The Axeman, Publicized

The Axeman, Publicized

Submitted by Brian on September 24th, 2010 at 3:24 PM

 nick-sabanaxeman-mech
give the guy on the left some autocannons and the resemblance is uncanny

Mainstream media have begun to catch on to the scam Nick Saban is running down in Tuscaloosa. Via everyone in the world who emailed, twittered, or IMed it to me, the Wall Street Journal on a small section of Saban's insatiable desire for more spots in his recruiting class:

"I'm still kind of bitter," said former Alabama linebacker Chuck Kirschman, who took a medical scholarship last year. Mr. Kirschman said Mr. Saban encouraged him to accept the scholarship because of a back problem that he believes he could have played through. "It's a business," Mr. Kirschman said. "College football is all about politics. And this is a loophole in the system."

Surprise!

The WSJ does miss an opportunity to draw a stark contrast between the rate of medical scholarships at Alabama and elsewhere in the SEC, even though they dug up the numbers. I used the LOL for good and made a graph. Here it is:

chartgo

Just a coincidence, surely.

This is actually the less odious bit of Saban's merry disembowelings since the kids he cuts via this method get to stay in school on scholarship (and don't hurt the APR), but it's still a way for him to skirt competitive equity. He gets to try out four extra kids a year and then dump them. The NCAA's in a tough spot since it's tough to discern between scam artists like Saban and legitimate cases like Antonio Bass, but suffice it to say this is a dangerous precedent to set. The NCAA has to close this loophole.

Unverified Voracity Meant To Do That

Unverified Voracity Meant To Do That

Submitted by Brian on August 12th, 2010 at 1:54 PM

Help a blog out. So Blogs With Balls is trying to get in on the next South By Southwest and needs internet help. If you could register with SWSX and then thumb-up the BWB topic idea, this would go some small distance towards helping this happen. Do it to it.

Turner return broached, unlikely. In the aftermath of Justin Turner's decision to transfer there have been rumors about a potential decision to reverse that decision once his family talks him off the ledge:

[WTKA's Sam] Webb says Turner spoke to his mom about the decision but not to other members of the family, some based here in Michigan.  They are coming up to talk to him and "see what was on his mind" including discussing "even up to and including whether or not he would entertain the thought of going back."

However, Webb thinks that outcome is unlikely. Even if Turner did decide to return his apparent lack of conditioning would probably make him useless this season.

It's a deke. Srsly. Michigan Hockey Net has been posting some old Michigan hockey clips of late; here's Brandon Kaleniecki breaking out the greatest deke in the history of hockey:

"He's got two and that was a weird one!"

And fin. Michigan goes in front of the infractions committee this weekend, at which point the final stories about practice (practice we're talking about practice) get written and attention returns to the stuff happening on the field. I have the vague hope some of the stories will have the perspective Bruce Feldman($), a guy who's travelled the country and seen the inside of dozens of programs, does:

If you've been to more than a handful of college campuses in the past decade or talked to any football coaches, you'd know that what the school was accused of are probably the most minor major violations you'll ever hear about.

Many folks cringe whenever they hear the excuse of "Well, everybody does it," but the reality here is this stuff goes on with top programs all over the country. Quite frankly, there's been much bigger offenders on these rules than what the NCAA has apparently caught in its net.

While it sucks that Michigan got dragged through this, nothing in the final report suggests anything except institutional incompetence and confusion about rules most people are confused about. My favorite evidence of the latter is the NCAA official site declaring the rules "nebulous," "difficult to understand," and "even harder to track."

Feldman is a guy who brings some authority when he says similar violations would be turned up just about anywhere; if he's right about that the main difference between Michigan and other schools is the attitude of the local paper.

Other numbers. Freshmen were omitted from this site's Fall Roster Overanalysis since they don't have a track record, but I did mean to link to Ace's focus on those freshmen. Most guys come in about where you'd expect except maybe the ever-expanding Richard Ash. At this rate, in two years we'll get to find out if having Norman Bombardini clog the middle is a good idea.

