I did not make this headline up
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, and OL Taylor Lewan.
|St Stephen, South Carolina - 6'3" 315
|Scout||3*, #19 OG|
|Rivals||4*, #8 OG, #213 overall|
|ESPN||82, #6 OG, #81 overall|
|Others||#82 overall to TAKKLE|
|Other Suitors||South Carolina, Tennessee, Clemson, Miami (That Miami), Alabama|
|YMRMFSPA||Hopefully Steve Schilling, guard version|
|Only the shame of absence.|
Quinton Washington is the only interior lineman in Michigan's 2009 class, and he's a good one. The first indication of this was his All Combine performance at the Army game. This led to a nice set of early offers headlined by recruiting heavyweights Alabama and Miami. Though Michigan followed suit quickly, they appeared on the outside looking in until they started telling him he was made of fairy stars and linebacker evaporation magic. Art Craig, Timberland's head coach, in the aftermath of Washington's official visit:
"To my understanding, he's their number one lineman they are going after in the nation. That's point blank what coach Rodriguez told me Friday night."
Hello! The coaching staff's excitement over Washington's potential also found its way into this Toledo Blade article. The coaches are described as "raving" over Washington while they had "nice things to say" about the tackles. Since the tackles are good-looking prospects in their own right, well… hello!
That official visit lingered with Washington until the day before signing day, when he finally picked a school. Craig on the major factor that helped him along to Michigan:
“I think Grey Frey is the difference in him going to Michigan. Coach Gibson was his initial recruiter, but he has met his position coach since March or May of last year, whenever they first came. I think that was a big play for them and for him.”
This is a major feather in Frey's cap, as Washington was widely believed to be headed to South Carolina for reasons economic. Washington on his long term goals:
Washington said he’s motivated to improve so he can provide a better future for his parents.
“They mean a whole lot to me,” he said. “They have to work so hard. I just want to make it. I want to make it better for my parents so I can give back to my parents someday.”
For Washington to come to terms with his decision for Michigan he's had to accept his parents aren't going to be there every weekend. Craig:
He said, "we’ve come to terms with the fact that they're only going to see me play probably a couple of times."
Michigan made an argument powerful enough to overcome a lot of structural factors pushing Washington to South Carolina.
As to Washington's talent: though the recruiting services weren't quite as enthusiastic as Frey the reviews were largely positive. ESPN rated him highest, naming him the #6 guard in the country and placing him in their top 100:
Washington has all the tools to be an outstanding college guard. At 300-plus pounds, he moves his feet like a lightweight (or at least a light heavyweight). … Consistently gets to linebacker level when he's left uncovered and usually finds the defender. Sometimes releases a little high, resulting in his feet coming together and a loss of balance. Shows good athleticism for such a big player and is fluid when pulling. … He's a powerful down blocker, destroying the inside man and often burying him in the turf. He's equally devastating on double-team blocks. … Big and mobile, Washington will be a hot commodity among college line coaches.
There's that theme again: athleticism. What Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield bring in 6'7" pass-protection packages Washington brings in a 6'3" linebacker-seeking guard's body. Later ESPN caught his performance at the Shrine Bowl and commented on that ability to get on those second-level defenders:
Washington played the whole game at right guard. We were impressed with his ability to drive block, his foot movement and ability to climb to the second level.
Bill Conley mentioned it too:
He is an impressive combination of strength and mobility. As good of blocker as he is up front, he is extremely fluid getting to level-two linebackers.
Given all those runs last year on which the line was creased but the gain was held down by poor second-level blocking, you can understand where the coaching staff is coming from when they say things akin to "Quinton Washington is the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Scout was the least enthused, giving him three stars. Washington's the #19 guard over there and the last four-star OG to is #13, so he's not even particularly close to that level in their eyes. I couldn't find any explanation for their point of view, nor for Rivals' uncertainty—they bounced him in and out of their top 250 all year.
“His feet are unbelievable for a guy his size,” Craig said. “He can reach you, he can down you, he can pull and go get somebody. He has unlimited potential.”
More from Craig:
"He's physically just so strong and quick at the same time," Craig said. "He's got good hip flexibility and moves well. And whatever you tell him, he absorbs it. He applies himself and he gets it the first time around."
"He has very quick feet and very good technique," said Timberland assistant coach Chris Pond. "He's very good with his hands and he's very strong."
Highlight reels of high school linemen are rarely useful unless you're a football coach, but since they feature 320-pound future collegians against 200-pound future accountants they are often hilarious. Washington hurls several gnats away from his body below:
May the gnats be as impotently annoying in college, Quinton.
