About 50 minutes. Also, I'm hosting, so you'll have to wait for another time to hear Brian's dulcet tones on the mic.
MORE RECRUITIN'. The top remaining positions of need—and the top targets to fill those needs—are discussed. You should be able to guess my top three Michigan targets without even bothering to listen (but please listen).
THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY RECRUITING GRAIL. Realistic expectations for how each class will fill out are put forth, as are guesses about where they will land in the national team rankings. I try very hard not to scream "eat it suckers we're number one!!!1!" I mostly succeed.
EVERYBODY IN THE CLUB COMMITTIN' EARLY. Why? We have theories.
NON-COMMITTABLE OFFERS AND YOU. Hate to break it to you, but Brady Hoke recruits a lot more like Urban Meyer than Bill O'Brien.
SONGS. Um, Brian chose the songs. Ask him. [ED: There aren't any songs except for the intro and outro since it's just one long segment.]
The usual links:
Unattributed from Colley Matrix computer poll / Archived from MGoBlue.com
Earlier this week Brian discussed the latest iteration of college football's playoff structure. While the commissioners try to get a ratification whip count from the states and techs etc., we're now left with a far narrower scope of playoff possibilities to argue, opine, and get ignored about. The number of teams is probably four. The parameters:
- Site: Current bowls or home games for higher seeds.
- Decision Process: BCS-like system or committee
At the moment I'm much more concerned with the first. Fortunately we have an entire BCS history's worth of trials to test these things. So let's just imagine that a four-team playoff was instituted in 1998 instead of the BCS.
Actually I did something similar last December to decide how big the field should be (answer: six). The point of this exercise is a little different in focusing on a four-team system; hopefully it'll give us a preview of what we're getting into. Perhaps by running through BCS history we can anticipate the kinds of controversies a four-team playoff will generate, and which iniquities of the current system will be eradicated.
Fortune Favors Where the Heart Is
Brian's all for home games and so am I, but that's because I'm a college football fan who likes campuses and pageantry and bands playing associative 19th century marching tunes and sidelines where the subs aren't $3.99 sandwiches. Fortunately money is on the side of home games too. Travel costs are at least halved, yes, but the capacities also increase by an average of 10,000 per game.
I got that number by re-seeding the last 14 years of BCS playoffs as if it was a four-team instead of two-team playoff, and showing the capacities of the home stadia they might have played in versus the bowl games they would have been assigned via a host's tie-in system:
|Year||Game||Game||Venue||Host Capacity||Bowl||Bowl Capacity|
|1998||#1 v #4||Ohio St @ Tennessee||Neyland||102,455||Sugar||76,468|
|1998||#2 v #3||Kansas St @ FSU||Doak Campbell||82,300||Orange||76,500|
|1999||#1 v #4||Alabama @ FSU||Doak Campbell||82,300||Orange||76,500|
|1999||#2 v #3||Nebraska @ Va Tech||Lane Stadium||66,233||Fiesta||73,227|
|2000||#1 v #4||Miami @ Oklahoma *||Gaylord||82,112||Fiesta||73,227|
|2000||#2 v #3||Washington @ FSU †||Doak Campbell||82,300||Orange||76,500|
|2001||#1 v #4||Colorado @ Miami||Dolphin Stadium||76,500||Orange||76,500|
|2001||#2 v #3||Oregon @ Nebraska ‡||Memorial||81,067||Fiesta||73,227|
|2002||#1 v #4||USC @ Miami||Dolphin Stadium||76,500||Orange||76,500|
|2002||#2 v #3||Georgia @ Ohio St||Ohio Stadium||102,329||Rose||94,392|
|2003||#1 v #4||MICH @ Oklahoma§||Gaylord||82,112||Fiesta||73,227|
|2003||#2 v #3||USC @ LSU||Tiger Stadium||99,500||Sugar||76,468|
|2004||#1 v #4||Utah @ USC ‖||LA Coliseum||93,607||Rose||94,392|
|2004||#2 v #3||Auburn @ Oklahoma||Gaylord||82,112||Fiesta||73,227|
|2005||#1 v #4||Ohio St @ USC||LA Coliseum||93,607||Rose||94,392|
|2005||#2 v #3||Penn St @ Texas||Darrell K Royal||100,119||Fiesta||73,227|
|2006||#1 v #4||LSU @ Ohio St||Ohio Stadium||102,329||Rose||94,392|
|2006||#2 v #3||Florida @ MICH ¶||The Big House||109,901||Sugar||76,468|
|2007||#1 v #4||Oklahoma @ Ohio St||Ohio Stadium||102,329||Rose||94,392|
|2007||#2 v #3||Va Tech @ LSU||Tiger Stadium||99,500||Sugar||76,468|
|2008||#1 v #4||Alabama @ Oklahoma||Gaylord||82,112||Fiesta||73,227|
|2008||#2 v #3||Texas @ Florida||The Swamp||88,548||Sugar||76,468|
|2009||#1 v #4||TCU @ Alabama||Bryant-Denny||101,821||Sugar||76,468|
|2009||#2 v #3||Cincinnati @ Texas||Darrell K Royal||100,119||Fiesta||73,227|
|2010||#1 v #4||Stanford @ Auburn||Jordan-Hare||87,451||Sugar||76,468|
|2010||#2 v #3||TCU @ Oregon||Autzen||54,000||Rose||94,392|
|2011||#1 v #4||Stanford @ LSU||Tiger Stadium||99,500||Sugar||76,468|
|2011||#2 v #3||Okla St @ Alabama||Bryant-Denny||101,821||Orange||76,500|
* Miami finished 4th and Washington 3rd in the BCS standing, but I swapped them to avoid an FSU-Miami rematch.
