"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Elvis says: don't do drugs. Because you'll totally overthrow Desmond Howard if you do.
One offs FTW. That Colorado game has no return date scheduled according to CU's official site:
Colorado and Michigan will renew their short but exciting rivalry with a single game in Ann Arbor on Sept. 17, 2016. While not officially part of the Pac-12/Big Ten schedule series set to commence in 2017, it will mark the fifth time the schools will play, the first since 1997.
And neither does the Oregon State official site mention a return game:
The Oregon State University football team will travel to the University of Michigan to play during the 2015 season, Beaver Director of Athletics Bob De Carolis announced Wednesday. …
“This is an exciting opportunity for our student-athletes, staff and fans to visit not only one of the great venues in college football but all of sports,” De Carolis said. “But make no mistake, we will make this trip with the goal of winning a football game.”
So… that ND gap can be filled by a marquee opponent instead of road games against middling to not so good Pac-12 teams. Take a picture: GOOD JOB DAVE BRANDON WOOO! Also good job Bill Martin for having luxury suites that make it important to not have home schedules like this year.
Now, about canceling the Horror II and pretending that never happened…
Notre Dame hiatus just that. Whenever Michigan and Notre Dame take a break in their series there's a small cadre of folks suspicious that it's a front for an end to the whole thing. This does not appear to be the case, tinfoil hat folk. From the Tribune:
"This was either in place when I got here or it was a request that came shortly after I got here," Swarbrick said in a phone interview Wednesday. "I didn't even know it wasn't known, frankly. It had been cooked into our scheduling model for at least three years.
"I don’t think somehow (Michigan athletic director) Dave (Brandon) had been informed when he came aboard. When he called and we started talking about dates, I said, 'You know Dave, we had this bye built in and I scheduled games.' He was great. We just made it work.
"We're going to keep playing each other. It's important to both schools. This initiated with a request from up there years ago, and we said OK."
Since this is Notre Dame there is the slight but real chance Swarbrick means "heaven" by "up there." In any case, ND is coming back after the break. On the schedule. Not to the realm of teams that win a lot of football games.
And then he gave you the finger guns. Brandon on the ND hole:
But what does Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon intend to do with those two open dates on the schedule?
"Stay tuned," he told AnnArbor.com by phone on Wednesday.
You're too small. This is something that is true about Chris Wormley and Tom Strobel despite being people of this size:
Football is weird.
BONUS: Well done, photobomber who must be Wormley's younger brother or something.
ZomBCS lurches on, makes more sense. There will remain some semblance of the red carpet bowl tier that fans have gotten used to over the past decade or so, as Stewart Mandel reports that the as yet undefined selection committee will also hand-craft the four bowls that are super special but not hosting playoff semifinals. The top twelve get in, no exceptions—you're still not in the top 12, Michigan State, go away—and there will be some restrictions due to Rose/"Champions" bowl business. As a bonus, they've also decided to un-screw the bowl schedule by playing all six of the red carpet bowls on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
That's good. Less good is that the selection committee will start issuing a top 20 at midseason:
"We didn't want the top four teams to just come out of the blue at the end of the season," Swarbrick said.
This is to provide some transparency, I guess, but if they are prioritizing conference champs that's data you don't get until the season's over, making the previous polls a pointless exercise. I'd rather do away with the whole poll mentality in case some of the dumb from previous systems leaks into the new one.
Budget bits. Michigan's released its 2012 athletic department budget, which is the usual: about 10-12 million in the black with 4-5 of that set aside for a capital reinvestment fund. Things that jump out:
- Michigan is budgeting $2.4 million for "hosting, food, and special events" in the 2013 FY, a threefold increase on FY12. Alabama game effect?
- Premium seating is sold out for football and "essentially sold out" for basketball. Someone high five Brady Hoke and John Beilein.
- Despite having two fewer football games, "spectator admissions" are projected to drop only slightly, from 43 million to 39 million. Ticket price increase is a part of that and they must be including their 4.7 million from the Alabama game in that item.
- They made $3.9 million more than they expected last year.
More OHL rumblings. It's the incredibly annoying part of the year where OHL teams try to swoop in on committed players just for the hell of it. Plymouth traded for incoming defenseman Connor Carrick's rights, and then signed him. (Apparently. I can't find anything other than the link-free MHN article.)
Carrick committed to Michigan as a sophomore in high school and as a small defenseman who was a mid-round draft pick he's the archetypical guy who should play in college, so the only way this makes any sense at all is if Carrick was concerned about playing time. Michigan does return six guys who had a regular-ish shift last year and adds Trouba. But this isn't John Gibson bugging out at the idea of backing up Hunwick—Carrick only has to beat out one of Chiasson, Serville, or Clare to get PT. Stupid move for a guy who has about a 12% chance of playing 200 NHL games.
Meanwhile, an OHL source telling Matt Slovin that Jacob Trouba is 50/50 to be in Kitchener this fall is something to mention, but my initial reaction to that is eyerolling given anonymous OHL sources' tendency to play up their chances at everyone. Trouba has been more insistent that he'd be at Michigan than anyone save Jack Johnson. If he backs out that would be an all-timer. I need a sufficiently condescending youtube video to embed in these situations.
As far as Phil Di Giuseppe goes, Rivals' Michael Spath seems to be a little more optimistic as of yesterday's Inside the Fort post.
It doubles as a tombstone. The CCHA's final year will be commemorated by patches.
I'll be vaguely sad about the lost tradition until I see some good old fashioned CCHA reffing in November. Or remember Shawn Hunwick, second-team all-conference.
Mikulak killing it. Michigan's men's gymnastics Olympic hopeful is crushing the trials:
So much for the U.S. men's gymnastics team being a two-man show.
Sam Mikulak was impressive during the first day of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials Thursday, threatening to break up the grip national champion John Orozco and Danell Leyva have on the role of top Americans heading into the London Olympics.
Looking as relaxed as if he was competing in a college dual meet for Michigan, the 2011 NCAA champion posted an all-around score of 91.80, the best on a day many of the other contenders to make the five-man Olympic team faltered.
Leyva moved past Orozco into first place in the overall standings, which combine scores from nationals and trials, but couldn't top Mikulak, at least for a couple of hours. Mikulak remained third in the overall standings but drew closer to the top two heading into the finals Saturday.
Mikulak was also interviewed by espnW. If he makes the team he is a lock to have an NBC equivalent of Tom Rinaldi narrate a sepia-toned profile, what with the broken legs == broken dreams angle.
Etc.: John Bacon on the recently departed Bob Chappius. The Ex-Peach Bowl wants to be the #6 bowl in this new rotation they've got going. Indianapolis, you're our only hope. TOC's Chris Vannini on Detroit FC. Shut up, I like it. UConn joins Hockey East, prompting BC blogs to advocate secession into a new six-team conference styled on the Big Ten. New BHGP podcast intro song.
Lloyd meets the peregrine falcon named after him, asks "why is that one not named Fielding?" He does not actually ask that.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses visits from Alvin Bailey and Jordan Wilkins, the top lists of #1 overall prospect Da'Shawn Hand and other 2014 standouts, and more. Also included is an interview with Michigan's first 2014 offered prospect, UT DT Bryan Mone.
Future Touchdown Dance: The Funky Charleston
Pictured on the right is FL WR Alvin Bailey (photo via his Twitter) from his visit to Michigan on Wednesday. If Bailey and his Seffner Armwood teammate Leon McQuay III both end up as Wolverines, let me present the motion to nickname the duo "Kid 'n Play," both due to Bailey's spectacular high-top fade and the fact that it could spur Special K to play some decent music for once.
Anyway, Bailey was on campus this week, and the four-star receiver came away impressed, according to an interview with TomVH ($, info in header):
"It helped them a lot. I was already up on Michigan, but this definitely helped," he said. "I knew some things about them, but being able to see it in person it meant a lot."
Bailey is in the midst of a slew of trips that has also seen him visit Georgia, South Carolina, Notre Dame and Clemson, with Florida State, Georgia, and Auburn also on the docket for July. The Wolverines and Irish could be at a serious disadvantage, however, as Bailey said this to GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz ($):
One issue that plays against Midwest schools such as Notre Dame (which he visited on this trip as well, right before U-M) and Michigan, however, is the issue of distance from home—something Bailey admits is a factor for him.
“It’s big,” said Bailey. “I’m not going to lie, it’s real big. That’s something that I would probably have to sacrifice, so it’s big.”
Sounds like distance is a big factor, which would not bode well for Michigan's chances. Bailey also mentioned that the Wolverines will only take two more players—not a surprise, considering the current number crunch—and his decision could come either before or after his senior season.
While Bailey got the full tour, TN RB Jordan Wilkins stopped by on Tuesday for a quick three-hour visit, and there's very little in the way of visit reaction from him thus far. 247's Clint Brewster did post on their message board that Wilkins's father, who wasn't on the trip, said the visit went "very well" for Jordan ($). There's discussion of a potential visit later in the summer, which would greatly improve Michigan's chances of getting Wilkins, but for now it's safe to assume that Auburn is still the prohibitive favorite.
