Mailbag! Jaunty Style!

Submitted by Brian on May 6th, 2010 at 12:52 PM

always look on the bright side of life

Should we be depressed watching this draft seeing very limited Michigan players taken?  I mean I know we haven't been a good football team lately, but I look at a guy like Donavan Warren.  Couldn't SOMEBODY have told him he wasn't ready for the pros?  Unless I'm way wrong and he is ready?  I just wanted to get your thoughts on when it makes sense for a junior to declare early.  It seems to me that if you aren't a lock in the first 3 rounds, it's just not worth it.  I could be wrong on this, that's why I'm asking your opinion on it.

Thanks man,

Chris: if you are surveying the recent history of Michigan football and deciding that this year's NFL draft is the reason to be depressed, you are the modern day equivalent of one of those guys on the cross singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

As far as Warren goes, I touched on it briefly when Mark Carrier went to the well and declared the Michigan Warren signed up for "wasn't there anymore," but to expand on it: there were a lot of different factors that went into Warren's unwise decision to declare. Conventional wisdom held that Warren was looking at three years and out from the moment he stepped on campus. All the coaches he signed up to play for were broomed. Then he got a mid-round-at-worst grade from the NFL Advisory Committee—basically a "lock for the first three rounds." His decision was an expected outcome. The unexpected bit was not getting drafted.

FWIW, when all this was going down I did get the impression that Rodriguez thought Warren was not ready for the pros:

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said in a radio interview Monday he wishes cornerback Donovan Warren would have got more information before declaring for the NFL draft.

"I probably would have preferred to wait until I get the NFL advisory committee information back, which I have not gotten back yet," Rodriguez said on WDFN 1130-AM. "I don’t know if he talked to enough people yet or not, but he feels he has. I kind of wish he got a little bit more information so he would have been sure before he made his declaration."

He took off anyway. It happens from time to time—remember Shantee Orr?—but less frequently when you haven been placed in a situation someone else chose for you.


I had a discussion w/ Jon Chait about the 2 QB system. I personally feel that it is a bad idea but I don't necessarily always agree with the platitudes spun on ESPN ("if you have 2 QBs it means you have none"). Is there any evidence of a 2 QB system really being bad? Jon brought up the Leak/Tebow duo and the 1982 Miami Dolphins. Certainly 2 teams in 25 years is not much of a success rate but I was hoping you or Mathelete might have some more detailed data.


Dan Rontal

I could probably dig up some evidence that two QB systems are less effective than your average one QB system but that's a lot of effort to state something logically obvious: the chances of having one excellent quarterback are low. The chances of having two are vanishingly small. Therefore, playing two quarterbacks means you do not have an excellent quarterback. QED.

HOWEVA, this assumes that quarterback excellence comes in one shape, something that was 100% true for the duration of the Carr regime. The shape was a 6'5" fixed artillery piece 50% as white as We Are ND.

that's really, really white

When Carr experimented with his Henson-Brady platoon, that was something he'd promised Henson to prevent him from signing an enormous baseball contract. Even that petered out as Michigan began to realize what it had in Tom Brady. They were running the same stuff with both, so it made no sense to go with the guy who wasn't a crazy accurate cold-blooded senior.

The situation in 2010 is a lot closer to Leak/Tebow (minus the hellacious defense) than Brady/Henson. Michigan's two quarterbacks are radically different players. In that case it makes sense to use them in different situations. On third and one, Denard is a better option. On third and fifteen, Tate is. On first and ten it will depend on who the opponent is and how the quarterbacks are playing that day.

I have a feeling that by midseason it will be clear one or the other is the starter, but I also think both QBs will see snaps in every game this year.

Hi Brian-

I was wondering if you could help me understand something.  How does this deal between ESPN and SEC affect the amount of Big 10 games that are televised on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2?  In terms of football, is the SEC really getting that much more coverage on ESPN compared to the Big 10 on Saturdays (the Big 10 doesn't really play games any other day of the week too often)?

