As a slow offseason continues, I thought a discussion of the best University of Michigan football player from each state might be of interest. First, a few notes of explanation:
Inspiration: A while ago, I discovered Seth's post from February of 2009 discussing the best player by jersey number. I found it a very interesting read, and perhaps it's more interesting now because we can already look back and see what number might have a new "best" (see, number 16). Also, Magnus' post at TTB that analyzes 2012 recruiting by state is an interesting continuation of this idea.
For what it's worth, I was just browsing through Rivals 2012 Michigan football preview magazine at Barnes and Noble. Apparently, they did a story that is somewhat similar to this, though they didn't mention who they considered best from each state. They did list how many had come from each state, and my numbers may be different from theirs because counting every player was not easy. However, I am positive that there were two players from Hawaii, though they list zero. Maybe they didn't realize that Bentley has Hawaii listed under HA, as opposed to its normal postal abbreviation of HI?
Disclaimer: I acknowledge that my choice of "best" for each state is extremely subjective. In some cases I thought the choice was clear-cut; in others, there was very little information available for any of the players from the state, and my choice wasn't much more than a guess. As with any exercise of this type, it is difficult to compare eras because of differences in scoring, scheme, equipment, schedule, etc.
Sources: My primary source was Bentley's searchable roster. I also used Bentley's team history index extensively, as well as the Statistics Archives at MGoBlue.com. The latter's current roster, and Rivals listing of the incoming class of 2012 were also helpful. Finally, I used generic internet searches to find out what Google had to say about a particular player.
- Total: 6
- First: Theodore Fortson - Line - Montgomery - 1924
- Most recent: Max Martin - RB - Madison (Bob Jones) - 2004
- Best: Marcus Knight - WR - Sylacauga (Comer) - 1996-99
Knight isn't the toughest choice as best from Alabama. He had just over 1,500 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns along with almost 200 yards in punt returns.
- Total: 1
- First: Jermace Jackson - DB - Anchorage (Bartlett) - 2007
- Most recent: Jermace Jackson - DB - Anchorage (Bartlett) - 2007
- Best: Jermace Jackson - DB - Anchorage (Bartlett) - 2007
Easy choice for Alaska as well. I have no memory of Jackson, and the internet turned up zero information on him. He was a junior in '07 and listed at 5'11" 210 lbs.
- Total: 9
- First: Herschel Smith - LB - Phoenix - 1911
- Most recent: (Tie) Craig Roh - DE - Scottsdale (Chaparral) - 2009-present Taylor Lewan - OL - Scottsdale (Chaparral) - 2009-present
- Best: Taylor Lewan - OL - Scottsdale (Chaparral) - 2009-present
I picked Lewan over Roh and Norman Heuer/Boebert. I still believe Roh has great potential, but the many, well-document transitions have taken their toll on him. I remember Heuer as being a decent player (Hoke coached, so obviously), but not necessarily a key player on his teams. The pick of Lewan is based partly on potential, but he has already established himself as a two-year starter at arguably the most important position on the offensive line.
- Total: 5
- First: Albert Moore - HB - Fayetteville - 1883
- Most recent: Ryan Mallet - QB - Texarkana (Texarkana) - 2007
- Best: Zach Adami - OG - Maumelle (Little Rock Catholic) - 1993-97
Mallet certainly had the talent and produced after he transferred to Arkansas, but as far as best 'M' player, I have to go with Adami. He was a three year starter, playing a different position each year. In '95 he played LG, in '96 he played RG, and finally he stepped in as Center on the '97 National Championship team. That's impressive flexibility and an important leadership role on a championship team.
- Total: 69
- First: Norman Sterry - LE - Los Angeles - 1900-02
- Most recent: (Tie) Joey Burzynski - OL - Carlsbad (Carlsbad) - 2011-present
Matt Wile - PK - San Diego (Francis Parker) - 2011-present
Erik Magnuson - OT - Carlsbad (La Costa) - 2012
- Best: Jim Harbaugh - QB - Palo Alto (Palo Alto) - 1982-86
Despite the larger number of players from California, I feel that the choice of Harbaugh is fairly obvious. Most of Tom Brady's fame has come from the NFL, and Amani Toomer was a good receiver but not in an elite group. Harbaugh threw for 5,449 yards and 31 touchdowns, and he was an All-American (the most recent 'M' QB to earn that honor), team MVP, and team captain for his senior year in '86.
- Total: 24
- First: (Tie) William Caley - G - Boulder (U of Colorado) - 1896-98
Norwood Ayers - E - Colorado Springs - 1896-97
- Most recent: Steve Watson - TE (and OLB, DE, and TE) - Cherry Hills Village (Mullen) - 2007-11
- Best: Burnie Legette - FB - Colorado Springs - 1989-92
Frankly, I was at a loss for this one. The two most recent players, Watson and Greg Banks were role players, and the only other players who had careers longer than 2 years were Legette, Caley, a FB from the early '50s named Robert Hurley, and a QB from the late teens named Harold Zieger. I don't remember Legette, but he rushed for 653 yards and scored 4 times. He also caught one touchdown.
- Total: 13
- First: (Tie) George Herr - QB - Waterbury - 1899
John Francis McDonough - HB - Nangatack - 1899
- Most recent: Todd Mossa - OL - Darien (Darien) - 1997-2000
- Best: John (Fritz) Seyferth - FB - Darien (Darien) - 1968-1971
I can't say I knew of Seyferth before this, but he started 7 games in his junior year and every game in his senior year ('71). He had 529 yards rushing, and 14 total touchdowns (12 rushing/2 receiving).
- Total: 1
- First: Tony Kelsie - MG - Dover (Ceasar Rodney) - 1978-80
- Most recent: Tony Kelsie - MG - Dover (Ceasar Rodney) - 1978-80
- Best: Tony Kelsie - MG - Dover (Ceasar Rodney) - 1978-80
Again, I'd never heard of Kelsie before I researched this, but he is the only player to hail from Delaware. Interestingly, he is listed as beginning his career as a DB at 6' 200 lbs. and then as a Middle Guard his last years, but he lost an inch and only gained 8 pounds. He started 3 games his last year.
District of Columbia
- Total: 13
- First: Paul Magoffin - HB - Washington D.C. - 1904-07
- Most recent: Cato June- FS - Washington D. C. (Anacostia) - 1998-2002
- Best: Paul Magoffin - HB - Washington D.C. - 1904-07
Magoffin was a regular starter for all of his four years, and he served as team captain his senior year. June had a solid career and was also a regular starter, but he was never selected for any individual honors, such as All-Big 10 or team captain.
