"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
They really should have cast J Leman as the scientist guy in "I Am Legend." Why? Obviously.
I mean no offense to the Great and Powerful Leman. He is truly wondrous. But -- not to be a heretic -- I think we have a challenger in for the title of Most Awesome Football Mugshot in the Multiverse.
The Mose Schrute beard, I think, is actually superior to the Leman mullet. Mullets are a pop culture trope. People sport them ironically, and if you are one of the three US households that gets Versus you can get your fill of them in the NHL. No one famous has sported a full-on I-churn-butter-by-hand Mennonite beard since Ulysses S Grant. Advantage Russell.
However, there is still the matter of the American flag tie. Russell's hellacious(!) pit stains are a worthy foe, but J Leman woke up on the morning of Illinois picture day and thought to himself "self, it's time to rock it the American Way." Russell just lives in Texas, where anyone wearing a dress shirt outside develops pit stains in 2.3 seconds.*
Russell has no offers yet, but is listing Michigan. Pray. Pray hard.
*(I resided in Texas for one summer; this is absolutely true.)
Achtung. This is kind of a silly way to attempt to get in touch with someone, but Johnny of RBUAS, I require you to email me.
Giddyup. Mon... er, Tuesday Recruitin' was heavily focused on one Kevin Newsome, Virginia quarterback par excellence and maybe probably soonish a Michigan commitment. More grist for the mill, this from established Buckeye Planet insider Unionfutura:
...he committed to them Monday. Kid is big man, looks like a LB.
All due caution is advised -- consarned kids with their internets -- but the underground buzz on this is getting overwhelming.
BONUS! I don't give this much credence but it might cause a Penn State fan or two to start bashing his head against the wall whilst moaning "no, no, no, no," so... what looks like a legit Tate Forcier comment showed up on Newsome's myspace page; a helpful reader forwards it along:
Aye bro! How sick would it be if we both went to Michigan? We could do like the florida thing with tebow an Chris Leak... Cuz dude if we both go there we could do some serious damage.
An we could get like the Tightest...
wait for it... wait for it...
Even if that is really Forcier chances are he heads somewhere else.
He fell into our laps. Memo to self: send Dave Wannstedt some mustache wax for Christmas. In the midst of an chaotic coaching search that seemingly had no real candidates after Greg Schiano turned Michigan down twice came salvation in the form of one disgruntled mofo from West Virginia:
Attorneys for West Virginia University have obtained new documents that show Rodriguez' representatives contacted Michigan on Dec. 11 to gauge their interest in him as their new head football coach. Three days later, Michigan officials met with the former coach in Ohio to start hammering out a deal.
So many questions! Jesus, what did Ed Pastilong do? What would have happened if WVU won? Miles? If not... perish the thought. Michigan didn't even have to sell the guy. He was just looking for a way out.
Stop me if you've heard this before. Buried in like 300 words of Ryan Mundy trying to justify going back to the school he spent 80% of his collegiate career at just because it's Michigan -- over it yet? no? how about now? no? -- is another Eeee Barwis quote:
[Mundy] was most grateful, though, for getting to know Mike Barwis, the director of strength and conditioning who followed Rodriguez to UM. Barwis is the reason Mundy made his return journey to Ann Arbor.
"If Mike Barwis was at West Virginia, I'd be at West Virginia. I have nothing against them," he said. "I was so pleased with the way Mike Barwis worked with me that I wanted to continue working with him to get ready for the draft."
Jake Long is Michigan's first #1 overall pick since Tom Harmon was pwning the Amazon. Congratulations. By my calculations, Long can now make over 200 million cheese sandwiches. But we're all Michigan fans here, so let's focus on the negative: Long is the odd exception to the general slide experienced in Michigan's offensive line production over the past few years.
A dossier of recently departed linemen who started:
- 2007: Jeremy Ciulla and Alex Mitchell quit football for medical reasons; before that were distinctively uninspiring. Medical reasons kinda suspected to be an allergy to Barwis. Adam Kraus is a three-year starter unlikely to get drafted. Jake Long can buy and sell you sixty times over.
- 2006: C Mark Bihl goes undrafted, as does Rueben Riley. Riley sticks on the Panthers' practice squad for the 2007 season.
- 2005: G Matt Lentz and T Adam Stenavich, three-year starters both, go undrafted. They've both been on a couple practice squads. G Leo Henige is undrafted and out of football.
- 2004: C/G David Baas is the first pick of the second round.
- 2003: C Dave Pearson is undrafted. He does manage to make Lions in 2006 but is cut soon thereafter. Tony Pape goes in the seventh round to the Dolphins; he's never started a game in the NFL.
