Unverified Voracity Is A Mythical Creature Comment Count

Brian March 29th, 2017 at 1:14 PM


"Access to the legal system requires money; also that was holding." [Fuller]

The most interesting man in the world. Jim Harbaugh is (probably) the only football coach in history to land a Politico interview and come off more educated on the topic of said interview than most elected officials:

Politico: What was the response to the tweet when you sent it out?

Harbaugh: Mostly positive, varying to some degree of people’s awareness. There's issues that people just don't understand. One of the biggest issues that got me most fired up is how fines and fees are being used to punish the poor. I've learned how the devastating effect it can have on lives of low income Americans. I mean across the country 48 states have increased civil court fees since 2010 and they're using those fees to pay for government services and not just courts but roads and generating millions and in some states billions of dollars.

But basically the crux of it is when people can't afford to pay a fine or a fee for things like a speeding ticket or municipal violation then they get additional fees. Late fees can start piling up and these fees can double, triple, quadruple the total amount due and if somebody has an inability to pay that fine that can quickly snowball into a driver's license suspension or driver time. People aren't even able to go to work. So you can't pay a fine or a fee and then you lose your driver's license. You're not able to get to a job, and a lot of people, I mean, they’ve got to work.

Also Harbaugh quotes the Federalist Papers in this interview. It is quite an object, the interview.


Bamba (center) yukking it up with fellow BOYCOTT THIS COMPANY

A version of reality including this guy would be nice. Brendan Quinn hits up the [Boycott This Company Until There Is At Least One Ugly Person In Any Of Their Commercials Ever] All-American Game, to focus on the guy Michigan is recruiting: Mo Bamba. Nobody thinks Michigan is actually going to get this dude but MAYBE:

"There's a significant difference between greed and hunger," he said. "When you're greedy, you just want things. That's your only need. But when you're hungry for things, it's a mixture of need and want, which is more logical to me."

Bamba is a different cat, it appears, and hopefully that will take him to Michigan instead of the one-and-done factories down south. I mean, it's not going to. But maybe! But no.

If he did do the thing he isn't going to do that would be kind of good though?

With my own eyes, I saw Bamba grab a rebound near the shot clock during Tuesday's practice. I mean, I think I saw it. Watching Bamba can sometimes feel like bearing witness to Paul Bunyan swing an ax. The facial expressions of the NBA scouts sitting baseline told the story of this young man's mythology. After watching Bamba stretch, a veteran sportswriter covering the event approached me to say: "He's got joints I don't have."

Bamba sees himself as a stretch four and if there's anyone on the planet who can effectively sell his development of enormous inside-outside guys it's John Beilein. Dude has two 6'10"+ potential first round picks* collectively shooting 38% from three on his roster. Neither was as highly recruited as Bamba, to say the least.

Yes, this section has been a waste of time. Unless! But no.

*[2018 please]

Chris Collins might not be nice, but it's the system that rewards him. It wouldn't be worth mentioning except for the fact that so many people went to Medill and enjoyed telling us about pristine Northwestern being everything that's right with college athletics, usually two seconds after they slammed Jim Harbaugh. But since they exist and they did:

On February 3, 2015, the Northwestern men's basketball team somberly walked to the visiting locker room of the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, after a 16-point loss to the Cornhuskers.

The team, now 1-8 in the Big Ten, sat down to meet, as it always does after games. Coach Chris Collins, then in his second season at Northwestern, turned to freshman point guard Johnnie Vassar.

According to Vassar and another person who was present, Collins yelled, "Johnnie, you fucking suck."

By any reasonable standard, Vassar had little to do with Northwestern's struggles. A seldom-used reserve, he had played one garbage-time minute against the Huskers. Yet, according to Vassar and another person who was present, Collins continued to berate the backup guard.

That's VICE's Kevin Trahan at the beginning of a lengthy article describing the lengths Collins took to get Vassar off his team, which took some doing in the era of four-year guaranteed scholarships but was nonetheless accomplished. It was accomplished by forcing Vassar into a demeaning "internship" that was mostly janitorial work and then juking timecards to boot him. One catch, via a D-I compliance officer:

"You can't push them off to another obligation," the official said. "There's nowhere in the NCAA manual that says anything about that. If they say, 'you need to do 40 community service hours,' no, you don't. It doesn't say anything about that." Another NCAA Division I school compliance official confirmed that analysis to VICE Sports.

