The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
You know, I liked Justin Feagin. As a guy thousands of miles away from the man in question and limited to assembling things other people wrote about him, I had just more than zero to go on, but I liked him anyway. He played both ways at a tiny school and smiled big and innocent on signing day and said things that seemed different and bouncier than your average bouncy, meaningless quote from a guy on or around the greatest day of his life.
He said this about Terrelle Pryor's potential addition:
"What if he does go to Michigan? Shame on me if I sit back and think he's better than me. If he wants to play quarterback, we'll have to fight each other for the job. If I win the job, then I'll know I beat out the No. 1 quarterback in the nation."
And I wrote this:
this is one of the recruits in this class I'm baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason. If you're so inclined you can see Feagin doing squats until two in the morning in his quotes. … Feagin sounds like the kind of guy who will thrive under the pressure of the Rodriguez regime and is clearly a high caliber athlete.
This is going to be a pretty stupid statement, but I like the kid's quotes a lot.
Apparently, the ability to give a good quote to a local preps reporter is not highly correlated with success on the field or off. Not giving a good quote to the police when you don't have to might be more valuable. This is noted for the future.
I know what some of you are thinking. I thought it, too, albeit briefly, when the news first broke: An event like this would have never happened under Lloyd Carr's watch. And that's almost certainly true. Lloyd Carr was and is a uniquely gifted and genuine man whose priority has always been the peak mental and emotional acuity of the players under his watch, and I know I am not alone in expressing my gratitude for his immaculate representation of a university that likes to think of itself as superior to all others.
But this is not reality. An enraged Chitownblue, prompted by the idiotic diary that inaugurated the 200-words-or-more era, rounded up a dossier of 29 Michigan arrests of various sorts under Lloyd Carr. Lloyd recruited Kelly Baraka and Eugene Germany and Carson Butler and Chris Richards and Johnny Sears and Will Peterson and another, more internet famous felon chased from the team:
Even Lloyd, whom we would like to believe incapable of such an oversight, could only sit with folded hands as opposing fanbases across the country laughed at the dismissal of defensive tackle Larry Harrison, who was charged with four counts of sexual delinquency and suspected in 16 more. Harrison endangered fewer people than Feagin, certainly, but the fact remains that Rich Rodriguez does not stand alone among Michigan coaches who have seen a felonious embarrassment take place on his watch.
I'm not even sure Feagin endangered anyone. He admitted to getting into some trouble in high school, but the crime here—if he actually gets charged with one—is taking $600 from some burnout and promising to get him cocaine, then not getting him cocaine. The endangerment came when the burnout had his great arson idea. The offense clearly warrants dismissal, but as far as disgraceful acts committed by Michigan football players go it's somewhere between Germany running from the cops (and getting caught!) and Carson Butler's St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre*.
Meanwhile at Michigan State, a guy who put a Spartan hockey player in the hospital and was sentenced to six months in jail got an early release so he could make Michigan State's first practice. This is the way a sane person, in this case AnnArbor.com's Dave Birkett, reacts to the juxtaposition of these events:
…one coach took the proper actions with his troubled player and one coach took an unnecessary gamble for reasons I can’t explain. Sure, everyone deserves a second chance, but that second chance doesn’t have to be at the same school where you committed such a major offense.
So of course Michael Rosenberg's latest article is headlined "Win at all costs a poor formula for Rodriguez." This is because Rosenberg has completely lost his shit about Rodriguez, as detailed in this space before. Last summer Rosenberg threw together a pastiche of assumptions, omissions, and flatly incorrect statements and titled it "Embarrassing ordeal reveals ugly truths about U-M coach Rich Rodriguez"—the ordeal in this case being the lawsuit over Rodriguez's buyout—that permanently submarined his credibility about Rodriguez.
