Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
The nation's number one recruit, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, has removed Michigan and Oregon from his short list. That leaves only Ohio State and Penn State.
This causes fretting.
I don't buy it. First of all, this guy's named "Fritz." You can never trust guys named Fritz. Second of all, there are a thousand people who are trying to get in contact with Pryor and only a few of them have been around for any length of time. If anyone was going to get a scoop like this it would be one of the guys from the major recruiting sites, probably Bob Lichtenfels. Lichtenfels was the guy who got to break the Rich Rodriguez story because Pryor called him, and over the past week or so he's been the voice in the wilderness claiming that Penn State had a much better shot at this than anyone realized.
This guy is named "Fritz," is from Madison, does not quote Pryor, and makes silly Tiller-esque assertions about how Rodriguez has "offended the whole conference" and is now in deep trouble.
We're coming after you Rodriguez! We didn't really care about the outcome of our sporting contests against you, but then you picked off recruits in the exact same fashion we all do. Now we're going to try to win! See how you like that!
Credence level: low. Yeah, it's in a newspaper. So is Drew Sharp.
Bear with me. I've got a weird feeling. I know there are a ton of data points out there from Pryor's coaches to his friends to his dad pointing places other than Michigan. You've read these in newspaper and on website from sea to shining sea. The expectation is and has been for months that Pryor will pick Ohio State, and I basically believe the conventional wisdom.
But... but... but. This blog has noted a few rumblings in Michigan's favor:
- A report from College Football talk that M feels it has Pryor in the bag.
- That Buckeye fan who sat next to Jerome Bettis and reports that Bettis said Batch told him Pryor was headed to Michigan. (That guy, by the way, posted a picture of himself (or someone, at least) with Bettis in what's clearly Detroit Metro.)
- A Western Pennsylvania report that Pryor's actually going to M that was emailed to me.
There is a fourth item, though this one has a lot of internet super-sleuthing to it: in my perusals of various Penn State and Ohio State message boards looking for any semblance of information about the Pryor recruitment I stumbled across a guy who claimed to be the classmate of another dual-threat four star quarterback. He duly informed a group of opposing fans that this quarterback had been told by Pryor himself that he was going to Michigan. Some digging revealed that this guy had 100 or so posts on the message board, most of them generically positive posts about Penn State. The exception: a note sometime in January about Star Jackson, a four star dual threat quarterback who signed with Alabama, visiting Michigan the same weekend Pryor did. Jackson never took that trip, and since this guy's Pryor-to-M post claimed a mutual official visit was how the two knew each other his story doesn't entirely check out.
HOWEVA, both Pryor and Jackson were in San Antonio for the Army All-American game. So maybe this guy, who I believe is really the high school classmate of Jackson and a Penn State fan, just misremembered his details or got it wrong without screwing up the heart of the issue -- OMG PRYOR M. I'm really paranoid about hoaxes, but this seemed on the up-and-up. Why would this guy post Star Jackson news with only tangential relevance to Penn State on a PSU message board, and how many people would remember the exact content of their claimed insider info a month later when they put up their scammy post on a premium Penn State message board? And in-between could they put up a dozen convincingly innocuous posts from the perspective of a Penn State fan? These things all seem unlikely, so I add it to the pile.
We now have a decent-sized pile, do we not? And with that pile and the idea that maybe Ohio State is not Terrelle's first choice does this statement from the Terrelle-father seem different?
Craig Pryor also told his son that playing immediately might not be the best way to make progress. He said it wouldn't hurt if he sat back and watched while he tries to learn to read defenses.
"He's not worried about playing right away," Craig Pryor said. "It will give him time to learn and adjust to the speed of the game."
The quote says something on Terrelle's behalf that makes it seem like we're out, but the paragraph before it implies that when the two Pryors were having their disagreement the elder was specifically combating the idea that he should play immediately. This interpretation of the passage means we're in, so in, and Pryor's dad is arguing against Michigan, not Ohio State.
