this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Today's recruiting roundup was done a while ago, then I derped and deleted the post. Friday! Pardon my brevity as I discuss updated MaxPreps rankings, Leon McQuay III, and a slew of new 2014 offers.
Alabama Ruins Everything
If you don't get this, watch Shutdown Fullback. All of them.
First, Alabama ruined the sanctity of the BCS (ha!), then defeated Michigan in the first game of their softball super regional last night, and now the Tide goes and passes the Wolverines for the top spot in the MaxPreps team recruiting rankings. Michigan still has the edge in overall commits (18 to 14), but Alabama's eight top 100 commits tops Michigan's five. MaxPreps's Tom Lemming updated that top 100 list this week, and here's where you can find Michigan's commits:
- QB Shane Morris, #16 (5*)
- OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, #50 (4*)
- LB Mike McCray, #63 (4*)
- OL David Dawson, #78 (4*)
- OL Kyle Bosch, #89 (4*)
Other notables include Su'a Cravens at #5, Henry Poggi at #25, and Laquon Treadwell at #30—all those players earned five-star ratings.
Mike McCray, by the way, finally got his Ohio State offer today. If this bromantic text conversation with Shane Morris is any indication, however, he's not going anywhere. If you remember, McCray's father was a captain at OSU. Unless McCray takes a visit to Columbus, there's little reason to be concerned.
One more recruit to get five stars from Lemming is FL DB Leon McQuay III, who's still talking about Michigan after his visit last week. McQuay talked to Tremendous about making beats—he wants to study audio engineering—with walk-on QB Jack Kennedy and also named Michigan to his top five:
"Michigan definitely made a move on this visit. They are in my top five along with USC, Florida, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt". This is a top five for now and is subject to change.
Just as importantly, McQuay expressed a desire to visit Ann Arbor again; Michigan won't have much of a chance unless that happens. McQuay also talked to 247's Josh Newberg and named a top ten($) that includes the five schools above plus Florida State, Miami, Clemson, Oregon, and UCLA.
McQuay's visit could pay dividends that go beyond his recruitment, as he got in the ear of Seffner (FL) Armwood teammate Alvin Bailey, a four-star receiver who also holds a Michigan offer. According to 247's Todd Worly, Bailey now plans on visiting Ann Arbor this summer, likely by the end of next month ($).
Recently offered TX DT Hardreck Walker "can't wait" to see Michigan, per 247's Clint Brewster, and he's planning to use one of his official visits to check out Ann Arbor ($). Walker also holds offers from West Virginia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Auburn, Texas Tech, and Northwestern.
AZ WR Devon Allen is still very, very fast:
Allen says he's definitely looking to compete in track at the college level and that the school he picks will likely have a strong presence in track and field. To give you an idea of the caliber of track athlete Allen is, here are his PR's from this season:
110 hurdles: 13.52
300 hurdles: 36.39
Yowza. The downside to this is that if Allen is serious about attending a school with a top-flight track program, Michigan could be at a serious disadvantage when going up against Pac-12 and SEC schools. Allen did mention, however, that Michigan is in contact with him the most along with Arizona State and Arkansas.
Quickly: 247 breaks down film on CA S Su'a Cravens. They also, like everyone else, predict him to go to USC. NC WR Uriah LeMay will announce his decision on June 1st, and he'll likely join his brother Christian at Georgia. TTB gives a scouting report on TN RB Jordan Wilkins. Happy trails to VA LB Matt Rolin, who committed to South Carolina.
The Rain In Spain Never Mind I'll Stop Now
Sam Webb's latest offering at the Detroit News profiles 2014 NC OT Bentley Spain, who holds 12 offers, including one from Michigan. Spain's team didn't perform so well last year, but that problem didn't extend to Spain, who told Webb that he didn't give up a sack and recorded "about 60 pancakes." Spain also gave his thoughts on Michigan and mentioned a possible time for a visit:
"They're moving toward a pro-style offense, which I think is very good for me," Spain said. "That's the kind of offense I'd like to play in, ideally. I love what they're doing up there. I think they're really on the rise and they had a great season last year. I think I just need to keep developing relationships with all the coaches and get up there for a visit.
"I'm planning on coming out in early June, but I don't have anything set in stone yet."
Spain currently maintains no favorites and plans to wait on a decision until at least this time next year.
