in town for free camps
Two further news items in the ongoing coverage of Alabama's oversigning escapades:
- Destin Hood was a second round pick of the Nationals and has signed an MLB contract. This doesn't affect Alabama's numbers. They were already at the 25-player maximum (actually 27 with two early enrollees) without Hood, who was always expected to play baseball.
- Ezekial Knight has a name that always looks misspelled. He has also been shot down by Alabama's doctors after surgery to repair a heart murmur didn't totally fix the issue. Is this legit? On the one hand, Knight was a starting linebacker in 2007 and 'Bama is now critically short at the position. On the other:
"They didn't clear him to play at Alabama for some reason," said Randy Boyd, his former coach at Randolph County High. "He thinks he can play, and being young ande ambitious, he's going to try and get cleared at a smaller school."
"From what he tells me, they tell him that he can't play, but they can't give him a reason why. They just tell him he just doesn't need to play. One or two smaller schools have told him if he gets cleared by the doctors, and the physical has been passed, they are going to let him play."
Of all the medical disqualifications handed out by Alabama, Knight's is the least questionable. He was a starting linebacker who had a heart murmur and lingering complications from surgery; if he were to keel over during practice or a game after the warning signs he's received it would have been a permanent black mark on Alabama's program. Also, he would be dead.
In any normal situation, no one would even cock an eyebrow at the departure, but this is the thing: once you put yourself in the spot Alabama is in you stop trying to retain kids at all costs and start trying to eject them. I probably should have put a question mark in the "Cut" headline -- "Cut?" -- because we don't really know what happened with Tarence Farmer. I think it's incredibly doubtful that a redshirt freshman wide receiver/defensive back would transfer in mid-July instead of, say, after spring practice or not at all. But it could have been a voluntary transfer after Saban pulled him aside and said "kid, you're never going to play here and you should transfer" or been rude to him or cold to him or indifferent to him. There are ways of encouraging kids to leave your program.
The thing that's often lost here is how lucky(?) Alabama is to only have one scholarship to go. Jeremy Elder commited armed robbery for 28 bucks. Jimmy Johns delivered coke so fast you'll freak. An incredibly large number of kids came down with medicalscholarship-itis. Farmer had a mysterious mid-July transfer he doesn't want to talk about. And they're still a scholarship over.
It doesn't really matter whether Farmer was explicitly or implicitly told he should no longer be at Alabama. Schools should not be in the business of encouraging attrition from guys who aren't likely to contribute on the field, or they should just give up on the idea they're a non-profit organization in the business of promoting capital-S "student-athletes". You are operating in dubious waters when the result of Tarence Farmer's transfer is not the loss of a potentially useful player but his replacement by a higher-rated one.
I've said it before and will say it again: you should not be able to sign a player to a LOI unless you can show the NCAA where the scholarship is coming from. Extend the signing period past the end of spring practice, require a uniform "returning roster" date, and permit only enough LOIs to fill that gap. No more of these last-second medical hardships or midsummer transfers. No more pushing kids out of the boat. Punish attrition.
Update 7/21: Linked to articles on MS S Dennis Thames, FL LB Brandin Hawthorne, MD RB Tavon Austin, GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore, TX S Rex Burkhead, NJ DE Anthony LaLota, various pieces on SC DE Chris Bonds. And more fun Newsome stuff, plus rumor-mongering of a bogus variety.
Re-added SC RB David Sims.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting Board lives here.
Everybody thought IN OL Zach Martin was going to visit Michigan, then decide, but instead he committed to Notre Dame. This has been an unfortunately common occurrence over the last few years. Geniunely Sarcastic has the details; suffice it to say the scoreboard since 2006 is ND 9, Michigan 1. This overstates things since it doesn't include the likes of Dann O'Neill or Ricky Barnum, who are widely regarded to be players at least equal to the ten players fought over here, but it's a concern.
GS goes for the soothing balm of Dan Mozes, the two-star West Virginia center who became a four-year starter, All-American, and Rimington winner. I'm more circumspect. All-Americans and Rimington Award winners are picked by the media, who know f-all about offensive linemen, and when you've got a four year starter on a team that runs for 300 yards a game he's going to get fawned over whether he deserves it or not. See: Matt Lentz, All Big Ten 2005. Mozes went undrafted by the NFL and was cut in training camp by the Vikings. In all probability he was massively overhyped.
What does suit as balm: Weis' remarkable ability to turn a line not far off Michigan's last year in terms of recruiting hype and returning experience into the worst unit in the country and possibly the worst unit of the decade.
Other stuff: NJ DE Anthony LaLota is listing a number of schools that are all excellent academically, including Michigan. However, he's visited five of his leaders and has a trip planned to a sixth (Penn State) this weekend. Michigan not so much:
"I haven't had a chance to visit Michigan yet and I don't know too much about the new coaches," he said. "I'm really looking forward to getting to know them better. I think they'll do great and I really expect them to have a great season."