Up until now, I have been able to watch tons of Big 10 games on these channels (I live in Boston), but now I am afraid that they are going to be playing more SEC games and I will only get the 1 game at a time I get on the Big 10 Network.  Everything I read makes it sound like ESPN bought the broadcasting rights to all these SEC football games and other athletic events and that they will be dominating the ESPN airwaves, but if it started last fall (2009), I sure didn't notice a difference because they still played pretty much every Big 10 game not on the Big 10 Network (Indiana vs. Minnesota aside).

Any ways, just wondering if you have any insight on this.

The SEC deal has no impact on the Big Ten/ABC contract. ABC always gets first choice of Big Ten games every weekend, then ESPN, ESPN 2, and the BTN have a complicated system in which they alternate the second pick. The BTN gets two or three opportunities to go second—which is how they scooped up the M-MSU game in year two of the network, causing mass panic at the prospect it might not be on television in the state.

In fact, the much-hyped SEC deal is now coming in for local criticism because MLS and women's basketball have more pull than SEC gymnastics. The net effect has been to move the crappy SEC games from Raycom syndication (the ironically beloved "three Daves" setup) to the obscurer reaches of the ESPN dial (U and Classic). Since Big Ten games were never played on those networks, the impact on the conference is nil. I don't think the SEC pact actually does much of anything for the league other than fill their pockets: ESPN isn't going to stop televising good Pac 10/ACC/Big 12 games.

The Big Ten's ABC/ESPN deal is even better than the SEC deal in one critical respect: it mandates that any regional broadcast is "reverse mirrored" on another channel. End result:

The Boilermakers appeared on National or National/Regional Television for every game (12) [ed: thanks for the game count protip, marketing droid!] during the 2009 season. Boiler Up!

11:20 AM May 5th via web

That's really cool for Purdue. It is also true for every Big Ten team, even Indiana. There is no such thing as a Big Ten football game you cannot get nationally. The genius of the Big Ten network is matched by the genius of the reverse mirror. Whoever got that inserted into the Big Ten TV contract earns his keep.

BONUS: how huge is the ESPN/SEC contract going to look in 15 years? Not very huge. The Big Ten is already matching or exceeding it and their deal with FOX includes profit-sharing that has already kicked in. When not speaking publicly, Jim Delany is a ninja.

It seems to me that if we are going to poach from the Big 12 -- it makes the most sense to make a play for Texas as taking 2 teams from the conference makes its demise all but certain and could push Texas into the SEC or Pac-10.
If we are going to be Machiavellian a la Notre Dame, it makes no sense to pursue two decent Big 12 schools when doing so pushes the crown jewel (athletically, academically, and demographically) into a rival camp.  Thoughts?
Relatedly, what is the basis for the comments that the TX legislature would only permit that if the Big 10 took A&M too? 
Thanks for humoring me.
-Name Withheld

Daddy, would you like some sausages?


I don't know what the basis for the TX legislature road block meme is Austin seem like the active sort and I buy it. Besides, A&M is a fine school in its own right.

Anyway: I'm with you. It's been universally agreed that Texas is the biggest fish in the pond. The problem with Texas is that it's geographically isolated from the Big Ten and beholden to a state legislature that somehow finagled perpetually useless Baylor into the Big 12. They've got power and they're nosy enough to use it.

But if this 16-team Big Ten is actually going to transpire, is that relevant? If the Big Ten grabs five teams they can lop off Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma in one enormous western surge. Big Ten Manifest Destiny seriously reduces the geographic implausibility and provides the Big Ten the most sheer intimidation possible. If we're putting the Big Cthulhu on the table, I don't see why the Big East has to be involved at all, or Notre Dame for that matter. It makes more sense to dismember one conference in its entirety.

I know that Oklahoma's academic standing has been widely declared a nonstarter for the Big Ten's ivory tower types. If that's the case, grabbing Colorado or Kansas has almost the same effect—Texas tentacles—with considerably less chewing tobacco at conference meetings.


Exactly what happens between now and August?  I really mean EXACTLY, not just "they do some conditioning and stuff".  Someone out there (football coaches or maybe former players) must know the answer.