† 10-1 Washington is in over 10-1 VT and 10-1 Oregon State.
‡ Nebraska/Colorado/Oregon is a mess. I figured 2 losses mean Colorado takes the back seat, and Oregon gets screwed by the committee who don't want a game in Eugene if they can avoid it.
§ Another mess. The committee could as easily put USC here to face Michigan.
‖ Texas and Cal were both ranked higher than Utah, but Utah gets nod so that 4/5 undefeated teams are in the playoffs Boise State is out.
¶ I put Michigan as the No. 2 and host since bumping Florida no longer avoids a rematch.
And the numbers:
|% of Games < 80k||21.4%||78.6%|
In 1998 a difference of 10,000 seats might have been made up for by the bowl venues because of their luxury boxes and better concessions, but since then the big-time collegiate venues, i.e. the ones most likely to be ranked in the Top 2 at the end of the regular season, have more than caught up to the pros in every regard except in-stadium advertising (for good reason). Meanwhile the only bowl venue comparable to the homes of D-I power programs is the Rose (a college stadium).
There were some calls I had to make in there, for example LSU won't increase its capacity to 99,500 until 2014 (they're at 93,000 now). And U-Phoenix Stadium was listed at its maximum football capacity to date, not the one they say they can get to with their ultra-hydro-matic seating expansion system™, because if they couldn't whip them out for the Superbowl why would they have them for an NCAA semi-final?
Sanity-checking, I did this initially using real numbers—taking the largest announced capacities for each host's and bowl's venue for that year (example: Neyland Stadium's 107,653 in 1998 is from the '98 Florida game)—and the numbers barely moved. Avg. capacity for home games: 88,489; Avg. capacity for bowls: 77,877. Same difference.
Future-proofing the dolla dolla bill y'all advantage, college football stadiums are growing in capacity while the bowl stadiums aren't.
I emphasize this because the bits of conversation leaking from the commisionerati keep fearing things like Cincinnati (Nippert Stadium: 35,097) finishing in the Top 2. Looking above there are just four games in 28 in which a stadium of under 80,000 capacity would have hosted: Autzen's 54,000 once, Virginia Tech's 66,000 once, and two games at Miami (YTM)'s home, which is the same place they play the Orange Bowl.
This is our concern Lebowski
I don't believe the dreaded small venue is that much of a threat. Paul Brown Stadium is three miles away from Nippert and is tapped often for "big" games like West Virginia and Louisville. TCU is in Fort Worth, spitting distance from JerryWorld. Boise State sneaking in after trouncing the now mid-major Big East is the real concern, but they've been handily kept out of the Top Two so far; if it actually comes down to undefeated Boise getting a home seed, either suck it up and let them have the most important event in Idaho history they deserve after being so good so long, or find a way to slide a 2-loss SEC team ahead of them and ride out the now-standard outrage.
Brian mentioned the bowl games aren't worried about selling out since they sell mostly to scalpers who then assume the risk/reward of the eventual matchup, but this also creates a middle-man scenario. The reason scalpers do this is the market is almost always higher than the face value once the teams are decided, with fans commonly paying three times the initial value. If you want to know how to flow this price variance to the athletic departments instead of the scalpers, just have Dave Brandon give his seminar on Creating the Future™ to ADs; a huge donation to get on the waiting list for season tickets feels like fleecing, but if I'm paying $300 on Stubhub now, why wouldn't I donate $200 to the university to reserve my $100 seat?
There Is a Downside to Home Games
And I just hinted at a big one just now: any controversy a four-team field avoids over a two-team field, it gains back again by having either pollsters, computers, or committees parsing between nearly identical seasons to decide who hosts the #2-#3 game. All it takes is one petulant Dantonio (or Urban Meyer PR campaign, or Fulmer with Heisman envy) to swap Gators in the Big House for Wolverines in the Swamp.
Add that to the fact that you just swapped the "who's in" wrangling from 2-3 to 4-5, and now there's at least two teams every season likely to believe they got screwed. Neutral site games at least neutralize any advantage gained by being #2 rather than #3. Of course it also neutralizes the advantage of being #1 versus #4 (except for a vaguely easier matchup in the first round). There is a possibility of a compromise solution here where #1 plays #4 at home but the 2-3 game goes to a predetermined neutral site. Of course now you're just shifting that argument to 1-2.
Another advantage of using the bowls—to the ADs, not the fans—is that home games at college stadiums invite the nasty beast of student tickets. Students pay more now than they ever did (my senior year was $85) but it's still way less than alumni. Make them buy general admission for a semifinal game and you invite the inevitable Daily column and Diag outrage. Give 'em the student discount and you just wiped out much of your 10,000-toushie advantage. Go to a bowl and the question is moot.
