Unverified Voracity Took A Daguerreotype Of Greg Mattison

Submitted by Brian on August 18th, 2011 at 1:13 PM


regression + old-timey Greg Mattison = ?

Let it breathe. So how about that diary this morning? Man. I'm heartened by the idea that the admittedly rough model contained in it thinks Michigan's defense will bubble up to 71st even though it asserts changing coordinators/coaches is a worth an eight-spot hit to your final rankings.

In this case you can—are compelled to—argue that if anything it will swing the other way once Michigan decides to run one sane defense instead of a mélange of incoherent ones. Regression to the mean is our most favorite friend:

Top Underperforming Defensive Years


Predicted Finish

Actual Finish


Michigan 2010



New HC

Florida State 2009



New HC

Washington 2008



New HC

Northwestern 2010




San Jose State 2009



New HC

Not only are we bad and expected to regress upwards, we were much worse than expected. Expectations will deflate but even so they will come in well above our finish last year.

The main argument against this is the impact of Michigan's recruiting rankings on the model (quite positive) versus their impact on the field (not so much). The list of the departed is depressing and extensive: Boubacar Cissoko, Brandon Smith, Taylor Hill, Justin Turner, Vlad Emilien, Cullen Christian, and Demar Dorsey are a big chunk of Michigan's four and five star defensive recruits; none are around. Will Campbell and JB Fitzgerald, two of the thin remainder, are badly underperforming expectations. Attrition from the underclass has also hurt.

The numbers point towards a two-year project. Like the 2009 offense, the 2011 defense should be worlds better than its predecessor. Unfortunately that will only get them to average, which isn't that average for a BCS team that will play cupcakes who can't compete with it.

The other interesting thing from the model was a quantification of how important the quarterback is: getting a returning starter there is more than four times more valuable than an average non-QB offensive starter. Guess who's got a returning starter at QB for the first time since 2007? Michigan. You can even argue that 2006 was the last time Michigan really got to use a returning starter to his full capabilities—Chad Henne missed big chunks of 2007 and was never fully healthy until the bowl game.

Oh snap. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is itching for a duel. His statement on Larry Dee:

"If the allegations prove true," he said, "the words irony and hypocrisy don't seem to go far enough."

These corrupt NCAA functionaries would do their cause a favor if they at least required some caricature before they looked like Thomas Nast cartoons. I, mean, seriously:

thomas-nastpaul dee

That Junker guy That Junker guy also looked like a walking editorial cartoon. This is not helping their public image.

Oh snap part II. I was going to make this comparison myself but Grant Wahl beat me to it:

FIFA and NCAA are almost exactly the same in their complete inability to police themselves.

When you can compare an organization to FIFA with little, if any, hyperbole and don't have an obvious breaking point in 2014 there is trouble.

Yahoo continues strafing runs. It's a good combo they've got going at Yahoo: Charles Robinson flies over in the B-52 dropping the big bombs while Wetzel swoops in to pick off any survivors with a machine gun. This time Wetzel's plinking away at the whole damn system:

Guys wanted to party on a yacht. Guys wanted to drink free in a VIP section of a nightclub. Guys wanted some cash, or a mansion to hang out in, or some extra money for a big hit, or maybe even the wildest of parties.

It’s not abnormal behavior from 20-year-olds.

Except in the mind of the NCAA, which is so far backward, it’s wasting time arguing over whether offering players a minor monthly stipend will cut too far into the adults’ gravy train.

Would it be so bad if this stuff was okay? Not the prostitutes, but just hanging out maxing all cool with guys who want to be your pet ATM? I guess that's not in the Spirit of Amateurism but even the Olympics have given up that ghost. Adam Jacobi asked much the same question at CBS, and the only objections I have to it are purely selfish: I don't know if Michigan boosters can dole out the rewards with the same kind of élan other schools can.

I've advocated something less holistic in the past in regards to basketball: let kids enter the draft whenever they want, let them play summer ball with teams, let them sign with agents, let the NBA teams sign them—and then let the kids go back to school and play if the NBA doesn't think they're ready. Where's the harm in that?

