Tony Jefferson (L) and Kain Colter (R) left Stanford's class for very different reasons.
I swear I'll be posting a full recruiting mailbag this week, but when looking at Michael Spath's article on Jim Harbaugh's recruiting style, this merited a closer examination:
At Stanford, The Cardinal produced a slew of decommitments during Harbaugh's tenure (18 alone in 2010), and we've been told that when Harbaugh accepts a commitment, it is often the early stages of the vetting process, and that over the next few months both coaching staff and recruit could come to the conclusion it is not the right fit.
If such were to happen at Michigan, fans would have to ask themselves if they are OK with a recruiting strategy in which players are recruited and offered a scholarship but ultimately told prior to Signing Day that it would be best for all involved to part ways.
Stanford's elite admissions turned away a few prospects, and one could argue it was the school not Harbaugh that had final say, but a staff should have a pretty good feel from the onset which players have the grades to be admitted and those that do not. At Stanford, Harbaugh was willing to accept pledges from an abundance of borderline prospects.
18 decommitments in one class! On its face, that's alarming, especially in the context of Michigan taking this many early commitments. To get a clearer picture of what happened at Stanford and what we can expect from Harbaugh at Michigan, I took a look at the decommitment stories of every one-time 2010 Stanford commit I could find to see what really occurred.
The good news: Harbaugh didn't just kick 18 players out of his class to make room for better players. In fact, a good number of these decommits were players Harbaugh didn't want to lose. There was no Elliott Porter situation. The bad news: while Harbaugh didn't seem to go so far as to yank anyone's scholarship outright, a couple of the tactics he used probably won't sit well with Michigan fans, and understandably so.
I've separated out the 2010 decommits into categories. I believe Spath's source for the 18 decommits figure is this Bleacher Report article. There's only one player on the list (Tyler Brosius) whom I couldn't verify was ever a Stanford commit in the first place; neither Rivals nor Scout even listed him as holding an offer. Here's the rest:
Prospect Chose A Better Opportunity
Several of Stanford's 2010 commits had one of the more common reasons for a commitment flip: they got what they found to be a better offer from another program and made the switch.
- Four-star CA S/LB Tony Jefferson, now on the Arizona Cardinals, committed to Stanford in September of his junior season. He backed off the following January, saying he wanted to keep his options open while citing concerns over Stanford's strict admissions, and ended up at Oklahoma.
- Four-star CA LB Jordan Zumwalt fielded heavy interest from both Los Angeles schools while he was a Stanford commit, and on Signing Day he switched to UCLA, in part because it was closer to home.
- Four-star MD CB Louis Young committed to Stanford without taking a visit, had second thoughts, recommitted, had second thoughts again, and eventually wound up at Georgia Tech.
- Three one-time Stanford commits—four-star GA WR TJ Jones, three-star UT S Chris Badger, and three-star KY OL Tate Nichols—flipped to Notre Dame during the process. Jones switched after an official visit to South Bend, while the other two made their decisions shortly after receiving Irish offers.
- Three-star OH CB Courtney Avery changed his commitment to Michigan after earning a camp offer in the spring.
- Three-star TX DT Will Hampton started fielding increased interest, decided he wanted to take visits, narrowed his choices to Notre Dame and Northwestern, and eventually chose the Wildcats.
That's eight of the 18 who simply decided to pursue what they found to be a better opportunity elsewhere.
Standard Recruitment Issues
For one reason or another, something came up during the course of these players' recruitments that led them to end up elsewhere:
- Four-star FL OL Torrian Wilson changed his commitment to Louisville when his primary recruiter at Stanford, Willie Taggart, took the head coaching job at Western Kentucky. He also said his mom wanted him closer to home. There's good evidence that was the driving factor—he'd later flip his commitment again, this time to UCF.
- Four-star TE Blake Barker, who hailed from Cambridge, MA, changed his commitment to Harvard, telling Rivals he wanted the right combination of academics and proximity to home.
- Four-star MO RB Brandon Bourbon also decided he wanted to play close to home, swiching to Kansas just days before NSD after being committed to Stanford for six months.
