mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
A lot has changed since last week, some for good some for bad. I will try to keep you up to date the best I can, and here's a look at what we know so far. Remember if you ever have any recruiting tips or questions you can always email me at email@example.com. You can also follow me on Twitter to get more recruiting updates as they come through.
We might as well start with the ugly bits and talk about the recent decommitments. K Matt Goudis recently took a visit to Miami and decided to commit to the Hurricanes. Al Golden has some weird obsession with Michigan recruits. He's pursuing Goudis, Dallas Crawford, Kellen Jones, and Kris Frost.
DB Dallas Crawford officially decommitted from Michigan, and it's looking like it's over. Who Brady Hoke hires as his defensive coordinator could still make an impact on Crawford. We'll have to wait to see who the new DC is to know, but it's looking very grim.
OL Jake Fisher decommitted yesterday, and has decided to open everything up after visiting Michigan State this past weekend. He's saying everyone is even and could end up taking visits to Oregon, Florida, and Notre Dame. It's not looking good for Michigan to get him back.
Those three are officially decommited and a few more are on the fence. OL Tony Posada took a visit to Mississippi State this past weekend, and there's a rumor that he loved it. Posada is supposed to visit Michigan this coming weekend. We'll see how Tony feels after that. DB Blake Countess also took a visit to Penn State, but has been vocal about his love for Michigan so there may not be much to worry about there. LB Kellen Jones recently took a visit to Colorado and may end up taking a visit to Miami as well. We'll see if that materializes.
Now that Matt Goudis has decommitted, Michigan would still like to land a kicker in this class.
There were rumors of former high school kicker Derrick Mitchell potentially walking on at Michigan. I spoke with his father to see what the situation was, and he had this to say.
(Former Michigan kicker) Mike Gillette knew about Derrick and connected him with Coach Rodriguez. They said they needed a kicker and had a spot for him if he wanted it. The problem is that Derrick is in the minor leagues right now with the Phillies. He had a pretty good season last year, so I don't know if he wants to give that up just to be a kicker.
The strange part is that the Phillies would pay for part of Mitchell's tuition if he were to come to Michigan. He's getting paid 5th round money right now and is moving up to AA ball so it's not likely he'll come to Michigan this year.
6'2", 210 lbs.
San Diego, California
Wile received an offer from Michigan, which makes sense because he also had an offer from San Diego State. Wile was an Army All American, and would help fill the void Goudis' decommitment left.
Connor Loftus could still an option since he already had a Michigan offer, but the recent offer to Wile probably means the new coaches want him instead. Michigan will have to compete with Air Force and Nebraska. Wile will be in Ann Arbor this weekend.
New Offers and New Contact
The new Michigan coaches have started to reach out to recruits and extend new offers as well. Besides WIle here's a look at some new recruits that Michigan is now targeting. There will be plenty more of these as the coaching staff fills out and we get closer to signing day.
- DT Travarris Saulsberry (6'4", 252 lbs, Florida) - He's reporting he has an offer, but it's an odd offer because Saulsberry is committed to Tennessee, and has been since August. He told me he's 100% committed to the Vols and isn't considering Michigan.
- DE Jordan Williams (6'4", 240 lbs, Florida) - Williams is a teammate of Saulsberry and also committed to Tennessee. He also told me he's 100% with the Vols.
- DB Stefan McClure (5'11", 170 lbs, 4 Star, California) - McClure was just offered and plans on visiting Michigan this weekend. I spoke with McClure recently and I got the feel that he was genuinely open in his recruitment. If Michigan can impress him they'll have a shot.
- OL Pat Flavin (6'7", 260 lbs, 3 Star, Illinois) - Flavin has not been offered yet, but he did receive a call on Sunday from Michigan's OL coach Darrell Funk. He missed the call initially but called Coach Funk back and was told the situation is fluid right now. No offer was extended, but Funk wanted an update on where he was at. Probably means the coaches are waiting to see who decommits, and stays committed.
January 21st Visits
This weekend will be the first visit weekend hosted by Brady Hoke and company. Here's a list of visitors so far. This list will continue to change:
- TE/LB Frank Clark (6'2", 210 lbs, 3 Star, Ohio) The Glenville prospect has showed genuine interest in Michigan, and there is an even greater need for his services with the switch in offensive philosophy.
- ATH Raymon Taylor (5'10", 165 lbs, 4 Star, Michigan) The former Indiana commit has always been a fan of Michigan. He does like the new Indiana staff, so we'll see what happens.
- DB Stefan McClure (5'11", 170 lbs, 4 Star, California). As mentioned.
