no wonder we hired Hunter Lochmann
OSU fans are, as you might expect, displeased with the Pryor items over the last couple days:
Leading the charge in trying to unravel something is MGoBlog, which is really a shame, because Brian has spent the better part of the past two weeks railing against the "jihad" WVU has launched against Rodriguez.
Two major differences: I am not a member of the Michigan athletic department with a credulous reporter in hand, and I am not making obviously false statements like "it's like nothing ever existed." I am making a fairly logical leap from "OSU fans are basically Alabamans" and "OSU coaches are having dinner with a guy who lets Pryor borrow his Corvette" to "something fishy is going on." Point the second has been covered over the past couple days and has been confirmed by Jeanette locals, OSU's Scout site, and Scout guru Bob Lichtenfels.
Point the first: Basically Alabama. Ohio State boosters are awesome. Local dealerships are exceptionally generous with their test-drive programs:
Clarett sat out the 2003 season after he was charged with misdemeanor falsification for filing a police report claiming that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment was stolen from a car he borrowed from a local dealership. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Ohio State suspended Clarett for misleading investigators, and for receiving special benefits worth thousands of dollars from a family friend.
"Family friend" indeed. A poor kid from Youngstown in his first year in Columbus just happens to have a close personal friend who owns a car dealership.
You can find super-awesome jobs:
During his sophomore season, after he claimed the starting quarterback job and beat Michigan â€” a feat that cinches your celebrity in Columbus â€” he walked into a local health-care provider looking for a summer job and came out carrying an envelope with $500 in it. The cash was given to him by an Ohio State season-ticket holder named Robert Q. Baker, who bragged to co-workers that he owned Smith.
You can find a place to live:
Salyers claims the Roslovics reneged on a verbal agreement, allegedly orchestrated by then Ohio State assistant coach Paul Biancardi, to pay her $1,000 a month plus reimburse expenses if she would provide for Savovic during his time at Ohio State. In depositions, Salyers describes how over a four-year period she became a surrogate mother to Savovic, giving him food, shelter, clothing, transportation, spending money and other expenses.
(It should be noted, given the OSU denials later in that article, that Savovic was later declared ineligible and OSU was forced to vacate the games he played.)
There's a pattern of behavior here even if you don't include the documentation of widespread academic fraud in the New York Times, the Maurice Clarett ESPN the Magazine story, and the $3000 AJ Hawk just happened to have lying around. (I know Hawk looks like a caveman, but he's probably heard of a bank.) It involves Ohio State fans with lots of money ignoring NCAA regulations. Sure, all these things could be a completely innocent athletic department beset on all sides by those who would destroy it without cause. Occam's razor says otherwise.
(No doubt this assertion will draw "OMG Ed Martin" responses from the yokel crowd. 1) Ed Martin is not a pattern, he's a dead guy. 2) Martin was a Detroit numbers-runner looking to ingratiate himself with local basketball talent and maybe launder a few hundred grand or so, not a super-enthusiastic booster. Until Martin was provided gratis Final Four tickets he had no connection with the program. You are comparing one outlier with no real interest in Michigan's athletic program except as the most conveniently local source of potential NBA players to a pattern of malfeasance; you are stupid.)
Ohio State fans saying "I'm shocked, shocked!" when the pristine reputation of their athletic department is brought into question is somewhere between comical and infuriating. Please. Just because you've managed to rationalize it away doesn't mean everyone else has to.
Does it matter in the long run? Likely no. The NCAA has all the investigative might of Inspector Clouseau. The appearance of funny stuff will remain but an appearance.
The bigger issue here is Pryor's eligibility. Michigan fans remember the glorious three-month period when Kevin Gaines wasn't a psychopath, Jamal Crawford was eligible, and Michigan basketball looked like it was on the upswing under Brian Ellerbe of all people, and cringe. This is what happened to young Jamal:
Jamal Crawford is a rookie with the Chicago Bulls and making a lot of money. But Crawford still wishes he was playing basketball at Michigan.
"I miss college a lot," he said. "I live in a college area now because I like to be around college kids."
Crawford felt trapped last year when he decided to leave Michigan following his freshman season.
He already had served an eight-game suspension for one mistake -- sending the NBA a letter that said he intended to enter the 1999 draft before he enrolled in college. He had missed six other games and was ordered to repay $15,000 in benefits to a Seattle businessman, whom he had lived with for three years during high school. The NCAA later said he could give $11,300 to the charity of his choice. If he didn't pay, Crawford would lose his eligibility.
The infinite kindness of the NCAA: instead of paying the Seattle businessman 15 grand you don't have, you can give Jerry's Kids 11 grand you don't have. Crawford entered the draft, blew up at a pre-draft camp, and was picked 8th overall as Michigan fans clutched their head between their knees in a futile attempt to keep it from exploding.
