no wonder we hired Hunter Lochmann
Malcolm Gladwell is smarter than you. Just take that for granted. Herein is a condemnation of Charlie Weis and a plea for understanding for Rich Rodriguez wrapped into a couple of paragraphs:
THE MAG: Based on this book, if I'm an owner, I should be the most patient one in sports, right? After all, the Beatles, as you write, played a ridiculous 1,200 gigs—a lifetime—before they became any good.
GLADWELL: It's interesting. Andy Reid has said that with the offense he runs in Philadelphia, it takes a receiver three years to be comfortable in it. A receiver! I don't think we take this into account. We create offenses of such stunning complexity in the NFL, that it's impossible to truly judge anyone in their rookie season. It's ludicrous. How can you, if you're Detroit, draft all these wide receivers and then give up on anything after a couple years, or call 'em busts, when it's far more about executing a system that takes years to master? You have to give them their work.
Or if the Lions offensive players were calc majors…
Yeah, you can't go into a math class and pronounce who the great students are after two weeks. No one can master calculus in two weeks. So we need to be consistent. If you hire a coach that has offensive schemes as complicated as calculus, then you better have the patience you'd have with those students. Let's stop and acknowledge that football is not a sport for dumb jocks. It's a highly complex cognitive activity.
The plea for understanding: everyone's a rookie in this offense this year, and the most important player on the field will likely be a rookie next year. The condemnation: Weis attempted to port an NFL system like this to a college team and it blew up as soon as he had guys he actually had to coach.
ND rewind. Touching on two things you may have already seen:
- They might be able to fire Charlie Weis after all. After 4-5 articles all claiming that Notre Dame had given Weis the world's dumbest contract (example) comes this from the Chicago Tribune:
The common perception of Weis' buyout is not accurate. Multiple sources have told the Tribune the buyout, far smaller than believed, will not affect whether Notre Dame decides to fire Weis after Saturday's game at USC. One prominent alumnus called the amount "loose change."
That is far more in line with what I assume the reality is. Prediction: ND loses dismally to ND, gets shut out of a bowl game due to rules about 7-5 teams getting placed ahead of 6-6 ones, and Weis gets canned.
- Oh, the hilarity. Your faithful corresponded has derived much pleasure from Notre Dame's latest bout of misery and meltdown, but nothing has been quite as enjoyable as the commenters on EDSBS's latest Tommy Kilborn guest post, who, to a man, believe that Kilborn is a real person. Which: ha.
Graham things. There has been further behind the scenes confirmation that Brandon Graham intends to stay for his senior year, but he is leaving the door open:
"I'm not really worried about (making a decision soon)," Graham said. "I'm worried about my team and this loss right now and trying to get better."
Later in that article, Mike Martin guesses:
"When I talked to him personally, I got a good feeling that he'll be back," Martin said. "It would be real big. As much strength as we can have for next year on the D-line would help, and he's a big strength, as everybody knows."
Still feeling good here, but also wishing January 15th would get here ASAP.
Reinforcements. The hockey team is struggling badly of late, but there's some good news on the horizon. It looks like Steve Kampfer may return earlier than anyone had hoped:
“They say I’ll be at full strength in a month or so,” Kampfer said. “They want to make sure the bone has healed, and I’m trying to move my neck around to get the muscles loosened up.”
Michigan takes on Wisconsin and Minnesota in the College Hockey Showcase this weekend; things might be rough. A split would be nice.
I'm out for the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving, all. See you Monday.
Remember that BCS thing we used to play a role in? I’d be interested to hear your two pennies on ESPN’s new deal to take over coverage of its games in future years. I really don’t care what channel the games or on – that’s not my concern.
Personally I can’t stand the current system and would like to see a 6-8 team playoff. Funny thing is, I seem to remember a lot of people on ESPN expressing a similar sentiment. Now, I know that sports analysts are likely not consulted for their opinion when the network puts out an offer of this size, but ultimately a new BCS contract only extends our misery without a playoff that much longer. So by putting their money on the table is ESPN now part of the problem, or was an extension already inevitable making ESPN’s decision to bid an innocent business decision?
Also, did the BCS contract have to be renegotiated right now or would it have been possible to hold off and (ideally) discuss a playoff alternative that the NCAA could also make money off of? If the former applies, then I’m not sure how the BCS will ever go away when the TV contract is always renewed years before it is set to expire. Asking for people to act on something (i.e. installing a playoff system) that wouldn’t actually be implemented for years might be too much to ask…the motivated parties start to lose said motivation.