Much has been made of Pryor's desire to stay relatively near Jeannette because his father is wheelchair-bound (why this would make a couple extra hours in the car more unbearable than it would be for someone with full use of his legs is unclear), and the father's objection appears to be the holdup here, right? Columbus and State College are almost the same distance away from Jeannette -- State College might be 30 minutes to an hour closer. It's Ann Arbor that's the relative outlier.
And then there's Charlie Batch, beloved ex-Lions quarterback, fellow Washtenaw-county-ite, and gentleman of distinction:
Asked if his regular presence causes some discomfort among those vying for Pryor's attention, Batch said, "I'm welcomed in some situations. In some situations, I'm not. And those situations that I'm not, that's why I'm here."
Again, one could read this as Batch repeatedly saying "no funny stuff" and perpetrators of funny stuff being put off. Pryor brought Batch in around November, after his Ohio State official visit, and he has not been to Ohio State. According to the OSU Scout site, a "friend"($) accompanied him. Pryor's coach on friends:
"Terrelle is the person that must make the decision, no one else" Batch said. "He's the person who has to be happy where he'll spend the next three or four years. His friends have to realize that."
Batch is the pointman on the Pryor recruitment and he hasn't been to Columbus. Has he even met Tressel? I find it difficult to believe Pryor has to import Batch to be the bringer of sanity and said bringer would sign off on a place he hadn't been.
I've been trying to let go of this wild hope that maybe we'll get the guy, and am fully cognizant of my inherent bias towards the belief that Michigan's still in play. But I can't. What it comes back to is motivation and bias. The Ohio State insiders who have been proclaiming Pryor an Ohio State lock forever are locked into that belief until it's forcibly shaken from them. These random guys on message boards, if you believe their third-hand stories, are breaking bad news to their respective fanbases, and in some sense are more reliable.
Do I actually think Pryor will pick Michigan? Not really. Lord knows the internet led me astray during the Michigan coaching search. There's also considerable pessimism from what's left of the Michigan insider community.
But... I ju
st have a weird feeling, is all. I've displayed my cards; judge for yourself.
And you only delay your doom. Whiffing on Pryor would be unfortunate, but not devastating. Michigan will lure an OMG shirtless dual-threat quarterback next year.
Russell Shepard is the next next Vince Young, but was presumed a Texas lock. Texas, however, has already taken a commitment from five star quarterback Garrett Gilbert. Shepard in the aftermath of his junior-day visit to Texas:
Shepard said the situation at Texas opens up his recruitment for other suitors.
"I would say Texas is still up there, but Michigan is really at the top of my list, especially if they don't get (2008 top recruit) Terrelle Pryor," he said. "I feel like I could go there and play right away. I'm also looking at Florida and LSU. Both of those schools have pretty good depth-chart situations for me."
The "situation" at Texas: two more years of Colt (albeit only one of relevance to Shepard), then a morass of highly-rated quarterbacks including five-star dual-threat John Chiles and five-star pocket passer Garrett Gilbert, who committed a few days ago. The rest of that article has Shepard quotes about just wanting "a shot" at quarterback and being fine with moving as long as he gets that shot... whether Texas can realistically provide that with four QB candidates on the roster or committed is up in the air. It does sound like Shepard really wants to go to Texas, but...
Slot receiver Martavious Odoms is the 24th member of Michigan's recruiting class:
After delaying his college decision for four days, Pahokee standout wide receiver Martavious Odoms finally made his college choice.
Odoms, a two-time South Florida Sun-Sentinel Super 11 selection, is headed to the University of Michigan.
Odoms signed his National Letter of Intent around 1 p.m. Sunday and is faxing it to Ann Arbor around 2 pm.
Odoms is another little fast bugger, a four-star to Scout and three star to Rivals, who picked Michigan over Miami (on a track scholarship quasi-offer), West Virginia... Notre Dame, Georgia and Florida? Um. That's what this Irish Illustrated article from way back in March says. I kind of doubt that offer list, but will explore more.
