Evaluating coaches is a tricky thing. Ultimately it comes down to wins and losses but even comparing one situation to another in the unbalanced world of college football is a tricky proposition. Mike Shula has a higher career winning percentage as a head coach than Brady Hoke. However Hoke has spent all but the last year at non-BCS schools where Shula was at Alabama. School prestige, resources and recruiting all play major roles in team success along with coaching. Many of them often go hand in hand but I think I am finding some ways to parse out different pieces of the puzzle independently. This is my first of hopefully many off-season looks at coaches, and who at excels at what parts of coaching.
To evaluate how coaches develop and evaluate talent I needed a way to separate out better inputs (recruits) from the output (team success and draft placement). Team success is a viable way to look at it and at some point I would like to circle back to compare PAN and recruiting for a comparison, but for today’s exercise I am going to look at recruiting ranking to draft position.
The main challenge with this method is that draft placement is such a lagging indicator from recruiting. Since only some of the 2007 recruits and most from 2008 on have yet to be drafted, I am only looking at recruiting classes from 2002-2006.
I have now been able to add all four recruiting services to my database. Since we are only looking at classes up until 2006, that means just Scout and Rivals for all years except 2006 when ESPN came on board, as well. Recruits are given a number value based on national rank, position rank and stars. Each year has 25,000 points assigned across all players so the early years with fewer players have their individual ceilings a bit higher. Consensus 5 star players are typically 50-60 pts. Generic three stars are in the low teens and below. Anyone without a position rank or less than 3 stars is zero points.
Here is Michigan’s 2012 class for reference.
Evaluating Draft Picks
Because of the much higher value to higher draft picks, the draft pick evaluations are fitted using an exponential formula.
This works out to about 500 for the first pick and then each round is half of the same pick in the previous round (1st pick in second round about 250, 1st pick in the third about 125, etc.). This puts the total points for a 255 player draft at 24,600, almost identical to the total for a year’s worth of recruits.
Players are counted towards the coach that recruited them. This will only be somewhat an evaluation of player development since the coach gets “credit” for the player they recruited even if they leave the next year. I have also restricted the search to coaches with at least 1,000 total recruiting points over the five year period. This is about equal to two top 15 classes or five top 50 classes. This gives us 43 qualifying coaches to review.
First thing I did was look at each coach and how many recruiting points they accumulated versus how many draft points they had.
|Rank||Coach||Recruit Pts||Draft Pts||Ratio|
|41||John L Smith||1,187||273||0.23|
The first thing that jumped out at me was that there seemed to be a strong correlation between total recruit points and total draft points. This is going to be true to some extent, but it seemed that ability for the top schools to load up wasn’t properly accounted for. So I plotted the two versus each other and found a very strong correlation was present.
Since we are looking for more on talent evaluators and developers than MOAR 5 stars, I used the correlation between the two to adjust recruiting points to give a more fair comparison between the lower end and the top end. This allows for a more common evaluation tool between elite programs/recruiters and the rest.
|Rank||Coach||Adj Recruit Pts||Draft Pts||Adj Multiplier|
|35||John L Smith||474||273||0.57|
Now we have something to talk about.
One thing that jumped out at me was that NFL guys did seem to have a bit more success. Maybe their buddies were just doing them favors, but there are a lot more guys with NFL experience at the top than the bottom. Oh, except for the big guy coming in last at #43. Weis’s monster class of 2006 (934 team points, my #7 class of the last 11 years) yielded two 6th round draft picks. His first class which was much less regarded still only yielded a single fourth round draft pick. In the words of our fearless leader, #MissYouBigGuyXOXO.
Lloyd Carr comes in just below average on the adjusted scale. Barry Alvarez checks in at #1 among Big Ten coaches and #2 overall. Wisconsin’s lineman machine is real. The evil genius Nick Saban is #3 based on his last three classes at LSU. Ohio coaches new and old round out the top ten.
Of the nine elite recruiters (3,000 or more adjusted recruiting points) Pete Carroll and Jim Tressell come out on top, with Phillip Fulmer close behind. The bottom three are all southern coaches: Bobby Bowden, Larry Coker and Mark Richt. Bob Stoops, Mack Brown and Lloyd Carr make up the middle third.
