Unverified Voracity Says Watch Out For The Storm Duck

Unverified Voracity Says Watch Out For The Storm Duck Comment Count

Brian December 19th, 2018 at 2:49 PM

YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN SOMETHING IMPORTANT FOR A SPECIAL PERSON: a sponsor note. Need a last-second gift? How about an actual piece of the Big House? Friend of the blog Martin Vloet got his hands on the original redwood Big House benches—the ones installed in 1927 and used until 2005—and had them made into limited edition pens, cufflinks, pendants, and bottle openers. He also claimed the old plastic seats and cut them up into magnets or pendants. The first 99 pens are reserved for Michigan football players, past or present, that want like to claim their jersey number. The rest of the pens will ship, #100 through #1927, on a first-ordered basis.

VictorsPen-Box(1024wp)

Use the code MGBFREESHIP and save on domestic shipping of any size order placed by 11:59 pm TODAY. As long as it goes out tomorrow, USPS Priority Mail should be able to make it to any US address by December 24.

Follow this man. Eric Shap on Michigan's defensive issues in their last two outings:

A combination of a December lull against teams that don't really have Michigan's attention and a reversion seemingly well past the mean; if holding Eric Paschall to 3/13 from two without doubling wasn't a realistic picture of Michigan's D, well neither is that last set of clips above.

If NET's taken as seriously as RPI that's fine. Weird article in the Washington Post trashing the NET rankings, which are wonky as any NCAA hodgepodge is going to be but hardly a disaster waiting to happen for tournament seeding. The article has three wrong premises. One is that NET is the be-all and end-all of selection and seeding:

You might not think such a discrepancy in the rankings would mean much, but consider how this could affect the NCAA tournament, where a team like Texas Tech would be given a No. 1 seed via its NET ranking, but plays more like a No. 3 seed, per its consensus ranking.

The committee still exists. We're still talking about quadrant one wins. There are still teamsheets. NET will be followed no more blindly than RPI was. Which was a little blindly, if we're being honest, but not to the point where a team gets a one seed solely because of a single number on the sheet.

Two is that a hodge-podge of computer rankings is an appropriate comparison point. Many, if not most, of the rankings in the giant compilation the author cites are predictive rankings that are inappropriate for selecting and seeding the field. At this point in the season many still have a significant preseason component—Kenpom won't be fully preseason-free until the end of January. If the season ended today a field selected and seeded by Kenpom alone would give Purdue, which is 6-5 and has just two B-level wins, a five seed. NET ranks Purdue 31st instead of 17th. NET's deviation from the average here is a positive. The article cites Houston's NET ranking (10th) vs their computer composite (23rd), but you could cherry-pick a weird outlier for almost every one of these ranking systems. ESPN's BPI has Michigan 11th.

Three is that NET won't be able to better distinguish between teams given an additional half-season of data. This is an absurd comparison to make:

Based on last year’s consensus rankings, a top-four consensus team had an average RPI ranking of 3.3. This year the average NET ranking of a top-four team is 5.5, almost identical to a team ranked between No. 5 and No. 8 in the consensus group. In other words, the NET rankings are incapable of distinguishing between a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, a stark contrast compared to last year where, via RPI, there was a clear difference between the two.

For one, last year's RPI-influenced committee put Kenpom #9 Kansas and Kenpom #14(!!!) Xavier on the one line. As a group the two-seeds were stronger. For two, most teams have only played a third of their games so far. Of course there is going to be more disagreement amongst ranking systems when they have less data.

The only real question is "is NET better than RPI when tourney time nears?" Open question, but it would have to try real hard to be worse.

[After THE JUMP: more NCAA legal troubles, what is USC even doing, and a sudden 180]

Comments

Unverified Voracity is Rested, Fresh, Healthy

Unverified Voracity is Rested, Fresh, Healthy Comment Count

Brian October 24th, 2018 at 1:14 PM

Yes sir I will subscribe to this newsletter. This Week In Schadenfreude spends all its time with Ohio State:

not gonna watch till mich

I need a break from this noncents. Gonna hang with my 2 boys or take the broad out for mini golf. I need to repriotoeoeize my life.

… I…

Okay. Thank you.

Gary details. Rashan Gary's mom decided to put all the cards on the table in re: Gary's injury. Executive summary: he got hurt before Notre Dame, aggravated it by falling on the shoulder in the Northwestern game, and was told that he needed 4-6 weeks for the injury to heal. Penn State is 5 weeks, Rutgers 6. He is not pulling a Bosa. The end.

A terrifying glimpse inside the program. Stephen Spanellis reveals Ben Herbert's mantra:

They seem to like the guy, at least? Enough to photoshop him into things?

No lies detected. Sterile giant fields surrounded by empty buildings and Buffalo Wild Wings, is what Jordan Poole just saw:

“I had never been to Michigan State before, and their campus was awful – it’s trash,” Poole said. “It was just dry.

There's actually a giant, interesting thread on the RCMB about this very thing dating back a couple years. Folks are openly envious of Ann Arbor's ability to put up new buildings, which… hoo boy, that says something about East Lansing NIMBYs.

Okay, here's a hype video. Needs more Metellus skipping but otherwise I will allow it.

Metellus grade. Michigan's safeties are one of only two spots on the defense that seem even a little permeable—DT is the other—but even there Michigan has a guy grading out very well per PFF:

S Josh Metellus, 76.7 Overall Grade

While coverage metrics aren’t typically the best to look at when discussing safety play, Metellus’ play in coverage is certainly deserving of highlighting here. He holds an absurd 5.7 passer rating allowed to opposing receivers, which leads all defensive backs with at least 135 snaps in coverage. He has not allowed a single touchdown this season to go with three interceptions and is allowing just 31.6% of passes thrown his way to be hauled in. In coverage from the slot, he’s allowed just a 13.8 passer rating and has two of his three picks.

That rating has to be giving Metellus credit for all his INTs like he was in coverage on those throws. He was not on two, which were deflected by David Long and Lawrence Marshall. So don't focus on the passer rating, focus on the grade, which is All Big Ten-level.

In other PFF stuff, Gary has dropped out of their first round and Devin Bush has slid to #32 on their draft board. The first is pretty obvious. The second… uh?

[After the JUMP: glacing owlishly]

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Unverified Voracity's Knees Are Covered As Modesty Requires Sir

Unverified Voracity's Knees Are Covered As Modesty Requires Sir Comment Count

Brian September 18th, 2018 at 3:37 PM

Clarification(?) on the bizarre Bush incident. So this happened to Devin Bush on the SMU reverse:

Actual refs on Reddit suggest that the ref is forcing Bush off the field because of an equipment issue, which is 1) unannounced, 2) does not stop SMU from snapping the ball, and 3) goes unpenalized when Bush understandably reacts to the ball being snapped. Some explanation: 

>If this was the case why did he allow Bush to continue to stay on the field

This is a valid question. The player should not have been allowed to participate in the next down. Unfortunately some guys have been letting players fix the issue and stay in rather than enforcing the rule as written.

>not throw a penalty flag?

This is not a foul, so we don’t throw a flag for it. He just has to leave.

>It also still seems improper to be telling a player to get off the field as the ball is being snapped.

Officials said the same thing before the season, but we’re told this isn’t what the rule makers wanted.

