror Lookalike. The Olympic mascots:


    Yes, they're terrifying. Yes, they're hovering. It is now time for everyone to figure out what they look like from your childhood. My entry: the Spathi from Star Control 2. They're cowardly mollusks!

    I'm waiting for the day when the Olympic mascots look like the Umgah. (Also: SC2 was released as open source and is now available in a form that functions on modern computers. If you didn't play it back in the day you'll probably find it too clunky, but anyone looking for a blast from the past will enjoy a game still in my top five list all time.)

    Guh. I know this is a very nice column with many nice things to say about Zack Novak and Manny Harris, but… just dude dude no:

    Manny, Manny kudos to Wolverines' Novak


      | Five minutes with most NBA Draft prospects and you can tell if they have character; if you can pay them a fortune to represent your team and not lose sleep at night.

    You know they've got game, but can you trust them?

    Five minutes is all it takes.

    Do their faces light up when talking about the game? You need that, rookie or vet, in an 82-game season.

    And so forth and so on with the one-sentence paragraphs hot of the cliché press. Anyway, apparently Harris patterns his game after George Hill. Do you know who George Hill is? He's a 6'2" point guard who started about half of the Spurs' games this year because Tony Parker was injured. He averaged 12 points per game. He's also a 40% three-point shooter. Manny Harris compares himself to a player who is 1) nothing like him and 2) not even that good. I don't even know what's going on. What is going on? I don't know.

    He's very nice and says nice things about Zack Novak when asked about it by a guy who speaks like a slightly deranged man, offering staccato blips about what's important in Northwest Indiana. Then, to see if he can get away with it, he compares himself to a cucumber. But, like, the cucumber that plays for the Timberwolves. Yeah, that's the ticket.

    Moving on up. The Big Ten is pushing for an earlier start to official visits, namely June:

    "So many kids are taking unofficial visits right now and the cost to families is astronomical trying to go see X amount of schools in June,” Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “It only makes sense. How many of these kids are making early decisions, making verbal commitments, without ever taking an official visit that you can pay for to be on campus for that 48-hour window?"

    This is an obvious thing for the Big Ten to push for since top recruits are concentrated in the South these days and getting a kid to campus radically increases your chance of signing him. It also reflects the changing reality of recruiting, where a ton of kids are off the board by the start of their senior seasons. Undoubtedly, the SEC and Big 12 will try to shoot it down but what their rationale could possibly be is a mystery.

    Also, there's the now-usual assertion that an early signing period is on its way:

    "The coaches are in favor of [an early signing period], most of the leagues are in favor of it," Alvarez said. "Somehow it got stopped in legislation last year. We're not really sure where, but everyone seems to be in favor of it. That wasn't the case a few years ago. A few years ago, it was split 50-50."

    As I've said before, I don't see why there have to be signing periods at all. Just implement a system where any time a prospect wants he can be put on a non-binding "do not call" list that exempts one school. Coaches can't contact a player on the list and players can't take official visits to schools other than the exempted one. That way the "verbal commitment" actually means something without locking in a player in case of a coaching change.

    soony-saad-shiny-thing Lethal. One of Michigan's soccer recruits got a shiny thing. That's incoming freshman striker Soony Saad and the Sports Drink Co Soccer Player Of The Year Award. Saad got it for scoring 76(!!!) goals this season and leading his team to the… round of 16. It's his measly 15 assists that did them in.

    The Saad shiny thing dossier:

    An All-America first team selection by ESPN RISE and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American in 2009, Saad was also the 2008 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Player of the Year. The Michigan Soccer Coaches Association's Mr. Soccer this past fall, Saad concluded his high school career with a state-record 172 goals to go along with 51 assists.

    Good lord. Does this happen in high school soccer programs? Do people just put up like three goals a game?  Dearborn is representing of late, what with Miss USA and Saad.

