It has almost been a year since Ohio offensive lineman Jack Miller decided to commit to play for Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines. A lot has changed since Miller's announcement, and despite the fact that the program has gone through an overhaul Miller's excitement has never dwindled. "I sat here and read all the articles about me projecting to go there, and then me signing there, and now it's time to be a part of Michigan football," he said. "It's not just football, it's being part of that tradition. We all report on June 25th, that's when we move in."
Miller had fallen in love with everything that Michigan brought to the table, so when the coaching change happened his commitment was never in question. He embraced the new coaching staff and was pleasantly surprised with Brady Hoke and his new position coach Darrell Funk. "I've been really impressed with the coaches. You obviously don't wish bad on anyone, and this isn't anything against Coach Rodriguez, but I think this coaching change is good for me and good for Michigan football," said Miller. "Everyone is buying in and is happy to play for them. I'm speaking real prematurely here and I've only gotten to know the coaches off the field, but I'm excited to get up there and learn." The major recruiting sites had Miller as a defensive line prospect but Michigan recruited him to play on the offensive line.
While most fans were nervous and didn't know what to expect with the new coaching staff, Miller said he knew everything would be ok. "I don't follow recruiting too close, but I've looked at it. I wasn't surprised that the coaches have done so well," he said. "The fans don't know Coach Hoke on a personal level, and I read that Greg Mattison is one of the best recruiters in the country." The fans might not know Hoke on a personal level, but there is mutual optimism now that the 2012 class has been rolling in. "It's a new transition for Michigan and who wouldn't want to come to Michigan," asked Miller. "Coach Hoke is bringing back the old Michigan, they're players' coaches, and they've been successful."
He speaks highly of head coach Brady Hoke, but Coach Darrell Funk has been the main contact at Michigan for Miller, and he's been preparing for his new role with his new family. "I think the way it looks right now I'll be playing center. It's an interior offensive line position and a lot of time it's need based so I wouldn't rule out guard either. In a perfect world with nothing wrong I think it would probably be center," he said about his new position. Jack played both offensive and defensive line in high school, so he has familiarity with the position. Jumping from high school to college as a lineman can be very difficult however, so Miller has been trying to gain every advantage he can. "I've been training first and foremost. Working out, and I've been trying to use some resources I have in the NFL," he said. "I've been watching film on different centers in the NFL, and I've been trying to figure out what transition will be like on the field. I have to accept the fact that my life is about to do a complete 180."
One aspect of his transition that many people can relate to is college life off the field, and discovering a whole new world. "I'm excited for what college represents, branching out as your own person and not relying on any one else," Miller said. "Becoming and developing who you are. It's exciting, not nerve wracking, but it does make you anxious." Luckily for him he has gotten a head step on befriending his new teammates. "I'm trying to room with Chris Rock [2011 DE signee]. We became friends once we both committed," he said. "I know Kevin Koger being from Toledo, and he and I have been in touch. I talk to Taylor Lewan and Patrick Omameh when I go up there, so I'm getting to know the guys and it's been good." Miller, like any offensive lineman, will likely redshirt his freshman year. With Dave Molk's senior status and only two others in front of him, Miller will have an excellent chance at contributing early if he can manage this transition properly.
On the heels of WatersDemos's excellent diary and the Bobby Knight Board discussion, I got to thinking that it might be worth while having a collaborative debate about the issue of payment to college football players. I would be especially interested in hearing from some MGoEconomists on this issue, given that there are some particularities of the labor market for football services that invite economic thinking.
The problem (if it is a problem) with the NCAA rule against players' selling their swag is that it seems to violate principles of personal property rights. So, the logical alternative is to allow players to sell their swag to whomever they choose. This creates an incentive structure in which recruits can be told by coaches that University X has a super rich booster who will give them $100,000 for a couple of signed jerseys. Lesser recruits might only be able to command, say, $50,000 over four years at a lesser school. At this point, college football becomes no different than minor league baseball or hockey, with the prearranged "jersey sales" being tantamount to signing bonuses.
But, this is only a problem if it is defined as a problem; that is, if our sepia-toned memories of what college football used to be like make us unwilling to accept that college football could be a farm system. On the other hand, humans use things like nostalgia and emotion to drive decision-making from time to time—it’s called “culture.”
