Nosie. Boise announced their big nonconference game… and it's against Virginia Tech, which you will note is not Michigan. M is still casting about for a reasonable opponent to open the 2010 season. Options are getting thin on the ground.
Ok, let's talk about this again. Tennessee is pushing Eric Berry for the Heisman, which isn't going to happen unless Tennessee is way better than everyone expects they'll be but fine. I enjoy quixotic Heisman campaigns of all stripes and miss the defunct blogger version of the Heisman—even if it handed its lone trophy to Colt Brennan—because defenders and the occasional lineman featured.
Unfortunately, ESPN's Chris Low—the SEC version of Rittenberg—took the opportunity to launch a broadside at Charles Woodson's '97 win, which is for my money one of the few times the award has managed to make any goddamn sense. The reasoning, as you might expect, is flimsy and insular. A brief fisk:
The Heisman Trophy has been a dirty word on Rocky Top ever since Peyton Manning was jobbed of college football's most prestigious individual award back in 1997.
How does one get "jobbed" out of an award where people are handed ballots and asked to vote on who they think is the best player? Were there chads?
I'm not one of those conspiracy theorists…
This phrase is always followed by the author suggesting and supporting a conspiracy theory.
… but there sure seemed to be a movement by some in 1997 to keep Manning from winning the award.
See? "I'm not one of those conspiracy theorists" is a phrase that always means its opposite. There should be a word for that.
Part of it was his being forced down everybody's throats for four years, and part of it was the fact that he was winless against Florida.
Never mind that he delivered Tennessee its first SEC championship since the advent of the league championship game, was the driving force behind the Vols' remarkable 45-5 run from 1995-98 and threw for 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns his senior season.
Q: What does Tennessee's '98 national title season have to do with Peyton Manning?
Chris Low A: Something.
Sane Person A: Not a goddamn thing.
He was saddled with the label of not being able to win the big one -- and despite his enormous talents -- became that guy some voters took glee in voting against.
Dude, the award purports to reward the best player in college football, and against Florida Manning threw two interceptions, one an 89-yard pick-six, and saw his team fall behind 33-14 before Manning managed a meaningless garbage time touchdown. He'd been outplayed by Doug Johnson. That opened the door. The New York Times on Manning after the Florida game: "A Heisman candidate? Yes. A hands-down winner in the fall? Please."
Then Woodson bashed through it by dominating Michigan's season-ending showdown against Ohio State by intercepting a pass, setting up one of Michigan's touchdowns with a long reception, and doing this:
One player failed, and another did not. It's harsh to say Peyton Manning "couldn't win the big one" but it's not a stretch to claim that Charles Woodson blew him out of the water in both teams' most important games of the season.
How else do you explain 93 of the 921 electors that year not even having Manning on their ballots?
I'm not sure where Low's getting his numbers, as the official site has vote counts that disagree with his accounting. There are 815 first-place votes accounted for of 921 electors, leaving 97 ballots without Manning. Woodson was left off 75. As Low's amply demonstrated here, "never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity" may be a general-purpose axiom but it goes double for sportswriters.
Most years Peyton Manning would have been a slam dunk. He'd be a more deserving winner than 80% of the guys who actually got the trophy. But he had the misfortune to run up against the only compelling (primarily) defensive player in the history of the award. I'm sure a few people were swayed by the idea it was cool to vote for a defender, but it's not like he was undeserving. That's what grates about every Tennessee bitch: they all assert, directly or in-, that Woodson didn't deserve it and the '97 Heisman was a sham and a fraud. Well, whatever. Scoreboard.
BCS bowls were a candle in the wind. Yeah, I follow Charlie Weis on Twitter. I also follow Rich Rodriguez, but Rodriguez hasn't posted anything in months, which is probably wise. Weis still hasn't gotten the concept of self-contained 140-character thoughts—needs to do some self-scouting there—but does provide awesome biographical details:
Got home even later than that last night returning from Chicago, where I saw a concert at Wrigley Field.
Some google sleuthing reveals these guys to be the target of Weis' concert-going affections:
Which lol perfect. Both appear to be on the same strenuous diet of porkfat ice cream that Weis is, too.
