Unverified Voracity Catches Up With Kelly Baraka. Yes, Again.

Submitted by Brian on April 7th, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Baraka Obama-a. Remember Kelly Baraka? Unless you're an old-school M recruitnik probably not. If you don't: he was supposed to  be a total ninja RB before a number of high school pot arrests saw him lose his shot at an M scholarship. He never made it anywhere else and has regularly featured in "where are they now?" features end up with the Kalamazoo Xplosion, a minor league football team. Not that you needed me to tell you that with a name like "Xplosion."

Yeah… anyway. About that ninja bit:

LeGarrette Blount ain't got nothing on Kelly Baraka.

Video revamp. Inside Michigan Football sans browser-crippling software:

Schilling's beard is a confidence-building one.

Slings and arrows. The Mathlete takes a look at luck over the past two years in the Big Ten and nationally, re-running last season based on performance-adjusted PPG metrics and slicing out some of the huge swings from random plays like fumbles (he leaves in interceptions). Unsurprisingly, Michigan hasn't been on the kind end of things:


I had some questions about whether this "luck" factor was really luck, but there doesn't appear to be any correlation between excellent teams and good fortune. OSU and Penn State average out to be basically even. Iowa nets out around –2. Michigan State's 9-3 2008 team was the second most-fortunate in the country that year, something that checks out in the statistics. It passes a cursory sanity check.

So, then: Northwestern is your official Big Ten lucksack with Minnesota a distant second. If I'm reading the graph right, the Wildcats have been the luckiest team in the country two years running. The negative outlier for 2009—that dot sitting right at –3.0 on the y axis—is Oklahoma, by the way. Not that you needed to be told that a seven-win Stoops outfit suffered its share of outrageous fortune even beyond the Bradford injury.

One stop scouting. The NTDP moved to the USHL this year, which the NHL scouting community loves. Previously, the development team had puttered along in the NAHL, in which draftable prospects are few and far between. Now they're in the USA's premiere junior league and scouts are going "eeee":

"The whole design of the program has given us the selfish benefactor of comparing the Under-18 team on one weekend against the University of Michigan and older players, and then watching them against their group peers the following weekend. But because this is such a select team, an elite team, we think that the elite 18-year-olds should be able to compete against the 21- and 22-year-olds who were not selected in the draft. Those players are older and more savvy but for some reason were passed over."

This should help the NTDP hold on to some of the elite Americans they've lost in recent years. (Example: Stefan Matteau, son of longtime NHLer Stephane Matteau, has accepted a slot according to Michigan Hockey Net.) The 2011 NTDP is a relatively motley bunch. Michigan hasn't recruited anyone from it, a rarity these days. That will change for 2012, as Michigan will have at least two on next years U17s. Boo Nieves is a holy lock for the team and Heisenberg says Connor Carrick has already accepted an invite.

Anything that helps the USHL get on even footing with major junior—something that point equivalencies and NHL alumni suggest is in the process of happening—is good for college hockey.

More Brandon panting. David Brandon loves America:

“Expanding the tournament, I believe is a bad idea … there are certain things that if they are not broke, don’t try to fix ‘em. If there is a better, more outstanding platform out there than the NCAA Final Four and basketball tournament, you have to tell me what that is.”

Not that this matters as the 96-team tournament becomes a foregone conclusion. I can't wait for that 9-24 matchup that will determine who has the right to face at eight seed. Guh.

While I'm on Brandon, contrast Michigan's hiring process with the fiasco that went down in Eugene after Mike Bellotti was presented a $2.3 million going-away present after accepting a job with ESPN:

[Oregon president Richard] Lariviere made two things clear: that he initiated the change in leadership and that university officials made missteps in dealing with Bellotti’s contract that no longer will be tolerated.

“This institution did not follow acceptable business practices in the past,” Lariviere said. “That will not be repeated by my administration.”

Makes the hundred grand or whatever Michigan spent vetting candidates seem like the chump change it is.

Lariviere fired Bellotti because of an "increasing need for strong financial and business management"; the ESPN job was a late development that seemed to allow all parties to save face. (Then it blew up in their face, but it was a nice try.) The trend in athletic directors is clear: CEO types.

Walk it back. Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick has read enough livid emails about Notre Dame's national cachet and the potential damage to Catholicism that would result from Our Lady joining up with those secular hooligans and is now changing tack on Notre Dame's role in Big Ten expansion:

That, Swarbrick insists now, was not a signal that Notre Dame is more open to finding a home for football in the Big Ten or any other league.

"The only things that could make it happen are the sorts of radical change in the industry that would cause upheaval and impact a lot more (schools) than Notre Dame," he says. "You wind up with only three conferences. You wind up with two tiers of conferences. Now, all of a sudden, it's not three divisions in college; it's four. It's the big change.

"I don't see that happening."

Please reduce your ND-to-B10 DEFCON to 85. Swarbrick adds:

"I really do believe strongly that we're sort of uniquely positioned to continue to chart our own course."

