Quite Possibly the Most Important Photo You Will Ever See

Quite Possibly the Most Important Photo You Will Ever See

Submitted by Seth on July 11th, 2013 at 10:24 PM

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This was sent to me from HTTV volunteer copy editor Becky Long, who in 1998 was on the sidelines as UM cheerleader Becky Long. The wide-angle:

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Click gets you full size, which is just 300kb or so (to a 1998 hard drive that's huge) but plenty for your need. That need is to cast this image in your head until the most Brady Hoke thing ever has claimed its rightful place next to Don't Make Lloyd Angry, and the Bo-Canham-Bump Press Conference in the Hall of Before-He-Was…

To my knowledge, until now the best Hokepoint from the Before-Time known to the internet was that overused thing with the uncharacteristic headset. Bonus: We now have a photo to use when we talk about Rob Renes and genetic nose tackles.

That is all.

Hokepoints: B1G Bowls and the Michigan Difference

Hokepoints: B1G Bowls and the Michigan Difference

Submitted by Seth on June 25th, 2013 at 11:20 AM

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The Game 1974 via Bentley

With the new bowl lineup I thought I'd delve into the conference's history with the things this week. Chart of sane bowl names is here.

The beginning

We whomped Stanford in 1901 so bad they canceled bowl games for a decade.

Rose or Bust.

For a time there was only the Rose Bowl. Then others began to pop up and the Big Ten wouldn't let teams go (Ohio State snuck over to Pasadena after the 1920 season but that was it). Then they said only one team may take a bid from the Rose Bowl.

It's been nearly 40 years and yet any Michigan fan over 50 still shakes with anger at it: In 1973 Michigan and Ohio State met in one of the more epic battles in that epic ten-year war. After Michigan missed three field goals in the 4th quarter the game—and thus the Big Ten title race—ended in a tie. In the process the Wolverines' starting quarterback Denny Franklin was busted up. Woody Hayes, never a particularly classy individual, made an uninformed remark to the media that he's sorry Franklin wouldn't be able to play in the bowl game. In part because they believed Michigan would be without Denny, the conference's athletic directors voted to send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl.

The following year Michigan did make their game-winning field goal, but the officials missed it and there was no replay, and Ohio State again went to Pasadena. Since the Big Ten wouldn't let its teams attend any other bowl, both times a more deserving Michigan had to stay home. Overall Franklin and the Wolverines managed to go three years (1972-'74) without a bowl game despite going 30-2-1 over that span.

The whole concept was as mind-blowingly ridiculous as it seems, and the following year the conference finally got rid of the rule that had become outdated due to...

Bowl Expansion

The conference deigned to allow its teams to go to bowls again only after WWII, and then it was "you can only go to the Rose Bowl if they invite you." Once the Big Ten released its members it sparked a new round of bowl expansion (click to inbigmatate):

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Note the Y axis is "Bowl Teams" not games—divide by two to get # of games. Some oddities: Michigan wasn't in the Big Ten from 1907 to 1916, not that it made any difference. Having one yellow dot in the bowl picture looks ridiculous. Michigan State went to an Orange Bowl before joining the conference. Penn State and Nebraska obviously went to plenty of bowls before they joined. Ohio State turned down its Rose Bowl bids in 1960 and '61 because of academics(!); Minnesota went in their stead.

Michigan's Placement

Since the bowl field expanded, the Big Ten's tie-ins have gone through a series of confusing shifts, order only recently having been brought into the process. Owing to its TV draw and instant draw the bowls have typically taken Michigan almost as soon as they're allowed to. As a result when you look at the conference's bowl history you can see Michigan tends to go early even in its rough years.

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This is ordered by selection (starting from the left). Historically Michigan has been selected higher than its standing in the conference, the more so the lower down we get. For example in 1984 Michigan received an at-large Holiday Bowl bid—effectively the conference's third selector after the Rose and then the Cotton Peach took Purdue as an at-large—despite finishing behind Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and tied with Michigan State, whom we lost to that year. Since then there have been progressively more stringent so-Michigan-State-won't-cry rules placed by the conference on the bowls for which teams they can select. Before it was they have to be within 1 or 2 losses of each other. Under the new system there's a tier:

The New Lineup and the Golden Vagina:

1. Teams selected by the playoff committee go to the Golden Vagina Playoff.

College_Football_Playoff_Logo2. If the champion is still around they go to the Rose Bowl (vs Pac-12 or at-large), or the Orange Bowl (vs SEC or at-large) in years the Rose are the playoff hosts (2014 and every three years after).

3. BCS bowls can extend an at-large bid.

4. Citrus Bowl (SEC), Outback Bowl (SEC) and Holiday Bowl (Pac-12). Those bowls will unofficially switch off who gets first pick but really the conference will be sitting there negotiating who gets which school with the goal of rewarding better teams and changing things up a bit. Said Delany:

"Someone will obviously select first, but they may or may not get the team they want because that team may have been in that region two years in a row. We're trying to make sure there’s freshness. It's hard when a team goes to say Florida five times in six years to get them really excited."

5. Gator or Music City (SEC), San Francisco (Pac-12), and Pinstripe (ACC). The first two switch off with that bid.

6. Heart of Dallas or Ft. Worth Armed Forces Bowl (Big 12), Motor City Bowl (TBA)

The only way the Big Ten champ will play the Pac 12 champ is if both are seeded as such in the playoff, or both miss the playoff. I am guessing it will not happen very often. The tier system is a rather eloquent method of handling the problem of Michigan State's blubbering over bowls falling over themselves to avoid them. See? You're on the same tier. Everyone on the same tier is the same.

Still Broken

The new system does have its problems:

  • Not all of the payouts on each tier are equivalent right now—that seems like it can be negotiated.
  • In a scenario where Michigan State beats Michigan in the regular season, thus winning the tiebreaker to get into the Big Ten Championship Game, and MSU subsequently loses that game and is no longer BCS eligible because they're ranked too low now, and Michigan is still ranked high enough for a BCS bid and gets one, Michigan State will still cry.
  • In any given scenario, Michigan State will find a reason to cry.

