Michigan announced the formation of men's and women's varsity lacrosse programs this morning, A few interesting tidbits from the press conference:
- Athletic Director David Brandon said his "team" has identified lacrosse as the fastest-growing sport in America, and in Michigan. HS programs in the state have gone from 50 to 180 in the past 10 years. "It's also a great television sport," which likely means some TV down the road.
- "On the men's side, we've applied for admission to the ECAC." [ed: for a rundown on Michigan's future conference opponents check out MaizeAndBlueWahoo's excellent diary.] The application has been received, and Brandon is confident the Wolverines' bid will be accepted, saying "we have high expectations that process will happen quickly, and we are very encouraged in terms of initial feedback we have received."
- On the women's side, they will apply for admission to the ALC. Florida, Hopkins, Northwestern, Penn State, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt are the current members of that league. The Athletic Department and Michigan's coach are going to work together to set up the non-conference portion of the schedule.
- David Brandon stated that a national search will begin immediately for a women's coach, but as far as men's goes "I have a primary candidate in mind for that position." That candidate is longtime club coach John Paul. As soon as Michigan has the position publicly listed for a week (in accordance with the law), JP will be introduced as men's coach. For women's coaching candidates, Brandon said he wanted somebody with a track record of building a program from the bottom up.
- JP stated that 25 members from this season's club lacrosse roster will return to the team for next year's inaugural varsity year, including 4-time MCLA All-American Trevor Yealy, who will be a 5th-year senior. Filling out the first varsity roster for Michigan are 10 incoming recruits and several potential transfers.
- Brandon gave some love to the "Project Lacrosse Founder's Club," which was formed over the past few months. They have worked hard to ensure the necessary fundraising could be completed. Over 70 people contributed monetarily, including several "major gifts."
- "We are in the process of putting facility plans together. And what we're trying to do at Michigan Athletics, as opposed to creating one-off plans, we've really spent a lot of time of late in a master planning mode." Lacrosse has been included in the AD's "master planning process." It's still a work in progress, and Schembechler's practice fields, the Big House, the UM Soccer Stadium, and other facilities will be used in the meantime. Building their own home is in the long-term plans, though Brandon said that's at least 3 years off.
- Lacrosse is gaining momentum as a sport, and Brandon is hopeful that Michigan's programs can be a revenue-generating opportunity down the road - though that has nothing to do with why they're adding the sport. "I've seen around the country, crowds that show up in double-digit thousands for their competitions." Operating costs for both programs combined will be $3 million. That will be a big investment, but donor support is expected to be a major help.
- Brandon is most excited that 84 more athletes at the University of Michigan will have varsity athletics opportunities, and 25 new scholarships will be available for student-athletes. "What a great opportunity. At a time when a lot of Athletic Departments are shrinking and contemplating cutting sports, for us to be here adding two major sports like the ones we're adding today is something we're blessed to be able to do."
- There are no plans to add any other sports in the near future. Taking on two more is a big deal, and the Athletic Department will take some time to "digest" that before making any other moves.
- Brandon expects the men's and women's teams to both be competitive right away. "The only thing I'll tell you is: We're Michigan. We're not gonna add these sports, and we're not gonna make the financial commitment and put the time and energy that we have and will put into these if we're not prepared to go out and compete for championships." He doesn't want arbitrary timelines, but they'll evaluate the programs going forward. Competitive reasons explain why men are going in 2012, while women will start playing games in 2013.
- "The idea of featuring the sport in conjunction with the spring [football] game - because the seasons overlap from a timing perspective - I know Ohio State has done that with great success." That's something Michigan will consider going forward. Having the largest stadium available to the program will be a great opportunity. If Michigan is fortunate enough to host a first-round NCAA Tournament game down the road, they'd submit a bid for Michigan Stadium to host.
- There are a lot of rivalries available to Michigan - Ohio State, Notre Dame, and others. Lacrosse started as an Eastern regional sport, but it's spreading to the West. Colleges as far as California are considering adding the sport. "We think this is going to take us some really interesting places, and they're not all in the East." Brandon believes that forward-thinking Big Ten ADs will look at lacrosse as a new varsity sport in the future.
