Everyone assumed that because it showed up on I-94 somewhat near Ann Arbor (it's close to the airport) that Michigan fans were responsible for it. But if you know anything about Paul Reiser-penned billboards in Michigan you know that Michigan State fans love 'em. Example one:
At this point we cannot act like we have been there because we haven't.
It's almost as if there's some billboard company with spare inventory run by Spartan Paul Reiser. Reader Section 1 finds SPR:
The idea actually came from a Michigan State alum, who also happens to be the local sales manager for CBS Outdoor advertising.
About 10-12 of the boards are expected to be put up around the state, most with sponsor names on them.
Two are already in place -- on northbound I-75, north of I-94, and another in Grand Rapids. There's also one coming to the Lansing area, and the rest will be located in metro-Detroit.
"I have several State alumni and State fans that work for me," said Tom Carroll, vice president of the Michigan Region for CBS Outdoor. "The billboard is our response to Michigan State getting snubbed."
Section 1 went so far as to call up Bob Brown, another Michigan State guy who used the close-your-eyes-and-don't-think-of-Iowa billboard to express "frustration," and ask him who was behind the billboards. They refused to answer, saying only that the buyer was anonymous. Why they'd be so reticent now when they'd embraced their role as the state's key purveyor of stupid sports-themed billboards is unknown. It's probably not the sudden onset of shame.
Unfortunately for Spartan Paul Reiser, his kid sold him out. An emailer relates:
I put a pic of the billboard up on my Facebook page, and got a response from a [high school] classmate who is a Facebook friend of mine – Brad Carroll. He said his dad had created the billboard, and had shown him a mock up a couple weeks earlier. At the time I thought nothing of it, other than that his dad was a Michigan fan.
In the aftermath of the Section 1 post the emailer deduces that Brad is Tom Carroll's son. The googles confirm by turning up a CBS Outdoor Detroit Facebook page that only people with the last name Carroll have bothered to like things on, one of whom is a Brad who matches the biographical information elided above. QED.
As per usual, Michigan State fans are responsible for the stupid billboards. Stay your wakizashi and carefully tell the guy with the katana to go get some ice cream: your honor is restored.
Also I lost money on Stately Victor. So I chose a bad weekend to take a semi-vacation. Every time I hopped on my phone to see what was going down, Michigan was picking up a DE commit or Ohio State was seeing its troubles expand or Michigan State fans were having entertaining meltdowns or the OHL draft was somehow giving Michigan commitments instead of stealing them. You think it's just a random weekend in May and surely the only thing you're going to miss is nothing. Not so much. But if that's going to happen every time I'm out of pocket I'll be in the Yukon until August even if we pick up some suspensions along the way.
It all started with dozens of cars over a decade. The Dispatch reports Ohio State is looking into their players' tendency to buy cars from one guy with the usual level of signed memorabilia in his office and at least one very interesting sale:
Public records show that in 2009, a 2-year-old Chrysler 300 with less than 20,000 miles was titled to then-sophomore linebacker Thaddeus Gibson. Documents show the purchase price as $0.
Unfortunately for people wishing to see OSU bombed into the stone age, the Dispatch found that "nearly half" of the cars are on record as being sold for less than the Blue Book value, which is a way of saying it seems like there's a reasonable distribution of prices when that price isn't no dollars. That's unless the cars in question are all blinged out yo—the Dispatch only knows make and model.
However, in addition to all these sales this Kniffin guy also loaned Terrelle Pryor the cars he was driving when he was pulled over three times in loaners. It's extremely implausible that the NCAA won't be able to put together another finding of improper benefits. It was also implausible that Pryor could get away with the car hijinks and he did.
Ohio State compliance is putting up a brave face, but privately the prospect of Kniffin and his 130k in IRS debt facing down the law for misreporting sale prices for these cars has to be foreboding. If there's a choice between jail and confirming documents that would expand the scope of OSU's trouble to include a lack of institutional control, skeezy guy in undisclosed state will no doubt take the latter.