Crawford was a nice kid with a lack of foresight who got offered stuff and, as most people would, accepted. Pryor's been offered stuff and has evidently accepted. How much stuff and how much of a paper trail there is will determine if the NCAA comes knocking.
It would be just like Angry Michigan Safety Hating God to allow Pryor to commit to Michigan, start six games his freshman year, and then have the NCAA pull a Crawford; this is kind of what I expect to happen because recent experience has taught me that this is what I should expect.
It's all in order! We are very organized! All of the organs! A key point in this shredding kerfuffle is the credibility of West Virginia University as a place more organized than a ferret kegger. If Rich Rodriguez is the human being in this commercial:
Then we can safely assume WVU has no idea what it's doing and, in lieu of any better ideas, is just flinging poo.
It started with a phone call from a newspaper reporter in October seeking to verify the academic credentials of Gov. Joe Manchin III's daughter Heather Bresch. But in less than three months, the inquiry has mushroomed into a controversy that risks casting a shadow of cronyism over this state's flagship university.
Officials at the college, West Virginia University, have been accused of rewriting records last fall to document that Ms. Bresch had earned an executive master of business administration degree in 1998. An investigation by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette concluded that she had completed only 22 of the required 48 credit hours.
Manchin, of course, is the governor who's made three or four public comments implying that Rodriguez has been "corrupted by high priced agents" and the like.
West Virginia University athletic department officials acknowledged Tuesday that they used money from a WVU Foundation account set aside for football recruiting expenses to manage other costs in the athletic department.
However, WVU Athletic Director Ed Pastilong and Associate Athletic Director for Finance and Administration Russ Sharp contend they did nothing wrong by taking money from the 1100 Club to pay other bills.
Former Coach Rich Rodriguez grew frustrated at the way the account was used and was dissatisfied that he was never able to control it, a source said.
This "1100 Club" business seems completely petty (basically, WVU spent money allocated for recruiting flights on other football expenses) but the way it was handled -- badly -- is further evidence that WVU's athletic program is, as we speak, blasting "Come On, Feel The Noise" and partying wildly about Rodriguez's departure.
On one side, we have a highly competent football coach capable of driving an ill-funded and talent-deprived football program into the top five. On the other are the guys who managed to screw it up. Their credibility is not exactly off the charts.
Word. Bill Stewart:
"He's the football coach at Michigan and I'm the football coach at West Virginia and that's what we need to be doing,'' Stewart told the Gazette late Tuesday night. "The wounds need to heal. We need to go on.'' ...
"Who is any of this helping? It's certainly not helping West Virginia University or Michigan. It's not helping Billy Stewart or Rich Rodriguez,'' Stewart said. "I understand there are issues and a lot of them have to be dealt with. But hasn't it just all gotten ridiculous? How did we get to this point?''
I'm with him. Let WVU and Rodriguez settle their lawsuit on page six, and let's just get on with it. Promised "bombshells" should be quietly filed without comment in whatever court has the case, and both parties should vow to never speak of the other again.
In that spirit... this feature's brief lifespan has expired. Assumptions going forward: the shredding thing was much ado about precisely nothing, Rodriguez is neither Satan or Carr, and no one should particularly care about the outcome of the WVU-Rodriguez lawsuit. Occasional links might make their way into UV or on the sidebar; from now on this is all sideshow.
Holly got the color wrong yesterday:
Obviously the first thing that leaps to mind is "OMG photoshop," but that doesn't look photshopped to me. Nor does it look recent, given those "leaf" things on the trees. Perhaps he was just borrowing it, but, dude... that ain't legal, either. Unless you're a star running back in Columbus.
Scout guru Bob Lichtenfels attempts to explain ($), but mostly just confirms the veracity of the above photo and makes it worse:
I believe from what I have heard that is Sarniac's Corvette. TP borrowed it for prom or homecoming and will give it to him as a graduation present. That photo is old news
Sure, Bob, that photo is old news. The idea that a fellow who's buddy-buddy with the OSU coaches is going to give Terrelle Pryor a Corvette... new news? Is this kid even eligible?
Maybe this is why Charlie Batch is involved, and why Jeanette's high school coach has been saying things like
"Terrelle is the person that must make the decision, no one else" Batch said. "He's the person who has to be happy where he'll spend the next three or four years. His friends have to realize that."
Do any of Pryor's friends own glass factories?
Update 1/22: Removed OH WR DJ Woods (Cinci), TX S Keanon Cooper. Noted potential USC lead for Nick Perry. Added FL OL Rhonne Sanderson, MS S Charles Mitchell, OH RB Michael Shaw. Downgraded Christian Wilson and Marcus Witherspoon to yellow.
Editorial Opinion: It's not going great at the moment. DJ Woods picked Cincinnati -- probably the first time anyone's picked UC over Michigan like ever -- and a couple recruits are wavering.
