this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Rich Rodriguez has embarked on a nationwide goodwill campaign during this new spring dead period in recruiting, and several MGoBlog readers have attended the show in various locales. Several were kind enough to pass along impressions and information.
Also, one did this:
Anyway, on with the reports:
Went to go see coach Rodriguez in NY tonight. A few highlights:
Lamar Woodley made a cameo with his chick, and spoke for about 3 minutes about his workouts with Barwis. He made it pretty clear that this will not be the Michigan we're used to seeing.
Braylon Edwards dad was present, which further shows alumni support
for the new regime.
Coach said we will be starting 6-7 true freshman next year. He really
said this and said "true". Who are the most likely candidates?
An interjection: Aaron Rennie, the perpetrator of the above and host of CFB Weekly, taped the Rodriguez speech and reports that Rodriguez said M would "play" seven or eight true freshmen. I don't know Rodriguez means by "play". Does he mean "will see significant playing time on offense or defense" or "will blow a redshirt by running downfield and watching other people make special teams tackles"? If it's the latter, Rodriguez plans on reducing the number of true freshmen on the field -- last year only eight players redshirted, two of them OL and one a transfer who had to. If it's the former, there will be a significant uptick in contributions from freshmen. Given Rodriguez's apparent distaste for redshirting, I'm betting it's the latter.
As to who:
- Slot receivers Terrance Robinson and Martavious Odoms are holy locks to play early, especially if one wins a job returning punts or kicks.
- Darryl Stonum enrolled early and is the highest-rated WR recruit on campus at the moment; he'll play.
- CBs JT Floyd and Boubacar Cissoko will probably see the field as Michigan prepares to lose two of its top three corners after the season.
- At least two freshman linebackers will play, probably Marcus Witherspoon and JB Fitzgerald.
- Sam McGuffie(!) or Michael Shaw will also compete in the slot or function as a third down back.
Another possible true freshman to see the field: DT Mike Martin. Michigan goes four or five deep there, but it is a position that sees a lot of rotation and if any recruit if physically ready to play college football it's workout freak Martin, who isn't even scared of Mike Barwis. word.
Said defense was solid, QB is not yet settled, and "I didn't remember to bring my wizard hat with me tonight," which 50% of the audience thought was hilarious.
Alluded to Boren saying the media focuses on 1 or 2 guys who don't want to work hard 100% of the time, but never mentions to 99 players who do. ["A lot's been made about maybe one or two guys that did not buy in. Not a lot has been made about the 99 others that did," according to Mr. Rennie -ed] Says we will be the most intense, best conditioned team in the country. "Summer conditioning is voluntary, but so is playing time."
Said he was proud of Long, but it was no coincidence that Stephen Ross purchased the Dolphins. ([??? -ed])
They showed a video at the start of the speakers portion that was beyond intense. It had to have been a recruiting video because it made my scrawny, jewy ass want to strap on pads and sack Anthony Morelli. I can't even describe how amazing the video was.
Video comes in for further praise elsewhere:
Towards the end of the event, they played on the projection screens a video used during recruiting that was all Michigan Football. It was amazing! Everyone was so pumped up and going nuts it was really incredible. I had chills.
Then, Bill Martin spoke for a little and talked about the direction of the Athletic Dept. and how excited they were to have Rodriguez on board. Then LaMarr Woodley spoke for a little about training w/ Barwis during the offseason and his meetings w/ Rodriguez. He was very excited for the program and had a lot of good things to say. Then Rodriguez spoke for about 20 minutes or so and he was just awesome. He was talking about the transition and how excited he and the coaching staff are. Told a bunch of funny stories and just kept hyping everything up. He seems like a real down to earth guy, very southern, and incredibly personable.
I put two videos i took from the even up on youtube because they were just too big to send over to you. One of them is Coach in the middle of his speech talking about recruiting and mentioning that he forgot his wizard hat and the other is Rodriguez, Woodley, and the Alumni President leading the whole place in Hail to the Victors!
