Unverified Voracity Has Good Feelings That Make It Feel Bad Comment Count

Brian August 24th, 2018 at 12:40 PM

I am too optimistic about this game. This QB situation is about to meet a Don Brown defense that returns nine starters:

Brian Kelly is going to run a spread 'n' shred against Don Brown. Where have I seen that before?

I hate myself for thinking the things I think about this game, which will be insanity like all ND games are.

Two and done, a love story. Former DX and current ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz on basketball's breakout star:

It's happened before and will happen again. Maaaaybe Michigan gets a third year out of Poole, but they should be keeping that third slot in the 2019 class warm.

The Bentley, profiled. Michigan's history—all of it—is meticulously documented at the Bentley Library, which has been an invaluable resource for Seth, Craig Ross, Greg Dooley, and anyone else who wants to delve into the rich history of Michigan football. So it's good to see that the Athletic profiled Greg Kinney:

“This must be the ’98 team,” Kinney says. He is holding a black-and-white picture of men wearing funny clothes. He is not talking about the Lloyd Carr football team that went 10-3. He is talking about a team that went 10-0 and beat Chicago in front of a record crowd of 12,000, the original Champions of the West.

He is talking about 1898.

Standing just beside him, Brian Williams, a coworker, shoots over a knowing stare. “He can tell you that just by looking at it.”

[After THE JUMP: post takes a turn for the negative.]

Further adventures in a culture that thinks it's untouchable. Maryland's former athletic director hired a law firm to defend two football players accused of sexual assault:

Anderson used $15,000 of the department's funds to provide two football players with legal representation after being accused of sexual misconduct, according to The Diamondback, Maryland's student newspaper. The report comes in the midst of the football program already being under scrutiny following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and allegations that it has a "toxic" culture.

While NCAA bylaws allow schools to pay for legal cousel in a proceeding that may affect a student-athlete's ability to play sports, Anderson's actions "showed a serious lack of judgement in a sexual misconduct case, given the university's commitment to a fair and impartial handling of all such matters," according to the school's statement Thursday.

That's permitted by the NCAA, which I did not know, but after Maryland higher-ups were made aware that Anderson had done this they told him to cut ties. He ignored them, resulting in an internal investigation and eventually Anderson's resignation. This is an AD at Maryland ignoring a direct order. What would happen at many real football schools?

Bad at communicating. In the, uh, current environment I was about ready to autodefenestrate when Bruce Feldman retweeted former Florida QB Luke Del Rio telling a story about Goings On under Jim McElwain. Fortunately(?) the goings-on aren't much more than further confirmation McElwain was not very organized or people-focused at UF:

“This is not the first time that R.J. Raymond has been put on scholarship and nobody knows that,” Del Rio said. “R.J. was put on scholarship January 2017. Why did you not hear about it? Well, when Coach McElwain was at Florida, he would never do the, ‘You’re on scholarship’ surprise videos — whole team goes nuts. He would do these private meetings — and I would know because I walked on at Florida. I was a walk-on at Alabama and Florida.

“So, he’s put on scholarship, silently, like I was. The team wasn’t notified, nothing. Every half year … you are sent a letter — an official scholarship letter stating here’s what you’re going to get paid. Well, R.J. got his letter — and this happened to several people, all of the dollar values were goose eggs. Now, if you can think of a better way to more passive aggressively tell somebody they are no longer on scholarship, tell me. You’re a f***** coward if you do that.”

Why would McElwain take the scholarships back? Del Rio says it was to give them to other incoming recruits:

“They said they needed scholarships for a recruit,” he said.

It is common practice to give leftover scholarships to walk-ons when head-count drops under 85, as it almost always does, but except in cases where a Glasgow establishes himself as a real contributor there's never any expectation that money is permanent. Raymond's career stat line is one tackle. It would be very strange if anyone had the expectation that money was permanent, so either McElwain completely botched the communication or Del Rio is not being entirely straightforward. After watching the video I think it's mostly the latter.

But this is further confirmation that McElwain was not particularly good at his job. Managing to piss off a bunch of walk-ons is something.

Still better than RPI, but... eh. The NCAA's new RPI is called "NET" and has some stuff in it that I don't think should be in a field evaluation tool:

The NCAA Evaluation Tool, which will be known as the NET, relies on game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses. To make sense of team performance data, late-season games (including from the NCAA tournament) were used as test sets to develop a ranking model leveraging machine learning techniques. The model, which used team performance data to predict the outcome of games in test sets, was optimized until it was as accurate as possible. The resulting model is the one that will be used as the NET going forward.