The NCAA continues to pretend like it's 1955, and that there wasn't rampant cheating in 1955, and that everyone has the morals of 1880. They could go a long way towards making the system fair without unbalancing it just by acknowledging that pro leagues are not evil. The last people to have that notion rode bicycles with one enormous wheel and one tiny one and thought Irish people were basically livestock. They also looked like Paul Dee—ohhhhh. I get it now.

But it's not so they must burn. A bit more on Pryor getting paid by Sarniak:

Pryor said he and his mother received cash and assistance with car payments from Ted Sarniak, a businessman in Pryor’s hometown of Jeannette, Pa., sometime before leaving school in June, lawyer David Cornwell told ESPN.

Cornwell, who is representing Pryor in his bid to be declared eligible for the NFL supplemental draft, said Pryor informed the NCAA and provided documents in May. As Pryor was being recruited in 2008, the NCAA told Ohio State that Sarniak could not provide anything of value to Pryor once he enrolled.

It's Big Brother-y, but NCAA teams can view the bank accounts of their players, which is probably why AJ Hawk and friends had three thousand dollars in cash on them when they got robbed that one time. Smart people keep their booster money in hard currency. Terrelle Pryor put it in a bank, one that OSU had access to, after his controversial recruitment found that he had received extra benefits in high school from Sarniak. Sarniak was in frequent contact with not only Tressel but the head of compliance at Ohio State. Pryor had lots of suspiciously nice cars. At no point did anyone in the compliance department add two and two together.

Brace yourself for this bit of spin:

Phone records also show that Ohio State compliance director Doug Archie stayed in regular contact with Sarniak.

“It’s expected that a compliance officer is calling constituents involved with the athletics department,” Lynch said. “It speaks to the compliance department’s thoroughness in monitoring such matters.”


Available for viewing at the cube. Three Michigan commits made the NTDP U17s: Evan Allen, JT Compher, and Tyler Motte. This was already known, so it's a bit disappointing a couple of the other guys didn't slide their way onto the team. Three is still a good number. No other school has more than two.

Also, the U17 team is an indication of how much college hockey recruiting has accelerated. Only four of the twenty skaters are uncommitted. These guys are 2013 commits with two years of junior in front of them—that's like 80 of the top 100 guys in Shane Morris's football class already being committed.

By that time Michigan will be in the Big Ten, so you can ignore the Miami guys on the list. The only player from the U17 Michigan will see down the road is Michigan State commit Mike McCarron.

Waiting it out. Michigan would very much like to add U18 defenseman Jacob Trouba, one of those weird guys who waits it out. Trouba is a potential first rounder in next year's draft and has yet to make a decision because he plans on sticking to it:

"That's sort of why I haven't (committed), because I don't want to make a commitment and then back down from it," said the 17-year-old on Wednesday. … "My family and I have always been like that -- my parents have always told me that if I make a commitment, that I have to stick with it, at least until the end of the year and then I can do whatever," said the 6-foot-2, 193-pound blueliner. "So, I'm going to wait until I know for sure what I want to do and then I'm going to choose."

Michigan is "in the equation" along with Notre Dame and the OHL's Kitchener.

Etc.: A third oh snap: Braves and Birds defines Clay Travis by calling him "embarrassingly self-congratulatory." Also he demolishes the silly argument about lawsuits he's making in re: Texas A&M to the SEC. (Remember when people cared about that?). Rock M Nation/Football Study Hall/Football Outsiders guru Bill Connolly is profiled by Vox Magazine.



August 18th, 2011 at 1:28 PM ^

Did you just make a case for turning college athletics into a minor league for the pros, players to the highest bidder?

For a guy who gets bent out of shape due to RAWK music and any other marketing thing that the Athletic Department does (like trying to make money, which you've said time and time again ISN'T the be all and end all point of college athletics), it didn't seem to fit together. Programs are supposed to uphold tradition and the folksy ways, and think about the fan experience, rather than every last penny....but the players, let's just take them to the strip clubs on a booster's dime (as long as they don't get SEX in them, of course)?

Something doesn't compute.


August 18th, 2011 at 2:20 PM ^

You're under the impression that the NBA and the NFL do not expressly use NCAA sports as their minor league? How is that not what's happening?

