"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Uh… is there any?
I've been fretting about Michigan's future APR scores for a while now without actually looking at the numbers."Wah wah wah," I wah, "APR mumble bits mumble." There's a possibility I'm mildly concerning all of you for no reason, so there's no time like the present to put some numbers behind the concerns.
Varsity Blue has helpfully listed the full dossier of transfers and departures since 2008, when the APR scores leave off. (Actually, the Spartan Tailgate "Rodriguezed" thread is more complete. In retrospect, this is obvious. Warning: useful content goes to zero after post #1.) With this information we can divide and multiply our way to knowledge, like they did in the olden days.
I'm still a little unclear on how this thing is calculated. The NCAA's explanation:
The APR is calculated by allocating points for eligibility and retention -- the two factors that research identifies as the best indicators of graduation. Each player on a given roster earns a maximum of two points per term, one for being academically eligible and one for staying with the institution. A team's APR is the total points of a team's roster at a given time divided by the total points possible.
This seems insufficiently detailed. Do walk-ons put on scholarship count? Do walk-ons count in general? What happens when a player like Mallett transfers halfway through the year? What about early NFL draft departures? I've searched the NCAA's web site and haven't found explanations. (I do have my second attempt at an email in; the first went unanswered.)
Let's make some common sense assumptions in the meantime:
- Walk-ons count if they're on scholarship. It would be hard for the NCAA to distinguish between a recruited player and a walk-on who earned his way onto the team.
- They do not count if they are not on scholarship. Allowing any walk-on to count would allow teams to pack their rosters with 5'7" chemical engineers.
- A transferred player only hits you once.
- There are two semesters with 170 points available in each, for a yearly total of 340.
A sanity check on that last point: the NCAA has stated a 925 APR corresponds to about a 50- or 60-percent graduation rate and .925 to the eighth power is about 53%. It goes by terms.
Should You Be Mildly Concerned?
Under those assumptions, Michigan's yearly APR maximums for Rodriguez years one and two:
Three transfers (VB missed Quintin Patilla), two medical scholarships—which don't count against M since both players remained in school— and one Marques Slocum 0-for-2 leave Michigan down a minimum of five points. Since the decisions of Ciulla, Mitchell, DeBenedictis, and Gallimore—AKA the entire 2004 offensive line recruiting class—to leave early were not accompanied by transfers I don't think they'd count against Michigan unless any of those guys left school without a degree.
Then there are the departures of Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham for the NFL. I'm not sure what the NCAA does in the case of early entries. A review of the Greg Oden stuff at Ohio State is inconclusive:
Oden was classified an "0 for 2" in APR jargon, meaning he left school without completing the term and was ineligible for the following season when he left. An "0 for 2," combined with a program's overall APR score of less than 925 (about a 60 percent graduation rate), triggers such a penalty. …
The early departures of Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook are not believed to have negatively affected the score because they completed spring quarter in 2007 before leaving.
Wait, what? Oden gets 0 for 2 for leaving for the NBA but the other two guys don't affect the score even a little? That's odd. I'd guess at least one of the receivers left ineligible; if both did that would cost Michigan another four points.
In the worst case, 331/340 = 973 APR. Even the improbable double-worst case where every player who left Michigan did so with a 0.0 GPA, the attrition only gets Michigan down to 958.
Those numbers immediately makes me think this calculation is goofy even if you factor in some unpublicized dings from players who exhaust their eligibility but don't graduate. But the sanity check is the sanity check. If they were grading this out of 170 points per year the graduation rate they are shooting for would be 75%.
Nine transfers—Hill, Clemons, Babb, Chambers, Horn, McGuffie, Threet, Wermers, and O'Neill—have shoved off. Wermers left ineligible, so Michigan is down at least ten points. Others could have left ineligible, too; we wouldn't know because they'd have to sit out as they got their grades up due to the transfer anyway. I'm willing to bet many dollars that Carson Butler left ineligible, which would make the number 12.