The NET was built to create a ranking system that was as accurate as possible while also evaluating team performance fairly. To ensure fairness, certain types of data were omitted from the model. Of key importance, game date and order were omitted to give equal importance to both early and late-season games. In addition, a cap of 10 points was applied to the winning margin to prevent rankings from encouraging unsportsmanlike play, such as needlessly running up the score in a game where the outcome was certain.

I don't think a field evaluation tool should be predictive in any way; it should only be Strength of Record and nothing else. You play to win the game. But! You know I am sensitive about this issue, and what is described above can only be radically better than the RPI. So let's offer a golf clap.

Etc.: Spencer Hall on Urban Meyer and nepotism. Cole Bajema creeps up a few more slots on 24/7.



August 24th, 2018 at 3:29 PM ^

Man, that'd be my worst nightmare.

First Quarter: 

"There are two penalties on the play."

"Personal foul, on the defense.  Number 15.  Targeting.  By rule Number 15 is disqualified from the game.  The play is under further review."

"Personal, on the defense.  Number 10  Targeting.  By rule, Number 10 is disqualified from the game.  The play is under further review."

The jumbotron screen shows the replay in slow motion.  One angle clearly shows an angle in which the ND QB just collapsed on the field on his own accord, in anticipation of getting sandwiched by both Winovich & Bush.

"After further review, the both targeting calls are confirmed.  Numbers 10 and 15 are disqualified from the game.  There are two 15 yard penalties that shall be assessed, resulting in an automatic 1st down."

The ND fans cheer and jeer with delight--every single one of them knows it was a terrible call.

Harbaugh picks an inopportune time to return to his 2015/2016 sideline demeanor.  He erupts in epic fashion as all of his bottled-up mojo from 2017 comes pouring out of him in one for the ages. 

Another flag drops, this time by Harbaugh's feet.

"Unsportsmanlike conduct.  Charged against Michigan's bench.  Half the distance to the goal.  Automatic 1st down."

What a damned nightmare that would be.

We are DUE for some luck.  I don't think we've actually gotten lucky in a meaningful game in quite some time.  Not that we'll need it for Notre Dame in 8 days, but man.  It'd be nice if in 2018 the Football Gods even out the football luck karma somewhat and give us some breaks.



August 24th, 2018 at 1:34 PM ^

This is a serious question I've always had: why can't the qb get destroyed if running a reasonable fake? In read option situation like this I don't understand why a defensive end can't just wreck the qb since he legitimately may have the ball. 


August 24th, 2018 at 1:41 PM ^

Who says otherwise?

Now, Michigan might get penalized for that, but Michigan gets penalized for lots of questionable stuff.  ("Roughing the Punter" on what looked like a fake / botched play?)

But the penalty is "Roughing the Passer," not "Roughing the Quarterback."  BC wouldn't have drawn a flag on the play in the clip.

Ron Utah

August 24th, 2018 at 1:32 PM ^

Re: NET 

Am I the only one that thinks it's stupid to value early season games as highly as late season games?  The Tournament should be the best teams in college basketball.  Teams that have improved over the season should get in; teams that have lost players or digressed should be out.

As a fan, I want the best 68 teams the day the tournament starts, and the previous two months are much better predictors than fall basketball.


August 24th, 2018 at 1:38 PM ^

Am I the only one that thinks it's stupid to value early season games as highly as late season games?

Probably not, but you're wrong.  Or, at least, you're trying to generate a different tournament than the NCAA is.  They're looking for the teams that have accomplished the most over the season, not the teams that are playing the best basketball at the moment.

If NET is proprietary and can't be replicated by anyone else, we'll have no idea whether or not it's correct.  For all of the RPI's flaws, it used very little proprietary information.  (Almost none -- just home / neutral / away decisions.  For example, when Michigan plays Detroit Mercy at the new JLA, was that a home game, neutral site, or road game for Michigan?)

Blue In NC

August 24th, 2018 at 3:27 PM ^

"Probably not, but you're wrong.  Or, at least, you're trying to generate a different tournament than the NCAA is.  They're looking for the teams that have accomplished the most over the season, not the teams that are playing the best basketball at the moment."

Not sure you are entirely right about that.  One piece of contrary evidence is that conference tourney champs (regardless of regular season records) get autobids whereas regular season champs do not.  But yes, in the past there was more of a focus on late season results while the recent push has seemed to be looking at the entire schedule and not just the late push.