Protecting The Rose Bowl

Protecting The Rose Bowl

Submitted by Brian on July 17th, 2012 at 4:31 PM

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So ESPN is almost tripling what they pay for the Rose Bowl:

ESPN’s deal with the Rose Bowl runs from 2015 through 2026, making it concurrent with the new playoff structure. The Rose Bowl’s new $80 million annual rights fee represents a 167 percent jump from the $30 million the network currently pays.

The Rose Bowl’s partners, the Pac-12 and Big Ten, keep all of that media revenue, except in years when the Rose Bowl is a semifinal game in the playoffs. When the bowl is part of the playoffs, that media revenue would flow through the playoff system and be distributed to all of the FBS conferences. That method of distribution has not been determined yet.

And suddenly the Big Ten and Pac-12's desire to have the Rose Bowl not be a semifinal as often as possible is clear. Money, money, money, the same story as always. That's why the Big Ten walked away from the dream of national semifinals at home sites. To Protect The Rose Bowl

"For us it's critical to keep the Rose Bowl in the equation," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told reporters Tuesday after Big Ten meetings hashed out the conference's likely preferred plan.

…by which they mean their money. No more boggling necessary. Explanation money, explanation accepted. Explanation disappointing but unsurprising. Cynicism: achieved.

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not so fast, my friend!

Except… has anyone noticed that the current four-team playoff plan does exactly nothing to protect the Rose Bowl? By adopting this system the Big Ten has condemned the thing to a consolation prize, which is what it still could be if home semifinals were part of the mix, and then they wouldn't have to worry about years in which they don't get that mad cheddar. Also there would be home games.

I mean… let's envision a scenario where M is #2, Wisconsin #6, USC #1, and Oregon #9.

HOME GAME SYSTEM

#2 Michigan hosts
#1 USC hosts
Rose is UW-UO

THIS SYSTEM, ROSE NOT HOSTING

#1 USC plays semifinal somewhere
#2 Michigan plays semifinal somewhere
Rose is UW-UO

THIS SYSTEM, ROSE HOSTS

#1 USC plays semifinal at Rose
#2 Michigan plays semifinal somewhere else
UW, UO pound sand

The scenarios play out similarly when only one team from either conference makes the playoff. The Rose is always the same except when it hosts semis—which it doesn't want to do!—and the only difference is where the non-Rose semis are held. Which is "never Michigan Stadium or anywhere else on a college campus."

In no way is the system with home games worse for the Rose than this one, except sometimes it hosts semifinals that may or may not have Pac-12 and Big Ten teams in them. Which the Rose hates. This is in fact a worse system for preserving the ancestral heritage of the Rose Bowl so pined for in that infamous teleconference above. With the Rose actively trying to back out of its appointed number of semifinal slots, keeping the Rose "part of the equation" clearly can't have anything to do with making a path to the national title.

Conclusion: the Big Ten got pwned at the negotiating table and came back with this Rose Bowl sob story as a face-saving cover. The the face-saving cover is total fiction, but this is not a group of folks above stretching their view of the world to fit whichever narrative makes them look like a proactive accomplisher.

PS: 2.0 space engagement dongle

Unverified Voracity Finds A Mascot

Unverified Voracity Finds A Mascot

Submitted by Brian on July 5th, 2012 at 1:32 PM

HTTV delivery schedule. I've gotten a lot of emails about when your hands can wrap around a copy of Hail To The Victors, and the answer is "soon." The launch party was the first I'd seen of the magazines myself and we're having some teething problems when it comes to getting them in the mail in a cost-effective way. (Kickstarter's reporting mechanisms are not complicated enough to handle what we wanted to do so we did quite a bit of shoehorning.) I'm expecting this will happen very soon. If you filled out a kickstarter survey, you're good. (If you haven't: do so ASAP.)

UPDATE: Unless we don't have your shipping info, everything that doesnt get a specialty t-shirt will be going out this week. Everything with specialty shirts will be going out mid next week.

Van Bergen 2.0. That's DT commit Henry Poggi, man:

Tremendous: OK, so I have to ask if you've ever seen a picture of Ryan Van Bergen. You can't deny the resemblance.

Henry (laughs): Yes, yes I have seen a few. Actually, when my brother Jim heard that I was looking at Michigan and sent me a picture of Van Bergen on Facebook and told me I looked exactly like this guy.

Tremendous: When we first started doing the site, we did a breakdown on you and I remember Keith calling me going off about how much you looked like Van Bergen, especially with the long hair. What are the long term flow plans?

Henry: I will definitely be staying with the long hair.

Mascot model. He's got a bike, he's in a suit, he's a mascot apart.

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Yeah, he's a jaguar, not a wolverine. If he's willing to be environmentally friendly and stand on the sideling clapping disinterestedly while talking about real estate, he's Michigan's man. Jaguar. Whatever.

That's all that's left. It's testament to the work Wolverine Historian has put in that he's just posted highlights of the 1995 Memphis game:

He notes you should keep an eye out for Charles Woodson's hair around the 2 minute mark.

New bowl order. In the long term, John Junker's Fiesta Bowl plunder may be a benefit for college football since it seems like it was a wakeup call to college football conferences. Slapped with a torrent of bad publicity, various commissioners descended to the war room to plan strategy, found that they had all the power, and proceeded using it. First the SEC and Big 12 decided they'd co-own a bowl, now the ACC(!) has made a power play with the Orange Bowl:

If there was any doubt that the bowls are the biggest losers in the new postseason arrangement, the new ACC-Orange Bowl deal should put that to rest.  That’s because the most significant part of it is this:

Along with the announcement that it will be aligned with the Orange Bowl, the ACC also told ESPN that it now controls the broadcast rights to the bowl, meaning that it will be taking bids on who broadcasts it, and will be taking at least 50 percent of those broadcast rights for itself.

