Unverified Voracity, More Than Four Letters Comment Count

Brian February 15th, 2012 at 12:36 PM

Bounce back begins. Harbaugh's back and you're gonna be in trouble.

Hey na, hey na.

Ufershirt part 2. We have a new Ufer shirt in the store:


Tooley. Derek Dooley goes on the offensive in the AJC to defend oversigning. He makes one cogent point: the SEC rule doesn't really end the practice since 25 x 4 = 100. Well struck.

Unfortunately, using that point to call out the SEC for putting a fig leaf on a PR problem falls flat after asserting two Immense Benefits Of Oversigning. The First Immense Benefit Of Oversigning:

I think over-signing is good for the student-athlete. Let me give you some hypotheticals: Let’s say a a guy gets hurt his senior year, and there’s a good chance he won’t play his freshman year of college. He has got to do surgery and rehab. What could we do in the past? In the past, we could sign him, grayshirt him and put him in next year’s class. That allowed him to come to the type of school he wanted to come to, whereas now those kind of guys have to go to a different school.

The kind explanation here is that Dooley doesn't know NCAA rules. The letter of intent is not required to give a student athlete a scholarship, as dozens of early enrollees prove every January. Brandon Knight never bothered with a LOI before he showed up for his single season at Kentucky.

The only thing the LOI does is lock the athlete into a school. It gets the athlete very little. If you're eligible and have signed a letter of intent and Les Miles has an oopsie and has 86 scholarship players, someone's getting screwed. Hint: it is not Les Miles.

The above scenario can still take place. It's just that the player you're benevolently grayshirting can still take a better offer if one comes along. He can go to the type of school he wanted to go to because he's not locked in. Dooley is protesting that not restricting athletes' choices prevents them from choosing.

The second scenario is let’s take a guy who academically not eligible. … You look at their mid-year grades and you see that they’re going to be an academic risk, or there’s a good chance that they won’t qualify. Well, then you have to make a decision. Because in the past, you could sign them and if he didn’t qualify, place him in a junior college, help him get into a junior college and give him the motivation to come back to your school one day. Now you can’t sign him, or you’re not willing to take that risk because you can’t be short on your roster. So now they’re more on their own, and they don’t get to sign with the school that they want to go to.

If they do qualify, they can still attend your school. Thus the Second Immense Benefit Of Oversigning is that players who aren't going to make it get to sign a meaningless piece of paper so they can pretend they are not going to JUCO.

So there’s a lot of good things about over-signing that gives more opportunities for good players. When you eliminate that, now you’re providing less opportunities for them.

"Opportunity" is a zero-sum game. To give a player an opportunity you have to take one away from someone else.

In conclusion, Derek Dooley is getting fired next year.

Did we invent the sweatervest? Rick Santorum* apparently wears them, which has prompted Slate to write about them. They attempt to trace the origins of the thing and think it originated in Ann Arbor of all places:

The Oxford English Dictionary lists the first use of “sweater” in 1882, in reference to the sleeve-having woolens used by rowers to encourage profuse sweating, and consequently, weight loss. By the turn of the century, the sweater, though still considered sportsman’s garb, had lost its perspiratory function and become a more standard jacket substitute. It seems to be at this point, or shortly thereafter, that the idea was first had to lop off the sleeves. In 1907, 14 members of Michigan’s football team were rewarded with an embroidered “M” sewn, for the first time, onto not regular sweaters, but sweater vests.

Like script Ohio, an Ohio State tradition comes from that school up north.


Origins and breakdowns. Our Helmets Have Wings—another Michigan blog that made a bad investment in a Rodriguez-themed title—provides a thorough breakdown of Michigan's most recent class. Michigan's percentage of recruits from the local area has been increasing:


Michigan's last three years are the most Midwest-heavy in a while. Whether that's increasing local talent or a decline in Michigan's ability to sell itself nationally is in the eye of the beholder. The most recent class appears to be the former. The previous ones maybe not so much.

Let's build narratives from them. Kenpom is irritated at the insistent narrative surrounding Murray State's first loss of the year:

It’s the manufactured stories that attempt to explain the often-unexplainable variability in a team’s performance that I take issue with. Some team salvages its season by going on a late winning-streak and the origins of the streak are explained by a players-only meeting or the team captain stepping up and being a leader, or a renewed emphasis on defense, etc. When in reality, the causes of the change may have been more complicated that anyone could truly understand. (Naturally, this xkcd comic comes to mind.)

Murray State’s loss last week provided one of the clearest such examples of this method of analysis. The general assumption after the loss was that the Racers cracked under the pressure [(1), (2), (3)] of their unbeaten record. Even the coach said so! The thing is, Murray never reached a point during the season where they were better than a 50% proposition to go unbeaten in conference. You play enough games in which you are heavily favored, and you are going to lose eventually. Put more precisely, a team that plays ten games as a 90% favorite is expected to lose once during that span, and the Racers have played a lot of such games this season, including the game against Tennessee State.

The average deviation from the Vegas line is an impressively large 8.4 points. A lot of random stuff happens in a college basketball game.

