|Metairie, Louisiana - 6'1" 195
||Scout||3*, #79 S|
|Rivals||3*, #33 S, #13 Louisiana|
|ESPN||3*, 76, #73 S|
|Other Suitors||Utah, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee, LSU (interest).|
|Commitment post. Johnson's coach drops in on Rivals. Johnson figures prominently in several editions of Friday Night Lights. A local coach offers a positive take.|
|Notes||Will play box safety.|
When Michigan brought in Louisiana safety Carvin Johnson for an early November visit, he was the definition of a who-dat. The last thing Rivals had written about him was a four-month-old piece on Tulane's interest. When he committed, Tim scoured the internets for ratings and came up with this:
|NR S||NR DB||Not in Database|
As you can see, Johnson is a COMPLETE STUD that the recruiting services ABSOLUTELY LOVE and have even HEARD OF.
Naturally, people were skeptical. He and safety classmate Ray Vinopal have spent the last month or so talking about how they're going to prove their doubters wrong because most of the things people have said about them are "why aren't you Latwan Anderson?" and "argh."
That was then. If you'll look above you'll note that the recruiting services now have an idea who Johnson is and think he's kind of good. The three stars Johnson got from Rivals are not a perfunctory ok-you-committed-to-Michigan three stars. He's on the verge of a fourth star (the #11 player in Louisiana has four stars). While the other three star rankings are perfunctory, there's plenty of evidence that Johnson is not a MAC-level flier and is actually a guy who Michigan got in on while he was under the radar.
Why might Carvin Johnson, who played for Louisiana power Rummel, which made the state championship game and landed a ton of guys on the all-state team in the largest division, be under the radar?
What did you like least about the process?
• Carvin Johnson: “I didn’t like anything about it. I don’t like all that, I really don’t. I don't like recruiting, I don’t like going to the recruiting camps. I don’t like all that, I just like to play, pretty much. You want to watch me play, come and watch me play."
Johnson totally avoided the camp and combine circuit, lowering his profile. LSU is now heavily dependent on its summer camp, so when Johnson didn't show he fell off their radar. Since Rummel's coach has his kids on serious lockdown—Carvin's in-season official visit was an extremely rare event for a coach who usually does not permit them—Johnson was virtually unknown to the sites when he committed.
Since that time there has been plenty of evidence that Johnson is a sleeper in the true sense of the word.
Item one: the above-mentioned re-rank. Rivals' enthusiasm derives from an in-person viewing($):
STRENGTHS: Johnson is a fantastic tackler. He can tackle in the open field or fill the alley. He brings a pop at the point of contact and always has the ball carrier falling backwards. Johnson is a smart safety in the run game, picking his spots to make an impact and not overpursuing or being too aggressive.
WEAKNESSES: Johnson doesn't look to have elite straight-line speed and he is more of a run-support safety than a coverage guy. - B.S.
Scout and ESPN did not mention such a viewing, so the positive Rivals take carries more weight. Also, while Michigan recruits do tend to get a second look that doesn't mean they all get a bump. DJ Williamson and Ray Vinopal both carry two stars at one site or the other.
Item two: his profile amongst coaches wasn't quite as low as it was a the recruiting sites. When Johnson committed, he had a number of offers from BCS schools:
Johnson, a returning All-District 10-5A selection and the top player on the state's undefeated and No. 2 ranked team in Class 5A, had other official offers from Tulane, Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, Tulsa, SMU, Louisiana Tech, UL-M and Northern Illinois, Johnson and Rummel Coach Jay Roth said.
Minnesota, Utah, and Colorado aren't hugely exciting, but after Johnson committed LSU got on the phone with Rummel immediately. This was more than a cursory look. At about that point, LSU hired Tennessee RB coach Frank Wilson a job that he accepted. Wilson spearheaded a serious look at Johnson:
Frank was in town at Archbishop Rummel High School, taking a hard look at Carvin Johnson, who has verbally committed to Michigan. He likes the 6’1, 190 pound senior safety and may recruit him wherever he coaches next year. … He also opined that while LSU has gotten most of those outstanding home-grown players, they have either missed on or not recruited others, including the likes of Rummel’s Johnson.
Johnson did not reciprocate the interest and LSU eventually drifted away without an offer. Would Johnson gotten an offer if he had taken an official? That's not definite, but does seem possible. On Signing Day, Fred Jackson wove a tale of fending off a pair of unidentified SEC schools($) (and a horde of robot insects from Xazrak, this being Fred Jackson) at the last minute. In a Signing Day interview, Johnson confirmed that one of the schools was Tennessee.
