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U-M great Steve Strinko’s long path to graduation ends tonight

April 29th, 2016 by Justin Potts


Steve Strinko banner(Photos provided by Steve Strinko)

Last week we brought you a preview of our partner, Rent Like a Champion’s story of former Michigan linebacker Steve Strinko graduating from Michigan more than 40 years after he left Ann Arbor early for the NFL. Today, with the University of Michigan’s commencement upon us, we bring you part two of Strinko’s long journey from football star to Michigan graduate.

Strinko left Michigan for the 1975 NFL Draft after being named first-team All-Big Ten, second-team All-America, and the team’s Most Valuable Player during the 1974 season. But a knee injury that he suffered during that season, in which Michigan went 10-1, tied with Ohio State for the Big Ten title, and finished ranked third nationally, doomed his NFL career.

The Detroit Lions selected Strinko in the ninth round, 219th overall, but complications from an off-season knee surgery landed him on the injured reserve list. When it didn’t heal properly, the Lions refused to sign him, despite his attempts to play through the injury and make the team. By the end of 1975, his NFL career was already over and he had never played a down in the league.

Without a degree and facing the sting of the end of his football career, Strinko “went on a wild hair chase,” moving to Florida and living for some time on his unemployment check from the Lions. He bounced around to Houston, Denver, Washington, D.C., and then back to Florida, working various jobs and battling addiction. He got married and moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where he lived for more than 20 years. He had “a few business successes but would tend to self destruct.”

In 2007, Strinko was deemed 100 percent disabled by the Social Security Administration and a few years later, finally entered recovery for his addictions.

“I can tell you unequivocally that coming to the place where I realized that I had to humble myself and surrender it all to God was the single most important decision I made,” Strinko told Maize and Go Blue on Wednesday night. “I had to dismiss all preconceived thoughts and ideas that I was in control of my life. I made a commitment to honor God and my family and I worked with experienced professionals who helped guide me through the process. I committed to a one-year residential treatment program that I chose and set in my mind that I was going to do whatever necessary to put my addiction behind me once and for all.”

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With the addictions behind him, Strinko set his sights on finishing his degree. He enrolled in online classes in the fall of 2014 and completed the necessary coursework to earn his Bachelors of General Studies degree.

So why, after all these years, did he go back and finish his degree?

“Really it was a combination of things,” Strinko said. “First, I had always had the desire to finish in the back of my mind. Second, being contacted by Sara Rechnitzer who works in Michigan’s Athletic Department and her explaining the Degree Completion Program and how UM would reimburse me for the costs associated with getting my degree. Finally, knowing I could complete all of my coursework through the accredited Liberty University was the deal clincher.”

Strinko admits that it wasn’t easy to resume course work after so many years.

“Getting accustomed to online courses was a little challenging in the beginning. I had taken three, four credit hour courses at Miami Dade College in 2010 so I had already had a little bit of an idea of what would be required. I have to tell you that at 60 years of age you get pretty set in your ways and spending hours upon hours reading and writing was the hardest aspect of the challenge.”

When Strinko returns to Ann Arbor this weekend, it won’t be the first time he’s been back since his playing days — he said he came back in 1989 for a Bo’s Boys 20 year celebration and a few more times over the past two years — but this visit will certainly be the most significant. He’s looking forward to sharing the occasion with his family, several out of town friends from high school who will be making the trip up, and several former teammates.

As he readied himself for the emotional trip, Strinko looked back on his playing days and counted the comradery with his coaches and teammates to be his fondest memory.

“The comradery, hands down,” he said. “Playing four years and only losing 3 games and the closeness that kind of success promotes is not doubt the best feeling one can have. Also, running out of the tunnel on game day in front of 100,000 fans is like no-other feeling one can get anywhere.  Finally, the friends beyond the team and the people in Ann Arbor are incredible.”

He also recalled one of his favorite stories about his coach, the great Bo Schembechler.

“In the summer preceding my senior year I had to take a summer school class in order to remain eligible. Unfortunately, my professor for that course went to Europe before officially entering the grade. Therefore, when we reported for two-a-days I was not eligible. The reason this was a big deal is that every senior is eligible to be voted on for captain.

