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 12:51 PM ^

"Because I am a modern person............."

Haha, I didn't know this was the image of a modern person.........

Either way, congrats on getting hitched. 


June 28th, 2011 at 12:57 PM ^

Could Jackson be referring to the likliehood, in this situation, of not getting a 5th year, given that he does explicitly mention it?

I know that lots of football players, due to the time commitment, have some difficulty graduating by the end of their fourth years, do the dearth of classes offered in the spring and summer terms at most schools.


June 28th, 2011 at 1:03 PM ^


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

IIRC from previous years doesn't this have something to do with the accounting quirks of tutors techincally being employees of the university at large and not the athletic department?

Zone Left

June 28th, 2011 at 5:09 PM ^

I seem to remember it being a shared office space that the university paid for.

Either way, it's an accounting question that amounts to .2% of the department's budget. Some of the lower tier schools get over 80% of the department's budget from the school!


June 28th, 2011 at 1:13 PM ^

Congrats on getting married, Brian!

Also, I'm really having trouble writing to Hatch. Everything that comes out sounds pretty trite and stupid.


June 28th, 2011 at 1:14 PM ^

I'm starting to think that what goes on at OSU is really no worse than the SEC, but OSU seems to just really suck at hiding it.  Clearly they aren't the only team with people selling memorabilia for cash, but they got caught big.  And plenty of SEC teams push players out, but when interviewed the players all say it was their choice to go.  I'm guessing the SEC schools just have experts at hypnosis on call for when they have to clean out the roster a bit.


June 28th, 2011 at 1:20 PM ^

...general fund support is from reimbursements from the Univesity to the Athletic Dept for things like use of facilities. It's likely just an accounting coding thing.

Edit: wile_e8 had essentially the same idea as me but probably has the more correct line item.

Feat of Clay

June 28th, 2011 at 1:46 PM ^

Agreed.  I think the U provides support for some of the academic stuff that goes on in Schembechler Hall.  If there are classes taught over there, for example, that would incur a facilities expense the U would bear (and would provide some $$ to the AD for).

West Texas Blue

June 28th, 2011 at 1:19 PM ^

I think that we're gonna have to get used to selective trimming of the roster for next few years plus large recruiting classes in order for Hoke to get Michigan back to the top. Rich Rod only got 3 years (and yes, there were plenty of off-the-field distractions and issues), so Hoke knows he can't slowly get Michigan back to the top. This year and next year talent in Midwest is very strong, and there's just too much talent to pass up. I expect us to take 23-25 recruits per class for at least next 2-3 years until Hoke has roster where he wants it to be. I think we need to brace ourselves for selective trimming of the roster ala SEC style, but hopefully not as drastic or dirty. Just leads back to the big question: what are Michigan fans willing to accept in order to returning to its winning ways?


June 28th, 2011 at 2:13 PM ^

over the past three years my powers of rationalization are well honed. i am willing to stomach just about anything, but my powers of rationalization, i think, will be put to the test as guys start falling by the wayside.  i hope we can do this in some honorable way, but with the talent that we are bringing in, it might just be easier to bite the bullet, be a bad guy and turn a blind eye on this stuff.


June 28th, 2011 at 2:23 PM ^

If a guy has a scholarship and follows the rules and represents the university well then he deserves to decide his own fate.  If he takes a look at the depth chart, calculates his chances of playing as being lower than he'd like then so be it.  If same guy decides he likes it in Michigan and wants to stick around on the practice squad then so be it as well.  Turning a blind eye to kids being screwed over is not a good thing, especially for a coach who made an initially positive impression based on how much he seemed to care about the guys who played for him.


June 28th, 2011 at 2:29 PM ^

I don't have a problem letting a fifth year guy go, but other than that, I do not want to see our University get sleezy in order to win. Winning is great and all but honor is more important to me. If we can't win clean I'd rather not win.

Kilgore Trout

June 28th, 2011 at 2:55 PM ^

I think this is a pretty important issue in establishing what Hoke is all about.  I have been a fan of the hire from the beginning, but they need to do this right.  If guys in their first four years want to be around and fight it out, they should get every chance to improve their position and finish out their four years.  Telling someone they have no shot of ever playing in hopes that they will leave is not cool.  Rodriguez could have done that with James Rogers and we would have been even worse off in the secondary last year.  People mature and come around at different rates.  The program should stay committed to them as long as they are committed to the program, period.