Senior Year Injury
This is where things start getting uncomfortable. In two documented cases, Stanford stopped contacting recruits after they suffered injuries during their season season. That's how Kain Colter, a three-star athlete, wound up at Northwestern instead of heading to Palo Alto:
During his first game that fall, Colter heard a "pop" after throwing a post route. An MRI revealed a torn labrum and biceps, but he kept playing as a running back and receiver while rehabbing a shoulder that eventually needed surgery.
Stanford originally stuck by him, but then their correspondences dwindled. They wanted his MRI results and claimed he would have to wait for clearance from the admissions office. Interesting for a kid who carried a 4.2 grade-point average.
Finally, Spencer said, "They just stopped calling. It was a bad situation. I wanted them to man up and talk to Kain."
Colter decommitted in late December. Three-star FL OG Joe McNamara had a similar experience:
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound McNamara, a three-star prospect rated the 28th-best offensive guard in the country by Scout.com, was excited to become a Cardinal. That's when his recruitment started taking a turn for the worse.
Tearing his ACL roughly a week before the season started, forcing McNamara to sit out his entire senior season, McNamara wanted to be sure Stanford was still behind him. After no returned calls or emails, McNamara had to start from scratch.
"The thing that took the longest was finding out if Stanford was in or out," McNamara told Badger Nation Monday. "They never came out and said I was out of the picture but at the same time, there was no communication. I would say probably November was when I re-opened the recruiting process."
McNamara wound up at Wisconsin. If there's a positive to be found in these two cases, it's that Harbaugh never formally pulled either player's scholarship, and both opened up their recruitments with enough time left in the process to find suitable landing spots. It's tough to sugarcoat the complete lack of communication from Stanford's end, however.
Stanford Ceased Contact
Somewhat related to the above, the main way it seems Harbaugh indicated to recruits it was best for both parties to go their separate ways was to stop talking to them.
- Three-star GA S Daunte Carr opened up his recruitment because he hadn't heard back from the admissions department with less than a month to go before Signing Day. He later committed to Arkansas.
- Three-star NV LB Evan Palelei committed in the spring of his junior year, then decommitted in early September of his senior year because he "lost contact with them over the summer." Palelei eventually signed with Navy.
The Late Grayshirt
- In arguably the most concerning situation of them all, the Stanford staff informed three-star TX TE Zachary Swanson that he'd have to take a grayshirt with about a month to go before Signing Day. He chose instead to sign with Virginia.
I can't find anywhere what happened in the case of three-star OG Harris Williams, who flipped to Boston College in July after originally pledging to the Cardinal in late April.
A lot of the attrition in this class occurred for reasons outside Harbaugh's control, but there are definitely red flags that come up. Falling out of contact with recruits as a way of not-so-subtly pushing them out the door isn't a great look, especially in the case of injury; even worse is blindsiding a prospect with a late grayshirt.
We'll see if Harbaugh operates in a different way at Michigan, where he won't have to worry as much about potential attrition within his classes due to problems with admissions. While this stuff doesn't quite rise to the SEC level of recruiting malfeasance, it's not going to go over well in Ann Arbor if Harbaugh isn't more open with recruits about their place in the class as the process moves along.
Note: The slew of commitments pushed this back, but I'm still taking questions via email or Twitter (use the hashtag #mgomailbag) for a recruiting mailbag that—any further recruiting developments pending—should go up tomorrow.
A4 To Your Door/No Sleepers No More
Just another totally normal Harbaugh picture. [Fuller]
Michigan hosted their "Aerial Assault" quarterback camp over the weekend. It featured such football activities as fielding ground balls and dodgeball; reportedly, the quarterbacks also threw an actual football around a little bit. Because Jim Harbaugh was involved, they kept score for the top campers, and M commit Brandon Peters came out on top, per TMI's Brice Marich:
The headliner of the camp was Avon, Indiana junior quarterback and Wolverine commit in Brandon Peters. The 6-4, 209-pound gun slinger showed off his strong arm and his footwork in several drills. He was in the top overall group and performed very well even in dodgeball. He clearly soaked in tutelage from signal callers like Jay Cutler and ultimately earned the crown as the camp’s top performer.