Andre Criswell left the team but remains at Michigan as a grad assistant, so he got a degree and won't count against them. Jason Kates left the team but may not have left school, in which case he wouldn't count. Taylor Hill is also an interesting case since he left after about two weeks and immediately transferred to Kent State. If he got out by the drop/add deadline there's a possibility he doesn't count either.
And then there's the strange case of Marcus Witherspoon, who apparently enrolled enough to invoke transfer rules when he moved to Rutgers, but managed to do so without being eligible, but managed to enroll and redshirt at Rutgers despite supposedly not being eligible, which I guess he wouldn't have to be except then he'd… well. I don't know.
There's a lot of gray area here. The bare minimum is 12 , which would be a 964 APR. The maximum reasonable loss—not everyone left ineligible—would be around 20, which would be a 941 APR.
These numbers appear too optimistic. Michigan's rate of attrition under Carr seemed considerably lower than it does in the first couple years of the Rodriguez era, and those teams checked in with APRs near the worst-case scenario of Michigan's 2009 Transfer Spectacular. Either I'm calculating these wrong or there's a big unknown minus from players who run out of eligibility but leave without a degree. I lean towards the latter pending someone from the NCAA actually responding to an email.
Well, Should You?
If we can squint at the grim transfer parade of last year, make the maximum reasonable negative assumption, and then tack on another six points for non-graduating seniors—which would be over 50% of the class, well outside the Michigan norm—and still get a 923 APR, Michigan is going to be fine.
Even in this unlikely worst-case scenario, that one-year number is barely below the line and should be surrounded by years much higher than that. Rodriguez's attrition should drop considerably as the guys who didn't sign up for this Barwis nut leave the program via means natural and un-.
While Michigan's APR will continue to dip over the next couple years, it probably won't even approach the Mendoza line, let alone dip below it.
I'm a sucker for weird old photos, and thanks to The Daily Gopher I've got a boatload for you today. Minnesota's put up a memorial site for Memorial Stadium, the Gopher's pre-Dome home, and Michigan features heavily. But before we get to that, nightmare fuel!
If I was Myles Brand for a day I would force college teams to go back to mascots at least 50 years old, and then I would require them to spend their time scaring the hell out of kids.Yes, Beezlegoldy, like this.
"Coraline, meet your father."
Also there is this:
Enraged sadomasochistic terminator gopher is coming for you, Ohio State.
Now to things you might find relevant.. the Memorial Stadium site is a treasure-trove of old Brown Jug games. Marvel at:
- The 1932 game answers the question "what would happen if everyone on both teams had the ball security skillz of Ryan Mallett?" Answer: every play is a fumble and Michigan wins 3-0.
- 1936 and 1937 weren't much fun; with the late Kipke Wolverines at their nadir and Minnesota at or around their historical apex, the total score was Minnesota 65, Michigan 6.
- 1953 (part II) was also ugly, as Michigan lost to a 4-4-1 Minnesota team 22-0.
- 1961 is where a trend is noticeably forming: Minnesota 23, Michigan 20.
- 1967. Yes, Minnesota wins 20-15. This is getting a bit sil—
- By 1977 Minnesota hasn't won since '67 and won't win again until '86, but their 16-0 win here is commemorated, ending Virtually Every Gopher Victory Since 1937.
It's not the most fair and balanced picture of the rivalry, but if you're not emotionally attached to any of these games it's an interesting overview of the development of football (in an alternate universe where Minnesota always wins).
By this point you will be unsurprised to find out that Minnesota nuked Michigan 34-0.
Update 7/14: Linked to articles on FL CB Tony Grimes, LA WR Drew Dileo, FL WR Ricardo Miller, PA CB Cullen Christian (and PA S Brandon Ifill), OH OL Christian Pace, MI RB commit Austin White, CT LB Khairi Fortt, MI P Mike Sadler, CA LB Tony Jefferson, IA QB AJ Derby (HT: BHGP), MN OL Seantrel Henderson (second), OH LB Jewone Snow. Moved MI RB Austin White to committed.
