landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Welcome to College Football Blood Bowl. Warhammer 40k is generally too dorky even for me, but if you're vaguely familiar with their science fiction orc-dwarf-elf-demon football spinoff "Blood Bowl"* something is probably nagging you about those CoFoPoff** logos. This is why:
Spikes coming out of a ball.
BONUS: is it bad that I wasn't sure which logo Seth was talking about when he said one of them looked like, er, the other end zone, if you know what I mean?
CONSPIRACY THEORY BONUS: all of their images are coming from ESPN's CDN.
*[Yeah, seriously. 40K is what happens when you put all science fiction and fantasy races/tropes into a blender. As I said: too dorky even for me.]
**[I can't call something "College Football Playoff" you guys.]
Surveyin'. Michael Rothstein annually polls the outgoing seniors about things both important and not so much*. Getting unvarnished opinions on breakout players and the like is always interesting. Your predicted breakout player is Gardner, with Gallon trailing some ways back. It sounds like they're doing everything possible to extend that insane 1300-yard pace($) Gallon was on with Gardner as his QB:
"I got two. Devin and Jeremy Gallon, by far. The way they came in during the offseason, they do things people probably wouldn't expect. The way Devin is throwing the ball now. I told Gallon, if you look at the stats, he [Gallon] had 100 [receiving yards] against Alabama, a hundred-something against South Carolina. Nobody in the Big Ten can stop you two next year."
"Jeremy Gallon and Devin Gardner. They are both hard workers. When we were sleeping during the summer on Saturdays, they were up, throwing the ball. They are a great combination together and both competitive and both smart players."
Meanwhile, Willie Henry is the surprise pick as your best redshirted freshmen, albeit more narrowly. Braden, Chesson, and Jeremy Clark follow. Henry also got a breakout player vote.
"This is going just off observation, but Willie Henry. He's a guy I went up against every day in practice, didn't get to play this year but a really, really talented kid. I'd venture to say as talented as some of the guys I played against this year. There is huge potential there and I feel he can have a great career at Michigan."
He's called "strong an ox" and "an animal." Motor is brought up as an issue. Henry certainly looked the part at the spring game, albeit mostly on the sidelines.
Part II is also interesting($). Anon on Funk:
"He's extremely thorough and he watches a play and throughout that play, he can see what all five offensive linemen did. It's crazy and I don't know how he can do it but just watching a play live, he understands and has the vision to see what happened the entire play. I don't know if he would be the best coach to manage all the bureaucratic stuff that comes with being a head coach, but he knows football as well as anybody."
*[The annual bitching about the liberals in Ann Arbor is hilarious. You can probably figure out which offensive linemen are the ones carrying that grudge.]
Bad pun. No, this isn't about Moe Ways, it's about Adreian Payne, who is still on the fence about his NBA decision two days before the deadline. I think he should go if only because I'm sick of always thinking I've misspelled his name and being correct about that 75% of the time. Also, without Payne MSU's frontcourt next year looks like this: Alex Guana, Kenny Kaminski, Matt Costello. His departure would be kind of a big deal.
The word from every source close to Payne is that it's "50-50" he returns to Michigan State.
MSU is amongst the favorites with him and in a second-tier pack without. I don't know, I look at a 6'10" guy who can jump as high as GRIII and has just found three point range and I'm taking him in the 20s. I mean, if Robinson was going to be #15 or whatever with an efficient 13% usage rate, Payne's at 20%, shoots 84/58/38 and boards extensively. Oh and he's four inches taller. GTFO! It's for your own good!
Mark Donnal talking. With UMHoops. Projected role:
What do the coaches have you working on this summer?
“I’ve been working on pick-and-pop. That’s one of the things they said me and Derrick would probably be doing — a lot of pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop sets like that. I’ve just been working on my mid-range jumpshot, my post moves, my hook shots both right and left. Those are the main things I’ve been working on.”
Donnal has some nice post skills and can shoot out to three point range. Athleticism is the main concern with him. Most people, including me, have been projecting a redshirt just because Michigan is pretty stocked at the 4 and 5 this season. Donnal is the sort of guy who probably won't be high on NBA radars no matter how good he is in college, so the idea of a fifth year there is appealing. But as we saw this year, if you've got a guy who can give you minutes as you go deep into the tournament you've got to play him.