It’s evidence of a sea change in who’s calling the shots.

“It’s a de-centralization,” one BCS source said. “Conferences taking control of their bowl games and determining who participates in the games. It’s the conferences really loaning their bowl games to us to have semifinals.”

I wonder if the Big Ten and Pac 12 are exerting the same leverage under the table with the Rose Bowl. That seems 50-50: Delany has been pretty ruthless at acquiring the money but Grandaddy don't hear too well these days, sonny, lean in so I can hear you better…

What was that again?

In other bowl rejiggeration news, we've found out what happens when the Rose or whoever loses a team to the playoff:

So when you hear the term “contract bowl” to describe the Rose, Champions and Orange bowls, it literally means those games have their own contracts with individual conferences. Hence, if they lose one of their contracted champions to the playoff, they can replace that team with any other team from that partner conference, minimum ranking be damned. The BCS is not dictating which conferences get these contracts. There’s nothing stopping one of those bowls from signing the Big East or Mountain West, but realistically it’s not going to happen.

That's Stewart Mandel, who also says that this AQ/non-AQ business that was supposed to be going away actually isn't: if the Rose is hosting a semi and the Big Ten champ doesn't make it, they have a guaranteed slot in one of the three "access" bowls that will fill out the new six-bowl red carpet lineup. No such luck for the Big East, let alone anyone else. In practice, expanding the number to 12 and going strictly on the selection committee's rankings of who are the best teams will get remotely deserving minor conference champs in most of the time.

We must protect the Rose Bowl from the horror of hosting the Pac 12 and Big Ten champions. Meanwhile… what the hell?

At least? Big 12 consultant Chuck Neinas and BCS executive director Bill Hancock have told CBSSports.com it remains uncertain how many times the Rose and Champions bowls will host semifinals. Both bowls have reasons to host less than four semifinals each over the course of the 12-year agreement. (24 semifinals in 12 years divided by six bowls = four each.)

We all know the Rose would prefer to have its Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup as often as possible. A little known codicil at the end of the current BCS deal required the Rose to take a non-BCS school only once in an eight-year period. (That was TCU in 2011).

The Big 12 and SEC own the Champions Bowl, essentially a start-up whose valuation grows by the day. The two leagues could find more money playing outside the semifinal (more often than not) with a separate rightsholder.

Protecting the Rose Bowl was priority one for the Big Ten, but this system is not the "if you're in, Rose hosts" system. It's a random rotation that will expose the Rose Bowl to potentially non-sanctified games in some years and has the potential to make the Rose the Grandaddy of Conference Runners-Up when the semifinals rotate away.

That's nuts. By handing away semifinals the Big Ten and Pac 12 are putting their faith in the Rose Bowl's brand over the cachet of the national championship… which, okay, I guess isn't surprising since that's been the MO here since home games were abandoned.

I thought the plan then was to put any game featuring a #1 or #2 ranked Big Ten/Pac-12 team in the Rose, which would have preserved its importance. Now it's mostly a consolation prize in the same way it would have been if there were home games—and the powers that be are trying to make it even more so. We must destroy this tradition in order to save it.

Walton something something. Wiggle? Rod Beard profiles 2013 PG commit Derrick Walton in the News:

"He's a point guard in the pure sense," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Sam Webb. "He had always been a pass-first point guard, but he was a pass-first, pass-second and pass-third point guard. He really had the ability to take over games offensively but was overly concerned with getting his teammates involved.

"There were times when his dad would say to him, 'I need you to go out and get it done offensively.' On the AAU circuit, they told him the same thing with the (Michigan) Mustangs. I remember he responded with seven 3-pointers in a game after he had deferred a little too much."

He probably won't have the immediate impact of Trey Burke because that's a once-in-a-decade kind of thing for anyone outside the realm of obvious one-and-done sorts, but Michigan should be able to survive a Burke departure after this year.

Sure, why not? EDSBS posts "We Are ND" for no apparent reason, which is enough of a reason for me to post it.

This serves as a reminder that we are We Are ND until such time as a pile of "In The Big House" records are burned at midfield.

Brief EA NCAA rant. Their latest gimmick is putting former stars in the uniforms of top rivals—sorry, putting people wearing certain numbers who may or may not be Tebowing but certainly aren't representations of current or former college players—and putting it on the internet to horrify people. They started with Desmond Howard in an OSU jersey and have now put Tim Tebow in a Georgia uniform.

In a nutshell, this is why I quit buying NCAA a few years ago. Instead of making an edition of the game in which receivers catch a realistic number of balls instead of dropping half of them or making a 50-yard pass actually difficult to complete, EA has spent the last decade working on stupid gimmicks and letting their franchise stagnate on a treadmill. Damn you, exclusive licensing.

Etc.: John L Smith declares bankruptcy, confirming that he is the Most Interesting Coach In The World. Purdue blog Hammer and Rails previews Michigan, asserts Boilers will lose 31-20. Notre Dame would like to beat Michigan this year. Jerry Hinnen profiles Betsey Armstrong, who will start in goal for the women's water polo team and could probably tear your arm out of its socket. Apply to be an assistant cheerleading coach. This is where your money is going.

MHN runs down hockey players who never showed up. Amazing how Jack Campbell worked out for Michigan: they get the statistically-best goalie in program history, Campbell puts up a sub-.900 save percentage in the OHL. Western College Hockey blows up Kitchener's libel threat at Slovin.

Home Playoff Games: Dead

Home Playoff Games: Dead

Submitted by Brian on May 17th, 2012 at 10:59 AM

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it is pretty nice.

Read between the lines on other athletic directors' remarkably malleable opinions to find out where the wind is blowing on the idea of playing home games in the first round of the playoffs:

Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told the Lansing State-Journal that a plan to hold the coming four-team playoff semifinals on campus sites -- one most prominently supported by none other than Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany -- was no longer on the BCS negotiating table. He said that maintaining the value of the Rose Bowl, however, was "critical."