NJ LB Marcus Witherspoon has officially re-opened his recruiting:
What's new in the recruiting war for South Jersey's best football prospect, Holy Spirit High linebacker/defensive end Marcus Witherspoon?
Witherspoon said early last night that he would attend Michigan, Tennessee or Rutgers.
Yes, Rutgers is a late entry in the recruiting picture.
"Right now, I'm not sure what I'm going to do," he said. "All I can say is, I will sign on Feb. 6," the first day recruits can sign binding letters of intent.
This one is up in the air; I kind of expect he'll go elsewhere. It's rare that a kid recommits to a school after publicly decommitting. (Visiting elsewhere is another matter.) (HT: The Diag.)
"My top three is USC, Michigan and Miami. Right now USC is at the top," Perry said.
An instate player declaring anyone other than Michigan his leader is bad, but it's nice that Michigan State is slipping out of the picture. If Perry stays close to home it will be Michigan. Perry has a tendency to go on a visit, drop some quotes that suggest the school he's just visited is going to be the choice, then repeat the process with another school. Michigan has him in this weekend, then he'll make a trip to Miami.
Yesterday Rivals' Mike Farrell reported that PA HB Christian Wilson was under no circumstances going to Michigan. His mom contradicts that, but also makes it sound unlikely Wilson ends up on campus:
Christian has told no one he was not attending MI. I personally didn't appreciate the comment of slandering my son (I think he said any kid) if he would choose not to attend MI. He doesn't deserve that. He is a 17 year old that just had the rug pulled out from under him. He was in love with the former staff and Coach Carr. lets face it, RR is a total 180 when it comes to his style of coaching.
He has always been a solid commit and was real concerned with the coaching changes. He is not a full back or a TE and at this point, the TE recruits are being told they could play H-Back and they just recruited another running back.
What is he to think. He is still waiting to hear from RR.
There's more in this vein. It appears that Michigan and Wilson are headed for a mutual parting of the ways.
Oh, and right, the bolded line above. Does Wilson's mom mean that Michigan's received a commitment from another tailback here or just that they've sent out some offers (which they have)? The way it's phrased it seems like the former. There's been some buzz that Trotwood-Madison RB Michael Shaw, a teammate of Brandon Moore and a visitor last weekend, was very much in play for Michigan. No other tailbacks have visited recently, AFAIK.
FL OT Rhonne Sanderson is and up-and-coming name who just visited Michigan State. He's got Florida State on tap this weekend, then a visit back around these parts:
Sanderson said that Michigan has offered him a visit for Feb. 2nd, one week after he's scheduled to go to Florida State. Sanderson, a Times first-team all county lineman, said the Wolverines will likely offer him on his trip, like the rival Spartans did last weekend.
And, just like that, Michigan has made Sanderson's "top-three" - which includes FSU and MSU - pretty formidable.
"I like it a lot," Sanderson said of Michigan. "A lot of big-time offensive linemen come out of there. They're kind of like a powerhouse with a lot of history and tradition."
If Florida State offers it'll be tough to reel him in.
I count 23 scholarships available and 15 commits; if Rodriguez is going to get to 25 he's going to have to start racking up some dudes quick.
Ted Sarniak is a businessman who lives in Jeanette, Pennsylvania. He owns a glass factory:
"Jeannette Specialty Glass is the longest-running glass company in the city," Howard says. The factory has been in existence since 1904. Ted and Kathleen Sarniak have owned the facility since April 1976.
"It was founded by a family named Crock, and the factory stayed in that family until we purchased it," Ted Sarniak says. "It was previously known as Jeannette Shade and Novelty. As we got into making more items, we changed the name to Jeannette Specialty Glass."
His glass and glass-type things have been touched by the stars:
"We've made sinks for most of the major hotels in Las Vegas, for Ringo Starr and Celine Dion," Ted Sarniak says. "Our line of gourmet dinnerware and serving bowls will be used in upscale restaurants and homes all over the world."
The investigation began in April when Peck received a complaint that Sarniak bribed police to avoid arrest. Sarniak crashed his car into the utility pole at the corner of Lowry Avenue and Division Street following the Jeannette-Central Catholic football game.
When patrolman Justin Scalzo arrived, he "found Sarniak uncooperative, smelling of alcohol, glass in his hair and a damaged windshield," according to Peck.
Sarniak was taken to Mercy Jeannette Hospital for treatment of a head injury but refused to allow medical personnel to draw his blood to determine his alcohol level. In Pennsylvania, a reading of .08 meets the legal presumption of intoxication. Refusal to submit to a blood test or Breathalyzer carries an automatic one-year license suspension, Peck said.
