"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
So, I've already tried to explain my position on the Hoke hire, as a 40-year sufferer of Michigan FootBall Obsession Syndrome (MFBOS).
In short, I’m badly in need of professional therapy, if I’m to survive a reprise of Michigan Football past.
As a diagnosed level 3 MFBOS sufferer, part of my required therapy is to project the best and worst possible outcomes, and to analyze just how (un)important those may be to my life. I’m going for extra credit on this assignment, and interviewing “friends” and “acquaintances.” The aforementioned would be, as they say in the SEC, ya’ll. This being an educated, sophisticated, and sometimes harsh crowd, I’ve made the questions a bit more advanced than the usual multiple choice. There are two categories of questions. First, the very short essay questions – how do you stand on various aspects of Mr. Hoke’s history, as regards his future prospects? And second, Uniformed Wild Ass Guesses (UWAG) as to how Mr. Hoke’s past will translate. To limit the chaos of infinite possibility that I am informed is the primary feature of the internets, I will establish categories and baseline opinions from which to proceed. You may, as internet precedent has established, respond to as few as one or as many as all questions, or indeed, questions which I or no one else have ever asked.
Very short essay questions: please give your brief answers and scores to the upside and downside of Mr Hoke in the following categories. MFBOS Patient’s responses listed for reference.
Public relations - Upside:
Hoke is all in for Michigan. Would walk to A2 for the job. Uses Bo Schembechler-type words like Tough and Team and Prepared. Treats the idiots among “reporters” like the societal leaches they are. Has lots of support from former Michigan players, and almost certainly from Carr. Previous university and State of residence are not insane like West Virginia. Stays on message like George W. Bush.
Public relations- Downside:
His moronic boss explains the hiring like he met Hoke over a beer and thought he was a great guy. Rah-Rah Tough Guy act will get old real quick if his defenses perform down to historical levels.
Public relations overall: 8.5/10
It’s pretty easy to look good in an initial presser. Nonetheless, it’s obvious he’s well-liked by the local press, and unless there’s a very surprising skeleton in the closet, he’ll get the benefit of the doubt for a while, and avoid most of the public controversy of the RR era. And his persona will go over very well with most M fans. If he’s successful on-field, he’ll soon be known as “Bo Hoke”.
Staffing – Upside:
This is obviously hard to judge, because his current staff is far from complete. But we can draw some general conclusions. First, none of his staff hires has “blown up” and become a highly desired coach or coordinator at a higher level of competition. In other words, he hasn’t found the stars in waiting. Second, he’s shown a willingness to replace or change coordinators when circumstances demanded it. Third: his position as M coach gives him a chance to attract a different level of talent than he’s ever managed before, particularly on defense. We don’t know what will happen yet.
Staffing – Downside:
Staffing – Overall: 5/10
There is no indication that Hoke is a discoverer and developer of nascent coaching talent. On the other hand, he’s had some competent coordinators, and his M staff is incomplete.
On-field Track Record – Upside:
Both teams he has coached have improved steadily and substantially between the time he arrived and left. Has shown significant flexibility in choice of offensive and defensive schemes, based on coordinator and personnel. Offenses have outperformed defenses. Coach of the year in MWC last year. Short term, the combination of 9 returning starters on O and D, return of Troy Woolfolk, (hopefully) a competent kicker recruit, and better schedule are a setup for 9 to 9+ wins.
On-field Track Record – Downside:
Overall 47-50 record. Never coached BCS teams – has to coach now against Tressel/Kelly/Dantonio/Bielema/Ferentz/Paterno/Pelini. Defenses ranged from mediocre to very poor, especially against the run. Took a long time to build Ball State to respectability in the MAC, and program died from there. No recognition as a creative schemer on either side of the ball.
On-field Track Record Overall: 6/10
Gets the extra point over 5/10 because of the late improvement shown with both BSU and SDSU, and because of the signs of adaptability. Big question is the mismatch between his rhetoric and defensive track record.