Secret cabal postponement. The coaches poll's plan to go dark—complained about in this space earlier—has been delayed. The heroes are the same bunch of villains that got us in this mess:
The return to a lack of transparency upset BCS officials more than what was originally known. There are indications that the change could be a deal breaker, going forward, in the coaches poll's inclusion in the BCS.
In this, at least, the rabble and the Powers That Be are united. If the BCS was ticked off this year they're not likely to be less ticked off if the coaches poll attempts to pull this stunt in the future; I expect we'll see the secret cabal stuff quietly shelved and put next to Hated Rule 3-2-5e on the Shelf of Horrible College Football Ideas.
(HT: Wizard of Odds.)
Spread origins and expansion. It seems like I link 80% of Smart Football's posts, but I blame Chris Brown for making everything so interesting. This latest exchange is more relevant than stuff about four verticals so it avoid the sidebar. Post the first concerns late Northwestern coach Randy Walker's adoption of the Rodriguez spread and what he brought to it:
what Rodriguez showed them was less a new way to attack the problem of good defenses but more just a new way to think about attacking the problem. Rodriguez showed them the shotgun and the zone read stuff they were doing at Clemson and had done at Tulane, but the reason it clicked for Wilson and Walker is that they realized that they could run all their old stuff -- the zones, the power, counter, option, etc -- all from spread sets.
And this was probably the great leap forward for the spread. Indeed, if you look at what Rodriguez was doing at Clemson, a lot of it is there in terms of the zone read, but a lot of it too was just Woody Dantzler running around. It was Walker that took the idea of "spread-to-run" and "zone-read" and systemized it.
The incessant linking must have garnered Chris a number of consistent Michigan readers, because he followed up that post with another one defending his sort-of demotion of Rich Rodriguez from spreadfather to spread… uh, something else.
Really? I try not to tread too heavily on the premium sites' information. I'll freely link to headers and free articles, and will summarize the general feel for a recruit on the interwebs, a feeling that usually starts with posts from insider-type people and then flows outwards onto message boards here and elsewhere. But I rarely lift quotes directly from premium articles*, and even then it's usually to pull something awesome out like Brandon Herron calling Texas Tech "a box surrounded by dirt."
The Free Press has no such qualms anymore, I guess, as they've grabbed Barry Every and Scott Kennedy's brief, premium evaluations of the Elite 11 quarterbacks and posted the Devin Gardner bits. Is this uncool? I kind of think so since the only reason you'd send people to the Elite 11 is to get people to pay for the assessment of their commited QB.
FWIW, Gardner killed it, with Every asserting he was one of the top two quarterbacks in attendance:
"He may not be as big or fast as current Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, but he is a close second. I am torn between him and Bolden as to who I would take to build a college football team around."
State fans go "doh" in unison here.
*(The one major exception to this was when ESPN's player evaluations were behind a paywall; I'd usually pull out a few sentences of a three-paragraph scouting report when putting up a commit post. I figured they'd take the tradeoff of links and exposure for ESPN Insider, and they soon opened up their evaluations to the general public anyway.)
Etc.: Smart Football on yet more lawsuits targeting the NCAA and EA Sports. Ace continues his series on goofy team photos with impossibly young-looking freshman future stars. The Ann Arbor News expires, puts up photo wall a la Battlestar Galactica.
Uh… is there any?
I've been fretting about Michigan's future APR scores for a while now without actually looking at the numbers."Wah wah wah," I wah, "APR mumble bits mumble." There's a possibility I'm mildly concerning all of you for no reason, so there's no time like the present to put some numbers behind the concerns.
Varsity Blue has helpfully listed the full dossier of transfers and departures since 2008, when the APR scores leave off. (Actually, the Spartan Tailgate "Rodriguezed" thread is more complete. In retrospect, this is obvious. Warning: useful content goes to zero after post #1.) With this information we can divide and multiply our way to knowledge, like they did in the olden days.
I'm still a little unclear on how this thing is calculated. The NCAA's explanation:
The APR is calculated by allocating points for eligibility and retention -- the two factors that research identifies as the best indicators of graduation. Each player on a given roster earns a maximum of two points per term, one for being academically eligible and one for staying with the institution. A team's APR is the total points of a team's roster at a given time divided by the total points possible.
