The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Before I start, I just want to thank whoever created the "groping for optimism" tag before I could. After last night's miserable ending, I felt like looking for a reason to be positive.
Anyway, a few days ago I put up a side-by-side comparison of Michigan and Virginia Tech. The Hokies are a team that most bracketologists not only have in the tournament, but many have above the "last four in", and the case can certainly be made that Michigan's resume is stronger.
Today, I thought I'd look at a bubble team that the BTN compared Michigan with last night: the Butler Bulldogs. Butler is 19-9, with a 12-5 record in a fairly competitive Horizon League. Michigan, however, is now 16-12 in D1 play, and 7-9 in the B1G. Here, again, are each team's wins and losses, with common opponents in bold. I did the losses a little differently this time; since Michigan has three more losses, I listed those first and then did the remaining 9 side-by-side. Also, these RPI numbers are from before last night's games. Wisconsin's RPI is probably a little higher, Florida States is a little lower, but it's not a big deal.
RPI Team RPI Team
37 @Cleveland St. 36 @ Michigan St.
37 Cleveland St. 41 Harvard
48 vs. Florida St. 61 @ Penn St.
55 Valparaiso 61 Penn St.
81 vs. Washington St. 64 @ Clemson
107 vs. Utah 67 Oakland
112 Wright St. 80 Northwestern
141 Stanford 107 Utah
153 @ Detroit 172 @ Iowa
153 Detroit 172 Iowa
171 @Wisc. Green Bay 181 Indiana
171 Wisc. Green Bay 250 Bowling Green
183 Ball State 255 Bryant
202 @ Siena 263 Gardner-Webb
212 @ Loyola (Ill.) 280 N.C. Central
233 Miss. Valley St. 319 S.C. Upstate
273 Youngstown St.
290 @ Illinois-Chicago
RPI Team RPI Team
4 @ Ohio St.
4 Ohio St.
6 vs. Duke 9 Purdue
23 @ Louisville 19 @ Wisconsin
24 @ Xavier 19 Wisconsin (guh)
55 @ Valparaiso 22 vs. Syracuse
108 @ Wisc.-Milwaukee 39 Minnesota
108 Wisc.-Milwaukee 41 @ Illinois
112 @ Wright St. 51 vs. UTEP
133 Evansville 76 @ Northwestern
273 @ Youngstown St. 178 @ Indiana
The quality of top wins is about the same. Butler's top five wins are roughly equivalent to Michigan's top five. While the RPI numbers average one spot better for Butler, Michigan has three road wins in that group to Butler's one road win and two neutral-site wins. Michigan's next three wins are all significantly better than Butler's. Where Butler cleans up in this comparison is in their wins against teams with an RPI over 150. Their wins against terrible teams are against less terrible teams than the ones Michigan played. Apparently bracketologists find this to be important.
As for the losses, there is truly no comparison. Even comparing Butler's 9 losses to Michigan's worst 9 losses, Michigan wins the comparison by a wide margin. Purdue and the two Wisconsin losses are roughly the same as Butler's top three losses, but Butler's five losses outside the top 100 stand out like a sore hand. Youngstown State? Really?
The way I look at this is that Michigan has better wins against the top 150, and Butler has better wins against the bottom 150. Michigan has lost to far better teams, a result of their much more difficult schedule. Against all teams ranked outside the top 25, Butler is 19-6, while Michigan is 16-5. Both have about the same winning percentage in that regard, but Michigan's losses were to much more difficult competition.
Let's look at it a different way, the way that the bracketologists do:
RPI: Michigan is #58, Butler is #47.
SOS: Michigan is #25, Butler is #74.
Record against the top 100: Butler is 5-4, Michigan is 7-11.
When you look at it in this simplistic a form, you can understand why Butler frequently gets put into the field (also, last year's tournament) and Michigan doesn't sniff the bubble. However, a closer look shows the comparison is far closer. It also shows that wins in the last two games might not be enough. Unfortunately, what gets left out in this view is:
Against teams 100-200: Butler is 8-4, Michigan is 4-1.
Against teams with RPI>200: Butler is 6-1, Michigan is 5-0.