Recruiting – Upside:
Sam Webb says he’s teh awesome.
And it’s not hard to see that, as a 17-year-old kid, you’re going to be pretty impressed with this guy’s adolescent levels of enthusiasm. Combine that with M’s still-high national profile, and the draw provided short term by the example of Heisman candidate Denard Robinson, and I’m quite optimistic about recruiting beyond this year, which might or might not be a crater.
Recruiting – Downside:
Has made his rep fetching 2-3 star kids in the MAC and MWC. Now has to recruit 3-5 stars in the Midwest, South, and West against all of the bigger names mentioned above and more. Welcome to the big time.
Recruiting – Overall: 7/10
Hard to judge this. Tressel would have scored better than Hoke as an on-field coach coming into OSU, but the most important thing that jumped OSU into a consistent national power was Tressel’s ability to recruit. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hoke become a Tressel-level recruiter. Matching Tressel in game-planning and in-game adjustments is another story, which only time will tell.
Purely numeric, UWAG category:
Chances of being Great: 1/10
Great being defined as: better than any M coach post ’74, beating OSU 2 out of 3 times, playing later than Jan. 1 as a birthright, playing in BCS championship game twice in 10 years. This is honestly more optimistic than I think is justified, but there is no doubt it could happen.
Chances of helping Dave Brandon keep his job: 7/10
Defined as: Winning 9 – 9.5 regular season games, beating OSU 1 out of 3, New Years or later Bowl almost always, no Free Press Jihad. 7/10 is a sign that I’m giving in to optimism.
Chances of failure: 2/10
Defined as: Hoke is in over his head – his defenses suck, he’s overwhelmed by the level of competition, and wins 7 or less for his last 2 seasons, despite a good beginning in 2011.
So, what do ya’ll think? My MFBOS therapist thinks I just need to think more realistically. Tell me, what is realistic?
Edit: The apparent Mattison hire substantially improves the outlook, obviously. It shores up the weakest area in Hoke's record. It also says something about Hoke that he could attract a person of this stature, and that he's (presumably) willing to turn over substantial control of part of his team to a high-profile guy outside of his coaching tree. This kind of hire would have been difficult to imagine under Carr, who had a different philosophy about development and promotion from within.
Apologies for the delay: Holiday weekend interrupted. Action since last rankings:
1-9-11 Minnesota gains commitments from Tamani Carter and Chris Hawthorne. Northwestern gains commitment from Xavier Youngblood. Purdue gains commitment from Armstead Williams.
1-10-11 Michigan State gains commitment from Shilique Calhoun. Iowa gains commitment from Quinton Alston. Minnesota gains commitment from Quentin Gardener.
1-11-11 Notre Dame gains commitment from Nick Martin. Michigan loses commitment from Dallas Crawford.
1-13-11 Purdue loses commitment from Marcus Caffey.
1-14-11 Notre Dame gains commitment from Ishaq Williams.
1-15-10 Notre Dame gains commitment form Aaron Lynch.
1-16-10 Michigan loses commitment from Matt Goudis.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn 1 star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45, except JuCo players, who aren't included in the average).
The rankings now have more emphasis on number of commits in the class, as Signing Day is approaching. This means the overall rankings can change quite a bit week-to-week.
|#1 Ohio State - 20 Commits|
|#2 Notre Dame - 22 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
Irish pick up a couple bigtime defensive ends.
|#3 Nebraska - 16 Commits|
No change for the Huskers.
|#4 Michigan State - 17 Commits|
Shilique Calhoun picks the Spartans.
|#5 Wisconsin - 20 Commits|
|#6 Iowa - 20 Commits|
Hawkeyes pick up Quinton Alston.
|#7 Illinois - 26 Commits|
I've removed Dallas Crawford, though he probably decommitted a while back, and Matt Goudis, who picked Miami yesterday. Next weekend is when we'll probably see the commitment numbers move in the other direction.
