Unverified Voracity Has Glowing Green Eye Comment Count

Brian July 2nd, 2015 at 11:50 AM



Ex-Harbaugh staffer: 'A great white shark, mouth open, staring at you'

That's from a longer profile he wrote in May on the often-inscrutable Harbaugh. I referenced this yesterday, but whenever these things happen I think about a Nietzsche quote despite never having read any Nietzsche. You see, there was this science-fiction Civ game called Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and when you got one of the techs it always said this at you:

Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman—a rope over an abyss. A dangerous across, a dangerous on-the-way, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous shuddering and stopping. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under. I love those who do not know how to live, for they are those who cross over.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche ,"Thus Spoke Zarathustra"

Pretentious! But sometimes Harbaugh does not know how to live, like when he's on a national radio show and the preening show host starts in by asking him if he's ever soft. The vision of masculinity presented by Cowherd is so disorienting to him that his mind goes blank in terror*.

The good news is that Harbaugh can now enact the Thought Control government form. So he's got that going for him.

*[Just as I recoil at the arrogant bro-dom presented by Jim Rome.]

More Harbaugh. Face time in the 1993 Rose Bowl.

Doesn't say much there, either.

Yes, please. The NCAA may be slightly loosening its tie when it comes to the NBA draft:

Under the proposal, which was a coordinated effort by the NCAA, the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the NBA, underclassmen would be allowed to attend the Chicago pre-draft combine in May, get evaluated by team personnel and given a true reading on their draft status. The players would then be able to decide if they wanted to stay in the draft or return to school. They couldn't sign with an agent, though.

The current draft rules don't allow a player to return to college once he officially declares for the NBA draft. The NBA would still have an early entry deadline of late April and an official withdrawal date of 10 days before the draft, as per the collective bargaining agreement. But the NCAA would then have its own withdrawal date moved up from the week after the Final Four to sometime in mid-to-late May.

That last sentence is confusingly worded and should be "moved back". This is progress of a sort—the kind of progress that takes you back to about eight years ago when this was the standard. College coaches hated it because they didn't know who would go and who would stay when the late signing period—which also starts about week after the Final Four—began. So they changed it. Now they might change it back.

Anything that acknowledges the reality of the NBA and NFL is a good change. This one is a bit half-hearted, and it seems like it's flirting with disaster to make this change without delaying the late signing period. Kid signs, other kid decides to return: whoops. You know that's going to happen.

The best solution here is draft and follow.

Exposure to price. When people start talking about the inevitable cable unbundling that is coming, they often make this calculation: if only X percent of people would get ESPN and ESPN costs Y amount of money, then ESPN is going to cost Y * (1 / X) dollars. That's a lot of dollars! Bet you don't want unbundling now! An example:

So you'd think a standalone ESPN app, with all their channels, would cost around the same [as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc.]. As Lee Corso would say, not so fast. ESPN's perceived value and what the network actually needs to sustain their business model are vastly different.

One industry source I spoke to believes ESPN would have to charge sports fans at least $30 a month for an a la carte version of the networks to offset lost cable subscriber fees and advertising. MoffettNathanson Research believes Disney would have to charge $36.30 a month for ESPN to achieve the same level of reach it enjoys today.

At this point, we've reached a similar structure to European television. Channels such as Sky Sports, which carries popular properties like the English Premiere League, are not part of the basic service and run at $40 a month for the family of networks. Sky Sports even offers "day passes" for roughly $15. While hardcore American sports fans can justify similar prices here in the States, casual fans will balk and just catch the big event games on over-the-air networks.

But as taxi drivers and music labels and newspapers have found out, the internet tends to erode comfortable perches from which you can rake in piles of dough. ESPN has the advantage of still being a monopoly, but if the product was the only reason you could charge Y dollars you would not be able to get every song ever made for ten dollars a month.