If Michigan, rather than playing Kansas, OSU twice, and Purdue, had lost to IUPUI (RPI #102) four times, both teams would have 5 bad losses, but Michigan would now be 7-6 against the top 100, and the resumes would look the same, except Michigan's losses would be to better teams.
If Michigan beats Minnesota on Saturday, I'll continue this series of comparisons with a look at Gonzaga. If not, it will be time to focus fully on hockey.
Backs to the wall, stood row 42.
Up in back to support the Maize and Blue.
We'll stand, no one behind us to block.
We'll stand, the cheer of the fans is a rock,
on which the team can build, and so can rise anew.
Backs to the wall, battled the Maize and Blue.
Though they may fall, they fought to find their way through.
They'll stand, and fight those who stand in their way.
They'll stand, and with all their hearts they will play.
It's not always enough, but that doesn't stop row 42.
Hail to the Victors, leaders and best.
They can wear a loss proudly, like a win on their chests.
And we will support them, the wins and the rest,
sing the fans in row 42.
The team didn't win tonight, against Wisconsin. I was at the very top, section 8, row 42. But even from that far away, I could see clearly how hard they were trying, how much getting somewhere big this season means to the team, and hoiw they played their guts out. I saw them dive for so many loose balls. I saw Zack Novak stretching farther than I knew he could to pull down critical rebounds against a great reboudning team. I saw Darius Morris working as hard as he could to create shots in one of the best defenses out there.
They didn't win, but I've never been more proud to stand up and cheer for a team, and I've never been more proud to sing the Victors. It was obvious they deserved it from all the way up.
As Brady Hoke and Co. look to reverse the offensive transition that took place under Rich Rodriguez, running back will be a main piece to getting Michigan where they want to be offensively. With six returning backs and two additions to the 2011 class, Hoke has depth to work with, but would like to add an elite runner of his choosing with the upcoming recruiting cycle.
There are six names that have surfaced so far with Michigan extending offers. Matt Jones (6'2", 200 lbs) from Seffner, Florida who recently commited to the Gators, current Ohio State commit Bri'onte Dunn (6'2", 215 lbs) from Canton, Ohio also received a Michigan offer. Ronald Darby (5'11", 172 lbs) out of Oxon Hill, Maryland is on this list, although he's probably being recruited as a defensive back. Darby has had the most contact with Michigan defensive backs coach Curt Mallory, and says he's definitely interested in Michigan. "They have a strong traditional program. The coaches seem cool, and the education is real strong," said Darby. "I want to commit late in the summer or in the beginning of the season, so I'm going to be looking for the school that fits me best; a place that feels like home."
One of the most sought after running backs in the country, Keith Marshall (5'11", 190 lbs) in North Carolina not only has an offer from the Wolverines, but has mutual interest as well. "Coach Montgomery offered me sometime last week; I'm definitely interested. They were one of the teams I liked growing up, and then I started liking Georgia and USC," said Marshall. With around twenty two offers in hand, Marshall will be able to choose from any program he sees fits best. "I plan on narrowing down my list this summer; I don't really have a top group yet," Marshall said. "I'm going to be looking at the overall direction of the football program, as well as the academics." Keith says his biggest strengths are his speed, acceleration, and vision, while he still has a few things to work on. "I'd prefer to play in a pro style offense, so I'm working on getting bigger and stronger so I can run between tackles at the next level," he said.
Marshall's speed has definitely caught the eye of college programs, he reports his fastest time is a 4.25 forty time, and maybe even more impressive he reports a similar GPA around 4.1 overall. Marshall ran for 1600 yards and 18 TD's this past season.
To stick with the theme of both size and speed, Greg Garmon (6'1", 190 lbs) out of Erie, Pennsylvania was the most recent recipient of a Wolverine offer. Garmon says his game is similar to that of Reggie Bush with the combination of his size, speed, and playmaking abilities. Those are some big shoes to compare yourself to, but Garmon is confident in what he can do on the field. "I would like to run in a pro style offense, because I'm more of a down hill runner, but yeah I would compare myself somewhat to a Reggie Bush," Garmon said.