    He should be an impact player at Michigan immediately after choosing Michigan over UCLA and Akron, which latter is a much bigger deal than it sounds. #1 Akron was undefeated last year until the NCAA final and stomped Michigan 5-1 during the regular season. The entirety of their starting defense was named to the US-U20 team. Akron is no joke.

    Etc.: Six Zero continues his series profiling the many eccentric characters who comprise the MGoCommunity. This edition features MS Paint maestro The Shredder. The RCMB spends much time putting video game Tate Forcier in compromising positions. The new Miss USA drops a "Go Blue" on the Today show, then explains her stripper pictures. Win? Win. Cam Gordon is Bruce Feldman's #2 breakout star of spring.

    NCAA Hockey Tournament Might Make Sense In Near Future

    NCAA Hockey Tournament Might Make Sense In Near Future

    Submitted by Brian on May 7th, 2010 at 11:58 AM


    Apparently "we put a regional in St. Louis that four people will attend" is the 37-man Houston Nutt recruiting class of the NCAA hockey tournament: the rock bottom at which changes are made. From Grand Forks comes news that the hockey tournament is likely to go back to its roots:

    Proposals were discussed at an annual college hockey national meeting in Florida last weekend and one gained the most traction.

    Under the most popular proposal, the tournament would stay as a 16-team field, but the first round would be a best-of-three series played at the venue of the higher seed.

    The eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals would play at one of two super regional sites. The quarterfinals would be one-game shots with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line. The Frozen Four would not change.

    Before the regionals era, teams played best two-of-three series in the higher seed's building. That's how Michigan stole Cornell's cheers in 1992.

    I'm dubious about these super-regionals. If you go back to a best two of three and leave the Frozen Four alone—with its Thursday semifinal—you're either adding a week to the tournament or playing on Tuesday. If it's a Tuesday game, you're jamming a lot of games into a short period of time and putting those short-notice weekday games anywhere other than a campus site is going to be an attendance disaster. [UPDATE: Yes, I'm an idiot. There is already a week off between the Frozen Four and the regionals.] If you're adding a week to the tournament, you might as well play another series on home ice for fairness and attendance reasons. A super regional is okay if you can day-trip it, which will be the case in the east, but will be problematic in the west when they put it in Minnesota and expect CCHA fans to make it out or vice versa.

    But even a Frankenstein tournament like the one proposed above is vastly superior to the current system, which frequently rewards top seeds with road games in near-empty buildings. Fort Wayne was a nice arena but the exorbitant pricing and unwise scheduling kept people away, resulting in an embarrassing profusion of empty seats that did not reflect well on college hockey. Home games are the most likely way to keep the exorbitant pricing and actually fill an arena.

    Surprisingly, there are some protests this could lose money:

    There was some debate whether it would be good financially for the NCAA. If teams that play in large buildings like UND, Minnesota and Wisconsin hosted, it would certainly be more lucrative than the current format, which awards regionals to off-campus, neutral sites.

    Money could be lost if teams that play in small buildings are the host.

    That's almost impossible if the NCAA holds per-game pricing level at about 30 bucks a game. The regional rounds will go from three games to five, six, or seven. Average attendance would have to be about half what it currently is for the NCAA to lose money. Last year's attendance:

    • Fort Wayne: 4,133 and 3,204
    • Albany: 4,073 and 3,737
    • Worchester: 6,572 and 6,054
    • St. Paul: 7,281 and 7,182

    The total attendance for first round-games: 22,059 paying double prices.

    NCAA one and two seeds last year:

    • Boston College (7,800)
    • Wisconsin (15,200)
    • North Dakota (11,600)
    • St. Cloud (5,700)
    • Denver (6,000)
    • Cornell (4,200)
    • Miami (4,000)
    • Bemidji (currently 2.5k, will be 4,000)

    Total capacity: 58,500.

    Required capacity to at least match last year's attendance: 22,059. Required capacity per team: 2,700. Actual capacity: 7,300. Tiny RIT's rink: 2,100. There's no way going back to home playoff series can lose money, especially if the second round goes to best two-of-three.

