things go poorly
I posted this at the Fanhouse but it demands distribution everywhere and anywhere I control. A brief setup: this guy really, really likes Penn State (and Notre Dame). He's kind of hammered. He's watching the 2005 Michigan-Penn State game. Hilarity ensues. (First part's a little slow, but stay with it.)
Position by position grades:
- QB: A+. Obviously.
- FB: A. Not a hugely important position but Vince Helmuth is a highly regarded prospect there. Ready and willing to do the gruntwork of the position.
- RB: C. Avery Horn is fast but Michigan struck out on some more heavily promoted kids.
- WR: A. Don't believe the lack of hype about Junior Hemingway.
- TE: B+. Webb is a boom-or-bust type, Watson a guy who will probably play but be uninspiring..
- OL: D. Whiff places heavy pressure on the class of 2008.
- DL: B-. Didn't need much. Van Bergen is highly regarded, Sagesse a wild card. If you want to fit Slocum in this category, then it's a good haul.
- LB: C. Panter was an important recruit for right now. The other two are meh, IMO.
- DB: B+. Got the blue-chipper they needed and a couple additional players, but the depth is lacking.
Overall? B+. There are some disappointing aspects to the class, but if you had told me on Signing Day I could draft one player in the country I would have taken Mallett. If the scuttlebutt on the Warren/Johnson trade is correct and Warren is more likely to help right now, I think I'd rather have Warren for a secondary that has no reliable corners at the moment. Michigan also loaded up on receivers/TEs.
OTOH, only two offensive linemen, one of them a center-only type because of his size and the other a sleeper who Michigan snatched from MAC schools, is the worst Michigan OL class in the Lemming era of recruiting (ie, since I've been paying attention). The two non-JUCO linebackers are both projects. Past Warren there are a couple of decent safeties who are unlikely to be stars and then Sears/Richards-type projects at corner. Michigan really needed a second blue-chippah at corner they did not get. There's a lot wrong with the class, but the slam dunk at the most important position on the field and the biggest need for Michigan going in makes up for almost all of it.
Panic! About Instate Recruits: Michigan only flagged down two of Michigan's top 15 prospects. But it's not that bad:
Ryan VanBergen and Martell Webb. Commits.
Justin Siller, Keith Nichol, and Steven Threet. Quarterbacks who are not named "Mallett." Michigan didn't pursue any of them.
Mark Dell, Quincy Landingham, Derek Knight. Michigan was clearly focused on other players from the start. For whatever reason, they never showed any interest.
Taurian Washington. Mutual flirting went on, but he apparently lost his scholarship offer when James Rogers outperformed him at camp and committed. No real loss; Michigan picked up two higher-rated receivers in the class.
Darris Sawtelle. Tennessee legacy.
Cedric Everson. Circus freak who claimed offers from every program in the country, then committed to Georgia Tech. GT later pulled his offer. He committed to State, then decommitted on Signing Day to Iowa. Michigan never pursued him, and even though he may be able to run fast Michigan doesn't have to put up with radioactive nuts like him.
Ronald Johnson, Dionte Allen, Joseph Barksdale, Chris Colasanti. Whiffs on players Michigan wanted. Barksdale was kind of a flake and Colasanti came from a school Michigan does terribly at (Brother Rice). He was set on PSU from the very beginning. Blaming Michigan for not getting him is like blaming Pitt for not getting Toney Clemons. Sometimes kids just like a particular school that is not the local one.
No excuses for Johnson and Allen, but they are but two players.
So... there were six players in the top 15 Michigan went after with some expectation of getting. (Can hardly blame them for Sawtelle.) They got two and there were extenuating circumstances why they didn't do better than that. Is that great? No. But it's certainly not the disaster it was made out to be by spreaders of FUD. I'd be more concerned if Michigan was losing recruits to Notre Dame and Michigan State, teams who can apply a consistent presence in the region. (OSU tapping into the state is kind of irritating.)
