Glory days. Once upon a time Minnesota was pretty good at football. During head coach Bennie Bierman's 18-year tenure in the WWII era, the Gophers claimed five national championships and seven conference titles. A decade later (1960) Minnesota claimed another national crown under Murray Warmath. They won a Rose Bowl a year later. And then the bottom fell out.
Since then, no Gophers coach has recorded a winning record (including Lou Holtz, who coached there in 1984 and 1985) until Glen Mason, who posted .535 and their first 10-win season since 1905. No coach has since recorded a winning record, either.
This is a circuitous way to say WHY WOULD YOU FIRE HIM???
The actual preview part
The Metrodome, which
unfortunately is not where this year's game will be played.
Last season sucked for the most part but ended with a ray of hope for the Minnesota football program. They stole a victory from Iowa and trounced Illinois, effectively ending GopherQuest, an unofficial pursuit to become the Worst Big Ten Team Ever.
So despite finishing 3-9, second year head coach Jerry Kill bought himself and his coaching staff time to rebuild the program. Whether Kill ever reaches the success of even the Mason era remains to be seen. He has a good track record as a coach, but taking a program like Minnesota from its previously moribund state into contention to even win the division will require a quantum leap. At the very least it will have to start with recruiting. For the Gophers, that currently isn't going so hot.
In the meantime Michigan fans can sit back and enjoy Minnesota's presence as the reputed "thorn in the side" of mid-major Big Ten teams -- the Iowas and the Illinoises, I suppose -- without Michigan itself being in any real danger of succumbing to the occasional upset.
Here's hoping for a Minnesota victory on November 24.
- Aug. 30 (Thursday), @ UNLV
- Sept. 8, New Hampshire
- Sept. 15, Western Michigan
- Sept. 22, Syracuse
- Sept. 29, @ Iowa
- Oct. 6, WIFEDAY
- Oct. 13, Northwestern
- Oct. 20, @ Wisconsin
- Oct. 27, Purdue
- Nov. 3, Michigan
- Nov. 10, @ Illinois
- Nov. 17, @ Nebraska
- Nov. 24, Michigan State
Non-conference will be interesting only because Minnesota hosts Syracuse, who has a running backs coach by the name of Tyrone Wheatley. Other than that, there's not much reason to tune into any of their first four games unless you're so jonesing for B1G football by August you'll watch Gophers in Nevada on a Thursday night.
Not much is particularly notable about their B1G schedule. Having both Wisconsin and Nebraska on the road isn't ideal, but I don't really think anyone's expecting the Gophers to win either of those games regardless of location. Also, the last four games will be rough.
Matchups to watch: at Iowa and Michigan State at home. Minnesota played both of those teams competitively last season and even managed to eke out the Iowa game. It will be interesting to see whether there is something inherent in the Gophers' playing style that's favorable against those two teams, who share similar systems, or whether they just played two really flukey games last year.
Minnesota should be able to get three wins out of non-conference and pull out a B1G win over Illinois (most likely) or Purdue or Northwestern (less likely).
This schedule is as favorable as: a half hour "hill workout" on a stairmaster.
X's and O's, Jimmys and Joes
No. 5 QB Marqueis Gray
Style: Spready McSpreaderson
Key losses: RB Duane Bennett (639 yards, 3.8 ypc, 3 TD), WR Da'Jon McKnight (51 rec, 760 yards, 4 TD), TE Collin McGarry (16 rec, 120 yards, 2 TD), RT Chris Bunders, RG Ryan Orton, C Ryan Winn.
Top returners: QB MarQueis Gray (50.7%, 1495 yards, 8 TD, 8 INT), WR Devin Crawford-Tufts (8 rec, 156 yards), WR Brandon Green (15 rec, 190, 1 TD), LT Ed Olsen, LG Tommy Olsen.
Everything anyone needs to know about Minnesota's offense begins with MarQueis and ends with Gray. Gopher fans say Gray is their Denard Robinson (or better than Denard Robinson). Really he's more their version of Devin Gardner, i.e. a super athlete with a less than accurate arm who's probably better off playing receiver if not for the dire QB depth situation.
Last year he ran Minnesota's offense about as well as you could expect him to. He started 11 games, missing the entirety of the Michigan game due to a broken thumb, and otherwise got spelled by backup QB Max Shortell in a three-game stretch before wresting the starting job back completely. With the help of some decent skill players like Bennett and McKnight around him, Gray put on a few commendable performances against Iowa, Michigan State, and Illinois late in the season.
The loss of Bennett, McKnight, and the entire right side of the offensive line means Minnesota should probably brace for some "growing pains" -- as Al Borges would say -- this season. They might be okay at receiver. They have a couple fast guys (Crawford-Tufts, WR Marcus Jones) who should be effective in the spread. The running back competition seems to be murky at this point, however. The Gophers don't really have a whole lot in the way of reinforcements since their recruiting hauls have been understandably meager the last few years. They're going to have to make up with heart what they lack in stars.
