The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Offensive line is going to be a big focus for the Michigan coaching staff in the 2012 class. Since it's a harder position to evaluate there won't be as many early offers extended than at other positions. OL Tyler Alt (6'3", 265 lbs), from Greensburg, Pennsylvania is one prospect that the Michigan coaches have their eye on. Here's his offensive film, and where he's at in the recruiting process. Tyler also has a defensive film posted if you'd like to watch that.
TOM: Have you been in contact with the Michigan coaches yet?
TYLER: Yes, they told me they want me to come up to their junior day. I'm going to try to make it up for that, and if not then I'll try to go to a spring practice.
TOM: What coaches have you been talking to from Michigan?
TYLER: Coach Funk is my position coach, and Coach Mallory is my area recruiter. I've talked to both of them so far.
TOM: What other schools are in contact with you right now, and where are some other places you want to visit?
TYLER: I went to a junior day at Maryland, I'm going North Carolina next weekend, Michigan State at the end of the month, and then I'll probably go to Pitt at the beginning of March. I've been invited out to a lot of spring practices and games from Penn State, Michigan, Purdue, LSU, Oregon, FSU, and Maryland among others.
TOM: That's a good list to work off of. You play offense and defense now, what position are most schools recruiting you for?
TYLER: Most of them see me as a center on offense because I move well, and I have a 77 inch wingspan, but there are some that see me as a defensive tackle too. Michigan has said offensive line for me.
TOM: Do you have a preference of offense or defense?
TYLER: I'll play wherever they need me. I like both sides really; I just like hitting. My family is friends with Russ Grimm and he put it well in his Hall of Fame speech, "The ability to move a man from point A to point B against his will is a wonderful thing."
TOM: Since you're from Pennsylvania you probably have a good understanding for the Big Ten and their style of football. Did you have a favorite team growing up?
TYLER: I grew up a Pitt fan, but I've really gotten to see the Big Ten and ACC over the past year and I've become a fan of it all. I'm trying to take it all in and see the best place where I fit with them and vice versa. I know I really enjoyed my first two visits to Michigan already.
TOM: Let me rephrase that, are there any schools that you would really love offers from at this point?
TYLER: I would love offers from Michigan, MSU, Penn State, Purdue, Iowa, NC State, North Carolina, LSU, FSU, Maryland, Auburn, Syracuse, and Pitt.
TOM: When you're evaluating these schools what is going to be the most important factor for you?
TYLER: Academics is important to me. I have a 3.6 GPA, I take honors courses and two AP classes now. I'm getting some letters from some of the Ivy league schools. I want to be a teacher and a coach, so that is really important to me.
There's going to be quite a bit of info in this weekly update because we're back to square one. Offers are being passed out, new names are starting to surface, junior days and combines are happening, and everyone's meeting everyone else. Rather than me listing all the offers that are out right now, I'll just point you to Magnus over at Touch the Banner and his offer board.
This weekend is what was the "Michigan Showcase" camp and is now "Best of the Midwest." Either way it's in Ann Arbor and will host some of the top kids in the Midwest--like the name suggests. Coaches can't attend the camp but Michigan will take the opportunity to show a few kids around before or after.
6'2", 205 lbs.
Plant City, Florida
Coney was offered by the previous staff, and had an 'incident' that lead to his dismissal from his high school team. Despite those facts Coney says he has heard from the new Michigan staff and the incident is nothing to worry about.
The (Michigan) coach said he looked at my film over 40 times, and he liked what he saw. He said they would love for me to get up there and see the program, and that I pass the eye test. I'm up to 210-pounds now. I got into a small altercation with one of my teammates, and the seniors said they didn't want me on the team so they kicked me off for last year. I'll be back on the team this year though.
I have to take what these kids say as their word, and this is what Bennie is reporting. He says that Michigan is in his current top five along with FSU, Notre Dame, Auburn, and LSU.
We'll see if they pursue him heavily; there are plenty of quarterbacks in the Midwest and California.
6'3", 265 lbs.
Kuhar is a big defensive tackle who also happens to be a wrestling champion. Michigan was Greg's first Big Ten offer, which was exciting for him and his family.
