In With A Chance

In With A Chance

Submitted by Brian on January 22nd, 2018 at 11:57 AM

1/19/2018 – Michigan 4, Penn State 0, 11-10-2, 6-7-2 Big Ten
1/20/2018 – Michigan 3, Penn State 2, 12-10-2, 7-7-2 Big Ten

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incoming [James Coller]

Here's a weird graph.

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That's Michigan hockey's Pairwise ranking. For those who may have forgotten this weird thing about college hockey, the Pairwise is a computer ranking that selects and seeds the NCAA hockey tournament. Yeah, man, the robots took over like 20 years ago and hockey is fine with it.

This graph shows Michigan leaping from the mid-20s in that ranking to 15th last weekend. There are 16 teams in the tournament and one conference that will definitely occupy a spot with an otherwise-out auto-bid team. So... yeah. They'd be in if they got lucky with conference tournaments.

Hockey's made some tweaks that make some games more valuable than others but not even I, a person who knows what the Pairwise is and can give you its life history, believed that an 8-10-2 Michigan team could haul its ass from "not even on the bubble" to "maybe in the tournament" with one weekend sweep against Minnesota. Nor did I expect a sweep against another bubble team, Penn State, to do nothing further. I guess Michigan consolidated its gains?

Anyway, this caught me off guard. I hadn't even looked at the Pairwise all year since there seemed to be no reason to. I'd been interpreting the hockey team in front of me as a try-hard, much-improved outfit that had too far to go in one season. This weekend I saw... basically that, but now with a tourney bid at stake. Against the rootinest, tootinest, shootinest team in all the land. Penn State.

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[Bill Rapai]

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If there were seven seals that had to open before last year's Michigan Hockey Apocalypse, #2 or #3 was A Penn State Program The Same Age As My Son, Who Regularly Has To Be Told Not To Bite People, Gives Michigan The Business. Year 1 PSU went 3-2 against Michigan despite winning just five other games all season and knocked Michigan out of the tourney with a two OT win in the conference tourney. Year 2 PSU went 3-1.

Adding insult to injury, these Penn State teams played like Red Berenson teams, zipping up and down the ice pell-mell while trying to score goals with skill, if skill would do, or sheer erosion if it wouldn't. Penn State was (and is) prone to exploding into bits because they don't quite have the talent to do what they want to do, but from the drop they seemed to be a version of Michigan on the rise instead of the decline.

Penn State's still Penn State. At certain points their sheer aggression overwhelms. Michigan got out of the gate slow on Friday and shots were 9-3 PSU despite a Michigan power play ten minutes in. One particular shift on Saturday saw the Slaker line so gassed they couldn't even ice the puck; they ate two solid minutes of desperate defensive zone time. Lavigne got the biggest cheer of the night for swallowing a puck directly in his chest to end this shift.

That shift was the second half of the Saturday game writ large. Michigan staked itself to a 2-0 lead and seemed to have the much better chances through 30 minutes even if a bunch of point shots had PSU ahead in shots on goal. Dave had Michigan with an advantage on shots in the "house" through 20, and then the roof caved in.

The rest of the game was spent with Penn State even more amped up than they usually are. The last ten minutes of the second period was nonstop PSU attacking, with the defensemen pinching on almost literally everything. Whenever Michigan broke PSU's line they had a shot at an odd-man rush that they couldn't quite put together. (A major reason why: Yost's ice still sucks even after they redid the plant.) Michigan struggled to cope in the third, with PSU launching 31 shot attempts, almost half of them from the house.

Lavigne stood tall; puck luck bit PSU. And then Penn State pulled the goalie with three minutes left. That was finally it. PSU scored twice and made the final minute a sphincter test. They lost because Michigan did pay off on one of the opportunities PSU's hyper-aggression provided, when Dakota Raabe scored the first goal of his career on a breakaway.

If that didn't feel too different than previous PSU games, the Friday game did. Michigan outshot and significantly outchanced PSU after the rough start; that 4-0 win probably should have been 4-2 or 4-1, but it was not that scramble to hold on Saturday.

That's the team: working for it. Getting there. Still liable to get clonked. But in it. For the duration.

DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK, CALL IT THE PAIRWISE STATUS

Hey, pairwise is relevant again! Hooray. I used to have to eyeball this stuff but there is now an excellent site called College Hockey Ranked that plays out the various scenarios over and over again and spits out graphs. Here's Michigan's graph:

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To (probably) be in position for an at-large when conference tourney play starts Michigan needs to go 6-4 down the stretch. That would be about a 75% shot at the #13 spot, which is safe in all but the most apocalyptic bid-stealing scenarios. At 6-4 they would probably have to win their first round series to feel good about securing the bid. 7-3 would be pretty secure. 8-2 and they'd be close to 100% safe, but that's a tall, tall order.

Because college hockey's RPI gives you bonuses for beating highly-ranked teams and weights a road W 50% more than a home win, the most important games left by far are this weekend's series at OSU (#6 PWR) and the ND (#1 PWR) home and home, especially the road half of it. Even a split this weekend is pretty good.

Since the Pairwise is now identical to RPI unless head to head intervenes, with limited exceptions anything that's good for Michigan's RPI is good for their pairwise. The main thing to root for is for Michigan's opponents in the top 20 to do well unless there's a direct conflict.

This means you're in favor of Minnesota winning games—Michigan has already banked 3 Ws against them. Penn State is a little trickier because they still manage to win their comparison with Michigan because their 3-1 H2H deficit is made up for by their better RPI and Common Opponents, and then RPI breaks the tie. Your pecking order in conference:

  1. Minnesota—Gophers literally cannot win a comparison with M so win away, Goldy. This may change if M and Minnesota are specifically competing for a last at large spot late. For now, go Gophers.
  2. OSU/ND—both of these teams are big quality win bonuses waiting to happen if Michigan can pull games off of them in their upcoming series, and are so far ahead of Michigan that there's no way Michigan could win a comparison with them.
  3. MSU—irrelevant.
  4. PSU—Quality win bonus, on the one hand, bubble team on the other. Michigan can win or lose this comparison based on PSU does, and their QWB isn't huge.
  5. Wisconsin. Currently safely out but plays their way on to the bubble with 5 wins in their last 8.

Nonconference teams you hate because they're on the bubble are Providence, UNO, Northeastern, Harvard, BGSU, Northern Michigan, Miami, and BC, but this far out it's about 90% Michigan and 10% how others play. This is especially true because the league has four bubble teams (M, Minnesota, PSU, and Wisconsin). If they finish third in the league they're probably good.

Unverified Voracity Gets It Right The Second Time

Unverified Voracity Gets It Right The Second Time

Submitted by Brian on November 29th, 2017 at 1:01 PM

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[Eric Upchurch]

Malzone exit. Alex Malzone's long-rumored transfer is now official. This was foretold last year, when Michigan had a three-way QB competition in which Malzone was guy #4. He's graduating and will have two years to play somewhere else, so that's not the worst deal: a degree and a shot to see the field.

Why aren't various MSU honchos in jail? Larry Nassar was shielded from consequences for twenty years because of the upper management at Michigan State:

Nassar also worked at Michigan State. For two decades, the public university paid him, provided him with facilities, referred student-athletes from across the athletic department to his practice, showered him with awards, and even used his work with the Olympic team as a recruiting tool. This is despite the fact that, between 1997 and 2015, at least seven girls and women raised concerns about Nassar’s actions to authority figures at the school — including trainers, police, and MSU university officials.

