Unverified Voracity Has A Running Mate

Unverified Voracity Has A Running Mate

Submitted by Brian on January 6th, 2010 at 12:20 PM

America number one. Weird experience last night: watched a sporting event and had the team I wanted to win the game actually, you know, win it. This was the Orange Bowl, where Iowa beat Georgia Tech to give the league four wins over top 15 opponents, two BCS wins, and a winning bowl record. This will reduce the number of offseason Clay Travis columns that erroneously cite the SEC's big pile of money—the Big Ten's pile is essentially equivalent—as the reason they're fielding teams full of Terminators against the rest of college football's Hello Kitty dolls. There are now 26 scheduled instead of 180.

So thanks for that, Iowa. I'm glad that when From The Rumble Seat asked me for my best Iowa-related smack talk I demurred because the only thing I hate about Iowa is the fact that they lose to Iowa State more than they should. I hate Iowa State with a passion unknown to man.

Also, Ricky Stanzi takes up the banner J Leman first gloriously thrust upon the shores of the blogosphere:

America. #1. Big Ten. Love it or leave it. Photoshop wizards: can a brother get a Leman/Stanzi 2012 poster around here?

So… you're wise. Michigan legend and extremely old guy Red Simmons turned 100 a couple days ago, which means he's seen a considerable amount of things in his day. I wonder if he feels like Windle Poons, who was a 133 year-old magician in a couple of Discworld novels*. Poons felt like he had been old for the vast majority of his life, and that seemed unfair. This random biographical tidbit, even moreso than competing against Jesse Owens or helping Joe Louis get in shape, best sums up just how long Simmons has been around:

When his grades slipped, Simmons was given a second chance after track coach Lloyd Olds and dean of men James "Bingo" Brown - who was also the state boxing commissioner - asked the university's president to give Simmons a second chance.

During the meeting, Bingo—the dean of men!—chewed on a stogie and crankily took a phone call about some Italian kid with a bruised brain. In keeping with the traditions of the time, Bingo—man dean!—suggested the kid be sold for his meat.

There are many opportunities to tap into his reservoirs of wisdom from AnnArbor.com and MVictors. Greg has plenty of video from his recent interview with Simmons:

There's also transcripts for the video-averse. Other Red, you are on notice:

On men’s hockey Coach Red Berenson’s recent birthday: Well, he’s just 70 or so, what the hell is that? [laughs] I always say, ‘Oh, to be 80 again!’

*(NEEEEEEEEEEEEERD!)

Braylongate II. So, yeah, Braylon Edwards did this on the Sunday Night Football introductions:

Everyone on the planet immediately interpreted this as a shot at Rich Rodriguez, including yrs truly. But Braylon says it isn't so:

"Last night during my pre-taped introduction, as a way of paying tribute to Coach Carr, I indentified myself as being from 'Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan,'" Edwards said. "I had no intention of showing any disrespect to Coach Rich Rodriguez.

"I love the University of Michigan and will always be loyal to its coaching staff past, present and future."

I believe him; when I had my usual segment on WTKA on Monday Ira Weintraub came in and mentioned that Stan Edwards had called the station up wishing to clarify that. A number of other players, including Tom Brady, have made comments far less ambiguous ("ugly") about the current state of the program and have not rushed to make sure people didn't misinterpret their comments.

Not that any of this matters at all. Rodriguez will either win or he won't. That's basically what Dhani Jones said on Jim Rome

“Up to this point it really hasn’t been that good of a job at all,” Jones said. “But then you have to look at the perspective of how long it takes for a class to change over to be his class. There’s a lot of different things, but as a Michigan man you expect things to be changed in an instant. Sometimes you have to have a little bit more patience.

“Two years, my patience is running a bit thin. So next year it’s going to be really a qualifying or disqualifying year for his ability as a coach to get the program in the right direction. And I don’t think many people will stand for it if he doesn’t do a good job next year.”

That's one version of everyone's take, isn't it? Everyone basically says real improvement, yardage parity-ish, and something like eight wins from a 13 game schedule, give or take one based on context. He'll either do that or he won't. The rest is noise.

I really, really don't care about whether Rich Rodriguez should be fired or not. Short of a bomb from the NCAA, he'll get a shot to turn things around. So all this stuff about factions and statements from former players and everyone's opinion on the program is the verbal equivalent of Badger Badger Badger. It's mildly diverting noise containing zero information that's turned annoying from overexposure.

