this may be of some local interest
THE WORST. I can’t even bring myself to talk about it. As of this writing it had 43 upvotes: Read it.
THE SALUTES MARCH ON. Catching you up on the Catching Up With series, ReadYourGuard is still talking to his old teammates. Lately he’s profiled Brent White, Clay Miller, Tim Williams, Mike Dames, David Key and Mike Reinhold.
A taste of what you’re missing, from Reinhold (goofy looking fellow at right-above):
When the film played this particular punt play and the guy came through the line unblocked, Bo came unglued. He stopped the film, flipped on the lights, and barked out, “Who is this man?” as he smacks the screen with his pointer. Mike was sitting in the back of the room with the rest of the freshman and the assistant coaches standing behind them, against the back wall. He raised his hand.
“Stand up, son.”
“What the hell were you thinking?”
This is the absolute last place on earth you want to be; standing in front of the entire team with Bo asking you a question that has no right answer. The naïve 2nd year player responded with “I don’t know”.
Oooof. Wrong answer.
WHO GETS TO PLAY THE MOST B1G WEST OF THE BIG WEST, BASICALLY. MaizeJacket went through the cross-divisional threes for each Big Ten team this year and ranked them. As expected, the B1G East teams mostly had easier cross-division games due to playing those games against the B1G West. Not sure however that I agree with his rankings: Indiana has Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue, whereas Maryland swaps the Wildcats for the Gophers. Minnesota’s tougher than Northwestern will be I bet.
MAC’S LONG GOODBYE
In an offseason when we’re super excited about bringing in one of the best defensive coordinators in the country, some awful news about one of the greatest DCs in Michigan history was finally made public. Bill McCartney has Alzheimer’s. Mac (along with his brother) was a legendary high school coach in the Detroit area who joined the Michigan staff in 1974 after Bo made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
When Gary Moeller took the Illinois job, Mac took over the defense, beginning a run for “McCartney’s Monsters” that set most of the defensive records in modern program history (including the three-shutout streak the 2015 team tied). We have an article this year by Dr. Sap on the 1980 team and how Coach Mac invented the Dime (4-1-6) defense to stop Purdue’s early shotgun spread-to-pass outfit. Mac went on to win a national championship as head coach of Colorado. FYI everything he remembered for the article checked out.
MEET THE NEW NUMBERS:
Rasmus broke down the history of the numbers and what inspired them, and also suggested we call that a “Winged 4”. Co-sign.
PROJECTING WIN TOTALS. Ecky Ptang (Ni!) took the S&P+ and FPI preseason numbers and made them into those likelihood charts that are so useful later on in the season for comparisons. Michigan’s centered on…10!
Ecky did a good job breaking down what things mean.
A GOOD BET. Last time I did one of these posts I shared The Saturday Edge’s annual free betting prospectus. Tim contacted me after and asked if he could sponsor another DD in return for me finding more flaws in his Big Ten preview. Here’s some nits:
- Iowa’s Matt VandeBerg’s yards per target make him more impressive than his YPC. (Okay I know I’m supposed to be ripping on things but Tim uses the Hawkeyes’ too-lucky turnover ratio last year as a negative and I wanted to point out this is why the gamblers are smarter than the hot takers).
- He’s a bit too high on Nebraska’s offense (which I think has reached its ceiling) and Northwestern’s DTs.
- Who is this “Purdue”?
- Argh name an Ohio State secondary (this could go for Urban Meyer too)
- Too high on MSU’s OL and MSU in general.
Now that I’ve read all the others I kinda think I sold it short because of the missing Michigan details.
A SILVER AGE OF BIG TEN COACHING. Reader canzior surveyed the Big Ten coaching field in the wake of some apparently good hires the last few years and declared the coaching talent in the league to finally be catching up to the SEC.
I did my HTTV article a few years back on the dramatic difference between how most SEC schools were hiring coaches and Big Ten coaches were. The upshot:
All told the hires I filed as “Strong” at the time went 758-377 (67% winning percentage), the “Average” ones went 404-275 (60%), and the “Cheap” hires went 320-443 (42%). Strong hires totaled a 4% improvement from those programs’ historic average winning percentage; average ones met the school average, and cheap hires have been winning at a rate 11 points below what’s typical for their programs.
Coaching hires are crootin x 100 and give similar returns: the 5-stars require massive investment but work out >50% of the time, 4-stars hit less, and 3-stars are easier to get but are a quarter as likely to be great (at which point you're paying them like a 5-star anyway).
You should hit the link for two reasons: 1.) a comprehensive chart of current Power 5 coaches and their coordinators, and 2.) the thread is a fun discussion comparing coaching years.
