Unverified Voracity Suggests Games Should Be Won Comment Count

Brian March 18th, 2014 at 12:18 PM

More Aerris Smith. Starts boilerplate, and then gets COLLEGE, like Junior Hemingway after the Sugar Bowl COLLEGE:


Uh. Here's a first hand look at Wofford from a gentleman who saw them take on Davidson. Expect a lot of Cochran trying to get a shot for someone, usually himself.

WIN THE (hockey) GAME. A gentleman has run through all three million or so possibilities remaining in the college hockey season and presents us with everyone's chances of finishing at position X. The Penn State game turns out to be kind of a big deal:

PWR	Win 0	Win 1	Win 2	Win 3
#6	 	 	 	0.7%
#7	 	 	 	0.0%
#8	 	 	 	20.5%
#9	 	 	0.1%	56.5%
#10	 	 	2.5%	22.3%
#11	0.0%	21.9%	38.9%	 
#12	2.0%	43.4%	39.6%	 
#13	12.9%	25.6%	16.8%	 
#14	30.5%	7.5%	2.0%	 
#15	33.2%	1.5%	 	 
#16	17.4%	0.1%	 	 
#17	3.4%	 	 	 
#18	0.5%	 	 	 
In:	20.6%	95.9%	96.6%	100.0%

That is a hell of a swing.

The breakdown is off, as it assumes all remaining games are coinflips. This paints a more pessimistic picture than is realistic since it gives bid thieves a higher shot at theft than they actually have. So the picture with a Penn State loss isn't quite that grim. Michigan's chances in the event of a loss are probably in the 40-50 range if you live in a world where MSU's shot at a bid is less than 12.5%.

But it's pretty easy: win on Thursday and you're in barring worst-case scenarios where everyone else on the bubble does spectacularly well and bids get stolen. If only I could claim a game against Penn State is not a coin flip given the fact that Penn State is very bad at hockey.

The imperative is clear. #winthegame.

WIN THE (basketball) GAME. Sports On Earth profiles John Beilein, the "maestro of March":

On the eve of the Final Four, John Beilein's most important player was a mess. Practicing against teammates imitating Syracuse's famed zone defense, Mitch McGary's footwork was awful. If Beilein couldn't correct the problem, Michigan had no chance of playing for a national title.

Beilein wanted his 6-foot-10 freshman center to operate around the foul line and distribute the ball. The coaching staff spent all week trying to get him to pivot a certain way. Most of the time, he traveled or threw the ball away. "He couldn't read the zone because he couldn't see it, and he couldn't see it because he didn't have the right balance and leverage," Beilein said. Frustrated, he brought McGary, along with a few managers and players, back to the court after Friday's practice and said, "OK, Mitch, one more time: This is how we're going to do it." He told McGary to slow down and trust his instincts. He finally executed.

The next night in the Georgia Dome, McGary, who had a total of 18 assists all season unitl then, sliced up the 2-3 zone, recording a team-high six assists, while also scoring 10 points and grabbing five offensive rebounds in a 61-56 win. "It was a week of work getting him to figure it out," Beilein said. "His assists won us the game."

Read the whole thing. Also in Beilein hagiography: Frank Martin talks him up. Yes, that Frank Martin, the demon-screamer late of Kansas State who inexplicably took the South Carolina job.


NMSU's announcer has to thank God every day that he gets to exclaim SIMMMMMMMMM BHULLLLLAAAAAAAAAR at maximum volume.

The other random obsession with a basketball player. Remember SIM BHULLAR? 7'5", 360 pound Indo-Canadian Michigan was poking around who ended up at New Mexico State? Guy with an all-time combination of game and announcer-friendly name?

SIM BHULLAR plays about 20 minutes a game for the Aggies, has excellent rebound and block rates, shoots 64% from the floor with decent usage, and gets fouled a lot, whereupon he hits only 54%.

