my favorite part of this conversation is people looking at Brad Hawkins and Brad Hawkins in consecutive recruiting classes and identifying them as separate people
Michigan's large recruiting classes the last couple years occasionally see grenades lobbed at Harbaugh and accusations that Michigan has "sold its soul" leveled. These accusations are dumb, whether they come from 'Bama hilljacks in my twitter mentions or Stewart Mandel.
The problem with oversigning is not that any year in particular has a lot of kids in one recruiting class but that certain schools used to go well over 85 on Signing Day and had to cut 8-10 kids by fall. (This was usually just Alabama.) The hue and cry about the practice was at least partially successful in reining it in, as Power 5 conferences initiated restrictions on the practice. The Big Ten allows it, but it allows just three and supposedly you have to explain where the scholarship is coming from. Michigan operates in that environment.
And in any case, the amount of attrition needed for Michigan to get under 85 despite back-to-back large classes is well within the bounds of normal. Michigan's roster is comprised of their last five recruiting classes:
2013. 27 recruits, with those remaining all redshirt seniors. There are 5: Patrick Kugler, Henry Poggi, Mike McCray, Maurice Hurst, and Khalid Hill. They have two fifth-year senior transfers, John O'Korn and Ty Isaac. Michigan also expects to bring back sixth year senior Drake Johnson.
2014. 17 recruits. One, Blake O'Neill, was a grad transfer with one year of eligibility. A second, Jabrill Peppers, was three-and-out to the NFL draft. That leaves 15 kids who could be on this year's team. 12 are.
2015. 14 recruits. All could be on this year's team. 12 are.
2016. 27 recruits who actually signed and/or enrolled. Dytarious Johnson and Brad Hawkins ended up going to prep school, with Hawkins joining the 2017 class. Ahmir Mitchell and Devin Asiasi transferred. The other 25 are on the roster.
2017. 30 recruits. Possible one or two might end up in the same boat as Hawkins.
8 + 15 + 14 + 27 + 30 is 94, meaning that Michigan had to lose nine players naturally over the course of the last four recruiting classes to avoid oversigning. Michigan's lost seven. You can be the judge of how natural they are:
- Brady Pallante took a medical hardship scholarship.
- Michael Ferns transferred to WVU after one year under Brady Hoke.
- Freddy Canteen had injury issues and recently announced a grad transfer to Notre Dame.
- Andrew David transferred to TCU to play baseball.
- Brian Cole ran afoul of team rules, ended up at a JUCO, and will play at Mississippi State this fall.
- Ahmir Mitchell transferred to Rutgers after one semester.
- Devin Asiasi, depressingly, transferred after a highly promising freshman year.
That is far from an unreasonable amount of natural attrition for an 85-man football roster, especially because the latter three were highly ranked guys who lasted at most one year. Highly touted guys don't get run off that quickly.
That leaves two spots left, one of which is known and should be announced in the near future. I'm not sure of the second, but the worst case scenario is that Michigan does not bring back a fifth year senior who has a degree in hand and can use his final year of eligibility elsewhere. More likely is someone lighting out for greener pastures voluntarily.
If that's "selling your soul," we're going to have to invent some new lingo for Baylor. Michigan is only oversigning if you consider the practice of offering redshirted seniors a firm handshake instead of a fifth year to be oversigning. That's something literally every school in the country does annually, and is bad-faith pearl-clutching by anyone who would attempt to use that as a slam against Harbaugh.
It’s a long season [Joseph Dressler]
Bruce Madej and Ira Weintraub are on hand as Sam is out.
- Has any announcer ever had a worse half than Stephen Bardo?
- End-of-game second-guessing.
- Bruce weighs in on soccer, Happy Gilmore, musicals
- Things happen—do they happen more often to Michigan?
- Did Julia Louis-Dreyfus rushing the court?
- Is Michigan still bubble-proof?
- Two of the best bigs in the Big Ten this year are _____.
- Next year: Alpha dog? X? What to do with the 13th spot
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
Five days ago. [Bryan Fuller]
That wasn't a fun way to lose. I'll cede that point. The reaction to a one-point road loss, however painful it may have been, has still been borderline hysterical. Heading into last night, Michigan had won five of six—with the one loss a ref screw-job in Minneapolis—while moving off the NCAA tournament bubble. They have the best offense in the Big Ten by a wide margin and a defense that's steadily improving. They lost last night on a prayer of a play that was inches away from backfiring spectacularly; if Nathan Taphorn's pass flies another six inches or so, Michigan is inbounding under Northwestern's basket with a chance to win in regulation.
With a night to sleep on it, here's where things really stand: Michigan is still comfortably in the NCAA tournament field. Jerry Palm's latest bracket denotes 15 bubble teams, including Michigan State. Michigan, projected as a nine-seed, isn't one of them. Joe Lunardi dropped the Wolverines one seed line—to a nine-seed. Michigan is still an eight-seed on the Bracket Matrix, though they'll slide back to a nine as more projections are updates; that's still not on the bubble.