Why Steve Schilling? I'd be lying if I told you my memory for Michigan guards goes farther back than the dawn of UFR. They've always been anonymous even when they were future NFL all-pros like Steve Hutchinson. So this comparison is flimsy, but Schilling's main asset is his mobility and hopefully his ability to maintain second-level blocks; Washington sounds like an even bigger version of this.
Etc.: Some more brief clips, though it's hard to make out which one is Washington in most.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. High variance.
General Excitement Level: High. It's clear the coaches were nuts about this guy and he's got the offers and recruiting mojo to back it up.
Projection: Though the coaches have suggested Washington might see the field this year—they think he's that ready—a redshirt makes more sense with Schilling's move inside solidifying the interior line. He'll have to fight Ricky Barnum to replace Moosman next year; if he loses that battle he'll be the odds on favorite to replace Schilling in 2011.
Well… yeah, so this LA WR named Drew Dileo committed to us over… uh… Tulane, Stanford, and Rice. He plays in the slot so it's not like a totally crazy commitment. Informative update coming.
Okay, so Dileo is a 5'9", 170 pound slot receiver from Louisiana. He's white.
Dandy Don, who must be taken seriously at all times about everything, ranks Dileo the states' 42nd best prospect. Tiger Rag is considerably more enthusiastic but wasn't exactly glowing:
19. Drew Dileo (5′9.5, 165, 4.5) Athlete Parkview Baptist HS - Dileo might not have as much bulk as some of the running backs in this class, but without question he has the heart. In 2007 he was selected as the MVP of the Class 3A championship game and in 2008 his role was not much different as he served as a running back, defensive back, and return specialist. Dileo’s size may be the only factor that keeps him from playing at the Division-1 level. However, there may be a team out there willing to give him a shot.
Heart: one gritty white guy descriptor ah ah ah.
ESPN's ranking is pretty meh but the writeup has some promise:
He is a good athlete with quickness and agility. … As a punt returner he fields the ball and accelerates while reading blocks on the run. Maintains balance even after being hit. Fights for every inch of return yardage and can make defenders miss in the open field. … Catches the ball easily in traffic and hauls in the pass even knowing he will be hit immediately after the reception. Can turn back across his body to make the difficult catches. As a slot, runs the counter and reverse to perfection. Hits and spins for extra yardage and is tough to bring down.
They end by suggesting he's "solid" and will be "sound" at any position he plays and "can be a very sure and productive player" and wow we're up to five gritty white guy descriptors (ah ah ah), four of which came in one sentence. Touch the Banner—which I have just discovered is run by frequent commenter Magnus—had a scouting report earlier in the year. In sum:
Dileo looks to be a low to mid 3-star player. He's a standout at a small school against weaker competition, but I question his ability to be fast enough or elusive enough to be a major contributor at the next level.
"Any way we can get him in open space," Guillot said, "we're going to do it. He has great vision and is great at making people miss."
No white guy descriptors from the coach. Score for you, Mr. Guillot.
Well, he picked up an offer from Stanford after Michigan extended theirs. Given the way Harbaugh is recruiting these days that's a respectable letter to have. But… uh. Yeah. The local paper's commit article also claims a couple additional BCS offers:
Dileo chose the Wolverines with scholarship offers from Stanford, Virginia and Northwestern (Illinois) as well.
So not just Tulane and Rice. Not LSU and Miami, either.
Dileo was a jack of all trades for his team, rushing for 760 yards on 102 attempts (7.5 per) and catching 21 passes for 315 yards. Rivals doesn't have full return stats but they do have him averaging 42.2 yards on kick returns(!); he had four touchdowns in the return game..
FAKE 40 TIME
4.5 is the number, which awesome NFL guys barely run at their combines. So probably not a guy who's other big offer was Stanford. I give it one FAKE out of three.
Highlights of last year's Louisiana 3A state championship game, of which Dileo was the MVP; he's #3:
Mmmm. Fumbles. Also: I think that reverse flea-flicker was in Super Tecmo Bowl.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Um. Well, this is not Kenny Shaw. Not to be a know-it-all but I'm not terribly enthused about Dileo's commitment. He's small, he's not ultra-productive or anything, and the other offers are teams Michigan should be recruiting on another level from with the possible exception of resurgent Stanford. Also, Fred Jackson's last obscure Louisiana wideout find was Laterryal Savoy, who Michigan took over Desean Jackson.