After the incident, Peck said Sarniak contacted another Jeannette patrolman, Keith Rosky, and told Rosky he had only two drinks that night and was not drunk. Peck said Sarniak did not ask Rosky for any favors, but Rosky mentioned the conversation to Scalzo and asked him not to charge Sarniak with drunken driving.
He is very generous to people in the community, and likes football:
Sarniak regularly has given gifts to city police officers, Peck said. Rosky and other officers have received Steeler football tickets from Sarniak.
"Although there was no direct link between the gift of the tickets and the intervention of Officer Rosky in the incident, one would be naive to believe that such gifts were not helpful in Mr. Sarniak receiving a willing ear from Officer Rosky," Peck said.
A smooth mover, Ted Sarniak is probably the richest man in Jeanette, Pennsylvania.
Why is he meeting with Ohio State coaches?
"It's crazy and it's going to get worse as it gets closer," Reitz said. "It's like playing poker: Everybody wants to have the last trump card."
Last week, OSU's coaches made an appearance and had a Thursday night dinner with someone close to Pryor believed to be Ted Sarniak, a Jeannette businessman. The following day, the 6-6, 225-pound Pryor headed to Ann Arbor for his second official visit.
And why has that Scout article, emailed to me by four different people in the span of ten minutes last night, been changed to read like this?
Last week, OSU's coaches made an appearance and the following day, the 6-6, 225-pound Pryor headed to Ann Arbor for his second official visit.
Scratch a message board remotely connected with recruiting and you will encounter a vast network of rumors about Sarniak, Pryor, and Ohio State: Pryor has a new Corvette and worked at Sarniak's factory this summer. Sarniak has a business in Dublin, Ohio, that's doing quite well. OSU coaches and Sarniak had dinner before Pryor's trip to Michigan. None can be proven, and all seem like sour grapes from schools not likely to end up with Pryor on their team.
But... yeah, Maurice Clarett was driving around an SUV he didn't own and Troy Smith was suspended for taking money from a booster and Jim O'Brien bought a bunch of Yugoslavians or something. Ohio State fans are an enthusiastic bunch, aren't they?
Just a quick point/question about Shafer's "success" against the run: do we know if Shafer's defenses are actually successful in stopping the run, or are the numbers against the run artificially inflated as a result of how well his teams do in sacks (because sacks count as negative rushing yards)?For example, in 2007, Stanford was 77th in run defense, and 11th in sacks. That seems to indicate that his run defense was really, really crappy, but would up with a not-that-crappy 77th because they did so well in sacks.Any thoughts?- Scott
That had not occurred to us, dude. Scott's got a good point here: Shafer's aforementioned predilection for blitzing then, now, and in the future has led to a lot of sacks, some wildly variable pass efficiency metrics, and probably-overrated run defenses.
How big of an effect can this be? Let's take the most extreme example, Shafer's 2006 Western Michigan defense. That year the Broncos finished #1 in sacks and #6 in rush defense. How much of an impact did the sacks have? Quite a bit. WMU yielded 1316 rushing yards that year, but the NCAA only records 989 in its official record books because of WMU's 46 sacks.
Strip the sack yardage out and WMU falls all the way to... 18th. Which isn't actually that far to fall, and we've let everyone else keep their sack yardage. (This was also a fun exercise for Michigan fans in the midst of 2006: strip all Michigan's sack yardage and yup, they're still the best rush D in the country by a mile.) If we give WMU that year's NCAA average for sack yardage, they shoot right back up to #6 in the country, although #7 Florida gets a lot closer. WMU's in a unique spot here where they're 100-some yards in front of their nearest competitor; in a normal year they'd get knocked back a few slots.
Yes, Shafer's sack happy ways do have a distorting effect on the rush D, but it appears to be a marginal one. Unfortunately, since the NCAA only has sack data for the last three years we don't have enough data to perform a conclusive study.
More on Shafer from a guy who's watched him for a year:
My name's Daniel Novinson, I'm a longtime reader, first-time caller. I'm a lifelong Michigan resident (Farmington Hills) and fan, but right now am out in California finishing my senior year at Stanford. They've let me serve as the lead football and basketball beat writer at the Stanford Daily for three years now, so I figured I'd be in as good a position as anyone to comment a little bit on Shafer.
I think the best thing about Shafer is that he shuttles plays to his best players. Stanford had one safety (Bo McNally) and one linebacker (Clinton Snyder) who were light years better than any of our other defenders, and actually were decent in absolute terms (they're marginal All Pac-10-level guys) and Shafer exploited the hell out of it. Schematically, I don't know how in the world he did it, but they were always the ones sent on blitzes, they were always in the position to make the key open-field tackles or picks, and our Todd Howard-equivalents always seemed to be safely hidden 40 yards off-ball. That's a big part of how we forced four USC interceptions and held them to a season-low 23, or held Cal to 13 in our upset. (That, and luck. A lot of luck.)