- Total: 69
- First: Purl Woodruff - Forward - Westville - 1881
- Most recent: (Tie) Richard Ash - DT - Pahokee (Pahokee) - 2010-present
Ricky Barnum - OL - Lakeland (Lake Gibson) - 2008-present
Jeremy Gallon - WR - Apopka (Apopka) - 2009-present
Brendan Gibbons - PK - West Palm Beach (Cardinal Newman) - 2009-present
Brandin Hawthorne - LB - Pahokee (Pahokee) - 2009-present
Mike Jones - LB - Orlando (Edgewater) - 2009-present
Ricardo Miller - WR - Orlando (Dr. Phillips) - 2010-present
Denard Robinson - QB - Deerfield Beach (Deerfield Beach) - 2009-present
Marvin Robinson - S - Winter Haven (Lake Region) - 2010-present
Vincent Smith - RB - Pahokee (Pahokee) - 2009-present
- Best: Anthony Carter - WR - Riviera Beach (Riviera Beach) - 1979-82
Denard or AC? Probably the answer will depend on what generation you're from, but despite being born three years after Carter played, I still went with him. Ultimately, this could be Denard, but I think that depends on what happens this season. Carter is one of the legendary figures in 'M' history, and at this point, I believe he should get the nod as best from Florida. Honorable mention: Steve Everitt, Brian Griese, Stefan Humphries, and Steve Hutchinson.
Oddly, Steve King is listed 5 times in Bentley. In 4 of them (SO, JR, SR, SR), he is "Stephen L.", and in one (FR) is "Steven R." I presume it is the same person because both are from the same high school (Palm Beach Gardens), play the same position (DB), and are roughly the same size. Bentley error? Something more interesting? Any story behind this?
- Total: 13
- First: Eugene Edward - NA - Atlanta - 1922
- Most recent: (Tie) Carlos Brown - RB - Franklin (Heard County) - 2006-09
David Cone - QB - Statesboro (Statesboro) - 2006-09
Jordan Owens - SR - Alpharetta (Alpharetta) - 2009
- Best: Jeff Backus - OL - Norcross (Norcross) - 1996-2000
I'm sure some will be upset that the nod didn't go to Cone, but Backus started every game at LT for 4 years, earned All-Big 10 honors twice, and was a 1st round NFL pick.
- Total: 2
- First: William Crockett - NA - Wailuku Maui - 1945
- Most recent - John Althouse - LB - Honolulu (Arthur Radford) - 1985
- Best: John Althouse - LB - Honolulu (Arthur Radford) - 1985
Althouse wins based on the fact that he actually has a listed position. Both players were listed as freshman in their only year.
- Total: 4
- First: Gilmore Price - E - Fort Sheridan - 1894
- Most recent: Rex Wells - G - Twin Falls - 1943 (his classification is listed as "M" - married? mature?)
- Best: Edward Dickey - NA - Weiser - 1901, 1903
I don't know a thing about Dickey, but he's the only player to come from Idaho to play for more than one season, and he played on the "Point-a-Minute" teams.
- Total: 491
- First: Frank Allen - Forward - Aurora - 1879-80
- Most Recent: Chris Bryant - OL - Chicago (Simeon) - 2011-present
Graham Glasgow - OL - Aurora (Marmion Academy) - 2011-present
Michael Schofield - OL - Orland Park (Carl Sandberg) - 2009-Present
- Best: Erick Anderson - LB - Glenview (Glenbrook South) - 1987-91
It's amazing the number of offensive linemen that come out of Illinois. David Molk, Michael Scholfield, Tony Pape, Mark Donahue, Perry Dorrestein, Thomas Guynes, Trezelle Jenkins, George Lilja, not to mention a few more coming in the class of 2013. That said, I went with the linebacker Anderson as the best from the state. Of all the great defense players that have gone through this program, Anderson is
second third in career tackles. He started 3 and a half of his four eligible years, led the team in tackles all four years, and in his senior year he won the Butkus award and was named team captain and All-American.
I wasn't sure what exactly to do with the Wistert brothers. Obviously they deserve a mention, but I certainly do not have enough knowledge of that era to know if one deserves recognition more than another or if any would be considered the best ever in the state. Honorable mention also to Bump Elliott, Mike Mallory, and Dave Molk.
Incidentally, Illinois is also a great state for brothers: Andersons, Elliotts, Mallory (but not Curt), and Wisterts.
- Total: 181
- First: Edmund Barmore - QB - Jeffersonville - 1879-80
- Most recent: Kris Pauloski - PK - Indianapolis (Pike) - 2009-11
- Best: Tom Harmon - HB - Gary (Horace Mann) - 1937-40
Harmon is a pretty easy choice for the state of Indiana and I don't think much more needs to be said about his exploits; however, I would be remiss to not mention Germany Schulz, center from 1904-08 with a year hiatus (during which he put on nearly 35 pounds). Also special mention to Jason Horn and Glen Steele, two childhood favorites.
- Total: 47
- First: David DeTar - Rusher - Boone - 1879
- Most recent: Amara Darboh - WR - West Des Moines (Dowling) - 2012
- Best: Adrian Arrington - WR - Cedar Rapids (Washington) - 2004-07
I hope I'm not slighting anyone from the olden days by choosing Arrington, but Iowa is odd because of the 46 players from there, only three played more recently than 1935 and only Arrington is more recent than 1965 (and now Darboh). I had already forgotten that Arrington put up some pretty good numbers; he finished with nearly 1,500 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns.
- Total: 13
- First: (Tie) George Davison - NA - Wichita - 1901
Moses Johnson - NA - Wichita - 1901-02
- Most recent: Austin Panter - LB - Athol (Kensington/Butler CC) - 2007-08
- Best: Jerame Tuman - TE - Liberal (Liberal) - 1994-98
Honestly, Tuman has to be in the top two best Tight Ends in 'M' history, along with Jim Mandich. Tuman caught more TDs (13 to 6) and had better average yards receiving (13.1 to 12.6), but Mandich had more yards receiving (1489 to 1279) and of course, the iconic photo from after the '69 victory over OSU. Tuman was also a three time All-Big 10 and an All-American in '97.
An honorable mention goes to Monte Robbins who continues to hold the record for the longest punt in school history (82 yards). Other interesting notes about Kansas: I never knew President Eisenhower's brother Edgar played on the football team in 1912, and there was a player named Sherry E. Martin on the team in 1929 -- the only football player to have the name Sherry in school history.
- Total: 26
- First: Louis Curran - E - Louisville - 1921-23
- Most recent: Jeremy Clark - DB - Madisonville (North Hopkins) - 2012
- Best: Bubba Paris - OT - Louisville (DeSales) - 1978-81
Ok, I picked Paris partly because I've had a football card of him most of my life. However, he was an All-American, a two year starter at LT, and the 29th overall pick in the 1982 draft.
- Total: 18
- First: Earnest Ratliff - Line - Lake Charles - 1923-24
- Most recent: Drew Dileo - WR - Greenwell Springs (Parkview Baptist) - 2010-present
- Best: Anthony Thomas - RB - Winnfield (Winnfield) - 1997-2000
A high percentage of "good players" from Louisiana - James Hall, Leroy Hoard, Chris Howard - but the A-Train is the undeniable best. Number two in all-time yards rushing, Thomas also rushed for the most touchdowns of anyone with 55.
- Total: 2
- First: Charles Bliss - G - Durham - 1899-1900
- Most recent: Charles Carter - RG - Lewiston (Brown U.) - 1902, 1904
- Best: Charles Carter - RG - Lewiston (Brown U.) - 1902, 1904
Carter gets the nod because he was on the Point-a-Minute teams, and he is listed at 236 lbs. in 1904 which, as I understand, is pretty massive for his time. Though it could have been bad weight, and it's hard to say if he had good pad level…or pads at all.