Still need that smoking gun to turn up, unless OSU's crack compliance storm troopers investigating car purchases and letting that Gibson thing slide is it. Ohio recruiting guru and OSU partisan Duane Long:
What about Pryor? I mean, every dealership owner is totally cool with letting me test drive their personal automobile for days on end across state lines. Especially when I was in college. Apparently that’s when I was most trustworthy. That story is believable right?
Now we find out it’s not just star players, it’s a bunch of players AND their families. Good Lord.
Don’t fret Buckeyes because this stuff was already cleared by OSU compliance. Whew!!! I knew they were on top of this. Sure they missed years of players cashing in on items that we would cherish our entire lives but are trivial to the players in exchange for tattoos and cash. But buying cars, they were all over it. Color me relieved, except for one thing. I saw a post asking one simple question, If all of this was cleared already then why the INTERNAL investigation? Hasn’t there already been one? Hasn’t it already been cleared? So what if the Dispatch thinks it’s a big deal. The answer to the Dispatch article is “It’s already been cleared”. Case closed. Story over. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead we muttered under our breath like Latoya Jackson’s mousy voice “we cleared this” and then contradicted the value of that entire “clearing” by announcing our internal investigation. That is ridiculous. Doing this internal investigation is a big announcement to the world “Yeah we didn’t really clear anything and we would hope you guys wouldn’t notice”.
It beggars belief that 50 different Buckeyes all got a legitimate deal with one particular salesman who has provably given Terrelle Pryor rides no one else would get. Maurice Wells' mom bought a car in Columbus. She lives in Maryland. So did Pryor's mother and brother, who live in Pennsylvania. The NCAA should be able to ask anyone with eligibility to prove they're making the payments the notes claim they are with permanent ineligibility the alternative. There's clearly enough circumstantial evidence to suggest what went down was rife with illegal benefits. If they don't they're making a mockery of their enforcement process at a school that's already done a better job of that than USC.
The car thing brings options approaching nuclear into play. Basketball players are involved and violations uncovered could stretch back a decade to when Maurice Clarett and Marco Cooper told ESPN they were given loaner cars and sweetheart deals. If the NCAA uncovers an ineffectual see-no-evil car accounting system in the wake of that very public accusation, pairing that with Tatgate makes for the worst NCAA violation in a long, long time.
BONUS: Texas fans are running a strong second to Michigan when it comes to e-outrage about this stuff. Burnt Orange Nation campaigns for a show-cause—their third post on the subject—and Barking Carnivalopens up both barrels as well. A sniff of Switzer is a red cape to Longhorns.
Other possibility: Malletts be Mallettin'. Ryan Mallett's father dropped a dual bombshell as he tried to explain why his kid transferred away from Michgian, saying that Lloyd Carr told Mallett to transfer and Rodriguez didn't pursue Mallett as hard as he should have. The latter quote:
“Ryan’s the one who called (Rich Rod),” Jim Mallett continued. “He said, “Can I talk about the offense?’ And then he told me, ‘Daddy, (Rodriguez) never looked me in the eye.’ He never visited with the family, he didn’t talk to us. I never met the man. But hey, it wasn’t a fit. Let’s move on.”
This set off another minor war between the Rodriguez and Carr factions vying to determine which of them was incrementally less of an asshat over the last three years. There is another possibility: this is just a self-serving remembrance from the sort of guy who promises "revenge" on Miami for not drafting his kid. For one, Rodriguez never looked Mallett in the eye because Mallett was in Arkansas, not Michigan—unusual behavior for a player planning on staying at Michigan. For two, Carr told Mallett to transfer plenty before he'd even retired. I believe Carr told Mallett to GTFO, but it wasn't because he was looking out for his player.
Stonum suspension redux. Darryl Stonum has been suspended "indefinitely" for his second DUI, which is better than the rumor I got in my inbox that he had gotten the heave-ho but seemingly not much better. Stonum had a breakout 2010 and could have done so again as a focal point when Michigan went under center; now he could be out for anywhere from a couple games to the year. Michigan could hypothetically redshirt him, FWIW.
I wish I had something to offer about how serious the on-field repercussions would be but it sounds like that's up to Stonum's actions over the next few months. A second DUI is a serious offense.
