this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Max Bielfeldt was re-listed as a senior a couple years back and walked on senior day, so his departure was expected. It's now official, per Jeff Goodman. Bielfeldt himself:
"With (LeVert) taking that scholarship, any little option of something else happening -- me coming back -- got a little bit smaller," Bielfeldt said. "The odds aren't very high that I come back here next year."
As a grad transfer Bielfeldt can be immediately eligible next year; Bradley, near his home, has been mentioned as a possibility. Dan Dakich will still talk about his calves during Michigan games for nostalgia's sake.
Meanwhile, despite Caris's decision to stay Michigan is still under the impression they have room for another player next year.
U-M coaches have made it clear that even with LeVert's return, the roster will have room for at least one addition.
Following Tuesday's announcement by LeVert, Troy Manns, [Kenny] Williams' coach at LC Bird High School coach in Richmond, told MLive that LeVert's return does not impact Williams' interest in Michigan.
"No, not at all," he said.
Asked if Michigan told Williams it still would have space for him if LeVert remaining a Wolverine, Manns answered, simply, "Yes."
With seemingly everyone else content to fight out the playing time crunch next year that would likely be Austin Hatch either going on medical hardship or, if his family is so inclined, becoming a walk-on next year. That would cost money but would keep the door open to Hatch getting on the court some.
feeling that a ticket you have is a precious thing is good
More games should mean things
This is something that Brandon was moving towards getting right, save for the horrible contract that saw him eat an extra Notre Dame home game at the (hopefully temporary) end of that series. And that contract might not have been his doing.
This year's football schedule has one tomato can on it, UNLV, and three actual teams: BYU, Oregon State, and Utah. BYU and Oregon State are one-off home games. They're more expensive, but we've finally reached the point where spending an extra few hundred thousand dollars on an opponent like that has a clear ROI in ticket sales. (That is the reason Brandon was getting that right.) One of the smartest things he said during his tenure was about this.
Unfortunately, I have been able to google it to get the exact quote, but it was along the lines of "we have to get out of the business of scheduling games that feel like exhibitions to fans." He largely put his money where his mouth was in that department. Or tried to, anyway. It still galls that Michigan State landed a home and home with Alabama and Michigan was forced to play a "neutral" site matchup in Dallas against them.
But Brandon was right: repeated tomato can poundings make the fan look at his ticket and feel like a sap. The Product™ boils down to that: you look at the ticket that has a section and seat and opponent on it and you feel a certain way. For years many of these tickets have made you feel like it's another way to pay for the Ohio State game. That is going to remain true, but being less explicit about it is a first step on the road towards making fans feel like part of the enterprise instead of marks.
There's not much flexibility when it comes to college football. Michigan's going to play in their division and they've got three games a year (Indiana, Rutgers, Maryland) that aren't going to feel like much no matter what happens. They've been filling out the nonconference schedule with more respectable opponents; further additions have to happen a decade or more out. The wider landscape of college football will help here: double the number of teams in the playoff means double the number of late-season games that can impact the championship picture.
Michigan's other two revenue sports could use some help. This year's hockey schedule was a textbook example of what not to do: a weird one-off at Ferris State before even the exhibition games, home games piled into the fall when most fans are busy with football, an almost two-month absence from Yost in January and February punctuated by a fiasco of an outdoor game taken in by fewer fans than would have been at a home game.
Meanwhile, basketball plays a lot of nonconference games against the Coppin States of the world. It was seven last year (they just happened to lose two): Hillsdale, Bucknell, Detroit, Nicholls State, NJIT, EMU, and Coppin State. I don't see a great solution there given the way college basketball works: you're going to have a preseason tournament, you're going to have a game just before Christmas no one wants to play, there's not enough room to do anything interesting.
The conference, though… the conference could use some tweaking. Here are a couple of concrete plans to make basketball and hockey games have more wow factor on the ticket.
Basketball: making 14 an asset
Wisconsin ran away with the Big Ten title this year. Their last seven games included matchups against 9-9 Illinois, 4-14 Penn State, and two against 6-12 Minnesota. What if their stretch run was nothing but the other three games—Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State—and so was everyone else's? And what if you could never point to anyone's schedule and say that's why team X won?