Specifically with Michigan, Greg is from the midwest and has familiarity with the Wolverines program. "I'm very interested in Michigan. I hope I can visit there soon, I heard great things about it from a friend of mine that goes there," he said. When a prospect says they are very interested in a school this early on it can often be relative, but that doesn't seem to be the case with Garmon. "After everything is done [Michigan] will be one of the top schools I pick from," said Garmon.
The final running back boasting a Michigan offer (thus far) is Norman, Oklahoma back Donovan Roberts (6'0", 195 lbs). Roberts highlight film is the epitome of a physical back. He breaks tackle after tackle, and doesn't seem to shy away from contact. "Every time I get the ball, a lot of backs will try to just get out of bounds if they're by the sideline, but I'm more of a physical back. I'm going to do everything I can to get that extra couple yards," said Roberts.
Donovan has been in communication with the new coaching staff, but is still building the relationship to get more comfortable. "I want to learn a little more about the coaches, because I know they're new. I've always loved the way that Michigan plays," he said. "The coaches told me how they're going to be switching up the offense to more of a pro style, which is good. They told me how they want to fix Michigan, and what they're doing with the program." Talking to him you would think that he grew up in the state of Michigan, with how he speaks of the Wolverines. "Michigan has always been a high caliber team. I've always watched them and they've always been a top team. We're definitely going to work out something to see if I can come down there in the spring or the summer. I just have to figure it out with my parents," said Roberts.
Although he's from Oklahoma, and Norman at that, Roberts says the hometown Sooners aren't a big draw for him. "I have interest in Oklahoma State, but not as much with Oklahoma. A lot of people think I would because of where I'm from. I'm just trying to look around, and see everyone that's interested," Roberts said. As far as a timetable or timeline for his decision, Donovan is just letting everything fall into place. "Some people try to wait it out, but I'm just going to go with the flow. If an opportunity comes by and I want to commit early, then I will. I'm probably just going to see how everything flows and take it from there," he said.
While he's had no in person contact with the Michigan coaches yet, Donovan feels 100% comfortable and confident that these will be the coaches to turn the Michigan program around. "I've really enjoyed the fact that they've shown interest in me. Those coaches are there for a reason and they're trying to get the program better, I think they're going to do it," said Roberts.
This list will definitely grow as Michigan continues to find new running back prospects that fit with what they're looking for. They have targeted some of the top backs in the country and judging by the early feelings from some of these prospects, the Michigan staff has put themselves in a position to contend for their services.
DE Matt Godin just got back from an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, and I caught up with him to get his reaction. There was no commitment on this trip. Matt will take a little more time with his decision just to make sure it's right.
TOM: How was the trip?
MATT: I loved it. It was probably a 9 out of 10.
TOM: So walk me through what happened, and who you met. What made it a 9?
MATT: I came in and saw Coach Singletary in Schembechler Hall. That was my first time there, so I was blown away by that. It was awesome. Coach Singletary took me in to see Coach Montgomery, and I sat with him for awhile. He told me everything basically, how they would use me, the scheme and where they want me.
TOM: How do they want to use you on the field?
MATT: They said probably in the 5 technique, possibly playing around 290. They said that would let me stop the run, but I could still get some pass rush in too. [Ed.: This would be the strongside DE spot.]
TOM: Did you get a chance to meet with Coach Hoke and Mattison, too?
MATT: Yeah, I talked to Coach Hoke for about 30 minutes in his office. We talked about everything, and you can tell he doesn't take any crap. He's ready to bring Michigan back. He was basically telling me how they need defensive linemen, and they think I can help bring Michigan back. I talked to Coach Mattison before that, and he threw on the Ravens film to go over. It was funny because I brought one of my friends and he joked before hand that Coach Mattison would probably put the Ravens film on.
TOM: It sounds like the trip was a success then?
MATT: I absolutely loved it, a lot of it was more of what the coaches were saying and how they want to bring Michigan back. Also, at some schools you don't really see the players that much, but I walked in there and all the players were in the locker room joking around. It was a good experience, especially for my dad to be there. He's a season ticket holder for 30 years, and for him to see his son get a scholarship from the university he loves is great.