Hello/goodbye Rutledge? Mike Spath reported that Jared Rutledge would take a year in the USHL for extra seasoning; Rutledge told the Daily he was sticking around; Spath said that was not the case. Yost Built has more details on an odd situation.
One guy who's not coming in for sure: Bryson Cianfrone. Spath reports($) he'll reclassify to 2014. Smart move for a guy who has talent but struggled with the level of competition in the USHL this year. Michigan has plenty of depth at forward this year, too.
Making friends. Winning hearts and minds. I actually agree with Mark Emmert when he says opposition to the recruiting deregulation he slammed through is the following:
“[The] counting of phone calls and text messages and emails … is frankly crazy,” Emmert told a group of bowl executives. “Literally, you have to hire someone to count your cell phone calls and to look at your phone records.”
… At least 75 Division I members had to weigh in by March 20 to force an override vote of the legislation. Emmert blamed football coaches for the pushback saying, “it's insane.”
It's just that maybe a guy invariably described as "embattled" should maybe seem a little less unhinged, is all. More hinges. Less waving around.
Etc.: Zak smack attack get back you don't want that. Pitt football players busted with 20 bags of heroin! That'll wrap up the Fulmer Cup in April. Dave Brandon says the idea he would run for Senate is "silly." SILLY LIKE A FOX.
Just a few more days to get in on the pre-sale of HTTV and the now-happening Hail to Hoops and Hockey and the Victors and Michigan Wooo. (working title). A lot of you held off on the second book until you were sure it was gonna get made—head over there --> and you can change your contribution to get in on the pre-sale. It'll cost about $18.50 total to get it mailed after the kickstarter.
Filed under 'V' for 'Viking'
It's the week after the Spring Game, so the OT rules have been lifted on the board and the diaries have kinda fallen back into meta things and wallpapers (jonvalk's) mostly. Everyone can pick their favorite distraction between hedging on MSC's replacement, dickering around with MGoPoints, or bringing music to Brazilians.
My distraction was this thread put up by OHbornUMfan trying to make an alphabetical Michigan Football rhyming book. I got carried away:
A is for the Andersons, who called each other "bro." Kurt played center in aught-one, and Erick starred for Mo.
B is for the Brackinses, the Vols can have them back. No matter how you spell the name the player is all-MAC.*
C should be for Carter, or Lloyd or Chappuis. But it goes to Carson and Criswell, to make their coach happy.
E we know for Edwards, of the singular jersey num--. The father he, played in Rose Bowls: three, victorious in 1.
F we'll have a falling out if ever you should say, a greater QB ever played than Friedman in his day.
G is for Glenn Edward, a name you'd never know. For though he was our greatest man, we've always called him "Bo."
H we have for Hammersteins behind the scrimmage line. Mark there saving Harbaugh's ass, and Mike there curving spines.
…and here a second honoree I simply must propose: for 'Hello-Heisman' Desmond Howard, he of that famous pose.
…and GAWD YOU GUYS I KNOW we'll never get to I. But cumong: Henne, Hart and Hutchinson, and that Willie Heston guy!
I is Jarrett Irons, from Woodland, Texas came. With he and Steele and Swett and Sword we won with just our names.
J could be a Johnson, or Jones: we've had our share. But here I'll take a Jackson, the one at corner not on air. (Marlin/Keith)
K is for Ron Kramer, and "end" he's called in song. "That guy who can do everything" I guess was just too long.
…and let's salute the Kolesars from Bob of Seven Oaks.* There's Bill the tackle and his son John, who caught that Harbaugh post.†
M is written wide in block and on the seal again. It kicks off Messner, Mandich, Molk, but always Michigan.
N is Harry Newman remember when I said, that we'll have words if Friedman falls; we'll have to start that thread.
O is Obi Ezeh—almost had you there, again! It stands for Bennie Oosterbaan, three-time All-American.
P is Mr. President, also known as Gerald Ford. Before the Constitution, he defended Willis Ward.
Q Shit this one's hard: maybe go with Quinton Washington? Well yeah, if our line stands up this year, he goes right with the rest of them!
R we save for Robinson, don't make me tell you why.
