that is nice bonus change
It appears that conference commissioners are against home games for a four-team college football playoff. Since it's tough to think of a valid reason to be against them, the commissioners have to make up bad reasons. Bad reasons like "they play basketball at neutral sites" that ignore things like the NFL and every other playoff in the country that is not NCAA hockey.
That only is the third-worst argument.
The second-worst is "what if Cincinnati gets a bid?" Here is a complete list of teams that would have hosted first-round games if a four-team playoff had been instituted in 1998, the year of the BCS's inception:
- Tennessee [102,455]
- Florida State [82,300]
- Virginia Tech [66,233]
- Oklahoma [82,112]
- Miami [74,916]
- Nebraska [86,304]
- Ohio State [102,329]
- LSU [92,542]
- USC [93,607]
- Texas [101,624]
- Florida [88,548]
- Alabama [101,821]
- Auburn [87,451]
- Oregon [53,800]
All but three of those stadiums have capacities above 82,000. The exceptions are Miami's Your Name Here Stadium (75k), VT's Lane Stadium (66k) and Oregon's Autzen Stadium (54k). Each would have hosted once. Since the capacity of the Fiesta Bowl is 63k and the Orange Bowl is held at the same place Miami plays home games, stadium size cannot be a reasonable objection. In the event a tiny stadium would get to host, make them move the site to a reasonably close stadium of appropriate size, or just count your money from the many, many times college teams with capacities 20k larger than the biggest pro stadiums have hosted. Problem solved.
So that's a bad argument. But it's not the worst. This is the worst:
BCS executive director Bill Hancock has said there are questions about whether some college campuses had the infrastructure necessary to accommodate the crush of fans and media attending a college football semifinal.
"The infrastructure needed on campus is significant," Hancock told the Associated Press. "That's a factor. That's just one example of the intricacies that are part of this."
Bill Hancock wonders if college football stadiums have the infrastructure to host college football games.
You can't make this up, because if you did people would hit you really hard with rolled-up socks.
(Archived from MGoBlue.com)
Sometimes I go to write something, then mid-way through researching it I get completely turned around on the point I was trying to make. This one started with a conversation between me and Ace trying to compare the 1999 offensive line to the 2012 one. My recollection (which was wrong) was that the superbly talented and experienced starters were backed up by air and freshmen, and that when one went down for injury or an off-campus thing this drew in an Elliott Mealer-type who was moved all over the place as the coaches played "find the weak spot" with the defense. Unfortunately this dude had his own number and looked totally different than a Backus or Hutchinson, and therefore was easy to find. Anyway, they're not comparable, but I figured you'd still find the trip down memory lane interesting and perhaps draw some of your own comparisons.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, offensively speaking. Best of times because Michigan was going into the season with an experienced, senior quarterback, a junior running back who had flashed his star potential while seizing the starting job the year before, and an offensive line littered with future longtime NFL starters and returning starters, backed up by an entire class full of hyped O-line. It was the worst of times because they couldn't run the damn ball.
It was 1999, one year removed from the best recruiting class in school history, two years removed from a national championship, and three years removed from a class so full of touted offensive linemen Darrell Funk would call it greedy. This was also about the point in my fandom where I was just starting to know the names of offensive linemen, mostly because it was my first offseason on campus and everyone was saying the line is stacked.
Left tackle was Jeff Backus, who foreshadowing his long and healthy NFL career didn't miss a snap for two and a half years. Steve Hutchinson, a team captain as a junior, had started since the '97 team at left guard. David Brandt had started all of 1998 at center. Senior guard Chris Ziemann had 10 starts between '97 and early '98 and was returning from an injury. Right tackle was to be Maurice "Mo" Williams, who had drawn into the lineup for Ziemann late the previous year and promptly started pancaking fools.
However Mo Williams (NTMO), along with roommate and backup guard Jonathan Goodwin, was spending the first half of the season on double-secret probation (known then as "Carr's doghouse") for the K-Mart thing.
