warning: internet/sports journalism/meta post. it's six on friday so no bitching.
via press coverage
Way back in the mists of time when I'd just been fired from my engineering job for not doing much actual engineering I was wondering whether or not I actually wanted another one when Jamie Mottram emailed me. He asked if I'd be interested in being a "lead" for the college football section of this Fanhouse thing he'd convinced AOL to start*. I said yes and my career as a pants-optional blogger started.
A couple years later, Mottram was at Yahoo and I was on the phone with a guy who seemed to put "-ize" at the end of every verb trying to convince him that Adam Jacobi was a key asset even if he kept posting conversations with Joe Paterno in which he decried DIRTY IRISHMEN. This was the middle of the end, and a couple months later I was out, too.
By that point I didn't much care. I'd stopped posting much because headlines like "God Not A Big Fan Of Sam Maresh, Says Sam Maresh" were getting converted into things like "Sam Maresh Has Further Health Problems." The thing I owned was making sufficient money that I didn't have to put up with aggravation for ten bucks a post.
When I latched on with Sporting News a couple months later it was mostly so I could tell people I wrote for Company You've Heard Of X when that was convenient or lent credibility, and when that got shipped over to SB Nation I cut my workload there down to a couple things I do weekly. The business story of the blog is gradually in-sourcing all of the writing I do, even if it's about the World Cup.
"We're Not Bleacher Report"
Elsewhere, not so much. When AOL decided to blow Fanhouse up and give the Sporting News the brand for five million a year, I wasn't surprised. Ben Koo made a case that it was a stupid move, but we are talking about a company that's had a half-dozen people run Fanhouse in under five years, let Mottram walk out the door, immediately undermined his replacement with HAWT TITS, reversed course on that after 90 seconds, and then did another 180 to hire Jay Mariotti. It's not a surprise AOL has changed course wildly, hoping that doing the exact opposite of their last stupid idea will be the opposite of stupid.
What is something of a surprise is the naiveté shown by some of the outgoing. Dave Kindred interviewed a few of them for IU's National Sports Journalism Center and it's like they've never been part of an aging relic with a declining legacy business before:
"In December," Lisa Olson said, "we were told how great we were doing." Once a columnist at the New York Daily News, Olson remembered The National strutting on stage in 1990, a national sports newspaper hiring good people from everywhere. She thought of FanHouse that way, a gathering of veterans on a journalistic adventure. "We were all experienced and qualified, not some 25-year-old bloggers," she said. "The motto was, ‘Go, go, go. Grow, grow, grow.' And we did. Then, this. It's devastating."
This one in particular even referenced "The National," which lasted all of 18 months. Another complains "we had no idea this was coming," etc. More than one takes shots at bloggers. There's the one above, and then there's the EIC who ended up axing me** stating that when they arrived Fanhouse was nothing more than "a quirky blog."
The theme running through the piece all the way up to Kindred, who titles it "Waiting for the day readers march in and demand an end to the dreck," is journalists bemoaning the fact that their quality isn't recognized as they die by the thousands and Bleacher Report is getting eight-digit funding rounds. Kindred uses the recent press conference in which Jim Boeheim slammed the reporter who asked a question about point-shaving because the internet's been talking about it as a leaping-off point. You'd think they'd know by now.
You Are Bleacher Report
So… the column and those quoted in it are rife with misconceptions that speak to why AOL abandoned ship and why newspapers will slowly bleed readership until internet natives are at the helm in 20 years, at which point they'll just be another voice in the clamor.
Believing Bleacher Report is in the content business. Bleacher Report is not a content company any more than Demand or Associated Media. It is an SEO/marketing company that runs garbage through filters until it comes out with google/newsletter gold. The way they do this is clever, but their success—likely overstated anyway—has nothing to do with the success or failure of people who write for a living.