Removed FL CB Spencer Boyd (ND), SC CB Detrick Bonner (VT), SC OL Eric Mack (SoCar), MD LB Troy Gloster, UT DT Ricky Hemuili, NJ RB Tony Jones, OH RB Erick Howard, MI WR Baquer Sayed. Also removed the three QBs in the "unoffered prospects" category. Moved CA RB Dietrich Riley to S, FL RB Nickell Robey to CB, PA RB Zach Zwinak to LB.
Editorial Opinion: Mildly busy week highlighted by the commitment of MI RB Austin White, which gives Michigan the top instate QB, RB, and WR in this class. On to the show…
I took the opportunity presented by Austin White's commitment to rearrange the RB board. Anyone with a defensive position got shoved to that side of the ball on the assumption that's where Michigan will recruit them in the future and a couple marginal guys got sliced.
- FL CB Spencer Boyd finally committed to ND, surprising no one.
- A couple of South Carolina guys committed elsewhere.
- MD Troy Gloster is down to West Virginia and Stanford, which is one screwy list if you ask me.
- M did not make UT DT Ricky Heimuli's top ten.
Michigan was a real longshot in Heimuli's recruitment, but not even making a top ten list is harsh. Gloster's a mid-three star linebacker, so none of this is particularly damaging. On to that damage, though…
MN OL Seantrel Henderson's recruitment has undergone an unfortunate twist in the last couple weeks. Last week he tentatively announced four officials, none of which were to Michigan, and said Florida State—still not Michigan—might be the fifth. This week:
Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson told ESPN affiliate Web site GatorCountry.com, "Florida, USC and Ohio State... its going to be one of those three. They play for championships and they put a lot of people in the NFL."
Wha? Okay, it's not final…
"It's not that I've closed the door on anyone. I'm still open but I've got some things that are important to me. It's going to be a tough choice but I'm going to make the right one whatever that is."
…but that's a huge shift from Henderson's previous statements and the widely held epinion that Michigan was a player on his short list and possibly even a tentative leader. Also there is this from MaxPreps:
In fact, one source close to the situation expects it to ultimately come down to OSU and USC, with Minnesota likely having already been ruled out.
Adding confusion to confusion, epinion merchants on M premium sites still say Michigan's a factor. So… yeah. Not dead yet in the same way Henderson wasn't in the bag earlier in the year, but chances haven't exactly gone up over the past couple weeks.
Oh, Right, That
I promised some more Christian Pace scuttlebutt in last week's Tuesday Recruitin' and then forgot all about it. Allow me to make amends. A reader sends this along:
A friend of mine is close to the Avon Lake football program. He's a former MAC football player, his kid is on the team, and he helps out with their off season conditioning program. He is not a cheerleader who is normally wowed by kids, but he confirmed to me last weekend that Pace is the real deal. He mentioned that Florida State was absolutely smitten with him. The FSU coaches actually told Pace that he is better than one or two of their starters today and would start for FSU in the 2009 season (as a 17 year old). That's obviously an over-the-top statement, but FSU clearly saw him as a guy who would play immediately and wanted him badly. I wonder if Rod is expecting Pace to at least be in the two-deep for the 2010 season, and thus encouraging the early enrollment. Otherwise, enrolling early just to be redshirted the next season seems like a form of self-torture. Especially for a recruit who had good coaching/training in HS and is relatively polished.
This jives with what the recruiting-mad Florida State fans at Tomahawk Nation told me: Rick Trickett was crazy about Pace, downright loony, and was really disappointed Michigan got him. Given the close association between Trickett and Rodriguez, that bodes well for his future.
What The… No. I Must Resist.
LA WR commit Drew Dileo comes in for the big fluff in his local paper, and you get one-count-it-one guess as to which current NFL player gets dragged up for comparison. Correct:
“He (Jackson) told us Drew reminds them of Wes Welker,” Simoneaux said.
The rest of the article has fascinating insight into Dileo's recruitment, including this remarkably self-aware statement:
“I know my profile isn’t as great as a lot of other kids’ around the country,” he said. “I know (Michigan) reached out there a little bit to get me. It’s not about proving anybody wrong. I just don’t want people up there to feel like I wasted a scholarship.”