Those sentiments were echoed by Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who said that his opinion had "shifted" on the idea of playing the semifinals at bowl venues rather than on-campus sites, with the Rose Bowl presumably one of those two semifinal hosts. He added that the rest of the league's A.D.'s had been similarly convinced.

Likewise, Nebraska's Tom Osborne left no doubt as to where his opinions stood:

Neb's Osborne: If you play semis outside bowls, "it would pretty much destroy the bowl system." [ED: And?]

Three athletic directors saying that home games were a bad idea within minutes of each other means the idea is dead and the public relations people are getting in some horse-beatin' time to save face. Who knows whether the three guys above really believe what they're saying about how critical the Rose Bowl is? Not us. Maybe not even them. Damn you, Don Draper.

End result: the Rose Bowl will be better-preserved than it has been recently—almost entirely preserved. If you'd like to see your team try to win a national title you're going to have a ton of frequent flier miles, with which you can go… see more games thousands of miles from you. It's a win-win. Also think of the economy.

It's just a flesh wound

No, really, it's just a flesh wound.

It may be time to shoot the Rose Bowl in the head, and by "shoot it in the head" I mean "barely do anything to it at all." A four-team playoff would not have seriously affected the attractiveness of the Rose Bowl in the past decade relative to the current system.

The following bullets look at the results if the playoff expanded to four and you either took the top four teams in the BCS standings or used the top-six champs-autobid structure:

  • 2011: Wisconsin-Oregon is unchanged (or becomes Wisconsin-Stanford if a hypothetical committee reasonably picks the Ducks over Stanford).
  • 2010: Wisconsin-TCU turns into… hard to tell. If conference champs get priority and Wisconsin gets sucked into the playoff, you get OSU-Stanford, a #4-#6 matchup. If Stanford gets in as the #4 team in the BCS standings, you get Wisconsin and 8-5 USC, if USC wasn't banned. So either very little damage or a ton of damage; Rose Bowl might pivot and pick some other team instead of going deep down the rabbit hole.
  • 2009: OSU-Oregon is unchanged.
  • 2008: USC-Penn State unchanged.
  • 2007: USC-Illinois unchanged.
  • 2006: Michigan either gets into the playoff or gets booted by the conference champs rule by USC(#5) and Louisville(#6)—fume city, baby! If they're in, Rose Bowl is USC-Wisconsin. UW was 11-1 that year. If they're out, it's Michigan-Cal (9-3). Damage: there, but not huge.
  • 2005: Rose Bowl was famous USC-Texas NC game. PSU and OSU were #3 and #4, So either OSU gets booted for SEC champ Georgia (#7. so no) or gets in. If they get in, next option is 9-3 Wisconsin. 10-2 Oregon gets the Pac-10 bid.
  • 2004: Michigan-Texas becomes either Michigan-Utah (Utah was 11-0 and #6, but not playing in the Pac-10) or Michigan-Cal. Cal was 10-1 with only a loss to rampant USC.
  • 2003: Michigan and USC get in the playoff. Rose becomes #5 OSU vs 9-3 WSU. This one is pretty bad.
  • 2002: WSU-Oklahoma turns into what it always should have been: WSU-Iowa. This was the year Iowa ended up in the Orange Bowl because of dumb BCS selection procedures.

In those ten years you have six where there is no change, an insignificant one (2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2004, 2002), or an improvement. We've created a Rose Bowl from nothing for 2005, one which is a little lame. 2006 is either little damage or moderate. 2010 is either a push or very, very bad. Bad to the point where you'd have to have some provision to prevent an 8-5 team from playing in the Rose Bowl. 2003 is admittedly a major downgrade.

So there is damage. I'm not sure how the powers that be perceive a Rose Bowl in which #2 OSU plays #3 Georgia in a national semi. Is that damage? It is not the hallowed Big Ten-Pac 12 matchup.

Let's say that's not damage and the Rose Bowl will be a series of traditional matchups with the occasional weird-but-very-good interloper. Is the above damage something that would cause you to reject the concept of on-campus semifinals? The Rose Bowl would become a consolation prize. Rather, it would stay a consolation prize, which is what it's been for almost every year of the BCS's existence. Has that hurt it? A bit. Much? No.

I find it hard to believe the Big Ten power brokers would look at the above and come back white as a sheet at the prospects of the future. Dan Wetzel annihilated the thought process that results in the quotes above in his column…

[The Rose Bowl is so] critical that they're willing to make business decisions based on emotion, willing to give up on competitive advantages, logistical ease and monetary benefits.

Possible home-field advantage for Big Ten teams? We love the Rose Bowl.

Making the elements, which Big Ten teams are presumably better equipped to handle, a factor in the playoffs? We love the Rose Bowl.

Showcasing the incredible game-day environment of Camp Randall, Happy Valley or the Big House? We love the Rose Bowl.

Not requiring fans, students and players' families to continue to make lengthy postseason trips? We love the Rose Bowl.

Creating economic impact in the league's hometowns? We love the Rose Bowl.

Not taking discretionary spending out of the region and into California or Florida? We love the Rose Bowl.

…and he's right. Here's another opportunity to point at the Big Ten's lack of will to power relative to the SEC, Texas, and, increasingly, the Pac-12. That or they just got outvoted and are trying to make it look good.

Either way, an argument about the bowl system has featured arguments hastily assembled to pretend something that makes no sense in fact does. Tradition!

Unverified Voracity Has One Last Tie

Unverified Voracity Has One Last Tie

Submitted by Brian on May 1st, 2012 at 3:23 PM

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Gorilla smash. This blog's readership annihilated the annual EDSBS charity fundraiser last year, bringing hope to refugees and a Bo-themed skin to EDSBS. Michigan coasted past #2 Auburn by a full two grand, and lo, we were amply rewarded.