This one is no better. He cites Rodriguez's recruitment of Pat Lazear at West Virginia, who got ten days in jail and a suspended sentence for his role (driving) in an armed robbery (FWIW, the weapon was a BB gun), as evidence Rodriguez will take anyone not wearing an orange jumpsuit. He does not mention the Winston thing which hey pick out which quote here is about Lazear and which is about Winston…
"[Assistant Coach] and I have researched [Player's] entire situation over several months," [coach] said in a statement released by the school's athletic department. "We have talked to a number of people, and after a thorough review, I am reassured that [player] will be a successful student-athlete and a positive member of our university community. We are eager for him to join the [Mascot] family."
"[Player] has done everything that he's been asked to do from a judicial and a team standpoint. He has paid the penalty for his actions -- publicly, legally and athletically -- and he worked hard to maintain his academic eligibility while doing so. We regret the entire incident, however at this time it is important that we support [Player] socially, academically and athletically. He still has a lot of work to do."
…functionally identical except in Michael Rosenberg's eyes. Lazear, by the way, is entering his third year at West Virginia on the Academic Honor Roll. He has not been in further trouble.
And then there's this on Willie Bueno's statement that he didn't know of any trouble with Feagin:
Should Rodriguez have known about Feagin's transgressions? Well, Bueno said Monday that he didn't know. But frankly that raises questions about Bueno, and it shows the importance of relationships for college coaches. They have to really know the communities where they recruit, and they must be sure that coaches and administrators are informed and honest with them.
Christ. Rodriguez talks with Willie Bueno, who says Feagin is a good kid without issues because he apparently believes it, and it's up to Rodriguez to "be sure" that this guy isn't lying to his face. Feagin mentioned a couple of issues in high school that "nothing came of"; as a juvenile he wouldn't have a record unless something extremely serious went down. Nothing did, so even if Rodriguez checked up on that supposed record it would come up clean. Rosenberg suggests that Rodriguez should assume every coach is a liar and undertake investigations of everyone so that a bad apple doesn't arrive. This is obviously infeasible. Hell, Lloyd Carr made that mistake at least 29 times in his career.
To date Rodriguez has dealt with two DUIs (Grady and Stonum) and one coke-deal-that-wasn't in a year and a half. [UPDATE: There was also the Cissoko-yells-at-cop incident, a disorderly conduct.] Michigan doesn't even register on the Fulmer Cup scoreboard (2008, 2009—if Feagin gets charged with something Michigan will get points above their current one), and Rodriguez racked up fewer points in his last two years at WVU than Carr did over the same timespan at Michigan. The numbers say Rodriguez's recent behavior record is better than Lloyd freakin' Carr's, and the guy who just got out of jail and walked on to a Michigan State practice field say that there's one strict program in-state but it's not run by the guy who's an Upstanding Football Coach. But because Rodriguez doesn't stare at you really hard and talk the right way, he's running a renegade program. Right. Rosenberg's just another Drew Sharp now.
Meanwhile, Justin Feagin's transferring somewhere where he'll give a good quote and smile and maybe this time he'll come through on those. But probably not. It's tough to defy your surroundings.
*(The listed in approximate order: Baraka (weed), Sears (weed + performance in The Horror), Germany (possibly joking cell phone theft coupled from dumb running from police), Butler(assault), Chris Richards (assault, B&Eing his own dorm room), Peterson(assault + theft), Harrison.)
"I don't know how it happened," said Atkins, a tight end from Dixie Hollins High School. "I did everything USF asked me to do. The committee said my grades were on a downward trend, but they improved my last semester. I don't understand the process."
That's a who-dat two star tight end who's suddenly on the open market—not exactly the crown jewel of the class—but it's also the third player who's been shot down not by the NCAA Clearinghouse but by USF admissions.
Why would USF suddenly get religion about this sort of thing? I'm guessing its their BCS-worst APR. USF's been the caboose the last two years but has miraculously escaped sanctions via unexplained waivers. They managed to get a waiver this year despite seeing their APR fall eight points. Unless the Bulls get their numbers up now they will feel the NCAA's boot, and now USF must take a hard look at players at risk of failing out.