Item three: local support. In the aftermath of the slightly downcast commitment post, this site received an unprompted email from a Louisiana football coach promoting Johnson's ability. Coach Ox:
Carvin Johnson is not even one of my players – but I have played against his Rummel team and know Jay Roth and his program well. Carvin Johnson can play. Here in LA, we do not send kids to camps to get hyped up. We know our kids can play. If a LA kid is going to combines, it is very much more than likely due to (a) his high school coach trying to get exposure for himself or (b) because his program isn’t any good, but he plays well. Trust me, this is how it is.
You are getting a solid player – big, physical, coached up, football smart.
(Clearly, Johnson is ticketed for the box safety role.) Meanwhile, scouring a local message board or two—"Carvin" is a terrific search term—reveals a few references, all of them positive. In a thread on Louisiana recruits that escaped the state, a poster claims a couple of in-state defensive backs are underrated, "especially Carvin." In a similar thread a couple of other posters pick Johnson as a guy LSU should have offered.
Defensively, he's amassed 74 tackles, including two sacks, while forcing a fumble, breaking up three passes and recording seven interceptions. He's also been a key special teams' performer, returning 26 punts for 358 yards (13.8 yards per return) and two touchdowns.
By the end of the year, Johnson was first-team all state in the largest classification, winner of the local "Amateur Athlete of the Month" award, and on the Clarion Herald's all-decade(!) team. One thing that's been widely reported here and elsewhere he did not, in fact, accomplish: Johnson was not the state championship game MVP in a 30-0 loss. He was his team's MVP. Imprecise language on the part of some local reporters has let that bizarre, and sadly untrue, factoid loose.
Local reporters tend towards panting reactions:
Breaud was terrific, taking many huge hits, particularly from a human missile named Carvin Johnson and by linebacker Chris Randle. Johnson, who earlier this week committed to Michigan, returned a punt 69-yards for a score on a brilliant effort but the play was called back for a block in the back by Rummel.
So there you go.
Item four: character/coach fawning. If Justin Feagin taught us anything, it's don't scam an unstable burnout out of money because he'll try to burn South Quad down. But if he taught us a second thing, it would be "don't read too much into quotes." Even so, Rummel coach Jay Roth's lavish praise moves the needle with your blogger. This bit specifically:
A mid-year transfer after starting as a freshman at a New Orleans-area public school, Johnson showed up in Roth’s office one day three years ago and said, “Coach, I was at a program where the kids showed up late for practice and they weren’t held accountable and the coach didn’t work as hard as I want to be worked. I want to be challenged.”
"But Carvin is a stud. When the word was out he committed to Michigan, my phone started ringing off the hook from the schools down here, but I told them it's too late.
"Carvin's told everyone that's tried to call that he's done. He's committed to Michigan."
“First of all,’’ Roth said, “everybody who knows Carvin or who has been around him knows that he’s as good of a person as he is a football player. That’s a compliment to him and his momma. Football-wise, he’s a ballhawk. He’s always around the football making plays.’’
"I cannot say enough about him and our defense."
After Johnson committed, Roth went so far as to hop on Rivals and answer a bunch of questions.
It is in these things that this site's recent optimism on Johnson is born. In this, he's like Vincent Smith last year: a player who initially drew a "meh" but by Signing Day was touted around here as one of the low-rated guys to watch out for in this class. Johnson isn't likely to have the same impact Smith did as a freshman—running back is always the easiest place to make an instant contribution—but he's this site's sleeper of the year.
Understatement of the Decade. Roth on Johnson:
“He’s a different kid. Very intense kid, look you in the eye, shake your hand firmly, hang on every word you say. And he’s not accustomed to losing. He doesn’t care for it too much.”
This is Johnson after Rummel's 30-0 loss—their first and only of the year—in the state championship game:
Word, coach Roth. Word.
Why Jamar Adams? Adams was 1) a big safety who was good in run support, 2) a generic three star to the sites, and 3) a guy who came in with a buzz disproportionate to his rankings. He bore that buzz out quickly, starting a couple games as a freshman when Angry Michigan Safety-Hating God struck and establishing himself a three-year starter. Over the course of his career, Adams proved himself a reliable safety, a character asset, and solid starter. He was a fringe NFL player because of a lack of top-end athleticism.
Guru Reliability: Low. Johnson was unknown until the Michigan commitment and the re-rank after that was based on game observations, sans all star or combine appearances. Also there's a considerable spread.
General Excitement Level: Moderate plus. I'd rather have a guru-approved kid, all things being equal, but this point Johnson has shed the who-dat label and appears to be a solid find for Rodriguez & Co. Roth's praise indicates a kid who will be a program asset, as well.