We're going to need a bigger ark. Michigan picked up a pair of WDE commits over the weekend from Ohio's Pharaoh Brown and Michigan's Mario Ojemudia, bringing their 2012 class to ten guys all from Michigan and Ohio, all offensive linemen or front-seven defensive players. This would be Brady Hoke self-parody if every guy in the class didn't sport the offer list of a guy at least on the 3-4 star borderline, but they all do so it's just good stuff. Michigan has 17 slots right now and can push that to 19 by not offering a couple of guys fifth years; with a reasonable amount of attrition they'll be looking at a class of 22 or more.
They seem to lead for Matt Godin, Chris Wormley, Terry Richardson, Anthony Standifer, and Jordan Diamond. They'll probably grab two DTs from the Pipkins/O'Brien/Day/Johnson group, which brings them to around 17. The five remaining scholarships go to:
Mystery RB, Preferably Blue Chip, Thx
Hypothetically Qualified Aaron Burbridge or Mystery Outside WR
Mystery OT Probably From California
If they end up whiffing on any of the guys counted in the class it will probably be Wormley, at which point Michigan will put the full court press on the touted SDEs who veritably litter Ohio this year and, given the way things seem to be going, get one.
Michigan's problems, such as they are: getting the second WR it seems they need, finding a true safety, and smushing MI TE Ron Thompson in. If they bloat this class up to 25 they can add Thompson, another safety, and another WR without squeezing out that fifth OL.
That's asking for six kids to leave the team before February. I can glance at the Depth Chart By Class and easily pick off six guys whose absence wouldn't be felt but that's somewhere between rude and skeezy. While Michigan won't put themselves in a situation where they sign a bunch of guys and then say "medical scholarships for everyone," the best interests of the program are now aligned with certain guys leaving it. That's uncomfortable.
Tell me something I don't know. Rivals initial top 100 is a bit light on Midwesterners and, as usual, over-represented by the Texas/California/Florida triumvirate. I'm working on a larger post about this but:
From 2000-2006 Texas, Florida, and California supplied 35% of NFL draft picks. From 2007-2010 they supplied 34%.
This year's Rivals 100 has 48 players from those three states.
The Midwest (MN, IA, WI, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA) supplied 17% of NFL draft picks.
This year's Rivals 100 has 15 players from those states.
I haven't looked at enough data to see what the issue is but my bet is consistent overrating of Big Three players at a the near-uniform expense of everyone else. Some of this is inevitable unless you expect the Rivals guys to figure out which half a Montanan is going to get drafted every year, but if you suck out the odd NFL player from the ignored Great Plains and New England states you should be overrating the rest fairly uniformly. That hasn't happened so far this year.
Caveat: it's possible that the good players in the big states get scouted sooner, leaving the rest of the nation to catch up. That would mean the final Rivals 100 would be less Big Three biased. I'm not sure yet, which is why there's a post in the works.
There's been some chatter about Terry Richardson's upcoming announcement being a twitter prank from Royce Jenkins-Stone but 247's Steve Wiltfong reports that Cass Tech coach Tom Wilcher says Richardson will "probably make his decision this week." With Ross and Jenkins-Stone in the boat, Michigan is the presumed favorite.
development: Boren does not haz it. brilliant photoshop via TTB
Development. A killer post on BHGP analyses schools' NFL draft performance relative to what you'd expect given their recruiting rankings. The conclusions:
Stars matter. No surprise. Guys with five stars are more than four times more likely to be drafted than those with three.
Michigan is average. They've had 21 draftees and expected 20.6. This places them 29th amongst 66 BCS teams. I'd bet Michigan would have done very well if this study focused on a time period five years earlier; in my imagination their "development ratio" starts off near OSU's, gradually drops as the OL degrades late in the Carr era, and implodes in the aftermath of massive attrition under Rodriguez.
USC, Ohio State, and Iowa outperform. Interesting diversity at the top, as the #1 school is also the #1 recruiting school—impressive—and three through five are Iowa, Cal, and Wake Forest. Clemson is sixth, further proving that the Tigers have been the worst-coached BCS team of the last decade.