Thus drew in Frazier, the guy Maurice had to displace. Steve Frazier (right, via), last popped up in these pages when Brian, in the midst of excoriating Harbaugh for the 2007 General Studies tiff, quoted some guy who noted Frazier was a commercial airlines pilot. LinkedIn says he's still there. Before that he tallied up 18 starts on Michigan's offensive line, including 10/13 in 1998. The thing about him was it was impossible to guess, any given week, where on that line he would appear. In '98 it was four at center, six at guard (when Ziemann was hurt. In his senior season, Frazier started three games at center, three at right guard, and two more at right tackle.
Frazier came to my attention during that Illinois game for orchestrating the last and most memorable of the comedy of 4th quarter errors that turned a ho-hum stomach settler into Michigan's second straight loss. Brady was in his element, taking snaps in the shotgun down late and picking his way through a prevent D. At this point Frazier snapped a ball several feet over the head of the 6-4 quarterback. Brady fell on it 25 yards behind the LOS, then threw basically a Hail Mary that was picked off.
Throughout this exchange I was arguing with the guy who used to invite my father to games about whether Michigan was smart to let Illinois score a long rushing TD to go up by eight when the likely scenario otherwise was getting the ball back with less than 20 seconds and no timeouts down by one. For some reason I wouldn't let this go, but I believed him when he said the offensive line was way weak behind the starters.
You hear this and immediately think of 2012, with Lewan, Omameh, Barnum, Mealer and Schofield, then air and true freshman. This was actually not at all the case in 1999, since Michigan had an entire line's worth of highly rated redshirt sophomores. Few written records survive from the recruiting Dark Ages except the manuscript of the Venerable Vijan, so here's Vijan on that ridiculous haul:
Maurice Williams, OL/DL, Detroit, MI. 6'6", 275 lbs, 4.9 40. Williams is the top player in the state of Michigan and is one of the top line prospects in the nation on either side of the ball; he is one of the top 100 players in the country. Played primarily on offense this year, but was a dominant DL as a junior. He chose Michigan over MSU, Florida St., Washington, and Ohio St., and is an excellent student with a 3.5 GPA. Was rumored to have committed to Michigan in July, but did not make a final announcement until his official visit on the weekend of 12/6. Could play either OL or DL at Michigan, depending upon his preference and the needs of the team.
Todd Mossa, OT, Darien, CT. 6'3", 285 lbs, 4.9 40. Mossa is one of, if not the, top offensive guard prospects in the nation. He was rated the number 1 overall OL prospect by SuperPrep in the preseason, and was a post-season All-American on most recruiting lists. Led his high school to the state championship, and graded out at over 90% in his blocking assignments as a senior. In addition to football, Mossa plays goalie for his lacrosse team. He is a tremendous drive blocker with great feet who was also recruited by Penn St., Syracuse, and Boston College.
Jason Brooks, OL, Cleveland, Ohio. 6'4", 270 lbs, 5.1 40. Brooks is from an outstanding high school program in Cleveland St. Ignatius, which has won the last two state championships in Ohio. Brooks is the top OL prospect in Ohio, and one of the top 5-10 OL prospects in the nation, as well as a top 100 overall player. Rated the top prospect in Ohio, and the top lineman in the nation by the NRA, with a rating of 6.1 ("franchise player"). Brooks graded out at over 90% in his blocking assignments as a senior despite suffering a leg injury early in the season. Despite rumors to the contrary, never wavered on his commitment; he visited Colorado only to be sure that he had a school that he could compare with Michigan.
Ben Mast, OL, Massillon, Ohio. 6'5", 275 lbs, 5.0 40. Mast is another top OL prospect from Ohio, and is considered by many to be the best prospect out of traditional power Massillon in several years. He is considered one of the top OL's in the midwest, and was recruited heavily by schools throughout the nation. Ranked as one of the top 10 linemen in the nation, and as one of the top 100 overall players by several recruiting services. Mast's other in an OSU grad, but he has always been a fan of Michigan.
Adam Adkins, OL, Troy, Michigan. 6'3", 265 lbs, 5.1 40. Adkins has been described as a dominant player from yet another traditionally strong football program. He has played on both sides of the ball in high school, but projects to be a center in college. He is generally considered to be one of the top two OL prospects in Michigan. Adkins is also the top-rated heavyweight wrestler in Michigan.