In 2013 commit news, Jourdan Lewis was invited to the Army All-American Bowl, joining fellow commits Chris Fox and Mike McCray should he choose to participate (roster here). Michigan also has six commits—Shane Morris, Gareon Conley, David Dawson, Logan Tuley-Tillman, McCray (he'll have to choose just one, obviously), and Patrick Kugler—currently slated to participate in the Under Armour All-American Game.
First Journey Joke Earns a Banhammer
Sam Webb's latest DetNews profile is on 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns, who recently narrowed his list to a final three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State. While making such a cut this early is unusual, Ferns's father reveals that there's a very good reason his son has eliminated many of the schools pursuing him, including the home-state squad:
"It's not that he doesn't like the coaches, facilities, etc. (at Ohio State)," Mr. Ferns explained. "It's just that he grew up in a town of 3,500, so it's difficult to feel comfortable in a (large) city. It has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that he feels more comfortable in college town settings. Ideally, if Ohio State would work for him, it would be great for me from a geography and local hype standpoint. But if you don't feel comfortable living in a city, you simply don't. It's no different than the kid in the south having no interest in moving north. It's what they know."
He's just a small-town boy, you see, born and raised in [bans self]. The elder Ferns—no word on if Webb stood between the two during the interview, unfortunately—also had very high praise for their recent trip to Michigan and Jerry Montgomery as a recruiter—"He's as strong a recruiter as we've dealt with." As for future visits, Ferns plans to check out a game at all three of his final schools during the fall.
Also getting the profile treatment this week was IL CB Parrker Westphal, whose father spoke at length with TomVH. According to Mr. Westphal, Michigan has set the standard by which his son will measure his other suitors ($):
"I think what better school to base a standard from. Michigan is a big school with a big program, really good academics and facilities," he said. "If he would have gone to Nebraska first, though, that's a big school with modern facilities. That might have been the standard."
It doesn't mean that U-M is Parrker's favorite, but it is up there.
Westphal's father mentioned that Parrker would like to finish up his recruitment "sooner rather than later," but there's no rush as they make sure to examine each school carefully.
OH DB Darius West was one of the standouts at Michigan's camp, and although he didn't pick up an offer, he's got serious interest and reciprocated by putting the Wolverines in his top two with childhood favorite Ohio State, according to Matt Pargoff. You'll also enjoy this quote that he gave to Sam Webb ($):
Sam Webb: Talk to me about Michigan State. How did that camp go for you?
Darius West: “I mean, if I had to rank Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan camp, Michigan State would be third.“
West told Pargoff he'd like to decide by the end of his junior year, so he's one to keep a close eye on if Michigan comes through with an offer. He told Webb he's being recruited at both corner and safety at the moment.
247's J.C. Shurburtt caught up with the nation's #1 overall prospect for 2014, VA DT Da'Shawn Hand, and got an early top seven from him: Virginia Tech, Ohio State, UNC, Clemson, USC, Alabama and Michigan. VT seems to have the early edge—he's visited campus twice and mentions Bud Foster as his favorite recruiter—but he's yet to visit most of the schools on his list, including Michigan.
Happy trails to MI WR Drake Harris, who committed to Michigan State on Wednesday over Michigan and Notre Dame.
Quickly: Clint Brewster reports that Michigan offered CA TE Tyler Luatua, who's pegged as the top tight end in the class in 247's early rankings. Correction from Tuesday's post: TX LB Hoza Scott doesn't yet have an offer, according to Tim Sullivan, but he probably has to visit campus first, which may not happen soon due to the distance factor ($). MI CB Damon Webb continues to see his stock rise, recently picking up offers from Ohio State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Catching Up With Bryan Mone
I had the chance to chat with UT DT Bryan Mone, a high school teammate of incoming freshman Sione Houma who picked up Michigan's first 2014 offer way back in December. This is the first time Mone has given an interview, and he updated me on the status of his recruitment, his current size and preferred position, and a potential visit next week:
ACE: First of all, how's everything going with your recruitment? Which schools are in contact with you right now?
BRYAN: So far, so good. It's just really a blessing sir. But the schools that I'm in contact with are Utah, BYU, and Utah State.
ACE: Which schools have offered you so far?
BRYAN: All of the three [as well as Michigan].
ACE: I know Michigan gave you their first 2014 offer. Have you been in contact with Michigan at all since then?
BRYAN: Yeah, well kind of. I keep in contact with the D-line coach. I might just go out to Michigan with my dad next week.
ACE: Do you talk to Sione Houma at all now that he's enrolled? What has he told you about Michigan?
BRYAN: Yes I do, I was just talking to him. He told me that it's really good out there and that some of the football players don't know what a Tongan is [laughs] and he was just saying it's a great program and all.
ACE: You mentioned possibly visiting Michigan. Are there any other schools you'd like to check out over the summer?
BRYAN: No sir, just Michigan.
ACE: I know it's early, but do you have any favorites at this point?
BRYAN: All my favorite schools are the ones that offered me and Colorado all because my other cousin told me about Colorado.
ACE: What's your height and weight right now, and what would you like to play at next season?
BRYAN: 6'4" height, 300 weight [Ed-Ace: Up from a listed 6'3", 255 last year]. I'm going to play D-tackle and offensive guard.
ACE: What would you say are your biggest strengths on the field, and what are you trying to improve for next year and the next level?
BRYAN: My biggest strengths are mainly [being able to play] on the line on both sides of the ball. I am trying to improve on my speed and strength for next year and the next level.
ACE: When looking at schools, what do you think will be the biggest factors in your decision? Do you know when you'd like to make a choice?
BRYAN: First of all my education and how I would fit in the program and the community and the brotherhood of the football team. I don't know [when I'd like to make a decision] ... like you said sir I'm still young.
Sadly the most recent 2013 commitment did not come with a pair, so the diarists decided they'd do the doubling for him. Not even counting two weeks of Blockhams, four other diarists penned not one but two articles each.
Michigan's Defense Again. Let's start with hart20 since I've been jonesin' recently for a little Mattison appreciation. This is a comparison of Mattison coordinator stops past to find out whether there's a clear Mattison effect. This sort of thing can never be conclusive but there's a pattern emerging of immediate and dramatic improvement against the run in the first year, and holding serve the second (though in early stops the pass defense was more variable).
Hart's second diary is a follow-up to the ND preview he was penning before, this time with more OSU and Bama, wrangling up what the interwebs have been saying on things like the ND QB situation, and whether they're headed for their own Never Forget backfield poster. Ohioan recruiting and Eddie Lacy's injuries also feature. I wonder how the ND fans reacted to Brian Kelly saying the goal for Year Three is 8 wins. Purple faces? Diarist of the week.
Defining the Debate. If you think that game at the end of the 2012 season is a culture-clash, wait'll you see the one at the beginning. The blue-blooded TSS tossed out the opening salvo with Michigan's signature weapons: variability charts, and contingency tables.
That's taken from Part I, the roster comparison. He followed up this week with Part II, which accounts for a lot of the headaches caused by Alabama roster analysis* then gives us a comparison of early enrollees and redshirts. The statistics are a bit dense for the non-statistical, but there's a lot to learn there. A few Bama fans arrived in the comments to debate the existence over-signing because Les Miles is a Michigan man, see? A Part III comes, and more subjective analysis is promised. Also promised—as regular readers of This Week in Schadenfreude can attest—rising tensions as our pretentious selves prepare to meet a particularly notorious (notable exceptions noted) internet fanbase that's guaranteed to push every single one of our buttons.
* As I learned with Decimated Defense, Alabama's roster is a bitch to analyze. Oversigning and the corresponding attrition rates mean there's so many guys to track down, recruits appear in multiple classes since so many are shuttled off to friendly prep schools and JUCOs. And then there's the names, which as TSS discovered have so many hyphens, variant spellings and repeats it's harder on a VLOOKUP function than a list of Roman generals. #lateantiquityexcelreferencesFTW
Quarterbacks and Rivalries. Okay, Son of Lloyd Brady, I love your diaries but the tables—can't we do something about the tables? Copy into Tableizer, paste into Notebook, remove the first paragraph, paste into html, voila: pretty, perfectly width-ed tables.
Complaint registered, Wow! The first he penned is a comparison of dual-threat QBs Denard, RGIII, Collin Klein, Taylor Martinez, and Braxton Miller. SoLB on Robert Griffin:
If it seemed like RGIII was putting up video game numbers to open last season, well he wasn’t because you can’t put up numbers like that in video games. He started with amazing proficiency and I got all too well known #DIV/O! error message for his OOC ATT/INT & TD/INT because he didn’t throw any picks until conference play. Although his stats weren’t as gaudy in conference, I’m sure any QB in the nation would have accepted that level of play as he was still extremely effective.
It's a lot of information but difficult to compare with the big charts. I suggest you dive in anyway for the splits: conference/OOC, 1st 6 games/last 7, home/away&neutral. Lol away at Taylor Martinez once D.C.s realized they just have to make him throw.