ADDED: I forgot (and meant to) mention that another consideration against home sites is that the teams themselves would probably rather travel. The big schools use their bowl trips and bowl swag to reward the players and recruit new ones. Roy Roundtree (just using him as an e.g. senior everyone likes) would probably take the free trip to Pasadena over another home game in Ann Arbor if you put it to him that way. The big thing the bowls have going for them is that the teams themselves love traveling to the bowls.
What happened: Tennessee came in 12-0 and an obvious No. 1, but there was some debate about who should play them. Florida State, near the peak of their powers, was the most sensible pick. Other claimants included one-loss Kansas State and Ohio State, both behind FSU more for the timing of their one loss than anything else. Tulane went undefeated spread 'n shredding a Conf-USA schedule. Arizona and Wisconsin also went 11-1.
And then we had a big debate about: Mostly that Kansas State wasn't invited to any BCS bowl; they ended up losing to Purdue in the Alamo.
If we had a playoff: Tennessee hosts Ohio State, Kansas State visits Tallahassee, and nobody complains but Tulane. The normal tie-ins for bowls fit just as nicely.
Outcome: Few thought Ohio State or Kansas State were better than Florida State so this works out either way.
What happened: Oklahoma was undefeated and an obvious #1. After that it was an inbred mess of one-loss teams. Florida State's loss was to one-loss Miami (YTM), as was V-Tech's only loss. Miami only lost to Washington, who only lost to Oregon, who had two losses one of which being to Oregon State, who only lost to Washington. FSU got the nod because they're Florida State.
And then we had a big debate about: If only Henson had been healthy all year. And the whole head-to-head-to-head thing.
If we had a playoff game: Well you leave out Oregon State and VT, though everyone but the fans of those teams could be down with that. But now you need to do some fiddling to avoid a rematch in the semifinals. For this reason you want FSU playing Washington, but which one hosts? Probably Florida State, and Miami has to be content with facing Oklahoma when they thought they should be hosts themselves.
Outcome: This illustrates the playoff problem of rematches, which if not controlled by a committee of sorts would become twice as likely now that twice as many teams are in the playoffs.
What happened: Similar situation as the previous year, fewer teams, more debate. Miami was obviously #1 and mentioned among the best teams ever. Nebraska thought they might be in that conversation until losing to Colorado, who went on to win the Big XII championship but had two losses. And then there's Oregon, as justifiable and as ignored in the year-long, racial-overtoned Huskers vs. Canes fest as Joey Harrington's Heisman-level campaign. Nebraska got the nod, and got demolished.
And then we had a big debate about: If you don't even win your conference… Nobody mentioned Oregon, which I thought was very weird and spent most of a night trying to convince the Daily sports editor to back over Colorado.
If we had a playoff game: Hooray they're all in. Again there's the rematch situation that's easily solved by having Colorado be the fourth seed and Oregon visit Nebraska. We all win.
Outcome: Here we see how a neutral site isn't necessarily a home game, since a Miami home game and the Orange Bowl are the same thing. On the other hand you're trading Tempe for Nebraska in early January.
What happened: There were three viable one-loss teams and only two spots. The BCS used computers to judge the strength of a season to make up for pollsters' obsession with shiny things and whatever happened three seconds ago, and this resulted in LSU and Oklahoma playing with USC left out despite being #1 to both polls of people who are easily distracted by Reggie Bush. The AP rebelled and said it would stick with USC if they beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
And then we had a big debate about: How computers and statistics and the hard realities of the world around us are not nearly as important to the greater human experience as the world that we perceive, that what makes us human is this capacity for fallibility, that we can make choices of the heart even in the face of concrete logical evidence. If you think otherwise then you're a pointy-eared bastard.
If we had a playoff game: Well there's three one-loss teams and then a whole slew of relatively even two-loss teams. However the 5th ranked one had just lost to the 4th ranked one, which was Michigan. So John Navarre and co. travel to Norman while USC faces LSU.
Outcome: I actually like our chances against Oklahoma. Not love, but like better than USC. Oh right, hypothetical. Well USC going to Baton Rouge instead of staying in L.A. because of a computer would bother them just as much as going to New Orleans instead of the Rose Bowl because of a computer.
What happened: Virtually the same thing, different result. Three undefeated teams on top plus two undefeated mid-majors, and two one-loss teams between them.
And then we had a big debate about: How Auburn could be left out because pollsters don't care about strength of schedule and the computers were neutered.
If we had a playoff game: Well now Auburn is in but who plays USC? Can Mack Brown downvote Cal to get the Longhorns into the playoffs instead of the Rose Bowl? Or do they take the Bears for having lost only to USC (and do they play at USC again, or do we move the #1 seed so now Auburn's playing USC? Or do we take 11-0 Utah and skip the be-loss'ed teams? Then what about Boise State? Eh, screw Boise. Oklahoma gets Utah and Auburn visits USC.
Outcome: This is a classic example of how odd numbers screw with playoffs. A two-team playoff left out Auburn; a four-team playoff now elevates the Texas-Cal dishonesty to playoff proportions. That's why I said they ought to take Utah. What I don't want to see is for the system to force them to take an undefeated 6th seed over a 1-loss four-seed. I'm pretty sure by this point that I'm for a committee, not a ranking system, determining the seeds.
