chance of bowl: 13.6%
That postseason chat promised is happening at 8PM tonight; the WLA has organized and various eminences from the Michigan blogosphere will participate. Be there or be square. It'll be running both here and the WLA.
Scott Shafer has resigned as Michigan's defensive coordinator:
"Scott and I agreed that moving in a different direction was in the best interest of the program," said coach Rich Rodriguez. "I appreciate Scott's hard work on behalf of Michigan football the past year. He is a good football coach, a good person and a true professional. We wish him well in the future."
So, there you go. Sorry, GSimmons.
Warning: not about sports.
The media and its current direction is a semi-frequent topic of discussion around these parts, so this is worth mentioning:
The News and Free Press are scaling back home delivery to three days a week. This is the beginning of the end. The newspaper companies are voluntarily giving up half their subscription revenue in exchange for not losing money on the printing and distribution of a paper without sufficient ad revenue to cover their expenses. There is only one way this arrow points: down.
Allen Mutter, Silicon Valley CEO, former newspaper guy, and blogger, says the radical scaling back was the only alternative to total collapse:
“The choice was to shut down or to try to salvage the newspaper,” said the former executive, who was familiar with the months-long deliberations earlier this year that resulted in the decision to scrap home delivery four days a week at the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.
The radical plan, which is likely to cost some 190 people their jobs by March, was not as much a carefully conceived business decision as it was an act of desperation, said the executive, who declined to be identified because he did not want to compromise continuing business relationships.
You can sign up for the News or Free Press's new half-digital, half-dead system on the internets now, and it includes options to buy single electronic editions of the paper online. Which like… if there's no paywall—and there apparently isn't—why would I pay for the newspaper in an inconvenient format that attempts to mimic the experience of having a newspaper when I have a vastly more powerful medium at my fingertips?
Look! It's the internet! It links to things. It has infinite space and can insert video or audio if it wants; it can be interactive. It does not jump to another page unless I am evil and trying to get more pageviews out of each reader. The effort to develop an "electronic" edition of the paper is going to work about as well as The Sporting News' electronic daily thing, which ends up in my inbox every morning and exits, unread, because you're completely bats if you think I'm going to wander through a clumsy PDF file in search of two hundred words about Michigan.
You're either in or you're out, and this half-measure may slow the implosion but not for long. This morbidly funny event…
While Dave and the editors of both papers promised “vastly improved” digital products to satisfy the evolving information needs of their customers, they offered few concrete details of what new products were in the offing. The live webcast of their news conference was interrupted by repeated lapses in the transmission.
…is a microcosm of the situation. None of these people has any idea how to adapt. They can't because they formed their brains in a world without an internet. You can put a thing created by people who don't understand the internet on said internet and it will still be broken because its mentality remains wrong.
Clay Shirky explains this as clearly as possible:
The things that live on the internet are communities, not institutions, and these communities are brought together by a shared love of something. My personal example is the fungal community that grew up in the old MGoBlog 2.0 haloscan threads. (Here's a 2000-comment one.) I had no idea it was even there because the sheer vast insanity of them forced me into a choice: read and understand all this, or have a blog. People in there just talked, and kept talking, and a lot of it was about Gary Sheffield.
I saw this as a problem, and when I made the move to MGoBlog 3.0 I instituted registered commenting, threading, little signatures and avatars, diaries, and so forth and so on. I liberally applied fungicide to a community I had no idea existed. They responded by complaining, then started their own blog with haloscan commenting. When haloscan annoyingly got bought by someone or changed their feature sets or something—I didn't follow the exact nature of the offense that closely—they built their own crappy, featureless, drive-by-infested commenting system. This is the Wolverine Liberation Army, a community brought forth entirely by Michigan football, MGoBlog, and the world's worst commenting system.