He and New Mexico State will take on Steve Fisher and San Diego State in the first round in a Michigan Old versus Michigan What Might Have Been matchup.

Seriously though, given the way Michigan plays offense they could really use an offensively challenged guy who looks like he's been in contact with a radioactive spider. Radioactive spider guy challenges shots and flushes putbacks and dumpoffs. We need to get in contact with whoever's importing the Joel Embiids of the world and see if there's a guy who's maybe not Joel Embiid but good enough for Michigan's purposes.

Dogpile. Yet another lawsuit has been dropped on the NCAA. This one is from a Jeffery Kessler, noted sports anti-trust lawyer, and it's a doozy:

"The main objective is to strike down permanently the restrictions that prevent athletes in Division I basketball and the top tier of college football from being fairly compensated for the billions of dollars in revenues that they help generate," Kessler told ESPN. "In no other business -- and college sports is big business -- would it ever be suggested that the people who are providing the essential services work for free. Only in big-time college sports is that line drawn."

Maybe it was not the best move to include a Rutgers basketball player in your suit when you're claiming college athletes should be given something more than a stern talking-to and return to the American conference, but this Kessler guy is bad news for sports leagues trying to keep the man up:

Kessler helped bring free agency to the NFL, winning a key jury verdict for the NFL Players Association in 1992. He remains outside counsel to the NFLPA and the NBA's player union, has taken on Major League Baseball and represented star athletes including Michael Jordan and Tom Brady. For municipal authorities, he forced the Raiders to honor their stadium lease and stay in Oakland.

Given the skepticism of the judge in the O'Bannon case and Kessler's history of wins here it seems hard to believe the NCAA will look much like it does now in a decade. And that's a good thing, both in terms of fairness and for Michigan specifically. Michigan has a lot of money. Alums have a lot of money. We are currently using that in indirect ways while others are using their money to get to the point.

Meanwhile. An article on Michigan's surging revenues highlights the absurdity of the claim that most athletic departments lose money:

Department revenues rose $41.5 million from 2009-10 to 2012-13. During that same four-year period, expenses increased at a similar level, rising from $87 million to $132 million.

Funny how that works. It's almost like athletic departments spend all the money they have.

I mean:

In 2009-10, Michigan paid $33 million in wages to about 275 people. By 2012-13, the athletic department had 321 employees (it has grown even more this year to 336 workers) and projected $44 million in pay, including $19 million on coaches' salaries.

It's long past time to redirect some of that to the players.

Oh man. IU's Fred Glass making me feel slightly better about the AD gap:

"Finances wouldn't be an issue if we thought it made sense," Glass told The Star. "But we're Indiana. We don't play in the CBI."

A sentiment better left unexpressed after the last decade.

Right, that. Gregg Doyel makes a good point about Wichita State getting the stink eye from the committee:

We can debate whether Louisville deserved to be seeded so poorly, but what we cannot debate is what is being asked of Wichita State. The top seeds are supposed to be geographically protected, helped out if possible but not completely screwed at a minimum. And Wichita State was completely screwed.

Any idea how far Louisville is from Indianapolis? About 90 minutes by car. It's nothing. And southern Indiana is a hotbed of Louisville fans. Louisville is more than comfortable at Indy.

If Louisville was going to be a 4 they should have shipped them anywhere else. Does the NCAA really care that much about attendance?

Spring whatball? There is some thing with a oblong ball that isn't quite rugby that Michigan appears to be doing.

Oh good, more tackles for loss.

Departures. Matt Painter grumbled publicly about having selfish players, so a transfer does not come as a shock. Ronnie Johnson is gone from the Boilers. This is not a harsh blow statistically—Johnson's ORTG was under 100—but it is not a good look for Purdue, which loses seven contributors after going 15-17 and doesn't have the recruiting class to make up for that. Painter's apparently going to get another season, but it looks like his last unless he performs a miracle.