So, one solution would seem to be a flat wage for all football players, outside of tuition, books, and whatever they currently get for pocket money. So, all players would be paid, say, $2,000 per month for 12 months, essentially a fairly lucrative campus job. That wage could even rise as they progress through college, so that by the time the NFL draft rolls around, the vast majority of players who don’t get selected might have a little money in their pockets to go to grad school, start a business, etc.
Two obvious problems with this:
- Other NCAA athletes don’t have access to this. It would only be football players; and
- Although the flat wage would prevent an above-board bidding war for recruits (since there would be no benefit to choosing University X over Y, unlike the return on choosing the Yankees over the Royals), it only creates a new level playing field on which rich boosters would compete under the table. In that sense, it doesn’t really solve any problems. That is, even if (and perhaps because) Terrelle Pryor would earn as much as Drew Dileo, there would still be incentives for back room payments.
Another solution is to create a farm system for the NFL, and force high school players to choose between college and the farm team. It stands to reason that if two of the three other major sports have farm systems, and the NBA has a sort of hybrid (the NBDL would be a true farm system if the players were allowed to sign directly from high school), there would be pressure for the NFL to follow suit.
It seems to me like the crux of the problem is that college football players (like baseball, hockey, and basketball players, and unlike college gymnasts or water polo players) possess a set of skills that, at their highest level, are highly in demand in the professional labor market. This creates all sorts of incentives for players to want to cash in on those skills.
This is what I want some economists’ take on: is it coincidence or causal that the two college sports where recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich are football and basketball, the two major revenue-generating pro sports that don’t have a fully-developed farm system, a la hockey and baseball? My working hypothesis is that having a well-developed farm system—which allows star players to get paid for their services prior to making it to the big show—that reduces the dirt in college baseball or hockey recruiting.
So, if we are truly concerned about such dirt, the solution would be to make the NBDL a true farm system, and to create a NFL farm system. The case of Brandon Jennings is instructive in this respect—recall that because he couldn’t go into either the NBA or NDBL right after high school, he went to Europe to play. I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens more in the future. In this sense, the Euro leagues are like the NBA farm system (see also: Ricky Rubio), but just a really inefficient one as of now.
Anyway, if the NFL did adopt a farm system, it would have to be done like the other farm systems, that is, in conjunction with the NFL. So, no competitive USFL or XFL or even Arena league nonsense. I actually think this could work, by the way. There are plenty of places where (1) football is beloved, (2) there is no local NFL team, and (3) plenty of rooting interest in a nearby NFL team. Or, more nationally, I’m sure the Dallas Cowboys’ farm team—even if it was located in, say, Louisville, KY—would generate plenty of suppport.
So I guess the three questions are:
- Is selling swag under the current system a problem?
- Would paying players more help the problem?
- Would an NFL (and true NBA) farm system be (a) economically viable, and (b) solve the problem of dirty practices in college football and basketball?
I'll hang up and listen.
Ohio DB Jarrod Wilson's name has been popping up lately because of a visit he took last week to Ann Arbor, so I caught up with his coach, former Wolverine, Ricky Powers. Here's what Coach Powers had to say about his star DB and where he's at in the process.
TOM: How did Jarrod's visit to Michigan go last week?
COACH POWERS: It's funny, Jarrod is a lot like myself, he's just a laid back kid and nothing really shakes him. I asked him how the visit was and he said it was good. He went to Penn State this past Friday and he said that was good, too. He doesn't emphasize a lot, but I think both visits went very well.
TOM: Where is he at in the process as far as top schools and timelines.
COACH POWERS: His top three are Notre Dame, Michigan, and Penn State [ED: in no order]. He's going out to Notre Dame on the 10th, and he's already been to Michigan and Penn State like I said. I think those will be his last visits, I'm not positive, but I think so.
TOM: Does that mean he'll be deciding shortly after that?
COACH POWERS: We definitely want to get it done before the season starts. He wants to graduate early, so we want that to be out of the way and taken care of.
TOM: What kind of advice have you given him, or what kind of questions does he ask you throughout this whole process?
COACH POWERS: The only advice I've given him is to look past some of the stuff, all of them are going to have great tradition. He needs to find where he'll be most comfortable as a person. He has a pretty good checklist, I haven't seen it, but he has a good checklist that he asks schools. He'll make a great decision wherever he goes.
TOM: Is he looking at depth charts, or who is committed where at this point?
COACH POWERS: No, nope. He is a very confident kid and he doesn't look at that kind of stuff.