2017 four-star NY QB Jack Coan, the only rising junior offeree in attendance, found the camp as strange and informative as one would expect, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"The camp itself was one of the most unique experiences I've ever had since I started playing football," Coan said. "I didn't go into the camp expecting to play baseball or dodgeball or anything like that, but it worked and it was one of the most rewarding experiences I've had from a camp standpoint. I learned a lot from a lot of great current and former players and coaches. It was really great to work with someone like Jay Cutler and a coach like Coach Harbaugh who has seen the position from every different angle."
Coan also took a campus tour while in Ann Arbor. Michigan seems to be in pretty good shape for him.
2018 Paramus (NJ) Catholic QB Allan Walters also worked with the top group. He showed enough to earn an offer, and he was still having a hard time expressing his excitement when 247's Steve Wiltfong caught up with him:
"I'm so excited I can't express it," Walters said. "I don't know a better offer for a quarterback. Harbaugh and Michigan that's unbelievable. I'm in shock and so excited."
Walters also has early offers from Rutgers and Temple. The ever-strengthening connection between Michigan and Paramus Catholic should help here.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Harbaugh of the day.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) June 20, 2015
The man knows his rappists.
Also, Harbaugh interviewed during the 1992 Northwestern game:
Battle stuff. Tyus Battle has not committed to Syracuse as of this instant. There's been no news from his visit as the Battles go radio silent:
"Ty and I are not making any comments until we figure things out," Gary Battle wrote in a text message.
Insider chatter holds that Battle will also visit UConn and that distance is apparently a problem. Publicly stated reasons are rarely the actual reasons, so take that with a grain of salt.
Michigan is not sitting on its hands. Four-star OH SG Jarron Cumberland, #62 on the 247 composite, is on campus right now. He will likely get an offer, and may drop immediately. Steve Lorenz put in a Crystal Ball for Cumberland at 8 AM today. (Josh Langford is off the board after he committed to—sigh—Michigan State.) Michigan clearly does not think this Battle decommit is a momentary dalliance.
At least he's still in the vaguely-affiliated other Big Ten conference. Potential name of the year running back Toks Akinribade has committed to Iowa. Michigan wasn't in the market for another tailback after taking Kingston Davis and Matt Falcon (and athletes Chris Evans and Kiante Enis), I know, but shades of LEVITICUS PAYNE here and it still hurts.
There is another, though.
More Steve Patterson stuff. Texas blog Barking Carnival is terrific, so I wanted to check in on what they were saying about the Chip Brown article on Longhorn AD Steve Patterson. Sound familiar?
Aloof and petty aren't a good combination.
The I’m smarter than everyone in the room vibe only works when you demonstrably are.
His decision-making is being driven by considerations that appear to be more about self-elevation (my running joke is that he badly wants to land a TED Talk) rather than balancing the considerations (or illusions) that make college fans unique from pro fans. I have zero interest in attending a Texas football game in person any time soon and it has little to do with the product. I sat patiently through some real dogshit in the 80s and 90s.
The current game day environment demonstrably sucks. At least for anyone with my disposition. It’s counterfeit. It’s false. And the season ticket holders we’re losing are some of the very best fans who are just tired of seeing their love of their school being exploited at every turn. Patterson wants to replace them with corporates and local transplants. Good luck with that, buddy.
Bottom line: he’s creating a situation where he will sink or swim entirely on his hires. He doesn’t have any good will banked.
That's a comment from Scipio Tex, one of the main authors at BC and one of the most incisive writers on the college football internet.
It is both sad and reassuring that Michigan isn't the only school having these problems as the old guard of school-oriented athletic directors gets invaded by a wave of spreadsheet people. (FWIW, Hackett doesn't fall in that category for me: a guy who is CEO at the same place for 20 years is not just looking to make a spreadsheet look nice and cash out.) If and when Hackett decides to go back into retirement, it's imperative that Michigan actually taps the network of high-profile athletic department employees they've seeded across the country.
Not so much, Boilers. 1985 Purdue-Michigan was a slaughter:
Apparel contract decision soon. Hackett:
"We're on our target to make our decision this summer and look for an answer soon," Hackett told gathered media after Thursday's regularly scheduled Regents meeting, adding, "We're still in the middle of that discussion."
Most rumblings indicate that Adidas is in a bad spot and is unlikely to retain the contract. Sam Webb has plenty of details($) at Scout; the upshot is that it's likely to be Nike. I had a mild preference for Under Armour, but it seems like most of the athletes have a strong one for the swoosh so whatever. The gap between the offers—reported to be significant—has apparently come down somewhat, so may as well "spend" some of the oodles of cash you bring in on making people happy.
