I wonder how 'Bama is doing with the ol' recruiting class? Earlier this summer MGoBlog got in a poo-flinging contest with every Alabama fan with internet access about Nick Saban's massive oversigning. It ranged hence and forth and left deep scars in the land that will become the cyber-Great Lakes in several thousand years. And now, sadly, it's time to carve out cyber-Huron.
The situation, to recap:
- Fifteen scholarship seniors saw their eligibility expire this year; Saban signed 32 players.
- Two enrolled early, leaving Alabama with a maximum incoming class of 27.
- Depending on exactly what, when, and who you listen to, the Tide have to cut about six guys before fall. On April 17th, SMQB noted 64 returning players on the Tide roster and declared the number to be four, but he forgot about the two early enrollees; the number at that point was six.
- A reserve offensive lineman took a medical scholarship sometime after that.
- A couple days ago the seemingly plugged-in Bama Sports Report made it 63, leaving five guys to get the axe. (Link via Get The Picture.) At the end of their piece they note:
Considering that two players (Zeke Knight & Lionel Mitchell) missed the majority of the spring due to injuries, and one player (Prince Hall) is suspended indefinetly, the numbers appear to be very, very close to working themselves out.
Knight has had a scary time with heart murmurs and would be a legit absence, but Mitchell has had some minor back issues that didn't even prevent him from participating in practice. He spent the spring in a non-contact jersey, but he played. A medical scholarship for him would be dubious.
So... close to working itself out? No. Remove Knight from the equation and assume none of the recruits who aren't on campus yet ("schools also can make it so some player doesn't qualify if they don't need him to" -Bruce Feldman) make it in, and Alabama is two scholarships over. If they do reach the 25 maximum, they're four scholarships over.
Around these parts, being two to four players away from reaching the scholarship limit of 85 on June 13th is not close at all. Even if you give Alabama the benefit of the doubt and assume every one of the mountain of medical scholarships they've given out is totally legit*, it's mid-June and Alabama is in the precarious position of hoping that some their players don't make the grade or get into serious trouble.
My prediction: This will "work out," as the Bama Sports Report suggests. There are probably several Alabama players who are taking summer classes to remain eligible, and exactly enough will find out they didn't make it. Or someone will come down with "ow my thing hurts." Or Prince Hall won't live up to Nick Saban's strict standards. Which will be just terribly convenient, and the 'Bama-bots will crow and everyone who's heard of Occam's Razor will look at a recruiting class that needed an incredible twelve players to leave the team between its signing and fall practice and shake their heads.
As SMQB pointed out in his April post, Alabama and Clemson are the only schools in the country to have put themselves in this position, and Clemson fixed their issues by cutting Ray Ray McElrathbey. They got the public whipping they deserved for that, and it should be Alabama's turn.
Schools should never be allowed to do this again. Alabama is in a position where they are rooting for kids to leave the team, and that will necessarily bias their actions and judgments in favor of shipping a kid off to Alcorn State. The NCAA must implement a simple rule: no oversigning. You show where the scholarship is coming from or no LOI for you.
*(Not likely, IMO, since many of the medicals were given to backup linemen with vague injuries like "knee problems" or "ow my shoulder sorta hurts" or "ow my shoulder too"; these guys were probably told they were cut and to take the scholarship and deal. How many backup offensive linemen could you offer medical scholarships to? 80%?**)
**(It's worth noting that Michigan gave two of its offensive linemen medical scholarships this offseason. This 1) reinforces point about just how many linemen you could put on medical scholarship and 2) will probably be seized upon by some irate 'Bama fan. The difference: Michigan enters the year with 79 scholarship players and at no time would not have had room on the roster should they want to return.)
Your victors from the first round of voting in the second regional:
59% of the vote
Creator: Don Helfrich
95% of the vote
Tobias Hopps' naked guy, Casey McClatchy's uber-montage, Tyler Sellhorn's uh... contribution, and Chris Sebastian's field-running are eliminated. Naked guy was so close to winning despite explicit instructions not to vote for naked guy, which is an accomplishment of sorts. Sad fugee faces for all.
Helfrich takes on McKibben and Westlund takes on Eagal in the next round.