Any Big Ten school is amazing, playing in that atmosphere would be awesome. My parents were really excited, my dad loves Michigan. Being from Ohio I like Ohio State, but I'm really just a fan of college football in general. I always watch Big Ten football and root for them.
Kuhar currently holds offers from Michigan and Toledo, but that list will probably expand soon. Whenever Michigan decides to set a date for junior days, look for most of the midwest kids, including Greg, to make it up to Ann Arbor.
6'3", 210 lbs.
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
I reported that Biegel received a Michigan offer last week and has the Wolverines in his top three with Wisconsin and BYU. Wisconsin is his leader for now, but there's room for that to change.
I was thinking about committing after my junior season, this past season but I decided not to. Wisconsin took five linebackers and lost the coach that was recruiting me, so I want to take it slow and look around now.
I want to look at other schools, and it's funny Coach Matty [Mattison] actually recruited my dad out of high school. Coach told me he didn't want this to be like what happened with my dad [who went to BYU]. Coach is pretty well known in this area, and he's a funny guy.
I don't think I have to keep repeating how many good things I've heard about Greg Mattison anymore. It's just a given that everyone loves him, and somehow has been recruited by him.
Wisconsin still has a slight edge right now, but what happened with the linebackers and the coaches I think really affected Vince. Both his dad and uncle played for the Cougars, but I'm not sure if that will be enough to get him out of the Midwest. You can watch his junior film here.
6'4", 210 lbs.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Ron Thompson also received an offer last week, and it was a big one for the instate junior. Thompson is a big fan of Michigan, and was hoping to hear from them. Thompson's coach Avante Mitchell filled me in on what happened and what's next.
Ron talked to Coach Jackson, and he was very matter of fact with Ron. He said, "We've seen your film, and you're the type of ball player we want at Michigan. You have the right ball skills, agility, and you're the type of player we want to be a Michigan man." Ron was very professional on the phone, but you could tell he wanted to jump out of his skin. He's a big Michigan fan.
Besides being a fan of Michigan, Ron has a few other connections to Ann Arbor.
We actually coached Devin Gardner for a long time, I've been coaching him since he was little. Ron had the chance to meet Devin last year at a 7 on 7, so that was a big deal for him. Ron's a good kid, he deserves this attention, he busts his butt every day. We told him to enjoy the moment, go through the process and once he's to the point where he knows then go ahead and make it.
Thompson will also try to make it up to Ann Arbor for a visit soon. I'm not sure how long he plans on letting his recruitment play out, but it's safe to say that Michigan is in good position for Thompson.
PA LB Deaysean Rippy (6'2", 200 lbs): Rippy should be one of the top linebackers in the country, and had this to say about his recruitment so far.
I'm still open to everybody. I was offered by Michigan when Coach Rod was there, but the new staff has been in contact. I'll try to make it up there for a visit, maybe for a practice.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins (6'3", 325 lbs): Pipkins is originally from Saginaw/Rochester and only recently moved to Missouri. He said he's hoping to hear from Michigan.
I was actually both a Michigan and MSU fan. I know Lamarr Woodley, Charles Rogers and Jason Richardson so I can't really choose one side. Alabama, Missouri, Michigan, MSU, Iowa, Oregon, and Auburn would be awesome for me.
MI DB Leviticus Payne (5'9", 175 lbs): Payne has been hearing from Michigan. One of his coaches told me that Michigan is close to offering. Here's more from our conversation:
Leviticus is an excellent student athlete, a really nice kid to have around. He's been a consistent worker in the classroom and athletically. He's the hardest working kid we've been around. I know a lot of places want him for defense, but I think he has good enough ball skills for offense too.
- California TE Taylor McNamara was offered last week. He filled me in on where he's at here.
- Ohio DE Ifeadi Odenigbo placed fifth overall in the Cleveland Nike combine. There were also a few other notable recruits at the same event, which we talked about on the board. Ifeadi is supposed to meet with the Ohio State coaches sometime soon, but maintains they are not his dream school. Stanford, Ohio State, and Michigan seem to be near the top.
- Ohio OL Benny McGowan (6'4", 290 lbs.) is a name to keep an eye on. He was the first ever offensive lineman to score over 100 at a Nike combine. He also happens to be a Michigan fan, and will be reaching out to the Michigan coaches. His top five so far is Michigan, Northwestern, Cincy, Notre Dame, and Bowling Green.