I have another example: my brother is the administrator of a message board called UFCK that formed in the long-long ago as a Dave Mathews Band fan site. Everyone is now ten years older and so knows better, but the community still exists because the people on it just like talking to each other, probably about Gary Sheffield. The board recently went to a subscription-only model because donations were not covering bandwidth costs, and dozens, maybe a hundred, people shelled out. For a subscription. On the internet. To a message board.
Not even the New York Times could make a subscription model work.
What does this have to do with newspapers? Nothing, and that's sort of their problem. Go read the comments on any particular newspaper article and see how healthy their communities are.
What is there to love in the Free Press or News? Extremely little. About the only time in the past couple year's I've thought either local paper was useful was during the Kwame Kilpatrick scandal(s), because only they would dig it up and take Kilpatrick out. Other than that, it's just a bunch of content that touches the surface of things. I don't care about most of it and what I do care about I know is shallow.
The newspaper model is to appeal just enough to a vast swathe of a metro area. It's a monopoly model. Successful things on the internet usually appeal a great deal to a fervent niche.
I don't think the Detroit News is going to be around much longer, and the Free Press will continue to shrink in relevance and power until it's just another something. Neither institution deserves better, and in the interim between newspapers and whatever replaces them there is opportunity and chaos. Buckle up!
Etc.: Clay Shirky is really on top of this stuff; if you are seriously worried about what a journalist-free future looks like, 1) probably not going to happen, and 2) the internet has many, many upsides.
Update 12/15: Linked to articles on MI WR Cameron Gordon, MI DT Will Campbell, FL K commit Brendan Gibbons, TX WR commit Dewayne Peace($, info in header), SC DE Sam Montgomery, MD DE Jason Ankrah, MI DT Will Campbell, OH CB Justin Turner, MS S Dennis Thames. Removed IN LB Jordan Barnes; moved AZ OL Taylor Lewan and MI WR Cameron Gordon to committed.
Added PA LB Dan Mason.
A couple articles on Pahokee, going for its third straight state title this weekend. I'm not adding this on OK DT commit Pearlie Graves because it is apparently untrue, but I will address it. Various items on Carolina-area recruits from Kornblut.
First: TX WR Dewayne Peace is no longer considering official visits($, IIH). He's moved back into the "solid" category.
Second: IN LB Jordan Barnes isn't a commitment anymore, and he's no longer considering Michigan:
“(Having a strong relationship) was one of the most important things to make my decision,” Barnes said. “I’ve been committed since June but have talked to my position coach only two times since then and that was only when I went up there. I didn’t really feel too comfortable with (signing day) just a couple months away. I was unsure of where I stood.” …
“It was mostly just a lack of communication,” he said.
You can read that two ways: OMG we screwed it up(!), or this was Michigan subtle way of asking Barnes to decommit. With no other MLB types in the class and few on the radar, that latter explanation seems pretty dodgy. But it also seems weird of Michigan to basically stop communicating with a player, especially after there were mod-sourced rumors on the premium sites that he was less than solid. Teams monitor those boards, and if Michigan was really interested in keeping Barnes they probably would have, you know, called him up.
Barnes is considering "Alabama, Purdue, and Oklahoma State," and by that he means "Purdue and Oklahoma State" because I don't think he ever had a committable offer from 'Bama and definitely doesn't now.
Now, the guys in-between:
TX QB Shavodrick Beaver hasn't said anything official but posted something ominous on the ol' myspace: "have a bad feeling about Michigan," basically. This caused your standard internet panic, caused premium mods to call up Beaver and get yet another statement that he was still committed to Michigan, and then settled down… sort of.
I don't have any inside info on this one but I admit to being spooked. When Mike Farrell was peddling Beaver decommit rumors earlier this year and Beaver was shooting them down, that seemed like one overzealous source. This is something from the Beav himself—and skeptics about the authenticity of the page should note that this profile is closed to the public, and who sets up a fake profile for a player then hides it?—and retroactively lends credence to those rumors.