“Bo called me into a separate meeting room before the announcement that we were voting for captains. He said, ‘Strinko, you cannot be considered for captain of this squad because you are as of right now not eligible.’ Of course I explained I had been given a four-hour “A” but to no avail. Not sure I would have been voted as captain but we will never know.

“This incident so irked Bo that he made me run ten, 100-yard dashes against him after the morning and afternoon two-a-day practices. He even gave himself a 10-yard head start. I will never forget on the first day as we lined up to race he turned and looked at me and said ‘for every one that I beat you, you will have to run ten more.’ He never beat me.”

Tonight, when Strinko receives his degree during the student-athlete ceremony at the Crisler Center, Bo will undoubtedly be looking down from above on the linebacker from Middletown, Ohio, who he once stole away from Woody Hayes. And despite the 42 year gap, Strinko isn’t about to look back and wish he had done things differently.

“I have never been one to have regrets about what I did or did not do in the past. I prefer to consider that wherever the journey took me, it was necessary for me to get to where I am today. Dwelling on what could’ve or should’ve been is a waste of time and energy.

“The reason the rear view mirror is so much smaller than the windshield is that it is much more important to have a vision of where one is going than to dwell on what is behind us. I will say that there is merit in learning from your past mistakes but only as those mistakes are used as a guide of what not to do in the future. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Next week, we will finish this three-part series with a recap of Strinko’s graduation weekend experience and a look ahead at his current venture, FAN, Inc., which is helping the Michigan Football Alumni Network avoid the same pitfalls that tripped him up after his football career.

Michigan great Steve Strinko set to graduate, four decades later

April 14th, 2016 by Justin Potts


Steve Strinko banner(Photos provided by Steve Strinko)

With commencement just two weeks away, most families of graduating seniors have likely already secured lodging for the weekend. But if you haven’t, there are still 18 houses available to rent through our partner, Rent Like a Champion, for as low as $500 for the weekend. Wouldn’t it be great to spend the weekend comfortably, celebrating together with family and friends, rather than cooped up in separate hotel rooms?

Former Michigan football standout Steve Strinko is doing just that when he returns to Ann Arbor to finally graduate, four decades after leaving school early for the NFL. Here’s a selection of a story Rent Like a Champion recently wrote and posted on their site:

Nearly 45 years after he first stepped foot on the Michigan campus, Steve Strinko is returning to Ann Arbor. Strinko won’t be wrapping up ball-carriers or intimidating quarterbacks like he used to for the Maize and Blue — he has more important business to take care of on this trip to the Big House. Steve Strinko is going to become a graduate of the University of Michigan.

“This is the culmination of everything I had hoped for – being able to go to Ann Arbor, and be with my friends and family,” Strinko says. “There are some people who will be there that have never given up on Steve Strinko.”

STRINKO’S ROAD TO ANN ARBOR

Strinko’s graduation day will complete a journey that would have never commenced in Ann Arbor if Woody Hayes had something to say about it.

Ohio State’s legendary coach hosted Strinko and his mother and father to watch Super Bowl V during Strinko’s senior year of high school. He desperately wanted the Ohio-grown blue-chipper to stay home for college, but even a delicious home-cooked meal by Woody’s wife, Ann, wasn’t enough to keep Strinko in the Buckeye state.

“Ann cooked a wonderful dinner, and it was one of those incredible afternoons that gives you an idea of who Woody was,” Strinko recalls.

But the Super Bowl watch wasn’t enough to convince Strinko to stay home. That school “up North” beckoned.

“Michigan wanted me to play linebacker, and Bo was great during the whole recruiting process,” Strinko says. “Woody for four years never called me by name – he always said ‘the SOB linebacker up there.”

To read the rest of the story, please visit Rent Like a Champion.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this three-part series on Strinko next week as he looks forward to graduation day.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

About Rent Like a Champion:

Rent Like a Champion offers out town visitors homes to rent for weekends such as football and basketball games, commencement, and other special events. Their model, similar to vacation rental companies such as airbnb, allows home owners to make money by renting out their homes for these events. The main difference is that RLAC focuses on college towns.

Some of the benefits of renting include comfort of home, having your entire party together under one roof, communal spaces such as patios for barbecuing, and in some cases being within walking distance of the stadium.