Kurt Anderson, LB/TE/OL, Glenview, Ill. 6'5", 225 lbs, 4.8 40. Kurt is the younger brother of Michigan Butkus Award winner Erick Anderson. He is one of the top prospects in Illinois this year; he set a school record for solo tackles as a junior and broke his brother's record for total tackles in a career. Followed it up by having a great senior season, making 142 tackles, with 6 sacks and 2 interceptions; he is considered an All-American by several recruiting services.
Around the time President Clinton was congratulating the national champs in football (and the hockey team was winning one themselves) in spring of '98, Brooks had his thing which eventually saw him removed before '99. The rest of the guys were still there and rotated in. Ben Mast started most of '99 at right tackle, and drew in for Hutchinson at guard one time. Adkins got two starts early in the season at center. Mossa didn't pan out—he now lives in Vail and tweets clever things. Anderson would start later in his career.
So this was a deep team. But it couldn't run. Minus sacks, but including David Terrell's five end-arounds for 17.8 yards a pop, Michigan in 1999 averaged just 3.4 yards per carry (with sacks it was 3.2). Part of that, from recollection, was that A-Train was playing hurt, and barely ever coming out. His 301 carries were 10 times that of backup Walter Cross. The five aforementioned end-arounds made Terrell the second leading rusher on the team (he had 89 yards).
That also counts a lot of 4th quarter saltings and 1st quarter running into piles, and if the game was exciting by the 4th quarter (about half the time), we'd suddenly got to a shotgun and let Brady or Henson toss to Walker and Terrell and Knight and Diallo Johnson until the ledger tipped our way again. It was typical DeBordian offense which set the tone for people of my generation to despise DeBordian offense. If you go back and watch this team on Wolverine Historian clips you'll see plenty of screens. I believe this was because when Maurice wasn't at right tackle, everybody else they had there were guards, so defenses who knew when a pass play was coming just as well as every sophomore in Row 83 couldn't completely tee off on Brady.
How relevant is this to today? Little, except if you squint really hard. What I'm saying is despite the recruiting profiles and the age, once Goodwin and Maurice were removed from the depth chart (and that was only for half the season), given what we know about them later, starting Ben Mast in '99 is not all that different from starting Kalis in '12, in a best-case Kalis scenario. On the other hand Frazier was more of a Barnum than a Mealer. I had forgotten the '97 class was mostly still on hand, but I had good reason to: other than the can't-miss guy and the flier who made good as a serviceable senior later on, you don't see the next generation (Stenavich, Pape, and the Daves) on this depth chart. They were on the team as some type of freshmen, or they were recruits, and considering they ended up starting over Mast and Adkins and Mossa, technically they might too have been the best options.
No there isn't a point in here. Like I said, I thought I had something that might be a preview of what it's like living on the edge with great starters and freshmen behind them. Instead I only found more evidence that getting lots and lots of O-linemen is important because you really don't know which ones will work out, which can best serve the team as depth, and which are really just giant intellectual future ski bums.
Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork gets it done:
Michigan marching band received a letter today from Dave Brandon informing them that they will be heading to Dallas for the 2012 FB opener
Also some well-heeled donor or six dropping benjamins. Nickel and dime, nickel and dime.
Meanwhile, David Brandon on the financial realities of Jerryworld($):
Brandon acknowledged that the athletic department would have made more money had it just hosted a game at Michigan Stadium. "If it was just about the money," he said, "we would have hosted a game here."
But the exposure, the primetime slot and the opponent will do wonders for the program. Brandon said there was no way he could have gotten Alabama or a similarly high-profile opponent to do a one-off game in Ann Arbor. And with the Wolverines' 2013 schedule already full, a home-and-home series would not have worked, either.
…says an athletic director looking at a 2013 return game with UConn for a game scheduled in 2010, in a department that waited half a decade to get a return game from Oregon.
Whatever. Even if it's a grim idea financially for both the department and Michigan fans it's better than a MAC game until we're down two touchdowns. I'll be extremely disappointed if this sort of thing happens again, though. Price marquee games appropriately and there's no reason Michigan can't make it work financially with home and homes. No more middlemen, sterile NFL arenas, etc.