Michigan continues to send out offers to top-flight 2014 prospects, with four more going out this week:
- Michigan joined Baylor, Nebraska, and Virginia in extending early offers to TX S T'Kevian Rockwell, according to 247's Todd Worly ($). Rockwell is a big safety at 6'0", 202 pounds, but after being laser-timed at 10.47 in the 100-meter dash, speed is by no means a concern. He also plays outside linebacker and running back, and if he bulks up at all—probably, considering he's still just a sophomore—one of those will likely be his position in college.
- Tremendous reports that Michigan offered four-star NC TE Jeb Blazevich, who's already bringing in offers from a who's-who of top programs. Blazevich says he'll visit either this summer or, more likely, for a game in the fall. Click through to see his impressive sophomore highlights.
- AZ WR Dionte Sykes also claims an offer from Michigan($), though he tells 247's Clint Brewster that UCLA "will be hard to say no to." He does mention a desire to visit several schools, including Michigan, before he makes a decision.
- Four-star OH LB Michael Ferns already has nearly 20 scholarship offers, and Michigan joined the fray this week ($). Ferns says he'll visit Ann Arbor in June; he's already taken trips to Ohio State and Penn State.
Quickly: Canadian WR Jaylan Grandison will visit today, according to Tremendous. Michigan makes the early top five of DC CB D'Andre Payne, who will be on hand for the June one-day camp ($). Tim Sullivan with a writeup on IL CB Parrker Westphal, who has offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida, and others. Westphal is coached by former Wolverine corner Todd Howard.
Tents fingers. The initial returns on Michigan's 2013 basketball recruiting class's AAU season continue to be positive—very positive to some. ESPN's just revamped its class rankings and 2013 looks a lot like 2012:
- PG Derrick Walton, a "true point guard" who has "an excellent feel for the game" and a "tight handle" rises to the #39 player in the class.
- SF Zak Irvin checks in at #61. "Has really good length and a great D-I basketball body," he can also shoot. Lots.
- C Mark Donnal also rises significantly and is now the #65 player to ESPN. He's "ever-improving."
Target Reggie Cameron, a 6'7" stretch four reportedly shooting over 50% from three so far this summer, is #67.
So over two classes Michigan's only non-four-star sorts are the point guard acquired as part of the Trey Burke panic and late riser Caris LeVert. The other six guys (and counting): hyped. I think we can put the last shovelful of dirt on concerns about Beilein's recruiting.
EVERYONE DO EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE. Two things about the rapidly-morphing future of college football. One: I may owe Patrick Vint an apology after I scoffed at the idea that Jim Delany had a master plan behind his long, uncomfortable hug with the Rose Bowl. Now that the Big 12 and SEC have partnered up to provide a slow-cooked-pork version of the Rose, guess who's coming to dinner?
"I'd say before Friday that idea of a plus-one didn't have much traction, but I think the announcement on Friday's a game-changer," Scott said. "We're pretty far down the path on four-team playoff options, but given the very positive reaction to what the SEC and Big 12 have done, it's possible that (a plus-one) could get some traction."
The Sydney Poiter of playoff options: dignified, old-fashioned, and scary to Spencer Tracy. If they do go to the true plus one system, Vint is basically right and the two champs vs champs games are almost de facto semifinals.
Would this qualify as a diabolical master plan deployed by Jim Delany? I guess you're playing the Pac-12 champ for a spot most years but I'm not sure a steady diet of USC/Oregon/someone else every once in a while is much better than a true four team playoff. After all, the Big Ten's record in the Rose Bowl is horrible. Locking ourselves into it doesn't do much for the conference's title hopes. Sort of locking the Big East and ACC out is not a huge benefit.
If I had to bet I'd still put my chips on a true four-team playoff but I clearly have no idea what the thought processes these guys are using are like.
The second thing. The Big 12-SEC announcement threw college football into yet another realignment tizzy, this one focused on the Big 12 raiding the ACC for most of its prominent football programs. Florida State, Miami, and Clemson are most frequently mentioned. FSU started it, Texas scoffed at it, Virginia Tech denies everything, but now everybody's talking about it and the inevitable Death Star conferences that will emerge.
