Mailbag: DL Moving, CHLPA, Hokepoints Exposed Comment Count

Brian August 30th, 2012 at 4:25 PM



I’m guessing you have received various emails about this subject, but I’m wondering if you are read anything into Coach Hoke’s comment in his 8/21 presser regarding BWC practicing at 3-tech? Do you think this is an issue of Campbell not producing at the 1, or is it Pipkins showing that he can play immediately? Is it more related to issues with Beyer (assuming Clark is out of the picture for the near future) or Black forcing a complete reshuffling of the line? Or am I completing overanalyzing as I haven’t seen an honest to goodness live Michigan football game in over 8 months? Is it best to seek therapy or self medicate with bourbon? Have I asked enough questions, or did you stop reading after the first 3?

My hope is that it is Pipkins practicing well and a realization among the coaches that he is a talent that needs to be on the field now. Hopefully this would take some pressure off of BWC, who I think most would agree is the key to D-line play this year.

Anyway, thanks for all your work, you truly provide both great writing and pertinent information for all levels of Michigan fans.


Here's the quote in question:

Well, we’ve been throwing Will a little bit more at the three-technique … Richard Ash and Quinton Washington and Ondre and Ryan Glasgow have been playing a lot of the one. We felt we needed to -- Jibreel’s going to be able to play the three. At times you’re going to need a little heavier package in there, bigger guy, and Will gives you that. So we’ve kind of been trying to get as multiple as we can.

I read that as a short-yardage/goal-line/MANBALL offense package. In those types of GRAARGH plays Black's size is proving a liability and they want a couple of fire hydrant types at those DT spots.

Pipkins may be forcing that move, but remember that one of the surprises of the spring game was Richard Ash popping up in the backfield to blow up running plays a few times:

Richard Ash made a couple nice plays, which I was not expecting. One was an excellent string-out on a stretch play that forced the tailback to awkwardly cut behind him. I was beyond not expecting that. I don't think John Gasaway will get on me if I say I was shocked. Yeah. Later he showed up two yards in the backfield directly in the path of an iso; he got blocked from the side but the bounce he forced saw Marvin Robinson chop poor Vincent Smith down for a one-yard loss.

It's not out of the question that he turns into a player—as a recruit he briefly had big time offers. He's got a chronic medical thing that has slowed him, but if he's finally rounded into shape he retains the body type to be a quality nose tackle.

A darker possibility: Black is not cutting it and Michigan is preparing a backup plan in case an Alabama lineman sits on him for the entirety of the first drive. Any and all of these are possibilities.

CHL union business.

Would this have any effect on the NCAA hockey schools in terms of making the CHL more or less attractive to prospects?  Further, whether the CHLPA succeeds or not, what kind of precedent could this set for NCAA athletes to do something similar?  It seems the CHLPA's argument for more pay, etc, is pretty similar to what NCAA athletes could claim. 

A semi-related question:  Would you be for the Big Ten breaking off from the NCAA in hockey and forming their own semi-pro league similar to what you have proposed for baseball?  I hate the NCAA, and Big Ten hockey is more competitive than Big Ten baseball, so I think they could actually make more money via BTN and other endeavors. 

Go Blue from Cairo,


If a CHL union does get off the ground and forces the owners to pay them a reasonable amount, that could do any number of things to the NCAA's efforts to recruit against them. More money obviously makes junior more attractive, but if the end result of all this is some sort of strictly-enforced cap on how much any particular kid could get that might help the NCAA with the top end kids. Even if there isn't a hard cap, CHL teams forced to pay third-liners some variety of wage would have less to spend on the Troubas Jack Campbells of the world.

Unless it's a lot of money I don't see it making a big difference. CHL kids are gambling that their hockey career will pay the bills; NCAA kids are betting the education they get is more valuable than whatever stipend they would get in junior.

I don't know what the NCAA's argument is re: the CHL, but they probably have a better leg to stand on because they're affiliated with nonprofit educational institutions instead of out-and-out businesses. IANAL.

About Big Ten breaking off in hockey: what? There are only six Big Ten teams, and going semi-pro only increases costs. Who would they play? Why would they make more money as semi-pro teams (more high profile players I guess, but I'm skeptical)? It only makes sense in baseball because NCAA baseball is stacked against Northern teams so insanely. Playing the first month of the season on the road and never ever getting a Southern team to come to your place is a handicap you just can't overcome. There are no similar problems in hockey, and it's tight-knit enough that Michigan has rivalries with North Dakota, BC, Notre Dame, and to a lesser extent others. I award you no points for this idea.

