this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
As expected, SC CB JT Floyd has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming.
Hopefully Informative Update: Rodriguez is pursuing an inordinate number of WR/DB/RB tweener. Floyd is one of these; though most project him on the defensive side of the ball he was a two-way star at JL Mann High this year:
Floyd, who has committed to the University of Tennessee ("soft verbal," he said during the season), is playing wide receiver and returning kickoffs and punts for the North.
As a senior, he caught 50 passes for 811 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also scored on a punt return and a fumble return.
Floyd appears to be a middling recruit. Other schools in pursuit were Tennessee (obviously), South Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, and Maryland. Though the junior-year offer from Tennessee is impressive, Floyd did not draw interest from any other major programs. Floyd was picked for an annual North-South SC All Star game but was passed over for some sort of "Shrine" game.
Guru ratings are pretty consistent. Lemming rated him the #19 safety, just ahead of MSU commitment Charles Burrell, in October. ESPN gives him a meh 74 and has different ideas than most about his preferred spot on the field:
Floyd is a two-way standout at safety and wide receiver, but the more you watch him on defense, the more you think he may end up at wide receiver. He is athletic and rangy but not really a devastating player in the middle of the field. On offense however, he makes a lot of plays and is one of the more surehanded guys we have seen in this class.
The rest of his $ profile makes him sound like a less physical Jason Avant; there are repeated references to his lack of elite speed and his reliability/excellent hands/clutchosity. Everyone else projects Floyd in the secondary. Rivals gives him three stars and ranks him #20 in South Carolina. Scout also gives him three stars and dubs him the country's #74 safety.
While you can argue that Floyd's early commit to Tennessee removed him from guru radar screens and depressed his ranking, the schools after him, the All-Star snub, and the universal "meh" ratings suggest otherwise. Floyd is a middling recruit who's 50-50 to contribute. He's a good pickup in this transitional situation -- Michigan is scrambling to fill 25 slots with few prospects left on the board --but isn't likely to be a star.
Whoops. This article from July about Floyd's commitment to UT has one awesome passage:
When asked about how committed he was, Floyd almost provided the answer UT fans are looking for.
"This is definitely, probably, the best place for me," Floyd said. "I love the facilities and the way the coaches interact with the players. It's like a big family. Nobody's above anybody. You're just one of the guys. That's something that I like."
Woooo for sentence-invalidating asides.
Slightly under the weather, in case you're muttering to yourself about content/timing thereof.
Editorial Opinion: Not a lot of movement yet, but soon. JT Floyd and Terrence Robinson should be announcing sometime before Signing Day; both are expected to pick Michigan. Then there will be a whole host of guys deciding (or, at least, announcing their decisions) on Signing Day itself. Will be interesting.
Witherspoon is solid once again; Fitzgerald, though, now has some wobble:
A lot has changed during the last five months for the Wolverines, and, according to multiple sources, the West Windsor-Plainsboro South standout linebacker is considering making a switch to Rutgers.
"Rutgers was in it until the end," Fitzgerald said at his September press conference. "Coach (Greg) Schiano has been great the whole time. My recruiting coach, (Robert) Jackson, has been great. I felt real comfortable at Rutgers and I could have easily gone there."
Fitzgerald made an official to Rutgers last weekend. Rodriguez has been in frequent contact and Fitzgerald's supposed to be coming in for an unofficial this weekend. If that unofficial comes off, that seems like a last check to make sure that he's going to the right place. IMO, the chances he goes elsewhere are slim, but that's based on nothing more than a reading of tea leaves.
And then the Pryor thing. He's down to M and OSU semi-officially now -- he didn't take any of those trips to distant lands -- and his QB coach says OSU leads:
"A lot of things are telling me Ohio State," Hall said. "That's my gut feeling. In San Antonio, I was there and everyone he chose to hang out with were the kids from Ohio State and their parents."
