good luck with that
A pair of new Wolverines and we're back on the front page. Action since last rankings:
6-6-11 Minnesota gains commitment from Josh Ballesteros. Michigan State gains commitment from Tyler O'Connor.
6-7-11 Northwestern gains commitment from Dean Lowry. Notre Dame gains commitment from David Perkins.
6-9-11 Minnesota gains commitment from Isaac Fruechte.
6-10-11 Michigan gains commitments from Tom Strobel and Erik Magnuson. Northwestern gains commitment from Dan Vitale.
6-11-11 Minnesota gains commitment from Dinero Moss.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg|
ESPN's initial rankings are finally out, so their numbers in the table above have switched to star averages, rather than 150 Watchlist prospects.
Full data after the jump.
One of the pressing topics around the whole implosion of Ohio State University Football is how that team dominated the Big Ten illegally. The team won games they shouldn't, with the most obvious being the 2011 Sugar Bowl. Ohio State shouldn't have played as well in that game, and frankly shouldn't have been in it at all.
Everyone seems to be talking about what Ohio State's record books will look like when all this is done. Seasons getting voided, players getting wiped out, all of that.
With that in mind, I'd like to take a look back at what truly should have been. What seasons should have gone differently for the various schools tormented by Tressel? What teams got screwed out of bowl games, out of national championships, out of huge victories? There's many victims of Ohio State's illegal run besides us here in Ann Arbor.
Let's take a look back, year-by-year. Here are the basic ground rules to keep in mind:
- Ohio State wouldn't have realistically lost every game. At worst, they'd have been a version of the 2009-10 Wolverines: losing many games, but not completely out of it. So, close games in Columbus will now tip towards the visitor, and fairly close by the Buckeyes will also go towards their opponents. I'd assume that Ohio State would still be pretty good, just not great. Or, if they were amazing, simply great.
- I'm not going to go back to look for specific players, instead the entire team will be downgraded. Specifically, i don't want to wade through Ohio State game logs to figure out how much of an effect a replacement RB would have had over Maurice Clarett, for example.
- Except when it ties into Michigan, no frivolous extraneous circumstances. So, no jobs will be saved by a miracle win over the Buckeyes that leads to a random Big Ten coach keeping his job. I don't want to open up too much alternate history.
- I'm mainly focusing on the Big Ten championship race, and the national championship race, when applicable. No September non-conference wins that led to some opponent winning another conference.
- No recruiting alternate histories. The only players that would be added to different games are the guys that picked the school in the first place. This opens up one scenario later on. Existing transfers can still happen though. Ohio State gets the same general recruits they had before, only they are universally downgraded. The assumption is that Ohio State, even in bad times, would still get some great players, as they are Ohio State.
- Things in bold are major changes.
Okay, on to the games...
(More To Come tomorrow, as I do 2006-2010 then.)
Illinois OL Jordan Diamond has been one of the most sought after prospects in the midwest. The four star prospect has taken a ton of visits, and done his homework on each school he's interested in. Diamond's popularity has been fun, but has also been overwhelming at times for his family. I spoke with his mother today to get her perspective, and where Jordan and the family are at with his recruitment.
TOM: I know that you all have taken quiet a few visits now. Were you on all his visits with him?
MRS. DIAMOND: I've been on all the visits and we've really liked all of them. Everywhere we go when we leave I've said pick this one. We went to Wisconsin over the weekend and I loved it. They're only two and a half hours away. I love Michigan because of Christian [Bryant, 2011 signee], the staff, and my mom is an hour and a half away. I love each school for different reasons. I loved Ohio State believe it or not. I think they showed us the best time when we went there. I loved Notre Dame because of the prestige, I love Illinois because Coach Smith is always there. Like Michigan's staff, he's always available. If I had to pick, I would put them all in a hat and pick one.
TOM: You mentioned Michigan, was there anything that has stuck out about their program to you?
MRS. DIAMOND: One thing I can say about Michigan is that they've been there since day one. Even since Coach Rodriguez left they've always been there. I always tell Jordan that he has more fans at Michigan than anywhere else. They like him, they appreciate him, and if there's a Michigan fan wherever we are, they know him. Christian [Bryant] is coming to Michigan too, and my mother lives an hour and a half away, so those are the good things.
