Unverified Voracity, Concerned

Submitted by Brian on June 28th, 2011 at 12:40 PM

austin-hatchHi. I'm back.

Because I am a modern person there is always time to catch up with twitter when the photographer doesn't need you, so on Saturday I periodically felt awful for Austin Hatch after his life endured a plot twist Lars Von Trier would have rejected as gratuitous. Words fail me in these instances; I'm not supposed to say the one thing everyone else says but here there's not another option.

So… yeah. There is a Caring Bridge site up for Hatch if you'd like to sign his guestbook. If you are the praying sort he's a great target. Michigan is reportedly working with the NCAA to provide whatever help they can. In the past the NCAA has allowed people like Ray Ray McElrathbey to get some help as he took care of his brother, so hopefully they'll allow a fund for Hatch. If that gets set up you will of course be informed.

This was inevitable. When Michigan took a grayshirt commitment from Kentucky safety Jeremy Clark it was inevitable an SEC partisan would take a swing at Michigan for doing so. The inevitable has transpired, so the inevitable defense must as well.

The whole grayshirting issue got dragged into the oversigning conversation because of Bernie Machen and Les Miles's "surprise, you have to move out of the dorm" hijinks with Elliot Porter. The former blasted grayshirting in a slightly confused editorial; the latter was a focus of the Outside The Lines piece that bombed LSU for its practices. It's never been a focus of the internet zealots except insofar as it's a symptom of the larger issue.

Clark knows what the deal is and still finds the grayshirt offer from Michigan preferable to his other options. There's nothing wrong with a mutually agreed-upon grayshirt whether its in the SEC or Big Ten.

Meanwhile in the land of excellent public relations. Ohio State wide receiver James Jackson has become Wayne State wide receiver James Jackson and isn't happy about it:

"They had an oversigning issue," Jackson said. "They had to free up a few scholarships, and coach (Jim) Tressel told me I probably wouldn't play and maybe Ohio State wasn't the place for me."

This quote could not be better designed for SEC fans tired of Oversigning.com, but it's a strange one. If that's the conversation he had and Gene Smith is telling the truth (yeah, yeah, I know) when he says this…

"Our policy is as James Jackson stated: As long as a student-athlete maintains his/her academic standing, behaves appropriately and handles his/her responsibilities, he or she will retain their scholarship. We have no proof of any conversation between he and former head coach Jim Tressel," he said in a statement to The Associated Press.

…then the rest of the article's focus on Jackson's misconception that he had a four-year scholarship is misplaced. What policy did Jackson state? It seems like an important quote related to Smith was omitted from the article.

From the context it seems like Jackson said he could have stayed if he was willing to give up playing time, but then why would he say this bit at the end:

"My main goal coming out of high school was to get a degree from a Division I program," said Jackson, who now attends Wayne State, a Division II school in Michigan. "If I had known they wouldn't keep me in school for four to five years, no matter what, I would have gone somewhere else."

I'm confused.

If Tressel said he wasn't going to play and should think about a transfer but Ohio State was willing to sign the scholarship papers if he stuck around, that seems like a reasonable thing to do. The implication in the article is that they wouldn't. But it's never directly stated and it seems that even Jackson said something to the effect that they would have, except then he says they wouldn't. So… great job, Pat Eaton-Robb, you've confused the hell out of everyone.

Ohio State, meanwhile, has an outstanding alibi: from 2002 to 2010 they averaged 20 players per class, tied with Notre Dame for fifth-least amongst BCS schools and behind only the nerd factories at Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Stanford, and Northwestern. If they are having "oversigning issues" everyone is, system fundamentally broken, etc.

Future relevance. Brady Hoke has said Michigan is planning on taking 26 kids in this recruiting class, which is five or six or seven spots more than they currently have. They've only got a couple fifth year seniors they can reasonably give the Firm Handshake, so unless there is a cavalcade of medical issues and other convenient transfers there are going to be some tense conversations that go like this:

BRADY HOKE: So how do you like Michigan despite never playing and never having any prospect of playing and being way too short to ever play?
SLOT RECEIVER: I love it. Angelo's hollandaise sauce, man. I put it on everything. I took a bath in it last night.
BRADY HOKE: /closes Angelo's by fiat
SLOT RECEIVER: And I am very close to getting my degree in astrophysics.
BRADY HOKE: /turns off the stars

If you can't tell, I'm uneasy about this. The system is full of perverse incentives; if the big conferences are really keen on student welfare above all they should move to a system where the only cap is on the number of signees per year, Title IX be damned.

High five! There are three Big Ten teams who can be perfectly happy that former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson has parachuted into Madison to fill the radioactive hole at quarterback that was the only thing standing between the Badgers and breathless, top-five preseason hype. They are the ones who don't have to play Wisconsin this year. Michigan is one of them. (West divisionmates Iowa and Northwestern are the others.)

In the past month we've seen Michigan's schedule go from relatively friendly to large, face-licking dog: Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor exited Ohio State, leaving the Buckeyes without a coach or experienced/not awful option at QB. Michigan State and Nebraska now have to face a souped-up version of the Badgers. If six things go right and Denard can fuse with Al Borges there's a possibility Michigan could get smoked by Wilson in the Big Ten Championship game.