I don't think we'll actually see a decommit here, because Beaver did reassert his commitment just a couple days ago and he's yet to take an official visit anywhere else and he's enrolling in January. It would be very tough to set up an official before he's supposed to enroll anywhere, as the next couple weekends are right around Christmas. So… yeah, I think this gets smoothed over. Knock on wood.
OK DT Pearlie Graves, like, just committed a couple weeks ago; now something called PrepStar says he's loose:
Pearlie committed to Michigan but is re-opening his recruitment. Pearlie has already visited Michigan and Texas Tech. Pearlie said he has no favorites and will decide on signing day.
This report is apparently false (and the fact the above has no permalink damns its credibility in my mind); Graves is taking a single trip to Oklahoma but considers himself committed. Oklahoma is obviously a threat.
A couple recruits have cleared up where they're likely headed. The first is a straightforward title on SC DE Sam Montgomery: "Leaning to LSU." Montgomery was never a strong possibility and has said Michigan is trailing a few different schools this week. He'll visit.
One thing Michigan has in their favor with Montgomery is his tendency to change his list around. Just before the latest surge of LSU articles this was his take on the schools chasing him:
"Tennessee is going to get a visit in January, I'm going to take an official visit to LSU and I think I'm going to have to put Michigan in there as well," Montgomery said. "Those are three right now. I'm liking those school a lot."
Michigan is now fourth or fifth on a specifically delineated list; they will have an opportunity to change that around. Still an unlikely catch.
Then there's MS S Dennis Thames, who took a visit this summer and said Michigan lead, then disappeared. Of late the only articles on Thames came from this Steve Robertson guy; Michigan folk haven't been able to get ahold of him. Now the latest says "Thames [is] on the verge" of a commitment.
MGoBlog heuristic #1 on upcoming decisions: when none of the articles are from friendly sites, the kid isn't going to your school. Thames is downgraded to red.
Also there is this, which sort of obviates the need for heuristics:
Louisville standout Dennis Thames lists Michigan, Mississippi State, Southern Miss and Ole Miss, but it sounds like the Bulldogs are the school to beat for his signature. It also appears his choice wasn't affected by the firing of Sylvester Croom after MSU finished 4-8 last month.
"That doesn't decide anything. A coach is a coach," Thames said. "For me, it's just a feeling I have about being a Bulldog."
That is a player who is going to Mississippi State. For some reason.
MGoBlog standard bitch #1 about Mississippi: man, what is with that place? Sign up for guaranteed misery at one of the in-state schools or leave for greener pastures… this does not seem like a hard decision.
I should probably just drop LA WR Rueben Randle…
The battle for him is between LSU and Alabama with Oklahoma also in the picture.
…but every time I see an article like this it's from a newspaper and doesn't contain a direct quote. I assume we're totally out but will leave him up until something definitive comes down.
AL LB Tana Patrick is another fast riser with Michigan on his radar:
In addition to the in-state programs, Patrick says that Michigan has been coming on strong as of late. "They are telling me they like my defensive style and that I'd be a good fit for them," he said. "I like that they have a good tradition and history of football at Michigan."
Michigan is in a leading group of six; the only other schools to draw mention in that Allen Wallace article are Alabama and Auburn, and Auburn's mention isn't particularly encouraging. Doubtful Michigan can pull him away from Alabama, but there's at least some chance.
Meanwhile, JUCO DE Pernell McPhee, a Pahokee alum, is supposed to decide on a school this week. Michigan seemed to lead after his recent visit; since then he's made a trip to Georgia. Sam Webb says he thinks it's "50-50" (audio link) between UGA and Michigan. McPhee plans to enroll early, so his decision has to be coming soon.
A flurry of small updates.
Little items from Phil Kornblut's semi-regular braindumps:
Timberland OL Quinton Washington (6-4, 315) has official visit dates set with USC on Jan. 17 and Tennessee on Jan. 24. He also will visit Clemson. Washington has visited Michigan. He doesn't claim a favorite.
