Hoke Signs 6-Year Contract

Brady Hoke watching drills during Michigan's first spring practice open to the media on March 29, 2011
Brady Hoke said he would have walked to Michigan from his home in San Diego when he was first contacted by UofM back in early January. He interviewed and accepted the head coaching job without ever discussing compensation. Michigan AD Dave Brandon joked during the presser that they would get around to the financials in due time.

Well, that time came to an end on  Monday, when Hoke signed a six-year deal worth up to 3.25 million dollars a year.

Via AP writer Larry Lage in the Chicago Tribune...
Brandon said Hoke will be paid $2 million this year and his base salary will increase by $100,000 each season. Hoke will earn a $1.5 million "stay bonus" after his third year and another $1.5 million "stay bonus" if he is still leading college football's winningest program in the sixth season of his contract. 
Dave Brandon:
"It's a big job with a lot of expectations and we feel very good about how much we're compensating him to help us reach those expectations," Brandon said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"Brady's contract puts him in the top third of the Big Ten and that's where the Michigan football coach should be," Brandon said.

"The economics were worked out in minutes -- not hours or days," Brandon said. "It was quick, easy and stress-free, but it took several weeks to get done because we let the lawyers do their work with the contract language." 
What I found interesting in the article, and something I didn't know was that when Brandon called to offer the job to Hoke, Brady didn't answer the phone because his wife wasn't there with him.
"I wanted her to be there," Hoke said last month. "She's been my rock forever. When she got home, Dave called again and we kind of looked at each other and said, 'OK, let's go to work."

Photos (And Video!) From Spring Practice

The media was invited inside Fort Schembechler today for the first time to view spring practice. I was there with camera in tow, of course, to catch a few shots of the action. I will say that I was pretty distracted taking as many shots as I could, but I could feel the energy from both the coaches and players. Mind you, I have very little to compare this practice to, but it felt to me like the spirits were high all around.

I did get one good video of the one's against one's where Denard (from under center) finds Stonum on a post route and Stonum gets stripped of the ball on a nice play by redshirt senior CB Tony Anderson. Watch how fast Denard drops back. I'd say he's adapting well to the Borges offense.


Click images for larger versions. And yes, you're eyes don't deceive you, that is Urban Meyer checking out Michigan's spring ball...likely for his new gig as an analyst for ESPN.

You can view the full set of the photos on my Flickr page.

John Bacon on the Fab Five

This popped up last week and we never got around to posting about it, but I didn't want to ignore it completely.

For those not familiar, John U. Bacon is a renowned writer, author, lecturer, historian, and a general guru for almost all things related to Michigan athletics. He's probably most well known for his book "Bo's Lasting Lessons", but can be read pretty anywhere from the NY Times to ESPN Magazine to The Detroit News.

Last week, after the ESPN documentary on the Feb Five aired, he posted his take on the Fab Five in a post titled "Fab Five: Then and Now"...to his blog, which should be considered required reading by any and all Michigan fans.

A few others, like Greg from MVictors, have offered up their take on his post, so I won't dive in too much. But it's a very good read, and worth a few clicks if you have the time.

Bacon's Post can be read here. It's a told from a perspective that only Bacon could have, as he was very close to Michigan basketball at that time. An excerpt from the article...
When Fisher was fired, he said they’d built an elite program, which was true, and they’d “done it the right way,” which wasn’t –  and by the time he was fired, he had to know it.  To this day, Fisher has never accepted any responsibility for what happened on his watch, and Chris Webber has never apologized for taking over a quarter-million dollars from a booster.  Fisher now coaches San Diego State, which played in the Sweet Sixteen last night, while Webber is a very wealthy TV commentator.  Those who followed them at Michigan paid the price for their mistakes.