|#9 Penn State - 13 Commits|
|#10 Indiana - 16 Commits|
No change. Hoosiers have a couple soft commits not reflected here.
|#11 Minnesota - 23 Commits|
Rivals considers Haughton-James and Rohr uncommitted. Gophers did manage to pick up a couple commits this week.
|#12 Northwestern - 14 Commits|
Wildcats pick up a wideout in Xavier Youngblood.
|#13 Purdue - 13 Commits|
Rather than engaging in the bouts of Hokemania running wild all over this site, or joining the numerous posters who seem to have forsaken Michigan for a love of RichRod forever-more (similar to my childhood fandom of "whoever Warren Moon plays for" after playing Tecmo Super Bowl as the Oilers), I decided to examine the rich and voluminous history of Michigan football to find some historical perspective.
While I bought in at the beginning of each of the last three years and convinced myself we were "just around the corner," I was disillusioned each year as the losses mounted and the victories failed to do so. I don't think the wins/losses did RichRod in, though - my sense from talking to other alums (and trying to track my emotional path through all of this) was that the sense of "time for a change" came less from the losses, and more from the MAGNITUDE of the losses. With that in mind, I first sought out a list of all seasons in which Michigan has been outscored by its opponents. There were twelve, which was actually more than I expected to find. The seasons (with coaches in parenthesis) were:
This list tells me a few things. First, having a season in which you were outscored by your opponent does not create a supportable assumption that you are a bad coach; if you remove the coaches on this list, Michigan's national championships decrease from 11 to 2. Second, having such a season does make it likely that you will be removed from your duties of coaching football at Michigan at some point; while Yost largely retired on his own terms, there was a movement to get the old man to move on by the time he stepped down. Wieman was gone after his bad season; while Kipke got a bit more rope because of his two national championships, his fourth led to his ouster as well. Oosterbaan's one season being outscored coincided with his last, and then Bump got a bit more rope...because he was cleaning up Bennie's mess? Either way, two for RichRod in three years didn't indicate a future of much success if you look at the historical numbers.
Next, I sought a way to quantify HOW MANY bad losses there had been; the three at the end of this year definitely wore on me, and so I looked at (a) how many games each head coach had lost by 10+ points each year, and (b) how many they did so on average. The numbers are as follows:
|Coach||10-pt losses||10-pt losses per season|
This chart was pretty striking to me; RichRod had more double-digit losses in three seasons than Lloyd had in his 13 seasons!! Also, while the likelihood of these events increased in the Mo/Lloyd years vis-a-vis Bo, they were still well below the Bump/Bennie/Kipke mark, and not far from Crisler and Yost's marks. Five per year more than doubled Bump Elliott, Michigan's 2nd worst coach (with regard to big losses).
Finally, I noticed that RichRod had 5, 4 and 6 double-digit losses in years 1, 2 and 3, respectively. I sought to put those in historical context; of the 110 seasons examined, there were only seven seasons of at least four double-digit losses in a season:
When viewed through this prism, it's much tougher to make the argument that the team was "competitive" and "just around the corner" the last few years - 2010 featured the 2nd-worst set of losses we've ever seen, eclipsed only by 1962. While improving from 3 to 5 to 7 wins seemed on its face to be "progress," the margins of victory and loss indicated otherwise - Michigan was soundly defeated in more games this year than in 2008. Three of the worst seven seasons (by this measure) don't point in the direction of a guy that should have been kept.
While we don't know what direction the team'll take under HOKEMANIA, we do know, at least, that our new coach has a love and appreciation for the history that is Michigan Football. Here's hoping we get fewer of these seasons and more that finish in Pasadena!
Illinois OL Chris Bryant (4 Star, 6'5", 320 lbs) is on his way home from a recent trip out to Pitt and Michigan. His visit to Michigan lasted longer than expected, and his family ended up staying the night in Ann Arbor. Here's some film on Chris (it says he's 2012, but he's not), and what he told me about his visit to Pitt and his first meeting with Brady Hoke.
