Unverified Voracity, Thrilled By Polygonal Dreads

Submitted by Brian on June 30th, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Why I stopped buying NCAA in two sentences. Go:


Also this is definitely because of Denard.

Hockey bits. It was announced a while ago but in case you missed it, Big Ten hockey has adopted a fairly sensible playoff format. The bottom four finishers have a best two-of-three series at the higher seed's home ice and then there is a four-team single-elimination playoff on the #1 seed's home ice.

It's a little strange that the second-place finisher gets zero home hockey games but it could have been worse. I still prefer best two-of-three series the whole way because it's more hockey and less arbitrary.

Other logistical bits continue to filter out:

  • Teams have "already been asked" to play two Monday night games per season and Wednesday games between nearby teams have also been broached. The article also mentions the possibility of some Sunday-Monday series.
  • The Big Ten "will" reach a scheduling agreement with the WCHA that will take care of "perhaps eight" of the new Big Ten's 14 nonconference games.
  • They might have to move the state basketball championships in Wisconsin.

I expect the WCHA scheduling agreement just involves Minnesota and Wisconsin. Having the WCHA suck up the eight extra nonconference games now on OSU's, MSU's, and Michigan's schedules would hurt the CCHA further, and I'd rather to see them play traditional opponents like Miami, Northern Michigan, Ferris, etc., than fly to Minnesota to play St. Cloud.

As far as moving games for television goes, I'm all for the increased exposure but when I looked at the schedules it seemed like Sunday was a vast wasteland for basketball that hockey could fill. Is the NFL that much of a beast?

Meanwhile, it is alive:


Illini, probably not. A Champaign-Urbana developer is planning a $15 million ice arena with two sheets of ice in a 100k square-foot building. This immediately got message board folk speculating about Illini hockey, but it doesn't sound like that kind of investment is anywhere near what you'd need for a D-I program. Illinois would probably have to spend at least double that to get a proper D-I rink. Add in a former club player's perspective

Even though the club team has operated at a profit and has the third highest game attendance per season of all sports on campus (average 800-1000 per game with an all time high of around 2000), there are still too many things standing in the way for Illinois to field a D1 NCAA hockey team in the near future. Using the current ice rink for a D1 team is not an option due to the fact that the NCAA requires a minimum seating capacity of 4k-5k for all new D1 NCAA hockey teams (seating capacity at the current rink is ~1250) and the rink is not regulation size. Another problem is that while hockey may have proved that it is in demand in C-U, it is pretty far down the list of sports the AD would like to add. Mens swimming and men's soccer are both sports that could be added to the Illinois AD for significantly less money and without having to add new facilities to the university.

… and it sounds like if the Big Ten adds a seventh member in hockey it won't be the Illini unless they get a Terry Pegula-level donation.

One wing forward extra crispy. It seems like basketball might have its two-ish open spots for the 2012 and 2013 classes filled promptly, what with Flint's Monte Morris declaring Michigan his leader, albeit only from the four teams who have offered, and August($) his decision timeframe. Meanwhile, Indiana's Zak Irvin is stepping up his campus visits considerably. He says he's not going to make an immediate decision but it doesn't sound like he's going to wait that long:

“Right now I’m just taking my time with it,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to do anything soon. I’m just reviewing all my options.”

In addition to Butler and Michigan, Irvin also has offers from Baylor, Illinois, Indiana, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Purdue and Xavier. Asked about his recent offers, Irvin said he “likes both coaching staffs” of Butler and Michigan.

“I’m still curious to see who comes out in July,” Irvin said of next month’s evaluation period. “I doubt anything happens before the

Irvin told Sam Webb that rumors a Michigan commitment was imminent were false and that "there are other schools" on his list.

Irvin's now being listed at 6'7" some places, FWIW. He'll be Sim Bhullar by the time he hits campus. Glenn Robinson III teammate Mitch McGary is also scheduled to be on campus shortly but probably remains a longshot.