And S is for his massive smile; that's how much we love that guy!
T is for Terrific Tom, the best you'll ever see. Harmon starts with 'H' it's true, but Touchdown's spelled with 'T'.
U is for "unmitigated", forever paired with "gall", since Ufer first applied them to Ohio State that fall.
V is "Van", that's Dutch for "from" or "white guy who plays D." We've had our share but the best from there of course was RVB.
…it also stands for "Viking," comma, "pet of Brady Hoke." Another name for Everitt, a scary looking bloke.
W I leave to you say reverentially. He had a better year than Peyton, evidentially.
X is that one empty seat, for what is writ upon it. Each year we save a bench for Fritz and the wings upon our bonnet.
Y can only be one guy unless you are insane. He built this program and its house; the barn now bears his name.
Z took time to get to, the reason that that is: Zoltan Mesko punted it in two thousand and six.
Notes & Errata:
*I had classes with both brothers—I'm the year between them in age—and they're both incredibly nice guys I enjoy giving crap to. I didn't know Tim Brackens; he's an innocent victim.
** The 1942 line was called the "Seven Oaks Post."
† …in 1985 to beat Ohio State.
Rules are keep the rhyming scheme. I give myself diarist of the week because apparently M-Wolverine is catching up to me.
Your moment of zen:
Detroit Country Day receiver Maurice Ways has committed to Michigan. Surprise! He's the second receiver in the class, joining Drake Harris, and is in much the same mold: long, rangy, downfield threat.
Let's do it.
|3*, #50 WR||3*, #54 WR||NR||3*, #86 WR, #9 MI|
Yes, sometimes Michigan does recruit consensus three stars. Ways is currently one of them. He doesn't look like one on film, though. He's long, lanky, and lopes away from the competition with long strides; he's a guy who makes you think "catching radius" all the time. He looks like a guy who would get an early offer from Michigan.
The catch appears to be, uh, catches. The stuff they don't put in the highlight film, like a this Country Day playoff game($) Tim Sullivan caught last year:
Junior wide receiver Maurice Ways caught two passes for 29 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown reception. He also dropped four passes. …
Ways definitely looks the part of a big, physical wide receiver at 6-3, 185 pounds. Though he's not a burner, he has good speed and agility. The question mark on Ways will continue to be his hands (he had a key drop in a previous game as well). He's reminiscent of former Michigan standout Braylon Edwards in that he'll make spectacular catches regularly, but drop easy balls with just as much frequency. Of his four dropped passes, at least two should have been reeled in, and he had a good chance at the other two, as well. He needs to improve his concentration in order to realize his potential as a wideout.
Oh, look, hives! On my skin! Thinking about that dropped pass against OSU that should have gone to Jason Avant! Hello, hives! We are going to die, all right?
The other game Sullivan caught($) also featured a crucial drop. Ways didn't get as much separation as you'd like but at 6'3" with a "very long wingspan" and leaping ability, he is a matchup problem, hopefully one like the guys Ways models himself after:
“I model my game after Calvin Johnson with our same body types and play-making ability,” said Ways. “I watch film on him a lot and try to emulate my game after his, and also A.J. Green.” … “Basketball was my first love,” Ways said. “But I noticed that I had talent in football and could go further in this sport. Rebounding in basketball is like going up for a jump ball. Blocking out is like blocking a defender.”
As long as he's catching the ball.
Ways has a good excuse for the drops and route-running issues: he's raw. He was gunning for a basketball scholarship when he entered high school and only focused on football last year:
"This is my first year on varsity," he explained. "… It's a big role, and I had to mature fast, had to learn the offense fast. The game speed is faster than JV of course, and the physicality is better. It makes me have to think more to try to manipulate defense in terms of route running."
Somewhat oddly, Trieu's take on Ways's Scout profile lists "hands" as an asset.