There are a lot of metrics that indicate Dileo isn't going to contribute. It's early in the year yet and maybe he'll have some sort of blowup senior year, but a guy like Dorrell Jalloh is probably Dileo's maximum upside.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
They've got to be done at wideout, right? I mean: they've got five in the boat. Even if one—probably Jerald Robinson—is ticketed for the secondary, that's a lot of wide receivers in one class. I think they'd take one more slot if they really liked him, but that's unlikely.
As for the burgeoning class… well. One kid who has no major offers outside of Michigan is one thing. It's okay if the recruiting sites are enthusiastic about him, as they are with Robinson. But now we're up to like four (Kinard, DJ Williamson, Dileo, Tony Drake) players who don't have the offers or the rankings to suggest they're going to be anything more than serviceable if they work out. Trust the coaches and all that, yes, but at some point this goes beyond kids Michigan got on quick because they are awesome and just goes right to kids Michigan thinks they can get commits from after a 3-9 season.
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, and OL Michael Schofield.
|Scottsdale, Arizona - 6'7" 272
|Scout||4*, #20 OT, #274 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #16 OT, #194 overall|
|ESPN||81, #12 OT, #148 overall|
|Other Suitors||Miami (That Miami), Minnesota, Arizona State, Oregon|
|Tom interviews Lewan and Roh.|
|Notes||Chaparral(Craig Roh). Dad played for Gophers.|
Taylor Lewan was virtually unknown until he transferred to Chaparral and his high school coach moved him to offensive tackle (he had previously been a defensive lineman; all of his video on the youtubes remains DL highlights). Three games later, Lewan was sitting on two dozen offers and getting called "the hottest prospect in the country" by the recruiting sites. (Example 1. Example 2. Example 3.) He was quickly bestowed four stars in the next re-rank, got an invite to the ESPN All American game, and embarked on a college visit tour featuring Minnesota (where his dad played in the 80s), Michigan, Oregon, and some local schools. Shortly after the Michigan visit, he committed.
That's a a whirlwind four months for a guy who had a single offer from Utah State when he attended the USC Rising Stars camp in July.
If your pattern recognition is good, or even adequate, or even sucky, you are likely to feel some sense of déjà vu as you read the upcoming scouting evaluations, random quotes from his coach, and so on and so forth. That's because Lewan fits squarely in a number of Rodriguez recruiting themes:
- Teammates. Craig Roh committed to Michigan the summer before Lewan blew up and was a major factor in his decision for M.
- Athletic offensive linemen. When this site profiled Michael Schofield it noted the kid ran track (hurdles!) his first couple years in high school and had a very respectable 40 time; Lewan, as you'll see, has a similar ability to move in space.
- Frame and upside. Like DE Anthony LaLota, Lewan is new to his position and still very raw. He's got a great frame to back on defender-crushing pounds but will need some time to do so; Rodriguez has faith in Barwis to get it done.
On with the talking. First, ESPN's scouting report:
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.
… Will hop at times and open quickly, but displays the tools to be a college left tackle. Lewan has some parts of his game to keep developing and needs to add bulk, but this is a good offensive tackle prospect that also possesses nice upside.
This will quickly become the resounding chorus: development, bulk, upside. When Bruce Feldman took in the USC Rising Stars camp last year Lewan was in attendance and eye-catching, though obviously raw:
He is, of course, still very raw, and that certainly showed some times Wednesday. In fact, Lewan had a turn for his one-on-one rep just as Pete Carroll walked over and stood right behind the DE. Lewan got beat to the outside for a sack. Carroll motioned for Lewan to go again, this time against a different DE, who then beat the Arizona product with a quick inside move. Once again, Carroll had Lewan line up. This time, the third defensive end got the sack on a bull-rush.
Lewan looked disappointed but he didn't seem to stay down for long and went on to acquit himself pretty well the rest of the day. Later, he made a joke about it. "I guess that's why I signed up for the two-day camp."
Rivals also commented on Lewan's appearance at the camp, saying no one was "put together as impressively" from a "looks standpoint", which is a nice way of saying "needs development and bulk but has upside." His father noted his youth and inexperience at the time:
"He's just 16 and won't be 17 until late July," said Lewan's father, Dave. "He also is just learning the offensive tackle position. He was a defensive tackle, but he'll now be the starting left tackle for Chaparral. He's still got a lot to learn about the position, but everybody we've talked to has been very impressed with how quickly he's picking things up."
Lewan did get the hang of things as the season progressed. In the aftermath, he was named to Scout's All State team. The list constructor was enthusiastic: "had such a great season, I considered him for player of the year honors."