Believing Fanhouse content was functionally different than Bleacher Report's content. I only subscribed to the college football bit in my RSS reader, but it was a progression of boring AP-style articles, Clay Travis columns, the leftover guys who got in the door under Mottram who were cheap and non-controversial, and Brett McMurphy breaking stories about USF. Meanwhile the larger site had Marriotti.
You know what Mariotti and Travis are? They're trolls. They write controversial things they don't believe for attention. How much of the vaunted 50% non-AOL traffic—the same figure we were told, BTW—was either SEO or people stopping by to tell the various trolls why their stupid arguments were stupid? Mariotti is just a Bleacher Report writer with an editor, and he's the star attraction. This is not hyperbole.
A personal example from my time there: slideshows were pushed ever harder until people started editing posts to stick in random slideshows, hopefully vaguely sexy slideshows, whenever your post could be tangentially connected to one. Slideshows, man.
Fanhouse journalists complaining about how their quality is not appreciated aren't quite right. Anyone who reads above a third grade level can tell there's a vast gulf between it and BR, but when that gulf spans the gap between "offensive to the English language" and "newspaper stuff mostly about things I don't care about" it doesn't matter. Instead of widely loathed you're ignored unless you're breaking news, which is ephemeral.
It's no secret that I hate Deadspin. At least, I hate its bottom 20% and don't care about its middle 70%. But even though I don't read it much I still remember a dozen things—great things—it's published in the past year. If there's anyone who understands making it in internet media it's Nick Denton, and he's decided on lots of dongs and lots of outstanding, smart, highbrow content that people will post on their Facebook wall. Minus the dongs, I try to do the same thing for my niche. That's quality that separates you from BR, not spelling "lose" correctly.
Believing a site that gathers metrics similar to Bleacher Report is long for this world. You can't out-troll Anonymous.
I'd love to know what Fanhouse's direct hit numbers were. Nobody went to Fanhouse from a bookmark. Fifty percent of this site's hits have no referrer; Fanhouse was probably under 10%. Again, that's Bleacher Report except BR has a legion of halfwits voting and commenting on each other's posts to get more RadPoints*** . And if you're like Bleacher Report except you're paying people—giving people benefits—you lose. How many BR halfwits can you vaguely curate for one Jay Mariotti salary? Thousands, and their content is no different except for the platform. Once that platform enjoys content-sharing deals with, oh, say, the Washington Post, the guy with the benefits is screwed.
Bleacher Report's secret is that it's awesome at being terrible. It hammers that dong demographic. Here I try to be really specifically awesome for a niche. Deadspin has it both ways. Fanhouse was just okay at the dong demo, okay at the boring stuff, and there wasn't one thing in the history of that site anyone would remember two days after they read it. That's the same mistake they always make.
When Mottram left for Yahoo he corrected the mistake he made with Fanhouse by creating a suite of independent single-source blogs that are run by a guy. You can tell because each of them comes with a picture.
Not all posts are by these guys, but they own the blog in a way no one owned Fanhouse. Each is "quirky" to some extent. The soccer one has regular posts in which an obscure Polish goalkeeper rants about corn and his neighbor and the week's events. Doctor Saturday annually embarks on a defense of the recruiting-industrial complex. Each one is a central part of its sports blogosphere, written extraordinarily well by people who may have worked in newspapers but didn't live them. Most of the contributors are just people who write well. They haven't been blown up, and Mottram ascended the ladder at Yahoo to do the same across the company.
I don't know what to do about the fading ability of people to pay responsible news-reporting types. Fanhouse was run by incompetents and destined to implode anyway. But I might miss it if it wasn't so goddamn boring.
*[I imagine him crashing through the window of a conference room holding dozens of high-level executives on a chandelier, sword in hand, rose in teeth.]
**[Not that he should have kept me and my two posts a week output.]
***[mwa ha ha. Seriously, though, points here are for troll control and have only incidentally grown into an e-peen contest.]
#1 qualification: has practiced looking exasperated.
Finally. After years and years and years, one of the infinite Mallorys coaching college football will coach at Michigan. This edition is Curt, and he'll be the defensive backs coach.
