The Best Players In Michigan...
...well, at the very least, they're getting offers from Michigan.
Tuesday's MSU game gave Michigan the opportunity to host several in-state prospects and dole out some offers. 2016 four-star Southfield RB Matt Falcon received one, though with Tennessee as his stated leader it'll be an uphill climb to gain his commitment, per MichiganPreps.com's Branden Hunter ($):
"It was pretty sweet seeing two quarterbacks on their way to the league. Something special," said Falcon. "I really enjoyed spending time with the coaching staff, and getting to know everyone and how they operate. I think Coach Harbaugh has his team headed in the right direction. He will do big things with the Wolverines. I could see myself playing there, but I don't know if that will happen. I still have to enjoy the process."
While there's plenty of time to catch up to Tennessee, the Vols are in strong position right now. Michigan should get more traction with a couple more offers from the evening. Three-star Farmington WR Desmond Fitzpatrick, a Louisville commit, grew up a Michigan fan, and his father told Allen Trieu that the offer meant a lot to him ($):
"As he got older," Fitzpatrick continued, "and watched the program struggle, it appeared those childhood feelings faded. When he received the offer last night, his reaction surprised me. He was a little emotional."
Fitzpatrick remains committed to Louisville, but it sounds like he's quite open to the possibility of playing closer to home. So is four-star Cass Tech DB Demetric Vance, who also added an offer Tuesday night, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
“I was real excited,” Vance said of Michigan offer. “I really liked the coaching staff. They made really think I want to go there. It was just a good experience. For me to meet the new coaching staff, it seem liked I already knew them for so long. It feels good.”
Vance plans to decide after the summer. Michigan's main competition should be MSU, though Pitt and Tennessee are also involved. Vance's teammate, elite 2017 WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, could hardly talk when Harbaugh offered him, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown ($):
"It happened at halftime of the basketball game," Peoples-Jones explained. "Coach [Jim] Harbaugh came and talked to me one on one and told me that I had a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan.
"I was honestly at a loss for words. I managed to say, 'Thank you coach, I really appreciate it.' It felt great to know that I could possibly be coached under a man with so much success."
Peoples-Jones is a national-level prospect and his recruitment could very well come down to a Michigan-OSU battle.
M also hosted a couple prospects already holding offers. 2016 Farmington Hills Harrison four-star DE Khalid Kareem is now seriously considering the Wolverines, his father told 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“It was amazing. It was a good atmosphere. It was my first time going up there with the new staff, and to be honest with you it was probably one of our best visits. We had the opportunity to get a lot of 1-on-1 time with Coach (Greg) Mattison and Coach (D.J.) Durkin. When we got there they kind of immediately gravitated towards us, ate with us, took us in the meeting room, watched film, saw how Khalid fit in their defense, different body types, things like that.
“It opened up his mind to the idea of playing for Michigan.”
Kareem previously committed to MSU for all of two days before his parents helped convince him it was too early to make a commitment. Let's hope this goes the way of Lawrence Marshall.
Rounding out the Cass Tech contingent was 2016 four-star OG/DT Michael Onwenu, who told 247's Steve Lorenz that the coaches were jokingly fighting over which side of the ball he'd play in Ann Arbor ($).
2016 Southfield LB Will Small self-reported an offer, but that's been refuted by multiple outlets.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Do you think we should take both? So Bryce Petty and Jameis Winston stopped by Schembechler yesterday to hang with Mr. Harbaugh.
QBs Jameis Winston (FSU) & Bryce Petty (Baylor) are preparing for the NFL Combine at Schembechler Hall. pic.twitter.com/2ICM9XMVrc
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) February 17, 2015
"These guys don't know how blessed they are to have this kind of facility. I mean, Florida State, we're a very prestigious school, we have nice stuff, but we don't have this. I'm sorry, I love Florida State. Go 'Noles till the day I die, but they're so much [more] advanced than us."