I still don't know how a 16-team conference even works. The SEC's gone to 14 and this has been enough for Steve Spurrier to invent (and Les Miles to back) the idea cross-division games shouldn't count in the standings. That takes the metaphorical "two conferences with a scheduling agreement" line I've dropped whenever this comes up and makes it literal. The Big Ten equivalent would see the Michigan-Ohio State game have no bearing on the Big Ten title. It's a nonconference game, an exhibition. It's either that or realign the two into the same division. There just aren't enough games to make 16 teams work without doing away (or all but doing away) with nonconference games entirely.
If that was the endgame, I'd be for it. Or if people got creative and implemented either dynamic scheduling—which may be the origin of this blog's "I come up with an incredibly complicated solution to something that may not be a problem" tag—or a relegation system*. The endgame that the current college football people can think up… not so much.
*[The linked post is for 14 teams and is really complicated and (BONUS) mathematically impossible. So don't take it too seriously. A 16 team relegation system could look like a bunch of things, but most likely is groups of eight playing a full round-robin with the eighth conference game either eliminated or given over to a play-in/play-out system.
I do still like the dynamic scheduling a lot, FWIW, but not knowing two thirds of your conference schedule before the season is tough.]
In other expansion news no one cares about. Luke Winn breaks out the graphs to show the relative strength of the new world of basketball conferences. The Big Ten is untouched but a couple conferences get hammered:
Even in this hypothetical world where Pitt and Syracuse are in the ACC, the Big Ten is still the #1 conference by some distance the past couple years.
Ohhhhhh. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:
“To have imagined that the event would be this spectacular, particularly when you’re there, to imagine that we would own New Year’s Day, which used to be for college football, nobody could have imagined it.”
There was no college football on NYD last year because it was a Sunday, but… is he wrong? Yeah, probably. But the very idea of having another very popular sporting event on New Year's Day would have been inconceivable ten years ago. Now it's not that hard to compete with Northwestern-Vandy, or whatever.
Etc.: Buy Smart Football's book. They'll serve beer at the hockey game not featuring Michigan at Michigan Stadium. Softball lost last night; will try to stay alive at 4:30 on ESPNU. I'm disappointed Bob Gassoff isn't in this picture.
For each week until the season starts, I will preview one of Michigan's opponents beginning with B1G teams. I'm saving non-conference for last when they will be much more relevant; B1G previews will have the same amount of handwaving now as they will have in August.
Holy crap Quarterbacks. For the past couple years Purdue failed to pray adequately to their Angry ACL-hating God, and they paid dearly for it. The PTSD from the experience was so severe that they now have eight quarterbacks on the roster.
“Wow, we go 8 deep at quarterback. Now thats some good ACL blowout insurance.”
(It's also good Snake-Oil insurance, btw)
They return Robert Marve, Rob Henry, Caleb Terbush, and Sean Robinson, the first three of whom have significant game experience. So obviously for the class of 2012 they went out and signed four quarterbacks.
Wait, wha--? How do you even do that? Did these guys not know about each other when they committed? Because that would make it really awkward on the first day of fall camp.
Bafflement aside, I was just thinking that if only they had two more QBs, per modern journalistic convention I would have to use numerals to express the number of quarterbacks on their roster. Which would be nerd-cool.
No way …
Austin Parker (http://www.purduesports.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/parker_austin00.html)
Erich Berzinskas (http://footballrecruiting.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1316762)
Also, Dolap McCarthy was a QB before switching to WR and 2012 commit BJ Knauf will play wide receiver at Purdue but played at quarterback this year in high school.
Eight scholarship QBs and two walk-ons. If every one of them tore an ACL, they could still fill out a two-deep with the remaining healthy knees.
Anyway, the end of the story is the Boilermakers are doing one hell of a job living up to their “Cradle of Quarterbacks” moniker. They have employed a pair of rabbits to make these guys, and they are going to make for one hell of a sextuple pass play.
The actual preview part.
First of all I need to apologize to the Purdue fans who got offended when I said last season that they played in three games after which fans stormed the field. That number is actually one -- the OT win over Ohio State -- and I guess, as Michigan fans, who are we to blame them?
This season the Boilermakers are embracing their darkhorse candidacy for the Woody Division title. It’s a dark, dark horse considering where they ended up last season when their 4-4 B1G record came third to Wisconsin (6-2 B1G) and Penn State (6-2 B1G) in their division. That gap was a mile wide considering that they would have needed two more B1G wins against much stronger teams (Iowa, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin) just to tie.