I'll have some more specific stuff (i.e. "stuff that's completely uninteresting to people who don't already care about lacrosse") up on GreatLaxState this afternoon. And, to close it out, the final video blog in Michigan's MCLA history, courtesy of graduating senior Pat Stansik:
no one takes better fake dictator pictures than Nick Saban
Limiting the size of a football signing class in each academic year to 25, down from the current level of 28. The NCAA adopted that SEC-sponsored legislation put forward in 2009. The 25 limit would cover those who sign from Dec. 1 to August 1. The rule now runs from the February signing day to May 31, which allows schools to exceed 28 by enrolling signees before or after those dates. An exception would be made for mid-year enrollees included in the current academic year's initial counters.
I'm not sure I understand this, but I'm pretty sure the odd range of dates—you can't sign until February so what is December doing in there?—is to count JUCOs, who IIRC do sign sometime in December. (As a Michigan fan my knowledge of these things is minimal.)
This would make the LOI cap 25 + early enrollees. The language about "current year's initial counters" is there because early enrollees can count as the year's previous but don't have to. So if you enrolled 25 kids the year before you couldn't sign more than 25, period, because all your early enrollees would have to count as recruits for the current year.
This would appear to create a hard cap of 100 LOIs per four-year cycle, which would cut down on the churn considerably. Half the SEC would have to curtail their issued LOIs—Auburn has averaged 112, Mississippi State 110, etc. The impact on other conferences would be minimal. Iowa State, Kansas State, Oregon State, and West Virginia are the only other BCS schools averaging a significant amount over 25.
Making football signees who attend summer school on athletic aid before the fall semester count against a school's scholarship numbers for that next academic year.
There currently are no limits on how many can attend summer school, which can leave a recruit already on campus to be asked to delay enrollment until January if there's no room. The proposal would go into effect in summer 2012.
AKA The Elliott Porter Rule. No more moving into the dorm, then getting evaluated over the summer, then getting shoved out the door. An obvious step to take after Outside The Lines shredded LSU's practices.
Giving the SEC office more oversight in medical scholarship exemptions to review and determine outcome for cases. A team doctor, trainer and athletic director would need to sign off on each case.
A vague attempt to shut down St. Saban Memorial Hospital. Unknown how that will go, but I'm guessing it will be ineffectual. Having team doctor, trainer, and AD sign off on something beneficial to team doctor, trainer, and AD does not seem like the world's most rigorous check.
What they should do is have the school submit a medical request to the conference that locks in that scholarship, and then the conference tells the football team in question whether they can use that on someone else.
Keeping early enrollees from signing an SEC financial aid agreement until they are enrolled and attend class at the school. Currently, recruits can begin to sign a financial aid agreement after their junior year of high school, which keeps other SEC schools from recruiting them.
This has nothing to do with oversigning, but it's a neat end-around of the LOI system. Given the frequency with which kids in the South decommit it doesn't seem like a widely used one.
It's better than nothing but short of something that puts student welfare—thanks to Jim Delany the new hotness—above all. If the LOI limit above truly is a hard cap that will immediately curtail some of the worst offenders a significant amount. If one was in place four years ago Alabama would have signed 13 fewer kids, Auburn 19, South Carolina 11, etc.
It's not perfect. Twenty-five is still above what seems like a reasonable good-faith attempt to keep kids in school will see a team sign. Eyeballing the numbers on Oversigning.com, it appears that number is 22 or 23. Getting down to that level would start catching schools that are not actively tossing recruits into the trash heap, though, and starts to impact student welfare from the other direction by reallotting money from scholarship players to fortunate walk-ons.
As for the other two items, the first is an obvious response to the ESPN expose but even if that's the case it shuts down the absolute worst practice going on right now by eliminating the summer-camp tryout business one Les Miles is working. The medical scholarship stuff is too vague to evaluate but there's a decent chance something does come of it if only because other coaches must be hopping mad about this:
Meanwhile, guess who's confused?
"I really don't know what everybody is so up in arms about," Saban said, according to the Birmingham News. "This is something that people have done in college football for a long time and it's not illegal. We have never had a player leave our program who didn't create the issues himself that he made a decision to leave the program."
This is what I keep this Upton Sinclair blockoute around for:
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
I knew setting up ctrl+alt+f6 to do that would come in handy some day. Don't make me ctrl+alt+f7 you, Saban. It will be withering.
Terry Richardson Goes Blue
Hoke's in-state recruiting buzzsaw continues to... uh... buzz as MI CB Terry Richardson committed to the maize-and-blue live on WTKA Thursday morning. The Wolverines now have commitments from 6 of Sam Webb's top 12 in-state recruits (3 of the remaining 6 are unoffered, one of them took too long and watched his position group possibly fill up, and Michigan is in good position with the other two). Touch the Banner on Terry:
One of my reservations with Cissoko was that, despite all of his technique and physical skills, he only had 3 interceptions in his junior and seasons combined. In some ways, Richardson is the polar opposite - lacking some technique but making big plays. However, the hip swivel is there for him to turn and run with receivers in an instant.