This is the first year I've really followed recruiting much, so maybe this is an old issue. But, what is the deal with Charlie Batch serving as a "recruiting mentor" to Pryor? Granted, it seems like a great idea - had anyone beyond a few local DIIIs had any interest in me in high school, I'll bet such a mentor would have been a godsend. That said, is it legal? Is he a sort of "agent"? I'd be suspicious if I were the NCAA, unless of course this was something approved fifteen years ago that I've never heard of.
Batch's involvement with Pryor is totally on the up-and-up. This comes up in hockey all the time, as most of the top prospects have "family advisors" that are basically agents without the contracts. As long as the prospect doesn't sign with the agent in question (or take eligibility-crushing gifts/payments from him, cough cough Reggie Bush cough), the NCAA can't really do anything. Each recruit is allowed to bring one other person with him on an official visit and get that person's airfare/other stuff paid for; Batch is occupying that slot for Pryor.
Of course... the Batch thing is pretty weird in another way. Pryor has two parents, neither of whom he lives with, and the ol' live-in godparent. None of these people are going on Pryor's trips with him -- though now it seems that the only trip Pryor will go on with Batch is the M one, so "trips" is something of a misnomer.
Speaking of that Pryor guy...
Let me get this out of the way upfront - I am a die-hard OSU fan. Also, let me make it clear I am not writing to say 'ZOMG ED MARTIN.' In fact, for the purposes of this email, let's assume Pryor did take a Corvette/gifts/money from an OSU booster.
I am writing more about your presentation of the situation. You have sources, you stand by them, and are right more often than not. Thinking about the Lloyd Carr situation, you were famously referred to as 'not exactly a rock of journalistic credibility', when in fact, that's exactly what you were. You called it before anyone else that I know of. And wrote a long post about how you were right, and did the right thing. (It's not a rumor.)
My point is this; you of all people should know that blogs struggle to be taken seriously in this day and age as a real news source, yet people like us do use them as a source for news. When you write something like the Carr article, backed up with sources and stick to your guns, you give blogs credibility.
When you write something like the Pryor piece...you fall back into what the New York Times and every other major outlet sees when they see the word 'blog'. Innuendo about Pryor - which could be far more damaging to his career than your leaking Carr's retirement was to his - is out of line. Have sources (and for God's sake, not a Scout article). Back it up. Be the 'rock of journalistic credibilty' that you claim to want to be. OR be a blog like Perez Hilton.
But you can't have it both ways.
Thank you for a great site, and wherever pryor goes, I wish him the best. Especially when he's tooling around Columbus in a sweet '99 Corvette that I'm not sure he can even fit in. (kidding - I have no inside sources...)
Perez Hilton? Ouch.
Ben has some salient points, and many OSU fans have emailed to suggest that the infamous Sarniak meeting could have been to warn him off some potential eligibility-compromising behavior and not an opportunity to sit around twirling their mustaches and laugh evilly about their diabolical plot to abduct poor innocent Terrelle Pryor. There's nothing here approaching proof of anything except questionable choice in tuxedos.
Am I a bitter Michigan fan spinning fantasies about OSU to make myself feel better when Pryor commits to OSU? Well, yeah, sorta. Except for the "fantasies" part. OSU fans will no doubt disagree but from this perspective it looks like there are three iron-clad cases of Ohio State boosters flouting NCAA regulations in just the last few years. As any hacky features writer knows, three is a trend.
It's terribly frustrating to see that trend get established and for OSU to catch nothing from the NCAA, especially when Michigan's basketball program was pretty much obliterated for the same see-no-evil approach to people outside the program providing extra benefits.
As far as Pryor goes... well, there is a lot of evidently weird stuff going on. The quotes from his coach are unusual. Bringing Batch in is weird. His living situation is weird. His relationship with Sarniak is weird. Sarniak's brief cameo in that Scout article is weird. And the rumors flying around are crazy. It's worth commenting on, isn't it? I guess you can be upset that I'm implicating OSU in potential wrongdoing, but I hope I've made clear that it's only one guy's opinion and that guy has no pretense of being a neutral party. Thus the trim colors, you know.