Speaking of, Brandon mentioned that Michigan is pursuing a home and home with a Pac-12 team that should launch in before the 2017, when the conferences will play annual games against each other. Hopefully that means a home game in 2014, when Nebraska/OSU/Notre Dame are again on the road. (Michigan at least adds Penn State to the home schedule that year.)
If that's the case, possibilities are:
- Cal. Cal has already scheduled a game at Northwestern, however, and probably wants a couple of bodybag home games to fill things out.
- Oregon. Home date with MSU in 2014 and on the road in 2015. Probably does not want to double up with the state of Michigan, but the schedule seems to work out.
- Stanford. Similar issue to Cal's: Already @ ND in 2014.
- USC. USC ain't scurred of filling up its schedule with BCS teams and has a home game with ND in 2014 plus a game at BC(?!?). They'd probably be willing to take on a challenge since BC is going to roll over and die. Complication: this would be smack in the middle of the period sanctions should bite them and they might want to ease up on the scheduling.
- Utah. Hasn't scheduled anything.
- Washington State. Has a home game against Wisconsin in 2014 and a road game against Nevada. Unlikely they'd want to go on the road that year.
Everyone else is full in 2014. Utah or USC seem like the most likely options. A home and home with a Utah team that has twice come out for one-offs in the past decade would be something of a letdown.
BONUS RANDOM NOTE: It looks like the prophesied resurrection of multiple interesting nonconference games is coming to pass. Body-bags guarantees and rising ticket prices have finally created an environment where it makes sense to keep people on the hook with games against actual opponents. At least there's that.
This recruiting roundup will self-destruct in two hours...
VA LB E.J. Levenberry makes his choice between Michigan and Florida State at 3 pm today. His family has done a good job of keeping the choice a secret; the only insider who seems willing to make a prediction is Rivals's Mike Farrell, who's unfortunately leaning towards FSU. We'll find out soon if he's right.
Ohio State Cleans Up, and What That Means for Michigan
It's rare to kick off the meat of the recruiting roundup with players who committed elsewhere, but Ohio State's big weekend could have major—and positive—ramifications for Michigan's class. In a move that surprised no one, FL DE Joey Bosa committed to the Buckeyes last weekend, along with PA LB Alex Anzalone (Michigan offer) and NC DE Lewis Neal (no M offer).
While it's never fun to see Ohio State pick up a five-star defensive end, the addition of Bosa (along with Neal) could give Michigan a boost in the race for MD DT Henry Poggi. OSU will take a relatively small class this year, probably in the neighborhood of 18 recruits, and they now sit at 13 commits, four of them defensive linemen; the odds that they take another are slim. That could turn the race for Poggi into a Michigan/Alabama affair, though he recently told Scout's Kristen Kenney that he has no timetable for his decision and hasn't yet narrowed down his favorites ($).
Might as well clear out the two other happy trails from this week: MA OL John Montelus committed to Notre Dame, while MD QB Shane Cockerille—who Michigan was recruiting as a defensive back—picked Maryland.
Running Backs: Two Options Still Out There, Plus a New 2014 Offer
One player being pursued by both Michigan and Ohio State is VA RB Derrick Green. Green is currently favoring Clemson, but a misleading quote popped up on the MGoBoard today—"Michigan will be hard to say no to"—that I wanted to clear up. That quote was taken from a Tweet that unfortunately wasn't linked (use links, people!), so I can't find it, but here's the actual full quote from a recent interview with 247's Clint Brewster [$, emphasis mine]:
“Even though I have named Clemson my top school I would still say I’m pretty open,” said Green. “I’m probably going to narrow my list down early or late summer after I make some more visits. “Ohio State, Michigan, Virginia Tech, and Clemson are going to be tough to say no to and things could always change, especially as I take more visits.”
So, yes, Michigan is still a factor, but that was more a quote about how Green will have a tough time turning away any schools from his top group. It does sound like Michigan is still in hot pursuit of Green, however.