Ted Roof takes home the prize for most recruiting prize without a single draft pick with 515 points and nothing to show for it. Top performers who missed the cutoff included Dan Hawkins, Bret Beliema’s first class, Ed Orgeron, Mike Stoops and Greg Schiano.
Many thanks to all who have helped populate the recruit database. We are 25% of the way done.
Still have lots of ideas for future posts including the final post on how to use game theory to maximize success based on the overvalued running back and success rates. If there is interest, I would like to do a retrospective on previous seasons through the eyes of advanced analytics and throw up some of the best WPA graphs of the season. Hopefully I can start with 2003 in the next month. I am open to any ideas you have out there, as well.
If you are on the twitters follow me at @the_mathlete. I am trying to post little snippets that aren’t quite column worthy there. Recently I have tweets about which state’s recruits stay in-state the most (Utah and Arkansas) and least (NY/NJ and Hawaii) and used my recruiting points ranking to list the top 4 Michigan high schools in producing 3* or better talent (Cass Tech, OLSM, Detroit Renaissance & FHH), correctly guessed by @Joshua_Block.
If you are filling in your brackets today there are a few good sites out there to help get you un-stuck. WSJ's blind bracket separates you from your biases and just gives you a 5-point scale for hotness, experience, size, offense, defense, and 3-point shooting, plus seed range, RPI and conference profile (HT Skiptoomylou22). Also from the board, user "entirely reasonable" linked Steve Czaban's all-everything pdf bracket. Considering most of these games are 60-40 anyway, choosing teams with pretty looking colors is also a tried and true method of winning your bracket. Just ask my friend's wife. #notbitter
My own device is an excel doc I have to rebuild every year that spits out a confidence % based on KenPom, next to supplementary information on injuries and site for that game. Here's that file if you want to use it. Put in the names of the teams to compare and which round (Round 1 is that which begins Thursday; we don't count play-ins) and it should spit out a confidence level and a site for that game. 100% is a 1-seed over a 16-seed, 50% is a pick-'em, and less than that means you're predicting an upset. You're responsible for adjusting your confidence based on injuries and site.
Here's that formula with the first round:
|High Seed||Low Seed||Difference||Confidence||Site|
|1 Kentucky||16 W. Kentucky||0.55||100.00%||Louisville, Ky.|
|2 Duke||15 Lehigh||0.18||83.50%||Greensboro, N.C.|
|3 Baylor||14 SD State||0.13||73.43%||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|4 Indiana||13 New Mexico St||0.15||78.06%||Portland, Ore.|
|5 Wichita State||12 VCU||0.12||73.23%||Portland, Ore.|
|6 UNLV||11 Colorado||0.10||69.40%||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|7 Notre Dame||10 Xavier||0.04||56.93%||Greensboro, N.C.|
|8 Iowa State||9 Connecticut||0.03||54.80%||Louisville, Ky.|
|1 Michigan State||16 Long Island||0.47||100.00%||Columbus, Ohio|
|2 Missouri||15 Norfolk State||0.56||100.00%||Omaha, Neb.|
|3 Marquette||14 Brigham Young||0.10||67.76%||Louisville, Ky.|
|4 Louisville||13 Davidson||0.13||73.34%||Portland, Ore.|
|5 New Mexico||12 Long Beach St||0.08||64.92%||Portland, Ore.|
|6 Murray State||11 Colorado State||0.07||62.43%||Louisville, Ky.|
|7 Florida||10 Virginia||0.02||53.92%||Omaha, Neb.|
|8 Memphis||9 St. Louis||0.03||54.74%||Columbus, Ohio|
|1 Syracuse||16 NC Asheville||0.32||100.00%||Pittsburgh, Pa.|
|2 Ohio State||15 Loyola MD||0.37||100.00%||Pittsburgh, Pa.|
|3 Florida State||14 St. Bonaventure||0.09||66.49%||Nashville, Tenn.|
|4 Wisconsin||13 Montana||0.24||94.96%||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|5 Vanderbilt||12 Harvard||0.08||64.45%||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|6 Cincinnati||11 Texas||-0.01||47.63%||Nashville, Tenn.|
|7 Gonzaga||10 West Virginia||0.04||56.68%||Pittsburgh, Pa.|