Thank you,

Marc 71

I can't give you an all-caps EXACT answer, but I did ping Tyler Sellhorn for a moderately detailed one. Without further ado:

Dear Brian,

While school is still in session, the program can require attendance at conditioning.  When school lets out the players voluntarily submit themselves to The Church of Barwis, take 4-6 credit hours of summer school (so that most players, i.e. general studies majors, can take a minimum full-time courseload during the year and still be on track to graduate), most student-athletes will spend a week at home, and then Fall camp starts in August.  Also, the quarterbacks and defensive leaders are usually encouraged to organize skeleton passing sessions as well, but as we know too well now, coaches are not permitted to even witness said seven-on-seven sessions.

That is not an exactly, but a general overview that should answer less curious minds than Marc71.

God Bless,
Tyler Sellhorn

Thanks to Mr. Sellhorn.



May 6th, 2010 at 1:38 PM ^

Unless something changed this year, I think there is one exception to the rule that "There is no such thing as a Big Ten football game you cannot get nationally."  I do not believe ABC is required to "reverse mirror" any prime time (8pm) Big Ten matchup that receives regional coverage on ESPN2.  In fact, I seem to remember this adversely affecting Michigan State fans in Chicago last year or the year prior.  I may be mistaken. 


May 6th, 2010 at 1:45 PM ^

It is kind of sad that the bronzed four horsemen statue is the closest that Notre Dame video gets to having people of color in it.


May 6th, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

Just a small nitpick on the answer to the television question... there is no guarantee that non-conference road games will be on national TV.  Usually they are, but not always.  Last season, I believe the Northwestern at Syracuse game was on (which I suppose is national... though I'm not sure I count interwebs coverage as television coverage, even if it has made great strides lately).  Also, a couple seasons ago, Ohio State played "at" Toledo (the game was in Cleveland)... television was only available regionally via the MAC's syndication network (I also believe this game was not available in HD).

Twisted Martini

May 6th, 2010 at 1:50 PM ^

I haven't heard that scenario before, and I love it.  Piss on the Big East and ND, can you imagine roadies to Norman, Lincoln, College Station and Austin?  Giggity!


May 6th, 2010 at 1:59 PM ^

OSU didn't have a lot of players drafted, so they're bringing a lot of people back, so people think they'll be good.  We didn't have a lot of players drafted, so we're bringing a lot of people back, sooooo.....


May 6th, 2010 at 2:08 PM ^

I don't know what the basis for the TX legislature road block meme is Austin seem like the active sort and I buy it. Besides, A&M is a fine school in its own right.

It goes back to the formation of the Big 12. Baylor wasn't originally supposed to be part of the Big 12 but then Governor Ann Richards would have none of it. She was a Baylor alum and wasn't going to let them be left out in the cold.  She threatened to cut funding to UT and A&M if they didn't take Baylor with them.


So it's completely not beyond the Texas government to pull a stunt like that.  Add in now that current Governor Rick Perry is a big A&M guy and he's not going to let A&M get stuck out in the cold.  I don't know if that translates to UT and A&M having to go together but A&M will likely need a soft landing place before Texas is allowed to go anywhere.


Or at least this is how all the rumor and innuendo play it out.


May 6th, 2010 at 5:04 PM ^

has probably been linked from here and as such is old hat to those of us obsessed with the idea that the Big Ten is here to wreck other conferences and chew gum, but nonetheless ...

The thought process is that if the Big Ten said to Texas alone, "Hey, if you would like to ask, you're in as the 12th team," the Texas congresspeople representing the areas with other Big 12 schools would see a big ship sailing without them and would try to screw Austin as much as possible. If the Big Ten were to invite UT and A&M, and if emphasis were placed on the ability for those schools to work closely with other Big Ten schools (say, research money to help UT hospitals throughout Texas), it would be easier to position as a win for the whole state rather than only those in orange.

Of course I have only seen it on the interwebs, so it may be as valid as "Missouri is coming to the Big Ten RIGHT NOW." But at least the part about Baylor is true, so there is something of a precedent.


