You are one of the few people I know who defends RR. I do as well. Do you think RR should have been fired? Do you think, if he should have been fired, that it should have happened after OSU game? Do you agree with me that if he had a vote of confidence before the season that RR would have hauled in a top ten class? Do you think with a new DC they would have been better next year with RR then with BH? Do you think DB treated RR poorly as I do? Seems to me that DB wanted RR out even before the season. I am so tired of hearing about toughness, as if that is something that can be taught and as if RR wouldn't teach it if it could be.
Peter from Horsham, PA
There are half-dozen posts discussing this but to reiterate: I thought Rodriguez had done enough after the regular season to keep his job if he fired Greg Robinson, hired an actual defensive coordinator, and never ran the 3-3-5 again unless that DC was Jeff Casteel, then rumored to be open to a move. It was a close thing.
The bowl debacle moved the needle for me to "should fire," but this was under the assumption that Michigan would introduce Jim Harbaugh at a press conference held thirty seconds after the last shovelful of dirt hit Rodriguez's grave. If Harbaugh didn't exist I probably would have gritted my teeth and said we should give Rodriguez one last chance. As you say, even with everything Rodriguez had locked up two five-star guys and was probably going to bring in a recruiting class on the edge of the top ten. The offense was a yardage/advanced metric juggernaut that seemed likely to start turning that into more points as it aged, cut down on the turnovers, added a five-star at the glaring weak spot, and hopefully got some more help from defense and special teams. The other two units were bound to improve from amazing low points, etc.
All the bad stuff is still there but that setup seems more likely to produce wins in 2011 than having Denard Robinson take snaps from under center so he can hand off to someone not named Demetrius Hart.
Does it matter, though? There's a large section of Michigan fandom that would read the above sentence and screech like pterodactyl. The national perception of the program was sinking and while the team figured to get better I'm not sure it was going to get better enough—beat OSU—to make a dent in that. What happens if you go 8-4 next year and lose to OSU by ten? Rodriguez gets pilloried and fired. Hoke gets a bag of popcorn to watch Rodriguez get pilloried. At some point Rodriguez's baggage takes him to the bottom of the sea no matter who tied it to his legs.
[As to the dead man walking meme: I heard it plenty before the bowl game, including from people I know and would have a good read on it, but didn't believe it. Since Michigan got obliterated we don't know. If they'd lost by misfortune or won and Rodriguez still got fired it would be different. IME, Rodriguez was gone. This is just based off Brandon's performance in the press conference.]
I'll admit my knowledge of APR is not very good, but does oversigning not negatively affect a school's APR? If kids are leaving the program/school does that not affect the APR?
So we've overloaded the language here and "oversigning" now stands for two different things:
- signing more kids than you can enroll by going over the 25 cap, and
- signing more kids than you can pay for by going over the 85 cap.
In the former case, signing a kid to a LOI and then shipping him off to JUCO when he doesn't qualify does not affect your APR. Not that it should since you haven't had the chance to educate the player.
In the latter case, the answer is yes… hypothetically. In practice the NCAA has provided boatloads of waivers [scroll down]. They're plentiful enough that Kentucky basketball maintained a 979(!) APR despite having a graduation success rate* of 31%. Hypothetically, a school on the 925 borderline is graduating 60% of its players.
What are these waivers? Well, medical hardships, for one.
Those don't count against you because the player is still in school. It makes sense that they wouldn't… until someone starts beating the rules into profane shapes. There are plenty others that are less obvious but no one really knows what they are.
This invites questions about how the hell Michigan failed to take advantage of any of these when players started leaving the program left and right and Michigan put up an ugly 870-something. I don't know but assume it's a combination of Rodriguez failing to understand the gap between WVU and Michigan academics—though he did seem to emphasize it—and the massive attrition that went so far beyond even Alabama's rampant axe that Michigan couldn't get close to the 85 number. I'm not entirely sure but I don't think walk-ons count, so when Michigan's running around with 70 scholarship players and one of them flunks out that hurts way more than Alabama sending a guy in good-for-Alabama standing to South Georgia.
*[as opposed to the federal rate, the GSR does not count transfers in good standing/early entries against you.]
File under Rich Rodriguez will have a job by then and will pursue this kid with a force unknown to mankind:
The AD at Southfield is one of my closest friends and assures me that he has a freshman football player with what is perhaps the greatest name ever. I give you Lion King Conaway!
And file under testimonial:
I’m a junior in high school, and I recently got my first semester grades. A while back in my Government class, I got an extra point on a study guide because I wrote “which, duh.” In my notes (I was talking about how being liberal/conservative affects voting dem/rep, and I guess my teacher thought it was funny), which is something that I picked up from reading mgoblog. I finished that class with a 93%, which is just barely an A, and I finished the semester with a 4.0. So, reading mgoblog may have been what pushed me from an A- to an A, giving me a 4.0.