This seems insufficiently detailed. Do walk-ons put on scholarship count? Do walk-ons count in general? What happens when a player like Mallett transfers halfway through the year? What about early NFL draft departures? I've searched the NCAA's web site and haven't found explanations. (I do have my second attempt at an email in; the first went unanswered.)
Let's make some common sense assumptions in the meantime:
- Walk-ons count if they're on scholarship. It would be hard for the NCAA to distinguish between a recruited player and a walk-on who earned his way onto the team.
- They do not count if they are not on scholarship. Allowing any walk-on to count would allow teams to pack their rosters with 5'7" chemical engineers.
- A transferred player only hits you once.
- There are two semesters with 170 points available in each, for a yearly total of 340.
A sanity check on that last point: the NCAA has stated a 925 APR corresponds to about a 50- or 60-percent graduation rate and .925 to the eighth power is about 53%. It goes by terms.
Should You Be Mildly Concerned?
Under those assumptions, Michigan's yearly APR maximums for Rodriguez years one and two:
Three transfers (VB missed Quintin Patilla), two medical scholarships—which don't count against M since both players remained in school— and one Marques Slocum 0-for-2 leave Michigan down a minimum of five points. Since the decisions of Ciulla, Mitchell, DeBenedictis, and Gallimore—AKA the entire 2004 offensive line recruiting class—to leave early were not accompanied by transfers I don't think they'd count against Michigan unless any of those guys left school without a degree.
Then there are the departures of Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham for the NFL. I'm not sure what the NCAA does in the case of early entries. A review of the Greg Oden stuff at Ohio State is inconclusive:
Oden was classified an "0 for 2" in APR jargon, meaning he left school without completing the term and was ineligible for the following season when he left. An "0 for 2," combined with a program's overall APR score of less than 925 (about a 60 percent graduation rate), triggers such a penalty. …
The early departures of Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook are not believed to have negatively affected the score because they completed spring quarter in 2007 before leaving.
Wait, what? Oden gets 0 for 2 for leaving for the NBA but the other two guys don't affect the score even a little? That's odd. I'd guess at least one of the receivers left ineligible; if both did that would cost Michigan another four points.
In the worst case, 331/340 = 973 APR. Even the improbable double-worst case where every player who left Michigan did so with a 0.0 GPA, the attrition only gets Michigan down to 958.
Those numbers immediately makes me think this calculation is goofy even if you factor in some unpublicized dings from players who exhaust their eligibility but don't graduate. But the sanity check is the sanity check. If they were grading this out of 170 points per year the graduation rate they are shooting for would be 75%.
Nine transfers—Hill, Clemons, Babb, Chambers, Horn, McGuffie, Threet, Wermers, and O'Neill—have shoved off. Wermers left ineligible, so Michigan is down at least ten points. Others could have left ineligible, too; we wouldn't know because they'd have to sit out as they got their grades up due to the transfer anyway. I'm willing to bet many dollars that Carson Butler left ineligible, which would make the number 12.
Andre Criswell left the team but remains at Michigan as a grad assistant, so he got a degree and won't count against them. Jason Kates left the team but may not have left school, in which case he wouldn't count. Taylor Hill is also an interesting case since he left after about two weeks and immediately transferred to Kent State. If he got out by the drop/add deadline there's a possibility he doesn't count either.
And then there's the strange case of Marcus Witherspoon, who apparently enrolled enough to invoke transfer rules when he moved to Rutgers, but managed to do so without being eligible, but managed to enroll and redshirt at Rutgers despite supposedly not being eligible, which I guess he wouldn't have to be except then he'd… well. I don't know.
There's a lot of gray area here. The bare minimum is 12 , which would be a 964 APR. The maximum reasonable loss—not everyone left ineligible—would be around 20, which would be a 941 APR.
These numbers appear too optimistic. Michigan's rate of attrition under Carr seemed considerably lower than it does in the first couple years of the Rodriguez era, and those teams checked in with APRs near the worst-case scenario of Michigan's 2009 Transfer Spectacular. Either I'm calculating these wrong or there's a big unknown minus from players who run out of eligibility but leave without a degree. I lean towards the latter pending someone from the NCAA actually responding to an email.
Well, Should You?