TOM: How did the Pitt visit come about, what made you decide to go out there?
CHRIS: The offensive coordinator from Michigan (Calvin Magee) got the job at Pitt, and we had a good relationship before. He wanted me to check it out and come see what they have to offer. The coaching staff was great there, and it was a nice place.
TOM: And after that you and your parents swung by Michigan to meet with Brady Hoke and (Offensive line coach) Darrell Funk. How did that go?
CHRIS: It was good. We sat down with both coaches individually and were just building a new relationship. They told me they knew me as a player, but not as a person so we were just having regular conversation trying to get to know each other. I talked with them and coach Singletary, too.
TOM: What were each of them saying as far as their offense and how you'd fit in?
CHRIS: Coach Hoke was telling me about the new pro style offense, a lot of schools run that and Michigan used to run it. Coach Funk was telling me how I would fit in their with it. I don't mind either the spread or the pro style. I don't prefer one over the other. We mixed it up in high school so that's not a problem. They were basically just telling me Michigan is still Michigan. I knew how the school is run and how academics go, so it was just building a relationship with them.
TOM: Did you and your parents come away comfortable with the coaches after the meeting?
CHRIS: My parents are both comfortable, and so am I. They asked their questions and said it was a great conversation overall. I feel comfortable with him too. He was a funny guy, he's a player's coach. He's someone that you would want to coach you.
TOM: Feeling comfortable with the coaching staff now, do you still feel the same way about Michigan overall?
CHRIS: I had a good relationship with the coaches there before, but coaching is a business. It's just an adjustment and you need to go on with it. Michigan is Michigan, and they're not going to just bring anyone in. I still really like Michigan.
TOM: When you make your announcement on the 28th what hats will you have on the table?
CHRIS: I'm not sure yet, but I might do three hats, I might do four and go with Michigan, Arizona, Pitt, and Illinois. I'm not sure yet.
A lot has changed since last week, some for good some for bad. I will try to keep you up to date the best I can, and here's a look at what we know so far. Remember if you ever have any recruiting tips or questions you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter to get more recruiting updates as they come through.
We might as well start with the ugly bits and talk about the recent decommitments. K Matt Goudis recently took a visit to Miami and decided to commit to the Hurricanes. Al Golden has some weird obsession with Michigan recruits. He's pursuing Goudis, Dallas Crawford, Kellen Jones, and Kris Frost.
DB Dallas Crawford officially decommitted from Michigan, and it's looking like it's over. Who Brady Hoke hires as his defensive coordinator could still make an impact on Crawford. We'll have to wait to see who the new DC is to know, but it's looking very grim.
OL Jake Fisher decommitted yesterday, and has decided to open everything up after visiting Michigan State this past weekend. He's saying everyone is even and could end up taking visits to Oregon, Florida, and Notre Dame. It's not looking good for Michigan to get him back.
Those three are officially decommited and a few more are on the fence. OL Tony Posada took a visit to Mississippi State this past weekend, and there's a rumor that he loved it. Posada is supposed to visit Michigan this coming weekend. We'll see how Tony feels after that. DB Blake Countess also took a visit to Penn State, but has been vocal about his love for Michigan so there may not be much to worry about there. LB Kellen Jones recently took a visit to Colorado and may end up taking a visit to Miami as well. We'll see if that materializes.
Now that Matt Goudis has decommitted, Michigan would still like to land a kicker in this class.
There were rumors of former high school kicker Derrick Mitchell potentially walking on at Michigan. I spoke with his father to see what the situation was, and he had this to say.
(Former Michigan kicker) Mike Gillette knew about Derrick and connected him with Coach Rodriguez. They said they needed a kicker and had a spot for him if he wanted it. The problem is that Derrick is in the minor leagues right now with the Phillies. He had a pretty good season last year, so I don't know if he wants to give that up just to be a kicker.