Know that if I get into Princeton, I’m giving at least some of the credit to you and mgoblog.
Just don't send a bill.
DE Matt Godin just got back from an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, and I caught up with him to get his reaction. There was no commitment on this trip. Matt will take a little more time with his decision just to make sure it's right.
TOM: How was the trip?
MATT: I loved it. It was probably a 9 out of 10.
TOM: So walk me through what happened, and who you met. What made it a 9?
MATT: I came in and saw Coach Singletary in Schembechler Hall. That was my first time there, so I was blown away by that. It was awesome. Coach Singletary took me in to see Coach Montgomery, and I sat with him for awhile. He told me everything basically, how they would use me, the scheme and where they want me.
TOM: How do they want to use you on the field?
MATT: They said probably in the 5 technique, possibly playing around 290. They said that would let me stop the run, but I could still get some pass rush in too. [Ed.: This would be the strongside DE spot.]
TOM: Did you get a chance to meet with Coach Hoke and Mattison, too?
MATT: Yeah, I talked to Coach Hoke for about 30 minutes in his office. We talked about everything, and you can tell he doesn't take any crap. He's ready to bring Michigan back. He was basically telling me how they need defensive linemen, and they think I can help bring Michigan back. I talked to Coach Mattison before that, and he threw on the Ravens film to go over. It was funny because I brought one of my friends and he joked before hand that Coach Mattison would probably put the Ravens film on.
TOM: It sounds like the trip was a success then?
MATT: I absolutely loved it, a lot of it was more of what the coaches were saying and how they want to bring Michigan back. Also, at some schools you don't really see the players that much, but I walked in there and all the players were in the locker room joking around. It was a good experience, especially for my dad to be there. He's a season ticket holder for 30 years, and for him to see his son get a scholarship from the university he loves is great.
Not good. The latest update on Vada Murray's condition is not good at all:
Vada was admitted to the hospital early last week, shortly after we learned that the cancer had metastasized to his brain. This, and a number of other complications from his pain meds caused a 5 day hospital stay.
Unfortunately, he was readmitted to the hospital this afternoon. … Because Vada is extremely tired & we are struggling to get his pain under control, we humbly ask you for privacy at this time.
That sounds like he doesn't have much time left. I don't have any personal memories of Murray—too young—but when and if the time comes I'll be looking for some from people who do.
HT: Gustave Ferbert on the board.
Forty gallons in a steady stream. Misopogon bumped UMHero's offer list to a diary and I was all like—dude. So I created a new wiki page for it. You can see it under "Useful Stuff" and people with over 500 points should be able to edit it. You will have to do this every thirty seconds to keep up with Michigan's enormous offer hose.
CEASE PANIC. Yesterday's offhand mention that Darius Morris was "leaning towards entering the draft" from NBADraft.net set the Michigan internets ablaze. Morris immediately appeared on the BTN, endured someone calling him "the butterfly" to his face without threatening to eat someone's pinky finger ("I don't know if it's catchy, but some people like it"), and said things that reassure:
The PANIC-related bits come at the end when Morris is asked about next year:
"We still have a lot of work to do. It's not going to come easy, it's going to take a lot of time in the weight room, a lot of time in the gym. But I definitely think we have the potential to be good down the road, be one of the dominant teams in the Big Ten in the future. I tell everybody 'just keep working hard, no matter what it looks like today.' We're always looking towards our future, and our future does look bright. We're all young, and we're all coming back next year."
Now, in the context of the interview that last statement was not a repudiation of the idea he'd leave. It was more a restatement of the fact that Michigan has no seniors. But even NBADraft.net suggested that Morris leaving would be pretty odd since he has an opportunity to play himself into a first round pick down the road and right now he'd be leaving for the un-guaranteed contracts of the second round. You'd have to be really mad to leave.
I have an email in to the author of the piece—who is not a random crank, BTW, he's making it his job—and will let you know if I get any more details.
On projected improvement. The Only Colors surveys this year's uniquely senior-laden Big Ten, finding that all the really good teams are getting about 50% of their points from old guys save OSU, and OSU is probably going to lose at least one guy in the offseason. You know this but Michigan checks in dead last with 0%. TOC on this:
Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan will basically return every significant contributor next season. Not surprisingly, the youngest teams also find themselves at or near the bottom of the standings.
This was written before the Iowa game when Michigan was hanging out in eighth but even then there's a big difference between where Michigan is and where Iowa and Indiana are. File under yet more reasons for optimism. The big takeaway: Penn State is going to be awful next year.