If ESPN hadn't won the BCS rights, Fox would have and the BCS would continue to exist as-is until 2015. The TV networks don't have much control over the format of the thing, they just broadcast it as-is. Any change will have to come from within, from presidents and ADs and coaches.
The solution, as always, is to root for outrage, disaster, and embarrassment. Your best bet this year is for Texas Tech to make the Big 12 championship game by beating Oklahoma only to see Missouri upset the Red Raiders, opening the door for Texas, which TT beat and didn't even win their own division.
Brian,I think that last number I saw for early enrollment was 7 recruits. How soon should Coach Rodriguez know that these kids are enrolled and coming to Michigan?The reason I ask is that if 7 kids enroll in December, the coaching staff could essentially stop recruiting them and really put the push on other prospects to rope in some last minute guys on the edge of interest with Michigan. Seems like this would be a huge advantage (and no bowl game either) for us with this class.Also, another thing that came to mind is the fact that Terrance Robinson is going to be available next year. I think this kid is going to have a huge impact on the team (assuming someone can get him the ball). What other redshirt freshman do you think could make an impact next year?
Depending on how the class falls out that number could be as high as ten; both Will Campbell and Vlad Emilien plan on hitting campus early. You are correct that once the kids enroll, which will be in late December, they can't decommit and are essentially locked in, though Michigan fans will remember that you can transfer after that semester without penalty other than an enforced redshirt. That's how Michigan landed Steven Threet.
So, yes, Michigan will have a lot of free time and a lot of kids they don't have to babysit, which should allow them to focus their efforts on a limited number of kids and hopefully finish the class out strong. The flipside of that is they have a lot of free time because they're 3-9.
Re: Robinson, I was pretty high on him based on the high school highlights I saw (and, of course, the sick "dream shake" you can see on youtube) and expect him to get a hefty slice of playing time. I'm also a fan of Odoms, though, and don't think we'll see an enormous amount of increased production from the spot except what better quarterback play provides.
Re: other redshirt freshman to make an impact:
- Ricky Barnum has been getting insider buzz like he is a serious candidate to start next year. With the emergence of Ferrara he's going to have a battle on his hands but if any of the freshmen OL break through it will probably be him.
- Brandon Smith has been getting similar buzz at safety, but I'm a little more skeptical of that. In high school he was regarded a great athlete that needed a lot of work and he's missed a ton of practice after undergoing an appendectomy this fall. I think he'll work into the rotation. He will likely trail Brown and Williams.
- This one might be a little bit of a surprise: Mike Cox should play next year, and could find himself the RAGE heir apparent. The rest of the backs on the roster are going to be little darters; Cox is the only underclass running back who can fill the Minor/Grady role as a pounder. He wasn't a huge recruit but he could have slipped through the cracks due to his location (Avon Old Farms, a prep school better known for hockey) and a senior-year injury. Michigan did pick him over ND freshman Jonas Gray, basically, as both showed up at summer camp and it was Cox who emerged with a running back offer. (Gray was offered as an "athlete.")
More on recruiting:
Read your thread about whether RR will actually be able to fill all the scholarships available. Maybe I'm in the minority with this position, but I'd just assume he didn't fill them all, rather then fill them all with (for lack of a better word) 'borderline' recruits just to fill all the scholarships. Obviously depth is an issue at a lot of positions, so bodies are needed. At the same time, talented players are needed. I'd kinda rather he didn't fill them all if he's going to fill them just to fill them, and wait until next year to try and get some stud recruits.
Other then Brandon Graham (and maybe Minor) there's probably not a single starter on the UM team that would start for one of the Top 5 or so teams in the country. At best most of Michigan's starters would be second stringers on these teams, if not 3rd or 4th stringers.
I don't think Michigan is going to fill the rest of their class with leftover sorts. Michigan's already at 20 commitments and should be looking at a finish like:
- MI DT Will Campbell
- FL CB Josh Robinson or FL CB Mywan Jackson or FL CB Jayron Hosley
- Two of AZ OL Taylor Lewan, OH OL Mike Freeman, SC OL Quinton Washington, and NC OL Travis Bond
- Some Other Guy
- Maybe Another Two Guys
That's 24 prospects, all of whom have had Michigan offers for at least six months save Hosley, who's a four-star. None of these guys are borderline recruits Michigan is flinging offers to just to get the numbers up. Guys 25-27 might be high profile or low, but chances are if Michigan throws an offer at someone it's because they think he'll be useful.
