this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Update 2/5: Removed OH WR Roy Roundtree (premium article but the meat is in the headline/header).
PRYOR EEEE PRYOR EEEE: He's not deciding... unless he is! Jack McCallum knows jack and says OSU; Tom Luginbill also knows jack and says Michigan.
Editorial Opinion: Pryor either will or will not announce his college choice on Signing Day. Given the vast tide of public opinion pointing towards Ohio State it would be better if he delayed, which is either a 10-20 percent chance or a 50-50 chance depending on whether you listen to Pryor from yesterday morning or Pryor from yesterday afternoon. The yesterday morning bit was covered... er... yesterday. The yesterday afternoon one:
"I spoke to Pryor, and he said the report was incorrect," Farrell said. "He said was still 50/50 whether he'd sign or not, and Oregon is not eliminated. He said it's still Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State if he signs Wednesday, and Oregon is in the mix if he waits."
Whatever. Anyone who cares what the exact fake percentage is Pryor announces tomorrow should stop, shower, and go outside, and that's coming from a guy who's 50-50 to put on pants on any particular day. I mean 80-90 percent to put on pants. And the pants might still be from J. Crew unless the moon is gibbous, in which case the pants will definitely not be from J. Crew. Unless they are.
While the bulk of public opinion remains Ohio State, Scout guru Bob Lichtenfels -- the guy Pryor called to break the Rodriguez-to-Michigan news -- keeps flitting around Penn State boards saying vaguely positive things about a late Penn State push. Michigan has its own advocate in ESPN's Tom Luginbill, who's consistently said he believes M is the place for him, albeit in CYA terms. The latest:
Tom Luginbill, national recruiting director for ESPN Scouts Inc., gives the Wolverines a slight advantage in this quarterback derby because of Rodriguez.
"I really believe Ohio State, early on, was the front-runner, as well as Tennessee, until David Cutcliffe left for Duke," Luginbill said.
"Then all of a sudden, the Rich Rodriguez scenario took place and vaulted this thing into the stratosphere."
"Terrelle Pryor can run that offense. He knows it. Rich Rodriguez knows it. And it would be an opportunity to start the process off with him in that scheme and have him essentially be the guy the minute he steps onto the field," Luginbill said. "Not just because he's talented enough, but because he's the only one who can run it. And I think that obviously that has to be intriguing if you're Terrelle Pryor."
ESPN has proven itself completely useless in the prediction game, unfortunately, but if you wish to concoct crazy stories about the WWL leveraging his appearance on the network into killer inside info, be my guest. It will make you feel better for somewhere between a day and around two months.
And, hey, unreliable rumor site College Football Talk -- an offshoot of completely unreliable rumor site Pro Football Talk -- says Michigan thinks it wins:
A source close to the Michigan coaching staff tells CFT that head coach Rich Rodriguez believes top high school recruit Terrelle Pryor will announce tomorrow that he's going to Michigan.
Pro Football Talk has developed a reputation for getting information no one else is able to... hopefully this is their first big college splash.
This is always fun: Every year the Detroit News sends out a survey to its top 15 instate recruits asking them about their best and worst experiences and why not MSU or UM (or both if someone leaves the State). Once you get down into the double-digits asking the "why not M?" question gets cruel, though, especially for kids committed to State. MSU commit Charles Burrell:
Why not U-M? I didn't receive a scholarship offer from Michigan. That was the school I always wanted to go to. It was kind of disappointing they didn't offer me. I worked real hard to receive an offer.
Awwww. Aw. Poor kid.
Then there's Jonas Gray's story:
Why not U-M? I'm pretty close with people who have ties with U-M. My track coach, Stanley Edwards, is one. I got turned off when they offered me as an athlete. I ran a 4.3 (40-yard dash) at their camp and thought that would be good enough that they would offer me as a running back. Plus I knew coach (Lloyd) Carr wouldn't be there for four years.
It'll be interesting to see how he works out at Notre Dame. Michigan actually offered then-whodat Mike Cox over Gray despite Gray's blazing camp 40. No offense to Jonas, but I hope he kinda sucks because watching him excel would be tres frustrating.