Now how about a barrage of quotes from his coach? When Lewan committed, his coach echoed the overall sentiment:
"That's the best athlete I've ever seen at offensive lineman," Chaparral coach Charlie Ragle said. "I was at ASU for a year (as a graduate assistant) and coached some good offensive linemen, some that are in the NFL. He's a better athlete than those guys. Not a better lineman yet, but a better athlete. He's just raw. His upside is huge."
“Michigan is getting, in my opinion, the steal of this year's recruiting class in the country,” Ragle said. “I know that's a bold statement to make, (but) this kid’s ability on the field won't be questioned. He's as good an athlete on the offensive line as I've ever seen.”
"He's as good athletically as any guy I have ever coached," Ragle said. "The thing that makes him so special is his upside when you think he's only been coached at the position for about eight months. But the one intangible that's most impressive is his nastiness --Taylor wants to burry someone on every play, and you can't coach that."
“I tell college coaches all the time: ‘you’ll be hard pressed to find a more athletic lineman than this guy.’ "
Charlie Ragle is somewhat enthused here. I detect a hint of enthusiasm.
So, yeah, this is a guy to stash on the bench for a year while he learns the Tao of Barwis. Then he is to be unleashed. Rodriguez as paraphrased by the Daily:
He’s physical, he can run … he’s got that type of body that we like to build on. … one of the best tackles we saw on film all year. … Father was an OL at Minnesota, so he knows what the Big Ten is all about
This Max Preps guy describes that body in… uh… a way. Definitely some sort of way or fashion:
Most 275-pound high school kids have flab, but Lewan looks like a strong dancer in tights.
And let's give the final tantalizing word to ESPN:
Lewan's development into a top-15 offensive tackle has been nothing short of amazing. We feel Michigan is getting an offensive lineman with perhaps the best upside we have seen at the position in recent years.
Okay, okay. All that sounds pretty freaking great but here's where I have to play party-pooper: redshirt freshman Dann O'Neill has disappeared into the background at Michigan, passed by Patrick Omameh and hardly mentioned on the recruiting sites outside of threads like "whatever happened to Dann O'Neill?" While O'Neill still has plenty of time to get his strength up and technique together, he's gone from the #1 OL recruit in his class to probably #4, as Barnum, Omameh, and Khoury all seem closer to the field.
Upside is just upside, and if you put it on the field you're not going to fare well. Lewan's got a ways to go and there are many pitfalls along the way from high school OT to Jake Long. Speaking of…
Why Jake Long? No pressure, kid! Well, 1) Lewan likes Long a lot and compares his game to the Destroyer of Ends, 2) by the end of Long's recruiting cycle he was a mid-four star who probably would have been in the same area Lewan ended up if the sites were ranking out to 300 back then, and 3) "perhaps the best upside we have seen at the position in recent years."
Etc.: Picture above regarded as "hott".
Guru Reliability: Moderate to high. All Star game appearance and a solid consensus, but that consensus is "we really, really like this guy's upside but can't rank him in the top 100 because he's only played OL for one year."
General Excitement Level: High. Good rankings, good kid, good fit. Not "very high" because it seems like he's got to do more development than most before he's college-ready.
Projection: Assured redshirt and then thrown into the tackle deathpit as a redshirt freshman; more likely his first shot at a starting job will be as a redshirt sophomore. It's tough to project offensive linemen with any confidence, but Lewan's athleticism will serve him well in Michigan's scheme and he's got a good shot at being a multi-year starter.
Daniel Easterly is a tall, skinny defender at recent Michigan feeder Cass Tech who could play anywhere from safety to defensive end (or
"spinner" DEATHBACKER). Check this highlight video, which claims Easterly to be a "SS/LB/WR/DE/CB":
Easterly is made by RONCO. He slices, dices, chops, grates, minces, juices and mops! Stop having a boring tuna. Stop having a boring life!
Uh… anyway: Easterly's one of a couple instate recruits who's racked up an impressive set of offers (Illinois, Wisconsin, State, Purdue, Louisville) recently, and while Michigan hasn't joined that list yet there have been rumors they're on the verge. Tom VanHaaren interviewed Easterly a few days ago; the results start now:
TOM: How’s your recruitment going so far?
DANIEL: It’s going good. A lot of schools have contacted me, and they want to come see me at school. It’s really enjoyable to know that you’re wanted. I just got offered from MSU last Saturday. I think I’m up to 6 or 7 offers now. I’m still waiting on Michigan, but that will come soon. I keep in regular contact with them, and I went up there for the spring game. They really want me, but Coach Rod wants to see me at a camp, and then he’ll offer. I’ll go to their camp, and a whole bunch of other ones too. I think the most recent one is the Nike camp.
