I did not make this headline up
On Wednesday morning, under pressure to do so in time to headline a Signing Day ceremony at his school, Cass Tech running back Mike Weber decided on Ohio State over Michigan by the slimmest of margins. On Thursday, Weber's position coach and lead recruiter for Ohio State left for the Chicago Bears. Weber:
He also removed all references to Ohio State from his profile.
Michigan fans jumped on this because it's in our interest that every recruit and coach of a recruit and parent of a recruit believe Urban Meyer a slimy salesman (he's not). Ohio State fans jumped to defend it by characterizing Drayton's departure as a surprise to everyone including Drayton, and equating it with signing a junior transfer quarterback after Gentry's LOI was in.
When Ohio State does something shady (or not shady but treated as such in the weird morality of college sports), Ohio State fans will be the first to tell you that everybody does it. They're right to a degree, but the degree is the difference between how much heat the Earth radiates into space, and the Sun. Regardless of whether Urban knew Stan Drayton was leaving beforehand, or if Drayton knew he'd get the job until then, what's clear is they didn't let Weber know the coach he was committing to was likely to walk away as soon as they had his signature on the dotted line.
Purposely fraudulent or unbelievably unfortunate timing, the real lesson here is that coaches are free to make the best decision for themselves, and players are manipulated into signing away that liberty.
And for nothing. Signing Day, really, is only the first day of a period that stretches through April that schools may receive official commitments, in the form of a "Letter of Intent." That letter is merely a non-compete agreement in which the school the player signs with provides nothing in return. The scholarship offer is a completely separate deal.
Since Weber already sent in his LOI, his choices are to stay at Ohio State, wait a year for the LOI to expire then transfer and wait another year, or ask Ohio State to release him, in which case
he still has to wait out a year under NCAA transfer rules CORRECTION: would be free to choose any school. Ohio State can hold him to the LOI, or release him only to schools they choose. They can also rip away his scholarship for just about any reason.
The recruits are finally starting to get wise. Roquan Smith is still unlikely to end up at "Michigan University," but he was moments from sending in his LOI when news (that reporters meant to embargo until after Signing Day) broke that his coaches might not be there. Because he waited, he can now take another week to consider his options.
A Florida commit's father yesterday explained why his son is holding off too, tweeting "…Florida making too many coaching changes this is not a game it's my son's life." He followed up in response to angry idiot-who-tweet-at-recruits fans with the central moral question:
It's not, except in the warped morality of the NCAA and its apologists who think "amateurism" means players shouldn't be entitled to the same rights as every other citizen.
Signing Day is a total boondoggle. Recruits who have any sort of leverage should never sign a LOI, and should never feel pressured to commit on Signing Day. They should ask to sign a financial aid agreement only.
Meanwhile the NCAA should look at allowing players to transfer and play immediately if their head coach or primary recruiter leaves the school. It would prevent players from getting bait and switched, give coaches more job security, and ultimately plateau coaching salaries as schools come to value longevity instead of flashiness in their hiring of them.
How Karan Came. Michigan did get a highly rated running back in the class. Brian already linked to it in yesterday's recruiting post but if you missed it, Karan Higdon's coach is a MUST READ for anyone interested in how this process plays out:
I immediately called the Michigan football office and spoke with a secretary. I told her that there was a running back in Sarasota that may be worth a late look and she advised me to send and email with his profile. I sent his recruit profile and his HUDL highlights. I was contacted almost immediately afterwards and spoke with Chris Singletary. The first thing he asked was what type of kid is Karan and what his grades were.
Meta: Cumong! Brian's eye dialect for "come on!" has an origin. That diary is way more investigative and thorough than you thought it was when you saw it floating on the sidebar all week.
It also got me thinking about just how old this site is, and some of the other characters from Brian's section to be immortalized in these pages. Like "UNACCEPTABLE!" guy. And the narratively adorable moppet from the first great MGoBlog game column. That kid is probably in an English lecture right now. Which reminds me: happy 10th birthday, MGoBlog, belatedly (it was December 4).
Softball is Fun and Has a Woodson.
Sierra's gloves are purely hypothetical by now. Photo: The Californian
Softball has been initialized. This year's team will have to overcome the graduation of a great class, but returns shortstop Sierra Romero and three candidates for best pitcher in the nation. South Bend Wolverine has your full preview, to which I'd like to add my take.
