somehow we're only 124th
Programming note: Regular posting tomorrow; blog is off Thursday and Friday. UFR will appear early next week; I'm not going to bother with the pointless fourth quarter.
Basketball, yo. Michigan plays Norfolk State tonight at 8:30 at Crisler. Students get in free; citizens get in for a buck with a couple of canned goods. Go, man, and get in on the ground floor of the Beilein Era.
Go to the basketball game.
Hey, score. So I'm tooling around looking for Washington fans with guns to their temple for This Week In Schadenfreude (tons of hilarious ND content this week, BTW)when I stumble across this on the redshirt status of Jake Locker:
"There is a new tweak to the rule where if you haven't played in 30 percent of the game, you qualify," [UW athletic director for compliance & student development John] Morris said.
Thirty percent would be 3.6 games and, according to Morris, the NCAA rounds up. Given that Locker was hurt in the fourth game of the season, he would qualify on that hand.
(Locker is out of luck because he took a non-injury redshirt as a freshman, FTR.)
The relevance of this to Michigan? Wide receiver Junior Hemingway played in four games before he was sidelined with mono, and under the old rules (25%) would have been SOL as far as a redshirt goes. If Morris is correct, and it's his job to be correct here, Hemingway should get a redshirt and will enter 2009 a sophomore.
What went down. There's been a moderate amount of consternation about that first quarter scuffle on the Michigan sidelines between Charles Stewart and some dude who looks like Morpheus:
Morpheus turns out to be a low-level strength and conditioning coach, which prompts many questions. Such as:
- Why is that guy even on the sidelines?
- What possible business does he have yanking Charles Stewart's facemask?
- Is he a big Lawrence Fishburne fan or what?
He's at it again. Would you believe there was another article about how the spread is dead featuring everyone's favorite spread-hating, always-incorrect television analyst? Of course you would. If newspapers are good for anything it's mind-numbing repetition. Here's Gary Danielson again:
"I said in September that Michigan would be the last major program that goes to the spread," CBS football analyst Gary Danielson said. "I'm sure it's always going to be there for the MAC schools and schools like Kansas and Purdue. But at the top of the food chain, I don't see why you'd risk it. Michigan has really painted itself into a corner."
The article actually says "The spread is, in fact, dead."
The top fifteen offenses in total yardage read like this: spread, spread, Oklahoma, spread 4x, Nebraska, spread 4x, ULL, spread 2x. The best offense in the SEC (Florida): spread. The best offense in the Pac-10 (Oregon): spread. The best offense in the Big Ten (Penn State): spread. The best offense in the Big 12: Oklahoma with Texas Tech, Missouri, and Oklahoma State three of the next four slots nationally. The best offense in the Big East (USF): spread. That's five of six BCS conferences. (Florida State is the leader in the ACC.)
Aaaaaaaargh! So stupid make brain ouch.
Ha ha ha ha hahahahahahaha ha. The one bit of sunshine on Saturday was the stunning announcement by a friend that Notre Dame had managed to lose to Syracuse and pelt their own players with snowballs, causing Pat Kuntz to challenge the Notre Dame student section to a fight. Which… like… awesome.
NDNation would like to remind you that these things don't happen at Notre Dame, so this didn't happen. (FWIW, BGS says the snowball thing was overblown.)
At the time I tried to point out that the Notre Dame game was a turnover and big-play-filled fluke fest in which Michigan kind of sort of looked like a better team if they could cut out the zillion turnovers. ND was one of the few teams Michigan outgained significantly. If you asked me to bet on a rematch, I'd have bet on Michigan. Etc. Etc. That still applies; unfortunately the reason is not "Michigan is better than you think!"
This seems like the end for Weis; even the hardcore Weis fans who say things like "Never before have I found a head coach of Notre Dame so relatable"—which, like, wow, I hope I never find myself at a dinner party with that guy—are calling for his head on a platter.
Will they get it? If the rumors flying about Weis' buyout are correct, no. Because the rumors suggest the Notre Dame athletic department has done something so dumb even people given to think the Notre Dame athletic department is run by these guys…
…must be astounded. Check it, emphasis mine:
The buyout is roughly as secretive as Joe Paterno’s Penn State coaching contract, but it’s believed that it would cost north of $15 million buy out Weis. (As the New York Times’ Pete Thamel notes, it’s not clear if the number for hiring the coach away versus firing him.)