It is for quiz. Clay Travis throws down the gauntlet to blog-bashers in his latest CBS Sportsline piece:
Five bloggers that have agreed to participate will take on a team of five of the most talented, educated and intelligent mainstream sportswriters that are willing to compete against them. Hopefully the roster will feature at least a few of the recent blogger insulters (Bob Costas, Buzz Bissinger, Rick Reilly, Michael Wilbon) you name the mainstream media members who are willing and there's a blogging team ready to play them for charity.
And, as a bonus, we'll let the captain of the mainstream media team select a charity they would like to raise money for. So, for example, if he's willing to participate, we would be happy to send all the proceeds to fund more of Reilly's mosquito nets in Africa. In fact it would be ideal if Reilly, given his frequent and vituperative criticism of sports bloggers and his new boffo column deal, was willing to put together his own team. Even if Reilly's not a member of the mainstream media we'll be willing to let him join.
There's more, including a brief section on yrs truly, one of the distinguished panelists. If anyone who's taken a shot at blogs is reading this, 1) your father was a hamster and your mother smells of elderberries and 2) seriously, step up to the plate. Money goes to a good cause and I can't answer any questions except those about my mother's basement. (Example Q: who did you cut open during the Great Lego Battle of Thanksgiving 2005? A: Tom.) You will wipe the floor with us. I can barely spell.
O ZOMBIE RLY? Penn State fans are super-excited that they've raided Maryland something wicked in this recruiting cycle, but, uh...
|Eric Shrive||OL||6-7||285||5.1||6.0||Scranton, PA|
|Darrell Givens||DB||6-0||170||4.46||5.8||Indian Head, MD|
|Sean Stanley||DE||6-2||250||4.7||5.8||Gaithersburg, MD|
|Brandon Felder||WR||6-2||167||4.43||5.7||Oxon Hill, MD|
|Ty Howle||OL||6-2||290||-||5.7||Bunn, NC|
|Derrick Thomas||DB||6-0||176||4.49||5.7||Greenbelt, MD|
|Mark Arcidiacono||OL||6-4||289||-||5.5||Philadelphia, PA|
|Stephon Morris||DB||5-8||172||4.48||5.5||Greenbelt, MD|
|Stephen Obeng-Agyapong||DB||5-10||174||4.5||5.5||Bronx, NY|
|Malcolm Willis||DB||5-11||201||4.64||5.5||Indian Head, MD|
|Curtis Drake||QB||6-0||175||4.49||-||Philadelphia, PA|
|Frank Figueroa||OL||6-4||282||5.2||-||Alexandria, VA|
...is this recruiting to be excited about? Dominating Maryland football recruiting is like doing a killer job finding hockey players in Ohio.
Shrive's their only top 100 recruit and of their 12 commits only three have four stars. This looks exactly like 2008, when they had one non-linebacker pick up four stars, or 2005, when the Justin King-Derrick Williams duo overshadowed a class long on signees (19) but short on talent (only four of them got more than three stars. Penn State has gone back to its recruiting style from the early portion of the decade, when they would lock up a host of marginal prospects -- "QB" recruit Curtis Drake's only other offer was from Northwestern -- early.
You can get away with that stuff here and there when you uncover a diamond in the rough -- talented if somewhat asshatted DT Chris Baker was a two-star, Braylon Edwards, all those anonymous guys from Ohio State's secondary -- but in general you either recruit like a national contender or you don't, and Penn State isn't.
If you believe recruiting rankings matter (and you should), Penn State's lining itself up for more of the same. This is a complete list of offensive skill position players with more than three stars acquired since 2006:
Chris Bell(off the team after machete incident)
- Pat Devlin
- Andrew Quarless (hanging by a thread, their Carson Butler)
- Brent Carter
- Brandon Beachum
Michael Shaw(snake oil enthusiast)
That's one QB, one TE, and two RBs in three and a half classes; Michigan has locked down that many four star skill position recruits in the 2009 class. I think I might harp on this a bit more than I should, but this article in the Inquirer set me off. It unrealistically portrays everything as hunky-dory in Penn State land, when I, and most other Michigan fans, would be freaking out given the last four years of results on the field and in the star realm. Hell, I'm still a little freaked out about this year's class, and it features seven four-stars amongst nine recruits so far.
Ohio State? Killing it. They are not going away, not like you expected them to.
Assistant to the. Fluff on Mike Debord has this paragraph embedded:
DeBord was a candidate to replace Lloyd Carr as the head coach at the University of Michigan, and when that did not pan out, he opted to take a job as assistant offensive line coach for the Seattle Seahawks.