Austin Hatch's situation makes Michigan's recruiting even more complicated. It will be a while before it's clear whether he can play basketball at a high level again. While I assume the NCAA will work something out so he can attend Michigan either way, there's uncertainty there. That's in the triple digits about "things you should care about related to Austin Hatch," of course.

The cheddar issue. The Business of College Sports highlights Michigan's massive construction projects:


That is a lot of money being spent on buildings that only indirectly benefit student-athletes:

As you can see, gifts help make these capital projects possible, but they only make a small dent in the total amount needed. The athletic department has incurred debt for a number of the projects and has budgeted $13.2 million in expenses for this debt service for the coming year. This is up $2.2 million from last year due to debt incurred for the Michigan Stadium and Crisler Arena projects.

In addition to this debt service, Michigan has another $14.4 million budgeted for “Facilities Expenses” and a “Deferred Maintenance Fund Transfer”. I should point out that $4.5 million of the $14.4 million  mentioned is for the “Deferred Maintenance Fund Transfer”. This is a fund set up during the 2003 fiscal year that is being built up to fund future “major repair and rehabilitation projects” for athletic facilities. Because Michigan turns an operating profit each year, they’re able to put aside for future capital projects in ways I’m sure many other universities cannot.

The $14.4 million I just detailed on top of the $29.9 million set aside for renovations to Crisler and Yost and $13.2 million in debt service on facilities adds up to $57.5 million Michigan is spending next year on facilities alone.

When we point at the surpluses run by large athletic departments and say some of that money could go to athletes we should also keep in mind that if facilities are going to be kept up to date colleges have to make that happen themselves. They can't extort local governments for stadiums, so they have to build up reserves and carefully plan ahead.

The insane future. Braves and Birds has hopped on the promotion and relegation bandwagon, proposing a two-tier SEC that's not entirely dissimilar from my tortured attempts to turn the hypothetical Mega Big Ten people were tossing around last summer into an actual conference instead of two conferences glommed together.

My tortured attempt was tortured largely because I was trying to find a way to prevent the Auburn problem. Auburn was 2-6 in conference in 2008 and 3-5 in 2009. They would have been in the second division of the SEC. In 2010 they were the best team in the country. An outright promotion/relegation system would have seen that team unable to compete for a conference title at all. That seems unacceptable, and that makes a straight system like B&B proposes unworkable. This doesn't affect soccer much because the top division is 18 or 20 teams—the chance the next tier down actually contains the best team is tiny. Not so much when you have smaller numbers and rapid turnover.

The only place I think a straight promotion and relegation system might work in CFB is with the Mountain West and assorted other teams. Right now they're on the verge of an automatic BCS bid, but they'll drop out of that after the TCU, Utah, and BYU departures are accounted for. If they had an eight-team top division and rounded up the WAC/Sunbelt/etc to comprise a lower division they could assure themselves the SJSUs of the world wouldn't drop their average rating while automatically sucking the strongest teams into a group of eight that just might qualify.

Meanwhile, I think I came to the conclusion that the only way a super-conference works is if you use dynamic scheduling (i.e., play part of the season and figure out the rest of the schedule after that). If you play half the conference slate, then have teams with good records play each other while the teams with bad records do the same, you can get enough interaction between the top teams to actually feel like 16 teams are a coherent whole.

Etc.: Shawn Hunwick (and a couple of Michigan athletes you're probably less familiar with) get their charity on. Fulham, a soccer club in London, inexplicably has a Michael Jackson statue in front of Craven Cottage, and now they're selling equally inexplicable merchandise related to it. OH DE Chris Wormley says Michigan leads. TTB talks to Desmond Morgan.


Kilgore Trout

June 30th, 2011 at 12:32 PM ^

I love promotion / relegation, but I just don't see it working in situations like college sports where rosters are so fluid.  You'd often have situations where teams that are completely rebuilding would be in the top division due to a great senior class that just graduated.  It just doesn't work, unfortuantely. 

On the other hand, a friend and I are in the planning stages of a 36 or 48 team, 3 or 4 league Fantasy Football Association with an FA Cup and all.  It's going to be awesome. 