Illinois, a team that Penn State swept this season, has moved into the field on several projections, including Palm's. This year's bubble is really soft. If Michigan loses out, they're in danger of a nerve-wracking Selection Sunday. They have two very winnable games left: at Nebraska, a team that's never beaten Michigan since joining the Big Ten, and a neutral-site game in the BTT against a team that won't be seeded higher than ninth. KenPom gives Michigan a 63% chance to beat Nebraska. The most likely BTT scenario, a 7/10 matchup with Ohio State, gives M a 68% chance of picking up another win, per Bart Torvik's tourney simulator. That works out to a 12% chance of losing both games.
The rending of garments is premature.
[Hit THE JUMP for the final play and more.]
We could do this in the middle of Texas or at home. It's not hard to figure out how neutral site games are viable when home and homes sometimes aren't:
For a regular season game... pic.twitter.com/KVQA4c8JYm
— LG (@LGhail) February 27, 2017
Ticket prices for the Bama game were similar. Throw in a corporate sponsorship and voila: both teams can get close to home game money. We're in a weird place when schools find it necessary to outsource these kind of things. If I was AD I'd ask season ticket holders how much of a surcharge they'd be okay with to get a game like Florida at the Big House. I'm guessing it would cover a lot of the costs of a real game relative to a bodybag game, if not all of them. Michigan doesn't need to cut in a middleman*.
*[Except maybe in this particular case. This game is happening because of the ND cancellation that left Brandon scrambling. This is probably the best alternative to a negotiated agreement. I'll leave it to the reader to decide how much of the situation Michigan found itself in was Brandon.]
Color me unconcerned. Crain's engages some concern-trolling about Michigan's debt load:
The University of Michigan athletic department sits atop $240 million in debt at a time when several major college athletics programs are grappling with enormous and potentially crippling debt loads.
Michigan is not. They make 160 million annually, so their debt load is manageable. Someone making 80k with a 120k mortgage is in fine shape, and unlike a mortgage Michigan's debt load largely exists because Bill Martin built the boxes to increase revenues. A mortgage does not throw off income.
The article itself admits this by way of the bond market:
Unlike some of its cash-strapped peers, Michigan has a packed Big House on fall Saturdays, deep-pocket donors, an elite credit rating, and it expects its share of TV money to keep increasing — a mix the university expects to give it the financial maneuverability to readily pay what it owes and to keep borrowing to build or refurbish its facilities.
This seems to defeat the purpose of this article, which goes on to discuss the slow decline of ESPN and fracturing of the cable unit—none of which has slowed the explosive revenue growth Michigan and the Big Ten has not only seen recently but locked in for the next six years. It also invokes Cal as a potential disaster situation. Cal was 22 million dollars in the red last year and has almost twice Michigan's debt. The situations are not at all similar.
Dave Brandon was a lot of things, but he wasn't Tom Goss.
Interesting twitter exchange. PFF likes Channing Stribling's coverage a lot. His run D, not so much.
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) February 27, 2017
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Stribling noticed this and tweeted about it, leading to a brief, interesting conversation between Stribling and James Ross:
@jross_iii bro i had to fit the C gap...thats harder than settin edge bro
— Channing Stribling (@C_Strib8) February 28, 2017
@jross_iii lol ima get in there but there aint much i can do wit that...thats alllll you lol
— Channing Stribling (@C_Strib8) February 28, 2017
I'm with PFF after some boggling missed tackles but he can fix that, and his coverage was just as good as Lewis's.
This won't be a surprise to Chat Sports aficionados. James Yoder, "CEO" of Chat Sports, tried to buy the Cauldron, another website, for about two million dollars. This naturally resulted in a fraudulent term sheet, a ton of finger-pointing, and ham-handed cover-up attempts. Yoder comes off as completely unhinged in the story:
Yoder says that Jamie O’Grady is a “master of creating fake emails.”
As a demonstration, Yoder sent me, at my work email address, a fake email that made it look like I had emailed Yoder asking for help finding clean urine. Yoder stressed that he faked an email from me strictly to show me what O’Grady does.
After I privately forwarded the email to my editors, Yoder emailed me again asking why his email had been opened multiple times; he had tracked the email. “We track every email we send,” he says. “We use an email tracking service.”
This is because he is totally unhinged. "Spoofing and phishing tactic mastered by the other party." Cumong, man. Even OJ Simpson didn't go around giving stabbing demos.