Mallory is a former Michigan player, a defensive back who won letters in '89 and '90. He stuck around to earn his degree a couple years later and then started a coaching career under his father Bill, who was then at Indiana. After three years as a grad assistant at Indiana and Michigan, his paid coaching career:
- 1995-99 - Ball State University (linebackers)
- 2000 - Ball State University (defensive secondary)
- 2001 - Central Michigan University (defensive secondary)
- 2002-04 - Indiana University (defensive secondary)
- 2005-06 - University of Illinois (defensive secondary)
- 2007-09 University of Illinois (co-defensive coordinator/defensive secondary)
- 2010 – Akron (defensive coordinator)
Like Montgomery, that's a steadily increasing profile as a position coach, albeit one that took more time. After a couple years at Illinois he was promoted to co-DC with Dan Disch. This was a disaster. Whether it was awkward co-DCs or a wholesale lack of talent or Disch and Mallory just not being good DC material is unknown. The talent bit has to be a factor, but even so the numbers are mixed at best. Mallory's history as a DC, with season under him bolded:
|Team||Year||Rush D||Pass D||PEff D||Total D||Scoring D||FEI|
Mallory inherited a decent situation that was masked by the vast incompetence of Juice Williams as a freshman, saw his unit steadily regress in yardage and FEI terms until it was a basket case and then watched the new guy turn things around immediately. I'm not sure the Akron numbers mean anything—that team was a biohazard—but I'd be pretty leery of grabbing him as a DC.
But he's not the DC, Greg Mattison is, so that's fine. Mallory's around 40, has plenty of experience recruiting the Midwest, and is a relatively young for a former DC. He'll be coaching the secondary, where he's also got a ton of experience. At Illinois he seemed to do a good job of turning Vontae Davis and Terry Hawthorne, amongst others, into fine players individually even if the stats didn't show it. Former player Allen Ball has described him as "my boy." His career is one of steadily moving up the food chain and he's the proverbial Michigan Man.
Insofar as we know anything about career assistants he seems like a good choice as long as he stops dressing his kids entirely in green. Seriously, someone stop by Moe's for him before the press conference Monday.
UPDATE: FWIW on Mallory's tenure under Zook:
There will be new faces at the most important coaching positions below Zook. The most important question, will Zook cede control of the defense to the new DC, or will it continue completely unaltered, because Zook has been in control of the D, regardless of who the assistants were.
I wouldn't put much weight on his tenure as Illinois DC
|WHAT||Michigan @ Miami|
Goggin Ice Arena,
|WHEN||7:35 PM Fri/ 5:05 Sat|
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
Friday: CBS College
Record. 14-9-5, 11-7-4 CCHA. Miami's taken a significant step back despite returning big chunks of their explosive lineup from last year. They're third in the league, four points back of Michigan and five back of Notre Dame. Michigan has two games in hand on both those teams.
The wonky record extends to their nonconference schedule, where they're just 3-2-1. They currently sit 18th in the Pairwise, four or five slots short of the area where they'd be secure. That's also where they sit in RPI. The good news for the Redhawks: the RPI gap between them and a likely tourney berth is narrow.
Despite the wonky record, Miami's goal differential is impressive. They're tied with Michigan at +28 in the league—though Michigan does have small advantage on a per game basis—and are one goal better than Michigan overall with a +33.
Previous meetings. None this year.
Dangermen. Easy to pick these guys out since they're 1-2 in scoring nationwide: seniors Andy Miele and Carter Camper anchor Miami's top line and pour it in. Miele has a 15-34-49 line, Camper 14-32-46. Linemate Reilly Smith isn't far off with a 19-16-35. That's bar-none the best line in college hockey.