Also, the theorized equipment issue—uncovered knees—doesn't seem to be actually there. Immediately after the play:

image

The umpire then comes over, says something to him. Bush continues playing, apparently not adjusting anything. I can't say I've seen anything like that before.

[After THE JUMP: spidermens]

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Unverified Voracity Fires Traditional Money Cannon

Unverified Voracity Fires Traditional Money Cannon Comment Count

Brian April 9th, 2018 at 1:32 PM

Sponsor note. Police horses assembled on South U were the only people happy with the result of the Villanova game. And those riding them, I guess. Police-horse related business probably took a hit.

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If you have one of those and have a contract you now regret, you probably should have hired Hoeg Law to execute it. Now you're stuck, and probably going bankrupt. Hopefully you shielded your personal assets, which Hoeg Law could have helped you with. But there's always next time. Maybe you could start a company that persuades advertisers to drop their weird months-long police horse saga in favor of something else. You should call Hoeg Law, then: he can be your lawyer and your client.

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Amara Darboh becomes a citizen

Charity Bowl time. The original money cannon target returns:

HOW LONG IS THIS GOING? Through the week and into the weekend. We’ll give daily updates about how big a lead Michigan has.

ARE YOU GOING TO GET A TATTOO AGAIN? No, but as always, if we reach, say, $40,000 in total donations, Ours Truly here will do something dramatic in honor of the winning school. Don’t doubt us on this point. We have a tattoo of a Michigan block M with the character Totoro over it as proof of our seriousness here.

Also we sometimes have famous people from your school call you to thank you personally. Heisman Trophy winners, actually. No big deal, just a little thank you from us to you for being a great American.

Since, uh, the great victories of yesteryear were less great than anticipated, this year's donation is in honor of Darboh and Jehu Chesson.

image

For the more rivalry inclined there are various basketball scores available. Please don't use the score of the Syracuse-Michigan State game, though. We're trying to raise money here, people.

The big lawsuit. Amateurism may end by brute force in the near future, as the other big NCAA antitrust lawsuit comes in front of the same judge that ruled against the NCAA in O'Bannon:

n a 36-page opinion, Wilken did not give either side total victory. However, she rejected several of the NCAA’s critical contentions and set the stage for the plaintiffs to seek a new system that would apply to Division I men’s and women’s basketball players and to football players at Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

The plaintiffs have proposed that limits on athletes’ compensation be set on a conference-by-conference basis, a change that could open the door to athletes being able to capitalize on their names, images and likeness if a conference's schools chose to go that way.

The plaintiffs also have suggested that athletes be allowed to receive all manner of benefits above the cost of attendance that are related to education and/or are incidental to their participation in their sports.

“We’d call this ruling a home run,” said Steve Berman, one of the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys. “We couldn’t have plotted it out better for us, frankly. … I absolutely think we are going to win this trial.”

Kevin Trahan goes a little more in depth in a post on Above The Law:

Here lies the NCAA’s problem: Its two most persuasive justifications — and explanations for why no less-restrictive alternatives would work — are premised on the fact that fans wouldn’t watch and athletes wouldn’t be students if they weren’t paid. But the more the FBI shows that athletes were getting paid, while athletic departments continued to rake in money and those players still showed up for class, the more the NCAA will struggle to argue that such strict rules are necessary to preserve college sports.

Before the FBI investigation, and during the O’Bannon trial, the plaintiffs relied on showing that athletes weren’t primarily students in a lot of cases. The academic scandal at the University of North Carolina, in which athletes were getting degrees for taking fake classes and weren’t allowed to pursue their desired coursework, was an instructive example. The plaintiffs will certainly bring up that point again — especially after the NCAA arguably failed to substantially punish UNC for its widespread academic fraud — but in O’Bannon, Wilken clearly saw the potential for payments to hurt the academic experience of athletes. Specifically, she worried that if athletes made too much money, they “might also be inclined to separate themselves from the broader campus community by living and socializing off campus.”

Not only can the plaintiffs now show that schools themselves separate athletes from the rest of campus, they can also show that the system didn’t come crumbling down when players did get paid. For instance, Marvin Bagley, whose family went from bankruptcy to a pristine house due to allegedly “illicit” payments, made the Atlantic Coast Conference’s All-Academic team while starring at Duke.

The NCAA is trying to prove a bunch of things that aren't true and have lots of evidence suggesting they aren't true, in front of a judge that's already ruled against them in a near identical case. The only difference is that this case is asking for the moon instead of crumbs.

Pendulum swings back ever so slightly. Basketball has rejected two point jumpers wholesale over the past ten years.

twos_vs_threes

We may be reaching the maximum extent of that trend. Spurred on by Trey Burke's sudden NBA emergence and all those clanged free throw line jumpers the 2-3 zones of the NCAA tournament induced, I've been wondering when a midrange jumper is actually good. The answer in the NBA appears to be "when it's the only open shot you can get":

The NBA Stats API provides some aggregate data on shooting performance based on both the distance of the shot, and the distance of the closest defender at the time of the shot, which shows that yes, usually a 3-point attempt has a higher expected value than a long-range 2. But if the 3-pointer is tightly guarded and the long-range 2 is wide-open, then the 2-pointer can be better. For example, a wide-open 2-point shot from 20 feet on average results in 0.84 points, while a tightly-guarded 3-point attempt from 25 feet only averages 0.71 points.

Neither of those numbers is good, obviously. Michigan's crushing tourney D was holding teams to around 0.84 PPP in their best possessions. But if the clock's running out and someone's closing out, that long two after a dribble is… eh… fine.

Speaking of Trey. His re-emergence into an NBA player is one of the more remarkable stories of the year:

Burke in New York has the statistical profile of a star. He's shooting well from everywhere: 39 percent from deep, Nowitzkian levels from midrange on colossal volume, and even 73 percent at the rim -- once a no-fly zone for an undersized guy with average athleticism.

Burke isn't just hunting points. He has assisted on almost 40 percent of New York's baskets while on the floor, a borderline top-five number. He has developed a nice pick-and-roll chemistry with Michael Beasley, captain of last year's Waltons; New York has scored 1.28 points per possession on any trip featuring a Burke-Beasley pick-and-roll, the fourth-best (!) mark among almost 300 duos that have run at least 150 such plays, per Second Spectrum.

Only six players over the past two seasons have commandeered such a large share of possessions with shots and assists: LeBron, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, James Harden, Dennis Schroder, and D'Angelo Russell.

He's probably going to come back to earth somewhat, but he's still gone from the G League to a guy who's going to get paid.

A denominator! The Detroit News provides a percentage for a basketball recruit:

David DeJulius, 6-0, Sr., G, Detroit East English

DeJulius had the ability to step up and carry his team to victories. He scored 17 fourth-quarter points to rally East English from an 18-point halftime deficit in an 80-71 victory over two-time Class A state champion Clarkston, then scored 49 two weeks later in a win over Illinois state champion Chicago Orr, making nine 3-pointers. He averaged 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. “He was always trying to get better, always listened and was very coachable,” Coach Juan Rickman said. “He could score the ball, his ball-handling got better and he was able to read defenses, leading him to take the ball to the basket, find an open teammate or make the 3-pointer.” DeJulius, a Mr. Basketball finalist, will play at Michigan.