With Ace's post and a helpful reader sending a long a saved copy of the spring roster I  can highlight a couple additional interesting weight changes:

  • Stephen Hopkins is down from a Wisconsin-like 236 to a still-pretty-Wisconsin-like 227.
  • Christian Pace put on 21(!) pounds since the spring roster came out. I don't think it's possible for all of that to be good weight but if he's already 280 he should be physically ready to play center in the Big Ten when Molk graduates.

Sauce: weak. Les Miles defending the Elliott Porter oversigning fiasco:

He noted that Porter’s scholarship offer was still good, just postponed a semester. He said if somebody made the same offer to one of his sons, they would “certainly be disappointed that day, but recognize that, long-term, it’s not a bad thing.”

Miles said grayshirting can benefit players who could use time to allow their bodies to mature. “He might take his time to come in shape and to benefit his body and compete,” he said.

This is also called a "redshirt," except in that case you get to go to school like you were promised over a year ago. It's a simple choice between not signing that extra kid and taking the chance at going into 2010 with 83 or 84 scholarships or taking a kid who's been living in a dorm for a month and telling him GTFO.

Also note the headline on this thing "Miles defends grayshirt rule," as if there's some crazy NCAA mandate that requires him to dump Porter. The paper is attempting to move the responsibility for the thing from Miles to an NCAA bylaw. Since that bylaw is "you can only have 85 scholarships," fail.

(HT: Get the Picture.)

And so forth and so on. The cases of Noel Devine and Demar Dorsey aren't totally comparable—Devine never got into serious trouble—but his background was "Botswana-level" according to EDSBS:

When Devine was 3 months old, his father died of complications from AIDS.

When Devine was 11, his mother died of AIDS.

Devine's maternal grandmother assumed custody, but he often clashed with her and he eventually moved out. He moved in with the parents of one of his friends.

Devine was a witness to a shooting late in 2004 in which one of his closest friends was killed by a shot to the chest.

Devine had two children in high school in North Fort Myers, Fla., a girl and a boy, born seven months apart to different mothers.

When Devine was a high school senior, many programs backed off because they thought he'd never get into school; WVU seemed a little sleazy when they went after him and got him on campus. Now he's a senior-to-be forgoing the NFL—where his stock is at maximum since he's not going to grow three inches this year—for a degree. Will that degree have the general aura of jockishness? Almost certainly. Is it a better outcome for him than travelling the wilderness as a JUCO? Also almost certainly. I wish the media narrative about poor kids on football teams getting into trouble was less about scolding "win at all costs" coaches and more about what kind of outcomes various programs were achieving with the marginal players they acquire.

In related news, Demar Dorsey still isn't on Louisville's roster.

Maybe holistic and stuff. I'm pretty sure that Doctor Saturday is just reading the media zeitgeist when he suggests that the only thing that can repair the Big Ten's image problem is a national title, but he highlights a fact that's been true at least since Jim Delany's spectacularly ill-advised open letter bashing the SEC:

The Buckeyes' coast-to-coast run at No. 1 in 2006 in calamity, along with their surprising return to the top in '07, the two losses that still loom over the conference like a giant monolith that periodically drawls "S-E-C! S-E-C!" and has no input to receive data such as "the Big Ten and SEC have split their two annual bowl tie-in games 10 to 10 over the last decade."

When you bring this up to someone wearing SEC pajamas, they invariably respond with "bowl games don't matter except those two Ohio State humiliations." The Big Ten has been a bit down of late since Michigan and Penn State can seem to be good at the same time and USC has managed to lose a game against a Pac-10 also-ran yearly, but reports of the conference's demise have long been greatly exaggerated.

Etc.: A Steve Sharik comment on defending four verts with a three-deep gets front-paged at Smart Football. Holding the Rope UFRs Wisconsin's offense against Miami. I was planning on ranking the ten teams of the aughts for Of The Decade but MATW beat me to it so just consider that post part of the series. I didn't see this but a couple of different places on the internet are reporting that on Hard Knocks last night a Jets coach told Donovan Warren "if you'd played like that last year Michigan would have won some damned games," which is funny but not true. Michael Buckner appears in yet another story about Michigan's infractions—is there no other man on the planet with a law degree who can speculate darkly about possible outcomes?