Duke sucks. Duke sucks.
U-S-BIGTEN. I'm going to gank this chart:
If you're interested in going to the NFL, avoid the Big 12 and head north. Also, I'm guessing that non-BCS number suggest that Rivals' drilldown rankings (e.g., three stars being rated 5.5, 5.6, or 5.7) have some merit.
U-S-RICHROD. West Virginia has the highest "win ratio" amongst BCS teams despite not sending anyone to the league, and while that's an artifact of being the best team in the Big East over the period surveyed WHY DID YOU HIRE GERG AARGH
I have a slight beef: study author UpUpDownDown looks at these numbers strictly through the lens of player development. He breaks conference numbers down further into offense and defense, and then further breaks down offense into skill and offensive line, finding the Big Ten murders everyone on the OL and on D while the Big 12 struggles immensely in those two categories. This is attributed to playstyle, specifically the Big 12's addiction to passing spreads.
I think there may another element at work: scouting services overrating certain sections of the country and underrating others, particularly the Midwest. Rivals (the source of the rankings used) doesn't even have a Midwest analyst. Meanwhile, OL rankings are particularly inaccurate since many high school kids need to put on 50 pounds before they can play in college. The flipside—skill position players more easily projectable—sees a much, much lower spread amongst conferences. The worst-performing conference is the ACC at 94% of expectation; the best is the Big East at 108%. That's a much lower spread than you see in the D and OL numbers, one that looks like an even distribution distorted by a little randomness.
If there was a regional bias in recruiting rankings, hard-to-evaluate OL would be the place it would show up most prominently. I think there is. Your ratings are just wrong when Wisconsin has two four-star linemen in the last five years, as they do on Rivals. They are not evaluating linemen correctly. I'm not sure what Big 12's hole of suck on defense represents but I'd be more convinced it was a playstyle thing if they were running 3-3-5s or something. Going up against Blaine Gabbert and a bunch of other passing spreads doesn't make much difference to anyone but a few linebackers, it seems.
One: Paul Reiser probably came up with the text. Two: it's on I-94, which goes from Canada to Indiana without even brushing up against Ohio. Three: it's derp enough to put up a billboard after you win something. It's extra super derp to do so after not winning since 2003. Five derps out of five.
Recruiting digression. Brady Hoke : linebackers :: Rich Rodriguez : slot receivers. Michigan now has eight in two classes and speculation naturally turns to where these guys all fit. Specifically, can any of them play somewhere else?
The answer for all four in this class appears to be "no" unless Bolden or Jenkins-Stone pack on a lot of pounds and end up at WDE. Ringer's six-foot and Ross six-one and they'll both end up around 230. On a football field guys that size play LB, FB, or RB and nothing else. Even Bolden and RJS are stretches at DE. Those guys are linebackers one and all.
Last year's class, if you don't remember:
MI QB(!)/LB Desmond Morgan.
TX LB Kellen Jones
OH LB Antonio Poole
OH LB/TE Frank Clark
According to Rivals, none of these guys is more than 6'2" and Morgan is the heaviest at 225—the others are all at 210. No one's mentioned safety for any. So… these are all linebackers too unless Clark swaps to TE, which is going to be at least as crowded as LB if Ron Thompson signs up to be the fourth tight end in the last two classes.
Someone's going to lose out and get flipped to fullback; other than that, all these guys are linebackers for life. That gives Michigan 13 next year, which is a bit excessive for three starting spots. Or at least it would be if we weren't currently enduring a wasteland at the position. I'd guess the 2013 class is homeruns or one random three star picked up late.
Further recruiting digression. The top ten kids in the state are probably Ross, RJS, Devin Funchess, Mario Ojemudia, Aaron Burbridge, Dennis Norfleet, Terry Richardson, Ron Thompson, Dan O'Brien, and Matt Godin. (Ben Braden might be in there somewhere, too.) Michigan has three, is presumed to be the heavy leader for two more (Godin and Thompson) and is in a short group of leaders for Ojemudia, Richardson, and O'Brien. If the chips fall the right way Michigan could get 7 or 8 of the Michigan top ten, which is not only far better than Rodriguez ever did but would be better than Carr's best instate efforts by some distance.