Where Miami's fallen off from last year's blistering pace is the rest of it. They've got a couple guys with 11 goals after the big three and then it falls into a big pile of meh. Michigan's keeping pace with Miami in goal differential because no Redhawk defenseman has scored more than twice—if you can shut down that top line you've got a chance. If.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Miami is still rotating juniors Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp, but this year they've collectively taken a major step back. That's if they're actually different people. It's unclear. Both have a Hunwick-before-groin-injury-power-mushroom .901 save percentage. Last year both turned in a .921. It's not like they're getting peppered—both see an average of 21 or 22 shots per game—and Miami lost only one defenseman from last year's team. It seems like the regression there is mostly on the goalies.
Speaking of that defense, they don't score even a little bit save Chris Wideman, who has a 2-15-17 line I assume is the result of being the lone D on Miami's power play. However, the top four guys are all juniors and sophomores and seniors scatter down the roster so they're a veteran group that's contributing to that severe lack of shots opponents are managing.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||4.6||4.2|
|PP Ag / G||5.3||4.5|
Miami's taken a lot of minors this year and Michigan should expect to have a slight advantage in power plays—if they can force any.
When Miami gets on the power play they're deadly, converting nearly a quarter of their opportunities. That's third nationally. Michigan lags at 22nd. Miami's also much better on the PK, killing 86.5 percent to Michigan's 81.1. That's eight and 35th, respectively. Michigan would prefer a game played five-on-five.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Stay out the box yo. This is the nation's third best power play against the 35th-best penalty kill. Frequent trips to the box is just asking for it. Michigan's taken a lot fewer penalties this year than they usually do and Tristin Llewellyn is taking his penalties in the ECHL now so this is not necessarily doom. But it probably is.
Line match like a mother and win the second line. It's going to be somewhat tough to pull off since both of these games are on the road but if Miele and Camper are on the ice Hagelin should be two seconds from following. If that can be a neutral matchup then it's down to Michigan's second and third lines (and defensemen) outscoring their Miami counterparts. Wohlberg and Caporusso need to show up this weekend.
Grit heart gritty heart heart. Miami is going to be breathing fire. They are 18th right now and have six games before the playoffs to play themselves into the tournament. They're essentially as good as anyone in the league but a combination of unfortunate/unlucky/plain weird results (losing 4-7 to Michigan State?) sees their tourney streak threatened as Most Hated Enemy comes to town.
If Michigan is off or lackadaisical or thinks Miami is not dangerous or hasn't gotten it into their heads that the only way for them to win is to play like their 5'8" walk-on goalie doesn't have a .923 save percentage but is in fact armless they could get blown out of the building and come back to Ann Arbor fighting for their tournament lives.
The Big Picture
One crappy loss to Michigan State has sent me from figuring out how Michigan can wrangle a one-seed to figuring out how much breathing room they have for an at large bid. Who loves the Pairwise?
Everybody Nobody. That single crappy loss sent their RPI from sixth to tenth and leaves 3 or 4 teams right on their heels. If Michigan gets swept this weekend it's likely they fall into the range where they're depending on playoff results to see if they're actually in the tournament.
On the upside, there are now four teams just ahead of them in RPI who could be passed if Michigan bounces back and takes four or more points from Miami. Anything from sixth to out of the tournament is in play depending on the results of the weekend.
A split will be fine here. That will put Michigan four points clear of Miami with two games in hand and two clear of Notre Dame with a manageable schedule left in the race for the title. A sweep is unlikely but would be killer.
Yost Built has ten things for you. The Daily's Florek in CHN. I linked this in the sidebar but it deserves a bit more attention: this is a really long, really interesting article about what makes Steve Kampfer an 18-minute-a-night defenseman at 22 and how the Bruins identified and acquired him. The Conboy/Tropp incident is remembered—misremembered, but remembered—as evidence he was an NHL player!
|WHAT||Michigan v. #1 Ohio State|
7:00 PM EST
February 3rd, 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan +16.5|
Signing Day has come and gone (on to the class of 2012!), and since last we previewed a game for the Men's Basketballing Wolverines, they've gone out and ended a 14-year road losing streak to their archrival, and taken care of business against a lesser opponent. The team's best player has broken out of a mini-slump with a solid performance in the first game, and a triple-double in the second. Good times in Crisler Arena.