The Wolverine Blog's Jack Slice chimes in:
Richardson has a low, smooth backpedal. More impressive, however, are his hips. Coming out of breaks and cuts, his hips can flip and mirror the best of receivers. Coupled with his hips, he has incredible closing speed. He’s been able to succeed at the HS level without elite jamming ability because he can play 5-6 yards off the WR and close the distance before the ball gets in the receiver’s hands.
It confirms the consensus we've heard about most Cass Tech CBs over the years: tiny, fast, and needing a bit of technique work. Terry only did limited work at last weekend's Ohio State Nike Camp (about which more in a moment), but managed to lock down receivers despite a sore hamstring - and even did a little recruiting.
For more on Terry, check out the Hello: Terry Richardson post.
Others in the World of Commits
Allen Trieu broke on Twitter over the weekend that the Wolverines have commitment #13, but the prospect wants to keep his maize-and-blue pledge silent for now. The Hello post should be ready when he decides to go public.
In other news about possible commits, NY CB/S Wayne Morgan has set a commitment date: June 1 (next Thursday). Michigan seems to be strong for the 4-star defensive back.
MI QB Commit Shane Morris (pictured with future teammates Terry Richardson, Mario Ojemudia, and James Ross via the ESPN Rise photo gallery [ed: and wearing Devin Gardner's hat]) went into the Elite 11 camp in Columbus last weekend looking to make a claim for top prospect in the nation for next year, and at least staked a claim as the second-best QB there. Number one was the nation's top 2012 signal-caller, Gunner Kiel. Scout's experts named him the strongest arm at the competition, as well. Tom Luginbill was impressed:
2013 QB Shane Morris is an impressive lefty with a quick stroke... Loved him. Looked great.... On par with most, if not all of [the 2012 guys]. Looked really good. Smooth, quick stroke.
He put a few more thoughts into convenient paragraph form:
Morris was one of the more impressive prospects in attendance regardless of class and the left-hander really made some impressive throws with accuracy and confidence. He has good height and is going to continue to add inches and bulk to his late-bloomer's frame. What stood out about Morris was the velocity and power and the manner in which he delivered the ball. Many lefties can really have a long, drawn out delivery that is more ¾ or sidearm, but not Morris. He had a quick stroke, was very accurate and threw as well on the run to both sides as any prospect on Friday.
"I’m supposed to pick up some big offers next month from schools around the country but I’m not worried about that, Michigan is where I want to go to school.”
Click through for a bit of talk about his game. Ross and Ojemudia also performed well at the camp:
Others that impressed along the defensive line were Michigan commit Mario Ojemudia, who should be a very good outside linebacker at the next level... The linebacker group was also deep and the aforementioned Ross was one of the top players in space.
Ojemudia also talked about his future position with MLive's Kyle Warber:
Often referred to as the "joker position," it is a position that has been perfected by players like Brian Orakpo at Texas and Von Miller at Texas A&M, but no matter what you call it, it's a big reason why Ojemudia is excited to be a Wolverine... "It was just a comfortable atmosphere at Michigan, and I like that I will be playing both defensive end and outside linebacker."
So there's that.
Long Blockquote Portion
24/7 Sports published a long profile on AZ OL Andrus Peat:
“Andrus is like a baby cub right now,” Joseph said. “There is so much to him. He has so much potential and growth. He’s going to grow one or two more inches. You look at him. He’s never gotten out a razor. I’ve been doing this a long time. If you come in with a full beard, you are probably done growing. He’s not done growing. He’s going to be 6-8, 6-9 and 320 or so.”
As the son of a former NFL lineman (and brother of 2011 Nebraska signee Todd Peat Jr.), he also has a leg up on the technical aspects of play. He plans to take his time in making a decision, and early playing time will be a big factor.
MSR Ohio blog takes a look at recent offeree OH S Allen Gant:
Last fall I was impressed with his toughness on the football field. Stood out as a free safety. Excellent open field tackler. Good ball skills. Anticipated well. Most of all, when he had a chance to "strike" he did. Covered sideline to sideline...