June 30th, 2011 at 12:49 PM ^

Irregardless (LOL nonword) of my own opinion, I don't see a relegation system being popular in the US--either with the fans or the teams.

I agree that a relegation system makes no sense in college football where everything changes so quickly. Those systems work off last season which often has little to do with the present in college football. 


June 30th, 2011 at 1:14 PM ^

I think last season has a lot more to do with this season than most people realize. I think people tend to focus on the team winning the New And Improved BCS Bowl With No Name, and because that is usually different from year to year, people sometimes assume everything else is too ... or maybe because individual teams can have dramatic turnarounds, they assume that's common.

Look at the Big Ten, for example. Most people could split it into top flight and second flight without much thought: UM, OSU, PSU, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan State. Sure, we can take a couple of those teams and throw them in a bowl with Iowa and Illinois and draw two at random, but that's relegation/promotion for you. Some teams will shoot up and stay, some will collapse and stay, but generally speaking, most teams stay about where they are, and that's kind of the idea: drop the worst teams down and keep them from dragging the conference down, bring the next-best teams up and improve the top level of competition.

What would make the system unpopular with fans (assuming the current system is somewhat popular) is having to acknowledge that they have no chance to win a title before the season begins. (Of course, the vast majority of I-A teams do this anyway, but it's implicit, not explicit.) Winning a second-division title and getting to play with the big kids next season isn't nearly as exciting as grabbing a surprise share of a conference title and going to Pasadena.

Also, the top conferences tend to be more stable overall ... that's not necessarily a condition that makes relegation/promotion more effective (in fact it can be less effective, again using the EPL as an example, where a significant percentage of teams frankly don't have to worry about relegation), but in, say, the MAC, you might have some crazy results from season to season. Combine I-A teams into six superconferences and then you might be able to run an English-style system more effectively.


June 30th, 2011 at 3:20 PM ^

Promotion/relegation really makes no sense anywhere.  I have no idea why people would think it makes leagues more competitive. That's just people thinking the grass is greener on the other side.   It's just the opposite.  In European soccer, small-market teams are screwed by it.  They can't sensibly rebuild for the future because the fear of relegation (and the resulting collapse in revenues) forces them to constantly plan for the here and now.  And because they lack the revenue to compete with the big boys (who are also planning for the immediate future), they get outspent and the same couple of teams win the championship every year.

The Big Ten is a 116-year-old league, with historic rivalries.  I have zero desire to see some of them thrown away just so a MAC commuter school can go on our league schedule (as if we don't play enough MAC schools).  And I would have been less that fulfilled watching Michigan compete in the MAC in 2010 (we finished tied for 10th in 2009, remember).  I get that some people are fascinated by European soccer and all, but seriously, not everything they do is perfect.  I think they have more to learn from North American sports (like having salary caps and revenue sharing) than vice-versa, frankly.


June 30th, 2011 at 1:04 PM ^

that ensures the best English team isn't in the Championship or lower is the financial setup. When you have clubs spending 100-175 million pounds in the top flight on wages alone and taking in nearly 300 million pounds in some cases, it would be hard to find top-caliber players in the next league down (aside from recently-relegated sides), much less top-caliber teams.

I couldn't find financial information at the same level on Championship teams, but from what I read, they actually spend a higher percentage of revenue on wages than EPL teams do ... but there simply isn't enough money to do any better.

I think that what makes NCAA football seem so different is that the "divisions" are so much smaller and that talent isn't roughly organized by division. Over time, I think relegation/promotion formats might turn out like English football, if recruits move toward top-tier schools, but even so, you'd have to have superconferences for it to be more noticeable.

Also, yes, EA's stunning insistence on packing near-useless crap into new releases while completely ignoring significant, ongoing bugs has kept me from purchasing most EA games for a long time. Dear leagues, this is the result of exclusive licenses. You now have exclusively-licensed crap. (In relative terms; the Madden games during the 2K era were much more impressive, comparatively speaking. Ten years ago, EA wouldn't have released a half-ass online system and let it rot for three years before doing anything about it - I doubt it'll be any better in Madden 12 than it was in Madden 10.)