A great pitcher pretty much owns in softball, and Michigan is filthy rich in them. The lefty/righty combo of Haylie Wagner and Sara Driesenga could easily be the best duo in the country if both seniors regain their forms after somewhat disappointing (for them) 2014s. Sophomore Megan Betsa is due for a season on par with the best of the Wagner/Driesenga era. They also added the top pitching prospect in the nation in Tera Blanco out of California. Like Driesenga, Blanco is as dangerous at the plate as on the mound.
And there's Romero. As a sophomore, Sierra was one of three finalists for softball's version of the Heisman. Most of that is her Cabreraian bat, which is already bopping out national records. My favorite of those: Career Grand Slams—the NCAA record is nine; half-way through her Michigan career Romero already has seven (tied for third all time with 2005-'08 Wolverine Samantha Findlay).
Last year Sierra also finished tied for seventh all time for walks in a season with 67, 20 of which were intentional (the most you get is about 250 plate appearances so that's quite a lot of walking). Since Michigan graduated her protection and two top-of-the-order bats, we could end up seeing that number skyrocket if Coach Hutch doesn't find some hitters to fill the bases ahead of Romero and clear 'em behind her. If she does, this is a national championship team.
A Special Hell for Terrible Michigan Coaches
There is a place where they man-block with Patrick Omameh, run Denard Robinson under center, and never use counters. In this place they run a 3-3-5 defense that only ever rushes three and tells its middle linebacker to line up a foot in front of the guard whose job it is to put the middle linebacker in that spot. When they punt, and they punt quite often, they only use two gunners, because that's what NFL rules say.
No, this place isn't some nightmare mashup of the worst parts of the last six years of Michigan. It is called San Jose State.
- Offensive coordinator: Al Borges
- Defensive coordinator: Greg Robinson
- Special Teams coordinator: Dan Ferrigno
I know I shouldn't watch. But I have to.
Your Moment of Zen:
Two weeks ago, Michigan made Wisconsin look like Iowa.
Tonight, they made Iowa look like Wisconsin.
While much of the focus will go on Michigan's 8:51 scoring drought that spanned both halves, their woeful defensive play was the main culprit in this loss, as the Hawkeyes shot 63% from the field to finish with 1.39 points per possession. All five Iowa starters finished in double-figures.
The ease with which the two teams scored could hardly have contrasted more. 52 of Iowa's 72 points came in the paint, as they ran their offense through the post with equal success against man and zone defenses; they rebounded nearly half their (rare) misses. Michigan managed just 16 points in the paint and looked completely befuddled when Iowa went to a 2-3 zone, moving little and shooting prayer after prayer.
Aubrey Dawkins scored 16 points on nine shots, hitting a couple second-half threes that briefly drew Michigan within striking distance. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had a couple decent drives on his way to 11 points, though he struggled to shoot from the outside. Kam Chatman had a solid stretch in the first half, scoring six points, then went cold in the second. Pick a player and he probably blew at least one assignment on defense.
The bubble didn't just burst; Iowa took a shotgun to it, and gleefully pumped in a few more rounds to the detritus for good measure. After an inspring performance against Michigan State, the Wolverines fell flat, and it'll be a long final month of the season if their effort on both ends doesn't improve.
We've got a vision quest
not so fast my friend
It's not exactly a vision quest because GA LB Roquan Smith has a very good reason for hanging around after signing day: UCLA DC Jeff Ulbrich is apparently taking a position coach job with Atlanta, and that news broke almost at the same time his commit did. Way to go, Jim Mora:
Speculation behind the scenes in the media is that at least one media outlet was aware Ulbrich was going to leave UCLA as long as three weeks ago, but sat on the story until after Signing Day.
“It was common knowledge,” said one reporter. “They just agreed not to report it until after signing day.”
In any case, Smith backed off his commit and is in the wind post-signing day:
Roquan Smith’s coach told the AJC on Wednesday evening that Smith has re-opened his recruitment, and will take a couple of days to figure things out. “He’s going to open things up with his recruiting,” Macon County’s Larry Harold said. “It’s pretty much UGA, Michigan, and Texas A&M – and UCLA is still in it. Coach Ulbrich told him that he hasn’t signed anything yet (with the Falcons), and that he hasn’t made a decision. So I think they are still in it as well. We’re going to sit back for a couple of days and see how this thing plays out.”