|8 Kansas State||9 Southern Miss||0.14||75.82%||Pittsburgh, Pa.|
|St. Louis Regional|
|1 North Carolina||16 Vermont||0.32||100.00%||Greensboro, N.C.|
|--or--||16 Lamar||0.27||100.00%||Greensboro, N.C.|
|2 Kansas||15 Detroit||0.32||100.00%||Omaha, Neb.|
|3 Georgetown||14 Belmont||0.04||56.67%||Columbus, Ohio|
|4 Michigan||13 Ohio||0.13||73.54%||Nashville, Tenn.|
|5 Temple||12 South Florida||0.07||62.70%||Nashville, Tenn.|
|--or--||12 California||-0.03||43.63%||Nashville, Tenn.|
|6 San Diego St||11 NC State||-0.02||45.54%||Columbus, Ohio|
|7 St. Mary's||10 Purdue||-0.06||38.80%||Omaha, Neb.|
|8 Creighton||9 Alabama||-0.02||45.74%||Greensboro, N.C.|
I am so happy Michigan missed a 3 seed and thus the most terrifying set of 14s since we put new tires on my grandpa's Cadillac: SD State, BYU, St Bon's, Belmont. Do not want. You've been warned previously of the weird KenPom-Wisconsin love affair; use with caution.
All it really does is convert KenPom differential into a prettier number and sticks that next to other useful info. I figure since a 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed, I could create a constant from the difference between the worst 1 and the best 16 (so a hypothetical matchup of Syracuse and Lamar is 100%). Divide the KenPom difference in the game you're calculating by the constant, multiply that by .5, and add another .5.
The first time I used this thing I won a big pot of gold. Last year I finished behind two of my friends' wives. If you win something you can pledge to the Hail to the Victors Preview fund or something.
Pro Tips: If you're going against only a few people, play it safe; if you're in a large pool, I recommend filling out several brackets each with a major upset and a big run for a middling seed you like. This is because it's easier to win a big pool by getting big points from one team nobody else in the winners circle has than hoping a lot of good early picks can carry you through an end game with 20 other Kentucky-OSU people. Picking a lot of upsets is a bad gamble.
it's always a good time for this picture
The start of spring practice is an annual opportunity to dust off the stuff you posted titled "2012 outlook" in the aftermath of the bowl game, slightly revise it, and post it again. AnnArbor.com has a series previewing every position group… which… like… basically it's all the same except a couple places. I won't go into that much detail but it does feel like time for some State of the Team bullets after they got a lot of detail from Hoke in an interview.
Offensive line reshuffling. All those moves you've been hearing about since Danny Coale's misery finally ended in early January are now official per the head man:
To shore up those issues, Hoke said he is making several personnel changes as the Wolverines kick off their 14-practice spring camp Saturday.
The most prominent of those moves impacts redshirt senior Ricky Barnum, the former starting left guard who now will receive the first crack at replacing the Rimington Award-winning Molk at center. …
Returning centers Rocko Khoury, a senior, and Jack Miller, a redshirt freshman, also will be given a shot to win the job.
Meantime, Hoke said junior Michael Schofield, who filled in for Barnum at left guard, will slide back to his natural position of right tackle. He can play anywhere but center on the line, but his 6-foot-7, 299-pound frame makes him an ideal fit at tackle.
It appears the most wide-open job could be the vacated left guard position. When asked who were candidates for it, Hoke first mentioned Elliott Mealer, a senior who has played sparingly in his career.
"His opportunity, his time has come," Hoke said.
Schofield to right tackle, testing Barnum at center: both very much expected. Just look at Schofield's arms and frame at right. Dude is built to pass block. I expect he'll be an upgrade on Mark Huyge.
Chris Bryant is Mealer's main competition at left guard, but Miller and Khoury will be an indirect threat. If either is better than the potential starter at left guard they'll shuffle Barnum back to guard and roll with it.