TOM: You’re a part of the Cass Tech family. Has it helped you having your teammates already go through the process?
DANIEL: Yea, it’s a great thing to have more than one person go to Michigan, and get recruited. All the guys go to Michigan, and Dior likes Michigan, so it’s pretty cool to have them there. They know what they’re looking for, which helps me.
TOM: What has been some of the advice they’ve given you? Are they trying to persuade you to choose Michigan as well?
DANIEL: They told me to wait out for it. Thomas and Teric waited, and showed it all out at camp. They’ve been telling me for awhile that I’ll be a big time player, and just be patient. Big Will is a lifetime friend, and a big time influence in my life. It has really helped to have someone like him there for me. They’re definitely trying to get me up to Michigan. I’m just waiting for that offer, so I have more time to look into them, and find out more about them to make my decision. The sooner I get offered, the sooner I can find out more about Michigan.
TOM: Will that be important to you, playing with your former teammates?
DANIEL: The fact that my teammates are there is very important, but I’m looking for a school that fits me. A school that I know I would fit in perfectly with. My friends that go to Michigan will play a big part in it, but it all comes out to what I think in the end.
TOM: Have you and Dior been trying to visit some of the same schools?
DANIEL: Most definitely. We’re going to take visits together. We’ve been school together since 10th grade, so we do a lot of things together.
TOM: Tell me about you as a football player. What are your strengths?
DANIEL: I think my biggest strength is that I’m an aggressive player. I love contact, that’s my favorite part of the game, that’s what I live for. Hitting is the best part of the game. I need to work on my back pedaling though. Most of the time I’m coming down hill anyway, but I would still like to work on that.
TOM: You’re 6’4 and you play safety, among other positions. What are college coaches recruiting you as?
DANIEL: I’m 6’5 now. I’m getting recruited as a linebacker, safety, wide receiver, and I’ve been offered as a corner too. I think I’m an all around athlete.
TOM: You could probably be built into a couple different spots, what position do you want to play?
DANIEL: I would choose safety or linebacker. Linebacker, because there’s more contact, safety there’s more speed, but I definitely want to play defense.
TOM: What schools are showing the most interest right now?
DANIEL: The schools that offered me are showing the most, obviously. Michigan, USC, Alabama, Florida, Miami, ND, Louisville are showing interest without offers still. Iowa and Purdue are supposed to be offering soon.
TOM: What schools are you most interested in?
DANIEL: The schools that have offered me. I can only be interested in the schools that have offered me; because there’s not a 100% chance I can go to the ones that haven’t offered me. I’m looking into those schools because they said they wanted me. Michigan though, is one of my top schools that hasn’t offered me. Everything about Michigan is great.
TOM: When do you want to get your decision out of the way?
DANIEL: Probably before my senior season. I was also thinking about after, because I want to get my parents involved.
Nehlen talkin'. Don Nehlen, former Bo assistant and the retired West Virginia head coach who told Rich Rodriguez to leap at the Michigan job, is old enough that he can say whatever he wants in public. The result is of interest:
I thought they'd do a little better last year, but I don't know enough about what he had to work with. But in talking to some of my Michigan people, they tell me the cupboard was really bare. They'd lost almost their entire offensive football team and the kids they had coming back went pro, they had no quarterback that had ever played ... couldn't run Rich's offense.
I think Rich will improve this year some, not as much as people want him to, but I think he'll improve. But he'll be playing a freshman quarterback (Tate Forcier) again and that's not good ... I guess the kid's a good athlete. Then I think after this year, they'll start to be very competitive.
Plenty more at the link, including a discussion of Nehlen joining Bo's staff.
REPORTER: It looked like Terrelle threw the ball with voracity and conviction today, how did you think he played?
Moohaha. I kept reading though, and… uh… this is a joke, right?
REPORTER: The decision not to play Terrelle in the fourth quarter, was that a no-brainer? He played so well and you don't want to get him hurt? I know he initially was going to play the fourth quarter, can you talk about that decision?
COACH TRESSEL: He was ejected, right, Doug?
DOUG WORTHINGTON: Sure was.
COACH TRESSEL: He was talking trash and he got ejected, right?
REPORTER: Nothing to do with injury or anything like that? You didn't want to prevent injuries or anything like that?
COACH TRESSEL: He was ejected.
REPORTER: By you?
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah.