One more extremely useful item:
Brian,The Corvette in the picture you posted is at best a 2004 model (C5). All of the 2005 and later models (C6) have a sleeker body design and standard headlights (the older models had the flip-up lights). So if I am TP, unless I am into "vintage" Corvettes from 2004, I would be offended by someone giving/loaning me a Corvette--as a bribe or not--that was not a current model or a classic from the 60's. FWIW, a used 2004 Corvette with a soft top (as it appears) would probably Blue Book for about $35,000, slightly less than $60,000 you'd have to drop for a brand new 2008 convertible.Regards,Erik
He's offended! He's coming to Michigan! Word.
Given that we have about 7-9 unused scholarships right now, what's your opinion on how to use them? Let's assume we only fill 3-4 of them with guys that Michigan normally recruits. Would you sign some lower level talent to fill the spots or save those spots for next year?
My guess is that if you can target a position of need (LB, OL, S) you take a flyer on some guys and see if Rodriguez and Barwis can turn them into something. How would YOU handle this recruiting class in the final two weeks? I'm particularly interested in QB. I REALLY hope we sign someone other than Pryor and don't bank our entire QB situation on Threat and the hope of Pryor. We should do whatever we can to lock up one of these two FL quarterbacks or get a JUCO or something. I'm worried that there isn't enough talk out there about us targeting other QB.
If the staff can find a guy who they believe has a chance to contribute, they should take him. Brandent Englemon was a two-star afterthought Michigan yoinked from Kentucky on signing day who turned into a solid player and multi-year starter. You don't bank scholarships just to bank them.
But does Rodriguez have guys in mind who would jump at the late offer? I don't know. He and the staff are beating the bushes for uncommitted guys who he thinks can help out, turning up two-star running backs from Mississippi and small-school quarterbacks in Florida. I expect we'll find a few more names emerge in this last week before signing day, but a 25-man class looks unlikely. That's fine. 23 or 24 and an open scholarship isn't going to kill Michigan.
One odd item: if the chances of getting to 25 are so remote, what is the deal with Michigan's lukewarm pursuit of commit Christian Wilson? Even if he's not an ideal fit with the spread he's a four star athlete who at least has a shot at being a Big Ten level performer. He has a better than zero percent chance of being a contributor; if he decommits Michigan is likely to replace him with nobody. Weird.
Re: QBs. As noted, Michigan is pursuing BJ Daniels and Justin Feagin from Florida and seems in good position for both. Both have a couple of meh schools as their other finalists a
nd then big flashing offers from a Michigan program with a gaping void at QB. There is no way one doesn't take a shot at it.
I don't know what will happen with Pryor, and neither do either of Michgian's QB targets, but the situation with both is this: Michigan can take silent commitments from them with the understanding they might choose to sign elsewhere should Pryor commit, and the silent commits can rest assured the likes of Memphis and Syracuse and USF and Rutgers are not going to turn them down for a lack of room on signing day. I kind of expect both to end up at Michigan if Pryor does not. The temptation of the job is just too great.
The last mailbag had a bit on Scott Shafer's run defense and the possible distorting effects of lots of sacks. A reader points out one stellar performance that can't be put on the pass rush:
Quick note from a WMU alum about the impact of sack yardage on Western's 06 rush defense. I think you are correct in noting that WMUs pass rush was a significant element in their final NCAA ranking. I would note that Western turned in a few games where you could infer that Shafer schemed well against the run. The best example being their win over Northern Illinois.Holding Garrett Wolfe to 25 yards on 18 carries isn't a small feat.
No, especially since that was the year he was a fringe Heisman candidate. Wolfe led the country with 1,928 rushing yards.