A prediction: Barnum spends all of spring at center but slides back to guard in fall as Miller proves himself the best option for the fifth guy on the line. I don't think they're wild about Khoury and want to give themselves more options at center. College-ready Kyle Kalis will probably be given a crash course at right tackle to give Michigan a scholarship option in the event of an injury to one of the starters.
Defensive tackle reshuffling. You also know about Michigan throwing its top two guys at WDE inside, paving the way for the quicker Clark/Beyer generation of pass rush terror. We have little clarity on what positions a lot of guys will be playing in there, and spring will be an opportunity to figure out just where the most terrifying hole is on the depth chart.
Roh is a strongside end now and Black a three-tech. Where do Campbell and Washington go? Are Wilkins, Ash, and Rock viable options? Is Keith Heitzman a guy who can provide some depth as a redshirt freshman?
Linebacker pressing. Jake Ryan is a lock atop the depth chart. Elsewhere there have been some rumors that Kenny Demens could find his job under threat. Meanwhile, Desmond Morgan is a hitter without a ton of athleticism who will get tested by redshirt freshman Antonio Poole and two of Michigan's three early enrollees, Joe Bolden and Kaleb Ringer. Bolden's probably an MLB in an ideal world and Ringer seems like a redshirt candidate, but once the pads go on those perceptions can change quickly.
Brandin Hawthorne's also around. He lost his job last year and it's clear Michigan thinks he's too small for the spot but I have this nagging feeling M is missing out on something by not incorporating him into the nickel package. His speed could be useful in coverage and on blitzes.
Wat? Let me untangle this bit of technical speak for you:
Hoke said linebacker Jordan Paskorz and defensive end Chris Eddins are moving to tight end "to get an on-the-line guy who can block a five-tech, or move a six-tech." Both could vie for time in the fall after the departure of starters Kevin Koger and Steve Watson.
A five tech is a strongside defensive end. He would be coming from the interior on an outside play and the TE can't get run over; on an inside play if the tight end is getting the five he's probably doing so as part of a double.
A six tech is what happens to a 4-3 under defense when the weakside end gets a tight end to him. In that case he has to bunker down and take on that tight end; if he gets sealed to the inside the corner is going to be there. Michigan wants a guy who can take a Clark or a Beyer or a Roh and get rid of him.
If you're reading the piles of players moving to tight end as a shot across the bow of the incumbents, you're probably right.
Scholarship clarity coming. Sounds like we might get another departure or two in the near future:
When asked if any players have left the program since the conclusion of last season, Hoke said he would "address that issue Friday" and declined further comment. His first news conference of spring camp is scheduled for noon Friday at Schembechler Hall.
He did say he doesn't expect to incur any academic problems.
A number of candidates bubble to mind but we'll find out in a couple days so no need to go speculating. If two scholarship guys exit before spring practice I'm bumping my projected class size to 24. Football teams don't go ten months without losing anyone. Also I like the idea of pushing this class to 24 a great deal. That's three WR, three LB, a couple DL, and a couple roving wild card supers unless Michigan goes ahead with that third TE.
Do you think Coach Beilein wasn't selective enough in the 2013 class, seeing that none of the recruits are in the top 50, and one of them is outside the top 100?
At this point Beilein has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to jumping on recruits early. When he grabbed Glenn Robinson III he was an unranked three-star; he is going to finish his high school career with five stars on Rivals and won't be far off on Scout. Nick Stauskas has broken into the top 100 on all sites as well; I think he'll be a fantastic two-guard for Michigan. Last year Beilein won a recruiting battle with Cincinnati for PSU decommit Trey Burke. The year before he grabbed Smotrycz before his profile blew up and was higher on Tim Hardaway Jr than anyone else. Beilein's evaluation skills are clearly a notch above the field.
So there's that. Beilein's taken a lot of lightly-regarded three stars who happen to blow up either before or after they hit Ann Arbor. Michigan's 2013 class may be in the process of doing that. Derrick Walton just went for 47 in a playoff game; Zak Irvin has had a strong high school season. I'm guessing those guys are more likely to move up than down, though Scout's Brian Snow doesn't seem like he's going to budge on Irvin just yet.