And my "Michigan football" youtube subscription turned up… 60 Seconds With Taylor Lautner. Who is apparently in "Twilight." When I was a kid our vampire shows were full of smokin' hot chicks, not moody boy-toys. /get off my misogynist lawn.

Unverified Voracity Uses Enormous Scissor Hands For Evil

Unverified Voracity Uses Enormous Scissor Hands For Evil

Submitted by Brian on August 10th, 2010 at 12:44 PM

edward-scissorhands Learn from the master. Not to be outdone by some twit in a hat, Nick Saban dropped the boom on two players on the eve of fall camp. One learned he'd "failed a physical" and is either going to be medially disqualified by Alabama's doctors and placed on a scammy hardship scholarship (someone should figure out how many kids have been placed on medical scholarships since Saban arrived; I'm willing to bet it's triple the rate of a sampling of representative schools) or transfer. The other was just straight up deferred because the wrong number of kids got eligible. The usual goes here.

Something unusual: it looks like we're at a turning point as far as media attention goes to this stuff. In the last week both SI's Andy Staples and CBS screedmaster Gregg Doyel have taken up the baton. If you've ever read a Doyel piece you can Mad Libs the nouns between the bombast but at least this time he's struck on something worthy of some portion of the usual outrage. The thrust of his piece is actually too kind since he focuses on exceeding the 25 player limit, which these days you can only do by three, instead of the disparity between some incoming recruiting classes and the number of scholarships available for them. Those can hit double-digits. In LSU's case, they had 27 signees and two early enrollees so they could have gotten everyone on campus if not for the 85 cap. I'll take any attention this issue gets but Doyel's got a lot of his facts wrong.

Meanwhile, Staples has been SI's main recruiting reporter for a few years now. He knows the field, and I'm not just saying that because he's on board with the idea that you shouldn't be able to sign a player unless you can show where the scholarship is coming from. A note on that—Staples says:

Yahoo!'s Matt Hinton and MGoBlog's Brian Cook, two people who have written thoughtfully on this subject in the past, had a brilliant suggestion so simple that even a heavy-handed bureaucracy should be able to bring it to fruition: Make a rule that requires schools to give an actual scholarship to every player they sign to a letter-of-intent.

Cook even suggested raising scholarship limits if necessary. I disagree. If a school has 22 slots on Feb. 2, 2011, it should sign 22 players. If three of those players don't qualify, that's the coach's fault for not recruiting more academically sound prospects. He can play the season with 82 players on scholarship and sign more next year.

I don't think I was clear enough when I suggested the same thing I always suggest. Two scenarios I think would be good for college football:

  1. LOIs are binding both ways for one year. If you sign a player and he does not qualify or you can't fulfill the promise made, you don't get to use that scholarship the next year.
  2. LOIs are actually binding for two years. If you lose a player like above, you can't use the scholarship for the next two recruiting classes. Since this one is more punitive I'd give schools the leeway of an extra scholarship or two.

Either one is fine by me; in scenario 1 I don't think you need more scholarships.

As this gets on the radar of more reporters, coaches across the country will have to start justifying departures from their program, and maybe in a year or two the noise will be enough to force the NCAA to take action. Coaches will caterwaul, but what are they going to do, quit?

(HT: Doc Sat.)

Captains. I forewent retweeting the RR tweet announcing your 2010 permanent captains because if I had it eight times in my feed chances are everyone else had it at least twice already. For those opposed to societal ADD, the guys are Steve Schilling and Mark Moundros. Moundros is representing the defense.  The official site's much less horrible video page has reactions from Schilling and Moundros on the honor; Michigan will still pick two additional game captains throughout the season.

This is undoubtedly overreacting to a tiny slice of information, but it's the day after the first fall football practice. If there's a national day of Overreacting To Tiny Slices of Information, it's today. So: guuuuh linebackers. Michigan's got a couple of fifth-year multi-year starters and they get squeezed out of the official captaincy by a walk-on who was a fullback until spring practice. This is the most circumstantial of evidence but since we have three years of direct evidence that the linebackers aren't very good, it does not make me feel awesome.

Who wants to bet that someone at a newspaper or in sports radio declares this a repudiation of Rodriguez? We should start a pool. I've got Jeff DeFran.