Northwestern booted Vassar off the team after a year and then did whatever they had to in order to get his scholarship available again. Chris Collins seems like an incredible dick in the process. And not even a competent one:

One card spells Vassar's name wong; one has only another person's name on it (with that person's name crossed out); one says "Johnnie V" and has another crossed-out name; one is blank; and three have Vassar's name spelled correctly, but in handwriting that appears to be different than Vassar's.

None of this is news; what is news is that Vassar refused to suck it up and go quietly despite it being much, much easier to take the hint and move on. I admire that bullheadedness. Someone's gotta be Curt Flood.

The Vassar story once again exposes how the NCAA's terrible incentives force players and coaches into adversarial relationships annually. You should not be surprised if dicks like Chris Collins do well in a system that is set up to reward dick behavior. It forced John Beilein into similar last year when he no doubt encouraged Aubrey Dawkins and Ricky Doyle to find greener pastures.

A solution to Vassar's problem should be easy: allow him to keep his scholarship without impacting how many scholarship kids Northwestern can recruit. That costs money, and that's historically been a stumbling block because the SWAC and Colonial type schools without any outnumber those in power conferences; with autonomy there should be nothing stopping the Power 5 from allowing someone cut from a team to continue on scholarship, medical hardship or no.

Speaking of non-Bamba options and transfers. Per Some Guy, Michigan is on Washington PF Noah Dickerson's list of potential destinations as he transfers away from Washington.

Dickerson doesn't look like a great fit: he's not a stretch four in any way—he is 1/10 on threes in his career and his 68% FT rate last year does not suggest he's a butterfly waiting inside a pupa—and would likely have to play the 5 at Michigan, where he'd join Teske and Davis as 5-only contemporaries.

OTOH, he drew a buttload of fouls and was an excellent rebounder and interior scorer. The most fun thing about him is wondering how you have the #1 pick in the NBA draft and a dude with an 115 ORTG on average usage who pulls down rebounds at an 11%/23% rate and go 9-22. Lorenzo Romar, man.

Exit Melo Trimble. The Maryland guard is headed for the NBA draft and will hire an agent, figuring that another year under Mark Turgeon isn't going to get him solidly in the first round. The locals are a little cheesed off:

With 1,658 career points to his name, he would've had a chance to chase the No. 1 spot on the school's career scoring list next season, but he'll pursue a professional career rather than local immortality.

He probably figures that when you lose in the first round as a six seed in the NBA nobody gets on your case.

Etc.: Where Peppers fits in the NFL. Charges coming for MSU higher ups because of Larry Nassar? Don't click here unless you know karate.



March 29th, 2017 at 1:37 PM ^

Here you go: Increase the number of scholarships available from 13 to 15.  Then require that every freshman scholarship player you bring in counts against your scholarship limit for four years or he exhausts his eligibility, whichever comes second.  Continue to require the year long sit-out for transfers, but ban teams from having to provide a "release."

That'll kill the incentive to gently (or not gently) force a player to transfer, real quick.  It'll also stop the Caliparis of the world from hording one-and-dones.


March 29th, 2017 at 2:02 PM ^

Brian likes the "Initial Counters" scholarship model for football, but it would be even better for basketball.

Simple rule:  a team has 4 "new" scholarships a year.  That's it.  If a player had a scholarship last year, they are eligible for a scholarship this year.  But only 4 players who didn't have scholarships last year are eligible for one this year.  (Make an exception for walkons earning scholarships--if somebody has walked on for 2 years, they can get a scholarship after that if somebody leaves early).

Get a bunch of 4-year players and use redshirts?  If nobody transfers out, your team could have 20 scholarship players.  Get a bunch of 1-and-dones or abuse your players so they transfer?  You might have to have a walkon in your starting lineup. 

All of the incentives flip.  Instead of coaches trying to force players out, they will be trying to get them to stay.


March 29th, 2017 at 6:56 PM ^

On the surface I like this immediately.

So I'm trying to think of ways this could be bad. Perhaps if a guy suffers a catastrophic injury and their career is over, or players go pro foolishly, or a guy has personal problems that aren't the coach's fault and has to leave. 