- OL Tony Posada (6'6", 315 lbs, 3 Star, Florida) Fresh off a visit to Mississippi State, we'll see if he makes the trip.
- K Matt Wile (6'2", 210 lbs, 2 Star, California) Just offered two days ago, will be visiting Ann Arbor.
- WR Hakeem Flowers had a phone call scheduled with the new Michigan coaches on Sunday. He is announcing on the 23rd and it's down to Oregon, Michigan, and LSU. Michigan is still in great position with Flowers.
- WR Devin Lucien is announcing on the 30th. Brady Hoke hasn't contacted him yet, so the interest is starting to fall.
- WR/LB Kris Frost is still waiting to hear back from Auburn on whether his commitment will be honored. He's not graduating early anymore, so he might end up taking more visits. Miami is coming after him, but if the Michigan coaches get in contact with him and push they will still have a good chance.
- OL Chris Bryant took an official visit to Pitt, where former Michigan coaches Calvin Magee, Tony Gibson, and Tony Dews are now coaching. He swung by Michigan on the way home to meet with Brady Hoke. The meeting lasted long enough to require Bryant and his dad to have to get a hotel for the night. I'll try to catch up with Bryant on Monday to talk about the visit.
Because the logical thing to do these days is expect everything will be DOOM forever I was waiting for Denard Robinson to say something about not transferring (instead of people who have talked to Denard Robinson) before declaring ollie ollie oxen free. This would be that:
I'm still expecting a couple weeks of terrifying rumors in May, but I think it's safe for the kids on the diag to put their candles out and head home.
There have been kids on the diag with lit candles, right?
[New media looking-glass bonus: this is a snippet of a longer interview posted by the official site, clipped by a television station, placed on youtube by the roving band of Michigan video maniacs, and embedded by yours truly.]
[Ed-M: Bumped for excellence]
OK, this is not actually a work of staggering genius. You should definitely read the Dave Eggers book it refers to, though - good stuff.
Rather, it is a brief and simple explanation of everything that has happened or will happen in Michigan football. It is based on one simple idea: if you win a lot, you are a genius. If you win most of the time, the fans will grumble but tolerate you. If you lose a lot, you will get fired. I think we all know this.
To make this case, I have simply plotted the wins and losses over the years on the following bar chart, broken down by margin of victory. Here is the graph:
As you can see, the years increase over the x-axis (horizontal direction), and the number of wins and losses are plotted on the y-axis (wins go up from 0, losses go down; ties, when they still happened, are split as half for a win and half for a loss). Wins are broken down into three categories: wins by 15 or more (navy blue), wins by 8-14 (blue), and narrow wins by 7 or less (light blue); losses are similarly split apart, and ties are left white.
I think the graph shows a few important things. First, what an amazing run we had as fans. For almost 40 years, watching Michigan football meant losing a couple or three (close) games, and winning the rest; I wonder if there is any stretch like that in modern football history.
Second, and perhaps most key, is the era that spoiled us: Bo's first five years. What a f***ing first impression that man made! After a "pedestrian" 9-3 season in which he upset the best OSU of all time, Bo's next four years featured: a 1970 loss (by 11 to OSU), a 1971 loss to Stanford (by 1 in the Rose Bowl), a 1972 loss to OSU (by 3), 1973 tie (with OSU, and you know how that story ends), and a 1974 loss to OSU (by 2). Wow!
For those of you not old enough to remember (and this includes me, barely), can you imagine such an era? With a little more luck, Bo could have won three or four national championships. Simply stunning, and what a great way to turn yourself into a legend.
Third, the graph shows I think that in the following years, Bo settled into the pattern we are more used to, with a few losses here and there, and one Year of Infinite Pain before such years were named and blogged about. That year of course was 1984, a year in which Bo went 6-6, almost beat "national champion" BYU in a bowl game, and caused Bo to rededicate himself for his final stretch run.
Fourth, I think the graph shows why some people were unhappy with the Lloyd Carr era - though the general year-to-year record remained very similar to Bo's steady state (which I will demonstrate further below), there are a lot more close wins; in other words, the team continued to win at about the same pace, but more of those wins were in games that could have gone either way. And this makes sense: think back to all those last-second wins against Penn State, Michigan State, and others - we were continuing to win, but not in as dominant a fashion as we were used to.
Finally, I think the graph shows why RichRod was in no way going to get a chance to continue: too many losses, and too many of those in non-competitive games. It was just too much.