The existence of Sling TV, which has ESPN and ESPN 2 and 18 other channels besides, for 20 bucks, is plenty of evidence that ESPN cannot reach that price point—and probably will not even try. Sky is a very different business model because the thing that is by far their main attraction, soccer, is virtually ad-free. You get some signage in the stadium, shirt sponsors, and halftime when everyone goes to the bathroom and gets a snack. That's it. The prime reason American sports keep spiraling in value (and can no longer fit in their assigned time slots) is that they are much more amenable to commercial breaks. Sky is trying to maximize its revenue; ESPN's attempt to maximize its revenue is going to come in much lower because 1) Americans are going to balk at the 40 dollar price and 2) advertisers want the eyeballs ESPN can deliver so very badly.

ESPN is currently subsidized by a lot of people who do not care about sports. When the internet is television, that goes away—and it does not necessarily get replaced one for one.

This is why adding Maryland and especially Rutgers was folly. In the near future the only people who get the Big Ten Network are going to be people interested in the Big Ten. They will no longer be able to snatch a dollar from the pocket of every cable subscriber in New Jersey who is a Tulane man. This is going to happen in ten years, at which point whatever short-term revenue gain will be spent, Jim Delany will have his bonus, and the Big Ten will be stuck with a couple of teams nobody cares about.

[HT: Get The Picture.]

Sauce relocates. Nik Stauskas is traded to the 76ers for… uh… stuff?

Stauskas had a rough first year in the NBA in a terrible situation, but that's awful quick to give up on a guy and dump him with some terrible contracts in exchange for cap space. Like the Pistons giving away a first round pick to be done with Ben Gordon, the main "asset" Sacramento acquired was the ability to not have Carl Landry on their cap any more. So they could go sign more free agents. Someone try to rip the face off the Kings GM just in case it's Joe Dumars.

Only incompetent Germans. Louisville's new helmet is… this…


Which I kind of like for an Arena League team. Of the future. Playing a life and death game against octopus space nazis.

Here is a conveniently-timed article titled "Adidas: Sports Apparel Laughingstock."

The old recruiting ghost story. Willie Williams has been revisited. It is a funny and sad story, one that you've probably heard before. Apropos of little, here is former Florida Gator on his trip to Penn State:

As if that story wasn’t juicy enough, Crowder spoke of his visit to Penn State as a recruit, which was “the worst.”

“They sit me in a room with two bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 Banana Red,” Crowder said. “They say ‘drink these, we’re gonna go out.’ Okay, I get all feeling good. We walk out of the door, go down two doors and go back into an apartment and it’s four big white girls sitting there and me. Big ole white girls. Talkin’ about 250.”

Crowder no doubt said his decision was all about the academics.

Here's this! It is a show featuring a bunch of Michigan guys, one a former walk-on QB under Moeller, and an mgoshirt.

It appears it is still looking for a home. If you are a TV executive, adopt it maybe.

Etc.: Here is a good thing about the buddha-fication of David Foster Wallace. Akron built a stadium. It's not going well. Warde Manuel($) is a name to watch for Hackett replacement. Bring Your Champions, They're Our Meat on the NBA Draft.


Maize and Luke

July 2nd, 2015 at 11:54 AM ^

When are people going to accept he's just a weird, kookie, dude. Historically he's not a great interview. He's a great coach, he doesn't need to sell or prove anything in a radio interview.

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July 2nd, 2015 at 12:02 PM ^

Sid Meier's Gettysburg/Antietam is a game I play to this day. It had a free trial of AC on it, it was blah.  Interviews don't win games but there is a reasonable amount of evidence showing that guys that give crappy interviews do win games.  If that's the case I hope we see more Harblah type interviews. Maybe some face to face stuff next  time that makes even Penn St fans feel uncomfortable and that is not easy to do.


July 2nd, 2015 at 12:39 PM ^


As if that story wasn’t juicy enough, Crowder spoke of his visit to Penn State as a recruit, which was “the worst.”
“They sit me in a room with two bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 Banana Red,” Crowder said. “They say ‘drink these, we’re gonna go out.’ Okay, I get all feeling good. We walk out of the door, go down two doors and go back into an apartment and it’s four big white girls sitting there and me. Big ole white girls. Talkin’ about 250.”