Bleah! The hockey team's weekend did not go swimmingly. It took a "Sparty, no!" moment with two minutes left -- Matt Schepke batting a puck into his own net -- for Michigan to escape with a point from two games. My reaction was virtually identical to that of Tim at Yost Built: a couple of ugly games marred by arbitrary refereeing and State's usual dedication to destroying whatever aesthetic beauty hockey might have after a decade of clutch and grab. MSU has mastered the art of not getting called for interference penalties; the resulting hockey might be effective but watching it is pure sadomasochism.
In fact, I thought this exact same thing on Friday:
I had my own hockey game tonight, so I caught this one on the DVR. I managed to not hear anything about our game. So it was kind of amazing that I knew what the final score was by the end of the first period. I believe my exact words were, "We're going to lose this ****ing game 1-0, aren't we?"
At least before last year we had the assurance that karma would direct State to another scoreless loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but noooo. Thanks for nothing, BU and Clarkson and etc.
Tim says basically everything I wanted to about the refereeing in his Saturday post (note that this goes both ways: Matt Rust cross-checked an MSU defender into oblivion right before the goalmouth scramble that led to "Sparty, no!"), except he praises Hall somewhere in there, which I do not co-sign. With Piotrowksi's on-ice retirement there's not a referee in the league that doesn't make me mutter "#&*@, that guy" when he steps on the ice.
Hey, wow. Desmond Howard:
"Well I think only time will tell if it was a good hire. The saddest part of the whole situation is that a Michigan Man never got offered the job. That doesn't sit well with any former players.
"At this point, he has no choice but to be successful. Everyone wants to see what happens. Especially after you saw a Michigan Man (Les Miles) beat (Jim) Tressel, who has pretty much owned Michigan the past (four years). And you saw a Michigan Man beat him handily in a national championship game."
Ammunition for those still hanging on to their image of the coaching search as one long fiasco that stumbled on a pot of gold; Howard was ostensibly part of the search committee and he obviously harbors some bitterness about how everything went down. Rodriguez has some outreach to do with facets of the program that are still upset.
Worst. The MZone has had this beat for a long time now and this particular instance has already been covered by Varsity Blue and the Detroit Sports Rag, but Drew Sharp is such an irredeemable tool that I want to pile on as well. Two weeks ago:
He must keep Pryor away from Jim Tressel.
He must do whatever it takes.
Failure is not an option.
Michigan landing super recruit Terrelle Pryor would be an overrated victory
This perfectly illuminates what pass for Drew Sharp's thought processes. Cancel out the contradictory statements and you're left with a balding cloud of negativity devoid of any actual content.
Sharp himself remains the eternal mystery. I'm fascinated by his continued employment. In years of wandering around message boards and blogs dedicated not only to Michigan but Michigan State, the Pistons, the Tigers, and to a lesser extent the Red Wings and Lions I've never heard anything even neutral about Drew Sharp. He is hated by every fanbase in the city where he works, and the possessor of the world's worst average Amazon rating: 1. Nine users deigned to review his book of collected columns. Choice excerpts:
My 2 year old is a better writer
I'm ashamed that a publisher would actually give people inside and outside of Detroit an opportunity to re-read this negative and unoriginal tripe.
On the surface, publishing a compilation of articles from one of Earth's most untalented journalists probably seemed like a good idea. This culmination of decades of wasted ink and mindless opinions would certainly have many uses.
I can't believe that anyone would seriously considered [sic] buying, let alone reading, this filth.
Drew Sharp proves all the critics wrong with this book and shows that people with disability can actually put words together on a page.
Drew Sharp is one of the 5 worst sports writers in America. He is mean-spirited, ill-informed, and virtually talentless.
what a worthless human being
There's no sugarcoating the truth regarding this book.
It will be forever branded a loser.
No heart. No toughness. No sales.