Elsewhere in grunting. This is not so good:

“We have quite a few guys in very good shape, a handful who are in OK shape and a small handful not ready to play Division I football,” he said.

Rodriguez specifically omitted freshmen from his crap list, so Richard Ash—listed at a flabby 320 on the fall roster—is not one of those guys. I'm afraid he might be making a pointed statement directed at Will Campbell, who is the biggest guy on the team at 333 (mark of the half-beast!). This would crush my dream of having a Sagesse/Campbell rotation at the nose free Mike Martin to wreak havoc as a 3-tech DT/5-tech 3-3-5 DE.

Graham is destroying. A steady stream of articles declaring Brandon Graham the next Dwight Freeney, except better, have hit the sidebar, and now here's some main column action:

"I look at him as another (Dwight) Freeney deal," said Cole, referring to the Colts' five-time Pro Bowler. "He's a great player and just keep watching because he's going to be pretty good."

Also Andy Reid dropped a quote that may lend some credence to both EEEE Barwis and a hopefully burgeoning EEEE Bruce Tall contingent:

"He's done very well with that," said Reid. "He's very strong in the lower body; he's very strong in the upper body, too. His lower body, he's got a nice anchor there and good core strength and understands how to use his hands and arms and plays with separation on the linemen."

If we see Roh and Van Bergen do this consistently this year, Tall will enter the pantheon of assistant coaches Michigan fans can't bitch about currently inhabited by Greg Frey, Calvin Magee, and maybe Rod Smith.

Etc.: Ron English says he doesn't want to recruit kids without father figures. Detroit head coach says "that's insane" because "what he's asking for, we don't have." This makes me terribly sad for Detroit. Chad Henne has one vote for Tate. Tom Dienhart's extensive season preview has just two M players (Molk and Schilling) on his all Big Ten first- and second-teams (Stonum is the second-team kick returner), but manages to slot Michigan fifth despite this.

How It Goes Down

How It Goes Down

Submitted by Brian on August 4th, 2010 at 11:37 AM

les-miles scissors

The hire of David Brandon as Michigan's AD already put a stake through the heart of any dim chance Les Miles had at the head coaching job in Ann Arbor, but if it hadn't this should disqualify him($):

"I got called to coach Miles' office. I had no idea it was coming," Elliott Porter said of his being asked by LSU to 'grayshirt' this season and re-enroll next year. "He just told me that they didn't have room for me. I moved out of my dorm today and I am now back home trying to figure everything out. It's been a rough 24 hours." …

"I have to win a waiver, but it shouldn't be a problem," Porter said. "It's unfair how they told me at the last minute." …

"I want to be somewhere that I am wanted," Porter said. "I understand how things are going at LSU, and they didn't have room. To me what happened today wasn't fair. But it's how things go. It's a business. And I fully understand that now."

That's a Rivals article from the Tennessee site; Porter is thinking about signing with UT. Meanwhile, LSU is lying its ass off about the situation:

"Coach made every attempt to get him to stay but the young man wanted to leave," LSU media relations director Michael Bonnette said.

…every attempt except for actually giving him the scholarship promised six months ago. As an aside, one of the Google News hits for Porter is an irrelevant piece from New Zealand serendipitously titled "Slave labor system rotten to the core."

While that's a little over the top—those excitable Kiwis—this is a clear-cut case of a school signing too many kids and jerking one unlucky one around when too many qualify. Porter had a frickin' dorm room and is still trying to find a new place to land on August 4th. As Oversigning.com points out, college football is explicitly not a business. This is supposedly the reason the kids are amateurs, and anyone who gets the impression it is a business might take a huge amount of money from shady characters or enjoy a party in South Beach someone else is paying for. By allowing coaches to take chances like this the NCAA is degrading respect for its other rules.

More importantly, they're treating athletes like meat. By putting himself in a situation where there was a possibility he'd have to cut a kid in August, Miles has established that his job is more important than his word or the players he recruits. I'm not one of those guys who thinks Michigan's head coach has to be raised from birth by helmeted ascetics to learn the Chi Of The Iso in the Hidden Temple of Hardass, but that's a bridge too far for me. I'll be at the head of the mob if he ever gets hired by Michigan, which he won't so whatever.