I was also a candidate to replace Lloyd Carr but opted to not wear pants.
I drive a Benzing. Spectacularly named new MLive author "Philip Zaroo" provides a post detailing John Beilein's latest appearance on WTKA:
"Robin would only be an emergency center/big man type of kid," Beilein said. "He's a straight-out forward. He could play either the three or the four at 6-10 1/2.
The comparison always made is Dirk Nowitski, so expect him to hang out on the perimeter a bunch. Most expect Benzing will have to sit out 2008 after playing on a professional team (but not getting paid) in Germany.
Dude. Sporting News is re
launching, and amongst their new contributors:
Lloyd Carr and the Legends Football Coaching Association
See a different game with Michigan's Lloyd Carr, UCLA's Terry Donahue, Alabama's Gene Stallings and dozens of famous college football contributors.
Hopefully he writes a media-crit column.
Etc: UMTailgate takes a look back at Moellergate; Tim from VB 1) fell four stories, 2) isn't dead, 3) has a broken spine. But he's answering mailbag questions. Hardcore. (FYI: this QB we've offered is 2010.) Michigan has not one top 25 vote across ten preseason polls.
A couple sources are suggesting Michigan fans breathe easy about this potential academic casualty on the hockey team. Michigan Hockey Net:
Not true, according to a source who said there are not going to be any departures from the hockey program due to academic reasons. He did confirm Pateryn will join this fall, but "it's not because we need him to fill a roster spot of a player not performing well in the classroom."
As of now, no one is out. Red made a comment to Blais about bringing Pateryn this year more as a precaution than a realization that they're going to lose someone. There are a few kids that are not stellar students, but as of this morning there had been no academic causalities. Mitera and Summers are definitely coming back. Pacioretty we're still awaiting word on but feel confident he will return.
Spath would later add that everyone should "relax" and there's "no need to panic," with an explanation pending in Rivals' premium Inside The Fort on Thursday.
I'm still a little leery. I doubt Pateryn would want to give up a year of eligibility to be the eighth defenseman, and I doubt Michigan would want him to spend a critical development year getting scratched. On the surface it makes little sense to bring him in this year unless someone taking a regular shift is departing. We'll see. The one scenario that does make sense: Pateryn is sick of waiting and wants to go to college now.
Every year I take a look back at the things I said about various Big Ten teams in their team previews. Last year's efforts:
Only six months later than last year! Next year's preview review is scheduled for January of 2010.
Only six months later than last year! Next year's preview review is scheduled for January of 2010.
I was one of many calling for the complete implosion of Glen Mason's program after a charmed year saw the Gophers finish first nationally in turnover margin despite having no defense:
Minnesota, a team virtually without a defense, managed a whopping 32 takeaways last year and lost an incredibly low three fumbles. Luck was a lady to the Gophers last year and they were still fortunate to finish 6-7. Now the Gophers are installing a spread offense, deploying a quarterback with no experience whatsoever, and continuing to deploy a defense that will not be good at football. This stat will collapse, and with it Minnesota's fortunes.
The season forecast was grim indeed:
They were not. They were outgained by their opponents by 50 yards a game, and the true Lovecraftian depths their defense descended to were masked by an outpouring of opponent generosity that will not repeat. The three best player's on last year's offense are gone. There are no suitable replacements at quarterback, and the run game that has long been the rock Minnesota planted its flag upon has been discarded. ...
There is one conclusion here: disaster.
...and this was what projected as "disaster":
Minnesota blows one of its non-conference games, scrapes a win in conference, and ends up 4-7.
Oops. I meant "Minnesota blows all of everything, loses to a transitional I-AA team, scrapes a win, and Brewster still manages to call it a bowl-worthy season."
This was pretty much dead-on, if not quite apocalyptic enough, but other parts of the preview were wrong. The entire opening section was devoted to mocking Minnesota's decision to dump their most successful coach since that bizarre string of national titles in the Pleistoscene era. A complete evisceration of the program featured:
The gift of gab is the key to Brewster's ascension. He's scandalously light on actual coaching accomplishments but has a reputation as a "monster recruiter." Assuming that he will raise the level of talent Minnesota brings in is a dubious proposition based on fine work he did under Mack Brown's tutelage. Recruiting Vince Young to Texas is an entirely different matter than recruiting him to Minnesota. The Gophers have made a serious misstep by bringing in a neophyte with a rep as a recruiter instead of someone who can spin straw into gold. Because Minnesota, recruiter or no, is going to see lots of straw.