General impressions of the 2008 landscape: The Midwest seems much stronger than it was a year ago. Pennsylvania has a lot of high-end prospects. Ohio is back to its normal level. Michigan has a second consecutive good year, though one that's a bit of a step back from 2007.
Michigan's needs are primarily at offensive line, defensive back, and tailback. They've also offered a ton of linebackers already (the Midwest is overflowing with them). Names to watch out for:
- CA RB Darrell Scott. Early favorite for this year's #1 back, he's transferring to freshman-to-be Michael Williams' school. With USC having locked up last year's #1 and #2 RBs, plus four others in the past couple years, he's more liabile to escape Trojan clutches than most California recruits. Ron English and an attractive depth chart -- the only significant competion appears to be Brandon Minor -- should have us in the running.
- MI RB Jonas Gray. From Detroit Country Day and has publicly stated he was big into Notre Dame, but may be backing off that for similar depth chart reasons: ND picked up Robert Hughes and Armando Allen in the last class.
- TX RB Sam McGuffie. McGuffie's the hurdling whiteboy as seen on Deadspin and every social video site you care to name. His father's from Michigan and there is thorough mutual interest between the two sides.
- PA WR Jonathan Baldwin. Ty Law's cousin, the 6'6" Baldwin is one of the top five prospects in a good class of Pennsylvania prospects. Michigan has an early lead but it's tentative.
- TX WR Daryl Stonum. A former teammate of Troy Woolfolk and Brandon Herron, he's been very vocal about Michigan's lead for his services. Ranked around #11 in Texas, Stonum will probably be at the tail end of top 100 lists or just off them.
- MI OT Dan O'Neill. A solid-four star type, O'Neill is expected to commit sooner or later.
- TX OT JB Shugarts. He's leaving the state, is friends with McGuffie, and has been up to Michigan. Will have to fight off OSU, UF, LSU, etc, but a decent shot.
- PA LBs Christian Wilson, Shayne Hale, and Andrew Sweat all have Michigan in the top group of teams they're listing. OSU will be a competitor for all three.
- CA DBs Robert Golden and Brandon Leslie. From Fresno Edison, the former home of Johnny Sears. Michigan's recruiting both. Golden has repeatedly said that Arizona(!?) leads for his services
There are more -- check the board -- if you're interested.
A successful 2008 class: Two running backs, one of them highly rated. A couple nice receiving targets. Three offensive tackles, two highly rated, and three interior linemen. A good defensive end, two highly rated linebackers, Boubacar Cissoko and two more corners. Add in a Mallett caddy, a defensive tackle, and a safety, and it's around 18 guys from our current starting point of 13.
A quick look at Pennsylvania's top ten next year shows Michigan in like whoah. Though QB Terrelle Pryor and DT/OL Lucas Nix are long shots, Michigan is in on eight of the top ten according to the plugged-in Chris Dokish. Offers are out to the top six, and #10. #7 is CB Jared Holley, a guy who will get offered sooner or later.
The LA Times has an epic article on Jack Johnson.
All Hail English. Rivals declared him the Big Ten's best recruiter after his Lazarus job with Donovan Warren. Also on the list is Scot Loeffler.
Interesting bit from the Sports Economist on college basketball recruiting, which anyone will tell you is sleazy as all git out. It references this WaPo article on AAU teams, which increasingly structure themselves as non-profits and accept tax-deductible "donations" from boosters:
"You say, 'Let's talk,' " the college coach said. "You keep it going as long as you can until you can figure out a way around it or until you decide to donate maybe less than what they want just to stay in the equation. As soon as you say, 'No,' you are out. You have to do what you have to do to get the player."
Further evidence that Sonny Vaccaro should be shot into the sun:
Sonny Vaccaro, a prominent shoe company representative who helped create the current youth summer basketball league system nearly two decades ago, confirmed that the practice is popular, calling it "brilliant." "It is a unique, newer and cleaner way of getting money to people who have players who may or may not end up at your school," said Vaccaro, who now works for Reebok.