- Total: 16
- First: Robert Knode - QB - Baltimore - 1921-22
- Most recent: (Tie) Blake Countess - DB - Owings Mills (Good Counsel) - 2011-present
Josh Furman - S - Annapolis (Old Mill Senior) - 2010-present
- Best: Dhani Jones - ILB - Potomac (Winston Churchill) - 1996-1999
Jones finished his career with 247 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks. He is the clear-cut best, but I hope that Countess and Poggi give him a run for his money in the coming years. Also, I suppose we could speculate on whether or not LS Turner Booth should have been offered a scholarship coming out of high school.
- Total: 46
- First: George Steadman Holden - QB/HB - Palmer - 1890-91
- Most recent: Michael Cox - RB - Dorchester (Avon Old Farms) - 2008-11
- Best: Jamie Morris - RB - Ayer (Ayer) - 1984-87
I never realized that Morris was actually listed as a WR when he started his career. He finished with nearly 4,400 yards and was the all-time leading rusher until Anthony Thomas broke his record. Honorable mention goes to Todd Collins and Greg McMurtry.
- Total: 2,601 (Can't guarantee this number is completely accurate, counting every name was a tedious task.)
- First: (Tie) William Calvert - Sub - Ann Arbor - 1879-80
Charles Campbell - HB - Detroit - 1879
John Chase - Rusher - Ann Arbor - 1879-80
Thomas Edwards - Rusher - Ann Arbor - 1879
William Hannan - Rusher - Dowagiac - 1879
Collins Johnston - HB - Grand Rapids - 1879-80
Albert Pettit - NA - Ann Arbor - 1879
Irving Pond - Rusher - Ann Arbor - 1879
Frank Reed - Rusher - Ann Arbor - 1879
- Most recent: (Tie) Nate Allspach - TE - Grand Rapids (Grandville) - 2010-present
Al Backey - CB - Ypsilanti (Yspilanti) - 2009-present
Brennan Byer - DE - Canton (Plymouth) - 2011-present
Nathan Brink - DT - Holland (Holland Christian) - 2009-present
Seth Broekhuizen - PK - Holland (Holland Christian) - 2009-present
William Campbell - DT - Detroit (Cass Technical) - 2009-present
Kenny Demens - LB - Oak Park (Detroit Country Day) - 2009-present
Chris Eddins - TE - Detroit (Detroit Country Day) - 2010-present
Dylan Esterline - TE - Blissfield (Blissfield) - 2010-present
Devin Gardner - QB - Detroit (Inkster) - 2010-present
Jareth Glanda - LS - Rochester Hills (Brother Rice) - 2009-present
Cameron Gordon - LB - Detroit (Inkster) - 2009-present
Thomas Gordon - S - Detroit (Cass Technical) - 2009-present
Erik Gunderson - OL - Milan (Milan) - 2009-present
Paul Gyarmati - FB - Birmingham (Brother Rice) - 2008-present
Justice Hayes - RB - Grand Blanc (Grand Blanc) - 2011-present
Delonte Hollowell - DB - Detroit (Cass Technical) - 2011-present
Jeremy Jackson - WR - Ann Arbor (Huron) - 2010-present
Jack Kennedy - QB - Walled Lake (Walled Lake Central) - 2009-present
Joe Kerridge - FB - Traverse City (St. Francis) - 2011-present
Mike Kwiatkowski - TE - Macomb (Dakota) - 2011-present
Kristian Mateus - OL - Ada (Forest Hills Central) - 2010-present
Desmond Morgan - LB Holland (West Ottawa) - 2011-present
Thomas Rawls - RB - Flint (Flint Northern) - 2011-present
Joe Reynolds - WR - Rochester (Rochester Adams) - 2009-present
Baquer Sayed - WR - Dearborn (Fordson) - 2010-present
Floyd Simmons - S - Detroit (Crockett Technical) - 2008-present
Raymon Taylor - DB - Detroit (Highland Park) - 2011-present
Steve Wilson - QB - White Lake (Lakeland) - 2011-present
Ben Braden - OL - Rockford (Rockford) - 2012
Devin Funchess - TE - Farmington Hills (Harrison) - 2012
Matthew Godin - DT - Novi (Detroit Catholic Central) - 2012
Royce Jenkins-Stone - LB - Detroit (Cass Technical) - 2012
Drake Johnson - RB - Ann Arbor (Pioneer) - 2012
Dennis Norfleet - RB - Detroit (Martin Luther King) - 2012
Mario Ojemudia - DE - Farmington Hills (Harrison) - 2012
Terry Richardson - DB - Detroit (Cass Technical) - 2012
James Ross - LB - Orchard Lake (St. Mary's) - 2012
- Best: Braylon Edwards - WR - Detroit (Bishop Gallagher) - 2001-04
It's a tough decision to pick one out of around 2,600 players, but the numbers that Edwards compiled are undeniable. He finished his career with 252 catches, 3,541 yards and 39 touchdowns, all school records. He also came up with a number of important catches in big moments that have become iconic moments in 'M' history.
I chose Edwards over Rick Leach (Flint/Southwestern) and Bennie Oosterbaan (Muskegon), and I believe a good case can be made for each. I also considered Ron Kramer (East Detroit), Gerald Ford (Grand Rapids/South), and Jake Long (Lapeer/Lapeer East). Other players that deserve to be mentioned are Derrick Alexander (Detroit/Benedictine), Forest Evashevski (Detroit/Northwestern), the real RoJo - Ron Johnson (Detroit/Northwestern), Harry Kipke (Lansing/Lansing High), Harry Newman (Detroit/Northern), Neil Snow (Detroit), and Tyrone Wheatley (Inkster/Robichaud).
Finally, I was interested to learn that Dave Brandon (Plymouth/South Lyon) began his career as a QB, but then switched to DE after two years. However, he didn't have the size increase that you would think would come with this odd position switch; he remained the same size at 6'3" 202 lbs.
- Total: 34
- First: Charles Mitchell - goalkeeper - Alexandria - 1879
- Most recent: Sam Buckman - PK - Tonka Bay (Minnetonka) - 2006-08
- Best: Bennie Joppru - TE - Wayzata (Minnetonka) - 1998-2002
Joppru had 800 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns over his career at Michigan. He was also team captain along with Victor Hobson in 2002. I chose him over Jeff Perlinger a DT who played from 1971-75. He had 133 tackles in his career and was All-Big 10 in 1974.
- Total: 1
- First: Jeremy LeSueur - CB - Holly Springs (Holly Springs) - 1999-2003
- Most recent: Jeremy LeSueur - CB - Holly Springs (Holly Springs) - 1999-2003
- Best: Jeremy LeSueur - CB - Holly Springs (Holly Springs) - 1999-2003
So, apparently 'M' has never recruited Mississippi that hard (although wasn't this supposed to be Jay Hopson's best area of recruiting?). Not that there is any debate on this one, but LeSueur had 167 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 interceptions, and a 60 yard interception return for touchdown against Indiana in 2003. He was also extremely versatile, starting two games as a RS freshman in 2000 - one at cornerback and one at free safety, five games at cornerback in 2001, seven games at free safety in 2002, and twelve games at cornerback in 2003.