As the Dude said, how are you gonna keep them on the farm once they've seen Karl Hungus? Minnesota may have more natural disadvantages than any other BCS program. The Gophers must compete with the Wild, Twins, Vikings, and Timberwolves in Minneapolis. Hockey-mad Minnesota provides scanty harvests of recruits and a forbidding, polar bear laden climate that hampers out of state efforts. (Minnesota is the only school with a I-A football program that plays second fiddle to hockey.) Since the Earth's poles reversed in the 60s and robbed Minnesota of whatever crazy leyline mojo (@ right) they were working when they were a national power, Gopher football has been one long string of unrelenting failure. Their last Big Ten title was 40 years ago, the longest drought in the conference.* And though they're finally getting their own stadium, for now they are stuck in the antiseptic Metrodome. Even the new place will feel minuscule compared to most other Big Ten stadia at only 50k, and "TCF Bank Stadium" does not exactly scream tradition. There will be a brief burst of interest when the place opens; if (when?) Minnesota's fortunes fail to improve attention will scatter to the multitudinous other options. In the 29 years between that last Big Ten title and the Mason era, the Gophers high water mark is seven wins, accomplished all of thrice and not since 1985. They should take the crappy bowl bids and occasional flicker of excitement provided by Mason and be happy. History indicates that this is as good as it gets for the Gophers.
A bonus prediction was thrown in after the forecast of onfield doom:
Bonus prediction: their recruiting class is no better than a typical Mason effort and Brewster is bounced after four years of Wacker ball. But, hey, at least they'll get two shots at eviscerating a youthful Michigan hockey team this year.
This was doubly wrong: Brewster recruited extraordinarily well by Minnesota standards and the Gopher hockey team sucked. The jury remains very much out on whether the maniacally optimistic tight end expert can do anything other than recruit, but Minnesota's class actually had four-star players in it, some of them from places like Texas and Indiana. At the very least, Minnesota will be interesting in four years instead of dire.
MGoBlog's favorite schtick is taking the previous year's Michigan State preview introduction, slightly changing the details based on Michigan State's season, and predicting a mediocre season that finishes within one game of .500. Check. Michigan State did manage to squeak into a bowl game by beating Penn State in the Big Ten's fiercest rivalry, but a loss to Boston College saw them end up 7-6.
The preview was basically accurate when it came to the offense: Hoyer a "competent game manager in the mold of John Stocco" and "a good bet to be average", Ringer "one of the most talent backs in the conference." The offense in summary: "adequacy is probable." Michigan State was 42nd in total offense, which is pretty adequate. Only a couple things were off. I dismissed Jehuu Caulcrick as a third-and-short specialist with no other useful applications, which sold him short, and there was only a brief mention of JUCO transfer "Devon" Thomas, who would be a first round pick. All in all, though, it was a good effort.
Some things were way off, though:
Delightfully wrong. The firing of immensely entertaining John L Smith came as a blow to pundits and fans across the midwest, especially when a burned Michigan State athletic department tapped a man who seemed to be the eccentric Smith's polar opposite:
Unsurprisingly but much to the chagrin of everyone except Michigan State fans, John L is gone. Into his cowboy boots steps Mark Dantonio, formerly of Cincinnati and Ohio State. He is the antithesis of JLS: a defensive coordinator from a traditional power who is as exciting as toast. JLS spent his offseasons climbing Kilimanjaro or jumping out of planes; Dantonio's summer was highlighted by an appearance in Faith Magazine, which is unfortunately not a Georgie
Michael fanzine but rather a bonafide religious magazine my mother gets. According to Faith, Dantonio has is priorities straight:
Faith is more important than winning to Michigan State University's head coach
If he turns out to be something less than Nick Saban, that's probably a good philosophy to take into the job.
Dantonio didn't slap himself in public, but he did prove to be more weirdly entertaining than Faith made him out to be. Over the course of the year, Dantonio
- installed a clock that counts down to the Michigan game,
- asked how long Michigan State would 'bow down' to Michigan, giving M fans a new catchphrase to stand the test of time, and
- made fun of Mike Hart's height three days after his team had spectacularly imploded and lost.