Despite what Michigan State would like you to believe, a pedophile who allegedly perpetrated abuse on such an enormous scale cannot exist in a vacuum. So how will this prominent university and athletic department be held accountable for their involvement in the abuse of more than 140 people?

PSU people went to jail in shame. The institutional behavior here is just as bad. And yet. MSU is also facing a Title IX lawsuit that alleges MSU let Keith Mumphrey back on campus after supposedly banning him. And nobody cares about this! Graham Couch is too busy thinking up MLK day zingers to notice.

So much for San Diego. Per Brett McMurphy, Michigan is a "lock" to play in the Outback Bowl. There they'd get South Carolina, another 8-4 team with a thin resume. S&P+ thinks this is an awesome matchup for Michigan, as it thinks South Carolina is really a 6-6 team masquerading as an 8-4 team; they rank 67th, with an offense that's a bit worse than Michigan's and a mediocre defense. S&P+ would favor Michigan by 9 or 10, which is a huge statistical gap for a nominally even matchup against an SEC team.

Exit one thorn, one potential thorn. PSU offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead is the new coach at Mississippi State. This is a good idea, and not just because it gets him out of the Big Ten. Moorhead managed to put together a very functional Penn State offense without an offensive line. Other names in the Mississippi State search included Brent Venables and Jeremy Pruitt, which is refreshingly sane in a world where Tennessee is doing Tennessee things and Arizona State is interviewing Herm Edwards.

Speaking of:

Poor damn Purdue. Don't even get to have the 9-3 season before SEC teams start horning in on your best idea since Joe Tiller. If Tennessee does pull this off, an internet flash mob that hated the Schiano hire will get an excellent result because they revolted against a person just in charge of things.

ASU, on the other hand, should immediately fire their athletic director. He used to be an agent, which is insane to begin with, and one of his clients used to be Herm Edwards. The Herm Edwards who hasn't coached, at all, since 2008. The Herm Edwards who is 63. The Herm Edwards who says he'd keep Todd Graham's coordinators, virtually announcing he'd be a figurehead before the job even starts. Gob-smacking!

Here's a nice pat on the head though. Even Spike Albrecht thinks this is audacious, Moorhead:

Sources told FootballScoop that Moorhead targeted Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown to join him at Mississippi State, but Brown will remain in Ann Arbor.

That's from Football Scoop and thus may be total balderdash—remember when the guy behind it started trolling the message board?—but it's funny to imagine that conversation.

J: "Hey, Don."
D: "Yeah?"
J: "Feel like leaving Rashan Gary and eight other returning starters from a top ten defense to come to Starkville?"
*dialtone*

That's fine, because Mississippi State fans didn't want him anyway.

Hall transfer watch might still be on. Seth posted the news item about JaRaymond Hall staying but the statement itself is pretty noncommittal, noting he's "made no decision" on his future; Sam Webb still asserts that he did receive a release, which is almost always the prelude to a departure.

This reminds me of the time that I told everyone Sam McGuffie was going to transfer and then twisted in the wind for a week as he waffled on whether to stay or go. That suuuuuuucked, and I stopped reporting about transfers as a result. Dang people can change their dang minds, I tellya.

Might be a thing where he goes through bowl practices and makes a final decision afterwards.

Vicious Vic: the revengening! There was a great catastrophic despair in the MGoSlack when this happened:

Vic Viramontes, a dual-threat junior college quarterback from Riverside (Calif.) City College, announced on Twitter on Monday that he has verbally committed to the Gophers.

“I would like to announce that I am officially committed to the University of Minnesota! #RowTheBoat’’ Viramontes tweeted.

“I can’t wait to play for the Golden Gophers!’’ Viramontes also tweeted. ...

Viramontes, a freshman at Riverside and a transfer from Cal, passed for 1,868 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 1,346 yards and 21 TDs this season for Riverside, which lost in the SoCal championship game on Saturday. The Norco, Calif., native spent the 2016 season as a redshirt at Cal. He would have three seasons of eligibility remaining with Minnesota.

Viramontes is the quintessential Minnesota quarterback and is almost certainly going to start since Connor Rhoda's eligibility expired and Demry Croft is transferring after being suspended in week two for some sort of door incident he says he wasn't responsible for. The rest of Minnesota's quarterbacks were worse than Croft. Therefore: the Viramontes era.

Will be fascinating to see how he does.

Etc.: College football is popular amongst gamblers, and the Times is on it. Mississippi State even has Hugh-Freeze-exposing recruiting reporters. They're living right. Detroit one of four finalists for two near-term MLS expansion slots. If they don't get it this time around they'll try again for the next two.

Unverified Voracity Pivots To Hamster

Unverified Voracity Pivots To Hamster

Submitted by Brian on July 5th, 2017 at 12:06 PM

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let's talk about all three of these dudes [Bryan Fuller]

Chris Evans: already good? I'm a wee bit skeptical about these numbers because I seem to remember Chris Evans breaking some tackles and running for a gorillion yards when it was 49-0 against Rutgers, but, uh:

No Saquon Barkley is a surprise. (He's not even 4th, which goes to Maryland's Ty Johnson.) Enough of a surprise that I look at this stat with a bit of a jaundiced eye. It looks like it heavily favors guys who end up in certain situations but not others. Wadley and Evans were insulated from short yardage situations by LeShun Daniels and De'Veon Smith, respectively. And the whole Maryland offense was geared towards getting little quick guys in space one on one. The context is important.

This one might be better?

I still think that's about Evans breaking the occasional tackle and getting a huge play than anything De'Veon Smith-esque. Huge plays are good, don't get me wrong—I am just worried about sample size. Better to have Evans on these lists than not; maybe not super predictive about the season.

Less skeptical about this one. Michigan's DL is going to be just fine this fall.

Bosa and Winovich are in fact #2 and 3 nationally, behind only Harold Landry—another Don Brown acolyte. Meanwhile the new DEs were actually more productive against the run than the departures:

That one may be a garbage time artifact. Even if you haul those numbers back down to Wormley/Taco level that's pretty dang okay, and we haven't even talked about Mo Hurst.

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BRILLIANT

Exit Fox Sports Dave Brandon. A spectacular final act for carnival-barker Jamie Horowitz at Fox Sports. Step one is gutting the profitable(!) Fox Sports digital team in order to consolidate his hold on power, with a side of implementing his post-apocalyptic vision:

What really does work is when you take things are good like ’11 Coaches Oregon Might Hire’, that might be something someone is interested in the day Helfrich gets fired, and we change to ‘Colin Cowherd’s 11 Coaches.’ We’ve seen this be very successful. You look at Fox News right now, O’Reilly and his take. That’s all it is. And there are many different ways.

Step two is getting fired literally the next week.

Jamie Horowitz’s dismissal Monday came about a week after Fox began investigating allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace in its sports division. The company interviewed several women at L.A.-based Fox Sports about Horowitz’s behavior, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to publicly discuss it.

The women included prominent on-air personalities and show producers, according to two people who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

Lawsuits will follow as Horowitz tries to collect on a contract and Fox Sports tries to separate itself from an alleged sexual harasser. Unfortunately for Fox and their writers, there appears to be no way to re-spool the thread.