You can take the opportunity to defend your crown by hitting up the 2012 version; this year the winning team also gets an episode of Shutdown Fullback devoted to it ("in a good way!" Orson says) and a "custom essay focused on doing nothing but denigrating the things the winning school finds deplorable."

Just going to leave this screenshot here now.

image

Yes, that's real. Or at least it is for me. /shakes fist at google personalization

Unfortunately, only round dollar amounts are available this year so you can't punch in your favorite score from a rivalry game unless you want to go big baller… or commemorate the Yakety Sax game with your 38.00.

Note: make sure to leave the school name in the DESIGNATION line, lest your donation not be credited to the glorious university you owe your lives, fortune, and honor to. If you need further hate to motivate you, that guy whose operative theory about why Brady Hoke will fail is "recruits too many NFL-sized offensive linemen who remind me of a guy who didn't work out for OSU" is suggesting that OSU fans should donate to "embarrass Michigan." Also he has not read the instructions closely enough, the bastard.

The last tie. 1992 OSU:

Kiss your sister, unless you've already married her. OOOH SICK BURN. MGoVideo also has all of the 1992 Purdue game.

Reinstated. Josh Furman is back and ready to go. Given the way this worked out, couldn't he have been practicing? He and the team would have benefited and… like… it doesn't sound like anything happened except some yelling into a dorm room (and, of course, the heinous crime against Furman's locks).

Somehow this sums up everything perfectly. SBN headline:

College Football Playoffs: Which 2 Bowls Should Be Added To The BCS?

College football? College football.

The plan. Two and out for Trey Burke is the plan:

Dime: Do you plan on leaving school for the NBA if you have another good year next season?
TB: If I have a great season, and we go far, I probably will lean towards coming out. I can’t really speak on that right now, it’s too early. But I definitely will look into it and my coaches will help me look into it because they understand the type of situation I’m in.

It would be nice to get Michigan's hyped freshman point guard a little time to get his feet wet but I'll take it. Derrick Walton's happy about his choice right now.

The limit. It turns out I've got one when it comes to recruiting, and it's one the premium sites, Tremendous and UMHoops are now exploring on a daily basis. If I see a "2014" or even "2015" in front of a kid's name, I am unmoved unless they seem extremely good and likely to end up at M.

A comprehensive list of 2014 football recruits I am interested in hearing about at this juncture: Malik McDowell. Since some of them are ending up at M it is also interesting to figure out how good the next crop of Cass Tech kids is. IL CB Parrker Westphal just got offers from half the Big Ten and is coached by Todd Howard (yes that Todd Howard), so he's getting there. I may be interested in 2014 Mississippi SG Devin Booker, but am not sure yet.

This will change after football players' junior seasons; in basketball it will change when Beilein can fire out offers in June. Right now it's just all so futuristic, man. Like finding an NCAA tournament loss to a major underdog hits only a pile of scar tissue where your heart used to be, I assume this is an effect of being a hockey fan. When Tristin Llewellyn committed he was supposed to be amazing. This did not happen. Need more data before emotions get all emotional.

Under that limit. I am interested to hear how Michigan's 2013 basketball commits are doing during their AAU season. Zak Irvin's play continues to improve:

Zak Irvin (2013, Wing, Eric Gordon All-Stars – Commit)

Zak Irvin is without a doubt one of the better players in his class. His jumpshot is water and when he gets it going from beyond the arc it’s almost impossible to stop him. His long arms make him a terror at the top of the zone on defense. In man-to-man sets, he was easily the best on-ball defender on his team. Irvin’s team is loaded, with two players headed to Indiana, one to Notre Dame and another to Purdue, but when the Eric Gordon All-Stars needed buckets it seemed like Irvin was the primary option. Irvin’s handle is solid and he looked okay running point guard sporadically, though he had a few turnovers. Two areas of his game to watch are his passing ability and rebounding. He made a concerted effort to rebound all weekend and wound up with 12 in the final game of the day on Saturday. He was also able to find his teammates for easy buckets in the post after using his quickness to get by his defender.

Love the idea that Irvin can be a 6'5" shutdown perimeter defender in the mold of a Bernard Robinson Jr. Michigan hasn't had an elite defender since. Also in that post, Mark Donnal gets in a bunch of foul trouble. UMHoops also has an article on Donnal featuring his relationship with Dan Dakich, who happens to be his AAU coach.

You realize this makes you Mubarak, right? Jim Delany:

Delany defended the Rose Bowl and compared the coming changes in college football to the Arab Spring, the revolts that erupted across the Middle East and North Africa last year.

“Not all change is manageable,” Delany said. “You want to control change. You want evolution, not revolution, because you don’t know what the unintended consequences will be.”

As always, Jim Delany should not say things.

Incoming defenders. The United States of Hockey also scouted the USA U18's defense corps, with all three of Michigan's commits turning in good performances. Trouba:

Jacob Trouba — It is plainly clear why Trouba is getting a lot of Top-10 buzz. He can do a little bit of everything. His pro-ready size and strength are going to be attractive to a lot of teams. He also plays with an edge and had several bone-crushing hits in the tournament. What people often forget is that Trouba is a tremendous skater. He has speed, sure, but there’s more to it than that. He’s able to find seems and turn it up ice quickly. Then there’s his cannon from the point. Trouba’s one goal at the tournament came off a stunning one-timer that required video review because it came right off the back bar in the net so quickly. He posted three points total. Knocks on his offensive upside are overblown, I feel. There are clearly many tools at this defenseman’s disposal. He should go early on Day 1. Committed to the University of Michigan.

Carrick:

Connor Carrick — Playing a strong game at both ends of the ice allowed Carrick to have a lot of success. The offensive-minded defenseman posted four points including a pair of goals. Carrick has good speed and some creativity with the puck. He also has pretty good strength along the walls, which makes up for his lack of height. Carrick also has a good feel for when to jump into plays and often makes good decisions when pinching. If Carrick ever got into trouble, he was able to recover with his feet. There should be a few teams that will be looking to pick up Carrick in the later rounds of the Draft. Committed to the University of Michigan.