What happened: You already know about [deep echoey voice] FOOTBALL ARMAGEDDON and the result.
And then we had a big debate about: You know that too.
If we had a playoff game: Now the question is which two-loss team between LSU and USC? And down the line there's still one-loss Louisville, one-loss Wisconsin, and undefeated Boise State. This time I invite the Broncos, because there's such a clear line between Michigan's season and LSU's (at this point anyway).
Outcome: Here's the 2 or 3 problem. We know Florida got in when Michigan's prima facie case was far stronger, but that was to avoid a rematch of [deep voice] FOOTBALL ARMAGEDDON. Would they do the same just to avoid a January date in the vicinity of Great Lakes?
What happened: Final BCS Standings: 1. Oklahoma (12-1), 2. Florida (12-1), 3. Texas (11-1), 4. Alabama (12-1), 5. USC (11-1), 6. Utah 12-0, 7. Texas Tech (11-1), 8. Penn State (11-1), 9. Boise State (12-0)
And then we had a big debate about: All of the things.
If we had a playoff game: Half of the things.
Outcome: Expanding to four teams does not guarantee a national champ.
What happened: Five teams finished undefeated, and Florida had only lost to Bama in the SEC championship game. Since only two of the undefeated teams were from real BCS conferences (We had to be reminded multiple times that season that Cincy was in the Big East. q.v.) it was an easy choice.
And then we had a big debate about: How mid-majors who play perfect seasons always get screwed, even after they are careful to add at least one football team to their schedules full of Rocky Mountain mime schools.
If we had a playoff game: Boise still gets left out, Bama and Texas munch on snackycake undefeated teams before the inevitable matchup between them.
Outcome: You got the idea awhile ago. The following year TCU was undefeated and left out of an otherwise obvious matchup of Auburn and Oregon.
What happened: LSU was 13-0, and had already beaten No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Okie State and Stanford made one-loss runs that nobody thought were as good as Bama's season. So we played the rematch nobody wanted to see outside the SEC, and horror of horrors the original loser won by enough to win the battle of "my win over you was better than your win over me, let's lolz at everyone else who is puny for not cutting their bad players and replacing them with robots! lolz lolz lolz S-E-C!"
And then we had a big debate about: How we need a playoffs.
If we had a playoff game: For the first time it would have been almost perfect.
Outcome: As with every other BCS season, the perfect system for any given year is the one implemented next year.
1999, 2000, 2002, and 2005 are examples of when a four-team playoff would have overly complicated a relatively simple field of two. This ought to be a greater concern than whether a school that seats 35,000 and doesn't have access to an NFL venue nearby will end up ranked in the Top 2. I believe an option to skip the semifinals in obvious situations would ensure they have the right playoff every year, but that creates its own problems.
Birthday shout-out to my little brother. You're getting MGoShirts again.
Gorilla smash. This blog's readership annihilated the annual EDSBS charity fundraiser last year, bringing hope to refugees and a Bo-themed skin to EDSBS. Michigan coasted past #2 Auburn by a full two grand, and lo, we were amply rewarded.
You can take the opportunity to defend your crown by hitting up the 2012 version; this year the winning team also gets an episode of Shutdown Fullback devoted to it ("in a good way!" Orson says) and a "custom essay focused on doing nothing but denigrating the things the winning school finds deplorable."
Just going to leave this screenshot here now.
Yes, that's real. Or at least it is for me. /shakes fist at google personalization
Unfortunately, only round dollar amounts are available this year so you can't punch in your favorite score from a rivalry game unless you want to go big baller… or commemorate the Yakety Sax game with your 38.00.
Note: make sure to leave the school name in the DESIGNATION line, lest your donation not be credited to the glorious university you owe your lives, fortune, and honor to. If you need further hate to motivate you, that guy whose operative theory about why Brady Hoke will fail is "recruits too many NFL-sized offensive linemen who remind me of a guy who didn't work out for OSU" is suggesting that OSU fans should donate to "embarrass Michigan." Also he has not read the instructions closely enough, the bastard.
The last tie. 1992 OSU:
Reinstated. Josh Furman is back and ready to go. Given the way this worked out, couldn't he have been practicing? He and the team would have benefited and… like… it doesn't sound like anything happened except some yelling into a dorm room (and, of course, the heinous crime against Furman's locks).
Somehow this sums up everything perfectly. SBN headline:
College Football Playoffs: Which 2 Bowls Should Be Added To The BCS?
College football? College football.
The plan. Two and out for Trey Burke is the plan:
Dime: Do you plan on leaving school for the NBA if you have another good year next season?
TB: If I have a great season, and we go far, I probably will lean towards coming out. I can’t really speak on that right now, it’s too early. But I definitely will look into it and my coaches will help me look into it because they understand the type of situation I’m in.
It would be nice to get Michigan's hyped freshman point guard a little time to get his feet wet but I'll take it. Derrick Walton's happy about his choice right now.
The limit. It turns out I've got one when it comes to recruiting, and it's one the premium sites, Tremendous and UMHoops are now exploring on a daily basis. If I see a "2014" or even "2015" in front of a kid's name, I am unmoved unless they seem extremely good and likely to end up at M.