The evaluation period is over, which means no more off campus visits by the coaches. There is a quiet period from now until July 31st. A quiet period allows a coach to write or call a prospect and recruits can visit the school's campus.
So the next big events for Michigan will be unofficial visits and camp (June 19th-23rd). Here's a look at what could be happening in the near future, and where a few other prospects are at in their recruitment. As always you can follow me on Twitter at TomVH, and feel free to email me with tips or questions at TomVH@MGoBlog.com.
6'3", 175 lbs.
St. Louis, Missouri
Chesson received an offer from Michigan this past week, and it was one that he thought would be coming in soon.
They had been looking at me for awhile, and they told me that I'm among eight kids that they were evaluating. Coach Hecklinski visited my school and they didn't offer right away, but he said to hang in there with them. He finally told me that the staff wanted me and they offered.
Jehu is an interesting prospect because he had been recruited by the old Michigan staff, and actually knew them better than the current staff.
We visited campus last summer. I kind of wanted to see it so we sacrificed a little and made the trip. They obviously have a different coaching staff from last year. Right now I just need to build that relationship with them. I know Coach Hecklinski. The number one thing for me is to have a role in the offense. I'm a receiver, I'm a little bias to having the ball in my hands. I can control how good I become, but they're the ones that choose how to use me.
Chesson plans to take his time with his recruitment, and wants to wait to see what schools offer before he makes any decisions.
I'll take all of my official visits. I would definitely consider Michigan for an official visit because it's not a place I can easily get to. Take an official to Michigan would make more sense than a place like Mizzou. I want to narrow my list down at the end of the summer. It should be a pretty long list still but at least I'll be getting it somewhere. After that I'll try to get a top five.
Michigan would obviously like to land a receiver in this class and it looks like this is one position that they'll have to wait to find out who they get. Chesson plans on waiting, Dwayne Stanford wants to announce later in his season, and Aaron Burbridge has some work to do in the classroom.
6'6", 265 lbs.
I mentioned this past week that Olson would be visiting Michigan this Tuesday (the 7th). His Michigan offer came in recently and Michigan will be the last school he sees.
About two months back Coach Mallory said that the offensive line coach had watched my highlights and loved them. We kept in contact and I told him the interest was mutual. Eventually about three weeks ago they pulled the trigger and offered me.
Some prospects only say that academics are a big part of their decision but Olson's final list makes it clear he means it.
I really want a school that combines academics and athletics. It's something that's really important to me and I've told a number of schools not to waste their time recruiting me because of their academic standing. I have a 3.2 GPA, but I'm at a very rigorous private school and I scored a 1930 on the SAT and a 29 on the ACT.
So yeah, he's pretty serious about that. Olson says he's playing everything by ear, but he would like to have a decision made by mid summer. With Michigan being the last visit and a good combination of what he's looking for, they have a good shot.
6'5", 308 lbs.
Rochester, New York
Jones has been committed to Penn State for some time, but has said that he will continue to visit schools. Michigan is one of the programs he and his family would like to see more of. I spoke with his mother about where he's at, and when he should be at Michigan.
If you asked Jarron he would say Penn State was the best place for him, but that was after visiting Rutgers and Pitt. Before talking to me and his dad he told a reporter that he was committed to Penn State. We said he should have talked to us first. He does feel he loves Penn State and Larry Johnson was the first person to critique Jarron. I loved that because I don't want someone to feed my son, he needs reality. Life is reality, and he needs a dose of that. It's not that we don't like Penn State, if that's still the best place for him then Penn State it is. We're going to discuss it as a family.
As far as what schools they're looking into now, his mother outlined some of the programs they like and how they feel about distance from home.
He told the Florida coaches he's not really interested in going that far, and we're not interested in him going to the west coast. I want to be able to get to him if something were to happen. Virginia Tech is a school he's loved since childhood so we'll be going there. We're going to Michigan in June when we visit Notre Dame at the end of June. At the end of July we'll go out to Louisville and maybe Ohio State.
The Jones family doesn't know too much about Michigan yet, but they're eager to learn more.
I called and talked to Coach Montgomery. We had a long talk and he seemed excited to get us up there. Me personally, I have no real knowledge of Michigan. I understand that they're a great institution. Jarron has some knowledge as far as the football side of things. I told Michigan that I would like to see their APR score for the last few years, too. I need to know the coaches are going to do a good job of being a mentor to him. It's very important for us to know what type of coaches they have.