- Maryland WR Stefon Diggs, a teammate of current Wolverine Blake Countess, is another name to watch. His coach tells me to keep an eye on DE Roderick Chungong, RB Wes Brown, DE Ryan Watson, and OL Mike Madaras in the 2012 class from Our Lady of Good Counsel as well.
- Another teammate of a current recruit to watch is DB/RB Brandon Watkins (5'10", 195 lbs), who plays with Leviticus Payne. Watkins missed five games last year due to injury, but his coach thinks he's a gamer.
- Glenville DB De'Van Bogard (5'11", 172 lbs) could be close to receiving a Michigan offer. Unfortunately he's probably about to get an offer from Ohio State too. He's an OSU lean.
- Ohio QB Maty Mauk was offered by Michigan last week, and told me about his feelings towards the Wolverines here.
- Pennsylvania DE Noah Spence will be one of the most sought after defensive line recruits for 2012. His coach told me how Michigan will factor in to his recruitment.
- Missouri LB Michael Scherer (6'4", 229 lbs) plans on coming to Michigan for an unofficial visit in March after a 7 on 7 tournament.
- Ohio QB Tyler O'Connor (6'3", 202 lbs) has been hearing from Michigan, and could see an offer soon.
An part of recruiting that I think gets overlooked is the creation of recruiting pipelines. These are espeicallly important for Michigan Football compared to other schools because a majority of the scholarship players come from outside the state they are located in. RR (along with Ricardo Miller) was on his way to possibly builiding a pipeline to Dr.Phillips HS, but we all know how that turned out. Here a couple of other pipelines from the RR era that I feel the coaching staff should focus on maintaining:
Cass Tech (Detroit, MI)
This one is a no brainer, and with Michigan Alum Coach Wilcher at the helm this pipeline should be solid for years to come. This year is looking to pay off big with both LB Royce Jenkins-Stone and DB Terry Richardson hopefully joining the 2012 Class.
Trotwood-Madison (Trotwood, OH)
There are both players on the football roster recruited by Carr (Moore) and RR (Roundtree, Shaw) from Trotwood that I am hopeful this can continue with the new coaching staff. Establihsing a recruiting pipeline in talent-rich Ohio would also be a boon for years to come. This year the staff may go after a position of need, S Bam Bradley.
Chaparral (Scottsdale, AZ)
After Tate Forcier left the program the new Michigan coaches were left scrambling to find a late addition to the 2011 class. They found a diamond in the rough with Texas QB Russell Bellomy, and patched the hole. While they picked up Bellomy, the Michigan coaches look for a quarter back in every class. Maty Mauk (6'2", 185 lbs/Kenton, Ohio) was the latest to receive an offer from the Wolverines. Here's what he had to say.
TOM: I guess the main question right now is if Michigan has offered you yet?
MATY: Yes, they offered me yesterday (Thursday). The offensive line coach has been the one recruiting me from Michigan.
TOM: So is that five offers now?
MATY: Six, Illinois just offered too. [Mauk's offers: Bowling Green, Michigan, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, and Missouri]
TOM: I know your brother was at Cincinnati when Brian Kelly was there, so you almost have two separate connections now with Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Are they the two that are at the top right now?
MATY: I'm wide open right now, so everyone (including Michigan) has a good chance.
TOM: Spring ball is going to start to pick up soon and you're not too far from Ann Arbor, are you going to make it up to Michigan any time soon?
MATY: Yeah, I'm going to go up to Michigan sometime in the next couple weeks.
TOM: What do you want to experience on the visit, or what about Michigan is interesting to you?
MATY: The stadium and the tradition they have is great. The offense is going to be a force, and just to meet the coaches.
TOM: Taking visits this early, is this the start of the process for you or do you want to get things done pretty quickly?
MATY: No, I'll probably take my time with everything; I think I'm going to wait. I'm hearing from the schools that have offered and Arkansas, Auburn, Louisville, Penn State, Kentucky, Iowa, LSU, and a few others nationally.
Right now, U-M sits 9th in the Pairwise (up from t-12th to start the day), tied with UNH and losing that tiebreaker, so effectively 10th. There are a lot of games left, and the Pairwise is notoriously shifty, so here's a look at the easiest path upward in the rankings.