If he visits, then we might have a shot; for now we're just hanging on.
MS S Dennis Thames, nephew of Detroit Tiger Marcus Thames, had a lot of positive things to say about Michigan after his visit...
"It was like a dream come true," Thames said of his time at Michigan. "Everything I'm looking for in a college, Michigan had it. Education-wise, everything up there is professional. They know what they're doing. If football doesn't work, they make sure you get your education."
Based on what Thames witnessed in the weight room, he believes the Wolverines know what they're doing when it comes to training, as well.
"Mike Barwis -- that's an awesome dude," he said about Michigan's new strength and conditioning coordinator. "I'd say about 25 pro football players were there. He was helping them work out. It was awesome. He took me through some drills showing me how they do it up there."
... but he's backed off the assertion he made whilst in the Tigers locker room that Michigan leads:
As for his college choice, Thames said, "I will say Michigan is in my top three with Mississippi State and Auburn."
Mississippi State, bizarrely as ever, remains the biggest threat.
FL LB Brandin Hawthorne has five finalists and plans on " committing" August 30th; Michigan is regarded the favorite. Cause of scare quotes:
ESPN 150 Watch Lister Brandin Hawthorne will choose between South Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee and Louisville during an Aug. 30th game against Olive Branch (Miss.) to be televised on ESPN, affiliate Web site InsideTheU.com reports.
Hawthorne will then take official visits to all those schools except South Florida and will travel to Iowa State instead.
Last season, the 6-foot-1, 181-pounder racked up more than 80 tackles, 28 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
And by "commit" we mean "announces early leader." And by "five finalists" we mean "six finalists."
GA LB Devekeyan (or "Dede") Lattimore says Michigan is a slight leader:
"I love the tradition at Michigan and they have some good new coaches that are really going to be changing things up," he said. "I like coach Rich Rodriguez and it really impressed me that he was one of the few head coaches (and UCF) that offered me himself. That meant a lot."
Lattimore is a three star with one other big offer, that from Clemson.
And, finally, what would a recruiting post be without more discussion of VA QB Kevin Newsome's status? It would be shorter. Anyway, Josh Helmholdt put up an innocuous story on the Free Press site headlined something like "Michigan's quarterback issues are temporary" that one of the OMG HITS editors at the Free Press changed to "If Kevin Newsome bolts, Michigan has a contingency plan." This set off a completely predictable mini-sitewar between Scout and Rivals with Scout touting Sam Webb's recent conversation(?) with the Newsomes and claiming 1) Newsome was totally solid and 2) if Newsome did end up decommiting it was Helmholdt's fault for writing that article. Helmholdt, for his part, has been writing articles that can be retitled "If Kevin Newsome bolts..." and include references to Jason Forcier and Eugene Smith. Read between the lines.
My contribution: a man named "Crotch Bat." A reader sends along this thread from Something Awful's "Sports Argument Stadium" in which a VT fan/insider(?) says thusly:
What I'm hearing is that Kevin Newsome is all but gone from Michigan and that scenario will play out sooner rather than later. Look for VT and PSU to be in the thick of it for him.
Again, don't shoot the messenger but like I said, none of this stuff is going away and I hear new stuff more and more.
Reasons to give this more credence than you would to your average random internet rumor? Well, there is the claim of deep insider info and the generalized respect shown this guy, who's been posting at SA since 2003. The emailer comments:
I tend to believe him because in the few years I've been reading that forum, he has always been there and is consistently a knowledgeable, intelligent poster.
A reason to disregard: even if he's got the info he claims it's coming from the VT side of things and may be biased or just incorrect. Also: "Crotch Bat." Also also: there was another Rivals even this weekend that was attended by both Bryce McNeal and Newsome; McNeal, at least, didn't detect any floppiness. As always, I throw up my hands and say "hell if I know."
Etc.: TX S Rex Burkhead doesn't mention Michigan here; longshot.
Hello! I swear this idea was in the hopper long before the Wolverine Liberation Army came along and made MGoCommunism chic, but there's a new shirt available for preorder at MGoStore. It looks like this:
Now you can headbutt all your Che-lovin' hippie friends with the power of Bo.
The deal on shirts going forward is this: we'll put them up for preorder when they're designed. Preorders will be $3 off the regular price; when there are sufficient preorders to indicate demand the shirts will get printed up in an appropriate number and shipped out. Get to it, if you would.
Programming note: there was a lot of negative feedback on the "Anti-Carr Team"; it appears most found it meanspirited, and I have to agree. It was fun in concept but not execution and has been discontinued. If you need a complete team, there is a diary entitled " The Game I'll Watch In Hell ."