Kid with a great frame and height. Has filled out his body, but needs to continue to do that and add strength. Shows good ball skills and uses his natural athleticism to track down the ball and can go up and get it in traffic. No timed speed on him, but shows ability to get downfield on film and also makes some things happen after the catch. Relatively inexperienced, so needs to continue to work on route running and technique. - Allen Trieu
247 predicted he would be a riser this spring:
Maurice Ways, WR, Franklin (Mich.) Detroit Country Day
If you follow recruiting even passingly in the Midwest, you’ve heard of the big, talented Derek Kief at wide receiver. We’re hear to tell you that you need to know the name Ways too if you don’t already. … With the way he moves on film, the ball skills he shows and the big play ability he threatens, Ways could see his offer list triple over the next month.
Both Steve Lorenz of 247 and Sullivan projected that their rating services would move Ways up in the near future. How much? The guess here is that vague four-star-but-not-ranked area.
Rutgers, Iowa, and Kansas were the other BCS schools. Ways had a number of MAC offers as well. He visited Ohio State a couple times; the Buckeyes seemed to have sincere interest but had not offered yet. The wanted him to camp.
You are aware of Detroit Country Day, surely. They were state runners-up last year. Michigan's only recruit in the past decade or so to come from DCD was Kenny Demens, thought they have acquired a number of walkons—including the spectacularly-named O'Neil Swanson III—in recent years.
Ways had an impressive 51 catches for 957 yards and 9 touchdowns last year. It helps that he had Rutgers commit Tyler Weigers throwing to him. Not a lot of schools in Michigan have a D-I to D-I connection going on.
Before that, he was on JV.
FAKE 40 TIME
Doesn't have one. Divide by zero fakes.
Rivals has a couple games of full-game highlights($) behind their paywall. It has some of those aforementioned drops. Braylon vibe: confirmed.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THING
Ways is a member of the Greg Oden "is that guy 45?" club.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Ways will be put in the same opportunity-laden environment as a freshman that Harris will be. Amara Darboh is poised to lock down a starting job with a strong performance this fall, and Jehu Chesson will have a couple years on this class's PT candidates. Other than that, it's wide open with the three sleeper sorts from last year going up against the more athletic 2014 guys. I'd guess Ways gets a redshirt unless he ends up ahead of Harris. With Harris higher-ranked and planning to enroll early, that's approximately a 1/3rd shot.
Long term, he has plenty of upside what with the size and catching radius, and no one actually know how fast he is. You'd think that would be one of the easiest things to get right, but when Chesson was a recruit the main knock on him was his speed. Chesson tore up the track after his LOI and is now getting buzz from players and coaches as a fast-as-hell deep threat($). Also: Braylon. So… yeah.
He should spend the next year having the jugs machine throw babies at him. We'll see where we go from there. Could be big time, could be Tyrece Butler 2.0. Filed under boom or bust.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Ways and Harris help restock Michigan's outside receiver corps pending the departure of Jackson, Gallon, and Dileo in the offseason. That only gets them to seven players for 2.5 starting spots, so they're still looking. They could use a slot, and FL WR Artavis Scott fits that bill nicely. PA WR KJ Williams, another lanky outside threat, may have missed the boat. Mutual interest with AZ WR/TE Mark Andrews also just ended abruptly.
I actually wouldn't be surprised if Michigan took a fourth receiver somewhere along the line unless attrition is super-low. The numbers everywhere else project to be fine, and depth at WR comes in handy.
By the way, Michigan pass targets in the last two classes go 6'7", 6'4", 6'4", 6'6", 6'4", 6'3", 6'2", and 6'2". Al Borges is going to find Tacopants and starve him off the roster.
Michigan's extremely-critical 2014 class has a couple of guys who already sport offers but have not committed for reasons that are unclear to me. I mean srsly, you can play for Pilot Walter White in a fun system and go to the Final Four. Commit already you guys.
IN SF Vince Edwards, a guy with a median ranking around 60, says he's down to Michigan and Purdue and is looking for love. These things may not seem related, but they are.
"Just show me, you know?" Edwards said. "Just show me that you're interested. Just show me like you've been showing me."
Edwards on his finalists:
"I like both," Edwards said. "Honestly, I like Michigan because I really think their offense fits my style. Being a 6-7 wing who can shoot, that really fits in with Coach Beilein. He likes guys who can do that, so I think I can really fit in well with him and his offense and he thinks so, too.
"With Coach Painter, what I really like about Purdue is -- they're both actually great coaches -- but Coach Painter had to take some guys and develop them this year and you could tell by the way he coaches that he's a great coach. He can develop players really well."