Even if those guys aren't in line for some of the meteoric rises we've seen Michigan recruits have, they don't have to get bumped much to be on par with 2012. Irvin's on the edge of the top 50 on Rivals and Walton is 87. They're starting out with more rep than Robinson or Stauskas, more rep than three of MSU's four 2012 commits.
As for Donnal, I don't care as much what the ratings say about him because it's at that five spot that Michigan is so divergent from a conventional team. Donnal has an extremely high skill level that makes him a great fit for Michigan. Hypothetical athletic limitations—which may or may not be a big deal for a post who just finished his junior year of high school—make him the #124 player in a nationwide ranking; in Beilein's eyes you can bet he's a lot higher.
When Carlton Brundidge, a guy who still has a lot of time to turn into a useful player, is the best case for a Beilein recruiting miss* attempting to criticize his 2013 class is like shooting a guy wearing six bulletproof vests.
*[I don't think anyone expected post-signing-day pickup Colton Christian to be anything other than what he is; jury is out on Bielfeldt. Beilein is making a lot of encouraging noises about him. #pleasebelikedraymondgreen
Also, a large number of Beilein recruits that went elsewhere have gone on to agonizingly good careers elsewhere: Kyle Kuric, Kevin Pangos, Klay Thompson, etc. Hell, Green was supposedly about to commit to Michigan before Izzo swooped in on him.]
A follow-up from the Michigan Today story featuring the "athletic colors" and the "official colors" that were so divergent:
After reading about university colors on MGoBlog, I thought you find find some additional information of interest.
An Ann Arbor News article from November 29, 1998, "Hue-ing the line: True blue, maize ways" follows up on the Fall 1996 Michigan Today story "Which Maize? Which Blue?" The 1912 official color color samples (housed at the Bentley Historical Library) were tested in 1997 with spectrophotometers by X-Rite (a company in Grandville, Michigan founded by Rufus Teesdale a Michigan graduate).
According to the Ann Arbor News article, the spectrophotometer readings were converted to printing instructions noting that the numbers "were tweaked a bit to account for some fading of the ribbons since 1912."
The spectrophotometer readings of the 1912 official color samples were:
MAIZE: 9 cyan, 28 magenta, 59 yellow, 0 black
BLUE: 93 cyan, 76 magenta, 24 yellow, 2 black
The 1912 report on the official colors reads a lot like current complaints about color, "In short, the blue color, which is the one longest associated with the University, starting with a shade almost as dark as "navy blue" has gradually weakened until it has the hint known as "baby blue." the maize, likewise, has faded to correspond, and is now an expressionless pale yellow. So delicate have the colors become, that they have not only lost their original character, but are ineffective in decorations, and useless to the Athletic association, which has been forced to employ colors entirely different from those which recent graduates regard as University colors. It is only necessary to see the diversity of the banners which are displayed in the store windows to realize the confusion which exists."
Every time I bring this up I'm pleasantly surprised by how seriously people take this. Again, I've heard that the athletic department would like to move away from the kind of yellow that gets us mentioned in the same breath with the Sounders and Oregon when SI writers are bagging on these babies:
I hope they come with sirens, ladders, and hoses
Let there come a day when Roy Roundtree is wearing sunglasses in Crisler just to look cool instead of prevent retina damage.
On Michigan's late game success.
You mentioned that you don't buy into the "grit" factor as a possible explanation into their 13-5 record given the difference in efficiency margin. I agree that Eckstein-adjectives don't rationalize the difference but I was curious if there is any game experience stats out there that could help.
I know that UM is still young in terms of overall team experience but there's no question in my mind that Novak and Douglas' four years of relevant playing time contributes to that record despite the efficiency. I would also think that having Morgan and Hardaway being second year starters adds to that explanation given the relative short time periods that excellent teams have their players for before they leave for the draft.
I don't know how you would measure it but is there anything that quantifies the experience of the players actually playing minutes in the game. Having two starters that have played significant time over four years has to be somewhat rare in the Big 10's upper tier.
Kenpom does have an experience measure that adjusts for minutes played. Michigan is 209th of 345 with an average of 1.54 years of experience. This is a massive improvement on last year when they were 335th*.