More info coming.
Update: Psych! I'm putting together profiles on all the recruits anyway, so I'll hold the expanded Odoms story until then, which should be sometime this week. Word to you, mother!
...and in the Signing Day flurry didn't say word one about this weekend's #1-#2 Miami-Michigan series. Sorry. I do recommend Yost Built for all your coverage needs; Tim covers last night's 4-2 win thoroughly.
Tonight is the most important game left in the regular season. A win and Michigan virtually guarantees itself the PWR comparison over Miami and, in all probability, one of the top two seeds in the tourney. That would yield a matchup against a CHA or Atlantic Hockey team instead of, like, Wisconsin. Michigan would also be three points clear of the Redhawks with the tiebreaker in the race for the CCHA title with only six games left.
Lose and you're a point back of Miami with nothing locked up. Fox Sports Detroit, 7:30. Consume.
Yeesh. A further blast of sour grapes from Penn State fans:
Now Penn State has been known to take a defection or two in their day, but to my knowledge Penn State has never heavily recruited a kid after he verballed to another Big Ten school. Maybe they call them up and ask them if they're sure about their decision, but they don't visit the kid and harass him over the phone every week. It's up to the recruit to contact them first. I'm probably sounding Holier Than Thou, but from what I've read and what I've heard I honestly believe that's how Penn State does business.
1) Except this year, when they were going after an Illinois commit. 2) Why is it any more or less ethical to do it to Maryland or Notre Dame? Morality doesn't stop at the conference boundaries. 3) You have no idea how the Shaw recruitment played out. He picked Michigan; chances are he wanted to hear from them.
Even more off-kilter:
what you get when you implant in-bred trash from the backwards state of West Virginia into what used to be a honor thy opponent but beat their asses when you play them conference, you get an astounding 4 de-commits running to Michigan. Stealing recruits from your own conference members was something of the Big 12 or SEC, apparently Rich Rod sees no problem in going after recruits that had an understanding with their originally schools. Wolverine fans might laugh and say "Whats the big deal, coaches chase recruits all the time before LOI day."
Yes, like your coach.
And you know what's awesome that I forgot? In 2003, Purdue stole TE Garrett Bushong away from Michigan State. Add in Tim Brewster's persistent recruitment of OSU commit Willie Mobley and I present a list of coaches who have gone after other Big Ten schools' verbal commitments:
- Rich Rodriguez
- Joe Paterno
- Mike Brewster
- Mark Dantonio
- Jim Tressel
- Kirk Ferentz
- Joe Tiller
The only ones not on the list are Pat Fitzgerald, Bill Lynch, and Ron Zook. I'm 100% sure Zook has gone after other Big Ten team's verbal commitments because Ron Zook lives to recruit; the other two have probably tried and failed.
Radio. I'll be on WCBN around 7 tonight talking about the 2008 recruiting class, if you're interested. 88.3 on your dial or WCBN.org.
Certain slighted folk are making much of Joe Tiller's claim that some sort of "gentleman's agreement" to not recruit each other's verbal commitments exists between Big Ten schools . Black Shoe Diaries:
Shaw led the Penn State coaches to believe he was going to be a Nittany Lion. ... I can understand a kid changing his mind. It happens. But when he first started having doubts he should have informed the Penn State coaches he was reopening his recruiting. How many kids did we stop calling after Shaw gave his pledge?
The other untold story here is that many insiders say the Big Ten coaches have an unwritten gentleman's agreement not to steal each other's recruits. Once a kid commits to a Big Ten school the other Big Ten coaches back off and stop recruiting the kid. Rich Rodriguez being new to the conference either has no knowledge of this pact or he blatantly ignored it as he openly pursued Shaw after he was committed to Penn State. So it appears RichRod is bringing more than just his spread offense to the Big Ten.