Purdue's supposed to be in the tentative lead for some reason. I mean, what does Beilein have to do to prove he can develop guys?
Maybe he has to have a who-dat postgrad point guard go off for 17 points in the national championship ga—oh yeah that actually happened and was not a crazy dream we all had collectively. In conclusion, Matt Painter smells faintly of gasoline and Vince Edwards has an obvious choice.
Michigan's after MS SG Devin Booker, of course, and while one suitor probably took itself off the table when Duke took a commitment from big-timer Grayson Allen at Booker's position, Kentucky has now offered. Goody.
Touted 2015 center Stephen Zimmerman plans a visit, as does($) CA PG Sedrick Barefield. That class is the one in which Michigan's Final Four run should really open up possibilities. It helps with 2014, but the guys they're after are for the most part still the same guys they were after before.
Who's next, Malcolm Streamers lol zing
I AM TALL ARE YOU TALL CHANTEL IT'S TOUGH TO TELL BECAUSE PEOPLE UP TO EIGHT FEET SHORTER THAN ME ARE STILL TALL SOMETIMES
Michigan picked up their tight end in Ian Bunting, a 3/4 star tweener at the moment who should rise this fall if he can stay on the field for a change. Bunting has the offer list of a clear top 100 guy (M, ND, OSU, OU, USC, etc.) and enormous skillet-sized hands on a 6'7" frame. There is the Hello post; 247 also posted some extra analysis($) after that went up:
Similar to Michigan’s Devin Funchess, Bunting should be a great weapon in the red-zone against smaller defenders. Bunting shows strong hands with the ability to extend and pluck the ball out of the air. … I really like Bunting’s burst in and out of his breaks for as tall and long as he is. The ceiling is very high for Bunting, especially being in a very tight end friendly system at Michigan.
I am hyped about Bunting, and I hear the coaches are too. He was the proverbial #1 TE on their board—and a lot of others.
Actually it's probably Mo Ways
Ways is on campus as you read this. It's hat-eatin' time if he doesn't commit today.
And then probably Kyron Watson
Kyron Watson terrifies Alex Anzalone
IL LB Kyron Watson features in a freebie by Allen Trieu in which his coach flat-out states he's a visit away from a commitment:
"His top two, I think, honestly are Michigan of course and Kansas. Michigan because it’s Michigan. Kansas, it's because of Reggie Mitchell. He's great recruiter for our type of kids, which I’ll call inner-city kids. … I believe, and I can’t speak for Kyron, but as soon as he gets a visit to Michigan, I believe he'll walk away committed to them."
Pencil that in. The days when Charlie Weis could keep kids from Ann Arbor are long over. As for what kind of player Watson is, your keyword is "violent":
It only takes a play or two of Kyron Watson's highlight tape to understand what you're dealing with. The 6'1, 220-pound junior made 142 tackles last season, but it was the three or four at the start of his tape, violent de-cleaters, which immediately caught the eyes of college coaches. …
"He's always been an aggressive kid. Towards the end of year, he began to understand it and blew up in terms of physical contact and meeting them in the hole. He's a special kid. As he grew, the impact of hips became a little more damaging. He came in at like 160-165-pounds. He's 220 now. In two years, he gained basically 60 pounds."
His best other offers are Missouri, Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois, and MSU; he does have a believer in ESPN.
And eventually Parrker Westphal
Sullivan catches up with the guy I invariably call a Todd Howard protégé in a lengthy article that confirms a lot of what we already know about him: ie, that he'll probably commit sooner or later. He's got an interesting top five($) forming:
"I told the Michigan coaches that whatever list that I cut down, whether it's a top five or top three, they'll be in it," he said. I'll make that cut probably the summer. I'm hoping earlier, but we'll see. No [other schools have a spot on that list] so far, but Northwestern and Vanderbilt, they're ranked pretty high because academically and athletically they're pretty good. They'll probably be in it.
Always good to see a guy with Vandy and Northwestern as serious options consider M, as those kind of kids are low-attrition sorts that often pick M even when ND, OSU, and Florida are options, as they are for Westphal.
Westphal wants to make a decision before his high school season, which means anyone trying to catch Michigan will have to do so without the opportunity for an official visit.