    Don't Forget The CCHA

    The next year or two promises seismic change in NCAA hockey. First, the tournament is moving towards sanity. Second, realignment and the implosion of the CHA sees the WCHA and Atlantic Hockey go to twelve teams, the CCHA down to eleven, and Alabama Huntsville adrift.

    The CCHA has already made the easy decision by tweaking their playoff format, but attempting to shoehorn 11 teams into a 28-game conference schedule is considerably more difficult. We might see a confusing one-off as the league tries to keep a robust number of conference games, but in the long term a move to 20 seems in the offing. With the Big Ten Network's voracious appetite for content looming and the demise of the College Hockey Showcase—a move Wisconsin explicitly made in an effort to get more Big Ten games on the schedule—some version of a Big Ten hockey conference is in the offing in the near future. It would probably be an out of conference round-robin unless Illinois or Penn State or Iowa starts up a program, in which case all bets are off.

    (HT: MGoUser jcgary.)

    Unverified Voracity Welcomes Back The Yakety Sax

    Unverified Voracity Welcomes Back The Yakety Sax

    Submitted by Brian on May 3rd, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    Site stuff. I fixed a few performance issues* and have convinced myself the site is noticeably snappier afterwards. At this point I've knocked out almost all of the low-hanging fruit and am down to things like "serve static content from a cookieless domain" that 1) WTF and 2) don't promise much more than a few percentage points here and there. So… yeah.

    Moving on in annual Brian Beats On The Site stuff: I'm also working on—and at this point it's far enough along that I think I can announce it because it will happen—a searchable UFR database. If you want to see all the video I clipped in which Tate Forcier throws the ball on third down, that can happen. Etc. Content over the next few weeks might be a little sparse as I attempt to beat that into submission.

    I am still planning a spring game UFR, which is about half done. I totally forgot about converting the file into something I can clip—which is a day-long process, basically—and then converted the wrong file entirely. I am not in midseason form.

    *(Certain javascript files were not getting aggregated and none were gzipped, amongst other things.)

    Right and just forever. "We Are ND" was begging for this but I didn't realize it until someone put it on the youtubes:

    Tying that in with Brady Quinn for Heisman and Jimmy Clausen For Heisman: perfect. Also reason to go back and revisit "we have not said one word about Michigan. We have not talked about their players; we have not talked about their coaches. We'll talk tomorrow." I miss Charlie Weis intensely already.

    MGObama. Yes, I just did that. Obama descended upon commencement this weekend and many people were very excited. I wasn't except insofar as being the sort of university where the sitting president drops by to give a commencement speech might help with offensive linemen in the 2011 class. (Priorities, people.) Even so, I did watch the thing so I caught what I'm pretty sure was an MGoBlog reference in the student speaker's address:

    As a nation, we have found that changes can bring us together, but they can also tear us apart. We can see our ambivalence in that change here on campus as well. After the horror of a certain football game played here a few years ago, many were thrilled when Michigan hired a coach who would bring a new energy and style of football to our school. But after two seasons, change has been slow [audience laughter] and full of growing pains. [more audience laughter] Today, we must re-examine our views toward change.

    Gotta be, right? Alex Marston gets 100 mgopoints.

    OHL Draft. It was mostly good news from the annual exercise in subterfuge that is the OHL draft. Michigan's two 2012 commits, Boo Nieves and Connor Carrick, both went in the late rounds to teams that don't have a reputation for attracting high-end talent not already headed for the OHL. Those are pure flier picks, and we should expect to see both at Michigan in a couple years.