We'll get to the "gentleman's agreement" later. Now, let's flash back to February 4th, 2004, the day before signing day:
Blue-White Illustrated is finally reporting what most of us already knew was a foregone conclusion: former Panther recruiting class headliner Penn Hills Quarterback Anthony Morelli has reneged on his commitment and will instead sign with the Penn State Nittany Lions. ESPN just confirmed it. Ouch.
And how about January 25th, 2006?
Logan-El said he remained committed to Maryland while he took official visits to other schools. Despite this "commitment", Logan-El held a press conference in late January, just about a week before Signing Day, that was televised by ESPN at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore. He invited the Maryland coaches (they could not attend due to recruiting rules) and welcomed Maryland fans to attend. On television he put on a puppet show of sorts by holding up the hats of Florida, Tennessee and Maryland and saying why he liked each school but wasn't choosing them. Then he held up a picture of himself and Joe Paterno and committed to Penn State, causing a near riot at the Zone between his family and some very irate turtle lovers.
Logan-El knew he wasn't going to Maryland for weeks, if not months, but he strung the coaches along regardless. He used Florida, Tennessee and the Terps as well as ESPN to make a mockery of the recruiting process. And he ticked off his head coach, Charles Harley, in the meantime.
Logan-El was part of a Penn State class featuring nine layers who decommitted.
How about... uh... Wednesday?
Penn State looked as if it had a shot to sway Christchurch, Va., wide receiver Deion Walker and Cresco, Pa., tackle Corey Lewis from their original choices of Notre Dame and Illinois, respectively. But both players stuck with their initial choices.
Penn State fans should be the last to complain about anyone's recruiting tactics. I know it sucks to lose a kid, especially late, and it sucks double when the kid makes a production out of "pulling a shocker," but this is a rampant issue across college football. Over 200 recruits decommitted this year. Singling out Rich Rodriguez is sour grapes.
And what about the "gentleman's agreement"? Last year alone featured at least four intra-conference decommitments:
- Cedric "The Entertainer" Everson switches from Michigan State to Iowa on signing day.
- Jerimy Finch switches from Michigan to Indiana.
- Renaldo Sagesse switches from Illinois to Michigan.
- Quincy Landingham switches from Michigan State to Wisconsin.
This year opposing schools across the Big Ten battered at Michigan commitments in the wake of Michigan's coaching change. Boubacar Cissoko scheduled visits to Illinois and Penn State he didn't end up taking. Michigan State pursued every in-state Michigan commitment fervently, and long after each had publicly reaffirmed their decision. They continue to recruit 2009 defensive tackle Will Campbell despite his commitment to Michigan. Ohio State offered Michigan commit Patrick Omameh just before Signing Day. As noted above, Penn State was chasing an Illinois commitment. Some gentlemen.
There is no gentleman's agreement, just one oatmeal-loving old coot who will run to Tom Dienhart this summer and rip on the rest of the league "anonymously."
Coachin'. Rodriguez (and Lloyd Carr) reeled in 17 four-star players this year, which is more than Rodriguez picked up during his entire tenure at West Virginia. We know the results there. Elaboration:
Under former coach Rich Rodriguez, WVU's classes were generally rated from the mid-30s to the mid-50s. But the Mountaineers have won two BCS bowls in the past three seasons, have consistently been highly ranked and came within one win of playing for last year's national title.
"They've done a good job identifying kids from around the country that may get overlooked," says Bobby Burton of Rivals.com. "And they've done a very strong job of going into the South and getting speed guys, historically."
WVU quarterback Pat White, who is from Alabama, originally committed to LSU, which was interested in him as a wide receiver or defensive back. "Rodriguez had the right offense and told him the right things," Wallace says.
The 180. Michigan's gone from the most paranoid, information-hoarding program in the country to perhaps the least. Part of that will be a new coaching clinic held this spring:
Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the University of Michigan football team will host his initial clinic as a member of the Wolverine staff, conducting a three-day spring coaches clinic Thursday-Saturday, April 3-5.