"This is bar none the best one that I've seen. We've got great ones in Waco, you know I love what we had at Baylor, and so it's cool to kind of see other places, and this is definitely by far one of the best I've seen."
"It was a blessing to meet a guy like that. It was an honor to meet him. All of his accomplishments, and the type of coach that he is, I wish I could have played for him."
"If there's anybody that you want to play for as a player, it's a coach like him. Just a fan, energetic guy, passionate about football. From the second he came over here he was sizing up Jameis and wanted to see his grip. He's just a quarterback. And that's the coolest part about playing the position and being coached by somebody that's been there and done that."
Ndamukong Suh showed up today, because why not.
— MGoJen (@MGoJen) February 19, 2015
Can't hurt recruiting, that. Unless people think those pants are mandatory.
Doing what needs to be done. Note that this kind of thing did not happen under Hoke, who didn't have twitter at all. Harbaugh's firing off shade tweets at OSU and putting his mug on the internet with NFL stars, to wide publicity.
Michigan is—ugh no way around it—Leveraging Social Media much better than they did under the previous regime, during which they rarely did anything anyone would pay attention. Brandon (or rather his ghost-tweeter) tended to send out the kind of #hashtag tweets that make you sound like a broken robot. Hoke was invisible, and nothing that was interesting enough to pass around was constructed. The Winston/Petty stuff had some viral quality to it. That serves the program well.
Good to see goals other than incremental revenue being advanced these days.
“You’re Iggy Pop, man. I love your stuff. I’m from Michigan too,” I rambled on, sounding as moronic as the Pop is accused of being by some of his critics.
Iggy pointed to my t-shirt with the word Michigan splayed across my chest. “Meeschigan,” he said, holding his right arm in front of his slight chest in a 90-degree angle. “Meeschigan.”
After a minute or so of gushing and trying to open up a conversation with the man who’s music, with the Stooges anyway, was the soundtrack to much of my late adolescence and early adulthood, all I could get out of the guy was “Meeschigan.” As I turned to go back to the boys, I decided Iggy was either too burned out by the adulation of the years and hero worshiping kids like me or the critics were right. He was so sort of junkie savant. Either way, I was utterly confused by our meeting. …
Half an hour later, AMC had gone through a series of ballads that failed to alter the weird, contained rage from the mosh pit. I felt a tug at my shirt and turned around. I looked down right at Iggy Pop.
“Meeschigan,” he said, his arm cocked at that 90-degree angle.
“Meeschigan,” I answered him, my arm at the same angle. He turned and walked out with his Ginger look alike on his arm.
Iggy Pop, spreading the Ufer gospel wherever he goes. Confusingly. Demanding that people imbibe the spirit of Ufer before departing with his girlfriend. Following them around.
The best restaurant he's ever been to: "Cracker Barrel ... you can't beat the bacon."
Harbaugh then put his twitter where his mouth is.
Enjoying dinner with Addie at the Cracker Barrel: Life is Good! pic.twitter.com/pCV6pYHhGA
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) February 17, 2015
FWIW, my wife used to work at Cracker Barrel in high school. When I told her this, she expelled a sad, hurt sigh. The kind of sigh you expel when someone has told you something horrible. "Cracker Barrel isn't supposed to be anyone's favorite restaurant," she relates, "but if your main priority is getting out of the restaurant as fast as possible, Cracker Barrel is great at that."
I think we have found a reason.
(Also they make all their stuff from scratch instead of taking it off the SYSCO truck, so there's that.)
Miss you big guy XOXO. Charlie Weis is taking the slow boat to Shoney's:
For the first time since 1978, Weis will spend a football offseason as a bystander and not a coach. And it might very well be for good.
“I think it’s highly doubtful that I will ever coach again,” said the 58-year-old former Notre Dame head coach whose five-year regime in South Bend, punctuated by extremes, launched 10 seasons ago.
"…because I will still be paid to coach until the sun engulfs the earth and would rather follow Bon Jovi around than deal with people who don't understand my schematic genius."
Weis was a bad football coach and a good enemy, and for that I thank him.