Yipes. Hope he wasn't referring to this space, which attempted to be kind but was blunt in its assessment of Dileo's recruiting profile and the class composition when he joined up ("not terribly enthused"). Here will be a true test of Rodriguez's ability to unearth productive who-dats. They found the guy, they pursued him heavily…
“Of all the coaches that came through,” Parkview assistant David Simoneaux said, “Michigan was the most aggressive. They said they just had to have him.”
…and they got him. I hope it works out.
Unexpected In The Other Direction
Josh Helmholdt follows up on CA LB Tony Jefferson, who told ESPN last week Michigan would be on his list of official visits and USC was out. The article doesn't actually have any quotes, so let's just highlight this:
One reason Michigan likely has made a quick rise on Jefferson’s list is because of his desire to receive a highly respected degree. Jefferson committed to Stanford very early in his junior year, citing the Cardinal’s academic prestige. He eventually reneged on that commitment, but still is looking for a strong academic situation.
So there you go. Jefferson maintains no leaders.
Then there's this (now nearly week-old) article on FL CB Tony Grimes. Money quote:
"Michigan is going to be tough to beat," he said. "It's a great program. The networking is on point at Michigan and the alumni system is amazing. The coaching staff is building something great over there."
Schwing. Grimes isn't highly rated on Rivals but is Scout's #5 corner and the offers agree with Scout: Miami, Alabama, Georgia, and plenty others. Grimes visited earlier in the year and has scheduled a return trip for the Notre Dame game; that's the first official he's set.
And, yes, I am contractually obligated to highlight this quote:
"I was with Vladimir (Emilien)," Grimes said of his time in Ann Arbor. "That's my boy. He told me one difference (at Michigan) is once you get there, you are not just a piece of meat, you are a part of the family. That's something I can believe because he didn't play none of his senior year after he tore his ACL, but they didn't just cut him off. They kept his offer and he committed there. "
At this point I'd love nothing more than to never hear the world "family" in connection with Michigan football, good or bad.
More of the Same
PA CB Cullen Christian favors… yep:
When asked to name his leader, Christian said, "I like Michigan best. I feel I have the biggest bond with their coaches. I feel like it's a family there. Michigan is a great school."
Plz commit ASAP plz. Christian may bring along teammate and PA S Brandon Ifill, who's recently declared a top two of M and Maryland and will visit August 31st. Picking up Christian and Grimes would be a stellar 1-2 punch at corner.
Adios, Guy Whose Name I Just Figured Out
I had CT LB Khairi Fortt's name wrong on the board all this time, which is probably why he's got Michigan at or near the bottom of his top six:
"Penn State and North Carolina would be two visits," Fortt said. "But I have to go back over things. We visited 15 or 16 schools. I have to go back through my notes and pictures. I visited Penn State and North Carolina recently, so those schools are (fresh) in my mind."
Fortt does not see himself taking all five official visits.
"I might make three visits," he said.
Fortt tentatively plans an unofficial to Michigan in the next month, but M is clearly behind at least two schools and is just barely hanging on.
Etc.: I've been ignoring a lot of stuff on FL LB Jeff Luc because he's hardly mentioned Michigan and is expected to stay in state, but Sam Webb's been saying on the radio that he expects Luc will take an official. He also confirms that Khairi Fortt is not likely to end up at M. OH LB Jewone Snow doesn't seem like he'll get an offer. IA QB AJ Derby is still open. Commitment fluff on MI RB Austin White. Some MI WR Jeremy Jackson youtube interviews. Bo Schemblogger catches up with MI WR Ricardo Miller for a quick interview.
Ok, kids: it's that time of year again. If you have a blog that…
- has existed for at least six months,
- posts substantial, original content about college football at least 2 or 3 times a week, and
- is willing to disclose the author's favorite team
…you're welcome to apply for entry to the BlogPoll for 2009. The BlogPoll is a CBS Sports-sponsored college football poll that follows the same format as the AP and Coaches' do, except with way more transparency.
More information on the selection criteria is available, if you want it, and there is also a treatise on desired voter philosophy. If all this seems like fun, email me with your blog URL and (if it's not bleeding obvious) team affiliation, at which point I'll put you on the list. If you've already done this there's no need to do it again; I've got you in the hopper.