Just 40 bucks, Dantonio. There's also going to be a seven-on-seven camp immediately following Michigan's traditional summer camp.
Rodriguez on other topics.
Rodriguez on yet further topics. Varsity Blue got to talk with Rich Rodriguez after his recruitment press conference:
The most notable content: yes, Michigan plans to have a spring game somewhere or other for the express purpose of getting the program publicity. Schwing.
There's also an interview with DC Scott Shafer; I don't want to steal all their content so you'll have to click through to see that.
Rodriguez on imports. He's giving it his best shot at assimilating into the Michigan hivemind:
Thirty members of the 1969 Michigan team visited with the current Wolverines during a team meeting Tuesday.
The message from the 45-minute session was simple: They understand the transition from one coach to another.
The 1969 team, after all, was the first under the late Bo Schembechler , and this year's team will be the first under Rich Rodriguez .
"They talked to them about, hey, they were in a similar transition 38 years ago with a bunch of new coaches and it was really neat," Rodriguez said. "Reggie McKenzie had me fired up, Dan Dierdorf , Dick Caldarazzo these guys were outstanding. They had everybody on the edge of their seats.
"It's amazing the parallels between that team and the team right now. If we could come even close to the success they had, I'll be happy."
There's also an event scheduled for sometime in the next couple months where Rodriguez has invited ever letter-winner back for a meet and greet.
Mealer. The local TV station in Toledo had a feature on local recruits signing that focused on Mealer; kid seems as upbeat as possible given what's happened to him over the past couple months. There's also a Rivals article on him.
(Via Genuinely Sarcastic.)
Slight chance of expansion. Michigan is, of course, waiting on PA QB Terrelle Pryor's probably-disappointing decision. But there's another recruit lurking out there who Michigan might pick up:
[FL WR Martavious] Odoms was the team's top deep threat this season and remains the area's biggest mystery. Blaze Thompson said Odoms is considering offers from Miami, South Florida, West Virginia and Michigan. A source close to Odoms said last week the race is really between South Florida and West Virginia, but that may have changed after Odoms visited Michigan last weekend.
"He hasn't decided yet - that's the God's honest truth," Thompson said. "He's torn. Each school has something to offer. He's been a UM fan for years. West Virginia runs the style of offense he likes, and so does South Florida. Michigan is going to start running it, and they don't have any wide receivers.
With Terrence Robinson, Michael Shaw, and Roy Roundtree in the fold Michigan's need for receivers of any sort (but especially in the slot) is no longer critical, but Michigan's going to be short scholarships the next couple years and Odoms is one of those little fast guys. Still seems like a longshot.
Vision quest. The Houston Chronicle has an article on Sam McGuffie's odd Signing Day sojourn:
"It was weird," [teammate and A&M commit Chris] Lathrop said. "He hadn't answered the door for anyone. He was doing exactly what everyone thought â€” sitting there thinking what school he wanted to go to.
"He told me 'My heart wants to go one way and my (head) is telling me to go another way.' "
I wonder which was which. (Via MSC.)
A lot of inexplicable things have happened over the last couple days. Terrelle Pryor decided to not decide. Michigan stole commitments from Penn State, Purdue, and Florida. Sam McGuffie went on some sort of vision quest. (Fortunately, his totem animal is a wolverine.) And sooner or later Michigan will give a full ride to a long-snapper. It's been the craziest Signing Day in the internet era of Michigan recruiting.
But it doesnt hold a candle to the local media's reaction to MSU's class. I discussed this a bit on the Fanhouse:
Michigan State struck out on instaters Nick Perry (USC) and Mark Ingram (Alabama) late; Ingram's decision to flee is especially grating since his father was one of Michigan State's best wide receivers. Ohio linebacker Taylor Hill took an official visit to MSU and liked it so much he committed to Michigan on the way home. Hell, linebacker Yourhighness Morgan took a look at MSU and said "thanks, but I'm going to play for Florida."