My main reservation with going back to Nike is their tendency towards uniformz. They've been at least as demanding in that department as Adidas, and they also run the play where a bunch of their schools all have the same dubious design element at the same time. I do think a strong AD can push back against those kind of things—see Indiana basketball, Penn State, Alabama, Texas, etc.—and hopefully we've got one of those now.
A potential replacement. I haven't seen anything about this officially, but Chris Dilks is pretty plugged in and he notes that Michigan hockey does have an option to fill the holes in the roster created by early NHL departures:
[Cooper] Marody was on the edge between returning to Sioux Falls for another season of junior hockey and enrolling at the University of Michigan, but with Dylan Larkin deciding to sign with the Detroit Red Wings and opening up a spot on Michigan's roster, it looks like Marody will be playing for the Wolverines next season.
Marody had a 22-36-58 line in 52 games and should go off the board in the third or fourth round of the draft. He won't be Larkin; he should be a solid player as a freshman.
Etc.: Gasaway on shot clock overreactions. Maize and Blue Nation on how nice it is that Harbaugh is around. More budget stuff. Hyman to Toronto after forcing a trade away from the Panthers. Toronto's doing a lot of smart stuff lately. Tickets are moving like hotcakes. Mitch McGary is SNAKE GOD. Daily alum Ryan Kartje on satellite camps.
At any moment Ace could be forced to write a post on any of them. [Rapai]
Seth: Which of the recent camp commits (Metellus, Viramontes, McKeon, Weaver, Richardson, Dytarious, Evans, Enis) are you most excited about?
Alex Cook: I feel like I have to pick Dytarious Johnson here. First of all, his name is Dytarious, which puts him in the 99th percentile as far as awesome names go, and you can't really discount the value that brings. Secondly, he's rangy and he hits hard, the type of hits where the ball-carrier has no chance of gaining any yards after contact, but he's still able to run really well for a guy his size -- as far as modern-day back seven prospects go, you need to have guys that can hit and run, not just one or another. Harbaugh seems to be loading up on position-less guys who have really good physical skills and attributes, with the hope that he'll find a spot for them somewhere. Johnson will find a spot.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that he was also the prospect that created an epic freakout on Alabama's SB Nation site, Roll Bama Roll. Accusations of cheating is one (hilarious) thing, but saying that these camps aren't for the good of the kids is something that's somehow more ludicrous. Add in the latent suspicion that the only reason we support these camps is because Saban doesn't, and Dytarious's commitment has made more waves than any former 2* I can remember.
David Nasternak: I will go with Victor Viramontes. It has become clear that Harbaugh is looking for generic football players, instead of more specialized skill-specific athletes. When you can play quarterback and linebacker, you are definitely just a football player! That appears to be what Viramontes can do...not to mention that he is also listed as a dual-threat QB (GT offer to play QB accentuates that). Which is a little insane (hmmmm, that sounds familiar).
After reading different reports on his abilities, it seems that Victor could end almost anywhere on the field. Obviously, he has some talents under center, played linebacker, even read about potential at safety, and given all of that -and his build- I wouldn't rule out some sort of 'blocky/catchy' sort of position. Maybe even in the Owen Marecic sort of role?
I think what excites me most about the whole Viramontes situation is that Harbaugh loves and craves players who are versatile and just want to find a way onto the field. In order to do this, an athlete must have quite the work ethic and a high football IQ...qualities that are reflective of Harbaugh himself. Also, knowledge of different positions paired with varied athletic skills gives the coaching staff flexibility in adding wrinkles to different play packages. Something else that is quint-essential Harbaugh.
Viramontes may blow up and become a star at some point which would obviously be ideal; however, it seems that his baseline is still a hard-working, versatile football dude who exemplifies the type of player that Harbaugh can mold into a team success.
[Jump for some differences of opinion, I hope]
HTTV on Kindle! We have a Kindle edition of the book. We had to drop a lot of the pictures and formatting because of Kindle restrictions and we don't have to print it, so it's a bit cheaper than the book itself at $9.
