Okay, okay. I promise that I'm not going to make this post more than two, maybe three more times at the outside: Jack Johnson has made it very clear he's attending Michigan. JJ Defcon should head to five and remain there once you peruse Justin Spiro's interview with Johnson over at... the Detroit Sports Rag?
Holy crap. Yes, the home of Jordan Acker--the dumbest semi-literate person in the Western Hemisphere--has come through with an interview which is really good but poorly copyedited. The key sequence for the paranoid:
Spiro: It was reported in the Ann Arbor newspapers that you have opted to attend the University of Michigan for at least 1 season, though you have not publicly confirmed this yet. Is the report true, and why did you make the decision that you did?
Johnson: The report is true. I simply do not feel ready at this point in time to make the jump to the professional level. I committed to Michigan at age 14, and I've been looking forward to wearing the UM sweater ever since. Plus, I want to win a National Championship.
Spiro: So if Michigan wins the National Championship your freshman season, will that mark the end of your career in the collegiate ranks?
Johnson:Not necessarily. Why stop at 1 if I can get another? It really boils down to my progression as a player. I will go when I feel prepared.
The door to a second year... open? Quick, Yost Built, we need a JJ Defcon 2006! In any case, the whole thing is worth reading. (Thanks to reader Y2K for the heads up.)
Bonus! Johnson also conversed with McKeen's. The mound-charging incident is covered in bizarre detail.
Further football article wrap: Carty says he can't see Carr retiring until he's "content," which presumably means that either A) Michigan has a big year or B) Drew Sharp is jailed. Rivals has some photos up and a video interview with freshman cornerback Brandon Harrison, who, uh, wants to win the Heisman. (He said that on the radio, not in this interview.) Good luck with that; I guarantee that I'll be a generally happy, contented person if that were to happen. Scout has articles on Leon Hall and Tim Massaquoi.
Larry Harrison is really, officially gone now, having enrolled at North Carolina A&T, much to the surprise of the Ann Arbor police:
"I was surprised to hear he was playing football somewhere," said Ann Arbor police detective Chris Fitzpatrick, who was involved in Harrison's cases. "Nobody from that college has contacted anybody in our department that I know of."
Harrison's lawyer appears to be attempting to claim that this whole thing is just a case of mistaken identity. He takes the mgoblog prize for "worst defensive strategy EVER (non-Jim Herrmann division)." How many muscular 300-pound black guys are running around Ann Arbor? Probably about ten, and they're all on the football team.
Opponent stuff: Northern Illinois is not your typical MAC pushover. They're gunning for the title this year behind a grinding ground game, which is sort of a "yes, but" situation when confronting Michigan. Yes, you can plow the MAC, but Gabe Watson is a bird of an entirely different, much more nacho-friendly feather. Northwestern is probably going to lose DE Loren Howard for the entire season. That's a devastating loss should it come to pass. Howard is the team's best player and the Northwestern DL is proverbially paper thin. Not to mention that Wildcat running back Terrell Jordan, the probable starter, partially tore his hamstring. Things are looking very grim in Evanston.
The heat is on Tommy Amaker this year. You can tell by examining ESPN's offseason Big Ten feature and noting that the team they focus on was 13-18 last year, 4-12 in conference. Also, the headline reads "It's time for Amaker to deliver in Ann Arbor." The power of deduction!
New commit Deshawn Sims is goin' to work on 7 foot Michigan C Tom Herzog. He called him immediately after committing and "lobbied" Herzog to join him. The expectation is that this will happen sooner or later.
It's the end of an era. Terry Foster's blog is moving to MLive. I'm somewhere between heartbroken and despairing. MLive: I beg you, do not copy edit his blog. I... I don't think I could take it.
I realize that ESPN Insider is having a 30-day free trial at the moment, so I can freely link to stuff there, at least for now, if they are interesting. So you can see that ESPN's new Recruiting Insider service is definitely being pitched differently than Scout and Rivals. It focuses more on NFL Draft-style scouting reports and player evaluation and less on finding out what Myron Rolle ate for breakfast and what it means for his future college decision. Witness the moderately detailed scouting reports they've put up as a "sneak peek" into their upcoming ESPN 150. David Cone's evaluation contains this tantalizing teaser:
Cone is a big and physical quarterback, with outstanding size and more than adequate arm strength, but he is not an ideal athlete for the position.
Holy John Navarre, Batman!
They're sold on Myron Rolle:
Overall: Spectacular is the word that comes to mind when evaluating Myron Rolle. This guy has the total package: size, speed, athleticism, toughness and versatility. He could be an impact player immediately at three different positions; running back, safety or cornerback. We project him as a corner or cover safety.
Micah Johnson is the only other Michigan recruit currently profiled.