As for Michigan's super-experienced dudes, Michigan's two is better than OSU's one (Buford) and MSU's one (Green; Thornton has not seen a lot of time in his career), but Green has a usage of 28%, Buford 23%. Stu and Zack are around 15% each. Their involvement in the offense summed about equals Green's.
Meanwhile when I think clutch late-game performances, I think Trey Burke putting it as high off the glass as possible against OSU and hitting free throw after free throw. This blog has a tag about Burke's clutch play even though it tries not to believe in clutch. That's a freshman.
So I cannot agree with your police work here when poor Northwestern is so much more experienced (89th), relies two massive-usage upperclassmen, and endured maximum epic pain in all late game situations this year. BOOM REVERSE ANECDOTE'D.
In the face of the post-Merrit/Lee implosion I'm a convert to the gritty winning winners bit, but I think that's equally useful at all times during a game, in practice, etc., not especially at the end of a game.
*[BONUS KENPOM STATISTICAL OUTLIER: Michigan gets 17% of their minutes from its bench. That is 343rd(!) nationally. The only teams more reliant on their starters are Siena, a 14-17 MAAC team, and Youngstown State, a 16-15 Horizon League team.
Oddly enough, having few bench minutes is much less of a problem than having a ton. Alabama is the most bench-heavy team in the tournament at #45 and they are up there involuntarily after two starters were suspended midseason. #60 Kansas State is the first team on the list that seems to have voluntarily played its bench a lot. Life's better at the bottom: 14 teams in the 300s in this category (ie, a third of them) made the tourney, including S16 seeds Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, Louisville, and Michigan.]
Today's recruiting roundup examines the bizarre weight-gain strategy of a walk-on long snapper, takes a sneak peek at the weekend's upcoming visits, and discusses a few top-flight wideouts with interest in seeing Ann Arbor.
Hello: Ryan Glasgow
2012 recruiting: not dead yet. Michigan picked up a preferred walk-on yesterday in Aurora (IL) Marmion St. Francis OL Ryan Glasgow, the younger brother of Michigan sophomore-to-be Graham Glasgow. The younger Glasgow is 6'4", 265, and held offers from Wyoming and a handful of FCS schools. Junior highlights:
Fellow 2012 preferred walk-on Taybor Pepper, a long snapper from Saline, was profiled on Ann Arbor.com by Rich Rezler. Pepper is looking to pack on some weight to his 6'3", 190 lbs. frame, and he has an interesting method for doing so:
Two raw eggs. One-third cup of olive oil. A big scoop of ice cream. Fresh fruit. Blend. Enjoy.
That unusual concoction is only part of Taybor Pepper’s nightly weight-gain routine.
He also whips up three peanut butter sandwiches. One goes on his nightstand, near the alarm clock set for 2 a.m., when he’ll wake and devour it in the dark.
The other two go in his backpack, a mid-morning snack during class at Saline High School that bridges a high-calorie breakfast and lunch.
Rocky Balboa and Elvis Presley both approve.
The running back situation. You have questions. The answers are, well, murky, even to some of the principal parties. Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith will visit Michigan this weekend amidst rumors he's slowing down his recruitment—just a few days ago, it seemed he'd inevitably commit if Ty Isaac didn't beat him to the punch—and he seems either undecided or unsure about the situation at this point ($):
While Smith would not rule out the possibility of committing to Michigan this weekend, even he does not know what to expect.
“I don’t know,” Smith said. “I really don’t know. I’m really going to take it all in. I’m not going in planning to commit at all.”
Smith’s coach is currently in the process of coordinating upcoming visits to Ohio State and Penn State. Have any schools separated themselves from the pack at this point?
“Nobody really stands out,” Smith said.
I'm not going to speculate about what's going on without first-hand information, so you'll have to decide for yourself—or better yet, just wait and see how things play out—what this means regarding Smith and Isaac.
Another 2013 prospect who will be on campus is tight end Scott Orndoff, who decommitted from Wisconsin a couple weeks ago after changes to their coaching staff. He sounds like he could be eying another early decision, especially with the way Michigan's class is filling up ($):
“If I decide I want to go there, I will have to make a decision quickly,” Orndoff said, “because of how quickly they are filling their spots. Like every player I just want what is best for me. Like whether it would be the school (academics), or how much playing time I am going to get. There is a lot that goes into it (recruiting). But definitely the way this class is filling up, I can’t take my time if I decide to go there. They are not going got wait for me, you know.”