- 2002: T Courtney Morgan starts ten (TEN) games. Obviously, he is not drafted. Neither is G Dave Petruziello.
Mysterious unexplained era shift!
- 2001: G Jonathan Goodwin goes in the fifth round to the Jets. Now a backup for the Saints, Goodwin has started 15 NFL games. C Kurt Anderson is undrafted.
- 2000: Jeff Backus, Maurice Williams, and Steve Hutchinson are all currently NFL starters. Hutchinson will be in the Hall of Fame. Slacker C David Brandt went undrafted but spent a couple years at the end of NFL rosters. Note that G/T Ben Mast also graduates this year; Mast was a starter in '99 but lost his job to Goodwin/Williams as a senior.
- 1999: T Chris Ziemann goes undrafted (I think) but makes the Giants in his first year, playing in eight games but starting none. That concludes his career.
- 1998: T Jon Jansen is a second-round pick of the Redskins and has started every game he's been healthy for for a decade. G Steve Frazier goes undrafted and does not make the NFL -- though he only started six games with Williams, Brandt, and Mast picking up the other starts.
- 1997: C Zach Adami is undrafted.
- 1996: C Rod Payne is a third-round draft pick but his NFL career is cut short by numerous injuries. G Damon Denson goes in the fourth round and spends three years with the Patriots. T Thomas Guynes -- who I don't remember even slightly -- is undrafted and spends one year with the Cardinals.
In the six-year block of time from 2002 to 2007 Michigan graduated 14 starters, three of whom were drafted. It's a little early to close the book on everyone's career in this timespan, but it would be really surprising to see anyone other than Long or Baas to ever start an NFL game.
In the six-year block of time from 1996 to 2001 Michigan graduated 14 starters, seven of whom were drafted. Five of those players are still in the NFL; four have been starters for between seven and nine years. Two have made Pro Bowls. One is probably going to be in the Hall of Fame.
This is a pretty stark difference that gets even starker when you consider that many of the undrafted-non-NFL sorts in the second group started for a year, or even less than a year, while the Jansens and Hutchinsons and Backi started for three or four. Meanwhile, the Suck Era often saw three years of starting from NFL nonfactors.
The thing that jumps out the most are the fates of Mast and Frazier, who saw their jobs come under severe fire from future NFL players. Can you imagine that happening at any time in the last five years? Absolutely not. The hallmark of the Suck Era was scrambling to find someone, anyone, to play the last couple spots on the line.
Leo Henige was operating on knees made of testicles and valiantly limped through a mediocre season that was in no way his fault. Alex Mitchell was pressed into service whenever he could be bothered to grease up and slide into his uniform. Rueben Riley played two years at tackle when he should have been a guard; for the last half of his senior year he was playing with a dislocated shoulder. Steve Schilling was hurled onto the field at least a year too early, and Justin Boren's saw the field as a true freshman -- the first time that had happened at Michigan since men hunted stegosaurus and JoePa was competent.
Is it a coincidence that Andy Moeller was appointed the Michigan offensive line coach in 2002? Can it possibly be? No. It's not all his fault -- linemen got fatter and less athletic as the program lost its edge, injured more often and softer because the injuries made the healthy off-limits; recruiting was increasingly erratic at identifying players who actually wanted to play football -- but a large portion of the blame falls on the position coach's head.
This is the wishful thinking of Michigan fans: Moeller was so bad and the linemen so coddled that despite the exit of the #1 pick in the draft and three other starters, there will not be a dropoff. Because whatever Greg Frey might lack in people skills he also might lack in suck. Note that Frey isn't the son of a former Michigan head coach who counts the current Michigan head coach a dear friend. He's not even a Rodriguez crony, having come to West Virginia from South Florida just a year before Rodriguez left for Michigan. He is here because of his performance.
Hey, it could be true.
Update 4/21: Added FL RB Jamaal Berry, FL DT Antwan Lowry, FL QB Eugene Smith, and FL RB Vincent Smith based on this Sam Webb article in the Detnews. Added MD CB David Givens (though I think he's a longshot), OK CB Gabe Lynn, PA DE Kadeem Custis, GA WR Braxton Lane, IN OL Zach Martin($), TX QB Shavodrick (hur) Beaver($), PA LB AJ Fenton, AZ DT Corey Adams, TN OL Alex Bullard. Moved OH RB Fitzgerald Toussaint to committed.
Removed FL WR Duron Carter, who we don't appear involved with, FL QB Aaron Murray (UGA), VA RB Damien Thigpen (Tenn), MD CB David Givens (OSU), PA RB Jordan Hall (OSU), PA LB Dorian Bell (uh... OSU).