A bloody few weeks in online #content have caused a round of introspective articles about "pivoting to video," and why that's exec-speak for "I give up, eat at Arby's." Bryan Curtis:

Why this is happening is simple: The web has a surplus of copy versus advertising. Companies have decided that sticking an ad at the front of a video makes it less ignorable than putting a similar ad next to an article. It doesn’t matter what the video is. I often get a paragraph or two into a Sports Illustrated story only to find Madelyn Burke in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, giving me a summary of the sentences I’m already reading.

The new round of layoffs ignited a lousy ritual. “Hire these people!” we tweeted at … whom, exactly? A word-friendly publication that would promise to never, ever pivot to anything else? The contact information for Vocativ’s “free agents” was sent around on a spreadsheet.

Other writers tried to play media visionary and stepped in it. “I’ve been in digital media for 12 years,” Sports Illustrated’s Andy Gray tweeted last week. “One thing I’ve learned is that nobody wants to read anything over 1,000 words. MTV is more proof.” Never mind that Gray’s employer uses the motto “longform since 1954.”

On Twitter, Gray got the noogie he deserved. I enjoyed reading his replies. They proved that no occasion, not even an existential threat to the industry, will prevent a journalist from citing his old articles — and, in this case, also providing the word count. Why, my recent longform piece was actually quite popular!

There are two kinds of online video. One has video content. Like this:

Delightful.

The other kind of online video does not have video content, whether it's a talking head repeating what someone else said or a poorly lit podcast-on-youtube-for-some-reason with horrible audio. These are stuck next to the actual written content you want, set to autoplay, and nowadays they even follow you around when you scroll down. They exist only to scam advertisers willing to play high CPMs for ads on video content. The problem, of course, is that these videos only have written content repurposed badly. No hamsters anywhere. They are never watched. At best they run in the background of someone's work computer, on mute.

Scout's bankruptcy and firesale was easily predicted by their own pivot to video. I can't tell you how many times I've clicked on a Scout article hoping for information on a recruit only to be presented with a video. Once in a while this seems useful enough for me to transcribe, and I do so. Half the time I decide to do this I can barely hear the #content because they taped it outside on a phone in high winds.

I dunno what the solution to online content is but I do know that scamming people is not it. Making your product worse by turning it into a tedious video instead a searchable, skimmable article is also not it. Until someone trains a hamster to recite your text, video is strictly worse for most content.

Penn State skepticism. Various folks on this here blog have been trying to elucidate why we're not as high on Penn State as most folks. Mostly it comes down to "their all-bomb offense was pretty lucky," and here's a stat to back that up:

That conversion rate on jump balls is almost certainly unsustainable and PSU will have to make up for it elsewhere. They've got a shot at doing so because they bring back a lot from last year's team.

Drake yes? Drake no? Per Sam Webb, Drake Johnson did get approved for a sixth year in various sports:

Whether he'll actually come back for football is an open question. Webb reported that he's 1) down to 180 and 2) very fast, so there's a role for him in both football and track. With a wonky hamstring that might not like stop-start, you could hardly blame him for packing it in and just running track.

Michigan has the room, FWIW.

Etc.: Buccigross survives, gets new five year deal. The Elite 11 is basically garbage for predicting QBs. That Bamba cash thing isn't going anywhere. The fullback is dead in the NFL. Assistant coach names. Talking with Mel Pearson. A reason to huddle?

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Penn State

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Penn State

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on December 7th, 2016 at 2:09 PM

Thursday, December 1, 2016

#6 Penn State 6, #20 Michigan 1

1st period

Sturtz Goal

PSU 1 UM 0 EV 07:56 Assists: Richard & Smirnov

Nagelvoort’s standing to lock the post, which is perfectly acceptable and even favorable positioning-wise considering that open PSU skater drifting through the slot. Michigan loses a battle in the corner, and PSU now has possession of the puck near the net with a dangerous passing option open.

m psu thurs 1-1

Richard decides that he’ll drive the net himself, which makes little sense to me but proves effective in stirring up a scrum in front of the net. Nagelvoort butterflies and stops the initial shot, but he gives up a rebound.

Defensively, Kile comes screaming in and goes right for Richard. Warren (whom the arrow is to the left of in the screen cap below) is also reaching ahead, apparently in an effort to knock the puck away. He soon realizes that he needs to cover the skater to his right.

m psu thurs 1-2

Nagelvoort’s body is turned away from the middle of the crease because of the way in which he attacked the initial shot. He has to rotate around to get square to the shooters to his left. With so many guys in the crease unmoved, the task in front of him is monumental. The key to the goal is the skater underneath the arrow in the screen cap below.

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I don’t understand why Shuart lets him skate into the slot unimpeded. It’s not like this is a skater who popped up out of nowhere; he’s been shadowing him since they were near the boards.

Sturtz gets to the loose puck an flips it up. The puck ends taking a strange path in, going up and rolling over Nagelvoort. Shuart then gives Sturtz a shot as guys jostle after the puck’s in, which…I don’t know. I don’t understand the lack of urgency and I don’t understand why he seemed to be so observant of what was going on behind and around the net but didn’t cover the skater right in front of him.

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[Hit THE JUMP to reset expectations]

Unverified Voracity Is Headed For The Green Room

Unverified Voracity Is Headed For The Green Room

Submitted by Brian on August 23rd, 2016 at 12:44 PM

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[Bryan Fuller]

Lot of talent, lot of talent. CBS draft analyst Dane Brugler:

Per NFL scouts, Butt and Charlton(!) could be high first round picks:

Juniors will pile in, of course, but if that holds to draft day both those guys would go in the top 15. I can't imagine it would—QBs and various other players at positions the NFL drafts higher than TE will emerge—but I be like dang anyway.

Todd McShay has Michigan third on his list of teams with the most NFL talent, and while having no idea what happened in the draft last year…

Last year, QB Jake Rudock (sixth round) was the lone Wolverine selected

…is not a great look for a draft analyst, ESPN currently projects seven players to be off the board by the end of the third round:

  • #31 Jake Butt: "Has very good natural combination of size and speed to create mismatches. Adept at playing in-line (Y), flexed out (F) and split out wide. Very fluid for his size. … Gets overmatched physically at the point of attack by bigger defensive linemen."
  • #33 Jabrill Peppers: "Good cover skills for a safety. Has lots of experience playing man-coverage both in the slot and on perimeter. At his best in man-coverage. Lacks elite fluidity in hips, but has quick feet and good burst. … Willing but could also be more aggressive at times. [ed: ?!?!?]"
  • #39 Jourdan Lewis: "was in the hip pocket of Michigan State WR Aaron Burbridge (6th round pick, 49ers) hip pocket the entire 2015 game (stats are deceiving). Displays excellent body control and balance. Shows good deep speed on tape."
  • #46 Jehu Chesson: "Very good speed for size and can threaten vertically. Gets from 0-to-60 miles per hour in a hurry. Has length and tracking ability to create matchup problems for average-to-smaller cornerbacks on 50-50 balls…. Excellent effort as a blocker. … Love watching this guy play the game."
  • #56 Chris Wormley: "Excellent size and good overall strength. Shows snap in his hands and flashes ability to press offensive linemen into their backfield. … Tied for team-lead with 6.5 sacks in 2015 but 4.5 of those sacks came versus marginal offensive lines (Oregon State, Penn State and Rutgers) and his sack versus Michigan State was a protection breakdown."
  • #69 Taco Charlton: "Power-based bass rusher that does a good job of using his long arms and explosive power to get into offensive linemen's pads, and then grinds through contact. … Good but not elite first-step quickness. Solid lateral agility and redirect skills for size."
  • #77 Mason Cole: "Better suited for pass pro inside. … Takes good angles and has very good range. At his best as a run blocker when on the move. Has the feet to consistently win battle for initial positioning. Lacks heavy hands and is erratic with hand placement."