Unless the Gophers can get their other receivers and a running back to step up, it will be the MarQueis Gray show until he gets injured, at which point the Gophers should just crawl into a hole and hope they don't see any shadows next spring.
This offense is as frightening as: A one-legged pirate who became a one-limbed pirate after a recent case of gangrene. Fear level = Yarrr! (3)
No. 11 CB Troy Stoudermire
Key losses: S Kim Royston (123 tackles (2nd in B1G), 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PBU, 1 INT), MLB Gary Tinsley (87 tackles, 9 TFL 4 sacks, 3 PBU), DT Anthony Jacobs (26 tackles, 6 TFL, 1 sack).
Top returners: CB Troy Stoudermire (24 tackles, 3 PBU, 2 INT, missed 8 games due to injury), WLB Keanon Cooper (77 tackles, 6 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PBU)
One major reason Michigan blew Minnesota out of the water last season was the absence of MarQueis Gray. Another, perhaps more easily forgotten reason is the fact that Troy Stoudermire was missing from the game as well due to a fractured wrist. Stoudermire was a converted receiver playing corner in 2011, but through four games he proved to be a pretty competent one.
While the loss of Gray obviously had the bigger impact, having Stoudermire in the defensive backfield may have kept Denard in the game longer and given Borges a better opportunity to test Denard's passing issues against a decent corner instead of pulling him after an impeccable first half and calling it a day. Could have helped with the first half against Northwestern is all I'm sayin'. Dawg.
This season Minnesota should be getting Stoudermire back from injury. Good thing, because the Gophers lose a big chunk of their defensive impact players. Like the offense, this defense isn't going to get by on talent; other than Stoudermire, you wouldn't call anyone else on the unit a "solid B1G starter."
That's not to say they aren't any good at all. If you take away the massive skewing effects of their scores vs. Michigan, Purdue, and Wisconsin, their defensive stats weren't all that bad, especially toward the end of the season. That is a rough estimate.
Even without massaging the numbers, Minnesota ended up above average in things like pass defense, which is to say that with the right coaching they can at least milk their talent to allow them to hover around mediocre in other categories as well. They'll have to start with the front seven -- they were horrible against the run last season, and Ace identified this obvious weakness in his FFFF, back when North Dakota State was averaging 5.0 ypc against them. Not good.
This defense is as frightening as: A one-limbed pirate who contracted frostbite in his remaining foot due to his inability to put on socks. Fear level = Yarr? (2)
Record: 4-8 overall, 1-7 B1G.
Against Michigan: They might actually score a touchdown. Michigan will score fewer touchdowns. 31-7 Michigan.
Their chances of winning the B1G are as good as: A one-limbed pirate with frostbite completing a half hour hill workout on a stairmaster.
Turns out the Internet has a rich selection of cats in party hats
The Pre-Sale for our (now-independent) preview book is over; if you have still not bought the thing, you are now out of excuses because you can buy the thing. If you have already bought the thing, you may commence your mailbox vigil. If you're in Ann Arbor or environs, you can also just walk into Moe's and buy a copy.
EDIT: Now available at all three UGP locations:
- 1114 South University
- 329 S. Main Street
- 711 N. University (Moe's)
I'll put up a list of other outlets where available, when available, but one I know for sure is…
Official MGoEvent the First:
In celebration of now having the thing, THIS SATURDAY (Saturday! Saturday!) from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., you are welcome to come join us for the all-official Hail to the Victors 2012 Launch Party. Meet Brian and the MGoStaff, talk Michigan football, and show your spouse that your internet friends are really real and stuff. Answer the poll above if you plan on coming so I can get an idea of attendance.
What? MGoBlog's Launch Party of Hail to the Victors 2012
Where? Underground Printing, 1114 South University, Ann Arbor, MI
When? Saturday, June 30, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. –ish.
Parking? Street parking. Warning: 320-pound defensive tackles who think they're Dukes of Hazzard have recently been sighted in the area, so bring the car with the hood you don't like.
I already have an event that day at 3 at Middle Earth: Of course you do. #myreaders
So can I come by afterwards? Yeah, it's open-house-y.
Can I help/bring cookies? Contact Seth at misopogon, at symbol, att dot net. If it's about cookies, contact any time. Doesn't even have to be related to the party, or the blog, or Michigan if it's cookies.
When do I get my book? Kickstarter and pre-sale orders have been processed. If you have a t-shirt coming it might take a bit longer since those had to get printed and it's a different shipping mechanism.
Say 'punch and pie' or nobody will come! Punch and pie.
We'll have copies and t-shirts available there for pickup if you bought on the Kickstarter. There will also be some sort of Q&A session with Brian, Ace, Heiko, myself, Upchurch, and some of the other contributors (jamiemac should be there; Dooley, Kryk, Ross, and Chris Brown are various levels of maybe).