42% on huge usage pull-up threes is pretty pretty good. He should be pretty plug and play as a backup PG. Enough of that will translate even against better defenses.

Girard profiled. Joe Girard III is the all-time New York HS scoring leader with a year left in his career, and a major 2019 target for John Beilein. He likes basketball:

Wiping sweat from his eyes, Girard starts one of Dagostino’s finishing drills. Instructed to take two “slide dribbles” on the right wing before finishing at the rim with his left hand, Girard starts with three straight misses.

On the fourth miss, which he air balls, Girard slaps the baseline wall in frustration.

Dagostino gathers Girard’s miss, lays the ball up and in the bucket before passing it back to Girard and says, “try throwing (the ball) in.”

“My biggest thing was always if you could see the ball go through the hoop,” Dagostino said, “no matter if you make it or your teammate makes it, then you are going to have a better chance of finding your rhythm by seeing it go in.”

Girard adjusts by “throwing” the ball in an overhand motion rather than the scooping technique prior. Dagostino’s suggestion results in five straight makes and Girard ends the drill with a round of free throws, a staple of any Dagostino circuit.

Sounds like he'll be off the board in the near future:

“I am getting kind of closer to a decision,” Girard said on Thursday. “I am getting older and time is becoming less and less. So it is about things getting more serious that (my dad and I) talk about, and what I need to do in order to play at the next (college) I will be attending.”

Girard's dad played for Beilein, but Duke looms. As of a week ago the Duke 247 site was very confident.

Etc.: Northwestern picks up Evansville transfer Ryan Taylor, who took 41% Evansville shots(!) last year. Midfielder Marc Ybarra will play for AFC Ann Arbor this summer. The Hughes family is good at doing hockey. Beilein after the loss. "All or Nothing" reviewed. Morris and Genuinely Sarcastic bid this basketball team goodbye. Arizona State saying the quiet parts loud.

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Unverified Voracity Bombs Bo Ryan Out Of Nowhere

Unverified Voracity Bombs Bo Ryan Out Of Nowhere Comment Count

Brian November 15th, 2016 at 1:06 PM

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[Patrick Barron]

On Speight. Yesterday we reported he'd be out for the regular season; someone asked Harbaugh if he was out for the season and he said no. Those aren't the same thing, obviously. You should still expect O'Korn for the next two weeks. Beyond that we'll see. There are conflicting reports about the exact nature of the injury. I've gotten some additional reports that it's a shoulder issue, not the collarbone. The upshot is the same.

Whenever we report something that comes into question our policy is to reveal as much as possible so you can judge for yourself, but there's not much I can say here. Best I can figure is that a person close to the situation got some preliminary or garbled information, which is why ESPN and the Free Press were both able to issue confirmations, with the Free Press citing the same injury. I can't say we'd do anything differently given the provenance of the information. These days we sit on anything not impeccably sourced because the downside of an incorrect report is greater than the upside, so of course.

Other dings. 247 reports that both Channing Stribling and Delano Hill should be good to go this weekend. Stribling had some issues getting off the field after his interception and Hill was replaced by Tyree Kinnel just after halftime when Hill went down with what looked like a cramp to me, but must have been at least a bit more serious. Steve Lorenz say Hill might be held out as a precaution.

PFF on Iowa. For one, Wadley is good against many teams, not just Michigan.

(I assume "averaged" is supposed to be "averages"; former implies they're just talking about the Michigan game but the 100+ carries indicates they're talking about the entire season.) Wadley's utilization remains a mystery. Michigan missed 11 tackles on him; prior to MSU, when the missed tackle explosion began, they had just 19 on the season.

Meanwhile the offensive grades are grim. De'Veon Smith made PFF's top five with a 55.5 grade, which is the kind of thing you see when Michigan's D plays a really bad offense. The other four, all of whom got solidly positive marks in the mid-to-high 70s, are Bredeson, Cole, Magnuson, and Butt—blockers. Michigan's skill guys disappointed.

Defense was more of the same with missed tackles hurting the LB grades. Mo Hurst again graded out excellently; per PFF he's the top interior pass rusher in the country. I'm a bit surprised he hasn't moved into the starting lineup as Godin comes back to performances that are more in line with his junior year. 

FWIW, Hurst says he is leaning towards a return next year.

"It'll be just about how (me and my family) feel about it, we'll talk through it, I'll talk with coach (Jim) Harbaugh about it," Hurst said. "I think (I'm leaning toward) wanting to stay for a fifth year and pursue a Master's degree. That's something that (could be a factor).

"The degree and just the chance to come back. I love playing here. It's been everything I've imagined, especially these last two years. The atmosphere on campus. The coaches are great and they've done a great job and I know I've gotten a lot better."

That is obviously a huge deal for Michigan, which would be replacing him in the starting lineup with... Michael Dwumfour? There's a reason Michigan looks set to take 8 DL in this recruiting class.

The outlier. S&P+'s been updated and it shows just how out of nowhere Michigan's offensive performance was on Saturday. S&P+ tracks "percentile performances" on both sides of the ball. Michigan's worst outing this year against Wisconsin was at 70%; they had just one other performance under 80, that a 78% against MSU.

Against Iowa: 11%. That game alone saw Michigan's offense drop from 8th to 25th in Bill's rankings. Again I would like to shake my fist and ask why does anything happen if it's not going to be predictive.

Occam's Razor. Folks who cover OSU are in a never-ending search for red meat for the ravenous masses. See anything Bill Kurelic's ever written. Cleveland.com gets in on the act with an in-depth look at how Pioneer LB Antjuan Simmons ended up committing to OSU. Which of these approaches seems more like Harbaugh?

There are only two things that can explain Michigan's approach: Either Harbaugh never prioritized Simmons on his recruiting board or the Wolverines completely blew it with how they recruited the 6-foot-1, 215-pound prospect.

Maybe Simmons will be great at OSU but there's no story here other than sometimes people disagree on a recruit.

A nasty lawsuit in a surprising locale. A former basketball player at a Power 5 school has filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging various attempts to boot him off his scholarship. That school is... Northwestern?

The suit describes a variety of measures the program and athletic department used to free up Vassar’s scholarship, which was eventually transferred from athletic grant-in-aid to an academic scholarship. The University, the complaint alleges, went so far as to offer Vassar a cash payment in March of 2016 so he would “go away.”

The suit also alleges that Northwestern placed the three-star recruit in an “internship” so he could retain his athletic scholarship. The program, called the “Wildcat Internship Program” involved him working in a janitorial capacity. It also claims that Northwestern tried to falsify Vassar’s timesheets during the internship “in an effort to create grounds for revoking [Vassar’s] guaranteed athletic scholarship.”

The suit also attacks the NCAA and its transfer rules and is part of a larger lawsuit put forth by Hagens Berman against the NCAA in 2012.

I did not expect Northwestern basketball to be accused of cutthroat behavior this day.

The larger lawsuit is an attempt to bash down various NCAA transfer restrictions in a class action and goes hard in the paint on Bo Ryan:

123. To call Ryan a hypocrite would be an insult to hypocrisy.

(Because he blocked Jared Uthoff's transfer to Iowa after moving up to Wisconsin despite a contract with UWM.)