I can read this a thousand different places and I don't think I'll believe it until Notre Dame announces Weis will return for 2009, but there you go.
A note: if Notre Dame does axe Weis there will be an opportunity to pick up a recruit or two. Michigan was involved with WR Shaquelle Evans and OLs Zach Martin, Chris Watt, and Alex Bullard before they committed. (Bullard's finalists were M, ND, and Tennesse, so if he's choosing based on his relationship with the coaching staff, or on, you know, having one, we're in good shape.) They also took a look at WR/DB Nyshier Oliver after his Tennessee decommit. Oh, and DT Theo Riddick is a teammate of Anthony LaLota.
(Cheerleader via the Wiz.)
Things that are not true unless you want attention. This has been bugging me as well:
…many in the media have taken the most losses in school history statistic to equate to worst season ever. The front page of this morning’s Ann Arbor News contained two items making this claim:
- A headline (below the fold) reads, “An epitaph for 2008: Wolverines’ worst“.
- In the lead column, columnist Pete Bigelow writes, “On his watch, the Wolverines careened to the worst season in their 129-year history..”
Defend this! Saying it doesn’t make it so, these statements should be qualified. I went over this last week but it’s not going away and the two mentions on the front page of the News put me over the top. It’s clear that the nine loss number is what people are keying on, and I could see an outlet like ESPN running with that. But the News?
Ah, yes, the News. Tirelessly stalwart friend of the program. For the record, Michigan had a worse winning percentage in 1962, 1936, and 1934. I don't think the people at the News are too stupid to divide, so the conclusion is they wish to sensationalize the matter for a short-term burst of attention.
For the record, MVictors selects 1934 as the worst year in program history. Michigan was 1-7; in the previous four years they had won two national championships and four conference titles. In eight games Michigan was shut out five times and scored just twenty-one points.
So take heart, Michigan fans. This isn't even the worst season in the last eighty years.
Etc.: Unsurprisingly, Michigan leads a select group of top teams in one-score games over the… uh… duration of the Richt era at UGA; AC1997 lays out the case for optimism in the diaries; undies22 recaps the season. (Hint, guys: use some section headers to break up the wall of text.) Also, Jonathan Chait has an entertaining review of Rosenberg's book.
Most of you may not know that I live in Arizona. I recently [ed note: not that recently anymore!] got the chance to see one of the final football games of the regular season for Michigan defensive end commit Craig Roh and offensive line target Taylor Lewan, teammates at Chaparral High. Chaparral beat Lewan's former team Cactus Shadows 45-28. Their team is 9-1, and they both have a lot to do with their team's success.
Craig Roh is a defensive end, four star recruit, and Michigan commit. Throughout the entire game he played strong, and didn't seem fatigued. The P.A. regularly announced his name for tackles and big plays. He was very vocal on the sidelines, focused on the team rather than himself.
He told me that was one of the things that drew him to Michigan, "They treat everyone like family, whether you're a freshman or not. I really like that each player gets treated the same, and with respect."
He also really likes the tradition of Michigan football, and has already started to build friendships with other players. "I've talked with Anthony Lalota a little bit," said Roh, "and I actually have Mike Martin's phone number, so we talk too, which has been good to get to know my future teammates."
We went on to talk about his excitement to get up to Ann Arbor this summer, where is his main focus will be building strength and putting on weight. When I asked him whether or not he was trying to convince his teammate, and friend to join him at Michigan, he looked back at Taylor down the field, and said "yeah, I want him to come to Michigan; I want him to be there with me."
While the recruiting process has slowed for Roh after his commitment, it's picked up for Taylor Lewan. Lewan, a recent convert to offensive tackle, stands 6' 7", 272 pounds and runs a 4.72 40. Before his senior season, he was relatively unknown, but now he's one of the hottest offensive line prospects in the country, a newly-minted four-star recruit and possessor of over 20 offers. Oklahoma State and Missouri are the latest BCS schools to add themselves to that list.
I had the privilege of talking with Taylor and his father Dave. They both seem to be taking the process for a ride, and are excited about Taylor's success. The elder Lewan was an athlete at Minnesota, and lived in the Detroit area earlier in his life. He told me "I'm not being biased at all, this is Taylor's time, and he's going to make the decision."