In addition, De'Veon Smith and Kyle Kalis(!) are ranked as fifth-rounders. Smith has no scouting and Kalis's ("Good angles. Knows assignments. Solid job locating assignments in space.") appears to be about a different person.

You'll note the omission of Amara Darboh and Maurice Hurst from these rankings. Both those guys will be draftable by the end of the year. I'd be another member or two of the secondary get there as well.

Drake Johnson is the guy you should hit with a forklift. I mean, if it's absolutely necessary. Please don't run Drake Johnson over. Or anyone, really. Do not run people over with forklifts. Yes, fine, Hitler. In that unusual case where a zombie nazi is threatening children or whatever, go ahead. Even in that situation, are we really calling a reanimated corpse "people"? I think that's not people.

Sorry, no politics.

Anyway:

"The world could be falling apart, and doomsday could be happening, and I'd be like, oh, look, there's a nice flower on the ground," he says.

If it were anyone other than Johnson, such positivity would feel contrived and feigned. But then Johnson waves his arms, talking with his hands like a grand raconteur, and says something like, "There's always something good in every situation," and, dammit, you've got to believe him.

If I was Drake Johnson I would get business cards with "Grand Raconteur" on them posthaste, while looking very carefully for lurking forklifts. 

Around the league. Things happening in opponent camps:

  • Penn State seems set to replace Carl Nassib with a couple of older guys who had 1.5 sacks between them a year ago. You'd think that would be a dropoff, but Nassib came out of nowhere a year ago.
  • PSU is considering starting true freshman Michael Menet, a five star guard type.
  • Rutgers QB Chris Laviano "edged" a grad transfer brought in to compete with him. I mostly mention this because I had no idea this went down last year: "Laviano will have a chance to win over Rutgers fans who had no love for him last season when he went five straight games without a touchdown pass and lost his cool by blasting them on social media after interpreting boos meant for then-coach Kyle Flood at his own show of toughness in the middle of a career-best game."
  • MSU has five "co-starters" on the DL. One of them is a 275-pound DT who grad-transferred from Nebraska, a second is a redshirt freshman, and a third is a senior DE with eight career tackles. If that doesn't presage a major dropoff despite the presence of Malik McDowell I'm going to throw a shoe.
  • Per Urban Meyer, H-back Curtis Samuel is OSU's "number one playmaker on offense." Mike Weber is "close" to being named the starting RB; after Brionte Dunn was booted his competition is "nah" and "???."  Malik Hooker and Damon Webb are leading to start at safety; sounds like Webb is still a little combustible.
  • OSU may start true freshman Michael Jordan at guard. Jordan was a well regarded recruit but not so well regarded that you shouldn't expect Michigan to wreck that dude.

Etc.: What to expect from Ibi Watson. More Jabrill Peppers three-way-spreading-across-college-football stuff. Jarrod Bunch has a podcast. Brady Hoke in Oregon is going to be fascinating.

Unverified Voracity Is About Media Day

Unverified Voracity Is About Media Day

Submitted by Brian on July 27th, 2016 at 12:24 PM

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[Patrick Barron]

Media days takes. Harbaugh showed at a place and said things. In response the media writes somewhat overheated things in response, because Harbaugh. The Sporting News refers to Michigan's "magical, millennial, marketable machine" in an alliteration explosion that engulfed their office:

“Harbaugh to my knowledge has taken no classes in marketing, never mentions the word,” Bacon said. “Yet who has marketed Michigan better then he has in the last year and a half? Not everyone likes it, but as far as getting and the name and the flag up the flag pole … Harbaugh has spread the "M" all over America — and to American Samoa — for crying out loud.”

According to Michigan associate athletic director Kurt Svoboda, the university increased its season ticket sales in 2015 to 89,875, the highest total since 2012. Of those, 72,076 were non-student tickets, the highest total since 2009. Student ticket sales increased from 11,597 in 2014 to 17,899 in 2015. …

"You can say he's 52 going on 25 in some ways,” Bacon said. “He's got more energy than almost anybody. He's in a rap video. As a rapper he's an excellent football coach, but you know the kids love it."

Looks like Bacon just put himself on the list of Uptight White People for the 57th time.

Harbaugh's ability to be the center of attention at all times arises naturally from the fact that he's got no filter and genuinely doesn't care what people say about him. So he'll climb a tree or dab for a recruit or schedule a month-long whirlwind of satellite camps, mostly because he wants to do these things, to win at various things of little to no importance. The marketing aspect is a side effect. It's not quite an accident, but it's not the primary thing.

The primary thing:

To that point, Harbaugh said almost every practice is mapped out for the upcoming season, mapped out on his computer. Fall camp will include a lot more four-hour practices, another concept Butt said might be foreign in an age where less contact is encouraged. Butt even told former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy about those practices this summer.

McElroy’s response? “You lost me at the four-hour practices.”

Harbaugh goes harder and his guys are willing to do the same given his example. Along the way articles are written.

Also this. Harbaugh's just way more interesting than coaches primarily focused on escaping media appearances without saying anything that means anything. Literally. Brian Hamilton:

Around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, James Joseph Harbaugh took the stage and an otherwise lobotomized first day of Big Ten media day festivities got interesting. All he had to do was wear the baseball cap, really: Michigan’s coach later explained his accessorizing was the product of going five weeks without a haircut and his affinity for the skinny ‘M’ logo.

Brian Bennett:

He signed a fan's bicep with a Sharpie, then told the fan to come back for another try Tuesday because he didn't like the way his skin signature looked.

Of his appearance in a recent rap video, Harbaugh insisted that only "uptight white people" didn't like it. He even claimed to have written one of the song's lyrics ("Roughest team in the B-I-G!). At another point, Harbaugh used the word "meritocracy," briefly wondered if he had just invented it, then looked disappointed when he learned it already existed.

He is one of few college football coaches clearly operating his own twitter feed, because he's got something to say on it. Something like "I am Uncle Rico and The Georgia Coach is barking up the wrong tree."

Knock on wood. Harbaugh says Michigan is healthy headed into fall camp:

"There's nothing to report," Harbaugh said of player injuries. "We're pretty darn healthy. We came out of spring ball pretty darn healthy. We didn't get any of the long-term kind, six month injuries. There's always things that people are dealing with and working with. Our goal is to get the healthiest, most in-shape and strongest team we can on August 8th and then we'll take our shot."

Rumors about Chesson's availability have persisted through the offseason; he should be fine:

Asked specifically about All-Big Ten receiver Jehu Chesson, Harbaugh didn't give a definitive answer but did say he thinks he'll be good to go.