(By the way, never go to Shoney's. Never ever.)
The ineligibility gambit. This will never happen but hopefully the NCAA folk pushing it know that and are trying to leverage the NBA:
7. Address the “one and done” phenomenon in men's basketball. If the National Basketball Association and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men's basketball.
In today's lawsuit-rich environment that would be the equivalent of slapping a "SUE ME" sign on your own back, but anything that fixes one and done is a good idea. Increasing the age limit is the wrong direction, but anything is better than the current system.
Normally I would believe that this is just a leverage play but you never know with the NCAA. Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 commisioner, makes a somewhat self-contradictory case for it:
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said there is “almost a uniform acknowledgment that there's kids in college that don't have any interest in an education and don't have the proper education to take advantage of an education.” Bowlsby said freshman ineligibility would have a “profoundly positive effect” on football and men's basketball by easing the transition from high school without the distractions of competition.
“I think there's a growing interest in a robust debate, and I think we ought to drag it to the ground and consider it any way we can,” Bowlsby said. “I think it is the one change that could make an absolutely dramatic difference in college athletics.”
Kids who don't have interest in education aren't going to find it because they can't play. I don't think that helps much of anything. Maybe it sends more Mudiay types overseas as they cool their heels. It may help the guys who are behind educationally, but how much when they're participating in all the team activities anyway? They don't have more time. They will be prepped to play just as much as any freshman.
It's impractical for a ton of reasons and won't happen, but go ahead rattle that sword just in case you knock a concession loose. The NBA draft is the worst system out there. The NHL or MLB models would be much preferable.
Des updated. Wolverine Historian has released a revised Desmond Howard tribute video. Up to 20 minutes(!).
"In the world of branding, you build what's called brand equity"
-Dave Brandon, Michigan Athletic Director, 2010-2014
I'm pretty mad about Dave Brandon on the internet, but in real life social cues prevent you from ranting for two thousand words at a time; mostly they argue for nodding silence. I kept the wild-eyed revolutionary on the internet. So it was crazy how Brandon angst followed me around.
One day during my ACL rehab, I was doing my various stretching things when one of the therapists came in steamed. He started relating to one of his buddies that he'd been booted from his position with Michigan football in favor of a kid who had literally just graduated from college, because that kid would worship Brandon as a god.
When we bought our house, one of the seemingly infinite signing ceremony things involved a conversation with someone who had been an assistant with a nonrevenue sport. My job came up, she had never heard of MGoBlog, she proceeded to sigh and say that the department was really something and then… not that any more.
A woman who Brandon tried to get fired from the alumni association because she had the temerity to disagree with him. Her friendship with Jamie Morris was demonstration enough that she "had no character."
One day, two staffers sent home for insufficiently ironed khakis, and then berated because their blazers were "from JC Penney."
Report after report that the regents couldn't stand him and he had a year, tops, left. For three years.
And of course, email after email in my inbox, all from the same insulting man prone to exclamation points and misused ellipses.
As a kid I was really good at memorizing things and had no friends. A large part of why, I would find out in retrospect, is that I was an annoying person. I was convinced I was the smartest person in the room, something that was often true for a given definition of smartest that stopped once the tests were turned in. It was never true when it came to interacting with something other than a piece of paper.
My attempt to be an adult centers around that fact: I'm an idiot when it comes to a lot of things. Faltering progress has been made. I hired Tom VanHaaren back in the day when he was just a guy with an idea to use social media to get information about recruits (this was controversial at the time). Tom proceeded to get his own bat signal. To this day he gets requests from people on the internet to hold him.
Tom's prose was rough at the time, prone to sentence after sentence with the same structure. A lot of adverbs. (I measure my progress as a writer by how many adverbs I edit out of my own stuff.) Twelve year old me would have been too annoying about it to deal. But by the time I made that decision I had realized that there were a lot of skills. zTalking to people you don't know and making them come out of that experience feeling like something good had just happened was emphatically not one I possessed. Tom is now at ESPN because of that skill.