Anyhow, to sum up each coach, I also made a plot of their overall win/loss percentage. It is available here:
Instead of just showing Bo's entire history smashed into one bar, though, I separated it into the first 5 years and the rest. The first conclusion from this graph: how similar Bo, Mo, and Carr were, once you take away Bo's first five years! Almost identical, except for that one small difference: that Carr had a noticeable number more of close wins, and both Mo and Carr had a few more not-so-close losses.
And though it's unfair to take Bo's first five years out, those five years were so crazy and unusual, they should be separated and celebrated for what they were: one of the best five-year runs in modern football history. It is those years, I think, where we derive our modern expectations. We think we should always be like that, when in reality it's quite difficult to expect such near-perfection year to year. I think that expectation is what drove all the Carr grumbling, and perhaps caused us all to look to "reboot" the program instead of just "maintain" it.
Imagine a different universe where Bill Martin, instead of looking for the best national coach, was looking for someone steeped in the Michigan way, to maintain its current glory? Who would he have hired? Would one young coach at Stanford, full of Michigan spirit and not yet too full of himself, be considered for the opening? One can only wonder at what might have been, had we been happier with what we had.
[Edit: when I talk about Bo's first "five" years, I mean 1969 through 1974, which as you might have noticed, is six years.]
[Edit (2): Replaced stupid imageshack links with links to Picasa. Imageshack banned the photos; apparently too much traffic!]
In a van down by the river. Yes, okay, in a van down by the river. You can stop emailing me this.
In a van down by the river. Hoke's talked to Adam Rittenberg. Here's yet another image of Brady Hoke pointing at stuff:
This is good. This makes him basically Urban Meyer.
As far as the actual WORDS Brady Hoke was SAYING, I get the feeling that in six months we're going to be able to do this in our sleep:
I want to make sure we're crystal clear on the direction we want to go. They have to understand the goal of the program and how we're going to go about achieving that goal, the accountability to each other, the toughness that we want to play the game with, the mentality we want to play the game with and the demeanor that you play the game with.
He also says Denard is definitely staying and will be "the lead part of our offense." In part two he says "represent Michigan," "represent the University of Michigan," and "play Michigan football." This man is on message.
Dollarz. Michigan's buying out the remainder of Hoke's contract for a million dollars, which you knew. They're also going to be paying out an extremely precise sum for next fall's game against the Aztecs:
Michigan agreed to pay $1,016,800 for SDSU to play the game in Ann Arbor. “That will be a fun one,” Sterk said.
The tomato cans are getting expensive these days. Actually, with SDSU sporting a senior quarterback in 2011 and Michigan's secondary still trying to figure out which way "left, left, LEFT GODDAMN LEFT AAAARGH" is dubbing SDSU a "tomato can" might be getting ahead of ourselves. The last time they came to town it took a who-dat freshman tailback named Mike Hart to pull Michigan's ass out of the fire in a too-narrow 24-21 win.
Also from that article: SDSU's 22 verbals are not wavering according to their new coach. Just in case you were wondering if we could pick off players from the fifth-ranked class in the MWC.
A (the?) defensive coordinator candidate. The name being thrown around at the moment for Michigan's open defensive coordinator spot is former Michigan assistant Vance Bedford, who was the DBs coach from 95-98. After that stint he had a six year tenure as a DB coach with the Bears, was hired by Oklahoma State to be DC, was fired after two years, returned to Michigan for Carr's final season, left for Florida to be DBs coach, and was named Louisville DC when Charlie Strong got that job.
Louisville put up some nice numbers this year but when the head coach is Charlie Strong it's questionable how much impact you're having. Also, playing in the Big East had an impact on that—they're a good-not-great 40th in FEI, one slot behind UConn. Bedford's previous tenure as a DC did not end well. Just a few games into his second season as AD he unleashed this…
Monday, after OSU's defense surrendered 509 yards in a loss at Houston, Bedford said: "People are saying, ‘Well, same 'ol Oklahoma State.' Go tell those people that told that same 'ol lie to go ahead and jump off the ship like a bunch of roaches. That's OK because that's what they are, a bunch of roaches.
…and then refused to back off of it later. This probably did not help his case to keep his job; neither did finishing 95th and 89th in total defense in his two years. Oklahoma State got worse after he left, FWIW.
Hiring Bedford would be another shrug-your-shoulders moment. There's no reason to expect he's awesome but he's not Greg Robinson.
Campbell spins like a top. According to ESPN—weird source for this obscure news—Will Campbell will move back to defensive line. That might be an indication Hoke is planning a 4-3, where Campbell might fit better as a planetoid-sized NT whose job is to be the unmovable object.