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.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Lewan since he was relatively new to the position, but he showed why colleges across the country are after him. He stands taller than most of the players on the field, and lacks the usual spare tire around his waist. He's solid muscle, and has a good frame to build on.
Then he strapped on his helmet, and showed me his best Jake Long impersonation. He plays with harnessed anger and emotion, and more importantly plays snap to whistle on every play. The play that stuck out was when he drove a defensive end all the way past the right hash mark, and would've kept going had the whistle not blown. His dad told me that Taylor thought he had a poor game, but that type of play is pretty normal for his son. "If you watch his highlight film,” he said, “there's a play where Taylor drives a kid 30 yards down the field, and actually out of the camera shot."
He told me he actually prefers playing in the cold, which is refreshing to hear from a warm climate player.
Coach Dews has been in contact with Lewan regularly, and has made a great impression on him. "I really like how Coach Dews treats me, and when we talk, I feel like he's my friend," said Lewan. Taylor seems to have a great head on his shoulders, and the right support system in his family. He's looking for the right opportunity, and wants to play. Roh and Lewan were both recently invited to play in the Under Armour All American Game. They drill together after practice, and credit each other for their success.”There’s no way that I would be where I’m at right now without Craig, he’s pushed me, and I’ve pushed him to where we are today,” said Taylor. Lewan told me that he will be taking one of his visits to Michigan. He originally planned to do so this weekend, but Chapparal has a playoff game and he has to reschedule. He currently plans to visit December 6th.
Michigan has some good competition for this highly touted recruit, but I can confidently say he will be a household name where ever he goes. Both he and his family spoke highly of Michigan, and had some great things to say about the coaching staff as well. We'll have to wait and see how this plays out, and there will be a lot of teams watching his every move.
Update 11/25: Linked to articles on FL CB Jayron Hosley, FL QB Denard Robinson, AZ OL Taylor Lewan, MD LB Jelani Jenkins, FL K commit Brendan Gibbons, PA WR Jeron Stokes, FL CB Josh Robinson. Moved FL S Vlad Emilien to committed. Here's video of FL RB Vincent Smith, Gibbons.
Removed OH DE Tank Carradine (Illinois).
Added AL LB Tana Patrick.
Should I add OH OL Marcus Hall back? He's visiting Michigan officially… and last!
Recruiting board lives here.
Upon consideration there is definitely not a joke about plantations anywhere in here.
Yesterday Michigan picked up a commitment from Plantation safety Vlad Emilien, which is a boost to a secondary in need of some fresh blood. And, call me crazy, but I think there's been a sea change in available information on his teammate, FL CB Josh Robinson, in the past couple days. Much of it is in premium articles locked away from from the plebes, but this one's out in the open. In it, Robinson notes he's not taking an official visit to South Florida:
“USF is still in contention. It has kind of had an affect on my decision because they want me to come for my official after I’ve already made my choice.”
“I was thinking the other day, ‘Alright, if you really want me then why not let me come in and see the school before I make my decision.’ But I talked with the coaches and I feel good about it."
Sounds like USF is out, which leaves Michigan battling UCF for Robinson's commitment, with FIU inexplicably still under consideration. I always assumed USF was the likely destination because it's, you know, not part of Conference USA. Is Robinson really going to eschew any chance at being on a powerhouse team or making a BCS bowl when he's got an offer from Michigan?
Maybe. Robinson's always made a huge deal about wanting to stay in-state. However, he's backed off that stance in recent articles. I'm beginning to get the feeling this one is going to go Michigan's way.
FWIW, Robinson on the two presumed finalists:
Michigan: The history and tradition speaks for itself. I think they have a strong foundation with their coaching staff, and I know they’ll be for at least the next 4 years.
UCF: I’ve always liked UCF, I like the campus and the overall environment. I have a relationship with the coaching staff and early playing time is a big factor with them as well.
Before anyone fires off a "how good can this guy be" comment based on the other schools recruiting him, note he's a four-star on Rivals; ESPN gives him a 79—equivalent to a low four-star—and says this($):
Robinson is simply an electrifying athlete with elite speed … Bottom line, Robinson possesses some of best top-end speed we have seen in this class, and his versatility as an athlete should see his recruiting start to heat up nationally. Great prospect who should blossom at the next level when he concentrates on one position.