Smith's affection for Georgia seems to have been overstated—he did commit to UCLA after all—and 24/7 reports that Michigan feels they are in the thick of it. Keep an eye out. It's probably Georgia now, but stranger things have happened.
Like a running back flipping on the eve of Signing Day
The diaries were graced by a post from one of Karon Higdon's coaches:
I did not get a hint or a hunch on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. There were no clues. Karan went radio silent. Karan is a very mature young man and this was not uncommon for him to focus when it was called for. On Wednesday the crowds gathered and after nearly 200 people piled in to watch the announcement, Karan made his way wearing all black through the court yard. He had two hats in his hands. One Iowa. One Michigan. He looked me in my eyes as I shook his hand and embraced him. In his eyes I saw determination. I still didn't quite know but Iowa would've been my guess. He looked very focused and walked in and took his seat. We went through our announcements until he was the last one left. There was obvious anticipation and his mother was a nervous wreck. She really didnt know and neither did I.
Much longer, and recommended.
On to 2016
Aside from that potential top 50 linebacker and a grad transfer or two, the 2015 class is in the books. Eyes now turn to the 2016 class, which will be a critical one for Harbaugh to establish himself a silverback on the national level. Michigan has 14 seniors and one open slot, so our baseline is 15. Add a reasonable amount of attrition and graduate transfers and Michigan's looking at a class of about 20-24.
What that might look like by position:
QUARTERBACK: 1. Harbaugh takes a lot of quarterbacks and will obviously take at least one. With two in the most recent class, the O'Korn transfer, and no one scheduled to exit for two years, this is likely to be a rare one-QB Harbaugh class. That's even more likely if the #1 guy is CA QB KJ Costello, a national top 50 type who was highly interested in Michigan—like commit-last-summer-until-Hoke-dissuaded-him interested. If he hops on board Michigan might find it hard to grab another guy of sufficient quality to entice. Costello is giving serious consideration to Stanford and USC but even in articles from those sites he has some positive things to say about Michigan:
"Now they have Harbaugh and some big-time coaches surrounding him. I'm definitely interested. He's trying to start something new and build an unbelievable 2016 class and really get things rolling here. He was all fired up and I really dug him. He was cool."
If QB recruiting gets past Costello, OH decommit Messiah DeWeaver is a guy Michigan will keep after. There also seems to be initial mutual interest in national #1 (and Georgia commit) Jacob Eason and fellow five star Shea Patterson.
RUNNING BACK: 1 or 2. Higdon's commitment gives Michigan flexibility here. One is highly likely, as Michigan is going to lose three guys all at once in two years. Two is a possibility.
If the current staff is as interested in IL RB Kentrail Moran as the previous one was, Michigan might not have to wait long to get their first guy in the boat here. Moran flat-out told recruiting sites that he'd probably commit if Michigan hired Harbaugh, and lo, it came to pass. Moran just told an Illinois site that he was "wide open" with no leaders, though, so it seems like Michigan has not reached out to him yet. With 2015 in the books we should know within a couple weeks how serious the current staff's interest is in him.
If Moran falls through or they do take a second there are a couple of instate options: Southfield RB Matt Falcon had a nasty knee injury last year but is still a four-star type, as is Detroit King's Martell Petteway. (Falcon's reported interest in OSU is likely moot after OSU took two 2016 RBs.) GA RB Elijah Holyfield (yes, that Holyfield) almost committed($) to Brady Hoke and was reportedly hyped on the Harbaugh hire.
FULLBACK: 1. You know it's happening. No names yet.
WIDE RECEIVER: 2 or 3. Michigan has as lot of solid options but no blue-chips except Drake Harris and his no good very bad hamstrings. They'd like to change that, and there are a couple of big time options available. CA WR Dylan Crawford is close friends with Costello and visited at the same time he did last year. Fellow CA WR Theo Howard is planning a visit this month($) and gave M the ol' "dream offer" treatment. He seemed to mean it:
"They are my dream school. I know some say dream school and then name four or five schools, but I can say that Michigan is the school I've dreamed of playing for."
There is chatter that Costello, Crawford, Howard, and CA DB David Long would all make a trip to Ann Arbor together($) in the near future. If that does come off that would be major commit watch time.