I talked to one of our defensive players tonight. He was visibly bummed and said Shafer was a good X and Os guy who knew his stuff and got his guys to play hard. He also said the players found out the same way we did â€“ reading it online this morning, before a hastily-called team meeting confirmed the news this afternoon. That leads me to speculate that Shafer must have moved pretty quickly after Rodriguez called â€“ think he's pretty excited to be in Ann Arbor?
I want to challenge two of your interpretations of Stanford's defensive statistics under Shafer. First, you kind of shrugged your shoulders and said "Meh, the numbers were only slightly up this year from last," which I think sells Shafer vastly short. We lost our best two or three players from the 2006-07 defense (including a third-round draft pick, which don't grow on trees out here) and were starting seven, let me repeat, seven underclassmen on defense this year, so for the numbers to improve slightly is incredible. Also, the offense has been consistently awful, especially in the running game, for the entirety of my four years here, so the defense is on the field longer than almost any other, which also depresses the defensive numbers.
Second, you mention, rightfully, that he blitzed a lot at Stanford, but that's partially out of necessity: he knew that our secondary is awful and was going to get torched if the opposing quarterback had time, no matter how many guys were back there. At Michigan, we should have the players, so while he'll still bring it more than the old staff, I wouldn't assume it will be every single down.
We went from the worst combination of basketball and football coaches, given our prestige as a program, to one of the best in the country. But still, let's face it, we're going to take a major step back next year. We lose, I believe, the school's all-time leading passer, all-time leading (and, in my opinion, best-ever) rusher, best-ever lineman, at the most important position no less, our top two receivers and the returning defensive talent is not where it used to be a few years ago (though count me a huge Warren fan.)
Beilein's been a great coach his whole life and didn't suddenly forget everything once he got here, yet we're losing to Harvard and Central Michigan. So I'm expecting the same thing with Rodriguez, especially if a big change is strength and conditioning. That especially is going to take time to reap dividends, and in the short term, switching training regimens probably sets us back. And, despite all the hubbabulu over a guy who runs on opponents helmets (McGuffie) and a guy we might not even get (Pryor), this recruiting class is nothing special.
The positive notes on Shafer are accepted for the record.
Some responses to the "Debbie Downer" portion of the post, as Daniel referred to it: there is a comparison to be made between the basketball and football programs but I think that's going a bit too far. The basketball team currently has two upperclassmen; said upperclassmen are role players if you're being kind. The rest of the roster is a mishmash of questionable recruits and like two guys anyone had any expectations for. The football team's talent level is nowhere near as depressed as the basketball team's, and comparing Carr to Amaker... well... no. The football team is not coming from the very depths of incompetence and does not have to learn everything from scratch.
First let me say you have a really good and informative blog about UM. I started reading it when I thought you guys were going to take our coach. My email is to give you maybe a little different perspective on your new coach. I work in
I always liked Tulane and was shocked the Rich wasn't hired when Tommy Bowden left. He was on the search committee for a new coach, so I asked him why they didn't hire Rich? His response was that Rich was an excellent football coach, but every once in a while, just did someone stupid and illogical. There were some others small things, but basically they just didn't feel comfortable about the guy. My boss still follows Rich (they are friends) and when this happened, his first response was, "he's not a
Michigan football, as you know, is what most programs strive to be. You run a good clean program with an exc
ellent reputation and win lots of football games. Lloyd Carr was a very good coach and probably knew it was time for him to leave. I may be wrong, but unless winning is everything, you guys may have happened on the wrong coach. I truly hope not.
Also, I bet you guys wanted the football program going in a different direction, you didn't expect all this hullabaloo. [It's the "multivariate spellings of hullabaloo" mailbag -ed]
Good luck and I hope it all gets down to football soon.
FWIW. The "occasionally does something stupid and illogical" thing would be a character flaw that fits in with a couple of the minor faux pas Rodriguez has committed.
Surely the NCAA can't continue to keep National Signing Day in early
February. Ever since (ironically) Tommy Bowden left Tulane before its
bowl game in 1999, we've had to deal with a string of high-profile
coaches leave one school for another, angering fans of said programs and
further reducing bowl games to consolation contests. Teams who do not
make bowl games and fire their coach or, like in Michigan's case, have
retiring coaches on the way out, do not have anybody to look after but
themselves as soon as the regular season is over. Once the bowls were
reserved as rewards for a good season; now they are extra days of
practice so a team can build toward next year.
Why should Michigan, Houston or SMU worry about other programs when they
have themselves to look after, when next year is the most important?
