"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
Scott Shafer, late of Stanford, is the new defensive coordinator. Coaching assignments on the D-side of the ball as follows:
Rodriguez has designated defensive coaching assignments as follows: Scott Shafer (defensive coordinator), Tony Gibson (assistant head coach/secondary), Jay Hopson (linebackers) and Bruce Tall (defensive line).
Informative update coming.
Update: Shafer's name didn't ring a bell until I saw Western Michigan on his bio. Then I was like "heyyyy... I know that guy!" Check it:
[New Stanford coach Jim] Harbaugh had never spoken to Scott Shafer when he pulled up last year's NCAA statistics on the Web. But he knew what he was looking for. Harbaugh wanted to lure a coordinator from one of the top-rated defenses.
There, at No. 11, was Harbaugh's man.
Last year, Shafer's defense at Western Michigan was ranked 11th overall, sixth against the run and first in sacks and interceptions.
When Shafer arrived two years earlier, the Mid-American Conference school was much like Stanford is now - coming off a one-win season and ranked at the bottom of nearly all defensive statistics.
"Every program he has been involved with has been a rebuild," Harbaugh said. "I just felt like you don't have to know a guy to hire him. You spend 365 days with him, you're going to be best friends after a year."
Shafer's the guy Harbaugh hired on eHarmony! I wonder if Rodriguez has met him. Presumably the answer is yes.
Anyway, Shafer's got an extensive track record as a DC. Prior to his hiring at Stanford he was Western's DC in '05 and '06, Illinois' DB coach in '04 (yikes!), and Northern Illinois' defensive coordinator from '00 to '03, and spent four years as NIU's DBs coach before that.
Statistics and whatnot:
(Caveats: the "previously" column is not available for NIU, as the NCAA's online statistics only go back to 2000. Sacks were not tracked before 2006. Also please note that Schafer's 2005 was skewed by a 5 OT game against Ball State. (Not to excuse said D for sucking pretty hard.) Also keep in mind that MAC teams usually play at least a couple games against way more talented foes and rarely end up particularly high in the rankings.)
Amongst a sea of rather modest returns one thing stands out: holy crap does this guy like to blitz. A year after leading WMU to the most sacks in the country, he took Stanford from 111th to 11th. Other trends: the rush defense is usually better than the pass defense, sometimes significantly, and the defenses usually improve as he stays on. I guess. It's hard to tell. While his first years at Western and Stanford were abysmal, you can't blame him given the even more abysmal results his predecessor left him, and Western's turnaround in year two is impressive.
The NIU record may tell us more, as the Huskies were decent (5-6) the year before his ascension and remained decent after. His results there are decent to good given the talent level available and NIU's regularly murderous non-conference schedule: BCS teams most of the time with a rare gimme in the days before you could get away with a I-AA team every freakin' year. It's worth noting that Shafer's final year at NIU was their apex, the 10-2 season where they beat Maryland and Alabama to open the year. Maryland would finish 10-3 and sport the #27 scoring offense (#28 in yardage); NIU held them to 13 points. Alabama was much crappier at 4-9 but NIU held them to 16 points, fewer than any team save LSU and Oklahoma. Those two would meet in the (sorta) national championship game at year's end.
Yeah, NIU got shredded in losses to Toledo (with Bruce Gradkowski, so understandable) and Bowling Green (with Josh Harris and Urban Meyer -- this was the year the MAC was really freakin' good), but those teams would finish #19 and #3, respectively, in total offense.
So... I dunno. kind of a flier on a guy who put in an impressive reclamation job at Western and had a decent run at NIU, but not exactly Jon Tenuta. Bonuses: he's from Ohio, has a ton of experience in the Midwest, and he's almost unbelievably young (41) for a guy who's been DC at three different schools. Also, one of his kids is named "Wolfgang." Also also, as you can see above, he kind of looks like a Bond villain. Also also also, Jim Harbaugh's gotta be pissed.
From deep within the bowels of the Michigan athletic department comes this critical piece of knowledge. I hesitate to report this in case winged-helmet-clad ninjas burst into my home and riddle me with throwing stars, but I do what I must...
Rich Rodriguez is playing Score-O at the hockey game against Western tonight.
WOTS is he has or will practice sometime today. I don't know if he'll be wearing a hat or not; my spies are looking into it.