I am pleased to announce that, after months of neglect followed by a furious-but-fruitful search for the old smileys, the MGoBlog Recruiting Board has been revived. You can now find the link under the "Useful Stuff" drop-down menu at the top of the page, and I'll keep the board updated regularly.
As always, please take careful note of the legend before jumping to any conclusions about a recruit; even a "Mr. Blue" only denotes a ~65% chance of landing an uncommitted recruit, and none of the uncommitted recruits merited that status (a month ago, Laquon Treadwell likely would have, but there's still a long way to go in his recruitment). It won't be long before I get to work on creating the 2014 board, but for now, please accept this humble offering as a sign that, yes, we do occasionally work during the summer.
As Michigan runs out of available spots in the 2013 class, the focus is quickly shifting to the rising juniors of the class of 2014. One of the top in-state 2014 targets is Sturgis (MI) quarterback Chance Stewart, who camped at Michigan last week in hopes of earning an offer; Stewart appears to be battling Toledo (OH) Central Catholic's Deshone Kizer for the available QB scholarship in the class. I caught up to Stewart this morning to get his thoughts on the camp, the state of his recruitment, and how a Michigan offer would affect his status:
ACE: First of all, which teams are currently recruiting you?
CHANCE: Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Penn State, Eastern Michigan, and Western Michigan.
ACE: Out of those teams, who's extended an offer, and do any teams currently stand out for you as potential leaders?
CHANCE: Wisconsin and Western have offered me. I'd probably say Michigan (even though I haven't gotten that offer yet) and Wisconsin are on top.
ACE: I know you camped at Michigan last week. What was that experience like for you and how do you think you performed?
CHANCE: [It was a] great experience—always fun working with Coach Borges. I thought I threw the ball very well in the afternoon session.
ACE: What have the coaches told you about what you need to do to earn a Michigan offer?
CHANCE: Coach Borges just told me I needed to have an impressive camp and when I left he said we'd be in contact.
ACE: I know it's still early, but what factors are you looking for when evaluating a potential school?
CHANCE: Right now pretty much I'm just looking at the basics—coaching staff, facilities, campus. I haven't really made a list of things I really like and don't.
ACE: Do you have an idea of when you'd like to make a decision?
CHANCE: Sometime in my junior year—not sure when though exactly.
ACE: Do you have any camps or visits planned for the rest of the summer? Any plans to visit Michigan again soon?
CHANCE: Three more camps: Western and Eastern Michigan, and Penn State. And as for Michigan visits, I plan on going to a game this fall.
ACE: How would a Michigan offer affect your recruitment? What would it mean to you and would it potentially affect your timetable?
CHANCE: If Michigan were to offer I feel like Wisconsin and Michigan still would be on the top. As far as changing my timetable, yes that could be a possibility.
ACE: What do you think is your biggest strength as a quarterback and what are you looking to improve during the summer and your junior year?
CHANCE: Accuracy is the main thing I want to improve on, and my biggest strength is leadership! Quarterback is a position where when everything is going wrong in a game, you have to be there to let your teammates know you got their back and we can do this! So I feel like that's my biggest strength.
I have returned from vacation and, naturally, there's a lot of catching up to do. Michigan added a camp commit in Channing Stribling while every Big Ten school picked up at least one pledge over the past two weeks. Yes, even Indiana, which is now officially on the board. Changes since the last rankings:
6-11-12: Nebraska picks up Kevin Gladney. Northwestern picks up Sam Coverdale. Indiana picks up Isaac Griffith.
6-12-12: Caleb Benenoch decommits from Michigan State.
6-14-12: Penn State picks up Brandon Bell.
6-15-12: Iowa picks up Malik Rucker.
6-16-12: Nebraska picks up Nathan Gerry.
6-17-12: Nebraska picks up Gabriel Miller. Wisconsin picks up Hayden Biegel and Jazz Peavy.
6-18-12: Minnesota picks up Alex Mayes.
6-19-12: Ohio State picks up Johnny Townsend. Northwestern picks up Eric Joraskie.
6-20-12: Michigan picks up Channing Stribling. Michigan State picks up Darian Hicks. Nothwestern picks up Xavier Menifield.
6-21-12: Illinois picks up Caleb Day. Iowa picks up Derrick Mitchell Jr. Minnesota picks up Owen Salzwedel.
6-22-12: Illinois picks up Bryce Douglas. Iowa picks up Sean Welsh and Andre Harris. Northwestern picks up Hunter Niswander. Minnesota picks up Chris Streveler.
6-23-12: Illinois picks up Darius Mosely.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^|
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
On to the full data after the jump.
