this may be of some local interest
HEY. With searchapalooza over and LeVert out and hockey at least in contention for a bid this year, let's talk about hockey some more.
THE SITUATION. Michigan has put itself in decent shape after a streak in which it's won nine of ten games. Now 13-7, Michigan is 17th in RPI and the Pairwise. To have a chance they'll have to be at least 15th and to feel secure they'd have to hit 12. How many wins that would take is hard to judge. They barely moved after the Minnesota sweep, shot up to 14th with one game over OSU, and now have slid back down to 17 solely because of other teams' activities. It is volatile out there.
A REMINDER. The new jazzed-up RPI is pretty much all that matters. Changes a few years ago have made it very difficult for the Pairwise to deviate from RPI at all:
- there are only three categories
- one is RPI
- one is head to head and a lot of teams don't play each other
- RPI is also the tiebreaker
As a result you have to lose the other two categories to lose a comparison you would otherwise win. That requires losing both head to head and common opponents. This happens very, very infrequently.
THE GOOD NEWS. Michigan's put themselves in a situation where they are more likely to move up rapidly than down. There are four teams behind them within a single point; there are seven ahead of them.
Also, Michigan's heavily away-and-neutral schedule is horrible for fans but good for RPI. One of the tweaks they made a few years back was to weight road wins and home losses at 1.2 and home wins and road losses at 0.8. This is an affront to mathematics—a road win is worth 50% more than home win in a sport with a long-term home win percentage around 55%—and it's hurting Michigan right now since they've played a lot of unfairly devalued home games and not a lot of unfairly valued road games.
Michigan has been trudging through quicksand here despite win after win; the combination of the two above factors means that if they keep the winning up they should get some traction soon.
THE BAD NEWS. The Big Ten is so bad—if the season ended today they would be a one-bid conference like Atlantic Hockey—that Michigan is going to have to win a lot of games to feel anywhere near safe when conference play is over.
Only Minnesota and Penn State have any shot at an at-large, and since to make good on that shot they're going to have to beat the other teams with a shot it looks like the only way the Big Ten gets more than one team in is for one team to run away with the regular season title and then lose in the crapshoot tourney.
The Big Ten is not quite working out like people feared.
THE WISCONSIN NEWS. Michigan's opponent this weekend is shockingly bad. The Badgers have seven NHL draft picks and went 24-11-2 last year; they are currently 2-13-3. They've been outscored 2 to 1 on the season; they have one guy with a positive plus-minus. That is bad.
I would not be surprised if by the end of the year Wisconsin is so bad that even wins over them would lower Michigan's RPI. RPI fixed that a while back by dropping games like that out of the equation entirely (Michigan's wins against American International are already in that category), but even so that means Michigan can't do much other than but go backwards this weekend. A sweep doesn't help much, if at all; anything else provides an anchor in which Wisconsin's schedule becomes a sucking hole in Michigan's SOS.
Irritatingly, Wisconsin is already a problem for Michigan: They took three points from Ferris in a weekend series, beat Michigan Tech one night after losing 8-1, and tied Minnesota last weekend. Each of those non-wins seriously hurts those teams, and by extension Michigan.
The moral of the story: don't expect much.
ROOTING GUIDE. Hold your nose and root for Minnesota the rest of the way. RPI includes a quality win bonus for teams in the top 20 and Michigan has two wins over the Gophers. Also root for Tech and UMass-Lowell, for the same reasons.
Root for Wisconsin to end the season with two wins, because if they are bad enough to get dropped from RPI entirely at the end of the seasons that means they'll have transferred some schedule strength to the rest of the conference, and root for the bubble to collapse.
OSU 0 UM 1 EV 01:38 Hyman (12) from Larkin (15)
Dylan Larkin picks up the puck in Michigan’s defensive zone and carries it out himself. As he reaches the neutral zone the two nearest defenders react in very different ways; the far-side defender sees Larkin and steps toward him, while the near-side defender skates off for a line change. In the middle of a play. Where the guy with the puck is about eight feet away.
Larkin is able to skate in to the neutral zone with ease thanks to the pick that the line-changing defender set on his neutral zone counterpart. Larkin’s speed gains him a step on the flat-footed defenseman that picks him up, and as he starts to go behind the net the opposite defenseman (circled below) panics. He jumps to try and pick Larkin up, thus vacating the net-front area he should be in.
Larkin sees the second defenseman jump out of position and realizes that leaves Zach Hyman unchecked in front. He threads a perfect backhanded pass to Hyman, who shoots immediately. The puck hits Matt Tomkins’ shoulder and rolls down his back a bit before falling into the net behind him.