But with Ohio State out of the running in 2012, Wisconsin rebuilding, and Penn State recovering, this might actually be Purdue’s shot. They return 15 starters, good for top quartile-ish in the nation and 3rd in the B1G. More importantly, they return nearly all of their playmakers from 2011. Only two players from that team got drafted -- 5th and 6th rounders -- and both of them were offensive linemen.
Proof it happened once, at least.
- Sept 1, Eastern Kentucky
- Sept 8, @ Notre Dame
- Sept 15, Eastern Michigan
- Sept 22, BYE
- Sept 29, Marshall
- Oct 6, Michigan
- Oct 13, Wisconsin
- Oct 20, @ Ohio State
- Oct 27, @ Minnesota
- Nov 3, Penn State
- Nov 10, @ Iowa
- Nov 17, @ Illinois
- Nov 24, Indiana
If Purdue doesn’t get six wins out of this schedule, it wouldn’t be for a lack of planning. While Marshall and -- I can’t believe I’m saying this -- Eastern Michigan aren’t quite the body bag games they once were, I didn’t know until now that Eastern Kentucky did anything other than give high schoolers credit for correspondence courses in things like Health and US History.
Road games at Notre Dame and Ohio State seem like automatic losses. Michigan, Wisconsin, and Penn State will be home games for the Boilermakers. All three will likely be favored against them, but since those teams each have some figuring out to do between now and when they visit West Lafayette, at this point (you know, three months before the season starts) it’s probable that the Boilermakers might eke one victory out of this group.
Visiting Iowa seems 51/49, advantage Purdue, since the Hawkeyes return QB James Vandenberg, C James Ferentz, and WR Keenan Davis and then about 10 guys whose names I don’t even remember reading. Maybe I'm underrating the Hawkeyes, though. They do do things like “be physical” and stuff, and they’re replacing offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe with a radical young maverick who will bring Iowa’s historically punt-first attack blazing into the 21st century. For those of you who don’t know who Greg Davis is, I’m being facetious.
Back to Purdue, their other road games at Illinois and at Minnesota seem imminently winnable, although the Gophers ended last season on the upswing, and it’s hard to tell what Illini will do with “coaching.” Assuming that neither program figures it all out this season, the Boilermakers should at least be able to grind out both of these the ugly way. The B1G way. The American way.
Indiana will lose just because.
Their schedule is as favorable as: Getting dealt pocket jacks.
X’s and O’s
Henry, Marve, TerBush
Purdue runs the spread, so they will use lots of shotgun, zone running, quick passes, receiver screens, jet sweeps, that sort of thing. The Boilermaker offense is less predicated on a running quarterback compared with Oregon’s or Rich Rod’s spread, but some athleticism is asked of their signalcaller, whoever that might be out of the 10 on their roster. A guy like Dan Persa would be the perfect QB for their system.
That said, Purdue likes to run the ball with their running backs and receivers. Zone running and receiver end-arounds and jet sweeps form the basis of a ground game that averaged 4.4 yards per carry in 2011, which was on the cusp of being top third in the FBS.
The Boilermakers return top running back Ralph Bolden (674 yards, 4.6 ypc, 6 TDs) who was limited while recovering from ACL surgery last year, so if anything he should be more productive this fall as their every down back. He’s not particularly big (5-9, 190 lbs) or fast, but he can juke!
Purdue's highlight reels are crowdsourced. Literally.
Behind him is Akeem Shavers (519 yards, 4.7 ypc, 6 TDs) who looks to be a quality backup who might end up pushing Bolden for carries. Shavers is a little bigger (5-11, 203 lbs) than Bolden, but the two seem to fit similar roles.
They’ll be running behind an offensive line that probably has a little bonding to do in the offseason. As I mentioned earlier, only two Boilermaker players (LT Dennis Kelly and RG Nick Mondek) got drafted this year, but both were linemen. The other guys that are returning are reportedly learning new positions, so offensive line development will be something to keep an eye on throughout fall camp and the non-conference.
At quarterback Purdue has three guys who have had significant starting experience. Caleb TerBush (62%, 1905 yards, 13 TD, 6 INT) ended 2011 as the nominal starter with Robert Marve (56%, 633 yards, 4 TD, 5 INT) working from a backup and situational role while rehabbing his ACL. Rob Henry (2010: 53%, 996 yards, 8 TD, 7 INT) sat out for the entirety of the season because of -- what else? -- ACL stuff.