This is possible, even in a 14-team conference if you're willing to rethink a conference schedule. You can have a true, fair, thrilling championship in 19 conference games:
- FIRST 13: round-robin amongst all teams
- LAST 6: split the league into top and bottom halves, have second round-robin within.
Everyone in each half plays the same schedule. The last three weeks of the regular season are an all-out brawl for a banner that means something it might not in a world where getting the wrong teams twice could knock you down a peg.
The downsides are real but not insurmountable. You would not know the last six games of your schedule until a few days before. With home sites that's not a huge problem. There will be demand for those games. And teams right around the cutoff could find their path to a bid get harder as teams just above it draw a bunch of tough games and teams below it lose the opportunity to knock off a Wisconsin. That effect is probably marginal (on average it's turning three games into somewhat harder or easier ones).
If they tried this I bet they would never even think about going back once they saw, say, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, OSU, Indiana, and Illinois have a three-week war for a Big Ten title.
Hockey: a state championship
The FA Cup: the only time anyone has ever believed in Wigan
There's not a whole lot Hypothetical Michigan AD can do about the Big Ten or NCAA's playoff format. (It does sound like the national tournament is in line for some long-overdue changes.) But he can probably get the Michigan schools together to provide early-season matchups some additional oomph.
The formation of the Big Ten is something college hockey needed if they were ever going to expand past two western conferences, but it broke up a bunch of 40-year-old rivalries that mean something to college hockey fans. Instead of having every Michigan team save Tech in a single conference, now they're spread across three. The GLI has tried to compensate by inviting a Michigan team for the foreseeable future, but that doesn't do much for the three teams that aren't invited in any particular year.
Nor does it have that much selling power. The GLI is a nice event, but it's always been a little silly that Michigan has a banner for years they won it. It's two games. The trophy doesn't have a name. It's not, say, a 40-pound bronzed cast of Red Berenson's head.
What if the first half of the season had a different competition in it? Soccer does this to excellent effect. A state championship competition that features World Cup/Champions League style groups would be a reasonable time commitment and a way to inject stakes into otherwise fuzzy early-season matchups.
A problem: there are seven Michigan teams, not eight. We will fill in the eighth spot with a guest program. This could either rotate between reasonably local programs (ND, OSU, BGSU, Miami, even PSU) or be permanent.
|GROUP A||GROUP B|
|Notre Dame||Western Michigan|
|Northern Michigan||Ferris State|
Each team plays the others twice, whether that's home and home or not. The next year invert home/road and do it again; then switch the groups up. The only hard and fast rule is that Michigan and Michigan State are separate. The four teams in the bottom two rows are all WCHA members. They can either book an early-season conference series to count for the state championship or schedule bonus nonconference series, their choice.
After that's done, the top two in each group play for the Michigan Themed Hockey Trophy* at the Joe. (The other two also go to the Joe and play because everyone wants to know they've got X number of games booked.)
This is a commitment of eight games—six for teams currently in the WCHA. For teams in the Big Ten (20 conference games), Hockey East (22), or NCHC (24) that is doable. It does seriously restrict the flexibility of WCHA teams (28 games), but a lot of these games are the ones these schools would want to schedule anyway. For example, Ferris's nonconference schedule included two games against State, one against Michigan, and the GLI. Tech played Michigan and in the GLI. They would be signing up for another two or three games only. And the lack of flexibility is offset by the fact that they're locking in a Michigan or Michigan State series annually.
If you can pull this off then your early season, normally something without stakes other than the hope down the road your Pairwise ranking will be good, becomes three weekends in which you hope to qualify for a GLI that means you can print out shirts that say State Champs and kiss let's just say a 40-pound bronze cast of Red Berenson's head.
like this except with Red Berenson's head
Play for things. Give us stakes. A ticket that reads "Red Berenson's 40 Pound Head Tournament" is better than one that just says "Western Michigan."
*[Options: unearth the Ron Mason trophy that went kaput when the CCHA did, inaugurate a Red Berenson trophy for the former Michigan player and Detroit Red Wing, or go studiously neutral but somewhat silly by naming it after a guy who didn't play college hockey.
Gordie Howe played in the defunct minor-pro version of the USHL for a year, not the CHL, and he's Gordie Howe. So he's a good idea if you're going that route.]
High five. Let the playing time knife fight begin.