You should probably read the entirety of that last one; it's a little masterpiece. The nicest one... the nicest one! In its entirety:
This guy is a hack, March 22, 2005
By MW "Calle_Betis" (Michigan) - See all my reviews
He's a predictable columnist. His perspective is limited. Sharp is biased and if you read his columns, you've already read what he has to offer.
Save your money.
This isn't eye-rolling or discontent. This is loathing.
The Free Press' logic is probably straightforward: I bet he gets a lot of hits on his pieces. Every time he writes a rip job on someone, incensed people post links on the relevant message boards. Despite the 100% guaranteed "don't give this guy attention" response posted two seconds after the initial link, people click and absorb the latest tripe.
However, there's a hidden cost here. Does anyone feel any kind of loyalty to the Free Press? Probably not. If you're like me, whenever Drew Sharp flits across your consciousness you think "man, screw those guys." If copies of the paper started showing up for free on my doorstep I'd demand they stop sending them. There are a lot of reasons newspaper circulation is plummeting; I'd bet one of them is the continued presence of knobs like Sharp poisoning many sports' fans opinions of the entire newspaper's brand. I know the Free Press employs a man without talent or scruples solely to irritate me into giving them a page view, so I am inclined to look upon the rest of their paper as one enormous attention whore.
The grander mystery is encapsulated in the "eeee Barwis" video. Several readers pointed out the looming, corpul
ent figure of Sharp trundling through the frame chewing on a donut near the end of Barwis' opus on strength and conditioning. It's just about at the end:
The mystery: why the hell is this guy allowed in the building? It's odd. Because Drew Sharp has been granted space in a local newspaper, he is granted access despite the years of evidence that he will do nothing with this access except bite the hand that fed it to him. Why does Michigan (and Michigan State, for that matter) tolerate the guy? What, is he going to write more negative articles about the school? The local sports franchises should blacklist him.
And you, if you subscribe to the Free Press, should stop.
SEC Speed. M 34, South Carolina 3.
Say what? The Free Press has a weirdly outdated article on MI DE Nick Perry's recruitment. To wit:
That effort could pay off in a big way for Dantonio and MSU if one of the top in-state recruits chooses the Spartans over Michigan, Southern Cal and Miami on National Signing Day on Feb. 6. Detroit King defensive end Nick Perry has MSU among his final four schools, a testament to Dantonio's persistence in recruiting the Detroit area.
"It would be a nice little feather in his cap if he could get Nick," English said.
A Perry commitment could be a defining moment for Dantonio at MSU and the capstone of a successful 2008 class. The Spartans rarely have beaten U-M for recruits in recent years, but Dantonio snagged two players who also had offers from the Wolverines -- 6-foot-7 Novi defensive end Tyler Hoover, who has enrolled at MSU, and Southeastern wide receiver Fred Smith, currently the highest-ranked recruit in the class, according to recruiting network Rivals.com.
That's all well and good, except that Perry has been maintaining that Michigan, USC, and Miami are his top three for over a week now. Other potential defining moments for Dantonio:
- glorious 2007 victory over Michigan
- commitment of Sam McGuffie
- defeat of ninja assassins sent to kill emperor Han.
There's a lot more sugarcoating of a pretty wretched MSU recruiting class that features Fred Smith and zero other four-star guys.
There's also a Blade article, but it doesn't contain any new information. Good summary, though.
Editorial Opinion: Hey, Marcus Witherspoon: welcome back. Michigan retains the services of the four-star OLB from New Jersey and now has four solid linebacker commits. Witherspoon was profiled back when he committed, FWIW. A couple other commits are visiting elsewhere but only Christian Wilson seems like a serious threat to depart. Witherspoon re-committed, MI DT Mike Martin canceled his ND visit, and everyone else has publicly reinforced their verbal.
A couple players -- JB Fitzgerald and Brandon Moore -- are visiting elsewhere, always an uncomfortable thing, but seem likely to stick. Fitzgerald was at Rutgers this weekend with Witherspoon and FL QB Justin Feagin; Moore took a flier trip to Miami. He did cancel a planned trip to Florida; the situation seems similar to that of current freshman Martell Webb, who took a Very Serious And Listening Intensive Visit to Miami right before signing day that had nothing to do with South Beach.