Short-sighted next-quarter revenue is everywhere. Mike Slive inexplicably adding two mediocre Big 12 schools to the SEC now threatens the annual protected crossover game in the SEC and rivalries like Auburn-Georgia because the league refuses to add a ninth conference game. This is good for the immediate bottom line but long-term it threatens to erode fandom. Braves & Birds:

the SEC has been so thoroughly sucked into the vortex of being a quasi-pro sport that short-term revenue maximization is now the name of the game. The changes to the conference in the 90s - splitting into divisions and joining a two-team playoff - proved to be beneficial in getting the league where it is today, but the decision in the works to jettison two of the SEC's best rivalries is unlikely to have any such upsides. Aside from the facts that the decision has angered the league's core consumers and could turn them against the new arrivals ("thanks, Mizzou, you cost us the Deep South's oldest rivalry and the Third Saturday in October"), the change will upset the rhythm of the season and ever so slightly diminish the quality of the TV product. The SEC is losing a little of its soul with this decision, and its soul is part of what makes the conference so profitable.

The Alabama-Tennessee game is so deeply part of the identities of the two schools that their reflexive response to "third Saturday in October" is the opponent they've played every year on that date since proto-Bear trudged out of the ocean. The SEC is dumping that tradition for 1) the opportunity to renegotiate a bad TV contract and 2) the sanctity of games against Furman and the Citadel.

Since today is the day of highly unscientific polls, 87% of readers responding to a Get the Picture poll are in favor of a ninth conference game.

An excellent idea. The long-rumored M-OSU lacrosse game in Michigan Stadium is official:

Team 133 will take the field for its annual spring scrimmage at noon EST on Saturday, April 14. Prior to the football team's debut, the Victors Classic Alumni Flag Football Game will be held at 10 a.m. inside the Big House.

Following the football scrimmage at 2:30 p.m. will be the "Battle in the Big House," which pits Michigan's first-year varsity men's lacrosse team against Ohio State.

I look forward to taking in a live lacrosse game for the first time.

Etc.: Michigan's goals against MSU broken down in the diaries; good discussion in the comments as well. The Joe sold out for the MSU game on Saturday. Odd timing for the first sellout in a while there. The Daily reminds us of Hunwick's Wildcat uppercut earlier in the year. If you want to know why everyone in the world is running him, that's why. Also because they get away with it. MHN interviews 2013 commit Evan Allen.

Ace on a podcast talkin' recruiting. The Stu Douglass and Zack Novak interviews that will populate newspaper inches for the next couple days. Maize n Brew is off hiatus, under new management.



February 15th, 2012 at 1:08 PM ^

1. Basketball teams aren't random number generators.  They are, of course, populated by people. 

2. People make sense of things with narratives - whether the universe in the absence of humans would merit this or not.

3. Human awareness of narratives can make people behave differently.  Example: a coin that has come up heads five times in a row has no awareness of having done this, and it's behavior (so to speak) won't change based on the fact that it's come up heads five times in a row.  A person, though, who is one free throw away from breaking some sort of record may, due to his awareness of this, alter his behavior in such a way that his chances of making the record-breaking free throw decreases (he chokes, in other words). 

4.  Murray State's coach may be right that the team buckled under the pressure of being undefeated.  That of course can't be the only way to describe how it is that they lost, but that doesn't mean that it's incorrect. 


February 15th, 2012 at 1:10 PM ^

I think the Michigan football program is doing pretty good in regards to national perception.  2007-2010 were hell.  At least in 2007 Michigan kind of redeemed themselves with a nice bowl win.  However,  that four year span was by far the worst that I've ever seen in my years of following Michigan football.  Lloyd should have retired after the 2006 season and Bill Martin should have never been the AD.  The basketball program and the hiring of RR was a complete joke under Martin.  I think Bill Martin gets to much credit for the upgrading of the Big-House as well.  The university has unbelievable resources and any AD could have got it approved.  Dave Brandon isn't having any trouble getting money.  Anyway the the national and local perception of Michigan football is pretty good if you consider all the negativity from 2007-2010.


February 15th, 2012 at 1:15 PM ^

He's already in the pole position for that honor in college football.  How in the world did Tennessee downgrade in foot in mouth coaches?

And Maize and Brew's new post was pretty interesting too.


Though it was interesting to see who some of the writers over there are now. I guess that's where DGDestroys recruiting info has gone.


Edit: And our helmets do still have wings, but, uhm, yeah.


February 15th, 2012 at 5:24 PM ^

The phrase that the "helmet has wings" was something that I pre-dates RichRod, but I definitely was referencing the commercial in the title, although tidied up a bit, as "our helmet's got wings" (as you pointed out) just sounds odd.  I did consider changing it at one point, but I'm sticking with it.


February 15th, 2012 at 1:35 PM ^

Brian, can you give some insight as to how you can write about The Aneurysm of Leadership and attribute significance to the roles of Merritt and Lee on Beilein's first tourney squad at U-M while favoring KenPom's explanation of Murray State? I agree with the poster above that human awareness is a major consideration. I've read Mlodinow's book, but I still don't see how one can discard human-narrative explanations for sporting events. 


February 16th, 2012 at 5:30 AM ^

Saw Techlinski (?) at the UM club lunch Tuesday.

He said Michigan - Ohio is our base, it starts there, we own MI, it always starts there, partly becuase they understand the rivalries with "that team up north and that team down south."

Now, this year was the best crop out of MI for years, may not be the same down the road.

Of course, they are looking now at juniors, even sophomores (St. Louis kid offered over the weekend)

He is from Chicago and I inferred that things are moving that way over MI.