This is a new weekly column for BTPowerhouse that will cover a variety of Big Ten topics that might not deserve a detailed breakdown, but deserve mention. It will be similar to a news roundup with more thoughts and analysis.
So, let’s jump into our Morning Power Bar.
1. Emoni Bates to Michigan State.
This is something that was already addressed on BTPowerhouse’s main page, but it deserves a little more attention here. Earlier this week, elite 2022 prospect Emoni Bates committed to Michigan State, turning plenty of heads nationally. Bates is rated as the top player in the 2022 class and was not expected to commit this early.
Obviously, it’s pretty big news.
But fans should know a few things before reacting too strongly to this news.
To start, we need to address the elephant in the room, which is Bates’ forthcoming NBA Draft decision. For those who haven’t followed, the NBA is widely rumored to be reconsidering its “one-and-done” policy of the last decade or so and returning to a policy that would allow prospects to enter the Draft directly out of high school. If so, there’s a reasonable chance Bates simply goes pro before making it to East Lansing.
And even if this rule isn’t changed, many think Bates would still explore non-college options, including the G League and play overseas. This is something we’ve started to see more frequently out of top prospects and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bates follow that route. More simply stated, Spartan fans need to view this commitment with some skepticism. This is one where fans really need to wait for him to get on campus before celebrating too much.
With all that said, this is a massive, massive commitment for Michigan State and the conference overall. Per 247Sports, the last Big Ten program to land the nation’s top prospect was Indiana in 2007 with Eric Gordon. Interestingly, the Big Ten also did it in 2006 with Greg Oden’s commitment to Ohio State. By any reasonable evaluation, this is the kind of player the Big Ten has rarely seen over the last few decades. Should he end up in East Lansing, he would launch the Spartans into the national championship discussion.
One other thing to keep an eye on with Bates is the potential for him to reclassify to the 2021 class. It’s something that hasn’t gotten a ton of coverage, but has been casually mentioned by some. If so, he could be in East Lansing next fall.
2. Bo Ryan gets into Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.
As Wisconsin Basketball’s official Twitter account said, this was probably only a matter of time, but the school announced former head coach Bo Ryan would be joining the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Obviously, that’s quite an honor for Ryan and his family.
Personally, I’ve felt Ryan’s achievements have often been overlooked by many nationally and this is a nice recognition of his coaching acumen. After all, these were some of his achievements in noted in Wisconsin’s post:
Ryan won 747 games collegiately: a school-record 364 at Wisconsin. His Badger teams never finished lower than fourth in the Big Ten, never missed the NCAA tournament. Ryan, a four-time league Coach of the Year, won seven league titles and guided the UW to back-to-back Final Four appearances.
Yeah, that’s pretty solid.
3. Under Armour bailing on UCLA?
In one of the more bizarre sports stories of the past few weeks, it looks like Under Armour is trying to bail on its apparel contract with UCLA sports:
Under Armour has informed UCLA that it is attempting to terminate its record $280-million apparel deal with the school. In an email to UCLA constituents, athletic director Dan Guerrero wrote "We are exploring all of our options to resist Under Armour's actions."— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) June 27, 2020
After you get over the initial shock of this, you have to wonder if this is a sign of bigger things to come. Over the last 15 years, big name college athletic departments have really only known excess, incredible revenue streams, and growing budgets. That has not only come from TV deals, but also from these apparel contracts.
And while I am hardly an expert in shoe marketing, it’s hard to think some of these shoe companies are getting their money’s worth with these deals. I mean, $280 million for an apparel contract with UCLA? The football program has been dead for a better part of 20 years with little consistent fan support and the basketball program continues to sputter as well. It’s hard to think there’s a return on investment there.
And this kind of thing doesn’t only happen at UCLA. Plenty of big name athletic departments have failed to deliver. From a Big Ten perspective, just look at Nebraska for plenty of underwhelming results. But at least the Huskers have the fan support.
So, will this be part of a massive restructuring in college sports? We can’t be sure right now, but it’s an interesting situation that deserves some attention. And when all is said and done, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some Big Ten implications as well.
4. NCAA encouraging players to vote.
In a really cool move, the NCAA is working to help open up players’ schedules to make sure they have an opportunity to vote on Election Day:
The NCAA is encouraging schools to help players register to vote and designate Nov. 3 (election day) as an off-day for activities.— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) June 12, 2020
A handful of schools have already announced such plans. https://t.co/GRokYXnohn
I criticize the NCAA as much as anyone, but that’s a great move.
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