Stuff lifted from Varsity Blue: not getting OH OL Marcus Hall (Glenville, no surprise), mildly informative item on SC S Devonte Holloman, piece with quote from FL DT Antwan Lowery, VA QB Kevin Newsome's myspace page... encouraging!
Editorial Opinion: Other than Toussaint's commit, the biggest news going down is this:
Recruits' myspace pages are to be taken seriously in no circumstances, but that picture of Newsome is from his visit to Michigan's spring game -- check the hoodie under his jacket -- and he is now making noises like he is going to end his recruitment sooner rather than later. Michigan followed up his spring game visit with an immediate "evaluation" visit to Newsome's school. (NCAA rules say you can visit a recruits high school twice during this period in an effort to determine if his academics are in order but a strict no-talky policy is enforced, and by "enforced" I mean "not enforced even a little bit, just ask Nick Saban.")
Virginia Tech, presumed to be the main competitor, has Tyrod Taylor two years in front of Newsome; if talk of redshirting the true sophomore comes to fruition it will be three. Signs point to yay.
If you are so inclined, here's ten minutes of Newsome's looping delivery and scrambling ability:
Newsome is currently the #39 overall prospect to Rivals and is on the ESPN 150 watch list. The only dual-threat quarterback rated higher is LSU commit Russell Shepard. He is very nearly shirtless. He's also HIGHLY RATED by TCU fans desperately seeking Shavodrick (hur) Beaver:
All it will take is a commitment from KEVIN NEWSOME (who is rumored to be very close to committing to MICHIGAN) or one of these other QBs and I think BEAVER will re-think all the talk he is hearing about being "an immediate freshman starter" at MICHIGAN. All the puppy love pillow talk, and sweet nothings that Coach RODRIGUEZ is whispering into BEAVER's ear right now, will seem mighty hollow when one of these guys commits before BEAVER does. I think Rodriquez wants 2 QBs in this class, but he knows he cant get two PREMIER QBs. BEAVER is 4 stars but isnt the elite QB who will demand that he is the only QB recruited that year for his college. So Coach RR is taking BEAVER as a 4 star "insurance policy" to sit on the bench in case he is needed in a pinch. But Rodriquez really covets NEWSOME and is targeting him as the starter not BEAVER. Course he aint tellin BEAVER that version. He is fillin BEAVER's head with delusions of competing for starter as a freshman -which will never happen. NEWSOME will be the man.
If both NEWSOME and BEAVER, sign at MICHIGAN, which one would you play? The 6-3, 208 lb guy who runs a 4.5 forty (NEWSOME)? Or the 6-2 172 lb guy who runs the same 4.5 forty (BEAVER)? NEWSOME outweighs BEAVER by more than 35 pounds, is taller, and has the same speed!!!! If I am Coach RR, I want NEWSOME !! Coach RR's previous QB who ran his spread offense with so much success (Wvu's PAT WHITE), is 6-2 200 lbs with 4.5 speed. He is looking for a QB just like PAT WHITE. Who do you think is closest in size to PAT WHITE? BEAVER or NEWSOME? If they both sign, it looks to me like NEWSOME plays and BEAVER sits.
That brings us, in fact, to Beaver, a Texas dual-threat quarterback who was on the verge of committing to TCU despite being a four-star sort until Michigan jumped in with a scholarship offer. By the general reaction on TCU boards you can infer that Beaver is highly interested in Michigan. You don't get that sort of panic and mass chaos unless some guy you've never seen play says he's no longer favoring your school but is instead likely to go to some other school. Michigan is definitely going to take at least two quarterbacks; at the moment he's the most likely to fill one of those spots other than Newsome.
Non-quarterback stuff. Many names added, a number removed. None of the removed seemed particularly likely to be Michigan commits at any point in the future except maybe touted PA LB Dorian Bell, who was apparently enamored with Ohio State. (PA RB Jordan Hall said some nice things about Michigan at one point, but once teammate Terrelle Pryor went to OSU the writing was on the wall.) I may as well answer this question here:
Is anyone concerned that OSU is racking up 4 and 5 star guys every day and we've only got two guys with stars and 3 guys that no one else was pursuing? I'm giving RRod the benefit of the doubt and am very excited about this new era but the recruiting results are a little unnerving.
It's never wise to be too concerned with the recruiting of your opponents. Talented players have to go somewhere, and Ohio State is always going to have highly-rated classes. There's nothing you can do about it. (Not that there's anything we can do about Michigan recruiting, but... whatever. We can fret.)