Twenty years ago, I thought the leaders of the Fab Five were Steve Fisher and Chris Webber. But it turns out the real leader was Jalen Rose, who finished his degree by writing term papers in the back of NBA team planes. He and the other three have proven to be thoughtful, successful and even honest men, committed to their communities and their families. I’ve come to have great respect for them – and much less for their so-called leaders.  
Below is the accompanying audio that Bacs posted along with his article.

John Bacon - Fab Five by MaizeBlueNation

Incoming: Caleb Stacey

The 2012 board has been updated, and it lives here.

Well, we thought that the first commit of the 2012 class would trigger at least another commit shortly after...and it did. Welcome Cincinnati, OH offensive lineman Caleb Stacey.

Scout: NR OG
Rivals: NR OL

It's early in the recruiting season, so the absence of guru ratings is normal, especially for an offensive lineman. All 3 services seem to agree on his size, which is nice, listing him about 6-3 or 6-4 and about 280 pounds. Expect those numbers to increase during after his redshirt year.

I'm really happy we're seeing an emphasis on offensive recruiting in the 2012 class. It's clear that this coaching staff is looking at the class chart and seeing a need for OL talent in a couple seasons. It seems as if we've nailed down another strong OL commit along with last week's commit Ben Braden.

Other offers for Caleb include BC, Bowling Green, Cincy, Illinois, Indiana, Miami (OH), NC State, Ohio, South Florida, Toledo, Wake Forest, West Virginia.

This is a good sign to see another OL so early in the class. It shows where the coaching staff has their priorities set. Like we said last week, I expected about 4 OL taken in this class...but two commits this early could mean maybe as many as 5 or 6...which would be nice.

Truth is Beautiful, Without Doubt; But So Are Lies

Title of this post is a famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Image found on Eleven Warriors (Click image for link)
On March 8th, Jim Tressel addressed the media (in a hastily thrown together presser) to own up to and apologize for covering up information about five players who had allegedly traded autographs and memorabilia for free tattoos. Not only that, but also misleading investigators and his bosses about what he really knew versus what he said he knew.

It seemed as if the cat was finally out of the bag. Tressel found himself in an awkward position of getting some damning information about his star players, and admittedly not knowing who to talk to about it. He said that he kept the information confidential because of the possible legal nature of the subject matter.

As it turns out, those emails Tressel received from Christopher Cicero were not kept to himself.

A Columbus Dispatch report is now saying that those emails were forwarded from Tressel to Ted Sarniak, a long-time mentor of Terrelle Pryor.
During a news conference on March 8 to announce NCAA ethics violations by Tressel, the coach said he kept the information to himself to protect the confidentiality of the federal investigation and for the safety of his players.
But Tressel also nodded his head and said "um-hmm" when asked whether he had forwarded the emails to anyone.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith quickly intervened to prevent Tressel from answering that question about the matter currently under investigation by the NCAA.
It struck me as very odd that Tressel would voluntarily increase his own punishment from a two-game suspension to a five-game suspension. What did he know? An attempt to get in the good graces of the NCAA because he knew more bad news about to drop? Because Bruce Pearl was just fired? A guilty conscience, perhaps?

Hard to believe that this can just keep getting worse for Sir Teflon. But it does. The more that gets uncovered, the dirtier he looks. I just don't understand why this man just can't stop lying, or bending the truth to suit his own interests...especially when the NCAA spotlight is focused on him.

Incoming: Ben Braden

And so it begins. The 2012 recruiting board lives here.

Scout: 3* OT
Rivals: NR OL

The first commit to the 2012 class is Rockford, MI offensive lineman Ben Braden. Like mgoblog points out, all three recruiting services disagree on his size.
Rivals is the most optimistic, measuring him at 6-6, 285. Scout isn't far behind at 280 pounds, but ESPN calls him a mere 6-5, 250 - while simultaneously calling him a defensive tackle. I'd say ESPN, as both an outlier and the absolute worst at evaluating prospects in a reasonable time, is least likely to be accurate. Braden's probably a shade under 6-6, and around 270-280 pounds. 24/7 Sports calls him 6-7, 295, which seems like an exaggeration given all the other evidence at our disposal.
I've always thought that getting trustworthy honest-to-goodness information about recruits has got to be next to impossible...and seeing the discrepancy in Braden's reported size confirms this. It's a little frustrating too that a "commitment" isn't really a commitment at all when a guy can just change his mind whenever he wants...which happens all the time (See: Dee Hart and Jake Fisher as two recent examples).