At the very least, this will provide a third point of reference when attempting to determine who is all that at the end of the year. It'll be interesting to see if ESPN's opinion differs wildly with Scout and Rivals, who definitely seem more invested in making every kid seem like the next Jim Brown.
Update 8/12: Linked to Scout article header that asserts Michigan is in the top 3 for CA S/LB Jonas Mouton, removed PA TE Nate Byham(Pitt). Pitt is really cleaning up in PA this year. Added FL OL Jim Barrie, linked to free Superprep Taylor Mays article.
Editorial Opinion: Hell if I know on Mays. This is what he says on the three schools he's considering:
Washington: "I really respect coach Willingham," said Mays. "Washington is only 10 minutes from my house. My dad, Stafford, played nose guard there and his brother played for Washington too. But I don't feel any pressure from my dad to go there. We've been to a lot of Husky games, but he knows it's my decision and he doesn't hold any bias.
Michigan: "I really like the Big House at Michigan. My position and recruiting coach, Ron English, has been the coach that I've been closest to this whole process. I connect with him on a different level. He's really made more of an effort to get me than anyone.
USC: "At USC, you notice the level of competition, the coaching and the atmosphere that surrounds them," he said. "The atmosphere there is fast and the players are all working to be the best. Their practices are amazing. My aunt Barbara lives in L.A. too. I'm close with her and that would be a plus for me, but not a deciding factor."
Emphasis mine. That's an unusual and powerful statement for a recruit to make, but there's still that ominous silence looming over the Michigan recruitnik boards. Usually silence == bad news. So... I dunno. We'll see.
Ever have one of those Yosemite Sam moments where something you read just makes you go "OOOOOOOOHHHHHHH WHY I OUGHTA"? Yeah. Well, Terry Bowden's Big Ten preview for Yahoo Sports just made me jump up into the air, steam billowing out my ears, hands grasping for my humorously oversized hat. And it all started with this sentence:
OSU is a different team with Troy Smith at quarterback. He adds a dimension to the offense that opens up things for everybody else.
Oh, man. That's severely disconnected from what passes for reality at mgoblog. It also provides an opportunity for me to digress into
A Diatribe About Human Nature
Ernest Shazor was an All-American last year and a Thorpe finalist despite playing on a defense that utterly imploded its last four games. Pat Massey is coming in for a John Navarre-level bludgeoning from Michigan fans despite having essentially no role in the same defense's collapse. Some people think Troy Smith doesn't suck.
Why is this the case? Evolutionary psychology. For serious! Each of these players has had one high profile event (killing Dorien Bryant, not sacking Vince Young, playing Michigan, respectively) that seriously distorted everyone's perception of their abilities. Check it:
- Human perception is "probable and definite," as William James put it. That means that when your mind gets enough information to identify something, man, it goes for it. A congress of leaves in the jungle arranges itself in a sort of stripe-y, orange-and-black, tail-shaped fashion and OMG IT'S A TIGER!!! Conclusions are leapt to. Good for not getting eaten, but problematic when you're wrong with your conclusion and no further information is provided; you can never swing your probable to another definite.
- We are invested in being correct. So unbelievably so. Attend any political rally, or, I dunno, head over to any of the screamier political blogs, and you'll realize two things:
- I have to take a shower.
- This really isn't about believing in principles, it's about believing that I'm right.
Humanity's survival was always based on its ability to apply gathered knowledge. We are soft and pink and not particularly beweaponed. The reason we eat shark meat instead of the other way around is because we have brains that assimilate important information in one take--tigers eat people--and use that knowledge immediately. Any attack on our accumulated knowledge is met with outright hostility.
- We are naturally inclined to absorb information from others. When one person finds out that those damn tigers avoid certain red berries at all costs, that's good for everyone to know. We built hundreds of languages with thousands of words, devoting large sections of our mind to the ability to take information from one person and transfer it to another. There are trust issues involved, but humanity is naturally inclined to believe what it's told... as long as said humanity has no strongly held opinions that conflict with the subject at hand. Thus political screamy: strong opinions held. Thus the college football hype train: almost no data available. If Fiutak says it, it must be true.
These things are so deeply held to be true that we have cliches for all these things: better safe than sorry; make your first impression the best one; preaching to the choir.
Put those three tendencies together: we leap to conclusions based on little information. We don't change our minds easily. We are inclined to believe information passed to us, especially if it reinforces our previously held beliefs. The result is that when people are exposed to something new, highly unusual, and memorable it's nearly impossible to dislodge that impression no matter how much evidence to the contrary exists. And then these people communicate that impression to everyone around them as part of their desire to be seen as knowledgeable, those people repeat it to others, the first people have their ideas reinforced by others repeating what they said to others like a giant game of telephone, and the dreaded CONVENTIONAL WISDOM calcifies around the topic at hand, obscuring whatever the real situation is.