SC WR Jaron Brown's visit seemed to go well:
"Right now, I have a slight lean toward USC," Brown said before heading to Ann Arbor.
But upon his return, Brown planned to break out his notebook, weigh the pros and cons, and make a choice.
"I just want to sit around and pray about it," he said.
Brown visited Clemson and had them in the lead, visited South Carolina and had them in the lead, and now maintains no leaders after visiting Michigan. You can spin that in a hopeful or less-than- direction depending on your wont; I've bumped Brown up from red to yellow.
And, of course, Pryor. Pryor was talking about visiting Oregon or LSU or any number of other schools in the interregnum between now and signing day. Those plans are now somewhere between unlikely and off the table:
The nation's top prospect, quarterback Terrelle Pryor of Jeannette, Pa., has yet to schedule another official visit, his mentor, Charlie Batch, told The Dispatch.
"He wants to, but at this point he doesn't know exactly how that is going to happen, or whether it is going to happen at all," said Batch, a backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As predicted, it looks like this will come down to Michigan and Ohio State. OSU insiders and message boards remain supremely confident; Michigan equivalents are cautious.
Pryor's recruiting diary with the Post-Gazette contains some interesting information points:
- He is unlikely to play basketball in college.
- A "reporter dude from Detroit" called his high school and "flipped out on our principal, the secretary, everyone" because Pryor wouldn't talk to him.
- This on M:
I feel better about Michigan since I went there. I took [Steelers backup quarterback] Charlie Batch with me. He's helping me through this whole process. We got every single detail about what they're going to do with me in their offense. I got a good feel for things and a good look at Coach [Rich] Rodriguez.
Charlie hit him with the questions about how they're going use me. He asked if they were going to make me a quarterback or am I going to be running all the time? They'll probably use me like they used Pat White at West Virginia, but I would be throwing more. They said they'd teach me some techniques, and I'll be throwing that thing a lot. But they'll use my athleticism on some plays, too.
So there you go. Clear as day.
Bits and such. Varsity Blue has a scholarship count with 26 available slots; mine is stuck on 24 but I haven't given it a through once-over in a while and theirs looks right to me. Michigan's taken all the attrition they need for a class of 25. Now we just need bodies.
About the bodies: I currently have M at 16 commits, but the current board 1) does not include PA HB Christian Wilson as a commit and 2) doesn't have longsnapper George Morales on it at all. Morales is listed as a commit by both Rivals and Scout... are we really giving a long snapper a scholarship? Has anyone ever heard of such a thing?
Anyway, depending on the status of the above two kids we have somewhere between nine and seven slots to fill in nine days. I don't see how we get to twenty-five with the guys currently on the radar screen.
- TN CB JT Floyd
- TX WR Terrence Robinson
- MI DE Nick Perry
- SC WR Jaron Brown
- FL QB Justin Feagin
- FL QB BJ Daniels
- OH RB/WR Michael Shaw
- PA QB Terrelle Pryor
- MS S Charles Mitchell
- FL WR Martavious Odoms
- FL OT Rhonne Sanderson
- OH OT Patrick Omameh
That looks like five or six guys to me.
We're... #1. As you might expect when you're 22-2-0, Michigan is atop every poll of significance (PWR, RPI) and insignificance (those voted on by hoo-mans, KRACH). The RPI gap is fairly sizable but not impenetrable, as Miami is hot on Michigan's heels and the two Colorado schools in the WCHA have fought through brutal schedules. Each is about 2 hundredths behind.
However, North Dakota, the current 5th place team, is almost 5 hundredths behind, which is about equal to the gap between NoDak and #18 Minnesota-Duluth. That's a long way back and the PWR is mostly an RPI-correction mechanism, one that Michigan has a huge number of advantages in with winning records against the WCHA and HE.