Allen now stands just over 6'1 and weighs 205 pounds. Recently, bench pressed 275 pounds - 8 times. Impressive for a young man who plays three sports and still lives in the weight room.
Now that he's been offered, Michigan has a good chance to land the legacy prospect, but that might change if the Buckeyes offer:
"It'd (a Buckeye offer) be really special, but just like any other school, any offer from them is an honor. I want to make a contribution right away. Coming to Southview, playing my first year, I kind of want to do something like that when I go to college," Gant said.
He plans to narrow his list of schools - which currently includes the likes of West Virginia, Boston College, and Cincinnati - and possibly even offer a commitment within the month. His dad told Tom that Michigan is the current favorite.
Local fluff on MI DT Danny O'Brien's nomination to the Army All-American game:
O’Brien doesn’t need to make the team to get the national attention. He’s already got it. O’Brien has received scholarship offers to 11 schools and is interested in many others that aren’t on that list. He’s already visited Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State. He said he plans on visiting Alabama and Tennessee as well as going to Michigan and Michigan State again this summer.
O'Brien also said he pays plenty of attention to the recruiting sites - a good thing for Michigan, as he's familiar with the Wolverines' monster class.
Though he's a Penn State commit, NY DT Jarron Jones has made it no secret that Notre Dame and Michigan are strongly in the mix. He's the subject of this week's Sam Webb column in the Detroit News:
"To be honest with you, Jarron kind of made that decision without discussing it with me and his father," said Jones' mother, Lakiescha Titus-Jones... "what we tried to make him do is not to commit and (instead) just list his top five, six, or seven. He just wanted to let Penn State know it was No. 1.
Jarron Jones is a firm believer in the Rich Rodriguez School of Early Commitments. He will visit North Carolina this weekend, then head out to Ann Arbor and South Bend the following week. If he values academics half as much as his mother - never a guarantee in recruiting - the Wolverines and Irish (and Tar Heels) should have a decent shot at unseating Penn State. Local video fluff:
"That makes me the 11th-best loser." Awesome.
The overall DL group was one of the best we've seen this year, but Pipkins was still a standout. He's a mammoth nose guard prospect who has great strength and a quick get-off. He plays with a mean streak and can blow by a guard or bull rush him straight back into the QB.
One of their analysts called him "Warren Sapp's little brother," definitely high praise. He still plans to visit Michigan later this summer, but wants to slow down the pace of his recruiting.
What About Rob?
(Is that reference too dated? Share your thoughts below!) (Also, yes, I made this its own category just to use that reference)
I've been a proponent of a certain philosophy in quarterback recruiting for the 2012 class: With Shane Morris holding it down for 2013, either swing for the fences with Gunner Kiel, or take a guy who can play multiple positions down the road. One such prospect is IL QB Rob Gregory, who has impressed Tom Lemming:
“Of all the players, the kid who has the most potential is Robert Gregory,” Lemming said. “The kid’s got a good arm; he’s just not polished yet. If he goes to the right program, he’s going to be a star.”
He's an athletic guy who could play receiver or defense down the road if he doesn't win the QB competition, and as a former teammate of 2011 OL Commit Chris Bryant (and current teammate of top OL Jordan Diamond), he could help the coaching staff solidify another pipeline.
Yeah, my decision will come sooner but I'm still evaluating schools. It will probably be the first game of our season.
Until he says "school X has officially passed Michigan" (long-established as his tentative leader), I'm not going to worry too much about him picking somebody else. Should the Wolverines expect a bigtime commitment in the last week of August? The Chicago Tribune thinks a decision could come even earlier.
Michigan has offered TN WR Drae Bowles ($, info in header).
Tom speaks with OH RB Alden Hill, who is hoping for an offer at Michigan's summer camp. He's a teammate of 2013 RB/DB Dymonte Thomas.
Michigan has offered TX CB Will Hines.
MI TE Ron Thompson was close to a decision earlier this spring, but will now take his time ($, info in header). No word on whether Michigan's coaches have room in the projected class to take a third tight end.
GA DE Jordan Jenkins plans to visit Ann Arbor this summer. He's going to take all of his official visits and make a decision in January of February.
A recent visit from OH DE Tom Strobel piqued his interest in UM's academics ($, info in header).
NY CB/S Wayne Morgan will visit Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame game ($, info in header).
Keep and eye on OH S De'Van Bogard, who feels, like, a connection, man, with Greg Mattison ($, info in header).