REPORTER: You tossed him?
COACH TRESSEL: Tossed him. Tired of his stuff.
Um, I know I just talked trash about Pryor talking trash in a scrimmage but this seems terribly implausible, especially with Doug Worthington playing Ed McMahon (Ha HA! Yes sir!). On the other hand, Tressel and light-hearted go together like jello and broken glass, and REPORTER seems to be taking it seriously. Did Terrelle Pryor really get booted from OSU's spring game? WTF is going on?
No you are dumb. I was tempted to make some snarky comment about Terrence Moore's final column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, headed by this sentiment:
“My objective was to get people to think, not to agree or disagree, just to get people to think.”
I don't read Moore's work except when various bloggers, most prominently Braves and Birds and EDSBS, link to the columns that are even more epically inane than I gather the bulk of his oeuvre is. That sentiment caused the telltale eye twitch that precedes a flamethrowing 800 word post in which I call someone horseface that I feel dirty about afterwards, but I managed to click the little red X on the tab and move on with life. Fortunately for JUSTICE, the JCCW did not:
Trust me, Terence Moore: it was never your job to make me think. It was your job to explain why I should think the same way you think. Forgive me, but I think the inability to understand the difference between those two objectives--why the first gets you only halfway to where you need to be, why not risking being right can only result in being wrong--goes a long way towards explaining why neither Terence Moore nor tons of other former sports columnists have their job at all anymore.
Ah but if the last part were only true. Let us join together in this, beatwriters: it's a damn crime that Moore got a buyout from the AJC and just slides over to AOL to spew his brand of thoughtless enraging pap for money more rightly allotted to someone, anyone, who will report on anything whatsoever.
This seems like a good time. There was some discussion of this in the comments section already, but I hadn't mentioned it at large: AOL and yrs truly have parted ways. This won't come as a shock to anyone who saw the steadily slowing feed on the sidebar, now removed, or noticed that sometimes the very headlines therein would change without so much as a by-your-leave.
There was a sea change at AOL once some deranged suit decided to bring in sad stripper types to be "Fantasy Sports Girls" and Alana, AKA Miss Gossip, fled from her post as general guru in charge. Alana was of the internet; her replacements were not. Things got corporate. I had a viewpoint as to which way the Fanhouse should go—more Oops Pow Surprise!—that lost out to a more sanitized one. Then my posts started getting edited after the fact without anyone so much as mentioning it to me, which severely depressed my motivation to post further.
From there things took their natural course. Check that link above on Moore moving to AOL: they've hired nine people, only one of whom (Clay Travis) has any profile in the blogosphere. The rest are former newspaper droids. I no longer fit with your Mariottis and Terrence Moores. Thus: this.
I'm grateful that AOL really helped bridge the gap between my engineering job and the point at which the blog became a self-sustaining enterprise. Mostly I'm grateful to Jamie Mottram—now the architect behind Yahoo's excellent series of sport-specific blogs of which you are probably most familiar with Dr. Saturday—who hired me in the first place. But now it's over.
How about a guy in a goofy cape signing "I Know It's Over"? That will help everything:
I've gotten a couple questions about the fate of This Week In Schadenfreude: I'm looking for a home for it. Will inform when there is news.
Eh, not so much. I didn't even post about how dividing is chicken soup for the soul this month but yet I've been roped in. A January post discusses the annual, annoying use of raw counting numbers to assess each conference's performance in the NFL draft, and is cited by SMQB in support of his annoyance at same. But Dawg Sports says NSFMF:
For the most part, schools are competing against their own, so the total number of top-tier athletes in any conference in any year is going to be the same, regardless of whether that league has ten teams or twelve. Having more teams spreads the wealth around but does not increase the wealth where the finite resource of athletic talent is concerned. If Vanderbilt withdrew from the S.E.C., essentially all it would cost the conference in raw N.F.L. numbers is Jay Cutler, yet it would have a major impact on the math on a per capita basis.
The raw numbers tell us all we need to know. Division skews the data by using Mississippi State to inflate artificially the denominator by including an integer that is without value in setting the numerator.
Wait… what? I'm not exactly sure what Kyle's getting at her e. Let's go back to first principles: the main reason this conference superiority argument is important is because we have a system that whittles the playoff to two teams before a game is played. Schedule strength is important. People use overall conference strength as a proxy for figuring out how good your claim to enter this playoff is, and they use the number of NFL draft picks as a (bad) proxy for figuring out overall conference strength. Mississippi State or Vanderbilt only "artificially inflate the denominator" if you don't play Mississippi State or Vanderbilt, which Georgia totally does:
Sat, Oct 17
at Nashville, Tenn.