The three signalcallers are reportedly neck and neck after spring practice, but the smart money is on TerBush to take the first snap against Eastern Kentucky. Marve might have an edge in athleticism but hasn’t quite had everything upstairs in order. Henry has been out for a year and wasn’t that good when he was healthy.
Either way, the Boilermakers’ innumerable and interchangeable QBs will be throwing to a WR corps that has some soul searching to do. Their top two guys, Antavian Edison (44 rec, 584 yards, 3 TD) and OJ Ross (33 rec, 356 yards, 3 TD), are sorting through legal and academic issues respectively, so at the moment their return is not guaranteed. That leaves Purdue with KR Raheem Mostert, who has yet to catch a pass from scrimmage.
Purdue’s offense is as frightening as: Shotgun pellets fired from a paintball gun at five yards. Fear level = 3 on a scale from 1 (New Mexico) to 10 (Oregon).
Boilermaker Tackling Fundamentals 101: Grab on to the metal thingy.
Despite not being known to excel on this side of the ball, Purdue has produced a number of talented players in recent years and look to have a few potential stars on this year’s squad. The Boilermakers return most of their defensive line and secondary. Things may get dicey for them if none of their inexperienced new linebackers step up by September, but mediocrity at that position would still make for a unit that could end up in the top half of the B1G.
Purdue played a base 4-3 defense last year and didn’t do anything too funky with it. How quaint, I know. This year they have a new defensive coordinator in Tim Tibesar who spent the last three seasons in the Canadian Football League, who has reportedly tried implementing a 3-4 in closed practice.
… GERG, is that you?
Yes, that is a stupid idea.
As far as the defensive line goes, 1st team All-B1G DT Kawann Short (54 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 7 sacks) passed up the NFL draft to play his senior season in West Lafayette and anchor the line. If all goes well he could hear his name during the first round in 2013. Around him are two solid returnees in DT Bruce Gaston (29 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3 sacks) and DE Ryan Russell (32 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack). This defensive line should end up being excellent by most standards, particularly in the middle. Why the Boilermakers would want to take any of these guys off the field in favor of a linebacker is beyond me.
The secondary will be one of the better ones in the B1G, too. 2nd team All-B1G CB Ricardo Allen (79 tackles, 3 TFL, 4 PBU, 3 INT) is a proven commodity, and he’ll benefit from playing another year opposite CB Josh Johnson (63 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 9 PBU, 2 INT), who is also an active B1G corner. Despite losing WHODAT safety, they return WHODAT safety and seem to have a good nickel corner in WHODAT, who had a strong spring game.
So the linebackers … Nobody really knows anything about their linebackers, but five bucks says opposing teams will combo block and option the crap out of this group.
The Tibesar fellow thinks he should have four of them on the field, though.
Their defense is as frightening as: An accordian -- with a nice, soft crumple zone in the middle. Fear level = 7 on a scale from 1 (GERG ) to 10 (Alabama) if they stick with the base 4-3; 4 if they switch to a 3-4.
They lose Punter/Kicker Carson Wiggs (19/25) to graduation. He was their best kicker in school history. They will have to replace him.
Raheem Mostert will probably continue to return kicks and stuff.
That's pretty much it.
Their record will be: 7-5, 4-4 B1G (see above)
When they play Michigan: It could be close if Michigan still can't figure out how to get their act together on the road, but Michigan's ground game will eventually overwhelm their linebackers, and Purdue simply won't have enough playmakers on offense to keep up.
Their chance of winning the B1G is as good as: Raising their bet on pocket jacks. Indiana folds; Ohio State gets caught playing with jokers; everyone else calls. An ace and two kings appear on the flop … Michigan State goes all in.
To watch tonight. If you're starving for something in maize and blue to root on—and you probably are—softball's super regional matchup against Alabama will be on the TV. Game one is tonight(!) on ESPN2 at 8. Games two and three (if necessary) are Friday, with game two at 4:30 on ESPNU and hypothetical game 3 on ESPN2 at 7.
The full Jackie Chiles. I've accused a couple of lawyers who have entered our lives of being Seinfeld Cochran-parody Jackie Chiles, but Jalen Rose just won the title for all time:
"I think it was unnecessary. Flagrant. Defiant."
Rose goes on to say "it"—Mary Sue Coleman saying they won't be putting the banners up again for games that still never happened—is…
"…honest, and I respect that. If they choose not to embrace the Fab Five era, if they choose not to embrace us individually or as a team or the things we brought to the table, I really have no bitterness. I'm not mad at it.