Stribling The Stripling
Channing Stribling via MNBN
The most notable development from Michigan's summer camp was of course the offer to and commitment from NC CB Channing Stribling. The Hello post was pretty light on scouting content because there wasn't any before Michigan's camp kicked off. Let me try to fill in a couple of holes. First, Maize and Blue News has a bit on Stribling's post-offer activities:
In more than 10 years of attending the Michigan summer camp, Channing Stribling pulled something today that we don't remember seeing before. A rarity at the very least. In the past, the rule of thumb was that if a player earned a scholarship offer at the camp, they were done. Whether they committed or not, it was sort of a “mission accomplished” type of event and the player would either head home or stick around to watch without competing. Not so with Stribling.
The young defensive back pledged to the Wolverines this morning, then went out and kept working to improve his game. He continued to attentively go through drills and was even running full speed demonstrating the wide receiver position for other campers, where many are often inclined to take it easy. In the sweltering 90 degree temperatures he had to endure, it speaks well of the work ethic of the Wolverines’ latest commitment.
247 got some quotes from his coach($):
“One of things that made him attracted to them is his size. I think he might grow another inch. Long arms. He controls his body very well. You see a lot of kids in high school that size, they have a tough time managing where everything is going, but Channing does a great job with body control.”
He is declared the "epitome of an athlete." Coincidentally, that is the working title of Charlie Weis's soon-to-be-published memoirs.
GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz has an excellent article on how Stribling went from random guy in a gray helmet to Michigan's latest commitment($):
“I think the first day after we did drills and we did Air Force ball [ed: must be a drill] and I started doing little moves,” he explained to GoBlueWolverine, “and they asked me what my name was—and I told them I was Channing Stribling, and they started looking at me more the next few days." …
“It was the next day, that next night after Air Force ball, that they asked me to go meet the defensive coordinator. And I met him and he said he’s going to look at me the next few days,” said Stribling.
Unfortunately paywalled, but if you've got the subscription check it out.
Stribling's commitment may have yoinked a scholarship offer from 2013 OH CB Aregeros Turner, who impressed($) but did not leave camp with an offer. Despite having offers from Washington, Tennessee, and Illinois he still told 247 Michigan was "probably like my top school or at least top two right now." In the event of a DB decommit (not likely) or an open slot he may be a guy to keep an eye on.
2014 Caremeter: further incremented
In non-Stribling news, Michigan offered a handful of 2014 kids. Most prominent amongst them is MI WR Drake Harris, a dual-sport star with a Michigan State offer in basketball but possibly a higher ceiling in football. Sam Webb's News article this week is on Harris:
"(Brady) Hoke sat down with us and was reiterating again how much he liked Drake," said Harris' father, Mike. "It was nice. He definitely made Drake feel like they really want him. It was fun for him. We had a good time down there. Hoke is straight up and real, and I like guys like that. He let me know what he thought and I like that. It was definitely a great feel."
He's still figuring out what he wants to do in college.
Other 2014 offerees included FL WR Corey Holmes (first offer) , OH LB Joe Henderson (first offer), PA S Montae Nicholson (PSU, Pitt), and DC CB D'Andre Payne (Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia, OSU, VT).
Cass Tech CB Damon Webb would have been amongst them if Michigan hadn't fired one off a week earlier after seeing him at the SMSB camp. He impressed again. Pargoff:
Rising junior Damon Webb of Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech continued to live up to the hype, showing up for the afternoon session and performing exceptionally well. He breaks and closes so quickly and attacks the ball in the air that there were times it appeared quarterbacks had mistaken him for their primary target. As we noted after the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp, he is easily a top-100 prospect for 2014.
The rest of these guys are just names at this juncture. We can try to fix that. Webb on Nicholson:
This ball-hawking safety had to be the leader in interceptions during his time on campus Tuesday. He showed great range and made quarterbacks pay for any passes they hung in the air.
At 6-3 and 200 pounds, Nicholson is big enough to play strong safety, but his exceptional leaping ability and ball skills make him tailor-made to roam the field at free. The surprising thing about this talented youngster is his camp performance was below his own standards.
That begs the question — if he earns a Michigan scholarship on one of his "off days," how good is he when he's on?
For his part, Holmes tweeted out a "mission accomplished" after landing his offer. He then told 247 Michigan had the "early edge($)" with him:
“The offer just kind of gave me butterflies because I have always been a big Michigan fan,” said Holmes. “It was my goal to earn an offer there and I’m really glad I could accomplish it. Michigan is definitely my top school right now.”
He wants to get his commitment out of the way before his senior season, which still gives him a full year to come to a decision. Pargoff:
Corey Holmes continued to display excellent speed, quickness and athleticism as he did yesterday, but his performance late in the morning session was marred by dropped passes. He definitely has all of the athletic ability needed to earn a scholarship offer from the Wolverines, but he needs to become more consistent with his hands.
He goes to St. Thomas Aquinas, a school Michigan has recruited frequently over the last decade or so. They've had little success when it comes to actually securing Aquinas kids but that's usually because they've gone to Notre Dame instead. It's a school that sends a lot of guys North, is what I'm saying.