Also: Westphal talked a lot about how Michigan wants to blitz him, so he may be destined for the nickelback/safety spot that Dymonte Thomas is currently slotted in.
And then those Paramus guys
ESPN's Jared Shanker catches up with both. NJ OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty had previously declared Michigan his leader and basically confirms that:
The Wolverines are in a strong position for the top 10 tackle nationally following the two-day visit earlier this month, which he took with five-star teammate Jabrill Peppers.
“It just felt like a lot of what I was looking for,” the four-star said. “Everything felt like a family. The player felt like real guys; the coaches felt like real guys.”
He maintains a top three of M, Boston College, and Florida, and says he has offers from all plus FSU, Miami, and Tennessee. He says he'll probably pull the trigger in the next couple months.
As for NJ CB Jabrill Peppers, this is a tantalizing headline($) for a guy who just declared Michigan his leader:
Peppers should know future school soon
The money quote:
“Definitely after I visit Stanford I should have it pretty clear where I want to go,” Peppers said.
The five-star cornerback is coming off April trips to LSU, Michigan and Ohio State, and while Peppers did not tip his hand, people close to the dynamic two-way athlete say Michigan has a sizeable lead of those three. He has listed Stanford as his No. 1 for several months and will visit Palo Alto before officially dropping them from the top of his list.
HOWEVA, Peppers isn't going to commit after the Stanford visit, at least not publicly. He plans to take a couple of officials after his high school season, at which point he may as well just announce at an All-Star game. Hopefully that'll be one of those anticlimactic ones.
Touted DC CB Jalen Tabor visited yesterday as part of a team-wide swing through the Midwest. AZ OL Casey Tucker decommits from USC($), may poke around Michigan, doubt we see much come of this. PA S Montae Nicholson has many offers($), refreshingly seems to not give two hoots about deciding between them. Michigan is mentioned in a quasi-top eight.
IL DE Terry Beckner, Watson's HS teammate, was one of the best performers($) at the St. Louis Rivals camp:
2. DE TERRY BECKNER JR., EAST ST. LOUIS, ILL. (2015)
Despite Hendrix's dominating performance on Sunday, his was not a walkaway MVP win because Beckner nearly matched his interconference foe in level of domination. Beckner is an imposing 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds and shows an advanced technical grasp of his position for a sophomore. He plays with great pad level and has exceptionally fast hands. Most impressive was his two-rep win over four-star offensive guard D.J. Foster, who has been nearly unbeatable in past camps.
"Terry will be, at some point, this is my early prediction, a top ten player next year. For his age and size, the skill set he has, he’s a very dominant player and will only get better. He gave what they consider a top 100 player, Dewayne Hendrix, a run for his money as being the best guy there at the camp on Sunday. The sky’s the limit. He will even play a little offense this year. Terry, I believe, will be the first five-star at East St. Louis in this era."
Beckner has the local offers: Illinois, Kansas, Mizzou, Purdue, Nebraska.
Touted Mason Cole teammate and FL WR George Campbell shrinks to 6'3" in this article—a lot of places list him at 6'5"—in which he talks about the broken hand keeping him out of action and says he's talking to Michigan, Auburn, and A&M. He also went to the Vandy and Florida spring games.
QB commit Wilton Speight picks up a Miami offer.
PSA: For those of you who didn’t kickstart the Basketball/Hockey HTTV because you didn’t want an ebook, this is your friendly reminder that the magic number has been reached. The print version of the publication will be a thing. There is still time to adjust your Kickstarter to pre-purchase a copy, which will be delivered to your place of residence. CONSUME.
This is Getting Ridiculous. Or Awesome. I Can’t Tell.
On the heels of the You’re A Baller phenomenon, things in the recruiting world just keep getting weirder. Take Florida for example. SB Nation has a rundown of some of the more… interesting? yeah, let’s go with interesting… recruiting-related photoshopped pictures they have shared on social media in recent weeks. Among my favorites:
Gatorade may have been slightly less successful had it been originally marketed as Gator Grind Juice
I’ve never seen Harry Potter, so I can’t make a proper joke
Harry Potter? Your best argument is literally “come to Florida because an imaginary guy at in imaginary school was good at an imaginary sport.” [Ed-S: This begs the question: what else can be made cool by adding a halo-Harry Potter to it?]