Michigan nabbed Rodriguez from West Virginia, who was in preparations for
a BCS bowl - this didn't matter to Michigan, because it had recruits to
get for 2008. Quiet, dead period or not, there's recruiting to be done,
and nobody wants to lose a step. This trend has gotten worse and worse
over the last few years and will continue to get worse unless the NCAA
moves Signing Day back until at least March or April. That way, bowl
games will be played without interim coaches and the tension between
schools, such as U-M and WVU, will be considerably less because they
wouldn't need to keep looking over their shoulders and worry about their
coach leaving during the season. There's such a long 'offseason' in
college football. Why cram everything into December?
That's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure it would actually work. Schools would still fire coaches in the interim between the regular season's end and the bowl game, and would still frantically search for their saviors in the meantime. Perhaps a recruiting day three months from signing day is less valuable than a recruiting day one month from signing day, but it's still valuable and sitting around without a head coach is still throwing those days away.
Rodriguez from a WVU perspective:
It's odd that I care so much about West Virginia sports: essentially, I'm rooting for (a) 100 college kids I'll never meet and (b)blue and gold laundry. But I grew up in the Mountain State, and WVU football is the easiest way to start off a conversation with half of the people most dear to me, so care I do.
I was bummed about Rodriguez's relocation to A2--for about a week. After that, I had holidays to navigate, a bowl trip to drink through, and work to get back to.You and Mandel have pretty much correctly estimated the "jihad" perpetuated by the jilted WVU folks; I only harbor two Rod-related grudges:
- He took the U-M job, notified the WVU team, and resigned (kind of a bush move to do it through a GA, but I don't think I would seek out the partner I hate the most upon quitting my firm, so whatever) on 12/16. The next morning he was introduced in the Junge Center as the new U-M coach. Cool; it's just that he resigned effective 1/3/08. It took two more days for him to amend his resignation to become effective at 12:00:01 AM 12/19. Perhaps he had no intention for the post-Fiesta Bowl resignation date to handcuff the WVU team or program, but the seeming motive is that Rodriguez wished to be asked to leave WVU before actually resigning, so that WVU could get on with the bowl preparation and overt search for a successor, and so that Rodriguez would have a little extra ammo for the buyout contest. Thank goodness he had a change of heart (or was coaxed by someone at U-M...or something) and just got out of the way, but to start out with the 1/3/08 resignation date was something south of honorable.
- He left right after the stomach-punch Pitt game means the era during which WVU football reached its zenith--forget that Beilein's boys concurrently produced the best WVU basketball run since Jerry West--is punctuated by a mustard-colored, catastrophic loss. It's a bitch that we remember and place so much stock in the beginnings and ends of things; I hate remembering the Rod era by the Pitt game instead of by the teary-eyed phone call with my dad after the Sugar Bowl.With that said, the WVU AD should just try to recover as much of the buyout as possible and move on. I harbor only a sliver of resentment toward Michigan, but I'm just rooting for Pryor to go to the University of AnywherebutMichigan; I figure that's a fair thing to root for.Your blog is fantastic; I wish I had become interested under different circumstances.Josh Ellison
Josh has a point here with the resignation date. Though this space defends him regularly, he's not totally clean in this ugly divorce. Calling Pryor was a little iffy, and the resignation date thing was also a bit disingenuous. Michigan did not hire a perfect angel. They hired a kick-ass football coach who happens to be holding a major grudge against the West Virginia athletic department.
As far as the Pitt thing... sure. The 'Bama flirtation, the Pitt loss, and the Beilein hiring set the table for an unprecedented wave of anger from West Virginia. Youtube is full of seriously pissed off now 'Eers burning things, asserting that Rodriguez is a pedophile, and the like. This says more about West Virginia than it does Rodriguez.
It's January, late January, and that can only mean one thing other than constant Terrelle Pryor fretting: college football blogger awards. Full details can be found at Rocky Top Talk and Every Day Should Be Saturday; things are much the same as they were last year: open nomination process, final voting open to college football bloggers only.
There are a few changes. Some awards required sufficient research on the part of voters to educate themselves that the nefarious cabal behind them felt they were better off as jury prizes. We have a realistic view of the amount of effort -- zero --that will be put into the voting by most participants, and the end result is usually Big Blog reining victorious no matter the merits of the smaller blog's offerings. By getting even more elitist we hope to make things more democratic. Or at least more interesting than "hey... this also goes to Orson."
There is also a second national championship award offering, because it wouldn't be college football without multiple, contradictory votes on the same damn thing. The "People's Champ" award, so named to make fun of Auburn fans and not to honor The Rock, is another national championship sort of award with one exception: final voting is open to all, not just bloggers. As such, Orson will obviously win it but what the hell.
Readers will probably be a little pissed off they can't vote on the final ballots, but you have an opportunity to contribute now. There is a nomination gizmo for you use. Therein you can vote for any number of things once per day; the final numbers spat out by the gizmo will heavily influence the award nominees. This is especially important in the more specific categories like "Best Post" or "Best Multimedia Thing"; everything that's nominated will get dug out and reviewed by the award committee. So if there's some post you remember being awesome, please point it out to us. If you can't remember the URL, hell just describe it and we'll find it. If you are so incredibly opposed to PHP that you can't bear to use the gizmo, leave a comment. Just please help us in the gargantuan task of winnowing the ever-expanding blogosphere into a few shiny nuggets.