OH DE Adolphus Washington and his teammate, WR Dwayne Stanford, will visit Ann Arbor this weekend. Though it seems unlikely Michigan can pull both players, Stanford seemed high on Michigan in last week's update, and the Wolverines are in Washington's top group along with Ohio state, Alabama, Miami (YTM), and... Kentucky? Tom got the latest from Adolphus, when he listed Michigan in his top 5.
CO QB Cyler Miles will make a decision soon ($, info in header), and Michigan is not on his final list of five schools. From the same article, NY QB Chad Kelly is down to a final seven that doesn't include the Wolverines. He was going to have to camp to earn an offer.
Happy Trails, CA TE Taylor McNamara. He's down to 8 (non-Michigan) schools. Something tells me the coaching staff is not stressing over TE prospects at this point.
Happy Trails, PA OL JJ Denman. The touted Pennsylvanian picked Penn State.
Happy Trails, NC OL Mark Harrell. He committed to Notre Dame.
GA CB Geno Smith has a top 5 that does not include Michigan.
A couple of near-Happy Trails experiences, as CA OL Kyle Murphy will probably stay out West for college, despite planning to visit Michigan, and NJ S Brandon Napoleon wants to stay on the East Coast for college.
RT @mikerothstein: Michigan WR D.J. Williamson has asked for and received a release to transfer, per Michigan spokesperson
Williamson was a low-ranked track speedster who redshirted last year. His absence won't have much impact this year but Rodriguez's last couple of recruiting classes at WR are down to Je'Ron Stokes, Jeremy Jackson, and Jerald Robinson; Hoke's first had none.
There is a pressing need for some blue chip wideouts up in here and other than Aaron Bubridge, who most people believe will not qualify, few guys who seem to be giving Michigan heavy consideration. Paging Shane Morris to aisle WR.
After months (even years) of speculation, the University of Michigan will announce that the Athletic Department will add Men's and Women's Lacrosse as varsity sports. Sources tell mgoblog that tomorrow's noon press conference is to make the official announcement regarding lacrosse.
They are the first newcomers since men's soccer was promoted in 2000. The men will begin competition in the Spring of 2012 (that's next year!), whereas the women will have a year or two to get going. Michigan's strong men's club program (a "virtual varsity") will help that team get off the ground a little more quickly. The timeframe for the men's program comes as something of a surprise, as it gives the coaching staff hardly any time to assemble a varsity roster - or rather, it would be a surprise, if not for an InsideLacrosse report a month or so ago.
According to University of Denver coach Bill Tierney, the Wolverines will join the ECAC, which would mean games against Denver, Loyola-Maryland, Fairfield, Ohio State, Air Force, Hobart, and Bellarmine, assuming no other changes to the composition of the conference (which is not guaranteed). I would hazard a guess that Michigan would also make an effort to schedule traditional rivals like Notre Dame and Penn State in the non-conference portion of their schedule, along with geographic fit Detroit. Other possibilities include past scrimmage opponents Johns Hopkins and Army, along with a few weaker opponents (Mercer/Wagner/VMI) to hopefully pad the win column at least a little bit.
The biggest immediate question is one of venue. The club team currently competes in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse on a smaller-than-regulation field in cramped quarters. With a move to varsity status, that will no longer be sufficient, so either an existing field will need to be made available for lacrosse or a new facility in necessary. The UM Soccer Stadium is little-used in the spring, but I've heard that it's more likely that a new stadium will be built for lacrosse, either at that location or on the Southwest corner of Elbel Field (per previous plans that apparently fell through). Of course Ohio State plays in their football team's stadium, so The Big House is not out of the question, especially as a temporary or occasional venue.
Much more on lacrosse in the coming days (though to not overwhelm mgobloggers who don't care, I'll post most of it over at Great Lax State).
Michigan's latest APR score (covering year two of Rodriguez) is a 946. This:
- is about on par with Michigan's recent average outside of the initial year of attrition, and
- is exactly one point better than what I guessed they'd need to stay above the 925 mark
- leaves their multiyear APR just above the Mendoza line at 928.
So no penalties. Even if Michigan had dropped below 925 they would have had to have a player leave ineligible to get hit, but… uh… Tate Forcier. So phew.
Next year they'll have to do better than 918—that's the score that drops off—to keep their head above water. That should be doable as long as the transition attrition isn't as bad as Rodriguez's, which it doesn't appear it will be.
FWIW, all of Michigan's other sports are fine. Most have a vastly better graduation rate than the university. Most impressive is basketball's 988.