August 24th, 2018 at 3:46 PM ^

Playing Devil's Advocate for the NCAA--

It's possible their baseline is to allow the top 64 teams "from the season overall" into the Tournament, but throw in those auto-bids as a way to throw a bone to late rising teams, "shock the world" type of teams, etc.  Basically priming the pump for one or two extra Cinderella runs.



August 24th, 2018 at 4:45 PM ^

That's entirely at the conferences' discretion, though.  The NCAA takes each conference's champion and then the 34 at-large teams with the best overall résumés.

Any of these minor conferences could cancel their postseason tournament and name their regular season champion as their NCAA representative.  In fact, there's a good argument to be made that they should.  However, they'd rather have a couple of games televised on ESPN than have a slightly better chance of pulling off a first-round upset.


August 24th, 2018 at 1:47 PM ^

I don't know if this actually gets factored in, but, if there is more weight placed on the last 15 games vs. the first 15 games most of the really good non-conference match-ups would disappear. There would be no incentive to get a good win on your resume. Just play a bunch of middle tier teams at home to help your strength of schedule and let the computers do the rest. 


August 24th, 2018 at 3:43 PM ^

Although in theory, somewhat fewer early season marquee match-ups would make March Madness that much more intriguing.

There are no clear answers here.  Pros & cons on both sides obviously.

However, I tend to side on the weighing more recent games a bit heavier than early season.  The whole point of seeding (in any tournament) is to assess who the currently strong teams are (i.e. more likely tournament champions) so that they avoid knocking each other out in early rounds due to being bottled up in the same quadrant of a bracket.  If the idea of a tournament winner is to whittle down relatively weak to strong teams more likely to win the tournament, then you seed based on the current strength of teams.  

If the NCAA Tournament wants to reward the top 64 teams IN THE SEASON OVERALL to determine who GETS INTO the tournament, then fine.  But when it comes to seeding once a team is within the top 64, my hope would be that the'd take recent performances as a greater weight, and (in a related manner), take note of the injury status of key producers on teams.

Maybe I'm biased b/c our Michigan teams have an intricate scheme to learn, and so we typically don't hit our stride until January/February of each year.  Meanwhile, teams that just stock up on raw talent of 1-and-done kids & are more prone to just let 'em play probably are already closer to their ceiling in November/December.


August 24th, 2018 at 1:38 PM ^

This confirms what I thought of McElwain. He's a very knowledgable coach (you have to be if you are the OC at Bama and had success at Colorado State) but he just lacks the leadership to be the head of a major college program. He's much more suited to be a position coach or an OC for a team with solid leadership. 


August 24th, 2018 at 2:06 PM ^

Except Hoke was never a coordinator. When he did become a coordinator, it did not end well for Oregon. His talent development skills were lacking, but by all accounts he was a good recruiter. 

Also I'm pretty confident Hoke would never treat a walk-on like McElwain is accused of, nor would he ever bang a shark. 


But, Hoke would also never win a championship as a coordinator. 


August 24th, 2018 at 1:53 PM ^

" Well, R.J. got his letter — and this happened to several people, all of the dollar values were goose eggs."

I don't care whether a walk-on has 1 career tackle or 100—telling him he's getting his scholarship yanked with a letter without telling him in person FIRST is 100% chicken shit.

Space Coyote

August 24th, 2018 at 2:15 PM ^

I mean, it kind of assumes that the player had no inclination that it was a temporary scholarship until they needed it for incoming players, which I find a little unbelievable, but maybe since Del Rio apparently thought it was terrible behavior.

The problem doesn't even really seem to be the letter telling them they are off scholarship, the problem is probably the initial "private meeting" where the duration of the scholarship should have been made more clear.

The practice as a whole is standard, whether they give it to the guy on an onside kick or in a private meeting. So as Brian noted, this seems to be more a problem of communication that a head coach should have and just in general "being a people person" which is an important part of a head coaches job.


August 24th, 2018 at 8:31 PM ^

But they earned them by becoming starters and kept them. I'm wondering about the guys who get scholarships with no expectation of seeing the field except at the end of a blow out.

EDIT: And the answer is: "Junior long snapper Camaron Cheeseman tweeted Saturday night that he's been put on scholarship." (Per MLive).


August 24th, 2018 at 2:43 PM ^

In McElwain's defense, let's say for the sake of argument that in the meeting he has with walk-ons, he says "You are on scholarship for the rest of the year/semester.  When the next year/semester starts, you're back to walk-on status, but if there are scholarships available you can earn one again."  He can correctly say that he already informed the players that they would not be on scholarship the following year, and that the letter is just auto-generated paperwork.