Satellite camp ban shines light on SEC’s, NCAA’s self-serving interests

April 12th, 2016 by Justin Potts


Mark Emmert(LM Otero, AP)

Last fall, I posted up in the Starbucks on State and Liberty for a full day of interviews. In search of new writers for Maize and Go Blue I spoke with several current Michigan students — aspiring journalists with The Michigan Daily and engineering majors who enjoy writing alike — and alums interested in voicing their opinion on Michigan athletics.

I did the same in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York, and when all was said and done I brought three new writers aboard. I considered it a success. Not only did I improve my team, but I also gave three college students a chance to cover their favorite team. A chance that comes with media credentials and insider access only a small percentage get.

As I was planning to make this fall’s hiring trip bigger and better, the fat cats at MGoBlog petitioned the World Wide Web to ban blogs from doing so. MGoBlog, of course, can sit back and wait for great writers to approach them, while blogs like us, Maize ‘n Brew, Maize ‘n Blue Nation, and Maize and Blue News have to get creative in order to find good writers. They reasoned that they shouldn’t have to work harder to draw elite writers from their own territory of students and alums.

On Friday, the WWW approved a proposal that would require blogs to “hire only via the comments section on their own website or on websites normally used for blog hiring (Craigslist).”

The above scenario sounds completely absurd, doesn’t it? And while it’s completely fictitious, it’s exactly what happened with the NCAA’s banning of satellite camps last Friday. It’s not a perfect analogy given that student-athletes and prospective student-athletes aren’t employees. But that’s where the NCAA’s ruling is even more absurd than the fictitious blog scenario above.

The NCAA’s stated description is “a member-led organization dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletics.” One of the NCAA’s seven core values is “an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student-athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators from diverse backgrounds.” One of the main pillars of the NCAA’s web page is opportunity, with a description that reads, in part, “More than 1,100 member schools are united around one goal: creating opportunities for college athletes.”

Every one of the items listed above is a direct contradiction to the NCAA’s ruling to ban satellite camps. Rather than inclusive, opportunity-creating camps that help the pave the way for student-athlete well-being and lifelong success, the NCAA issued a self-serving, opportunity-limiting decree inclusive of only a select few.

The outcry from both high school and college athletes since Friday describing the opportunities that satellite camps created for them to be seen by a wider audience of coaches, and thus, broaden their opportunities has been backed by other college coaches as well.

“Those are the only two reasons, to selfishly guard your recruiting base — and that’s the major motive — or laziness,” said Washington State head coach Mike Leach. “OK, so we’re going to elevate those over the interests of, in particular, low-income student-athletes and providing them an opportunity? It’s by far one of the most absurd things ever. If we’re even close to who we say we are, this idealistic sport, student-athlete, college football — if we’re even remotely close to what we say we are, that needs to be overturned immediately.”

Leach also questioned the supposed vote that saw his conference, the Pac-12, along with the SEC, Big 12, ACC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt, approve of the ban. According to Leach, “the vast majority of the schools in our conference were in favor of the satellite camps.”

Jim Harbaugh, whose publicity of his own satellite camps led to the ban, has yet to publicly comment about the vote. But rest assured he has something up his sleeve to counter it.

“In my America, you’re allowed to cross the state borders. That’s the America I know,” Harbaugh said last June amid criticism of his Summer Swarm satellite camp tour.

The fact that a select few can get a rule changed simply because someone else’s ingenuity was threatening their cozy spot atop the landscape is deeply troubling. But even more so due to the fact that it flies in the face of what their profession pretends to serve. And it shines a large spotlight on what NCAA president Mark Emmert, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, ACC commissioner John Swofford, and others truly serve: themselves.

Lavall Jordan leaving for head coaching gig at Milwaukee

April 7th, 2016 by Justin Potts


Lavall Jordan(Allison Farrand, The Michigan Daily)

Michigan assistant basketball coach Lavall Jordan has reportedly accepted the head coaching job at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Jordan has been at Michigan since the 2010-11 season, helping to guide the Wolverines to a record of 143-70. He has been instrumental in the development of guards Darius Morris, Trey Burke, and Derrick Walton over the past six seasons.