A light at the end of the ridiculous tunnel. This has sat in a tab for almost a month now but no one else has taken up this incredibly critical issue so here goes: when Michigan switched over to Coke something horrible happened. All the fountains at Yost and Crisler were replaced by little refrigerators with 20-ounce bottles in them that sell for four dollars each*. The list of things that I would do before paying four dollars for a bottle of Diet Coke includes "cut off own toes" and "attempt to survive ten minutes in a cage with Brandon Graham."

I'll happily pay the same amount for a fountain drink, though. As a result I spend most of one intermission at Yost fighting through the crowds to the one place that will sell me one. This makes no sense but approximately 20% of the population is nodding fervently right now, which is distressing for the people who aren't reading this post and think they're having a stroke.

Anyway, the current regime might get thrust to one side in favor of a different corporation with an equally silly name:

…University of Michigan officials are selecting a concessionaire for that facility, plus Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena and venues for baseball, softball, soccer and track.

Incumbent V/Gladieux Enterprises of Toledo, Ohio, is competing for a long-term contract against Aramark, Sodexo and Boston Culinary Group, which submitted a bid before it announced its merger with Centerplate in November. …

Michigan expects to select a food provider by February, Winters said.

I emailed Bruce Madej if this meant a return of fountain drinks—this is life and death, people—and his reply was vague and noncommittal. I thought I detected a playful wink-wink nudge-nudge we'll-get-it-fixed but that could be wishful thinking on The Issue of Our Time.

BONUS! The main section of that article is about Notre Dame's new hockey rink and how the design is modeled after Yost.

*(I think they've unplugged it now but for the first few games they did this literally feet from the regular old Yost vending machine that offered the same product for $1.50.)

Increase the pain. At The Sporting Blog I make a case that the NCAA should shoot down USC's proposed basketball sanctions in favor of a tourney ban starting two years from now, a removal of transfer penalties for current players, and long-term scholarship reductions. (Mea culpa: the post exaggerates how bad Michigan was in their tourney-ban year.) Delaying penalties like that would be less harsh on players who did nothing wrong and harsher on the adults that lost control of the program, and who doesn't like that idea?

Etc.: GS riffs on the house divided meme in the aftermath of Braylongate II. There is a book that actually offers up "Five Very Good Reasons To Punch A Dolphin In The Mouth" that I assume BOX will immediately buy many copies of. Crisler is going to get some boring-sounding but necessary renovations before a (currently hypothetical but probable) second round of stuff you can actually perceive.

Jihad The Second: Practical Matters

Jihad The Second: Practical Matters

Submitted by Brian on August 30th, 2009 at 12:59 PM

I made curried cabbage last night. It's a simple dish that, like most Indian dishes, can take as much butter as you're willing to risk and can be made in preposterous quantity. Basically: chop two large onions and around a head of garlic and sweat them in just under a stick of butter; add healthy amounts of turmeric, curry powder, cumin, and salt, then chop a head of cabbage and thinly slice some potatoes and throw them in; cook until everything's soft and glows like it's radioactive—

jihad-2006-2007-tercera-guerra-mundial-01lg  barwis

Oh, right. That. There are many thing to say about it and I guess I have to say them instead of working on the season preview as I intended to this fine Sunday. So we'll take them in slices. Slice the first will concern the possibility of NCAA infractions and starts now.

Rules

A reader has helpfully digested the NCAA rulebook into the salient sections:

17.02.13 Voluntary Athletically Related Activities. In order for any athletically related activity to be considered “voluntary,” all of the following conditions must be met: (Adopted: 4/18/01)

(a) The student-athlete must not be required to report back to a coach or other athletics department staff member (e.g., strength coach, trainer, manager) any information related to the activity. In addition, no athletics department staff member who observes the activity (e.g., strength coach, trainer, manager) may report back to the student-athlete’s coach any information related to the activity; [Editor's note: this has not been alleged.]

(b) The activity must be initiated and requested solely by the student-athlete. Neither the institution nor any athletics department staff member may require the student-athlete to participate in the activity at any time.

However, it is permissible for an athletics department staff member to provide information to student-athletes related to available opportunities for participating in voluntary activities (e.g., times when the strength and conditioning coach will be on duty in the weight room or on the track). In addition, for students who have initiated a request to engage in voluntary activities, the institution or an athletics department staff member may assign specific times for student-athletes to use institutional facilities for such purposes and inform the student-athletes of the time in advance; [Editor's note: a lot of noise about "required" in the article but these rules really require you to parse the semantics of "required"; playing time is voluntary, too.]