His next diary is shorter and easier, and covers great rivalries by series record, average score, differential, etc. I'm not as big a fan of this one because not all rivalry games are created equal (find me someone not from Alabama who never misses an Iron Bowl). The Red River Shootout may be an historical pick 'em, but Michigan-Ohio State is the kind of rivalry where a 36-point spread can still manage to immortalize the number 50. Point spreads don't matter that much (side-note: I'm pretty sure this page on Bentley didn't call them Ohio in the end notes before).
CRex and the Korean Hallows. The CRex saga continues this summer. In his latest OT blockbuster, (now-) Mrs. CRex and the Pentagon team up to defeat the INS, Little Sister throws a stag after discovering vodka is not a wine cooler, and on the opposite side of the world from Columbus a Buckeye can still get trolled by four hookers. Between you and me, Brian is going to throw a fit once he learns a perfect opportunity to re-enact the K-Pop Girls' Generation video with a Michigan helmet was missed in favor of Lollipop. For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, through the powers of M-Wolverine's copy/paste function and superb foresight, the collected works of CRex are now available in their own diary. Congratulations to the young couple. May your marriage be as entertaining as your courtship.
Etc. User wallaby created several classy options for Legends patches like the one above. Compared with the real one at right, well there's no comparison. rman247 made his own recruiting rankings by watching highlight videos of each prospect. I mean to do something comparing his ratings versus the major sites' unless he does it first. And someone who I'm surprised would remember Diallo Johnson that well given his stated age (mid-college in 2006) is nevertheless handled DialloJohnson and wrote about Bo's death being that reality-slap that comes when your adulthood synapse decides it's time to activate.
Best of the Board
This new board meme bores me: You are all Roll Damn Tide's new account. If that went whew we had one of those notable exception Bama fans around who posted well-written and considered recruiting info from time to time until he got one wrong and took offense to people who took being wrong the wrong way. Now asking if the OP is RDT has become the new "First!," and almost as annoying. Less annoying: user I Only Reply in Gifs is tautologically up to 115 posts now.
MILKSTAKE'S BROTHER MADE A UTL HIGHLIGHT VIDEO
Milkstake's brother's highlight video of Michigan-Notre Dame 2011. Keep trying Kapron; I'm sure you'll get Denard down before Milkstake's brother puts 2010 Illinois to Sigur Ros. Or anything to JDK & Rey, i.e. Michigan quarterback Jack Kennedy and receiver Joe Reynolds. This is them:
OFFSEASON BORED LET'S START AN ARGUMENT THREAD
Wot it sez on the tin. Space Coyote added question 8: toilet paper wrapped over or under, and that's how I discovered this site. Consensus is over unless you've got a cat or young children. The rest of my answers: 1.) Tank, 2.) Always lose unless called upon to perform a service (like knocking off a potential B1G tie). 3.) Which Navarre argument are we having, the one from 2000 when he slaughtered MAC schools then was overmatched vs. UCLA, or the one from 2003 on whether someone in the NFL can teach him touch? Guy was a good quarterback and a great person. He also read this year's HTTV before you did so nah! 4.) Trick question: Ditka doesn't exist. 5.) I'll take a mascot if students come up with it on their own; if the marketing department is involved no thanks. 7.) Ale [full stop]. 6.) Tomorrow, all identities will be revealed. Also it will be revealed that the MGoStaff are really the cast from SilverHawks (dibs Bluegrass). Tally ho!
Your moment of zen:
Allison Hall, home to yours truly for three weeks in 2000 and three weeks again in 2001. It was good times.
Downfield threat. Former USC player Kyle Prater, who was the best receiver from the 2010 recruiting class, made a lot of noise in January when he left the Trojans for Northwestern. Prater struggled with injuries and redshirted as a freshman. He emerged in 2011 only to see his spot taken by classmate Robert Woods and rookie dynamo Marqise Lee. Prater called it quits at the end of the season after amassing a singular reception for 6 yards during the OT loss to Stanford.
Currently the Wildcats are currently waiting on an NCAA waiver to allow Prater to play immediately in 2012. That decision should come sometime next month. If the ruling on Michigan State transferee DeAnthony Arnett is any precedent, Michigan fans should expect to see Prater in the Big House on Nov. 10. [Ed-myself: The family hardship thing makes Arnett's situation technically different. Not sure if Prater has as strong of a case as Arnett did, but you never know. Homesickness/buriedonthedepthchartness sounds pretty extenuating to me.]
What does Prater bring to the table? He's listed at 6-5 and around 215 lbs. While he's not reputed to have terrifying speed, that's about the only knock on him. Rivals has all of his other attributes tabbed as "blue chip" and compares him to former college standouts like Michael Floyd and Julio Jones.
For Michigan this should be somewhat of a problem. Brady Hoke is addressing the shortcomings of the Wolverines defensive backfield by recruiting corners like Gareon Conley and Channing Stribling, but that won't help the fact that J.T. Floyd (6-0, 185 lbs) will be Michigan's only starting corner taller than me this season.
The threat level can be tempered, however, by Floyd's admirable track record against opposing No. 1 receivers and simple logic saying that Prater is, at best, slightly worse Marqise Lee (1143 yards, 11 TDs) or Robert Woods (1292 yards, 15 TDs).
The Actual Preview Part
Northwestern's bid to become relevant ended when Heiman hopeful QB Dan Persa tore his Achilles against Iowa two years ago and was never quite the same after that. The Wildcats spent 2011 searching for the magic that once existed, but you could see in her eyes only unwaking embers where a warm light used to dance.
Persa's departure won't be such a huge blow. Northwestern has a great contigency plan on offense and should continue to put up points. If it's going to compete for prominence in the league, however, it'll need to address some issues on defense, although a lot of issues may be talent-related and won't be solved overnight.
In the meantime the Wildcats can continue to push the upper boundaries of so-so and lose bowl games to undermatched opponents.
- Sept 1, @ Syracuse
- Sept 8, Vanderbilt
- Sept 15, Boston College
- Sept 22, South Dakota
- Sept 29, Indiana
- Oct 6, @ Penn State
- Oct 13, @ Minnesota
- Oct 20, Nebraska
- Oct 27, Iowa
- Nov 3, WIFEDAY
- Nov 10, @ Michigan
- Nov 17, @ Michigan State
- Nov 24, Illinois
Northwestern opens on the road at Syracuse, who has another B1G matchup with Minnesota three weeks later. For the Wildcats it's actually sort of a solid nonconference schedule, what with three technically BCS (what a quaint and outdated system, makes me laugh) teams. If nothing goes horrendously wrong, I can see Northwestern winning three of those games, with a loss to the Orange the most likely.
The B1G schedule is neither great nor terrible. It's backloaded, but the Wildcats benefit from a bye on Nov. 3 to regroup before taking on the state of Michigan. And then they have perennial rival Illinois to close, but who knows how good the Illini will be.
A 4-4 B1G record would be an optimistic prognosis, but not too much so. A couple of the bottom feeder teams (Minnesota and the smoldering wreck that Illinois became) might be better than expected, but so might Northwestern, especially if Prater gets cleared. Conversely, some of the heavier hitters (Penn State, Iowa) might end up weaker than expected.
If the 6-win bowl game requirement stands, expect Northwestern to go bowling this season.
This schedule is as favorable as: A hot dog eating contest to the casual hotdog enthusiast.
X's and O's, Jimmys and Joes
No. 2 QB Kain Colter vs. Nebraska
Style: Spa-ready-cat (cat cat cat cat cat)
Key losses: QB Dan Persa (passing: 73.4%, 2376 yards, 17 TD, 7 INT, rushing: 32 yards, 0.4 ypc, 1 TD), WR Jeremy Ebert (75 rec, 1060 yards, 11 TD), TE Drake Dunsmore (45 rec, 522 yards, 6 TD), LT Al Netter, C/G Ben Burkett
Top returners: QB Kain Colter (passing: 67.1%, 673 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT, rushing: 654 yards, 4.8 ypc, 9 TD, receiving: 43 rec, 466 yards, 3 TD), RB Mike Trumpy (182 yards, 5.2 ypc, 1 TD, tore ACL on Oct. 1 vs Illinois), WR Demetrius Fields (32 rec, 382 yards, 3 TD), LG Brian Mulroe, C Brandon Vitabile
Yes, Northwestern's top returning rusher and receiver are ... its quarterback. The Ultimate Triple Threat (c) FTW!*
Anyway, the point is the Wildcats should be just fine at the skill positions. Colter took a backseat to Persa at quarterback for most of the B1G schedule last season but was employed often as a receiver and a rusher from the wildcat (although is it really a wildcat if the guy is technically a QB?). When he did come on the field as a full-fledged QB, he beat Nebraska. He'll be all right.
Running back was a little iffy for Northwestern last season after Trumpy's injury. With a year to recover, though, he'll be able to work his way back into the rotation. Whether he can shoulder all the responsibilities of being a feature back may not matter -- the Wildcats seem to favor the passing game a little more, anyway, and they have a dangerous runner already in Colter.
The receiver situation is currently in limbo, as mentioned above, but assuming that Prater gets his waiver, Northwestern should have one of the better units in the B1G.