I think we could use that guy, yes?
FWIW: I've got him on the board as a corner but recent articles have suggested Michigan is recruiting him at either receiver or tailback(?!); most likely they'll just get him on campus and decide where he goes later if they're fortunate enough to get him.
Michigan's hard after Craig Roh teammate and AZ OL Taylor Lewan, and Lewan is reciprocating the interest:
“I like Michigan a lot. I love Michigan. They’re a great school. Not the best year this year but that doesn’t have any effect on my decision at all. If anything, from playing wise, it’s probably better for me. I like Michigan a lot. But at the same time I like a lot of schools, so I haven’t narrowed anything down yet.”
Though he "hasn't narrowed anything down" officially, it kind of seems like he has unofficially, with visits scheduled to Oregon, M, and Minnesota (which he just took to see a 55-0 beating at the hands of Iowa, FWIW) and then a hazy intent to take the last two to somewhere, I guess.
The general feeling is that Lewan's decision will come down to Minnesota and Michigan, so that Minnesota visit (and the Gophers' late season slide) probably help our chances. Also helpful: Minnesota's offensive line coach just resigned.
Later today I'll front page Tom VanHaaren's article on Lewan from a couple weeks ago, if you missed it in the diaries the first time around.
No link on this one, but a reliable source indicates NC OL Travis Bond is basically down to Michigan and UNC. UNC is leading, though.
Staying in the state that is going to provide like half of our recruiting for the foreseeable future: new guy on the board is four-star FL CB Jayron Hosley, who's had a super weird recruitment in which he has done nothing whatsoever until right now. As of a week ago he picked up offers from Michigan and Ohio State.
SoFlaFootball.com's Luke Stampini on Hosley's state of mind:
Hosley doesn't know much about either school or the Big Ten conference and hopes to sort things out on visits.
He will not take any more official visits (Louisville in Sept)until after his season is over. When talking to him you get the sense he has no idea where he wants to go, but knows things will certainly clear up after seeing more schools campuses.
…After talking to him this past weekend about the offers he seems intrigued by OSU the most right now. He remembers Dillard's Chris Gamble playing for the Buckeyes a handful of years ago. After seeing he could start for Michigan RIGHT NOW, should only help their cause. I also got to think the fact Michigan has/is getting a handful of kid from the same county as Jayron will add to their case as well.
Ohio State continuing to pursue defensive backs is really strange since even with the McDougald decommit they've got five, but I guess spread bler bler. (A side note for the 2010 class from Stampini. Someone asked if FSU was the destination for Pahokee WR De'Joshua Johnson: They lead for sure, but it's not a done deal with him. I think the Michigan offer intrigues him. So there you go.) FL QB/ATH Denard Robinson still sounds like he's headed to Florida: The school that is recruiting Robinson the hardest is in-state favorite Florida. "They call my coaches and talk to me a lot," he said. "They send the most mail and emails and are in contact with me all the time." Michigan should get an official, and then we'll see. New Guys A couple additions or sort of additions: Cleveland Glenville OL Marcus Hall has again rearranged his visit plans: "I'm going out of town Dec. 5 on a family vacation thing, so I'm going to visit Ohio State Dec. 12," Hall said. "I scheduled Illinois Jan. 9, LSU Jan. 16, Miami Jan. 23 and Michigan Jan. 30." … "I don't have a favorite, but as I take my visits I think some favorites will come out," Hall said. Michigan had been dropped from consideration twice before, I think. This guy changes his list like whoah. Last visit for a top-100 tackle sounds exciting, but the guy is from Glenville and has an Ohio State offer; I'm not even going to put him back on the board until something more committal comes down. The other new guy is an SLB from Alabama named Tana Patrick. He's just getting started with his recruiting and seems likely to go somewhere in the SEC, but: "Michigan is playing a lot of young guys this year and I think I could play early there," he said. "I know they haven't done well, but I think that coach Rich Rodriguez will get things going once he's gets some more guys in. "It would definitely be great playing for a program with such great tradition," Patrick said. With Emilien's commitment Michigan now has two pure safeties and that will likely see both Isaiah Bell and Mike Jones move to OLB. With Jordan Barnes wavering (a little; I'm considerably less concerned about him than Peace or Jones), though, and spots opening up on the regular Michigan will at least stay involved with Patrick as long as he's interested. Zippin'. I can't embed this, but Rivals' All The Way To Friday took a look at a game between Pahokee and Vero Beach a few weeks ago; Vincent Smith is featured making several impressive runs. Fair and balanced. In case you ever find yourself reading something put out by Bill Kurelic that's unexpectedly negative about Michigan's chances for some guy, you should keep this in mind: he's a rabid Ohio State fan. Here's a fantastic example; he works for an independent OSU recruiting site and has posted the following things over the past couple days: Five things, one of them even slightly newsworthy, all of them negative. When you read something from him that does not jibe with the conventional wisdom (and he writes a recruiting blog for ESPN), consider the source. HERE COMES THE BOOM. Our kicker commit has a little Neinberg in him: Oh, snap.