In old news. Michigan has just about blown through its practice time penalties from the jihad:

"We're very close to the end," Brandon said. "We've done a really good job and picked up a lot of hours. We're well ahead of pace, and we're very close to being done."

Presumably they'll get through the remainder by the Western game, and then be in the clear.

Etc.: Chengelis not a fan of mascots. Andy Staples likes the graduate transfer rule. Former Florida linebacker Channing Crowder is all like "I was Terrelle Pryor except not subject to a federal investigation."  Michigan State was really bad on passing downs last year. Golf course will allow groups to park for an extra fee, just like everyone said they should last year. Doctor Saturday features Brady Hoke in their "mandate for change" series and is pitch-perfect.

Michigan's athletic department again has an inexplicable, meaninglessly small amount of university support. I wonder what that is.



June 28th, 2011 at 3:31 PM ^


I know the OSU player just piles things on the programs woes, and I'm not complaining about the bad press to recruits, bbbbbbuuuuutttttttt.... the way the whole story plays out, something doesn't pass the smell test. This has a lot of the flavor of, say, a player saying a program has no family values, and he doesn't want to associate with it any more....as he's actually failing out of school. (Not that THAT would ever happen). It just sounds like OSU may have a reason for him being gone, but just won't/can't comment on it, and there's some sour grapes. Maybe he was wronged...there's enough "wrong" down in Columbus going around right now.  But something doesn't seem right.


June 28th, 2011 at 4:38 PM ^

Just heard on 97.1 that the U will be able to help out Hatch. Not sure what this means, but I'm glad - poor guy is gonna need all the help he can get, physically, spiritually, and otherwise.  Glad to hear the U will be able to be involved in helping him. Hope he's able to play and can come to the U and be sucessful. Would be one of the greatest "comeback" stories ever if he can succeed. Go Blue and Go Austin. Speedy recovery my friend.

Sgt. Wolverine

June 28th, 2011 at 4:43 PM ^

get a shot of you checking twitter, then he/she missed an important shot.  That's the kind of stuff that makes the wedding album great.  (That's also the stuff that tends to come from the second photographer.)

But take my opinion with a grain of salt: I refuse to photograph weddings.  For me, the money isn't worth the stress.

Julius 1977

June 28th, 2011 at 5:08 PM ^

At Wayne State Jackson probably plays, and if he's at Ohio State he doesn’t play.  At Wayne State he gets a Wayne State degree and at Ohio State he gets an Ohio State degree.

Seems to me he’s trading up on both counts.



June 28th, 2011 at 6:01 PM ^

Given that the coaching staff has apparently been planning on a 26-member 2012 class, I asked Sam if he personally anticipated some player transfers and departures would be part of the equation, and he said he did. I didn't ask him to guess at names or positions, and he didn't offer any guesses. He has said on other occasions that there will likely be transfers simply due to the transition to a new coaching staff, as guys recruited by RR decide to go elsewhere either due to playing time (slot receivers, maybe?) or simply don't feel comfortable with the new coaches and/or their schemes. I don't think there's anything remotely nefarious about such transfers and departures on their own; it depends on whether they were asked to leave. For kids who were going about things the right way, I can't envision Hoke asking them to leave—that would be a direct contradiction of everything he's publicly embraced since he was hired.


June 28th, 2011 at 6:40 PM ^

"TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2011 6:28 PM, EDT hang in there, young man. i look forward to seeing you on the court at uofm. god be with you bill martin"

Didn't someone earlier suggest avoiding 'Michigan-themed' posts? Just curious if maybe he knows something we don't? Regardless he is in my thoughts day in and day out.


June 28th, 2011 at 7:28 PM ^

--would Bill Martin the former AD really sign his name without using capitals? Could be another Bill Martin. Perhaps it's an MSU fan trying to stir up trouble.

As the person who earlier made the suggestion to avoid "Michigan-themed" posts--based on what Sam Webb had said on his radio show yesterday--I'll use this opportunity to note that I listened to pretty much the entire show again today, and neither Sam nor Ira said word one about being careful about what you post on the CaringBridge page. And they mentioned the URL for that page several times. And of course, John Beilein's statement from earlier today directed "those who would like to send a note of support" to the CaringBridge page.

The one thing that I noted on the page that makes me a bit uneasy is that someone made a donation to CaringBridge in Austin's name and left this message: "Hang in there Austin! The Maize and Blue family are behind supporting you" (see under Tributes).


June 28th, 2011 at 7:11 PM ^

I don't have a problem with a new coach coming in and informing some reserve players that they aren't likely to see time at the school, and that it might benefit them (in football terms) to transfer - provided that the coach allows them to stay if they desire.  John Beilein did that with Reed Baker and I think another player or two, and certainly no one questions his integrity.It just shouldn't be a yearly occurrence.  My issue with guys like Saban is that they're doing this every year, even with guys they recruited.  I doubt that will happen with Hoke.