chance of bowl: 13.6%
Update 1/7: Wholesale board revamp.
Removed: IL QB John Wienke (decommitted to Iowa), CO LB Jon Major (CU), NJ LB Chris Pantale (BC), AZ RB Ray Polk (committed somewhere, I forget where), WRs Deion Walker, Michael Floyd, and Jonathan Baldwin (ND, ND, Pitt), NC CB Spencer Adams (Clemson), OH LB Zebrie Sanders, CA S Vaughn Telemaque, AZ TE Dion Jordan, PA TE Hubie Graham (Pitt), PA TE Mark Wedderburn, CT LB Jonathan Meyers (dropped us), and like a bunch of other marginal guys.
Right. Pryor. This is Terrelle Pryor.
Army Bowl highlights:
As mentioned in the video, Pryor was the game's MVP. He's a perfect fit for the Rodriguez spread, but is a rough passer. "Better than Vince Young!" at this point, but since Young improved 1000% more than the average collegian -- seemingly all of that during the Rose Bowl -- that's no guarantee.
Other guys who are likely to commit. OH WR/DB DJ Woods and TX S Keanon Cooper are expected to commit sometime soon. Woods is a shortish darting type who had committed to WVU as a wide receiver, then decommitted in the wake of Rodriguez's departure. Prior to that he was a Nebraska commit at cornerback. Think Darius Reynaud here.
Cooper's a three-star safety Michigan was already pursuing; he's sort of a SS/LB tweener who would be a decent pickup.
Update: Uh... nevermind on Cooper.
Potential defections. Two recruits are visiting elsewhere: Marcus Witherspoon is taking a trip to Tennessee and Mike Martin is taking one to Notre Dame.
Martin, by the way, has an extensive highlight reel up on youtube:
Either could go, with Witherspoon being more likely than Martin.
Other known targets: are really, really thin on the ground. SC CB JT Floyd is still down to Tennessee and Michigan ($, info in article header). CA uberback Darrell Scott is listing Michigan but is widely expected to go to Texas or Colorado. PA WR Vaughn Carraway and VA WR AJ Price are still listing Michigan; Carraway was also being recruited by WVU. MI DE Nick Perry has Michigan in his final four along with MSU, Miami, and USC; most observers expect him to stay in-state.
The upshot: Rodriguez is going to take 25 kids this year. He's currently got 22 open spots, 17 commits, two of whom have scheduled visits to other schools, and not enough names on the board to fill out the rest of the scholarships. Even in the best-case realistic scenario where Rodriguez keeps the existing class intact and picks up Pryor, Woods, Cooper, Floyd, Carraway, and Perry he's still two guys short. The middle of the bell curve is more like four or five guys short.
Expect at least a couple sleeper types and possibly a JUCO or two. (I've been told that Rodriguez is talking with the admissions department about a couple of JUCO quarterbacks.) I also expect Rodriguez to pursue already-committed recruits in the Midwest corridor he picked up most of his Mountaineers in: meh dual-threat QB Dominick Britt, a Cinci commit, virtually anyone in the Pittsburgh area he thinks can help out, and IN QB Marqueis Gray, who committed to freakin' Minnesota at the AA game.
This is pretty weird, but bear with me: WVU appears to have hired Florida assistant Doc Holliday. Holliday is (was?) Florida's defensive backs coach and has a reputation as an outstanding recruiter. (Question: is there anyone who doesn't have a reputation as a great recruiter?) He's also a West Virginia native who played and coached at WVU for a 25-year span before leaving in 2000.
BFD, right? West Virginia's assistant coaches are their own affair. Well...
With Stan Drayton gone to Tennessee and the ever-looming possibility that assistant head coach Doc Holliday will be taking a five-year contract worth $2.5 million to become the defensive coordinator and assistant head coaching position [sic] at West Virginia, several names have popped up as potential replacements on the Florida coaching staff.
Florida premium sites are reporting the "possibility" as a done deal as of a few hours ago; this is not a drill. This Gatorsports article also mentions the possibility of Holliday coming in as assistant (to the) head coach but doesn't mention anything about defensive coordinator.