"Yes, I believe he will," Harbaugh said.

The only other player who had a long-term injury at the end of spring practice was Moe Ways, who has reportedly been running routes with the QBs for weeks now. Per Webb, Ryan Glasgow put up some impressive bench press numbers himself recently. Since his injury was to his pectoral that is plenty of evidence he's all the way back.

Recruiting is for gentlemen only. James Franklin's comments about negative recruiting from a while back are predictably a hot topic at Big Ten media days, but they're apparently based on an unrepresentative quote:

"All I said was that every kid that we're recruiting is also being recruited by Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame and that they don't have the same challenges that we have now," Franklin said. "Then, in a separate quote, I mentioned that right now we're (dealing) with negative recruiting. It was two separate quotes, though, over a 35-minute interview.

"I never said that any of those schools are the ones doing the negative recruiting against us. They're not. There is one other particular school, but I didn't name who that was."

"…although it is blindingly obvious to you and everyone who reads this quote that it is Pitt."

Negative recruiting hubbub is always pretty ridiculous since things as innocuous as pointing out your relatively friendly depth chart will be twisted into "School X is in ISIS" by the time someone mutters about it on the internet. This seems a bit more ridiculous than most.

The Bill C preview. Bill Connelly's big Michigan preview hit SBNation yesterday. Happily, Bill saw through Michigan's roster subterfuge and knows that they get back most of their offense.

S&P+ projects Michigan to win 9.6 games:

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If that sounds pessimistic MSU was at 7.8 a few days ago. Combinatorial math is harsh when you add these things up: Michigan has just three games they're not 75%+ to win and yet they're tiny favorites to end up with double digit wins. 9.6 is pretty good in this context.

There are a couple issues of the sort that are inevitable if you have to write 128 of these over the course of the offseason. Connelly strangely tabs the departure of Mario Ojemudia as the beginning of the defense's late slide and worries over the least worrisome bit of the entire team:

Things fell apart for the line right around the time of Mario Ojemudia's injury. There was still play-making potential on the edge, but it seemed to be a tough blow for Michigan's tenuous depth. Ryan Glasgow going down was the knockout punch.

Depth might not be any better this year. When you were only comfortable with seven guys, and two are gone, improvement isn't guaranteed. But when you've got reinforcements like all-world freshman Rashan Gary, it's hard to worry too much.

Ojemudia went down early in the Maryland game, a shutout. The next week they shut out Northwestern, and then they gave up some points. Against MSU and Minnesota they were mostly secondary issues; Rutgers scored just 16 in Glasgow's last game. Ojemudia was playing well but Royce Jenkins-Stone wasn't a huge dropoff. Glasgow was for a ton of reasons.

Anyway. Bryan Mone hype understandably eludes Connelly's take here, as does the somewhat more questionable emergence of Winovich and Marshall.

Peppers scouted. By NFL.com:

He is fluid in his turn, and he has excellent recovery speed down the field. He is instinctive and aware in underneath coverage. He jumped a bubble screen for a near interception in the Minnesota game. He is outstanding as a run defender. He fights through blocks and is a very reliable tackler in space. He shows timing and burst as a blitzer.

Yep. Concerns include an awkwardness in off coverage and a certain grabbiness that he's gotten away with for the most part. It was clear at the beginning of the year that he had a lot of things to work on in coverage; the good news is that he improved a great deal over the course of the year and should continue to do so.

PFF talks Ohio State. Their offense is an enigma now with just a few starters returning and JT Barrett's downfield ability in question:

The passing game is much more of a question mark, as Barrett has not had nearly the same success through the air as he has on the ground. He earned an average passing grade last season after performing marginally better than that in 2014, and he struggled the most on intermediate throws: On passes thrown 10 to 19 yards downfield, Barrett was just 12 of 25 for 211 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, earning a negative grade in that area of the field.

On the other hand he was their #2 running QB last year behind Houston's Greg Ward. MSU shut down the OSU run game and they foundered, as they did for much of the season. (Remember the NIU game?) Michigan did not do anything of the sort and got ripped. Don Brown versus and Urban Meyer offense is going to be the most intriguing tactical matchup of the season.

Etc.: Tough talk about the ACC Network's ability to get carriage. Ann Arbor is the most educated city in the country by a mile. Ian Boyd on Minnesota's three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense. The Black Heart Gold Pants crew is on the move. Barton Simmons catches on to Harbaugh's crazy QB coaching record.

Unverified Voracity Tries To Prevent An Infinite Loop In You, The Reader

Unverified Voracity Tries To Prevent An Infinite Loop In You, The Reader

Submitted by Brian on April 12th, 2016 at 1:00 PM

A note if you think you may have already read this post. You did. Your brain shut down because of the following section and won't let you remember it out of self defense. You should probably go read the Economist or something and come back later this afternoon.

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what does any of this even mean [Bryan Fuller]

The nonsense doesn't stop. Ace covered much of this yesterday but since it just keeps coming, let's talk about satellite camps some more. Dennis Dodd wrote an article that was so nonsensical he took his twitter account private. In it he decries the hypocrisy of… I have no idea?

It's the reaction to closing that little loophole that smacks of hypocrisy. With satellite camps shutting down, the conversation suddenly became about depriving poor kids of opportunities.

This is in contrast to the conversation being about Harbaugh, I guess. This is because before Harbaugh was doing things, and now the NCAA is doing things. Thus the conversation shifts.

Proponents argued satellite camps provided “exposure.” I'm sorry, did that Internet that Harbaugh so expertly hijacked suddenly go down? Phone service, too?

This segues into a discussion of this new "Hudl" thing Dennis Dodd just discovered, which is so detailed that it even has… phone numbers. Therefore because Hudl there is no reason to have a camp. I'm not fisking this. This is not a fisk. I'm not

Here's the further hypocrisy: If satellite camps are truly about opportunities for recruits, it's about time to double down on that assertion.

Um, okay, and how would you do th

How about providing those same opportunities on the back end? Let college players participate in the NFL Combine without penalty. If they don't like their performance or draft projection, allow them to return to college and retain their eligibility.

AAAAAARGH WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING

THIS IS NOT A FISK

That jarring nonsequitur probably shut down many readers' brains and… just a second. Okay, I've prevented an infinite loop with the section at the top of this post. Anyway, in response to a satellite camp ban affecting high schoolers, Dennis Dodd suggests that the NCAA should loosen its rules for an entirely different cohort of people. He talks about the "hypocrisy" of people who don't like the ban without even gesturing towards a way in which their words and actions might conflict, and finally:

The whole satellite camp episode was a lot more about closing off Harbaugh than opening opportunities for all those deprived prospects.

This is 100% wrong. The clumsy total ban of satellite camps does significantly impact staffs and players around the country, leading to more unfortunate situations where a kid gets midway through his career only to discover that he's in the wrong place.

Gah. I'm going to do something more productive and argue with my plants.

Harbaugh don't stop can't stop. Dude is giving the commencement speech at Paramus. All I got for Michigan's commencement was some poet laureate.

There is a petition. While online petitions are of questionable efficacy, a big number on this one in what is essentially a PR battle might help something. Also it was started by Donovan Peoples-Jones's mother, which is interesting. We've heard a lot from current college athletes upset about the ban, but not so much from recruits. Even if this is indirect evidence it is evidence.