- Total: 37
- First: Charles Kellogg Hart - T - St. Louis - 1891
- Most recent: Jehu Chesson - WR - St. Louis (Ladue Horton Watkins) - 2012
Ondre Pipkins - DT - Kansas City (Park Hill) - 2012
- Best: Jon Vaughn - TB - Florissant (McCluer North) - 1988-90
Vaughn had an interesting, but short career at Michigan. He came to school as a DB, redshirted, and had a relatively quiet RS Freshman year. However, he seemed to burst on to the scene in 1990 with back to back 200+ yard games, including three touchdowns against UCLA. By the end of the season though Ricky Powers was getting more carries. Vaughn's success was enough to earn co-Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year award and encourage him to enter the NFL draft early.
- Total: 18
- First: Thomas McNeil - QB - Burdette - 1883-85
- Most recent: Edward Hickey - HB - Anaconda - 1951-55
- Best: Thomas McNeil - QB - Burdette - 1883-85
Not going to lie, I'd never heard of McNeil before, and I still don't know much about him. However, I think him being considered best speaks more to the other players from Montana than about McNeil's abilities. However, he was the starting QB for three years from 1883-85, and the team was undefeated for the last two of those years (granted that only covered five games). He also played alongside of Horace Prettyman, so he must have been good.
- Total: 13
- First: Luther Gottschalk - Sub - Columbus - 1885
- Most recent: Brandon Williams - CB - Omaha (Central) - 1999-2002
- Best: Brandon Williams - CB - Omaha (Central) - 1999-2002
Williams started one game his freshman year, two his sophomore year, one his junior year, and none his senior year. He had 74 tackles, 8 PBUs, and 2 INTs. Not out-standing numbers, but Williams is the only player to come from Nebraska since 1940, and the only player to play for more than two years.
- Total: 2
- First: Manus Edwards - TB - Henderson (Green Valley) - 1997-98
- Most recent: George Morales - LS - North Las Vegas (Moajve) - 2008-2011
- Best: George Morales - LS - North Las Vegas (Moajve) - 2008-2011
I could have gone with Edwards here; after all, he was a part of the '97 National Championship team. However, Morales was a member of the team for two years longer than Edwards, and he probably saw the field a bit more as a Long Snapper.
- Total: 4
- First: Frank Crawford - Sub - Colebrook - 1891
- Most recent: Eric Phelps - DE - Salem (Salem) - 1973-76
- Best: Frank Crawford - Sub - Colebrook - 1891
Despite being listed as a "sub", Crawford was one of the first two coaches for 'M', along with Mike Murphy. Crawford played in two games and scored a touchdown. Phelps was the only competition for the title of "best." However, in his four year career, he only played in two games as well and recorded four tackles.
- Total: 50
- First: R. D. Law - E - Lawrenceville - 1898
- Most recent: J. B. Fitzgerald - LB - Princeton Junction (West Windsor Plainsboro) - 2008-11
- Best: Butch Woolfolk - RB - Westfield - 1978-81
Woolfolk is the easy choice for this state. He accumulated just under 4,000 yards and scored 29 touchdowns. He had the longest run from scrimmage: 92 yards against Wisconsin in 1979. He also rendered useless the tongues of announcers everywhere. Also of note from New Jersey are Victor Hopson and Dwight Hicks.
- Total: 2
- First: William Morley - QB - Socorro Datil - 1895
- Most recent: Alan Branch - DT - Rio Rancho (Cibola) - 2004-06
- Best: Alan Branch - DT - Rio Rancho (Cibola) - 2004-06
Branch only played three years but had 61 tackles, 11 TFL, six and a half sacks, and three forced fumbles. He also intercepted a pass against OSU in '06, and provided us with this glorious picture:
- Total: 133
- First: (Tie) William Duff - HB - Oswego - 1882, 1884
William Mace - Rusher - Syracuse - 1882
- Most recent: John Ferrara - OL - Staten Island (Monsignor Farrell) - 2006-10
- Best: Mike Hart - RB - Syracuse (Onondaga Central) - 2004-2007
The all-time leading rusher in Michigan history will certainly be chosen as best from their state. Hart gained 5,040 yards, averaging 5 yards a carry, and scored 41 touchdowns. The interesting thing is that Hart's stellar credentials don't even seem to be necessary. New York has a severe lack of other top-flight talent, with the exceptions of John Elliott and Marquise Walker.
- Total: 7
- First: William Colburn - C - Ashville - 1919
- Most recent: Jamar Adams - S - Charlotte (Butler) - 2004-07
- Best: Chris Perry - RB - Advance (Fork Union Military Academy) - 2000-03
Perry comes in at 6th on the all-time rushers list. In his four year career, he rushed for 3,696 yards and 39 touchdowns. He had 572 yards receiving, averaging 8.7 yards a catch, and caught two touchdowns. He was also an All-American and the team MVP in 2003.
- Total: 9
- First: Richard DePuy - HB - Jamestown - 1879-82
- Most recent: Robert Wiese - FB - Jamestown - 1941-46
- Best: Robert Wiese - FB - Jamestown - 1941-46
I couldn't find any stats on Wiese, but he won the Meyer Morton Award in 1942, team MVP and All-Big 10 in 1943, and team captain (until he left for military service on November 1) and All-Big 10 in 1944. He came back to start another 6 games in 1946.
- Total: 683
- First: Horace Prettyman - Forward - Bryan - 1882-90 (yes, an astounding 8 years)
- Most recent: (Tie) Courtney Avery - CB - Mansfield (Lexington) - 2010-present
Jibreel Black - DT - Cincinnati (Wyoming) - 2010-present
Tamani Carter - DB - Pickerington (Central) - 2011-present
Frank Clark - DE - Cleveland (Glenville) - 2011-present
Curt Graman - LS - Cincinnati (Elder) -2009-present
Keith Heitzman - DE - Hilliard (Hilliard Davidson) - 2011-present
Jordan Kovacs - S - Curtice (Clay) - 2009-present
Elliott Mealer - OL - Wauseon (Wauseon) - 2008-present
Jack Miller - OL - Perrysburg (St. John's Jesuit) - 2011-present
Brandon Moore - TE - Trotwood (Trotwood-Madison) - 2009-present
Patrick Omameh - OL - Columbus (St. Francis DeSales) - 2008-present
Antonio Poole - LB - Cincinnati (Winton Woods) - 2011-present
Jerald Robinson - WR - Canton (South) - 2010-present
Roy Roundtree - WR - Trotwood (Trotwood-Madison) - 2008-present
Jake Ryan - LB - Westlake (St. Ignatius) - 2010-present
Terrence Talbott - CB - Huber Heights (Wayne) - 2010-present
Fitzgerald Toussaint - RB - Youngstown (Liberty) - 2009-present
Joe Bolden - LB - Cincinnati (Colerain) - 2012
Allen Gant - DB - Sylvania (Sylvania Southview) - 2012
Willie Henry - DT - Cleveland (Glenville) - 2012
Kyle Kalis - OL - Lakewood (St. Edward) - 2012
Kaleb Ringer - LB - Clayton (Northmont) - 2012
Tom Strobel - DE - Mentor (Mentor) -2012
A. J. Williams - TE - Cincinnati (Sycamore) - 2012
Jarrod Wilson - DB - Akron (Buchtel) - 2012
Chris Wormley - DE - Toledo (Whitmer) - 2012
- Best: Charles Woodson - CB - Fremont (Ross) - 1995-97
Woodson or Desmond Howard? Howard or Woodson? Is there a wrong answer to that question? Or I suppose conversely, is there a right answer? Ultimately, I went with Woodson for a number of reasons. He excelled in so many areas of the game. Woodson was 100% passing the ball (2 for 2), he had 173 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, 402 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns, 78 kickoff return yards, and 407 punt return yards and the one infamous touchdown in '97 against OSU - all of this outside of his natural position of CB. Woodson finished 162 tackles, one sack, and 25 pass break ups. He intercepted 18 passes including the amazing pick at MSU in '97. I never realized, or perhaps forgot, that lost in Tim Biakabutuka's performance against OSU in '95, Woodson had two picks in that game.