LOInjury. That's LOI, not LOL.

With all the early offers out there, this seems like it is a discussion worth prepping for. what happens if a commit who has not yet signed his LOi has a career ending injury prior to joining the team? Would UM honor the commitment somehow even if he cant play? Is that allowed by NCAA? Is there a track record of this? Formulate a response now and pray we never have to use it.


We'll get to see how Michigan responds to this next year when Austin Hatch does or does not join the basketball team. It seems like a pretty easy solution: sign the guy and medical him as fast as possible. If you have to carry the guy for a year, that doesn't seem like a huge burden—most of the time you're just throwing that scholarship to a walk-on anyway.

Pointing origins.

In his interview with Grantland, Coach Hoke revealed his music tastes. "To this day, those records are the ones I still listen to — Hall & Oates, early Stones, REO Speedwagon, Aerosmith. I love Hall & Oates. "Rich Girl" and "Sarah" can bring a tear to my eye."

It's now clear who Hoke learned his epic point from:



Coincidence? I think not.

Go Blue!


Jake, on the other hand, gets sixty-seven points.



August 30th, 2012 at 4:58 PM ^

Tate Forcier's Michigan offer letter is still online. It says that the offer is "contingent upon the satisfactory completion of your junior and senior years, both athletically and academically."

The word "athletically" in the above quote strongly suggests that the kid still needs to be able to play the sport, or the offer would no longer be valid. I am sure that Michigan and other schools are still using that same wording. I've never heard of a case at any school where a letter of intent was signed, and the athlete had already retired from the sport.

I can't imagine allocating a scholarship to someone who can't play.


August 30th, 2012 at 5:13 PM ^

In the post you said:    "I don't know what the NCAA's argument is re: the CHL, but they probably have a better leg to stand on because they're affiliated with nonprofit educational institutions instead of out-and-out businesses. IANAL."

What does IANAL stand for?  I cant figure it out and IIRC I've never seen it on the blog before.


August 30th, 2012 at 7:13 PM ^

I'm somewhat intrigued by playing Campbell at 3-tech.  I've always thought that he doesn't fit the mold of a nose tackle, and I said in 2010 that Quinton Washington was instantly a better NT (i.e. stouter and less likely to get moved off the ball) than Campbell was.  Obviously, that was two years ago and when Campbell was still out of shape, but Washington at NT and Campbell at 3-tech makes more sense for their skill sets.

Mr. Yost

August 31st, 2012 at 8:45 AM ^

It was all about Pipkins' progress or Ash's history of injuries.

Q's progress and Black's inability to play the 3-tech is the reason for the switch (that will be used from day 1). Maybe they go back to the old line against teams a little less stout/large/etc. on the OL...but for now it's Black-Q-BWC-Roh. Fine by me, we needed beef.


August 30th, 2012 at 7:29 PM ^

As to the CHL paying a stipend, it seems to me that the best solution is to allow CHL players to attend NCCA schools after completing three yrs of hockey with their club. How making fifty dollars a week makes you a pro is beyond reason. This way, they can play in the best development league in the world and then, at nineteen, attend a university program, on scholarship and get an education they can use. The CHL does offer to pay for this but only up to 18 months after you leave the league and not at all if you play professionally anywhere. Michigan for example, would get some outstanding players who have played big time hky, the level of which the NCAA can never offer, while entertaining its fans and giving the players a first rate education. Guess thats too simple.


August 30th, 2012 at 10:28 PM ^

The vast majority of CHL kids see themselves going pro somewhere at 19. The teams make serious money with 19 and 20 year olds and would not degrade their product to become a glorified NCAA feeder league.

A bit of perspective: In London 9 000+ fans attend twice a week starting tomorrow. The CHL is the pros already. None of that changing any time soon.

Blue in Yarmouth

August 31st, 2012 at 7:52 AM ^

that really doesn't change anything. There is no rule that says your age has anything to do with your eligibility. So what if the player starts university at 21 or 18? The point is they have already realized that a pro career isn't in the cards and are looking for an alternate plan. 

As a former CHL'er myself I can say that I would have gone to the NCAA in a heartbeat after playing my junior hockey. As it was I played at the univeristy I attended in Canada for the 4 years of my undergrad. The fact that the NCAA considers the stipend some sort of "pro salary" is beyond ridiculous and if they didn't, you would see a lot of CHLers head south to play in the NCAA once their junior days were over.


August 31st, 2012 at 10:11 AM ^

The reason the NCAA considers the CHL a "professional" league is not the stipend. 