Mike Leach has no time for lyin'. Mike Leach is a gentleman and a pirate.

“The voting process, that’s a rabbled-up mystery too,” Leach said. “From what I understand, this is befuddling, and I do plan to find out because our conference voted to eliminate satellite camps, and yet the vast majority of schools in our conference were in favor of satellite camps.

“I can’t fathom how it’s possible we voted to eliminate it. I don’t know the details. Whether it’s smart, dumb or in the middle, it’s wrong. It’s wrong. If you’re some kid in south central LA who’s really worked hard at football and worked really hard for your grades, now all of a sudden you don’t have the opportunity to see as many schools as you would otherwise. That’s crazy.”

Leach said the vote will “further oppress low-income families.”

To be fair, the rule change was two sentences long. Hugh Freeze, he of the "you can't work because I don't want to work" quote, is also surprised about how words work in an Andy Staples article:

Monday morning, Freeze’s phone rang. On the other end was a coach wondering if he was no longer allowed to work the Ole Miss camp. The coach worked at an FBS school, and Freeze realized that coach would be banned by a rule passed Friday. … Freeze realized quickly that the ban had a serious consequence he hadn’t considered. In keeping Michigan coaches from working camps at high schools in Alabama, Florida and Georgia and Oklahoma State coaches from working camps at a Division III school in Texas, the schools also had banned Bowling Green coaches from working Ohio State’s camp and Arkansas State coaches from working the Ole Miss camp.

Freeze is clarifying his position into something even more selfish: you can work as long as you aren't competing with me.

“I would love to continue that,” Freeze said Monday. “I just don’t want satellite camps for the Power Five. I am for non-Power Five schools being able to attend and evaluate.”

This is so dumb it reminds me of the way college hockey works. We have a rule that 1) all athletes hate, 2) most of the Pac-12 hates despite the fact that they voted for this, 3) even people in support of it don't understand, and 4) turned the Sun Belt Commissioner into Perd Hapley. Staples again:

I’ve told you for a year that the satellite camp argument was one of the stupidest in the long and storied history of stupid NCAA rule arguments. It came to the stupidest logical conclusion Friday when a vote that should have been 11–4—because each Power Five conference vote counts double—against the ban came out 10–5 in favor of the ban.

Hugh Freeze's only asset as a coach is that he turns a blind eye to the most obvious bagmen in the country, and he will eventually be found out.

Yet another dumb thing. All other levels of football think satellite camps are fine. From an article on the impact to SMSB:

Despite the camp being held in Detroit, schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan programs will not have the opportunity to scout and interact with potential recruits in what could be considered each program's own backyard. However, Football Champions Subdivision, Division II and other coaches will still be able to be in attendance.

This really is a rule that some selfish coaches voted into existence because they didn't want to be jackhammers.

The great Hackenberg debate of 2016 is not much of a debate. PFF posted a draft evaluation of Christian Hackenberg, presumably because they don't have a draftable grade for him and people keep asking them about it. They explained themselves. Witheringly so:

This season his completion percentage when adjusted for drops, spikes, etc. was 64.0 percent, which was 120th in the nation. In 2014, he was 105th. Every accuracy number you look at sees Hackenberg struggle, and the tape shows the same thing.

Even when under no pressure at all this past season, he completed just 61.9 percent of his passes. That’s the same completion percentage Cardale Jones managed on all plays, not just pressure plays, and Jones is a player whose accuracy is seen as a negative.

Hackenberg’s completion percentage under no pressure at all of 61.9 percent would only have ranked 44th in the nation, if it was his real completion percentage.

This goes on and on for paragraphs, each piling more problems on Hackenberg as an NFL quarterback. While it is by no means a nice evaluation it is backed by a ton of numbers and game charting and more or less confirms what any neutral observer saw out of Hackenberg over the course of his career: brief moments of being John Elway amongst a sea of turfed screens and airmailed out routes. Michigan got a taste of that last year when Hackenberg put together a couple of pinpoint, NFL throws on a day where his other accomplishments were seeing Jabrill Peppers misplay a jump ball and piloting an offense that barely cracked 200 yards.

The PFF evaluation seemed pretty definitive to me, but Penn State folk kind of lost their minds about it. Black Shoe Diaries in particular:

At what point do I, as a Penn State alumnus and fan, step back and try to be even more subjective about the NFL draft stock of Christian Hackenberg?

Did you mean "objective"? Because it feels like you meant "objective," but then the rest of your piece makes me think that you actually meant "subjective" since it's all hand-waving at some pretty eye-popping stats. PSU fans seize on one error—the Allen Robinson catch at the end of regulation against M a couple years back is held up as a example of a bad decision without taking the game context into account—to dismiss the whole thing when it contains startling facts like "16% of Hackenberg screens are off target."

While I don't know exactly how PFF goes about their business, my grades and theirs for Michigan players generally line up*, and charting pass accuracy is probably the easiest thing I do. An outfit like PFF isn't going to be so far off with the above numbers that Hackenberg actually looks good. By a few hundred words into the piece it's clear that the dude is just swinging in the dark, and this…

Lack of Upside

lol, okay

…is waving a tiny punt flag in the face of a guy who actually put in the work. At least it led to one of the most entertainingly one-sided twitter fights in recent memory:

This was said in response to a piece that dealt with every Christian Hackenberg throw over the past two years. He might get drafted but only because there are mugwumps running NFL teams. Hi, Jed York!

*[To the point that when they were pumping up the Michigan D and noted that only one major contributor wasn't grading out very positive I knew exactly who that was because I also had one major contributor not grading out very positive.]

Etc.: Basketball ticket sales not going well. Man hired to do job. Man has job, doesn't do it, and everyone thinks that's fine. Jimmy Vesey won the Hobey because the saps who vote for the thing bought his PR story about why he returned to college. Why does that even matter? I don't know, but it does.

Unverified Voracity Embraces Expectations

Unverified Voracity Embraces Expectations

Submitted by Brian on January 12th, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Not bad for year one. Michigan finishes tenth in Matt Hinton's final rankings.

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But for an all-time fluke you can swap M and MSU. Jim Harbaugh can coach a bit.

Embrace expectations in year two. Michigan will not start next year outside the polls. It may start it inside the top five, if post-season top X lists are any indicator:

With a pile of starters returning and Jim freakin' Harbaugh as Michigan's coach, this is not a huge surprise. Michigan demolished Florida in the bowl game and that kind of thing tends to get you a big perception bump headed into next season. Half the time that's a mirage; Michigan will hope that theirs is legit.

The number one gentleman who needs to come through for Michigan to deliver. That would be one John O'Korn, likely starting quarterback. For months I've mentioned a steady drumbeat of chatter from inside the program that O'Korn was the best QB on the roster. Here's another manifestation of that from Ron Bellamy:

He said from his discussions with the Michigan coaches and the people in the program, John O'Korn "just lit up" the first team defense as the scout team QB everyday in practice. He said he was doing it against Lewis, Peppers, etc and the Michigan defensive coaches told him that O'Korn was going to be a flat out stud.

I'll try to stay calm and reasonable about these reports for the next eight months. And fail.