The real question is on the offensive line. They lose a stud offensive lineman in Ben Burkett, who spent most of his career at center and was even named to the Rimington watch list twice before sliding to guard last season. They also have to replace Outland Trophy candidate LT Al Netter.
The bad news for the Wildcats is that even with these two guys last season, their offensive line wasn't very good. BTN.com's Tom Dienhart ranks their 2012 unit a pitiful 10th in the conference.
*Now Nissan has to give me royalties for their new ad campaign.
This offense is as terrifying as: A slightly burnt hot dog bun. The outside and edges may burn you (and/or cause cancer), but middle is still nice and fluffy. Fear level = 6.
No. 24 S Ibraheim Campbell loses jumpball to Junior Hemingway.
Key losses: DT Jack Dinardo (34 tackles, 3 sacks), CB Jordan Mabin (62 tackles, 1 INT), S Brian Peters (91 tackles, 1 sack, 5 INT)
Top returners: DE Tyler Scott (31 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT), LB David Nwabuisi (84 tackles, 1 sack), S Ibraheim Campbell (100 tackles, 2 INT)
Northwestern stands to benefit most from improving its defense, as it finished 80th overall (407.1 ypg) in total defense and 66th (27.7 ppg) in scoring defense. Those numbers aren't awful, but a slightly better defense, particularly in the secondary, would have been the difference between their 6-7 record in 2011 and 8-5.
It would seem that the Wildcats would have to stretch the limits of their abilities in order to get better, however. Lack of elite talent is a problem. Moreover, Fitzgerald was an All-American linebacker back in his day and subsequently coached defense before becoming head coach at Northwestern, so it's not like he's one of those darned "non-defensive-minded coaches" that we don't take kindly to in these parts.
Aside from getting a new defensive backs coach (which is unlikely since Jerry Brown is Northwestern's version of Fred Jackson (but less good)), there's not much they can do about it but wait for a light to come on.
To be fair, they did do an outstanding job defending against Michigan for the better part of three quarters last season, particularly in the run game. They used a series of run blitzes that limited Toussaint to 14 carries for 25 yards and made Denard pay for every inch of his 117 yards on 25 carries, eventually knocking him out of the game. You have to think that with the lack of quarterbacks on their 2012 schedule able to take advantage of overaggressive defenses, they're going to adopt this strategy more often.
This defense is as frightening as: An undersized, overtoasted hot dog bun. If your hot dog is long enough, there's no way it can cover all of it. ...
Fear level = 4.
KR/PR Venric Mark (yellow) poised for a big return behind his blockers (black) vs. Minnesota. / via Sippinonpurple.com
Northwestern is bad at kicking field goals (6/10).
But good at returning punts (11.4 ypr, 1st in B1G)!
Pat Fitzgerald demonstrates proper hot dog eating technique.
Record: 7-5 overall, 4-4 B1G
Against Michigan: If Michigan can limit Kyle Prater this shouldn't even be close. Michigan demonstrated that it was capable of defending against Northwestern's ground game with its various options and whatnot, so keeping a lid on their passing game (and bubble screens) will be a big priority. On offense Michigan might have trouble getting a steady ground game going if Northwestern stacks the box like they did last year, but if Denard's understanding of the offense and passing mechanics have truly improved over the offseason, I'd expect to see him recap his 2011 second-half eruption against them. 42-17 Michigan.
Their chances of winning the B1G are as good as: A casual hot dog enthusiast trying to win a hot dog eating contest where all the hot dogs are footlongs and all the buns are burnt. The name plate on the next seat over reads "Kobayashi."
Yesterday's big recruiting news was the commitment of Drake Harris to Michigan State, but Harris isn't the only Grand Rapids Christian prospect drawing attention in the 2014 class. Offensive lineman Tommy Doles participated in Michigan's camp and subsequently earned his first scholarship offer from the Wolverines last week. Doles stands at 6'5", 240 pounds—up from his sophomore playing weight of 220 lbs.—and he's been a presence on the summer camp circuit, also spending time at Michigan State and Notre Dame. I caught up with Doles today to discuss his recruitment, Michigan's camp, and getting his first offer:
ACE: Which schools are currently in contact with you right now?
TOMMY: Notre Dame, MSU, Michigan, and Central Michigan have talked to me the most along with a few other schools who I have met.
ACE: You've attended camps at ND, MSU, and U-M, right? What has the camp experience been like for you at each school?
TOMMY: That is correct. Each camp was a good experience and all had great instruction and great coaching. My team's offensive line also attended the CMU big man camp which was a good experience for our O-Line.
ACE: Talking about Michigan specifically, how did that camp go for you, and what was your impression of the coaching staff? Did you get to work with Coach Funk at all?
TOMMY: That camp went well. The linemen got to practice in the Big House, which was just awesome, and all of the coaches there really knew what they were doing. I did get to work with Coach Funk a fair amount and think that he is a great coach.
ACE: What was your reaction to getting the Michigan offer, and what does it mean to you that they were the first school to offer you?
TOMMY: It means a lot. Michigan is a great school and I was very excited that they were interested in me.
ACE: I know it's very early, but do you have any schools that you would consider favorites right now?
TOMMY: Not at this time. I am going to take my time, see what my options are and try to find the right fit for me.
ACE: When you look for the right fit, what factors are you looking for in a school?
TOMMY: Academics will be a large part. Once I have an idea of what I would like to do I will want to look at the programs the school has to offer.
ACE: Do you have any other camps or visits planned for the rest of the summer?
TOMMY: No, nothing planned. At this point I am more focused on my team and our goals for the season.
ACE: What would you say is your biggest strength on the field, and what are you working to improve over the summer and during your junior year?
TOMMY: I would say athleticism is an advantage of mine on the field and I want to work on my technique on the field as I move on. [Ed-Ace: I'd have to agree with Tommy on his self-assessment. He's got very impressive agility for a lineman, as evidenced in his highlights above. He could definitely work on getting his hands into position quicker to make that initial punch in pass protection.]
The federal blog oversight committee has threatened fines if I do not expose my opinion on the recently officialized playoff. I comply. I also comply with their demand for a picture of Jim Mora.
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE HIGGS BOSON?
Yes to committees. A common complaint has been about the committee, which is as of yet an amorphous entity that Barry Switzer has volunteered for. Tony Barnhart points out that at least the committee will try to fight this year's war instead of screwing up, then changing the rules so that they don't make that mistake again, then making a different mistake:
2000: Miami beat Florida State head-to-head in the regular season and both finished with one loss. The Seminoles went to the BCS championship game ahead of the Hurricanes. Tweak.
2001: Nebraska didn't win its division of the Big 12 because it got hammered by Colorado 62-36 in its final regular-season game. The Buffs beat No. 3 Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game. Nebraska was No. 4 in the two human polls, Colorado was No. 3 and Oregon was No. 2. But when all the numbers came in, Nebraska played Miami in the big game and got embarrassed. Tweak.
2003: Southern California was ranked No. 1 in both human polls but the BCS standings put LSU and Oklahoma in the BCS championship game. USC was awarded the AP national championship, the last time the title was split. Tweak.
Those events devolved the BCS formula into the poll troika that has clattered along the last half-dozen years or so. You know, this one:
- THE USA TODAY MASSIVE CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLL: In which football coaches vote for teams they haven't seen play to determine whether their school will acquire prestige.
- THE HARRIS "YEAH WE'RE SURPRISED THEY'RE NOT DEAD EITHER" POLL: In which 90-year-old men in suspenders keep voting for Bowdoin.
- THE COMPUTER AMALGAMATION: In which computers are blindfolded, told every game ends 1-0 to the victor, and are asked to stop hitting themselves.
I'll take a small number of men who are personally responsible for explaining their thinking to pitchfork-toting mobs over that.
Trying to slap a bunch of different factors into a formula that selects teams has been a total failure, and will be again. You can have a BCS-formula-ish matrix you present to humans to help guide their decision-making process, because humans will remember that team X lost 62-36 to Colorado in its most recent game. You can't apply arbitrary weights to your factors, smoosh them into a cube, and expect it to be foie gras. It's going to taste like embarrassment and pain.
Inevitably this will lead to situations where the #4 team and #5 team are a matter of preference since there will be zero common opponents and very little to distinguish between their resumes, and team #5 will shake its fist until the sun envelops the earth. But what struck me was how rarely it happened if you go into things treating conference championships as a tiebreaker, as Matt Hinton did over at CBS. He went back to '06 and found just one year where serious complaining occurs: 2008, when undefeated Boise State, undefeated Utah, and 11-1 Big Ten champ Penn State get left out. But that was also a fiasco then, and at least a four team playoff only spits out an unsatisfactory conclusion once in the time frame presented instead of four or five times.
It's clear a committee is necessary to smooth over poll idiocies like Stanford over Oregon, and you can make their job straightforward enough by prioritizing conference champions in your selection process.
BONUS: Think of the money you could make by turning the deliberations into a two-hour Jersey Shore-styled reality show.
It's going to expand/this is temporary/soon we will have 48 teams/college football is going to die. Yeah, probably. No one's been able to come up with a reason that a college football playoff has to stay small that isn't easily overwhelmed by money money money. I think this is a comprehensive list of anti-playoff arguments:
- Think of the academics.
