Not a surprise, of course:
— Kyle Connor (@KyleConnor18) April 11, 2016
Connor, the Hobey Baker winner in an alternate universe where college hockey is run by people who can count, had a monster freshman year with a 35-36-71 line. That kind of production isn't replaceable even if Michigan had another first-round forward coming in, which they do not. The CCM line is down to just one C, and at this point I kind of expect JT Compher to sign as well.
The remaining roster is fine, but if they do lose Compher it doesn't look like the kind of outfit that is going to be able to overcome the defensive issues that have been a constant the last five years; this year's edition had a line that scored like it was 1985 and they still didn't win the Big Ten.
On the roundtable this week:
- Craig's back!
- Spring football revelations and omens
- What to do with pending basketball coaching openings
- Red returns: y/n?
THE USUAL LINKS
Same. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
The Question: What was your biggest revelation from the spring?
Adam: The biggest thing the spring game did for me was ease lingering fears about two defensive position groups. The linebackers were almost universally question marks heading into the spring (unless you count the snaps we saw Ben Gedeon play last season) and they played well enough to quell concerns heading into the fall. I don't remember noticing Gedeon live or in the three or four times I've rewatched the game, which is passable for the Mike position; he also didn't get many snaps, which is indicative of how the staff feels about him. Mike McCray looked good in the spring game, while Devin Bush Jr. looked good in the open practice at Ford Field. Jabrill's gonna Jabrill at Sam; it's unfortunate that Noah Furbush was on crutches considering the hype he received from the coaching staff, but at least there's an excellent starting option at that spot.
Even though we've seen Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas play quite a bit I was a little concerned about them, particularly Thomas taking over Wilson's free safety spot. Thomas lived up to the hype he'd received this spring whether he was jetting up to support the run or dropping and covering acres of space; his interception in the back of the end zone is a great example of what he can do with his athleticism. Thomas mentioned that he didn't feel like he hit his stride last season until he fully learned the playbook; it looks like he's learned this playbook very quickly. Tyree Kinnel looked like an excellent backup to Hill at SS, reading the field well and bumping receivers off routes regularly.
When I step back and take a 10,000-foot view of things, I find myself taking twisted joy in the things that cause hand wringing about the defense. Sure, some of the position switches on the defensive line are curious, and though I've written in this very space about trying Gary out at WDE (or End in Don Brown's defense) and keeping Wormley at SDE (or Anchor to Brown) it's fun to worry about how to best deploy an armory of Dudes who deserve significant snaps instead of whether there are any Dudes to be deployed. After the spring game, we know the latter isn't an issue for any defensive position group.
[Hit THE JUMP for more positive defense feels, Tyree Kinnel hype, quarterback reassurance, and a stunning reversal of course from Brian.]
The NCAA has banned satellite camps, because… [404 reason not found]. But it's done:
DI Council also approves rule requiring FBS camps and clinics be conducted on a school's campus or in regular facilities.
— NCAA (@NCAA) April 8, 2016
I have literally not seen a single peep in favor of this ruling anywhere public, from coaches to athletes to media members. A couple of reporters covering the SEC have related the private thoughts of coaches happy they can binge-watch Everybody Loves Raymond again, but ain't nobody coming out and waving the flag in favor of a rule change that literally only benefits people making 300k+.
This isn't going to have a major impact on Michigan, but it rankles because it is so transparently opposite the NCAA's claimed mission. If there's anyone who takes the NCAA's increasingly hilarious self-promotion seriously anymore, this should end that. It's a cartel of self-interested asshats operating under a veneer of virtue, because you can do astounding things as long as you have said veneer.
Meanwhile Jim Delany sits in a corner burbling about cable subscribers and counting his millions of dollars. What a country.
Additional thoughts will be introduced with an innovative bolded in-line title.