In fact, based on recent trends, I think I know who the perfect creator of recruiting materials would be: me, at six years old, narrating a battle between my toys:
If you’re a recruit, TELL ME you wouldn’t be all over this letter.
And If You Don't Like It You Can GET OUT
The NFL draft kicks off this Thursday evening, and a very small battle is brewing. Over the last couple of years, a combination of ESPN’s coverage and social media have let the air out of the balloon of drama with a distinct flatulent noise. For the last few drafts, we knew whose name Roger Goodell would call before he called it, because (a) ESPN had a live shot of Large Guy in an awesome suit with a terrible tie talking on a cell phone, (b) Chris Berman would start dropping terrible puns involving Large Guy, and (c) everyone in the NFL Twitterverse would dutifully report LARGE GUY TO ________________. A minute or two later, Goodell wandered up to the stage and announced to the couple of hundred remaining people in the world who DIDN’T know: the people at Radio City Music Hall who didn’t have smart phones.
Wait for it…
This year, ESPN and the NFL Network have announced that they will try to bring some drama back to the proceedings by not tipping off any picks before they are announced. From ESPN’s perspective, that’s probably a smart move, because by tipping their hand they were essentially scooping themselves. The same, however, cannot be said for outside forces, such as CBS’s Jason La Canfora, who has announced that whateva, whateva, I do what I want:
I will be trying to get the information out as quickly and accurately as possible. What event is made more for Twitter than the NFL draft? If the teams have the information; if the guys in the production truck have the information; if the commissioner has the information; why wouldn’t passionate football fans want it as well?
His proposed solution? If you don’t want the information, don’t follow him on Twitter. In fact, just stay off Twitter altogether. Others have echoed this idea:
I’m not sure about this one. On the one hand, I get it. Being a reporter means reporting what you get. These guys’ job descriptions don’t include “maintain dramatic tension.” They report what they know when they know it. And some people may not want an advanced peek, but some probably DO, and people who don’t can just not look. On the other hand, you can’t just say, “unfollow me and you’ll be fine.” That’s not how it works. If it was, Mike Valenti wouldn’t show up on my feed every day. If even ONE person I follow decides to retweet you, that’s the ballgame.
Here’s the question, though: is “you can always stay off Twitter” a legitimate defense? Can you put an entire social media platform essentially off-limits to people who want to use it? After all, there are a number of people (myself included) who would like to both watch the draft and simultaneously read the little factoids and nuggets of info that the internet provides. Besides, you aren’t “breaking stories” here. Your ‘insider info’ is going to become public in like 60 seconds. It’s like if you were watching a game, and you were one of like a dozen people in the world who wasn’t on a 30-second delay.
What say you?
Don’t Strain Yourselves, Fellas
The much-ballyhooed college football playoff enters existence in a couple of years, and we are all SO excited. Instead of only TWO teams competing for a national title, we now get FOUR teams. That’s twice as many teams! 100% more teams! BIG SUCCESS! Of course it’s gonna take until 2015 to roll out, but whatever.
This week, though they held the big roll-out of the shiny new name. And of course they named the college football playoff the College Football Playoff. It reminds me of when the Big Ten Was all, “HEY, CHECK OUT THE NEW LOGO” and this was the new logo:
And sure, it took them months to roll out a name that was just a description of the, but it’s not easy to choose a logo. Wait, what’s that you say? They didn’t pick? They’re crowdsourcing it? Let’s see what our options are:
Yippee, amirite? On the bright side, though, I think they may have found an exception to the “don’t let people vote on things via social media unless you want Texas A&M to win by billions” rule. That exception is that you can let people vote on things about which no one anywhere gives the slightest crap. It also helps if their options for the thing about which they don’t give the slightest crap are all terrible. Who is going to hack this one so that the gazelle horn logo wins? No one is sending bots out in support of any of these. [Ed-S: WRONG! Vote Golden Vagina!!] [ED-BiSB: On second viewing, and after consulting six-year-old me from earlier in this article, Seth is correct. ]
They also have a countdown clock that is currently at 615 days. Just thought I’d mention that.