MSU ranks 7th in the Big Ten, and this was both their new-coach-bump year and a year in which Michigan changed coaches. Michigan's little brother continues to bow down.
If there was ever going to be a year in which Michigan State wrested instate recruiting from Michigan, this would be it. The results are Fred Smith and, depending on who you listen to, Tyler Hoover. Though Hoover claimed a Michigan offer, he ended up ranked a three-star at both sites. If he was part of the Michigan class, he would be the at best the #18 recruit in it. This is MSU's silver medal recruit. By any standard this is an immensely disappointing class... unless you're in the media.
You sort of expect spin like this from the Steve Grinczels of the world who make their living by telling State fans "wait till next year":
As things stood through Tuesday, MSU ranks in the bottom half -- as low as ninth by Scout.com -- of the Big Ten.
However, that should not be interpreted as an indictment on the overall quality of the players coming in, according to CSTV recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
Sure. The fact that this is a class on par with Northwestern's shouldn't be interpreted as an indictment of the players' quality, just their ability to play football. Which they have none of.
This is even funnier:
Ray, who committed early, joins a full stable of running backs that returns senior starter Javon Ringer, junior A.J. Jimmerson, Andre Anderson and Ashton Leggett from last year's recruit class.
The addition of Ray allowed MSU to make four-star running back Mark Ingram Jr., of Flint Southwestern, less of a priority even though he was rated higher.
Yes, the reason they didn't get Ingram Jr. -- remember Ingram Sr was a star for MSU -- was because they snatched Caulton Ray away from the MAC. Meanwhile, Ingram is part of the #1 recruiting class in the country.
It gets better:
National signing day turned out to be a day of bold statements at Michigan State, including the one Mark Dantonio made to one of his top recruits, Charles Burrell, on Wednesday morning.
"Look down at your feet," Dantonio said to Burrell, a safety from Detroit. "Now you just imagine those feet playing in the Rose Bowl, because that's where they'll be within four or five years."
(One of MSU's top recruits on why he didn't pick Michigan: "I didn't receive a scholarship offer from Michigan. That was the school I always wanted to go to. It was kind of disappointing they didn't offer me. I worked real hard to receive an offer.")
Tim Brewster, meet Mark Dantonio. You're both bats. Except you can recruit, Brewster.
Lemming again pops up for a ludicrous quote:
"They basically battled to a draw with (U-M) on in-state guys, which is big," said CSTV recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
In-state recruits with M and MSU offers who went to M: 5, including three of the top four kids in the state. The reverse: 2.
"I know a lot of people nationally don't think this class stacks up with a lot of classes in the Big Ten [including me], but I think it does [except I don't]," said Jeremy Crabtree of Rivals.com, which ranks MSU's class No. 7 in the Big Ten and No. 47 in the nation [see?]. "They got a lot of the best kids from Michigan [that no other Big Ten teams wanted]. Any class that has (Detroit receiver) Fred Smith in it, I'm a fan of. If anything, this class could have used a couple more
home runs[good players]."
MSU thinks it got three from its back yard in Smith, Hoover and Burrell. They helped MSU compete closely with U-M for in-state talent, for the first time in recent memory.
Asked how the Spartans did against the Wolverines, Dantonio stuck with the tone of the day. Bold.
Indeed, "compete closely" now means pick up one guy Michigan wanted, one other they were kinda lukewarm on, and none of the top four guys in the state.
This is expected from Lansing party organs. But what's the deal with Drew Sharp writing his bi-annual positive column about one of the worst recruiting classes in the Big Ten? And Mike Rosenberg trashing Rodriguez for "running off" malcontented, disrespected, and teammate-hated Ryan Mallett?
Rosenberg's piece is especially disappointing, as it lingers on the off-the-cuff comment provided by Rodriguez when he was surrounded by reporters at halftime of a basketball game:
A month after Mallett left, I've not forgotten what Rodriguez said about him. A reporter asked where Mallett was going.