Mealer. I have been remiss in not mentioning the tragedy that befell Elliot Mealer and his family over Christmas. Mealer's father and girlfriend died in a car accident and his brother is unlikely to walk again; Mealer escaped without serious physical damage, but... yeah. Brock, Elliot's brother, has been moved to UM's hospital. The Diag swiped a post from GBW's premium boards and I'll swipe it from there:
Elliott has a torn rotator cuff. He is obviously done playing hoops this season. Brock (his brother who is currently paralyzed from the accident) has been moved to the UM Hospital. What he needs and the family needs at this time is encouragement and support. If you are so inclined, I believe it would be a huge boost for you to let him know you are rooting for him. Please send cards, letters to
1500 East Medical Center Drive
Patient Unit 6 A
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
When you address the envelope write in the lower left hand corner of the envelope: Brock Mealer
As always, please continue to pray. When a member of our Michigan family or a family member of the Michigan family is down and out, I hope we can all come together and do what we can to help. the family needs as much support at this time as it can get. Thank you.
The lure. Our new QB coach gave up quite a bit to follow Rodriguez:
Not only did Smith decide to leave home, but he reportedly gave up a significant promotion at West Virginia. Smith would not comment on any jobs offered to him by new WVU coach Bill Stewart, but the Charleston Gazette reported - and I was told by another source - that he was in line to become the Mountaineers' offensive coordinator. With WVU's spread offense, that's like being handed the keys to a Stealth Fighter. Not to mention the fact that being a coordinator at a Top 10 program is a stepping-stone to a head-coaching job.
So strong was the allure of Rodriguez and Michigan that Smith turned down Stewart, whom he admires.
Erroneous caps sic. No go and secureth the services of one Terrelle Pryor, my son.
See Rod Draw. Rich Rodriguez on WVU's spread running game:
Do you have any evidence, sir? Gregg Easterbrook doesn't care that he got temporarily fired from the WWL for anti-Semitic remarks. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," he says, and then he says "let me cast that first mutha":
A preseason favorite for the BCS title, West Virginia was poised to qualify for the BCS Championship Game, needing only to beat 28-point underdog Pittsburgh in its final game, at home yet. The Mountaineers lost. We now know that in the days leading up to this huge upset, West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez was negotiating for the Michigan job -- that is, was furiously engaged in stabbing his school in the back. The West Virginia team played very poorly in a game staged as the coach was working behind the scenes to shaft the school. Strange coincidence? As soon as Rodriguez the Weasel was out the door, the Mountaineers looked great in the Fiesta Bowl under emergency coach Bill Stewart, who turned out to have some appealing qualities: a charming smile and not being a liar. After the Fiesta Bowl performance, we know West Virginia might have been national champion, had Rodriguez not betrayed those who trusted him. University of Michigan, you hired a coach who, given the choice between honor and money, did not hesitate for one instant to choose money. And the reason you think he will behave differently for you is ... ?
What a dick. It's one thing to express the opinion that Rodriguez's sudden change from "I will be here for a billion years" after the 'Bama thing to "bye" is not particularly confidence-inspiring. (Though it is kind of odd that the general anger and disgust from WVU fans and axe-grinders seems ratcheted up a notch because he turned 'Bama down a year ago; would he get this much heat if he had gone to Tuscaloosa? Absolutely not.) It's another entirely to make baseless accusations in an attempt to paint Rodriguez as purest villain.
There is not a single shred of evidence that Rich Rodriguez was conversing with Michigan before the Pitt game. At no time did anyone inside or outside the program mention his name as a possibility until the Sporting News reported on December 14th that Rodriguez and Michigan were meeting in Toledo. That's almost two weeks after the Pitt game, which was December 1st. I do not remember a nationwide ban on phone calls in early December.
Scenario A: Rodriguez -- who doesn't care even a little bit about maybe winning a national title -- and Michigan secretly begin talks before the Pitt game. No insider gets wind of this and no one reports it during a period of time in which Michigan's athletic department was leaking like a sieve. He then spends every waking hour thinking about the Michigan job, thereby sabotaging WVU's preparations.
Scenario B: Michigan contacts Rodriguez in the thirteen days between the Pitt loss and the first meeting using a "telephone."
Scenario A is so unlikely that it would be dismissed by anyone except Easterbrook, who's the kind of pundit who will cram any available evidence into his extant theories no matter how square the peg and round the hole. See the next paragraph, which blames June Jones' SMU departure for Hawaii's crappy performance in the Sugar Bowl when everyone who was paying even a little attention knew it was because Hawaii was the sort of team that scrapes by Louisiana Tech by one point. Also see the above paragraph, which neglects entirely to mention that the main reason West Virginia won the Fiesta Bowl, Pat White, was on the sidelines for the Pitt game. Attention, Gregg Easterbrook: there is this thing called "gray." It is between "black" and "white." The actions of many people from writers to football coaches fall in this category.
The irony of calling coaches "liars" and "weasels" in a set of grafs full of unsupported accusations and obvious misrepresentations evidently escapes Easterbrook. He should probably stick to what he's good at: being creepy about cheerleaders.