As theorized in the final link above:
But seriously folks, the one thing the Michigan State program needed was a monomaniacal focus on Michigan. It needed a coach who would install a countdown clock to their eighth straight loss in the series. It needed a man who would stand up and say "you know what, guys? All those other games we play are stupid and we shouldn't try very hard in them." It needed a guy who would teach his resilient troops to follow his example by bitching to the assembled media a full two days after his team blew it again. It needed a man who could forge them into a cohesive unit capable of picking up critical personal fouls at the very worst time possible. See, the problem with Michigan State is that occasionally they enter the fourth quarter of games leading. And Michigan State needs a man who can blow that lead, preferably in really, really painful fashion.
Friends, Mark Dantonio is that man.
Not delightfully wrong. Michigan State's defensive line wasn't great but I gave them a "1", citing their awful defensive tackles and shallow defensive ends. This on the man who would become known as the (hur) "sackmaster" is particularly off:
On the other side, juniors Brandon Long and Jonal Saint-Dic will attempt to hold off JUCO transfer Michael Jordan. Long and Saint-Dic's sell-by dates have expired. Both were mediocre recruits -- Long picked MSU over a selection of MAC schools, Saint-Dic was a lightly-regarded JUCO -- who couldn't bust into a crappy defensive line in two years of trying. Long retains a bit more upside as a true junior, but he'll be a vastly undersized defensive end if he starts. Either projects to be bad.
St. Dic had ten sacks, though I should point out he was overrated by the Musbergers of the world: six of his sacks came against the wretched passing offenses of Bowling Green, Pitt, and Notre Dame and he only had four sacks in conference play. He had only three TFLs outside those sacks. He didn't warrant a nickname.
But Michigan State did finish 14th in sacks and 30th in rushing defense thanks in large part to its front seven. I gave both the DL and the linebackers ratings of "1". Oops. How could I not, though?
Everything you need to know about the Spartan linebackers in three handy sentences:
Every college football team has one - a 200-pound starting linebacker with a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, clinically diagnosed hyperactivity, classical piano skills and absolutely no interest in sports. On second thought, Jon Misch has to be the first. ... Misch was the surprise of spring ball, and he enters fall camp solidly entrenched as the starter at strong-side linebacker.
Every indicator indicates that Jon "Samurai" Misch is going to suck and suck hard. He was a two star recruit out of metro Detroit power Orchard Lake St Mary -- no reason he'd be overlooked like a guy from Houghton or Guatemala or something -- who was credited with a 4.7 40 at 195 pounds. That 40 has not improved:
The 6-foot-2 Misch - who gleefully weighed in Tuesday at an all-time high of 207 - runs the 40-yard dash in 4.89 seconds.
He had one other offer: Eastern Michigan. Now he's a starting linebacker at 200 pounds as a redshirt freshman. Not only that, a starting strongside linebacker! If he's not awful I'll eat my hat. Hidden upside: slight but real chance he flips out and gets a bunch of personal fouls for ninja kicking various people in the head.
Misch got booted out of his starting spot by promising freshman Greg Jones; on the weakside redshirt freshman Eric Gordon supplanted the disappointing SirDarean Adams. There were no indications from the coaches or the reporters covering the team that either could or would happen.
One of the persistent annoyances with doing these previews is the emergence of stars that no one even mentioned in the preseason. Most previews take the relentlessly positive fluff put out by coaches (remember this from Lloyd Carr...
Johnny Sears has had an outstanding fall. ... He made some great plays on the kickoff. He's a guy that plays without any fear. He's a very tough, hard-nosed player, and I think he's really matured at the corner.
?) and regurgitate it without providing any critical evaluation, so it's impossible to tell when a player is actually likely to break out and when he's just getting a preseason confidence boost before he gets burnt. And how are you supposed to predict when a Saint-Dic or a Greg Jones or a Devin Thomas comes along without any actual information? I don't know. That's why I use big sweeping heuristics, I guess.
So, yeah, I broke my own iron-clad rule and said MSU would go 4-8, though I was "tempted to consider Michigan State's inherent Michigan State-ness and predict one massive upset that gets them within a game of .500." That is my bad, as they say.
Indiana and Iowa
...were not previewed due to time constraints, as they had rotated off Michigan's schedule.
...was also not previewed, which was no doubt a major reason the Wildcats were this close to an
upset before a late avalanche of turnovers did them in.