For that I submitted 1998: Hayden Fry, Nick Saban, Barry Alvarez, Lloyd Carr, and Joe Paterno are hall of famers; Mason, Turner, Tiller, and Barnett were some of the best coaches in their school's history; and John Cooper won just about every game except The Game. The last guy is Cam Cameron, a Bo assistant who coached the Antwaan Randle-El era, currently coordinates the Leonard Fournette offense, and was an NFL OC and HC in between. The next year Fry and Barnett were replaced with Ferentz and Randy Walker, and the Big Ten had its best year ever. Good coaching: kinda important.
ETC. What happened to Jehu? MGoColloquialisms. Wallpaper will terminate you. Only Cazzie’s number is actually retired. Children exist so that the embarrassing things adults do can look cute (I taught my 2-year-old to do the GO!-> <-BLUE! cheer). Video of players speaking at Jordan launch. Game blouses: TRUE STORY! Brian, Rittenberg, Todd Howard and I will be in Chicago in 2 weeks from yesterday. For Draftageddon complainers: MGoBlog’s offseason content 10 years ago.
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN:
Ace forgot to put Aubrey Solomon murderating a guy in the roundup so I get to do it:
— Kevin Pych (@pychke) August 3, 2016
BBQ Visitors Update
Before I get into the actual post, a quick update from 247's Steve Lorenz on the BBQ visitors list—as is the case with any recruiting event, a handful of prospects on the early list won't end up making it:
ATH Markquese Bell
ATH Sione Heimuli-Lund
TE Josh Falo
LB Jordan Anthony
Michigan still is in good shape with Bell (who just set up an official) and Anthony; we'll see how matters develop with Heimuli-Lund and Falo.
Four current commits who were slated to attend, including Dylan McCaffrey, also aren't coming this weekend.
There are, at least, two high-profile additions among 2018 visitors: four-star IN RB Markese Stepp (ND commit) and four-star IN OG Emil Ekiyor. [CROOTIN EDIT: Steve just let me know Stepp and Ekiyor cancelled late, too. Ekiyor may still try to make the trip, but Stepp definitely won't be there.]
About Our Ballz
KJ Hamler's comments about Oregon to an MSU reporter led to an early CB pick.
Anyway, the point of this post—which will turn into a recurring post on our Crystal Ball picks—is to go over our methodology for making Crystal Ball selections, since people go about making those picks in very different ways. For instance, Lorenz is pretty conservative with his picks, presumably because he has to account for the reaction from his readers and make sure he's not tipping the hand of a recruit who wants to keep an air of mystery about his destination (which happens fairly often).
Brian and I (we both put picks in on my account) take a different, more speculative approach—we're more willing to put in an early pick, keeping in mind that we can always change it if new information arises. While this occasionally comes back to bite us—like with the Ademilola twins, who had Michigan out in front, then made surprising early commitments on a visit to Notre Dame—it often has a big payoff, and also helps us show where we think a recruitment stands at the current time.
For example, we put in the first Michigan pick for Dylan McCaffrey shortly following his second unofficial visit to campus. As a general rule, an out-of-state (and especially out-of-region) prospect paying his way for a second unofficial is an excellent sign; we put in a Michigan pick for Nico Collins pretty much the moment his plane landed for his second visit, and thus far that looks like the right call.
We also look at what prospects are saying (duh), and just as importantly, who they're saying it to. Back in January, MGoBlog fave-rave KJ Hamler told an MSU recruiting reporter that Oregon was his dream school; at the time, MSU had offered and Oregon hadn't, but because we thought Hamler was good enough to get that Ducks offer, we put in the pick. Oregon offered in May and are now on top for Hamler. Hamler talking up another school to a team-specific recruiting reporter was significant enough for us to put in that pick early.
Team needs are also taken into account. Even after Markquese Bell said that distance was no longer a factor in his recruitment, we kept our pick on Rutgers until we thought he was a take for Michigan, at which point we changed the pick. We've also slowed our roll on putting in picks for offensive linemen because space is getting tight and there's a distinct possibility they add at least one more OL commit this weekend.
Normally, Henry Bainivalu would get a pick for taking his second unofficial, but unless he commits this weekend—which would be an unexpected development—it's unclear if M will have room for him if he extends his recruitment too long. To be honest, neither of us are entirely sure what to do about the OL, since Michigan is at or near the top of the list for more prospects than they can possibly fit into the class; for now, we're sticking with our early picks on Wilson, Ruiz, and Slaton, but that could easily change.