A couple additional choice quotes transcribed by Rennie:
"We do go (recruit) by the rules, by the way."
"We'll go out and meet some folks, especially my first year, and especially while I'm still undefeated. ... If we lose a few, you won't see my ass around here next year."
Your daily dose of "eeeee":
"Mike (Barwis) got enough education to get accepted to med school, but instead he became an ultimate fighter. So he's wired a little bit different, if you know what I mean."
And one final thing on some guy:
"If a guy starts to stray, you try to pick him back up. If he won't allow you to pick him back up, you gotta let him go."
Those were all attendees of the New York event. Another reader attended the Chicago edition and returned with some sad news on scheduling:
First, I was surprised to learn the extent to which the event is mostly a networking function for alums and boosters. I guess I expected more football and more presentation. I made some nice business contacts, as did my girlfriend. That aside, I spent some time speaking with Bill Martin. I wrote you last summer about an e-mail exchange he and I had about the Big 10 Network (he vowed that Comcast and Time Warner would pick it up by the beginning of football season; he was decidedly incorrect). I reintroduced myself and talked with him for awhile about the exciting world of commercial real estate, of which I am a sleepwalking member.
I moved on to football-related matters, asking him whether there are plans to upgrade Michigan's nonconference schedule. Much hemming and hawing ensued, followed by these key words: "Probably not." He explained how big the Notre Dame series is to the TV people. I patiently and in a roundabout way explained that, while nobody has a problem with the Notre Dame series, many are hoping the fourth nonconference game will be reserved for a home-and-home with a competent SEC/Big 12-type team. Again: "Probably not." So that's that. More chump/chump/chump/ND slates for the foreseeable future.
So then we move into the formal part of the evening. Alumni Association guy introduces Bill Martin. Martin introduces Rodriguez. Rodriguez moved into a speech you've read elsewhere. It was funny, charming and encouraging; I knew
most of it from the report of the speeches he's given in the last week or two. I was left feeling that Michigan football is in good, competent hands. After his 20 or 30 minutes at the podium I introduced myself to Rodriguez and gave him my welcome to the program. He smiled, asked me a bit about myself, etc. There was a mob behind me so I elected to get out of the way ... but not before a football question.
I asked him what the strongest position group on the team is so far; I was hoping he'd reply "defensive line" or "tailback" because that'd at least confirm my hope that U-M will be kickass at something this year. He leaned back and scratched his chin and told me he'd not thought about it like that, but he'd have to say: linebackers. I was a little surprised. My girlfriend told him that I'd been expecting he'd say "defensive line." He said, "Yeah, but your boyfriend's not thinking about some of those freshmen we have coming in." How to take that? I don't know. Either the whole team blows worse than I'd feared or he's extremely impressed with that handful of four-stars he and Lloyd scored.
All in all, it was fun and left me confident that Michigan will win many games over the next several years.
The Dearborn event had a significant portion taped the masses:
It's like you're there!
Oi. Michigan's weird association with rugby continues, as Dhani Jones is spending a good chunk of his offseason learning how to play the game in England. A video feature on Blackheath's new pennyflankenshire or whatever (warning: the announcer seems constitutionally incapable of pronouncing the letter H):
My favorite shot: embittered-looking old Brits looking on dourly with half-full pints. England: feel the excitement! Mostly it rains, but other times you can look upon something with grim determination! With beer!
Actually, take away the beer and that sounds like Michigan football.
#1. Major alarm spread through all parts of the Michigan internet yesterday when Braylon Edwards dropped this bombshell in an ESPN chat:
I am already mad that Rich Rod because he gave the No.1 jersey to someone other than a WR, which is breaking tradition. But I think he is a great coach and will lead Michigan to a turnaround.
He further expounded on his displeasure on the radio:
"I'm glad you gave me a 'Go Blue' question, because Rich Rod gave the No. 1 jersey to an incoming freshman DB," Edwards said, sounding somewhat annoyed. "The No. 1 jersey has never been worn by anybody outside of a wide receiver -- it dates back to Anthony Carter, so I'm going to have a talk with (Rodriguez) about that next time I see him. But outside of that, he's been doing a great job."