Projection: Might have a chance to contribute early since box safety is sort of vacant and classmate Marvin Robinson did not enroll early, but the best bet is for a redshirt and then some development time with an eye towards starting in years 3, 4, or 5. Could fill out to play linebacker or spinner.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Ohio State|
Feb 27th, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +12.5*|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
The Wolverines rebounded from a tough loss at Indiana to stun the #15 Buckeyes 73-64 in Crisler Arena. Ohio State was without Evan Turner, but the Wolverines' victory still stands as one of their (few) statement wins on the year.
The Buckeyes came out hot, with Jon Diebler bombing from long range and David Lighty getting to the basket in the first half. After they shot 59.6% eFG% from the floor in the first frame, however, MIchigan put on the clamps, holding them below 34.6% eFG% shooting after the break. Offensively, Michigan was led by DeShawn Sims, who scored 28 points on just 18 shots, and added 9 rebounds. Manny Harris finished with 24 points on 16 shot attempts.
Since Last We Met
The Buckeyes payed at a high level for most of the time they were without Turner, but since he's returned, they've been a top-notch team. Turner is making a serious case for National Player of the Year, so Michigan was lucky to face the Buckeyes without him last time. Ohio State has gone 12-3 since the MIchigan game, with one of those losses coming on the road against a tough West Virginia team.
Michigan, on the other hand... wel you know what's happened. They have been switching back and forth between encouraging wins (and even some encouraging losses) and soul-crushing defeats. With back-to-back losses against Penn State and Illinois, both of which were winnable, it remains to be seen whether this Wolverine team has just packed it in for next year, or if they're willing to show some fight in the last three games of the regular season.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Ohio State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Penn State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. OSU Def eFG%||249||102||OO|
|Mich Def eFG% v. OSU eFG%||206||3||OOO|
|Mich TO% v. OSU Def TO%||9||66||M|
|Mich Def TO% v. OSU TO%||45||30||O|
|Mich OReb% v. OSU DReb%||276||41||OOO|
|Mich DReb% v. OSU OReb%||235||283||M|
|Mich FTR v. OSU Opp FTR||340||12||OOOO|
|Mich Opp FTR v. OSU FTR||11||211||MMM|
|Mich AdjO v. OSU AdjD||126||20||OO|
|Mich AdjD v. OSU AdjO||45||14||O|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
I'll keep the comments brief, because I predict some serious pain in this game.
Michigan's ratings have been oscillating wildly all year. Currently, the offense looks as bad per game as it has in a while, but the defense has improved over the last couple games, despite losses to Illinois and Penn State. Ohio State, on the other hand, is excellent at just about everything. Michigan will have to play one of their best games of the year in order to come away with an upset.
Unfortunately, I just don't see that happening. Vegas likes the Buckeyes by 12.5 points, and Ken Pomeroy says they'll win by 12. Those numbers sound about right to me. The final margin could be a little closer than that (and certainly a lot further apart), but I don't see enough in this game to see a Michigan win being possible.
The Michigan lacrosse team finally hits the field for the 2010 season on Saturday, as they head to Tucson, Arizona to take on the Arizona Wildcats in the first game of their 3-game road trip over spring break. They'll also take on Arizona State in Tempe and BYU in Provo.
The Wolverines compete in the MCLA, the country's top organization for club teams. They are the two-time defending National Champions, and look to extend their 40-game winning streak into the new campaign. Michigan hasn't lost since May 16, 2007 - more than 1,000 days.
Key Losses: Riley Kearns, Wes McGowan
Key Returners: Kevin Zorovich, Trevor Yealy, Clark McIntyre, Josh Ein
Newcomers: Zach Dauch, Thomas Paras
Trevor Yealy is the star of the Michigan attack, racking up outstanding goal totals each of the past two years. Last year, he led the MCLA with 4.5 goals per game, including a program-record 11 against Minnesota-Duluth, on his way to All-American and team offensive MVP honors. He's just a junior, so his best days may even be ahead of him. Kevin Zorovich, Michigan's second-leading scorer from last year and a 3rd-Team All-American, missed the pre-season with an injury, but is expected to be back in the lineup by regular season play. He was last year's team MVP. Freshman Thomas Paras only participated in the East-West scrimmage and the final pre-season game, but he impressed in each, totaling five total preseason goals.
Key Losses: Aaron Hodari, Peter Vasher
Key Returners: Jamison Goldberg, Matt Asperheim (LSM), Anthony Hrusovsky, Michael Bartomioli, David Rogers, Svet Tintchev
Newcomers: Max Greenspan (LSM), Matt Joseph, Matthew Levy (RS), Brian Greiner (RPI transfer), Willie Steenland, Sean Sutton, Joey Hrusovsky, Brian O'Callaghan (LSM), Harrison Silver, Lee Boshes (LSM), Nick Asher
Though the Wolverines bring in a huge class of midfielders, the majority of their production from the middies returns from last year. Perhaps the most important three are Michigan's senior captains, Michael Bartomioli, David Rogers, and Svet Tintchev. Long Stick Midfielder Matt Asperheim collected 42 ground balls last year. A bunch of newcomers will join the team as well, including Anthony Hrusovsky's younger brother Joey.