A comprehensive list of 2014 football recruits I am interested in hearing about at this juncture: Malik McDowell. Since some of them are ending up at M it is also interesting to figure out how good the next crop of Cass Tech kids is. IL CB Parrker Westphal just got offers from half the Big Ten and is coached by Todd Howard (yes that Todd Howard), so he's getting there. I may be interested in 2014 Mississippi SG Devin Booker, but am not sure yet.
This will change after football players' junior seasons; in basketball it will change when Beilein can fire out offers in June. Right now it's just all so futuristic, man. Like finding an NCAA tournament loss to a major underdog hits only a pile of scar tissue where your heart used to be, I assume this is an effect of being a hockey fan. When Tristin Llewellyn committed he was supposed to be amazing. This did not happen. Need more data before emotions get all emotional.
Under that limit. I am interested to hear how Michigan's 2013 basketball commits are doing during their AAU season. Zak Irvin's play continues to improve:
Zak Irvin (2013, Wing, Eric Gordon All-Stars – Commit)
Zak Irvin is without a doubt one of the better players in his class. His jumpshot is water and when he gets it going from beyond the arc it’s almost impossible to stop him. His long arms make him a terror at the top of the zone on defense. In man-to-man sets, he was easily the best on-ball defender on his team. Irvin’s team is loaded, with two players headed to Indiana, one to Notre Dame and another to Purdue, but when the Eric Gordon All-Stars needed buckets it seemed like Irvin was the primary option. Irvin’s handle is solid and he looked okay running point guard sporadically, though he had a few turnovers. Two areas of his game to watch are his passing ability and rebounding. He made a concerted effort to rebound all weekend and wound up with 12 in the final game of the day on Saturday. He was also able to find his teammates for easy buckets in the post after using his quickness to get by his defender.
Love the idea that Irvin can be a 6'5" shutdown perimeter defender in the mold of a Bernard Robinson Jr. Michigan hasn't had an elite defender since. Also in that post, Mark Donnal gets in a bunch of foul trouble. UMHoops also has an article on Donnal featuring his relationship with Dan Dakich, who happens to be his AAU coach.
You realize this makes you Mubarak, right? Jim Delany:
Delany defended the Rose Bowl and compared the coming changes in college football to the Arab Spring, the revolts that erupted across the Middle East and North Africa last year.
“Not all change is manageable,” Delany said. “You want to control change. You want evolution, not revolution, because you don’t know what the unintended consequences will be.”
As always, Jim Delany should not say things.
Incoming defenders. The United States of Hockey also scouted the USA U18's defense corps, with all three of Michigan's commits turning in good performances. Trouba:
Jacob Trouba — It is plainly clear why Trouba is getting a lot of Top-10 buzz. He can do a little bit of everything. His pro-ready size and strength are going to be attractive to a lot of teams. He also plays with an edge and had several bone-crushing hits in the tournament. What people often forget is that Trouba is a tremendous skater. He has speed, sure, but there’s more to it than that. He’s able to find seems and turn it up ice quickly. Then there’s his cannon from the point. Trouba’s one goal at the tournament came off a stunning one-timer that required video review because it came right off the back bar in the net so quickly. He posted three points total. Knocks on his offensive upside are overblown, I feel. There are clearly many tools at this defenseman’s disposal. He should go early on Day 1. Committed to the University of Michigan.
Connor Carrick — Playing a strong game at both ends of the ice allowed Carrick to have a lot of success. The offensive-minded defenseman posted four points including a pair of goals. Carrick has good speed and some creativity with the puck. He also has pretty good strength along the walls, which makes up for his lack of height. Carrick also has a good feel for when to jump into plays and often makes good decisions when pinching. If Carrick ever got into trouble, he was able to recover with his feet. There should be a few teams that will be looking to pick up Carrick in the later rounds of the Draft. Committed to the University of Michigan.
Continues to sound like a bigger version of Langlais. Carrick's going to be important next year as Michigan tries to get that third pairing solidified, but if Michigan does hold on to all of their incoming defensemen they'll be in good shape.
Rutledge only got one start, a shutout—all games not against Canada were shutouts—in which he "bailed out" his team more than once. Click through for that report.
Etc.: The Solid Verbal features Dan, Ty, and Andy Staples talkin' playoffs. More Staples on playoffs. MVictors has audio of Willie Heston. If Dave Brandon was at FSU. Jerald Robinson's violence against a parking lot gate gets Michigan one point the Fulmer Cup. A second is added for "admiration."
Note: I'm getting error messages like whoa from 247Sports, so I can't access some of the tabs I had saved for this post. Apologies in advance if something gets left out; if you notice anything glaring that I've overlooked, let me know in the comments (and, if you can, please link to an original source of information).
Recruiting: Now Reaching Ludicrous Speed
"They've gone to plaid!"
I doubt this fact will surprise many Michigan fans, but the pace at which players are committing in the 2013 recruiting cycle appears to be unprecedented. SBNation's Jason Kirk—co-host of the incomparable Shutdown Fullback—took a look at early commitments in the past few years, and even in that short time span there's a very clear trend:
Over the past three years, the nation's top 75 recruiting teams have averaged about three commitments at this point in the year, though that doesn't include decommitments. Right now, they're averaging more than five.