The best case in point: five years ago, Michigan threw a signing day offer to two-star Kentucky commit Brandent Englemon. The second best: Michigan made a late offer to two-star Cincinnati commit Patrick Omameh. I'd like to see every open scholarship filled.
Another in a series of cool things from the past:
I worked in the equipment room for Jon Falk from 1975-1979 (the Rick Leach era).
I’ll never forget Bo’s pre-game speech before the 1975 Ohio State game:
“Gentlemen, this is it. Let’s go!”
Short, sweet and to the point. We almost had them that game. That darn Ray Griffin oskie killed us.
That's all; nothing to add.
I think the thing with requests is this: the weirder they are, the more compelling they seem. So here's one for the photoshop savants out there:
Would you mind featuring at some time in the next year some photos of Fremen or Paul Mu'adib in particular, the blue within blue eyes, perhaps with Ms in them?
I leave it in your hands, readers.
So on Monday I said something like "talent? what talent?" A few readers had objections to that; one went so far as to dredge up Michigan's class rankings from the last few years.
Here you go:
Just dug this up.
Recruiting rankings of the Michigan classes by Rivals:
2008 - #10
2007 - #12
2006 - #13
2005 - #6
2004 - #5
First, let's stipulate that whatever talent exists in the 2008 and 2007 classes is young. Even if those guys are all "talent" you can take freshman five stars and lose to senior three stars by 40. So let's just look at the three classes that comprise Michigan's upperclassmen.
Second, what is "talent" according to the gurus? Four and five star guys, mostly, with definite gradations between the two. Sometimes a player has offers that defy their ranking; I'll try to note that were possible.
- Eligibility Expired: Henne, Branch, Graham, Adams, Hart.
- Transferred, Injured or Quit Before Rodriguez Arrived: Walton, Cheathem, DeBenedictis, Ciulla, Mitchell, Martin, Rogers, Gallimore, Allison.
- Departed After Rodriguez Arrived: Arrington (NFL draft).
Tim Jamison: a top-50 player who didn't quite live up to expectations but was an above-average defensive end.
Will Johnson: four-star who played like it.
Morgan Trent: four-star who ended up a three year starter; two disappointing years sandwich a good one.
Doug Dutch: top-100 player who was an obvious bust well before Rodriguez arrived.
Mike Massey: Four star DE who lost his job at TE to Carson Butler. Think about Carson Butler, and think about Lloyd Carr, and think about Pat Massey. What does that say about Massey's talent level?
There are only two other players from the class on the roster, John Thompson, a fringe three star who picked Michigan over Wisconsin and Minnesota who was a poor starting linebacker, and Charles Stewart, mid-three star, who was buried on the bench until Morgan Trent broke his hand during the 2005 Wisconsin game. Then he was torched by Minnesota, moved to safety, languished until graduation forced him into the lineup. He did not do well.
That's it. The entirety of the 2004 class that made it to this year was seven guys, two of them obvious busts before Rodriguez arrived, three of them high rated guys who played well (Trent is iffy, I guess), and two low-rated guys forced into the lineup who played poorly. Only one departure can even sort of be blamed on Rodriguez, and Arrington was just barely hanging on already.
Notable: every offensive lineman in this class washed out.
- Injured, Transferred, or Quit Before Rodriguez arrived: Bass, McKinney, Schifano, Germany, Simpson, Forcier, Sears, McLaurin, Richards
- Left After Rodriguez Arrived: Manningham (NFL Draft), Slocum (academics).
- Injured and Unavailable After Rodriguez Arrived: Zirbel.
Michigan pulled 11 four or five star prospects in the class of 2005, and Rodriguez got to use four of them:
Kevin Grady. Bust, and one that was obvious before Rodriguez's arrival.
Terrance Taylor. Very good multi-year starter who played well.
Brandon Harrison. Fringe four star was a middling multi-year starter.
David Moosman. Fringe four star looked locked on the bench; started at RG all year and was okay.
Other than Mark Ortmann, the rest of the class are non-contributors: Logan and Criswell never saw time except on special teams, Carson Butler is Carson Butler, and Tim McAvoy was never going to start until Boren transferred, at which point he was put out there until they were comfortable with their switched defensive tackle.
This class is the killer, a complete disaster with one very good starter, three meh starters, and no one else from the #6 class in the country.
- Injured, Transferred, or Quit Before Rodriguez Arrived: Mixon, Woods
- Left After Rodriguez Arrived: Patilla, Boren
This class is mostly intact. (Jason Kates just left, but Michigan had him at his disposal if he wanted to use him.) The big recruits:
Five star Brandon Graham is a beast.