The strange part is that the Phillies would pay for part of Mitchell's tuition if he were to come to Michigan. He's getting paid 5th round money right now and is moving up to AA ball so it's not likely he'll come to Michigan this year.
6'2", 210 lbs.
San Diego, California
Wile received an offer from Michigan, which makes sense because he also had an offer from San Diego State. Wile was an Army All American, and would help fill the void Goudis' decommitment left.
Connor Loftus could still an option since he already had a Michigan offer, but the recent offer to Wile probably means the new coaches want him instead. Michigan will have to compete with Air Force and Nebraska. Wile will be in Ann Arbor this weekend.
New Offers and New Contact
The new Michigan coaches have started to reach out to recruits and extend new offers as well. Besides WIle here's a look at some new recruits that Michigan is now targeting. There will be plenty more of these as the coaching staff fills out and we get closer to signing day.
- DT Travarris Saulsberry (6'4", 252 lbs, Florida) - He's reporting he has an offer, but it's an odd offer because Saulsberry is committed to Tennessee, and has been since August. He told me he's 100% committed to the Vols and isn't considering Michigan.
- DE Jordan Williams (6'4", 240 lbs, Florida) - Williams is a teammate of Saulsberry and also committed to Tennessee. He also told me he's 100% with the Vols.
- DB Stefan McClure (5'11", 170 lbs, 4 Star, California) - McClure was just offered and plans on visiting Michigan this weekend. I spoke with McClure recently and I got the feel that he was genuinely open in his recruitment. If Michigan can impress him they'll have a shot.
- OL Pat Flavin (6'7", 260 lbs, 3 Star, Illinois) - Flavin has not been offered yet, but he did receive a call on Sunday from Michigan's OL coach Darrell Funk. He missed the call initially but called Coach Funk back and was told the situation is fluid right now. No offer was extended, but Funk wanted an update on where he was at. Probably means the coaches are waiting to see who decommits, and stays committed.
January 21st Visits
This weekend will be the first visit weekend hosted by Brady Hoke and company. Here's a list of visitors so far. This list will continue to change:
- TE/LB Frank Clark (6'2", 210 lbs, 3 Star, Ohio) The Glenville prospect has showed genuine interest in Michigan, and there is an even greater need for his services with the switch in offensive philosophy.
- ATH Raymon Taylor (5'10", 165 lbs, 4 Star, Michigan) The former Indiana commit has always been a fan of Michigan. He does like the new Indiana staff, so we'll see what happens.
- DB Stefan McClure (5'11", 170 lbs, 4 Star, California). As mentioned.
- OL Tony Posada (6'6", 315 lbs, 3 Star, Florida) Fresh off a visit to Mississippi State, we'll see if he makes the trip.
- K Matt Wile (6'2", 210 lbs, 2 Star, California) Just offered two days ago, will be visiting Ann Arbor.
- WR Hakeem Flowers had a phone call scheduled with the new Michigan coaches on Sunday. He is announcing on the 23rd and it's down to Oregon, Michigan, and LSU. Michigan is still in great position with Flowers.
- WR Devin Lucien is announcing on the 30th. Brady Hoke hasn't contacted him yet, so the interest is starting to fall.
- WR/LB Kris Frost is still waiting to hear back from Auburn on whether his commitment will be honored. He's not graduating early anymore, so he might end up taking more visits. Miami is coming after him, but if the Michigan coaches get in contact with him and push they will still have a good chance.
- OL Chris Bryant took an official visit to Pitt, where former Michigan coaches Calvin Magee, Tony Gibson, and Tony Dews are now coaching. He swung by Michigan on the way home to meet with Brady Hoke. The meeting lasted long enough to require Bryant and his dad to have to get a hotel for the night. I'll try to catch up with Bryant on Monday to talk about the visit.
[Ed-M: Bumped for excellence]
OK, this is not actually a work of staggering genius. You should definitely read the Dave Eggers book it refers to, though - good stuff.
