Showing posts with label it's all about the cash money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label it's all about the cash money. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Miscellaneous Minutiae, 11/20/12

This is the first one of these in a while. With school winding down for the Thanksgiving break, I should be able to get a few things up this week leading up to The Game. 

60 Minutes piece. In case you missed it (and you probably didn't), Michigan was featured prominently Sunday in a 60 Minutes spot on the state of college football. Nothing "new" was presented --yes, college football has always been about the money, even when it supposedly wasn't-- but it was interesting to see Michigan chosen as one of two representatives of the industry of collegiate athletics:

I would be lying if I didn't say that, on the heels of Saturday's smashing victory, that the part of the brain that sends out neurotransmitters telling you to be SO PROUD weren't firing as I watched Michigan run out under the banner, Kovacs make a Kovacsy tackle on the edge and the Big House crowd going wild. I honestly have not delved too much into the reaction to the piece, but I imagine there was some hemming and hawing about Dave Brandon saying the things that Dave Brandon is wont to say.

All I'll say is this: I have been generally supportive of Brandon, and plan on being so until something truly egregious happens. No, uniform experimentation, Legends patches and all the other mildly annoying but decidedly ancillary things that Brandon has engineered do not fall under this umbrella. My only criticism is his point that playing games in places like Dallas generates fan interest for games at home. Even I, the endangered species that is the DB supporter, cannot get behind this byzantine logic.

Again, this is nothing new, but it's hard not to feel a little bit queasy (okay, a lot queasy) at the mere notion of what college football actually is, outside of the boundaries of standard platitudes about the mythical student-athlete and all the other things that we like to think exist but don't. Unfortunately, Pandora is out of the box, and it's not going back in.

Speaking of the industry...via Kyle Meinke, Brady Hoke has dropped down to the 12th highest paid coach in college football, down from 8th. He is "only" making $3,046,120, down a couple of hundred thousand from last season. During the 60 Minutes piece last night, Nick Saban was asked whether or not he is "worth it" (re: his ridiculous salary).

Saban self-deprecatingly answered "probably not." I wonder what Hoke's response would be? "Wellll there's no question that cheese pizza is the best food that you have and in no way should chicken come into the equation and those great kids in the Michigan community that eat that pizza know what the tradition of cheese pizza means to this university and the fans and past eaters of cheese pizza." 

Obligatory expansion ire. So, Maryland and Rutgers. If anything in sports would inspire a lukewarm at best reaction, it would be this.

On the bright side, at least the Big Ten will finally tap into the college football haven that is New York City, where Rutgers University is in fact located. What's that? *Checks map.* Ah, I see.

This puts the conference at 14 teams, two away from attaining superconference status. If these acquisitions confuse you, just wait until the Big Ten makes the now seemingly inevitable move to 16 teams.

GIFs, Ohio State edition. Just in case you needed reminding, Ohio State is our rival and we do dislike them to a certain extent. Here's a GIF of David Boston looking like he's in a game of Fight Night (via Eleven Warriors, HT mgoblog), from the tremendous time-space known as "1997":

Good, good. Let the hate flow through you.