Everyone has peaks and valleys in their intelligences, which is why I can do this for a job and still get pwned by Tom Dienhart whenever I try to act like an Actual Journalist.
That is how a guy can be in charge of three different things and still be an idiot: Dave Brandon's skill is for creating personal leverage for Dave Brandon. And there end the skills. There is that sub-genre of successful person that achieves seemingly without any reason to. They are nature's bullshitters. Charlie Weis is their treasurer. Dave Brandon is their king.
[After THE JUMP: a sordid history and the lessons learned: none]
Ace: When do you expect Michigan to get on level footing with Michigan State and Ohio State? Do you expect them to, in the latter case?
Dave Nasternak: Well, those are 2 different levels, especially after the last year.
As far as reaching Michigan State's level, I'm thinking (hoping?) Harbaugh will get them to that level in the next 2-3 years. I actually think that the talent differential is not huge, outside of a couple of obvious positions. The coaching differential, however...has been quite large. One of the interesting things about Michigan State has been their recruiting. They have not had stand-out, elite level recruiting during their stretch of dominance over Michigan (and kinda the Big Ten). But they have developed their roster as well as anyone has...which is coaching. It has also not hurt Michigan State that Michigan and Penn State have not been at program expectations over the past 5+ years. However, with Harbaugh in Ann Arbor, now -and a competitively talented roster to work with- I think that gap has already shrunk a bit...and will presumably do so in the next couple of years.
|You will NOT take away the year of Fickell. [Upchurch]|
Since the end of the 2004 season, Ohio State is 110-21. 104-14 if you take away the Year of Fickell. That's...uh...I don't even know. I definitely think this past 10 or so years has not been the Big Ten's best -definitely some under-performing teams and questionable hiring decisions by a few of the schools- but...yikes, man. There were a few years where its felt like Michigan has lost 14 games...just in that year, alone! I'm not sure anyone is going to THAT level, any time soon. If anyone can give Michigan a chance to do so, it would be Jim Harbaugh, though. Anyway...my next point, haha. One of the things that Ohio State has that has eluded most of the Big Ten teams (at least lately) is a game-changer. And they have had many. Going back to Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor and now Miller/Barrett/Jones and Elliott. These are guys that can score every time they touch the ball...and always seem to make a play to keep a drive alive or score when OSU needs points. They are Heisman trophy winners...or at least candidates. That is level of recruit AND development that Michigan is going to need in order to compete at the OSU level. Can and will Harbaugh take Michigan there? I think he can. I hope he will. When? It will be years before he will be able to make a mark like OSU has been able to over the last decade or so. But I do think that once Harbaugh gets Top 100/300/whatever recruits flowing into his system, Michigan will be able to go toe-to-toe with Ohio State and at least beat them at a competitive rate...instead of the 1(Fickell) and 10 it has been over the past 11 years.
[After the jump: projections on a sophomore roster]
It could've gone either way. Alvin Ellis drove baseline, Muhammad-Ali Adbur-Rahkman squared up, the two collided, then Ted Valentine hopped three times and called a block.
With 13:11 left in the first half, Adbur-Rahkman exited with two fouls. Michigan State led 11-8. When John Beilein reinserted him a little over eight minutes later, the Spartans held a commanding 33-14 lead.
It'd be too easy to point to that 16-point swing and say auto-benching MAAR proved the difference in the game. Michigan's problems tonight went far beyond early foul trouble for their freshman guard. No matter the defensive strategy, the Wolverines couldn't defend the paint. The Spartans finished an astonishing 25/32 on two-pointers, rebounded nine of their 19 missed shots, and turned the ball over just eight times. That's a far bigger issue than who's playing at one spot on the floor.
On this Michigan team, though, the dropoff is so severe that ceding points in the name of caution isn't an option—and, let's face it, playing Andrew Dakich instead of MAAR is handing over points to the opposition. That's twice now Beilein has benched MAAR for extended time while the Spartans pulled away. While it's unlikely Michigan would've forced overtime in this one, seeing MAAR score 12 points on seven shots in the second half—after Dakich went 0/1 with a foul in eight minutes—made it hard to imagine the strategy gave them the best shot at winning.