Blog fixes. You should notice the MGoStore block is back. Click for sweet t-shirt action. Also: the "more" links in the diaries tab now lead you to something that's not totally useless. Before, they actually had worse functionality than the tabs, as they'd give you five posts without any option to see another page. Now they'll show you 25 and there's a full pager. Also, the Fanhouse links on the left sidebar are fixed.
Crankiness level: medium. Red Berenson has always been admirably straightforward about how damned ornery NHL teams picking off his best players makes him. Sometimes he's okay with it (Jack Johnson); other times he's near livid (Mike Cammalleri). The Pacioretty reaction falls in the middle:
Q: Was he frustrated with your decision?
Pacioretty: A little bit. He's very understanding. He knows I want to be a professional hockey player. Sometimes, not everyone has the same mindset for developing as a hockey player. I think there might have been a little bit of friction there, but not too much. I know he supports my goal to one day play in the NHL.
"We're disappointed that Max Pacioretty has chosen to forego his eligibility at the University of Michigan," Berenson said in a statement released by the school. "Max was certainly a positive force on our team last season. We would like to wish him well in his pursuit of his dream to play in the National Hockey League."
Eeeeeeeeeeee. Again. Okay, even I'm getting a little tired of reading about Superhero Mike Barwis. Mere days after ESPN published three separate items about the former ninja who may have assassinated Prince Moriyoshi in 1335 comes a Dennis Dodd piece. Naturally, it starts with wolves:
The pet wolves died last year. Mike Barwis had two of them which, to anyone who knows Michigan's strength and conditioning coach, is hardly a surprise.
The rest of it is per standard. Barwis makes grown men cry. Larry Foote can fly now. Player X came in a 200 pound fatty and now bends steel bars with his forearm hair. Barwis ate a baby once and crapped out Lawrence Taylor. Barwis got in a time machine, travelled back to the Indian subcontinent when it was still floating in the ocean and got the natives so fired up they threw it into Asia.
Barwis invented flour.
Also there's this quote from Threet:
"We have to scare people again," Threet said. "There used to be a certain intimidation factor. You'd see Michigan run out and touch the banner and you knew you were in for a long day. Some of that has started to go away."
Historian. The 2000 Michigan State game for your edification:
Meanwhile. The Ann Arbor News' editorial leadership has taken every possible opportunity to criticize the Michigan athletic department this summer. Meanwhile, in Lansing they're publishing 4,000 word puff pieces about the new athletic director's little league baseball coaching:
Runners stand on first and second. It's 6:33 p.m. on Monday, June 9, at a baseball field behind Chippewa Middle School in Okemos. Coach Mark Hollis gives the sign to his baserunners: double steal. As the next pitch crosses the plate, both break into a sprint.
"Get there!" Hollis barks, and both do with ease.
It is, after all, little league baseball.
Michigan State's athletic department is consistently in the red, features a football team one point above the APR's minimum, and has a coach that provided more ammunition to Michigan fans in one year than John L Smith did over his entire tenure. Also his last recruiting class sucked. (This one? Pretty good so far.) But the rush to lionize is on.
Diaries of note. A number of good things in the Diaries: gsimmons85 tackles press coverage as Shafer will apply it:
You wont see a lot of straight jam technique, rather the press is an inside shade, outside foot back, inviting the fade (michigan corners will know how to play the fade better than any other corners int he country) then on the snap of the ball, they execute what is called a shadow technique. Shafer describes it as imagining that the sun is setting behind the offensive player, and the defender gives ground, with short shuffle steps, and tries to stay in the shadow as long as possible. Forcing the offensive player to make the first move, makes it harder to get a corner off balance with a missed jam.
Simmons is a high school defensive coordinator who's used Shafer's schemes for the past four years and is very complimentary of his stuff over on his home blog Three And Out.
Meanwhile, Blue Seoul interrogates the Barwis hype. In doing so he accidentally stumbles over some interesting numbers about fourth quarter swings. Over the last five years:
Michigan was outscored in the 4th quarter 19 freaking times. 6 of those were 4th quarter collapses where we lost the lead, and 4 of them were double digit 4th quarter leads. WVU was outscored in the 4th 21 times, BUT ONLY 1 RESULTED IN A LOST LEAD. One! One freaking game did they lose in the 4th quarter. ... Conversely, WVU only won 7 games in the 2nd half, 2 of those in the 4th. Michigan won 7 games in the 2nd half, but 9 in the 4th.
I cosign the proffered explanation:
I think this has more to do with coaching. Lloyd would sit on a lead, lose the third quarter and then open up a bit to win in the end. Whereas with RR he doesn't hold back. He's either going to beat you and put you away in the first half, or just trail for the entire game.