Death to HIT. S&C aficionados will delight in the yard sale of suddenly outdated weightlifting equipment on Sunday. Noon to 3PM! Oosterban! Maybe Joe Paterno will be there looking for deals!
Etc.: CFB Weekly was kind enough to have me on their podcast; another open letter from Martin re: BTN; Pryor visiting M Feb. 1... with Charlie Batch(!); Kind of lamely breathless article on Steven Threet in the Fr
CSTV has a name for the open DC spot:
...head coach Rich Rodriguez is interested in possibly hiring Jon Hoke as his defensive coordinator. Hoke currently is the defensive backs coach with the Houston Texans. He previously served as the defensive coordinator at
from 1999-2001, taking over for Bob Stoops. Florida
The NCAA's archive only goes back to 2000, but the two years encompassed there are pretty good:
After the 2001 season, Spurrier left for the NFL and Ron Zook came in; Hoke took a job as the Texans' defensive backs coach. He's held that position since, surviving a coaching change along the way. Before his tenure at Florida he was the defensive backs coach at Missouri, Kent State, San Diego State, and Bowling Green. (There was year of defensive coordination at Kent State, too.)
He's also a little nuts:
"He might be the most nervous person I've seen in my life," cornerback DeMarcus Faggins said. "He's walking up and down. He takes energy drinks and he might take way more than he needs for the game. I think he starts shaking."Cornerback Dunta Robinson has his own strategy."He's one of those guys you don't want to talk to before the game or during the game," Robinson said. "I try to stay away from him as much as I can on Sundays. A lot of times it gets heated. We might go back and forth, but as soon as we get off the field it gets back to normal."
And, yes, he's Brady Hoke's brother.
Seems like a pretty good choice with some experience as a college DC and an excellent reputation in the NFL. One issue: if Tall and Gibson and Hoke and Hopson are the defensive assistants, that's four guys who coached the secondary last year. As discussed, Tall has some experience with the DL and a lot of experience with linebackers, but everyone else in that scenario is a DB lifer.
Update: Yes, an update even before I post the damn thing. Chengelis:
Hoke, I am told, is not at all interested in the position and will not be interviewing for the job -- he is very happy with the Texans and the NFL. Another name I've heard regarding potential defensive coordinators is Stanford DC Scott Shafer. Shafer just finished his first season as defensive coordinator with the Cardinal. He was the DC at Western Michigan for two years and has coached in the Big Ten at Indiana and Illinois.
Rats. Not that I was particularly invested in Hoke, but that was a waste of a half hour.
|3||Southern Cal (2)||22.9||1.2||2|
Total Ballots: 44
Hurray, that's the poll, hurray. I can't believe anyone's voting for freakin' Hawaii after that, but at least we've got 'em way lower than the AP (#19). Michigan and Auburn shoot up after bowl victories, though Michigan remains below Florida (understandably, IMO).
In previous years the poll has caught flack for being virtually identical to the coaches' and AP polls as soon as midseason rolls around; this year the BlogPoll's season-long flexibility about who was #1 and skepticism about Hawaii were validating moments. And this final go-around has some significant differences of opinion with the AP, mostly in the rankings of mid-majors with gaudy records and few actual accomplishments: 11-2 BYU is #14 in the AP poll and #18 to bloggers; 12-1 Hawaii is #19 in the AP and #25 to bloggers. This, I think, is good.
Other differences: Ohio State is down two spots, Michigan up two, and Oregon is up 4.
Extracurriculars... are back. Mostly. Specific ballot call-outs are still no-go, as I don't want to push my luck with the server folks and making those static was beyond the scope of this salvage job. Just know that Building The Dam voted Ball State #14 and that's this week's strangest vote.
|1||Braves and Birds||Georgia||2.98|
|2||Off Tackle||Texas A&M||2.88|
|3||Sunday Morning Quarterback||Southern Miss||2.55|
Our season-ending Mr Bold is Braves & Birds, whose main offense appears to be shooting Oregon up to #9 after they obliterated South Florida. Also, #11 Cincinnati is pretty out there; as bold ballots go, though, this one has a relatively low average error and isn't that scorn-worthy.