- Think of the brain damage.
- Think of how the players actually playing in these games get not one nickel more from exposing themselves to the brain damage.
- Think of the Rose Bowl.
- The New York Giants.
No one who makes the decisions actually cares about the first three or we wouldn't have a 12th game and we wouldn't have a four team playoff. The Rose Bowl is living on borrowed time. Sooner or later, Jim Delany will go to the great Jim Henson laboratory in the sky and the Larry Scotts of the world will consign the Rose Bowl to a cool consolation prize. The Giants problem isn't nearly as much of a problem in college since the way schedules are designed makes it almost certain that whoever wins a playoff will have the best resume in the land.
So yes, this is an intermediary step towards a larger playoff I'm not sure how I'll feel about (I think six is the best number, and don't think it'll ever be six). That step will take a while to get here since the contract is expected to run a whopping 12 years. Once that's done, though, the conceptual leap from four to more is a lot shorter than from two to four.
This is still not a huge problem since whoever wades through three elite opponents at the end of the year will probably have had the best season. No 9-7 teams are ever getting into a college football playoff.
Have-nots are fine. Dennis Dodd:
A playoff probably lessens access for the sport's unwashed. At least makes it more uncertain. That selection committee? Its composition will have to reflect that the Big East is no longer considered a BCS-level conference. The ACC has become less of a factor. That Big Four -- Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 -- are calling the shots. To be precise, the commissioners of those leagues are calling the shots.
There might be not a thing wrong with that. Those 46 schools predominantly play the best football, win the most championships, make the most money. They have the most invested in this playoff. In the coming age, there are more of the have-nots who will matter less, if that makes any sense. And it should. The incredible windfall from a playoff -- estimated at $500 million per year on the high end -- essentially means those have-nots will trade money for access.
Hush money in shoulder pads.
First of all, true have-nots: go away. You are burning millions of dollars for no reason. San Jose State, what do you think your end game is in D-I football?
Anyway: when Boise or TCU-equivalent or Utah-equivalent goes undefeated and knocks off a good BCS team in the nonconference and annihilates all of its weaker opposition, they might get picked. Bill Connolly ballparked what four-team playoffs would look like* if run by a selection committee with Bill Connolly's brain and came out with five have-not bids (2 TCU, 1 Utah, 1 Cincinnati, 1 Louisville). Hinton got one fewer. "Might" may not sound good to snubbed Boise State, but 1) make your chip shot field goals against Nevada, seriously, and 2) five bids are five more than a two-team playoff provided.
If a Sun Belt team has that resume, they'll get picked. It will never be a Sun Belt team because they don't belong in D-I. If you are asking me to have sympathy for teams that exist to take guaranteed beatings for guaranteed paychecks… no. No, I will not. WKU won a I-AA national title a few years back, and now they've traded that for perpetual obscurity and head-beatings. I can't stop you but don't ask me to care about your plight.
*[While reading that post take the opportunity to figure out how many years look better with six teams than four. Or just read Seth's post on the matter. Six is the winner.]
Dump the computers. I'm a numbers guy. I like numbers. 7.56 was one of my groomsmen. So I say this as a man who could probably remember how to turn a number into its twos complement representation if you let him google a little: it's time to evict computer rankings from the equation entirely. They are operating with so little information—who won X game and nothing else—and offer so little information about themselves (five of six don't release their calculations) that they are a fancy way to flip a coin.
Returning MOV to the equation would help somewhat but not enough. There's not enough data unless you let computer models go over every drive, every play, to try to whittle down the noise. That's a radical step I can't see the squinty-eyed powers that be making. Short of that, computers have got to go.
Down with the acronyms. Bill Connolly:
when exactly will the Football Bowl Subdivision be getting a new name since it, like the Football Championship Subdivision, will also have a championship? Can we just move back to 1-A and 1-AA please?
Yes please. It still takes mental processing to figure out what division someone deploying FCS or FBS is talking about, and that's after a decade. (This is an ominous sign for Legends and Leaders, which will still require you to remember that Michigan isn't in the one mentioned in its fights song ten years from now.)
Yes! Lack of home games aside, this should be fun as long as the title game rotates to the north some after its inevitable first year in Dallas. The main screwup would have been a plus-one, which has not occurred, and they've gingerly started removing the bowls' looting from the equation by bidding out the title game. While it could be better, it is a lot better than what we had before, and all it took was two teams in the same division having a rematch to get it.
Hi. I returned, sorry about the unannounced vacation time. I was in NYC, I thought I would be able to proceed as normal, I was correct only on Thursday and Friday. Back now.
Falk talks Bo. Self-recommending.
Draftings and goings(?). Michigan folk came off the board frequently at the recently-completed NHL draft. Jacob Trouba went 9th, Phil DiGuiseppe and Boo Nieves were second-rounders, and Connor Carrick went in the fifth. That was almost exactly what everyone expected—Carrick may have gone a little higher than his rankings suggested. So hurray, sounds like Michigan has Komisarek 2.0…
9. Winnipeg Jets: D Jacob Trouba. Trouba is a tremendous skater — likely the best of the whole bunch — who loves to dish out punishment along the walls and easily separates his opponent from the puck. He's a rugged force in the defensive end who scores off the charts in both his character and compete levels.
…and will see him on the ice this fall since Trouba took opportunity after opportunity to restate that, barring a meteor strike, he'd be in Ann Arbor in the fall and even the meteor would have to do some explaining.
The sad fugee face news comes from Mike Spath, who brings a screeching halt to optimism in re: Phil Di Guiseppe's return. Yes, the PDG who said this after his selection by the Hurricanes:
“It’s great hockey,” Di Giuseppe said of the Michigan experience. “That’s why I went to school there and played there. I’m happy with my decision and I’m happy to go back next year.”
But Spath is hearing otherwise:
However, we heard chatter even before the season concluded that Di Giuseppe had one eye on the OHL and with the right situation could leave U-M early. After the Hurricanes picked him, that talk has only intensified, to the point that we put his chances at returning to Michigan at 50 percent, and would not be surprised in the least if he is playing in the OHL next season.
Getting picked by Carolina is not so good because Peter Karmanos owns both the Hurricanes and the Plymouth Whalers. Even if every public utterance from PDG has been strongly pro-college (Spath even references the one PDG gave him in the article), Spath is plugged in on this stuff.
Meanwhile in Lansing, four incoming Spartans were drafted, the first two coming off the board back-to-back in the third round. That's their best showing in the draft since… 2006. Rick Comley was a disaster and Tom Anastos may have been a better idea than he seemed at first.
BONUS: apparently NHL Network analyst Craig Button compared the kid who went seventh to Charles Woodson? I don't even know, man.
Come on, be as good of an idea as Anastos? Scott Stricklin got bombarded with the usual things about leaving Kent State after his
Zips Golden Flashes bowed out of the CWS and responded a typically Ohioan fashion:
“I know some of you have been speculating that the coaching staff might be moving on after our historic season. A certain school up North came calling and we decided that Kent State and what we have built here was too good to leave."
Moving on, then, to… Chris Sabo? According to the twitter feed user Raoul has latched onto as the only plausible source of college baseball coaching scuttlebutt, yes:
Hearing reports Chris Sabo will be named new HC at #Michigan. Several reports today on this story. Something's up.Stay posted.
— Skippers Dugout (@SkippersDugout) June 23, 2012
According to other people, not so much:
Michigan asst. baseball coach Wayne Welton told me earlier today that Twitter is the only place he has heard Chris Sabo will be new HC.
— Matt Slovin (@MattSlovin) June 24, 2012
And our twitter feed started backtracking in the way people do in these situations when people get mad at him. But you are on twitter! I trusted you!
Sabo is a famous program alum and rec-specs aficionado, so he's got that going for him. He does not have any of that coaching stuff to recommend him, unfortunately. I'm guessing the guy who does get hired is not Sabo, nor is it someone who we've been talking about at all.
Erik Bakich's Maryland record
2010 — 5-25 ACC, 17-39 overall
2011 — 5-25 ACC, 21-35 overall
2012 — 10-20 ACC, 32-24 overall
On the bright side, his most recent effort is the second-winningest season in Maryland history.]
2014 offers of the basketball variety. Michigan's firing out 2014 football offers left and right already, and meanwhile John Beilein's has put the finishing touches on another handcrafted piece of calligraphy, this one directed at Indiana wing Trevon Bluiett. He's the third 2014 kid to pick one up after MS SG Devin Booker and IL SF Keita Bates-Diop. Michigan will have to battle Indiana and others (but mostly Indiana) for the kid. They are… not last:
How does the Michigan visit compare with other visits you’ve taken this summer?
“It would definitely be near the top of other visits, you know? Like I said, not too many coaching staff jokes with you so once you find a coaching staff that jokes around, it makes you more comfortable. Being around campus, that made me comfortable. So it definitely beat some of the other schools.”
Tom Crean has been locking his targets down of late so this one seems like a longer shot than Booker or Bates-Diop. That's just speculation, of course.