Also, the usual: the NCAA needs to make LOIs binding for the school, too, for at least one year and preferably two. They can increase the scholarship limit slightly if necessary to compensate. No school should ever benefit from signing a kid to a LOI they do not honor.

Unverified Voracity Needs A New Way Of Thinking

Unverified Voracity Needs A New Way Of Thinking

Submitted by Brian on July 23rd, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Agentzzz. Does the SEC's reaction to predatory agents seem, oh I don't know, slightly self-serving? On one level I don't actually disagree with the idea that maybe having a registered NFL agent represent a kid and possibly throw him some dollars isn't the worst way to bridge some of the gap between the amount of money players make for their schools and the amount of money they make for themselves. That would conveniently pay the players likely to be worth the most to their schools without actually acting as a drain on athletic department budgets.

But maybe the time to suggest something like this

The SEC commissioner says the current rules "may be as much part of the problem as they are the solution."

…is before half the schools in your league are under investigation and likely to lose key players. Watching the local journalists scramble to think outside the bun when their precious local programs come under threat is annoying when no one has a troubling word to say about the NCAA and their pursuit of Reggie Bush. You had five years to cluck about agents before the knocking got local. Doing it now is pure hackery. I can only imagine what the Free Press would write if Michigan had anyone involved in this. Probably not "we need a whole new way of thinking about agents."

Meanwhile, hearing Nick Saban position himself as the great and good friend of college athlete's eligibility is the sort of spectacularly brazen thing that is totally expected from Nick Saban. Seriously:

"I have no respect for people who do that to young people, none," Saban said. "I mean, none. How would you feel if they did it to your child?"

Do what, exactly? Oversign the hell out of them and then either end their careers with dubious medical scholarships or spawn a "voluntary" transfer? No. Give them money they shouldn't have because the NCAA says so. All right then.

Stupidzzz. So some guy outed the author of the Bylaw Blog. As a result, the Bylaw Blog is going on hiatus as the man behind it tries to clear it with his athletic department, which is Loyola Marymount's. Hopefully they take a look at the content on the blog and see it as a positive for their profile, which it certainly is, and let Compliance Guy continue being exceptionally useful.

As for guy who outs exceptionally useful guy: congratulations. You dug up a piece of information of no value to anyone and possibly/probably cut off the only insight into the increasingly important world of compliance that anyone had. You have committed an act of anti-journalism. Here, the truth makes us all dumber. I hope someone runs your foot over with a lawnmower.

Also then afterwards these gentlemen stop by and bend metal threateningly. Via Rittenberg comes this little bit of Barwis hype. On Mike Martin:

Bench-presses 505 pounds, squats 700 pounds … Power cleans 430 pounds, hang cleans 475 pounds …Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds

Strength coach Mike Barwis says: "Mike is an absolute warrior. He has a never quit attitude and is a natural born leader. He is one of the most impressive physical specimens I have ever seen."

And on David Molk:

Bench-presses 490 pounds, squats 660 pounds … Power cleans 420 pounds, hang cleans 440 pounds … Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds 

Strength coach Mike Barwis says: "Dave is an outstanding worker and a natural athlete. He is one of the most naturally explosive linemen I have ever trained."

Whatever Fred Jackson's got, it's catching.

Martin totally pwns Northwestern DT Corbin Bryant, who squats like my grandmother (a mere 600 pounds) and is essentially on par with OSU DL John Simon; no comparables were available for offensive linemen.

Clean. We leave the fresh for the rest of the conference. Dana O'Neil has a remarkable article in which she anonymously surveys D-I basketball coaches and comes out with quotes like "If the NCAA was serious, they'd hire someone who knew what they were doing, not these women out here trying to get a husband.''

"These women"—referred to elsewhere as "gestapettes"—are the NCAA enforcement people tasked with wandering around summer recruiting events attempting to make sure everything is on the up and up. If only Bobby Knight was still coaching we'd have a likely candidate for that Mad Men-era quote; as it is it could be anyone.

Anyway, here's a feather in the cap combined with a shot at Tommy Amaker:

Which league is the cleanest? The dirtiest?