Payne says some nice things about Mallory($) and vaguely positive things about Michigan but it seems like he's a long way from figuring things out. He says he'll be in for a visit to see what the game atmosphere is like. Henderson is a 6'4", 220 pound guy as a rising junior so he would be a SAM at M.
Meanwhile, 2014 IN WR Dominque Booth did not get his camp offer but feels one is coming($) after a couple of games in his junior season.
Quarterbacks : wolves :: scholarship : t-bone steak equidistant from them
Michigan has not thrown out any offers at quarterback yet but after getting a look at MI QB Chance Stewart and OH QB DeShone Kizer one or both is probably going to get the call soon. Tremendous caught up with Stewart after the camp:
Chance was at Michigan all day Tuesday after earning an offer from Wisconsin last Sunday. Chance felt like he performed really well at Michigan, and even "threw better than I did at Wisconsin".
He was able to talk a little with the Michigan coaches about a potential offer and they told him "they had to evaluate a couple other guys at their camp, and after camp they will figure it out". he went on to say "they said we would be in contact by the end of the week".
Michigan and Wisconsin would be Stewart's top two if Michigan does pull the trigger, and given what Stewart told 247($)…
“I really hope I can pick up that offer because Michigan is a special place to me. They have the best of the best in everything and I feel like Coach Borges and I really communicated well and he helped me become a better player at camp.”
…I don't think Wisconsin would have much of a chance, especially since he says he wants to make a decision as soon as possible.
TomVH and Chantel Jennings make it sound like it's edge Stewart($) in an article on offensive top performers:
2014 Chance Stewart -- Looks the part of a top quarterback. He had a few struggles but took well to coaching and made some nice throws. He's a Michigan kid who's familiar with the program.
2014 DeShone Kizer -- Had a shaky start but brought it back together towards the end of the day on Wednesday. He got his technique down and threw well in the final one-on-ones.
The timeline Kizer was given($) also suggests the staff might prefer the instate kid:
“(Borges) explained to me that he didn’t want to offer an 2014 quarterbacks before camp, and he doesn’t feel he has ‘that guy’ yet,” Kizer said. “He wants to see a couple of games at the beginning of the season and see if I improve from camp before he makes any moves.”
Either way, if Michigan picks up a four-star-ish guy after Shane Morris that's moving towards the Gutierrez-Henne-Richard embarrassment of riches (that was just enough to get Michigan one starting QB—lottery tickets, man).
A window of Derrick Green hope
You know what they say about getting a kid on campus and Seeing What Happens($).
“I want to get out there again to speak with the head coach,” Green said. “I’m definitely going to get back there. I want to go up there and see what (Brady Hoke) has to say – what he likes about me, why they want me, and just to get a feel for who I might be playing for one day.”
That visit won't happen until the fall, though, at which point Michigan may be ultrasounding athletic-looking pregnant ladies.
The Distant Future, The Year 2000
Michigan pulled the trigger on what I believe is their first 2015(!) offer when they slyly implied but did not promise 2015 KY RB Damien Harris that he would get an offer in August of his senior year… which is still two years away for the rising sophomore. Obviously this dude is a manchild. Webb:
At 5-11 and 195 pounds, he is powerfully built, but still very fluid; he does yoga to maintain that fluidity. In drills and 7-on-7 action he showed great burst and caught the football very well. One really can't fully appreciate how talented and physical Harris is without the pads on. One look at his film and those things become abundantly clear. Michigan clearly thought so. So too did Fresno State, Ohio, Wake Forest, Kentucky, Illinois and Tennessee.
Damien Harris of Berea (Ky.) Madison Southern was easy to spot among the running back group. Standing in at around 5-10, 200 pounds, the young rising sophomore already has the build of an upperclassman. He showed off plenty of speed and skill to go with that. While it seems incredibly early to offer a 2015 prospects, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the Wolverines pulled the trigger to do just that. He really was that impressive.
I think Webb or Trieu mentioned that Harris was a Michigan fan who geeked out when Mike Hart was one of his position coaches at the camp. I'm guessing we'll see an article from one of the premium sites that can confirm or dis-confirm this in the near future.
Next week's event
That would be the visit($) of FL WR Alvin Bailey, Leon McQuay III teammate and four-star slot receiver. FSU is a considerable favorite; maybe Hoke can shake that assumption.
Recently offered CA WR Darren Carrington commits to Oregon.
Etc.: Michigan does not offer a kicker. 2014 five-star Jabrill Peppers says M will make his top ten($). Damon Webb says he's been a Michigan fan his whole life($) and commiting early is a "possibility" but he doesn't think it will happen.
I'll miss you, Birds+Books APR image header, except I'll probably still use you
APR threat: downgraded. My annual fretting about the first-year Rich Rodriguez number has been a full-post kind of thing the last few years. This year it gets downgraded to a UV bullet because of this number: 984. That's Michigan's most recent one-year score, and it's shiny enough to get Michigan over the 930 Mendoza line even with that 897 anchor. Hurray for everyone.