(The defensive back in question is apparently JT Floyd, who wore it in high school.) Panic ensued! Okay... maybe not panic. Sample emails:
I think I share the feelings of many alumni when I say that while I am a strong supporter of moving
's offence [Canadian emailer? Maybe. -ed] and S&C into the new era, I have real issues with assigning the #1 jersey to a non receiver who has never earned it. Michigan
I'm all for giving Rodriguez the benefit of the doubt, but it's fairly bad form to gut a fairly big tradition at Michigan by giving the number to a freshman defensive back. Maybe he didn't know about #1, but I find that fairly hard to believe. What's next, no banner when they run out of the tunnel on Saturdays?
One clarification: before Edwards was forced to earn the #1, Michigan just gave it to kids as a recruiting inducement. However, as soon as Braylon got his NFL dolla bills (y'all), he gave Michigan the largest endowment a former athlete had ever provided. The intent was to enshrine Edwards' path:
"No freshman will be allowed to wear the No. 1," Edwards said. "The number holds too much significance and too much value. There are three criteria to receive it: first, no freshmen; second, the GPA (grade-point average); third, off-the-field conduct."
I don't know how closely the Carr staff was hewing to the specifications laid out by Braylon when he endowed a scholarship for the jersey, since Darryl Stonum had been promised the #1 as an incoming freshman, but at least Stonum was a superstar recruit and when he hit the field in spring he was sporting 22. Maybe Michigan promised him the jersey as a sophomore? Now it all goes wonky.
Though Rodriguez has made a heroic effort to learn and integrate himself into the Michigan tradition -- inviting program alumni back for meet-and-greets, visiting any M Club that will have him, and generally talking up Michigan history whenever prompted to -- this is a misstep. Edwards, poised to be one of the dominant NFL receivers of the next ten years, is going to be a resource both financial and otherwise no matter what happens here. But there's no reason to annoy him, or annoy fans who like a tradition that dates back 30 years (Tyrone Butterfield excepted), or remove whatever small recruiting juju exists when you dangle the 1 in front of a kid who knows what it means.
It's just going to look wrong for the #1 to be on defense. I'm already freaked out that Charles Woodson is going to be a white tailback for the next four years. This is too much. I might die. [probably not, though -ed] Hell, I'm all for more number specialization: tiny waterbug receivers get Desmond Howard's #21. Dann O'Neill gets Jake Long's 77. Whoever's small and slow and inexplicably awesome gets #20.
Is this a huge, huge deal? No, but it's directly opposed to both Rodriguez's fan- and media-friendly style and his love of weird little traditions. Number assignments aren't final yet and there's been a shocking amount of uproar about this -- Michigan message boards were unreadable for a period of several hours yesterday -- so I think there's a good chance Floyd has a sit-down with Braylon and ends up wearing something else.
Why would you ever leave? Not to be too unkind to a state that produced our current head football coach, but good God...
Seriously, a 26 win season with John Beilein's players, the best recruiting class in recent memory, a man dedicated to the state and University, why not give him a 10-year deal?
John Beilein's players won 27 games the year before he left, and if that doesn't impress because of a weak schedule and NIT help, well, before that Beilein's players had back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances.
Condolences to Bryan Wright. The sophomore kicker's father passed away recently. Michigan did what little they could:
. Upon learning of the death, the Michigan coaching staff contacted the family and a number of team members including players and ex-coach Lloyd Carr traveled to Salem to pay their respects.
Goddammit, stickam spammer, I am not still down to hook up, especially when you send me messages from "Robert Gleason."