Howard finished his career with 2,146 yards receiving and 32 touchdowns. Of course he also had an impressive performance outside of his normal position with 249 yards and two touchdowns rushing, 1,211 yards and two touchdowns from kickoff returns, and 337 yards and one touchdown from punt returns.
What stood out about Woodson was that he started from the second game of his freshman year. Howard only played six games of his freshman year. Woodson was three time All-Big 10, two time All-American, and MVP on the '97 National Championship team. Howard was a two time All-Big 10, and in '91 he was an All-American and team MVP.
The career arcs of Woodson and Howard are remarkably similar. Both are from Ohio, both played three years before leaving early for the NFL, both were 4th overall picks in the NFL draft, both won Heisman Trophies highlighted by punt return TDs against OSU, and both left 'M' fans with many iconic moments. Again, I think this choice could go either way, but I'm giving the slight edge to Woodson for the reasons stated above.
As with the state of Michigan, there are a number of other players from Ohio that deserve special mention. In another state, they would probably be best, but not in a state that produced two Heisman Trophy winners. In no particular order: Gordon Bell (Troy/Troy), Bob Chappuis (Toledo/DeVilbiss), Tom Curtis (Aurora), Dan Dierdorf (Canton/Glenwood), Dennis Franklin (Massillon/Washington), Bennie Friedman (Cleveland), Elvis Grbac (Willoughby Hills/St. Joseph), Mike Hammerstein (Wapakoneta/Wapakoneta), Rob Lytle (Fremont/Ross), Jim Mandich (Solon/Solon), Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg/Twinsburg), Horace Prettyman (Bryan), Michael Taylor (Lincoln Heights/Princeton), and Bob Timberlake (Franklin/Franklin).
- Total: 11
- First: Jesse Langley - NA - Alva - 1904-07
- Most recent: Woodrow Hankins - CB - Owasso (Owasso) - 1992-96
- Best: Clay Miller - OT - Norman (Norman) - 1981-85
Miller started every game at LT his sophomore season, and then was a full-time starter at RT his junior and senior years. For his senior year, he earned All-Big 10 honors and won the Meyer Morton, Arthur Robinson Scholarship, and shared the Hugh Rader Jr. awards.
- Total: 4
- First: Willie Heston - HB - Grants Pass - 1901-04
- Most recent: James Wiley - T - Portland (Lincoln) - 1960-62
- Best: Willie Heston - HB - Grants Pass - 1901-04
Despite only having four players come out of Oregon, they get the honor of producing one of the best ever (ok actually he was from Illinois for the first 16 years of his life, but for the purpose of this exercise, and for the sake of Oregon, we will go with the state where the player was from as they entered college). To me, Heston is the face of the Point-a-Minute era. After following Fielding Yost to Michigan, he was a full-time starter all four years of his career and on four teams that never lost a game. He was a two time All-American and team captain in 1904, and he held Rose Bowl record for most rushing yards (170) in a game for 59 years.
- Total: 141
- First: John Couch - Rusher - Pittsburgh - 1882, 1884
- Most recent: Jordan Paskorz - TE - Gibsonia (Hampton) - 2010-present
Kenny Wilkins - DT - Washington (Trinity) - 2010-present
- Best: Chad Henne - QB - Wyomissing (Wilson) - 2004-07
Can't deny the QB who leads the winningest college football program in history in attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns. Henne threw for 9,715 yards and 87 touchdowns. He also holds the distinction of being a QB who started as a true freshman, held with Rick Leach and Tate Forcier (off the top of my head, others?). I was surprised that the only year that Henne earned All-Big 10 honors was his senior year; ironically, the only year he didn't start every game.
Honorable mention goes to William Cunningham and Steve Breaston. Also, the first 'M' Hoke came from PA: Hugh Hoke Jr. a Guard who played in 1955 and 1957. He hailed from Schuykill Haven. Finally, I never realized that Bob Ufer also played for the football team. He played in 1939, and no position is listed.
- Total: 3
- First: Frank Zendzian - HB - Providence (Greenbrier Military) - 1931-32
- Most recent: Donald ZanFagna - QB - Providence - 1948, 1950-52
- Best: Donald ZanFagna - QB - Providence - 1948, 1950-52
So I never heard of ZanFagna before, but I chose him over the other two, because well, he played four years, two years more than Zendzian. ZanFagna never started a game, and Google failed to turn up any stats for him. However, incredibly it did turn up the fact that he is a relatively famous artist. This article claims he was a "star quarterback" and he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Cardinals (football). However, Bentley doesn't list him ever starting a game. Amazing what the interwebs turn up.
- Total: 7
- First: Harold Goodwin - NA - Hopkins (Lower Richland) - 1937
- Most recent: (Tie) J.T. Floyd - CB - Greenville (J.L. Mann) - 2008-present
Quinton Washington - DT - St. Stephen (Timberland) - 2009-present
- Best: Junior Hemingway - WR - Conway (Conway) - 2007-2011
A few years ago, no one would have pegged the oft-injured Hemingway for this spot. However, he finished his career strong with 1,638 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. Chosen over Jonathan Goodwin, I basically picked him for his heroics over Illinois in '10, Notre Dame in '11, and Virginia Tech in the '12 Sugar Bowl. Hemingway has to have one of the more interesting career paths in 'M' history. He played in parts of five seasons under Carr, Rodriguez, and Hoke. Quite a lot transpired from when he caught his first passes from Henne in '07 until his Sugar Bowl MVP performance in January of '12.