(c) The student-athlete’s attendance and participation in the activity (or lack thereof ) may not be recorded for the purposes of reporting such information to coaching staff members or other student-athletes; and [alleged]

(d) The student-athlete may not be subjected to penalty if he or she elects not to participate in the activity. In addition, neither the institution nor any athletics department staff member may provide recognition or incentives (e.g., awards) to a student-athlete based on his or her attendance or performance in the activity. [Former alleged, latter not.]

[Note: Coaching staff members may be present during permissible skill-related instruction pursuant to Bylaws 17.1.6.2.2 and 17.1.6.2.3]. (Revised: 4/29/04 effective 8/1/04)

The emailer also suggests this:

As far as I can tell, the authors of the article invented the rule about "quality-control staff" not being permitted to observe voluntary off-season scrimmages.  The rules about voluntary activities clearly mention athletics department staff observing, and the following rule disallows observing "nonorganized voluntary athletically related activities (e.g., pick-up games)" for certain staff members, which a student-organized scrimmage is clearly not:

11.7.1.1.1.1 Noncoaching Activities. Institutional staff members involved in noncoaching activities (e.g., administrative assistants, academic counselors) do not count in the institution’s coaching limitations, provided such individuals are not identified as coaches, do not engage in any on- or off-field coaching activities (e.g., attending meetings involving coaching activities, analyzing video involving the institution’s or an opponent’s team), and are not involved in any off-campus recruitment of prospective student-athletes or scouting of opponents. A noncoaching staff member with sport-specific responsibilities may not participate with or observe student-athletes in the staff member’s sport who are engaged in nonorganized voluntary athletically related activities (e.g., pick-up games). (Adopted: 1/16/93, Revised: 1/10/95, 12/13/05, 4/27/06 effective 8/1/06)

…but I'm skeptical he read that rule right. Even if quality control staff qualify as noncoaching, they do have sport specific responsibilities and can't observe "nonorganized voluntary athletically related activities," which I'm very sure would include the voluntary seven-on-sevens and whatnot.

Allegations

The article's hugely long and goes into detail about Barwis' workout regimes and Michigan's seven-on-seven "requirements" but the only section that specifically alleges NCAA violations is this one:

"It was mandatory," one player said. "They'd tell you it wasn't, but it really was. If you didn't show up, there was punishment. I just felt for the guys that did miss a workout and had to go through the personal hell they would go through."

In addition, the players cited these practices within the program:

Players spent at least nine hours on football activities on Sundays after games last fall. NCAA rules mandate a daily 4 -hour limit. The Wolverines also exceeded the weekly limit of 20 hours, the athletes said.

Players said members of Rodriguez's quality-control staff often watched seven-on-seven off-season scrimmages. The non-contact drills, in which an offense runs plays against a defense, are supposed to be voluntary and player-run. They are held at U-M's football facilities. NCAA rules allow only training staff _ not quality-control staffers _ to attend as a safety precaution. Quality-control staffers provide administrative and other support for the coaches but are not allowed to interact directly with players during games, practices or workouts.

If verified, the quote about punishment would violate blah blah blah subsection D above. What qualifies as a "punishment" in a regularly scheduled S&C workout is unknown. Working out harder?

And if "quality control" staff were observing seven-on-seven, a claim disputed Michigan compliance department spot checks, that would be a violation as well. And the "nine hours" on Sunday would be a violation if the voluntary workouts gray area was breached.

There is some expansion on blah subsection D:

Under Carr, off-season seven-on-seven drills were run by players, without coaches or staff members present, players said. The only staffer there would be a trainer, in case anybody got injured, as allowed under NCAA rules.

Several players said Rodriguez's coaches were more likely to insist they participate in seven-on-seven scrimmages, which have become more frequent. They also said that members of the program's quality-control staff frequently watched seven-on-sevens.

"They usually just watched and would write down who wasn't there," one player on the 2008 team said.

Another said graduate assistants would track them down.

"The phone would ring: 'Where you at? ... You gotta come.' 'I'm in class.' "

Ah, smell the objectivity: "insist" is another man's way of saying "suggest you participate lest you fall behind the rest of the team and find yourself on the bench." But taking attendance is verboten. Calling players on the team probably not.

The rest of it is filler, like quotes from some freshmen about the offseason workout program…

"Hooooo!" Stokes said. "A typical week is working from 8 a.m. in the morning to 6 or 7 at night, Monday through Saturday."

And that was starting in June?