So like WTF? That argument is nonsense.
Etc.: If you think my posts about the direction media is going are offtopic, check out Texas blog Barking Carnival's review of the 1974 Russian avant-scifi movie Solaris.* It's late April! Run for your lives!
*(which I have seen, though the cut I saw was on TV so there was no hour of random footage; I've also seen the Soderberg version and read the book because Stanislaw Lem is awesome when he is not making me nauseous by describing brain surgery in excruciating detail. So yeah that popping up on a Texas sports blog was kind of a "whoah" moment.)
Can you comment further about the lack of scheduling significant conference games. Is this a RichRod issue, or Bill Martin's doing? Back when I was in school we consistently played Notre Dame along with one other BCS school - UCLA, Washington, Virginia, Colorado, etc. Even the road games would be nice for alumni who no longer live the Midwest and want to make a trip. Now with the news of Michigan St. scheduling Alabama and West Virginia, do you think this will light a fire and help this awful situation. Thanks,
It's not a Rodriguez thing. As noted earlier, Michigan hasn't played a nonconference road game outside of South Bend since 2003, and the respectable opponents other than Notre Dame since have been accidents: Michigan's return game for the Oregon series was put off a few years because Michigan wanted to lighten its schedule in a year when they had, like, three(!) actual opponents in the noncon, and Utah may have finished #2 but remains a Mountain West team that didn't seem like it would be a juggernaut when Martin put them on the schedule.
Michigan's schedule softening is not new, nor is it unique. Just look at That Object You Could Describe As A School If You Were Being Charitable Down South: USC or Texas and a rotating selection of MAC schools and instate I-AA programs.
As for the State scheduling thing putting pressure on Michigan to man up… probably not going to happen as long as Michigan Stadium seats 110,000 and everywhere else doesn't. (Also, two of those years Michigan State is on a break with ND and needs a replacement.) Teams these days don't want to fall behind the financial eight-ball, or something, and schedule as weakly as possible because everyone else does. Bill Martin:
"I don't particularly like (scheduling FCS schools), but in order for us to have 25 sports and have this broad-base program, you've got to bring in the revenues," Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said. "If you were to play home and home with all these others schools, you wouldn't have this revenue. We need those home-game revenues."
I buy this zero percent since a huge chunk—probably 100% of it—of the increased revenue either goes towards paying coaches ever-increasing sums of money or building ever more opulent opium dens for the players to lounge in after practice. From a 2007 post that somehow didn't make it over to the new site:
One might be forgiven for thinking that the NCAA has ceased to be an actual regulatory organization and is instead a highly complex scheme for funneling money into Nick Saban's Scrooge McDuck vault, where he puts on an old-fashioned unitard bathing suit and gleefully leaps into his piles of gold coins. And it's not just Saban. This relatively ancient Bloomberg article from March 2005 takes a look at the increase in NCAA coaching salaries across the board from '97 to '03 and finds that average compensation went up 89 percent in just six years. This is before the twelfth game. (Though it's noted that there were some twelfth games in there. That was a calendar quirk and not permanent policy, however.) This is before 3-2-5e. This before Superfluous BCS Bowl and The Two Teams With Six Wins Each bowls. This includes the obscurest coaches you can think of, like Romanian Buffalo Polo.
Eighty-nine percent in six years.
This trend has slowed in no way whatsoever. This Dispatch article came out two weeks ago and details shockingly opulent salaries for even the most obscure sports, with lacrosse coaches raking in 200k and the average Big Ten baseball coach—the Big Ten is a mid-major in baseball—bringing in over 150k. Your average Big Ten field hockey, softball, and rowing(!) coaches are making 92k, 111k, and 79k.
Transport isn't getting more expensive. The athletes are getting paid the same amount they always were. The costs of running a college athletics program have changed in no fundamental way. "We need more money" is always relative to the other people who have just finished their Vegas casino/study hall. It's about priorities, not necessity. Let's not pretend otherwise.
Use this clip as a metaphor. The Red Wings are economic inevitability, the Park County Pee Wee Hockey Team is Michigan's athletic department, and we… we are Nelson:
No hope. No hope. (eeeeee)
With rumblings from spring practice that the offensive line is much improved; I can’t help but think this will have a positive impact on our thin defensive corps this fall (obvious quarterback play/health notwithstanding). It seems that all of the three and out series, and quick turnovers, caused our defense to be on the field an inordinate amount of time last year, especially in the first half of games. Is there any data out there that supports this (time of possession, number of plays etc.) for Michigan last year, and is there general statistical tracking regarding won/lost record and the time that defenses spend on the field?