"What's going to happen, though? … When you turn your back directly or indirectly on something that was so good to you, you're never going to get the true foundation of a program to build upon."
"I'm not bitter" is kind of like "I'm not racist, but…" in that it's only said when you're about to be bitter or racist. I can get Rose's frustration and appreciate that he cares enough about his time at Michigan that it bothers him, but the games are vacated. It's over, man.
Well, here they are. Everyone loves them some Phil Steele but whenever he releases these All Conference teams I look at the Big Ten and get suspicious about how closely he's paying attention. This year's edition:
Just amongst Michigan players, the inclusion of Omameh over Schofield, the total omission of Jake Ryan despite 16 linebackers featuring, and Roy Roundtree featuring on the first team raise eyebrows. Also there's no Countess, Kenny Demens is not better than Michael Mauti, and the next time Will Gholston beats a block it will be his… well, his second time. He did it in MSU's bowl game.
The text is really tiny and weird, though. This is Steele's secret weapon.
Hail Mallory. Is JT Floyd too high as well? Yeah, probably. But it's not ridiculous to have him on there. Gibson minus all of the points.
Imaginary depth chart revamp. Based on some things I'd heard I assumed that in the event Michigan needed to fish for a second replacement tackle it would be Ben Braden despite his relative lack of recruiting hype. This tea leaf from Borges suggests otherwise:
Offensive coordinator Al Borges said last week freshmen could compete at any spot this fall, but named Kyle Kalis and Erik Magnuson as leaders to see the field because of the Wolverines' woefully thin offensive line depth.
“Kalis is a good player and he’s going to get a chance, just like Erik Magnuson,” he said.
Meinke goes on to state that Kalis is expected to compete for the left guard job but may move to tackle in the future, which is inverted from my assumption. That assumption: left guard will be okay, but the horrifying lack of depth at tackle means this college-ready five star needs to be prepped there in case someone gets hurt playing football.
All of this will be torn up and revamped when fall camp hits. Finding out who the #3 tackle is and if the freshmen receiver can play immediately will be priorities.
On fire. With three goals in three games, Justin Meram is officially on fire in MLS JAM. The latest is at about 1:20 here:
That cross came from a man named "Dilly Duka."
Side note: parallels between Meram and Zach Putnam exist. Both brought about a renaissance in a non-revenue sport with potential and a pro league to continue to, both programs collapsed after they left, the absence of both saw their longtime program stewards terminated after about a decade in charge. Whenever I see either I think of some fun times that I thought were sustainable but ended up not being so.
He's on top of it! OSU reported 46 secondary violations a few days back. These were more comedy than crime. Adding to the comedy is Gene Smith as Towlie:
Smith told The Lantern Tuesday the athletic department has 12 pending NCAA violations, and he doesn’t know if they will be deemed primary or secondary violations.
“We’ve got 12 pending,” Smith said. “It may turn out to be secondary. It may not.”
OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg said in a Wednesday email to The Lantern, that there were actually less than 12 pending violations. Wallenberg did confirm that the additional violations are being “processed,” although he did not “know the status of each situation” in regards to whether it was being processed by the university or the NCAA.
I have no idea what's going on, you guys.
Chances anything serious comes out of this asymptotically approach zero until Charles Robinson arrives on the scene in a superhero costume, but it's good to get further confirmation that the man in charge of Ohio State athletics is maybe not so good at his job. [UPDATE: Smith clarifies that Charles Robinson is not on campus.]
Support the troops. Dave Brandon's opposed to having anything in the Midwest ever, and if you aren't you are pissing on our student-athletes:
"The one thing that kind of gets left out of this discussion that maybe ought to get some weight are the kids," he said Friday during WTKA's Mott Takeover. "Now, I know a lot of people don't really care about that part, but I do, and if you polled our players and said, 'If you played a really tough, successful, long regular season, the award you're going to get is to travel to Ford Field or Lucas Oil Stadium,' they would look at you and say, 'Huh?'
"They love going to warm weather. They love going to some of these locations they, in some cases, have never visited."
…TO PLAY FOR A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME ON SOMETHING APPROXIMATING A HOME FIELD AAAAARGH. I shouldn't even bother repeating the things. They are just infuriating. Next week there will be a sudden reversal and Brandon will talk about how he doesn't consider on-campus sites to be on campus. It's not really a home field advantage, you see, because something something something pasta in a bread bowl.