Speaking of running backs, Sam Webb tweeted that Michigan dropped by the school of IL RB Ty Isaac yesterday. EdgyTim.com has a recent update on Isaac's recruitment in which he gives an idea of his current timeline ($):
"I just don't see myself going past September 1st but I also don't want to set any hard deadline for now. I also don't see me taking five official visits and I'll most likely just take one official visit to the school I decide on. When I know my school I'm going to be 100 percent committed and I just don't want to rush things. It could happen next week but if I don't feel 100 percent comfortable with my decision I'll wait and take as much time as I need."
I'd have to think that if Isaac doesn't take any more unofficial visits, Michigan would be the prohibitive favorite over USC and Notre Dame.
Michigan offered a 2014 running back this week, Jonathan Hilliman from St. Peter's Prep in New Jersey. Hilliman already holds offers from Boston College, Miami, Nebraska, Oregon, Rutgers, and Penn State; you can check out Aquaman's post-offer interview with him here.
Quickly: Michigan is in the top eight ($, info in header) for PA ATH Chavas Rawlins, a quarterback being recruited by the Wolverines as a wide receiver. Michigan hasn't yet offered Rawlins. Free Rivals article on 2014 DE Da'Shawn Hand, potentially the #1 rising junior in the country, who already holds a Michigan offer.
Morris Bounces Back at NLA 7-on-7
Shane Morris and the MaxEx Detroit squad headed to Pittsburgh for the NLA 7-on-7 tournament, making it to the semifinals before being upset by the Michigan Elite Red team. 247's Barton Simmons ranked Morris as the #2 performer of the weekend, only behind IN LB Jaylon Smith:
Dealing with the elements of Saturday during pool play, Morris had his ups and downs like the rest of the quarterbacks at the event but when Sunday rolled around and the stakes were raised to “lose and you go home”, Morris picked his game up noticeably.
Granted, there were no rushers bearing down on him, but you’re not going to find a more calm and collected demeanor in the pocket than Morris. He has good touch, the ability to change speeds effectively and great confidence in his arm. Morris continued to look like one of the nation’s top arms on Sunday.
Simmons also had Jourdan Lewis as his #9 weekend performer, noting that he was one of the "best pure athletes" in the competition.
While only 247 has released team rankings among the four recruiting services (Michigan is #1), two other publications—MaxPreps and the Sporting News—came out with 2013 team rankings this week. Not surprisingly, Michigan tops the list on both. Here's the take at MaxPreps:
The owner of the nation's new No. 1 class, Michigan is seemingly unstoppable on the recruiting front. The Wolverines boast more depth, diversity and talent than any other class. The class features six Top 100 players among its 17 commits, the most in the country. Amazingly it stands to add even more to its riches, as Laquon Treadwell and Ty Isaac both could land in Ann Arbor while E.J. Levenberry and Kendall Fuller remain possibilities on the defensive side of the ball. McDowell will be a national recruit on the defensive line next year. Expect Michigan to target possible 2014 No. 1 Da'Shawn Hand as well, as the Wolverines have established a firm presence in the Northern Virginia area and could prove to be a factor.
The Sporting News has a similarly glowing assessment.
Quickly: Andy Staples analyzes the NFL mock draft based on recruiting rankings, reminding you that yes, they very much matter. Chantel Jennings on Michigan gunning for the top-ranked class in 2013 ($).
FOLLOW ME TO FREEEEEEEDOM!
I'm stealing this from a guy who stole it from someone else on the internet with some refinements because… yeah. Brady Hoke is doing work in Ohio. Here's a list of Ohio recruits in Lloyd Carr's last six classes compared to Brady Hoke's first two:
Lloyd Carr, 2002-2007
Kickers. Zoltan Mesko, Bryan Wright.
[Separate category because teams generally have one scholarship max per slot; OSU did not compete for either guy because they weren't in the market those years.]
Three star types: Mark Bihl, Willis Barringer, Mister Simpson.
Three/four star borderline: Pat Massey, Brandon Harrison, Cobrani Mixon
Four star+ types: Shawn Crable, Prescott Burgess, Mario Manningham, Justin Boren.
That's 12 in six classes with four of them consensus four-star types. Only those four had OSU offers. If you want to add Carr's recruiting efforts in his final season that led to the hybrid class you can add two more borderline sorts in Brandon Moore and Elliott Mealer plus a consensus four-star w/ OSU offer in Kevin Koger. That doesn't change the math much.