Even farther down the road, the courtship between Michigan and 2015 OH SG Luke Kennard took another step forward as Kennard knocked down three after three at Michigan's team camp. He was "by far the most impressive player at the camp"—one that included Derrick Walton and Mark Donnal—as he drove his team to the semifinals, and has this to say about the coaching staff:
“They are absolutely amazing. I love each and every one of them and they make me feel right at home, which I love about them,” Luke said. “They tell me I fit in with how they play, and I think I do, too. Like I said, I look forward to going to see them because that’s how much I like seeing them. It was good to see them.”
That goes above and beyond the usual palaver, it seems. May want to pencil him in to the 2015 class, if you're the kind of person with a spreadsheet column entitled "Michigan 2015 basketball roster." Surely there are a few of you.
Men actually on the basketball team.
Burke on the skills camp, via Beth Long at Scout.
Tim Hardaway Jr and Trey Burke have been hitting up the college-oriented skills camps that are popping up these days, and both have been performing well. SLAM magazine returned with an alphabetical list of the top 20 players he saw at a couple of the Chicago camps Burke and Hardaway were at:
Trey Burke, 6-0, Sophomore, Michigan
Burke was one of the nation’s top freshmen last season and after flirting with declaring for the Draft, looks poised to build on his debut campaign, as he showcased an improved outside stroke, which should help a loaded Wolverines squad attempt to get back to the program’s glory days.
Tim Hardaway Jr, 6-5, Junior, Michigan
A wing sniper with length and athleticism, Hardaway attacked defenders off the dribble for pull-up jumpers or dynamic forays to the rim, while showing an all-around game, as he made a strong effort on the boards and defensive end.
MOTS from Burke. If Michigan gets dynamic forays to the rim, rebounding, and defense from Hardaway they are going to be awesome next year… and won't need to worry about where those 2013 scholarships are coming from.
Burke also came in for praise from ESPN's Reggie Rankin, who included him on a select list of four impressive campers:
"He has a great command of the ball and is a terrific open court passer," ESPN.com analyst Reggie Rankin wrote of Burke at this weekend's Deron Williams' Skills Academy in Chicago. "He can also knock down open jumpers on the break or when reading the defense as he comes off ball screens, can nail ball-reversal spot up 3s and make a play when the offense breaks down.
"Burke has worked to become a complete point guard and his improvement is easy to see, along with his improved strength."
Men coaching people actually on the basketball team. Michigan's dynamic recruiting and teaching assistant corps picked up new contracts:
The new contracts will pay the three coaches a total of $470,000 in base pay for the 2012-13 campaign. Each assistant received a $10,000 base pay raise from a year ago, when the total pool -- per Michigan records -- sat at $440,000. …
Meyer and Alexander both signed four-year pacts, and will make base salaries of $160,000 and $155,000, respectively, in 2012-13. Jordan, meanwhile, inked a three-year contract and will also receive $155,000 in base pay next season.
They've got an interesting bonus system for sticking around, where there's a pool of 20k for each if all three are still around in three years, 20k for Alexander and Jordan if they're still around, and 20k in individual bonuses. I don't think Beilein's going to revamp his staff in the near future unless forced to. Head coaching gigs for Alexander and Jordan—Meyer is 58 and probably not destined for a head job—are the most likely way Michigan's basketball coaching staff will change.
Erp? Sounds like a number of Pac-12 teams are less than enthusiastic about the prospect of loading up on Big Ten teams in their nonconference schedules:
Multiple league sources have told the Hotline in recent weeks that several Pac-12 schools are … how should we say it? … less than enthusiastic about the partnership, set to take effect in 2017.
However, the schools are reserving final judgment until they see whether a strength-of-schedule component is included in the formula that determines which teams participate in the four-team playoff.
If SOS is given serious weight … if it’s a tangible part of the formula … then Pac-12 schools may be willing to consider a partnership in which the top programs draw B1G heavyweights every few years, sources said.
But if SOS is not included in the formula, then a full-blown Pac-12/B1G partnership — and I’ll explain what I mean by that in a minute — could be in jeopardy.
This would seem to affect the top end of the league more than the bottom, and would prevent the sort of titanic cross-sectional matchups that were envisioned when this thing was announced. If it looks more like Michigan's 2014-2016 schedule than "here's USC, Stanford, and Oregon" I'm even more of favor of adding that ninth conference game. Hopefully a committee is better able to take things like "you played LSU and Stanford did not" into account.
London Wolverines. Geena Gall will run the 800M. Peter Vanderkaay is headed to a third Olympics. AnnArbor.com has the ridiculously long list of Ann Arbor-area outboard motors competing in the (still-ongoing) Olympic Trials. Meinke profiles Michigan swim coach Mike Bottom.
The rumored Utah series is now official:
Utah will host Michigan in Rice-Eccles Stadium in the 2015 season opener as a part of a home-and-home series that begins with a 2014 game in Ann Arbor. Michigan will make its first Salt Lake City appearance on Sept. 3, 2015 in a rare weekday game for the Wolverines, who have never played on a Thursday. The first game of the series is scheduled for Sept. 20, 2014 in Michigan Stadium.
Michigan becomes just the second Big Ten team ever to play in Salt Lake City. The Utes knocked off Indiana 40-13 in Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2002.
"A home-and-home series with Michigan is the kind of opportunity that comes with membership in the Pac-12 Conference," said Utah Director of Athletics Dr. Chris Hill. "I greatly appreciate Coach Whittingham's willingness to add college football's winningest program to his already difficult 2014 schedule, which will also feature five Pac-12 road games."
You'll note that the Wow Factor has been factor'd by playing in the Thursday night slot usually occupied by Mississippi State's latest flailing interception machine.
But wait, there's more! Michigan has released the entire 2015 nonconference schedule, which is as follows…
Sept. 3 at Utah
Sept. 12 Notre Dame
Sept. 19 Oregon State
Sept. 26 UNLV
…and bits of the 2016 schedule, featuring ND, a home game against Colorado on September 17th and two TBAs likely to be punching bags. The Pac-12 agreement is tentatively scheduled to start the year after, so Michigan's eliminated ND-and-three-dwarves nonconference scheduling for the foreseeable future. That's a positive even if none of the teams incoming has much sex appeal.
But wait, there's more!
In addition, Michigan and Notre Dame will take a two-year hiatus in their long-standing rivalry during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Both schools intend to resume the rivalry in the years following.
That may be "less," actually. We'll see if Michigan fills that slot with a quality opponent when the time comes.
Are those Oregon State and Colorado games one-offs? Or are they home and homes with return dates set for the distant future? (If one-offs: coup. If not, okay.)
If so can we expect the Oregon State and Colorado games to slot into that 2018 and 2019 ND hiatus along with the Pac-12 agreement? (If so: meh.)
When was the last time Michigan played three BCS-ish teams in a nonconference schedule, as they will in 2015? (A: 1997, when they played Baylor, Colorado, and ND. They also did so in 1996 (Colorado, BC, UCLA) and 1994 (BC, ND, Colorado).)
What is our deal with playing Utah? (Seriously.)
The highly rated 2012 and 2013 (barring mass decommitments) classes have us all aflutter these days, so much so that we have to keep reminding each other most of these guys won't play a down for several years. Mentally placing them all in starring roles by 2016 is the classic recruiting fan's error—some work out, many end up overrated, plenty don't get to the end of their eligibility. Who knows how many will actually redshirt? I thought I'd try to answer that.
Why We Do It or Don't. Well, the obvious: would you rather have an 18-year-old who joined the team just weeks ago, or a 22-year-old who's been with the team for four years? The biggest reasons for the team not to redshirt a guy is when they think he's likely to be NFL-ready in four seasons, or if he's needed right away.
Then the human element comes in: Kids arrive needing to lose fat, needing to become accustomed to the rules that now govern their lives. Meaning no offense to Brackinses or Sarantii, but sometimes you bring in a guy because he's a good teammate (cough cough …of Kelly Baraka) and can help on special teams now but whose ceiling is such you highly doubt you'll renew his 5th. Players who came for the education will plan on moving on after four years. Players who came to play football will grate about being on the bench when they're better than the guy getting playing time (why Urban Meyer is going around pretending like he's the only coach who "plays the best players.") (Upchurch----->)
Coaches with three years to prove themselves will fire every bullet in the chamber to survive the current gunfight, not the one in four years. No coach in the country will hold back Desmond Morgan for just the hope of a 2015 Desmond Morgan, or at least not unless he's got a bunch of 2015 Desmonds on hand already. And there's the rub: the only way to have that luxury later on is to have the luxury already.
Historical Trend. Redshirting is a practice much older than my fan memory can take me. The history of serial redshirting freshmen is hard to track down but it seems to be exactly as old as the five years to play four rule, which was a response to wild old days in the '20s and '30s when teams were stocked with nigh professionals.