If you are a Kickstarter backer who would like the Kindle version in addition to the DRM-free digital copy provided to all backers, please give us a little time to figure out how to give it to you. We'll send out an update when we've figured it out.
Books themselves are being lovingly folded right now and should start shipping soon. Because of the way this works there will be a sizeable spread in delivery times (they get mailed out in batches as they're finished), but we are going to hit our mid-July goal.
More Battle. Apparently this is serious:
Would be more surprised if Tyus Battle doesn't commit to Syracuse by weekend's end than if he does commit.
— Jerry Meyer (@jerrymeyer247) June 19, 2015
It is difficult to imagine that Syracuse is suddenly the choice since they have a coach who's already announced he's retiring and are stung by NCAA sanctions, but that's basketball recruiting for you. If Battle does indeed defect and this head-fake costs Michigan Josh Langford I'm going to be pretty pretty annoyed.
Sounds like work. Kirk Ferentz is the first—only?—Big Ten coach to come out against satellite camps.
“What it really gets down to is just how you want to use your time. Me personally, I’m hopeful — and the NCAA will probably react — my personal preference is I’d like to see camps probably be limited to campus. On top of that, I would support not allowing any outsiders coming to work your camp.”
Iowa has actually done two or three of them already, but…
"We did three this year, and I don’t think we made the news for any of them. We don’t really broadcast it."
The noise you are hearing is an Iowa fan snapping a pencil with his mind.
Cost of attendance calculations. The NCAA's "Power 5" conferences adopted legislation to extend scholarship benefits to cover the full cost of attendance. What does that mean? There is a number that schools maintain called "cost of attendance" that has nothing to do with sports. It's for calculating financial aid, that sort of thing. Now that it's been dragged into a realm it doesn't really belong, people are noticing that the numbers vary a lot—and not very sensibly. Massive rent areas like Palo Alto or Ann Arbor often have nearby universities with low COA numbers; meanwhile Auburn has one of the highest numbers in the country.
How did they come to that conclusion? A lengthy Montgomery Advertiser article explains why. It has essentially been indexed to inflation from a large number determined a long time ago:
Reynolds, who has worked for Auburn for 16 years, said he inherited a cost of attendance figure when he began working for the university and has routinely increased the tuition, board, and personal figures in accordance with the Consumer Price Index, as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with transportation being increased in accordance with the CPI inflation rate, and room being the average cost of all available on-campus housing, currently 4,539 beds.
"This is a financial aid budget," he said. "This isn't an athletic scholarship budget."
The $5,586 in Auburn's cost of attendance is divided into $2,728 for personal expenses and $2,858 for transportation, according to the budget Reynolds provided to theAdvertiser, and remains unchanged from a year ago.
At some point the Power 5 is going to have to come together and figure this out, because there's no way they're going to let a four-year gap of up to ten thousand dollars stand.
A nation of Joe Tillers. Back in the day, (probably) Joe Tiller used to bomb his colleagues behind their backs in entertainingly catty anonymous Athlon articles. It hasn't been the same since he retired to wherever walruses fade away, but the re-emergence of Jim Harbaugh in college has revitalized the genre. ESPN's Travis Haney interviewed a dozen or so coaches, offering anonymity in exchange for salt($). He got some. Bret Bielema asked to be identified and said Harbaugh was rad:
“I have had great respect for Coach Harbaugh for what he built at Stanford and as a man who isn’t afraid to speak his mind,” said Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who specifically asked to be identified on the record. “Too many people in today’s world love to voice opinions and beliefs when convenient. Few represent who they are and what they believe daily.”
And… I developed respect for Bret Bielema? Odd day.
Others did not think Harbaugh was rad:
“I think he’s nuts. He loves to stir the pot. He’ll have a very short shelf life – but he’s a very good football guy. I will be interested to see how he does there,” a Pac-12 coach said. “[Former 49ers and current Bills offensive coordinator] Greg Roman has always been the brains behind the operation. [Harbaugh] has been at private schools before so I’m interested to see how he does at a public school. There’s a huge difference in how things are handled.”
Greg Roman, Brains Behind The Operation. No offense to Greg Roman but all you have to do to dispel that is look at Harbaugh's coaching tree, which is already more impressive than most.
Others refer to Harbaugh as "Rain Man-ish," which… okay, accurate. Whole thing is insider but worth it.