If we can squint at the grim transfer parade of last year, make the maximum reasonable negative assumption, and then tack on another six points for non-graduating seniors—which would be over 50% of the class, well outside the Michigan norm—and still get a 923 APR, Michigan is going to be fine.
Even in this unlikely worst-case scenario, that one-year number is barely below the line and should be surrounded by years much higher than that. Rodriguez's attrition should drop considerably as the guys who didn't sign up for this Barwis nut leave the program via means natural and un-.
While Michigan's APR will continue to dip over the next couple years, it probably won't even approach the Mendoza line, let alone dip below it.
I'm a sucker for weird old photos, and thanks to The Daily Gopher I've got a boatload for you today. Minnesota's put up a memorial site for Memorial Stadium, the Gopher's pre-Dome home, and Michigan features heavily. But before we get to that, nightmare fuel!
If I was Myles Brand for a day I would force college teams to go back to mascots at least 50 years old, and then I would require them to spend their time scaring the hell out of kids.Yes, Beezlegoldy, like this.
"Coraline, meet your father."
Also there is this:
Enraged sadomasochistic terminator gopher is coming for you, Ohio State.
Now to things you might find relevant.. the Memorial Stadium site is a treasure-trove of old Brown Jug games. Marvel at:
- The 1932 game answers the question "what would happen if everyone on both teams had the ball security skillz of Ryan Mallett?" Answer: every play is a fumble and Michigan wins 3-0.
- 1936 and 1937 weren't much fun; with the late Kipke Wolverines at their nadir and Minnesota at or around their historical apex, the total score was Minnesota 65, Michigan 6.
- 1953 (part II) was also ugly, as Michigan lost to a 4-4-1 Minnesota team 22-0.
- 1961 is where a trend is noticeably forming: Minnesota 23, Michigan 20.
- 1967. Yes, Minnesota wins 20-15. This is getting a bit sil—
- By 1977 Minnesota hasn't won since '67 and won't win again until '86, but their 16-0 win here is commemorated, ending Virtually Every Gopher Victory Since 1937.
It's not the most fair and balanced picture of the rivalry, but if you're not emotionally attached to any of these games it's an interesting overview of the development of football (in an alternate universe where Minnesota always wins).
By this point you will be unsurprised to find out that Minnesota nuked Michigan 34-0.
Update 7/14: Linked to articles on FL CB Tony Grimes, LA WR Drew Dileo, FL WR Ricardo Miller, PA CB Cullen Christian (and PA S Brandon Ifill), OH OL Christian Pace, MI RB commit Austin White, CT LB Khairi Fortt, MI P Mike Sadler, CA LB Tony Jefferson, IA QB AJ Derby (HT: BHGP), MN OL Seantrel Henderson (second), OH LB Jewone Snow. Moved MI RB Austin White to committed.
Removed FL CB Spencer Boyd (ND), SC CB Detrick Bonner (VT), SC OL Eric Mack (SoCar), MD LB Troy Gloster, UT DT Ricky Hemuili, NJ RB Tony Jones, OH RB Erick Howard, MI WR Baquer Sayed. Also removed the three QBs in the "unoffered prospects" category. Moved CA RB Dietrich Riley to S, FL RB Nickell Robey to CB, PA RB Zach Zwinak to LB.
Editorial Opinion: Mildly busy week highlighted by the commitment of MI RB Austin White, which gives Michigan the top instate QB, RB, and WR in this class. On to the show…
I took the opportunity presented by Austin White's commitment to rearrange the RB board. Anyone with a defensive position got shoved to that side of the ball on the assumption that's where Michigan will recruit them in the future and a couple marginal guys got sliced.
- FL CB Spencer Boyd finally committed to ND, surprising no one.
- A couple of South Carolina guys committed elsewhere.
- MD Troy Gloster is down to West Virginia and Stanford, which is one screwy list if you ask me.
- M did not make UT DT Ricky Heimuli's top ten.
Michigan was a real longshot in Heimuli's recruitment, but not even making a top ten list is harsh. Gloster's a mid-three star linebacker, so none of this is particularly damaging. On to that damage, though…
MN OL Seantrel Henderson's recruitment has undergone an unfortunate twist in the last couple weeks. Last week he tentatively announced four officials, none of which were to Michigan, and said Florida State—still not Michigan—might be the fifth. This week:
Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson told ESPN affiliate Web site GatorCountry.com, "Florida, USC and Ohio State... its going to be one of those three. They play for championships and they put a lot of people in the NFL."