[After THE JUMP: M’s goalie gets pulled but they still win, so lots of scoring]
DJ Durkin's rapid ascension to a coordinator-level spot at the somewhat preposterous age of 34 wasn't surprising to a lot of people who knew him. Durkin jumped into coaching immediately upon completion of his playing career, first as a GA at Bowling Green, his alma mater, under Urban Meyer. He progressed to a steadily more impressive series of stops. Since that GA spot Durkin spent…
- two years as a grad assistant at Notre Dame under Greg Mattison
- two years as a BGSU position coach, first DE, then LB
- three years as Stanford's DE coach under Jim Harbaugh
- two years as Florida's LB coach, first under Urban Meyer, then retained Will Muschamp
- two years as Florida's DC
…and now he's at Michigan. Probably for more than two years, but not twenty. Coaching trajectories like that don't often end before the head coach level. Durkin's already been hired by Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh (twice), and those guys are head coach gatling guns.
Add in Greg Mattison and Will Muschamp (who knows what he's doing on defense to the tune of a $1.6 million gig at Auburn even after the Florida flameout) and that's a lot of excellent coaches vouching for him.
“Everyone I talked to said he is one of the bright young coaches in college football,” Muschamp said.
This is how quickly he moves up: when Dan Quinn was hired away from Florida to be the Seahawks DC it took all of three hours for Muschamp to promote him.
But until he's got a presser somewhere else, he's here. Michigan's won a defensive version of Jim Harbaugh, which isn't that surprising since his first big break was with him.
It helps Durkin's case he has the energy, intensity and work ethic to match the indefatigable Muschamp. Before he came to Florida in 2010, Durkin was the same way at Stanford with the hyper-intense Jim Harbaugh.
The way he coaches is the way Durkin wants his players to perform.
"We want to play with unbelievable effort and enthusiasm in what we're doing," he said. "That's the way I coach. That's my personality."
Stanford fans were impressed with him as well:
Durkin was always known as an insanely high-energy coach when he was at Stanford, and his special teams units were always well-coached. That intensity definitely carried over to his recruiting abilities, where he helped bring in and develop some of the best players in Stanford history.
I think his star pupil at Stanford was probably Shayne Skov, who became an unstoppable player on special teams his freshman year - he made so many tackles that the coaches basically had no choice but to play him at linebacker. The guy knows what he's talking about and has that same intensity as Harbaugh and Muschamp, so I think he's a perfect fit for the promotion.
And so is Scot Loeffler:
"His enthusiasm is off the charts," said Scot Loeffler, the former Wolverines quarterback and assistant coach who later was a Lions assistant, and who tutored Tim Tebow at Florida, where he worked with Durkin.
"I've known him for five years, and he's remarkably intelligent. He knows the game inside and out, and his toughness and love for the game is remarkable.
"I think he's a great hire for Michigan. He'll bring excitement to the program. He has that great enthusiasm. And I promise you, his defensive unit will be fundamentally sound."
He generally backed that up in his two years as Florida DC, with the caveat that Muschamp was also heavily involved:
There's a good measure of how random turnovers are: Florida was great or horrible with nothing in between over the last five years.
Durkin's first year at DC was a miserable 4-8 hole in which the Florida offense died, finishing 97th in FEI—a large part of the decline there was no doubt fatigue and apathy.
Durkin's position coaching chops are also impressive. At Stanford he was walking into a situation where talent was sparse, but he still had a major impact on their ability on a college level:
"He always found a way," [Ben] Muth recalls. "We really didn't have much speed out there at all at Stanford early on, and he still found a way to put together some really solid special teams groups.
"And we had some good position coaches. Our defensive line coach (Lance Anderson), our offensive line coaches (Chris Dalman, Tim Drevno), David Shaw. All obviously really good. But Durkin, he might've been the best position coach we had."
The year before Durkin got to Stanford with Harbaugh (2006), the Cardinal had 14 sacks as a team. Two years later, Stanford registered 33 sacks.
At Florida he did excellent work with their LBs. Jon Bostic, Jelani Jenkins, and Ronald Powell were drafted, with Bostic going in the second round. OLB/WDE guy Ronald Powell is projected as a top 15 pick in the upcoming draft. Antonio Morrison was a second team all-SEC guy at a mere 218 pounds.
After Muschamp's firing, Durkin was a hot commodity. He was courted by North Carolina and supposedly on the verge of accepting the Texas A&M DC job until Harbaugh stepped in. Those jobs went to Gene Chizik and LSU DC John Chavis, and Durkin was seemingly preferred in both situations. Hell, as late as early December OSU fans on Eleven Warriors were agitating for Durkin to replace Luke Fickell, in part because he almost ripped highly touted OH LB Jerome Baker from their sweaty clutches. Urbtopia has no doubt cooled those calls, but point is dude is desirable.