Continues to sound like a bigger version of Langlais. Carrick's going to be important next year as Michigan tries to get that third pairing solidified, but if Michigan does hold on to all of their incoming defensemen they'll be in good shape.

Rutledge only got one start, a shutout—all games not against Canada were shutouts—in which he "bailed out" his team more than once. Click through for that report.

Etc.: The Solid Verbal features Dan, Ty, and Andy Staples talkin' playoffs. More Staples on playoffs. MVictors has audio of Willie Heston. If Dave Brandon was at FSU. Jerald Robinson's violence against a parking lot gate gets Michigan one point the Fulmer Cup. A second is added for "admiration."

Playoff Latest: It Gives You The Brain Damage

Playoff Latest: It Gives You The Brain Damage

Submitted by Brian on April 30th, 2012 at 1:04 PM

…says Bill Hancock! But they're doing it anyway.

1172816272_Ppm3Etfg_rose_bowl[1]

If Michigan can't host at Michigan Stadium this is the second-best option.

Stewart Mandel is the latest guy to throw his sources in the ring in re: what the exact specifics of the Four-Team Event shall be. His version of reality is this:

Multiple sources with direct knowledge of last week's discussions in South Florida have confirmed to SI.com that the new favored proposal for a four-team playoff within the bowl system would place the two semifinal games at the traditional anchor bowls of the No. 1 and 2 teams' conferences. For example, No. 1 Alabama of the SEC would host the No. 4 team in the Sugar Bowl, while No. 2 USC of the Pac-12 would host the No. 3 team in the Rose Bowl.

This would have blown up the traditional Rose Bowl in five of the last 14 years, six if you want to throw Nebraska's presence as the Big 12 North Division Co-Champion in the mix. That's nearly half the time and is the kind of thing that makes Jim Delany's fists open and close helplessly.

Home sites are still in the running, though:

That said, it's no certainty the conferences will opt for bowl-hosted semifinals. Contrary to some reports, on-campus sites remain "very much alive," according to two sources. One said the commissioners left the meetings split about "60-40" in favor of using bowl sites. They will present all remaining proposals to their respective conference presidents, athletic directors and coaches at league meetings in late May and early June to gauge their preferences before reconvening June 20 in Chicago.

There are five conferences who matter. You can guess the 40% opposed to the bowl sites right now. For a lot of reasons—amongst them a desire to maybe not have to fly across the country to see a bowl-type event and a belief that bowls are institutionalized stealing from unpaid student athletes—I'm with them.

Q: Can Jim Delany actually pull off the home sites plan? He stared down Comcast, won, and got the Big Ten their massive pile of money that no one save Michigan and Ohio State is bothering to use. ("Oh, hai, I'm Tim Beckman. You may remember me from that one screen Eric Page took for 70 yards on Tuesday night, and by 'one' I mean 'six.'")

Here's he's got one ally-type substance in the Pac-12, two conferences content to leave the status quo as is because it's generally beneficial (SEC, Big 12) to them… and then you've got the ACC and maybe Big East.

Does anyone care about the Big East? Unknown. If they did have a vote you'd think they lean towards home games. Home games would be nice in the event one of their teams ever makes it into the top two; perhaps more importantly for them, sucking four teams out of BCS bowls makes it likely even their oft-tattered champion is attractive enough most years.

As for the ACC, they're in an odd spot because two of the teams expected to be relevant here are in Florida. The other is Virginia Tech. The rest of the conference is flung up and down the eastern seaboard, and will be more so when Pitt and Syracuse join. Here, too, you'd think a majority of schools would prefer hypothetically getting a local game instead of being on foreign turf. The conference might not like the idea of seeing their banner teams travel north, but here too the benefits of sucking four teams out of the sexy bowls would seem to be a big draw. The ACC hadn't gotten a second BCS bid in forever before Virginia Tech was selected for the Sugar last year.

Q: Does Delany have the chutzpah to take his ball and go home? Or threaten to? Probably not. If the Big Ten and Pac 12 walk, things will go one of two ways: 1) Delany gets his way, or 2) the league is fffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuu after having balkanized itself out of a Four Team Event that kinda pretty much is the national title. The Rose Bowl is great, but I don't think the kids are going to be down with that particular sickness. With their hippin' and their hopping, they don't know what the jazz is all about. /shakes fist at lawn

Q: Does this actually make sense for college football? Well, at least they're bidding out the final. They aren't concerned about selling out since it'll quickly turn into a Final Four/Super Bowl type event where it just sells out and then scalpers take on the risks and rewards of properly pricing the thing. So then you've got either a guaranteed sellout in a stadium that averages 80k+ over the years or some version of the current system except that the #2 game matters a lot more and fans are staring down the prospect of back to back trips.

Inevitably the travel will suck money that otherwise could have been given to college football—ticket prices go up, more get sold—and put teams in a spot where they're spending massive amounts of money on the same sorts of scams bowls are currently running. So, no. The whole will suffer to maintain the location bias that the South currently enjoys.

The most confusing thing in all of this is the persistent notion that the bowls have any leverage. Mandel:

An obvious hitch with the anchor-hosting proposal is that based on history, certain bowls would host semifinals far more often than others. For instance, had this concept been in place all along, the Sugar Bowl (SEC) would have hosted six straight semifinals from 2006-11, the Fiesta Bowl (Big 12) five of seven from 2003-09. The ACC, on the other hand, has not produced a No. 1 or 2 team in 12 years, meaning no semis for the Orange Bowl.

The Orange Bowl is upset. So? What is the Orange Bowl going to do, defect to lacrosse? No. They can only steal money from college football. They'll deal.

Q: Strength of schedule! That's not a question, or a thing that will happen. Maybe it will happen…

As for selecting the teams, the commissioners are a ways away from deciding whether to use a revised BCS formula, a selection committee or some combination of both. "The whole topic of selection and who would get in is something that we've really parked for now," said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. "We realize that's going to require a whole lot more debate and study." If they do employ a formula, sources said there's a near-universal desire to emphasize strength of schedule. One source said the commissioners also aren't keen on preseason polls, which could signal an end to using the USA Today Coaches' Poll.