June 30th, 2011 at 1:24 PM ^

I was very, very good at the Command & Conquer line of games, created by Westwood Studios.  Red Alert and its expansions was the last game made by Westwood before the acquisition.  Tiberian Sun absolutely sucked; it broke no new ground for the series, it was bad balance between the factions, and it didn't "feel" like a C&C game.  Red Alert 2 was significantly better, but again, it wasn't really akin to the old C&C games I had grown up playing, and online game play/anti-cheater retaliatory options/tech support were severely limited.  After Yuri's Revenge came out I gave up on the series altogether.  EA made the games into generic Age of Empires-type clones, especially with Generals.

On the plus side, the FIFA series is worth playing if you like soccer.  However, I will never forgive EA for massacring my beloved Westwood and the promise of one of their flagship series.

M - Flightsci

June 30th, 2011 at 2:46 PM ^

C&C was awesome, Red Alert even better. You're right, EA killed it. The rest of the games have been terrible in comparison. The same with their sports games. Madden had significant improvement year to year even up to the early 2000's; afterwards it seems like the emphasis was on making the game more attractive rather than on gameplay (see: dreads). That corporate monster is killing quality gaming


June 30th, 2011 at 2:12 PM ^

Wow, Fulham mentioned on MGoBlog.  I did not expect that.

I've been an International Member of Fulham for a few years now, so I get emails from the club.  One came yesterday morning announcing the new Michael Jackson products and my first, second and third reactions were to cringe.

As far as owners of mid-tier Premiership clubs go, Mohamed Al-Fayed is pretty good.  When he gets a crazy idea though, he tends to run with it.  (You'll recall all the conspiracy theory stuff he put out surrounding his son's death.)


June 30th, 2011 at 2:46 PM ^

Please keep pushing for them.  They make sense, are inventive, and would greatly enhance every season, allowing it to build towards a conclusion.  Please use your considerable clout in the blogosphere to keep people discussing ideas like yours.  Don't let them live only in archives; they are too good and you are too young.

Bando Calrissian

June 30th, 2011 at 5:28 PM ^

The more I look at that scoreboard at Yost, the more I get this sinking feeling it's going to be paired with things like RAWK and smoke machines and all sorts of garbage of that ilk.  I'm having this vision of Bizarro Yost with Sandstorm playing as players stream out of the tunnel onto a darkened ice with spotlights and other brainchilds of "revenue stream" motivated marketing folks...

I hope I'm wrong.  But a scoreboard that size just seems like an invitation for the Anti-Yost.


June 30th, 2011 at 11:19 PM ^

I'm not worried so much about the RAWK--there is no tangible revenue stream attached to bad heavy metal--but I am worried about the scoreboard taking over from the band during commercial breaks.

The CCHA this last year added 3 "TV Timeouts" per period, whether the game was televised or not.  I'm afraid that this year will have 9 fewer opportunities per game for the band to play so we can have 9 commercials up on the tyrannovision.  Don't get me wrong--I am looking forward to video replays--but I am not looking forward to a Michigan Curly Fries Power Play brought to you by Arby's.



June 30th, 2011 at 9:49 PM ^

I thought I was the only one who thought the scoreboard looked a bit low. But Michigan Hockey Net noted that a post on the Michigan Hockey facebook page says it will be raised higher:

They added two notes—first, the split ‘M’ graphic will be fixed (per Dave Brandon’s orders earlier this year to stop using it), and second the scoreboard will be elevated higher.  Pretty much every photo so far has shown the new board hanging no higher than the first row of the upper deck and having fans wonder how many pucks were going to get flipped in to it.


June 30th, 2011 at 10:07 PM ^

As far as moving games for television goes, I'm all for the increased exposure but when I looked at the schedules it seemed like Sunday was a vast wasteland for basketball that hockey could fill. Is the NFL that much of a beast?

The 2010-11 schedule I looked at had only two Big Ten basketball games on Monday but about two dozen on Sunday. So if future basketball schedules are set up in a similar manner, then it does make sense from a BTN perspective to shift some hockey games to Monday.