Wha? Okay, it's not final…
"It's not that I've closed the door on anyone. I'm still open but I've got some things that are important to me. It's going to be a tough choice but I'm going to make the right one whatever that is."
…but that's a huge shift from Henderson's previous statements and the widely held epinion that Michigan was a player on his short list and possibly even a tentative leader. Also there is this from MaxPreps:
In fact, one source close to the situation expects it to ultimately come down to OSU and USC, with Minnesota likely having already been ruled out.
Adding confusion to confusion, epinion merchants on M premium sites still say Michigan's a factor. So… yeah. Not dead yet in the same way Henderson wasn't in the bag earlier in the year, but chances haven't exactly gone up over the past couple weeks.
Oh, Right, That
I promised some more Christian Pace scuttlebutt in last week's Tuesday Recruitin' and then forgot all about it. Allow me to make amends. A reader sends this along:
A friend of mine is close to the Avon Lake football program. He's a former MAC football player, his kid is on the team, and he helps out with their off season conditioning program. He is not a cheerleader who is normally wowed by kids, but he confirmed to me last weekend that Pace is the real deal. He mentioned that Florida State was absolutely smitten with him. The FSU coaches actually told Pace that he is better than one or two of their starters today and would start for FSU in the 2009 season (as a 17 year old). That's obviously an over-the-top statement, but FSU clearly saw him as a guy who would play immediately and wanted him badly. I wonder if Rod is expecting Pace to at least be in the two-deep for the 2010 season, and thus encouraging the early enrollment. Otherwise, enrolling early just to be redshirted the next season seems like a form of self-torture. Especially for a recruit who had good coaching/training in HS and is relatively polished.
This jives with what the recruiting-mad Florida State fans at Tomahawk Nation told me: Rick Trickett was crazy about Pace, downright loony, and was really disappointed Michigan got him. Given the close association between Trickett and Rodriguez, that bodes well for his future.
What The… No. I Must Resist.
LA WR commit Drew Dileo comes in for the big fluff in his local paper, and you get one-count-it-one guess as to which current NFL player gets dragged up for comparison. Correct:
“He (Jackson) told us Drew reminds them of Wes Welker,” Simoneaux said.
The rest of the article has fascinating insight into Dileo's recruitment, including this remarkably self-aware statement:
“I know my profile isn’t as great as a lot of other kids’ around the country,” he said. “I know (Michigan) reached out there a little bit to get me. It’s not about proving anybody wrong. I just don’t want people up there to feel like I wasted a scholarship.”
Yipes. Hope he wasn't referring to this space, which attempted to be kind but was blunt in its assessment of Dileo's recruiting profile and the class composition when he joined up ("not terribly enthused"). Here will be a true test of Rodriguez's ability to unearth productive who-dats. They found the guy, they pursued him heavily…
“Of all the coaches that came through,” Parkview assistant David Simoneaux said, “Michigan was the most aggressive. They said they just had to have him.”
…and they got him. I hope it works out.
Unexpected In The Other Direction
Josh Helmholdt follows up on CA LB Tony Jefferson, who told ESPN last week Michigan would be on his list of official visits and USC was out. The article doesn't actually have any quotes, so let's just highlight this:
One reason Michigan likely has made a quick rise on Jefferson’s list is because of his desire to receive a highly respected degree. Jefferson committed to Stanford very early in his junior year, citing the Cardinal’s academic prestige. He eventually reneged on that commitment, but still is looking for a strong academic situation.
So there you go. Jefferson maintains no leaders.
Then there's this (now nearly week-old) article on FL CB Tony Grimes. Money quote:
"Michigan is going to be tough to beat," he said. "It's a great program. The networking is on point at Michigan and the alumni system is amazing. The coaching staff is building something great over there."
Schwing. Grimes isn't highly rated on Rivals but is Scout's #5 corner and the offers agree with Scout: Miami, Alabama, Georgia, and plenty others. Grimes visited earlier in the year and has scheduled a return trip for the Notre Dame game; that's the first official he's set.