Durkin should be a major asset. He was named the Rivals recruiter of the year for the 2012 class after swooping into North Carolina and snatching two five stars out of the state; as mentioned above, he has been active in Ohio with recruits that OSU went into the recruiting year believing they had a blood right to. Durkin's hire immediately piqued the interest of several recruits in the south, including Roquan Smith, who visited last weekend.
Durkin's from Youngstown and has four years of experience scouring the south so he'll be a pointman on a lot of major recruitments.
Presser style preview:
Durkin has run both a 3-4 and a 4-3, but let's expand on a topic we briefly touched on during the very last searchbits: there's running a "3-4" and running a 3-4. The scarequotes version kind of has three down lineman plus a "drop end" who often lines up in a two point stance. There's no behemoth Wilforkian nose tackle, and the DL generally attack single gaps. This was what Florida ran most of last year, featuring 6'3", 260-pound Dante Fowler as their WDE/drop-end guy.
That's basically a 4-3 under taken slightly further. When running the under with Greg Mattison, Michigan would blitz SAM Jake Ryan, slant the three guys on the line away from him, and "fold" the end back.
The end result is the same 4-3 defense except the guys are in different spots and the offensive line may get confused, allowing your gap attack to be more effective. Durkin's most recent Florida defense was more explicit about the fact their defense flipped from down to down, but it was similar in philosophy to Michigan. Against FSU it was almost all 4-3 or nickel looks with the standard okie chaos on passing downs.
So I wouldn't expect Michigan's style of defense to change much.
What about the coverage? With Jourdan Lewis coming on and Jabrill Peppers hopefully healthy, Michigan could so some things, and Florida was inclined to do those things:
Florida plays a lot of press technique especially for cornerbacks, an in-your-face physical style of pass defense. The style also involves a shuffle step in lieu of the traditional backpedaling most cornerbacks are taught to do from an early age.
If Michigan does try to go aggressive again the comparison between staffs will be an interesting one.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
A couple years to get stablized and get some pass rushing talent in, then some dang good defenses, then he ends up like Pat Narduzzi, waiting for a good opportunity to break into the head coaching ranks.
Official Visits Wrapup
This guy is a legend pic.twitter.com/nD6MewDzAT
— Chris Clark (@Clark8Chris) January 18, 2015
While Michigan's big official visit weekend hasn't yet produced a commitment, it certainly moved the needle for some of the program's top targets. Four-star CT TE Chris Clark—who appears to have rocked khakis on his visit, based on the above picture—was already familiar with Michigan's campus. He came to Ann Arbor to meet Jim Harbaugh, and told MLive that couldn't have gone much better:
"It's crazy, he's really intense, and you really like that," Clark told MLive on Sunday. "He grew on me a lot. I didn't know what to think at first, I wasn't sure what he'd be like. But once I left, he really, really grew on me.
"He's the best coach I think I've sat down with. I just think he's awesome."
An important note: Clark had an in-home with UCLA's Jim Mora last week. Clark now says his two finalists are "neck and neck" heading into this weekend's official visit to UCLA; Harbaugh will have an in-home with Clark after that visit, hopefully allowing him the last word in the process. Momentum looks to be swinging Michigan's way, though we'll see if that changes after Clark sees UCLA's campus for the first time. Clark is slated to make his decision on Signing Day in a televised ceremony on ESPNU.
Michigan also made significant progress with top-50 GA LB Roquan Smith; per TomVH, the Wolverines are poised to make the cut when Smith narrows his list to three ($):
Heading into the trip, Smith had Florida, Georgia, Michigan and UCLA as his likely top four. He has yet to take his official visit to UCLA, but says he should have news before that trip.
"[Michigan is] in my top and I'll be coming out with a final three next week," he said.
I'd assume Florida is the odd team out here—the main reason Smith looked at Michigan in the first place is because they hired DJ Durkin, who'd recruited him while at UF.
Three-star FL CB Damon Arnette, a South Carolina commit, got some important perspective from his player host, Jabrill Peppers, per Scout's Amy Campbell ($):
“Me and Jabrill had this conversation, just based off of speaking to him, he’s ready, you know what I mean? I can tell he’s going to be a great player, and I think that’s maybe something I want to be a part of. Him being back there behind me,that would be great. I can tell, since he got hurt, that put a drive in him,” Arnette said.