Those would sting more.

But four scholarships a year is really generous and seems to make up for any of these pitfalls. One or two players leaving the sport through no fault of the coach are still pretty easy to replace. Even if all you have are three guys that can play, you can fill out an entire 7-man rotation with one recruiting class.

I'm sold.


March 29th, 2017 at 8:01 PM ^

If you assume 10 percent annual attrition, and 50 percent of Freshmen get redshirts, an average team will have 15.07 players on scholarship--13 "active" and 2 being redshirted.  Even an attrition rate of 25 percent would give you 11.57 scholarship players.

That's more than enough to build your team, even if you recruit one "one-and-done" player every year.

MI Expat NY

March 29th, 2017 at 5:21 PM ^

I don't like the idea of punishing programs for kids leaving for the NBA.  Preparing players for future employment in basketball is part of the coach's job.  His job shouldn't be made more difficult because he's very good at one aspect (even if a good deal of that skill is simply recruiting the right players).  


March 29th, 2017 at 11:40 PM ^

Make it three years, then.  If a guy leaves after two, it would be just a one-year hit (and this is also why I suggested adding two schollies to the limit - that way, the net effect is not too major a departure from the status quo.)  But part of the point is to disincentivize turning your program into a rolling rest stop on the way to the NBA.

MI Expat NY

March 30th, 2017 at 12:25 PM ^

I just don't think that's fair to anybody.  It's not the kids fault that the NBA mandates they be in college for one year.  Everyone could come up with a different system.  But until that happens, I'm not comfortable punishing teams who take in very talented players and have them NBA ready in year 1 or 2.  Especiallyl when we've seen in so many cases where guys don't develop past a certain level in NCAA basketball. 


March 30th, 2017 at 12:38 PM ^

This new system is "unfair" only if you start with the assumption that the current system is "fair."  I reject that assumption, and I reject it for reasons that I think should be obvious if you read the article linked in the OP.

Yes, it would create different incentives than the current system creates.  That's a good thing, not a bad thing.  No teams are being "punished," any more than football teams with good rushing attacks were being punished in 1906 when forward passing was allowed.  It's a rule change, so teams will have to change how they approach the sport, but a change is not a punishment.


March 30th, 2017 at 10:29 AM ^

Add "...or he graduates" and I'm on board. Guys do get degrees in 3 years and then you're incentivizing the right thing.

The thing Brian didn't mention is that when you add a scholarship to basketball or football you're really adding two scholarships because you have to match with a girl to meet Title IX. A school that regulary has 95 scholarships committed to football would have to either add a 10-person female sport or, more likely, cut a team like swimming & diving (9.9 scholarships) or baseball (11.7) or cross country (12.6) etc.


March 30th, 2017 at 12:17 PM ^

The title IX issue is completely meaningless. Obviously you would make women's basketball an "initial counter" sport along with men's basketball.

Women athletes have much lower attrition rates than men. As a result, not only is this not a title IX concern, it's a major improvement in Title IX compliance over the current rule!


March 29th, 2017 at 1:41 PM ^

Beilein encouraged Doyle and Dawkins to transfer? I was still under the impression that while they might not have been enthused about their roles on the team, that they would have been welcomed back as rotation depth.


EDIT: I just looked up the Exit posts for both...I guess it was hinted at for Doyle that there wasn't a place for him on the roster. The post for Dawkins mentioned his regression but seemed to still suggest that he was looking for a bigger role and the chance to play for his father, rather than being encouraged to leave.


March 29th, 2017 at 2:20 PM ^

they were likely told they're fighting an uphill battle for playing time. I'm sure they would have been welcomed back had they been content with a bench role.  And Beilein doesn't seem like a guy that would have berated them for sucking if they did come back.  

So I think it would have been a fairly genuine, ok, if you'd rather sit the bench here than play a lot elsewhere, I'll continute to support you as a student-athlete as best I can.  But, again, you could play a lot more elsewhere, hint, hint.


March 29th, 2017 at 3:04 PM ^

My sense was all coaches tell guys at the end of the bench "you probably aren't going to get ahead of these younger guys who are already ahead of you.  You can stay here, but it'll be spot duty going forward unless you make a huge leap in productivity."  And it's brutal and sucks for college-age kids, but I assume that's how it is usually communicated.