Todd Leopold has just announced that he and Leopold Brothers are leaving A2 for Denver.
The reason is the same one it always is: skyrocketing rents.
Death to landlords! Death to capitalism! Death to Amerikkka! I might be over-reacting slightly! And this has nothing to do with sports! I'll fight any ponce in the comments who talks crap about Leopold's!*
*(unless you're huge, or a ninja, or made of bees, or are dangerous in any way.)
Update 2/4: Moved FL QB Justin Feagin to committed. Then moved him back to uncommitted. Moved TX WR Terrence Robinson to committed. Removed PA HB Christian Wilson. Linked to some more Feagin video, Robinson commit video. Added FL WR Onterrio McCalebb, FL OL Ricky Barnum, removed FL WR Martavious Odoms.
Editorial Opinion: As expected, Christian Wilson is officially going elsewhere.
Okay. Feagin appears on Michigan's commitment list on Scout but not on Rivals. Rivals is more reliable, so we go with them. Even so, given the presence of Feagin on the Michigan commit list at Scout and the tone of the Rivals article header ("Feagin wowed by Michigan experience" ($)) are separate indicators that the difference here is likely to be academic and by Wednesday at the latest Feagin will be in the fold. I've removed him from the commit list but left his indicator blue.
Embeddable Feagin for those uninclined to go through the cumbersome download-and-observe process, this from the IA state championship game:
(Love the kid coming out for his first field goal attempt of the year. No pressure, dude.)
Yes, Feagin is the guy doing the scoring for the white team and the guy getting torched by Melvin Ray, an Alabama commitment. If Feagin doesn't work out at QB he'll likely find a home in the secondary or at WR.
Meanwhile, Michigan picked up an actual official commit from Terrence Robinson last night. I've sort of blown the ol' wad already on Robinson, what with the "dream shake" and all that, but here it is one more time:
Mmmmm, football recruiting porn.
Seems like a nice kid, and I get inordinately excited about little darty fast guys, especially when they're named the best player in the Klein area over teammate, Texas commit, and national top-100 player Deshawn Hales. Robinson is a four-star to both Scout (#16 RB) and Rivals (#9 All-purpose back, actually higher rated than McGuffie) and gets an excellent 80 rating from ESPN. ESPN:
Quick-footed athlete, he is extremely slippery to bring down in the open field. Flashes loose hips and great stop-start cutting ability; does not lose much in his transition. Slighter frame but is not afraid to stick it up hard between the tackles.
Negatives according to the WWL: only "adequate" hands and a lack of true top-end speed.
Robinson is a perfect fit in the slot, a major need in the new offense, and picking up his commitment after being nowhere is a minor coup for Rodriguez and Co.
Pryor! has evidently decided to scrap the Oregon visit and will decide on Signing Day as originally planned. Probably.
Decision day will be at noon Wednesday for Terrelle Pryor.
Pryor, star quarterback at Jeannette High School, said today he is "80 to 90 percent sure" he will announce his choice at a news conference Wednesday. He had been considering pushing back his decision a week or so, and possibly visiting the University of Oregon.
But Pryor said he will not visit Oregon and the Ducks are out of the picture.
Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State remain.
Status. Wilson and Robinson cancel out; with Morales on both sites commit lists now it's clear he's a scholarship player. That leaves Michigan at 19 kids with a likely commit from Feagin bringing them to 20.
The five spots:
- One additional QB. If it's not Pryor, probably Dominick Britt from Trotwood-Madison.
- Hopefully MI DE Nick Perry.
- A fifth offensive lineman, either current Cinci commit Patrick Omameh or current Florida commit Ricky Barnum.
- One more slot/RB type: Penn State commit Michael Shaw, Auburn commit Onterrio McCalebb, or Purdue commit Roy Roundtree.
- Super fairy surprise.
The class will likely end up at 23 or 24, IMO.
It's Bo! In Michigan Stadium! Being Bo! Unfortunately, it's with Mitch Albom. But whatever:
WolverineHistorian also has clips from the '86 Ohio State game.
It's Mike Hart! Mitch Albom is thousands of miles away!