And, yes, I am contractually obligated to highlight this quote:
"I was with Vladimir (Emilien)," Grimes said of his time in Ann Arbor. "That's my boy. He told me one difference (at Michigan) is once you get there, you are not just a piece of meat, you are a part of the family. That's something I can believe because he didn't play none of his senior year after he tore his ACL, but they didn't just cut him off. They kept his offer and he committed there. "
At this point I'd love nothing more than to never hear the world "family" in connection with Michigan football, good or bad.
More of the Same
PA CB Cullen Christian favors… yep:
When asked to name his leader, Christian said, "I like Michigan best. I feel I have the biggest bond with their coaches. I feel like it's a family there. Michigan is a great school."
Plz commit ASAP plz. Christian may bring along teammate and PA S Brandon Ifill, who's recently declared a top two of M and Maryland and will visit August 31st. Picking up Christian and Grimes would be a stellar 1-2 punch at corner.
Adios, Guy Whose Name I Just Figured Out
I had CT LB Khairi Fortt's name wrong on the board all this time, which is probably why he's got Michigan at or near the bottom of his top six:
"Penn State and North Carolina would be two visits," Fortt said. "But I have to go back over things. We visited 15 or 16 schools. I have to go back through my notes and pictures. I visited Penn State and North Carolina recently, so those schools are (fresh) in my mind."
Fortt does not see himself taking all five official visits.
"I might make three visits," he said.
Fortt tentatively plans an unofficial to Michigan in the next month, but M is clearly behind at least two schools and is just barely hanging on.
Etc.: I've been ignoring a lot of stuff on FL LB Jeff Luc because he's hardly mentioned Michigan and is expected to stay in state, but Sam Webb's been saying on the radio that he expects Luc will take an official. He also confirms that Khairi Fortt is not likely to end up at M. OH LB Jewone Snow doesn't seem like he'll get an offer. IA QB AJ Derby is still open. Commitment fluff on MI RB Austin White. Some MI WR Jeremy Jackson youtube interviews. Bo Schemblogger catches up with MI WR Ricardo Miller for a quick interview.
Ok, kids: it's that time of year again. If you have a blog that…
- has existed for at least six months,
- posts substantial, original content about college football at least 2 or 3 times a week, and
- is willing to disclose the author's favorite team
…you're welcome to apply for entry to the BlogPoll for 2009. The BlogPoll is a CBS Sports-sponsored college football poll that follows the same format as the AP and Coaches' do, except with way more transparency.
More information on the selection criteria is available, if you want it, and there is also a treatise on desired voter philosophy. If all this seems like fun, email me with your blog URL and (if it's not bleeding obvious) team affiliation, at which point I'll put you on the list. If you've already done this there's no need to do it again; I've got you in the hopper.
The secret cabal of blogpoll assemblers should have decisions in the first week of August; the preseason poll will come out a couple weeks before the season.
Former Michigan offensive lineman Kurt Wermers was academically ineligible when he announced his transfer to Ball State last week, sources told ESPN.com.
… But according to sources with knowledge of the situation, Wermers was already out.
His academic struggles would have prevented him from suiting up with the Wolverines. Wermers wasn't even enrolled in summer school at the time of his departure.
Wermers' comments now appear even more self-serving. She didn't break up with me, I broke up with her. And she was a whore anyway. Meet my new girlfriend, who looks like a horse. I mean, really: "I thought I'd get out when I could." Super.
(No offense, Ball State fans, it's just that you're in the MAC and all that. You're a very pretty horse.)
Ugh APR. My concern about Michigan's APR tickling the edges of the 925 cutoff is now increased: you get two points per player per semester, one for keeping them at school and another for keeping them eligible. Michigan got 1/2 for Threet in his final semester; they get 0/2 for Wermers, which makes his departure the equivalent of two guys.
Um, why would Wermers be in summer school? Weird little addendum from Rittenberg there at the end. Wermers left the team months ago and Rodriguez officially announced it in May. Obviously he wasn't enrolled in summer school.
Who is Deep Throat here? I'm sure Wermers' academic status is common knowledge in a certain circle of folks close to the program, any one of whom could be a source credible enough for Rittenberg to go with. I hope none of the coaches were peeved enough to be one of them.