Also in bad teams from Indiana, Noah Vonleh is "strongly leaning" towards entering the draft. Losing Vonleh would leave Indiana hoping that Hanner Mosquera-Perea or Jeremy Hollowell can become basketball-type objects. Possible… but not looking good after this year.

Etc.: Guptill's September suspension turns out to be for assault; judge determines that Guptill made a guy "in fear of being pushed or shoved." Mark Richt has lost control of Alex Guptill. That is some straight-up UGA petty misdemeanory.

Tommy Amaker: "we're not trying to win a championship, we're trying to be a championship team." Peak coach-speak has been achieved.



March 18th, 2014 at 12:42 PM ^

I think you could be a little more sympathetic to that if they hadn't made the Final Four last year and showed that they very much belong among college basketball's powers at the moment.  They are not an unknown. 

The flaw in the tournament/playoff-worship of the average college sports fan and pundit is highlighted this year by the disparity between the Midwest and East brackets.  Winning one will not at all be like winning another, but that fact will be discarded as if both brackets were equal measuring sticks to determine who the best four teams in the country are.  People by-and-large don't like polls, but tournaments/playoffs are flawed too. 

matty blue

March 18th, 2014 at 12:46 PM ^

i wonder how many full-ride scholarship athletes there are at michigan?  without going sport-by-sport, there are 85 football, another 25 or so on the basketball teams, maybe 40 more on baseball and softball, maybe 100 on the track teams?  30 more swimming and diving?  30 gymnastics?  totally pulling these out of the air - i honestly have no idea

the reason i ask - the athletic department has 336 employees...are there twice that many athletes?  three times that?  let's go super-conservative and say five times that, or about 2000.  that seems high, but it would mean that we have a 5:1 ratio of athletes to support staff.  doesn't that seem lower than expected (or, possibly, necessary)?  what's the ratio of faculty to students campus-wide?

not flame-throwing here, it just makes you think.  i was surprised to see that there are 336 employees of the athletic department.


March 18th, 2014 at 1:13 PM ^

i think the ratio is skewed because you will have specific coaches for each sport, basketball has like 20ish scholarships with belien and his 3 assistants plus any dedicated trainers/strength coaches. I imagine hockey, soccer, baseball, etc etc etc are all similar in ratio. football is the only really large team which might have a low ratio of staff to students.

but the whole athletic department number should take into account all the marketing/buisness side of things as well not just people who interact with the kids.

so you could probably reduce the size but the department makes mad money so there isnt really any reason to do that. 

oriental andrew

March 18th, 2014 at 1:14 PM ^

Outside of the revenue sports (generally football and men's basketball), the vast majority of scholarships are partial.  For instance, you can have 11.7 full scholarships for a 30(ish) player baseball roster, and 9.9 full scholarships for a men's soccer team.  

Source (as of 2011):



March 18th, 2014 at 1:20 PM ^

But what's staggering isn't the 336 employees, it's the $44 Million in salaries that they get.

So $19M is coaches, and let's say that of the 336 about 50 are coaches for sake of argument. That means that the remaining 286 employees average about $87,000/year.

That doesn't seem like a crazy high number to me... but it's still pretty high.


March 18th, 2014 at 1:27 PM ^

I think either the alumni association fliers I've gotten lately, or the "Go Blue" tv ad that runs on BTN mentions something like 930 student athletes at UM  (I know I've seen a number in the 900s).  I have no idea how many are actually on scholarship, but then again, they have just as much access to the coaches/trainers etc. regardless of scholarship status.


March 18th, 2014 at 12:51 PM ^

everythng else an athlete gets is not compensation, or in the words of the lawyer "working for free?"  Ok. I would have more confidence in the motives of the lawyers who are suing the NCAA if they at least were honest and recognized the reality that athletes are getting conpensated right now, under the system in place. To the tune, at Michigan, of 50k a year or more in many instances.

I support a stipend for all players, and some kind of deferred compensation for stars that they get after they leave, but I don't support pretending athletes are in virtual slavery. Because they are not.