Brady Hoke, 2012-2013
This is Hoke's first full class and the one Michigan is currently working on.
Three-star types: Willie Henry, Kaleb Ringer, Allen Gant
Three/four star borderline: Jaron Dukes, Deveon Smith, AJ Williams
Four-star types+: Gareon Conley (just needs Rivals to update to be consensus), Ben Gedeon, Mike McCray, Taco Charlton, Dymonte Thomas, Chris Wormley (minus Rivals), Kyle Kalis, Jarrod Wilson, Tom Strobel, Joe Bolden, Jake Butt.
Gedeon, Smith, Thomas, Wormley, Kalis, and Strobel had OSU offers, and Urban Meyer tried to get in on Joe Bolden after he was hired.
Michigan's gone from a four-star-plus recruit from Ohio twice every three years to five per year. Tressel implosion and the scholarship restrictions that caused is obviously a major reason for the sea change. Hoke is just as important in that equation, however, and given Meyer's increased focus on "national" recruits that's a trend that should continue into the future. Ohio State's obviously doing well for themselves with this strategy, but in the process they're giving Michigan bonus recruits from Ohio in addition to their usual in-state, regional, and national recruiting.
Oh, right: now we can beat Notre Dame head to head, too.
[What about Rodriguez? RR added more borderline 3/4 sorts to the hybrid class in Mike Shaw, Taylor Hill, and Roy Roundtree plus sleeper Patrick Omameh.
The next year RR got the two kids out of Liberty (Isaiah Bell, a three star, and Fitzgerald Toussaint, a 4 four star) and Justin Turner, a four star sort with an OSU offer.
In 2010 Michigan recruited a ton of dudes from Ohio, 11 in all, but all(!) were generic three stars except Jerald Robinson and Jibreel Black, who were borderline. None had OSU offers. Six haven't made it through two years in the program.
That pattern repeated in RR's final class. He picked up Jack Miller, Greg Brown, and Chris Rock, all three-stars. Hoke came in and added Antonio Poole, Frank Clark, Keith Heitzman, and Tamani Carter, also all three stars.
So while RR was a lot better at pulling players out of Ohio, he was a lot worse at getting the players big time programs want, and worse yet at keeping them. His total tally of H2H wins against OSU was one, and that kid never played. A lot of his success-type activity can be attributed to going after guys with crappy offer lists.
FWIW, the hybrid classes weren't included because a scrambling month to pick up the pieces at a new job is not representative of long term recruiting trends.]
Epic triple point. It happened.
Y'all better get over there.
Hype video. With a historical bent.
The format. The Big Ten announced the first four years of their hockey playoffs will be the single-elimination, neutral-site plan that symbolizes college hockey boldly forging a new path into… oh right, same old stuff.
At least the worst-case scenario was narrowly avoided. The tournament will only be on the far west edge of the conference half the time. The rest of the time it'll be at the Joe, or wherever the Wings happen to be playing.
It will surprise no one that I think this is kind of dumb. The Big Ten is going to get five games in one weekend when they could have set it up to get 10-15 over three. Unless these things are crazy-popular sellouts with separate tickets for each games—and they won't be—the Big Ten's taking in less revenue so they can play fewer games. But high school tournaments are a go, so there's that.
The other format. Teddy Greenstein has some bad news for fans of home games in a college football non-playoff event:
So what is most likely to happen?
Sorry, Big Ten fans, but Delany's "home game" model is on life support. It makes sense in that it would boost the regular season by rewarding the top two in the rankings. And it would eliminate the sham of another LSU-Ohio State national title game in the "neutral" setting of New Orleans.
So what's the problem?
Aside from SEC teams not wanting to play in Ann Arbor or Columbus in late December, it's logistics. Many schools won't have the infrastructure then because they're on holiday break. Stadium size would be an issue with schools such as Cincinnati (35,100), TCU (50,000) and Oregon (53,800). If there's a playoff, officials will want to maximize revenue by selling hospitality and luxury suites. And, besides, most fans love going to bowl games in places like New Orleans and Glendale, Ariz. Delany cited the comfort of the fans when he helped choose a neutral site (Indianapolis) for the Big Ten title game.