Sort of uniquely positioned? DEFCON back to 84!

In other Big Ten expansion news, Barnhardt writes about a 16 team Big Ten, spurring another round of PANIC duly shot down by DocSat, resurrected by the St Louis Post-Dispatch and OSU athletic director Gene Smith:

"I believe that if we expand, you probably ought to look at more than (just adding a 12th school)," Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith said.

Stressing that was his opinion and may not be shared by some colleagues, Smith added that he believed the impact "would be pretty massive."

A sixteen team Big Ten is stupid. I complained earlier that an expansion to 14 would see Michigan play Penn State 29% of the time; going to 16 would drop that to 12% (eight conference games) or 25% (nine). That's not a conference any more. The only way it could work would be to adopt promotion and relegation. Whenever I bring this up people point out that the radical swings in team quality characteristic of college football could doom very good teams to irrelevance, and they're right. But it makes more sense than pretending to be in a conference with a team you play once every eight years.

If you're going to expand like that, I think 15 is the number. My completely bats proposal for a 14-team Big Ten is mathematically unworkable, but if you add a 15th team you can break the conference into three divisions of five that play each other and two (or possibly three) opponents in each of the other divisions, and then you can have relegation/promotion crazytimes at the end of the season. This will never, ever happen.

I'm hoping this is all a game of chicken to convince Notre Dame to sign on the dotted line. Expansion of the Big Ten past twelve teams is an idea on par with a 96 team NCAA tournament.

Reviews of a mixed variety. Local scouting service "Best of the Best" returns from the MSHAA playoffs with impressions of a number of players, three of them relevant to your interests. Isaiah Sykes:

He doesn't have a jump shot to save his life, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better finisher and slasher in the 2010 class statewide. Also drop dimes like a 5'9 PG. Terrific rebounder, and is great at getting the defensive board and starting the fast break and making something positive happen with the basketball. High majors are recruiting him, and it's warranted, would be a good late pick up for any up-tempo college team.

Carlton Brundidge:

He's already committed to Michigan, but I don't know if he'll be successful in that system. In order to succeed at the highest level, picking the right system will be a absolute necessity for him. At the end of the day, he's a SG, and that's the bottom line. He produces and gets the job done, at that's what every team needs. He's a very good finisher for his size at the high school level and he can score in bunches when he gets rolling. All in all, his upside is limited in my opinion.

Decidedly negative, that. Hopefully he can develop a jumper over the next year and a half. Finally, Amir Williams:

A defensive phenom no matter the game because of his length, size, and timing, his effect on the game will be felt no matter what. He is also a hungry rebounder, who attacks the glass. Those are two big positives that you'd like every big man to have in their game, once the offensive part of his game becomes more consistent, we could be looking at another McDonald's All American out of the Country Day program.

Etc.: Rich Rodriguez's most recent presser in youtube form: part one, and part two. TSB unbreaks One Shining Moment. Dienhart surveys the explosion in assistant coaches' salaries.



April 7th, 2010 at 1:15 PM ^

Actually, I am looking forward to that 9 vs 24 game. There will be plenty of compelling games.

i think the angst is overblown and once we see it action most folks will forget they thought this was the death of American sports.


April 7th, 2010 at 8:49 PM ^

there will be compelling games. The outside of the bracket will essentially be like a 9 vs. 16 game, and the inside of the bracket will be like an opening-day Big East or Big Ten tournament game.

Where I expect problems is in the first round (assuming 96 to 64 is still called an opening round). You'll either have fewer first-round upsets (both from sub-16 seeds winning in the opening round and from whoever wins playing on one day's rest against a team playing on quite a bit more) or a yawning gap between the opening round and the first round.

It isn't like the last expansion, where the schedule was pretty much set for the additional games, the extra teams fit very nicely into the existing bracket, and there were, in theory, a few pretty decent at-large teams not getting into the field. This is pretty much a handful of teams who just didn't get the job done plus a truckload of teams who have no business in the tournament anyway.

woo mediocrity!


April 8th, 2010 at 8:55 AM ^

until some of those outside teams that would not have made it under the old system move deep into the middle to late brackets, people like me will be down on it. Between teams that got hot late and mid-majors, there will be some worthy additions. And having it be a play-in for the "real" tourney partly salvages it. But I'm still not feeling it. Instead of the excitement of opening day people like me will simply peek at the scores to see who's moving on.

P.S. Why are you guys getting neg-banged?


April 7th, 2010 at 1:44 PM ^

is that if U of M took only one of them that it would leave two scholarships left for 2011, but one of those is already taken by Brundidge...There's a debate (not that Beilein cares about the opinions of we interneters) as to whether Michigan should take Sykes and Zeigler if they can, or leave a scholarship open for next year.