"Yes, sir," Stokes said. "We do the weight room at least three times a week, and seven-on-sevens and one-on-ones. Speed and agility on the other days. Every day we have something new to get ready for the season. The coaches have done a great job of stressing the importance of getting us ready for the big season that we're about to have."

…that would be totally evil if Rodriguez was an idiot who hadn't dealt with NCAA compliance for 20 years and hadn't made sure the strenuous workouts fit the definitions of "voluntary." This is unlikely. The same goes for the assertions that Rodriguez had his players exceed daily limits on required activities and 20-hour-per-week maximums on practice time: all of those sections rely on vague quotes about what the team does from players who aren't complaining and include things like workouts that, again, probably qualify as voluntary. Here's the big reveal on exceeding maximum hours per week:

With three hours on Saturday and a full day on Sunday, players tallied about 12 hours on those two days. They were off Monday. Players said they would spend an additional three to four hours with the team on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, bringing the weekly total to 21- 24 hours.

If any section of any of those days fit the definition of voluntary, that's not a violation.

Precedents

As you might expect, they're pretty lax. The NCAA just got done slightly dinging Southeast Missouri State for something similar. From the NCAA report on the matter:

a. During the summer of 2006, members of the men's basketball coaching staff, including the former head coach, were present during, and in some instances, briefly observed men's basketball student-athletes' participation in the team's strength and conditioning program. Additionally, student-athletes were sometimes required to report to a coach the reason they did not attend a conditioning session.
b. During the summer of 2007, members of the men's basketball coaching staff, including the former head coach, regularly, but not to the extent of the prior summer, were present during, and in some instances briefly observed, men's basketball student-athletes' participation in the team's strength and conditioning program.
c. During the fall of 2006 (August through October) and spring of 2007 (March through May), members of the men's basketball coaching staff briefly observed men's basketball student-athletes' participation in a few on-campus out-of-season pick-up games, including one occasion in the spring of 2007 (around April 24), when some coaches observed a prospective student-athlete, completing an official paid visit, participate in an on-campus pick-up game with some of the men's basketball student-athletes.

This was part of a laundry list of other violations, including an impermissible car trip and two separate instances where boosters or coaches paid for school fees or tuition. But what really got SEMO in hot water was the head coach's response to the investigation; that and the collective malfeasance-lookin' thing got SEMO the dreaded three words that indicate serious ire on the part of the NCAA:

Other violations include unethical conduct by the former head coach for knowing about the program's involvement in NCAA violations and providing false and misleading information to the institution and enforcement staff when questioned about his involvement in and knowledge of possible NCAA violations; unethical conduct by the former assistant coach for failing to act in accordance with the generally recognized high standards of honesty and sportsmanship normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics for his knowing involvement in NCAA violations; and the institution's failure to monitor the men's and women's basketball programs.

All this added up to three years of probation and one scholarship taken away for one year, AKA nothing whatsoever.

So, Yeah… What Might Happen?

You're not dealing with amateurs here:

Van Horn said, "Compliance and administrative staff conduct in-person spot checks of practice during the academic year and summer. We have not had any reason to self-report any violations in this area with any of our sports."

At the very least a detailed list of clean spot checks will assuage the NCAA if they choose to investigate. "Failure to monitor" can't be alleged when there is monitoring. This is a major reason big schools report a lot of minor violations and escape the NCAA hammer: they pay attention and back it up with documents. Meanwhile, the accusations leveled are anonymous, unverified, and vague. It takes a huge leap to go from this article to even the tiny wrist-slap SEMO received.

The Free Press says the NCAA's reaction is "impossible to predict," but I'll predict: it'll be slightly more strenuous than their reaction to the NCAA's reaction the Ann Arbor News academics story. Since their reaction to that story was to ignore it, that only implies a cursory look through the books.

Unverified Voracity Is Distorted For Fun

Unverified Voracity Is Distorted For Fun

Submitted by Brian on June 10th, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Baseball draftin'. While the Major League Baseball draft isn't a major concern for anyone currently on the team—only Chris Fetter is expected to get drafted, and he's a senior—there are a couple of recruits who will be watching carefully to see where they go:

Derek Dennis, a shortstop from Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central High School, Daniel Fields, an infielder from University of Detroit Jesuit, and Patrick Biondi, a Dearborn Divine Child outfielder, are all potential early-round draft prospects.

Maloney said Baseball America projects Dennis as a third- or fourth-round pick and Fields as a fifth- or sixth-round pick.