WWII screwed everything up as servicemen swapped schools to be at whatever camp their service commanded, then came back from war as 26-year-olds with eligibility. The mess clears out by 1960, which class had four players—quarterback Forest Evashevski, guard John Marcum, center Bill Muir, and tackle John Yanz—make it to a fifth year. None from the class of 1961 were on the '65 roster; five of the '62 freshmen made it to '66. There's your "good old days" baseline. Let's put that against the era I can at least kind of check against memory (big HT to Mike Desimone, whose wheel I have reinvented):
|Class||Total||RS'ed||% of Class||5th Yr||% of Class|
|2001||21||15 (+1)||71.4% (76.2%)||8||38.1%|
|2005||24||13 (+2)||54.2% (62.5%)||7||29.2%|
|2006||21||11 (+1)||52.4% (57.1%)||8||38.1%|
|2007||23||11 (+3)||47.8% (60.9%)||10||43.5%|
|2008||25||14 (+1)||56.0% (60.0%)||8||32.0%|
Those parenthetical +'s are medical hardship redshirts or mid-career transfer years given to players from those classes who weren't redshirted initially, e.g. the three for 2007 are Woolfolk, Hemingway and Threet. In chart form (click embiggens):
The slightly different shade of blue for the 2009-'11 classes are the guys on track to play five years; they won't all. We're still looking at relatively small groups of redshirt seniors for the next few years, as cascades of attrition forced a lot more guys to play early who otherwise wouldn't have.
You can see what I mean about cascades. When Michigan was really humming, only about 30% of the freshmen were playing right away. That became more like 50% in the Late Carr era, and then peaked at 60% during the Year of Whatever Sticks. In the middle of that you can see the '97 and '98 classes were, for their time, anomalies for playing 8 or 9 true freshmen.
Who those freshmen were is instructive:
1997: Demetrius Smith, William Peterson, Pat McCall, Ray Jackson, Mo Williams, James Whitley, Anthony Thomas, and DeWayne Patmon
1998: David Terrell, Drew Henson, Justin Fargas, Marquise Walker, Todd Howard, Larry Foote, Hayden Epstein, Walter Cross, and Evan Coleman
That's three cornerbacks, six running backs, two linebackers, and a lot of guys listed at or near the top for their position coming out of high school.
Positional Redshirting. You don't need me to tell you some positions get more redshirts than others. Positions where weight matters—defensive line, offensive line, tight ends, and linebackers—should be more likely to see redshirts since very few people, even in the early-growth-spurt-athletic-freak category, can safely put on BCS-level muscle by 18. Those that demand a high level of developed knowledge and skills—quarterback, center, safeties, middle linebackers—might be a secondary category. Receivers and cornerbacks have a lot to learn and do need size but those are secondary to physical traits. And then there's running backs, who regress/retire from the NFL before 30, seem to progress little in measureables over the course of their college careers, and therefore usually play early unless blocked. Special teams is another consideration; safety-like objects are desired in abundance while 280-lb. future tackles need not apply. Let's test that against the '93-'11 recruits:
It's twue. Dwamatically so. While I was at it, I thought I'd also use the opportunity to see which positions Michigan favored over this same time period. The "Factor" means how many starting positions you're really recruiting for (TE and WR split one). The question here was whether how often that position is redshirted factors into whether we over-recruit or under-recruit that spot. This may be the most useful table of this article:
Column C being how many recruits per year we managed to get to fill each starting spot. Okay, forget useful. What you're seeing instead is Michigan recruiting lots and lots of running backs. There was pretty high attrition there in the '90s, but this doesn't even count all the RBs who moved to other positions, something they did a lot of 20 years ago, when every HS team's best player was the running back. DT, OT, and kicker—recent problem areas—show up as dramatically under-recruited. Running these numbers over different time periods would say more but sample sizes are getting tiny as it is.
The best of what's left of the 2008 O-Line haul (Upchurch)
Anyway, yes, they're correlated, except safety is sitting in the "need more dudes" region with a less-than-average rate of redshirting. So we didn't have safeties either. On the other hand Michigan had some great tailbacks and quarterbacks come through here.
Going back to the table above, the only one that doesn't exactly fit the paradigm of a mass/experience/athleticism matrix is defensive tackle. For that just see the list of who redshirted versus who didn't:
|Marques Slocum - 6'5/336||Jason Kates - 6'2/339|
|Richard Ash - 6'3/320||Alan Branch - 6'6/331|
|Quinton Washington - 6'4/315||William Campbell - 6'5/331|
|Marques Walton - 6'0/292||Gabriel Watson - 6'4/331|
|Grant Bowman - 6'3 /289||Terrance Taylor - 6'0/319|
|Will Johnson - 6'5/285||Larry Harrison - 6'3/313|
|Norman Heuer - 6'5 /282||Mike Martin - 6'2/299|
|Will Heininger - 6'6/277||Vince Helmuth - 6'1/291|
|Alex Ofili - 6'4 /275||Renaldo Sagesse - 6'4/289|
|Rob Renes - 6'2 /275||James McKinney - 6'2/285|
|Terry Talbott - 6'3/260||William Carr - 6'2 /276|
|Josh Williams - 6'4 /260||Paul Sarantos - 6'3/261|
|Eric Wilson - 6'4 /255||-|
|Shawn Lazarus - 6'3 /245||-|
|Ben Huff - 6'4 /232||-|
Richard Ash, two guards (one of whom would have played but had eligibility issues), and a bunch of guys less than 290. Among those who played as true freshmen, it's planetary objects, a 20-year-old Canadian, a couple of low-expectation position switchers, and Will Carr. Find a freak athlete over 300 pounds who wants to play right away, you put him at the nose. On the left you're looking at a lot of vintage 3-techs. From this I take it players Michigan recruits for nose are probably more likely to play right away, while a 3-tech should be expected to need more time to develop.
Hyped Players Play Early. The nose tackles also seemed to have come with more hype. Recruiting data doesn't go back beyond 2002 but with that small sample plus the anecdotal evidence above from 1997-'98, we can see a little of how stars affect the likelihood of redshirting:
Everyone else is average; the 5-stars are the ones who seem to overwhelmingly get on the field as freshmen, them being the most likely to be college-ready after high school and expected to be NFL-ready in four years.
2012-2013 and Beyond. We haven't done anything here really except confirm what we pretty much already knew about redshirting. That all said, here's my predictions for the upcoming guys:
[UPDATED: Now with more "Why?"]
|Blake Bars||OG||93.5%||4||?||A couple of OL injuries and he's in.|
|Joe Bolden||LB||64.9%||4||No||Early enrollee, already 2nd on depth chart|
|Ben Braden||OT||95.8%||3||Yes||Less ready than Bars/Kalis at this point|
|Jehu Chesson||WR||57.5%||3||No||Need receivers. At least one will play|
|Jeremy Clark||S||53.3%||3||Yes||Kovacs/M-Rob ahead. Plz don't burn on Special Teams|
|Amara Darboh||WR||57.5%||4||No||See Chesson|
|Devin Funchess||TE||80.8%||3||Yes||Not ready. Needs to gain size|
|Allen Gant||S||53.3%||3||Yes||Depth at SS, more ready than Clark|
|Matthew Godin||DT||55.6%||3||Yes||3-tech development track|
|Willie Henry||DT||55.6%||3||Yes||See Godin|
|Sione Houma||FB||56.3%||3||Yes||Hopkins and experience ahead of him|
|Royce Jenkins-Stone||LB||64.9%||4||Yes||If MLB, EEs are ahead. SLB 2-deep is set|
|Drake Johnson||RB||36.4%||3||No||RBs play early – want him ready if Toussaint leaves early.|
|Kyle Kalis||OG||93.5%||5||No||Most ready of OL. OL depth is scary thin|
|Erik Magnuson||OT||95.8%||4||Yes||High ceiling but not ready for PT yet|
|Dennis Norfleet||RB||36.4%||4||Yes||Would like to get separation from other returners.|
|Mario Ojemudia||DE||66.7%||3||Yes||Too small to hold edge right now|
|Ondre Pipkins||DT||55.6%||5||No||Weak depth chart plus 5-star nose tackles always play early|
|Terry Richardson||CB||42.9%||4||No||Is 7th CB, but 3 coming next year and Talbott is the guy to beat at field corner|
|Kaleb Ringer||LB||64.9%||3||Yes||Bolden better. Injuries could draw him in|
|James Ross||LB||64.9%||4||Yes||Needs to gain muscle, separate from Des|
|Tom Strobel||DE||66.7%||4||Yes||RVB-like – needs to grow into 5-tech|
|A.J. Williams||TE||80.8%||3||No||Has much to learn but depth here is scary|
|Jarrod Wilson||S||53.3%||4||No||EE. If ahead of Furman won't R.S.|
|Chris Wormley||DE||66.7%||3||No||Competition to back up Roh is Brink and Heitzman|
|Jake Butt||TE||80.8%||4||No||College-ready TE needed immediately|
|Taco Charlton||DE||66.7%||4||Yes||Clark/Beyer are JRs – gain size.|
|Gareon Conley||CB||42.9%||3||Yes||One boundary will play, but not Conley|
|David Dawson||OT||95.8%||5||Yes||Hopefully 2012 OL ready. If not it's true freshman OT hell all over again|
|Jaron Dukes||WR||57.5%||3||Yes||8th/9th receiver|
|Chris Fox||OT||95.8%||4||Yes||Tackles are supposed to redshirt|
|Ben Gedeon||LB||64.9%||4||Yes||Separation from big 2012 LB class|
|Khalid Hill||TE||80.8%||3||Yes||Developing into U-back|
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||DT||55.6%||3||Yes||3-tech track but could draw in for depth|
|Patrick Kugler||OC||100.0%||4||Yes||Centers always redshirt|
|Jourdan Lewis||CB||42.9%||4||No||One boundary will play. Probably Lewis|
|Mike McCray||LB||64.9%||4||Yes||Slotted for SLB: Gordon/Ryan/RJS|
|Shane Morris||QB||63.6%||5||Yes||All depends on if Gardner gets his RS|
|Henry Poggi||DT||55.6%||4||?||Highest-rated DT on roster after Pipkins|
|Wyatt Shallman||RB||36.4%||4||Yes||Are you *sure* you're a ….|
|Deveon Smith||RB||36.4%||4||No||Smith, possibly Toussaint gone. Opportunity knocks.|
|Channing Stribling||CB||42.9%||3||Yes||One boundary will play, but not Stribling|
|Scott Sypniewski||LS||NA||NA||Yes||Glanda will be a senior|
|Dymonte Thomas||S||53.3%||5||No||7 safeties on roster for 2 spots, none more highly rated, 4 just a year older|
|Logan Tuley-Tillman||OT||95.8%||4||Yes||Tackles redshirt.|
|Csont'e York||WR||57.5%||3||Yes||See Dukes|
Yeah, 15 and 17 redshirts when we've been averaging 7 to 10—what was that I said about the classic fan mistake again? I'm kidding myself about 2012 and the depth on the team currently, but I could see 2013 actually shirting that many guys, provided they're not needed to fill new holes and whiffs from this year. The tight ends, at least, will see the field, and at least a DT will likely be called upon before he's due. It's quite far out to be thinking about not wasting a year of a York here or a season of Shane there, but 2017 will thank us.