Not saying that will happen here, but just sayin.

Braden's offer list is good food for thought...Michigan, Wisconsin (which tells you something), Michigan State and Syracuse.

As far as what this means for the rest of the class...well, there isn't a class yet, so hopefully this will trigger a slew of commits. I hope to see at least 3 or 4 OL taken in this class...if not 1 or 2 more. We have a solid group of OL leaving over the next couple years, so Braden, along with hopefully a few other good OL prospects will be a welcome addition to the 2012 class.

Outgoing: Ray Vinopal

John T. Greilick / The Detroit News
We hinted to the rumors just a couple of hours ago about freshman free safety Ray Vinopal leaving...and that is exactly what has happened.

Brady Hoke at his presser today:
"Ray decided to go back Youngstown. That issue's more a family issue."
With all the mystery and "starting from zero" that we're hearing out of Schembechler Hall this spring, hard to say how this really affects the secondary. It will...as in yesterday he was here and today he isn't. AND...he's the only FS on the roster with, you know, experience at that position. But specifically, will we be okay without Vinopal? How big is the drop off after him on the depth chart? Who can take his place?

These are all great questions.

Practice Video: First Day in Pads

via MGoBlueVideo:

A few whispers that have come across my desk...Al Borges has really embraced Denard Robinson, using him in ways he wasn't used last year, but building off his strengths that we all know and love. Word is that Borges knows what he's got.

Defensively, the spring sessions have turned into a clinic for the defense as a whole. Not surprisingly, DC Greg Mattison is grabbing a lot of the attention. The coaches are sort of starting from scratch with the guys they have. Transitioning to a 4-3, and using anyone and everyone who wants to step up. Among those stepping up...Richard Ash is looking huge, Will Campbell is back on defense and probably in the best shape of his life...and looking good. We need big bodies on the defensive line to really make noise this season. Martin and Van Bergen can't do it alone.

I should also point out that Craig Roh will be used strictly as a defensive end in a 3-point stance. That should hopefully improve his impact.

Defensive backfield is going to be a work-in-progress...as you would expect. Corners Troy Woolfolk and JT Floyd are back from injuries (ahead of schedule) and looking strong. Woolfolk had a pick against the one's. Thomas Gordon, who I think could have a breakout year at safety, spent some quality time in the weight room this off-season.

One guy of note, and that is Ray Vinopal. Rumors are circulating that he could be on the outs. We'll see what transpires over the next couple days, especially with Hoke holding a presser today at 12:30. If this rumor does come true, Vinopal would be the first transfer since Hoke took office in January. Stay tuned.

Football is Back: Michigan Spring Opening Practice Video

Michigan opened spring ball on Saturday. MGoBlueVideo put together some great clips for our obsessive consumption. Enjoy.

This is How I Celebrate St. Patty's Day

1991 (Check out Les Miles around the 1:00 mark):





And of course, the pièce de résistance:

Michigan Headed to the Big Dance

As I type this, the ESPN documentary about the Fab 5 is about to air in 3 minutes. But the latest edition of the Michigan basketball program is headed to the big dance for the 2nd time under John Beilein.

I will always have a special place in my heart for the Fab 5, but watching the 2010-2011 Wolverines has been nothing short of awesome. I love this team. I love their heart and I love their passion. They belong in the big dance, at an 8-seed no less(!) Here we come Tennessee.