LeVert will obviously be largely exempt from it, as he's a lock to get 30 minutes. Normally you'd say he's a lock to get 35-38, but with the depth on this roster they can keep their main guys fresher until true crunch time.
With LeVert in tow Michigan looks set to be a serious contender in the Big Ten once again.
Carter Dunaway (R) with his brother, 2015 walk-on Jack Dunaway.
Michigan picked up its first commitment of the 2017 class last week in Birmingham (MI) Brother Rice tight end Carter Dunaway, who was offered while visiting for the spring game and didn't wait long to make his decision.
It's not surprising Dunaway jumped at the chance to play for Michigan. His father, Craig, played tight end under Bo Schembechler. His brother, Jack, is a preferred walk-on defensive end in the 2015 class. With former high school teammates Alex Malzone and Grant Perry also joining the program, Dunaway had plenty of motivation to make a commitment, and he told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown he didn't see any reason to wait ($):
"Obviously when I got the offer it was a big shock," Dunaway said. "I wanted to talk about it with my family and go over everything with them. After I was able to do that, I realized that I'm going to end up at Michigan anyway. Why prolong the whole recruiting process? I wanted to get it over with right now and focus on my high school season and get my goals straight. It was just a good time for me to get that done and go down there and talk to Coach [Jim] Harbaugh.
"I actually went to his office to tell him in person. He was actually at the Tigers game before I got there but he was just hanging out, talking with a couple of coaches. I went into his office and talked to him and that's when I committed."
Dunaway plans to do some recruiting of his own, especially in-state, now that he's made his decision.
|NR TE||NR TE||NR TE||NR TE||NR TE|
Dunaway isn't ranked by any of the four sites, and there are very apparent reasons for this: he played a backup role on a senior-laden Brother Rice squad last season, to the point that there isn't any sophomore film freely available on him—it'd be short, anyway, as Dunaway had one reception in 2014. It's safe to say there's a lot of projection in this offer from Jim Harbaugh's end, with Dunaway's 6'6", 230-pound frame playing a significant role.
As mentioned above, Dunaway wasn't a significant part of the Brother Rice offense last season, as he was stuck behind a pair of productive senior tight ends; Michael Roney and Dylan Fortin combined for 40 catches from that spot, and with Alex Malzone's favorite wide receiver, Grant Perry, accounting for another 105 receptions, there were only so many targets to go around.
Dunaway hasn't made a significant mark on the camp circuit, either. There's only a short video of him going through drills at last May's Midwest Elite Camp...
I have no idea what to make of this.
...and him giving a self-evaluation to GBW's Josh Newkirk afterwards ($):
Only a freshman, Dunaway put his talents on display this past Saturday in the Midwest Elite Camp. The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder was impressive, as he showcased good coordination and catching ability throughout the camp.
"I think I am doing okay," Dunaway said. "I have made a couple good catches. I'm working hard out here. I am going as fast as I can in every drill. So I think I am doing pretty well."
Right now, we have a frame and a legacy. We'll know a lot more this fall, when Dunaway projects to be a major part of a Brother Rice offense replacing six of its top seven receivers.
Michigan was the only school to offer Dunaway before his commitment. The Wolverine reported he had interest from Boston College, Michigan State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, and some Ivy League schools. Dunaway expressed interest in exploring the Ivy League; he should be just fine academically.
I probably don't need to tell you much about Brother Rice, which won three straight state titles from 2011-2013 and has a long history of success, mostly under legendary former coach Al Fracassa. A trio of 2015 freshmen—Malzone, Perry, and Jack Dunaway—all come from the program.
Dunaway had one reception for nine yards in 2014.
FAKE 40 TIME
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
I mean, your guess is as good as mine here. Dunaway has the frame to be a solid in-line tight end who can handle the physical aspect of the position from an early juncture—he's already at 230 pounds with two full years of high school remaining. There's nothing to glean from his very limited on-field resumé except he wasn't such a precocious talent that he could jump a pair of trusty seniors, one of whom (Michael Fortin) landed a scholarship from Eastern Michigan.