Etc.: settings –> options –> mute "tuddy". This article on responding to motion is very technical but may be of interest to actual coaches and football nerds. Inside the FEI rankings. Tom Brady and Brandon Graham make PFF's midseason All-Pro team.

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Unverified Voracity Is Panda, Hammers

Unverified Voracity Is Panda, Hammers Comment Count

Brian October 11th, 2016 at 1:35 PM

So this happened. This is going to get out of control.

I'm warning you to brace yourselves for how out of hand this is going to get.

This is where we got involved.

And then Smoothitron from the top rope:

I hope you lashed yourself to the deck before reading this collection of tweets.

A coaching carousel on deck. At the midway point of the season it's looking like this could be an interesting December:

  • Les Miles is already gone from LSU.
  • Brian Kelly is 2-4 at Notre Dame, is definitely losing to a service academy, and is unlikely to make a bowl.
  • Charlie Strong is running out of rope at Texas, now 2-3 and 0-2 in the Big Twelve while playing horrendous defense.
  • Baylor still needs a long-term coach.
  • Oregon is 0-3 in the Pac 12 and may be thinking about pulling the trigger on Mark Helfrich.
  • Both LA schools have two conference losses already and sit at 3-3; wholesale collapse from one or the other isn't out of the question.

All of these schools will be pitching Tom Herman, and either all but one or all of them will end up disappointed. Once you get past Herman, up and coming candidates include... uh. Harbaugh acolyte Willie Taggart's turned USF around, PJ Fleck's itching to move up for anyone who's a boat enthusiast, and that's about it. Gonna be some weird guys getting head coaching jobs at major schools this offseason.

The situation in East Lansing. It's not good if you're a Spartan fan, but you're not no matter how much you're scouring the RCMB for hilarity and then emailing me when Google naturally responds by popping up MSU ads on this here site. (You know who you are. You are legion.) So it is good.

Bill Connelly had a deep dive into the decline from a team that was technically invited to the playoff to one that S&P+ currently has at 20% to make a bowl game. I jokingly referenced it in the game column but it deserves some actually attention. The problems in approximate order of severity:

  • The OL is a "sieve." This has led to some ugly rushing stats ("85th in Rushing S&P+, 101st in rushing success rate, only 18 rushes of 10-plus yards (119th)") despite having LJ Scott, who I continue to believe is the truth. It is also getting Tyler O'Connor sacked a ton.
  • The DL is a nonentity, deep into the triple digits in sack rate and largely responsible for a rushing S&P+ that is just as bad as their offenses's. This was predictable to some extent since MSU took not one but two grad transfers on the DL in an effort to shore up their line after Craig Evans and Montez Sweat got booted.
  • It's an old team not likely to have a midseason turnaround as the youth gets their heads on straight.

The numbers figure to get a bunch worse next week, when S&P+ finishes whittling away the preseason projections that still make up a portion of their rankings. Without those projections MSU, currently 60th, would be 84th. Even now S&P+ has Michigan a 25-point favorite(!!!) on the road in East Lansing.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the season?

A couple more things about MSU. Their depth chart this week features an OR between their top three QBs. Also, instagram sleuthing by iSportsDave seems to indicate that Riley Bullough is out for the season. Or possibly another one of their linebackers.

Weekly fancystats love us update. Michigan is now 85%+ to win each game before OSU and an 18-point favorite against Iowa, the toughest remaining game before Football Armageddon II. S&P+ sees that as a dead heat, with OSU getting a slight edge because the Game is in Columbus.

In other S&P superlatives, Michigan is #1 nationally in:

  • field position
  • opponent success rate (at 19% Michigan is giving up less than half the number of successful plays than an average D-I D)
  • points per trip allowed once the opposition gets inside the 40
  • rushing defense, rushing success rate, and adjusted line yards
  • passing defense, passing success rate, and adjusted sack rate
  • standard down D, success rate, and line yards per carry
  • passing down D (they're top five in every other passing down category but not #1, shame)
  • third down D
  • havoc rate

The D is on pace to be historically good.

Ross Fulton on OSU's (relative) struggles against Indiana. OSU still won comfortably, but under 400 yards against a hurry-up team like IU is a sign that the Buckeyes are indeed mortal. Ross Fulton examines why that was so:

The simplest explanation for Ohio State’s passing problems was that J.T. Barrett was off. ... As he admitted after the game, he again refused to take the open underneath routes. For instance, below he does not get the ball to Curtis Samuel out of his break.

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He instead tried to force mid-range passes. But such throws were often late and with too much velocity, leading to inaccuracy high and outside. ... The game became reminiscent of other contests where Barrett was off, such as Penn State in 2014 or Michigan State last year, when Barrett missed open deep throws. As Meyer reiterated in his Monday press conference, Ohio State’s offense is based upon running the football and hitting vertical shots off play-action. Without such completions, opponent safeties can play aggressively downhill, resulting in a lower rushing success rate and a less efficient offense.

Things went from bad to worse last year because Barrett was decidedly not off, hitting two heavily contested bombs. Even so, if Michigan can put the game on his passing chops their chance to win goes up a great deal.

Perspective. The Rutgers game continues to generate thinkpieces, like this one from Inside NU:

The Romans at the Battle of Cannae, for example, were outsmarted and then completely destroyed by Hannibal’s Carthaginians. Rome’s armies took a full decade to recover. At the English victory over the French in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, the entire French army fell apart and the French king was captured. Significant parts of France would remain under English rule for nearly a century.

Michigan 78, Rutgers 0 is worse than any of that. At least the French could claim that they brought an army to Poitiers. At least the Romans can take pride in the fact they had a plan whatsoever, even if it was incredibly dumb. Rutgers could not do anything. It was immobilized through lack of competence. The closest historical comparison is the Battle of Ulm, in which Napoleon was able to capture a huge Austrian army simply through highly skilled movement over the course of three days. And even then, it’s hard to compare. It took Michigan three hours.

Yes, it's a very Northwestern piece. I can't wait for The Only Colors to write one through the lens of the greatest Jerry Springer episodes they've seen or participated in.

NLRB is coming at the NCAA again. With the O'Bannon case now finished with no clear victory either way, but the NCAA did take hit as an antitrust violator. The National Labor Relations Board has now handed down a ruling that refers to football players as employees and bans certain practices:

In an unprecedented foray into college sports, the National Labor Relations Board has declared that Northwestern University must eliminate "unlawful" rules governing football players and allow them greater freedom to express themselves. The ruling, which referred to players as employees, found that they must be freely allowed to post on social media, discuss issues of their health and safety, and speak with the media.

The new rules apply to the football programs at the 17 private universities that play in the FBS, including schools such as Notre Dame, Stanford and Baylor -- but not public universities.

This is not a big thing right now but might open the door to more seismic items.

(HT: Get The Picture.)

Etc.: Grant Newsome hopes to return next year. Peppers now #4 in Heisman odds. The Daily on that. Tracking Michigan-Union hockey in depth.

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Unverified Voracity Will Fight You In An IKEA Parking Lot

Unverified Voracity Will Fight You In An IKEA Parking Lot Comment Count

Brian September 9th, 2016 at 3:56 PM

This man's name is Vince Staples. The younglings on the staff inform me he is a rappist of some renown, and he digs Harbaugh, in NSFW style:

This will help his Q score, as one has. Vince Staples will get us in living rooms across the nation because he is going to fight Urban Meyer in an IKEA parking lot. As one does.