Some picks are more speculative than others, since our goal is to have an opinion on the main prospects on Michigan's board. If we don't have a pick in for a Michigan target, it's a sign we really don't have an inclination as to where he could wind up. Sometimes those picks are essentially "Not Michigan" picks; we have a Rutgers pick in for NJ DT Corey Bolds because we don't expect him to be in M's class after that looked like a distinct possibility early on in his recruitment.
It's also worth keeping an eye on when we put in picks, because it's worth more points on 247 the longer you have a correct pick. We have Michigan picks in for Isaiah Wilson and Cesar Ruiz from last fall, and while the Wolverines are no longer the outright leader for either, they still have a good enough shot at each that it's not worth changing those selections until we have solid info that they won't be coming to Michigan. If a pick goes in shortly before a scheduled announcement, on the other hand, we usually have a good idea of what's going to happen.
I think that about covers it; our picks come down to a combination of heuristics (like the second unofficial and who-says-what-to-whom as signs of high interest), team need, and the occasional nugget of inside info we receive. So far it's working out pretty well; we're 29/32 on 2017 picks, good for 20th in the expert rankings, and only Steve is ahead of us among Michigan-centric experts (shakes fist at Steve).
Going forward, this series will cover our latest Crystal Ball picks, which you can always find here. There's no way I'm going to cover all the CB picks we have out there, but here are a handful we've put in recently:
OH DL James Hudson to MSU: I changed this from a Michigan pick when Hudson announced he'd decide soon and it wasn't clear if he was even a take for Michigan. While the Wolverines still have ground to cover, Hudson is a take and he'll be at the BBQ tomorrow; I may have been premature in switching this one.
AL OT Toryque Bateman to Michigan: When a guy flat-out says there's a 50-50 chance he commits, it makes this easy.
NJ ATH Markquese Bell to Michigan: Covered above. The biggest obstacle for Michigan looked to be distance from home, and that's no longer a factor.
NJ DT Fred Hansard to Florida: After the top-tier Big Ten schools passed up on Hansard, Florida is showing serious interest, and we followed 247 national reporter Steve Wiltfong and 247's Florida insider in putting in this pick.
IN WR Mac Hippenhammer to Iowa: We'd had a pick in for Penn State, then Hippenhammer named Iowa his leader. Sometimes these are pretty simple.
Thus ends this week's discussion of ballz. There will be much more ball-gazing in the future.
On the roundtable this week:
- Discussion of various teams in the Big Ten
- Ohio State is replacing everybody but is still Ohio State
- I am pro-PSU based on my opinion of Christian Hackenberg
- Ira gets me to admit error
- Craig is in Hawaii like a boss
- Iowa fans hate Ed
You can catch the entirety of the Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom, which includes Sam's recruiting roundup and guests like John Beilein, Jim Harbaugh, and other coaches.
THE USUAL LINKS
One of these coordinators is not like the other. A few days ago Athlon talked about Don Brown in one of those anonymous coach quote articles:
“BC’s defense last year was the biggest pain for us to prepare for because they did so many things, especially on third down. The fronts they lined up in, the pressures they came with were unique, and they had some big, physical players. They were legit.”
Yesterday was the Big Ten's turn and DJ Durkin came up in the Michigan section:
“They were pretty bland from a defensive standpoint. They’ll be very different schematically than with [D.J.] Durkin, but Don Brown is really good at what he does. Brown does a bunch of different things, but they wouldn’t let you throw posts last year in a league where people have thrown posts for 25 or 30 years, and I don’t think that will change.”
Durkin persisted in the no-posts D even when the opposition wasn't inclined to throw them and was very good at other things; my issue with the late slide last year was that Michigan didn't have a backup plan when one-high man free wasn't working. Brown will run a lot of the same stuff Durkin does. He likes man coverage, he runs a bunch of plays with one high safety. But he also runs a ton of cover two. That'll give Michigan a larger base from which to pick and choose when they get yo-yoed from an Iowa offense to OSU or Indiana.
As we talked about a bit in yesterday's mailbag, there are costs involved with the added complexity. There does appear to be an adjustment period for Brown—his year one defenses didn't improve much from their baselines. The hope is that those costs are borne against teams that don't football good and that Michigan's defense can reach a level above where they were last year by the time the MSU/Iowa/OSU road games come along.
The rest of that article will not surprise. Greg Mattison and Jourdan Lewis are good; Harbaugh is intense:
“They were a good team last year, but what they really did well is they played really hard and had a lot of pride. There’s a little (bit) of coach speak in that, but when you watched them on the field, how they lined up and communicated and the intensity they had on the sideline, it was really impressive.”