To be clear, it should have been handled better, and I would have thought that a program like Florida even beyond the head coach would handle it in person with football players and not via letter, but it may have been less chickenshit and more a lack of attention to detail.  


August 24th, 2018 at 2:00 PM ^

Luke Del Rio kinda came off as a whiny bitch there tbh. Dude was on several powerhouse teams because of his name and his family is set for life, but gotta take some time to make a standard practice seem horrible.


August 24th, 2018 at 2:05 PM ^

I don't know their team that well, but Notre Dame doesn't seem to be built around an offense that can hurt Michigan. Brown specializes in running QBs much the same way Garfield specializes in Lasagna. 

The questions I have are: Can the DTs, which we believe will be good but are largely untested, hold their own against the ND interior? And, can the safeties avoid getting burned by the second or third-best receiver ND puts on the field?

If ND can't win those battles they're in deeeeep trouble.

Michigan's offense is, of course, a question. One of the strengths of the offense every year under Harbaugh is the script they run in the first two drives. Michigan almost invariably moved the ball well early last year; the problems came in the red zone, where options were reduced and poor QB play consistently left TDs on the field.

If Michigan can acquire a couple of early TDs that bodes very well for the game and for the season. 


August 24th, 2018 at 2:29 PM ^

Absolutely true.  But they were also a couple breaks away from losing their last 4 games of the year.  That LSU finish was crazy, and a pretty mediocre Navy team nearly upset ND at home.  So I think the team people saw to start the year wasn't the one we saw at the end.


August 24th, 2018 at 2:27 PM ^

I agree about ND's offense playing into Brown's hands.  ND has a stout defense as well, so it's unlikely that Michigan will be able to run away from the Domers, but I just don't see a world where Wimbush ad co. can move the ball vertically enough to break Brown out of his preferred formations.  And Michigan has enough depth at DT that they should be able adequately to hold up against ND's admittedly talented if somewhat untested offensive line.  

I agree about the safeties a bit, but it sounds like Michigan would just roll over Hill or Long and bring in Watson if necessary.  Even if that hurts a bit with run blocking, it would effectively shut down any downfield throws, and that feels like a fine tradeoff.


August 24th, 2018 at 2:50 PM ^

One thing that has occurred to me is that we're really curious how Dwumfour and Solomon will hold up against stout interior blocking. Or, at least, I am. With ND, Wisconsin, and OSU on the docket, that will be a key issue in key games.

But we have a guy who we don't talk much about that will be important in these cases: Bryan Mone. 

If, for whatever reason, our young guys on the interior struggle with interior run defense, Mone is a proven option. He may not be The Guy for most of the season, but he can be a key tool with key matchups if he is needed.


August 24th, 2018 at 2:07 PM ^

I'd like to add that Del Rio was also the guy who tweeted PED shots at Michigan's before/after player photos.  He seems like a bit of an asshole.

I am not crazy about NET either, but I don't mind a model that was fine-tuned to capture performance at the end of the year versus the beginning; I'm a fan of rewarding good teams in March moreso than good teams in December.  

That ND game is starting to feel more tractable; my cursory reading of ND posters on reddit makes me believe they are not super excited about Wimbush either under center.

The Man Down T…

August 24th, 2018 at 2:14 PM ^

"It's happened before and will happen again."   because when you have the single best talent developing coach around, this is the result.  Beilein takes a year to make them a diamond.  Spends a year polishing that diamond and then the diamond heads off on the hand of some rich person lol. 


August 24th, 2018 at 2:26 PM ^

I want to be confident about this game, but weird shit happens in South Bend, and we haven't proven ourselves a great road team.

Please let Shea Patterson be every bit as good as expected and more.  Please, please, please....


August 24th, 2018 at 2:27 PM ^

The latest on Poole is not surprising.  I had him pegged as a future NBA player after seeing him in a high school all star game.  If he gets a lot of minutes and good looks at the basket this year, watch out.


August 24th, 2018 at 4:24 PM ^

I really don't see Poole being here after this year. I would obviously like him to, but I think his body is ready and I think his performance this year will be push him over the edge. Wouldn't be shocked to see a 16 PPG, 5 RPG, 3 APG from him this year and then he's gone. 

Also, Iggy Brazdeikis being a one and done is also a possibility that I think people haven't brought up enough. He's been on par with Poole in terms of scoring so far in Spain and is already pretty physically mature