Offensive line is one of the harder positions to recruit because it takes longer to evaluate players who will change vastly in college. In addition, there are different styles of offense that require different types of linemen.
However, every year there are a few standouts in recruiting that everyone wants no matter the offense. This year Illinois offensive tackle Dan Voltz (6'5", 290 lbs) is one of those recruits. With around twenty offers already from some of the biggest programs, Voltz will be one of the more sought-after linemen in this class. I caught up with Dan to ask him about his recruitment, and how Michigan factors in. Here are his highlights, then the interview.
TOM: First, for anyone that has never seen you play, can you describe what kind of football player you are? Maybe what you bring to the table.
DAN: I bring 100% effort all the time. I am an extremely hard worker, and I will do anything to become a better football player. I think I play physical and I play offensive line the way it's supposed to be played. I also think I'm pretty athletic for a big guy.
TOM: With your recruitment, Michigan has offered you already, is that a school that you want to learn more about?
DAN: Yes, I'm really interested in Michigan. They offer a great combination of top notch academics, and a legendary football program. I will definitely be looking at them hard.
TOM: Someone like you who's being recruited by a ton of schools, how do you plan on letting everything play out? Do you have a timeline?
DAN: I am actually making a top five or top six list in the upcoming weeks. I'll let you know which schools are on there when I make it.
TOM: When you go to make that top list, how does a school get in the top group? What are you looking for?
DAN: The schools will have, like Michigan does, a good combination of football and academics. It has to be a school that I feel comfortable being at because I will be spending the next four to five years of my life there. Lastly, there has to be a stable coaching staff, that will play a part in it.
TOM: Once you develop the top list, what comes after that? How will you decide from there?
DAN: I will try to visit those schools as many times as I can before the start of my senior year, and hopefully choose one school to call home. If not, I will push my decision timetable back and possibly take a few official visits.
TOM: So the plan for right now is to commit before the season, but it could go into the season?
DAN: Yes, that's right.
TOM: A lot of times with southern kids they like to stay in the south. Since you're from the Midwest, are you more comfortable staying in the Midwest, or even playing in a Big Ten type offense?
DAN: I would love to stay close to home and play Big Ten football. If there is a school that I visit and like outside of the midwest or Big Ten, then I won't hesitate to seriously consider them.
TOM: Last question, to go back to Michigan specifically, what are you looking to find with Michigan? What are you looking to learn about them?
DAN: Right now I just want to see the campus for myself and talk to the coaches more; gain that comfort level with them.
The theme of 2012 recruiting for Michigan so far has been wide receivers and linemen. Forty of the (approximately) sixty-seven offers have gone to wide receivers, defensive, and offensive linemen. MGoUser umhero has been gracious enough to update the offer list here. If you'd like to go even more in depth, Rescue_Dawn has used his free time to create a recruiting map. As always, if you would like more updates from me you can head over to Twitter and folllow me @TomVH. If you have any recruiting tips or questions please email me at TomVH@MGoBlog.com.
6'6", 270 lbs.
Another recruit out in my neck of the woods, Peat has racked up offers from almost everywhere. Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Notre Dame, Texas... you name the school they've offered Andrus. That offer list includes the Wolverines. Andrus returns some early interest, and wants to find out more about the program.
I definitely have interest in Michigan. Their program's prestige and just how they have consistently won over the years is definitely a plus for me. The fact that they produce great offensive linemen, and NFL guys is great too. Michigan is definitely a school I would like to get out and see. I'm going wait until all my offers come in and then go from there. I'll take some spring and summer visits then cut my list towards the end of the summer.
Peat's father played in the NFL and his brother was a Nebraska signee for the 2011 class so he has some familiarity with the process. The fact that his brother chose a team to the north says distance may not be a factor. It's too early to tell if Michigan will make the cut. They have their work cut out for them since they're competing against the world.
6'0", 209 lbs.
Orchard Lake, Michigan
Ross is probably the top prospect in the state of Michigan for the 2012 class. He has been racking up the offers lately, and recently received a verbal one from Ohio State. James and his father recently visited Ann Arbor before the Best of the Midwest combine so they could get a better feel for the new coaches. His father (also named James) told me about how that trip went.