There were good feelings in the immediate aftermath of the visit, but that was a long time ago and Washington hasn't been heard from since. He's a wildcard.
FL CB Jayron Hosley is setting up some additional visits:
Clemson will get a visit on Jan. 31 from DB Jaron [sic] Hosley (5-11, 175) of Delray Beach, Fla. He has visited Louisville and will visit Michigan on Jan. 17 and South Florida on Jan. 24. He's also looking at Ohio State and Vanderbilt.
Sounds like Ohio State is struggling to find room if he's got three officials set up and none are to OSU. Hosley, too, is a guy no one knows much about.
And a little more on NC OL Travis Bond:
OL Travis Bond (6-7, 320) of Windsor, N.C., would like to visit USC but hasn't heard from the Gamecocks recently. He has visited Michigan and N.C. State and will visit North Carolina and East Carolina in January.
As mentioned, North Carolina is already overbooked and may not have room.
Meanwhile, MD DE Jason Ankrah has finally parted ways with Penn State, and doesn't want to take his Virginia Tech trip. He's down to a trio of schools:
Ankrah already has been to Michigan and Nebraska. While he has a visit to Virginia Tech scheduled in January, he said, "I'm not waiting that long." He said he hopes that Michigan Coach Rich Rodriguez will make a home visit before he decides, likely later this month.
"Maryland has always been right there, they've been recruiting me from the start," Ankrah said. "Michigan has tradition and opportunity and a great football atmosphere. Nebraska's Coach [Bo] Pelini is a defensive coordinator-head coach type, plus their D-Line coach went to my high school so we have a great relationship."
Maryland has a commitment from MD CB Travis Hawksin, Ankrah's teammate and seems the slight favorite.
This is less of a big deal than it used to be because there are now a half-dozen postseason all-star games competing for bodies—two of which are nationally televised—but a number of commits will be playing in the Army game. One is kicker Brendan Gibbons:
Not many high school football players have the kind of day Cardinal Newman's Brendan Gibbons is having today.
His morning began with a ceremony put together by the U.S. Army to honor him for being selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Gibbons looked a bit embarrassed at times about all the fuss, but he's certainly not embarrassed about the honor.
Another is OH CB/S Justin Turner:
''The way Justin carried himself this year on the field and off the field, the way he represented Massillon in Stark County, he's definitely deserving of playing in this all-star game,'' Massillon coach Jason Hall said. ''His selection to this game shows Justin is one of the best players in the state.''
Etc.: 2010 FL WR DeJoshua Johnson is probably not leaving Florida.
I call him Mini-Rod. Over the past few months I would periodically receive emails about Brady Hoke. Most were to the effect of "bet Hoke looks like a much better candidate now," which was true but only because this was his attractiveness level before this season:
Awful. Awful, awful, awful. The worst possible candidate. The mere idea this guy -- who's never even been a coordinator anywhere and has his MAC team performing at a level well below the program's historical baseline -- could get the job is infuriating.
I was a little cranky, as that was posted at the nadir of the coaching search, when Miles had told everyone to "have a great day" and candidates were thin on the ground and the Rodriguez miracle had not yet bloomed from nowhere, but the point stands: Hoke remains a below-.500 MAC coach even after this year.
He's also just ditched his alma mater for San Diego State, which is basically the same thing Rodriguez did. Except for one thing: instead of moving to, say, BYU—the mid-major equivalent of the nation's winningest program—he's moving to the equivalent of Indiana. San Diego State hasn't had a winning record since 1998 (they were 6-6 in 2003) and is currently 2-10. I guess SDSU is tripling his salary, which is not a small consideration.
The Realests also go "huh?" I just wonder if anyone, anywhere, is going to make a coaching move that makes a damn bit of sense this offseason. Quick: what's the best hire of the year? Probably Dan Mullen to Mississippi State. And this is a year when Auburn, Tennessee, and Washington came open. WTF.