Big Ten basketball is not terrible hey let's talk about it. I haven't gotten into the college basketball season yet in earnest due to time-related reasons, but here's a very brief roundup of the Big Ten's performance thus far to give you a vague outline of how things have played out:
  • Michigan: 4-0. Best team in the history of organized sports. Will win every game by no fewer than 84 points. The Wolverines take the floor at the World's Most Famous Arena Wednesday night against Pitt. 
  • Iowa: 4-0. Hasn't played anybody of note, but this is a team that could make some noise this year. Roy Devyn Marble and now sophomore Aaron White are averaging 15.5 and 14.8 ppg, respectively. 
  • Indiana: 4-0. Like everyone else, they've taken care of business against a bunch of nobodies. They were tied with Georgia at the half last night but pulled out a 66-53 win. As expected, they can definitely fill it up (#1 in ppg as a team coming into last night's game). The question that lingers from last season is whether or not they can actually play defense. 
  • Nebraska: 3-0. Good start for the Huskers under new HC Tim Miles. Did have a close 2-point victory against Valparaiso, which is at least a known mid-major brand. 
  • Purdue: 1-3. Easily the biggest disappointment of the conference to date. This is not a vintage Matt Painter Purdue team to say the least. I'm not sure where the points will come from with this roster during life after Hummel/Lewis Jackson. The Boilers have losses to Bucknell, Villanova (in OT) and Oregon State to their name already. D.J. Byrd as your leading scorer with 11 ppg is fairly grim. 
  • Ohio State: 3-0. Again, early season caveats, but the Buckeyes did beat Washington to win the Hall of Fame tourney, so that's something. The Buckeyes do have a date with Duke coming up on the 28th. 
  • Wisconsin: 2-1. 2012 is the year that will prove once and for all whether or not Wisconsin can really Wisconsin around and somehow go .500+ in the Big Ten without really having a point guard. Swing offense, yeah! Anyway, the Badgers took a pretty ugly loss on the road at Florida in between blowouts of Southeastern Louisiana and Cornell. The Badgers take on a ranked Creighton team on the 23rd.  
  • Penn State: 2-2. Lost to NC State by 17 (who just got destroyed by Oklahoma State) and got bludgeoned by Akron in Puerto Rico, 60-85. They do still have Tim Frazier, so hopefully he will continue to enjoy doing everything, all the time. 
  • Illinois: 3-0. The John Groce era is off to a nice start, if you ignore the fact that the Illini had to battle back from a 16-point second half deficit to beat Hawaii in overtime, 78-77. 
  • Michigan State: 2-1. The Spartans took a tough loss to UConn on the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany (Read that sentence again...welcome to sports in 2012!) The Spartans bounced back to knock off Kansas in their next game, though. 
  • Northwestern: 3-0. Same song here: three games, three blowouts. The only currently ranked team left on Northwestern's non-conference schedule is #24 Baylor. Given the Wildcats' struggles in the conference schedule, anything less than 10-2 in the non-conference probably means another year without a tourney invite for Carmody's 'Cats. 
  • Minnesota: 4-0. Four meaningless blowouts. They take on Duke on Thursday before traveling to Florida State on the 27th. Oh, also, Rodney Williams Jr. is shooting a ridiculous 73.5% from the field. 
So, there you have it. Nothing of note so far other than Purdue looking like it could be very, very bad this season. Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State are, as the rankings would indicate, the class of the conference, and Michigan State will of course be in the mix as well. Wisconsin is probably in for somewhat of a down year, but a tournament appearance should still be in the cards, as I'm sure they'll find a way to somehow win 10 Big Ten games.

More? DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK.  "On the latest Sports Retort, how do Big Ten traditionalists make peace with the new, less-pedigreed teams headed for their conference, which now includes miles of Atlantic coastline?" AHHHHH. "How does the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry compare with that of the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers?" AHHHHHHH. 

Apropos of nothing, the line for the Iron Bowl currently sits at 'Bama -31.5 (I probably didn't need to include the "Bama" part). Auburn fans, welcome to Michigan football circa 2008. 

BHGP on Saturday...I know that feel, man. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Miscellaneous Minutiae, 7/10/2012

Yes...this was a thing. 

Mediocrity and bygone memories. At this point in time, the Orange Bowl has lost its luster. It's MJ playing with the Wizards, and that is a very unfortunate thing indeed. Scanning the list of Orange Bowl games in recent years is a grotesque exercise. Even the 2006 Penn State-Florida State matchup--one which you'd think would be a firecracker of a game based on name brand cachet alone--featured a 4-loss Seminole team. To be fair, it did go to OT, and was a fairly exciting game. If anything, that game further confirmed that the difference between 1/2 (Texas and USC) and the next team, #3 PSU, was pretty significant. 2005: The Year That The BCS Accidentally Worked.