Prior to joining the Wolverines, he spent four seasons as an assistant at Butler and three as an assistant at Iowa. He graduated from Butler in 2001, where he starred for the Bulldogs and was a two-time All-Midwestern Collegiate Conference performer.

Jordan takes over a Milwaukee program that went 20-13 last season, but did not bring back head coach Rob Jeter. Jeter went 185-170 in 11 seasons as head coach, but the Panthers have not finished in the top three of the Horizon League since 2011-12.

“As we begin the process of searching for a new head coach, we will identify candidates who believe in our mission, possess high character and integrity and have a proven track record of continued success,” Milwaukee athletic director Amanda Braun said at the time.

Jordan certainly fits that description, though this will be his first head coaching job.

There have also been rumors of fellow assistant coach Bacari Alexander also leaving for a head coaching job — likely at Detroit — which will lead to a major shakeup in John Beilein’s staff.

Aubrey Dawkins to transfer to Central Florida

April 6th, 2016 by Justin Potts


Aubrey Dawkins(Dustin Johnson, UM Hoops)

The Michigan basketball program lost a third member of its team on Wednesday morning. Sophomore Aubrey Dawkins announced his intention to transfer to Central Florida to play for his father, new UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins.

“This was not an easy decision, however, the chance to play for my father is a special opportunity for me and my family,” Dawkins said in an official release. “Coach (John) Beilein and Michigan took a chance on me and that is something I will never forget. I want to thank all the coaches, staff and especially the U-M fans for making my time in Ann Arbor truly special. Go Blue.”

John Beilein compared Dawkins’ opportunity to one that he had while at West Virginia.

“While we certainly did not wish for this to happen, it is quite understandable,” said Beilein. “I was able to coach my son and see him grow as a person and player and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Aubrey is a wonderful and thoughtful young man who has a bright future in front of him. We wish him well.”

In two seasons at Michigan, Dawkins started 22 games and averaged 6.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. He shot 43.9 percent from three-point range, making 83 of 189 attempts. He scored a career high 31 points against Rutgers during his freshman season, making eight three-pointers, which is the second-most in a game in program history.

The elder Dawkins spent eight seasons as head coach at Stanford where he compiled a 156-115 record, including two NIT titles and an NCAA Sweet Sixteen. He was let go after the 2015-16 season and quickly hired by UCF just eight days later. The Knights went 12-18 each of the past two seasons and 13-18 the year before. Their last winning record was in 2012-13 when they went 20-11. Dawkins will have to sit out the 2016-17 season due to NCAA transfer rules and will then have two seasons of eligibility.

Following the transfers of Spike Albrecht and Ricky Doyle, which put Michigan’s scholarship situation at even, Dawkins’ departure gives Beilein a scholarship to work with. He could go after a late flyer, seek out a graduate transfer such as Valparaiso’s Alec Peters, or bank it for next year’s recruiting class.

New in Blue: 2017 RB O’Maury Samuels

April 3rd, 2016 by Justin Potts


O'Maury Samuels(247 Sports)

O’Maury Samuels – RB | 5-11, 190 | Los Lunas, N.M. (Los Lunas)
ESPNN/A RivalsN/A 247: 3-star, #25 RB Scout: 4-star, #23 RB
247 Composite: 4-star #21 RB
Other top offers: TCU, Arizona, California, New Mexico, New Mexico State

Jim Harbaugh landed a commitment for the third straight day and the fifth time in the past week when Los Lunas, N.M. running back O’Maury Samuels pledged his verbal to the Wolverines on Sunday afternoon. He announced his decision on Twitter.

Samuels is a four-star according to Scout and a three-star per 247. Rivals and ESPN have yet to rank him. Scout lists him as the 23rd-best running back in the 2017 class, while 247 ranks him as the 25th-best running back and 338th nationally.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back rushed for 1,306 yards for Los Lunas High School as a junior last fall, earning all-state honors. He then made his mark on The Opening Dallas regional last month, recording a 4.58 40-yard dash, 44.5-inch vertical, 4.14-second shuffle, and 43-foot power ball toss to post the nation’s highest SPARQ score, 138.30. That earned him an offer from Harbaugh — his only other offers at the time were in-state schools, New Mexico and New Mexico State — and also an invite to The Opening at Nike’s headquarters in Oregon.