Key Losses: Zach Elyachar, James Payer, Jim Petoskey
Key Returners: Zach Mueller, Jordan Bargas, Harry Freid, Bob Diehl, Justin Burgin
Newcomers: Theo Lederfine Paskal, Matt Rizzo, JD Johnson, Pat Grogan, Forest Cox
Zach Elyachar was a 2nd-Team All-American and the squad's defensive MVP, so he will be a big loss, along with Jim Petoskey. However, the Wolverines have younger players ready to step up. Harry Freid was a 1st-Team All-American last year, and Bob Diehl was named last year's most improved player (all the while notching the team's highest Grade Point Average). Theo Lederfine Paskal and JD Johnson are just freshmen, but got some good minutes in the preseason.
Key Losses: None
Key Returners: Andrew Fowler, Mark Stone
Newcomers: Conor McGee, Cy Abdelnour
Andrew Fowler and Mark Stone split time in the net last year, with Fowler having the slight edge as the #1 guy (he played the entire National Championship game, despite a rough first half). Fowler missed a few games last year with a foot injury, but bother guys have been healthy through the preseason. Conor McGee and Cy Abdelnour bolster an already-strong unit.
Key Losses: None
Key Returners: David Reinhard, Edward Ernst
Senior David Reinhard was one of the best faceoff men in the MCLA last year, and was named a 1st-Team All-American specialist. He won 68.4% of his draws. Unsurprisingly, he also collected the most ground balls on the team, amassing 180 GBs. His backup, sophomore Edward Ernst, won over 60% of his faceoffs last year as well.
Schedule breakdown after the jump.
Training day. AnnArbor.com talks with Brandon Graham about his prep for the NFL combine. Includes interview segments with Graham and a look inside what Barwis's program is like. Graham also makes a huge array of pained faces:
Graham's running 4.58 40s and doing linebacker drills. I feel a RBUAS piece referencing this video in the future.
In other NFL draft news, Zoltan Mesko is interviewed by the Boston Herald and references a name from the past you might be surprised is hanging around the program again:
“I thought he [Pats special teams coach Scott O'Brien] was very knowledgeable in the special teams game,” Mesko continued. “I know we have our own Michigan guy that takes special teams really seriously, Pierre Woods, and basically, I never knew… When Pierre came back this past month, he’s training up at Michigan again to stay in shape, the amount of knowledge he’s picked up from the special teams coach there is unbelievable. You can really make or break yourself as a linebacker… you’re going to play special teams at that level.”
Woods got in some trouble after a breakout sophomore year and barely hung on with the program after that; many people believe that's where Michigan's rift with the Glenville program that pumps out players year after year started.
Hunwick! After last night's hockey game I bet my friend a dollar that Shawn Hunwick would get the first star despite not facing much in the way of scoring chances, or even shots, from Notre Dame. Lo, it was so. That capped what was probably the best game at Yost all year, a 4-0 win over Notre Dame that saw loveable tiny walk-on get (split) a shutout and two of the four seniors score. Carl Hagelin even added the sort of pretty goals that have been sorely lacking all year when he danced around an ND defenseman and set up Matt Rust for a slam-dunk on a two on one.
Hogan, who has made 41 straight starts in net, is listed as doubtful for Saturday's regular-season finale at Notre Dame.
I know I've been pretty down on Hogan of late—so has Red—but Hunwick's a 5'7" walk-on. That's a major blow.
Michigan is now sixth in the league. Four and five are done with conference play and Michigan can pass them with a win Saturday. If Northern gets five points or more out of their weekend (ie: win both nights and win one in regulation) against Lake State, they'll pass Michigan. Anything less and M will sneak into the fourth spot and grab the first-round bye that comes with it.
Will it matter? Eh… probably not. Unless MSU or Ferris State is upset, Michigan would reach the Joe as the lowest remaining seed and have to take out #1 Miami, a team that's lost all of two conference games this year. Doing that full strength is difficult enough, and now with Hogan questionable it's even more doubtful.
Side note: excellent work by whoever slid this game to Thursday night. I assume it was to make sure the students were present for senior day, something that's been exceedingly rare for a long time. Usually the students are on break and senior night is a flat affair.