The article briefly mentions the aspect of Chat Sports most infamous around here, but doesn't quite get it right:
In its early days, Chat Sports posted original content from many different writers—some of those bylines, like Rick Steele or Tipp Smith, have Twitter accounts that have tweeted only one time. Were they fake? Yoder says yes. “Absolutely we had fake writers,” he says. “That’s because we’re a scrappy company. What do you have when you start a company? You have zero traffic, you have zero name brand… So we had a writer program for college-aged kids… and sometimes they had information about things that they didn’t really feel comfortable writing in their own names. Some people think that’s such a terrible thing—‘journalistic integrity!’—that’s called growth hacking.”
The problem with the fake writers was not that they were operating under pseudonyms but that the stories they "reported" were made up. Chat Sports has the same business plan that Macedonian teenagers did during the election: say anything at all shocking or controversial that dullards on the internet propagate because they can't tell the difference between Chat Sports and something with a smidgen of credibility. Buzzfeed has an article about a similar company that spews out near-identical posts for political dullards on both left and right. The parallels go all the way down to the obvious stock photos used for author bios.
The only truly surprising thing in the story is that Yoder was able to find a dupe despite coming off like Borat The Investor. Remember Borat? NOT! Good times.
Anyway, don't post Chat Sports stories here.
Austin Davis: good? Michigan's center situation this year is bogglingly shallow, which naturally makes one wonder how good Austin Davis can possibly be if he's redshirting. Beilein says he's all right, though:
"He's really good, that's all I'm going to tell you," Beilein said today. "I wish, I knew what I know now." ...
"In the middle of January, it all started slowing down," Beilein said. "Guys just throw him the ball and he puts it in. There's no drama, there's no Kardashians. The ball is in. The ball goes in."
I'm not sure how to react to that. If Davis was in fact very good and was doing that well in January, keeping the redshirt on him is an odd decision. OTOH, he might not play even if he is very good. The only thing Beilein hates more than playing a freshman point guard is playing a freshman post. Not even Mitch McGary got much run until really late in the year. (Jordan Morgan took a redshirt before emerging into a starter.) Wagner barely got off the bench last year despite Michigan's center situation being Mark Donnal and a guy with literal narcolepsy.
I do think Davis is going to be a breath of fresh, rebound-y air next year. He's a burly dude, something Michigan hasn't had since McGary.
I very much want to see a Michigan lineup that goes Teske/Davis-Wagner-Wilson-Matthews-Simpson. That will look like the Monstars with Webster at point guard.
Etc.: Spencer's take on Ole Miss is kinder than mind and good. More croot profiles: Andrew Stueber. Goodbye, eggs. Peppers draft stuff. HSR on Wagner. Get The Picture with more Ole Miss fallout. Jim Harbaugh is not sticking to sports. Lewis draft stuff. Harbaugh thinks Grant Newsome will be back this year.
If you’re looking for Ace’s Northwestern Preview, it’s here.
With Michigan’s weekend win over Purdue, the Wolverines probably sealed an NCAA Tournament bid – but more importantly, they continued their excellent month of basketball: they’ve won five out of their last six with the only loss coming on the road in overtime to perhaps the hottest team in the conference (Minnesota). Michigan struggled early in conference play against an easy schedule because of their atrocious defense, but significant improvements on that end helped rack up some key wins during the relatively difficult stretch of Big Ten opponents.
As I pointed out last week, Michigan’s offense has been remarkably consistent. It ranks in the top ten nationally in Kenpom’s Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. Even though there isn’t a surefire NBA player on the roster (by any means), a balanced six-man core has produced one of Beilein’s best offenses in Ann Arbor. Four of the six main rotation players (Walton, Wagner, Wilson, and Robinson) are extremely efficient and five of the six (those four and Abdur-Rahkman) are shooting 38% or above from three. Derrick Walton has played especially well as of late, but Michigan’s offense has been good all season (with the notable exceptions of the South Carolina and Texas games). If Zak Irvin can play well in a complementary role, it can be a lethal – though quite slow-paced – attack. As we saw against Purdue, sometimes Michigan doesn’t even need him to be able to run a good team out of the gym.
Offense at the top of college basketball has improved in recent years. Each team in the top ten of Adjusted Offensive Efficiency has a mark greater than 120 – back in 2013, Michigan’s Final Four season, the Wolverines were the only team in the country over 120. As recently as 2010, the best offense in the country was national champion Duke’s 117.0. That number would rank 30th in the country in 2017. Recent rule changes are surely a big reason for the general improvement offensively, and the increased pace of play has helped make college hoops more appealing.
With an adequate defense – one that has been much better since opponent threes haven’t gone in at an absurd outlier rate – Michigan and its offense can think about improving its seeding or making a run in the Big Ten tournament instead of worrying about their position on the bubble. The Wolverines’ offensive firepower is the obvious strength of the team so I compared the 2017 Michigan offense against elite offenses from the last five years.
[Takeaways after the JUMP]