It's still too early to even project the depth chart at tight end for 2017. Michigan will have a redshirt senior Khalid Hill, a redshirt junior Ian Bunting, and either a true junior or redshirt sophomore Tyrone Wheatley Jr. at the position, plus any 2016 tight end recruits that they bring in—Michigan will add at least one in this cycle. Here's an early guess at a redshirt for Dunaway, with any other projection not worth making based on the lack of available evidence.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan will have a 2017 class, and Carter Dunaway will be in it.
Harbaugh on Real Sports. Sounds like it's going to be interesting:
In HBO's upcoming episode of "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," reporter Andrea Kremer asks Harbaugh if it's true that he has a problem working with others at various jobs.
"It must be true," Harbaugh says. "Because I'd wear out my welcome.
"People just don't want to be around you after a while."
Harbaugh may be polarizing personally, but people one or more steps removed from him get to observe the chaos from safe distance. This would never have happened during the previous regime for a thousand reasons:
The program also shows glimpses of a mic'd up Harbaugh at practice, at one point taking a player (whose number is blurred out) aside and delivering him a stern and somewhat profane message: "I'm just telling you the right way to do it. If you want to look at me like with that look, then go (expletive) somewhere else."
I hope Michael Rosenberg hasn't suddenly come down with the vapors. Ten PM tomorrow if you've got the HBOs.
How do you give M0.0N dollars though? The annual EDSBS charity bash is on. It's been won by Michigan every year since its inception and has resulted in things like Spencer comes to the Penn State game and writes about it. This is your prize in 2015:
OKAY WHAT'S IN IT FOR US?
We will outfit the site in the colors of the school. We will devote an entire Hatin' Ass Spurrier to ripping on the rivals of the winner. We have random celebrity guest calls to big donors. For instance, last year we might have had a Heisman Trophy winner call a particularly generous donor. That might could be you! You'll never know until you give, and then give again, and then wisely take out a second mortgage all in the name of getting a sports parody site's highest honor. (Oh, and you'll be giving to a great, great charity, too.)
Also 30k overall equals tattoo. You can give here. Money goes to support refugee resettlement.
Figuring out what we've got in Moritz Wagner. Nobody really knows how big of a deal Wagner is because he's spent his career on the U18 Alba Berlin team with only occasional forays onto the big squad.
The occasional NBA scout has weighed in. Rivals's Eric Bossi flagged one down who said he was in the 20-40 range, which would be terrific. Scout talked to another gentleman who was more conservative, saying top 100—still not bad.
The Daily adds to our currently thin pile of Wagner material by talking to Alba Berlin's coach:
“I predict two years for him, to achieve even a good position in the NBA draft,” said Alba Berlin coach Saša Obradović following his team’s 78-74 win over the Phoenix Hagen on April 15. …“
He thinks he’s not ready for the professional life,” Obradović said. “He (could have) played here. I expect that he could be a good prospect and good player for our future. So I think (Michigan has acquired) a very good talent, and you will see this very, very fast.” …
“He is a versatile player. Just don’t put him on the ‘5,’ ” Obradović said. “He has good, soft hands, good first step. He still (has) to learn a lot, but (he’s) already on a certain level of skill.”
Mission accomplished as far as not putting him at center goes. It'll be interesting how quickly Wagner proves himself. A lot of people are speculating that he might redshirt given the roster's current state—packed—and his current physique—skinny. A two-and-done doesn't redshirt, though.
A day as king of media. Richard Detsch asked a bunch of sports media people what they'd change if they could wave a magic wand. Some of the responses are inane—"pay more attention to baseball"—says one guy. Others are interesting, although not necessarily on purpose. Amy Trask:
Amy Trask, CBS Sports NFL analyst
I would abolish coverage of and commentary on ephemeral matters. Coverage of and commentary on matters that are transitory, fleeting and momentary is wasteful at best, and may be harmful, as it emphasizes the trivial instead of the important.
Amy Trask would ban sports media entirely.
Fran Frascilla wins:
In NBA and college basketball games, nothing slows a game down more than the incessant number of timeouts, TV And otherwise. Well-coached teams don't need to rely on all the in-games stoppages. That's what practices are supposed to be for.
I got a dollar for Fran.
Blake O'Neill pensively considering the third and long his team faces
Attention, ladies. If you would like more information on our new punter's modeling career, his profile can be found here. I foresee trouble if he keeps taking his shirt off during games.