I'm not sure if this is a positive development or not. On the one hand, USF is experiencing difficulties with recruiting because the NCAA isn't going to put up with terrible graduation numbers any more. On the other, three kids have had their plans disrupted. The first two players to get rejected have landed at Southern Miss and Louisville (and Atkins is also rumored to be headed to UL), so they're still getting D-IA scholarships.
And the smoking gun. New Golden Eagle Alonzo Lawrence on his violation of team rules, or lack thereof:
He was expected to see playing time as either a cornerback or safety for the Crimson Tide this season, but Saban said this week that Lawrence was one of four players who violated a team rule and were not invited back to the team.
“That’s something that isn’t true, but I’m not going to say anything about that,” Lawrence said.
Ah, the classic comment-but-no-comment. Very passive-aggressive. Lawrence is one of eighteen Alabama players to leave the team this offseason and amongst 30 in two years. Fully 13 Alabama players who completed spring practice are off the team. Saban again brought in way more players than his roster could theoretically handle, guaranteeing these departures in February. At some point the sheer numbers defy explanation.
Again: a school shouldn't be able to sign someone to a LOI unless it can show where the money is coming from.
With the 2010 class is mostly full, so it's time to take a look at some prospects of interest for next year's recruiting class. Several references are made to user likwid's diary on the top 75 instate prospects, which has a 2011 (and 2012!) watchlist for the truly obsessed.
Braxton Miller, 6-2 190 4.45, Huber Heights OH Wayne. Miller (seen at right) is guaranteed to be one of the top 2 or 3 players in Ohio for the 2011 class, but he's long been considered an Ohio State lock. Though his dad has said that Braxton won't play in an offense where the quarterback has to run around all the time, Miller attended Michigan's summer camp, so there's still a chance he might be interested in the Wolverines.
Christian LeMay, 6-3 200 4.49, Charlotte NC Butler. LeMay was also in attendance at Michigan's summer camp, with a number of his high school teammates. Butler is the alma mater of Michigan alum (and current Seattle Seahawk) Jamar Adams.
Demetrius Hart, 5-9 175 4.35, Orlando FL Dr. Phillips. Hart is a lightning-quick running back who reminds many of a smoother Jeremy Gallon (video). He should be one of the top prospects in Florida, and already has an established relationship with Ricardo Miller. Hart has stated that he may commit to Michigan as soon as he receives an official offer. Michigan can extend one on September 1st.
Justice Hayes, 5-11 190 4.55, Grand Blanc MI Grand Blanc. Hayes is the top running back in the state of Michigan for the 2011 class. He's a bigger back than Hart, but Michigan has taken several backs in the past two classes, and may not need another. The teammate of 2010 Northwestern commit Tony Jones is on likwid’s 2011 Watchlist.
DeAnthony Arnett, 6-0 170, Saginaw MI Saginaw. Arnett is a combo inside/outside receiver much akin to current Wolverine Je'Ron Stokes. He has quickness and top-end speed to go along with his solid hands. He already holds Michigan, Michigan State, and Eastern Michigan offers. He picked up a camp MVP award this fall; Allen Trieu on that:
"It is tough for underclassmen to take home that honor, but Arnett had an impressive day all-around," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Allen Trieu. "It all started with his 40-yard dash. He had sprained his ankle earlier in the week and even looked a little gimpy running his 40, yet his 4.51 was one of the top times on the day. He then followed that up with a 4.23 shuttle, which tied for tops on the day. In footwork drills the coaches consistently remarked at how smooth and quick out of his breaks he was. However, during one route, he let out a scream and said he felt something pop. After a few minutes and against the advice of his family members, he returned to the field saying he wanted MVP.
"In one-on-ones, his route running was impressive and his quickness allowed him to get off the line against some of the more physical defenders. He made a couple of great leaping grabs and drew some oohs and aahhs on several double moves where he left his man."
