(Named after the (apparently) famous Price Is Right game. Ask Orson.)
Hello! More exploration of the sketchy ethics of college football recruiting. Orson Swindle and I gathered the last six years of classes for every BCS team and found average-sized recruiting classes for each team. For comparison's sake, a team with 100% retention that never redshirts or recruits JUCOs or transfers should average 21.25 scholarships a year. A team with a 100% retention rate that redshirts everyone but still avoids JUCOs and transfers should average 17. If you figure about half of all freshmen redshirt (figure pulled directly from rear), then 100% retention means a class of slightly over 19 kids.
Disclaimers go here: Numbers are from Rivals. Scout has different numbers that are on average a little bit smaller. 100% retention is impossible and there are many completely kosher reasons for kids to leave a college football program before their eligibility expires. JUCOs and transfers were not accounted for in these numbers and obviously have a distorting effect (though transfers don't even show up in the rivals DB, so the net effect of a transfer to your school is to make your school look less like an Indonesian ferryman shoving people off the boat into alligator-infested waters.)
I've got the Big Ten, Pac-10, and Big 12. Check EDSBS around noonish for the ACC, Big East, and (drumroll...) SEC.
Our Indonesian Ferryman for the Big 12: Iowa State. An unsurprising second and third are Kansas State, Texas Tech, and their insatiable lust for JUCO blood.
And the Big 12 Mr. Chips Award For Academic Integrity goes to big, bad Texas -- though their number would be but middling in the Big Ten.
Yea, verily the Pac-10 is a conference of extremes.
Our Indonesian Ferryman for the Pac 10 is Oregon State with a staggering 29 scholarships handed out per class and a whopping 134 recruits over the past four years. Oregon State is the national Indonesian Ferryman and the sketchiest program in all the land.
Meanwhile, Stanford is puttering along at 18 scholarships per year. They win the Mr. Chips Award For Academic Integrity for the Pac-10 and the nation.
Our Indonesian Ferryman for the Big Ten: Michigan State. To be fair to the Spartans, their total would be good for but fourth in the Pac-10 and a piddling sixth in the Big 12.
Raise your hand if you thought Northwestern would win the Mr. Chips Award for the Big Ten. That's all of you, good. Now raise your hand if you thought Ohio State would come in second. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Ohio State is increasingly irritating: first they go and win against us all the time, reducing my ability to make fun of them to critically low levels, then they go and stop getting in trouble altogether -- a third string kicker selling weed just doesn't cut it, even if his last name is a popular synonym for semen. What's a blogger to do?
And there's one relevant team floating out there not in any conference...
|That Other Team||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||Average|
To its credit, Notre Dame retains like a mother. Either that or Willingham was so bad at recruiting they left large numbers of scholarships open.
There is a nasty rumor circulating the Michigan internets that three players, two of them potential starters, are in some degree of trouble. The rumor is multiply-sourced and probably true, IMO, but the assertion that all three are booted from the team is at the very least premature. Varsity Blue chips in with what they can:
Rumors have been perpetuated on the internet (including those damn bloggers -ed.*) that three players, whose names I will not drag through the mud until this rumor has been in some way substantiated, have been caught with drugs and kicked off the team. Per Tom Beaver [GBW poohbah -ed], at least the aspect of getting removed from the team is false, and he also stated unequivocally that the law is NOT involved.
He also offers some circumstantial evidence of his own that indicates anyone panicked should calm down a bit; hit up Varsity Blue's post for that additional bit of reassurance.
In sum: three guys probably in trouble but of the stairs-running variety. A complicating factor: a couple of the accused have been in trouble before and may be running out of strikes. (Any SEC fans wishing to jump down my throat about this would be advised to look into whether their favorite program conducts off-season random drug tests for recreational substances first.)
Mel Kiper is not a huge fan of Alan Branch. Detroit News article on instate draft prospects:
Branch has enormous physical ability, very athletic with tremendous physical prowess," the ESPN analyst said Wednesday during a teleconference. "I'd say he'd probably go top 10 to 12, but I have him right now at 18, 19, 20."
The knock on Branch, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound defensive tackle, is his lack of production, Kiper said.
"He should be a dominant player but was not on a consistent basis (in college)," Kiper said. "He probably needed another year at Michigan, in terms of production, because he was not a guy that gave you results in terms of tackles and sacks that you thought were possible.
"He's got a chance to be a heck of a player. The potential is there."
This is silliness on a par with those MaxwellPundit voters who downgraded Reggie Nelson because he only made one tackle in the MNC game. (How many tackles was Nelson, a deep free safety, supposed to make when Ohio State completed four passes?) Branch is a defensive tackle and to measure his impact on the game in terms of numbers is inherently shallow.
Kiper on Hall:
On cornerback Leon Hall (5-11, 193) -- "If you asked me where he'd go in September, October, November, I'd probably have said top 10. What hurt him a little was the Ohio State game and then the Rose Bowl, where he was beaten deep, and his recovery speed was in question. The combines and workouts overall are important for him. I think he's a mid-first-rounder right now."
No problems with that. Throughout the year it seemed odd that Leon Hall was being talked about like a top-ten pick and a Woodson-Law type corner. Don't get me wrong: Leon was a very good collegiate corner. But he never had that lockdown ability you expect from a guy with that level of hype. As far as corners of the last decade or so go, the list is like this:
- Enormous, Weis-sized gap.