The secret cabal of blogpoll assemblers should have decisions in the first week of August; the preseason poll will come out a couple weeks before the season.
Former Michigan offensive lineman Kurt Wermers was academically ineligible when he announced his transfer to Ball State last week, sources told ESPN.com.
… But according to sources with knowledge of the situation, Wermers was already out.
His academic struggles would have prevented him from suiting up with the Wolverines. Wermers wasn't even enrolled in summer school at the time of his departure.
Wermers' comments now appear even more self-serving. She didn't break up with me, I broke up with her. And she was a whore anyway. Meet my new girlfriend, who looks like a horse. I mean, really: "I thought I'd get out when I could." Super.
(No offense, Ball State fans, it's just that you're in the MAC and all that. You're a very pretty horse.)
Ugh APR. My concern about Michigan's APR tickling the edges of the 925 cutoff is now increased: you get two points per player per semester, one for keeping them at school and another for keeping them eligible. Michigan got 1/2 for Threet in his final semester; they get 0/2 for Wermers, which makes his departure the equivalent of two guys.
Um, why would Wermers be in summer school? Weird little addendum from Rittenberg there at the end. Wermers left the team months ago and Rodriguez officially announced it in May. Obviously he wasn't enrolled in summer school.
Who is Deep Throat here? I'm sure Wermers' academic status is common knowledge in a certain circle of folks close to the program, any one of whom could be a source credible enough for Rittenberg to go with. I hope none of the coaches were peeved enough to be one of them.
The fortune cookie of articles. Does it seem like this description of Shaun Alexander's recruitment should end with "…in bed"?
Alexander drove through a snowstorm to Michigan, where the school’s recruiting hostesses greeted him in their standard-issued khaki pants and golf shirts.
A week later, Alabama representatives picked him up in a private jet. On the way to Tuscaloosa, the pilot slid over and let Alexander fly. Once on campus he was greeted by a group of sundress-wearing co-eds named the ’Bama Belles. The young lady assigned to Alexander was the reigning Miss Alabama runner-up.
I'm pretty sure I know what that infamous golf shirt outfit looks like (right):
Michigan has since replaced those shapeless… items with something more appealing. Maybe they allow the hostesses to wear something other than cotton garbage bags these days.
Michigan would get the last laugh when Ryan Pfluger shanked an extra point in the first overtime of the 2000 Orange Bowl, and in 2004 the NCAA would significantly restrict the ability of schools like Alabama to fete their recruits Paris Hilton-style.
Show me your jets. There's been a lot of scuttlebutt about how Michael Shaw's injuries saw his abilities decrease in his intermittently-impressive freshman year, but I believe this is the first confirmation of such a thing from the man himself:
"I remember the Minnesota game, and nine times out of 10 that's a touchdown," Shaw said, referring to his 48-yard run, which led to his season-best 71-yard day. "I broke a long run and got dragged from behind. It was then that I was like, 'I'm really hurting. I've never not been able to run, not been able to explode.' " …
"I had significant playing time last year," Shaw said. "With those two guys (Minor and Brown) in front of me, it's up for grabs, and camp is a great platform for me to show I can still play and I'm ready. ... I'm about 90%. I'll be 100% by camp."
Yes. Remember that Mike Shaw is also made of dilithium. Last year he fumbled and disastrously tried to bounce it outside a few times each, but when he wasn't forcing facepalms out of the fanbase he was slashing into the secondary and picking up 20 or so yards a couple times per game.
Shaw's unlikely to wrest the starting job away from the two seniors unless both succumb to injuries. A good sophomore year would see Shaw remain healthy, rip off the occasional long run whilst spotting the two co-starters, and throw down the gauntlet for anyone who presumes to challenge him in 2010.
More for the great leap forward. The latest effort of Football Outsiders' college guru Bill Conolly tackles tailbacks and has a number of data points relevant to Michigan. The stat in question is "Points Over Expectation." The brief summary: it's a metric that rewards you for rushing for lots of yards over many carries. It's something midway between YPC and yardage. (You can get a longer explanation at the link above.)