Ohio State has a Responsibility to Fire Jim Tressel

You know how I feel about Jim Tressel. Until now, I've been on the fence about whether I think what he's done is a fire-able offense. I mean, in his contract it's spelled out that tOSU could fire him should they choose to do so for what he's done. But they did not. They gave him the equivalent of a parking ticket for driving drunk through a school zone while running a red light and texting at 120 miles per hour.

Say what you will about his weak excuse at his presser, to me it was just another in a long line of shameful acts that I think Jim Tressel has been a part of throughout his entire career. But Tressel claimed that he was scared for the safety of his players via the emails that he had received from Columbus-area lawyer, and former buckeye football walk-on Christopher Cicero who had originally tipped Tressel of his players trading autographs and memorabilia for free tattoos.

Tressel claimed the information he was being given by Cicero was "confidential" and thus he didn't know who, if anyone, he could share this potentially damaging information with.

This via a report on ESPN.com today:
A fan of the Buckeyes' program, Cicero said he doesn't want to be considered the "Judas" in the controversy, and added he has received some death threats in the past few days.
No surprise there. It continues...
Cicero also said he doesn't know of any other possible NCAA violations by Ohio State players, other than selling memorabilia to a Columbus tattoo parlor owner who has been under a federal drug investigation. Tressel has said he didn't report the e-mails from Cicero because he considered them to be "confidential."

Cicero said when he asked Tressel to keep the e-mails confidential, he meant that he would not go to the media or the public, not that Tressel couldn't inform the school or launch his own investigation.
Was the intended meaning of "confidential" lost in translation? According to Tressel's email back to Cicero, he said "Thanks...I will get on it ASAP." Does that sound like a guy who is about to do nothing and say nothing? Is he just telling Cicero that so he'll go away?

ESPN video interview with Christopher Cicero.

Chris Spielman weighs in.

Tressel knew his players were up to no good. He knew in April and said nothing to his boss, the university president, a university attorney...no one. And the immediate result? A co-Big Ten championship, a 12-win season, and a huge victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. All with 5 players that Tressel knew the whole time were ineligible.

And finally, to top it all off, the smoking gun...
Ohio State’s official letter to the NCAA sheds more light on Tuesday’s confusing press conference. Specifically, it clearly explains the process by which coach Jim Tressel failed three times to tell his superiors that Ohio State players sold memorabilia and apparel.

The three specific times:
Tressel signed a document on Sept. 13, 2010 that said he was not aware of NCAA violations. (!)
• He failed to tell school officials on or around Dec. 9, 2010 about emails he received in April explaining players’ involvement in selling memorabilia.
• He did not tell school officials about the emails – or his knowledge of players selling memorabilia -- when specifically asked on Dec. 16, 2010. He also misled school officials that day when stating he “did not recall from whom he received the tip,” and that he “did not know that any items had been seized.”

The letter states, “The institution is very surprised and disappointed in Coach Tressel’s lack of action in this matter,” but goes on to say that the violation is “out of character” for Tressel and that he has a “proven history of promoting an atmosphere of NCAA compliance within the football program.” 
He does? 375 self-reported violations between 2000-2009. Maurice Clarett, Troy Smith, AJ Hawk, Terrelle Pryor? You call that at "atmosphere of compliance"? Whatever mythical compliant atmosphere Tressel has been promoting for the last 10 years has most certainly evaporated faster than you can say "corruption" with this latest scandal.

The more details that emerge from this, the more you realize that tOSU has really no other choice than to at least heavily reprimand Jim Tressel. A 2-game suspension and a $250,000 fine is nothing.

A total of twelve coaches have violated the same bylaw (NCAA bylaw 10.1) that Tressel violated, and of those twelve, eleven were fired. To me, anything less is a slap in the face to not only the NCAA, but any other school out there who have been required to pay dearly for their own transgressions.

It's time for tOSU to come down from their high horse. Tressel should not get any special treatment or consideration because of his successful career or all of the accolades that he has brought to tOSU. Gene Smith needs to step up and fire Jim Tressel. If he chooses not to, the NCAA should require him to do so.