June 28th, 2011 at 3:34 PM ^

Threads like this and comments hoping that Michigan coaches honor scholarship commitments make me proud of our fan base. Dave Brandon needs to read this stuff. Hopefully we are jumping to conclusions and Hoke has legitimate reasons for stating that there will be room for 26 in the recruiting class.
If the speculation comes to pass we need to speak up when given the opportunity at events like the Coaches Tour.

SC Wolverine

June 28th, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^

I can't be easy to stick around after the coach has had that kind of chat with you.  Who really wants to stay around day after day, week after week, after hearing, "Look, kid, you don't belong here"?  So without being formally sleazy, Hoke can probably reach his numbers just be making certain playing not want to be there any longer.


June 28th, 2011 at 5:22 PM ^

If he's making certain they don't want to be at Michigan, then that sounds pretty sleazy. 

The only action that I would be OK with is for Hoke to have an honest conversation with the player and let them know if they have little chance of ever seeing the field.  If they still want to stay at UM for all 4 years, they should continue to be supported 100% by the staff and us fans.

Sextus Empiricus

June 29th, 2011 at 10:34 AM ^

...a fan just doesn't see all the facts.  If a player left with bad feelings I would be very concerned.  That hasn't happened as yet...even though we have had players move on despite  holes in the depth chart before them (in the RR years before Hoke.)

Everycase is unique.  Some players want to play.  Some want to go to school.  Most want both.

Obviously Hoke is sitting on roster changes that he has not announced.  This stifles the walk on program as well.  Ultimately Hoke deserves to play his style.  The speed of change is fast and getting faster with every commit.


June 28th, 2011 at 1:23 PM ^

is everyone so on edge about this. we might have 2 medicals from what it looks like. add in the annual 2-3 transfers and include a few of 5th's not renewed and we get to the number.


June 28th, 2011 at 2:26 PM ^

Like in NCAA basketball, you have two choices. Build a program with guys who have great love for the University, want an education and are likely to stick around for a while or go for the future pro players who will leave or have character issues. Obviously, there will be some overlap, but it will make the playing field more level as teams like Alabama and USC get hurt by the large number of players leaving after three years as compared to somewhere like Wisconsin or Iowa where there are a bunch of 5th year seniors playing. If you get 25 a year and have 5 years per player, that works out to 125 which is way more than the 85 current limit. It would give a greater incentive to get guys who will stay longer, which is good for everyone except the cheaters.


June 28th, 2011 at 5:42 PM ^

Would you keep the 3 year draft rule? Football is very different than basketball in the development of players. A true freshman stud can make (take over) a basketball team, but not a football team. There aren't that many players who can come in and make an immediate impact as true freshman, primarily because of the size difference. You would really need to Callipari it to be a contender with a team of one (or even really three) and dones in college football.


June 29th, 2011 at 10:25 AM ^

It is very difficult for a freshman football player to compete regardless of how good an athelete they are just because of their size and body maturity. But places like USC had a few 3 year guys going into the draft every year. And very few starters stayed for five. Its not as extreme as basketball, but I think it still would have an effect. USC and Alabama wouldn't be able to catch up by signing a class of 30.


June 28th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

Any chance James Jackson makes it to A2 after a season at Wayne State? He was a 4-star guy whom we offered out of HS, he supposedly runs a 4.31, and would be able to help with some depth issues at WR that we'll have in 2012 and especially 2013.


June 28th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

Brian could you clarify what you mean here:

"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."


June 28th, 2011 at 2:03 PM ^

"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."
I swear, this conversation appeared on page 59 on Delillo's End Zone. No? Well, Brian, would it be a compliment if I said your humor often reminds me of Delillo?
Congratulations on the wedding, good sir.

Wolverine 73

June 28th, 2011 at 2:10 PM ^

So let me see if I understand this.  Neither Gene Smith, in his prepared statement, nor anyone in tosu PR corps who reviewed that statement, nor his assistant who likely typed it, understands that "between" is a preposition and requires the objective case, as in "between him and former coach" etc.  Nice university you got down there in Columbus.