Update 1/21: removed TX CB Adrian Bushell, CA OL Vaughn Dotsy, a couple WRs. Added OH LB Taylor Hill as committed. Bumped SC CB JT Floyd to blue. Moved PA HB Christian Wilson from committed, downgraded to yellow based on mother's comments on message board.
Editorial Opinion: Pryor was in town. When he texted an AP reporter that Michigan was "cool," said text message became a national headline.
What do we know now that we did not know before? Nothing. Pryor did show on his official visit and had a fine enough time. Ohio State fans fail to see Michigan as any sort of threat to win his commitment. ESPN has reported a couple times that Pryor is choosing between Michigan, Oregon, and LSU. The Michigan camp seems cautiously optimistic. Pryor will decide on signing day.
From the hilarious wrongness of ESPN on down this is all status quo despite rumors flying around every which way from a guy who met a guy on the team at a party, etc etc etc. Pryor obviously wants maximum drama and is going to get it on Signing Day.
Is this interesting?
"I think I know where he's going, but I'm not saying where," [live-in godfather(???) Willie] Burns told The Detroit News Friday evening. "I think he's a made a decision, but he doesn't want to tell the media until signing day."
Maybe, but you could read it either way:
- Jonas Gray's prediction that Michigan would get him if Mallett transfered, gathered after talking with Pryor at the Army game, has come true yay yay yay.
- If he's decided without visiting Michigan he's obviously going to Ohio State boo boo boo.
I dunno, and doubt anyone will until February 6th.
The rest of the world. We should know shortly about the future of slot WR DJ Woods, choosing between Michigan and Cincinnati. On the surface, this should not be a competitive battle but if Woods feels snakebit by Rodriguez maybe he'll flee to the arms of Brian Kelly, who is totally guaranteed to leave Cinci before he does.
JT Floyd came in for an official and seems to have enjoyed himself:
It went great, I loved it," Floyd said. "I found out this South Carolina guy can take the cold. They explained to me if I come in and work hard, there's an opportunity for a lot of playing time as a freshman. I like Michigan. I enjoyed the program, every aspect of it."
Floyd must have antifreeze in his veins, because it was downright arctic this weekend. He's planning a visit to Tennessee next week, after which he'll decide. Floyd's technically a UT commit -- committed to them midway through his junior year, actually -- but given the quote above seems very likely to end up at Michigan.
Less salutary news on PA HB Christian Wilson. Earlier this year Wilson's mom popped up on an outlying Michigan message board to chat about her son's then-pending decision. She was looking for reassurance that this h-back position Michigan was recruiting him for actually existed. Concerns assuaged, Wilson committed to Michigan shortly thereafter. In the aftermath of the coaching changeover, however, those concerns have re-asserted themselves, and the coaching staff isn't being comforting:
I will choose my words wisely as to not cause Christian any backlash. As everyone knows Christian LOVES MI. He has never waivered from that. He told me that he took these visits just to reconfirm his decision and to make sure he could say Mom, I weighed all options and I stand by my decision. Very smart for any 17 year old.
Now, where I need to be careful, He has yet to Have RR visit him in person. We have never met him and Christian has only talked to him over the phone once. Though we heard he has been in Pittsburgh 3 times. (I assume for Terrelle) Next, 4 coaches came recently and asked Christian not to take visits or they would need to open their recruiting.
Is that normal practice?
Now, in the spread an H-back is not really used, so the coaches are explaining to him how they would try and use him, but it keeps sounding like Owen Schmidt style of position and Christian is not a "beer Truck" as he was referred to. He is more agile and has a better eye for the field (so they say)
I agree, I would love to talk with RR and will be in AA on Monday for business.
Here is my last question, Christian has spoken to about 8 of the other recruits who have been taking official visits the past 2 weeks and none of them have been told what Christian has been told. Why is he being asked not to take anymore but these other kids haven't? I don't want to mention names because they told him this in confidence.
I just want him to be happy and MI makes him happy, the players, fans, area all of it. But lets face it, 70% of his days are with the coaches and at this point he really feels they don't want him. All these other back s they are looking at are 6 foot and under (Let's face it they all exaggerate their heights) and less than 190lbs. Christian is s true 6'3" kid and does weigh 235lbs.
Wilson's status is questionable despite an article earlier this week in which he claimed he was a solid verbal. If the coaching staff wants him, they'll have to start paying him significantly more attention; if they do so he'll stay a commitment.