(There's probably an element of luck in there, too.) An interesting thing about the Rodriguez offense as it was constructed at West Virginia: you can't turn off the "scoring offense." Michigan could grind into the line a few times, throw on third down, avoid risky plays, etc, etc. West Virginia could try to do that, and Pat White would rip off a 50 yard run or something. The downside to this is the lack of comebacks: WVU had one kickass dimension, but if you shut that dimension off you were going to win.
I don't think this is the ideal for Rodriguez, but when you've got Pat White -- especially as a freshman and sophomore -- that's just what you've got. It would have been interesting to see if Rodriguez added more passing to the WVU offense with a senior quarterback, as Carr always did.
- QB Waggle continues his excellent series on Michigan players in the NFL. (Note the use of bold for headers and italics for subheaders to break the text up into nice readable chunks.)
- Dex of the WLA concludes the Kevin Grady adventure.
- Keegan provides his own Slocum eulogy; There is more at the WLA.
Derrell Hand, left. Marques Slocum, right.
This is the worst kept secret on the internet: Marques Slocum is not expected back this fall due to academic problems. It's not official, but both premium sites are dropping dark hints and Doug Karsch has broached the topic on the radio. It's pretty close. And I wonder what the point is.
Most outside the Michigan fan tribe will remember Slocum for his answer to the question "do you have any pets, and if so what do you have?" Slocum replied "i got a fuck lion now come fuck wit me," EDSBS posted it up, and the internet ran away with it. After that he was either awesome or just another "sterotypical person," as the last comment on that EDSBS post declares:
What a stereotypical person….now people will feel sorry for him for absolutely no reason. We are all that much more dumb after reading his slow minded retarded azz response.YO…Im da Shiznit homey…bow down or get rolled up…Holla..what an idiot.
("Josh W" left a web address where he could be found: http://faebook/. Holla, idiot.) His departure will no doubt be memorialized unkindly by those with an axe to grind against Michigan's efforts to walk the tightrope between Duke football and Mississippi State academics.
To Michigan fans, Slocum was the big, affable recruit who tore up the Army All-American bowl and wanted to come to Michigan so badly he wandered in the wilderness for two years to do so. This is was a unique occurence. The occasional Michigan recruit will fail to qualify, and once in a very long while Michigan will follow the kid through a prep school year. Slocum and Arizona cornerback Quinton McCoy are the only ones I can remember. "Draft and follow" -- where a school signs a guy with almost no chance of qualifying in the hopes of building up some sort of loyalty for when the kid exits JUCO -- as practiced by much of the SEC is right out. Michigan's admissions department is legendarily strict about transfer credits. Except in very rare cases, JUCOs need not apply.
So when Slocum went to Milford Prep for a year and still didn't qualify, that should have been the end of him. Instead, Slocum enrolled without a scholarship, spent a year getting eligible, and finally managed to get on the field in 2007. This was truly dedication to an idea. He's gone now, a few tackles and the occasional UFR +1 the product of two years effort.
Effort of a sort, anyway. The penultimate comment on the "fuck lion" interview paints a tableau of a lighthearted kid caught in a place he has no use for and has no use for him. A table setter is included:
I had a class with this kid for one day - greatest experience of my life. He now has a drew gooden beard. Oh god. Awesome.
Comment by umich1 - February 19, 2008 @ 4:33 pm
Re: last comment
I, too, had a class with Marques Slocum my senior year of undergrad. It was actually one of professor Hagen's classes, one day, we split into groups to do survey work. When one of the group members called on Mr. Slocum to answer a question, he said, "Aw, shit, I don't know - I'm not used to standing up in class. I'm used to standing up to get awards and shit." And then he left the room.
Comment by Shane - April 21, 2008 @ 9:17 pm
Like much about Marques Slocum, this awesome and sad at the same time.
The NCAA has created an underclass of physically talented players toiling in junior colleges or small I-AA schools, robbed of the opportunity to ply their wares in the place most likely to turn their talents into a career. Slocum now joins them. I am trying to figure out whether or not APRs and entrance requirements and so forth and so on are forces for good. They certainly seem virtuous, but I think Slocum would have been a lot better off in a system that let him major in something like "Athletic Performance" and take his shot at the NFL. I also think that the existence of "Athletic Performance" across Division 1 would provide a drag on academic achievement by would-be athletic performers, the vast majority of whom won't even start in college, let alone make a dime in their chosen sport.
But many, if not most, of these guys already assume they're going to the show and screw off anyway. One thing I definitely think: Division 1 schools should be given the option to extend a player's scholarship after his eligibility expires without it counting against the cap. This funnels some of the pots of money currently being spent on athletes to the athletes themselves and provides them an opportunity to actually focus on the classes they're taking after they've been disabused of the notion they are destined to be the next multi-millionaire.
That wouldn't help Slocum, but it might help out a range of kids who spend their time and their bodies chasing a dream that is, for them, unattainable.
(via I Love Kiki)
As for Marques, well... he's left the room. Shit.