Five star Steve Schilling is a two-year starter but has just been okay; his first year under Carr was much worse. He has improved.
Carlos Brown is injury-plagued; had a good Northwestern game.
Jonas Mouton was a first-year starter after shifting from safety, was okay, and is now getting pretty good.
Stevie Brown is Stevie Brown.
Greg Mathews is a starting wide receiver.
Adam Patterson saw about a dozen snaps this year.
Brandon Minor was Michigan's most effective running back.
John Ferrara saw some PT as a redshirt freshman on the DL, then moved to guard. Dorrestein is a backup OT. Ezeh is a mediocre starting linebacker. CONER.
So, A Count
How much four and five star talent actually resides in the upper classes? We can discount Grady, Dutch, Massey, and Patterson; all appear to be busts and were definitely headed that way before Rodriguez arrived. The answer:
- The Entire Defensive Line. And it played like it.
- Minor and Brown. When healthy, played like it.
- Mathews. Michigan's best receiver; ideally a #2 on a good team.
- Mouton. Rough start due to inexperience; very good finish; likely future star.
- Harrison, Trent, and Brown. Collectively, an enormous disappointment.
- Schilling. Slightly disappointing but at least serviceable.
That's your talent. Four guys on offense who collectively missed about 15 games, the badass DL, one linebacker, and the secondary. Is that enough to make up for the worst quarterback situation in the conference, and possibly the entirety of BCS conferences, a lack of depth at linebacker and offensive line, and a slew of injuries and a slew of freshmen making stupid mistakes? No.
A second note: "talent" is only talent if there is depth behind it. There is always a chance a guy is a huge bust. When it's Grady or Patterson he's sitting behind other guys who were high rated and play well. When it's Brown, there are zero other options and you're forced to play the guy. You see depth of talent at RB (Minor, Brown, Grady) and DL somewhat (Patterson is left over), and nowhere else.
Michigan got killed by back-to-back classes that saw a ton of attrition at key spots. Basically the only thing Michigan has to show from the 2004 and 2005 classes is the defensive line, which was Big Ten championship caliber.*
The rest of the team? Is not.
*(Though it should be noted that the 2004 class wasn't exactly a bust; it's just that most of the awesome guys in it didn't redshirt. And the OL was a disaster.)
Programming note: Regular posting tomorrow; blog is off Thursday and Friday. UFR will appear early next week; I'm not going to bother with the pointless fourth quarter.
Basketball, yo. Michigan plays Norfolk State tonight at 8:30 at Crisler. Students get in free; citizens get in for a buck with a couple of canned goods. Go, man, and get in on the ground floor of the Beilein Era.
Go to the basketball game.
Hey, score. So I'm tooling around looking for Washington fans with guns to their temple for This Week In Schadenfreude (tons of hilarious ND content this week, BTW)when I stumble across this on the redshirt status of Jake Locker:
"There is a new tweak to the rule where if you haven't played in 30 percent of the game, you qualify," [UW athletic director for compliance & student development John] Morris said.
Thirty percent would be 3.6 games and, according to Morris, the NCAA rounds up. Given that Locker was hurt in the fourth game of the season, he would qualify on that hand.
(Locker is out of luck because he took a non-injury redshirt as a freshman, FTR.)
The relevance of this to Michigan? Wide receiver Junior Hemingway played in four games before he was sidelined with mono, and under the old rules (25%) would have been SOL as far as a redshirt goes. If Morris is correct, and it's his job to be correct here, Hemingway should get a redshirt and will enter 2009 a sophomore.
What went down. There's been a moderate amount of consternation about that first quarter scuffle on the Michigan sidelines between Charles Stewart and some dude who looks like Morpheus:
Morpheus turns out to be a low-level strength and conditioning coach, which prompts many questions. Such as:
- Why is that guy even on the sidelines?
- What possible business does he have yanking Charles Stewart's facemask?
- Is he a big Lawrence Fishburne fan or what?
He's at it again. Would you believe there was another article about how the spread is dead featuring everyone's favorite spread-hating, always-incorrect television analyst? Of course you would. If newspapers are good for anything it's mind-numbing repetition. Here's Gary Danielson again:
"I said in September that Michigan would be the last major program that goes to the spread," CBS football analyst Gary Danielson said. "I'm sure it's always going to be there for the MAC schools and schools like Kansas and Purdue. But at the top of the food chain, I don't see why you'd risk it. Michigan has really painted itself into a corner."