Unwritten info from that story:


We did it. I'm not saying I enjoyed it, but we did it. All four of those big'uns. It was the worst.


July 2nd, 2015 at 12:15 PM ^

"ESPN has the advantage of still being a monopoly, but if the product was the only reason you could charge Y dollars you would not be able to get every song ever made for ten dollars a month."

ABC/ESPN is very much NOT a monopoly.  They bid for sports rights alongside CBS/NBC/FOX (oligopoly).  The money does not all go into their pocket.  The sports leagues (ex.-Big Ten gets BTN revenues) get a big cut of that.  And by the way they are pretty true monopolies if you look at any of the recent lock outs.

Other examples, Boxing and UFC are pretty much all Pay Per View.  NFL Sunday Ticket is a pretty solid financial success.  In continental Europe, other soccer leagues are required to be broadcast free over air by regulation, keeping cable prices down.

If you're waiting for sports TV prices to come down, don't hold your breath.



July 2nd, 2015 at 6:26 PM ^

That "don't worry about ESPN costs" argument wasn't remotely compelling.  Speaking as an Opt-Out/Download/Stream guy for over a decade now, these alternatives have been around for a long time and it hasn't stopped people from paying $100/month for the convenience.  I'm sure the cost is mitigated by ads, but I don't find more ads to be real comforting.  If ESPN is ever available for the now-equivalent of $20/mo it'll be add-heavy, just like free Spotify.

It seems more likely that true unbundling will see the various leagues provide their own content.  They all already have the channels up.  The logical extension of "why do I have to pay for Food Network when I want to watch ESPN" is "why do I have to pay for NFL when I want to watch NHL".


July 3rd, 2015 at 5:59 AM ^

Im a huge sports fan but most of what is on ESPN I could take or leave. I care about and watch the local teams and those games are typically on FSD or the networks. I watch games on ESPN that dont concern the local teams but there is no way in hell Im paying 40 bucks a month for the occasional event I watch and Mike and Mike or PTI. Id need my cable bill to drop by 40 bucks a month to even consider it and just because the cable companies stop paying ESPN for programming they are not dropping thier prices to reflect the change.

I think this would hurt ESPN, at least initially, until old timers like me who are comfortable with a game on the radio are extinct.


July 2nd, 2015 at 12:16 PM ^

Wouldn't the draft combine be a place where agents would be?  I think it would be too easy to have some secret handshake over those couple days between players and their potential reps.  


July 2nd, 2015 at 12:18 PM ^

How is using sling tv an argument right now?  People who argue that unbundling will cost more are projecting that the landscape will change as well.

When unbundling does occur netlfix will either cost a lot more, cease to exist, or only have seasons that are old on it because stations will get more propietary and host things exclusively on their websites for their subscribers.  Same thing with hulu.  Sling tv exists in the current market, nothing about its pricing model is helpful for determining how much ESPN would cost in an unbundled world because ESPN doesn't need to charge sling tv customers $30 to remain viable in the current market. 


July 2nd, 2015 at 1:28 PM ^

Yep...I'm the guy in the #4 jersey. Matt Letscher and I were theatre majors at UM back in '88-'92. Matt's brother Brian, the big guy wearing #32 was a walk-on/then earned schollie as a QB. He earned 3 letters under Moeller..'91-'94.

One of our producers was also a UM grad. We shot most of the show out here in LA, but the scene at the tourney is at the Gus Macker in Mt. Pleasant a couple of months ago.

Nipper Knapp


Michigan Arrogance

July 2nd, 2015 at 12:21 PM ^

assuming a radical change in the TV structure is 15 years away, I would think those 15-20 years of TV contract money the B10 will have earned would be worth the price of admission for Rutgers and Maryland. They are making money hand of fist and the contract gets redone in about a year doesn't it? That means it's going to go up once again. and likely one more time before the TV structure change.