April 7th, 2010 at 1:36 PM ^

I don't think Michigan should take him if Zeigler goes Blue, b/c I think they should bank the scholarship for next year so that have a shot at Plumlee or Williams, but he is a nice player. Having watched is videos, he's a really good passer. A lot of guys get credit for b.s. assists in high school but he's the real deal. He could be a guy who penetrated and then kicked out to the shooters who are already on the team/committed.

VaBeach Wolverine

April 7th, 2010 at 2:18 PM ^

M was looking at both Kelly Baraka and Greg Jennings from Kalamazoo that year, they decided to go with Baraka. I suppose you could ask Green Bay Packers fans how that one worked out.


April 7th, 2010 at 2:21 PM ^

Notre Dame is nothing without the Big 10 as it is. If Big 10 teams agreed to stop scheduling them, it would be the Irish playing USC, Pitt and the Service Academies.

They won't join the Big 10 because they don't have to. If Big 10 teams stop scheduling them, let's see how awesome that "cahrted course" is.



April 7th, 2010 at 3:12 PM ^

Just as long as it doesn't happen next year for UM's first home night game, right?

don't look now but Wisconsin is trying to schedule ND for 2012, I wonder if they will go all guerilla style on Purdue again to make room?


April 7th, 2010 at 2:31 PM ^

i love reading all of the articles on mgoblog every day, but there's something about seeing "Unverified Voracity" in the title that just gets me giddy


April 7th, 2010 at 2:36 PM ^

Technical question for computer folks out there:
Why does Mgoblue run its videos on its current system, which, as Brian notes, cripples the Internets, when if the same video is loaded onto Youtube, nothing breaks?

I have what I believe to be a fast computer and Internet service but basically cannot watch Mgoblue. So I now just wait for the kind souls out there who put the mgoblue videos up on Youtube. Why doesn't mgoblue have its videos in a more user-friendly format?


April 7th, 2010 at 2:51 PM ^

Money, in all likelihood. CBS College Sports All-Access presented a sweet deal to the Michigan athletic department to host all multimedia features, and Microsoft made a sweet deal to CBS to put all of their applications on Silverlight instead of something that actually works for most users.

Blue In NC

April 7th, 2010 at 5:23 PM ^

I remember Tom Brady being "just another good but not outstanding pro-style QB out of CAL." I was more excited when they signed Todd Collins (although he turned out to be very good as well).

I remember when they signed Ty Wheatley and David Bowens was a big deal as well (very good player that unfortunately transferred). Wow, that does not seem that long ago until I start putting dates to it.

Ty Butterfield

April 8th, 2010 at 9:11 AM ^

I remember Baraka because I live in Kalamazoo and Baraka went to high school in Portage. Of course he got a lot of local press and I was excited about the prospect of seeing a local kid tear it up for Michigan. It is too bad it didn't work out. I still live in Kalamazoo and remember the short lived Kalamazoo Xplosion. I hope Baraka can have success fighting and stay clear of the drugs.


April 7th, 2010 at 3:43 PM ^

Jennings would have been a huge pickup. I remember when Kelly got caught smoking weed at the Meijers parking lot, his mom was my spanish teacher in high school, what a whack job she was


April 7th, 2010 at 4:30 PM ^

Yup, it sure is sweet when you radically cut back the number of people actually watching your product.

Sometimes sweet deals are stupid deals.


April 7th, 2010 at 4:39 PM ^

I ran against Kelly Baraka in the 100m and 200m in my junior year of high school. There were people who had speed and then there was Kelly Baraka. I'm 75% sure when he finished I heard "Excellent" in a deep Mortal Kombat-ish voice.

Blue boy johnson

April 7th, 2010 at 4:52 PM ^

Holy cow, haven't seen a right hand KO like that since Rocky Marciano vs Jersey Joe Walcott.

Never heard of Best of the Best recruiting, but I think they are spot on with their evaluations of Sykes, Brundidge and Williams.


April 8th, 2010 at 8:30 AM ^

I think that Baraka did in fact get to campus and Carr kicked him off the team. He was the country's #1 running back prospect that year, if I remember. We could have really used him too.


April 8th, 2010 at 10:55 AM ^

Classic case of 3 strikes and you're out. Got caught the 1st time his senior year in high school...kept his scholarship. Got caught the 2nd time either at orientation or when he came to campus for fall camp...was put on probation by Lloyd and suffered through months of 6AM stairs at the big house w/o practicing w/ the team. Got caught the 3rd time just after Winter Semester his freshman year...Lloyd said see ya.

He was a great kid, very polite. He busted his ass while not practicing his freshman year and hit the weight room hard. He actually was slated as the starter for Fall 2002 coming out of spring practice. If you remember, this is when Chris Perry seriously considered transferring (as he was being overtaken by a frosh who hadn't even played). Baraka also was clocked in the 4.3s that year and was the fastest player on the team.

I remember hearing from another team manager who was working for the team over the summer that he had just got done cleaning out Baraka's locker. Was a very sad day...