Comparisions that M currently loses:
1. Yale: unflippable comparison
2. BC: Surprisingly flippable. The difference is the record against Teams Under Consideration (TUC). BC is 9-5-0 (64.3%), while M is 9-6-3(58.3%). There are two teams lurking just below the cutoff (LSSU and OSU) that would help us if they were bumped up. Coincidentally, they play each other next weekend. Looking at their schedules, I would guess that OSU will end up a TUC and LSSU will not, adding 3 wins and a loss to our TUC, for a winning percentage of 61.4%. If both make it, the percentage would be 64.6%. Both teams have two games left against current TUCs (BC vs. UNH, M vs. Western), as well as their conference tournaments, which might swing this entire comparison one way or the other.
3. North Dakota: unflippable comparison
4. Denver: Surprisingly flippable. Again, the difference is TUC record, and Denver's is very similar to BC's, with a current percentage of 64.6%. Their remaining games against TUCs are two at home to St. Cloud St. and two at UNO. St. Cloud is close enough to the cutoff, and have such a difficult remaining schedule, that they might drop under the cutoff, and UNO is a tough opponent at home. Denver will also have to negotiate a tough WCHA tournament field, so there is a good chance that their percentage will drop.
5. Merrimack: unflippable comparison. I know, right?
6. Minn.-Duluth: flippable. U-M would need to win both TUC record (currently ahead by a whisker) and record against common opponents (COp). The latter is currently fairly close, and will undergo changes in the next two weeks and both teams play opponents that also appeared on the other's schedule. UMD has two games at Colorado College and two at home against UNO, while we have two against Northern Michigan. Adding the games against those teams makes our current COp percentage 68.8%, compared to 75% for UMD. A sweep over Northern (theoretically) would bump our COp percentage to 75%, so UMD would have to win 3 out of those four games (or win two and tie two). This will probably come down to who does better in their conference tournament.
7. Neb.-Omaha: Flippable. They have a big lead at the moment in TUC, but have previously-referenced games against UMD and Denver, to go along with two at Alaska-Anchorage. The good news is that if we can't flip them, there is a good chance it's because they made it possible to flip either Denver or UMD.
8. New Hampshire: Flippable. We just have to pass them in RPI. So we have to win, and they have to...not. They have two road games at Vermont followed by home-and-homes with Northeastern and BC, then the Hockey East tournament. We would certainly need for them to take zero or one point from BC in that series, or a major slip-up against the others.
9. Notre Dame: Very flippable. The deciding factor right now is COp percentage, but both teams play conference opponents in the next two weeks that they have not yet played, but the other has. Once those games are factored in, the COp percentage is a tie. This one will simply come down to who has a better record down the stretch (or whoever wins if they face off at the Joe).
A strong finish should get us a 2 seed, which is where I think we'll end up. I think a couple of these comparisons will flip simply by virtue of teams beating each other. A 2-2 finish and a loss in the semis at the Joe would probably still get us a 3 seed, but we could drop to a 4. Of course, it is possible for a bad finish to knock us out totally, but it would take a massive implosion (like losing three of the next four, and not even making the semis at the Joe), and maybe having non-tournament teams win their conference tournaments. Failing that second step, we would have to drop to 16th to fall out, and there are really only 5 teams in range of passing us unless we lose out from here.
Who to root for/against:
1. Michigan (duh)
2. OSU and LSSU
3. Sweeps in the Denver-UNO, UMD-UNO, BC-UNH series. If you want to pick teams in those series, pick UNO and UNH, because their comparisons are probably harder to flip.
1. Michigan State. Not just because you hate them, but because you don't want them becoming a TUC. Hopefully they'll drop games in Alaska next weekend and it won't matter.
2. Notre Dame. Not just because you hate them, but becauseyou want to flip their comparison.
3. Anyone directly below us in the pairwise. Union, Dartmouth, RPI, Miami, Wisconsin.
4. St. Cloud State. If you have this much time to care about how St. Cloud State fares and how that affects Michigan, perhaps you should reevaluate your life. As should I.