Thanks for any response
Ooooh. I was with you until you got to "time." Time of possession is this blog's most loathed stat. But your larger point is well taken. The fundamental unit of a football game is widely believed to be the play. The emphasis of the statistically inclined rests on yards per carry or per attempt. Football Outsider's big stat, DVOA, is a per-play stat.
All of this is well and good but I've always felt that the fundamental unit of the football game is the possession and that defenses and offenses should be rated based on their possession efficiency: you moved the ball from the 30 to the opponent's 37 and got a 54 yard field goal. Congratulations. You moved the ball from your ten to the opponent's ten and got a chip shot field goal. Bigger congratulations, but not nearly as much as you would get for sticking it in the endzone. DVOA sort of does this by evaluating each play by how it effects the probabilistic outcome of the drive. A two yard run on first down has negative value because second and eight two yards closer to the line is a less likely situation to score from than first and ten. The focus on per-play metrics tends to blur out a huge factor in the outcome of a football game: where and when your possessions start.
|-30||New Mexico St.|
|-16||San Jose St.|
Blah blah blah. To your point: yes, Michigan's defense suffering a wholesale, historic collapse in the same year the offense suffered a wholesale, historic collapse and kick returners came down with a severe allergy to leather is no coincidence. (Zoltan playing out of his mind mitigated that somewhat.) I know this in my heart, and I could prove it to you with numbers except the database I maintained is out of date.
HOWEVA, there's one big, broad stroke that indicates your instinct is correct: Michigan finished 67th in yards allowed and 84th in scoring defense, which is an indicator they were put in poor field position repeatedly and faced a lot of drives against. That gap is significant but not as huge as some other teams experienced. See the table at right: "Delta" is the difference between a team's rank in total defense minus its rank in scoring defense. The top (bottom?) 20 teams are listed. Michigan finishes 17th.
Unsurprisingly, Kevin Craft and The Interception Machines finish first, which is an excellent sanity check for what the stat means, as did flailing offenses at LSU, Mississippi State, Toledo (uh…), and Michigan. On average the teams at right finished 71st in total offense,—60th would be the expected number for a truly random sampling— which suggests there is a correlation between having a defense that gives up more points than it does yards and having a crappy offense. Even more strikingly, the teams at right collectively finished 92nd(!!!) in turnover margin, which is a huge outlier amongst a set of 20 D-I teams. There is an extremely strong correlation between horrible turnover numbers and this stat. (Which, like ok duh.)
Bad offense and bad turnover numbers yield big gaps between a team's yardage defense and its scoring defense: teams don't have to go as far to score. Michigan was 109th in total offense and 104th in turnover margin. Should those numbers bounce up towards average the defense will move with them without lifting a finger.
Will they? Well, it would be hard for them not to.
I'm really excited about next years basketball season. I purchased season tickets already, and i read an article that said that over 1,000 students have also, and they plan on the number to be even higher as the year goes on. One concern i have though, is the size of our student section, its roughly 500 students and one side of the court, and then about 90 more behind the band, but not close to the court. Now i have also been to a MSU basketball game this season where they boast a student with the same amount of rows as us, but fully surrounding the court, and roughly 1100+ students. I am just wondering if the AD has any intention on changing this, and trying to get a lot more students next to the court. This would be very important because i feel that a student section is key to getting a teams momentum going.
So, I committed something approximating an act of journalism here, emailing SID Bruce Madej about this. I asked if there were plans to expand the bleacher section if demand warranted, or if there were options other than that. His response:
There is discussion on a number of fronts and yes, the talk has been to get the students down into the action when the numbers and participation increases. But it is still in the discussion stage. Can something happen quickly, possibly for 2009-10? I do not know. But it would not be with bleachers, it would be with the current seats
The early ticket application in the football season ticket mailing will help the department get a better idea of what to expect and then what to do for the upcoming season. Remember, when we do build the new practice area, there will be some changes in the southeast corner of the lower bowl.
I asked if it would be "fair to say" expanded seating in the lower bowl next year was unrealistic, and he said no, they were considering expanded student seating there. The implication was that more bleachers next year was unrealistic—though it is a possibility they're discusssing. I'd think you'll see students wrapping around the court in the endzone areas in actual bucket seats. So… they're thinking about it, and seem to have the atmosphere inside Crisler in mind. Who wants some FREEE PIZZZA?