Dennis, Baseball America's #6 high school shortstop, appears to be leaning towards school. Varsity Blue highlights a Grand Rapids Press article and sums up:

Michigan is close to signing Forest Hills shortstop Derek Dennis.  Dennis visited this last week, talked with Coach Maloney, Lloyd Carr, John Beilien, and Red Berenson to discuss the benefits of college.  The GRP makes it sound like if he’s not taken in the top 3 rounds, he will forgo signing and come to Michigan.  This may bode well, as if a team suspects he may not sign, he may get drafted even lower, increasing his odds of coming to Ann Arbor.

Dennis did not go yesterday, when rounds 1-3 were held. Fields, meanwhile, was the subject of an ESPNRise article in May that contains only this about the probability he'll end up on campus:

"He's got the combination of speed and potential power that a lot of people covet," says his father. "The power has to be more consistent, and I think it will be. To me, he's a potential five-tool player."

"He's the whole package," adds Fernandez.

MLB scouts will likely come out in droves this spring to watch Fields, who knows he has another great option -- his scholarship to Michigan -- in case the draft doesn't work out.

I didn't find anything on Biondi.

Zonin' it. Florida State, now possessors of former Rodriguez offensive line coach Rick Trickett, is something of a funhouse mirror via which we can discern things in the Michigan program. Trickett's installed the same sort of zone blocking Michigan has, and this has led to a fantastic post at Tomahawk Nation about the system. My favorite bits are the ones where TN transcribes a video of Alex Gibbs, the longtime Broncos guru and a guy who had major influence on zone running games across the country, including the spread 'n' shred:

Above all, we want guys who want play so bad they could die.  We want guys who can run, who are athletic, who have "recoverability", but who maybe lacks bulk and strength.  Maybe doesn't know what his body is about yet.  We want guys who are going to take advantage of that redshirt year.

TACKLES:  Tall, length, maybe no basic strength, but he can run, and we're willing to let him add that power. 6'5 1/2" is usually the max we want.

GUARDS & CENTERS:  height and length doesn't mean ****.  Marginal height, but plays with great leverage.  "LOW WAISTED" (long torso short legs), with leverage under our bodies.  Healthier by not being heavy.   RARE for them to play early.  Nobody over 6'3".  My center must be football brilliant.

Very intelligent on the inside.  The "test score limit would SCARE YOU."

In here you see the initial seeds of Molk, Omameh, and Huyge's successes, plus the coaching staff's out-and-out glee at picking up 6'3" Quinton Washington. You can also see why maybe Dann O'Neill was buried and why Mr. Plow said "screw you guys, I'm going home." Also of interest: that Christian Pace AMP interview where he came off like a future engineer.

Also note Florida State's heir apparent at running back, Jermaine Thomas. Thomas was a nondescript three-star—though ESPN made googly eyes—with but two major offers (Florida State and LSU). All he did last year was this:

Name No Gain Loss Net AVG
Smith,Antone 177 868 76 792 4.5
Thomas,Jermaine 69 492 10 482 7.0
Jones,Carlton 11 106 7 99 9.0
Sims,Marcus 23 68 4 64 2.8

And that's not especially cherry-picked runs against I-AA teams, either: take out Thomas's 18 carries against them and his average drops, sure, but only to 6.2 YPC. His highlight video is strikingly reminiscent of someone you might be familiar with:

That guy is a smaller, possibly faster, version of Brandon Minor down to the upright running style. One cut. Go. Also, check out how many of Thomas' big runs here are outside zones that get, you know, outside. I don't think I saw Michigan pull this off at any point last year. I specifically remember posting UFRs that openly questioned why the fullback always shot outside of a tackle who was getting shoved back to the point where the tailback had no choice but to turn it up between said tackle and Molk's generally-effective reach block. Since I never saw anyone actually get outside the tackle, it seemed like a waste.

I wonder what caused that. There are a number of possibilities:

  • The tackles weren't that good.
  • Molk's youth and lack of strength made it tough for him to anchor and dangerous for the tackle to hold his ground lest the holes evaporate entirely.
  • Opposing teams, confident in their ability to avoid second-level blocks from Michigan's ponderous guards, sold out to stop players from getting outside.

The answer was probably some mix of the three.

Say what? Tennessee blogs are casting about, looking for ways to explain the flood of secondary violations that have descended upon the program since Lane Kiffin was hired. Bruce Feldman helps out:

Truth is, almost every program has at least a dozen secondary violations a year. Until recently, they almost never made news.