Michigan also fired off an offer($) to three-star CA slot Demetric Felton. That's his second offer (Utah was first); he's also interested in Duke, so academics are a priority.
There are also options closer to home. Michigan's starting from behind with Detroit King WR Donnie Corley, but you know Harbaugh will be coming at him hard now. Chandler Park WR Jalen Martin is a (currently) three-star option; IN WR Austin Mack is being pursued by all the regional powers and Harbaugh will stick Michigan's name in as well. MSU commit and NJ WR Cameron Chambers will probably get a poke as well in case he's more interested in Harbaugh; he camped last year.
TIGHT END: 1 or 2. HARBAUGH LIKE TIGHT END SMASH. &c.
The prime target here is OH TE Luke Farrell, who figures to be a Michigan-OSU battle if OSU is going to continue recruiting Farrell after getting a commit from Jake Hausmann. CA TE Devin Asiasi would fill Michigan's sudden need for a guy named Devin who loves bucket hats and declared he would officially visit($) as soon as he got an offer. M also offered Philly TE Naseir Upshur, but he's tough to get a read on at the moment.
OFFENSIVE LINE: 3 or 4. Michigan already has IL OL Erik Swenson in the boat. He's strictly a tackle. Traverse City OL Thiyo Lukasa was on the verge of committing to Michigan early, then dropped M entirely during The Troubles and now sounds interested again. If Harbaugh goes after him hard I would bet he gets him.
Fellow in-state OL Michael Jordan is impossible to Google but has seven picks for M in on the 247 Crystal Ball, all of which date back to the Hoke era. Like Corley, they're currently behind but that could change in a hurry here.
Regionally, WI OL Ben Bredeson is a major national prospect who expressed a lot of interest in Michigan early. Can Harbaugh overcome the natural gravity of the Badgers? Virginia's Clark Yarborough visited Michigan twice last summer and spurred a rash of M predictions before things went south
DEFENSIVE END: 2. Still more depth required here. One of Harbaugh's first offers was to AZ DE Connor Murphy, the brother of former Stanford DE and current NFLer Trent. He was very excited about the opportunity.
In-state DE Khalid Kareem momentarily committed to MSU but put himself bac on the marker two days later; Michigan is after IL DE Josh King, though the current trend is OSU on him. Staggeringly huge Cinci DE Prince Sammons (6'8", 280) was interested last summer.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: 2 or 3. A major need after zero in the 2015 class, tackle will be addressed in depth. The #1 target is also the #1 player in the country: NJ DT Rashan Gary of Paramus Catholic. Michigan has a couple of Paramus kids on the roster and hired his old high school coach in a recruiting capacity. Meanwhile his new high school coach played for Harbaugh in the NFL. That doesn't guarantee a commit but it should mean Michigan has an inside track.
There aren't a whole lot of other names out there other than Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu. As with many local guys, Michigan is behind right now with the transition and rush to finish the 2015 class but has the potential to move up quickly.
LINEBACKER: 3. Michigan has MD LB Dele Harding committed. Other than that, names have yet to pop up. Other than the best name: IL LB TUF BORLAND. Wisconsin will be tough (tuf?) competition, though they just changed coaches as well.
DEFENSIVE BACK: 3. This is also a spot where realistic names are currently thin. Michigan will go after PSU commit LaVert Hill, the brother of Delano, until such time as they're told not to.
Michigan is in the top eight for NJ ATH Ahmir Mitchell despite little contact thus far from Harbaugh. VA CB Patrice Rene first made a name for himself as a Canadian kid who showed to Michigan's camp; he is a high academic kid who should be interested in what Michigan has to offer when the staff gets around to evaluating him.
SPECIALISTS: 1? K Andrew David arrives and it looks like Michigan is trying to bring in an Aussie to compete with Kenny Allen at punter. Even if they do, the Aussie will be gone and Allen a senior by the time this class hits campus. Michigan could be on the hunt for a punter, especially if they're going heavy into a rugby style Allen may be unfamiliar with.
That's 19-23 guys in what should be a top ten class.
[Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News]
Gentry a huge get, Malzone a little bit overlooked as a result, the perpetually open Grant Perry, a few OL, and a big TE get.
DEs are clutch, Washington a favorite, overall class take.
A big year in state and a potential wave of California stars should put Michigan in a good spot. Shout out to Dele Harding, who hated Dave Brandon as much as the rest of us.