Let's go wherever, whenever. Harbaugh wants to have a week of spring practice in Florida. Specifically, at IMG, which has started a football program that attracts top recruits from around the country. A solid idea that will infuriate many: welcome to the offseason.

(Harbaugh wants to do it over spring break, naturally, to assuage any academics concerns you might have.)

I might watch it on mute just to see. Harbaugh is going to the state of the union thanks to a couple of congresspersons:

"For me he's the best of what the country should be and is," Dingell told MLive Monday night, pointing to his track record of hard work and teamwork.

Dingell, a Democrat, represents the 12th Congressional District, which includes the University of Michigan. She and U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from West Michigan, together agreed to bring Harbaugh and his wife Sarah as guests to the State of the Union on Tuesday.

Each congressperson can invite one guest, so Amash invited Harbaugh and Dingell invited Sarah Harbaugh. Dingell said Amash's office approached hers about hosting the Harbaughs, and she'd have invited him in the first place if she knew he was interested.

Well done… people… in congress?

Seriously, do I have to watch the State of the Union now? I mean, any of these things could happen:

  • President shouts out Michigan's football coach
  • Harbaugh is invited to give speech
  • Harbaugh is not invited to give speech, gives speech anyway
  • Harbaugh wears cleats
  • Harbaugh nails Joe Biden on a post route
  • Harbaugh signs Declaration of Independence, is told that is unnecessary these days, says he has improved document all the same
  • camera cuts to Harbaugh gobbling stadium foodstuffs not apparently on sale anywhere in the building

Gentry location. Zach Gentry could be a tight end. He could also be a quarterback. He did a little of the former in the bowl practices but he is not a tight end. Yet.

Gentry was one player who Harbaugh experimented with during bowl practices last month, moving the 6-foot-7, 230-pound true freshman from quarterback to tight end.

An athletic quarterback in high school, Gentry was asked by Harbaugh to give it a shot after the regular season ended. Gentry says he didn't hesitate.

"It was their (idea), but I've been flexible with it," Gentry said last week in Orlando. "Coach Harbaugh and (Jay Harbaugh) wanted to use my athleticism and see what happens. I've been doing it in practice, I think I've done a nice job with it.

"But I'm not sure, exactly, what's going on with my future (and what position I'll play)."

I imagine he'll compete in spring as a quarterback, because Michigan's got an open job. If he ends up clearly behind at least two other guys, tight end becomes a real long-term option. (As does a transfer, unfortunately.) If he's in the running, or even in the top three, you have let him stay at QB. The athleticism that makes him a good tight end prospect is something Harbaugh wants from his QBs—and last night Deshaun Watson made Alabama's defense look silly thanks in large part to his legs.

Rats, what is your opinion of this ship? Penn State lost DC John Shoop to Tennessee. Related: John Shoop ain't got no shame.

Less than two weeks after Bob Shoop told reporters he hoped Penn State would have him "forever and ever and ever," the Nittany Lions' defensive coordinator is leaving the program for the same position at Tennessee.

PSU nearly lost him last year to LSU, whereupon Shoop was given a three-year, near-seven-figure deal. This year Tennessee offers 1.15 million and he's gone. All this further confirms that we should just pay the f-ing players before people in college football start literally drowning in money.

Anyway, the bleeding was and is not over: a few days later Penn State loses OL coach Herb Hand to the same position at Auburn. Today linebacker Troy Reeder announced he's transferring to Delaware after starting 11 games as a redshirt freshman. (Geno Lewis also grad-transferred to Oklahoma but that looks like a garden-variety playing time transfer.)

This all seems less than ideal for James Franklin, who has escaped serious scrutiny so far as Penn State digs out from under NCAA sanctions. Hand was dealt a… nevermind. Hand was put in an enormously difficult spot by those sanctions, which forced him to start two converted defensive linemen at guard. Then he lost the one good lineman he had to the draft last year; getting out makes sense for him.

I just wonder how hot seats get if Penn State's offense struggles again next year and their defense takes a half-step back without most of that defensive line. I'm guessing pretty hot.

Meanwhile in Big Ten teams losing defensive coordinators to SEC teams. Wisconsin's Dave Aranda headed down to LSU, causing Barry Alvarez to grouse about funding.

“The reason they can go up higher (in the SEC) is they’re not supporting as many sports,” Alvarez said. “It’s a difference in philosophy. The Big Ten is known for being more broad-based in its sports offerings. We are committed to supporting a broad-based athletic program. People may dismiss that, but it’s a real thing. They can sink more of their money into football."

At Get The Picture, a commenter points out the differences between Wisconsin and Georgia aren't significant:

What they have that we don’t: 3 rowing teams, wrestling, 2 hockey teams and men’s soccer.

What we have they they don’t (w/o looking to confirm): baseball, equestrian and gymnastics.

LSU is similar. They sponsor gymnastics, beach volleyball, and baseball; Wisconsin does not. Wisconsin sponsors hockey for both genders, wrestling, men's soccer, and rowing. Men's hockey makes money. Wisconsin's added expense for extra teams is more or less rowing—which mostly exists to be a cheap Title IX makeweight. Alvarez is full of it.

At least he's not alone?

…look at where some of the many other Big Ten coordinator hires came from this offseason: Louisiana-Lafayette (Minnesota, offense), Fordham (Penn State, offense), internally (Purdue and Illinois, offense), Northern Illinois (Rutgers, defense), Arkansas State (Maryland, offense) and even a coach who was out of football for a year (Purdue, defense). Maybe those moves will work out brilliantly, but they hardly bring the sizzle that Tennessee and LSU acquired.

On the other hand, Mike Debord.

Meanwhile in literally drowning in money. Hoo boy this makes me furious:

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Jim Delany wrecked the Big Ten by adding two makeweight east coast programs that make no sense, destroyed the basketball schedule, made it so Michigan plays half the league once in a decade, and gets rewarded for it because some dillweed in the league office figured out a way to exploit the dying cable monopoly for short-term gain. I mean, I guess that's how things go in a business, but then they turn around and try to justify amateurism.

Meanwhile, the bubble creaks ominously:

Old Dominion and the other 13 Conference USA schools will have to make do with about $500,000 less in television revenue next season.

League TV revenue is likely to fall by about half when new contracts with Fox Sports and the CBS Sports Network take effect on July 1, according to sources at three schools familiar with C-USA’s TV contract negotiations.

The Big Ten is up in a few years. They've got a lot more pull than CUSA, but this might not be the best time for a contract negotiation.

In other news, I now have massive respect for Dane Brugler. CBS analyst Dane Brugler tells Michael Spath that Jake Butt had a shot to be the top tight end in the draft and a second round pick if he came out and picks out—yep—DESMOND MORGAN as Michigan's top eligible player:

:…he was all over the field,” Brugler said. “He was a blitzer, a guy that could play in the middle but play in space. He has lateral range, played sideline to sideline, quick reactions, strings runs out to the perimeter.

“Morgan is a physical player, aggressive but also at the same time, smart. I think he has the best shot to go a bit higher than his teammates. As long as the medicals check out.”

Thank you, Dane Brugler. You and I can ride on the Desmond Morgan bandwagon all the way to the, er, fifth round. Saddle up.

Etc.: Nebraska loses DT Vincent Valentine to the draft. Rahk playing well. Jake Rudock in repose. Bryan Mone is ready to go. NYE was a massive bust for the CFP.