And, of course, the main case in point is Michigan [emphasis mine]:
The big story is the Michigan Wolverines, whose 17 commits make for more than they've had in any combined two years of the Rivals era, and, thus, probably ever. It's noteworthy that Brady Hoke was the Big Ten coach most supportive of Urban Meyer back during Recruit-TakingGate. But almost across the board, schools are getting more and more early commitments.
The Wolverines had six commitments through April 30th for the 2012 class, and just three in 2011.
Kirk doesn't spend much time examining why this is the case, and I don't want to spoil tomorrow's recruiting roundtable podcast (yes, there's a podcast!) in which this very topic is discussed at length. One point I will make, however, is that the greatly increased attention on recruiting from both traditional and non-traditional media has placed enough stress on recruits that I believe many decide to end the process in part to get out of the increasingly-bright spotlight.
That brings me to IL RB Ty Isaac, who had an extensive profile in CSNChicago giving the latest on his recruitment [emphasis mine]:
"I took unofficial visits in March, when it worked out for my parents," he said. "Now my visits are out of the way. Nothing else is planned now. To be honest, I don't know if I will visit any more schools. Some have asked me to visit. But if I don't have any interest, I don't want to waste either side's time. If the schools I have visited, I'd be perfectly fine to go to either one of them."
However, he is sure of one thing at the moment. "I'm not a fan of the recruiting process at all. When I started, like everybody, I was excited. After you get the first couple of offers, you know you will have an opportunity to play at the next level. But now it gets overwhelming. It feels like it never stops," he said.
Isaac's apparent lack of interest in taking visits to new schools bodes well for Michigan. More trips to places like Notre Dame and USC could still be in the cards, but he's already seen those campuses and the Wolverines have remained in a strong position to land him. Also, given his justifiable disdain for the recruiting process, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him wrap things up in the near future—Isaac still maintains no public timetable.
Thomas Firmly Committed, New Offers, Etc.
While OH S Dymonte Thomas has remained steadfast in his insistence that he's firmly committed to Michigan, it's been difficult to keep a lid on discussion that he could still end up joining his cousin Bri'onte Dunn at Ohio State. In a two-part feature($) by GoBlueWolverine's Josh Newkirk, Thomas reiterates that he's "100-percent committed." In addition, we could see Thomas in Ann Arbor pretty soon, which would finally end any rumors about him flipping to the Buckeyes:
Thomas also plans on starting his Michigan career as early as possible. He is currently awaiting the results of his ACT test scores. He said he should receive the results within the next three to five weeks. If he receives passing test scores, Thomas said he will graduate early and enroll at Michigan next January.
Any doubt that Thomas ends up as a Wolverine can probably be dispelled at this point. Ohio State insiders don't like their chances and the Buckeyes continue to target other safeties for the class.
Michigan sent out a few new offers this week, and one is NOTY-worthy: 2013 NY DE Ebenezer Ogundeko is a three-star prospect to every service but Scout (who currently has him unrated), but his recruitment is picking up serious steam, as he received unexpected offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, and Marshall on the same day ($). According to Scout, Ogundeko also holds offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Boise State, Florida, Georgia Tech, and Ohio State, among several others, so he could be a guy who makes a rapid rise up the rankings; those offers aren't the type you'd expect for a guy on the three-star/unranked borderline.
The Wolverines also offered a trio of 2014 prospects. AZ OT Casey Tucker is getting early interest from several of the nation's top programs and could be one of the top linemen in his class. IL CB Parrker Westphal (first name: not a typo) picked up his first two offers from Michigan and West Virginia this week. Tim Sullivan reports on The Fort($) that Michigan has also offered FL DB Javon Harrison, who could play corner or safety at 6'2", 195 pounds.
Quickly: The soft-spoken MD DT Henry Poggi on his Alabama trip ($): "It was good." TomVH reports that Michigan is getting interest from consensus four-star FL S Leon McQuay III, who plans to visit on May 18th ($). VA DE Wyatt Teller is planning a decision in the late spring or early summer, and Michigan is in his tentative top five ($). OH CB Darian Hicks has yet to receive an offer, but says Michigan would be "extremely high on [his] list" if they do ($). Hicks will camp at Michigan this summer. Jerry Montgomery almost certainly had to put up a fight in order to secure Hawaii as part of his recruiting territory. Happy trails to OH WR Rob Wheelwright, who committed to Wisconsin over the weekend.
…says Bill Hancock! But they're doing it anyway.
If Michigan can't host at Michigan Stadium this is the second-best option.
Stewart Mandel is the latest guy to throw his sources in the ring in re: what the exact specifics of the Four-Team Event shall be. His version of reality is this:
Multiple sources with direct knowledge of last week's discussions in South Florida have confirmed to SI.com that the new favored proposal for a four-team playoff within the bowl system would place the two semifinal games at the traditional anchor bowls of the No. 1 and 2 teams' conferences. For example, No. 1 Alabama of the SEC would host the No. 4 team in the Sugar Bowl, while No. 2 USC of the Pac-12 would host the No. 3 team in the Rose Bowl.
This would have blown up the traditional Rose Bowl in five of the last 14 years, six if you want to throw Nebraska's presence as the Big 12 North Division Co-Champion in the mix. That's nearly half the time and is the kind of thing that makes Jim Delany's fists open and close helplessly.