The end result is that one high-profile event colors all resultant thoughts regarding that topic because of the associative nature of memory. Shazor is the guy who disemboweled Dorien Bryant; he's a game changer, a playmaker, a safety with the rare ability to impact the game. No matter that Michigan gave up huge plays all year because its safeties were woefully unsafe. Pat Massey let Vince Young impossibly escape from a sure sack that probably would have won Michigan the Rose Bowl; he's a douchetard. No matter that he had 37 tackles and 5 sacks from the DE spot in a 3-4, was honorable mention All Big Ten, and was part of a very stout interior run defense.
And Troy Smith... well, let's look at Troy Smith. He detonated against Michigan. This (stolen from the upcoming Buckeye preview) is what happened against everyone else:
- Indiana: (Sucks.) Smith completes 12-24 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Also rushes for 53 yards. Ohio State wins 30-7.
- Penn State: Ohio State attempts a total of eight passes. They gain 202 yards and win 21-10 by returning a punt and interception for touchdowns and getting a 35 yard touchdown drive after a long kickoff return.
- Michigan State: Against one of the worst defenses in the country, Smith goes 13-21 for 138 yards, 58 of which came on a slant where MSU's very special secondary blew the angle on Ginn. His other 20 attempts netted 80 yards. OSU scored on a 17 yard Ginn reverse after a Damon Dowdell interception, a Ginn punt return, a 19-yard drive to get a 53-yard Nugent field goal, the Ginn slant, and a long touchdown run trying to run out the clock.
- Purdue: Smith completes less than 50% of his passes and throws three second-half interceptions. OSU loses 24-17, though Smith does lead two moderately long touchdown drives.
- Oklahoma State: Watches from bench.
You can make the case that Troy Smith was a net benefit against exactly two teams: Indiana, which is such an outlier in terms of team quality that it has absolutely no bearing on reality, and Michigan. In all other games he was somewhere between wretched and zombie death. Six months later, perception and momentum result in this idiocy from Bowden:
Quarterback Troy Smith's ability to run and throw accurately led the Buckeyes to three victories in their last four regular-season games, pumping new life into a stagnant Buckeye offense.
None of these things about Shazor, Massey, or Smith are true, but because it's really easy to see the technicolor iceberg tip that juts out of the sea of noise that is our modern, information-flooded world, people take the one piece of obvious information they have and extrapolate the hell out of it. Good for not getting eaten. Not good for college football analysis. Something that is indicated by one play or one game out of hundreds or dozens becomes the tiger tail, and we materialize the rest of the tiger out of thin air. Then when Tony proves himself to be paper indeed we marvel at the unpredictability of college football when we should be marvelling at the predictability of human nature.
WHAT YOU SHOULD TAKE AWAY FROM THIS POST: Troy Smith sucks.
Say hello. Also that's a foul.
Per Go Blue Wolverine.
Update: Sims is rated #39 by Rivals and their #12 small forward, though he'll probably be a power forward in college. Scout has him #37. He seems like a perfect fit for Amaker's motion offense (hold the cynicism for a moment), as he has offensive game from everywhere from the block to the three-point line, the perfect guy to operate in the high post. Sims may actually rise a little bit when the rankings get revised as he was impressive in recent AAU tournaments.
Important recruit? Absolutely. Michigan's highest rated since, uh... wow. Lavell probably. Also an in-state guy from Detroit who, in combination with Tory Jackson, will probably help recruit fellow '06 Michigan prospect Tom Herzog, a 7-foot center being compared to Chris Kaman and one of the few post recruits on Michigan's radar at the moment.
Also: Da Chairman at Prep Spotlight says that Tory Jackson has chosen Michigan(AR) and will announce it in September. Chair also provides the scoop on three UM targets in the '07 class:
WOTS is that Alex Legion will not pick an out-of-state school. Yes, there have been public statements about it, but WOTS it's also what is being discussed privately. At this point, not many would put money on Alex leaving the state. An earlier east coast trip may have had something to do with that...
And speaking of Kalin Lucas, WOTS is that he may trip to East Lansing this week to get a run in. Lucas is fastly becoming a regular at both MSU and U-M open gym runs, as he tripped to Ann Arbor last week. WOTS is that MSU and U-M are co-leaders for his services.
WOTS is that Trotwood, Ohio's super '07 athlete Chris Wright "really" likes U-M. While there are some in Ohio that are trying to keep him in-state, WOTS is that he's really feeling the U-M staff.
And let's get all the basketball in one coherent post: PrepSpotlight also has a nice free article on cause of mgoblog apprehension (and incoming freshman) Jerrett Smith.