Rolovich is impressed. Hawaii's deadpan coach with some high praise:

"I would be much more afraid to play Michigan again than Florida, the '08 team," Rolovich said. The 2008 Florida team went on to win the national title behind one of the nation's best defenses. "The Gators were good. They won the national title, but there wasn't a weakness on the field (at Michigan). Their coaches deserve credit. Their players deserve credit. That's some big-time football right there."

He said this about a Michigan team that was without two potential first-round draft picks.

The Ringer is hitting its stride. See this excellent article from Katie Baker on the tao of Harbagh…

It’s easy to dismiss Harbaugh as a showman, and there’s no doubt he has a great sense of the impact some of his statements, tweets, or music videos will have. Still, a large part of how he comes across is simply who he is. Some of it is the Harbaugh lineage, though much of it is just him.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to be in that family,” laughed Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison, who in his career has now worked with Harbaughs Jack, John, Jim, and Jay. “When you go to play a pickup basketball game, I got a feeling you gotta be pretty physical.” Indeed, when Harbaugh first met his wife’s large family, he wound up complaining about her sister Amy’s officiating in a 3-on-3 basketball game.

But in contrast to the more reticent John, or the more affable Jack, or the more soft-spoken Jay (whose Twitter bio does include the words: “Relish a good nepotism tweet”; like father, like son), Jim Harbaugh can never just stay put. He points out that he’s the only member of his family taller than 6 feet and ascribes it to a childhood spent downing whole milk and praying for height. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming to think about what it must be like to live inside his brain.

…and the next section, which is our old friend Smart Football. It's not quite Grantland yet but it's not bad except for all the articles in which NFL coaches complain about spread offenses.

They always catch up. Fascinating article by Chris Brown on the decline and fall of Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, which wasn't just based on the imperious personnel decisions and general Jed Yorkery of his term there. Kelly went away from running quarterbacks because the NFL has a salary cap and very few plausible starters at that spot, and teams caught up to his tempo.

Then he started tipping all of his plays and acting like Brady Hoke afterward:

Philadelphia’s opponents seemed to know what was coming throughout 2015, even when he tried to mix in other plays. For example, as long as he’s been in the NFL, whenever Kelly’s opponents have geared up to stop his inside zone play, he has typically gone to his counterpunch, a sweep play in which the guard and center both pull to lead the way. But, tipped off by the alignment of the running back and the tight end, defenses were ready for that, too.

It’s one thing for a team to miss a block or for the play caller to guess wrong, but these are abysmal, totally hopeless plays rarely seen in the NFL. Yet Kelly repeatedly deflected criticism that his offense had become predictable by saying that the issue came down to only one thing: “We need to execute.”

If you stay static, the hyenas download you and take over. Michigan's offense has to move as much as anyone else's—one reason I think the fullback traps might go on vacation this season. They haven't shown anything new so far and won't this weekend. Starting with Colorado the wrinkles will start to work their way in.

Hopefully you run into Scarlett Johansson. Zack Shaw on Gardner and Gallon's Japanese adventure:

Wary of the likelihood tryouts and camp invites actually led to something, Gardner’s agent pitched a new idea to Gardner this spring: Go be a star … in Japan.

“He said he had an interesting idea after someone had given him a call about it,” Gardner said. “It was (pitched as) a chance to see a new place, get back on the field again for some time because I hadn’t played in a while.”

The next day, Gardner was on a flight to Japan. He signed with the Nojima Sagamihara Rise a couple weeks after that, and was asked if he knew of any American players that would also be interested. Though the X-league is competitive, players from the United States typically thrive against less-experienced competition, to the point in which the league put a cap on four Americans per team.

So Gardner had to pick his receiving target wisely, but it wasn’t a hard call to make.

Large profile of interest. We took their Kaiju, only fair we give back.

Wait, what? Apparently basketball coaches are bracing for a transfer free for all?

While the overwhelming belief of the college basketball coaching fraternity is that players being able to transfer without having to sit a year is imminent, NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy told ESPN he isn't ready to go that far.

"I am confident we will be victorious in these cases," Remy told ESPN. "If they win, we wouldn't be able to have the rule anymore.'

I'm very much on the pay-these-men-their money side of things but that sucks. I'd like to draw a line somewhere more conservative than "anything at all that can be construed as a benefit for athletes is what we should do," and both transfer restrictions and the sit-out year are things that I think are reasonable. (To be precise: I don't think teams should be able to restrict players from teams not on their schedule the next year.)

We're already seeing a ton of guys bail on their mid-major teams to go play a year or two at bigger schools, and this would only accelerate that. A separate article by Jeff Goodman goes over the parlous state of incentives in college basketball:

Another mid-major head coach, who lost one of his best players to a BCS school this past offseason, told ESPN he would be "slowing down the graduating process" for his players in order to ensure that he doesn't lose another to the high-major ranks.

When asked to elaborate specifically on what "slowing down the graduating process" would entail, he said instead of enrolling a player into a pair of summer school classes in two sessions, they might not have that particular player take summer school at all -- or take just one class per session. Another prevailing thought is to put players in just the minimum 12 hours of classes each semester.

"What kid is going to argue and want to take more classes?" one mid-major coach said. "There aren't many."

That's bad for the sport since it paves an even easier path to the top for the top schools and reduces the number of upsets that make the NCAA tournament so fun:

A year ago, Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters could have trotted out a starting lineup that included Trey Lewis and Anton Grady. Instead, Lewis spent the season at Louisville. Grady took a grad transfer year at Wichita State and Waters went just 9-23 and will have some pressure on him this season instead of working on a contract extension. Both Lewis and Grady are playing professionally overseas this season.

There's a totally legit competitive balance argument here. And you can't even make that academic argument that is offered up by defenders of the grad transfer rule. Switching schools in the middle of a degree will make things tougher. (Unless you can't do algebra and transfer to MSU.)

If we could just admit that basketball players are majoring in basketball and that this is completely fine a lot of balderdash could be excised from these discussions. Basketball players transfer because of basketball. Therefore it is proper to consider the effects on basketball these transfer rules have.

Unintended consequences. NFL players and owners conspire against players yet to join the league by agreeing to a CBA that pays rookies vastly below market value for four or even five years. Artificially under-valued players thus pile up across the league, forcing veterans out. Coaches then bitch about how young everyone is. If only someone could have seen this coming.

Also in that article, it runs in the family. John Harbaugh might not be the craziest Harbaugh, but he's a Harbaugh:

On March 18, 23-year-old Ravens cornerback Tray Walker died from injuries suffered in a motorbike accident in Miami one day prior. Eight days later, at the funeral in a Baptist church in south Florida, Harbaugh approached the head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith. “I said the rules have to be adjusted for first-, second-, third-year guys,” Harbaugh said, referring to rules that limit offseason contact between players and coaches. “The rules are built for guys who have families and need time off.”

Smith said the interaction was brief. “One, we were at a funeral,” he said.

Knives out for Les Miles. This Bleacher Report article features several former LSU players expressing their concern with the direction of the program in uncommonly blunt and clear terms:

"There were players running free, and it was from experienced players not adjusting to a blitz," said Hester. "It wasn't a situation where they were doing something tricky or mugging up in the A-gaps and bringing somebody from somewhere else. It was literally linebackers blitzing from depth when the ball was snapped. Those are things that you expect experienced guys to pick up.