…but as soon as this SOS component causes the system to pick someone other than the poll-anointed, it will be declared incorrect and dropped. See: the past.

Q: Will you take it? Yeah. Arguments that moving the line from two to four doesn't reduce controversy have always been ludicrous. Multiple undefeated top five teams have been given zero chance to win a national title in the BCS system. At the very least a four team playoff prevents the Auburn/TCU/Utah/Boise screwjob from ever happening again. Anything is better than what we've got now.

Mandel says he was never a fan of a playoff because it would make the NCAA an "NFL clone," which… 12 of the 32 NFL teams get in the playoffs. An equivalent NCAA playoff drawn from the five major conferences is 24 teams. Anything eight or below maintains almost all of the importance of the regular season to be okay.

Also, in the system Mandel details above the chances Hypothetical Host Big Ten team gets a virtual road game are low. Unless USC finishes in the exact spot to force a matchup, anyone going to that game will be flying. So it could be worse. Could be better. Could be worse.

Q: What happens if the Big 10 and Pac 12 are one-two? Or if there's a repeat of last year, when the top two teams are in the same conference? In the former situation I'd just run a Rose Bowl per normal. In situation two, I don't know, put it in Glendale or something. I'm vaguely hoping that Jerryworld pirates the Big 12 affiliation from Glendale and relegates the Fiesta Bowl to the status of the old Cotton Bowl.

Unverified Voracity Shames Itself

Unverified Voracity Shames Itself

Submitted by Brian on August 21st, 2009 at 12:11 PM

And fin. Wolverine Historian's expanded versions of 1997 games have hit that year's Rose Bowl; this one is a three-parter and it's gooooood:

Part Two and Part Three are lightboxed for your viewing pleasure. Part Three gets a little misty.

Odds. I've seen the line for Michigan's game against Western at anywhere between 8 and 13 points, but it appears it's settled at Michigan –12. This is good. Phil Steele's published a useful list of spreads and their correspondence to victory and a spread as big as that one is tough to overcome:

Favorite of # of GMS Lost Outright %
31+ pts 382 5 1.3%
24.5-31 617 24 3.9%
17.5-24 1013 71 7.0%
14.5-17 650 88 13.5%
10.5-14 1146 242 21.1%
7.5-10 1056 279 26.4%
3.5-7 1930 658 34.1%
3 or less 1269 621 48.9%

It would be nice to start the year off with one of those win things for a change.

Don't Messner with Texas. MVictors has posted an interview with Wolverine great Mark Messner; I celebrate by craft the worst bolded introductory phrase in the history of Unverified Voracity. The section Greg excerpts is mostly on Michigan State, Tony Mandarich, and steroids. It comes with some outstanding stories:

He did get me once and that’s when I realized that there was something strange going on with this man, because no man should ever do that.  It was my junior year.  We were watching film getting ready for Michigan State and I was like, “Look at this thing! He’s destroying people.” In that game I got out of position and he got underneath me. He picked me up off my feet and ran with me for fifteen yards with my feet just dangling. He threw me like a rag doll into the Michigan State bench.

More at the link.

Was anybody healthy? Anybody? This offseason's seen a bevy of injury revelations from Mike Shaw's sports hernia to Donovan Warren's bone chips to Jonas Mouton's shoulder. We already knew Brandon Minor had some wrist issues, but I don't think we knew they were this severe:

Minor underwent two surgeries in the offseason and gutted through 11 games last fall a virtual one-armed man. The pain was so intense he couldn't carry the ball in his right arm and couldn't lift weights.

“I could barely get 145 (pounds) up,” Minor said.

This might explain Minor's sparing use early in the year, and his tendency to put the ball on the turf. Place your bets for the next starter to reveal a crippling 2008 injury. I've got Obi Ezeh with the peg leg in the kitchen.

Hey, what's that: bird, plane, basketball program? Michigan's going to have a Midnight Madness event for the first time… ever? Probably ever. John Beilein probably isn't going rappel from the rafters riding a horse and a motorcycle, but it should be cool anyway. Details:

To kick off the 2009-10 season, both the men's and women's basketball teams will be participating in Michigan Madness on Friday, Oct. 16, the first day of practice allowed by the NCAA. Crisler Arena doors will open at 8 p.m. and admission is free.

The official basketball program will begin at 9 p.m. with player introductions. A skills competition and scrimmages will follow, allowing students and fans to get a first glimpse of the season's upcoming teams.

That's right: Michigan's midnight madness is at 9PM. Which okay. I don't know if we're at the point where we can expect anyone to show up well past their bedtime.

If you spin any faster you might drill straight into the magma. It's getting tough out there for BCS schools looking for suitable tomato cans to whack, as Michigan's home-and-home with UConn demonstrates. Heck, UConn has Tennessee lined up for a home and home, too. Further evidence:

Billed as the Celebrate the State Football Series, Michigan State will play 12 games against the directional Michigan schools during the next 10 years.

The agreement includes road contests against each MAC team, beginning in 2012 with a trip to Central Michigan. The Spartans have never visited Central Michigan or Western Michigan and last played a MAC team on the road in 1899.

Ouch. I guess if you have to line up road games (three of them!) against MAC schools it's nice to be able to turn it into yet more meaningless PR about owning the state. I mean… even if you successfully own the state, then what? Then you have a team that goes 7-5 on average instead of Michigan State's historical long-term 6-6. Woo! Michigan isn't Florida.

Etc.: Those who hate key jinglers are going to double hate towels. Michigan Stadium makes the next cut in the USA's World Cup bid. (Note to guy who posted this on the messageboard: AAAARGH it's on topic. It's about Michigan Stadium.) And this is apropos of little but there's a team named "Trollhattan" in the second level of Swedish soccer. There's a terribly funny joke about the internet in there somewhere.