Also while we're on TOC, there's a diary purveying "enhanced" PORPAG but I'm pretty sure the basketball statistical community isn't a big fan of steals and blocks as a picture of defense, which is usually a team thing stats barely shed light on.
Where Michigan is: the vague bubble. After Michigan completed its nonconference schedule the conventional wisdom was that being vaguely on the bubble was M's best case scenario as the season wound down. The season is winding down and Michigan is indeed vaguely on the bubble. Huzzah for predictions.
The other prediction of late has been that 9-9 and a win in the Big Ten Tourney would be enough. Is that reasonable? I'm not sure—hockey bracketology is my specialty—but Maize and Go Blue has assembled a chart (chart) of various teams that are in the tournament according to Joe Lunardi:
|Team||Record||Conf. Pos.||Conf. Rank||RPI||KenPom||SOS||v. Top 50
||v. Top 100
One of those teams is Michigan. The other eight are in the tourney according to Lunardi. I won't spoil the surprise for people who don't know Michigan's conference record, but the studies of the other teams are pretty interesting. You have to think that going 2-1 against Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan State would be enough if this rabble is in.
More Ward. AP article on the upcoming Willis Ward documentary contains quote on par with O Brother Where Art Thou in old-timey elegance:
"On Monday morning, (Ford) and Bill Borgmann told me that they'd done something during the game for me and I'll never forget it," Ward said. "It seems as though as the game got started, a fellow on the other side of the line made a remark about him loving people like me. And his adjectives, they were 'bleep' adjectives, so I won't use it. Whereupon Jerry and Bill put a block on him that ended that fellow's participation in the game. So they came back that Monday and told me that they dedicated that block to me."
Details as to that game and the rest of the Harry Kipke era can be found at MVictors. Also check out the comments to the AP article for a fun discussion of slavery and racism between morons. Godwin happens in post #5. Amurrica.
"Wurst state ever." What it says on the tin.
Etc.: NCAA baseball clamps down on metal bats to reduce the number of 25-19 games. Michigan folk estimate home runs will be halved; they'd gone up 41 percent(!) just since 2006. Wonk/Gasaway explains his thinking to Sippin' On Purple after the author there went slapfight on him. Man applies to manage Middlesborough FC based on Football Manager experience. Bruce Ciskie on college hockey's upcoming Big Ten realignment.
Offensive line is one of the harder positions to recruit because it takes longer to evaluate players who will change vastly in college. In addition, there are different styles of offense that require different types of linemen.
However, every year there are a few standouts in recruiting that everyone wants no matter the offense. This year Illinois offensive tackle Dan Voltz (6'5", 290 lbs) is one of those recruits. With around twenty offers already from some of the biggest programs, Voltz will be one of the more sought-after linemen in this class. I caught up with Dan to ask him about his recruitment, and how Michigan factors in. Here are his highlights, then the interview.
TOM: First, for anyone that has never seen you play, can you describe what kind of football player you are? Maybe what you bring to the table.
DAN: I bring 100% effort all the time. I am an extremely hard worker, and I will do anything to become a better football player. I think I play physical and I play offensive line the way it's supposed to be played. I also think I'm pretty athletic for a big guy.
TOM: With your recruitment, Michigan has offered you already, is that a school that you want to learn more about?
DAN: Yes, I'm really interested in Michigan. They offer a great combination of top notch academics, and a legendary football program. I will definitely be looking at them hard.
TOM: Someone like you who's being recruited by a ton of schools, how do you plan on letting everything play out? Do you have a timeline?
DAN: I am actually making a top five or top six list in the upcoming weeks. I'll let you know which schools are on there when I make it.
TOM: When you go to make that top list, how does a school get in the top group? What are you looking for?
DAN: The schools will have, like Michigan does, a good combination of football and academics. It has to be a school that I feel comfortable being at because I will be spending the next four to five years of my life there. Lastly, there has to be a stable coaching staff, that will play a part in it.
TOM: Once you develop the top list, what comes after that? How will you decide from there?
DAN: I will try to visit those schools as many times as I can before the start of my senior year, and hopefully choose one school to call home. If not, I will push my decision timetable back and possibly take a few official visits.
TOM: So the plan for right now is to commit before the season, but it could go into the season?
DAN: Yes, that's right.
TOM: A lot of times with southern kids they like to stay in the south. Since you're from the Midwest, are you more comfortable staying in the Midwest, or even playing in a Big Ten type offense?
DAN: I would love to stay close to home and play Big Ten football. If there is a school that I visit and like outside of the midwest or Big Ten, then I won't hesitate to seriously consider them.
TOM: Last question, to go back to Michigan specifically, what are you looking to find with Michigan? What are you looking to learn about them?
DAN: Right now I just want to see the campus for myself and talk to the coaches more; gain that comfort level with them.