When Michigan offered after his performance in Dallas, he was excited to get a big-time offer from a school like Michigan.

“I was very happy when Mr. Harbaugh offered me,” Samuels said. “Coach Tyrone Wheatley said I am a freak and I have a lot of great attributes. They said I would fit into their program. I was so happy because Michigan is a great program with some great coaches.”

Although California, Arizona, and TCU have offered since then, a visit to Ann Arbor for the spring game on Friday was enough to convince Samuels to go blue. He’s the 11th member of the 2017 class and joins fellow running backs Kurt Taylor and A.J. Dillon in the class.

New in Blue: 2017 DT Phillip Paea

April 3rd, 2016 by Justin Potts


Phillip Paea(247 Sports)

Phillip Paea – DT | 6-4, 285 | Berrien Springs, Mich. (Berrien Springs)
ESPNN/A Rivals3-star #13 OG 247: 3-star, #25 DT Scout: 3-star, #26 DT
247 Composite: 3-star #32 DT
Other top offers: Oregon, USC, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Utah, BYU, Arizona

Michigan’s hot spring continued on Saturday afternoon with a commitment from Berrien Springs, Mich. defensive tackle Phillip Paea. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder posted a succinct and pointed tweet to announce his commitment.

Paea is a three-star recruit according to Rivals, 247, and Scout, while ESPN hasn’t ranked him yet. Ravals ranks him as the 13th-best offensive guard in the 2017 class, while 247 ranks him as the 25th-best defensive tackle, and Scout as the 26th-best defensive tackle.

While his rankings don’t stand out just yet, his offer sheet does. Oregon, USC, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Miami, to name a few, have offered him. Paea visited Michigan on March 24 and again for the spring game on Friday before committing the next day.

Paea is the 10th member of the 2017 class, joining quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, running backs A.J. Dillon and Kurt Taylor, tight end Carter Dunaway, offensive lineman Ja’Raymond Hall, fullback Chase Lasater, linebacker Joshua Ross, and defensive backs J’Marick Woods and Benjamin St-Juste.

New in Blue: 2018 TE/DL Leonard Taylor

April 1st, 2016 by Justin Potts


Leonard Taylor(247 Sports)

Leonard Taylor – TE/DT | 6-6, 258 | Springfield, Ohio (Springfield)
ESPNN/A RivalsN/A 2474-star, #3 DT Scout: 4-star, N/A
247 Composite: N/A
Other top offers: Ohio State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Nebraska, Louisville, Penn State

Less than two weeks after landing a commitment from 2018 linebacker Antwuan Johnson, Michigan picked up his teammate, Leonard Taylor. The Springfield, Ohio tight end/defensive end pledged his commitment to Jim Harbaugh following Friday night’s spring game.

Taylor is rated as a four star according to 247 and Scout, the only of the four major recruiting services to have released their 2018 ratings to date. 247 ranks Taylor as the third-best defensive tackle in the class and the 22nd-best overall player in the class. No other site has ranked the 2018 class yet.

As mentioned in Johnson’s New in Blue post, Taylor plays for former NFL safety Maurice Douglass, who sent Roy Roundtree, Michael Shaw, Brandon Moore, Mike McCray, and Reon Dawson to Ann Arbor while at Trotwood High School. However, given that Johnson and Taylor are among the best 2018 players in the state of Ohio, Harbaugh will have to fight to keep them away from Urban Meyer over the next 22 months. Still, it’s great early momentum, and Harbaugh can build on that with a great season this fall.

Height of sincerity: A defense of John Beilein

March 31st, 2016 by Sam Sedlecky


Beilein and Spike(Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Earlier this week, the University of Michigan announced that Spike Albrecht, fresh off a senior year in which he was only able to play nine games and thus was granted a redshirt, would transfer out of Ann Arbor to play basketball elsewhere next season. With that came the official end of the 2012 recruiting class’s “Fresh Five” era at Michigan, and a collective sigh across the Michigan fan base.

(As an aside, it’s worth noting that not a single player from that touted class will play a full college career at Michigan, as Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, and Mitch McGary left early, Caris LeVert played the equivalent of only two conference seasons, and Albrecht will transfer. That’s an even worse hit rate than the famed Fab Five, which saw two players – Jimmy King and Ray Jackson – play four full seasons in Ann Arbor and two more – Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose – complete their junior years.)