Orndoff is one of just two remaining uncommitted tight ends currently holding an offer from Michigan (the other being Standish Dobard); he seems like the most likely player to fill a potential third TE spot in the class.
Meanwhile, the Cass Tech connection continues, as a trio of Technician linebackers will make the quick trip down to Ann Arbor this weekend ($). All three players—OLB William White, OLB Deon Drake, and MLB Gary Hosey, who transferred to CT from Farmington Hills Harrison—are class of 2014 prospects. If you're wondering, the answer is yes, I will be seeing my fair share of Cass Tech games this fall.
Future Visitors, Interested Prospects, Happy Trails, Etc.
One player who was rumored to be making a mid-week visit is Cretin-Derham (MN) WR James Onwualu, but plans for a Wednesday visit fell through. That doesn't mean interest in the Wolverines isn't there, however, as Onwualu named a top four (in no particular order) of Michigan, Notre Dame, Minnesota, and Stanford ($). He's got visits scheduled for Ohio State and ND the next couple weekends, and expect him to reschedule his Michigan visit soon; the last time we talked, Onwualu was planning to graduate early and he's looking to wrap up his recruitment in the near future.
Two other four-star receivers have recently expressed interest in visiting Ann Arbor. Charlotte (NC) Mallard Creek's MarQuez North originally hails from Flint, and he's looking to visit Michigan "when it warms up," according to 247 ($, info in header). Smart kid. Wylie (TX) East's Marcell Ateman expects to check out the Wolverines soon, either in the spring or summer ($, info in header). Michigan also had a wideout on campus last weekend in Damascus (MD) prospect Zach Bradshaw, who rated his visit a "nine out of ten" and said he wants to check out Ann Arbor again in the future ($).
A couple more players to keep an eye on: District Heights (MD) Bishop McNamara DT Darius Commissiong, who recently earned an Iowa offer, will be in the Big House for the spring game on April 14th ($). Another potential future visitor is Elyria (OH) DE Tracy Sprinkle, who says the coaching staff has an offer waiting for him if he makes it to campus ($).
We can officially wish happy trails to TE Adam Breneman, who committed to childhood favorite Penn State last Friday, marking a huge recruiting victory for coach Bill O'Brien. Rancho Cucamonga (CA) CB Chris Hawkins was expected to commit to Stanford on Saturday, but a last-minute offer from USC has caused him to hold off for now ($, info in header). While Hawkins had Michigan in his final group, he never visited; expect him to stay out on the West Coast.
Quickly: Free Rivals article on Shane Morris, Brady Hoke, and Michigan's in-state recruiting efforts in comparison to other in-state schools (and, yes, in comparison to Rich Rodriguez—you know this story). Bill Greene looks at Hoke's impressive work in Ohio for the 2013 class ($). Commit Chris Fox is named Scout's top interior lineman in the West ($)—they do mention that he has the size and versatility to play anywhere on the line.
Iona is this year's controversial selection for the NCAA tournament. They booted Drexel and a few other schools based on their nonconference strength of schedule despite Drexel playing better in a better league—the CAA is Kenpom's #13 conference, the MAAC #20—and seeming to have a shinier resume. At some level, this is well and good. Teams should be punished for scheduling cupcakes.
It's just that… well…
When you look at the actual resumes instead of simply the non-conference strength of schedule, Drexel trumps Iona in just about every way possible. But they "only" played Cleveland State, Virginia, St. Joseph's, Princeton and six cupcakes ranked 200th or worse in RPI in non-conference, while Iona played Purdue, Marshall, Nevada, St. Joseph's, Long Island and four teams ranked 200th or worse.
…the NCAA's SOS measure took that data and spat out #43 for Iona's nonconference SOS and #222 for Drexel's. This seems deeply flawed, but when you hop over to Kenpom to see the Real Numbers, he's got the exact same gap. Iona is #36, Drexel #213.