He will be one of the top 2011 players in-state; early rumors have him leaning to Michigan.
AJ Jordan, 6-3 190 4.41, Trotwood OH Trotwood-Madison. Jordan is the top wideout in Ohio, and a true split end. He's the former teammate of Michigan's Roundtree, Shaw, Moore combo, so the Wolverines have a good selling point. As with most Ohio prospects, he'll probably favor the Buckeyes if offered.
Tacoi Sumler, 5-8 160, Miami FL Gulliver Prep. Sumler is a tiny guy with great speed and moves. He'd be a perfect fit at the slot position in the Michigan offense.
Kelvin Benjamin, 6-6 210, Belle Glade FL Glades Central. Benjamin is a tall wide receiver who might end up at tight end in college. He's from the muck, where Rich Rodriguez has recruited well in the past (think Pahokee). Michigan might be on the hunt for a tight end in 2011, and Benjamin's one of the best.
Taiwan Jones, 6-3 210, Anchor Bay, MI Anchor Bay. Jones is an athlete who could play a number of positions in college, but his skill set might be most dangerous at tight end. If the Wolverines land him, it could also be as a linebacker or defensive end.
Tyler Moore, 6-5 280, Clearwater FL Countryside. Moore was one of the first 2011 prospects offered by Michigan. He is also expected to be one of the top tackle prospects in the nation:
According to Countryside coach John Davis, Florida offensive line coach Steve Addazio said Saturday that Moore could end up being the top offensive line prospect in the state for the Class of 2011 — perhaps even the best in the country.
"Coach Addazio told me (Saturday) that Tyler is probably the best 16-year-old offensive lineman he's ever seen," Davis said.
Unfortunately, he is a Nebraska legacy and has no real connection to Michigan.
Cyrus Kouandjio, 6-6 300, Hyattsville MD DeMatha. If the school sounds familiar, it's because Michigan offered several DeMatha prospects in the class of 2010, including Kouandjio's older brother, Arie. Cyrus is expected to be the better rospect.
Anthony Zettel, 6-3 260, West Branch MI Ogemaw Heights. An in-state guy who reportedly likes Michigan a lot. If he's good enough to earn an offer, he could end up in blue. He made likwid’s 2011 Watchlist. For more in-state prospects, check out the diary.
Tim Jernigan, 6-3 270, Lake City FL Columbia. He's already been offered by a who's-who of bigtime football programs, including Michigan. Perhaps the top DT in 2011.
Jesse Hayes, 6-3 240, Cincinnati OH Moeller. A teammate of former Michigan target Marcus Rush (now an MSU commit). He's very light for a DT, but presumably still growing.
Steve Miller, 6-4 230, Canton OH McKinley. One of the top 2-3 players in Ohio for the 2011 class. He's visited Michigan in the past, and the Wolverines are looking at his 2010 teammate Jewone Snow. If Michigan wants to return to the bigtime, they'll have to start beating Ohio State for good Ohio prospects.
Bryant Dubose, 6-4, 227, 4.91 Oakland Park FL Northeast. A strongside DE with a good frame, "BJ" is among Florida's top 2011 prospects. Michigan likes to recruit the sunshine state, and Dubose may be a beneficiary.
Trey DePriest, 6-2 225, Springfield OH South. Yet another top Ohio kid, but this one grew up a Michigan fan. Trey likes Michigan enough to wear a Wolverine shirt to Ohio State camp (seen at right), but the Buckeyes are on the top LB heavily, and there will be a battle for his services .
Lawrence Thomas, 6-3 210, Detroit MI Renaissance. Thomas is probably the top player in Michigan in the class of 2011. Unfortunately, he is leaning to Michigan State early. His recruitment will be a good chance to prove that Michigan does indeed recruit instate, however unlikely they are to actually land him. Remember, Renaissance's coach is the guy who said the way grad assistant Andre Criswell and punchy malcontent Carson Butler had been treated "hurt my heart."