Mr. Numb Existence
|1||Double Extra Point||Nebraska||0.98|
|4||Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician||Syracuse||1.10|
|5||Garnet and Black Attack||South Carolina||1.25|
Double Extra Point maintains its super-freaky domina
tion of Mr. Numb Existence.
|1||Addicted to Quack||Oregon||7.93|
|2||Buckeye Commentary||Ohio State||3.18|
|5||Eleven Warriors||Ohio State||2.18|
Addicted To Quack wins the dire Coulter/Krugman Award for excessive homerism; normally this would be where the predictions of a dismal future wrought by wrathful football gods would go, but Oregon's already suffered enough.
|1||Burnt Orange Nation||Texas||-3.48|
|3||Rocky Top Talk||Tennessee||-1.80|
|4||Building the Dam||Oregon State||-0.84|
Burnt Orange Nation takes the final Straight Bangin' Award for excessive pessimism in the line of fire; I usually try to stay off these lists but there I am in second for remembering the EXTREME MAXIMUM PAIN of various bits of Michigan's season and being not quite so giddy about the Citrus win as the poll at large. Whatever: Rodriguez.
|1||Tomahawk Nation||Florida State||198|
|2||Maize n Brew||Michigan||176|
|3||Conquest Chronicles||Southern Cal||164|
|4||Eagle in Atlanta||Boston College||158|
|5||Braves and Birds||Georgia||158|
Mr. Manic-Depressive, given to the ballot that changed the most from week to week, goes to Tomahawk Nation.
|1||Off Tackle||Texas A&M||86|
|3||Garnet and Black Attack||South Carolina||104|
|4||The National Anthem Before A Cubs Game||Minnesota||106|
Mr. Stubborn, given to the pollster with the least volatile ballot from week-to week, is the property of A&M blog Off Tackle.
Thanks to all who participated this year, even those I repeatedly questioned the sanity of, and sorry about the year-end technical snafu. In the offseason I'll set to fixing this on a permanent basis and should have some additional bells and whistles for the 2008 season.
Update 1/7: Wholesale board revamp.
Removed: IL QB John Wienke (decommitted to Iowa), CO LB Jon Major (CU), NJ LB Chris Pantale (BC), AZ RB Ray Polk (committed somewhere, I forget where), WRs Deion Walker, Michael Floyd, and Jonathan Baldwin (ND, ND, Pitt), NC CB Spencer Adams (Clemson), OH LB Zebrie Sanders, CA S Vaughn Telemaque, AZ TE Dion Jordan, PA TE Hubie Graham (Pitt), PA TE Mark Wedderburn, CT LB Jonathan Meyers (dropped us), and like a bunch of other marginal guys.
Right. Pryor. This is Terrelle Pryor.
Army Bowl highlights:
As mentioned in the video, Pryor was the game's MVP. He's a perfect fit for the Rodriguez spread, but is a rough passer. "Better than Vince Young!" at this point, but since Young improved 1000% more than the average collegian -- seemingly all of that during the Rose Bowl -- that's no guarantee.
Other guys who are likely to commit. OH WR/DB DJ Woods and TX S Keanon Cooper are expected to commit sometime soon. Woods is a shortish darting type who had committed to WVU as a wide receiver, then decommitted in the wake of Rodriguez's departure. Prior to that he was a Nebraska commit at cornerback. Think Darius Reynaud here.
Cooper's a three-star safety Michigan was already pursuing; he's sort of a SS/LB tweener who would be a decent pickup.
Update: Uh... nevermind on Cooper.
Potential defections. Two recruits are visiting elsewhere: Marcus Witherspoon is taking a trip to Tennessee and Mike Martin is taking one to Notre Dame.
Martin, by the way, has an extensive highlight reel up on youtube:
Either could go, with Witherspoon being more likely than Martin.
Other known targets: are really, really thin on the ground. SC CB JT Floyd is still down to Tennessee and Michigan ($, info in article header). CA uberback Darrell Scott is listing Michigan but is widely expected to go to Texas or Colorado. PA WR Vaughn Carraway and VA WR AJ Price are still listing Michigan; Carraway was also being recruited by WVU. MI DE Nick Perry has Michigan in his final four along with MSU, Miami, and USC; most observers expect him to stay in-state.
The upshot: Rodriguez is going to take 25 kids this year. He's currently got 22 open spots, 17 commits, two of whom have scheduled visits to other schools, and not enough names on the board to fill out the rest of the scholarships. Even in the best-case realistic scenario where Rodriguez keeps the existing class intact and picks up Pryor, Woods, Cooper, Floyd, Carraway, and Perry he's still two guys short. The middle of the bell curve is more like four or five guys short.
Expect at least a couple sleeper types and possibly a JUCO or two. (I've been told that Rodriguez is talking with the admissions department about a couple of JUCO quarterbacks.) I also expect Rodriguez to pursue already-committed recruits in the Midwest corridor he picked up most of his Mountaineers in: meh dual-threat QB Dominick Britt, a Cinci commit, virtually anyone in the Pittsburgh area he thinks can help out, and IN QB Marqueis Gray, who committed to freakin' Minnesota at the AA game.