Of course, it must be mentioned that said archrival is struggling like they rarely have under Tom Izzo, and Iowa is indeed terrible at the basketball (but way better than State! HAHAHAHAHA!). Despite both coming up short against the Wolverines, Kalin Lucas and Melsahn Besabe each had wonderful days offensively against Michigan. These Wolverines did not suddenly turn into... well, Ohio State.
Ohio State, on the other hand, remains Ohio State. They're among the tops in the country both offensively and defensively, and are the best team in Division 1 basketball by a healthy margin. Though Michigan played them close in Crisler Arena 22 days ago, they're likely to play much better at home.
The Buckeyes still have Jared Sullinger, and they still have an excellent supporting cast around him. In ValueCity Arena (about which: LOL), every single Wolverine will have to play some of his best ball this season to come away with a win.
With a few games under each team's belt, it's finally reasonable to look at the stats. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Ohio State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Ohio State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. OSU Def eFG%||67||73||-|
|Mich Def eFG% v. OSU eFG%||166||6||OO|
|Mich TO% v. OSU Def TO%||23||10||O|
|Mich Def TO% v. OSU TO%||237||5||OOO|
|Mich OReb% v. OSU DReb%||304||32||OOO|
|Mich DReb% v. OSU OReb%||47||65||M|
|Mich FTR v. OSU Opp FTR||344||1||OOOO|
|Mich Opp FTR v. OSU FTR||60||236||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. OSU AdjD||48||5||O|
|Mich AdjD v. OSU AdjO||87||2||O|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
I think I've already made this joke once already this year, but hide ya kids, hide ya wife. Ohio State is good at the basketed ball. Even one of Michigan's strongest suits - not turning over the ball - is a statistical advantage for the Buckeyes. The only areas in which Michigan has performed better is rebounding Ohio State misses, and not sending the Buckeyes to the free throw line.
When last these teams met, the Wolverines outshot the Buckeyes, 64.1-60.7 eFG%. The teams were about equal in turnovers and rebounding. The biggest difference is displayed in the chart above: Ohio State shot more than three times as many free throws as did Michigan.
Judging by the statistics, it's likely that Michigan played above their heads the first time against the Buckeyes. While there could be matchup reasons for that, I think it's more likely that a rivalry game in front of the home crowd played a much bigger role. On the road, Michigan is more likely to struggle like the stats imply they should.
Last time I predicted Michigan would perform better than expected but still lose, it worked out just fine, thank you very much. Ken Pomeroy predicts a 73-56 win for the Buckeyes, and Vegas says OSU by 16.5.
You've probably heard most of the details already - and if you want the full play-by-play, read through the end of yesterday's liveblog - but here are some greatest hits from Brady Hoke's Signing Day presser yesterday:
- All signed recruits are expected to qualify to play next year.
- Jack Miller was singled out as a center. Tamani Carter was listed as a safety. Chris Rock was listed as a defensive end, but Hoke mentioned that some defensive linemen in the class may end up moving inside.
- There is no update on Devin Gardner's redshirt status (so you can stop asking).
- Michigan will run a 4-3 defense next year, including under and over fronts.
And now, for the video I shot of Michigan's assistant coaches. What can you expect? Offensive line coach discusses the future positions of Michigan's three commits (it's still possible that Tony Posada plays tackle, and some current players may move positions as well), Fred Jackson breaks down the game of Justice Hayes and Thomas Rawls, offensive coordinator Al Borges discusses the skillset of QB commit Russell Bellomy and talks about adjusting his offense to take advantage of Denard's skillset, and recruiting coordinator Chris Singletary describes holding the class together during a coaching transition.
Be sure to pay attention at 2:35 for an EPIC FRED JACKSON, as he calls Thomas Rawls a faster version of Anthony Thomas and Chris Perry:
He is like the 2nd and 5th all-time Michigan rushing leaders...except faster!