French West Indian

March 18th, 2014 at 1:15 PM ^

Many of these athletes would need to take out loans to finance their education if it wasn't for the scholarship. The fact that they can graduate debt-free gives them a huge leg up on many of their fellow students.

All these people arguing for more athlete compensation would have a much better argument if tuition costs hadn't been exploding in recent years.


March 18th, 2014 at 1:20 PM ^

Agree.  Without getting into to much detail, I'm guessin the schools/NCAA could say,"OK, we're not going to give you scholarship anymore.  We're going to pay you 50K and out of that you'll need to pay tuition, books, room and board.  Anything left over is yours."  Oh yeah, if you're an employee you'll need to pay taxes so that 50K isn't going to be as nice as it sounds after your taxes are taken out.


March 18th, 2014 at 1:05 PM ^

This is really good (emphasis mine):


"According to Peter Tiernan at Bracket Science, in terms of performance against seed expectations (PASE), Beilein is the most overachieving NCAA tournament coach in the country. A one seed is expected to advance slightly further in the tournament than a two seed, a two seed further than a three, and so on. Beilein has won more games per tournament than expected based on his seed than any active coach with more than three appearances.

Luck plays a big role in the one-and-done nature of the NCAA tournament. Matchups, which are just as important as seeding, are out of your control. But it helps if you're the bad matchup."


March 18th, 2014 at 3:07 PM ^

No need for us and the other 62 teams to show up for the big dance. ESPN and all the Pundits are on an Izzo lovefest. They all agree there is no need to play a single game. It is fact that MSU is going to take it all. I almost hope they bow out early on but i want the Big 1G to do well and have an all BIg Ten quarterfinal.


March 18th, 2014 at 5:36 PM ^

Every March is the same...the pundits always love Izzo and his "feisty" MSU teams whether they are a #2, #5 or #7 seed.

Either way, I could really give a shit what they say about MSU. Izzo's a good coach; MSU is a good program...that I frankly just don't give one damn about unless we're playing them. 

Let the pundits rehash their same tired storylines year after year. Just don't do them the privilege of reading their dribble. 


March 18th, 2014 at 1:14 PM ^

I don't think it's a good idea to take the example of Michigan and assume it applies to all schools. It's safe to assume that most schools don't make what we make from football, given that we have the largest stadium in the country, have luxury boxes on top of it and some of the highest ticket prices in the country.  (In any event, I would imagine that a lot of our increased expenditures come from the renovations to Michigan Stadium and Crisler, as well as the construction of the Player Development Center.  I don't think hiring 46 additional staffers explains an increase of $45 million in expenditures.)  We regularly hear news stories of athletic departments losing money (as in the case of Maryland); I don't think there is reason to doubt them.

I don't think you can pay athletes and keep up what we have now in college athletics.  Title IX will almost certainly mandate that the payments go to all athletes, regardless of gender or sport, and that's going to kill off a lot of sports programs.  Football will need to be even more of a cash cow than it currently is, which means lots more advertising.  Get ready for the 2-minute warning to enter the NCAA rule book. 




March 18th, 2014 at 1:25 PM ^

There are a lot more schools whose athletic departments do not make money then athletic departments who make money.  It's almost a 'be careful what you wish for scenario'.  It would obviously change the college landscape, but in a lot of ways.  I could see the schools that do not make money breaking away from the schools that do, and then you'd be left with the 40-50 schools whose athletic departments make money trying to figure out a way to come up with conferences and post season tournaments.


March 18th, 2014 at 2:19 PM ^

When players become pros and attend the school who bid the most rather than the one they love the most it changes the dynamic entirely. You won't see guys showing up at big rivalry games excited about the rivalry and tradition, they just show up to play well and get their paycheck. People won't be coming to Michigan because it's Michigan fergodsakes but because they got the best offer. It becomes something different completely. It becomes the NFL with worse players. Ironically, it likely also becomes less popular and that same money these kids are looking for drys up. Thus the result is just less sports and less scholarships for everyone.