HARBAUGH: O'Neill! In this country we play football without our shimmering torsos catching the afternoon sun in just that particular way that makes women weep.
O'NEILL: Sorry. It is the way of my people to frolic in the sun when the whim catches us.
HARBAUGH: Weber State sounds like damned weird place.
NHL on Werenski. He won't last past the first ten picks in all likelihood:
"He's such a cool, calm and collected player," NHL Central Scouting's Greg Rajanen said of Werenski. "He's the type of player you have to watch a little closely to realize how good he is. He's smart, always in the right spot, moves the puck and makes all the plays. But not in a 'wow' sort of way like Hanifin does. At the next level Werenski will be a really a good player who will produce points and be solid defensively."
Werenski started coming into his own with the puck on his stick about halfway through the year but still struggled with the physicality of the college game. That's not much of a surprise since a lot of the guys he was going up against were five, six, or even seven years older than him. He should take a major leap forward. If they got a Trouba-level year out of him that would paper over a lot of problems.
Another horse for the goalie mill. Michigan goes back to the NAHL well for a goalie:
Soo(NAHL) '94 G Chad Catt committed to Michigan.
— Chris Dilks (@ChrisDilks) April 18, 2015
Catt put up a flashy .937 in 2013-14 and had a .918 this year, splitting time between Aberdeen and the Soo. He's old: already 21. He is also an in-state player who was headed to D-III, so I'm guessing he's not getting a lot of scholarship money. (Hockey can split scholarships.) He'll give Michigan another option next year.
MORE THAN 8 YEARS IN THE NFL IS A LONG TIME
Boom: chart! by LSA on how long an NFL draftee is expected to last.
The blip is explainable by what's been going on with NFL rookie contracts. The maximum contract for a rookie used to be seven years (hence the peak), but since 2011 every rookie contract has been four years with a team option for a fifth on 1st rounders.
|Click for big|
That CBA made rookie contracts way less complicated and appreciably more team-friendly. An unintended side effect of this has been teams trying to rid themselves of those pre-2011 agreements while holding onto more recent draftees longer than they would otherwise.
Since the rough years in Ann Arbor have now stretched longer than what's typical for any NFL career, the Michigan guys still playing are particularly old. I remember making all-Michigan teams in early Playstation versions of Madden. Try that now and you can squeeze together a one-deep plus Henne, Fitz, Will Campbell, and Cam Gordon on the bench (I 'm using Mundy for now but if you figure Stevie Brown will sign somewhere you can swap them out).
SMART FOOTBALL ON HARBAUGH
It's scheme month on the Solid Verbal Podcast so Smart Football (Chris Brown) has been on. This already is relevant to your interests. But this week's show was on Harbaugh so…
Go to the 47 minute mark to get to the Harbaugh. Dnak at the link provided the bullets for "Bo Schembechler football with Jon Gruden's playbook." Dnak also questioned the suggestion that Fisch is going to be running the offense, a prospect Chris is down on. I do think Jedd's "passing game coordinator" title is legit but Drevno is calling plays, as he did well enough in San Diego, and it's still Harbaugh's scheme and Harbaugh's plans, and Harbaugh's metaphorical nose in the huddle.
Earlier they're talking about Mariota vs. Winston and Chris is asked "In 2015 what's a Pro Style offense and what's a Spread?" and he just rips apart the labels, before using them anyway because we still don't have better to describe two slider setting extremities.
Speaking to what you do with a quarterback, until you've got a Tom Brady/Peyton Manning who in Chris's words is "seeing the Matrix", you design a passing game you can teach and your quarterback can operate. Dials include footwork (shotgun, 3-, 5- and 7-step drops), pre-snap reads, post-snap decision trees, and of course whether his feet are going to be part of the offense. Start with the knobs he's good at, and slowly turn up others as the QB adjusts.
The biggest point is "it all works" as long as your offense puts stress on the defense. The classic example of exactly what you shouldn't do then hangs in the air like a wet Borges fart. It is annoying that Brown excitedly brings up our two chief rivals as examples of cutting edge while the commentary on Michigan's offense is "this stuff may be old but it still works." May it kick ass so the smart coach-y people have to explain why.
[After jump: Austin Davis, night games and the Freekbass Quotient of invitees, why we're all A's fans now]