I think the "bought" players exist in a different way that you're implying. Players go to the largest, richest programs, invariably, because those are the programs that offer them the biggest coaches, best facilities, and most exposure.

That is the system as it currently exists.


August 18th, 2011 at 2:54 PM ^

But "bought" in the way I was referring was the way Brian was referring that it wouldn't be so bad if players got bling, and free passes, and everything not illegal (law not NCAA-wise).  Which isn't even a totally untenable position (though not one I'd agree with), just completely different from Brian's "college should not equal the pros" drumbeat to David Brandon and anyone else who'll listen. So I was and am not sure if I was misunderstanding, or it was some sarcasm that didn't quite bop me over the head hard enough.

I suppose we could change the rules, and make it a free for all, but that brings us closer to the pro style, and away from the college "ideal".  It's true that whoever is willing to spend can compete more.  The largest, richest programs are that way because they were willing to spend and give the effort to become them. While it's not likely that EMU could do it, Wisconsin was a dreg of college sports, and is now one of the haves.  Boise State committed to being good. There's a caste, but you can move from one level to the next. But I can see how there's a fine line between willing to pay to have a competitive coach, and facilities, and all that, and paying to have competitive players.  Maybe not all that different.  But I hope, just enough.

El Jeffe

August 18th, 2011 at 3:32 PM ^

You're the least spittle-flecked poster with whom I nevertheless find myself disagreeing most often and most vociferously, but I see your point here. Perhaps the way to reconcile Brian's views is to separate the game experience from the dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich aspect of recruiting. In other words, if players were allowed to get some walking around money and other things like that, but the games weren't marred by Saliva RAWK and freeeeeeeeeee piiiiiiiizzzzaaaaaaaa!!! then perhaps that would be copasetic for Brian.


August 18th, 2011 at 4:04 PM ^

If he was just advocating/talking about some walking around money, from the schools, there might be debatable merit, but it's hardly controversal or contradictory.  But he seems to be saying that would it be so bad if players could hang out at the swankiest clubs with some extra bling and spending money from these leech like hangers-on booster-types. But it might be complete sarcasm, or a bit of hyperbole for effect.  I just can't tell.  I don't think "stipend" is incongruous with hating dancing curly fries.  Just that "what's so bad about a player getting an open bar" while saying "Arby's logo's are the devil's work" isn't making sense to me.


August 18th, 2011 at 6:01 PM ^

Players go to the largest, richest programs, invariably, because those are the programs that offer them the biggest coaches, best facilities, and most exposure.

But they still aren't getting paid (besides their scholarship). Brian's suggestion, from what I gather, is that players should be allowed to actually be wage earners from their athletic abilities (with the money coming from third-parties). That's significantly different than just going to a school that puts money into its program in the form of facilities and whatnot.

Also, now that practically every game is on TV, the gap in exposure between a program like Michigan and a program like TCU or Boise has shrunk to almost zero. From a purely financial standpoint, there may not be much difference between going to Michigan or Boise, at least in the short term. (Long-term, maybe our better network of alumni could pay off.)


August 18th, 2011 at 1:35 PM ^

"Guess who's got a returning starter at QB for the first time since 2007? Michigan."

This might be splitting hairs but technically UM had a returning starter at QB in 2010.  Tate Forcier started in 2009 and was back in 2010.


August 18th, 2011 at 1:58 PM ^

What about the idea of having the NBA use the NHL's draft system. Not the whole minor-league thing, but where they can draft the "rights" to a player out of high school if they want. Then they go to school, and they go to their NBA team when ready? Or they can go right out of high school.


August 18th, 2011 at 2:11 PM ^

B&B on Clay Travis...


Much of the commentary has been poorly reasoned. Exhibit A is the blogosphere’s Lionel Hutz, Clay Travis.

Oh, snap.


August 18th, 2011 at 2:12 PM ^

The whole final paragraph of the Yahoo section was spot on.  This part made me laugh:

"The last people to have that notion rode bicycles with one enormous wheel and one tiny one and thought Irish people were basically livestock."

Ed Shuttlesworth

August 18th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

While this is the darkest time for college sports in our lifetimes, everyone who loves them -- including Brian -- must redouble their efforts to keep them amateur.