The fact that there are players in the CHL who have received an NHL signing bonus, and possibly even played up to 10 games in the NHL, makes the entire league a "professional" league in the eyes of the NCAA. 

Also, if you look at the NHL transactions in the newspaper in September, it will say things like "Detroit Red Wings assigned Alan Quine to Peterborough (OHL)."  The NCAA sees that and determines that since NHL teams can assign players to the CHL, that makes the CHL leagues professional leagues.

Whether you agree or not, most people in NCAA hockey understandably prefer to keep major junior players ineligible.  The only dissenting voices you hear are generally from coaches at schools that don't have very high academic standards (I'm looking at you, Lake Superior State).


August 31st, 2012 at 11:02 AM ^

I'm certainly not defending it, but it's probably easier for the NCAA to just go on a league-by-league basis rather than a person-by-person basis.  There is also a history of this--the Olympic Committee, back when they cared about amateurism, had the same rules.

But really the reason that the CHL players are ineligible is that it would be a bad idea from the NCAA's perspective to allow CHL players.  It is more likely to reduce their acttual talent pool than increase it.  Think about it:  let's say that there is a good hockey player in the Detroit suburbs, playing for Compuware, and he is drafted by the Owen Sound Attack when he is 15, but he also verbally commits to Michigan that same year.  At 16, Owen Sound asks him to play for their team, and the USNTDP asks him to play on the U17 team in Ann Arbor. 

Right now, this individual would have to make a choice:  go to the U17 USNTDP team and keep college eligibility, or go to Owen Sound and lose any chance of playing in college.  Many kids like this choose the CHL, of course, but most still choose to maintain college eligibility.

Now let's say that the NCAA has eliminated their eligibility rules about CHL players.  This kid is now much more likely to go to the CHL to play.  The CHL team is likely to steer him to high school classes that would pose problems for the NCAA academic clearing house, and is also more likely to try some other tricks (including under-the-table "bonus" payments) to keep him in the CHL until he turns 20.  Once he turns 20, he is either good enough to play in the NHL or AHL, in which case he goes there, or he is no longer a pro prospect, in which case he would go to an NCAA school if he still can. 

In the end, it's seems like this hypothetical kid is more likely to end up at Michigan if CHL players are ineligible in the NCAA than if they are eligible.  Making CHL players eligible would also reduce the quality of players in the NCAA, by making it a league of NHL/AHL rejects.

Blue in Yarmouth

August 31st, 2012 at 12:34 PM ^

except that last part about the NCAA being a league of NHL/AHL rejects if it were allowed. Actually, I'm not denying that it would only be the NHL/AHL rejects that would go to the NCAA (obviously that is what would happen), but I don't think it would diminish the NCAA product in doing so. Probably 90% (if not more) of the NCAA players under the current rules will be rejected by the NHL/AHL anyway, so allowing others at the age of 20 who don't make the league to come play when they are finished wouldn't take away from the product the NCAA puts on the ice.

I do agee that it would make it more of the elite players would leave and play in the CHL initially perhaps, but again, a lot of them are doing that now so I don't see it being that big a deal. This way though, when they don't make it to the league (which the vast majority won't) they can return and play college hockey when it is over.

I suppose my stance is mostly based on sour grapes than anything else because as I said, I would have rather finished my playing days in the NCAA than here in Canada. For junior aged players the CHL is the place to be (IMHE) but for University hockey you can't beat the NCAA.


August 31st, 2012 at 12:50 PM ^

Except the 90 percent number.  Sure, if you take leagues at the AHA level you are right, but the typical Memorial Cup will have as many future NHL players and as many future AHL players as the typical Frozen Four.  The numbers are about 1/3 each (1/3 NHL players, 1/3 AHL/ECHL players, 1/3 sub-ECHL players) for Frozen Four participants and Memorial Cup participants.  I did the research several years ago and regretfully don't have the exact numbers, but it was very close.  Of course, there is a smaller spread in quality between the top & bottom of the CHL than there is in the NCAA, but the teams at the top have about the same number of pro prospects.  Look at Michigan:  a lot more than 2 out of the 20 players on a given Michigan team will play in the NHL or AHL:  it is more like 10 out of 20 who will play in one of those leagues for at least a year or two.

By allowing CHL players to move to the NCAA, the NCAA hockey product will move closer to what we see in the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport):  maybe competitive with the AHA or even the ECAC, but not at all competitive with the top-level NCAA hockey conferences today.  Because really, at that point there wouldn't be any difference between the NCAA and the CIS.