To make a long story short, the ACC courting perpetual free agent Notre Dame for an Orange Bowl tie-in, in one enormous melting pot of mediocrity. The ACC/the Orange Bowl game are kind of like the Cheesecake Factory: mindlessly uniform (everybody has 7 wins, everybody has the same mediocre, overstretched menu). Like the city of Charlotte--where the ACC title game has been held the the last two years after an embarrassing 2008 turnout in Tampa--ACC would rather be doing something else (i.e. playing basketball, while Charlotteans watch NASCAR).

On a related note, this isn't exactly a new thought, but: I wonder how long ND can continue to find itself being treated with kid gloves before the college football world just stops caring about them. I get the feeling that that might never happen, because after nearly two decades of mostly awful football, ND is still in discussions such as this one with the ACC. ND's privileged drifter status truly is one of the weirdest arrangements in sports. As Hinton notes, for any of this to even come into play, ND will need to win enough games:
Yes, that assurance could come at the expense of a mid-major outfit that can't promise a sellout or a huge TV rating, but old Notre Dame will never be handed a golden ticket based on echoes alone. Its current arrangement with BCSguarantees the Irish access to one of the big-money bowls if they finish with either a top-ten ranking in the BCS standings or nine wins in the regular season, hurdles they've managed to clear just three times in the Series' 14-year existence. Any deal with the Orange Bowl (or any other major bowl) is likely to come with criteria in the same vein, based on the selection committee poll that will replace the BCS standings.
As we have seen, this has been easier said than done, even with the 9-win clause built in for them. It's kind of irritating, but, when you think about it, the entire playoff process has revealed that it's all about the money. That thing that isn't money that you thought this was about just a little bit? Nope, it's not about that. A ND team that might not be great but provides a better turnout (i.e. a chance for a stadium to look somewhat full) than another team that is probably better but not as cash-flush...seems like a no-brainer for the ACC and the Orange Bowl. It's definitely needed, since I almost have no desire to watch the Orange Bowl these days, and I watched almost every pre-NYD bowl game this past season, so that should tell you something. Utah State-Ohio and San Diego State-Louisiana Lafayette were arguably more entertaining bowl games than every Orange Bowl game within the last five years.

PHIL STEELE IS VERY EXCITED ABOUT MICHIGAN. The Oracle that is Phil Steele has deemed Michigan one of a choice group of potential 2012 national title winners. I'm only mentioning this to highlight this part:
Steele used extensive statistical research from 24 different stat categories for all national title winners and contenders over the past 20 years to come up with his final list of 11.
His research looked at all past championship teams' wins and losses from the previous season, offensive and defensive numbers, turnover margin and schedule strength.
There's no way that Phil Steele is actually a living, breathing human being. Have any of you actually seen Phil Steele, like, walking around and stuff? No? Yup, he's a robot because Occam's Razor. Plus, if the BCS has taught me anything, a robot/computer agenda exists, and it is not to be trusted.

While I find Steele's most deployed construction of "if you'll remember that time I was right about this thing" to be amusing but kind of tiresome after having seen it for so many years, it's July; his analysis, JAM-PACKED WITH FACTS, is at least worth a scan. If anything, you have to respect that hustle.

UM-MSU rivalry fuel. A new book on an interesting part of Big Ten history is out, "Arrogance and Scheming in the Big Ten", by Dr. David J. Young (HT: Big Ten Blog). Man, I can't wait to find out who the arrogant ones in this yarn are! On a serious note, the 374-page tome details Michigan State's tumultuous entry into the conference in 1949 and our own evil, mustache-twirlingly arrogant attempts to keep them out. We're always the villains, it seems. Don't people know that calling us arrogant all the time hurts our feelings? We have them, you know.

In any case, this is a history that I am admittedly not that familiar with, so this seems like something that would definitely be worth a read. With that said, I just wanted to touch on this point:
Among many revelations, “Arrogance and Scheming” smashes the idea that the early 20th century was a time of rah-rah innocence for college football. Indeed, scandals and presumed scandals weaved their way through the Western Conference.
Do people actually believe that the early days of college football were any different than they are now? If anything, they were probably "worse," just with way less cash money coming out of the whole enterprise. If so, this thinking is obviously naive, perspective-less "the old-days-were-better" talk. That said, if the book is as well-researched and sourced as it sounds like it is--featuring extensive use of Michigan's own Bentley Library--it would appear to be required reading for the college football history buff, B1G fan or not.