No, we don't want college athletes, already overburdened with school and sport, spending their what little free time they have standing beneath jock-sniffers and Ponzi schemers making rain on them.   Tom Harmon and Chris Hutchinson and Mike Hart and Charles Woodson aren't pole dancers. 

This is what you get when you allow logos on uniforms, build luxury boxes in the stadiums, shower huge salaries on coaches, exercise a strictly commercial relationship with traditional conference peers, and otherwise whore your program out to purely commercial concerns.(**)   While there has always been "cheating" in college sports, today's crisis is of a different magnitude.  Because the adults have been so transcendently piggish and irresponsible, and taken so much out of the system, kids are no longer satisfied with a scholarship for what they're asked to put in.  When coaches were paid like professors, and before the sport turned itself entirely over to Nike and ESPN, they were.  

I don't know how you put that toothpaste back in the tube.   

(**) And oversign, cut kids from scholarship, and otherwise behave as a purely professional endeavor.


Zone Left

August 18th, 2011 at 3:11 PM ^

I think your view of history is seriously romanticized.

Ever since college football started, teams have been cheating, boosters have been giving stars money and buying recruits, and universities have been trying to wring every dime out of the sport they could.

In the early part of the 1900s, teams actually used ringers on their teams. While some of today's stars may only be student-athletes in the loosest sense of the word, they at least (probably) attend classes. Ringers were paid(!) to show up on their weekends off from the steel mill and crush unsuspecting 19 year old Sophomores.

If anything, things are closer to being on the up and up than they probably ever have been. It's a lot harder to give the parents a new job, give the kid a new car, and move everyone to a new place near campus today because everyone with a cell phone is a potential reporter. Pryor never gets caught 20 years ago.

Ed Shuttlesworth

August 18th, 2011 at 3:27 PM ^

I wouldn't dispute what's been said about the 1900s; my point of reference is more the 1970s and 1980s.  College sports have become far more commercial since then -- so much so that kids en masse see their receipt of a mere scholarship as a joke. 

It's not that there wasn't cheating in the 70s and 80s; it's that the bedrock arrangement of the sport -- a scholarship to be a student-athlete in exchange for playing your best -- looks like it isn't going to work much longer.  That sea change is entirely the fault of the system's adults -- who were horrible stewards of the sport and dreadful guardians of its place in American culture.

Zone Left

August 18th, 2011 at 3:46 PM ^

I just think kids have always felt that way. There always have and always will be hotshot kids who think they deserve more than what they have. Supposedly, there have been underground discussions about athletes boycotting the NCAA tournament to protest not getting their share of the money.

As for the game's commercialization, that's why you can see every game on TV. Should the schools give the product away and put the kids in cotten t-shirts when Adidas will give the school millions of dollars to keep the rest of the department afloat?

Personally, I think BCS conference revenue sport athletes should get a stipend beyond cost of living. They generate enormous amounts of revenue in exchange for a degree that costs the university essentially nothing to provide--and a lot of those degrees aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

Remember fixed vs variable costs: a university has enormous fixed costs and relatively few variable costs, so adding one student costs the university much, much less than the sticker price.

Ed Shuttlesworth

August 18th, 2011 at 4:13 PM ^

Michigan football players didn't wear "cotton t-shirts" before the school sold out to Nike; they wore the same jerseys they wear today, only without a swoosh.(**)

I'll gladly give back the Baby Seal U. game on TV to keep the sport amateur.  There's always highlights, Michigan Replay (which would come back if the games weren't all on TV) and, you know, buying a ticket and watching the game in person.  Big Ten football didn't start with the Big Ten Network going live.

I wouldn't have a problem with a stipend to help defray actual living expenses.  That's entirely different than letting Ponzi schemers and other dirty-money boosters have open season on college athletes.

(**) And, of course, slightly tweaked roadies.

Zone Left

August 18th, 2011 at 4:19 PM ^

Wow, I wouldn't be willing to give up Adidas, or Nike, or Puma, or the TV contract because it would come at the expense of having teams in lacrosse, swimming, baseball, softball, etc.