Ohio State continuing to pursue defensive backs is really strange since even with the McDougald decommit they've got five, but I guess spread bler bler.
(A side note for the 2010 class from Stampini. Someone asked if FSU was the destination for Pahokee WR De'Joshua Johnson:
They lead for sure, but it's not a done deal with him. I think the Michigan offer intrigues him.
So there you go.)
FL QB/ATH Denard Robinson still sounds like he's headed to Florida:
The school that is recruiting Robinson the hardest is in-state favorite Florida. "They call my coaches and talk to me a lot," he said. "They send the most mail and emails and are in contact with me all the time."
Michigan should get an official, and then we'll see.
A couple additions or sort of additions: Cleveland Glenville OL Marcus Hall has again rearranged his visit plans:
"I'm going out of town Dec. 5 on a family vacation thing, so I'm going to visit Ohio State Dec. 12," Hall said. "I scheduled Illinois Jan. 9, LSU Jan. 16, Miami Jan. 23 and Michigan Jan. 30." …
"I don't have a favorite, but as I take my visits I think some favorites will come out," Hall said.
Michigan had been dropped from consideration twice before, I think. This guy changes his list like whoah. Last visit for a top-100 tackle sounds exciting, but the guy is from Glenville and has an Ohio State offer; I'm not even going to put him back on the board until something more committal comes down.
The other new guy is an SLB from Alabama named Tana Patrick. He's just getting started with his recruiting and seems likely to go somewhere in the SEC, but:
"Michigan is playing a lot of young guys this year and I think I could play early there," he said. "I know they haven't done well, but I think that coach Rich Rodriguez will get things going once he's gets some more guys in.
"It would definitely be great playing for a program with such great tradition," Patrick said.
With Emilien's commitment Michigan now has two pure safeties and that will likely see both Isaiah Bell and Mike Jones move to OLB. With Jordan Barnes wavering (a little; I'm considerably less concerned about him than Peace or Jones), though, and spots opening up on the regular Michigan will at least stay involved with Patrick as long as he's interested.
I can't embed this, but Rivals' All The Way To Friday took a look at a game between Pahokee and Vero Beach a few weeks ago; Vincent Smith is featured making several impressive runs.
Fair and balanced.
In case you ever find yourself reading something put out by Bill Kurelic that's unexpectedly negative about Michigan's chances for some guy, you should keep this in mind: he's a rabid Ohio State fan. Here's a fantastic example; he works for an independent OSU recruiting site and has posted the following things over the past couple days:
Five things, one of them even slightly newsworthy, all of them negative. When you read something from him that does not jibe with the conventional wisdom (and he writes a recruiting blog for ESPN), consider the source.
HERE COMES THE BOOM.
Our kicker commit has a little Neinberg in him:
The final number. Before the Ohio State game I mentioned a remarkable statistic: in this year of safeties living in the box and injuries and a makeshift offensive line and just all-around disaster on offense, Michigan actually had a higher yards per carry than they did the year before.
It was close, though, and Ohio State stomped that. Michigan finished the year averaging 3.91 YPC. 2007 beat that out by six hundredths of a yard. Okay, that's still pretty remarkable. Here's a pop quiz: where does that YPC rank over the past eight years?
Fourth! Above average!
If you needed any evidence that whatever Rich Rodriguez is doing on the ground is a pretty good idea, that should suffice.