All seemed well and good until it was pointed out that the Big Ten restricts graduate transfers from playing immediately at another member institution. Shortly after that, it was revealed that Michigan coach John Beilein would restrict Albrecht from not only transferring within the Big Ten conference, but also to any other opponent on Michigan’s schedule in the next two seasons, according to MLive’s Brendan Quinn.

From there, all hell broke loose. Talks of Albrecht being a victim of an archaic NCAA system flooded social media, and critics of the restriction policies pointed out once again that the millionaire coaches have all the power while the peasant players – the ones who actually create the product that lines the pockets of coaches and administrators across the country with cash – are merely pawns of the system.

Perhaps the most outspoken of all the voices heard was Yahoo!’s Pat Forde, who presented Albrecht’s situation as the “height of hypocrisy” in a scathing column attacking both Beilein and the college basketball system as a whole.

Before I address these arguments, however, I wanted to make one point clear: every college basketball player seeking a transfer is doing so for his own reasons. To throw every single transfer into a basket and cover it with a single blanket is to ignore the uniqueness of each individual’s situation. So while I will defend Beilein’s reasoning to a certain extent in this case, I am not saying he is infallible when it comes to transfers; in fact, I was quite outspoken myself in his refusal to allow former Wolverine Max Bielfeldt back for a fifth season in Ann Arbor while also trying to prevent him from transferring to certain schools.

Now, on to this individual case. Instead of responding to Forde’s column with a winding essay of my own, I decided to break his arguments down into three points and address them one-by-one.

From my perspective, Forde’s issues boil down to the following:

1. Not allowing Albrecht to transfer within the Big Ten is “massively hypocritical” on Michigan’s part
2. Spike was “recruited over” and “has been told there is no scholarship for him at Michigan”
3. Rich, greedy coaches are allowed to move about freely from school to school without consequence while poor players are restricted from choosing where they wish to play

I’ll respond to these in order.

1. The supposed hypocrisy

Beilein and Spike 2(Melanie Maxwell, The Ann Arbor News)

Oh, the hypocrisy!

Let’s get Forde’s smelliest garbage – the idea that Michigan and John Beilein are being hypocritical by restricting Albrecht’s options because Jake Rudock just led the Wolverines’ football team to a solid season in his fifth year after transferring from Iowa – out of the way first. Yes, it’s true that Rudock left Iowa for Michigan and had a mostly excellent season as quarterback of the Maize and Blue, in what just so happens to be the most important position on the field. But according to my records — and, you know, Michigan’s schedule — the Wolverines did not play Iowa in Rudock’s lone season in Ann Arbor, so Iowa was never harmed by the transfer.

Now, it might take the intellect of a first grader to realize this, but as far as I know, Beilein does not run the football program at Michigan. To blame Beilein for being hypocritical when he was not even involved in one end of the equation is like blaming an eighth grade algebra teacher for a seventh grader failing biology. Sure, go ahead and argue that the conference is acting hypocritically, but don’t blame the coach that has never signed, and to my knowledge never even pursued, a transfer from another Big Ten university while at Michigan.

Even then, though, the Big Ten is not changing any policy. Rudock and Bielfeldt – who ended up playing his fifth season of basketball at Indiana – had to apply for a special waiver through the conference.

Furthermore, while it’s clear that Beilein has attempted to block his former players from transferring within the conference or to other future opponents, he has never fought extensively to prevent it after that waiver was granted. Indeed, the coach has lost two former players to future conference opponents in Evan Smotrycz (Maryland) and Bielfeldt, and a third, Laval Lucas-Perry, to a team on Michigan’s upcoming schedule (Oakland).

It’s also worth noting that this is not exactly a new issue. Beilein has made his policy very clear in the past – a policy that, according to Quinn, Albrecht was fully aware of – and is far from being alone in trying to avoid playing against athletes to whom he has spent years coaching up and teaching his intricate system. In fact, it was just a few seasons ago when Bo Ryan vehemently fought to prevent his redshirt freshman Jarrod Uthoff from transferring to Iowa, where the future star hailed from.