    Other players of interest:

    • Matia Marcantuoni, who supposedly had a deal with Oshawa, fell to 18th after telling OHL teams he would not sign. Kitchener picked him, though, and Kitchener is one of those teams that games the draft all the time. Marcantuoni subsequently announced he would report. It would have been nice to grab the kid, but no one was banking on it.
    • D Grant Webermin, who had been talking up Michigan, went to Windsor at the end of the first, and everyone expects he'll report. Webermin was ranked in the 70s by scouting services, so this was the opposite of a reach: guy will sign.
    • Kitchener also took D Jacob Trouba in the third round. Trouba has already committed to the NTDP and the third round is late enough to suggest that Trouba—a universally acclaimed top-ten talent—will be a tough sign for Kitchener. I think at this point there's a substantial financial penalty if Trouba were to defect, and if he's going to be in the NTDP for a couple years why bother with the OHL after?
    • G Dalton Izyk, a Nieves teammate and high profile 2012 goalie prospect, went in the 11th as well and should be headed to college.

    Similar takes at Michigan Hockey Net and WCH.

    In other hockey recruiting news, ISS's latest top 30 has Merrill just outside the top ten and features him as a "rising" prospect:

    Jon Merrill, LD -- USA Under 18
    Regarded as one of the best defenseman prospects coming out of the US this year, Merrill looks to have leapfrogged his competition and could be debated as being one of the top three best defensive prospects in the entire draft. Merrill was simply dominant in Belarus and his ability to play in all situations, including running the power play, certainly makes him all the more valuable. Merrill is explosive, gets the puck on net and creates lanes all over the ice. He is effective and reliable defensively and proves to be very difficult to win space against. Scouts are salivating at the chance to add Merrill to their rosters, as he is already a dominant player but still has a lot of room for improvement. This kid is for real.

    His coach echoes the praise:

    "Merrill was never under the radar. Everyone knows how good of a player Jon Merrill is," Kleinendorst said. "But he really stepped his game up. He probably helped himself more than anybody over there as far as what he did, how he played. He went out and controlled every moment, whether it was with the puck or without it. He saved his best hockey for Belarus, no question. It was almost like he was just waiting for that tournament to start. So what you got to see was what his true potential really was. He contributed as much as anybody."

    If he lives up to that hype, Michigan shouldn't experience any dropoff on the blueline despite losing Summers and Kampfer. Still nothing on Moffatt, unfortunately.

    Just one more year of this. Donovan Warren, of course, did not get drafted after putting his name in early. This requires damage control from the folks around him who thought entering early was a good idea:

    “Every decision is a gamble,” said Warren’s godfather, Mark Carrier, who was hired as the Jets’ defensive line coach this offseason. “I don’t think he regretted it. Obviously, I think he wished things worked out a little bit different for him. But . . . the Michigan he went to wasn’t there anymore. For him to go back, was that going to be more of a burden?”

    Maybe this is true. Maybe it is not true. I would just like to reach the point where that is no longer an excuse for anyone, where people leave the program and don't have an easy, program-bashing excuse as to why they didn't get drafted. At some point it's on you, right?

    (HT: M-Wolverine.)

    APR, now with slight teeth. The NCAA just officially enacted a few rules changes. Foremost among them is a move to a 68 team tournament, but there are changes of slight interest when it comes to college football academics:

    • Endorsed a recommendation that will require football players to complete a minimum of nine credit hours during the fall semester to remain academically eligible for the following season. The board said studies show players who complete at least nine hours in the fall are more likely to be academically eligible in the spring. Players who fail to meet the requirement would have to sit out four games, but could reduce the penalty to two games if they complete 27 credit hours by the end of the next summer session.
    • Endorsed a recommendation from the Committee on Academic Performance to eliminate waivers for penalties assessed to Football Bowl Subdivision schools that have players leave school after completing their eligibility and are not academically eligible. That's a problem for players who leave school to attend pre-NFL combine workouts. The board agreed that eliminating the waivers would be an incentive to improve retention and eligibility issues.

    There are APR waivers for players who don't graduate after finishing their playing career? Yeesh. I've praised the APR for bringing some accountability to schools but there's still a long way to go. For example, the Bylaw Blog sort of fisked one of the annual "grraaaah NCAA" columns that fruit like morels every March. Point 1 from graaah MSM columnist:

    Kentucky’s graduation rate scorecard for its black players for the last six years reads like this: 18, 17, 9, 17, 17, zero. Over the last 10 years, its black player graduation rate has never risen above 29 percent. Its overall graduation rate passed 50 percent only once, in 2001.