Already in the meat of the season there's not a lot that LSU can do, and the bet here is that with Tom Herrmann out there, Miles won't survive any forthcoming misstep. One dollar says LSU gets blown out by Alabama and there's an interim the next day.

Etc.: Remy Hamilton, named after cognac. Identifying pass defenses is damn near impossible in many cases, contra a couple people who are absolutely certain about things they shouldn't be certain about in UFR comments. A highly timely Hawaii recap. Also another one from Holdin' the Rope. Phelps's son will go to Michigan. Luck can read the standings.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Is Mostly About Spreadsheets

Unverified Voracity Is Mostly About Spreadsheets Comment Count

Brian April 21st, 2016 at 2:05 PM

apr-booksapr-birds

APR check-in. We no longer have to do the thing with the books and the deep dive into what is required of Michigan to avoid penalties, so let's just jam the latest APR data into a UV bullet. Michigan's multi-year football APR is now a very shiny 989, which is seventh nationally and somehow only fourth in the Big Ten:

Rank School APR
1 Wisconsin 992
2 Minnesota 992
3 Northwestern 992
4 Michigan 989
5 Illinois 982
6 Nebraska 981
7 Indiana 979
8 MSU 978
9 Maryland 977
10 Rutgers 972
11 Iowa 971
12 OSU 971
13 Purdue 968
14 PSU 960

Again, a lot of credit for this has to go to Brady Hoke, who inherited a bad situation and made it very good. Also that's another thing James Franklin lags his peers in.

Every other Michigan sport did very well, with many batting 1000.

Just when the satellite camp thing can't get any weirder. UCLA AD Dan Guerrero "didn't vote the way he was supposed to" per Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott:

That makes two conferences who are utterly baffled at their own dang vote, with the Sun Belt the other. If those conferences had voted the way the vast majority of their coaches had wanted, the camp ban fails 8-7.

Guerrero's attempt to justify his vote is as bizarre as you might expect:

“My assessment was that one of the two was going to pass, and we didn’t know which one,” Guerrero said. “I had to vote for 59 because if that failed and 60 passed, Pac-12 schools would have been at a disadvantage.”

59 is the total ban. 60 allowed camps in the same state or within 50 miles. The Pac-12 apparently has a rule that wouldn't allow them to take advantage of the latter. Guerrero seems oblivious to the fact that the Pac-12 can, you know, change its own rules. He was also oblivious to the fact that the ACC and SEC were going to press for a camp ban…

“Going into the meetings, it was the feeling of many members of the D1 Council that these proposals would be tabled at the request of the FOC, thereby rendering both of these proposals moot, and keeping the current rule relative to ‘satellite camps’ unchanged,” he wrote to his colleagues last week.

…despite the ACC and SEC publicly proclaiming they would do so for a solid year. People in charge of things are just in charge of them, man. I mean, this is the whole email Guerrero sent out:

“Prior to these meetings, I had extensive conversations with Pac-12 representatives in regard to the Conference’s position on a number of legislative proposals — the ‘satellite camp’ proposals included,” Guerrero wrote to his Pac-12 colleagues. “With an 0–11–1 vote cast by the Pac-12 Council, a vote to oppose [both] proposals was the charge with the ultimate goal to refer the legislation [back] to the Football Oversight Committee (FOC).

“Going into the meetings, it was the feeling of many members of the D1 Council that these proposals would be tabled at the request of the FOC, thereby rendering both of these proposals moot, and keeping the current rule relative to ‘satellite camps’ unchanged. In fact this was the preferred outcome by our Conference as indicated in the preparatory materials I received prior to the meeting.

“When this did not happen … I made the call to support [the ACC’s version], which was the preference of the two options.”

That is a pile of wordvomit that an eighth-grader should be embarrassed about. It's flabbergasting that an athletic director can barely express himself.

Overdue for some Sankey smarm no doubt. Yep:

“What’s caught me by surprise is the notion that there’s a lot of name-calling and finger-pointing,” he said. “It’s not a healthy byproduct of the legislative process.”

When you have no case on the merits, attack the tone of the people with a case. That is also a brutally awkward construction, but I guess these days the job of an NCAA muckety-muck is not to explain but to obscure. Speaking of…

Let's define what a bubble is first. Economist Andrew Zimbalist thinks the NCAA is currently in a bubble environment because they might have to play players:

Zimbalist says this kind of spending is not sustainable, and he thinks litigation of some stripe — courts deciding players can be paid beyond their scholarships, for instance — could cause the bubble to burst. Among the other potential wildcards are an ongoing lawsuit pertaining to athlete compensation limits that seeks hundreds of millions in damages, concussion lawsuits, or a change in the National Labor Relations Board’s position on college athletes unionizing.

“There are big-time things leading it to pop,” says Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College and author of Unpaid Professionals: Commercializationand Conflict in Big-Time College Sports. “It’s an unstable situation.”

This is a weird way to define a "bubble." If college athletics are in a bubble situation it's because of the changing landscape of cable. Their bubble is more or less ESPN's bubble, with ticket sales in an HD world a potential additional factor. Once people with no interest in sports can watch Naked and Afraid without having to give six bucks to ESPN, there might have to be some belt-tightening. Obviously, that doesn't appear to be kicking in just yet, or any time soon—CBS just extended its deal for the NCAA Tournament until 2032.

Being forced to reallocate revenues to athletes and away from coaches, administrators, and nine-digit palaces for nonrevenue sports is not a "bubble" unless you take an exceedingly narrow view of the stakeholders here. And, yes, for the vast majority of NCAA schools this discussion is irrelevant. For the ones for which it is relevant, their ever-increasing income is the opposite of a bubble. If this quote applies at all…

Zimbalist says athletics departments simply can’t keep spending so much. “Politically, it’s not sustainable,” he says. “Legally, it’s not sustainable. Economically, it’s not sustainable.”

…it's to the second tier who are a trying to keep up with the Joneses, which is an entirely different situation than most Power 5 schools find themselves in.

If you'd like a more erudite take, John Gasaway was also irritated by this article:

For starters the nominal news hook presented by the numbers — most athletic departments operate at what they are pleased to term deficits — would seem to be something of an awkward fit for our traditional stock of “bubble” iconography. Maybe it’s me, but I always assumed that tulip merchants in 1637, the South Sea Company in 1720, Webvan.com in 1999, and subprime lenders in 2006 instead showed astronomic operating surpluses. In fact I rather thought this was precisely the red flag in those cases.

Changing the distribution of a pie does not change the pie. I mean:

In 2011, the University of Michigan athletic department employed 253 people, according to state records. Four years later, in 2015, it was 334, up 32 percent.

During that period, the average salary grew 22.4 percent, to $89,851. Over a seven-year span, the number of athletic department employees making six figures went from 30 to 81. …

Michigan didn't add 32 percent more sports in those four years, or 32 percent more scholarship athletes, requiring 32 percent more staffing.

It just made about $30 million more dollars per year, from $122.7 million in 2011 to $152.5 million in 2015. Most of the increase came courtesy of the Big Ten Network.