“Speaking with Jabrill, he was saying when he got hurt, he was going crazy because he didn’t know what else he could do, but then he realized he’s getting a great education. God forbid something happens to me, if I end up going to Michigan, I still have my education to fall back on.”
Arnette sounds like a strong candidate to commit; he had effusive praise for the coaches and even said he loved the weather—not exactly the norm for a Florida kid visiting Michigan in January.
The only uncommitted official visitor who doesn't sound like a distinct possibility to end up in the class is three-star FL DE Shelton Johnson, who said the visit was "pretty good" to Scout's Corey Bender ($). Nothing he said in there gave the impression Michigan should challenge Florida State, the presumed leader, for his commitment.
Meanwhile, five-star CA CB Iman Marshall is on campus. There will be much more on him later in the week.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Things pass. Passing NCAA legislation is like hiring assistant coaches: things are done, and then they're done again, and then they're done, and finally they're officially done. These may or may not be officially officially done because NCAA, but it sounds like it is done-done:
- full cost of attendance scholarships,
- mandatory four-year guaranteed scholarships,
- allowing athletes to borrow against future earnings for one purpose: loss of value insurance
- and new concussion management protocols.
One ACC team voted against the first proposal—I'd love to figure out who that is and if it's Clemson worrying that their bagmen will have to shell out more to make a difference. The SEC (surprise!) and Big 12 voted against the second, with the former using athletes in attendance as cover. This doesn't even make sense:
The SEC's athlete representatives took issue with a clause that would prevent schools from taking away scholarships, or in the case of sports with partial scholarships, reducing the amount of aid, from athletes for athletic underperformance.
"The student-athletes said, 'Don't do that,'" Jacobs said. "They said, 'Give them four years if you want, but … you can pull it away if the players aren't performing.'"
"Give them four years, as long as you can revoke it for any reason." That athlete and his nonsense is headed for Congress. No doubt.
As a result, the second proposal barely squeezed by.
I still have my doubts about how effective the mandatory four year scholarships are going to be. If a guy gets kicked off the team he gets to stay on scholarship, but does the team get to replace him? How difficult is it going to be for coaches to boot guys for unspecified violations of team rules? (Not difficult.) I still think the real solution here is to go from an overall cap to a yearly one. That moves the system from one in which retention comes with an opportunity cost to one in which it doesn't.
The third bullet point sounds seismic until you get to the colon, whereupon it is revealed as a logical change to give athletes some security even if they don't have up-front capital. The fourth may as well be termed the Brady Hoke Derp rule.
Hockey aside. I've mentioned it before: it'll be interesting to see what happens with college hockey after these reforms take hold. Smaller schools have the option to follow the Power 5, but it's doubtful they can do so for just their glamor sport since Title IX looms over all these discussions… unless they're one of the D-II or D-III teams grandfathered in.
Does Miami (NTM) have the dough to keep pace with the Big Ten? Probably not. Would Denver? Maybe—Denver only has one D-I sport. Would the NCHC create an unbalanced playing field within their own conference to help the resource-rich teams compete? I have no idea.
One thing that is definitely good here is that the value of a scholarship went up significantly. That'll help schools compete against the OHL.
You may have screwed up. The San Francisco 49ers fired one of the winningest coaches in NFL history to hire a career position coach who'd never so much as coordinated a defense. This seems unwise, especially when the guy doing the deciding here is Pete Campbell with puffy cheeks.
NOT GREAT JIM
Maybe he's got great interpersonal skills?
Maybe he's going to surround himself with great coaches?
Kiffin front-runner to be 49ers' OC
Maybe he's going to keep the excellent defensive staff intact?
Source: 49ers have fired Fangio, Donatell and Leavitt
At least you didn't have to pay a buyout to fire your previous coach. So you've got that going for you.
Otherwise, the parallels between this and Brady Hoke's coaching career are eerie.
Hello Texas. Random article from Cleveland on Harbaugh recruiting Andrew Luck notes Harbaugh's excellent success in that talent-rich state:
Luck was one of three Texas players in Stanford's 2008 recruiting class. Harbaugh signed four each in 2009 and 2010 before leaving for the NFL. He moved around the state, getting players from Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.
And Brady Hoke… uh… not doing that.
The Wolverines have actually offered a surprising number of Texas players in the last four years according to 247Sports:
• 15 offers in 2015
• 9 offers in 2014
• 13 offers in 2013
• 11 offers in 2012
None of those players signed with Michigan, but that could start changing with Harbaugh.
I'm not sure how many of those offers were seriously pursued and how many were fired off hoping to induce a visit, but going 0-fer in Texas is some kind of problem. Which Michigan coach was assigned to one of the richest talent-producing states in the country?
I don't know. No, seriously, I don't know.