Uh… maybe if Feldman is talking about entire athletic departments, and even that's a stretch. To suggest the Keystone Kiffins are anywhere near an NCAA median—or even under it—is wrong:

Of the 21 NCAA recruiting violations committed by Big Ten schools during the 2007-08 year, Ohio State committed more than half with 13.

Big Ten teams not named Ohio State averaged 0.8 secondary recruiting violations last year… for their entire athletic department. Even violation-happy Ohio State had only four fey self-applied wrist taps given to the football team, which is two fewer than Tennessee has racked up in six months.

How much does this matter? In no way whatsoever, apparently. But let's not pretend that this is some sort of media explosion over nothing*: Kiffin is racking up secondary violations at a rapid pace, and the reason they're so much more visible than the others are is that other secondary violations are things like "accidentally talked to recruit on Shrove Tuesday." Kiffin's blunders are far stupider, and far more public.

*(WE GET IT, Clay Travis. The SEC is going to dominate everything forever and everything that happens is evidence of this.)

Holy pants. Yost Built relays word that Michigan's disgusting 2010 hockey recruiting class looks to get disgustinger in the near future:

Mike Spath posted that Lucas Lessio, a first-round pick in the OHL Draft, may become a Wolverine. He would then play at St. Mike's (The school that produced Caporusso, Cogliano, and Burlon) next season. His source told him that Lessio would be the best player to come to Michigan out of Ontario in the last decade (which includes the names listed above as well as Mike Cammalleri). Lofty praise. He's been compared to Rick Nash in the past, according to that thread.

Holy hotpants. Please get to campus, everyone.

Tim also has a complaint about the home schedule, which finishes up with a Thursday night game against new power Notre Dame, but a commenter corrects him:

Spring break doesn't start until Feb. 27 or something like that next year, so thankfully students will actually get to be there for senior day. I'm assuming that is part of the reason why the game is on a Thursday.

If so, this is a fantastic move by the AD. Most previous senior days have been over breaks, which has been an enormous missed opportunity. Having a full-fledged home crowd for what could be a CCHA-title deciding game also seems like a good idea.

It will continue. Michigan's basketball scheduling looks like it will remain shiny as long as Beilein's around:

"When you have a situation like we're in right now when you have an (experienced) team coming back, I wanted to get my arms around this thing," coach John Beilein said. "We wanted to have enough games so we can have enough games in this (Crisler) arena. At the same time, when you've got a team coming off the NCAA tournament and a lot of people back, that's the time to go after it."

Adding Kansas to the mix may be the most intriguing element.

"I always would like to have one really marquee big-time team coming here," Beilein said.

Etc.: Nick Montana commits to… Washington? What? Some flashy Darius Morris highlights at UMHoops.

Unverified Voracity Says Hello, Old Friend

Unverified Voracity Says Hello, Old Friend

Submitted by Brian on June 1st, 2009 at 1:18 PM

I'm still catching up after spending large chunks of the weekend away from precious internet access, so forgive if some of this is old.

Back like it never happened. So, yeah, Michigan might not be through with Gradys yet:

As Grady continues to evaluate his options, one of them is playing for the Michigan football team. He has spoken with the U-M staff regarding the opportunity. Grady, a 5-foot-10 standout running back/receiver in high school at East Grand Rapids, is considering a number of basketball and football options.

While the Free Press article above indicates Grady is still evaluating his options, a previously reliable source indicates this is a done deal and Grady will not be transferring.

As we've all learned from the Greg Paulus fiasco, players don't use up eligibility in any sport they're not actually playing and have a five-year period before they're ineligible, so Grady would be the functional equivalent of a redshirt sophomore if he was to join the team: three years to play three.

Grady's quick as hell and was a legitimate football prospect coming out of high school, so he could be of some use. No one has put a stranglehold on the slot position and the starting tailback job will be wide open next fall. Also maybe he can catch punts.

Nothing to see here. I really wish this wasn't cause to play officer Barbrady, but even if this is Terrelle Pryor (and it very probably is)…

The football player received a special, discounted hotel rate and free food while visiting Ohio State.

On Aug. 21, OSU declared the athlete ineligible and filed a violation report with the NCAA. He never missed a game, though. He paid back $158 for his extra benefits, and the NCAA restored his eligibility. He was a freshman at Ohio State last year. He was recruited by quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels.