    I thought this might be cherry-picking the federal graduation rate, which counts eligible transfers against you, but Kentucky's most recent graduation success rate is 31%. More like graduation FAIL rate, amirite? (BONUS: Kentucky's team GPA of just above two is a seven year low.)

    Point 2 from Compliance Guy:

    Kentucky’s most recent multiyear APR for men’s basketball is 979. That puts them within the top 10% of all Division I basketball programs and above the median for all Division I sports. So by the measure the NCAA uses to determine penalties, Kentucky basketball is not just getting by, rather it is thriving.

    WTF? 979? Waivers are making a mockery of the APR. A 925 is supposed to represent a 60% graduation rate. Kentucky is barely clearing half that and they have a 979! While the thing isn't totally toothless—Indiana, Purdue, and Ohio State have all seen their basketball programs lose scholarships—any system that can produce that kind of divergence is broken. Hit that Bylaw Blog post for all the waivers that have been instituted; they make my persistent concern that Michigan might find itself in the redzone laughable.

    Tangent: Notice that the two changes above are football programs getting tougher on themselves. Basketball couldn't care less, evidently. The Bylaw Blog gets ornery about that, too.

    Etc.: Misopogon's Decimated D Diaries get a shout-out on ESPN. Remember the epic ESPN/SEC deal that would CHANGE COLLEGE SPORTS FOREVER? Yeah, it's basically just a TV deal, one that gives the SEC the same amount of money for the next 15 years, in which time the BTN will grow until it is the size of Cleveland. You don't need me to tell you that Jeff Defran is an idiot and WTKA should can his ass, but Bruce Madej will explain it to you if you want. Michigan will wear throwbacks at the Big Chill.

    Unverified Voracity Opens The Gates

    Unverified Voracity Opens The Gates

    Submitted by Brian on April 29th, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    Site updates. I've updated the Depth Chart By Class and added a new angle on the roster: the Unofficial Two-Deep. Folks with more than 500 points—"trusted users"—should be able to edit both these pages to reflect changes in them, though I'm getting the weird caching issues with the DCBC. Working on that.

    Please no funny stuff, because then I will be sad.

    deshawnsims2 simsharris

    A pair of items to read. Run, don't walk to USA Today's profile of Deshawn Sims that reads like a Wire script:

    DeShawn Sims graduates Saturday from the University of Michigan. His mother, sister, grandmother and aunt will be there to see him get his degree and hear President Obama speak.

    His father and brothers will not be there. The men in his family are in prison or dead.

    "The men are gone," Sims says. "I'm the last man."

    As soon as you are done there stop immediately and run the opposite direction to Maize 'n' Brew's interview with Zoltan Mesko:

    MnB: Do they ever stick you on the tackling squads or any other kind of full contact drills for special teams?


    Z: You know... I think I've done two tackling drills in my whole career at Michigan. The first made the Carr staff realize this was pointless. The other made the Rodriguez staff realize that was pointless as well.

    For extreme Justin Turner worriers, of which I count myself a tentative member, there is also this:

    There are a lot of young guys that have the potential to be something unbelievable. Justin Turner, for instance. I only see bits and pieces of practice, because I'll do my own thing indoors with the other special teamers, but when I do watch practices, Justin Turner was like white-on-rice with the receivers. He's still learning, but if he was on the receiver, it was like he knew what the receiver was doing next.

    Yes, please, with salsa. The interview continues on at epic length.

    I say intent, you say "I'm sorry I didn't hear you come again whoops you're at JUCO." A couple days ago I posted something on the Sporting Blog about high-end college basketball players increasingly forgoing the letter of intent. I think this is a good idea for players, who are giving up all their leverage in exchange for little. I thought "little" was one year of scholarship, but even that morsel turns out to be a wild exaggeration of the benefits:

    The problem with the NLI is that even for critics of varying degrees, as all three of these writers are, the benefits to a player of signing an NLI are overstated:

    • Signing an NLI does not guarantee a spot on the team. Nothing does. A coach can cut a player at any time.
    • Signing an NLI does not guarantee a scholarship for a year. Signing the athletic grant-in-aid agreement (i.e. the scholarship itself) binds the school to the player, without binding the player to the school.
    • Signing an NLI does not allow the school to start promoting you. Any written commitment to attend will.