Rather, it is a brief and simple explanation of everything that has happened or will happen in Michigan football. It is based on one simple idea: if you win a lot, you are a genius. If you win most of the time, the fans will grumble but tolerate you. If you lose a lot, you will get fired. I think we all know this.
To make this case, I have simply plotted the wins and losses over the years on the following bar chart, broken down by margin of victory. Here is the graph:
As you can see, the years increase over the x-axis (horizontal direction), and the number of wins and losses are plotted on the y-axis (wins go up from 0, losses go down; ties, when they still happened, are split as half for a win and half for a loss). Wins are broken down into three categories: wins by 15 or more (navy blue), wins by 8-14 (blue), and narrow wins by 7 or less (light blue); losses are similarly split apart, and ties are left white.
I think the graph shows a few important things. First, what an amazing run we had as fans. For almost 40 years, watching Michigan football meant losing a couple or three (close) games, and winning the rest; I wonder if there is any stretch like that in modern football history.
Second, and perhaps most key, is the era that spoiled us: Bo's first five years. What a f***ing first impression that man made! After a "pedestrian" 9-3 season in which he upset the best OSU of all time, Bo's next four years featured: a 1970 loss (by 11 to OSU), a 1971 loss to Stanford (by 1 in the Rose Bowl), a 1972 loss to OSU (by 3), 1973 tie (with OSU, and you know how that story ends), and a 1974 loss to OSU (by 2). Wow!
For those of you not old enough to remember (and this includes me, barely), can you imagine such an era? With a little more luck, Bo could have won three or four national championships. Simply stunning, and what a great way to turn yourself into a legend.
Third, the graph shows I think that in the following years, Bo settled into the pattern we are more used to, with a few losses here and there, and one Year of Infinite Pain before such years were named and blogged about. That year of course was 1984, a year in which Bo went 6-6, almost beat "national champion" BYU in a bowl game, and caused Bo to rededicate himself for his final stretch run.
Fourth, I think the graph shows why some people were unhappy with the Lloyd Carr era - though the general year-to-year record remained very similar to Bo's steady state (which I will demonstrate further below), there are a lot more close wins; in other words, the team continued to win at about the same pace, but more of those wins were in games that could have gone either way. And this makes sense: think back to all those last-second wins against Penn State, Michigan State, and others - we were continuing to win, but not in as dominant a fashion as we were used to.
Finally, I think the graph shows why RichRod was in no way going to get a chance to continue: too many losses, and too many of those in non-competitive games. It was just too much.
Anyhow, to sum up each coach, I also made a plot of their overall win/loss percentage. It is available here:
Instead of just showing Bo's entire history smashed into one bar, though, I separated it into the first 5 years and the rest. The first conclusion from this graph: how similar Bo, Mo, and Carr were, once you take away Bo's first five years! Almost identical, except for that one small difference: that Carr had a noticeable number more of close wins, and both Mo and Carr had a few more not-so-close losses.
And though it's unfair to take Bo's first five years out, those five years were so crazy and unusual, they should be separated and celebrated for what they were: one of the best five-year runs in modern football history. It is those years, I think, where we derive our modern expectations. We think we should always be like that, when in reality it's quite difficult to expect such near-perfection year to year. I think that expectation is what drove all the Carr grumbling, and perhaps caused us all to look to "reboot" the program instead of just "maintain" it.
Imagine a different universe where Bill Martin, instead of looking for the best national coach, was looking for someone steeped in the Michigan way, to maintain its current glory? Who would he have hired? Would one young coach at Stanford, full of Michigan spirit and not yet too full of himself, be considered for the opening? One can only wonder at what might have been, had we been happier with what we had.
[Edit: when I talk about Bo's first "five" years, I mean 1969 through 1974, which as you might have noticed, is six years.]
[Edit (2): Replaced stupid imageshack links with links to Picasa. Imageshack banned the photos; apparently too much traffic!]