He'll grubberize the left flankenoid! Budding "television presenter" Dhani Jones is going to get his rugby on:
"Because Dhani [pronounced Dee-hah-nee] is a defensive lineman [sic], his catching and passing are the things we need to work on.
"All being well, he will come on the field as a flanker. I don't think it will make much difference whether it's blindside or openside.
"We just have to make sure that when he hits someone it is an opponent who has got the ball and that he's not running an illegal blocking move."
A football fan has no place to criticize obscure minutiae in another sport, but I've taken in a few rugby games and find it utterly incomprehensible. It was fun, though, to sit in polite befuddlement as the people around me went nuts about seemingly irrelevant developments... now I know what it's like for people around me.
Defending the man. Anyone who's read this blog for any length of time knows that it consistently advocates for more aggressive playcalling, especially in the tough-FG-or-pooch-punt area of the field from about the 50 to the opponent's 30. Years of screaming "NO!" at Lloyd Carr have created something of an obsession.
This is a mildly tough position to hold in the aftermath of a Super Bowl that featured one ballsy decision to pass up a 48-yard field goal that led to a turnover on downs and a three-point loss. No doubt some toolish sportswriter who believes in things like heart and thinks math is for pencil-necked commies will seize upon this and write a scathingly dumb article about newfangled methods.
HOWEVA, it should be noted that the Romer paper mostly applies to downs like fourth and three, not fourth and thirteen. This graph is the heart of the paper (click for big; it's a little unintelligible at this size):
The solid line represents the point at which kicking and going for it are equal choices; never does it breach ten yards to go and at the 31 yard line it's begun a steep downward pitch into reasonable FG distance. By my estimation, Romer's paper suggests that going for it on fourth and eight is barely defensible; fourth and thirteen is lunacy.
Hatred! In the aftermath of the MSU series, Yost Built took a look at Michigan's odd power play disparity. You'd expect that Michigan, always one of the best teams in the CCHA, would have an advantage when it comes to power play opportunities, right?
This was the case a few years ago, but not so much now:
2007-08: Michigan: 132, Opponents: 141, 8-14-4
2006-07: Michigan: 241, Opponents: 241, 18-19-4
2005-06: Michigan: 254, Opponents: 233, 22-14-5
2004-05: Michigan: 273, Opponents: 244, 21-12-9
2003-04: Michigan: 241, Opponents: 175, 33-3-7
(Note the NMU series numbers are not in here.) A few theories as to Michigan's progressive downturn here:
- The NCAA went through a brief, wonderful period during which they really cracked down on obstruction, which really helped Michigan; this is less heavily emphasized these days.
- Jack Johnson. Self explanatory, no?
- Steve Piotrowksi.
As in "Steve Piotrowski's retirement". The piece of data from the Yost Built post that leaps off the page:
Piotrowski: 10.4 PPO/game, +66, 27-7-4 over 38 games ...
None of the other refs that we frequently have (double digit times over 5 years) is higher [in PPO +/- for M] than +.65/game, whereas Pio is at +1.74/game for Michigan
Piotrowski was universally acclaimed the best ref in the CCHA and possibly the NCAA. He officiated multiple national championship games during the CCHA prolonged absence from said game and is now the CCHA's director of officials. Now he's gone and Michigan can't buy a hooking penalty.
The King of Rationalization. Friday's emo post about the basketball team contained a complain against the WHO WANTS SOME FREEEEE PIZZAAAAA announcer guy. It turns out that the announcer guy gets around the area, announcing things from Tiger baseball to Eastern Michigan basketball and Toledo Storm hockey. He is well loved by the Storm faithful:
"A LOT OF PEOPLE think it's odd that the fans boo me. It goes back to something a former Blade sports reporter wrote. He thought it was horrible that I introduced myself because most announcers don't. So in one of his columns he encouraged people to boo me. I think they were booing me to spite his suggestion. But that's how it started. I took my dad to a game and I told him the fans really like me. When they all booed me he said, 'Robert, I thought you said they liked you.' I told him if they didn't like me,
they wouldn't boo me every night.