Also, I didn't know this, but apparently UofM English professor Ann Curzan was selected as Michigan's faculty rep to the B1G and NCAA in February, which, as Rexrode's article notes, is fairly poetic. Curzan is the granddaughter of former MSU President John Hannah, who sparred with Michigan's own Ralph Aigler--Michigan's faculty rep at that time--throughout MSU's Big Ten admission struggle.

To all of that I say: MICHIGAN ENGLISH DEPARTMENT REPRESENT! WOOOO WE RUN THIS CAMPUS, Y'ALL. Hope you are all ready to see "Special K" ushered out in favor of Samuel L. Jackson-voiced audiobooks of Victorian literature, played line by line at key moments throughout the game.

Carl Grapentine: Maxwell's pass incomplete, intended for Sims, Thomas Gordon covering. It's third and ten. 
English Department-sponsored SLJ reading: IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES, MOTHERF*@#^%!

/Big House golf claps
//jingles keys

This needs to happen. Coincidentally, I'm pretty sure the opening words of A Tale of Two Cities represent the most perfect descriptor of Michigan's 3rd and long defense over the years.

Speaking of Michigan State. Bill C. has a great run-down of MSU's prospects in 2012, and to be quite honest, I have to agree with most of his assessment. Outside of Alabama and LSU, you could easily make an argument for MSU's as the next best defensive team in the country. No, I'm not talking about Michigan (although I suspect that Michigan will be very soon; 2011 was only the beginning of the defensive renaissance) here. I am no Nostradamus, and neither are you. Whether MSU's recent success is sustainable can be debated, but that's only because they've won a lot of games (22 in the last two seasons combined). You could debate the sustainability of that success for almost any program out there, including Michigan's. More importantly, it would seem that Dantonio has upped MSU's baseline significantly. If the Spartans fall off, they're probably looking at 7-9 wins and not the complete and utter collapse of years past.

If you haven't already, it' time to discard the silly "Little Brother" thing, because MSU will be very good again this year. To be honest, I have a gut feeling that Maxwell will be just fine at quarterback. Jerel Worthy is a bigger loss, IMO.

Bednarik Award watch list. This is tangentially connected to the last section, but here's the list of B1G players on the pre-season Bednarik Award watch list (the award given to the top defensive player in college football). Note that there are zero Wolverines on this list. For a program that is a favorite to win the conference and a lock to be pre-season top 10, the lack of "high end" talent sticks out like a fan being loud between the 40s in the Big House.

I can't wait until Michigan has well-coached blue chip talent on the defensive side of the ball again. That will be pretty neat. It seems ridiculous that Kovacs isn't even on this list given that Chris Borland is on it (honestly, I've never been all that impressed with him), but whatever. I'm not sure how much longer Mattison is going to be coaching, but I think it's safe to say that he'll be there long enough to see the 2011 and 2012 classes form the core of the defense.

Now, the tangentially relevant part: the Spartans have four on this list (Gholston, Adams, Allen and Bullough). A serious question: in the history of Bednark watch lists, has this ever happened (i.e. 4 Spartans and 0 Wolverines)? I would venture to guess probably not. In any case, this is one more "MSU is for real, you guys" piece of evidence.

More? UMHoops with a comprehensive look at Beilein's recruiting options for 2013 and in, 2015 beyond. Burkhead fluff in SI. Lake The Posts on Drew Crawford and how he will need to take over in the post-Shurna era if the Wildcats are going to have a chance at getting that first tourney berth this season.

Speaking of the Bednarik watch list, Alabama has four defenders make the list: Nico Johnson, CJ Mosley, Jesse Williams, and Robert Lester. To reiterate the "MSU is for real" thing...MSU, LSU, and Alabama are the only teams with four defenders on the list.