The problem with this is that Campbell was very moveable in his brief stints on the field and people generally thought Bruce Tall was the one defensive assistant who could find his ass in three tries. Since Michigan has a couple of quality candidates to replace Steve Schilling they might as well try Campbell out in a scheme that fits him better than the 3-3-5 did. I'm still doubtful he's going to suddenly figure things out.
The Hoke file. Your long fluff piece on new coach X fell to Lynn Henning and reveals a strange opinion about vegetables:
"He didn't like vegetables. His favorites were two of the dumbest: cooked spinach and Brussels sprouts."
What's your problem with spinach and brussels sprouts, Mother Hoke?
BONUS: Phrases deployed include "crackerjack recruiter," "sublime hire," "astonishingly pure love for Michigan," and "the fun, the glory."
Etc.: Headlines you'll see. MVictors has handy sound clips you can embed whenever a thing Brady Hoke said in his introductory press conference aligns with your thoughts and feelings. Podcast appearance on Bucknuts, though you still have to login to hear it. San Diego is slightly more laid back than West Virginia about football.
Michigan emerges from a brutal stretch in their schedule having lost 4 of their last 5 games, but the reality of the situation may not be as dire as it sounds. The last two teams to beat them, Kansas and Ohio State, are both undefeated on the year, certain to be ranked #1 and #2 in next week's polls. With a combined margin of victory of 11 points (7 of them in overtime), Michigan has shown it can play with the big boys, if not necessarily beat them.
That makes the upcoming stretch of the schedule critical. Winnable road contests against Indiana and Northwestern follow the brutal stretch. Then there is a 3-day layoff before a home game against Minnesota. Ken Pomeroy predicts a win only against the Gophers, but the Wolverines must steal at least one of the other two to keep the season--and the hope of an NIT bid--on track.
Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Learning lessons from a close loss only counts so much. The Wolverines want to start winning games. Probably, anyway. A reporter asked Zack Novak this after the Ohio State loss: "Would you rather have won this game?"
- As much of a revelation as Jordan Morgan was early in the season, consistently good competition down low will wear on him. He was held off the scoresheet against Ohio State. He's finding it difficult to stay on the court because of foul trouble.
- As for other post options, Jon Horford improves game-by-game, but is good for a couple more silly fouls each time out, reducing his playing time. Instead of more Blake McLimans, that means we've seen Evan Smotrycz see serious time at the 5. He stretches the floor offensively, but needs a lot of help to guard talented bigs down low. He managed to contain Sullinger surprisingly well.
- Zack Novak is shooting the ball much better of late, whereas Stu Douglass has seen his 3-point percentage dip. Those two and Matt Vogrich have the "green light" to shoot. Beilein said today that teams are keying on Stu a little more, and Ohio State in particular was willing to give up the lane a little bit in order to lock down the perimeter.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. is close to getting the green light to shoot, but needs to continue adjusting to the speed and length of college defenders.
- Darius Morris's production has slipped a little bit, but Beilein insists that it's more a product of very tough competition (Michigan's last three opponents are in Kenpom's top 11), than anything Darius is doing wrong in decision-making.
For most of the year Michigan has faced teams that rarely send opponents to the free throw line, but rarely get there themselves. That changes with Indiana, as the Hoosiers play a physical interior game that draws plenty of shooting fouls. They are also among the worst in the country at not sending opponents to the line. Something has to give, and Michigan is likely to shoot more free throws than they're used to against IU as long as the game remains competitive.
Michigan and Indiana have comparable offenses (in terms of adjusted efficiency), but the Wolverines have a much better D. Since they've just faced three top-15 offenses in a row, the less-effective competition may be welcome. Similarly, Michigan hasn't forced many turnovers this year, but the Hoosiers are one of the sloppiest teams with the ball that they've faced in a while.
Key players for IU include 6-9 Christian Watford, 6-5 Verdell Jones, and 6-0 Jordan Hulls. Hulls is a sharpshooter, in the top 5 nationally in eFG%. Watford is IU's best at getting to the free throw line, and Jones leads the Hoosiers in assist rate. Jeremiah Rivers (yes, the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers) plays plenty of minutes, but is practically invisible on the court, averaging just 3 points and under 2 assists per game.
The Hoosiers and Wolverines are both struggling as they enter tomorrow night's contest, as IU is winless in their last six. They last tasted victory December 19th against South Carolina State.
The Big Ten Geeks review the Ohio State loss. UMHoops breaks down some of Michigan's stats and interviews IU bloggers from Inside the Hall. For their part, Inside the Hall takes a look at the Wolverines.