May 6th, 2010 at 2:07 PM ^

but I can't do anything other than giggle every time I see that ND video.       xD

It boggles the mind to think how many people that must have passed through in order to be made. I can't believe 1 person thought it was a good idea, let alone the masses necessary to carry out that piece of musical genius.


May 6th, 2010 at 2:08 PM ^

Agreed about the awesomeness of the Big Ten's deal with ESPN. I live in CA and was able to watch every single Michigan game live without having to subscribe to an expensive package (aside from BTN, which is only $5/mo) or Slingbox them from family in Ann Arbor.

When it comes to dolars and cents, Jim Delaney is indeed a ninja.


May 6th, 2010 at 2:49 PM ^

1) is frank murphy your real name? i don't find any notable frank murphys on the googles

2) i was trying to think of something better than a ninja, like something that could kill a ninja, to trump the delaney - ninja idea.  i realize, the only thing that can kill a ninja, is a ninja committing seppuku, which does happen.  i think it is impossible for two ninajs to fight each other, and if they did, our eyes would not be capable of seeing it.


May 6th, 2010 at 2:19 PM ^

Could someone explain why Texas would ever even consider leaving a conference that they dominate economically to join a conference that splits revenue evenly amongst its schools, that is centered around a region in which they don't actively recruit, and that is comprised of schools with which they have no traditional or regional rivalries?


May 6th, 2010 at 3:49 PM ^

...but that's exactly the point; the way the Big XII is currently set up, Texas gets a disproportionate take of TV revenues and bowl payouts. In the Big Ten, everyone gets an equal share. So why would Texas ever leave the Big XII for the Big Ten?


May 6th, 2010 at 2:55 PM ^

Not just because Forcier and Robinson are better suited to different situations, but because it will create such a headache for opposing DCs. For example, if it's obvious by the end of the first quarter that the opponent has prepared mostly for Robinson, we could put them at a disadvantage by giving Forcier most of the remaining snaps.


May 6th, 2010 at 3:36 PM ^

If Texas is legitimately on the table, the Big 10 needs to do everything in its power to pick them up.  If that includes cutting a massive swath through the Plain states and picking up OK, Nebraska, and A&M, then so be it.  Plus, anything that makes ND look stupid works for me.


May 6th, 2010 at 5:14 PM ^

especially if, five years after the expansion goes through, the list of schools making more TV money than Notre Dame includes not only Indiana and Northwestern but also, say, Missouri.

I think the Big Ten should be checking out Texas regardless of whether or not they're on the table ... do what they can to make a huge change, but end up doing what's best for the conference.


May 6th, 2010 at 5:58 PM ^

There are a lot of problems with a "manifest destiny" westward push for Texas.  First, Texas' main rivarly is with Oklahoma.  You can't just ignore that fact.  Also, the academic standing of Nebraska must be placed into question as well.  What is more, completely destroying a conference is most likely with the Big East.  They have nowhere else to turn if 2 teams are taken away.  The Big 12 can always turn to TCU, SMU, Rice, Utah and BYU. 

I don't particuarily like expansion because I think there's a serious possiblity that Notre Dame is going to suffer a precipitous fall (esp. if Kelly fails).  We all assume the money will be there with them, but I don't think we should be so sure of that. 


May 6th, 2010 at 6:43 PM ^

The indication in the mailbag is that the letter from name withheld is Delaney. 

Don't know if I'm misreading that. 
Wouldn't that be THE AWESOME that Delaney is sitting at his computer compulsively reading mgoblog just like the rest of us, reading hundreds of comments daily to flesh out his knowledge of all things M?


May 7th, 2010 at 11:04 AM ^

Are there restrictions on the facilities the players can use in the summer or do they have exclusive and free rein over the Glick and/or the Oosterbahn?  Also, can enthusiasts go sit and watch them do whatever they do at those facilities?


May 7th, 2010 at 3:34 PM ^

While I agree getting Texas would be awesome, it just doesn't make much sense to me.  It would be way to weird for a southern team to be in the Big Ten.