Anthony Wallace, 6-2 210, Dallas TX Skyline. Tony Drake's teammate is one of the nation's top weakside linebackers in the class of 2011. He'll be hotly pursued by several national programs, and unless Michigan gets involved early, they may be out of luck.
Karlos Williams, 6-0 185 4.5, Davenport FL Ridge. Williams is an elite athlete who could play a number of positions in college, but his best upside is at safety. Michigan has already offered him, showing that he is of the highest priority to the coaching staff.
Sheroid Evans, 6-2 185 4.35, Sugarland TX Fort Bend Dulles. Evans is a super-speedy defensive back with good size. He plays at the alma mater of current Wolverines Troy Woolfolk, Brandon Herron, and Darryl Stonum.
Greg Brown, 5-11 155 4.50, Fremont OH Ross. Brown has already been offered by Michigan, and favors the Wolverines. The multi-year summer camper is known for his physical play from the corner position. He hails from the alma mater of Charles Woodson, whose name you might recognize.
Doran Grant, 5-10 165 4.69, Akron OH St. Vincent-St. Mary. St. Vincent-St. Mary is a traditionally strong program (Maurice Clarett and LeBron James are notable alums), but Grant is still god enough that he was named the team's MVP as a freshman. He camped at Michigan in the summer of 2008.
Delonte Hollowell, 5-9 160, Detroit MI Cass Tech. Cass Tech is a Michigan pipeline, and Hollowell is the school's top 2011 player. He's a little corner in the mold of Boubacar Cissoko or Dior Mathis, so Michigan would probably want to take a taller guy to complement him. Hollowell (and many others not listed here, so check it out) is on likwid’s 2011 in-state watchlist.
Hopefully more zany Michigan-related stories come up. LSUFreek on the Armanti Edwards lawnmower incident:
It's the kittens that make it.
Meanwhile, Justin Feagin's planned transfer to Appalachian State is off. App St cites "academic concerns" and, you know, an attempted cocaine deal as reasons. Hopefully the academic concerns are just "you blew a scholarship because tried to broker a cocaine deal for a few hundred bucks and therefore can't be the sharpest tool in the shed" instead of an 0-for-2 APR departure.
UFER. It's less than a month before the season and I haven't heard a grown man lose his mind yet. Lame. Also fixed:
That comes complete with a frighteningly accurate reproduction of the play in NCAA that I thought would be lame going in but turned out to be dorkily impressive. Let's reproduce the :01 Manningham touchdown next.
Somewhere, Lloyd cackles over a snifter of brandy. Braylon Edwards has imbibed some terminology:
"The Browns and I are on the same page, and my team is on the same page," Edwards said. "I've never made any contract [demands], so I don't know where that would come from. That's just more rumors and hearsay to spark up more controversy."
It is very important to be on the same page, which Braylon Edwards is. Also he had one of the worst "catch percentages" in the league last year, which will surprise no one who watched Braylon on a regular basis but also includes passes to Tacopants and given the Browns' QB situation might not be his fault after all.
Aerials. Basketball? Why not?
That is a scatter plot comparing minutes returning to last year's Pomeroy ranking and is used as a rough estimate via which to predict the Big Ten by The Only Colors. Limitations are acknowledged. For one: the chart doesn't take the fact that the vast majority of Michigan's lost minutes are two walk-ons and one guy buried on the bench when the season ended, or that OSU's recruiting class this year does not exist.
A couple of takeaways despite that: holy god Iowa is going to be bad, and if Robbie Hummel's back cooperates Purdue is your tentative conference favorite.