Recruiting cavalcade. This didn't get mentioned in Thursday Recruitin'—which we promise will return to Wednesday when things are less insane—but this weekend Michigan is hosting a massive "Showcase" for high school recruits at Oosterbaan and Newsterbaan. They're not officially involved because they can't be, but having what seems like half of the Midwest's big recruits take an unofficial visit to Michigan's shiny new practice facility can't hurt.
Scout has a couple lists of all the folk coming in. Prepare for the begats. Notable names include MI RB Justice Hayes, MI WR DeAnthony Arnett, commit Shawn Conway, OH WR AJ Jordan, MI LB Lawrence Thomas, OH LB Antonio Poole, 2012 MI LB James Ross, commit Greg Brown, commit Delonte Hollowell, MI WR Valdez Showers, MI OL Anthony Zettel, OH OL Chris Carter, OH OL Aundrey Walker, IL OL Chris Bryant, and many others. It's like a super-massive junior day on Michigan's campus, the equivalent of getting a NIKE camp. The difference: NIKE camps are rare appearances and this is going to happen every year.
I'll be most interested to see how the current Michigan commits do. Zettel's already torn up a lineman camp and seems like he'll be an easy four-star, but Hollowell, Brown, and Conway haven't been to a senior camp yet IIRC and this will be a first read on where they'll end up in the rankings.
Expansion dampening? Yes, another Big Ten expansion article. This one has a couple of interesting quotes about the issue of buying into the Big Ten Network. New members are probably going to have to operate at a lower revenue level to start:
"You just don't jump into the league and get a full share of what everyone else in this league has established over time," Alvarez said. "I think someone has to buy their way into the league." …
"We've created such an asset in the Big Ten channel," Outgoing Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said, echoing Alvarez. "I cannot see our 11 institutions simply saying we're going to divide our pie up into more pieces from Day 1."
That will dampen enthusiasm from potential additions, but it might not matter. This is the first time I've seen these numbers for the BTN's second year and holy crap:
But according to tax forms the nonprofit conference is required to make public, it generated $217.7 million and paid each school about $18.8 million in 2007, the most recent year for which tax forms are available.
The next year, according to the Sports Business Journal, the new TV network added another $66 million to the pot. That pushed the per-team payout to about $22 million each, a figure officials from several Big Ten schools confirm remains accurate.
The next most prosperous conference, the SEC, paid its member schools about $11 million each in 2007, according to tax documents.
I'm pretty sure that latter distribution is way up since the SEC's blockbuster ESPN contract kicked in, FWIW, but I also think the SEC is going to have a static amount of money for the next 15 years; the Big Ten is half-owner of its network and will see increasing revenue shares over the course of that time.
(HT: Get The Picture.)
Yes that again. The WLA has a piece similar to the one I just posted, but when I said "I cannot emphasize enough" I was not kidding. Money grafs:
They certainly didn’t know their statements were true either. Is strongly asserting something you know could theoretically be true but might also be false a lie? If you don’t offer up any qualifications to your assertions (I didn’t see any), then I say yes, especially in the case of Rosenberg.
I suppose the best we could say about Snyder is he was totally ignorant of the subject on which he was writing and he didn’t know he was uttering falsehoods. So yay for being a dumbass, Mr. Snyder. But with Rosenberg, we know from his opinion column that he disapproves of the job Rodriguez is doing. For him to write falsehoods that also denigrate someone he disapproves of is just a bit too much of a coincidence for me to believe. Rosenberg knew what he was doing, IMO.
They lied. In the days and months to come regarding the story about “Michigan Players Practice A Lot,” let us not forget the fact that Rosenberg and Snyder lied to their readers.
To aid you in your stalking. People tend to like the occasional mentions of my personal life, so they'll love this: my fiancée's food blog. In it you will find out what I have been eating, what food-related conventional wisdom has recently been enraging in my presence, and various other bizarre things that don't have anything to do with me.
Etc.: Delany has our back, I guess.
don't call it a comeback, jihad's been here for years
After Tuesday's press conference we have all been apprised of what Michigan stands accused of and can go back to the original article and this site's response to that article and evaluate those claims for accuracy. One thing leaps out at me about my response: having little experience with "major violations" that didn't involve hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash changing hands, I didn't comprehend where the line between "secondary" and "major" lies. It turns out that everything down to a few TRENCH WARRIOR hats is major, so this paragraph that wraps up my deconstruction of the journalism-type substance turns out to be wrong:
The Free Press systematically overstated their case by omitting contextual information and misrepresenting quotes about voluntary workout programs. They have repeatedly raised the specter of major, program-crippling sanctions. They took a side, and if that side turns out to be wrong the people responsible for the story should be held responsible for their errors in judgment.