You can feel the slime oozing off the screen. Do not be alarmed. The Sports Economist makes a good point of its own:
it also is interesting evidence supporting the economic prediction that changing the rules about who gets the money doesn't change anything about whether or not it gets collected by somebody. I always find it interesting that people supporting the NCAA amateur requirement would rather see the money go to recipients like these "talent collectors." But that's just me.
OH SNAP. Chicago Tribune curmudgeon Sam Smith on blogs:
How is it I can work for decades developing contacts around the NBA and traveling regularly around the NBA and talking with the decision makers and some guy in his basement in his underwear is writing something that has credibility? As close as I can figure, these bloggers are the electronic version of the neighborhood tavern. You used to go in and hear people wailing about sports or politics and offering opinions on all the major issues. We did our man in the street interviews when such issues came up. Now, these people we used to ask for opinion started these blogs and are supposed to be experts. How can that be? I never see any of them, I never hear the coaches and general managers and players I talk to saying they talked to them. So where do they get their information?
People often doubt the traditional media, but we are out asking questions, developing sources of information and interacting with the participants. What are these bloggers doing? I'm fortunate on some level to be getting close to retirement because if these blogs are credible sources of information, there's no point in spending all the time on the road that I do.
Smith invokes MSM Media Fallacy #6 here: "blogs are trying to be just like newspapers because newspapering is the only thing that is valuable," but whatever. Then Smith wrote an article on the upcoming NBA trade deadline that featured not one but two quotes gathered by bloggers and failed to provide attribution. One of the liftees was Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog, who noticed and... well... OH SNAP.
So: we've established that a Western split is probably good enough to keep them a TUC. Does it matter? A comparison-by-comparison look at the PWR.
(ie: Comparisons Michigan wins right now. Prefer all of these to be "Etched In Stone.)
- Denver. We own COP, but RPI is really really close and TUC is ridiculously close.
- Michigan State. H2H is tied. We have a significant COP edge that could go away since we're in the same conference. TUC is very close, RPI is very close.
- North Dakota. We win COP, but TUC and RPI are very, very close. NoDak's final four games are against TUCs, so there's a lot of wiggle here.
- Colorado College. We own COP and have a medium-sized RPI edge. TUC could go either way but as long as we're ahead of them in RPI we'll take the comparison.
- Cornell. No COP, they're well behind in RPI and have an ugly TUC record.
- Dartmouth. See "Cornell".
- St. Lawrence. We win COP and have a sizable TUC advantage that could go away if we lose WMU. Michigan has a 0.1 RPI advantage.
- Vermont. Same situation as St. Lawrence, but only if they do well in two games against BU upcoming.
Etched In Stone
- Lake State (or whoever is #25). Michigan will beat either Lake State or whoever replaces them simply by virtue of being well above .500.
- UMass. Huge RPI edge and we own COP.
- Michigan Tech. See Lake State.
- Niagara. See Lake State.
- Quinnipiac. See Lake State.
- Western. See Lake State.
- Wisconsin. H2H win and major RPI/TUC advantages. They win COP at the moment.
(Prefer these to be tossups.)
- Boston College. Michigan has an RPI advantage of about 0.1, which is probably going to stand. They've lost COP and can't get it back. BC currently wins the TUC category because they're 9-8-0 and Michigan is 9-8-1.
- Miami. We have a tiny RPI edge; they have a tiny edge in TUC and a decent-sized lead in COP. A lot of wiggle in this comparison since it's a conference team.
- Boston University. Michigan has lost COP and is far behind in TUC. If BU gets swept by Vermont and Michigan outperforms BU in their respective conference tourneys Michigan might get by, but it's doubtful.