2. Spike’s scholarship was effectively pulled out from under him

Beilein and Spike 3(Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports)

While Forde’s ridiculous argument regarding hypocrisy is exactly that, this argument is even more outrageous to me. Let’s first forget about the fact that Forde never even interviewed Albrecht for his hot take laden article, but rather relied on a single second-hand source in the form of Spike’s father for all his information.

To say that Albrecht was “recruited over” shows a complete lack of understanding of the situation, so I will do my best to recap. Throughout his junior season, Albrecht played through pain in both of his hips, opting to withhold surgery until the offseason. Once the offseason came around, the rising senior from Crown Point, Ind. immediately underwent surgery on both of his hips to correct issues that his father has also experienced. Doctors and the Michigan basketball program alike, from Beilein to Albrecht himself, seemed confident that, with some intense rehab, Albrecht would be ready to go by the start of his senior year (approximately eight months after surgery).

Unfortunately, all did not go according to plan. Albrecht’s pain affected his play in a major way, and soreness and stiffness reportedly followed him around like a Stage Five Clinger. During halftime of Michigan’s game at SMU, Albrecht informed coaches that he did not feel well enough to return in the second half, and a decision was made soon thereafter to shut it down for the remainder of the season.

At the time, Michigan announced that Albrecht was “retiring”, but there always seemed to be an underlying sense that he could return if things progressed positively. Fast forward to earlier this week, and Albrecht’s competitive attitude led him to extend his college career.

By all accounts, there was simply no way for Beilein to anticipate this situation. Seeing the developing state of his roster heading into this past season, Beilein went ahead last year and recruited a point guard by the name of Xavier Simpson to come in with the class of 2016 to presumably back up a senior Derrick Walton. At the time Simpson committed to Michigan on September 9 and later signed his Letter of Intent to play at Michigan on November 11, all parties expected Albrecht to play out his career in Ann Arbor. That, of course, changed in the following weeks, but by no means was Albrecht deliberately “recruited over”.

Additionally, there’s strong reason to believe that Albrecht himself did not even directly inquire about the possibility of returning to Ann Arbor for his redshirt senior season. In one report from Quinn on MLive.com, Albrecht said “I know there’s a slim shot of a spot opening up” and that his conversation with Beilein was “tough on both of us” and “difficult” for Beilein. He went on to say that Beilein would consider bringing him back if an additional scholarship opened up, but that Albrecht wanted to get his name out on the transfer circuit with spots starting to emerge elsewhere. In a similar report from The Michigan Daily, Albrecht was quoted as saying “I know the scholarship situation I’m going to be in and that there’s probably not a likelihood of me being able to come back” to Beilein.

To me, that sounds like the decision to transfer was 100 percent Albrecht’s call. Beilein did not force Spike out like he arguably did with Bielfeldt before. He even presumably agreed to assist Albrecht in acquiring an extra year of eligibility by preserving his redshirt. Whether Albrecht is transferring due to concerns over playing time next season or for other unknown reasons is beside the point here, as it appears pretty clear that Albrecht was never explicitly told that he would not be able to return to Michigan.

It’s also widely known that Albrecht is a favorite of Beilein’s despite being undersized and outmatched athletically by nearly every opponent – something that has seemed to fly under the radar as people pile on Beilein for being a monster.

3. Coaches are rich and powerful, players are powerless peasants

Beilein and Spike 4(Melanie Maxwell, The Ann Arbor News)

I’ll agree with the basic argument Forde (in solidarity with many other pundits) presents here. It’s true – big-time college basketball coaches make millions of dollars on the backs of their players while the players get nothing more than a free education, free coaching, gear, and a stipend in return (no, we will not be getting into the drawn-out amateurism argument here). Coaches are also free to pick up and change schools or retire on a whim, while players are often restricted from transferring to certain schools or forced to sit out a season in order to adhere to NCAA rules.

But let’s discuss a couple facts that are not pointed out in Forde’s article. The example that Forde gives to embody this argument is that if Beilein retired and Tom Izzo decided to take over as head coach at Michigan, “(Izzo) would be welcomed with open arms in about 30 seconds” without restrictions or having to sit out a season. Besides this being maybe the worst example ever given in the history of mankind, it also fails to acknowledge that players and signed recruits are almost always given a no-holds-barred release from their “contract” if a coach leaves his post. If Beilein were to retire or unexpectedly take a different job next year, his players and recruits would be allowed to leave Michigan – and even follow him to his new destination if desired.