They won't, of course. If and when Michigan releases the results of its internal probe and announces they've come up with either nothing or a pu-pu platter of secondary violations, people will laugh at NCAA enforcement, cite the Jerry Tarkanian quote, and laud the journalistic effort that went into proving football players play a lot of football.
…but only the word "secondary." Michigan will get hit with a major violation after all. They will take some largely symbolic punishment. This is not victory for the University. But it's closer to a win for them (and it's not very close) than it is for the Free Press.
A series of quotes. The Free Press:
Players spent at least nine hours on football activities on Sundays after games last fall. NCAA rules mandate a daily 4-hour limit. The Wolverines also exceeded the weekly limit of 20 hours, the athletes said.
"The allegations are true," Clemons said. "Nothing is fabricated or exaggerated in that story. I was there on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. depending on if guys needed treatment. You were there daylight to nighttime."
I am willing to wager many amounts of money that the Sunday lifting was of the variety that fits the NCAA's definition of voluntary, as was the film. The rehab/examinations/dinner and any downtime in between practice and film and other activities definitely don't count. At no point has anyone in the media even broached this possibility. It has not occurred to them. Some of them specifically omit it because it conflicts with their aims; some are just professional parrots.
When Michigan releases its compliance information, Michigan will check in at four hours of countable activity on Sunday. If they're over at all it will be by a small amount. I bet a dollar.
Between August 31 and October 26, 2008, football student-athletes were required to participate in as many as five hours of countable athletically related activities per day, which exceeded the maximum of four hours a day, on several occasions, including, but not limited to, August 31; September 7, 14 and 28; and October 5, 12, 19 and 26. Additionally, during the week beginning October 19, 2008, the student-athletes were required to participate in approximately 20 hours and 20 minutes of countable athletically related activities, which exceeded the maximum of 20 hours per week. [NCAA Bylaw 22.214.171.124]
Someone owes me a dollar.
There is another allegation accusing the program of even slighter overages (a half-hour at most) during the early parts of the 2009 season, after the article came out. We will see why Michigan went over when the details come out, but it's safe to say given David Brandon's statements that Michigan will argue they were erroneously lumping stretching in with various explicitly non-countable activities. Michigan's violations were borne of incompetence, sloppiness, and misinterpretation.
That's not why the Free Press story was major news last year. No one picks up the story "Michigan could be slightly over their daily allotted maximum in countable hours." The lurid allegations that Michigan was not just exceeding but totally ignoring NCAA limits on football-related activities are the entire crux of the Free Press article. With one brief assertion that the players interpreted the technically voluntary activities as mandatory, the Free Press dismisses the idea that a non-countable hour exists. In this they were not only totally wrong but dishonest. Honesty requires framing the facts in a responsible way. No effort was made at this.
They omitted useful context like this statement from NCAA president Myles Brand:
"Once you get past 40 hours, you're really pushing it, I think."
It took two seconds to Google that. It came from an article in an obscure paper called "USA Today" that featured a survey that found D-I football players spent 45 hours a week on football-related activities.
They kept every player who spoke anonymous, even those who had left the program, except for the freshmen whose words they twisted badly. They ignored a raft of articles with quotes that provide context relative to other Division I programs:
To combat any complacency, Meyer has ordered strength coach Mickey Marotti to design the most difficult offseason that Florida's ever had.
"If there's any resistance," Meyer said, "that guy's not going to play."
And they didn't put the word "countable" in their story once. This was not ignorance: when I asked Mike Rosenberg if he knew what a "countable hour" was, he said yes. Mark Snyder, ironically, refused to answer.
They did all this in service of making Michigan's marginal rules violations—violations that college football coaches attest to SportsCenter anchors would befall 90% of Division I—seem utterly lawless. A newspaper that cared about journalism would fire everyone involved with the story now that the NCAA's worst-case scenario has definitively proven that the truth was a secondary objective in the Free Press story, if it was considered at all.
As for the program: we don't know the details of what went on yet so I can't say whether or not this has a major impact on my opinion of Rodriguez. The NCAA allegations fall in a gray area where it's not immediately clear how bad the violations actually are or are not.
The in-season overages are laughable, consisting of some days that were slightly too long and exactly twenty minutes of actual extra time beyond the 20-hour weekly limit. If the out-of-season overages are entirely encompassed by extra conditioning for kids who missed class, they're stupid on the part of someone in the department but basically honorable. I think there will be other things, though, as there are overages for both "voluntary" conditioning and summer countable hours. What those things are will matter.