The story of the game on the other side was the dominance of Branden Dawson, who finished with 23 points (10/12 FG) and 13 boards. Michigan's wings couldn't handle Dawson one-on-one, but when the Wolverines went zone, Travis Trice served up lob after lob for the athletic forward to finish. Trice had an excellent night himself, scoring 22 points and dishing out seven assists; his two early threes from nearly the same spot above the break helped ignite MSU's early run. From start to finish, the Spartan offense ran smoothly and effectively.
The Wolverines, on the other hand, couldn't consistently hang. Zak Irvin needed 15 shot equivalents to score 16 points; Aubrey Dawkins needed 12 for his 12; Spike Albrecht ten for his 12. The big men were all but nonexistent; the bench, of course, depleted. On a night when Michigan's defense needed the offense to wring out every bit of talent, strategy, and luck available, they couldn't maintain that for 40 minutes.
Sometimes it's not your night. Lowrawls Nairn hit just his second three-pointer of the season early on, when Michigan sagged off of him, and it felt then like it'd be a long game. What's equally frustrating as the loss, though, is the overwhelming feeling that it could've—should've—been closer, if only Michigan approached the first half with the same urgency as the second.
Michigan (13-12, 6-7 B1G) at
Michigan State (17-8, 8-4)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||9 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||MSU -2 (KenPom)|
PBP: Mike Tirico
Analyst: Dan Dakich
While there's still hope that Derrick Walton will return before the season ends, he won't be back in uniform tonight.
Losing four in a row has put Michigan in danger of missing the NIT. The Bracket Matrix listed M as a six-seed when they updated at the end of last week; DRatings put them as the last three-seed; Big Apple Buckets placed them as a five-seed before the Illinois loss.
While Michigan finishes with two very winnable games (at Northwestern, Rutgers), they probably need to pull an upset in one of these next three much more difficult games (MSU, OSU, at Maryland) to feel comfortable with their postseason chances heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
As for pride, Michigan hasn't lost to State at Crisler since 2010, when the Spartans got away with murder on the would-be game-winning lob to Deshawn Sims.
THE LAST TIME
Led by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Michigan almost pulled off a shocker in the Breslin Center, surging in the second half before going scoreless in overtime. The Wolverines haven't won since.
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||20||Travis Trice||Sr.||6'0, 170||80||25||No|
|Disciplined, productive distributor. Dangerous outside shooter. Not great inside arc.|
|G||5||Bryn Forbes||Jr.||6'3, 180||68||15||No|
|Spot-up gunner hitting 46% of threes.|
|G||45||Denzel Valentine||Jr.||6'5, 220||75||28||No|
|Does a bit of everything: rebounding, passing, shooting, and hilarious turnovers.|
|F||22||Branden Dawson||Sr.||6'6, 225||84||22||Very|
|Great athlete, monster on the boards, excellent defender. Not a shot creator.|
|F||34||Gavin Schilling||So.||6'9, 240||45||18||Very|
|Solid rebounder and rim protector. Decent finisher.|
|F||10||Matt Costello||Jr.||6'9, 245||48||18||Very|
|Very similar minutes and profile as Schilling. Eminently elbowable face.|
|G||11||Lowrawls "Tum Tum" Nairn||Fr.||5'10, 170||41||13||Very|
|All-pass, no-shoot PG who's prone to freshman mistakes.|
|G||3||Alvin Ellis||So.||6'4, 205||18||14||Yes|
|Getting minutes with Javon Bess hurt. Has been really bad this year.|
Since the last meeting, MSU dropped a home game against Illinois, blew out Northwestern on the road, and most recently staved off Ohio State at the Breslin Center on a game-winner by Denzel Valentine. The Spartans are currently on the right side of the NCAA bubble. Michigan can play spoiler.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]