- Maine. We've lost COP. TUC is dead even at 9-8-1; Maine has two left against TUC Vermont and a decent RPI advantage. If Maine coughs it up at the end of the season we could move past them; doubtful.
- St. Cloud. The Huskies have a brutal closing stretch against Minnesota and North Dakota and could conceivably lose their TUC advantage over us if Michigan plays well down the stretch. We own COP right now with two against Minnesota pending. It would take a hefty collapse by SCSU but it's not impossible.
Etched In Stone
- Clarkson. We've lost COP, don't have the games to make up TUC.
- Minnesota. Duh.
- UNH. Duh.
- ND. Duh.
(Aside: notice how we're killing WCHA teams in COP? This is largely because we only had to lose to Minnesota once. Some of these teams, good otherwise, are rocking 0-4 records versus the Gopher death machine. Another item to add to the Complaints Against The Pairwise.)
Without highly improbable events we have limited upside but limited downside. If we take all five tossups and nothing in the solid categories flip we'll be the last two-seed. If we lose all of them we have minor trouble, as we'll be tied for 12th with State. Since they win our comparison in this hypothetical scenario, they'll get the #12 seed and we'll be a couple of conference tournament upsets from getting bounced.
The good news: I don't think Western's TUC status matters all that much in terms of getting into the tournament. It will be hard to pull many of the tossups without that 3-1 boost, but the only way we can not make the tournament is by killing our RPI with bad performances against OSU and in the first round of the playoffs. Michigan's fate is entirely within its own hands. And with the vagaries of the PWR, where you actually get seeded is virtually irrelevant. I'd rather end up #12 than #9 and have to face Minnesota. (Unless Holy Cross wins the Atlantic Hockey tournament.)
Assuming at least a split versus OSU and a Michigan victory in their first-round playoff series, we are in, Western or no. If Michigan goes out and loses four straight, we're out, but assuming a reasonable performance down the stretch Michigan's tourney streak is not in jeopardy.
The status of Western Michigan, Lake State, and Ohio State is vitally relevant to Michigan's tournament chances. At this moment, both Western and Lake State are tentatively TUCs (assuming, as most do, a "good win" bonus of .003); Ohio State is not. Michigan plays OSU this weekend; Western and Lake State play at the Soo. All four games are critical for Michigan. Obviously, losing to OSU is bad but it gets even worse if getting swept shoves the Buckeyes into the top 25 in RPI, adding an ugly 0-2 to Michigan's TUC record. Michigan is 1-1 against Lake State and would probably prefer the Lakers to not be a TUC; they are 3-1 against Western and very much want those games to count extra.
This calculation was easier a year ago when there was a set threshold instead of a top 25, but we do what we must. With two games against a decent opponent, a Western sweep will retain their TUC status. The chasing teams don't have the opponents to pass the Broncos. Threat by threat:
- RIT plays Bentley, 55th of 59 in RPI.
- Sacred Heart plays Army, 44th.
- Lake State plays... uh... Western.
- MSU-Mankato plays Colorado College.
Only Mankato has the opportunity to break past Western if they sweep, and that would require an implausible sweep of their own. OTOH, if Western takes the pipe their RPI will drop to 0.4986. Though teams are going to bounce around madly over a weekend of play, as of right now that would be good for but 32nd. There's no chance they get swept and retain TUC status.
Is a split good enough? Maybe. They're 24th now, so one team can pass them. With a split Western will see their RPI drop to .5057 from .5100 -- not good. Both RIT and Sacred Heart are better than that now, albeit barely. Since they're playing crappier opponents than Western, if either one of them splits Western would stay ahead of them. Lake State will not pass Western with a split and Mankato needs three points from CC to make the leap. Past that you're looking for fairly improbable things to happen, like Bemjidi sweeping its last four games or Northeastern taking its last three, for anyone to pass the Broncos.