- Total: 13
- First: Timon John Spangler - C - Mitchell - 1892
- Most recent: David Lawrence - C - Perronville - 1958
- Best: Daniel Dworsky - C - Sioux Falls - 1945-48
Dworsky began his career as a FB and started five games as a freshman. Later, he transitioned to Center, and by his junior year (the '47 team that finished 10-0) he started a game at both positions. Ever see David Molk do that? Didn't think so…
- Total: 13
- First: Horace VanDeventer - Sub - Knoxville - 1889
- Most recent: Blake Bars - OL - Nashville (Montgomery Bell Academy) - 2012
- Best: Eric Brackins - ILB - Pigeon Forge (Gatlinburg-Pittman) - 1997-2001
Tom Goss anyone? He was All-Big 10 in '68, but I think the halo outweighs anything else he will ever be remembered for. Brackins was a two-year started at linebacker, and he was named team captain in '01.
- Total: 53
- First: Jack Green - Rusher - Austin - 1879
- Most recent: (Tie) Russell Bellomy - QB - Arlington (Martin) - 2011-present
Stephen Hopkins - RB - Double Oak (Marcus) - 2010-present
- Best: Jarrett Irons - ILB - The Woodlands (McCullough) - 1992-96
For a school that has long prided itself on defense, you have to go with Michigan's
all-time second leading tackler here. Irons had 429 tackles, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, 19 pass break ups, and two interceptions. Interestingly, he never recorded a sack. Irons was also an All-American in '96, a two-time team captain, and two-time All-Big 10. I chose Irons over Chris Hutchinson. It's interesting that 'M' got most of their players from Texas in the late '80s through early to mid-90's; not sure why that was such a good time for recruiting Texas.
- Total: 6
- First: Robert Gemmel - HB - Salt Lake City - 1882-83
- Most recent: Sione Houma - RB - Salt Lake City (Highland) - 2012
- Best: Jeff Holtry - OLB - Salt Lake City (West) - 1994, 1997-98
No offense to any of the players from Utah, but Houma won't have to do much to be considered the best played from the state. Holtry managed seven tackles, one sack, and one pass break up in his career - better stats than anyone else that came out of Utah.
- Total: 3
- First: (Tie) George Athanasion - T - Cuttingsville - 1946-47
Robert Ballou - T - Chester - 1946-47
- Most recent: Robert Freeman - E - Brattleboro - 1947-48
- Best: Robert Ballou - T - Chester - 1946-47
Apparently Fritz Crisler went all out to recruit Vermont in the mid '40s, but it hasn't been touched since. Ballou won the Meyer Morton award in '46. That's all I've got, on any of them.
- Total: 17
- First: William Cole - LT - Charlottesville - 1902, 1904
- Most recent: (Tie) Marell Evans - LB - Richmond (Varina) - 2007-09, 2011
Alex Schwab - DT - Manassas (Osburn Park) - 2010-11
- Best: David Terrell - WR - Richmond (Huguenot) - 1998-2000
Terrell gets the nod with an impressive overall career. He had 2,317 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns. Outside of his natural position, Terrell ran for 108 yards and one touchdown; had a total 38 return yards; and recorded eight tackles, two pass breakups, and an interception on defense. He capped-off the '99 season with an impressive outing of three touchdown and 150 yards receiving against Alabama in the Orange Bowl. Terrell was All-Big 10 twice and an All-American in '00.
I chose Terrell over Russell Davis who turned in an impressive career in the late '70s. A Fullback, he rushed for 2,550 yards and 18 touchdowns. He was team captain and All-Big 10 in '78.
- Total: 16
- First: Giovanni Villa - T - Walla Walla - 1893-96
- Most recent: Stephen Schilling - OL - Bellevue (Bellevue) - 2006-10
- Best: George Gregory - C - Seattle - 1901-03
I wanted to go with Schilling here, but in evaluating two offensive linemen whose main accomplishment was starting a lot, I had to go with the one who played on three national championship teams. Gregory, like Willie Heston, followed Yost to Michigan from the west coast. There he anchored the 'M' line from 1901-1903, starting 32 times, and never lost a game. Schilling's career - with the position changes, coaching changes, and scheme changes - deserves to be mentioned. Molk, Martin, Hemingway, and Van Bergen got a lot of mention after the '11 season for sticking with the program through a great deal of turmoil. Despite, not playing under Hoke, I think Schilling should be included in this same group.
- Total: 11
- First: Joseph Robins - NA - Charleston - 1914
- Most recent: Donald Dugger - G - Charleston - 1949-53
- Best: Howard Yerges - QB - Pt. Pleasant - 1944-47
Yerges holds an interesting distinction of having played for both 'M' and OSU. He played for the Buckeyes in '43, and then transferred "up north." He started two games in '45 before becoming the full-time starter for his final two years. In 1947, he was one fourth of the Mad Magicians backfield that led the team to a 10-0 record and a 49-0 beating of USC in the Rose Bowl. Yerges holds the honor of being called "Crisler's second brain."
- Total: 70
- First: Henry Killilea - C - Milwaukee - 1883-84
- Most recent: Will Hagerup - P - Whitefish Bay (Whitefish Bay) - 2011-present
- Best: John Navarre - QB - Cudahy (Cudahy) - 1999-2003
When people think of Navarre, inevitably you think of a 6' 6" QB who repeatedly had his passes batted down at the line. This is probably harsh for a guy who is statistically the second best QB in 'M' history. Navarre is second behind Henne in attempts, completions, yards thrown, and touchdowns. Impressively, he is tied for fourth in interceptions thrown, behind several guys who only had half as many attempts. Navarre was team captain and All-Big 10 in his senior year.
- Total: 5
- First: Ernest Dillman - NA - Cheyenne - 1912
- Most recent: Don Bracken - P - Thermopolis ( Hot Springs) - 1980-83
- Best: Don Bracken - P - Thermopolis ( Hot Springs) - 1980-83
Of the five players from Wyoming, only Bracken played more than one year. However, punting records don't seem to have been kept before 1984, so I can't say how much of an impact he had on the field. However, he did have an eight year NFL career, so he must have had some talent.
And for good measure, the Canadian provinces…
- Total: 1
- First: Hugh Wright - C - Winnipeg - 1949
- Most recent: Hugh Wright - C - Winnipeg - 1949
- Best: Hugh Wright - C - Winnipeg - 1949
Wright wins by default.
- Total: 17
- First: Calvin Wetzel - E - Windsor - 1917
- Most recent: Chris Roth - FB - Windsor (Belle River) - 1997-98
- Best: Roy Pella - T - Sudbury - 1950-52
I struggled to find information on any of the players who came out of Ontario. I gave the nod to Pella simply because he went on to be an Olympian.
- Total: 7
- First: Eduardo Azcona - P - Montreal (Vanier College) - 1988-92
- Most recent: Renaldo Sagesse - DT - Montreal (Vieux Montreal) - 2007-10
- Best: Tshimanga Biakabutuka - TB - Longueuil (Vanier College) - 1993-95
I realize Biakabutuka was born in Zaire, but again, I'm going with the state/providence that is listed as their hometown in Bentley's records. He had an excellent career at 'M', rushing for 2,810 yards and 24 touchdowns in just three seasons. Of course he also had the magical day in November of '95 when he ran for 313 yards against OSU.
An interesting note about Quebec: when a player comes from there, they come to stay. Of their seven players, all were on the team for at least three years, and five of them played at least four years. Of the two that didn't, Biakabutuka left early for the NFL, and Emmanuel Casseus is listed as a senior in his third and final year of '02.