Unless Michigan experiences another flurry of transfers—unlikely—the next few June days on which everyone reports APR scores because it's the middle of June will be opportunities to reflect on what a swell guy Brady Hoke is. Officially standing down on APR alert.
Michigan's other sports are all doing well, as per usual.
Playoff: almost officially happening. It seems like we've had articles about the inevitably of a four-team playoff for months now. At some point if the thing is so inevitable people would stop writing about it. No one's writing about players being required to wear helmets this fall. Anyway, it seems like there has finally been a meeting with an actual single endorsed plan. It is this (emphasis added):
While the B.C.S. commissioners did not announce the details of how they would pick the teams for the four-team playoff, a source with direct knowledge of the decision said the plan is for a selection committee to “more than likely” pick the four best teams.
There will be a preference given to conference champions in the selection, but how much is yet to be determined. Strength of schedule will also be strongly considered. There have yet to be any discussions about how the finances will be split among the teams.
The selection committee will subject a sport steeped in regional biases to a different type of controversy, although one that will likely die down a bit now that there will be semifinal and final games. The two semifinal games are expected to be played within the bowl system and the national championship will be bid on like the Super Bowl.
In a joint statement, the 11 conference commissioners and the Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said that they had reached a “consensus behind a four-team, seeded playoff, while recognizing that the presidents will certainly present their views, including a discussion of a Plus-One.”
That's lip service. Presidents are going to rubber stamp it. Pop champagne? It could be better but it's a huge improvement. Other than the Big Ten's self-defeating opposition to home playoff games leading them to perpetual road travels, I'm cool with it. FWIW, even without preferences for conference champions, the SEC would only have grabbed multiple bids three times.
As for where the first one will be, bet on Dallas.
Why not both? This is a revamped sports bar split into MSU and Michigan halves.
VERNON TWP. — Uncle Buck’s Northern Exposure is making a dramatic change in format — from a nearly topless dance club to big-screen sports bar.
In fact, it was an overload of drama, says owner Ken Canfield, that prompted the change, including a different name: Crossroads Sports Bar.
Missed opportunity there.
Hockey schedule: again with the front-loading. Michigan's released the hockey schedule, which again has an extremely light back end. Nine of Michigan's final 12 games are away from home (one is at the Joe) and there are just six home games (and the U18 game) in 2013. Not like they could do anything about that what with the conference going away next year. Price of leaving.
Michigan plays no road games in the slim nonconference portion of the schedule. They've got two against RIT, another one-off versus Bentley, the game at MSG against Cornell, and the outdoor GLI. They'll open against Tech and get WMU or MSU in the second game.
I hope this isn't an indication of where Michigan's nonconference schedule will go when they join the Big Ten. It probably isn't. Red has sought out tough competition as frequently as possible since the program got its footing, and with a whopping 14 games to play with—16 if M makes the trip to Alaska—they should have room for annual series against the big powers.
Context at Maize and Brew.
Should you flip your defense or not? Generally the answer is "not" these days because of spread hurry up stuff. You may remember Michigan doing this a bit early in the year, but that was a stop-gap measure:
Why to Flip
Flipping the defensive positions based on strength of the Offensive formation started as a way to keep teaching simple.
Rather than having to teach a Defensive End to play either lined up either inside a Tight End or outside shade on a Tackle, you could teach him to always align to the strength, meaning he spent all of his time on the Tight End.
The teaching got simpler, as players had to know less about the entire game, and more about their own little piece of tunnel vision. It became easy to know very little about the game while still being a very good and knowledgeable player about your own position.
No more, because if you flip your bits people will run hurry-up on your face and get you confused. Better to have a general understanding these days than a hyper-specific focus. That's a subtle way in which the game's generally increasing specialization is taking a step back.
FWIW, the coach who posted this noted that a number of guys are using field and boundary calls to set their defense instead of opponent alignment. (IE, you line up to the wide side or short side of the field no matter what the offense does.) FWIW, Mattison is one.
More uniform concepts. This time Notre Dame does it to themselves:
The second comment is an image of Chris Hall—life's winner—and his glorious Tom Hammond tie. Well done.
Etc.: UMHoops gives the 1,000-foot view on Michigan's five-man 2012 basketball recruiting class. Rothstein horning in on my season intro column by discussing Hoke's inadvertent marketing genius. Baumgardner has a series on key moments from last football season. I disagree with Baumgardner's take on the 49% TD against Iowa—he seems to think the issue there was whether Hemingway was in, but the real problem was the nose of the ball hitting the ground.
Close followers of this site are well aware that for all his faults, Rich Rodriguez was not handed a classic, loaded Michigan roster when he arrived. If you followed his recruiting at all you know he didn’t do the Wolverines any favors with his recruiting during his three years in Ann Arbor. Based on 11 years of recruiting and roster history, I have compiled a look at how Michigan’s talent and experience have ebbed and flowed since 2006 and how many elite caliber classes like the currently assembled 2013 class it will take for Michigan’s talent base to catch up with the nation’s best recruiting programs.