    The only benefit to prospects signing an NLI with a school is that it prevents other coaches from harassing the prospect and permits the coaches that signed the prospect to have unlimited contact with them, including by text message.

    So there's virtually no reason to ever sign a letter of intent. BHGP argues that the cessation of hostilities from other coaches is a powerful incentive, but I imagine that saying "no, stop contacting me" will shut even the most persistent coach up lest his persistent annoyance damage his rep for little gain.  The Bylaw Blog, which is the source of the above clarification, points out that the NLI is essentially never enforced in the event of a coaching change (see: Alex Legion) and that this makes a trend towards signing only the grant-in-aid moot. This is mostly true. The stigma from holding a guy against his will is in most cases not worth the player. But there are instances in which a player is forced into a situation he's not a fan of: Iowa signee Ben Brust has been released from his LOI but as a result of his signing he cannot receive athletic aid from a Big Ten school. Also, it's widely suspected that Michael Beasley was not released when the Hugginsbot bolted for West Virginia—which is probably why Demarcus Cousins wanted that clause in his LOI that allowed him to  be released in the event of a coaching change.

    We'll see one-and-dones, who are committing to a coach, pull the Knight trick more often than not starting now. You never know when your coach is going to have to get out of Dodge before the law rolls in.

    The weirdest draft in the world. …is the OHL draft, where talent often has little to do with how high a player goes because of the omnipresent threat that your draft pick might not report if they've got a college option. It is this week, and with Michigan commits and targets peppering first round mock drafts it promises to be of interest. To pick a couple representative mock drafts at random:

    • #3-ish F Matia Marcantuoni. Marcantuoni is supposed to be the top overall pick in the drat but is widely rumored to have a deal with Oshawa under the table. The Wolverine has repeatedly said he will go to Michigan if he goes the college route. That looks doubtful.
    • #13-ish F Boo Nieves. (commit) The linked site says he's "likely" to play in the OHL next year but I doubt that intel given the extremely pro-college stance Nieves has maintained (there's "no question" he's going to college). A possible complication: Nieves did not get picked for the NTDP, which surprised many. With the USHL as strong as it is these days that shouldn't matter much, but if Nieves does go in the first round it's time to start fretting. Other sources leave him out as a "wildcard."
    • D Jacob Trouba. Trouba is a high end talent that would go in the first round if he had not committed to the NTDP. Michigan and Notre Dame are leading for him, with Michigan believed to have an edge.
    • D Connor Carrick (commit). Carrick was on a bunch of lists as a mid-first rounder earlier but does not appear in the latest mocks because his Michigan commitment is supposed to be solid. He is also committed to the NTDP.
    • G Dalton Izyk. Izyk doesn't appear either despite his status as one of the best available 2012 goaltenders; he is a Nieves teammate and someone Michigan will be pursuing heavily. His parents are reportedly adamantly pro-college.

    Bonus hockey recruiting: The Hockey News has a profile of Stefan Matteau, the son of Stephane Matteau. Matteau has accepted a spot on the NTDP and is presumed to be on his way to college. There is mutual interest there. Cedar Rapids F and 2011 recruit Derek Deblois gets scouted; I'll have a fuller profile of Deblois and the incoming recruits later in the summer.

    Etc.: Some TV station announced that Missouri to the Big Ten was a "done deal." It is not. Ironically, the twit who started the Pitt-to-Big-Ten panic by lending credibility to a Bleacher Report article has the gall to write a sarcastic piece about the "new journalism" of echo-chamber sources. Six Zero has started a series of mgouser profiles with the local recruiting demigod.