- Similarly sized gap.
- Hall, Jackson
I think I'll have something more on this Delaney thing soon. I mean, lord knows I don't want to. It's been my longstanding opinion that the top five conferences are all fairly equal -- though if Miami and FSU don't pull out of their tailspins, the ACC isn't -- and arguing about which conference is incrementally better this year is a stupid and boring conversation to have. But Delaney and the Big Ten have been getting hammered ever since OSU didn't show up for the MNC game (and, granted, Michigan didn't show up for the Rose Bowl) by people who think the result of whatever the last game was is the way all future contests will go forever and ever.
A couple quick things, though. BGS posts something called "Big Tenvy" that has a nice table of the 19 recruits offered by both Big Ten and SEC schools this year, notes that 15 of them went to SEC schools, and claims that this effectively disproves the infamous Delaney line about not having six top-ten classes because of the modicum of scruples the Big Ten chooses to maintain or whatever. (<-- Delaney's words paraphrased and not, at this time, an expression of personal opinion.) Leaving aside the obvious sample size problems, a subset of players that have been offered by both sets of schools implies that their academics obviously met the standards of both conferences and proves nothing about a hypothetical gray area in which one says OK! and the other NO WAI. But what really drew my ire was the Larry Grant example, which is so dumb it featured heavily in a Matt Hayes article. General rule of thumb: if Matt Hayes is using something, run away. BGS excerpt:
Originally from Georgia, Grant selected Florida but could not qualify academically. After completing some make-up work he then enrolled at, you guessed it, Ohio State. Tell me again which conference had the higher standards?
Excerpt from BGS-linked article:
Although Grant landed at OSU, that was not his original destination. A few months ago, he was committed to Florida and all but had his bags packed for Gainesville. Originally from Norcross, Ga., an Atlanta suburb, Grant intended to play in the Southeastern Conference.
Then came the revelation that he had not passed a math course that the SEC requires of all junior-college transfers. Florida couldn't take him. He did the makeup work in January, but by then he was a free agent.
The implication of this sentence is that by the time Grant committed to OSU, he was eligible to play anywhere in the SEC. Second excerpt:
Tressel is not a fan of junior-college transfers, primarily because they can be in the program three years at the most. In his five years at OSU, he had not signed any, although he had inherited two, receiver Chris Vance and linebacker Jack Tucker.
Criticizing Ohio State and the Big Ten for taking an SEC-eligible Larry Grant when he's the only JUCO Ohio State has taken in five (now six) years of recruiting is something only Matt Hayes could come up with, and BGS should be embarrassed that they resorted to it.
Meanwhile, over at EDSBS Orson takes a look at the 2002 Michigan and Florida classes and checks them for relative flameouts. There are a lot of ways a player can fail to serve out their eligibility, and only some are ethically dubious. A rough division:
- Playing-time-related transfer.
- Playing-time related departure from team -- ie: buried so far on the bench the only chance you'd have to play is if the walkons all tear their ACLs. Most schools retain the option to cut guys after their fourth year.
- NFL departure (within reason: if you aren't going on the first day that's sketchy)
SKETCHY IN QUANTITY
- Guys who never qualify.
- Academic washouts.
- Showing your manhood to coeds and such
- Lawrence Phillips
Of Michigan's 21 recruits (Disimone only shows 20, counting Quinton McCoy against 2003, but he first signed a LOI in '02 so it's better to file him here for purposes of this discussion), 12 completed their eligibility. Six were "That's life" departures: Rembert and Guiterrez left so they could play. Kolodziej and Berishaj left because of injuries (2002 was a bad year to be an OL with a last name ending in "J"). Kevin Murphy and Jacob Stewart were not invited back for fifth years because they weren't going to see the field. Only three fall in the sketch category: Greg Cooper, who didn't qualify, prepped, and went to State, Larry Harrison, who loved running around town without pants on, and McCoy, who was an academic washout.
Orson's analysis of Florida's 2002 class, which is similarly sized, shows 13 guys (Orson actually shortchanges UF by undercounting here) who finished their eligibility or left early for the draft. One guy was injured, and another was unambiguously sketchy. The remainder:
Patrick Dosh: Became a pirate at ECU. Yarr for him.
McKenzie Pierre: Robbed Florida fans of an exceptional name by transferring after '04.
Jimtavis Walker: Became a cabbie-mugging Beaver before flunking out completely.
Guys who fell off the face of the earth.
Todd Bunce. D-lineman who fell into Federlineville.
Gavin Dickey: Fleet qb who opted to play British women's sport instead of football.
Ryan Carter, OL: Running guns in Cote d'Ivoire, for all we know.
Placing these guys into one big "didn't finish" category leaves something to be desired. In Michigan terms, there are Matt Gutierrez transfers and Max Martin transfers. The latter are sketchy. We can safely file Walker into "sketchy" and Dickey into "not" (baseball, for those having a hard time translating), the circumstances of the other two transfers and the mysterious disappearances of Carter and Bunce are ambiguous. So Michigan has 18 not sketchy, 3 sketchy; Florida 15 not sketchy, 2 sketchy, and 4 don't knows. Still fairly even. Orson's promised a look at Tennessee, who by dint of sheer numbers can't possibly maintain that sort of good citizenship record.
Anyway: this debate seems to be only starting and since it's the offseason you'll no doubt end up with as much of it as you care to absorb.
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.