Speaking of Rain Man-ish. Former 49ers tight end Delanie Walker:
"He dressed up in full gear and practiced the whole practice – pads, helmets, everything on. He had the whole uniform on,'' Walker said of Harbaugh. "We came out and said, "Who is that dude out there? And it was Jim Harbaugh. He had some old high top cleats on.
"He did pretty good. He just couldn't throw the deep, deep pass."
Walker thinks Greg Roman is not the brains behind the operation:
"I think he is going to be great (at Michigan),'' Walker said. "People buy into his philosophy. Every team he has ever been on has been good, right? So you tell me what he is going to do. Young kids love to have a coach who is crazy."
Just like Domino's clap clap clapclapclap. The Michigan athletic department's annual budget shows a shortfall for the first time since Tom Goss was athletic director:
Michigan's athletic department had a deficit of nearly $8 million this year, marking the first time in about a decade it operated with a loss, according to interim athletic director Jim Hackett, but he assured the budget for 2016 will be balanced.
Since Goss was working without PSLs or the Big Ten Network, that is truly impressive. Hackett explained why there was such a big shortfall:
"The result of football ticket sales being down (and) added compensation for settlements this past year caused us to have a deficit of about $7.9 million. We covered that with operating reserves, but we've got a balanced budget proposed for next year."
Michigan had to give away almost 20,000 tickets for the Maryland game, then pay Brady Hoke after they fired him, then continue paying Brandon his 100% guaranteed contract, then gather up every nickel in a five-state radius to present to Jim Harbaugh. The first three are Dave Brandon's fault. The last is a pretty good idea:
"We can tell you today, season ticket sales, which are just a portion of the stadium, will probably hit an eight-year high. We just started selling our packets, with combined games (Wednesday) online, (and) we've had almost 18,000 tickets that were sold for some of the single games. We're very optimistic about our fall and what promises there."
Michigan should get out of paying much or all of what it owed Brandon, as well. That dude somehow scoring a CEO job that should pay him more than he was getting as AD means that Michigan won't have to compensate him unless he gets fired from that gig too.
He's worse! /checks coaching hires… He's not good! Chip Brown lays the wood to Texas athletic director Steve Patterson in a 5,000 word piece with startling revelations like:
Steve Hank, chief revenue officer of Texas athletics, told HornsDigest.com the 6 percent average increase (actually 5.7 percent, he said, but it was rounded up) was based on a formula that involved the value of each seat “spread across” the entire, 100,119-seat capacity of Royal-Memorial Stadium.
But when comparing exactly what football season ticket holders paid in 2014, including their contribution to the Longhorn Foundation to retain those tickets, to what they are paying in 2015, season tickets were increased an average of 21.5 percent.
Sources said football coach Charlie Strong, who saw his and his coaching staff’s personal ticket allotment cut from eight to four last year, fought to increase the salaries of his eight quality control coaches from $24,000 to $50,000 after last season.
Texas has the lowest salaries in the Big 12 for its quality control coaches – even behind last-place football finisher Kansas ($45,000).
Strong’s request was denied by Patterson, and six of Texas’ eight quality control coaches who had built relationships with the rest of the staff, left to find better paying jobs, the sources said.
But he did hire Charlie Strong and Shaka Smart. Despite being quite evidently an idiot. People in charge of things are just in charge of them.
Gil (right) at The Opening Miami regional [Photo via 247]
It didn't take long for Pembroke Pines (FL) Flanagan S Devin Gil to join teammate Josh Metellus in Michigan's 2016 class. Metellus, also a safety, committed on Wednesday, and Gil followed suit this morning. Four-star linebacker teammate Devin Bush Jr. is also strongly considering the Wolverines, who already have five Florida prospects committed in the class.
Gil is the 17th total commit in the class and the second at safety.
|3*, #93 S||3*, NR S||3*, 78, #33 S||3*, 83, #79 S||
3*, #63 S,
Gil is universally regarded as a three-star recruit, and ESPN is the only outlet that places him close to four-star territory (their #29 safety is a four-star). He has a solid frame for a safety, listed at either 6'0" or 6'1" and 200-205 pounds; several scouting reports suggest he could grow to be a linebacker at the next level.
[This post has been updated. Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the informative portion.]