We made money! Besides, Michigan made bank on the Sugar Bowl:
While the Big Ten conference received $6.1 million for an at-large BCS team and gave Michigan $2.05 million for travel and other expenses for its participation in the game, that was not Michigan's profit on the game.
After expenses were taken out and the Big Ten absorbed the cost of the university's unsold tickets, Michigan brought in $78,916 in profit from its trip to New Orleans, according to records received by WolverineNation as part of a Freedom of Information request.
It's not quite as bad as that. Michigan still has a couple million coming from the league. It seems like the travel and expenses budget is designed to approximately break even. The Big Ten ate about 400k in unsold tickets from the Sugar.
Etc.: ESPN's putting together a "hate week" that seems incompatible with their corporate goals, but if you're writing about Fielding Yost's irrational hatred for something I'll read it.
Derrick Walton still tearing up AAU. Michigan Hockey Net interviews Michael Downing. Troy Woolfolk on stuff. Glick fluff from Michigan Today. I kind of wish it wasn't smack dab in the middle of State Street, since that forced soccer to relocate off campus.
Last fall, Michigan introduced the "Michigan Football Legends" as an alternative to retiring uniform numbers, honoring Desmond Howard before the Under The Lights game with a patch that now adorns the #21 jersey. As one of three Heisman Trophy winners to don the Maize and Blue, Howard was more than deserving of such an honor, and I'd wager that one Charles Woodson is due for a patch of his own in the near future.
I'm a fan of this, and hope that the families of players whose jerseys are currently retired—the Wistert brothers (#11), Bennie Oosterbaan (#47), Gerald Ford (#48), Ron Kramer (#87), and Tom Harmon (#98)—eventually decide it's better to see those jerseys once again placed in the rotation, their accomplishments recognized in a way the fans actually see every week during the fall*. If that happens, however, we'll quickly face the issue of diluting the honor; if all the retired jerseys become "Legends" and you add Woodson to the mix, all of a sudden you have seven jerseys with patches before getting to guys like Anthony Carter, Bennie Friedman, and (eventually) Jake Long.
Where do you draw the line? On one hand, there are a multitude of players who could merit such an honor; it isn't difficult to make the case for such players as Dan Dierdorf, Mark Messner, Braylon Edwards, Mike Hart, Willie Heston (though he didn't wear a jersey number, making it rather implausible that he'll be celebrated in this fashion), Bob Chappuis... the list goes on. On the other hand, the awarding of a Legend jersey loses some of its luster if half of the starting 22 is rocking a patch every year. The way I see it, there are two ways to handle this issue.
The first is simple and obvious: only give out Legend status to a very select few. Edwards and Hart, for example, were remarkable to watch on the field, made their mark on the record books, were wildly popular amongst fans, and in Braylon's case had an indelible signature moment ('04 MSU). Still, I don't think either merits inclusion among the pantheon of Michigan legends, even if the focus is solely on on-field accomplishments; this would be an honor reserved for truly once-in-a-generation athletes. Edwards is probably closer than Hart in this regard, but the shadow of three-time All-American Anthony Carter looms large. If we're going by this method, I'd give out Legend jerseys for the retired numbers, Howard, Woodson, AC, Chappuis, and Friedman. That's it, at least for now.
The second option, which I find preferable, is to be a little more generous with the Legend distinction, but be relatively selective when it comes to handing out those jerseys. While I realize this brings about the same problem as retired uniforms—if nobody merits a Legend jersey, you start running out of numbers in a hurry—there's also an easy solution for that: keep using the honored numbers, but only affix the Legend patch for a player who plays the same position as the legendary player in question. Raymon Taylor wore #21 last year even after the Notre Dame game, but the defensive back's jersey was patchless. With Roy Roundtree wearing Howard's number this year, however, Taylor switched over to #6 in the spring. [EDIT: Taylor actually switched before the SDSU game last year, but the point remains—this can be done.]