In sum: Western sweep is good. If they get swept they're gone. If they split we're rooting for Army or Bentley to take one of four games and for CC to not completely blow it against Mankato. The chances of that are around 75%, just to pull a number out of thin air. One of two should be good enough for now. The playoffs will also play a major role, but projecting out past the next couple games is fruitless.
Nasty, close your eyes and shiver scenario: That is, unless Michigan gets swept this weekend. That would propel OSU past Western into the 25th spot in the 75% scenario, replacing our 3-1 record versus them with a (hypothetical) 0-2 record versus Ohio State. Our RPI would plummet to 15th, our TUC record would get eviscerated, and the chances of an at-large bid would virtually flatline.
Moral of the story: do not lose to Ohio State this weekend.
All Hail Hunsick. The Detroit News on Sunday's Lake State game:
T.J. Hunsick scored twice for Michigan in a 3-1 Central Collegiate Hockey Association victory over Lake Superior State Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
While we're on hockey, the current PWR is a perfect example of why the system is so very broken. Despite Michigan going 1-2-1 over its last four against generally mediocre competiton, they've moved up to seventh in the pairwise. Why? Western Michigan clawed its way into the top 25 in RPI by sweeping Michigan State last weekend. All of a sudden, Michigan's 3-1 record against the Broncos is deemed relevant. The result:
Where before Michigan was getting punished for stupid reasons, -- like having a 1-1 record against common opponents instead of a 1-0-1 record -- now they are rewarded for Western Michigan proving itself a little less mediocre. The TUC cliff in action, folks. Anyway: pull hard for WMU this weekend against Lake State.
Oldish Mallett article from the Daily. Has this passage:
With starting quarterback Chad Henne entering his final season as a Wolverine, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has made it clear that Mallett won't redshirt this season. And the freshman seems fine with that.
"It wasn't my decision," Mallett said. "If they need me to play, then I'll play. If they want me to redshirt, then I'll redshirt."
We already knew that Carr said Mallett was unlikely to redshirt, something which bugs me on a regular basis. Last year Carlos Brown and Adam Patterson basically threw away a year of eligibility for scant garbage time against teams like Eastern Michigan and Notre Dame. Meanwhile, Prescott Burgess would be returning for a fifth year and a shot at being drafted in the first round if he had only taken a redshirt. I know Carr sometimes has to promise a recruit playing time as a freshman, but whatever salutary effects one gets out of 12 snaps versus MAC backups pale in comparison to a potential fifth year. Mallett evidently does not demand playing time and though the hype around him suggests that he won't be around for five years, that's hardly a guarantee. Unless Lloyd knows something about Jason Forcier that we don't, I would prefer him to redshirt.
We do hates them. Someone dropped a link to this in the comments of a Fanhouse post in which I declare my Irish antipathy:
Now my facebook profile picture.
Hire Rudy T? There's a movement afoot to make Rudy Tomjanovich the next Michigan basketball coach. I'm personally in the "Hire Anyone" camp, but Rudy T seems a decent choice. Remember the weird recruiting saga of Tory Jackson, who Amaker "backed off of" because of demands from his handlers? Yeah...
- Jackson was averaging 5.67 assists per game going into today's game, second in the Big East. USF freshman Chris Howard is leading at 6.18. The next best freshman if Villanova's Scottie Reynolds, seventh in the conference at 4.25 assists per game right behind Dominic James who is averaging 4.77 per game.
- Tied for second in the conference in steals, 2.08 per game. The next best freshman, Villanova's Reggie Redding, is seventh.
- ...Jackson has been climbing the Big East rankings in assists to turnovers ratio. He entered today's game fourth at 2.13. Only one other freshman, South Florida's Chris Howard at #8, is in the top fifteen.
Amaker's refusal to accept whatever demands Notre Dame did has left us in the
capable hands of Jerrett Smith, a guy Amaker offered as a sophomore. A suggestion for Amaker's post-Michigan career: Detroit Lions scout.
Etc.: Braves & Birds presents his life as a Michigan basketball fan in haiku.