John Gasaway—AKA Big Ten Wonk—likes crusades. His last one was to obliterate rebound margin and seems to be going well. Not many use plain rebounds as a metric anymore, which is good because it makes no sense at all to do so.
Gasaway's latest horde of European knights with fuzzy ideas about salvation is aimed at the tournament seeding process:
I’m on the record as thinking that the mere distribution of wins — with due consideration for opponent, time, and place — can yield sufficient information to draw a line across the top quintile of D-I and tell the teams above this line, “You’re in!” But trying to do something as precise as sequencing an entire tournament field on an S-curve armed only with wins is a little like playing the piano while wearing oven mitts. It can be done, but the music would sound better if we freed up our fingers.
A few years ago I had a back-and-forth with Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog about something similar: I was purveying a resume-based results-only college football poll at the same time he was publishing a top 25 from Vegas oddsmakers that claimed it was more accurate. Those are two diametrically opposed methods. The BlogPoll is descriptive: We have this data and this is our best guess at which teams have the most impressive resumes. Vegas is predictive: we have this data and this is our best guess as to who the best teams are.
So do you want your national title picked based on an assessment of the season or the team? I had a viscerally negative reaction to seeing things like LSU at #5 six weeks into the 2006 season when they'd lost to Auburn and LSU and beaten ULL, Tulane, Mississippi State, and Arizona. They proceeded to win the rest of their games. So Vegas was right, except if LSU was a little better and options at the top a little worse you can imagine a scenario where Vegas takes a team like LSU over some luckbox like 2002 Ohio State. Right or not, that ain't right.
The Vegas poll is answering a different question than I want the people deciding who should play for the national championship asking. If there are two major conference undefeated teams and a one-loss team that's so clearly better than the two undefeated teams but has an inexplicable turnover-filled loss in a driving sleet-storm that happened because their quarterback got injured, picking the obviously better team obliterates college football. It's not about some ineffable combination of NFL draft picks and victory margin, it's about wins. If that has embarrassingly dumbed down nonconference schedules at least it's provided a reason to play the games, and a reason to have your heart in your throat when the other team is driving for the win no matter what your MOV is.
No one is going to claim that loosening the dominion of wins over a sport that lets various .500 major conference teams compete for its title "obliterates" anything, but I'm still leery of a world where Michigan's overtime against Iowa is mostly important because it can push Michigan's Kenpom rating up a spot. Gasaway explicitly states he's fine with using wins for tourney selection but that only mitigates the problem; any solid at-large team sees that effect since they're just worried about seeding, not getting over the line.
It would be pretty dumb to have some guy from Wisconsin at the line shooting two to win against Ohio State and have those free throws hardly matter at all. Would it be fair? Yes. Would it result in better seedings for the occasional very good minor conference team that gets thrust into a tough first round matchup and can't show their stuff? Yes. But I think it would make the season much less vital. Sometimes a little unfairness is the lesser evil.
Now, if Gasaway's just talking about alerting the committee to performance-aware metrics when they attempt to evaluate the case of Utah State, a team that's obliterating the WAC but has only played three games against teams with a Kenpom rating higher than 90(!)* and gone 1-2 against them, sure. The way in which the Aggies have acquired their record should be able to influence the committee to bump them a little bit. His endorsement of Bilas's tweet calling RPI a "joke" suggests he's more militant than that.
Once you start talking about tossing a 17-7, 7-7 Big Ten team probably headed for 19-9 and 9-9 (this is Illinois—their finish: @OSU, Iowa, @Purdue, Indiana) onto a line where a Sweet Sixteen bid would only be a mild surprise you lose me**. The Illini's strong nonconference performance should easily see them into the tournament but while I love Kenpom I'd take eighteen games of .500 basketball over his rating when evaluating seeds.
Maybe I've read him wrong.
*[Iowa, the worst team in the Big Ten, is 82nd.]
**[To be clear, I'm not picking on Illinois because Gasaway is an Illinois grad. It's just that they're the Big Ten team with the goofiest-looking Kenpom rating given their record. Playing Texas, UNC, Maryland, Missouri, and Gonzaga in the nonconference will do that.]
[Also, think of the advantage lost in NCAA pools if people were fairly seeded based on Kenpom type metrics. Horror!]
Novak fouled out on three obvious charges (2, 3, 5), a blocking foul (1), and one that could go either way(4). The ones where Novak was in position but only got a glancing blow should probably be no-calls, actually. This is why John Beilein—John Beilein!—got a technical foul in Iowa City. In other news, I hate college basketball refereeing.
Also Michigan won in OT against Iowa. The hockey kind of sucked up my attention. Tim Hardaway Jr… dude. This is my analysis. Dude.