Besides, I like watching the games every week--including the away games. I especially liked having them on TV when I lived 3000 miles away. There is obviously demand for the product, so money is going to change hands to get the games on TV. Saying it's an amateur game hasn't been true in a long, long time. They've always been poorly compensated professionals, in my opinion.

Ed Shuttlesworth

August 18th, 2011 at 4:51 PM ^

Funny, though, isn't it, that Michigan had swimming, baseball, and softball teams for decades before Nike, et al.  The idea that it couldn't afford a lacrosse team, too, without Nike, et al., is propaganda from first word to last.

Michigan football and Michigan athletics thrived for decades without the Nike swoosh, and without the football coach being paid 10 times the salary of the best professors on campus.

Zone Left

August 18th, 2011 at 5:20 PM ^

The world has changed. Average FBS coaches make well over $1 million per year today and the best assistants make seven figures too. Unless you expect the best coaches to come to Michigan for 5% of their peers' pay and kids to want to come to a school without state of the art facilities, you need Adidas and TV money. 

I'm not saying the arms race is a good thing, but it isn't going away unless Michigan deemphasizes sports like the Ivy League or Chicago.

Ed Shuttlesworth

August 18th, 2011 at 6:06 PM ^

It's going to be tough to put the toothpaste back in the tube.  It's pretty clear that the scholarship-stipend model is doomed if college football and basketball remain full-fledged participants in supra-campus corporate and commercial life.   You either have to move the sports back closer to the ivory tower ideal (**), to a more measured and tempered activity that eschews possible revenues (***), or turn it into something that will no longer be "college" football and basketball as those terms have been understood for decades.

If you do the latter, you're going to lose a lot of fans including, maybe, me.  I'm not sure I'm into doing Whatever is Necessary to keep "competitive" with the hillbilly schools and corrupt-from-top-to-bottom shitholes like Ohio the way those places seem to be "progressing." 

(**) A place where it wasn't in the 70s and 80s, but was much closer to than it is today.

(***) And, thus, an activity entirely antithetical to The Tao of Brandon.


August 18th, 2011 at 5:49 PM ^

If your point of reference is the 1970s and '80s, I have no idea how you can think cheating is more rampant now than then.  Take another look at what SWC programs were doing back then.  SMU had a literal payroll for football players, and knowledge of it went up to the governor's office (and it's generally accepted that other SWC programs did likewise). 


Ed Shuttlesworth

August 18th, 2011 at 6:01 PM ^

I'm not saying cheating's better or worse then than now; if that's the takeaway, I'm not explaining myself well enough.

I'm saying -- slightly paraphrased -- kids aren't happy with a scholarship now because a scholarship compared to what the adults are taking from the system seems so miniscule.  If the adults took less from the system -- as they did pre-Nike, pre-luxury boxes, pre-paying coaches ten times what professors make, pre-conference shopping, pre-multi billion dollar TV contracts, pre-everyone in the stands wearing player jerseys instead of a few people, and pre-everything else -- there's no reason to believe the kids wouldn't revert to being (generally) happy with the scholarship.

As they were in the 70s and 80s.

And it's the fact that the value of the scholarship has gone down so much compared to the adults' take that is causing the kinds of concession to "reality" speechifying we're hearing from serious commentators -- like Brian -- in the wake of the corruption at The U.   That "let's give up" attitude needs to be fought.



August 18th, 2011 at 6:36 PM ^

I think we, as adults, have a tendency to overthink things and ascribe grand motives to the actions of young people when there may not be any.  Most college-aged people want more money than they currently have, and will take an opportunity to get some if they can.  It doesn't matter if they're athletes or not - that's just human nature.  I don't think the issue is so much that players feel like the system is ripping them off (they do get a lot of free things on bowl trips and such), but that there are lots of people surrounding them that want to give them free things.  And that's been true forever.  For every Chris Webber who rationalizes it as a way of getting "his share," you have your Traylor, Taylor and Bullock, who never offered any explanation other than that the money was out there. 

Even if players were allowed a stipend for "walking around money," there'd still be slimy people offering more.  "Walking around money" won't buy you a $40K SUV.  There's no simple remedy.  (IMO, throwing agents - some of the slimiest people around - into the mix isn't going to simplify things any.  Anything that strengthens agents' influence in sports makes me leery.)