Congratulations, Jim Delany. Your league wins in a landslide. Of the 20 coaches surveyed, 11 said the Big Ten was the cleanest in the country. Three others cited the land where time stood still, also known as the scholarship-less Ivy League. (Although even the Ancient Eight earned one disparaging nod: "The Ivy League,'' one coach said before pausing to add, "I mean the Ivy League a couple of years ago, before all of that stuff at Harvard.")

But coaches cited the Big Ten's perceived willingness to police itself and rosters that "made sense," in which players traditionally come from the footprint of the schools they choose to attend.

Tommy Amaker got dirty enough to mention when he left Michigan for Harvard. Michigan is bringing a fork to a gun fight in basketball recruiting.

Some nice things were said about Michigan State that we will elide before getting to the next shocker:

…the Southeastern Conference was perceived as the worst, with three coaches partnering the SEC with the Big East and another tossing in the Big 12 (one coach went league-by-league, counting up schools). All in all, the SEC was named by 14 of the coaches.

"Oh no, it's not just a myth,'' one coach said about the SEC. "It's the truth.''

Maybe we need to rethink the way we perceive rampant cheating in college basketball?

Etc.: The WLA quibbles with the Offense of the Decade, suggesting that Drew Henson's abbreviated season as the starter should have won at QB. The numbers (61.6% completion, 14.7 yards per completion, 9.1 yards per attempt, and an 18/4 TD/INT ratio) are pretty compelling; I left him off because he only played about 75% of the season but… yeah. It depends on how heavily you want to weight that.

They also suggest Askew instead of Dudley but I did not really consider Askew a fullback since he spent most of his time as the deep back in a single-RB formation, IIRC, and anyway if I was putting together a team I'd rather have Dudley for short yardage than an okay tailback who can block.

Unverified Voracity Pauses Dramatically And Talks About Justice

Unverified Voracity Pauses Dramatically And Talks About Justice

Submitted by Brian on May 19th, 2010 at 1:05 PM

Advertising note. If you live in Michigan (or, more accurately, if your ISP does) You may have noticed a banner for the Women's Football Academy rotating along the right side of the blog. They've purchased some ad space in support of the blog and I'd encourage anyone who is a qualified for the Academy (read: a woman) to check it out. As with many things related to the football program these days, the proceeds go to an excellent cause.

Poetry_Slam Line two. Dave Brandon is creating a slow motion poem. Line one: "I create the future." Line two:

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon: 'Change is in the wind'

Poem to date:

I create the future
Change is in the wind.

That is all. Oh: peanut gallery request for Dave Brandon Poetry Slam image to go with what promises to be an electric ongoing feature.

CEASE INSANE DIVISIONAL SPLITZ KTHX. If the Big Ten expands, Michigan and Ohio State will be in the same division:

"I think what’s probably most important is that you play them every year,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Tuesday from the Big Ten spring meetings. “For us, it’s always been at the end and that’s always had a great buildup and excitement to that, so you would think that would be part of the conversation. But there’s a lot of factors in play. I have not put a lot of thought into it.”

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said that issue is “very important” to him.

“At the end of the day when I look at things quantifiably, I’ll determine how hard I jump on the table,” Smith said. “But I can’t say for sure how high a table I’ll jump on. I have to wait and see.”

I have no idea what the hell Smith means by that but I'm sure if it's translated from Buckeye it means "beer fire bad. Michigan-Ohio State rivalry good." Bloggers still creating wildly impractical expansion scenarios—losers—can cut out the ones where Michigan and Ohio State do not play every year.

Getting way ahead of ourselves. Penn State rotates off the schedule next year along with all nonconference road games. (Also Purdue.) Minnesota and Northwestern return. The resulting schedule looks… well, it looks as easy as these things get short of moving to the WAC:

2011 Michigan Football Schedule

Date Opponent
Sept. 3 Western Michigan
Sept. 10 Notre Dame
Sept. 17 Eastern Michigan
Sept. 24 San Diego State
Oct. 1 BYE
Oct. 8 at Wisconsin
Oct. 15 Indiana (Homecoming)
Oct. 22 at Michigan State
Oct. 29 at Iowa
Nov. 5 Minnesota
Nov. 12 Illinois
Nov. 19 at Northwestern
Nov. 26 Ohio State

Eight home games, no Penn State, OSU and ND at home: that will be a put up or shut up type of schedule.