Now let's look at three teams' nonconference schedules ranked from toughest to easiest. Each of these teams went 9-3 in the twelve games listed. Losses are in italics. Tourney teams are in bold with their seed in parens after:
|26||Virginia (10)||24||Purdue (10)||9||Memphis (8)|
|65||Saint Joseph's||65||Saint Joseph's||17||Duke (2)|
|82||Cleveland St.||74||Marshall||26||Virginia (10)|
|89||Princeton||78||Denver||30||Iowa St. (8)|
|213||Norfolk St. (15)||120||Vermont||156||Oakland|
|268||Bradley||181||Western Michigan||327||Arkansas Pine Bluff|
|308||St. Francis PA||221||Hofstra||338||Towson|
|343||Binghamton||287||William & Mary||340||Alabama A&M|
Which of these teams has by far the strongest nonconference schedule? Michigan. Drexel and Iona played one team capable of acquiring an at-large bid each; Michigan played four plus a middling Pac-12 team and not so good SEC team. From the perspective of the good teams that expect to get in the tournament, any differences at the bottom are meaningless.
Is Michigan's nonconference SOS a lot better than both these teams? No.
Is it better than Drexel's atrocious number? Barely. Michigan has the #181 nonconference strength of schedule to Kenpom, #173 to the NCAA($).
The reason for this is the bottom end. Michigan didn't just play some bad teams, they played some unbelievably bad teams. Towson won once all year. The two SWAC teams weren't even good SWAC teams: Alabama A&M went 7-21, Arkansas Pine Bluff 11-22. These SOS measures just jam a bunch of wins and losses together without taking the fact that there's not much difference between 1-31 Towson and 18-14 Western Illinois from the perspective of the tourney aspirant being evaluated. This places a high priority on avoiding truly wretched teams in favor of merely bad ones.
This isn't just a matter of concern for potential at-large bids. Missouri almost fell
to off the two line because their nonconference SOS fell apart:
When asked about Missouri's status as a potential 1-seed following the revealing of the bracket, Hathaway said, simply, that they were not only out of consideration for a No. 1, but they were the lowest-ranked No. 2 because of their strength of schedule. It didn't matter that they had as many wins (11) versus the RPI Top 50 as anybody else in the Field of 68; it only mattered that they didn't try hard enough to schedule better teams in non-conference … even if, technically, they had.
That's Bill Connolly arguing that the NCAA should dump NCSOS from consideration. Sippin' on Purple has a similar argument. I agree that the model needs to change. Either dump it entirely and eyeball it or to a probability-of-victory model where a random collection of 5'9" guys from nowhere is functionally equivalent to an organized collection of 5'10" guys from nowhere. Calculate an average tournament team's average record against a collection of nonconference teams and use that as your SOS metric.
If that happens, great. Until it does Michigan should learn from the tables above and adopt the following policies:
- Never play a team from a conference that never gets off the 16 line. Looking at you, SWAC.
- Don't play a team coming off a 4-26 year. Towson, other completely terrible nonentities under 300 from random minor conferences.
- Do schedule quality programs from minor conferences. Find out who's supposed to be the first, second or third place team in conference X and play them. Oakland is actually a fantastic matchup here for SOS purposes. Michigan should play more MAC teams than no MAC teams. If you're going to play a mid-major, make it a mid-major.
- Play Notre Dame annually. This has nothing to do with anything. It's just that Michigan should play ND every year. I don't understand why this doesn't happen.
It is true that Michigan's had some narrow escapes against middling or worse teams in tourney years (Harvard by 3 last year, the vague threat when WIU got within four right at the end this year, OT against Savannah St in 2009), but the first two tourney teams were bubble battlers. Going forward Michigan hopes its teams are going to be big and athletic enough to crush poor competition without much thought.
If Michigan thinks it's going to be a big dog as soon as Little Big Dog and company arrive next year, it should schedule like a big dog should. Aim higher with your cupcakes and get the boost. Even if it only gives Michigan a higher seed every once in a while, it's a low-cost way to up the program's profile. Schedule smart by playing teams who'll have shiny records against dodgy competition by the end of the year. The dogs have got to go.