Q: SMSB? Over the past ten years, Sound Mind Sound Body has become a very large camp indeed, one featuring dozens of college coaches and four digits worth of athletes. Either the NCAA just bombed that camp hard or maybe there's a loophole. That loophole could be SMSB's charity nature. Coaches have been allowed there because they volunteer their time, IIRC, and the word choice in the ruling is specific:
SPORTS LAW HIVEMIND: Does the fact that this is "employed" and not "may not participate" mean what I think it does? pic.twitter.com/MpVJSaRRCX
— Bryan Mac (@Bry_Mac) April 8, 2016
If SMSB happens as planned then this is a non-ruling easily evaded. Michigan coaches can just go volunteer at the various SMSB-alikes that will proliferate like mushrooms after a rain.
If college coaches disappear then it's game over.
Ugh, work. This is simultaneously frustrating and very good for Michigan:
The SEC coaches I talked to were keeping their fingers crossed that satellite camps were outlawed. Just more work for everybody.
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) April 8, 2016
Harbaugh is still working harder than your coach. Your coaches who are making six- and seven-figure salaries on the backs of unpaid labor. They are going to sit in a circle and go "LOL remember that time we stopped Harbaugh from working" as Harbaugh invents new ways to torture his enemies.
Hooray lawsuits! This is now very relevant. Jack Swarbrick, ND AD and law-talking guy, on the legal defensibility of the ban:
“The NCAA does not have a very good track record of limiting, without losing an antitrust lawsuit, economic opportunities for coaches,” Swarbrick said Tuesday at the College Football Playoff meetings. “So they should be treading very lightly. The perception is these are school opportunities. A lot of these are coach opportunities purely. Imagine a rule that said, as was introduced years ago, coaches couldn't do national televised advertising because it created a recruiting advantage. … I wouldn't want to defend those lawsuits.”
A 1999 lawsuit resulting from an NCAA rule that limited assistant coach salaries to 16k a year(!) was victorious, leading to the free-for-all you see today. It'll be tough to win that lawsuit if it does come. So we've got that going for us when this hypothetical trial wraps up a decade from now.
[HT: Carl Paulus]
Disappointed to read satellite camp news-better solutions than a ban- will hurt PSA's & Group of 5 schools. pic.twitter.com/fhmEDnn2ve
— Pat Fitzgerald (@coachfitz51) April 8, 2016
This is not a surgical strike. Via Steve Wiltfong, non-Power 5 coaches are of course upset:
The new ruling basically says mid-major programs aren't allowed to participate in camps not held on campus. For instance, MAC schools flock to Big Ten camps as say an Ohio State camp generally only has a handful of kids good enough to play for the Buckeyes but several that could play for Ball State, Kent State, Toledo or Western Michigan.
Two MAC coaches told 247Sports they weren't sure how this rule affects them. One said "shocking."
Given that I wonder how the hell this legislation even passed. All Group of Five schools should be against it. The Big Ten should be against it. Big chunks of the Big 12, Pac 12, and ACC should be against it. Not only is it transparently against the interests of athletes, it's transparently against the interests of most of D-I.
Good lord, Harbaugh. Perhaps the greatest tragedy in all of this is that we didn't have to clone Sam Webb and almost kill both of 'em:
247Sports is told Michigan had 30 camps lined up, they were going to split groups and sometimes do two a day. Stops would have included North Florida, South Florida, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio, Maryland and Connecticut.
Jim Harbaugh is always himself at maximum volume. Gonna be some fun times in the near future, satellite camps or no.
I have heard your cries; it's time to catch up on the quasi-offseason's user-generated content.
What the… heck is that pic above? Markp (the p is for photoshop) decided to mock up the Big House with a couple of upper decks, and colored in the endzones themselves. I present without comment. For the record, Brian turned me around on the luxury boxes exactly ten years ago this week.
Every snap by QB. DGDestroys broke up every snap of the spring game by quarterback, because just being a good dude wasn’t enough to justify his existence on the planet and he just had to make himself ludicrously useful. I plan to Hennechart this. DGDestroys is your Diary Dude of the Week.