The Wit and Wisdom of Weis returns. Head to 50 seconds in this video:
A transcript, since it's a little hard to make out: "I think the first opportunity they're going to have to really make a statement is that day [Sept. 6 against SDSU], and then we'll listen to Michigan have all their excuses as they come runnin' in and sayin' how they have a new coaching staff and there's changes. To hell with Michigan." Then someone's cellphone rings and Weis makes some goober remark about using all the minutes and just looks so incredibly pleased with himself and if there was a just and loving God at that moment a mountain goat would come bounding into the frame and headbutt him to the ground, whereupon he would flail his legs like an upturned beetle and emit a horrifying bovine howl.*
Weis has issued a fatwa against excuses. Check this Dan Wetzel piece:
"But I'm not an excuse guy."
But wait! There's more!
"What I never want to do is make an excuse for how things go," he said.
After the first Michigan beatdown:
I'm reluctant to even say this because it almost sounds like making excuses for the first game.
The title of Weis' book? "No Excuses."
It's almost as if he thinks he can't be blamed for being the Worst Coach in the Universe as long as he doesn't have an excuse (read: "reason") for his performance. Imagine if Jeffery Dahmer had taken this tack: "look, I know the easiest thing to do is assume I'm crazy since I do crazy things like chop people up and put them in my freezer and then, like, pan-fry them with a nice roasted garlic butter. But I'm not an excuse guy. My performance as a human being has been unacceptable, and I'm not going to say it's because my parents abused me when I was a child, because that sounds like excuse making. As mentioned, I have no excuses, so you should totally let me go."
But, yeah, he totally could have turned Notre Dame around by now if he was allowed to recruit the same thugs Navy and Air Force do.
The NCAA has just released the four-year running APR numbers through the 2006-2007 seasons. Numbers for teams followed slightly (or more!) by this blog:
(Last year's report, FTR.)
A big dip from the basketball team worries. The APR's cutoff before sanctions are applied is 925, so they're flirting with penalties even before this year's Morris-Price-Udoh-Smith exodus is taken into account. It's likely Michigan dips into the danger zone next year, and they might stay there for a year or two. Apparently there's a waiver process via which you can avoid penalties if you have mitigating circumstances and a plan for improvement, -- that's how Purdue is dodging the axeman -- so Michigan may avoid actual scholarship losses.
Football also took a minor hit as the trouble that plagued Carr's final years starts to show. I think we'll see another dip next year, though not one so drastic as to threaten penalties, followed by a plateau that lasts two-ish years before Michigan starts to regain lost ground.
Scores in non-revenue sports were universally good. The lowest was the women's basketball team and their 955. Purdue is the only Big Ten team faced with penalties in a revenue sport; their basketball program fell short. (Indiana is going to get it next year, though. They got waivered despite having a score of 899 and now five guys are gone early*, many of them having left without academic eligibility. Just desserts for hiring such an obvious sleazeball.)
*(not mentioned in that link is NBA-bound Eric Gordon.)
Michigan's 2010 hockey recruiting class will be epic if the kids who have committed stick to their commitments. D Jon Merrill and F Luke Moffatt are generally regarded as the best kids at their position in their age bracket and are potential top-ten NHL draft picks. F Jared Knight is a bit less hyped but would have been an OHL first-rounder if he wasn't planning on going the NCAA route. His size will depress his spot in the NHL draft, but initial indications are he could be anywhere from TJ Hensick to Andrew Ebbett. (I haven't stumbled across anything that indicates how highly regarded Hotchkiss Prep D Mac Bennett, the fourth commit, is.)
The 2010 class will be super mega epic if F Colin Jacobs joins the show. Jacobs is getting oodles of hype...
"Colin certainly has huge upside and is a player we are monitoring closely," said Chris Lepkowski, assistant personnel director for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP), based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. "Our program is one that requires the highest level of dedication by the player and his family. We are not only looking for the most highly-skilled player, but a player who has character, can handle adversity, and will be able to effectively manage his time. Colin's on-ice talent is in line with the NTDP's past players."
... oodles ...
Some scouts hype Jacobs as the best American-born player since Mike Modano.
Here is what Alan Caldwell had to say about Jacobs:
"Jacobs is one of the best 1993-born players in the United States. The fact that he went this low means he'll be a tough sell on the WHL. First-round talent if he comes."