The upshot: barring a total collapse down the stretch, Michigan has locked in a one-seed.
HOWEVA, there's still a lot to play for. Banners are always nice, and staying in the top two is important because two autobids go to the CHA and Atlantic Hockey winners. These two teams are invariably seeded #15 and #16. While a small conference autobid foe is not a guaranteed win by any means -- ask Minnesota about that -- the last two teams in are always a considerable step down in talent from #14.
Current bracketology is totally meaningless, but FWIW the prevailing scenario has this as the Madison regional:
9. Boston College
Boston College is an unpleasant prospect in the second round, but if they keep playing at the level they have been they'll move on up and out of Michigan's way.
Madison is the closest regional to Michigan this year, which is really frustrating. Michigan should be submitting bids every year for wherever: Yost, The Palace, Fort Wayne, Kalamazoo... anywhere. There's no CCHA regional this year at all, which is outrageous. At least Madison in its current incarnation would be slightly pro-Michigan (and mostly empty).
However, Wisconsin is one of four WCHA teams currently lurking just outside the tourney. If they make it, they'll be placed in Madison and Michigan will either be playing a bunch of Eastern teams out east or Wisconsin in Madsion. Congratulations, #1 seed.
Every year the NCAA screws something or another up and ends up with a largely abandoned regional, and now that the tournament is at 16 teams there's little reward for picking up that precious top seed. One-and-done hockey is such a random way to decide things that top seed should be given as many benefits as they can. Isn't it time for home regionals? Attendance problems: solved.
Patchwork. (HA!) Max Pacioretty should be back this weekend:
"It looks better every day. It looks good. I'm optimistic that he'll be ready to play," Berenson said after practice on Wednesday afternoon.
"He brings a physical game and good puck touches. His passing is excellent. He's a threat to score. As you've seen, he's one of our more physical forwards. He gives that line some real stature as far as being able to contribute offensively."
"It's feeling much better," Pacioretty continued. "I haven't had much contact in practice so I can't tell if it's really ready to go through a game yet, but it's definitely an improvement from last week."
That's good. I like Tim Miller and all, but Pacioretty is a clear upgrade.
Well, which is it? TJ Hensick was passed over for the Hobey Baker award last year in favor of North Dakota's Ryan Duncan, a sophomore who scored 12 fewer points than him despite playing in two extra games. Compounding the insult was Hensick's exclusion from the "Hobey Hat Trick". The other two finalists were Air Force's Eric Ehn -- the hockey equivalent of inviting Colt Brennan to the Heisman ceremony -- and Notre Dame goalie David Brown. (Since LSSU's Jeff Jakatis was inexplicably passed over, Brown was a deserving-ish candidate on a very strong Notre Dame team, but that's neither here nor there.)
The general defense for this was that the Hobey Baker award "isn't just about statistics". O RLY?
|Year||Player||Pos||Pts||Scoring Rank (PPG)|
|2006||Matt Carle||D||11-42-53||10th (T-1st amongst D)|
|2002||Jordan Leopold||D||20-28-48||28th (1st amongst D)|
In Carle's winning year the other defender who had that many points 1) only played 33 games and 2) played in Atlantic Hockey. In Lessard's winning year everyone in front of him played at least four fewer games than he did; in terms of raw points he was the nation's top performer.
In 2001, Ryan Miller's sick 1.32 GAA and .950 save percentage won; College Hockey Stats only goes back to that season. However, IIRC, Chris Drury, Jason Krog, and Brendan Morrison were all the nation's leading scorers the years they won; only BC defenseman Mike Mottau stands out as a Hobey winner without preposterous statistics, and even he put up 6-37-43.
In the decade before TJ Hensick was passed over every forward who got the Hobey Baker led the nation in points. When defensemen won it, with one exception, it was because they had extraordinary offensive seasons for defensemen. When a goalie won it, it was because he had extraordinary statistics.