The article actually says "The spread is, in fact, dead."
The top fifteen offenses in total yardage read like this: spread, spread, Oklahoma, spread 4x, Nebraska, spread 4x, ULL, spread 2x. The best offense in the SEC (Florida): spread. The best offense in the Pac-10 (Oregon): spread. The best offense in the Big Ten (Penn State): spread. The best offense in the Big 12: Oklahoma with Texas Tech, Missouri, and Oklahoma State three of the next four slots nationally. The best offense in the Big East (USF): spread. That's five of six BCS conferences. (Florida State is the leader in the ACC.)
Aaaaaaaargh! So stupid make brain ouch.
Ha ha ha ha hahahahahahaha ha. The one bit of sunshine on Saturday was the stunning announcement by a friend that Notre Dame had managed to lose to Syracuse and pelt their own players with snowballs, causing Pat Kuntz to challenge the Notre Dame student section to a fight. Which… like… awesome.
NDNation would like to remind you that these things don't happen at Notre Dame, so this didn't happen. (FWIW, BGS says the snowball thing was overblown.)
At the time I tried to point out that the Notre Dame game was a turnover and big-play-filled fluke fest in which Michigan kind of sort of looked like a better team if they could cut out the zillion turnovers. ND was one of the few teams Michigan outgained significantly. If you asked me to bet on a rematch, I'd have bet on Michigan. Etc. Etc. That still applies; unfortunately the reason is not "Michigan is better than you think!"
This seems like the end for Weis; even the hardcore Weis fans who say things like "Never before have I found a head coach of Notre Dame so relatable"—which, like, wow, I hope I never find myself at a dinner party with that guy—are calling for his head on a platter.
Will they get it? If the rumors flying about Weis' buyout are correct, no. Because the rumors suggest the Notre Dame athletic department has done something so dumb even people given to think the Notre Dame athletic department is run by these guys…
…must be astounded. Check it, emphasis mine:
The buyout is roughly as secretive as Joe Paterno’s Penn State coaching contract, but it’s believed that it would cost north of $15 million buy out Weis. (As the New York Times’ Pete Thamel notes, it’s not clear if the number for hiring the coach away versus firing him.)
I can read this a thousand different places and I don't think I'll believe it until Notre Dame announces Weis will return for 2009, but there you go.
A note: if Notre Dame does axe Weis there will be an opportunity to pick up a recruit or two. Michigan was involved with WR Shaquelle Evans and OLs Zach Martin, Chris Watt, and Alex Bullard before they committed. (Bullard's finalists were M, ND, and Tennesse, so if he's choosing based on his relationship with the coaching staff, or on, you know, having one, we're in good shape.) They also took a look at WR/DB Nyshier Oliver after his Tennessee decommit. Oh, and DT Theo Riddick is a teammate of Anthony LaLota.
(Cheerleader via the Wiz.)
Things that are not true unless you want attention. This has been bugging me as well:
…many in the media have taken the most losses in school history statistic to equate to worst season ever. The front page of this morning’s Ann Arbor News contained two items making this claim:
- A headline (below the fold) reads, “An epitaph for 2008: Wolverines’ worst“.
- In the lead column, columnist Pete Bigelow writes, “On his watch, the Wolverines careened to the worst season in their 129-year history..”
Defend this! Saying it doesn’t make it so, these statements should be qualified. I went over this last week but it’s not going away and the two mentions on the front page of the News put me over the top. It’s clear that the nine loss number is what people are keying on, and I could see an outlet like ESPN running with that. But the News?
Ah, yes, the News. Tirelessly stalwart friend of the program. For the record, Michigan had a worse winning percentage in 1962, 1936, and 1934. I don't think the people at the News are too stupid to divide, so the conclusion is they wish to sensationalize the matter for a short-term burst of attention.
For the record, MVictors selects 1934 as the worst year in program history. Michigan was 1-7; in the previous four years they had won two national championships and four conference titles. In eight games Michigan was shut out five times and scored just twenty-one points.
So take heart, Michigan fans. This isn't even the worst season in the last eighty years.
Etc.: Unsurprisingly, Michigan leads a select group of top teams in one-score games over the… uh… duration of the Richt era at UGA; AC1997 lays out the case for optimism in the diaries; undies22 recaps the season. (Hint, guys: use some section headers to break up the wall of text.) Also, Jonathan Chait has an entertaining review of Rosenberg's book.