One other quick note: Singletary told me off-camera that the coaching staff would solidify a couple dates for Junior Days in the next week. I would guess that February 12th and March 5th (home basketball weekends) are good guesses.
Kellen Jones M bowtie FTW.
Improving the not LOI. Compliance people complain to each other on twitter about people who abbreviate the "National Letter of Intent" as "LOI" instead of "NLI." Apparently there are other LOIs. You have been warned.
In any case they should be heavily reformed. Right now they're one-way binds with silly timing that have created a cottage industry of kids who attempt to reserve their spot by being "committed, but open." Paul Johnson's opinion of this is similar to Artur Boruc's about corn:
What I’d like to see happen, but I’m probably by myself: if you have 85 scholarships, and you can sign 25 a year or however many you have. When they commit, they sign the papers and you stop. It would stop all the verbal commitments and all the hats. The guys who weren’t ready wouldn’t commit. You’d call their bluff. They couldn’t make their reservation. We’ll talk to kids all the time, juniors right now, who are committing. We’ll say ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’
“Oh coach, I’m open.”
[HT: Get The Picture.]
I'm not really sure what the argument against early signing is. The way it's set up now everyone scrambles to get their class locked in on Signing Day, so someone like FL WR AJ King who has his scholarship pulled by Purdue is in a tough spot in his attempt to find a landing place. If he was signed, he'd be signed and hijinks both ways would be seriously reduced.
The Bylaw Blog has a few other suggestions, one of which I've made in this space before: the NCAA should implement a "no contact" agreement. That piece of paper would be non-binding but would allow the school specified by the player to contact the kid without restriction… and make it a violation for anyone else to. Official visits would also be off the table. That's a verbal commitment that actually exists and would help coaches figure out who's serious and who's just making a backup plan.
Heart-hurting. Remember that video of the Detroit Renaissance coach declaring Michigan's treatment of former Ren players "hurt his heart," thus explaining why Michigan couldn't get anyone out of there no matter what? Raise your hand if you're surprised that Ren's Lawrence Thomas recited the entire negative recruiting playbook:
"Why not Michigan? They had problems. There were some past experiences with other Renaissance players that I didn't like. Plus, Rich Rodriguez sent an assistant to our school to recruit me. He wouldn't even send the defensive coordinator, just an assistant. Then we'd hear that Rich Rod would be in Florida recruiting."
The Renaissance players were Andre Criswell, a last-second addition at FB who never saw the field and was kept on as a GA after leaving the team before his fifth year, and Carson Butler, the insane tight end who finally ran out of chances towards the end of Rodriguez's first year. Butler was treated so badly he stuck up for Rodriguez during the jihad. Michigan did as well by those kids as they could given the latter's hatred of nerds, be they in the wrong dorm room or playing for Notre Dame.
So… this was not a situation likely to produce a commitment even if Rodriguez showed up with every assistant he had, and one that would likely have continued under Hoke. Similarly, when Taiwan Jones complains about a lack of attention from Michigan during his visit to the UConn game he's complaining as a guy who had been a MSU commit for months already and who Michigan never even considered offering.
This continues the theme from these Blue Chip articles in the News since the beginning of time: Michigan commits asked about State say something short, polite and vague, State commits asked about Michigan rant about a lack of respect, and the guys towards the bottom of the list submit a tear-stained questionnaire because neither school thought they were good enough. This will happen next year, and the year after, and so on and so forth.
Adventures in re-evaluating wins. So… how about not losing to Iowa by twenty points? Yeah, got a whole new sheen on it today, that does.
I mention it by way of inserting this "Fran-graph" from BHGP:
Michigan's at the top and you can see the extreme focus on the rim or the three point line in Michigan's field goals. BHGP's Horace E Cow explains:
In men's basketball in the NCAA this year, players have made 34.5% of threes and 48.2% of twos. The average value, then, of a three-point attempt is 3*.345 = 1.04, and the average of a two is 2*.482 = .964. This fact has led many college (and pro) coaches to the reasonable conclusion that three-point shots are better bets than two-point shots, and that their teams should take as many threes as possible (Todd Lickliter was one of these coaches, actually).