Schools have a motivation to spend all the money they make so it looks like they don't have enough to pay their athletes. Dave Brandon's Michigan was the leading edge of a nationwide trend.

The reason this article comes out annually. USA Today has updated its database of income and expenses for D-I schools. Michigan is fourth behind Texas A&M (which had a huge donation surge for stadium renovations they're undertaking and will slide back into the pack next year), Texas, and OSU.  They've still got that niggling 200k or so a year counted as a university subsidy that looks bad despite the obvious fact that they don't need to have their income supplemented.

But would you go back in time to kill Baby Anonymous NFL Scout? It's that time of year again where NFL types operating under a cloak of anonymity slam the character of various draft prospects. One article out of Wisconsin on the quarterback class has an absolute pile of "say that to my face" quotes. On Connor Cook:

"Let's put it this way: he's not Kirk Cousins," another scout said. "The person kills him. Selfish. He goes out too much. It's a tell-tale sign when your teammates don't like you, and I know they don't. He's good, but that position is more than physical attributes. It's also leadership. Is he going to lead your guys? I don't think so

On Christian Hackenberg:

"He hangs out more with managers than he does teammates. It tells me he likes to be king of the little people rather than king of the big people."

And the doozy on Cardale Jones:

"Strong arm. Big, big body. Not the brightest cookie in the world. I worry about him when he gets money in his pocket. I just don't know if it's all there mentally."

Anonymous NFL Scout is the wooooooorst.

Rugby tackling is spreading. Pete Carroll's push to get more teams tackling like the Seahawks do—with the shoulder first, wrapping up the legs—appears to be taking off:

Dozens of teams, both on the Power Five and Group of Five levels, now utilize the rugby style during practice, drawn to a change in approach after watching a video from Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll detailing the method. Boiled down, Carroll’s system — one he calls “Hawk Tackling” — offers a drastic change from tradition: rather than tackling with the head, defenders are taught to lead with their shoulders.

“It’s definitely a safer way to tackle,” said Rutgers defensive lineman Darius Hamilton. “With the rugby-style tackle, you want to kill the engine, which is basically wrapping the thighs, stopping the legs. So I definitely think this tackling system is more efficient, and it’s just going to take the matter of the more reps you can get of it because you can’t do something like that enough.”

Nebraska and Rutgers appear to be using that system. Will be interesting to see that in practice this year. Certainly hasn't hurt the Seahawks.

Alright then. Mike Spath reports that Michigan is going to have a lot of goalies next year:

Lavigne had a .914 in the USHL this year after a rough 2014-15; LaFontaine had a .921 in the NAHL. Michigan also has a commit from NTDP goalie Dylan St. Cyr next year, so things are about to be crowded even with Zach Nagelvoort graduating after 2016-17.

Michigan also added one of LaFontaine's teammates today:

Winborg is a 21-year-old Swede who has been a PPG player in the NAHL for the last couple years. Guys with his profile are usually depth players; Michigan does need depth. Fellow Swede Gustaf Westlund is a 2017 player, not a 2016 player as I incorrectly assumed, so Michigan could use an extra forward on next year's team.

Etc.: gotta respect the hustle here. Hopefully the dude gets asylum, because anyone who gets out of South Sudan should. The O'Bannon case did establish the NCAA as a monopoly. The woooooorst. Michigan killing the charity bowl. No mercy.

Comments

On Banning Satellite Camps

On Banning Satellite Camps Comment Count

Brian April 8th, 2016 at 2:09 PM

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[Eric Upchurch]

The NCAA has banned satellite camps, because… [404 reason not found]. But it's done:

I have literally not seen a single peep in favor of this ruling anywhere public, from coaches to athletes to media members. A couple of reporters covering the SEC have related the private thoughts of coaches happy they can binge-watch Everybody Loves Raymond again, but ain't nobody coming out and waving the flag in favor of a rule change that literally only benefits people making 300k+.

This isn't going to have a major impact on Michigan, but it rankles because it is so transparently opposite the NCAA's claimed mission. If there's anyone who takes the NCAA's increasingly hilarious self-promotion seriously anymore, this should end that. It's a cartel of self-interested asshats operating under a veneer of virtue, because you can do astounding things as long as you have said veneer.

Meanwhile Jim Delany sits in a corner burbling about cable subscribers and counting his millions of dollars. What a country.

Additional thoughts will be introduced with an innovative bolded in-line title.

Q: SMSB? Over the past ten years, Sound Mind Sound Body has become a very large camp indeed, one featuring dozens of college coaches and four digits worth of athletes. Either the NCAA just bombed that camp hard or maybe there's a loophole. That loophole could be SMSB's charity nature. Coaches have been allowed there because they volunteer their time, IIRC, and the word choice in the ruling is specific:

If SMSB happens as planned then this is a non-ruling easily evaded. Michigan coaches can just go volunteer at the various SMSB-alikes that will proliferate like mushrooms after a rain.

If college coaches disappear then it's game over.

Ugh, work. This is simultaneously frustrating and very good for Michigan:

Harbaugh is still working harder than your coach. Your coaches who are making six- and seven-figure salaries on the backs of unpaid labor. They are going to sit in a circle and go "LOL remember that time we stopped Harbaugh from working" as Harbaugh invents new ways to torture his enemies.

Hooray lawsuits! This is now very relevant. Jack Swarbrick, ND AD and law-talking guy, on the legal defensibility of the ban:

“The NCAA does not have a very good track record of limiting, without losing an antitrust lawsuit, economic opportunities for coaches,” Swarbrick said Tuesday at the College Football Playoff meetings. “So they should be treading very lightly. The perception is these are school opportunities. A lot of these are coach opportunities purely. Imagine a rule that said, as was introduced years ago, coaches couldn't do national televised advertising because it created a recruiting advantage. … I wouldn't want to defend those lawsuits.”

A 1999 lawsuit resulting from an NCAA rule that limited assistant coach salaries to 16k a year(!) was victorious, leading to the free-for-all you see today. It'll be tough to win that lawsuit if it does come. So we've got that going for us when this hypothetical trial wraps up a decade from now.

[HT: Carl Paulus]

This is not a surgical strike. Via Steve Wiltfong, non-Power 5 coaches are of course upset:

The new ruling basically says mid-major programs aren't allowed to participate in camps not held on campus. For instance, MAC schools flock to Big Ten camps as say an Ohio State camp generally only has a handful of kids good enough to play for the Buckeyes but several that could play for Ball State, Kent State, Toledo or Western Michigan.

Two MAC coaches told 247Sports they weren't sure how this rule affects them. One said "shocking."

Given that I wonder how the hell this legislation even passed. All Group of Five schools should be against it. The Big Ten should be against it. Big chunks of the Big 12, Pac 12, and ACC should be against it. Not only is it transparently against the interests of athletes, it's transparently against the interests of most of D-I.

Good lord, Harbaugh. Perhaps the greatest tragedy in all of this is that we didn't have to clone Sam Webb and almost kill both of 'em:

247Sports is told Michigan had 30 camps lined up, they were going to split groups and sometimes do two a day. Stops would have included North Florida, South Florida, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio, Maryland and Connecticut.