For those interested in how the roster values were calculated, I’ve added a section to the end to explain the methodology.
The Lloyd Peak
How long before he retired he knew when the end was is hard to know, but Lloyd Carr certainly had the roster set up for a great 2006 and 2007. In 2006 Michigan entered the season with the highest rated roster in the Big Ten and trailed only LSU and Miami (YTM) for top marks nationally. Both sides of the ball were well represented, ranked third nationally on both offense and defense. The stacked lineup led Michigan to the brink of their first BCS National Championship game before losing to top ten talent teams in the final two games of the season.
After a disappointing finish to 2006, the roster was even more setup for a big send off for Lloyd Carr in 2007. The roster trailed only USC in terms of overall talent and the offense had a sizeable lead as #1 nationally. Unfortunately, the losses on the defensive side dropped the defense out of the top 10 and were exposed in the first two games, ending Michigan’s national title hopes before the calendar turned to October.
The RichRod Hangover
The 2008 version of Michigan was not a team lacking talent (except for quarterback), but it was a ways from the talent level in Ann Arbor the previous two seasons. The defense rose a bit to sneak back into the top 10, where the loss of the Henne/Hart/Long dropped the offense from #2 in the nation to #16. By the 2010 season things hadn’t gotten better but they hadn’t gotten worse, either. The offense and the defense consistently ranked in the top 15 nationally but the results, especially the GERG effect on the defense never matched up with the talent-level on campus. The roster left for Rodriguez didn’t do him any favors but it was also far above the record and defensive performances that came from it.
The High of Hoke…
…will have to wait. As great as the Hoke recruiting era has begun, it will likely be a few seasons before the dividends begin to payout. The next two seasons will be the two where the roster effects of the Three and Out era will come due. This season the talent level will drop down into the 20s overall and likely stay there for the 2013 season as well before a big jump two years from now when the majority of the Hoke classes move from observers to contributors.
Michigan Vs The Rivals
Michigan dominated the end of the Lloyd era versus all the big three rivals but by 2008 Ohio and Notre Dame both moved into a better roster position. Despite the head to head losses, Michigan maintained an overall roster advantage over Michigan State. That nearly closed over the next two seasons, before the Hoke recruiting pushed Michigan out front once again. By 2015 Michigan should move close to par with Ohio and Notre Dame for the first time since 2008.
Michigan Vs The Best
Despite a lull coming up over the next two seasons, Michigan is poised to move into the upper echelon of national programs in terms of overall program talent. If Michigan can maintain top 5 level classes, by 2015 Michigan will move into the elite group of rosters in the country. Michigan’s projections begin to look a lot like that opening day opponent, with a five year delay. Nick Saban had similar rosters his first two seasons that Michigan is facing in the coming years, before taking off into elite status. Hopefully Michigan doesn’t need to go through the roster manipulation to get there, but with the first two Hoke classes, Michigan is making the first step to achieve a similar roster look as the team that has won 2 of the last 3 national championships.
What it All Means
Even the most die-hard numbers guy like myself knows that at the end of the day these are just numbers on a computer screen and the game is played on the field. The numbers are far from everything. Coaching, luck, player development and other factors are all major contributors to team success. With that said, the composition of the roster does mean a lot. As far back as I have reliable data for roster composition (2005) only Auburn has won a National Championship and not been ranked in the Top 10 for roster talent, and it took one of the greatest individual single-season performances ever for that to happen. Conference championships can be won with middle of the road talent for the conference. Last year Wisconsin won the Big Ten with the 7th highest rated roster in the conference. But over the long haul talent will win out.
Michigan will have more to overcome in the talent department than at any other time in the internet era. 2012 and 2013 will be lean years by Wolverine standards. Thankfully, we have the kind of coaches that have a high likelihood of mitigating that drop through their other talents of player development, in game coaching and for the future with recruiting.
Unlike Lindy’s I’ll do my best to give you a rundown of how I arrived at the valuations for each roster. Each player when recruited is ranked by each service. If they fall out of the Top X for any site, I do my best to approximate a ranking based on stars, position rank and grade where available. That rank is then translated into points. The formula I use is -4.5*ln([Rank]+11)+36. The specific formula was generated to more heavily weight the top players and produce an output where a consensus #1 rated prospect is worth a total of 99 points (summed across the four sites) and bottom of the barrel anonymous 2 stars are worth only a couple points.