Today's recruiting roundup recaps the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, discusses a pair of 2013 visits and Drake Harris's impending decision, goes over a slew of new 2014 offers, and more.
Five-Star Challenge Recap: New '13 OL Target?
Rivals hosted their first annual Five-Star Challenge last weekend as their answer to Nike's The Opening and four Michigan commits—David Dawson, Jourdan Lewis, Mike McCray, and Chris Fox—were in attendance alongside a bevy of the nation's top prospects. Dawson continued his outstanding camp season with an impressive performance, making Josh Helmholdt's "Surprise Standouts" list($) and earning the #4 spot on Helmholdt's rundown of the top offensive linemen ($):
4. OC David Dawson, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Michigan pledge is listed as an offensive guard and plays tackle for his team but says he could end up anywhere on the line for the Wolverines. When the coaches needed a center, Dawson stepped in without hesitation. Though pass protection on the interior is completely different than at tackle he made a seamless transition. He has a strong base and used his lower body strength to hold the big noseguards at bay. Dawson should prove to be invaluable in Ann Arbor because of his versatility and willingness to play wherever he is needed.
Cass Tech's other camp stalwart, Jourdan Lewis, did not disappoint either, excelling in the 7-on-7 portion. Mike Farrell ($):
10. DB Jourdan Lewis, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: Lewis started off very well with one of the best interceptions you'll see when he showed off his closing speed and undercut a pass from Tyrone Swoopes, the only interception the Southwest quarterback threw. Lewis was solid throughout the day, flashed that speed and took on bigger receivers well at times. Despite his closing ability, he sometimes allowed too much of a cushion.
That last part is an issue that has shown itself in multiple settings, including the Sound Mind/Sound Body camp and during Cass Tech's season last year. On the positive side, Lewis continues to show exceptional ball skills.
According to Tim Sullivan, Fox performed well at several different positions along the line, while McCray displayed decent coverage skills against backs and tight ends but also measured in at just 6'1" ($). That's a lot smaller than expected for McCray and could be a point of concern if he ends up at strongside LB, as expected.
A new target may have emerged at the camp, as well, and the position he plays might surprise you. Tremendous caught up with 2013 MD OL Khaliel Rodgers, who revealed that David Dawson was selling him hard on Michigan at the camp. Rodgers now plans to visit for July's BBQ at the Big House and appears to have pushed back his decision date, which was originally set for this week. He also tweeted last night that having him and Dawson on the same O-line would be "epic" and "unreal". The scouting services are split on Rodgers, with Rivals listing him as their #1 guard and a top 100 overall prospect, ESPN giving him four stars, Scout putting him as a three-star but the #2 center, and 247 giving him a meh three-star rating.
This could be nothing, or it could be a sign—especially if we get word that the coaches are after Rodgers—that things aren't entirely settled along the line. I doubt Michigan would take a sixth lineman in the class, but with over 20 commits in June, it's almost certain that the class will experience a decommitment or two at some point before signing day. Rodgers looks like he can slide in at any spot on the interior of the line and he'd be a quality contingency plan should attrition occur.
Wilkins, Bailey Visiting This Week
Michigan will host two big-time 2013 recruits this week. TN RB Jordan Wilkins tweeted out plans to be on campus today and later confirmed the visit with TomVH ($). He also told Tom that his top four consists of Auburn, Vanderbilt, Michigan, and Tennessee, though Auburn is widely presumed to be his leader after he almost committed to the Tigers on a visit a couple of weeks ago. The Wolverines will need to make a big impression if they want to catch up.
FL WR Alvin Bailey is set to swing by Michigan and Notre Dame this week, and according to Scout's Tom Beaver his visit is set for Wednesday ($). Bailey is in the running for the last open receiver spot, and with the news this week that Laquon Treadwell wants to visit Auburn($), the race for that spot may be tighter than anticipated. Treadwell is still looking at a senior year decision, and if Bailey wants to come on board the coaches probably can't afford to wait on him.
The Wolverines made the cut on a couple of top lists, as well. MD CB Kendall Fuller revealed to Rivals($) that he now has a top three of Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Michigan. The Wolverines may have a tough time overcoming Fuller's close connections to VT and Clemson, but they've hung around a lot longer than expected with Fuller, so you never know. Meanwhile, VA DE Wyatt Teller now has a top five($) of Virginia, VT, Michigan, Clemson, and Oregon, and he told 247 he'd like to visit Michigan and Oregon before making a decision. He's looking to decide before his senior season, so things should move quickly on that front.
CA WR/CB John Ross has seen his stock blow up over the summer, and Michigan recently offered him at cornerback, according to Scout's Greg Biggins ($). With the Wolverines taking Channing Stribling at corner last week, I don't anticipate them taking another defensive back unless it's Fuller or Leon McQuay III, though that could change if Michigan misses on their wide receiver targets and the coaches decide to move Stribling to offense.
Harris Decision On Wednesday & More 2014 Updates
Sam Webb reported yesterday that 2014 Grand Rapids Christian two-sport star Drake Harris will decide between Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame on Wednesday. Harris earned a Michigan offer for football while camping in Ann Arbor last week, which makes the timing of his announcement interesting, though he also was at a Tom Izzo basketball camp last weekend. Most pundits have him pegged for State, which has been recruiting him hard for both football and hoops for a long time, and we'll find out soon enough if the common wisdom is correct. Harris projects as a wide receiver on the football field, where most scouts think he has the most potential, and he'd also be a very solid shooting guard prospect on the hardwood.
More evidence of the trend towards an accelerated timeline in recruiting comes from OH LB Michael Ferns, who announced not a top three, but a final three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State. Ferns told Sam Webb that he wants to stay close to home and make a decision by the end of his junior year ($). The Wolverines appear to be in very good position here after a great visit to Ann Arbor for last week's camp.
Michigan sent out several offers recently, which I'll run down in bullet form:
- TX OLB Hoza Scott, who already holds offers from heavy hitters Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oregon, Texas, and USC, among others.
- TN OL/DL Alex Bars, younger brother of incoming freshman Blake Bars, was just offered according to TomVH ($).
- PA S Montae Nicholson earned an offer after camping at Michigan last week, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($).
- Drake Harris's high school teammate, OL Tommy Doles, picked up an offer on Friday, via Tim Sullivan ($).
- TX S Brandon Simmons pulled in offers from Michigan, LSU, and Ohio State last week, joining a list of over 20 schools ($).
- FL WR Corey Holmes added a Michigan offer after camping last week, and he told Brewster that the offer "gave [him] butterflies" before naming Michigan his top school ($). He's pondering a commitment prior to his senior year and is one to keep an eye on.
- OH LB/DE Joe Henderson also earned a post-camp offer ($). Not to be confused with this guy.
- Chantel Jennings reports that Michigan offered New Orleans RB Leonard Fournette, a massive prospect at 6'1", 232 pounds. Fournette's backstory, a heartbreaking account of surviving the streets of New Orleans in a pre- and post-Katrina world, is well worth your time.
Quickly: OH OL Nathaniel Devers is one tough kid. I'm sure you'll enjoy KY QB Drew Barker telling Eleven Warriors that he'd like to emulate the way Shane Morris has helped spearhead Michigan's recruiting efforts.
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