Jim Harbaugh is always himself at maximum volume. Gonna be some fun times in the near future, satellite camps or no.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Feels The Feels Again

Unverified Voracity Feels The Feels Again Comment Count

Brian March 29th, 2016 at 1:17 PM

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the world is a vampire [Bryan Fuller]

Exit Spike. This is not fair, to dredge up the sadness that I already went through once when Spike retired:

Bleah. Michigan has Xavier Simpson coming in and is already one over on scholarships after the Tyus Battle recruitment caused Beilein to break bad, so that was more or less inevitable. I would hope that Spike at least avoids Big Ten schools even if Michigan doesn't restrict that. (If they can restrict a grad transfer. It is not clear to me they can.) It'll be interesting to see if he lands at a major program or ends up at a mid-major because of the hips. It'll be fun to root for Spike if he's got 30% usage on a 14-seed. If he's at Indiana not so much.

I'm not hearing any of the many complaints about Beilein's roster management here. Michigan had a plan, and that plan is a good plan. Spike's injury is an event you cannot anticipate, and once it happens you've got a choice between carrying a third point guard for a year and shoving some other dude off the roster. No offense intended to Spike but this was the way to go.

The upcoming Deal. The Big Ten's media rights are coming up for bid in the near future, probably for the last time ever in a cable bundle world. Andy Staples surveys the scene:

If this were 2013, when the cable bundle felt as if it would stay intact for much longer, ESPN could throw money at the Big Ten for two reasons: The rights are valuable, and an exclusive deal for the league's first-tier rights would essentially choke out Fox and ensure that all of the best college games aired on ESPN networks. Under that scenario, the amount of money would extend into the ludicrous, as Fox would counter with a huge amount because it needs those games to attract viewers. …

This mega-bidding war likely won't happen for two reasons. First, networks will be constrained by the economic factors described above. Second, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany may want to split up the rights. He has fought his battles with ESPN, but he also knows the Worldwide Leader can stop talking about a conference that doesn't appear on its air. Meanwhile, Fox owns 51% of the Big Ten Network, so it is a valuable partner. … The Big Ten will still probably double or even triple the previous deal and cement itself as the highest-grossing conference in college sports.

And thus the amateurism model will become even more untenable.

Staples wonders about how long this deal will be; the answer will probably depend on the channels. The Big Ten should take the longest possible deal since by the end of it there's a strong possibility it's a boat anchor for the broadcasters no longer being propped up by little old ladies who just want to watch NCIS.

Please remember this if they go in a submarine again. Baumgardner:

I've seen Michigan's football team practice for a total of 16 hours this spring. Five practices. I haven't been around for 50 years, but it's probably safe to say this month has featured more on-field practice access than those previous 50 years combined. This sort of stuff doesn't happen around here. It really never has.

I only got to see four of those and even so they are quite an antidote to the antics that surround the program. I mean, it's not like it's a surprise that Jim Harbaugh is a football coach who runs football practices, but there are folks who lose the forest for the twitter blasts. In reality those take up about a hundredth of one percent of Harbaugh's time and the football takes up the rest of it, with occasional forays to Peru or Paris mixed in.

Anyway, this period of media openness is likely to end abruptly on Friday; Harbaugh will fill in the rest of the offseason with fluff* and then maybe evaporate for a month. Even so this period of détente with the outside world has been pretty cool.

*[Fluff like 140 characters fired off at Gene Smith that this dude in Cleveland managed to spin into a novella.]

Seth Davis is making easily rebutted points again. Scam-hawking, stat-hating Seth Davis is one of the most unlikeable college basketball media members around so of course he's going to write a long thing about how the NCAA is terrific and amateurism is too:

Yes, the “system” (whatever that means these days) needs to be constantly upgraded to deliver more and more benefits to the student-athletes. But many people are unaware of the extent to which the NCAA has reformed itself over the last two years to do a better job taking care of the players. Thanks to a new governance structure that allows the Power Five conference schools to take the reins, players are now permitted to receive several thousand dollars in stipends in addition to their scholarships to allow them to cover the costs of attending school. There are basically no restrictions on how much food the schools can serve. For the second straight year, schools are permitted (but not required) to pay the travel expenses of players’ families so they can attend NCAA tournament games.

That all sounds great, but Get The Picture points something out:

…all those improvements he cites in his first paragraph there came not voluntarily from the NCAA, but in response to pressure the student-athletes brought in the courts and with the NLRB.  And those kids aren’t so stupid as to avoid noticing that pressure gets results, even with a bunch as stubborn as the schools are.  After all, learning lessons is what students do.

Power 5 autonomy is more or less a panicked response to the lawsuits and NLRB unionization threats designed to hand out an incremental improvement in situations so that revenue athletes don't realize Jim Delany makes how much? and try to get some of that lucre for themselves. Davis says athletes are "feted like kings" like that's a point in the NCAA's favor rather than clear evidence that there's too much money sloshing around in the system because the workers aren't paid.

Hockey exits. No surprises yet. Werenski is out the door already; Downing is likely to be so in the near future. I guess it's good that we haven't heard about Kyle Connor yet—come on expansion draft caution—but I'm not getting the ol' hopes up there.

Hockey changes. Brad Traviolia talked to CHN in the aftermath of the Notre Dame move. One item of note is that this championship tournament model is dead-dead-dead:

Traviolia: The only thing off the table, I think, is the status quo. ... An all-comers, neutral-site format is not the best option for us. We can do better. We're not really leaning one way. We're open to the whole gamut. Whether we do everything on campus, whether we do a hybrid of campus and neutral site, whether we want to stand alone, and whether we want to work with other conferences. I think we want to explore all options.

Well, at least that makes sense as long as they don't go for that goofy super-tournament thing in St. Paul. "Campus sites," he said over and over again until he died.

Traviolia also pointed out that the Big Ten was an 11-team league for 20 years, so folks shouldn't assume they're going to add an eighth team just to add an eighth team. TBH I'd rather have the enforced byes a 7 team league brings than the scheduling compromises an eight-team league imposes… unless the eighth team is a compelling one.

Maybe that hockey eligibility rule isn't so ridiculous. College hockey has always been open to older players, and for the most part that's been a good thing. A higher average age has improved the overall level of play to the point where the NCAA is 30% of the NHL* and kept smaller schools in the hunt for championships in a way they aren't in any other sport.

That said, things are getting kind of ridiculous:

…more than two-thirds of the 2015-16 freshman class reached its 20th birthday before playing a college game.

That is two years after high school. You get one year in all other sports. The Big Ten wants to make that the cap, not three, and while the way they've gone about it is offputting I don't think the move itself is particularly drastic or uncalled for. (A lot of these guys who pan out in a big way will sign "early" with NHL teams… at 22 or 23.)

*[It's not that the old guys are getting to the league, although some do. It's more that the NCAA is more attractive as a developmental route because it's tougher than it would otherwise be.]

Etc.: More RPO is coming, specifically at Penn State. No night game this year. People are way more upset about this than I thought they'd be. Exit Steve Racine, puck magnet. Drew Sharp heal thyself. Exiting hockey seniors advise patience for underclassmen making decisions. Defensive practice takes from Touch The Banner.

The Dodgers have a TV deal that is costing Time Warner nine digits a year because nobody wants to pay the exorbitant fees TW is trying to extract from other providers. An interesting article from a couple years ago about John Beilein and how his players perform in the NBA.

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