In one way, this makes sense, as moving from Florida to West Virginia to be a position coach is not even a lateral move, no offense to West Virginia. But in another this does not, as one of only two West Virginia coaches new HC Bill Stewart was able to hang on to was Jeff Casteel, who's kinda sorta already the defensive coordinator.
Would Casteel take a demotion when Rodriguez is sitting there with a defensive coordinator spot for the taking? Seems doubtful. Is WVU going to hire Holliday, name him assistant head coach, and not put him in charge of the defense? Also seems doubtful. Might want to keep an eye on this over the next couple of days.
Update: The Charleston Gazette says that Holliday is the "associate head coach in charge of tight ends and fullbacks" and recruiting coordinator. No dice here, evidently.
Fellow new hire Steve Dunlap is "assistant head coach in charge of safeties." Can I be vice regional head coach in charge of toothbrushes?
Right... UFR. Uh. Well, it's like this: without the obvious deadline of next week's game it turns out it's a lot easier to procrastinate on these things. I'm working on it but it's gonna be a bit late.
Happy Trails, Pt II. Rodriguez went to the Indiana game last night -- soon you will wise to the ways of hockey, RR -- and spoke briefly to reporters there. The bluntness from the Rome interview was not, er, blunted. On Mallett:
"He's not playing for Michigan," Rodriguez said . "I'm concerned with whose [sic] playing for Michigan. That's my concern."
Rodriguez also said that Arrington's departure is official and that Manningham didn't attend today's introductory team meeting; he's also unlikely to return. Terrelle Pryor, come on down. Also plz some other people.
Shooting Blue perused the audio available on Rivals and notes a few other newsbits: Hopson has officially been hired, but not necessarily as the defensive coordinator. Rodriguez still has to hire one more guy on that side of the ball, and that guy could be the DC. Michigan expects to field a full class of 25; some of the attrition will be medical. And Michigan will be looking for wideouts and quarterbacks in quantity.
Happy Trails? Terrance Taylor is also considering the NFL:
Muskegon coach Tony Annese said Monday that he had spoken with Taylor the previous evening and that the player had not received a report from the NFL advisory committee about his possible draft position. Annese said Taylor would not reach a decision until after he heard from the NFL.
Hopefully said report is unsatisfactory. No offense, Terrance.
Right. An official release from Michigan has the following persons in the following places:
Name â€¢ Position
Calvin Magee â€¢ Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Tony Dews â€¢ Wide Receivers
Greg Frey â€¢ Offensive Line
Tony Gibson â€¢ Secondary
Jay Hopson â€¢ TBA; Defensive Assistant
Fred Jackson â€¢ Running Backs
Rod Smith â€¢ Quarterbacks
Bruce Tall â€¢ TBA; Defensive Assistant
Tall and Hopson are TBA with one more defensive assistant to come; though Tall did safeties for the past few years at WVU before that he did the defensive line for a couple seasons at WMU and was a DC/LB coach for nine years at Harvard and Northeastern. He could well end up the LB coach. Heck, he might have been an LB coach at WVU: the official release says he was WVU's "spur and bandit" safeties coach; those two guys are the LB/DB hybrids that often stick their nose in the box.
We should know who the final piece of the puzzle is by the weekend, according to Rodriguez. Also note that Gibson's been relieved of his duties as recruiting coordinator. Michigan has a standalone recruiting coordinator in Chris Singletary, who was retained along with most of the administrative staff. WVU's refusal to provide this sort of administrative support was one of the cited factors in Rodriguez' departure.
Word. Jim Carty's piece on Jay Bilas' obsession with Michigan is worth a read. I probably would have gone more ad hominem on Bilas, whose latest petulant outburst about the Michigan program is the second-stupidest one yet (#1 remains the suggestion that Martin should be fired for getting rid of Tommy Amaker after a mere six years), but it's rare to see a newspaper columnist bring it hard against another member of the media. This blog, on the other hand, does it all the time. So this means more coming from the Ann Arbor News:
Given that, it's probably time for someone at ESPN to suggest to Bilas that - after calling for athletic director Bill Martin's firing and now ripping a first-year coach who's in the midst of a rebuilding job - its time to leave the Wolverines alone for a while.