I've been thinking a lot about oversigning with this year's Signing Day having come and gone. The problem, as I see it, isn't really one of competitive balance. It would be nice to have a level playing field, but I certainly wouldn't be willing to give up Michigan's built-in advantages anymore than an Ole Miss fan would give up oversigning, JUCO stocking, or quaint reminders of a brutal, bigoted past.
*Everything would have been forgiven if you would have picked him! [Ed-M: In fairness to their fans, the Ole Miss base wanted them to have this, but their school wouldn't allow it.]
The problem I see is that big-time NCAA football is largely built around taking physically talented young men, pushing them to perform physically, and developing an enormous support system to ensure they can:
1) Afford to stay enrolled through athletic scholarships
2) Maintain a minimum academic threshold to remain eligible, despite many of the athletes not being anywhere near qualified academically to be admitted through the normal undergrad admissions process
The problem with oversigning is that kids suddenly have both of the items many of them need to complete a degree yanked out from underneath them either mid-career or, in some cases, right before they start school. Many will drop out and go back to wherever they grew up because finishing a degree isn't conceivable without the support they had as scholarship athletes.
Wow, we're both tools, aren't we?
That said, coaches do need to be able to control their roster. Just because a kid doesn't get expelled from school for cheating on a research paper about research doesn't mean they're pulling their weight. Showing up on time isn't enough for any coach worth his salt, and I've got no problem with that type of player being cut.
With that in mind, here's an easy, no-frills solution that eliminates oversigning, still allows coaches to control their roster, and should help kids get their education:
1) 85 players on scholarship at any time, period. Graduating Seniors fall off after their last game, and incoming recruits count as soon as their LOI is sent in and count through the next football season.
2) Coaches are allowed to make cuts, and they must be finalized on May 31st for the next season. That player can never play for that school again--even off scholarship.
3) Players cut to free a scholarship for someone else may transfer with immediate eligibility to any school that will have them. Conferences could not make bylaws prohibiting movement among conference teams (e.g. Alabama player X could transfer to Auburn instead of getting a medical hardship scholarship).
4) LOIs are still binding for the player, but require the school to provide five years of scholarship, living, and academic support. Players may void the LOI by transferring of their own accord and these transfers would be treated identically to transfers under the current system. Players cut to make room for another scholarship player still get a full ride, but don't count against the 85 scholarship limit.
5) APR still exists, but players cut to make room for other scholarships still count for the remainder of their career.
6) Grayshirting still exists, but it exact stipulations are detailed on the LOI the school gives the player to sign.
7) Scholarships are only revokable for expulsion or conviction by a court for a non-misdemeanor crime, and the athlete may challenge scholarship revocation for anything short of a felony conviction in arbitration by the NCAA.
8) ADDED! Injuries happen. However, after May 31st, that injured player still counts against the 85 scholarship limit for the year. If a player, say a certain Freshman QB, goes down after four games, too bad. Medical redshirt policies would still apply for further eligibility, however. This would stop mysterious "injuries" from felling a 3rd string guard if Jadeveon Clowney wanted to delay his commitment until June 1st.
My reasoning is pretty simple. 85 scholarship players are allowed at any time, which makes sense. Everyone on the team counts. This is the obvious step to eliminate the specific problem of oversigning. The rest of the steps are designed to protect the athlete, and to some extent, the program.
I completely respect coaches wanting to cut certain players, but the ultimate goal should be to give everyone a chance to earn their degree. It's abhorrent that LSU could take a scholarship away from someone after school starts and send them home. My proposal eliminates the incentive to do that. Since the LOI counts through the next season, a better player couldn't commit late and cause a coach to cull his herd. It would also increase the risk for schools that routinely sign marginal students. If the recruit doesn't qualify, the school loses that scholarship for a season.
The rest of the rules are designed to protect student-athletes. Scholarship football players are really special athletes at top schools, and not all will become great players. The money involved in big-time football is big enough that schools can continue to support athletes who get hurt or don't live up to their hype. I choose five years for a degree because players are often forced to take fewer credits in the Fall and need a 5th year to graduate.
The final, somewhat controversial item might be grayshirting. I don't mind the idea, per se. I'd grayshirt at Michigan before taking a scholarship at CMU, but the details should be stipulated up front.
Thoughts? What obvious items have I missed?