Guys like Collins seem more of the outlier in that they actively tried to push people out.  Also, he's a Duke guy who learned under Coach K, and if there is a more sanctimonious asshole in college basketball coaching, I don't know who is than Mike Krzyzewski.

EQ RC Blue

March 29th, 2017 at 1:52 PM ^

Dickerson camped at Michigan when he was in high school but didn't get an offer.  He's always seemed to be more interested in Michigan than the other way around.  He was  a pretty highly regarded recruit.  People can search for him at the UMHoops site if they're interested.  

I'd be pretty surprised if JB encouraged Dawkins and Chatman to transfer and certainly not both of them (especially knowing now from the Dak and Dunk show that Wilson skipped his end of the year meeting with JB).  The forward spot was looking pretty thin.  Dawkins went to be with his dad.  Doyle, maybe, but there's also a vast difference between saying something like there's probably not going to be much playing time and it might be in the best interest of all parties to at least consider a transfer and what it is alleged Collins did (even way before it got really crazy with falsification of documents).

EQ RC Blue

March 29th, 2017 at 3:12 PM ^

That's what it sounds like.  They interviewed DJ and he said he skipped the meeting and might've considered transfering but didn't want to sit out another year after redshirting one year and barely playing the next.  He played something like 15 minutes in his last 10 or 12 games and not a minute in the NCAA tournament.  

Yup, what a difference a year can make. 


March 30th, 2017 at 1:38 AM ^

he didn't play more. Since he stepped foot on campus, he was clearly the best shot blocker in the Beilien era (other than the one year of Epke Udoh), and he had a smooth shot.  

After a redshirt year, he looked good going 7-23 on threes last year - not easy to come into a game cold and try to get in a rhythm when you're only in long enough shoot one shot. He looked lost at times, but he didn't turn it over excessively, he shot 60 percent from two, and was a plus defender even with the mistakes because of his length.  I hated that DJ wasn't playing while Duncan played 30+ min a game, didn't even shoot well after Caris got hurt and played horrible defense.  Plus Duncan is two years older so basically at his ceiling and DJ was nowhere near it.

Hard to say for sure that he'd be further along this year, but almost certainly would have been. For all our criticism of Izzo for favoring clearly flawed upperclassmen, this is a case in which Beilein fell in love with a shooter and likely stunted the development of an elite athlete.

Sac Fly

March 29th, 2017 at 1:58 PM ^

I never understood the hype for Melo Trimble. People just kept hanging on to his freshman season despite every indication that he wasn't that guy anymore.

He was just as likely to score 30 points this year as he was to score 10.


March 29th, 2017 at 2:26 PM ^

a 10 percent swing in 3 pt shooting matters.  He's been nearly identical in every other way.  Slightly more usage with each season.  But as a 41 percent three point shooter, he was an NBA prospect.  As a 31 percent 3 pt shooter the last two seasons, he's just been a good but not great college PG.


March 29th, 2017 at 2:42 PM ^

Wife is a Maryland alum and I would constantly comment about how frustrating it is to watch Trimble. He'd slip through two guys and get a bucket and a foul one play and then throw the ball into the third row the next. He also had a bad case of hero ball, specifically when the other team's best player made a big shot, it was almost guaranteed Melo would jack a contested three on the next possession.


March 29th, 2017 at 3:58 PM ^

Realistically, I think it comes down to the athlete wanting exposure and a chance to win National Championships. While academics are important to a lot of recruits, the best shot to turn pro is usually the goal.

Even though they don't offer athletic scholarships, the financial aid packages at Ivys are still bad ass. However, if household income is above $65k a year, I believe the parents are expected to pay 10% of their yearly income. While an absolute steal for a Harvard education, some middle class families won't want to pay $10k a year out of pocket when they could get a full ride and a much higher shot at the pros elsewhere. The athlete truly must value their education more than the sport.