I don't understand why people keep falling out of the boat when I push more in. Hardcore Michigan recruitniks will have a vague recollection of Star Jackson, the dual-threat quarterback who was briefly on Michigan's radar during Rodriguez's first-month quarterback scramble that landed Justin Feagin and whiffed on Pryor, BJ Daniels, and everyone else. Jackson was committed to Alabama and stayed committed despite the Michigan offer. Today, he's announcing a transfer.

As far as Crimson Tide transfers go this one is near the bottom on the sketchiness scale: Jackson was third-string after spring practice and the Tide have hyped incoming freshman Phillip Sims joining the team this fall. Quarterbacks have a hair trigger these days when it comes to transfers. Even so, it takes a robot to say this with a straight face:

"We hate to see any player leave the program, but quarterback's kind of a unique position where one guy can play, and we have a lot of competition there right now. Greg's the starter coming back, AJ has done a fantastic job of improving, Phillip Sims came in at mid-semester and showed a lot of promise this spring."

Alabama oversigned by ten this February. Yes, again. They have six more guys to go. Jackson battled an academic suspension in spring, and given the state of the depth chart you have to wonder how invested Alabama was in getting him through that.

Now: which offensive lineman who isn't panning out will get a medical scholarship?

This is a problem? Apparently the one person on the planet with both a deep personal animosity towards the San Diego State football program and a connection to Michigan is Tate Forcier:

Honestly, San Diego State is a team right in my backyard and they didn’t show me any love or attention. Coach (Chuck) Long didn’t pay much attention to me, which was surprising because I showed some interest in them.

Son of a bitch. Grab the influenza and burn the boats: there's an indigenous group of homicidal, gold-hoarding polytheists to beat by at least three points.

Actually: maybe David Underwood also hates SDSU. Maybe he blames it all on them.

(HT: DocSat.)

Zinger. Rodriguez speaking about the ACC's Big East raid, which happened while he was the coach at WVU:

“I think it caught a few institutions off guard and it probably institutionally taught a few lessons that, hey, we better be prepared for that the next time,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know all the factors, but I’m sure there’s a few more buy-ins and buy-outs and things like that. I know all about buy-outs."

Zing! Wait, he zinged himself. Someone at this to the list of Rodriguez Humiliations that will be read over the loudspeaker before every game this fall.

Etc.: Even more python parsing of MGoBlog reveals that the words "Harbaugh," "mom," and "penetration" have each been deployed exactly 128 times. Isn't that was the Les Miles rumor? So much for python. Maize n Blue Nation gets detailed on the new turf. Beilein is heading overseas with the team if they can work something out.

Oversigning Gets Some Attention

Oversigning Gets Some Attention

Submitted by Brian on January 7th, 2010 at 2:09 PM

Outside the Lines put together an excellent piece on John Calipari brooming five players from Kentucky's roster as soon as he arrived. (It's technically six but one guy was a potential fifth-year, not an underclassman; ESPN's stretching a bit to make their case.) They mention that other people playing this game are Nick Saban, Billy Donovan, and… John Beilein!?!

Yes, actually, they do. It comes deep into the piece and is a tiny aside but they bring up the guy freakin' heading NCAA basketball's new ethics committee for Michigan's roster turnover amongst the usual sea of sketchy guys with slick hair:

A quick glance at the six departures over two years cited:

Ekpe Udoh. Udoh just turned in a triple-double for Baylor; Beilein obviously didn't want to lose him. Udoh saw 65% of available minutes in Beilein's first year and every time he is brought up a little part of a Michigan basketball fan dies. (Sorry, Eldridge P. Murthel of Saline, but that toe is never going to feel again.)

Reed Baker. Baker was offered an explicitly one-year deal sight unseen by Tommy Amaker (who feared that Dion Harris may have ended up academically ineligible) and took it; Beilein did not renew it. Baker landed at Florida Gulf Coast, where he's playing about 30 minutes a game.