Run Jim, Run!

Seems about right.
Thanks to my buddy Tim for posting this to his Facebook page so I could steal it to post here.

The Lantern: Give Tressel the Boot

The Lantern is the tOSU student newspaper. Not exactly a reliable source for unbiased information, but in this case, it does tell us how Jim Tressel is viewed by one of his most loyal fanbases. And right now, this article says that the fact that tOSU did not fire Jim Tressel sends a clear message that the state of college football in this country has begun to spiral out of control. It's a good read, and worth a click.

The NCAA shouldn't suspend Jim Tressel for more than two games. It shouldn't fine him more than $250,000 dollars. It shouldn't bar him from spring practice and summer workouts.

After it finishes its investigation, the NCAA should recommend Jim Tressel's termination as head football coach at The Ohio State University.

This incident is further proof that college athletics is spinning out of control, and a message needs to be sent to university presidents and athletic directors who let rule-breaking coaches keep their jobs because they win games and sell tickets.

Jim Tressel Finally Gets Caught

I don't want to make it a point to kick a man while he's down, or to appear to be gloating, because that's not what I'm going to do here. I understand that tOSU has had Michigan's number for the better part of the last 10 years. This post is not inspired nor in-response to that. This is just a commentary about what is happening in Columbus, and what I think about it.

AP Photo/Terry Gilliam
I have to hand it to Jim Tressel, or as I like to refer to him as...Sir Teflon. Why the nickname? Because, at least until now, none of the absolutely absurd things that have happened while he's been the head coach at tOSU have ever stuck to him.

Tressel has made a very good living by looking the other way when his players have repeatedly broken the rules, and surrounded themselves with people that should not come within 500 feet of a student-athlete at a Big Ten school. Until now, he's never been found guilty of doing anything wrong. He managed to stay clean through the whole Maurice Clarett mess in 2001-2002. He managed to stay clean through the Troy Smith booster scandal in 2004. He's managed to stay clean in spite of the over 375 minor violations reported by the school between 2000 and 2009...more than any other FBS school...by far.

And until two days ago, he attempted to stay clean through this latest round of scandal by lying to the NCAA, his boss, tOSU, and the entire Buckeye nation so as to not get his "senator" image tarnished.

Sir Teflon should teach a class at tOSU about alluding blame and claiming no responsibility. He's made a great living at doing just that.

Do I sound like a disgruntled Michigan fan? Probably. But I've been saying for years about how dirty this coach is. And just when it seemed like Sir Teflon was about to pull a rabbit out of a hat again, Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports were able to do something that countless NCAA investigations and investigative reports have not been able to do in 10 years...they caught Jim Tressel in a lie.

tOSU's response? A quickly thrown together press conference in order to allow Tressel to attempt to talk circles about how concerned he was about his players safety, allow the AD and the university president to talk about how much they stand behind their coach. Hell, President Gee joked that he hoped Jim Tressel would not dismiss him(!). It was said as a joke, but it clearly shows you who is really in charge in Columbus.

After last night's press conference, it is obvious to me that there is no one at tOSU that can fire Jim Tressel. Even when he blatantly avoided telling his boss about what he knew back in April, tOSU AD Gene Smith was STILL adamant about his devotion to his football coach. Obviously, in Columbus, the tail wags the dog.

It will be interesting to see how harshly the NCAA will judge Sir Teflon and tOSU. This is their opportunity to really make an example after really flubbing the whole Cam Newton case. My opinion? I think Tressel should sit out just as many games as his players...5 games. Missing 2 games against MAC schools is not enough. I think he should be reprimanded a little harder. Maybe a larger fine or docked more pay...maybe take away his bonuses. But the self-imposed sanctions are about as harsh as you would expect self-imposed sanctions to be.

As far as tOSU is concerned, they should be forced to vacate all wins from 2010 including their bowl win. I mean they played all those games with players that should have been deemed ineligible. It's only fair.