The situation with the quality control staffers—obvious here from day one as the most damaging section of the allegations—is potentially worse. I've heard plenty of potential mitigating factors and some of the charges, like "QC staffer helps players stretch," are self-evidently TRENCH WARRIOR-type violations. Others seem like organized efforts to avoid NCAA rules. If they are that's at the very least stupid. If Michigan has a reasonable explanation for this that the NCAA accepts, fine. I've heard they will, but that remains the quintessential rumor you want to believe.
I'll withhold judgment on the program until then. My guess is that it will be sloppy on Rodriguez's part and worse for certain members of the compliance staff. After some heads roll and Michigan gives back some practice time, it will be over. Dave Brandon has quite a job to do reorganizing the department into something competent.
This is a softball strike against Rodriguez. Another NCAA investigation that turns up anything major and he's gone. Does it affect how much he needs to win next year? Not for me personally, and I don't think for anyone important.
What would change that? Sanctions, self-imposed or not, that seem to seriously impinge on the program's ability to compete the next two years. Scholarship reductions that last past 2010. (IE: are anything other than symbolic.)
A final note: I can't emphasize enough how much of a hit job this was. Until such time as Drew Sharp, Michael Rosenberg, and Mark Snyder are no longer at the paper, if you are a Michigan fan with a Free Press subscription you should terminate it immediately. If you link to a Free Press article it should be the print page and it should be nofollowed. If you visit the Free Press website, you should have adblock on. If you write for Michigan's Rivals site you should not write for the Free Press. It's not because they took a swing at Michigan's program. It's because they were blatantly dishonest in doing so.
The 2011 Recruiting Board lives here.
Shawn Conway Goes Blue
Setting off an mgofirestorm of sorts, MI WR Shawn Conway committed to the Wolverines at Junior Day on Saturday. Conway is the third commitment in the 2011 class.
According to Scout, his junior stats were 79 receptions for 800 yards and 10 TDs, 500 yards in kick/punt returns, and two interception returns. His stats are not, as reported incorrectly here earlier, 11 receptions for a couple hundred yards or so (makes sense, as there are 12 receptions for exactly 300 yards in his highlight video):
Since the commitment (and resulting uproar), news has come out that Conway was drawing interest from schools like Florida prior to his commitment, sure to please Michigan fans. Local commit article.
FL RB Andrew Buie should be one of the top running backs nationally, and the Wolverines have offered, along with the likes of Ole Miss, and North Carolina, while Florida ha shown some interest. He sounds like a great fit for Michigan's offense:
"Andrew is more shifty. He is better in space and more versatile..."
Scott believes that a versatile player like Buie is of high value, given the versatile nature of offensive schemes in college football.
"With the way the game is going as far as the spread offenses go, it's good for a player not to get locked into only being able to do just one thing," he said. "It's good to not just say he's a single-back guy or a spread-type guy. You need to be able to do it all."
Buie, who attends the same high school as 2010 Michigan target and Rutgers signee Rashad Knight, was named 1st-team All-State in Florida's Class 1A at running back.
Michigan has offered OH WR Devin Smith. He hails from Massillon Washington High School, the alma mater of Shawn Crable and Justin Turner. According to Cincinnati.com (which confirms the offer), the 6-2, 175-pounder runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, and also holds offers from the likes of Cincinnati and West Virginia. Michigan and Michigan State are Smith's current top two.
Michigan offered IN OL Tony Springmann a while back, but I forgot to mention it. The Rivals story entitled "Rodriguez offers junior offensive lineman" redirects to Springmann's profile. He took a junior day visit and is a decent possibility.
Though we already knew about the offer to his teammate, WR Dondi Kirby, it looks as though PA LB Armstead Williams from Monroeville Gateway has also received an offer from the Wolverines. Both are participating in the ESPN Rise Nike football combine at Pitt.
Michigan has offered VA LB Curtis Grant, and he plans to visit Ann Arbor during the recruiting process ($, info in header). Tom posted junior highlights of Grant and his teammate Brendan Riddick on mgoboard.
Per the Twitter of TomVH, FL DB Dallas Crawford has received a Michigan offer.
OH QB Cardale Jones (pictured at right) plans to head up to Michigan for the next junior day, which I believe is the Night of Champions on March 13th ($, info in header). He hails from Cleveland Glenville, so it will be tough for the Wolverines to land him, but if Ohio State is focused on Braxton Miller there's a chance. Tom also reported on Twitter that Jones has his own website, though it's a little bare right now. It will be interesting to see if some content goes up on it over the course of his recruitment.
NC QB Marquise Williams "like[s] coach Rich Rodriguez" and intends to visit Michigan at some point in the recruiting process ($, info in header).
“Michigan is very well known, not in the past couple years but the program itself and how dominant they are. I think Coach Rodriguez is doing a good job on getting them back to where they need to be. It was definitely a special offer."