"I don't care," Rodriguez said. "He's not playing for Michigan. I'm concerned with who's playing for Michigan. ... I recruited him once, I recruited him twice, and after the third call, I'm thinking, 'OK, three calls is enough for me.' It's a great institution, and if somebody doesn't want to be here that's already here, you wish them well and move on."
He doesn't care. Why should he care? Mallett decided to leave the program, at which point he no longer cared. Follow up:
The problem is that Rodriguez didn't just say that to Mallett, or to the media. He acted like the wronged party, and he made a Michigan freshman look bad in the process.
I do not understand the leap from "I tried three times and he does not want to be here, I wish him well" to "I am a wronged party! Mallett should look bad in your eyes!"
You know who else was about to run off Ryan Mallett? Saintly Lloyd Carr, who according to a source told him "I don't like anything about you" and then hurled transfer papers his way halfway through this season. Mallett almost transferred two seconds after he showed up on campus, then almost transferred the summer between his early enrollment and fall, and then actually did transfer as soon as Rodriguez was hired. There's a common thread here. It is not Rich Rodriguez.
About every week I got an email from someone on campus who had seen the kid getting high or trashed. Some talked to him; all who did came away with the opinion that the guy didn't care about anything. Sources inside the program confirmed multiple times that Mallett had a major attitude problem, something that was so pervasive that it even worked it way into one of the local newspapers. The dissent was evident on the sidelines
during the disastrous Wisconsin game, when Mario Manningham bitched him out on the sidelines, or during Mallett's disastrous stint in the Illinois game, when Carr bitched him out for two solid minutes.
In October I wrote this based on multiple sources:
The situation here is precarious; without a major attitude adjustment things could be very sketchy at quarterback next year.
I have heard it far and wide and so many times from so many sources that the conclusion is indisputable: Ryan Mallett is the reason Ryan Mallett transferred, no matter what Ryan Mallett's mom -- no doubt the least biased source around -- says.
Mallett would be on his way to Arkansas and failure no matter who Michigan's coach is.
Meanwhile... Drew Sharp. What can you say?
There were no news conferences from attention-hungry teenagers announcing there wouldn't be a news conference. There were no last-minute decisions that left the recruiting-obsessed almost breathless in anticipation.
"No one decided to go to Michigan State."
There was little buzz surrounding Michigan State's fresh list of football signees because it's boring building a foundation.
Also boring: Northwestern's class.
There's only one "four-star" player coming to MSU? Detroit Southeastern wide receiver Fred Smith. But the commitments don't seem to include the illogical reaches that defined many of John L. Smith's recruiting classes.
This class looks more Big Ten than Mid-American Conference.
MSU's 2008 class: #49 to Rivals. MSU under JLS: #16, #35, #33.
For Michigan State, it's not about the number of four-star recruits it signs now, but the two- and three-star players that can help develop a sturdy program. That's the foundation from which championship seasons and Rose Bowl appearances are inevitably erected.
That's how Jim Tressel did it in Columbus.
Indeed. Tressel's second recruiting class: #5. A foundation of... uh... three five-star recruits and fourteen four-star recruits. Just like Michigan State's class.
There are private whispers around East Lansing that Rich Rodriguez's radical transformation of Michigan football creates opportunities for the Spartans. While the new guy from West Virginia introduces himself to the local prep coaches, Dantonio is already in the door, gaining familiarity.
Indeed, Rodriguez, who hopes to have a spring game at Ford Field and will invite every coach in the state to come to his frequent clinics and camps and finished his first recruiting class with a flourish, will have to fear Michigan State's insane short-joke-making curmudgeon. Because Jesus, man... they got a guy!
This is what you need to know about Michigan State's class: its second-best guy would be Michigan's 18th, and this year is the first time in 40 years Michigan changed coaches. Meet the new boss, little brother.