And time for Michigan fans to turn somewhere else for serious analysis of their basketball program.
As mentioned, word. Bilas' breathtaking lack of professionalism about this Amaker situation has permanently killed his credibility with anyone who watched Amaker's teams flail about, turn the ball over 20 times a game, and never make the NCAA tournament. Bilas -- so eager to jump all over Beilein half a year into his tenure -- apparently expected Michigan's Methuselan patience with Amaker to extend a full decade, because there's no freakin' way this team was going to the NCAA even if John Wooden was coaching them. It was fire him now or waste a year and fire him then. Or, I guess, never fire him ever because Jay Bilas once spooned with him after a Final Four game.
Heavens to Betsy. The Chicago Tribune has the most shocking news of the year:
Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said Monday he was "cautiously optimistic" an agreement could be reached with Comcast, the largest cable distributor in the area. The parties began having "productive conversations" in December, Silverman said.
Sure, the year is only nine days old, but... !!!
The standoff here was more about tiers than cost according to the BTN, though when I talked to a Comcast VP this summer I managed to get an approximate "We would pay X to have the BTN on expanded basic" figure out of him: a quarter. That, like the BTN's widely cited (and apparently either fictional or outdated) $1.10 asking price, was likely a negotiating position and not a realistic assessment of what they would pay to get it on the basic tier. Assuming the final numbers become public here, it'll be interesting to see what the final negotiated price is. Also interesting: actually getting the BTN.
Etc.: Lloyd's cousin reflects on his career.
Rich Rodriguez was on Jim Rome this afternoon, and the news was attrition-errific. First the receivers:
"I've talked to Adrian since the bowl game a little bit and I think he's leaning toward coming out," Rodriguez said on the show. "I don't think he's made the announcement yet. I have not seen Mario, and I don't think he's back in Ann Arbor yet, so indications are that he may be coming out, as well. I want to wish them the best. I didn't know them very well. I've watched them play, and they're great players, and obviously for selfish reasons I'd like to have them come back, but if they feel that's what's best for their careers, they've got to do that, and we'll be OK as well."
"I believe he's going to transfer," Rodriguez said. "He has not told me specifically and he's told other folks in the program. I talked to him a couple times, again, before the bowl game and once after the bowl game and gave him our spiel. But, again, if he chooses to leave, he's going to make a choice that's best for him, and we'll be OK."
"I talked to him and all the quarterbacks about how our system can adapt to the quarterback because we've had throwing quarterbacks in this system that have had great careers and gone on to the NFL and all that," Rodriguez said. "But I did it a couple times (with Mallett.) I recruited him once, I recruited him twice and after the third call, I'm thinking okay, three calls is enough for me. It's a great institution and if somebody doesn't want to be here that's already here, you wish them well and move on."
I... wow. Both of those quotes are blunt as hell. The very idea that Carr would 1) deign to appear on Jim Rome and 2) actually give substantive answers to somewhat delicate things like "Will Player X leave early/transfer?" is refreshing from the point of view of the information-starved Michigan fan.
Update: Apparently Carr made a yearly appearance on Rome; 1) above withdrawn.
Manningham's grandfather has a "we're still undecided and waiting on the NFL's evaluation" quote in the same article, but I'm with Rodriguez here. Rivals has a fuller transcript; Rodriguez again repeats that he expects to sign a full 25.
It'll be Thursday sometime in the afternoon. For voters, your deadline is 11 AM EST; the ballot entry form is located here.
DC Hello? Shooting Blue mentions Rivals is hinting one Jay Hopson likely to be Michigan's next defensive coordinator. Hopson, a grad assistant at Tulane when Rich Rodriguez was offensive coordinator there, has been Southern Miss' defensive coordinator for the past three years. Relevant statistics:
The notable gap between yardage and scoring defense in 2005 was, as you might expect, almost wholly a product of the 7th-best turnover margin in the country and is sadly not indicative of magic beans that turn touchdowns into 20-yard field goals. The rest of the results are pretty mediocre, though Southern Miss often finds itself staring down the barrell of a matchup with a Florida or Virginia Tech and operates at a severe talent disadvantage.