These visits will help their family get to know everyone, and help them figure out where the best place for Jarron is. There obviously won't be a decision until after the visits are done, so they won't know anything at least until after July. [Ed: APR score should come with lots of explaining.]
California OL Erik Magnuson is visiting on the 10th. I outlined this in the last Weekly Update, and he has Michigan as his number one team. This is a very big visit for Michigan, very big.
Massachusetts DB Armani Reeves told me that he has dropped Michigan from his list. He says he is no longer going to camp at Michigan, but will visit Notre Dame instead. His list is Penn State and Notre Dame now.
As you can see New York DB Wayne Morgan decided to hold off on making his announcement. There probably won't be room for him once he's ready to decide, since he wants to take his official visits now.
Ohio S Jarrod Wilson did visit Michigan last week, and now has Michigan in his top three with Penn State and Notre Dame. I should have more from his coach Ricky Powers this week. Wilson could potentially be making his visit in the near future.
I will outline a list of recruits that I think Michigan could get, or is in good shape with sometime this week. There's been a lot of people asking about that, so I'll post that soon. I'm trying to confirm a few visits, so I'll post those when I get them as well.
For everyone asking about DE Chris Wormley, he does have Michigan as number one right now, but still hasn't decided when he wants to make a decision. I'd imagine it won't go too long though.
For the first time in approximately forever, the Wolverines do not have a new commit. Action since last rankings:
5-31-11 Michigan gains commitment from Allen Gant.
6-1-11 Ohio State gains commitment from Tyvis Powell. Michigan gains commitment from Anthony Standifer.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Watchlist||24/7 Avg|
24/7 Sports has gone through and ranked another round of 3-stars (and even added some 4-stars), so those numbers are updated. ESPN's initial rankings are expected to come out this Wednesday.
Let me start off by saying, I’m not that old. I’m 24 (it feels really old compared to 2 years ago when I was graduating). Some of you might read the title and think “Get Off My Lawn” but that’s not what I’m going for. The more and more I’ve thought about the Notre Dame game this year, the more upset I get. I’ve got tickets, I’m going, I’ll love it… but it won’t feel like Michigan Football. I don’t care at all if we have a Fullback, or play a 4-3, that’s not what I mean. What I mean is the Game-day Experience. Yes, this will be the first night game, yes everyone else has night games, and yes, Prime Time exposure, etc. etc. this really seems like a net positive. But part of me thinks that with the whole thing we’ve sold out. I’m a 3rd Generation Michigan Grad, and I love that when I went to games from 2005-2009, it started just like when my mom and dad when to games in the late 70s, and when my grandparents went in the late 40s/early 50s. The Marching Band formed their block M,
the Fanfare M, they played the Victors, the team came out the Tunnel, and they looked like this:
- is that Henne? Devin? Leach?
- is that Arthur Walker, Paul Seymour, Jon Jansen, Jake Long, or Lewan?
Their seats looked like this:
Now, I can’t help but feel that we’re all of a sudden every other team in college football. We’ve got skyboxes (granted, the construction ended up looking great, and I’ve taken the tour, and they’re amazing). We’ve got Lights. We’ve got Special K and we’ve got (allegedly) Maize alternate/throwbacky/cash-grab Jerseys.
So, all the things that I (we?) have claimed to hate throughout the past few seasons we now embody.
Michigan will Take the Field and it will be OMG MAIZE JERZEYS! I CAN BUY JERZEYS?
After Michigan takes the field “I Got a Feelin’“ I know what Special K will play (I feel like every time they went to commercial in this game the damn Black Eyed Peas song played, I know that the movie has AC/DC) - Dunno if embedding is working, but Iowa 2009, when Iowa took the field: (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsHF31w8-sU&feature=related)
The Fatcats in their Skyboxes will see the numbers, the ratings, the jersey sales and think that this was successful. And what’s next? Our old scoreboards looked like this
Will our new ones look like this?
Again, I’m excited for the night game, I’m going, I’ll love it, and I hope Denard gets 503 yards and we beat ND 77-0 (with at least 1 Mike Martin Pick 6). But part of me really likes that we’re (we were?) different. I hope to really enjoy the Night Game, but come November, on a Gray Saturday afternoon I’ll bundle up, trudge through snow and slush to my seat which looks like this
to see Michigan play in The Game, hoping the sun peeks through the clouds, and our team will look like this:
And the band will play the Victors and it’ll just feel… right