If Jacobs doesn't end up in the WHL he's very likely to be with the NTDP. Just an advisory to keep his name in mind.
Oh, so that explains it. Bill Martin talked to the Big Ten Network, explaining that Michigan's basketball program now has the funding for a practice facility:
Now that we're practicing, look out, world.
Just one transfer away from a return. Indiana safety Jerimy Finch was a top-50 player in the class of 2007 who 1) committed to Michigan early in the process, 2) inexplicably visited Indiana with a bunch of his teammates, 3) even more inexplicably decommitted from Michigan and committed to Indiana, 4) decommitted from Indiana and eventually signed with Florida because Urban Meyer was apparently calling anyone on Rivals' top 100 list.
After his recruiting sojourn, we have more numbers: 5) got move to linebacker against his wishes, 6) broke his leg in the third game of the season, 7) pretty much failed out of Florida, and 8) is now transferring back to Indiana.
He's projected to be Michigan's starting free safety in 2010.
The Big Ten Network: feel the excitement! Presented without comment other than the obviously snarky lead-in:
Dance gala to be aired on Big Ten Network
"Performing Iowa: Dance Gala," the University of Iowa's first original non-sports cable TV program for the Big Ten Network, will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the auditorium of the UI Art Building West.
No, wait, one comment: damn you, Comcast. This is the last straw.
Speaking of, yet another article that claims a Comcast-BTN deal is imminent:
The Big Ten Network and Comcast â€” the nation's largest cable provider that replaced Insight Communications this year in Springfield â€” likely will announce an agreement in late August, said John Ourand, a reporter for SportsBusiness Journal.
"Both sides are saying they expect something before the football season,'' Ourand said.
An announcement could come in as soon as two or three weeks.
Late August or in two or three weeks? It don't matter to John Supinie of the Springfield Journal-Register! The article does have an interesting suggestion: though Comcast and the BTN always talk about a potential deal like it stands alone, the BTN's association with Fox means that there are dozens of channels and stations and so forth and so on in constant flux between the two media titans.
Side note: a WCHA channel? WTF?
Ha-ha. A reader sent along this lol-worthy State News piece wherein the outgoing sports editors "reflect on years of Spartan sports memories." You know where this is going: the Horror features prominently despite, you know, not actually being a Spartan sports memory in any way. Even weirder:
1. MSU football vs. Michigan, Oct. 1, 2005: Domata Peko's 74-yard fumble return touchdown
1) Michigan State lost that game (obviously). 2) The play referenced here may in fact be the worst call in the history of college football. That sounds bombastic, but not only was Chad Henne's arm obviously hit during his throwing motion, just as obviously going forward at the time, and just as obviously propelling the ball forward before it hit the ground -- making this a trifecta of incredibly obvious items that indicate a forward pass -- but they actually reviewed the incredibly obvious forward pass and called it a fumble anyway. Incredibly obvious missed calls from yesteryear can't compete because they weren't validated by some batty old zombie up in the booth. (The video on the post disappeared, but if you want the relevant section of the NCAA rulebook it's here.) We actually spent the entirety of the remainder of the game bitching about that call, enraging an elderly Spartan fan to the point that he wanted to fight us.
Another editor cites the first half of a game Michigan State got blown out in; only the girl
who is apparently one of the three Spartan hockey fans manages to name two things that are actual Spartan sports memories that aren't kinda humiliating.
Zing! SI's "Truth and Rumors" is basically a news aggregator that takes snippets from articles and reposts them to SI. Today we have this on GA S Darren Myles:
Coaches from Georgia, Illinois, Marshall, Michigan, Ohio State and Ole Miss were on hand to get a glimpse of junior free safety Darren Myles Jr. and his teammates during opening day of spring football practice at Carver on Monday. Myles, whose marquee scholarship offers are from programs such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Tennessee, enjoyed a productive day at the Nike camp in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Saturday.
A wag in the comments:
So the hot news here is that if your school has a name, they are still in the mix of getting a commitment from this guy?
biminator | 05/06/08, 08:22 AM