"Logistics" is of course a laughable excuse, as is citing Cincinnati's stadium size as a hurdle. Cincinnati? Seriously? But Greenstein is forced to repeat what people tell him, so that's what people are telling him. Woo back to back travel weeks making it even dumber for Big Ten teams.
Crack down. TOC picture-pages one of Michigan State's many, many successful outside overload run plays from last year's game. The motion guy at top of your screen…
…isn't even needed by the end of the play:
As they say in showbusiness, if you want daddy to stop drinking, stop doing that. The first step in doing that is getting those linebackers shifted over to the strength of the formation. Here Hawthorne (near) gets clubbed and Demens (far) has no shot.
More detail at TOC; dealing with these outside runs is priority #2 for Michigan this year. #1 is, of course, not letting two linebackers fly up the middle of the field untouched on 10 snaps.
The AAU deluge begins. In terms of recruiting service rankings, the next three or four months will be more important than any others for Michigan's three 2013 basketball commits, The summer before your senior year is when the pencil of early rankings turns quickly to pen. One of those weird erasable pens, but pen.
MI PG Derrick Walton is off to a good start in Las Vegas. Rivals's Eric Bossi:
Michigan has itself another nice point guard on the way in Derrick Walton. The four star point guard runs his team and has a burst off the dribble that allows him to get into the lane and make plays with regularity. He's also a communicator, plays hard and will ultimately be a very good replacement/complement to Trey Burke.
Dave Telep also chimed in with some Walton praise, adding a similar "no Burke, no problem" view.
As for Donnal, he is also playing at a high level:
Michigan has got themselves a good one in Mark Donnal. The 6-foot-9 big man is a smart and productive player who has a serious competitive streak in him. His footwork is outstanding and he’s a good athlete who can finish through contact.
Scout's Evan Daniels called him "physical and talented" and "much improved" on the twitter. Athleticism is the issue that might keep him from flying up recruiting rankings; in any case he'll be a great fit with Beilein.
Zak Irvin is at the Nike Spring Showdown, where he led his team to a 6-0 record:
The intensity level of play increased when bracket play began on Sunday and Irvin’s play rose to the occasion. He struggled shooting the ball in his first Sunday game, but found other ways to make an impact. He commanded the ball, frequently playing point guard, and he sparked a crucial run by facilitating and getting his teammates easy baskets. With his team facing its only adversity of the tournament against Team D-Rose, Irvin became a better vocal leader. He displayed a calm demeanor and elevated his game as the moment grew.
He didn’t take long to get over his poor shooting performance, scoring a game-high 25 points, leading his team to a one-point overtime victory over the Illinois Wolves later in playoff action. He caught fire and was scoring in a variety of ways – establishing himself as the best player on the floor and everyone in attendance took notice.
Michigan is poking around numerous guys for the 2013 and 2014 classes; UMHoops has the details. Sam Webb has recently mentioned that Michigan continues to look for a grad-year transfer who will be eligible this fall, but no names yet except a guy who decided to stick at Xavier. There is a four year 2012 guy on the radar, though…
Possibly not done yet. As broken by Sam Webb($), Michigan is looking at OHIO(!!!) decommit Caris Levert, a rail-thin 6'5" shooting guard who opened up his recruitment in the wake of John Groce's move to Illinios. Levert appears to have had a monster senior year and has multiple Big Ten schools after him now, including Groce's new home at Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, and of course Michigan. Dayton is also in the running.
He saved his best performance for the state playoffs, getting top billing($) in ESPN author John Stovall's evaluation:
Caris Levert (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central)
2012, SG, 6-5, 185 pounds
He is one of the most improved players in Ohio. He was a 5-9 guard as a freshman and has continued to grow physically and from a talent standpoint. Caris is very good off the dribble, has the ability to create his own shot and has a chance to be a special talent at the next level if he continues to improve.