Uh... someone fax this guy to South Bend.
In any case, while this guy may be excellent for the Toledo Storm and Eastern Michigan his particular brand of irritating rah-rah is not a fit with the Michigan athletic program and he should be replaced. Or at least tranquilized before games.
Update 2/3: Removed FL CB TJ Lawrence, FL nutball QB BJ Daniels, SC WR Jaron Brown. Moved SC CB JT Floyd to committed. Added OH QB Dominick Britt, OH WR Roy Roundtree.
There's not much info in any of the Pryor articles, but feel free to read between these lines. The Altoona Mirror:
Although Pryor has denied publicly leaning toward any college, the general consensus has been that Ohio State leads Michigan for his services, with Penn State and Oregon jockeying for third place. Reitz gave the impression he believed that to be the case, but that Penn State did give Pennsylvania Football News' Mr. Football and The Associated Press Class AA player of the year something to think about.
Meanwhile, Jeannette basketball coach Jim Nesser became the second coach to indicate that Pryor is leaning toward signing with Ohio State.
Nesser said he believed Pryor hasn't made up his mind, however.
"I think Terrelle likes and trusts (Ohio State coach Jim) Tressel, but that's my opinion," Nesser said. "He'll do well wherever he chooses."
Other gents. Mike Farrell touches on a couple Michigan recruits in a discussion of BC:
Looks like Boston College might strike out on its last three targets, all running backs. Shane Turner committed to Rice, Terrence Robinson appears headed to Michigan and Christian Wilson is rumored to be leaning toward North Carolina.
Robinson announces tonight on the same show Sam McGuffie and Darryl Stonum did; every indication is that Michigan is the pick. This is Robinson's McGuffie moment:
Should be a slot guy a la Darius Reynaud and possibly a dynamite returner.
Wilson seems gone, and unfortunately JB Fitzgerald is the latest LB to have a shaky-ish commitment:
"I know he enjoyed his visit to Rutgers and I know that he's going to Michigan unofficially to spend some time with the staff," Smith said. "I guess we'll know on Signing Day where he's going to go."
Smith said Fitzgerald has been increasingly impressed with Schiano and his assistants, who have continued to recruit him despite his commitment to Michigan.
But according to Smith, Rodriguez and his staff have tried vigorously to keep him, even recently flying to New Jersey to meet with Fitzgerald and his family in their home.
"Coach Rod has been down here and all those people, so there's no doubt about it they still want J.B.," Smith said.
The article mentions Fitzgerald's unofficial this weekend; I think he'll stay with M.
MI DE Nick Perry is the biggest name on the board for M other than Pryor. He remains difficult to read. Perry on M:
"Everything was pretty good," Perry said about Michigan. "I have been up there quite a few times, but getting around the new coaches was cool. I am feeling comfortable more and more each time I (visit). I felt good about it."
"As far as (Shafer) goes, it seems like he has a plan," said Perry. "His background seems pretty good and it seems he can put a defense together pretty well. Coach Rodriguez put a good coaching staff together and I think they'll be able to put me in a lot of positions to use me."
Randy Shannon was the banquet speaker for Detroit King; Rodriguez crashed that particular party. I don't think anyone out there has a particularly good feel for Perry's destination. Some knowledgeable USC folk I correspond with are confident, but they're always confident about every recruit so the marginal value of that is low. IMO, USC and M are the two contenders. Hopefully he'll stay home.
Trotwood-Madison may provide an unexpected bounty. Buckeye Planet mentions that QB Dominick Britt and WR Roy Roundtree are visiting Michigan this weekend; two weeks ago TE commit Brandon Moore visited with teammate and nominal PSU commit Michael Shaw. Britt was a UC commit who decommitted in the wake of the Demetrius Jones transfer (Cinci is on track to have seven scholarship QBs next year) and gave strong consideration to WVU. Roundtree is a slot WR currently committed to Purdue.
Britt's looking for a home with an opportunity for a dual-threat QB and Michigan's really hard up for non-Pryor options in the wake of the BJ Daniels
fiasco, whatever that was. If M offers logic suggests he's a slam-dunk commit. That might bring Roundtree with him, and then an already on-the-fence Shaw will be looking at a situation at M featuring three of his friends and teammates. Oh, and no JayPa.