RALPH. Jim Harbaugh had a personal Ohio State back in the day:
A nine-year-old playing tackle football for the first time, Harbaugh stood at No. 7 in the tackling line, and immediately looked at the group of runners across from him to see who his No. 7 counterpart was.
He counted back, and saw the player he'd be forced to tackle.
"Ralph," Harbaugh recalled Friday afternoon during his speech to the Michigan High School Football Coaches Convention in Lansing. "So I said a prayer. I said 'dear lord, I know I'm only nine-years-old and I haven't asked you for a lot up until now. But please, dear lord, when I'm done with this, please do not let Ralph be No. 7.'
"Ralph was still there."
Landing spots. Roy Manning snags the OLB job at Washington State, making him the third former Hoke coach to find a Power 5 job. (Greg Mattison, who was retained, and Doug Nussmeier are the others.) Darrell Funk latched on at Akron, Dan Ferrigno at San Jose State, and nobody else is employed as of now. Al Borges was rumored to be getting the SJSU offensive coordinator job, but that was 1) contingent on Jimmie Dougherty getting a job at Michigan, which didn't happen and 2) reported only by Football Scoop.
I am reading lots about the coaching profession's opinion of Hoke's staff into this.
Redshirt. Not that it's a surprise, but don't expect to see DJ Wilson the rest of the year:
"We'd have to have a couple of major injuries," Beilein explained. "The only way that I'd play him right now is if I could look him in the eye and say, 'Listen, I think you'll play 15-20 minutes per game. That's what's fair to him right now."
Next year's "recruiting class" currently consists of Wilson and Williams transfer Duncan Robinson.
Gardner at WR. He's been impressive:
Michigan WR Devin Gardner: Gardner (6-4, 216) famously is making the switch from quarterback to wide receiver. He played wide receiver for half the 2012 season and didn't start focusing on the position again until early December, right after the Wolverines' season ended. "He got better and better each day," Jeremiah said. Gardner has good, not great, speed but can be elusive and has good hands, especially for a guy who has been a receiver for only about seven weeks. His size also is a big plus. He should become more acclimated to the position, and his pre-draft workouts could be quite interesting.
I didn't think much of his ability to find balls downfield when he was playing WR, but that's something time can fix. Also, for a 6'4" dude his speed is likely a plus.
Hooray. Michigan passes a law that may be directly aimed at Michigan's notoriously horrible FOIA department:
…will not be allowed to charge more than 10 cents per page for copies of public records; they can face increased fines for delaying responses, and people seeking the records now can sue if they consider the fees to be exorbitant. …
Another change in the law requires governments to provide the records electronically instead of on paper if the requester seeks them in that format.
Damages have gone up significantly as well. This doesn't do anything about Michigan's retention policy being "we don't have one," unfortunately, but it's a step in the right direction.
Etc.: LeVert's injury looked harmless. Hockey podcasting with Mike Spath. Zach Hyman is tearing it up. On something meaning something. We're relevant enough to be an offseason theme. Playcalling duties are yet to be determined between Drevno and Harbaugh.
Caris LeVert came up limping following the final play against Northwestern last night and was seen on crutches after the game. Today, Michigan confirmed our worst fears—LeVert will miss the remainder of the season with a foot injury:
Junior guard Caris LeVert of the University of Michigan men's basketball team injured his left foot during Saturday's (Jan. 17) game vs. Northwestern and is scheduled to have surgery this week. He will miss the remainder of the season following a 12-week recovery and rehabilitation period. LeVert had surgery on the same foot this past May.
"Caris has been working so hard this season, and for this to happen is very unfortunate," said U-M head coach John Beilein. "If we know anything about Caris, he will do everything it takes to not only get better but to help his teammates during this time. He is a tremendous young man who I will really miss coaching the remainder of the season. However, I am optimistic he will have a complete recovery."
"While this is obviously not what I wanted, I know this team will come together and be stronger because of it," said LeVert. "Now more than ever, it is important for all of us support this team. For me, I am familiar with the recovery process and what work lies ahead for me. I am very confident that I will return 100 percent and have already begun work to ensure that happens."
This is obviously a huge blow to Michigan's hopes of making even the NIT. LeVert leads the team in minutes, points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks; with Derrick Walton limited by injury, LeVert has often been the only Wolverine capable of creating his own shot. Freshmen Aubrey Dawkins and Kameron Chatman should see a major uptick in minutes with LeVert sidelined.
If this is the end of LeVert's Michigan career—despite a disappointing season, he's still been projected in the first round of the NBA draft by many experts—it's certainly been a good one. Here's hoping for a speedy and full recovery.