Unfortunately, C-USA's website -- which seems almost deliberately unhelpful -- does not provide conference-only statistics so we can measure Hopson's performance against his peers. Some rough measures: in '06 USM led the conference in pass efficiency and scoring defense and was about 12 yards back of conference leader Tulsa in yardage terms. This year they again finished first in scoring defense and finished a paltry yard behind conference leader Houston in yardage defense. Indications are that after a rough start Hopson did well enough.
We're fortunate that college football's foremost blogger, with apologies to Orson, happens to simultaneously be college football's foremost Southern Miss fan. "Hopson" brings up two hits on SMQB. The first, after a depressing 20-17 overtime loss against East Carolina:
It has to be tough to be a coordinator at Southern - the Jays (Johnson on offense, Hopson on defense) are each the fourth in their respective positions in the last decade, but not much changes in scheme or result. The offense is relentlessly conservative, in a near-constant bog, while the defense is stretched to the breaking point to hang on to some kind of control. At a sparsely attended game like Saturday's, USM fans have pretty much free reign on the field afterwards, and SMQ took the North end zone as a shortcut to his car. When he ran across Hopson en route to the locker room, he told the coach, "Nice job hanging tough by the defense," which was not much consolation but was true: it gave up a couple drives, including the 60-yard, game-tying march over the final four minutes of regulation, but it also scored as many touchdowns as either offense, on a length-of-field interception return by no-name Eddie Hicks that momentarily turned the tide at the end of a frustrating ECU drive, and held the Pirates to the field goal attempt in the overtime after allowing them to get first-and-goal at the three. Before that, on ECU's tying drive, it had done exactly the same thing, and barely allowed the touchdown on a fourth-and-inches QB draw from a five-wide shotgun set; that's six stops at the goalline within a couple of minutes - that's at least fighting. In regulation, USM's defense allowed 10 points (the first ECU touchdown was a kick return) and about 275 yards. It gave up no true big plays. You have to be able to win with that.
A second note from the same post:
USM was back in a 3-3-5 look for almost every snap Saturday (for NCAA Football aficionados, this is actually more of a 3-4 than what you would recognize as a 3-3-5 from the game, but roving safety Brandon Sumrall moves out on slot guys occasionally and isn't a true linebacker), which SMQ had thought was employed just to deal with Houston's spread, but apparently worked so well there that it's the standard set now, because ECU ran plenty of traditional fullback/tight end sets.
Hopson appears to be versed in the 3-3-5, which often looks like a 3-4 against "2x1" sets that have unbalanced personnel and often uses a not-quite a linebacker in the vein of Sumrall. There's a chance the forty bucks I dropped on Jeff Casteel's "How to run the odd stack" video won't go to waste. (Casteel evocatively described the duties of the "spur" and "bandit" safety-type objects that flank the front six in the 3-3-5 like so: the bandit is a weakside player who "gets his meat cooked," generally given the responsibility for chasing a strung out player down without having to deal with a nasty blocker. The spur "gets his meat raw" and is forced to take on tight ends and fullbacks and the like. So it wasn't a total waste in any case.)
That's all well and good and hopeful and such. This in the aftermath of a Boise State housing, not so much:
|Coordinator||W-L||Pts./Game||>20pts.||>30pts.||Yds./Game||>400 yds.||Avg. Rank-Total D|
|J. Thompson (1996-98)||25-10||19.6||16||6||-||-||-|
|D. Wommack (1999-2000)||17-8||15.0||11||2||274.7||1*||5|
|T. Nix (2001-04)||29-20||19.4||24||8||335.8||12||31.3|
|J. Hopson (2005-)||18-11||21.4||20||8||351.5||11||50|
How much of this is on Hopson's ability and how much of it is on things he can't control we won't know for a while. You can spin that "T. Nix" preceding him either way after one Tyrone Nix was run off the South Carolina campus, pitchfork-toting mob in tow:
- Nix left the defense in shambles, I say! This excuses Hopson's rough first year!
- Southern Miss coordinators are fail!
Hopson, if hired, would be a wildcard. He has some experience, some knowledge of/affinity for the stack, some success, and some decided meh going on in t
he doldrum days of a coach heading for pasture. Judgment is withheld.