Not all twos are worth less than threes, though: shots at the rim are usually made at a very high percentage (60-70%) and thus the average dunk or lay-up is worth 1.2-1.4 points, much more than the average three. Putting these two facts together (threes are better than most twos, but dunks are better than threes), coaches have developed what could be called a "hollowing-out" strategy on offense: threes and dunks are encouraged, anything in between in discouraged.
My first experience with this line of thinking was watching some Kentucky game back in the day when Pitino was coaching them and hearing the announcer go on about how Pitino loathed shots just inside the arc. Beilein's system is the logical extension of that thinking. Michigan's makes against Iowa: 14 threes, nine layups/dunks, and ten anything else.
If you can get it to work it's great, and it's not a strategy that seems to have a ceiling. One of this year's other proponents of the dunk-or-deep strategy is #1 and current opponent Ohio State. Because they have Jared Sullinger they aren't launching as many threes but both their 2PT% and 3PT% are off the charts—they're in the top ten in both nationally. They've got four guys who take a large volume of two-point shots, and two of them are shooting a Jordan-Morgan-like 59%. Ohio State's distribution isn't quite as extreme but it's essentially the same thing.
The slight difference between the programs is the ability to recruit Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas every damn year.
180 update. Media 180, Signing Day edition:
- Brady Hoke's first recruiting class looks like unqualified success
- Brady Hoke earns first win as U-M head coach — in recruiting
- Brady Hoke's first recruiting class adds toughness to Michigan football team
And I'm not even looking at the Free Press, which remains dead to me. I can only imagine the tiny drawings of angels.
I like the one that says there's more toughness now. That's definitely true. Being not tough was the problem, not the secondary being old enough to drive only if they all stood on each other's shoulders in a huge trenchcoat. Also that's the same guy who wrote about the "impossible expectations" driving Tate Forcier away. Pete Bigelow needs to make up his mind about toughness.
[Disclaimer section: Hoke did an okay job, but nothing that should push opinions either way. Not going into the year down eight kids is good. Losing Willingham to Central Florida(!?!?) is pretty wack, but being in a position to say that's wack is impressive since Michigan was nowhere with that kid before Mattison showed up. Losing Jake Fisher makes the tackle depth chart terrifying. I also don't understand telling Rivals 250 receiver Devin Lucien, a guy who was seriously looking at Stanford and silently committed to Rodriguez during The Process because he liked Michigan's academics, "defense or GTFO." Even if you don't want Hakeem Flowers, Michigan had room for another five players and has no receivers in this class.
Meanwhile, most of the guys picked up were of the low-hanging fruit variety: guys who were committed to Indiana or Minnesota or Vandy and didn't have a ton of other confirmed Big Ten options (Heitzman, Carter, Taylor, Bellomy) or guys who had been openly coveting Michigan offers (Poole, Rawls, Taylor again) but didn't get them until later. TX TE Chris Barnett is the exception.
This class is a wait-and-see sort of thing. We won't know if these late pickups were players RR and other Big Ten schools misevaluated or warm bodies for a while, and we won't know about Hoke's recruiting prowess until the 2012 commits start rolling in and he's competing against Ohio State. Not that Rodriguez won many battles against OSU.
On the other hand, a quarter of the class won't fail to show up or wash out by the end of spring like the last RR class so that's cool. Snatching Frank Clark away from MSU despite his existence in close proximity to Ted Ginn is promising. Also: kicker. Hoke uber alles.]
Etc.: Thomas Rawls may be a member of the Jackson family. The awkward Hoke-Rodriguez video. Going back to the 4-3. Michigan finishes 21st in the Rivals rankings. Hoke's got 8 years before the deck stacks against him significantly. Don't play the Hoke "toughness" drinking game. Nutt greyshirt hijinks.