This argument also fails to address another crucial fact. Sure, the player in this situation is being restricted from going anywhere in the country, and thus one could argue that he is hurt by the inability to transfer to the school that offers him the best opportunity. But what about his former teammates? In this case, if Albrecht were allowed to transfer to another Big Ten school or a different future opponent, does that not hurt Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin, and company? What happens if Albrecht went to Indiana and provided a full scouting report to his new coach and teammates, complete with inside information on Beilein’s system and certain tendencies of his former teammates? Is that not inhibiting Michigan’s current players from having a fair shake?

Now yes, every team scouts its opponents extensively, and Tom Crean is very familiar with Beilein’s system by now. A former college basketball player argued with me that even if Albrecht were able to provide play names to his new Big Ten team, conference opponents would have already scouted Michigan enough to know certain plays and individual tendencies. But in my book, any bit of an advantage helps, and allowing one player the chance to provide a full scouting report against his former team seems a bit one-sided to me.

And though Beilein’s comments have been largely dismissed, I’ll put forth his argument again: Does it really hurt a player that bad if he only has 330-some different schools to transfer to as opposed to 350 schools? Albrecht can still play for any number of big time programs throughout the country. He can still finish his college career in the tropics (Hawaii, Florida Gulf Coast) or in the tundra (UW-Green Bay, Maine). He can choose to play close to home for a highly respected program (Notre Dame, Butler) or far away for a program on the rise (Southern California). He can continue his education at an outstanding academic institution (Stanford) or take it easy on the books (IUPUI). Heck, if he’s feeling up for it, Spike could even play for any of the four teams left standing that we’ll all be watching this weekend.

That doesn’t sound so bad to me.

Albrecht, Doyle to transfer from Michigan

March 29th, 2016 by Justin Potts


Spike-Doyle(Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports)

On Monday, the Michigan football team gained two commitments. By Tuesday afternoon, the basketball program lost two members of its team. Senior Spike Albrecht and sophomore Ricky Doyle both announced their intentions to transfer.

Albrecht will seek a grad-year transfer, something that Max Bielfeldt did after last season. Bielfeldt landed with Indiana, where was named the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year and helped the Hoosiers to the Sweet 16. Albrecht will hope for a similar role and success wherever he lands.

The Crown Point, Ind. native played in just eight games this season after having offseason hip surgery. He shut his season down early enough to preserve a redshirt. Over his career, Albrecht started just 19 games, but played a pivotal role as the backup point guard. He averaged 3.9 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. However, during his junior season, he made 18 starts and averaged 7.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 3.9 assists.

Albrecht’s legacy will forever be remembered for his breakout performance against Louisville in the 2013 national title game. Coming off the bench in relief of national player of the year Trey Burke, Albrecht scored 17 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting, helping to build a big first half lead. Try watching these highlights without getting goosebumps.

Unfortunately, Michigan lost the game, but Albrecht cemented his legacy with a tweet to Kate Upton following the game.

Doyle has two years of eligibility remaining and will be eligible to play at his new school after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. According to Doyle’s high school coach, Doyle felt the system wasn’t the right fit for his skills.

The Cape Coral, Fla. native started 20 games over the past two seasons, averaging 4.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. However, his minutes and production fell off this season. After averaging 18.2 minutes, 6.1 points, and 3.2 rebounds during his freshman year in 2014-15, Doyle averaged just 12.2 minutes, 3.8 points, and 2.0 rebounds this season while losing the starting job to Mark Donnal.

In a statement issued by the program, John Beilein thanked Doyle for his contributions to the program.

“Ricky is a tremendous young man with very high character and plenty of potential to develop into being a fine college player,” said Beilein. “We have enjoyed coaching him over the past two years and wish him nothing but the best.”

The two transfers bring Michigan to even in terms of scholarships available with nine players returning and four freshmen coming in. The incoming freshmen include four-star point guard Xavier Simpson, who will replace Albrecht, and big men Austin Davis and Jon Teske, who will replace Doyle.