Using this method, you have a real drawing point for players from each position group—we saw this week with Leon McQuay III how much of a recruiting pitch these jerseys can potentially be—and also get the chance to recognize even more of Michigan's rich football history. It isn't hard to find a player worth remembering at each position group:
QB: Bennie Friedman (#27)
RB: Tom Harmon (#98), Bob Chappuis (#49)
WR: Desmond Howard (#21), Anthony Carter (#1)
TE: Bennie Oosterbaan (#47)
OT: Dan Dierdorf (#72) or Jake Long (#77) (I'd probably lean towards Long)
OG: Steve Hutchinson (#76)
C: Gerald Ford (#48) (Not sure if coaches would want a lineman wearing a number that low, but I'd love to see it)
DT: The Wistert brothers (#11)
DE: Ron Kramer (#87) (Fudged a little, but Kramer played just about everything)
LB: Ron Simpkins (#40)
DB: Charles Woodson (#2)
Again, not all of these would be given out every year, especially since you might be hard-pressed to find a quarterback who wants to wear #27 or a running back ready to rock a number most commonly found on the defensive line. I really enjoy seeing college players wear numbers that don't traditionally fit their position, however, so I'd love to see some of these, especially a star defensive tackle wearing #11.
Honoring Carter could also help Michigan finally free the #1 jersey from the grasp of Edwards. I realize Edwards funds a scholarship, which makes this a tricky situtation, but I'd hope he would understand the historical impact of Carter and his status as the patriarch of the #1 jersey tradition for Michigan receivers. Or, now that I'm done laughing, Michigan just does it anyway because it's the right thing to do.
This may be spreading the Legend concept a little thin this early in its existence—what happens, say, when we're far enough past the careers of Denard, Woodley, and the next generation of Wolverines?—but it does a great job of acknowledging players of every era, a point I find important for such a historically-driven endeavor. Now, has anybody asked Denard how he feels about wearing #27?
*I doubt your average Michigan fan knows about the Wisterts, which is criminal when you realize that three brothers all were All-American tackles at the same school. That's just ridiculous, and we should be reminded of this fact every time a Wolverine trots out onto the field wearing #11.
Where have you gone, Zach Putnam? [Via Roar of the Tigers.]
Michigan fired baseball coach Rich Maloney yesterday, a precipitous fall for a guy who was being heavily courted by SEC schools a couple years ago. Tennessee interviewed him five years back, whereupon Maloney signed the contract that just expired. Back then there were a number of future major-leaguers on the roster. Now not so much.
What happened? I have a little inside baseball (HAIKM) on this one: when his assistant Jake Boss was hired at Eastern Michigan this crippled his recruiting. Reports from guys being recruited at the time say it was Boss who was the face of the program and that Maloney did not have a boots-on-the-ground approach to recruiting. It's kind of like what would happen to Red if he lost both of his assistants, played in a mid-major league, and was not Red Berenson.
Boss was boss enough for Michigan State to pick him up after just one year and the turnaround in their fortunes has been obvious:
|2005||42-19, NCAA bid||22-31|
|2006||43-21, Big Ten double, NCAA bid||24-29|
|2007||42-19, Big Ten title, reach super-regionals||25-26|
|Boss leaves for EMU|
|2008||46-14, Big Ten tourney title, NCAA bid||26-30|
|Boss joins MSU|
|2011||17-37||36-21, Big Ten champs|
MSU's coach before Boss left to be the pitching coach at LSU. They weren't going to get rid of the guy just for going .500. They loved that. The year before he arrived they were ninth in the league. That's the kind of program we're dealing with. Boss's title year was the sixth-most wins in the history of the program. Their 2011 title was their first since 1979. This is not quite as impressive as Purdue breaking its streak of not winning since 1909(!!!), but it's still pretty impressive.
Meanwhile Michigan cratered a year after Boss left, finishing tenth in the league the last two years. Wisconsin doesn't have a program, so that's last and second from last. It was time to let the guy go.
I won't pretend to have my pulse on the beating heart of college baseball, but it's doubtful Michigan can recapture the magic they had in the middle of the last decade when a couple of local stars who both pitched and hit (Putnam, Abraham) decided to stay local. Their impact on the program was huge, especially Putnam. Unless the balance of college baseball recruiting changes drastically for no good reason, that's the kind of thing that has to happen for Michigan to be the kind of team that can host the charity northern regional.
Failing that, being one of the two or three or four (now that Nebraska is around) Big Ten teams in contention for the league's autobid year-in and year-out is something to shoot for. I doubt they'll make a run at Boss—that might ruin Brandon and Hollis's golf outing—but they probably should.
If they don't latch on to Boss they should hire someone who can make it warm in February. Nothing else is going to help the Big Ten other than leaving the NCAA entirely.