As far as Michigan: so far they have two top-fifty guys, about whom I assume there are no questions. This was about par for th
e course as far as top-50 guys under Carr, and Rodriguez looks likely to add another. Then we have the "unrated" guys, but they're only unrated because Scout and Rivals are locked in a rate-'em faster arms race and have been forced to throw lists out before they can get to everyone. I think it's likely both running backs end up with four stars; safety Isaiah Bell, meanwhile, received the sort of fawning praise from ESPN usually only seen in Tom Lemming's evaluations of three-star Notre Dame recruits. None of these guys are much of a reach.
Now... has Michigan recruited on Ohio State's level this year and last? Not quite. If you take opportunity cost and likely attrition into account OSU was probably the mythical recruiting champion last year, and they're off to an excellent start this year.
Recruiting is about building relationships with recruits, and nowadays that starts well before the previous class is put away on signing day. Heck, some schools have half of next year's class committed by the time this year's crop puts pen to paper. It's no coincidence that Michigan's existing recruits had a relationship (fandom, mostly) with Michigan already, and those players who committed or look likely to (add in MN WR Bryce McNeal, Beaver, and Newsome) who didn't are all spread-offense sorts Rodriguez was on from his days at West Virginia. Rodriguez's flashy offense allowed him to aim for the stars with offensive skill recruits.
Not so on defense, where West Virginia ran a weird scheme that allowed them to make up for talent deficiencies. The sort of kid that made an acceptable defensive recruit at West Virginia (or Stanford) would be at the end of Michigan's class; Rodriguez and co are attempting to develop relationships with a different class of kids, and they're a little slow out of the gate. The transition and scramble for another eight kids further delayed things, as Michigan was completely focused on the class of 2008 until the bell rang on Signing Day.
Long story short: given Rodriguez's finishing flourish in last year's class I believe he's a talented recruiter and by the end of the year the results will bear that out. Patience is warranted.
DIED, by balloon-puncturing quote after a short period of general crotchetiness and incomprehensibility: "Wizard Hat and Snake Oil," meme, aged approximately two months.
Roy Roundtree in the Dayton Daily News:
"You know what?" Roundtree said. "It was my decision."
Last December, Melvin Fellows orally committed to play football for Illinois, declared his decision final and said, "This is the end of the process for me."
According to a vague, unwritten Big Ten code of conduct, at that point Fellows was off limits to other league coaches. That's how it is supposed to work, at least -- once a kid commits, back off.
Far from backing off, though, Ohio State came after him hard. Just weeks after his Illinois commitment, the Buckeyes offered Fellows a scholarship. And on Saturday, the big defensive end from Garfield Heights will stand on the Ohio Stadium sidelines, watching the Buckeyes' spring game instead of the Illini's game, as he had originally planned.
"Almost all the schools still recruited me after I committed," Moore said. "If I didn't call them back, most of them stopped eventually. Some coaches started recruiting me a lot harder, like Tennessee, Miami and Duke. Sometimes you think, 'Why even commit?' "
Which, like... of course. Roy Roundtree is perfectly capable of making sound decisions like "not going to Purdue." He has free will. Every coach in the Big Ten has, at one time or another, attempted to poach some other Big Ten school's "commitment." And with commitments coming earlier and earlier the decommitment becomes more prominent: over 600 last year. Rodriguez's recruiting practices are unremarkable.
Roy Roundtree didn't switch from Purdue because Rich Rodriguez pulled some sort of trick move, he did it because he wanted to. Forcing him to stick to his Purdue commitment would have helped out Purdue somewhat, but at the expense of the kid, whose welfare is far more important in the grand scheme of things than that of a couple million-dollar sports programs.
Aaaand we're done here.
This is a house in Lawrence, Kansas. It is a nice house. It is for sale, and this is one of the images of it posted on the internet to entice buyers:
Why do you care? You probably don't, but if you read Orson's latest and wondered what the deal was about the image that sent his real estate agent scurrying to find out just what the hell Orson-Spencer Hall-Swindle's phone number was, call him up, and ask him to remove it. Thanks to the magic of Google cache, it has been recovered. This is it.
Why anyone would care even a little bit about the publication of this internet-available image I don't know, but I do know that Kansas' nonconference schedule this year was Central Michigan,Southeastern Lousiana, Toledo, and Florida International. If Mangino is irritated by people on the internet posting this photo that just makes the feeling mutual. And seriously, people... don't post stuff on the internet if people looking at that stuff is going to be a problem.
Look, look at Mark Mangino's stuff. It's a little fey. Like his nonconference scheduling. That is all.
(Streisand effect, lawya!)