The notes of interest:
- Sam McGuffie checked in with the seventh-worst POE number in the country last year.
- Brandon Minor had the 12th-best POE number, and is the tenth-best returning tailback.
- Javon Ringer ran a lot, but to little effect:
Ringer was fourth in the country in rushing yards last year, but where did he stack up in POE? A whopping 137th, between Ball State backup Cory Sykes and Colorado backup Demetrius Sumler. Ringer's 390 carries merited a POE of -0.3, meaning an average college running back would have put up exactly what he did in 390 carries. While there is certainly skill (or at least good genes) involved in managing 30 carries per game without breaking down, it is unlikely that the skills Ringer possesses will in any way translate to pro success
In football numbers always require interpretation. Mine: the difference between McGuffie and Minor is partially, maybe even mostly, due to the radical improvement of Michigan's offensive line as the season progressed. The vast bulk of Minor's carries came in the second, effective half of the season. McGuffie was stuck running behind some super-confused guys.
But, man, the size of that gap is epic. Minor was more effective by leaps and bounds. This may something anyone who watched the two could tell you anecdotally, but if last year's Michigan's running game was the 12th-most effective in the country when Minor got the ball that's an accomplishment nearing magnificence. I've been making the case here that we should expect the rushing offense to take a considerable step forward this year; these numbers support that, possibly even to an extent I haven't dared suggest.
On Ringer: I think most people who saw a lot of Ringer would disagree with Connolly's conclusion at least somewhat. Ringer's lack of per-carry production was a product of extreme overuse, predictable playcalling, and being backed by the "threat" of Brian Hoyer*. I've also heard from a couple of educated Michigan State fans that the reason last year's Michigan State team had about one run play—power off tackle—was the ineptness of the offensive line. That's all they could do. He was not put in a position where he could succeed, and he managed to get drafted despite Dantonio treating him like a pack mule. Ringer has talent—probably not NFL-level, but you could say that about a lot of tailbacks with much better POE numbers.
It'll be interesting to see whether the repertoire expands next year or if they're the new Rock, Rock, Rock of the Big Ten. I lean towards the latter. Dantonio may have herded the cats at State into something resembling a competent defense, but offensive creativity does not seem like a specialty.
*(Brandon Minor gets to deploy all these excuses as well since Michigan ran two-thirds of the time when he was the feature tailback, largely because the alternative was having Threet or Sheridan throw. And yet… the numbers. I'm going to go breathe into a paper bag for a while and then write "I will NOT predict 9-3" on a chalkboard 500 times.)
Ah, Doyel. I've previously called Gregg Doyel a junior-high version of Christopher Hitchens and that he remains, but goddamn if it isn't satisfying to read a Christopher Hitchens piece when his strident personal morality happens to intersect with yours. So, yeah, Doyel's latest is a rip job on the inane Meyer-to-ND meme personally started by professional provocateur Paul Finebaum, and I like it.
I want to highlight this bit:
Finebaum's source? He doesn't mention one. Because he doesn't have one. His source is either Spurrier's "rumor down there," or that vast empty space Finebaum calls his skull. …
the Meyer rumor won't leave. Newspapers in Gainesville, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla., have written about it, all in the past six days. Why? Because of Spurrier. And Finebaum.
This is pretty much the exact thing newspaper partisans get upset about when a baseless rumor flies about the blogosphere, reproducing willy-nilly despite a total lack of evidence or credibility. This is not a bug unique to the internet. Like everything else, it just happens much more slowly in newspapers.
In a way it's even more likely to result in untruthiness. Scratch the right sort of Notre Dame, Michigan State, or Ohio State fan and eventually he'll say something along the lines of "lol, Shredriguez" because last year a West Virginia newspaper published an embarrassingly credulous story about Rodriguez invading the Sacred Single Hardcopy Room and destroying all evidence that West Virginia even had a football program. The thing in question takes on a patina of reality due to the institutional momentum behind such a meme—it in a newspaper, it must be true—even if it's purest crap.
Etc.: Terrific UMHoops post on the three-point line move and Michigan's bombing ways.