- Total: 1
- First: Lorne MacDonald - HB - Saskatoon - 1957
- Most recent: Lorne MacDonald - HB - Saskatoon - 1957
- Best: Lorne MacDonald - HB - Saskatoon - 1957
Again, a winner by default. If you can find out any more about Lorne MacDonald, please share.
…And all other parts of the world:
England: George Northcroft - LT - London - 1888
Peru: Burton McKenzie - NA - Lima - 1964
Puerto Rico: Frank Harding -C - San Juan - 1892
Poland: Leo Keena - FB - Warsaw - 1897-99
A Final Note:Bentley's records really need to be cleaned up. It's amazing how many simple typos there are. Some are obvious; some can lead to great confusion, such as the discrepancy between "Stephen" and "Steven" King. This could lead to some errors in this diary, especially in regards to the number from each state.
In Bentley's searchable roster, there are also a number of players for whom no state is listed. I suppose this is from error or because there is simply no information available about that player. However, I don't believe there is anyone of note in that list.
Not a lot of action in the rankings this week, as Indiana(!) is your most active school of the past seven days with two commits. Nebraska and Wisconsin each add a headliner to their class and Brisly Estime ends one of the shortest commitments on record. Changes since the last rankings:
6-29-12: Brisly Estime decommits from Purdue.
7-2-12: Nebraska picks up Marcus Newby.
7-3-12: Wisconsin picks up Darius Latham. Indiana picks up Evan Jansen.
7-7-12: Indiana picks up Patrick Dougherty.
|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.
[WARNING: Mod abuse of power and unrequested opinion contained herein. Consider yourself warned]
Twitter is great. Facebook is swell. MySpace is... maybe still a thing? But for the love of all things holy, and in the name of all that is non-douchy, I beg of you... Leave. Recruits. Alone.
This is about David Dawson, but it's not about David Dawson. It's about Kyle Kalis. It's about Shane Morris and Kyle Bosch and Yuri Wright. It's about 17-year-old kids. They're trying to decide where to go to college. They're deciding on a group of people with whom they want to spend 5000 hours per week for the next four to five years. (Attn: Mike Rosenberg, that's called 'hyperbole.' Put the pen down). This is a big-ass decision.
Remember when you debated this for 10 minutes? Yeah. Kind of like that.
The good news? You don't have to be involved. The recruits can do this ALL by themselves. In fact, your involvement is not welcomed. You're not helping. You're making it worse.
So, with that, I would like to propose that we come up with a few ground rules.
- No tweeting @ recruits: It may be an NCAA violation, though I tend to think it's not. But it's creepy as hell. It does no good, and it can cause huge harm.
- No Facebook friending recruits: They are not your friends.
- No commenting on recruits' Facebook walls: See #2 above
- No tweeting @ recruits: still no.
- No following recruits on Twitter: This is a gray area, but the bottom line is that these are kids, so err on the side of not being creepy.
- No talking shit about recruits on the internet (MGoBlog or otherwise): what part of "these are kids" did you not get.
- No obsessing about recruits' every tweet: This is the toughest one, because even if you don't follow recruits, stuff gets retweeted or posted to MGoBlog. I struggle with this one as much as the next guy. But yeah.
- NO TWEETING @ RECRUITS: HOLY HELL STOP TWEETING RECRUITS.
Given the interest here in the European Championships, I figured it might be fun to make some predictions about the World Cup 2014 as an OT diary. Sure it's not about University of Michigan sports, but this is the offseason, right? Hope it's okay with everyone, and please know that this is a one-time deal...my next diary is going to be another Reading the Tea Leaves installment, and very much about Michigan football, and the American kind at that.
Back to the subject at hand, I came up with a simple methodology for determining the favorites based 6 measures: quality of attack, midfield, defending and goalkeeping, as well as depth and team cohesion/tactics. Each is rated on a 5 pt, like this:
5 = Elite
4 = Good
3 = Adequate
2 = Problematic
1 = Poor
Obviously, these are all subjective measures, and are based on a combination of “on paper talent” and “recent performances in international competition.” Things can and will change by 2014. But I’m pretty happy with the results. I looked at 8 teams, 7 of which I figure are plausible “favorites,” while the other is England, a national team that will inevitably end up being treated as a favorite, regardless of how undeserved that title might be.
First, a breakdown of teams by the 6 categories, ranking them only according to the measures outlined above:
1. Spain (28/30)
2. Brazil (25/30)
3. Germany (24/30)
3. Italy (24/30)
3. Uruguay (24/30)
6. Portugal (23/25)
7. Argentina (22/25)
8. England (18/30)
Spain is clearly top, and deservedly so. The only weakness, really, is their attack, and it’s still not bad. Besides, with a healthy David Villa, that could get upgraded to a 4 by the time the World Cup starts. Looking at second place, it’s debatable whether Brazil should be ranked higher than Germany, and doing so is perhaps a bit unfair to the Germans. However, I felt that the German defense and goalkeeping were exposed against Italy, and really when you think about it, they weren’t quite as good as they were cracked up to be. Another case could be made for Italy leapfrogging Germany, since they beat them handily in the semi-finals of Euro 2012. This would probably boil down to the argument that I undervalued the midfield. But I think, beyond Pirlo, it’s not great, and they probably overachieved at Euro 2012.
I’m pretty happy with the other assessments. Of course English readers (are there any?) might scoff at giving the Ashley Cole-led defense a meager 3, but I think if you look at Euro 2012 objectively, you see it’s well-deserved. Even with arguably the best keeper in the world behind them and a 1980s-Italy-style turtle strategy where the defenders and at least 2 midfielders stayed back, they still managed to allow 4 goals in 3 group stage games…and against decidedly mediocre competition as well. Add to that a lack of depth, the usual lack of cohesion and a tactical approach they don’t have the defensive personnel for, and you can see how far England has fallen behind the leaders. They might come together as a team by 2014, but a quarterfinal appearance would be their ceiling at World Cup 2014, and they'd need some friendly seeding to even get there.
Adjusted for Playing in Brazil
All that said, it should be noted that no European team has ever won a World Cup in the Americas, while only one South American team has ever won in Europe. Then there’s the way good home teams often do really well (
1970 Brazil winning in Brazil, 1974 West Germany winning in Germany, 1998 France winning in France, etc.). That suggests the need to make some adjustments based on the fact that World Cup 2014 is in Brazil. My methodology here is to give Brazil +2 for playing at home, and other South American teams +1 for playing near home. On the flip side, I penalize European teams -1 for playing in South America, with the exception of Portugal, whose common language, cultural ties and relatively friendly colonizer/ex-colonial relationship should make them feel more at home than other European teams. So they get no bonus or penalty. The new rankings come out like this:
1. Spain (27/30)
1. Brazil (27/30)
3. Uruguay (25/30)
4. Germany (23/30)
4. Portugal (23/30)
4. Italy (23/30)
4. Argentina (23/30)
8. England (17/30)
This leads to the uncontroversial notion of Spain and Brazil as co-favorites, but with Uruguay as the potential dark horse. Given their Copa America victory and 4th place finish at World Cup 2010, this may not be entirely surprising. Then there’s a 4-way tie for 4th place. I ranked Germany at the top of the pile because I think they have the highest ceiling, and Argentina the lowest because I remain unconvinced by basically everyone on that team not named Lionel Messi.