Maybe don't put the coachspeak bit in your noncoachspeak article, but there is a point in there about sideline organization.
I have good news for whichever coach said this about MSU:
“Offensively they’ll be fine. Connor Cook was good, but those receivers — they were unbelievable. They made contested catch after contested catch and attacked the football.”
The only WR with more than seven catches who returns is RJ Shelton, who is not Aaron Burbridge.
And this just emphasizes how bizarre the Mike Riley hire was:
“It’s not really a rebuild, it’s more of a teardown. They’re playing one style with players who were recruited for a totally different offense, so it’s just how many steps backward they have to take before they go forward.”
Riley is 63. If they even manage to make this transition he'll be done the moment it is. Yeah, maybe I am bitter because versions of Nebraska that don't rely on a running quarterback feel weird and wrong to me. But, I mean, cumong man.
Baylor again. Events in Waco continue to verge on the unbelievable:
Baylor offensive lineman Rami Hammad -- arrested on felony stalking charges Monday -- was accused last fall of sexually assaulting a student and violating a university-issued no-contact order after confronting the woman, Outside the Lines has learned.
Hammad is facing felony stalking charges after his former girlfriend reported several instances from March to July in which he tracked her down, harassed her and twice physically assaulted her, including once at Baylor's athletic facilities on campus.
Much of this occurred after Art Briles's firing and Ken Starr's resignation; if Baylor was ever going to take this stuff seriously it would be in the immediate aftermath of a huge public scandal. Survey says "nope." It took a literal felony arrest for a suspension to occur here.
Speaking of Baylor. Outgoing Cofopoff committee members explicitly state that Ohio State's epic beatdown of Wisconsin was the deciding factor when it came time to choose between OSU, TCU and Baylor in 2015:
Mike Tranghese: Without question, yes. That was the debate for the last five weeks of the year. We probably spent more time just discussing Baylor and TCU but then in the end, Ohio State just played very well at the end, and the way they dominated Wisconsin in the end, the championship game really took the pressure of making that decision out of our hands.
Osborne: That was a difficult one. I think the thing that was, as was mentioned many times, when you have a team that plays that 13th game against a supposedly good opponent and you win 59-0, decisively, then not having that championship game certainly was a factor to be considered. No question TCU and Baylor were really good teams and it was close, but it's hard to turn your back on somebody that wins their conference championship by 59-0.
If Michigan should be so fortunate to be in a position to run up the score in Jim Harbaugh's tenure, any questions about that approach should be fielded with a link to this article. Harbaugh should literally say "www dot espn dot com slash college dash football slash story slash underscore slash id slash one seven one seven two six one nine slash college dash football dash playoff dash committee dash members dash takeaways dash their dash first dash two dash years" if challenged.
Remember the name. Walk-on OL Andrew Vastardis has been repeatedly mentioned by Steve Lorenz as a guy to keep an eye on as a potential contributor down the road. He's certainly got the size; here he's standing next to Ben Bredeson:
Too fresh〽️ pic.twitter.com/wkGd7lMEXd
— Andrew Vastardis (@AndrewV68) August 3, 2016
That is a large gentleman.
Football coaches, man. Tom Herman on specific cultural reasons why going for it on fourth down is frowned upon by football coaches:
"You'd be surprised how many staffs I've been on or seen where the head coach will tell the offensive coordinator to go for it on fourth and 4 or from the 11, and they don't get it," Herman said, "and the defensive coordinator's over there mother-fuckin' em or cussin' 'em out."
I am a Big Ten football fan. I would not be surprised, sir. Not surprised at all.
Etc.: ESPN ranks Jabrill Peppers the #9 player in CFB and Jourdan Lewis #19. Jake Butt is #54. Lewis, Peppers, and Butt are 6, 7, and 9 in the Big Ten per ESPN. No Michigan DL make it because this is a journalist's list that's counting numbers or bust. Croots like Jordan. Beilein recruits like a Werther's Orginal: slow and sweet.
BBQ Visitors: Offense
The weekend in which I can't leave my laptop for more than 30 seconds is nearly upon us. The BBQ at the Big House is on Saturday, and it features a visitor list absolutely loaded with top-end talent. 247's Steve Lorenz has the full, updated list posted for free, as well as an excellent VIP post that goes in-depth on each uncommitted 2017 and 2018 prospect who'll be on campus. I'll do my best to cover the highlights. Keep in mind that every 2017 Michigan commit save for Aubrey Solomon, Kai-Leon Herbert, and AJ Dillon is slated to be in attendance.