We've been up there quite a few times, but I wanted him to meet the new staff. The staff was actually trying to get him up there as much as I was. Everything was smooth, everything they said was what he was looking for.
I'm not sure I even need to say this any more, but Greg Mattison has again left his mark on a recruit.
He fell in love with coach Mattison. I never paid attention early on to coordinators that much, but that guy was great. He was kinda funny too. He and coach Hoke broke it all open for him. We were there close to three hours just talking about football with Mattison, and more conversation with Hoke. Hoke's like a good ole boy, it was refreshing.
Besides gaining comfortability with the new coaches there were a few questions that were answered on the visit as well.
I know I read what type of defense they were going to run, and they told us it's going to be a 4-3. We run a 3-4 at Orchard Lake St. Mary's. What they want out of him is probably better for James, though. They said they want him to play WILL linebacker to emphasize his speed and have him free, a lot of blitzing, and basically let him play his game. James and the coaches saw eye to eye on that, I disagreed, but James thought that was good.
This visit did a lot for Michigan for both Mr. Ross and his son. It gave them a clear picture of how James would be used, and the people that would be coaching him as well. Mr. Ross is a Michigan fan, but has made sure he lets James make his own decision. Mr. Ross thinks that James will likely make his decision once he finds the place he feels is right.
6'6", 315 lbs.
As I mentioned last night, Dodson received a Michigan offer yesterday. He's a monster offensive lineman reporting other offers from Illinois, Michigan State, NC State, and West Virginia.
[Michigan] was definitely a school I wanted an offer from. Coach Funk was the one that offered me. He said they enjoyed watching my film and I look like a player they want at Michigan. They have a lot of tradition, and even though they haven't been playing that well lately I still have a lot of interest in them. I'm definitely going to try to make it up there for the Junior Day.
Growing up in Ohio typically means there are some ties to Ohio State, and that's true for Kyle.
How I was raised, I grew up a Buckeye fan and not liking Michigan. Now that I'm more mature and I'm looking at schools it's completely different. This is my decision, and it's going to be my choice so all that stuff goes out the window. I'm first looking at academics, because I want to major in criminal justice, second a family based football team, and third the environment and surroundings.
Dodson is planning on taking a trip to Ohio State soon, and could see an offer soon from the Buckeyes. He's also getting attention from Auburn, Oregon, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.
A Few Names to Watch:
Illinois DT Jaleel Johnson (6'2", 277 lbs) is expecting a Michigan offer in the next two weeks, and told me he will definitely be at the Junior Day.
Georgia DT Jordan Watkins (6'5", 260 lbs) is hoping to hear from Michigan. Watkins has a 3.66 GPA and offers from Auburn, Georgia Tech, and Miami to name a few. His film is here.
New York DB Wayne Morgan (5'11", 188 lbs) just received an offer from Alabama. His high school DB coach told me has interest in Michigan. Here are his sophomore highlights, junior film should be done this week.
Cali DT Ellis McCarthy (6'4", 310 lbs) his coach tells me Michigan is interested and has his film. He's extremely athletic for his size, quick, and goes whistle to whistle. Junior film is here.
Texas DE Mario Edwards (6'4", 260 lbs) already has big time offers and has had contact with Michigan, according to his coach. His coach also told me they've produced NFL talent before and Mario might be better than all of them. Mario's dad also played for the Dallas Cowboys. Junior Film.
- Illinois OL Jordan Diamond took in an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, and told me how that went.
- Michigan DE Matt Godin was offered by Michigan and will be back up to Ann Arbor on Tuesday with his dad to talk to the coaches. He and Danny O'Brien give an update on where they're at here.
- Georgia DE Jordan Jenkins, Cali WR Jordan Payton and OL Jordan Simmons were all offered.
- Offensive linemen Kyle Murphy and Tyler Alt gave me an update on where they're at.
- Detroit OL Daron Brown (6'5", 310 lbs) took an unofficial visit to Michigan hoping for an offer. He told me he didn't get the offer, but the coaches told him they were definitely interested.