July 2nd, 2015 at 12:46 PM ^

yeah... i'm kinda sick of hearing that Maryland/Rutgers addition was just a grab for tv ratings and that it was a bad, short term idea.  What about the improved recruiting from those fertile states?  What about the fact that a huge % of UMich grads can now see their team in their backyard?  I live in NJ, and it is now starting to feel like BigTen country, people are talking about the BigTen and that's a good thing for our conference/team.  Brian, your point about tv ratings might have merit, but come'on, it's a dead horse.  RU/Maryland are part of the B1G, let's start to embrace it.  Don't forget, Peppers is from NJ, Rashon Gray is NJ, Ronald Johnson is NJ, we have another 2 kids from MD in that 2016 class.  Would they have been interested in UMich if Maryland/RU wasn't in our conference, maybe... but i'm sure it didnt' hurt. 


July 2nd, 2015 at 12:46 PM ^

Maryland basketball has one of the largest arenas in the country, has the largest student section in the country, is in one of the best recruiting parts of the country and has a top 15 program history.  Sure they aren't great at football but Maryland adds a lot of value on the basketball side. 

Maryland sports also won 7 big ten championships this year, the most of any school. 

Maryland is also located in the 4th largest metro area in the country (Baltimore/DC), is a well respected research institution, has access to the library of congress, etc.

The only reason Maryland was a bad addition is if the only thing you care about is football.  I just think its funny that people love the Nebraska addition when literally the only positive thing they bring is football. 


July 2nd, 2015 at 12:50 PM ^

I was working in Baltimore during the MBB tourney and all the talk was about B1G.  It was strange, but in a good way.  The narrative is about how tought the B1G schedule is and how much exposure it brings, not the ACC.  They should also theoretically be two conference Ws every football season.


July 2nd, 2015 at 12:48 PM ^

Can anyone explain the downsides of draft and follow and for whom is it bad? I just feel like it is a win-win all around, with the exception of maybe the NBA execs who might oppose because they essentially have to evaluate some talent before they've matured or played at a competitive level. Basically, you give up some information and information is good when making a draft decision. Still, I can also see some advantages to this for execs as well and how often do top guys (the guys who would be drafted that early anyway) not pan out to remain top guys? Thoughts?


July 2nd, 2015 at 1:05 PM ^

I'm guessing that most of the guys who get drafted would end up going to the pros and not back to college.  A lot of these players who would possibly get drafted out of high school/after their freshman year come from homes that aren't in great economic shiape.  If you get drafted and have a guaranteed contract for 5, 4, etc. years, why would you go back to college?


July 2nd, 2015 at 6:39 PM ^

It seems like owning a guys rights for 5 years takes a lot of leverage away from the human being and puts a lot of power into the hands of the NBA franchise owner.  What happens if the player wants to be a pro?  What happens if he wants to stay in college?  There are just so many questions...

Since the NBDL is a vastly superior league (talent/development wise) than the NCAA it would rob the NCAA of a lot of Andrew Wiggins/Anthony Davis/Carmelo Anthony type of players.  There's a mutually beneficial relationship there where the NCAA gets puffed up by what their 'alumni' do in the NBA and the NBA gets free publicity/exposure for it's future generation of players.  There's a reason college baseball and hockey are vastly less popular relative to their pro leagues than college basketball to the NBA.

Also worth noting - the two guys shown in Brians link have both developed very successful careers (in the NBA or abroad) as basketball players.  They are far from tragedies.

Nobody likes the charade of one-and-done, but a better solution is for the NBA to let it's owners pay who they want to pay.  Teams have gotten a lot smarter at calculating risk/reward than they were in the 90s and the NBDL is a legitimate development vehicle for kids who aren't ready for the NBA.


July 2nd, 2015 at 7:36 PM ^

Ummm... If a dude wants to go pro and you don't want to sign him, you trade or release him. You can't FORCE the kid to stay in school. Likewise, if you draft a kid under the assumption you can sign him and he won't sign, you either have to wait, up the offer, trade or release. It's no difference to the kid.