Unverified Voracity Constructs Analogies

Unverified Voracity Constructs Analogies

Submitted by Brian on June 3rd, 2009 at 1:28 PM

Heismans past. College Football Live is going state-by-state and, I don't know, talking to people or something. It's the privilege of the internet that I don't have to watch College Football Live and find out about their latest programming initiative. Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard were the featured people when it came to Michigan. Here is their talking:

Reports from people who watched this say it seemed designed to blow a blood vessel in Mark Dantonio's head, BTW.

I do not know how alarmed you should be, but it appears the amount of alarm should, sadly, be nonzero. Incoming mega-recruit Justin Turner did not walk at his graduation because of what appears to be an inability to pass some statewide Ohio standardized test. Here's a really dumb thread on a Massillon message board about it. It's uncertain whether this would prevent him from enrolling at Michigan, as from other reports he's comfortably qualified, and it's also uncertain how an apparently-qualified person could not pass a test on which the questions were probably like so:

water : wet :: water :

A. wet
B. pantaloons
C. noodly appendage
D. I hate Michigan

Unless, that is, he picked A when the right answer was D. Apparently there are further opportunities to take this thing and get it done, if it's an actual barrier to his entry. FWIW, Varsity Blue says Sam Webb says* this is a minor thing unlikely to be an issue:

Webb was not particularly pessimistic about Turner’s ability to still get into school, as he’s a pretty good student who’s already met the NCAA Clearinghouse’s requirements for eligibility, except the no high school diploma thing. There are alternative methods to diploma eligbility, and given Turner’s academic reputation, most don’t foresee him having difficulty there.

It's out there, but I wouldn't get too exercised about it. I'm more concerned about Fitzgerald Toussaint's status.

*(There's been significant backlash against GBMW on this, and while I agree they could use some serious writing lessons, I don't see how reporting something obvious like "Justin Turner didn't walk at graduation" is a big deal. Both premium sites had moderators address the issue before GBMW did and, while they like to hide behind the idea that what's behind the paywall is super secret just-between-us stuff, any information there is instantly transmitted to free message boards across the internet and thereby into the fan consciousness. Also: kid didn't walk at graduation; this is not a secret.)

Buryin'. If there's one lead guaranteed to be buried it's "here's this important rule change," which is inevitably preceded by 300 words about some director of officials who's very sorry about everything but has to ask you to go to hell. And it is so after the Big Ten meetings produced a couple notable changes:

A new rule states that once [rugby] punters are outside the pocket, the defense will not be penalized for running into them or roughing them. The rugby-style punters previously had the advantage of waiting until the last minute to choose whether to punt, run or pass and still draw penalties on the defense. "The defensive team never knew what to do because they didn't want to rough them," Carollo said.

This seems fraught with logistical issues. How is this mystical ability of a punter different from that of a quarterback? Can a punter now roll out, pull up to pass, chuck the ball, and get leveled way late?

Offensive linemen also will be allowed to move up to three yards down the field without being penalized.

I'm somewhat confused here; this sentence follows the previous paragraph immediately and either means 1) a slight change to punting rules or 2) a significant relaxing of prohibitions against linemen downfield. I'm betting it's 1.

Rose Bowlin'. The Rose Bowl is obligated to take a scrub team in the event that 1) A Big Ten or Pac-10 team is yanked into the NC game and 2) a scrub team ends up automatically qualified by finishing in the top 12. That's a somewhat unlikely confluence of events there, and even if it happens it will only happen once:

"It's only going to happen once if it happens at all," Hancock said.

And that's just a totally redundant blockquote but that's life. Totally redundant blockquotes.

Anyway: this places the change even more squarely into the realm of don't-sue-us CYA. The likely effect, if there even is one, is to replace the second-place Pac-10 team with a Utah or a Boise or whatever, which would be a wash in hypothetical opponent strength.

I don't get it, either. Earlier this year I touched on the ongoing Kiffin fiasco, and resolved that this could so either way, with the two ways being "John L Smith" and "Steve Spurrier." A couple months, a couple more inane secondary violations/diarrhea of the mouth incidents, and I've been pushed over the edge: I just think Kiffin is an idiot. I wasn't going to say anything until Get The Picture eloquently summarized the nagging problem I had with the recent spate of MSM articles which had "no, srsly, Lane Kiffin knows what he's doing" as their idiotically contrarian thesis:

If this is such a great approach to resurrecting a national powerhouse, how come the first guy to think of it is a 33-year old whose prior stop as a head coach was a miserable failure?

I just don't buy Kiffin's latest posture. Claiming "no, seriously guys, I meant to do it" is the last refuge of a guy caught with his hand in the idiot jar. True cleverness—see OBC—is apparent. Even if this supposed gambit works in the short run, in the long run Tennessee is going to be seriously hampered by their head coach's lack of intelligence. When the biggest accomplishment you can point to is locking down your hot wife, you have issues.

Oregon State's going to be pissed. So the SEC put an end to this ridiculous oversigning business after Houston Nutt pushed it past its logical extreme, adopting the same policy the Big Ten has by limiting LOIs to 28. They're going to attempt to make this a national policy, and the initial returns are good:

One Big 12 assistant who asked to remain anonymous said he hopes this will push the NCAA to make it a rule throughout Division I football. … "Generally when the SEC makes a push for changes in recruiting, things happen on the NCAA level. So there are a lot of us who believe that this will eventually become something everybody will have to follow, and I think that's a good thing."

Seconded.

Etc.: Daily continues murdering Detroit papers, this time landing an extensive interview with Toney Clemons. Oregon's rushing attack—which you may remember cowering from—in coachy detail. NCAA 10… worth buying? Michigan had "no chance" in '97 according to Corso. Patrick Lucas-Perry is rapidly developing into a major target.

Unverified Voracity Says Hello, Old Friend

Unverified Voracity Says Hello, Old Friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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