Don Brown defensive resources I haven't had the time to look at yet but will revisit when I do. Ditto Ian Boyd on running your slot receiver down the gut of the MSU defense or Smart Football touching on the same topic.

Draftageddon 2015: The Braxton Conundrum

Draftageddon 2015: The Braxton Conundrum

Submitted by Brian on July 28th, 2015 at 12:01 PM

Four_Horsemen_by_MarkWilkinson1

The first rule of Draftageddon is "you must complain about Draftageddon." The second is "the four people drafting assemble teams of Big Ten players in an effort to seem the best at drafting."

THAT WHICH HAS COME BEFORE

Previously on Draftageddon:

THAT WHICH IS THE CURRENT SITUATION

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ACE: Round 8, Pick 2: Braxton Miller, QB/?, Ohio State

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OFFENSE: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), WR Michael Thomas (OSU), WR DaeSean Hamilton (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU)

DEFENSE: DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DT Darius Hamilton (RU), NT Austin Johnson (PSU), OLB Darron Lee (OSU)
The rules dictate I take a quarterback here, and I'll abide by those rules. For the most part.

Braxton Miller isn't the favorite to win the job at Ohio State. He's coming off a lost season after his surgically repaired throwing shoulder fell apart in fall camp. JT Barrett stepped in and nearly won the Heisman; Cardale Jones relieved Barrett and won the national title. Miller may have the least amount of pro potential of the three, at least at quarterback.

Health permitting, however, Miller may be the best college quarterback. It's not a stretch to say he's already a legendary Big Ten QB. He's one of four players in the history of the conference to win two Big Ten MVP awards. In his most recent season, he passed for 2094 yards on 8.2 YPA and rushed for 1068 on 6.2 YPC; he accounted for 36 touchdowns and threw only seven interceptions. The list of national, Big Ten, and school records he owns or has in his sights is too long to list here. He may not be the most polished passer, but he is a breathtaking runner:

While Miller's injury is a downside the other two Buckeye QBs don't have, his running ability provides an upside his competition lacks. If Miller doesn't win the job, it's in everyone's best interest for him to play running back or H-back (Meyer's Percy Harvin position). He probably wouldn't start with Ezekiel Elliott and Jalin Marshall, respectively, holding those two spots, but it'd be hard to keep him off the field as long as he stays healthy.

If I'm lucky, I just snagged a #1-pick value in the eighth round. If I'm not, I still think Miller will contribute in some form, and I can grab one of the middle-tier quarterbacks later as insurance.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Soon after Ace made this pick it was announced that Miller would be playing H-back/Harvin guy. The commissioner decided that Ace had to take an actual QB with his next pick, which is in the next post, and had the option of keeping Miller or throwing him back in the pool and taking a supplemental pick immediately. Ace chose to keep Miller, because duh.]

SETH: Round 8, Pick 3:  Michael Caputo, strong safety, Wisconsin

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OFFENSE: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Corey Clement (WIS), WR Leonte Carroo (Rut), OC Jack Allen (MSU), OG Pat Elflein (OSU)
DEFENSE: HSP Jabrill Peppers (Mich), DB Jordan Lucas (PSU), S Michael Caputo (Wis)

After 30 picks you don't expect to find a second-team All-American still on the board, especially not when he's a linebacker-sized ballhawk who led Wisconsin in tackles last year as a safety, and outshone Chris Borland in 2013 from F linebacker (hybrid space player).

As you might have guessed, I'm picking for either a 3-3-5 or a 4-2-5 defense with hybrids to either side. Since the conference's elite pass rushers went off the board quickly, my strategy for kicking ass will have to include a lot of blitzing, which means having the dudes who can do that or cover a lot of ground behind it. Basically it's the anti-spread modern version of the 46 defense. And it just so happens the reincarnation of #46 (Doug Plank) himself plays in the Big Ten.

If we're assigning roles between this trio, Caputo is the two-parts-linebacker/meat-raw safety who takes the side of the tight end. From Madison.com:

Michael Caputo was 2 years old when he hopped on his toy articulated vehicle, a load of dirt in the back, and pedaled down the 125-foot long driveway at the family’s home near Pittsburgh. The boy picked up speed along the way crashing into a concrete wall.

He thought it was so much fun that he did it over and over.

Go ahead and save that for the next time someone asks you to describe Wisconsin in so many words. After cement walls, Caputo finds Big Ten tight ends remarkably pliable, if less fun. Popping bubble screens is just easy. Last year when I stole him in round 21 I quoted DC Dave Arranda on how his then-sophomore was the only guy who could make the schematic adjustments that made Wisconsin's run defense work. Here's safeties coach Bill Busch one year later:

“He’s the true captain of the ship back there with all the adjustments that he makes,” Busch said of Caputo, who plays alongside true freshman Lubern Figaro. “A lot of times we put him in the position that requires the most thinking.”

The Kovacs is strong in this one. If Kovacs was the size of a linebacker, hit like a truck, and fell one spot shy of a Bednarik semifinalist last year.

ADAM: Round 8, Pick 4: Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota 
Round 9, Pick 1: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

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OFFENSE: QB J.T. Barrett (OSU), WR Jordan Westerkamp (Neb), OT Jason Spriggs, (IU), TE Jake Butt (UM)

DEFENSE: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU), S Vonn Bell (OSU), CB Eric Murray (Minn), LB Raekwon McMillan (OSU)

The Big Ten may have an abundance of talent at corner this fall, but I couldn't let Murray sit on the board any longer. He has a two-year track record as one of the best cover corners in college football, lining up so close he can tell you what the opposing receiver had for their pregame meal while possessing the rare ability to jam and turn and run and actually stay with guys for more than 10 yards.

He's not going to post eye-popping interception totals (he has one career pick, and that came last season against San Jose State), but his 17 PBUs and 75% of tackles being of the solo variety over the past two years show what he can do in coverage and in run support. Defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel agrees:

"He's a good tackler, he's a great blitzer, he's a tremendous special-teams player, he's very, very good in press coverage to the point where a lot of times a play will just break down."

The conference has Michael Thomas, Leonte Carroo, and Dudes Who Sometimes Catch Things. I think Murray will be just fine.

Sticking with defense, I've decided to start building my linebacking corps in the middle, which is probably the conference's weakest spot. You can't say I didn't try to make this draft entertaining.

McMillan takes over for the departed (and oft-criticized) Curtis Grant, whose playing time McMillan already started leeching last fall. McMillan finished the season with 54 total tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 PBU, playing in every game except the season opener against Navy and the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.

He's not the fastest, but he has good size (6-2, 240) and the kind of instincts that are so often discussed they fill many pages when you Google him. He's also adapted nicely to calling the defense. Per DC Luke Fickell:

"That's the thing that you saw early on. There's some guys who have intelligence and some that aren't football smart, then some who are and don't really work at it. He's got an incredible combination of all of it."

McMillan will benefit from playing next to WLB/Heart and Soul Guy/Gritty Gritster Josh Perry and SLB/hybrid space destroyer/stat sheet filler Darron Lee, but the former top-50 recruit should be able to hold his own against the Big Ten's terrifying stable of offensive weapons.

[After THE JUMP: WE ARE CERTAINLY OUT OF BUCKEYES THIS TIME]