Using this system, Michigan’s highest rated recruit was Prescott Burgess in 2003 at 90 points, Kyle Kalis was tops for the incoming class at 69 points and Shane Morris is currently at 79 points. Players are then weighted based on years in the system. Freshman only add 25% of their points to the roster total. 2nd year players (red-shirt freshmen or true sophomores) add 75% of their recruiting value to the overall total and all players in at least their third year in college football get 160% of their recruiting value. These numbers were derived based on actual usage of running backs (split of carries), quarterbacks (split of attempts), receivers (split of catches) and defenders (split of tackles) and then normalized so that the total roster number would approximately equal the sum of the unweighted recruiting points.
The total only counts players still on the roster at the beginning of the season. On the recruiting side a thousand points is usually at least a top ten or better class (The 2013 class is sitting at 1034 points). From the charts above you can see that the best rosters reflect 4-5 great classes and are 4-5,000 points.
Gerund fans rejoice, as NC CB Channing Stribling picked up a camp offer and pulled the trigger immediately. Tremendous is first past the post.
Gene, tell us what we've won!
8 in white. Via the News-Record.
|2*, NR CB||NR||NR||3*, #95 ATH, #40 NC|
Kid may as well be wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. Only one site bothered ranking him in the range of BCS-level college prospects and even they throw up their hands at what position he'll play in college. ESPN has no evaluation for him. The only 247 article on his profile is an honorable mention from a camp designed to find under-the-radar prospects. He was under even that radar. Scout hadn't posted an article on him until he showed at Michigan's camp. Rivals wins a prize for being the most up on the kid by posting one short article($) on him in February. You get the idea. This is a classic camp sleeper.
It's pretty obvious why: at 6'2", 165, Stribling is liable to break in half if the wrong gust of wind catches him. He's a CB/WR at Butler and will come to Michigan as the second very tall corner in the class (OH CB Gareon Conley is the other) after getting raves from the seemingly infinite camp observers.
Some of those raves follow. Tuesday recruiting already featured Sam Webb's take on him as a "camp riser($)":
Channing Stribling, CB, Matthews (NC) Butler, 2013 – How this kid is such a relatively obscure prospect while playing for such a powerhouse program is a mystery. Standing 6-2 and maybe 165-pounds, this Tar Heel State product is extremely fluid (despite his length), and possesses quickness that belies his size. Though not a blazer, he has good football speed. Furthermore, he has really good leaping ability and ball schools. Some schools might be scared away by his slender frame and lack of elite top end speed. Others, meanwhile, might see pure potential… a youngster that could become more explosive once he adds more muscle to his slender frame.
Another rising senior to do very well among the defensive backs was Channing Stribling of Matthews (N.C.) Butler. He is more of a long and lanky athlete with excellent height and reach, but he will need to add weight to play at the next level. Nevertheless, he showed excellent athleticism and was able to hang with the best receivers there.
Aaaaand that's it as far as scouting type stuff. As I said, Guy Fawkes.
As befits a who-dat camp find, Stribling had few offers at the time of his commitment. 247 lists NC State but that's dubious; when he talked to Scout($) yesterday he told them he had offers from Ball State and some FCS schools. Here are the schools he felt were at least looking at him:
"I am still waiting on my first offer to arrive but the interest has been strong for a while and I am hoping my first offer comes soon," said Stribling. "I have been talking the most to North Carolina, North Carolina St, Duke, Miami FL, Minnesota and Florida. I have taken visits to both UNC and Duke already and I am looking to see Florida and Miami FL here very soon. I believe more schools will become interested as I attend more camps and give coaches a better chance to evaluate my talents."
He had a productive junior season, catching 37 passes for 636 yards and eight TDs with 37 tackles, six interceptions and 14 PBUs on D.
FAKE 40 TIME
Listed at a fairly realistic 4.56 at NCSA. One FAKE.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Flimsy indeed in this case. Michigan's latest forays into who-dat camp corners have worked out pretty well, what with Courtney Avery establishing himself a contributor already and Jeremy Clark getting the upgrade from grayshirt to regular shirt. [Ed-S: Even the obvious comparison, James Rogers, did end up becoming a contributor]. Stribling's a risk but in these cases where the coaches have seen the guy up close and personal for three days the "trust the coaches" mantra is more than an annoying rhetorical device. The people with the most in-depth, up-to-date information on Channing Stribling are Michigan's coaches.
So he's got a shot. He'll have to wait for it, obviously, with a redshirt to pack on some pounds all but certain. At his size he could play WR or S if corner doesn't work out; Michigan would very much like him to stick at the position they're projecting him for right now since 6'2" corners are rare commodities.
I also predict I figure out what FINAO stands for by the end of his career.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
What rest of the class? Michigan's sitting on 22 commits as of late June and will add two, maybe three more. Stribling likely closes out defensive back recruiting—enjoy Vandy, Leon McQuay.
Michigan is now looking for a strongside defensive end, I guess, and another wide receiver who will hopefully be LaQuon Treadwell. That would take them to 24, a number that would require Michigan to lose four more guys before February. If they lose another they'd be hunting for BPA. They may be doing so already with the slot vaguely ticketed for SDE.