TOM: You've mentioned your mother living there, is that something that will play into all this?
MRS. DIAMOND: My mom lives in Saginaw, Michigan. That's pretty close to the university. She wants to move back to Chicago because that's where she's from. I've asked her to stay there for now because if Jordan goes to Michigan then I would probably move there soon. So before she does anything I want to know what he's going to do.
TOM: Does that mean you guys are hoping he decides soon, or you're just waiting for him to decide then go with it?
MRS. DIAMOND: I was hoping that he would have made his decision by now. I can't imagine how in the world he's going to make a decision. Every place we've been has been nice. I know that we're ok right now, but I'm not sure where we'll be at in two or three years, what situation we'll be in. I don't know if we can drive across the country to watch a football game. If he went somewhere four to five hours away then we could get there.
TOM: It sounds like this has all been pretty overwhelming for you. Are you guys going to take any more visits any time soon?
MRS. DIAMOND: Next weekend, we'll leave here Wednesday morning for Michigan and we'll be back Sunday. He's not participating in any more camps, but he'll be watching some of his teammates at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp. We'll go down for that and then we'll take in the University afterwards, we take that opportunity every time we get it. I don't believe we'll be doing any more traveling far away. He has enough on his plate so I don't think he needs to see anything else. How many schools can you decide to pick from?
TOM: As a parent what has it been like going through this process? Your son has garnered so much attention and has a huge opportunity, how does that feel?
MRS. DIAMOND: I'm a proud mom and I love my son to death. It's hard to describe, it's hard for me to talk about it to people because people don't understand. My strength comes from Chris Bryant's parents, because they've been there. I call his parents if I need a shoulder or have a question. My friends don't know what I'm talking about and can't relate. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for him, but it's overwhelming and I'll be glad when it's over.
TOM: It's been overwhelming for you, do you think it's been the same for Jordan, and have you seen any growth from him out of this process?
MRS. DIAMOND: I think this is making him stronger. I think that he's the most humble person I know. I don't even know if it's bother him like it's bothering me. He just takes it all in and keeps going. He's not arrogant, he tells me I talk too much because I do all the talking. He's the same quiet, dedicated kid he's been all the time.
With all the turmoil surrounding Ohio State's recent implosion, recruiting has suddenly become an interesting topic for the Buckeyes. Normally the instate prospects don't stray too far and end up committing to Ohio State. The resignation of Jim Tressel and the impending sanctions however have thrown a huge wrench in their well oiled machine. One of the most important prospects for new head coach Luke Fickell to try to keep on board is St. Edward offensive lineman Kyle Kalis (6'5", 300 lbs).
Kalis was distraught when the news came of Jim Tressel's resignation. He even went as far as calling the interim coach Luke Fickell to tell him he was decommitting from the program. Fickell talked Kalis down and got him to remain committed to the Buckeyes for now. Here's what Kalis had to say about where he stands with Ohio State and what could happen with his commitment in the near future. First his film, then the questions.
TOM: Where are you at with your commitment to Ohio State? Are you still listening to other coaches?
KYLE: I'm still listening to coaches. I want to go to Ohio State, but I want to know that Coach Fickell is going to be my head coach when I'm there, and if we don't have more than a two year bowl ban.
TOM: What other schools are you entertaining right now? Do you have a group that you'll listen to?
KYLE: Yeah, I think I've narrowed it down to Auburn, Alabama, Wisconsin, Miami, Iowa, and Michigan. That's not in any order, but those schools I would be interested in if anything happened. I'm still committed to Ohio State, though.
TOM: Would you potentially visit those schools just to make sure you're covered?
KYLE: Yeah, I mean I'm not in a rush but whenever I can I'd like to just go give them all a look.
Kalis wanted to make sure that this didn't come off as demanding in anyway, and wanted to make sure that everyone knows he still wants to end up at Ohio State. He has to have a backup plan though in case anything happens with the NCAA sanctions. Just so that's clear.
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.