He was named the JJHuddle player of the year, an award with a damn good track record:
JJHuddle Ohio Player of the Year
Caris Levert (6’4.5/Sr.)- Pickerington Central
*Levert led Pickerington Central to the school’s first boy’s basketball state championship with a 45-40 win over Toledo Whitmer in the Division I title tilt. Levert scored 20 of his team's 45 points in the championship game including 11-straight in a pivotal third period and playing all 32 minutes. The Ohio University commit averaged nearly 19 points per game throughout his outstanding senior campaign. Coming into the year, Levert may not have been a household name, but his name is in the mind’s of many following this past tournament run along with a more than stellar regular season. Levert became the type of player capable of getting a bucket whenever the Tigers needed one. There were less than a handful of players in Ohio capable of doing so and the lengthy bundle of talent was at his best in big games. Levert shot slightly over 53 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three-point range along grabbing 3.4 rebounds and swiping 3.4 steals per contest.
JJHuddle Players of the Year
2012: Caris Levert, Pickerington Central (Ohio)
2011: Trey Burke, Northland (Michigan)
2010: Jared Sullinger, Northland (Ohio State)
2009: Jared Sullinger, Northland (Ohio State)
2008: William Buford, Toledo Libbey (Ohio State) & B.J. Mullens, Canal Winchester (Ohio State/Charlotte Bobcats)
2007: Jon Diebler, Upper Sandusky (Ohio State)
While it's not a great year for Ohio talent—the only OH players in the Rivals 150 are UL commit Terry Rozier (#80) and MSU commit Kenny Kaminski (#113)—he sounds legit. Ohio does have a top 50 junior in OSU commit Marc Loving who Levert beat out.
No idea where he's leaning yet. He is a teammate of Taco Charlton, so Michigan will have a guy in his ear. Obviously they like Levert quite a bit more than new OSU commit Amedeo Della Valle; hopefully Michigan's sudden cancellation of his trip indicates they've got the inside track here. UMHoops has a bit more on Lavert's game plus some 2013 and 2014 notes.
We named the dog Indiana. Nick Baumgardner reveals the source of Spike Albrecht's odd nickname:
"I've been watching Zack Novak play since the first grade," Albrecht recalls. "He was tough back then, too."
No longer a first grader, and no longer the little kid whose obsession with constantly wearing baseball cleats earned him the nickname "Spike," the undersized Indiana-born point guard is ready to do whatever it takes to make an impact in Ann Arbor.
Just like Novak.
Wait… um… math. If Spike Albrecht is currently in fifth grade I think we've got ourselves a steal here.
The spokesman said that when a player opts to transfer from Michigan -- as Smotrycz, Carlton Brundidge and Colton Christian did last month -- it's Beilein's preference that the player not choose a Big Ten school or a program that Michigan has on its schedule over the next two years.
That's his preference.
However, it's not a policy, the spokesman said. And it's not a hard and fast rule.
The spokesman said that should a situation arise where a transfer student shows a strong desire to attend a school Michigan has scheduled down the road, then Beilein would be open to having a discussion about the situation, and would not be absolutely opposed to allowing the transfer to occur before the discussion took place.
Meanwhile, the Big Ten transfer rule has changed. Previously, you could not be on scholarship at all. Now you can, but you lose the year of eligibility you would otherwise retain by not playing. The upshot is anyone who hasn't redshirted has a powerful incentive to transfer out of the conference, but anyone who has may as well go to Purdue or wherever because it doesn't make a difference.
It will still be extremely difficult to get a release to a conference school unless Lloyd Carr thinks you belong at OSU, though. That's one restriction I don't have a problem with. If transferring player X can't find a suitable home outside of his current conference that's more on him than on anyone else.
Etc.: A Lion Eye takes stock of where the Illini sit going into fall in a two-parter considering offense and defense. Offense might have some issues at tackle, where two redshirt sophomores are backed up by redshirt freshman, and running back. Defense seems sunny in places that aren't the secondary. Brandon "hopeful" that band will make it to Dallas, undoubtedly with someone else's money. Andy Staples with this year's edition of "recruiting rankings are valid."
Mike Martin bombs the GERGfense as "backyard defense" and says that Bruce Tall didn't know anything about coaching defensive line. Let's all have arguments about RR again!