Praise is delivered unto MAAR.
"Across 110th Street"
"Sorry For Stealing Your Man," Jessica Hernandez And The Deltas
"Open Up Them Pearly Gates," Billy Strings and Don Julin (who are at the Ark on April 24th)
"Lie, Cheat, Steal," Run The Jewels
THE USUAL LINKS
Michigan's acquired another quarterback option:
— John O'Korn (@JohnOKorn) February 5, 2015
O'Korn is a transfer who was released from his Houston scholarship. A three-star recruit out of St. Thomas Acquinas in Florida, O'Korn was thrust into the starting job at a true freshman when Houston's QB suddenly retired due to concussion symptoms.
His freshman year was a quality one…
After losing the starting job, O'Korn announced a transfer and was given permission to talk to a number of impressive programs. Wisconsin, Miami, Syracuse, Florida, and Texas were interested. Jameis Winston hinted that he would end up with the Longhorns (while meeting flaccid motivational speech purveyor and megapastor Joel Osteen, bizarrely), but reporters around the program think that Texas wasn't in pursuit.
O'Korn was a prolific high school passer…
O’Korn’s commitment to Houston was consider a coup as the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native set single-season records at nationally renowned powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas as a senior and was named MVP of the Florida Class 7A state title game. O’Korn only started at Aquinas his senior year, by which time then-Houston coach Tony Levine had already offered him a scholarship. Although offers from SEC and ACC schools came in as O’Korn’s star rose, he stayed loyal to Houston.
…but isn't much of a runner and didn't fit with what Tom Herman wants to do.
He'll have to redshirt this year, after which he'll have two years of eligibility. Michigan is now at their full 85 allotment of scholarships for fall (assuming that the Glasgows and Kerridge are on scholarship), pending any future departures or additions.
UPDATE: Chris Brown has an excellent point about Houston and O'Korn's dropoff last year:
.@slmandel O'Korn losing his OC, Doug Meachem, to TCU definitely had an effect on whole offense (and Meachem did pretty darn well at TCU)
— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) February 5, 2015
Michigan (13-9, 6-4 B1G) vs
Iowa (13-8, 4-4)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan -2 (KenPom)|
PBP: Rece Davis
Analyst: LaPhonso Ellis
Right: Last year was fun, unless you were Roy Devyn Marble. [Fuller]
Derrick Walton is out for a while, which Dylan points out robs Michigan of their best individual defender by Synergy's numbers. (Aubrey Dawkins grades out slightly better, but in a much smaller sample size.)
The dropoff is particularly large between Walton (93rd percentile in points per possession against) and Spike Albrecht (16th); expect Michigan to continue utilizing a liberal dosage of zone defense to compensate.
At this point, all home games are must-wins for those still holding out hope for an NCAA bid.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||10||Mike Gesell||Jr.||6'2, 190||60||23||Yes|
|High assist rate offset by too many TOs. Solid inside arc, iffy outside shooter.|
|G||3||Peter Jok||So.||6'6, 200||53||22||Not really|
|Lanky, disruptive defender still developing offensive game.|
|F||20||Jarrod Uthoff||Jr.||6'9, 210||80||23||No|
|Solid outside shooter, rebounder, passer, and weakside shot-blocker.|
|F||30||Aaron White||Sr.||6'9, 228||74||22||Yes|
|Slasher who finishes well, gets a ton of points at the line. Good rebounder.|
|C||34||Adam Woodbury||Jr.||7'1, 240||50||21||Very|
|Very good rebounder. Not very skilled. Royal pain in the ass.|
|G||2||Josh Oglesby||Sr.||6'5, 200||56||9||Kinda|
|Tiny-usage three-point gunner who's been awful from field this season.|
|C||0||Gabriel Olaseni||Sr.||6'10, 237||49||26||Very|
|Athletic big. Great offensive rebounder. Solid shot-blocker. High FT rate.|
|G||5||Anthony Clemmons||Jr.||6'2, 195||46||15||No|
|Low-usage backup PG. Relatively low assist rate, somewhat turnover prone.|
The Hawkeyes have had an up-and-down year, and they're currently in a down period after blowouts at the hands on Wisconsin's unstoppable offense sandwiched a narrow loss at Purdue. Iowa boasts a road win over UNC and a season sweep against Ohio State; they've otherwise struggled against quality competition.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]