Rodriguez played at West Virginia with Hamilton's father, and was one of the prospects tat was getting the most attention from the coaches (to my eye at least) at Junior Day, which he enjoyed ($, info in header). Hamilton will take his time making a decision.
In other news out of Michigan's Junior Day last weekend, OH DT Kevin Williams told Tom that Michigan still leads, despite Spartanmag.com reports to the contrary. Williams's coach thinks he's kind of good:
"Being a former college coach and NFL coach, I knew he was going to blow up when I put his film out there and started making the calls," Marrow said. "My belief is that Kevin Williams is not just the top D-tackle in the Midwest, he is one of the top D-tackles in the country. I'm talking top five."
That's from Sam Webb in the News and contains many more quotes like that.
CA DE Charles Burks plans to visit Ann Arbor this spring.
Burks was among the top pass-rushers in the state last year. He had 52 tackles and 14 sacks during the regular season but broke his leg in the Chargers' first-round game and had to sit out the rest of the playoffs.
He doesn't have any offers yet, but the Night of Champions might be a good opportunity for him to land one from Michigan. Despite growing up a Buckeye fan, Michigan is one of his favorite schools.
OH CB/WR Cheatem Norrils was in attendance for Michigan's Junior Day (Scout freebie). His only scholarship offer to this point is from Toledo, but he is very interested in Michigan. If the Wolverines decide they want him, his relationship with Kevin Koger could help land him.
Other 2011 Recruiting
Sam Webb talks to TX RB Jarrell Oliver (who holds a Michigan offer), about whether the Wolverines are at the top of his list ($, info in header). The question about whether UM is the team to beat is the type that is always answered with some version of "yes."
TomVH reports that MI FB/LB Joey Kerridge enjoyed Michigan's junior day, and may get news of an offer sometime this week. The link has a highlight video embed, as well.
Though GA OL David Andrews received a Michigan offer last week ($, info in header), he has already committed to Georgia.
Landing Demar Dorsey in the class of 2010 has gotten Michigan's foot in the door at Boyd Anderson High School, which boasts a hell of a lot of Division-1 talent each year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Aside from LB Kent Turene from the class of 2011, there are a few guys in this class that might get onto the radar later, and even more underclassmen.
Removed FL S Karlos Williams, who has committed to Florida State. This was probably a long time coming, as he was always a Florida State lean, and his brother is a 'Nole.
Fluff on FL S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix and FL CB Nick Waisome.
OH CB Doran Grant should be one of the top prospects in the state of Ohio for the 2011 class, and Sam Webb profiled him in the Detroit News last week. He has a lot of connections to Michigan State, but that won't prevent him from considering the Wolverines:
"(Last week) I talked to (Rich Rodriguez) and he said he was really excited now that he got the 2010 class signed," Grant recalled. Now he was going to start on 2011 and he said I was one of the main targets. I'm going to go up there for junior day, talk to him in the office, sit down and learn more about the school, and just check out the facilities and maybe some players."
I'm not sure if Grant made it in for Junior Day, but it sounds like, at the very least, he'll give the Wolverines a fair shake.
Michigan fans were hoping for commitments from MI OL Anthony Zettel and/or MI DE Brennen Beyer at Junior Day, but that didn't happen. Both probably going to take another couple visits (such as Zettel's upcoming Notre Dame trip) before making decisions, but the Wolverines still seem to lead for both. According to Tom, Beyer wants to return to Ann Arbor later this week, which is certainly a good sign.
2010 Walkon Update
MI OL Kristian Mateus, from Forest Hills Central (alma mater of yours truly) will be a preferred walkon this fall, according to the Grand Rapids Press, which apparently has copy editors who approve ledes like this:
Kristian Mateus, a standout football player at Forest Hills Central, has joined the list of University of Michigan football recruits even if his name isn’t on a list just yet.
FAIL. Anyway, Mateus is huge (6-8, 285), and cites the opportunity presented by Michigan's walkon program in particular, as Rodriguez was a walkon himself and likes to see them emerge as contributors.
[Editor's note: the Press might not have copy editors anymore and by criticizing like so we are doomed to make a similarly dumb mistake in the near future.]
The Distant Future. The Year 2012
2012 MI LB James Ross from Orchard Lake Saint Mary's has received a Michigan offer ($, info in header) to go along with his scholarship from Michigan State. Coach Schuman from the National Underclassmen Combine Blog says Ross took home a numbers of honors from the combine this year:
James was the Top LB of the Class of 2012 and was U100 MVP at LB and Top Prospect Camp LB MVP. Expect 20 plus offers from James when all said and done.
More on the 2012 class as news comes out, but I won't cover it in any depth until the 2011 class is closer to completion.