Jerrett Smith. Smith was Kelvin Grady before Kelvin Grady was Kelvin Grady, a point guard who got buried on the depth chart. I believe he didn't come close to meeting Beilein's newly-instituted physical requirements. He transferred to GVSU and played the final year of his career there.

K'Len Morris. Morris also transferred to GVSU. He''s a junior this year; last year he saw 12 games before an injury ended his season. This year he has eight minutes in one game. (Injury again?)

Kendrick Price. Price quit the team when Beilein came in and now plays for the Vermont Frost Heaves of the Premier Basketball League. He is listed as a rookie from Michigan, so I believe he finished his degree at M instead of transferring somewhere else.

Kelvin Grady. Grady ended up buried at the end of the bench behind two walk-ons and decided he wasn't a fit for Beilein's offense. He's still at Michigan, playing receiver for the football team.

Only four of the departures were unexpected or something other than a total disaster for the interior defense and only two of those saw the players actually leave school—this is about academics, after all. Even leaving aside that, Michigan spent last year with ten scholarship players and the year before that with nine. No one was removed from the team to make room for a hotshot freshman. Creating standards your players have to meet to find playing time and seeing them transfer or quit because they don't, as Smith, Morris, and Price did, is totally different than cutting players so you can sign John Wall.

I don't bring this up to be defensive; it's just that the most common defense of this stuff on the part of folk who should be defensive is to bring up normal, un-sketchy attrition and attempt to draw a comparison. John Beilein (of all people!) is nothing like John Calipari.

Other than that, though, the piece is excellent. Three former UK players are quoted on-camera saying that they were cut. Cut with weaselly plausible deniability, but cut. Predictably, the comments are a horde of UK fans talking about haterz seeing them rolling. Jemele Hill's claim that UK fans would root for Charles Manson if he won is the most accurate statement that's ever been apologized for.

Broken record time: the NCAA should do something about this. Kudos to ESPN for ratcheting up the pressure.

Oversigning: A Retraction And A Gun That's Kind Of Smoking

Oversigning: A Retraction And A Gun That's Kind Of Smoking

Submitted by Brian on August 11th, 2009 at 11:46 AM

First, the retraction: Jim Leavitt and South Florida aren't hacking guys down out of mere lack of scholarship space, as I suggested on The Sporting Blog. They kept going after getting to 85:

"I don't know how it happened," said Atkins, a tight end from Dixie Hollins High School. "I did everything USF asked me to do. The committee said my grades were on a downward trend, but they improved my last semester. I don't understand the process."

That's a who-dat two star tight end who's suddenly on the open market—not exactly the crown jewel of the class—but it's also the third player who's been shot down not by the NCAA Clearinghouse but by USF admissions.

Why would USF suddenly get religion about this sort of thing? I'm guessing its their BCS-worst APR. USF's been the caboose the last two years but has miraculously escaped sanctions via unexplained waivers. They managed to get a waiver this year despite seeing their APR fall eight points. Unless the Bulls get their numbers up now they will feel the NCAA's boot, and now USF must take a hard look at players at risk of failing out.

I'm not sure if this is a positive development or not. On the one hand, USF is experiencing difficulties with recruiting because the NCAA isn't going to put up with terrible graduation numbers any more. On the other, three kids have had their plans disrupted. The first two players to get rejected have landed at Southern Miss and Louisville (and Atkins is also rumored to be headed to UL), so they're still getting D-IA scholarships.

(HT: Fanblogs.)

And the smoking gun. New Golden Eagle Alonzo Lawrence on his violation of team rules, or lack thereof:

He was expected to see playing time as either a cornerback or safety for the Crimson Tide this season, but Saban said this week that Lawrence was one of four players who violated a team rule and were not invited back to the team.

“That’s something that isn’t true, but I’m not going to say anything about that,” Lawrence said.

Ah, the classic comment-but-no-comment. Very passive-aggressive. Lawrence is one of eighteen Alabama players to leave the team this offseason and amongst 30 in two years. Fully 13 Alabama players who completed spring practice are off the team. Saban again brought in way more players than his roster could theoretically handle, guaranteeing these departures in February. At some point the sheer numbers defy explanation.

Again: a school shouldn't be able to sign someone to a LOI unless it can show where the money is coming from.