I would also challenge the notion that Michigan does well because we have a lot of alumni with money. Until recently, Michigan and it's conference has been very reluctant to spend that money on people to keep up with the joneses. The idea that suddenly the university and alumni are going to be willing to throw more money at 18 year old kids might be a bit of a stretch.


March 18th, 2014 at 3:37 PM ^

Good points. Transfers could be an issue as well.  Not only would you have to bid to get the kid in the first place, you might have to re-up his contract to avoid him being poached by another school. 

I am surprised that Brian, who normally advocates for keeping college athletics as distinct from the pros as possible (which I agree with), would be in favor of the Kessler suit.  





March 18th, 2014 at 1:24 PM ^

Our front 7 defensively is the best group in the land.  This would explain the tackles for loss.  Secondary is exactly as it has been.  Speight will be the starter because more positive plays were shown with him as QB.


March 18th, 2014 at 2:03 PM ^

It's not just the potential Louisville matchup that screws Wichita geographically.

Let's assume the high-ish seeds win out in the Midwest. EVERY SINGLE ONE of those teams is closer to the round site than Wichita St. To wit:

Driving time to St Louis

1 - Wichita: 6:22

8 - Kentucky: 5:01

9 - Kansas St: 5:24


Driving time to Indy

1 - Wichita: 9:53

4 - Louisville: 1:43

5 - St. Louis: 3:43

2 - Mich: 4:04

3 - Duke: 9:16


Now obviously some of this is just Wichita being geographically somewhat isolated (and a bit unlucky that there's no Kansas City site this year). And a few of them (Duke, KSU) are obviously not significant differences. But man, it's not like there aren't some teams hanging around other regions that couldn't have been swapped to help out Wichita (in particular swapping out Kentucky would have been nice.)


(Times per Google Maps)

Vice President…

March 18th, 2014 at 2:40 PM ^

Would love to see Michigan recruit a bona-fide shot blocker. The best way to keep opponent 2-pt FG% down on a defense featuring guys getting routinely beat off the dribble is having someone on the back line that can change shots without fouling.  


March 18th, 2014 at 2:42 PM ^

Saying southern indiana is a hotbed of louisville fans is a lot like saying northern ohio is a hotbed of michigan fans. there are a number of them right along the boarder, but once you get 10 miles from the boarder/city limits it's all ohio/iu


March 18th, 2014 at 3:29 PM ^

But in all fairness Northern Ohio kinda IS a hotbed of Michigan fans which is why traditionally we've been able to recruit so well here.  And by "hotbed" I mean not everybody hates us (I've had my Michigan flag up on my flagpole since Saturday and no home vandalism yet for example) and i see lots of other people at the gym wearing Michigan gear.  And Toledo is probably split about 50-50 between the two schools.

I dont know what southern Indiana is like though.


March 18th, 2014 at 6:14 PM ^

and in the early 80's many people in south central Indiana got the Louisville Courier Journal paper - there was a 'southern Indiana' edition with plenty of IU sports news, but it covered UofL sports, too. At that time people in my neck of the woods were about as likely to go to Louisville as Indy when they wanted to hit town, even though both were equidistant. Of course, Louisville as a lot more interesting than Naptown back then.

That said, once you got out of the New Albany-Jeffersonville area just north of the river I don't think many people followed the Cards closely. The hills down there were always pretty cream and crimson. As an IU alum I have long wished the Hoosiers maintained a regular game with the UofL, but I guess it wasn't... in the cards.


March 18th, 2014 at 9:08 PM ^

I live in southern Indiana and it stretches a lot further than ten miles. It's a good mixture of IU, UK, UL fans but saying it's a hotbed of UL fans is a pretty accurate statement .


March 18th, 2014 at 9:59 PM ^

college education—especially at top-level universities—as something having great intrinsic value is a sign of how fucking sick our culture is.