…it's a minor NCAA violation that's been handled already. This, though fun, is also pointless to get excited about:

Since 2000, Ohio State has reported to the NCAA more than 375 violations -- the most of any of the 69 Football Bowl Subdivision schools that provided documents to The Dispatch through public-records requests. Most infractions were minor -- a coach called a recruit too many times, for example. Others, however, left athletes benched, fined or at least embarrassed.

If the NCAA hasn't deigned to slap Lane Kiffin's wrist, this won't bring any additional scrutiny. Especially since the list of violations is full of stuff like "player mentions ice cream shop where she worked" and—seriously—"hockey players sneak into Nickelback concert."

But the larger point in the Dispatch report is a good one: many schools now use any means possible to avoid or make useless FOIA requests by citing a federal law designed to prevent the public disclosure of student grades. An example:

We asked the eight Ohio schools eligible for the Bowl Championship Series for the list of people who flew on university airplanes to away football games. These records are used by the NCAA to determine whether boosters (people who give money to the university and whose actions are scrutinized) fly with the team.

Kent State University sent the entire list, with no names removed. Three schools blackened out the names of students. Four removed the names of students and some nonstudents.

Others just make it ridiculously costly. This includes Michigan, which asked for $850 to fulfill the Dispatch's FOIA request. Only Maryland's hilarious demand for over $35,000 beat that.

Urgh? Odd that Tony Barnhart is the guy to report on this change in the BCS selection process:

In past contracts if the Rose Bowl lost one of its traditional partners, the Big Ten or Pac-10 champ, to the BCS championship game, it could simply fill with another Big Ten or Pac-10 team that qualified. That’s how a 9-3 Illinois team got to Pasadena two years ago.

But in the new contract, I’m told, there is an interesting clause: The first time in the deal that the Rose loses one of its champions to the BCS title game, that opening will be automatically filled by a Coalition (non-BCS conference) team if one has qualified.

Barnhart interprets this as an attempt to not get sued, and okay maybe it is but why does the Rose Bowl get stuck with an automatic mid-major slot instead of losing its special ability to pick a totally undeserving Big Ten team? That seems like swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction.

After getting over the initial revulsion at the thought of Boise State in the Rose Bowl, though, I'm not too put out: better that than a barely-qualified* Big Ten team like Illinois leaping into the BCS, embarrassing itself, and giving the rest of the conference harder matchups in their bowl games. At least some part of the Big Ten's recent bowl struggles is due to the conference almost always getting a second team into the BCS whether it deserves it or not.

*(Literally: IIRC, there was great worry that year because Illinois needed an extremely friendly set of final-week results to even get itself into the top 14 of the BCS rankings.)

Ends to excellent season. The men's golf team made a late surge to squeeze into the top eight at the national championships, then won their first round of match play before losing a "heartbreaker" to Texas A&M in the semifinal. Michigan's top player, the spectacularly-named Lion Kim, is but a sophomore, so future success is a possibility.

Softball, meanwhile, won against Alabama but lost 1-0 against Florida and 7-5 against Georgia to exit the WCWS around 5th or 6th place. At least they're not Ohio State's baseball team, which managed to lose 24-8 and 37-6 this weekend. Even stranger: in between those two games they won twice.

Etc.: Hockey recruits do well at the NHL draft combine.

Unverified Voracity Shoots Howitzers, Dodges Hammers

Unverified Voracity Shoots Howitzers, Dodges Hammers

Submitted by Brian on May 18th, 2009 at 11:50 AM

The offer howitzer redux. A few weeks ago FL CB Travis Williams got offered, visited, committed, and was told "hey let's talk later, okay." This caused some consternation here about whether this was, you know, cool. Conclusion: eh… it makes me feel blucky and isn't that different from Matta flat yanking a scholarship from an already-committed kid.

Tim of Varsity Blue has taken up the issue again, providing a comprehensive explanation of the situation. Jim Stefani is interviewed and provides the crux of the matter:

“In a sense, many Michigan ‘offers’ are not really firm offers but more or less strong indications of interest by Michigan.  Take that for what you will, but it is how many schools are now approaching recruiting.  Look at the DB who wanted to verbal to U-M last week [Travis Williams] but was told to wait.” Florida, a school that uses a similar technique in throwing around a lot of offers, had a similar situation, and they had to tell a defensive back outright that the offer he had been given was not “committable.” It appears as though the main point of contention here, then, is what an offer really means.

Shouldn’t an offer, by definition, be “committable?” Isn’t that, after all, what an offer is?

(Tim's right about Florida: a couple years ago I started getting irritated at their recruiting because they had their own offer cannon. This turned a Florida offer from a indicator of talent to an indicator of limbs. It has not hurt Florida's recruiting.)