Mesmerizing. Yes, for the record, I remain obsessed with Charlie Weis, and will remain so until such time as he is no longer a public figure. (And, for the record, I don't think he'll get fired next year; Notre Dame's schedule is comically easy and ND returns quite a bit from a team that was significantly better; a similar step forward is probably 9-3 and an ill-gotten BCS bid. I am terrified of Michael Floyd. That kid is going to be a Manningham-esque thorn in Michigan's side for the next few years.)
Anyway, BGS posted the following clip without comment*. Notre Dame trails by a billion and Weis has made a pointless (and fruitless) coaches' challenge in the fourth quarter:
*(OK, some comment in the comments: "I don't think it's a rip on Charlie per se (although some may read as much into it). Take it as more abstract, perhaps as a trifling snapshot of the current state of affairs.")
Where's that bump? Michigan's recent acquisition of Taylor Lewan caused me to check back in with Minnesota's recruiting class. Tim Brewster was hired primarily because he was a swanky recruiter at Texas, after all, and had a surprisingly excellent first class, though the star of that class failed to qualify. This year… eh:
- two four-stars, one of them a JUCO,
- twelve three-stars,
- two kids lower than that, and
- a kicker.
Brewster has locked down Minnesota, I guess, but other than Bryce McNeal there are no four-stars in the state. Is this better than your average Glen Mason class? Not really. To be fair, the class that suffers after a dismal season is usually the one a year behind, and Minnesota was a disaster zone in 2007; if Brewster bounces back there may be hope for him yet.
McGuffie finale. Fred Jackson was ambushed at halftime of the Eastern Michigan basketball game and spoke thusly on Sam McGuffie:
"(His issues) have been going on since he got here," Jackson told reporters at halftime of Michigan's 91-60 basketball win over Eastern Michigan. "It's just difficult.
"The kid wanted to be here, but he just had things happen with family that weighed heavy on him. And because of those things, he couldn't concentrate."
Keep your pants on. There was a minor recruiting PANIC over the weekend when Shavodrick Beaver unwisely updated his myspace to read "have a bad feeling about Michigan," or something to that effect. The premium sites have done their best to tamp this down but I think there's some real waver here now.
Beaver doesn't have a lot of time to defect, though, as he plans to enroll in January and much of December is a Christmas-related dead period. I think this is probably McGuffie-related—Beaver does a lot of communication and probably talked to a fellow Texas native about going up—and will hopefully get smoothed out for the better soon. More tomorrow in Tuesday Recruitin'.
Etc.: This has nothing to do with anything, but is there a more Christopher Hitchens headline than "The moral and aesthetic nightmare of Christmas"? That guy makes yours truly look like head cheerleader.
An eventful couple days: first IN LB Jordan Barnes decommits, then Arizona offensive lineman Taylor Lewan commits. Informative update coming in a bit.
And by "a bit" I mean "tomorrow," but first thing!
Becca says "you are so hott," FWIW.
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|4*, #25 OT||4*, #192 overall, #17 OT||80, #14 OT|
Lewan, of course, is defensive end commitment Craig Roh's teammate; he transferred schools for a senior year that saw him shoot up the rankings a few weeks into his senior season. At his old school he was primarily a defensive lineman, at which position he didn't project to college; at tackle, however, it took all of two weeks for twenty programs to offer. Lewan's decision came down to Minnesota, where his dad briefly played before injury cut his career short, and Michigan, with The Correct Answer winning out.
The sites, as you can see, are close to unified on his potential: it's there, he's got a real chance to be an excellent player, etc. ESPN's rating is equivalent to a mid-four star on the other sites; he's the first OT outside of their top 150.