I Do Not Think This Says What You Think It Says
After last week’s odd Sparty Sloopy license plate, eagle-eyed reader @dcesiel sent me this picture of an ill-conceived combination of a Sparty plate and a Sparty phrase:
[He also pointed out that he took this picture about an hour before kickoff for the Nebraska game in a lot that was pretty close to Spartan Stadium. We aren’t the only ones struggling with home attendance apparently, though I’m not sure that’s the yardstick by which we need to be measuring things.]
Weekly Jose Canseco Updateupdate
Jose is back at the easel. All is right with the world.
The difference between a dragon and a dragondragon? The Adidas stripes on the dragondragon’s neck.
The Michigan Difference: seeking input on offseason article topics and the first request being about punting and then getting a quick second! Ask and you shall receive.
MGoUser stubob asked whether or not outkicking the coverage on punts was a real thing and if there was an optimal distance to kick the punt. To look at this I looked at all “returnable” punts. Punts kicked from at least the 20 yards and that did not go further than the opponent’s 10 yard line and occurred in the first half of the game unless otherwise noted.
Unsurprisingly from the original hypothesis, the longer the punt, the longer the average punt return.
Average return yards/punt given punt distance
Initially, it does look like longer punts yield longer returns. Of note though is that the slope is significantly flatter than a 1 for 1 trade. The rough slope is that for every four yards of distance you add to the punt, you give back a single yard of average return (not counting touchbacks). This accounts for the average case, but doesn’t address the risk and variance.
The Big Return
Percent of returns going 10+ yards (Blue) and for TDs (Yellow)
Again, the data backs up the conventional wisdom on long punts. A 55+ yard punt has a one in four chance of coming back at least 10 yards. With an average return of 7+ yards this isn’t much of a surprise. The longer returns aren’t just a function of more space between the punting team and the return team. But even with smaller sample sizes, there is a strong trend between likelihood of a touchdown and the length of the punt. Even though the total odds of a 55+ yard punt getting returned for a touchdown is about 1 in 75, that is about 3 times the rate of a 30-35 yard punt.
If you look at the net implications of these two charts, the long term strategy clearly points to kicking it as far as you can, concerns be damned. Even when you factor in touchbacks, the odds of a punt netting 40 yards goes up dramatically the longer the kick.
Percent of punts netting 40+ yards by punt distance
55+ yards net over 40 yards nearly 9 out of 10 times, nearly 50% more than a 40 yard kick. Outkicking the coverage isn’t a valid enough fear to push for any decision other than kicking it long, except possibly in a late game situation where the small but increased risk of a touchdown on the return becomes more highly leveraged.
The Spread Punt
One of the few questionable decisions the Hoke era has produced has been the refusal to move to the spread punt. While I don’t have data on which teams have converted to the spread punt when, but if you trend punting data over the last 10 years, its clear that something is happening.
Average return yards per punt by season, excluding touchbacks
Over the last ten years, the average return yards per punt has decreased by 42%.
Percent of punts returned 10+ yards (Blue) and TDs (Yellow)
Just like above, the move towards lower return yards corresponds with a lower rate of long returns. The real indication of change comes next.
Gross (Blue) and Net (Yellow) punting (including touchbacks)
This generally otherwise uneventful chart shows that over the last ten years both gross and net punting have improved nearly every season. Not only has net punting improved, but it has improved at a rate faster (10.3% cumulative) than that of the gross punting (5.6%), which is the exact opposite effect you would expect based on the fundamental connection between punt distance and punt return yardage. This indicates that over the last 10 years there has been a shift in the basic nature of both the punt and the punt return. Correlation and causation and all that, but this is a pretty clear indicator that the widespread adoption of the spread punt formation has been a huge win for the punting teams.
If we make the weak but directional assumption that 2003 = Traditional Punt and 2012 = Spread Punt, the formation is worth about 3.5 yards per net punt and a 50% reduction in punt return touchdowns. Otherwise of note is that the block rate has dropped along a similar slope from 2.6% in 2003 to 1.0% in 2012. So net punting up, gross punting up, punt returns down, punt returns touchdowns down and punt blocks are down. Whatever has happened between 2003 and 2012 let’s hope Michigan is on board.