Yes, as commonly understood an "offer" is something you can "commit" against. An offer that is not committable is more like the suggestion you'll be offered in the future if 1) your grades are good, 2) commits X and Z go elsewhere, and 3) you don't run from cops. Or get caught by them. "Are chased by" cops. You get the idea. No making cops run.

So this may be semantics. Where Ohio State—notoriously stingy, at least in football—says "you do not have an offer, come to camp" Michigan and Florida and probably a bunch of offers say "you have a conditional offer. The conditions are come to camp and be better than anyone else we have a shot to get at any particular point in time"

The problem comes when either the recruit doesn't hear "conditional" or the condition is in a tiny elven font next to the big bold OFFER. Then you get guys who sign up and then must be gently dissuaded. I'm still not a fan because the whole thing seems like it goes beyond salesmanship into the realm of misunderstandings upon which romantic comedies and bad sitcoms are based. All this is discussed further in the post, which comes highly recommended.

One further tangent from me: Rich Rodriguez's itchy offer finger has suddenly burst into prominence after a full recruiting cycle in which it wasn't nearly as apparent. The obvious conclusion to leap to is that it's hard to recruit after going 3-9 and Rodriguez is making do as best he can in an effort to prevent the recruiting dropoff that usually happens a year after you faceplant. Hopefully, this is a one-year phenomenon, then.

Reshape the hammer, then drop it. It seemed like nothing was ever going to happen in ongoing Reggie Bush investigation. Then it got combined with the OJ Mayo investigation and Robert Guillory is telling the feds about direct cash payments from Tim Floyd and people actually think there's a hammer that's going to fall:

The attorney for Louis Johnson, main source for the latest charges against Mayo, said Wednesday he thinks the NCAA "wants to do something before football season," and that "something" will include sanctions. Meanwhile, Charles Robinson, one of the two Yahoo! reporters (with Jason Cole) driving the vast majority of actual reporting in both cases from the beginning, said in an interview with the Orange County Register Tuesday that the NCAA has been extremely active -- and meticulously silent -- in gathering information, and guesses the hammer may fall before the end of the year.

…and I kind of do, too. So let' make a proactive complaint about the penalties: they're not stiff enough, and they're definitely not long-term enough. Given the widespread allegations, smoking gun photos of agents on the sideline, and federal involvement there has to be enough evidence for a lack of institutional control allegation. If that comes down, what's the penalty? Some probation? A year, even two of postseason bans? A couple scholarships gone for a few years? What's the long term here?

The NCAA should ratchet up its scholarship sanctions so they represent a long-term impact on the program. If USC gets hammered for all this, they should still be digging out in ten years. That's how long the scholarship sanctions should go: heavy at first and gradually dwindling. Viciously funny idea that wont happen: both programs lose a scholarship permanently and have to list Mayo and Bush on the roster in perpetuity.

More kickering. Add another walk-on to the fall kicker derby:

Pike High School senior kicker/punter Kristopher Pauloski has committed to Michigan as a preferred walk-on for next season, Pike coach Derek Moyers said.

Pauloski was named to The Indianapolis Star Super Team last fall as a punter with a 37.9-yard average. He also had 31 touchbacks on kickoffs.

Though the article focuses on his punting, Pauloski is being looked at primarily as a kicker. Stats from a message board post that appears to be from his coach:

Kristopher Pauloski 6-3, 185 Sr Pike HS
PATs: 39/40
FGs: 5/7 long of 39
KOs: 31/46 for Touchbacks (63 yard KO avg.)
I didn't count the times we had him squib kick or onside kicks.
He is being recruited by MAC schools as well as Northwestern.

This concludes available information.

2X. Congratulations to the club lacrosse team, which stormed back from an 8-3 deficit to claim its second consecutive national title:

lax-champs

Softball won its regional and should host a super-regional this weekend; sorry to anyone who took my weather predictions seriously and ended up swimming home on Friday night; I blame Accuweather.

Blue people are like this, green people are like this. So Black Shoe Diaries posted this video. It's the MSU-UNC national championship game; State is in the process of getting its face crushed and a North Carolina fan asks a State fan in front of her to sit to he can see. She starts off crazy but really gets in a groove around 1:40:

Good lord. She's never been to Michigan Stadium. I can tell because she is not dead or in jail, which—given the fondness of blue-haired Michigan fans for "down in front"—she definitely would be if she'd been to Ann Arbor.