He is a tall and lean kid with a good build, but he is lean for an offensive tackle and will need to work to add more bulk to his frame. He is a kid who plays hard and is very productive. He makes good initial contact and will flash the ability to generate power from his hips and when he does that he can drive a defender off the ball. He is a tall kid though that needs to watch his pad level and focus to stay low. He is very good with his hands as both a run and pass blocker. He gets good hand placement and can be tough to beat once he gets locked on.
They both told me about Taylor's favorite player: former Michigan left tackle and current Miami Dolphin Jake Long. Dave told me that every Sunday, “Taylor watches the Dolphin games, and actually rewinds every offensive play to see what Jake was doing, and his technique.” Lewan draws comparisons to the first pick in the 2008 NFL draft. Taylor plays left tackle, wears the number 77, is one of the smartest players on and off the field, and has based his game on strength. Coming out of high school, Long was a recent convert to offensive line rated about where Lewan is.
Obviously Lewan would have to absolutely maximize every ounce of his potential to even approach Jake Long's success.
Lewan gathered a wide bounty as teams saw him play tackle:
Staying in Arizona, there isn't a hotter offensive line recruit in the West right now than Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.) tackle Taylor Lewan. Lewan has been absolutely dominant this season and word is spreading fast among college coaches.
It seems a new offer rolls in for Lewan almost daily with Oregon State, Arizona and Nebraska being the most recent. Arizona State, Oregon, Nevada and Minnesota had previously offered.
Miami, Wisconsin, and others also threw their hat in the ring.
And I have no idea how verified this voracity is but FWIW:
Chaparral offensive tackle Taylor Lewan could see his number of scholarship offers jump very soon. Lewan said Alabama, Florida and Ohio State will likely be offering after another highly regarded offensive tackle makes his college commitment.
AFAIK there's no highly rated offensive tackle with those three schools on his list, so I interpret that to mean "those three schools had one recruit they were waiting on and then Lewan was their guy"; for OSU that's obviously Marcus Hall.
Offensive linemen don't have stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
Also they don't really have 40 times.
This isn't particularly relevant but it does exist, so here's five minutes of Lewan as a junior, mostly playing on defense:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
You get too high on offensive line recruits at your peril, as the ratings at that position are the least reliable. That said, Lewan's sudden rise as soon as he found himself at his natural position, and the offers that accompanied that rise, are an excellent indicator for his future. You get the impression that the only thing restricting Lewan's further rise is his late switch to the offensive line, which leaves somewhat deficient in technique and size and makes him something of a risk. That risk is offset by serious upside.
Two comparison points for Lewan: Jake Long and Dann O'Neill. All three have prototypical left tackle bodies and were highly rated. Long started as a redshirt freshman and eventually became the top pick in the NFL draft. O'Neill showed up and immediately seemed like he needed two years to add strength and technique; his future remains all potential.
Lewan's got a definite redshirt in his future, and then he's likely to spend 2010 watching a senior Schilling and Dorrestein (or possibly or Omameh/O'Neill somewhere) play before being a serious threat for playing time as a redshirt sophomore.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Lewan is the second offensive lineman and second projected tackle in the class. Michigan probably wants to add one more offensive lineman. The two best possibilities are NC OL Travis Bond, who's a three-star recruit most project at tackle, and SC OL Quinton Washington, a guy who projects at guard and a couple of the services absolutely love (ESPN and Rivals; Scout not so much).
Both have taken officials to Michigan already and the indicators are encouraging. Washington hasn't scheduled any other visits yet, though he plans to take his four remaining trips in January. Bond looked to be leaning towards UNC but the Tar Heels are doing some Saban-level oversigning and may not have room. That would leave Michigan competing against NC State and then it's just a matter of whether he wants to stay home or not. Michigan probably gets one and then is done on the OL. Also out there: Trotwood-Madison giant Chris Freeman, who's a major project but with upside.
Etc.: If you've got a Scout subscription you should check this article from the Minnesota site, which is titled "Lewan commits to Big Ten School($)" but makes no mention as to which school that might be; this newspaper article does.