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July 2nd, 2015 at 9:11 PM ^

If I'm, say, GR3 and I really want to play in the NBA but the TWolves own my rights say "you're not ready" what do you do then?  Or if I'm an 18 year old Kobe/KG/Lebron who clearly has nothing to gain from college - what power do you have if your owner says no.

The answer I guess is playing abroad a la Mudiay, but the players can already do that today.


July 2nd, 2015 at 12:54 PM ^

I grew up going to Akron U games and loved it. Saw some good football and had a good time. I was looking forward to taking my kids when I had them. Then they go and build this stupid stadium near the campus where there is absolutely no parking. Ticket prices went from 6$ and a Giant Eagle card to at the minimum 15$ +10$-20$ for parking. I can see it now in the board room when they dreamt up this stadium idea they thought that since they have the stadium of a big time college they can start charging ticket prices similar. My mother works for them and for the last few years they've spent over 2000$ a year on season tickets. They literally sit on the 50 yard line in the club level. When it started there was a buffet and you got two free drinks. As the years ticked by they started taking more and more perks away and they finally got fed up with it and told them to stick it this coming year. It's a terribly run facility and athletic department. The only thing they've ever had is the soccer team and basketball has been semi decent.

Its a shame that the minor league baseball team less than 3 minutes away can sell out a 10,000 seat baseball field and they can't ever get more than 5,000 at a football game.


July 2nd, 2015 at 12:57 PM ^

This is a great landing spot for him. The Sixers dedicate a ton of resources to player development and Brett Brown is really respected (even loved) by all of them, even the ones traded away like Evan Turner. The whole "Sixers are a mess" thing is really overstated; you can certainly disagree with their rebuild strategy, but in terms of team cohesiveness and respect for the staff and trainers almost to a man everyone who has come the past 2 years wants to either stay or has zero bad things to say about them. Plus the Sixers are opening the largest player development center in the NBA next year which should help him even further.

He will have plenty of playing time with zero pressure on him like he did as a #8 selection in SacTown and Okafor in the block who should be able to give him a lot of open looks. 

The only bummer is that GRIII was released, though he could be resigned (somewhat doubtful with the other players coming in the deal).


July 2nd, 2015 at 1:16 PM ^

Hey Brian...I'm one of the guys in the show. I also co-created it with Matt Letscher; who's also in it. 

Just wanted to say thanks for the bump. We're big fans of your writing and MGoBlog. It means a lot to us that you gave us a valuable slice of real estate here. Really appreciate it, man.

Best and Go Blue!

Nipper Knapp

Also, if we get a season 2, you'll have to be a part of it.


July 2nd, 2015 at 1:21 PM ^

Now I'm spending my entire afternoon viewing David Foster Wallace interview videos (along with reading the Barry Alvarez oral history).  There is a beach chair with my name on it, but NOOOOO, you force me to read.  Thanks, bro!


July 2nd, 2015 at 1:22 PM ^

Just guessing, but it might have to do with the fact that Akron is 495-518-36 since its start in 1891, with exactly one conference championship to its credit.

It also doesn't help that its new stadium—InfoCision—sounds like a school where you learn how to conduct a bris.


July 2nd, 2015 at 1:29 PM ^

constructed a team that went to 7 straight ECF and a NBA title.  Saying that a bad GM is Joe Dumars is a disservice to his past accomplishments as a GM.  Yes, Dumars hasn't done well in his later years with the Pistons but I think it's mainly because of the ownership tying his hands behind his back.  I do think he deserved to get let go by Tom Gores.

Joe landed a lot of gems in the draft like Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Khris Middleton, Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler, Jonas Jerebko, Rodney Stuckey (still have a long NBA career if you ignore draft position), Aaron Affalo, Amir Johnson, Carlos Delfino, and Memo Okur.

Gulo Gulo Luscus

July 2nd, 2015 at 1:40 PM ^

Decided to read the Willie Williams article and came across this nugget:

Had Coker and his staff been aware of Williams’ past? The coach initially said no, then admitted he was “partly” aware of some infractions. “I was aware and not aware,” he said meekly.

Emphasis mine on that familiar line...