More Don Brown D: Space Coyote took issue with the assertion that Michigan's D was doing some Spartan D-like things, and went about discussing what Brown's Cover 2 concepts look like, i.e. why it's not really a base "Quarters". This is the upshot:
But at the end of the day, [Brown] is a "multiple" coach, which Michigan has almost always been dating back a long time. This, in and of itself, makes it very different than what MSU and OSU are doing.
The BC playbook that James Light made available that we're all pouring through does have a package called "Spartan" that does some of what MSU does (at right).
But that is page 144 of the playbook, i.e. just a thing they have to bring out against certain opponents or as a changeup, not the base thing. Brown's cover 2 is a kind of read, but it's not that kind of read.
This is all getting away from the more important distinction, which is that Michigan will line up their DL so the "Anchor" (strongside end) is outside the tackle. This widening the front to squeeze the LBs inside is an MSU characteristic too, though unrelated to the coverage system. One of the things it does is keeps the SAM clean so you can play a much lighter and quicker player there (e.g. Peppers). The tradeoff is your middle linebacker had better be good at thumpin' and getting off blocks.
Space Coyote is not your dude of the week, but he’s a Guy.
Worth discussion. Sharik followed up a diary about head injuries with various positive ideas for making football safer. Going to Rugby-style tackling rules and possession arrows for fumbles make paper sense, but it seems tougher to implement than making football men wear girdles, i.e. never going to happen. But making the equipment softer for the guy on the receiving end, especially helmets and shoulder pads, seems…plausible?
Changeup routes. Docwhoblocked went to Michigan’s recent coaching clinic and was moved to write up what he heard from, so far, three of the sessions he attended. Frank Beamer talked mostly about special teams. Art Briles was in there too but a lot of it was for coaches' ears and thus not that useful to you as a fan. But I found this bit interesting for the irony:
His offensive strategy: Tell the receivers to run as fast as they can and then tell the quarterback to throw it as far as he can.
Ironic because Smart Football last year wrote about how Briles's offense stretches the field diagonally by having receivers *not* run as fast as they can. The defense still has to cover the lollygaggers, which creates more space for whoever's streaking downfield, and sometimes get lulled to sleep by a trotting receiver who then turns on the jets. I bet Harbaugh starts using some lollygagging in his offense soon.
Doc also wrote up the Harbaugh, Harbaugh, and Harbaugh session.
[Hit the jump for a record hockey diaries]
Spring Game Fallout, Part I
The nation's top-ranked center, IMG-by-way-of-NJ four-star Cesar Ruiz, released an ordered top 12 following his visit that features Michigan in a tie at the top with Alabama and UNC. He gave his thoughts on M to TomVH:
“They have done a great job making me feel welcome every time I visit. Every time I’m there I feel home and they make me feel like a part of the family. I have a lot of old friends and old teammates that are going there and I would have an opportunity to play with them. Brad Hawkins and Ron Johnson were teammates and old friends like Rashan Gary, Ahmir Mitchell and Kareem Walker.”
A trip to Alabama is next on the docket. While Ruiz won't be an easy pull with his impressive offer sheet, Michigan has a lot of connections in their favor.
When we were put on commit watch notice over the weekend, many thought that three-star NJ ATH Markquese Bell would be one to drop. While that didn't come to fruition, it sounds like Michigan is ahead of the pack; Bell raved about his visit to Scout's Brian Dohn:
"Everything was great," said Bell, who plays at south Jersey's Bridgeton (N.J.) High. "It was my first time there. I just liked everything about the school. The spring game was awesome. The fans are electric. I wanted to put pads on and go play."
Michigan made a similarly strong first impression on four-star CA C Brett Neilon, who told TMI's Brice Marich he's looking to make a return trip:
Said Neilon, “it’s a place I could see myself at and will be a place I research and look at hard. Yeah, I will try to visit again.”
It'll be tough to pull Neilon out of California, but if a school manages to do it, Michigan looks like the one.
They may be in similar position with four-star NV CB Alex Perry, who told Marich his visit went "great," and Michigan will make his top list whenever he releases one. He plans to return for an official.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]