Michigan Arrogance

August 18th, 2011 at 2:44 PM ^

I can understand how people think the D could be significantly better. Up to slightly below average, even. There's a lot to suggest that.

What I don't understand is how the expectations for the season are so low. An improved D, an easier schedule, a returning starter at QB and 8 other positions on O including 4 on the OL. Yet NO ONE is expecting more than 7 wins? People are acting like 8 wins would be a miracle. 8 should be the expectation at this point. Somehow Hoke has leveraged everyones expectations well below what they had for RR in 2011, inspite of being you know, more competant at his job.

El Jeffe

August 18th, 2011 at 3:36 PM ^

I completely agreed with everything you said, right up until the point where you claimed with apparent total certainty (unless I missed some of that famed Michigan Arrogance irony) that Hoke is more competent at his job than RR. Assuming that claim is possible to adjudicate, don't you think we should wait until Hoke, you know, coaches a game?

El Jeffe

August 18th, 2011 at 9:16 PM ^

I'm honestly not being argumentative here. What, in the first nine months of RR's reign, would you point to as being significantly worse than Hoke that has to do with coaching football? The number of transfers? Mabye, though would we have wanted Mallett/Boren/Wermers/O'Neill on the team anyway? Hiring Mattison vs. Shafer? Maybe, though at the time the Shafer hire seemed like a nice move.

Hoke's nearly unprecedented success on the recruiting trail for his first full class is definitely > RR's first full class, but I wouldn't say this means RR was incompetent in his first 9 months, only that Hoke/Mattison/Borges have some insane ninja shit working. And make no mistake, I love it. I just am reserving judgment on the man with a sub-.500 winning percentage until he actually coaches in some games.

Michigan Shirt

August 18th, 2011 at 2:59 PM ^

So I know we all hate Rosenberg here, but I think he makes a very interesting point and I haven't seen anyone link it yet. I wonder at how the NCAA can "deal" with these issues.

SI Link


This is how many, many college athletes view the NCAA's amateurism rules. They might follow them. They might not. But they don't passionately believe in the rules.

How could they? How could they possibly think the NCAA has their best interests at heart? This is an organization that requires players to not only miss one or two days of class for every week of the NCAA tournament, but also requires them to miss an additional day just for press conferences and open practices in front of fans. This benefits me professionally, but I would never in a million years argue that it is in the best interest of players. It's about marketing. Does the NCAA think players don't realize that?


August 18th, 2011 at 3:27 PM ^

Besides the datapoints listed, is that Borges' offense will also help the D by consuming more clock and by having fewer turnovers.  Didn't see it mentioned but then again I just skimmed.


August 18th, 2011 at 5:45 PM ^

One possible way I see things changing is to have professional sports work in concert with the NCAA to implement a carry over effect similar to what seems to be the case with Pryor.  Lose a year of playing time, and you might think twice.

 I also wonder why the current process of major violation resolution couldn't include an option on the part of the NCAA to file civil actions against offending players (or institutions) who are at the next level or out of sports, thus providing the ability to ask questions and get answers through the discovery/trial process.  Unwieldy, yes, but something needs to be done.


August 18th, 2011 at 7:30 PM ^

Many people poo-poo the Educational benefit of a college scholarship when staring down the millions of dollars the Universities make from the game. Well, why not eliminate the college game altogether? The fact is, without the large television exposure/media hype and the unverified voracity of blogs such as this, these athletes would not have the exposure and preparation required by the NFL to wager millions of dollars on them. For those select few (what is it, 2% of college football players?) who make it to the pros, they certainly get their payday for playing a game. For the other 98%, a college education (which most of us had to pay for, and continue to pay for for up to 30 years post graduation) is free. I'd say that is worth a great deal. The scholarship football player gets a sweet deal which is inherently dependent upon the succesa of the Universities marketing success. And if they dont succeed at making the NFL, they often end up with a paid for degree from a University they likely never would have gotten into in the first place if they couldnt pancake people. Dont hate the University for profiting off a game, and dont feel too sorry for the players participating.