Part of that is it seems like Michigan is producing better football players these days—everyone in that top ten save Norfleet has a Michigan offer, or would have one if his grades were better (Burbridge). That never happened under Carr. A big chunk appears to be Hoke doing work.
Too good to be true. Red might have believed he'd get his whole team back after exit interviews but Mark Burns of the Daily has responded to/fueled/confirmed rumors that Brandon Burlon is gonzo. Some speculation is that he's seriously pisssed off you guys that he was passed over in favor of Clare for the Frozen Four games.
Losing Burlon hurts, but at least Michigan seems well-covered on the back end. Clare will draw into the lineup regularly and the spot opened up by Langlais's graduation will be filled by incoming freshman Brennan Serville, a guy rising up NHL draft boards. He should go in the middle rounds.
Meanwhile in hockey news of a bizarre and speculative nature, Mike Babcock's son is winding his way from the USHL and crazy rumors that Michigan will take him and Babcock will coach him after Red leaves have duly cropped up. Yost Builtcollects those.
The Appalachian State debacle was my third day on campus. My freshman tickets sat me in Section 16, far away from my fellow students. I sat next to a white-haired old man--whose natural hair color might've been blue--and his son each week. My enduring memories of that first game are conveniently sparse; my first memory is of Chad Henne zipping a passing to Mike Massey in the opening drive. I saw it all from my bird's eye seat in Row 96 of Section 16; it was perfect and logical, a rational manifestation of our pre-season top 5 ranking. Then, the defense took the field.
A couple months ago everyone was comparing Tressel to Bruce Pearl but there's a big gap between what those two scofflaws did. In contrast Tressel's violations are almost precisely in line with McNair's. He was hit with The Dread Bylaw 10.1 and got a one-year show cause. His issues:
The assistant football coach had knowledge that student-athlete 1 and agency partners A and B likely were engaged in NCAA violations.
Tressel had similar knowledge.
He was not credible in his denials of knowing agency partner A or in his claimed failure to remember a telephone call between him and agency partner A.
No one is denying it, nor could they given the email trail.
The assistant football coach failed to report information to the compliance staff regarding potential NCAA violations related to the activities of agency partners A and B.
Tressel did this.
He also attested, falsely, that he had no knowledge of NCAA violations.
During the investigation that eventually led to OSU's five-game suspensions Tressel also did this.
His conduct impeded the institution from fulfilling its responsibilities under NCAA bylaws. His conduct also resulted in findings that he violated NCAA ethical conduct legislation by providing false and misleading information to the enforcement staff as described in Finding B-1-b and that he violated NCAA Bylaw 30.3.5 by signing a document attesting, falsely, that he had no knowledge of NCAA violations involving the institution.
Tressel also did this. The inescapable conclusion is Tressel will be hit with at least a one-year show-cause penalty, as McNair was.
Show-cause penalties are not all uniform, but McNair was totally prohibited from recruiting on- or off-campus—he was banned from so much as looking at teenagers who had put on shoulder pads—and had to attend a rules seminar. He wasn't totally banned, FWIW, and USC could have hypothetically kept employing him if they were in the business of carrying around RB coaches who couldn't recruit.
Show-cause penalties also don't necessarily mean the coach hit with one will be fired. Wikipedia helpfully points out the case of Rob Senderoff, one of Kelvin Sampson's assistants. Senderoff loved him some impermissible phone calls but by the time the NCAA hit him with a 30-month show-cause penalty he had already been hired at Kent State. Since he was already there KSU did not have to fire him; he's actually their head coach(!) after the current guy left for Bradley. If Tressel's penalty is analogous to McNair's OSU will probably suck it up and try to get through it.
Will it be? McNair's cover-up went on longer and featured a high-profile player but Tressel's eventually preserved the eligibility of six guys, not one, and if the COI is serious about "high profile compliance" being necessary for high profile violators the head coach of one of the most successful programs in the country brazenly flouting NCAA regulations is an acid test.
I won't venture a guess as to what the result of that test will be, but the next couple years will be time for Brady Hoke to make hay in Ohio.