March 29th, 2017 at 3:00 PM ^

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I don't think anybody comes across as particularly "good" in the NU-Vassar situation.  Collins and NU obviously come across as manipulative and slimy, but Vassar and his mother also sound like people who tried to play the same game as the system and then are bothered when it bit them in the ass.  He transferred to 4 different HSes in 4 years basically because he wanted to play on the best team possible, then left one because he was homesick (reasonable), another where he got into a fight with the coach (somewhat understandable), then was homeschooled for some time because of academic issues, then went to a third in Georgia whose coach got busted for recruiting violations (which, yeah, no shit.  You got a kid coming from Chicago to play HS ball, amongst I assume other side-eye-inducing decisions), and then finally to California to be near his father who, based on a comment earlier, was in jail.  And yeah, I get people make decisions that I don't understand fully or comprehend the context behind.  But it does show a track record of instability surrounding him, some of which seemed self-inflicted.

But then he went to NU and seemed amazed that when he clearly wasn't performing on the court up to the standards NU needed him to, they tried to push him out.  And that's terrible and yet happens everywhere.  But then he didn't want to leave NU because of the educational opportunities (makes sense), but wanted to retain his athletic scholarship because of the perks that came with it instead of accept the academic scholarship they offered.  And yes, it's shady to do that to kids and I've always wondered about anybody (including UM) where guys get "career-ending injuries" or transfer to academic-only scholarships, but for a guy who clearly tried to treat basketball as a business when it served him acted very naive when that business interest went against him.  Like, his mother's quote about a coach saying she thought her son could be a star and then later admitting he was basically a warm body, and that being SHOCKING to her, rang very contrived.

Had he taken that scholarship, he'd have a chance to finish his academic career at NU and then grad-transfer for a year, or try to transfer to another school before then, suck up whatever drop in academic quality that would occur, and try to play some more.  You hear about guys being straight-up cut from a school or kicked off for some fake "violation of team rules" business and left with basically nothing; this feels like a halfway-decent landing option.  And maybe you stand up for your principles and fight like hell to take on a corrupt system, and if that's his true goal, then I'm all for it.  But this read as much like a shitty school lying to his face, and him possibly being difficult to deal with and his talent no longer being worth the hassle.


March 29th, 2017 at 3:17 PM ^

With the obvious disclaimer that none of us were there and I'm a rank amateur on NCAA bylaws, I think your take might run afoul of the fallacy of the 'perfect victim'  It is indeed possible that Vassar could've handled things better on his end.  But think about how NU allegedly (again, hearsay) jerked him around and ask how yourself how dispassionate and mature you or any of us would've been at that age in the face of such treatment.  

There's always going to be people who stoically endure the slings and arrows of an unjust authority, who soldier on, pay more than their fair share of dues and hopefully get the happy ending they deserve.  And, seriously, good for them.  But that doesn't mean that other, more flawed, people aren't also equally deserving of just treatment even if they might make less of the same meager opportunity.


March 29th, 2017 at 3:29 PM ^

Oh yeah, I absolutely understand that the perfect victim fallacy applies here.  Not to get political, but lots of landmark court cases tend to have less-than-ideal plaintiffs (Rowe v. Wade is probably the one that jumps out, but I remember sites like Ashley Madison getting into trouble about privacy even though, in theory, the plaintffs were adulterers).  And I think the NCAA needs to be raked over the coals for lots of transgressions.

It's just that Vice and Vassar wrote that story with the bent of making him out to be a sympathetic victim, and to me it was more "what do you mean this Ponzi scheme didn't work out the way I wanted?"


March 29th, 2017 at 3:36 PM ^

Yeah and that's a situation where I might legitimately blame society's ills on the media entertainment we consume - a stance that I generally think to be the last refuge of the scoundrel.  We're all inundated with pure good guy vs pure bad guy narratives from childhood which distorts our reading of conflicts and ill-prepares us for a reality that most often boils down to 'guys with grey hats' vs 'guys with darker shade of grey hats'


March 29th, 2017 at 3:36 PM ^

Johnnie signed a scholarship guaranteed for 4 years. I don't see why manipulating or pushing him out to any degree is acceptable no matter how he and his mom react.

What is this "academic only" scholarship you are talking about? It's been a decade since I played at NU but they were pretty clear that any scholarship money counts against the team. If the kid has an academic scholarship but plays basketball that counts against basketball's athletic scholarship total. What has changed or what am I missing?