Home sites are still in the running, though:
That said, it's no certainty the conferences will opt for bowl-hosted semifinals. Contrary to some reports, on-campus sites remain "very much alive," according to two sources. One said the commissioners left the meetings split about "60-40" in favor of using bowl sites. They will present all remaining proposals to their respective conference presidents, athletic directors and coaches at league meetings in late May and early June to gauge their preferences before reconvening June 20 in Chicago.
There are five conferences who matter. You can guess the 40% opposed to the bowl sites right now. For a lot of reasons—amongst them a desire to maybe not have to fly across the country to see a bowl-type event and a belief that bowls are institutionalized stealing from unpaid student athletes—I'm with them.
Q: Can Jim Delany actually pull off the home sites plan? He stared down Comcast, won, and got the Big Ten their massive pile of money that no one save Michigan and Ohio State is bothering to use. ("Oh, hai, I'm Tim Beckman. You may remember me from that one screen Eric Page took for 70 yards on Tuesday night, and by 'one' I mean 'six.'")
Here's he's got one ally-type substance in the Pac-12, two conferences content to leave the status quo as is because it's generally beneficial (SEC, Big 12) to them… and then you've got the ACC and maybe Big East.
Does anyone care about the Big East? Unknown. If they did have a vote you'd think they lean towards home games. Home games would be nice in the event one of their teams ever makes it into the top two; perhaps more importantly for them, sucking four teams out of BCS bowls makes it likely even their oft-tattered champion is attractive enough most years.
As for the ACC, they're in an odd spot because two of the teams expected to be relevant here are in Florida. The other is Virginia Tech. The rest of the conference is flung up and down the eastern seaboard, and will be more so when Pitt and Syracuse join. Here, too, you'd think a majority of schools would prefer hypothetically getting a local game instead of being on foreign turf. The conference might not like the idea of seeing their banner teams travel north, but here too the benefits of sucking four teams out of the sexy bowls would seem to be a big draw. The ACC hadn't gotten a second BCS bid in forever before Virginia Tech was selected for the Sugar last year.
Q: Does Delany have the chutzpah to take his ball and go home? Or threaten to? Probably not. If the Big Ten and Pac 12 walk, things will go one of two ways: 1) Delany gets his way, or 2) the league is fffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuu after having balkanized itself out of a Four Team Event that kinda pretty much is the national title. The Rose Bowl is great, but I don't think the kids are going to be down with that particular sickness. With their hippin' and their hopping, they don't know what the jazz is all about. /shakes fist at lawn
Q: Does this actually make sense for college football? Well, at least they're bidding out the final. They aren't concerned about selling out since it'll quickly turn into a Final Four/Super Bowl type event where it just sells out and then scalpers take on the risks and rewards of properly pricing the thing. So then you've got either a guaranteed sellout in a stadium that averages 80k+ over the years or some version of the current system except that the #2 game matters a lot more and fans are staring down the prospect of back to back trips.
Inevitably the travel will suck money that otherwise could have been given to college football—ticket prices go up, more get sold—and put teams in a spot where they're spending massive amounts of money on the same sorts of scams bowls are currently running. So, no. The whole will suffer to maintain the location bias that the South currently enjoys.
The most confusing thing in all of this is the persistent notion that the bowls have any leverage. Mandel:
An obvious hitch with the anchor-hosting proposal is that based on history, certain bowls would host semifinals far more often than others. For instance, had this concept been in place all along, the Sugar Bowl (SEC) would have hosted six straight semifinals from 2006-11, the Fiesta Bowl (Big 12) five of seven from 2003-09. The ACC, on the other hand, has not produced a No. 1 or 2 team in 12 years, meaning no semis for the Orange Bowl.
The Orange Bowl is upset. So? What is the Orange Bowl going to do, defect to lacrosse? No. They can only steal money from college football. They'll deal.
Q: Strength of schedule! That's not a question, or a thing that will happen. Maybe it will happen…
As for selecting the teams, the commissioners are a ways away from deciding whether to use a revised BCS formula, a selection committee or some combination of both. "The whole topic of selection and who would get in is something that we've really parked for now," said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. "We realize that's going to require a whole lot more debate and study." If they do employ a formula, sources said there's a near-universal desire to emphasize strength of schedule. One source said the commissioners also aren't keen on preseason polls, which could signal an end to using the USA Today Coaches' Poll.
…but as soon as this SOS component causes the system to pick someone other than the poll-anointed, it will be declared incorrect and dropped. See: the past.
Q: Will you take it? Yeah. Arguments that moving the line from two to four doesn't reduce controversy have always been ludicrous. Multiple undefeated top five teams have been given zero chance to win a national title in the BCS system. At the very least a four team playoff prevents the Auburn/TCU/Utah/Boise screwjob from ever happening again. Anything is better than what we've got now.
Mandel says he was never a fan of a playoff because it would make the NCAA an "NFL clone," which… 12 of the 32 NFL teams get in the playoffs. An equivalent NCAA playoff drawn from the five major conferences is 24 teams. Anything eight or below maintains almost all of the importance of the regular season to be okay.
Also, in the system Mandel details above the chances Hypothetical Host Big Ten team gets a virtual road game are low. Unless USC finishes in the exact spot to force a matchup, anyone going to that game will be flying. So it could be worse. Could be better. Could be worse.