RIP Jim Mandich. Jim Mandich passed away last night. As with Vada Murray I don't have any of my own memories about Mandich, so I'll just offer condolences to all who do. MVictors republished a post containing a Sam and Ira interview of Mandich from a couple years ago.
An eagle-eyed poster on the board noted that TE Brandon Moore just tweeted he'll be switching from 88 to 89 this fall. While that's just because he's playing special teams with Roh, if they could get Mike Jones to switch away from 27 they might be able to do something with those jerseys this fall.
The resounding chorus. Everywhere you turn these days there's a guy flogging NBA draft analysis telling Darius Morris to GTFO of the draft. Mike Rothstein flags down anonymous scouts:
“If somebody is in good academic standing and still needs to improve his game, which I think he is in both of those categories, then it only makes sense to come out if you’re going to be in the first round.
"I can't see him getting picked in the first round," one scout said. "He has a good feel, especially in transition, but there are still some issues with shooting [25.0 percent on threes] and athleticism that leave a lot to be desired."
Morris is on the first-round bubble. Most scouts believe he should return to Michigan for at least one more year.
Despite that, the vibe out there is Morris will enter the draft anyway, thus thoroughly depressing everyone. Ford does say he's "very much on the fence," for what it's worth. The deadline to withdraw is May 8th.
The definition of gamut. Ohio State fans have spent the last few days reacting to the widespread reaction to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations. Responses include:
Hey, wait a minute, nothing happened and everyone still talking about how terrible we are. Yes. This is something to get used to. It's going to happen at least twice more before anything is resolved. To be fair to the general alarm sent up earlier this week, the NOA came out at the same time the Dispatch's news side got FOIAs back that revealed a more extensive correspondence about the Cicero emails—we did learn some new stuff, and it was not new stuff helpful to Tressel or OSU.
Everyone does it. "In Big-Time College Football Nobody Is Innocent." This may be true. Michigan fans certainly said it during the Jihad, but in that case we had a lot of anonymous and non-anonymous coaches saying the same thing. Here not so much. Certainly there are degrees of innocence and Tressel appears to have lost all of them.
Meanwhile, an Eleven Warriors poll showed OSU fans split right down the middle:
One of those ESPN polls that people drag out when Idaho stands alone shows only Ohio believes Tressel should be retained but it's close: 60-40 in favor. This is kind of like when Michigan fans were 33% fire RR, 33% keep RR, 33% don't know. It's not a fun spot. This is fine by me—OSU fans have had vastly more than their fair share of fun since Tressel showed up.
The comfy chair. MVictors has his season ticket renewals in hand and relates you can now rent your seat cushion if you are fed up with the onerous task of carrying it into the stadium:
Just 32 dollars. Greg frets about what this will do the aesthetics of the empty stadium. I'm not sure it's a big deal but it will be awkward if people in the seats painted yellow hit these up. Maybe they have an inverted version for those?
I won't be partaking because the last three OSU games have featured our section not just standing but standing on the benches for the first quarter or so. That may be comfy but it's probably not great to stand on.
Further adventures in eking out marginal revenue. The Big Ten is considering changing their game times to noon, 3:30, and 7. If those seem like the current game times, they are, but that's like this "central" time zone thing:
If you're one of those Big Ten football fans who despised the frequent 11 a.m. starting times for games, take heart. They might be a thing of the past.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany reportedly is lobbying hard in negotiations with the television networks to do away with them. If Delany has his way, all Big Ten games next season will start at either noon, 3:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.
Big Ten noon games are now mostly in the hands of the BTN but it's hard to imagine ABC/ESPN moving their traditional 3:30 afternoon game to 4:30 just because some Iowans want to get drunk. Also this only furthers the conspiracy against fans who would like to see something, anything other than their game before the night games start. Also also that makes 4:30/7 games freakin' cold.
If the BTN wants to show games in the central time zone at 1 the only thing stopping them is their contract with ESPN, so fine. These days the average number of CST Big Ten 11 AM starts that show up anywhere else seems very small. I'm not sure why they have to mess with everyone else's start times to do that.