More targets. Right, TJ Lawrence is a Florida safety visiting next weekend and Desmond Johnson is a sleeper guy from Mississippi; Michigan is also on the verge of (or already has) offered a number of guys from Ohio and Mississippi, former home of LB coach Jay Hopson. As these guys start getting official offers I'll add them; expect at least three "who?" commits over the next week or two.
Yes, recruiting update coming. Your Pryor update: everyone says everything.
Ugly. Calvin Magee, Michigan's new offensive coordinator, believes he was not a serious candidate for the West Virginia head coaching job because he's black:
"For seven years I was told that once you're a Mountaineer, you're always a Mountaineer," said Magee, a Wolverine now after resigning Jan. 4 to become Rich Rodriguez's associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Michigan. "I bought into that. But I found out ... that isn't true."
He understands that some people, especially those who harbor resentment for all things Rodriguez, will consider his viewpoint jaundiced because he is so aligned with the new Michigan coach. Magee doesn't back down from his support for and gratitude to Rodriguez. Yet he feels stereotyped as a minority coach -- "racial discrimination and harassment" was how his and Rodriguez's agent, Mike Brown, described West Virginia's handling of Magee in the end -- and thereby disappointment about West Virginia administrators and for other qualified potential coaching candidates who happen to be a minority.
Who's up for another round of recriminations? Super!
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article is a good one, deep and balanced with quotes from both sides. It's all very complicated; from this vantage point the inevitable reaction (which you can already see swinging into action in Ivan Maisel's piece) is going to be of the "over-" variety. Maisel leads with an incident in which a member of WVU's athletic department told Magee that in his opinion he would not be a serious candidate because of his excessive melanin content. This constitutes one dude's thought processes about other people's thought processes and is not indicative of anything except said dude's general cynicism about race relations at WVU. It is not actual evidence of racism.
Is there evidence? Well, yes and no. The embarrassing paucity of black D-I head coaches would be a lot simpler to address if people went around being flagrantly racist in ways that yielded a firing and a spanking. It is not so. Each decision to hire a Not Black guy is individually reasonable and defensible; it's only in the seven-of-119 aggregate that there's clear evidence of a problem.
In this situation there's a reason Magee was passed over that has nothing to do with his race and everything to do with his decision to get on a plane with Rich Rodriguez and go to Michigan's introductory press conference. Given WVU's deep draught of Rodriguez haterade, anyone who publicly affiliated himself with the Great Satan was dead in the eyes of WVU's athletic department. Witness the petulance in the immediate aftermath of the plane flight:
"Two days later [Dec. 19], I got my phone confiscated from me and was told not to make any recruiting calls. So immediately after seven years of service, I thought, 'Why are they doing this to me?' On their behalf, I got an apology the next day [from Athletic Director Ed Pastilong] and given all the stuff back."
Magee, still employed by West Virginia and planning on coaching the bowl game, was hassled as he tried to prepare his team. This was probably not because of his skin tone.
Ultimately, WVU made a stupidly emotional decision, and while it is kind of funny that these stupidly emotional decisions usually end up with a completely unqualified white dude in charge in this WVU is no different than most schools. What happened to Magee could have happened anywhere.
And the timing? Makes this look like a counter-smear of the Rodriguez smear, which seems petty and vindictive. To be clear: Magee doesn't come off like that in the article; he has a legit beef with the way things ended at WVU. But from the aerial view it's just going to look like a bunch of douchebags covered in mud. Can all this end, like, now? The next I'd like to hear about Rodriguez and West Virginia would be "lawsuit settled for undisclosed amount of dollars," and then we can move on with our lives.
Matters of state. West Virginia governor Joe Manchin:
"As far as everyone I know -- and that includes the president and the athletic director and most of the staff -- there is no smear campaign,'' Manchin told The Charleston Gazette. "The facts are simply what they are.''
Yes, the "facts" like "Rodriguez shredded the entire building! We're very cold now! And the heating bill is super high!"
Jennifer Granholm has not, as of yet, offered her opinion on the controversy. Probably because she's the governor.
Two established sources indicate that both members of Michigan's 2007 right guard platoon will not be returning for fifth years due to medical issues. (Yes, medical issues beyond Mike Barwis.)
Though neither exactly shone in '07, losing both leaves Michigan's offensive line in a precarious position. Justin Boren and Steve Schilling return. Mark Ortmann is a good bet to start at one of the tackle spots. Past that it's all question marks; Michigan's inability to get more than two offensive linemen in the '07 recruiting class doesn't help.
Purely speculative, but based on buzz I would guess Michigan opens 2008 with a line like so:
|Left Tackle||Left Guard||Center||Right Guard||Right Tackle|
|Mark Ortmann, Jr*||Justin Boren, Jr||Dave Moosman, So*||Steve Schilling, So*||Perry Dorrestein, So*|
At this point looks like Michigan's 2008 offense will have zero senior starters.