Of course, who makes it to the final also has to do with bracketology and seeding. In the recent European Championships, Portugal might have made it to the final had they faced Italy instead of Spain in the semi-finals. (I'm pretty sure Germany would have lost to Spain, though.) Still, I'm going to put my proverbial cards on the table and say--if there aren't any major injuries or other unexpected calamities befalling the teams in question, my way-too-early prediction is that Spain, Brazil and Uruguay will comprise 3 of the 4 semifinalists.
The first two may be hardly controversial, but for good reason. No one has beaten or even scored on Spain in a knockout match since 2006. They've won an unprecedented 3 tournaments, and are still young enough that a 4th is entirely plausible. Brazil may not have the 1958, 1970 or 1994 team, but they won in 2002 with a side that had trouble qualifying, and this time they're at home. Uruguay gives me the same "hey these guys could really do it" feeling that Germany did in 2010 and 2012, which of course makes it unlikely they will, but a return to the semifinals does seem likely to me.
The 4th semifinalist is up for grabs. After 3 consecutive tournament semifinal appearances, this is Germany's moment to prove it's not the Second Coming of Pre-2008 Spain, a gloriously talented team with dazzling skill but with the collective psychology of the Maginot Line. Can they do it? Or does Portugal surprise? I'll leave that one up to the (association) football gods.
I don't see the playoff expanding too much, and yes, it is for the #1 item on Brian's list, that is, academics. Expanding a playoff would be difficult for two (academic) reasons:
- Fall semester/quarter final exams
- Spring semester/winter quarter classes begin
Because the season (conference championship) isn't over until the first weekend in December you can't fit too many games in before classes start again in January. Here is a list of all of the Saturdays in December 2011-January 2012 until classes start.
- December 3 - Conference championship game
- December 10 - (Potential) CFB national quarters *
- December 17 - End of finals week
- December 24 - Student - Athletes go home for Christmas holiday **
- December 31 - CFB national semis
- January 7 - CFB national championship on following Monday (the 9th) ***
- January 14 - Classes have started (Probably by the 9th) or are about to start (16th)
December 10th and the 17th could probably be flip-flopped depending on how you wanted to handle it. For this reason, I see the ceiling at 8 teams. I also think that there is a diminishing return on a title game the later that you schedule it. For example, I didn't watch any more football after the Sugar Bowl this season. It just didn't make it across my radar. That, and I didn't really care about the Bama - LSU rematch.
* I never understood the whole "the best teams can't go to bowl games if the playoff is too big" argument. The "other 4" bowls can pick from the quarterfinal losers for their games. This idea also rebuts the argument against home sites (at least for the quarters) because they can still go to a bowl game somewhere that there is warm weather.
** I guess that there is an implicit "think of the children" argument here by letting them go home for Christmas. Bowl games played on/around Christmas at least let the student - athletes go home for New Years. Either way, letting 18-22 year olds go home to Mama doesn't seem like a big thing to consider.
*** I so hope that they play one of these at Lambeau. Or Soldier Field would be ok too. Or even Yankee Stadium (I guess...but then I'll have to call certain people "cold-weather pansies")
Two years ago I piled onto the idea that coaches don’t maximize on fourth down. Or at least they don’t maximize to scoring the most points. More likely, they minimize the chance of getting fired for making a risky decision.
Within the post I noted that coaches are too conservative and presented an initial treatment to what the decision matrix should look like. I also identified several of the key objections to the “Stop Punting” movement. Over the last two years I have accumulated more data, thought about the topic further and think there is more to add to the conversation. The general conclusion is the same but I have added some new tools that should shed some new light on the subject and bring some power to the people.
A quick review of the main objections:
4th Down stops don’t account for momentum change
I still haven’t found that this has a quantitative impact to anything. Last month I found that teams go for big passing plays more often but that they don’t actually score any more points.
Assumes all offenses and defenses are average
This is a big one. Two years ago I gave this a surface review but will go into more detail below.
Doesn’t account for in-game situations
It’s a valid critique but one that is rarely applicable and easily approximated. With more than 2 possessions left and a competitive game means expected points are directly correlated with win likelihood. A close game late or a blowout will usually point you where you need to go with common sense. In game situations matter, just less than you think they do.
Men Offenses, Defenses and Kickers are Not Created Equal
This is the big adjustment. Rather than looking at the very best and how their expected value differ from average as I did last time, I made the tool dynamic. I can now look at how each situation changes when you have a dominant offense, or if your defense is a sieve. It can also account for kicker quality. A really good or really bad kicker definitely changes the mindset. Announcers generally frame the decision as “you have to take the three points” even though the odds of success are significantly less than 100%. A great kicker will push the decision closer to that thinking for a quarter of the field. Likewise a terrible kicker takes the field goal out of play for a large portion of the situations.
So to see how different strengths and weaknesses affect the outcomes lets start with the updated baseline chart:
Maximum “go” territory is around the Opponent’s 32 yard line where even on 4th and 10 going for it might be the best play. Once you hit the 20 yard line the field goal is the best option unless you only have one yard to go. This stays true until you get inside the 10, then the opportunity for 3 yards or less becomes more optimal.
So what happens when you get a large variance in teams’ offense and defense. A great example would be the infamous Michigan 2010 team. The offense was as great as the defense and kicking game were terrible. Plugging in extreme values for all three dramatically changes the decision matrix.
Michigan 2010 should have gone for it early and often. Field goals should not have been attempted of 40 yards or more and if the yards to go were 6 or less the offense should have always stayed on the field.
Michigan 2011 was a dramatically different team from 2010. The offense was still good, but not as great as 2010. The defense stopped being a tire fire and the kicking game was much more reliable. I adjusted the offense down a bit and the defense up considerably and moving kicking to average.
The end result is a chart that is somewhere between the baseline and the Michigan 2010. Field goals become the best option when the distance to go is greater but aggressiveness when crossing the 40 is still warranted.
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Proper 4th Down Strategy
As part of this work, I have built a public Google Spreadsheet that you at home can use to overanalyze your favorite 4th down situation, complete with dynamic skill ranges.
Each situation adjusts the 4th down conversion chances and upside and downside of any decision. It outputs what the best decision would be and how many expected points you would be leaving on the table with the “wrong” choice.
The offensive and defensive ratings go from +5 to -5 with 0 being average. They are a measure of the difference between the offense and the defense. Michigan’s offense should be a +5 against Minnesota but probably a -2 against Alabama. The rating affects both the odds of conversion and the value of the resulting 1st down if successful. Defense is the same in that it is a measure of the difference between your defense and the opponent offense. Adjusting the defensive metric affects the value of a resulting possession change whether by missed FG, punt or missed fourth down conversion.
I hope you enjoy looking at this and I included some special Easter Eggs for the curious.