TJ came along and he was short and had a rep for selfishness and got a ten minute misconduct in Michigan's loss to North Dakota and then all of a sudden it was just about the statistics despite the copious evidence that, yes, it was basically just all about the statistics. Then they gave it to a sophomore who wasn't even the best player on his line. (That would be Jonathan Toews, now in the NHL. Toews was injured for a significant portion of last year, during which period Duncan's productivity fell dramatically.) It was a travesty.
That travesty was justified because the Hobey "wasn't just about the statistics," right? So how irritating is stuff like this from Elliot Olshansky*?
So here we are, talking about Gerbe in the Hobey race, and obviously, there are some people who are very unhappy about it, largely because they really can't stand Gerbe.
Well, guess what? It really doesn't matter.
To his credit, a large reason Olshanksy thinks it doesn't matter is because Porter, as the nation's leading scorer and captain of a 22-2-0 team with one, count 'em -- everybody now, even Ohio State fans can get to one --, one other senior, is the appropriate choice. This isn't really about Porter. It's about Hensick, because people's personal feelings damn sure mattered last year
Hensick was widely regarded as a lock for the top three and a very strong contender just two weeks before his infamous misconduct (because we all know that the standard of refereeing in college hockey is just killer.) Then he said the wrong thing and the wrong time and was dropped from consideration.
As Olshansky noted when the "Hat Trick" was announced:
I'm just as surprised by Hensick's exclusion as I am by Ehn's inclusion. Really, when do you see a senior who's leading the nation in scoring wind up out of the Hat Trick? I guess the 10-minute misconduct that kept him out of action down the stretch in the North Dakota game really hurt him. I don't know if he'd have won if not for that, but I have to imagine it kept him out of the top three.
Hensick got a misconduct for talking to a referee and the fancypants Hobey committee decided he was no longer suitable for its award. If they don't turn their nose up at a guy who was suspended for a series of unsportsmanlike acts that culminated in the butt-ending of an opposing player, they'll be a bigger joke than the Heisman. The Hobey committee established that last year; to go back would be the rankest sort of hypocrisy.
In other news, I am still really, really mad about Hensick getting shafted last year.
*(Would like to make it clear here that I don't mean to rip on Olshansky, who was confused and maybe a little upset about the Hensick exclusion a year ago; this makes his position on Gerbe consistent.)
Ah, right. State comes to town Friday for what should be a racuous Yost crowd on par with some of the late 90s ones; Michigan will visit the Morgue on Saturday. State has a shiny record and high ranking, but there's one ugly series of numbers that points out some hollowness in their achievements: 1-5-3, State's record against TUCs.* Their schedule rank is 26th, worse than Michigan's 22nd. They've had some embarrassing losses, foremost among them getting swept at the GLI. They appear good, but not great.
MSU has no standouts but does have a number of quality forwards spread across two scoring lines: Bryan Lerg, Justin Abdelkader, Tim Kennedy, Matt Schepke, Tim Crowder, etc. They've got a ton of guys around 20 points; Kennedy leads the team with 27. Midget superman Jeff Lerg continues to play well in goal with a .922 save percentage and a 2.28 GAA.
Michigan faces a couple of difficulties against State: Lerg (goalie version) is quick as hell from side to side, which makes Michigan's favored power play tactic of one-time bombs less effective than normal, and the diffuse nature of MSU scoring makes it difficult to throw Mark Mitera on the ice and direct him to destroy all chances. (Also: frankly, Mitera had an off weekend against ND.) I'm less concerned about the freshman somehow not being prepared for a game of this magnitude after the 2-0 clawback against Notre Dame in a frenzied Yost; this will be something new for them but not that new.
I think a split is likely with a Michigan sweep far more probable than vice-versa.
*(TUC == Team Under Consideration == the top 25 teams in RPI.