Q: What happens if the Big 10 and Pac 12 are one-two? Or if there's a repeat of last year, when the top two teams are in the same conference? In the former situation I'd just run a Rose Bowl per normal. In situation two, I don't know, put it in Glendale or something. I'm vaguely hoping that Jerryworld pirates the Big 12 affiliation from Glendale and relegates the Fiesta Bowl to the status of the old Cotton Bowl.
Recently, Football Study Hall provided a spreadsheet of epic length to anyone who wanted it detailing not only catches and yards for the 2005-2011 seasons, but "targets"—ie, the number of times a guy had the ball tossed in his direction. FSH did this for all of D-I. I sliced out the other 119 teams to focus on Michigan.
This data spans a fascinating period in Michigan history:
- 2005-2007 are the last three years of the Henne era, except 2007 is a third Henne, a third Mallett, and a third injured Henne who shouldn't be playing but Mallett is insane.
- 2008 is the Threet-Sheridan disaster.
- 2009 is mostly Forcier.
- 2010 and 2011 are mostly Denard, with 2010 RR's best shot at a great offense and 2011 the first year of Borges.
Here's the interesting stuff that came out.
YARDS PER TARGET
The top 20 (min 10 targets). Bet yourself a dollar you can guess #1:
|11||2007||Carson Butler Jr.||25||20||9.8||12.3|
You win a dollar from yourself. Junior Hemingway is the king of yards per target. Not only does he share the #1 spot with Martavious Odoms, he also finishes #6 and #8. It's too bad this data doesn't go a couple seasons further back, allowing us to have a YPT battle royale between Hemingway and Braylon Edwards.
The other thing that jumps off the page is the impact of the spread. The only pro-style WR to crack the top ten was Mario Manningham's 2006 season. Tyler Ecker also made the top ten but on just 15 targets; he made his hay by catching 80% of his limited opportunities. Also, Roundtree does very well to show up at #18 despite being the target of dozens of screens. That target number is off the charts.
This is expected, since the spread came with a huge shift towards running the ball. Passes are naturally more likely to go far when you run 70% of the time.
The bottom 20:
|48||2006||Carson Butler Jr.||32||19||5.4||9.1|
This is mostly sparsely-used tight ends and tailbacks with the notable exception of the top three receivers in 2008 and their 200 targets between them. Also I would like to note the presence of Tim Massaquoi towards the bottom of the list. This is not his fault. Massaquoi broke his hand in 2005. Michigan kept throwing the ball at him.
Note that two of the worst yards-per-target guys—the 2008 versions of Odoms and Mathews—show up in the top 10 here. Guys, I'm beginning to think that Michigan's 2008 offense wasn't very good.
Manningham's 2007 year is a clear winner here, with Jason Avant's 2005 a distant second yet distant from the #3. In context, Avant's stats scream "guy who will be a possession receiver for 20 years in the NFL": Michigan went to him all the time, never threw him screens, and he still checks in with a terrific catch rate.
Also catch Roundtree's 2011: bad. His production fell off not only because he was targeted less frequently but because his catch percentage plummeted from 67% to 39%. No screens, no easy TDs, a lot of doubt about whether he can take over Hemingway's downfield duties.
[NOTE: The spreadsheet erroneously listed Sam McGuffie as the #1 player here with 39 catches on 39 attempts… in 2010. The spreadsheet is right, in a way: those are McGuffie's numbers from his 2010 season at Rice. McGuffie still finishes #1 for his 2008 season, a 19 of 22 campaign.]
Unfiltered, these are of debatable utility since all of the guys at the top are small-sample size guys. Tailbacks, tight ends, and slots dominate. Let's limit it to players with at least 30 targets in a season and see what we get. The "rank" is rank amongst everyone. There are 59 seasons in the DB.
|33||2006||Carson Butler Jr.||32||19||59.4%||9.1|
I highlighted it this time. Roundtree's regression from 2010 to 2011 was enormous. He went from the #5 player in this sample to second-worst.
In other news, Adrian Arrington's 2006 was secretly great. And when you combine the catch rates with the yards you have a dead heat between Mario Manningham '06 and Junior Hemingway '11 as the best season in this time frame, with Avant's '05 drawing an honorable mention for moving the chains.
MOVING THE CHAINS
There are two subsets provided in the data, with attempts split into "standard downs" and "passing downs." Passing downs can come on second and long but using them as a proxy for third and let's-not-run isn't going to introduce too many distortions. The top 20 security blankets:
|19||2006||Carson Butler Jr.||19||12||63.2%||12.4%||19.6|
You get a dollar for betting that you should throw it to Jason Avant on third and medium, too. Only low-usage versions of Arrington and Roundtree bested him on catch percentage and they were far less-frequently targeted; Arrington's 7.4 YPC further implies that some of those completions were well short of the first down.
Avant has a combination of catching the ball and maintaining a great YPC that makes it totally unsurprising that he's a solid NFL player and a little wistfully sad whenever I compare yet another incoming WR to him when I know deep in the soul of my heart that there's no way Freshman X will be half as good.
BONUS: Steve Breaston would like you to take your criticisms about his hands and shove them up where Bill Hancock's head is.