June 28th, 2011 at 2:34 PM ^

I'm uneasy with the grad rule exception for all kinds of reasons. Mainly, though, it comes down to the fact that some grad program at Wisconsin is being used purely as a one-semester way station (I assume) so that Wilson can play football. Notably absent in any discussion of Wilson going to Wisconsin is what course of study he will be pursuing, but that's the first thing about graduate study: students aren't admitted into a general college, they're admitted into a specific program that aims to train its students, collectively and individually, toward a professional degree. Admitting a student who has seemingly little possibility or interest in completing the degree in a reasonable time (I'm assuming that Wilson will be gone after one semester to prepare for the NFL draft or to attend spring training) seems a bad precedent, and one that would not be extended to any other applicant.

I don't naively think that all athletes are warrior-poets, but this seems a particular perversion of the core academic goals of the university to abet athletic success. How does this impact the other students in Wilson's program, who either see less faculty time, have an uninterested or severly time limited participant in their classes (and much of the learning in grad programs should and does occur from the work that fellow students put in)?



June 28th, 2011 at 2:54 PM ^

I agree that in Wilson's case, this is a perversion of the rules. That said, how many 5th year athletes are cut by their team because they choose to play minor league baseball rather than attend spring football practice?

More likely you have a 5th year athlete who was not kept on scholarship. One would think if you were not retained, your are unlikely to make it in the NFL, so you are more likely to work on a graduate degree for real life. If you collegiate level athletic ability gets you a scholarship to do that, more power to you. (I'll also assume the public cases are more likely to be "perversions" than the quiet less public cases.)


June 28th, 2011 at 3:15 PM ^

The "public/private" distinction is interesting. I'm only aware of the public cases, of people transferring seemingly to increase their chances of playing professionally. Of the top of my head, Mundy to WV, Utah had a safety or CB who basically followed Urban Meyer to Florida, Paulus, Masoli, and Wilson. Of those, I think Paulus is the closest to a transfer for at least mixed academic/athletic reasons.

But I have no idea whether this exception is used more widely than those cases. If it's used in the "private" way that you raise, it would be less problematic, but I have no idea if this occurs other than in these select cases.

Zone Left

June 28th, 2011 at 5:25 PM ^

I understand what you're saying, but if the NCAA is actually about the athletes, which it isn't, then I'd argue that rule needs to be expanded. If I went to school at Cal and want to get an MD, I think I should be able to go anywhere that will have me where I think I'll be a good fit academically. The rule now says I have to stay at Cal because they have a medical school.

I know the above has a ton of potential for abuse, which is why it won't happen, but the current  rule is about the only NCAA rule that is expressly designed to get kids into the career they actually want. I'm all for it.


June 28th, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^

Congrats Brian and welcome back.

As for the potential oversigning issue with Hoke's class, I'm not going to worry until NSD and the numbers actually shake out. A great deal can happen between now and then, and there is no need to get worked up until then. Also, Hoke seems to buy into the "you come to UM, we honor that commitment" school that guys like Carr and RR came from. Kids will transfer with playing time issues, so I don't expect any shenanigans.

Six Zero

June 28th, 2011 at 3:12 PM ^

of Brady Hoke's pointing abilities.  If he pointed to a doorway, most mortal men would simply walk out.  There's no need to talk about hollendaise sauce.

Honestly, I'm very concerned about the disparity in numbers.  The God-fearing and good part of me hopes that it's numerical in nature and behind the walls at Ft Shembechler, like perhaps Hoke already has been given information about some kids' grades or something to that effect.

The more realistic part of me wonders if he's just looking over Rodriguez's roster and has already pegged the fat he's willing to shave off.  (Insert not-so-random-long-snapper-name-here-even-though-the-fat-joke-no-longer-plays-thanks-to-Barwis).  Either way, we all can only hope that this doesn't involve some compromise of Lloyd Carr values, because up until now Hoke has certainly silenced the ethical critics of the program that surfaced during practicegate.

I'm sure the staff knows about the criticism regarding the potential oversigning, and the fact that the camp remains silent on the matter is not so silent.  If it was something minor, I fear they would have already addressed it on some official level.