The headliner, of course, is #1 overall prospect Najee Harris, the California running back committed to Alabama. According to Lorenz, Bama insiders think Michigan is the top threat to flip him from his current commitment, and Harris will be accompanied by his mother on the trip. Harris won't be the only back at the BBQ; four-star UT RB Sione Heimuli-Lund is a Stanford commit who could wind up at RB, FB, or LB (or, given Harbaugh, all of them).
Michigan's top four targets at wide receiver will all be in attendance. Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins need no introduction at this point; Michigan leads for Collins and is the presumed leader for DPJ. Four-star IA WR Oliver Martin is ramping up his recruitment now that baseball season is over—this weekend should give us a good idea of where Michigan stands compared to MSU, Iowa, Wisconsin, and his other contenders. Four-star CT WR Tarik Black has Michigan in his top group, though Lorenz thinks Notre Dame and Stanford are out ahead at this point. Michigan's top tight end on the board, four-star CA TE Josh Falo, will also be at the BBQ.
With three-star AL OT Toryque Bateman naming Michigan his leading heading into his BBQ visit, the offensive line is the most likely (though far from only) source of a weekend commitment—Bateman pegged his chances of committing at 50% and potentially higher if the visit goes as well as his last trip to Ann Arbor. Four-star tackles Isaiah Wilson and Aaron Banks are also on the list; Wilson is a Michigan/Bama battle right now, while the Wolverines are hoping to lure Banks away from top-tier Pac-12 programs.
As I was writing this, Steve reported that four-star OT Henry Bainivalu will make the trip from Washington. This is the second unofficial for Bainivalu, which is especially notable for a prospect from the other side of the country—Michigan definitely has a shot, and...
...oh boy, we might have a situation here.
One prospect who'd been mentioned as a possible visitor who won't make it: five-star KY OT Jedrick Wills, who looks like a longshot at best.
In the 2018 class, four-star Oak Park OG Marquan McCall—who could also wind up at DT—will accompany his committed teammate, OT JaRaymond Hall. While I've avoided mentioning the 2019 class, early rankings have Belleville OT Devontae Dobbs as a five-star prospect; he'll be at the BBQ with a couple classmates from a program that's got a lot of young talent.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
let me show you how we handle punks in the district, punk [Patrick Barron]
Everywhere I turn this offseason, it seems someone is writing another article lauding the aggression, complexity, blitzes, and disguises built into Don Brown's defense. These attributes have obvious upside, but are we overlooking what could be a very steep learning curve for this defense? Can we really expect these guys to flawlessly execute such a reportedly complex defense within the first year?
There will be transition costs; there always are. When you're real good and have real good players those can be overcome. Last year's offense had a bunch of transition costs and still rocketed from 82nd in S&P+ to 30th; in FEI they went from 100th(!) to 33rd. This leap occurred despite weekly UFR diatribes about how various people on Michigan's offense still didn't really know what they were doing.
It going to be tougher for the defense to have anything similar since they were already very good. It's hard to improve much from 20th (FEI) or 2nd (S&P+). The leap from DJ Durkin to Don Brown is probably extant; it is certainly less grand than the leap from Brady Hoke to Jim Harbaugh. Meanwhile Brown's defenses have tended to tread water in year one:
There's a ton of noise in that data since we're not accounting for returning starters and the like. It still suggests that a great leap forward should not be expected.
On the other hand, Don Brown has never been handed even half of the talent he's got this year and it's almost all very experienced. Michigan's starting D consists of eight seniors, a redshirt junior, Jabrill Peppers, and Rashan Gary. While these guys haven't worked on certain things Brown does, they've at least encountered them from time to time; they can also spend the bulk of their offseason working on that stuff since you can take it as read that they've got man free coverages down.
It is a concern, but the schedule is reassuring. I'll take a series of early biffs against teams Michigan beats by 21 instead of 28 if the payoff is a defense that is finally, finally, finally equipped with the state of the art in shutting down a spread n shred. The talent available should mitigate some of those hiccups—a coverage bust doesn't hurt you if the QB is running for his life—and once those get smoothed over, Michigan's ceiling is higher.
Let's go moo
In my travels throughout the internet I came a cross a rather unique rendition of 'Let's Go Blue' that I thought should be shared. There is a man named Farmer Derek, a high level Bard no doubt, who serenades his cattle and posts the songs on YouTube. At the end of his version of Royals by Lorde he goes into Let's Go Blue and the cattle respond in kind. I don't know what should be done with this video, if anything, but I believe it should be shared and thought you should be notified. Cheers.
Sincerely yours in football,
This is a great service to the fandom, Pinball Pete:
[After THE JUMP: not cows responding to Let's Go Blue so why even bother]