That's Dan Mozes, four-year WVU starter, Rimington award winner, and newest Barwis acolyte, as Moses, prophet of the Israelites. Mozes on Barwis:
"Mike gave me the fundamentals to get bigger and stronger," said Mozes. "He gave me the strength to do all that stuff. Coming out of high school nobody wanted me, and I had that chip on my shoulder. That's really the first thing you need to have. People always want to throw in external motivation, pep talks and stuff like that, but you have to be motivated from your own heart. That's one thing I had. Mike gave me the tools."
Barwis on Mozes:
"He's a tremendous strength coach. He has a great ability to show kids how to do things and explain why we do things and how it relates to football. He's a high-energy, explosive and passionate guy, and his work ethic is outstanding. Dan Mozes is what Dan Mozes is, and he's going to be that way in any job that he chooses. If he wanted to be a typist, he'd be the best damn typist around, because he goes as hard as he can."
We can add this to the pile of former Rodriguez players who don't hate the warped beings they were tricked into becoming, yes?
Slipup? This is old, but it sat in my inbox for a while and no one else mentioned it, so here's Rich Rodriguez talking about a year two turnaround:
"But it’s a different scenario," Rodriguez said. "The biggest difference is I had a quarterback that was my starter the first year, Rasheed Marshall, who had gotten hurt but he had at least started some games and he came back and was very talented and fit the system."
Is this a giveaway as to Nick Sheridan's chances at the starting job? Rodriguez does have a quarterback who was a starter his first year. You can parse that statement many ways, but most of them point towards freshmen. That's not exactly a surprise, of course, but FWIW.
Etc.: Wolverines come in #1 on a list of "Animal Mascots Ranked by Uniqueness, Cage-Fighting Skills, and Eco-Friendliness," which is pretty much awesome. Yrs truly is e-nterviewed about Michigan's upcoming season on Blog Ten. The O-Zone's Michigan preview comes in at 5-7 but seems more positive than that through the bulk of it.
return to sender
Vada Murray's wife occasionally posts updates on his progress in his cancer treatment. The latest is not encouraging:
Unfortunately, we learned yesterday that the chemo is not working. There has been further growth of Vada's tumors. He begins a new form of chemotherapy on Monday.
Many people have asked how Vada is doing. He is tired. We are 24 hours into receiving the news that his chemo is not working. He is having a hard time.
As for me, I would say the same. I am very scared.
I've got nothing to add; I read her last couple entries and felt terrible. It does not sound like it's going well. That's all.
There's a guestbook you can sign that Murray's wife says they read. Unfortunately, that's about all you can do to help.
Feagin told investigators that “when I first started going to (Burke’s) house he had three big jars of weed up in his room. … One day T.J. was talking to me about some illegal stuff. He was under a lot of pressure because of his financial problems.
“I told him that I knew someone who could get him some cocaine. A few days later he asked me if I had talked to the person yet. I called right then and set up a deal.”
Feagin arranged to send $600 to a friend in Florida, whom he identified only as “Tragic.” In exchange, “Tragic” would send an ounce of cocaine to Ann Arbor.
It goes on from there. No cocaine ever showed up, this Burke guy tried to scare/murder Feagin by filling a bottle with gasoline and setting it on fire outside his dorm room, etc, etc, etc. You know, typical college stuff. Except Burke is 26. But whateva, TJ Burke does what he wants, which is apparently spend up to ten years in prison.
Feagin was a last-minute addition to Michigan's first class under Rodriguez when it became clear that Rodriguez wasn't likely to acquire a higher-rated quarterback recruit. He did not work out, obviously. The Freep article dryly notes that Feagin "struggled to learn the playbook" mere paragraphs after describing Feagin's extensive marijuana habit.
The onfield impact of Feagin's departure remains nil; the off-field stuff… well, at least when a Michigan player violates team rules he actually violates them. Woo spin!
But seriously: it's bad. It's also one guy that Michigan apparently didn't run as thorough of a background check on—or possibly any background check on—as they scrambled to reconfigure Rodriguez's first recruiting class. As long as the incident remains isolated, fine. Yes, Kurt Wermers, you get a point, which brings you up to negative four.