There will be a blizzard of activity in the next few days (Wednesday is Signing Day) that I'll try to keep up with as best I can. I usually provide a recruiting class recap in a few parts starting on Signing Day, but since this recruiting class is still very much up in the air this year's edition will be delayed until Monday or so.
1/31/2008 - Michigan 32, Minnesota 52 - 10-ish minutes left, second half
I am one of those irritating people who makes it a point of pride to never leave a sporting event early. Since I matriculated at Michigan, I'm pretty sure the only time I've left a game early was during this dismal year, when I bolted with a couple minutes left in the Oregon game. And after those two weeks who could blame me? Or anyone? When not facing the imminent danger of perpetrating mass homicide, I endure.
I have seen Walter Cross run for 100 yards long after Donovan McNabb turned Michigan's defense into confused goo. (What remained of the student section gamely chanted "Cross is boss" as the minutes ticked off Michigan's futile grasp at respectability.) I have waited out 6-1 losses to Northern Michigan at Yost. I have sat in the world's worst-designed poncho and watched Michigan tackle a directional Michigan school -- which I don't remember and doesn't matter -- in the brief windows when the wind was not whipping said ill-designed poncho into my face and my newly-cleansed glasses had not been re-coated by the insistent, driving rain.
I have sat through it all, melting-hot September games against MAC foes and frigid, dull things against Northwestern and Purdue. Misery has little power over me.
This year, I've gotten through one of the five Michigan basketball games I've attended.
This latest was perhaps the most depressing sporting event I can remember. Michigan quickly fell behind by double-digits in a half-empty arena. The loudest group of people in the place were a hundred or so Minnesota students who had bizarrely decided to crash Crisler en masse on a Thursday night. At some point during the second half they chanted "our house" over and over; all I could think is "how goddamn far away is Minneapolis? Is it Thursday? What day is this?"
It was indeed Thursday; according to Google Maps, Minneapolis is 648 miles from Ann Arbor, 10 and a half hours by car. Seriously... what the hell? I can understand invasions from East Lansing or Columbus or, I dunno, Toronto or something, but Minneapolis? Don't you have better things to do than spend either 20 hours or hundreds of dollars to see your kinda-crappy basketball team beat up on Michigan's very crappy basketball team? Evidently not.
At halftime they had a 40th anniversary celebration for Crisler. Most of the 1968 team was there to receive the hearty applause that is their due. There was a great spiel about Rudy Tomjanovich, the star of that team and one of the names in the rafters at Crisler. He was not there, and that seemed appropriate. Cazzie Russell was, though, and that was sad.
Russell is one of those elderly gentlemen who radiates dignity and authority in their very mien. The nearest equivalent in my experience has been Red Berenson, who seems to terrify first-round draft picks into committing to Michigan merely by cocking his eyebrow. Russell has that sort of bearing.
So he stood with his bearing, and listened to his accomplishments -- which are many -- and was then told he stood in the House Cazzie Built and that seemed like kind of a cruel thing to tell a nice old man who never did you any harm. The House Cazzie Built is half-empty, overrun by bums from half a continent away, and home to a team likely to set records for futility.
Michigan has not so much as reached the NCAA tournament since 1998, an impressive feat matched by an ever-dwindling list of maybe ten major-conference teams. Being there is an act of masochism. But hey... new lights!
I have four more tickets sitting at a drawer at home; I don't know how many more of them I'll use.
- Speaking of the announcer guy... oh, God. At least 5% of the Crisler misery is because of him. I understand the arena is dead, but importing the PA guy from the Sioux Falls Skyforce isn't going to help things. The pizza giveaways SPONSORED BY DOMINOS!!!, the stupid free-throw shooting competitions, the fake cheer in the announcement whenever anyone makes a basket... none of this crap would fly at either Michigan Stadium or Yost. Michigan's always avoided the WOOOO THIS IS SPORRRRRRTZZZ presentation, except at basketball games.
Attention: this is not the D-league.