This whole situation is huge blow for Jim Tressel, who prides himself on his image and reputation. It's an even larger blow to the University, who will probably be forced to give up more than Tressel will. And ultimately, it's a black-eye to the conference as a whole. tOSU has been the flagship program for the B1G for the last 5 years, at least. Does this signify a changing of the guard? I think so. I hope so.

Jim Tressel and the entire football program at tOSU have just begun to be exposed for what they really are. They are a win-at-all-costs kind of program. They are willing to look the other way when their players break the rules or do something wrong. They're willing to lie about it.

They've been doing this for the better part of the entire time Teflon has been the head coach. He did it at Youngstown State, and he's done it at tOSU. He's dirty. He doesn't care about his players they way he says he does. He's a scumbag and a liar. Is that the kind of program you want to represent your conference?

Me either.

Go Blue.

Big House Scoreboards Live Webcam

Snapshot taken at 9:51AM on March 8, 2011
Want to see what's going on with Michigan's new scoreboards? Check out the webcam showing live video of the up-to-the-minute status of the old and new boards. As of this post, it looks like the old scoreboards are in the process of being taken down.

Click here for the live scoreboard construction webcam.

I have yet to see any drawings or renderings of what the new boards will look like, but if and when I do, you'll know about it.

Yahoo! Sports: Tressel Lied

Leave it to tOSU to bring me out of my late-winter slumber. What happened? You remember tOSU players acting up right around Christmas? Well, according to Yahoo! Sports [full article here], Tressel knew all about it long before he said he did.
Terry Gilliam/AP Photo
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was informed that several Buckeyes players were selling memorabilia more than eight months before the school claims it was made aware of the scheme, a two-month Yahoo! Sports investigation has found.

Tressel received information that players were selling items to Edward Rife – the owner of Fine Line Ink Tattoos in Columbus – as early as April 2010, according to a source. However, neither Ohio State nor the NCAA investigated the transactions or the players’ relationship with Rife until December 2010, when the school claims it was informed of the situation by the local United States Attorney’s office.

Ohio State director of compliance Doug Archie declined immediate comment when reached Monday by Yahoo! Sports. Tressel and athletic director Gene Smith were unavailable for comment. The NCAA declined comment.
And then there's this:
According to a source, a concerned party reached out to Tressel last April, alerting the coach that memorabilia transactions had taken place between Rife and a handful of Buckeyes players, including Pryor. The selling of items violates NCAA eligibility rules. The source said Tressel was troubled by the information, and the coach indicated that he would investigate the matter and take appropriate action.

Whether the coach initiated an investigation of the accusation is unclear, but all five players remained on the field in the coming months, playing out the 2010 regular season.
And finally, the potential nail in the coffin:
If Tressel failed to inform Smith or the Ohio State compliance department about the players’ dealings with Rife, he could be charged with multiple NCAA violations including unethical conduct, failure to monitor and a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. In general, a coach is required to act on, or pass along reasonable information about possible rule violations for further investigation.

Ohio State itself could be cited with playing ineligible players and forced to vacate its 2010 season, when it won a share of the Big Ten championship and finished 12-1. It could also face further sanctions for major infractions.

Smith was adamant at the Dec. 23 news conference that no one at Ohio State knew of the situation until the U.S. Attorney contacted them in early December.

“The athletic department was informed on Dec. 8,” Smith said.
I would note that the word "sources" appears many times in this article. That's usually a red flag when it comes to rumors about a coaching search, as we all know. But given that Dan Wetzel has staked his reputation on this, I am giving this story it's due attention.

No question, this certainly doesn't bode well for Tressel.  The article cites Tressel's contract, and notes that tOSU would be well within their right to fire Sir Teflon for cause. If it comes to that point, maybe Tressel falling on his own grenade will be all that can shield tOSU from the full brunt of the NCAA's hammer...and even then, probably not.